Monday, November 14, 2011

Raja Vikarmajitery Kath


  dyar hase chu saf'ras
     yar hase chu na as'nas
  ash'nav hasa chu as'nas
gaye tre kathe beye ze kathe hasa chy'au
  sa zanana chy'auvna pane'ny
     yesa na asi pan'es sai'th
beye hasa
     yus rats bedar rozi
     suy hasa zae'ni raje Vikramajit'ney kur

Monies, sirs, is for a journey.
A friend, sirs, is for when there is no money.
A near relation, sirs, is for when there is money.
That makes three things, and, sirs, there are two others : —
 That woman is not for you
 one not in know of herself
And, again, sirs : —
 He only will win Raja Vikramaditya's daughter
Who keepeth awake by night.


I never imagined I will read these Kashmiri stories. But here they are, preserved. Preserved complete with all the intellectual rigor that their listening induced among its recorders. The above lines form a mishmash of a particular verse in 'Hatim's Tales: Kashmiri Stories and Songs' (1928), recorded with the assistance of Pandit Govind Kaul by Sir Aurel Stein. I created this mishmash based on the two version offered by Aurel Stein and Pandit Govind Kaul.

The Kashmiri songs and stories in this book were recited to Sir Aurel Stein in 1896, at Mohand Marg, high in Haramukh range, in Kashmir, by one Hatim Tilwon of Panzil, in the Sind Valley, a cultivator and a professional story- teller. They were taken down at his dictation by Sir Aurel Stein himself, and, simultaneously, by Pandit Govinda Kaul. The work is unique in the sense that (as the introduction to the book explains):

"[...] Hatim's language was not the literary language of Kashmiri Pandits, but was in a village dialect, and Sir Aurel Stein's phonetic record of the patois, placed alongside of the standard spelling of Kashmiri Pandits, gives what is perhaps the only opportunity in existence for comparing the literary form of an Oriental speech with the actual pronunciation of a fairly educated villager."

The stories that Hatim told included not just a story of fabled Vikarmajit, but also of Mahmud of Ghazni, albeit in a familiar fabled grab of a benevolent king who goes around town at night in the grab of a poor man. He also tells the story of a farmer's wife who complains to a Honey-bee about harshness of a revenue collector. The stories are told in songs and verses. The most amusing Kashmiri song offered by this book is the one about the turmoil created in lives of Kashmiri working class by Sir Douglas Forsyth's mission to Yarkand in 1873-4.  The workers, cobblers, tillers, carpenters and all with a typical tongue-in-cheek Kashmiri humor sing:

Yarkand anan zenan

Khoni keth doda-not ware heth
bari drav
Lokan chu sapharun tav
Tahkhith doda-gur Jenatuk bagwan

Yarkand anon zenan
Watal dop watje bonay sara zah

Chim mangan dalomuy ta kah
Tsoratsh ta or heth met hay, pakanawan


I found Govinda Kaul's translation (rather his pick of English works for certain Kashmiri work) a bit too easy on Imperialists, almost turning the song on its head.  Here's what the song conveyed to be:


Yarkand he is conquering
Carrying a milk-pail in his haunch,
earthern pots in a load
he goes forth

For people
journey is exhaustion



He , forsooth

White horse

Heavenly God
Yarkand he is conquering

Cobbler said to Cobbler's wife
"I shall not remember forever,
they want my leather and lace,
leather-cutter and awl,
and they want me.
O, they are taking me too"

Yarkand he is conquering


You may read the complete book here at openlibrary.org
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Related Post:


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Pandit Govinda Kaul belonged to the clan of famous Birbal Dhar. Famous D.P. Dhar was a direct decedent of Birbal Dhar.

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Unrelated Post:
about short film that I was involved with in a minor way Raag Sarkari. (Nominated for IFFI, 2011).The story of a day in the life of a Jailer somewhere in U.P. and day happens to be D.P Dhar's first death anniversary.

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