These days, I am hooked on reading about Ravindranath Tagore, his life, his works, Shantiniketan and other various facets of his personality and life. I traveled to Bengaluru last month. One of my favorites things to do whenever I go there, is to catch up on plays and latest on theater scene here. I was fortunate to witness two shows this trip. One of them was Girish Karnad’s famous, classic play Taledand, in Kannada. The other one was Chitraa. This one was in English. It is a modern day adaption of Ravindranath Tagore’s Bengali play Chitrangada written in 1891. After learning about this show, I did not really want to miss this, despite being on weekday evening, as the play was by Tagore. It was perfect opportunity for me to extend my immersion into Tagore era.

I rushed to the Rang Shankara that evening where this play was to take place. I was handed over a pamphlet containing information about the play. As I entered inside, I noticed a young man was playing flute in one corner of the stage. He was standing, while his accompaniment tabla player was sitting. He played few pieces for fifteen minutes or so before the play began. I had an idea of the story line of play as I had read it earlier somewhere. It is a dance-drama style treatment to a Mahabharata side story. This story is that of princess, named Chitrangada, of kingdom of Manipur, in north east of India and one of the five in-exile Pandavas, Arjun. There are many such side stories in Mahabharata, throwing light on eternal human qualities through ages of mankind.



Ticket of the play, with catchy design

The play was produced by Red Polka Productions, which is Bengaluru based amateur theater company.  Chitrangada is only child of the King of Manipur and also heir to the throne. She dresses like a man and is the protector of the land. One day, she meets Arjuna and falls in love with him. She is concerned about her manly appearance, also not being beautiful. Arjuna is impressed by her fighting abilities but all along believes her to be a man. Chitrangada believes he could never be her lover the way  she is. She receives a boon from Kamadeva, Hindu God of Love, and she transforms herself into a beautiful woman. When she meets Arjuna again, he cannot help but fall in love with her. But later she reveals her true self to his shock. What happens next? How does Arjuna react to that? To get answers, you need to watch the play. I don’t want to spoiler here. This play is about journey from bodily love, lust to pure, transcendental love.


Still from the play. Courtesy Internet

The 95 minute play keeps the audiences spellbound from the word go. After opening solo dance, the pair of Kamadeva and his seemingly homosexual companion (Vasanta, God of Seasons) enters the scene. Warrior princess prays for change in her look which she is granted. The pair brings in humor in the play which is refreshing. Arjuna, who is dressed like a common person, as he is in exile, enters and falls for her. There are nicely choreographed dance sequence between them which are sensuous to watch. I somehow did not find actor who was portraying Arjuna quite apt for the needs of the role. He lacked energy as Arjuna the warrior, Arjuna as romantic lover, too.

Mahabharata is full of such stories, as I said earlier. Earlier this year, I had watched, famous Marathi music drama(संगीत नाटक) of bygone era, called Sangit Soubhadra, which also happens to be on Arjuna and his marriage to Subhadra, sister of Krishna. This particular show of Bengali play, was a different experience to watch, as it was in English, plus heavy on dance, music, songs. A lot has been written about Tagore’s plays and his treatment to theatrical possibilities and experiments. Chitrangada is just one of his 52 plays handling various contemporary subjects in different styles and forms.

Chitrangada finds mention in Bhyrappa’s Kannada mega novel Parv. I am reading its Marathi translation right now, so more about it later. Apart from Chitrangada, Arjuna had married Uloopi. She is said to adapt Babruvahana, the son of Chitrangada and Arjuna. I had watched Kannada movie titled Babruvahana, played by Dr Rajkumar, Kannada megastar of 1970s. This was another reason to catch the play.

बसवण्णा, गिरीश कार्नाड आणि तलेदंड

मी जुलै महिन्यात बेंगळुरूला गेलो होतो. नाटकांची एकूणच आवड आणि त्यात कन्नड समजत असल्यामुळे, एखादे तरी बसवण्णा नाटक पाहण्याचा योग जुळवून आणतोच. त्यातच बेंगळुरू मधील प्रसिद्ध रंगशंकरा हे नाट्यगृह माझ्या वास्तव्याच्या जवळच आहे. ह्या वेळेस १९८९ मध्ये गिरीश कार्नाड यांनी लिहिलेले तलेदंड(कन्नड मध्ये ತಲೆದಂಡ) ह्या नाटकाचा प्रयोग पाहिला. कर्नाटकातील प्रसिद्ध समाजसुधारक, लिंगायत समाजाचे संस्थापक महात्मा बसवेश्वर (उर्फ बसवण्णा) यांच्या जीवनातील विशिष्ट घटनांवर आधारित हे नाटक. असे म्हणतात की कलाकाराची महानता ही त्याच्या आजूबाजूला घडत असलेल्या घटनांना कलेच्या माध्यमातून प्रतिसाद देणे, व्यक्त होणे यात आहे. ह्या नाटकाला जवळ जवळ तीस वर्षे झाली. नाटकाच्या पुस्तकाच्या प्रस्तावनेत कार्नाड म्हणतात की ने नाटक म्हणजे त्यावेळी चालू असलेल्या अयोध्या मंदिर विषय, मंडल आयोग जो आरक्षणाविषयी होता, चळवळीच्या निमित्ताने निर्माण झालेली राजकीय, सामाजिक परिस्थिती वर भाष्य आहे असे सूचित केले आहे.


तलेदंड नाटकाच्या पुस्तकचे मुखपृष्ठ

कर्नाटकात नुकत्याच झालेल्या निवडणुकीच्या पार्श्वभूमीवर लिंगायत समाजाची भलावण, आणि इतर राजकारण हे सर्व ताजेच होते. तसेच काही वर्षांपूर्वी उमा कुलकर्णी यांनी केलेला मराठी अनुवाद वाचला होता. त्यामुळे जेव्हा ह्या नाटकाचा प्रयोग होत आहे हे समजले तेव्हा त्याबद्दल उत्सुकता आणखीनच वाढली. धावपळ करून, सवड काढून त्या शनिवारच्या दुपारी मी रंगशंकरा मध्ये धडकलो. अर्धगोलाकार रोमन कोलोसियम सारखी अतंर्गत रचना असेलेल रंगशंकराचे नाट्यगृह तुडुंब भरले होते. नाटकाबद्दल लिहिण्याआधी बसवण्णा यांच्या बद्दल थोडेसे.

बसवण्णा यांचा जन्म आजच्या महाराष्ट्र कर्नाटक सीमेवरील बसवनबागेवाडी(त्यावेळी नुसते बागेवाडी) येथे बाराव्या शतकात ब्राम्हण कुटुंबात झाला. त्याभागात कलचुरी घराण्याचा राजा बिज्जल हा राज्य करीत होता. त्याच्या पदरी बसवण्णा मंत्री होते. शैवपंथाचे अनुयायी असलेल्या बसवण्णा यांनी अनेक सामाजिक सुधारणांना हात घातला. सामाजिक समानता, जातीय एकात्मता, स्त्री-पुरुष समानता यांसारखे काळापुढचे विचार त्यांनी आपल्या कन्नड कवनांमधून(ज्याला वचन साहित्य) असे म्हणतात. मूर्तीपुजाविरोध, कर्मकांड विरोध, संस्कृत भाषेऐवजी कन्नड भाषेचा पुरस्कार त्यांनी केला. लिंगायत समाजाची स्थापना केली, हजारो अनुयायी मिळवले. त्यांनी कर्नाटकात बिजापूरजवळ कुडलसंगम येथे समाधी घेतली. कुडलसंगम हे ठिकाण कृष्णा आणि मलप्रभा या नदीच्या संगमावर वसले आहे. जवळच आलमट्टी धरण आहे. मी दोन्ही ठिकाणी गेलो होतो खूप पूर्वी. असो. पुढील काळात त्यांचे विचार, वचन साहित्य त्यांच्या नंतर इतर वचनकारांनी वाढवले. आज लिंगायत समाज हा कर्नाटकात(प्रामुख्याने उत्तर कर्नाटक भागात), महाराष्ट्रात मोठ्या संख्येने पसरला आहे. कन्नड वचन साहित्याला कर्नाटकात दास साहित्याप्रमाणे मोठे स्थान आहे, परंपरा आहे, संस्कृतीचा भाग आहे.

तलेदंड या कन्नड शब्दाचे विवेचन करताना कार्नाड लिहितात, ‘तलेदंड याचा शब्दशः अर्थ शिरच्छेदाने मृत्यू (तले-शीर, दंड-शिक्षा). मध्ययुगीन कर्नाटकात एखाद्या प्रतिज्ञापूर्ती नंतर किंवा प्रायश्चित्त या सारख्या कारणांसाठी आपले मस्तक उतरवून देण्याची पद्धत सर्वसामन्यांमध्ये रूढ होती. बसवण्णा आपल्या वचनांमध्ये हा शब्द वारंवार वापरतात. काही अमंगल प्रसंगी किंवा दोष निर्देशाच्या प्रसंगी ‘माझे शीर पडू दे’ किंवा  ‘मी माझे मस्तक अर्पण करतो’ अशा अर्थाने तो शब्द वापरला आहे’. बाराव्या शतकातील राजा बिज्ज्ल, आणि बसवण्णा यांची प्रमुख पात्रे असलेली नाटकात कार्नाड यांनी जाती-व्यवस्थेच्या विरोधी भाष्य केले आहे, मानवताधर्माचा पुरस्कार केला आहे. असे करताना ते इतिहासातील तपशील किती त्यांनी तसाच ठेवला आहे, काही छोटे मोठे बदल केले आहेत, नाटकाच्या उद्देश्यानुसार, किंवा नाटक आटोपशीर ठेवण्याच्या दृष्टीने, हे पहिले पाहिजे. पण ते विशेष महत्वाचे नाही.


हे तीन अंकी नाटक आहे. हा कन्नड प्रयोग बेंगलुरूच्या रंगसीरी ह्या हौशी नाट्यसंस्थेने केला होता. संदीप पै हे नाट्यदिग्दर्शक आहेत. त्या दिवशी ते नाट्यगृहात खाली ऑनलाइन राखलेली तिकीटे देण्याच्या ठिकाणी थांबले होते, प्रेक्षकांचे स्वागत करत होते. आत गेलो तेव्हा रंगमंचावर मागील बाजूस, पण मध्येच छोटासा गायक, गायिका तसेच वाद्यवृंद विराजमान झाला होता. बाकी सारा अंधार, पण त्यांच्यावर अंधुकसा स्पॉट होता. त्यांनी हळुवार आवाजात वचन गायन सुरु केले. सहसा रंगमंचासमोर असलेल्या बेचक्यात वाद्यवृंद असतो. ऐतिहासिक असे नाटक असल्यामुळे पात्रे अनेक. राजा बिज्जल, त्याची पत्नी, त्यांचा मुलगा ज्याने बसवण्णाची धास्ती घेतली आहे, खुद्द बसवण्णा, त्याचे अनेक अनुयायी, आणि बरेच जण. राजा बिज्ज्ल आणि बसवण्णा यांचे संबंध सौहार्दपूर्ण असतात. पण बसवण्णा यांनी आपल्या कारभारात जातीयता न मानता केलेला व्यवहार अनेकांना रुचत नाही. पुढे पुढे तर बसवण्णा यांचे, त्यांच्या विचारांचे प्रस्थ वाढते, अनुयायी वाढतात. त्यातच मग एका ब्राम्हण मुलाचे आणि खालच्या जातीच्या चांभार मुलीचे लग्न करून देण्याच्या प्रस्तावाला बसवण्णा मान्यता देतात, स्वतः हजेरी लावतात. आणि हा रोष शिगेला पोहोचतो, त्यांचे अनुयायी, आणि इतर यांच्यात हिंसा होते, आणि होत्याचे नव्हते होऊन बसते. सनातनी मंडळींचा प्रकोप होतो, रक्तपात होतो. बसवण्णा यांच्या मनाला अतोनात क्लेश होतो. आणि तेथेच नाटक संपते.

प्रयोग अतिशय रंगतो. बसवण्णा यांची भूमिका निभावलेल्या कलाकाराचे अतिशय छान काम झाले आहे. ऐतिहासिक पार्श्वभूमीवरचे नाटक असूनही नेपथ्य अतिशय आटोपशीर आहे, वेशभूषा ही साजेशी आहे. मध्ये मध्ये वचन साहित्यातील वेचे मांडली जातात, त्याने नेमका परिणाम साधतो.

गिरीश कार्नाड यांच्या आत्मचरित्र नुकतेच प्रसिद्ध झाले होते, त्याबद्दल मी पूर्वी लिहिले होते. अतिशय प्रगल्भ, अनुभव संपन्न आयुष्य जगलेल्या कार्नाड यांचे खेळता खेळता आयुष्य जरूर वाचा!

द्रुग्गिणतैक्य: Concordance between Observed and Computed

I was at beautiful campus of Indian Institute of Science(IISc) in Benglauru beginning of February for conference on which reviewed Indic tradition in the areas of science and technology. I have traveled to Bengaluru so many times, but this was my first time at this historic and landmark institution and its sprawling green campus. The title of this blog says it all, in terms of the theme of the conference. Any talk of science and technology in ancient India has earned bad name. And there are reasons for it which related to unrealistic claims.

This conference was different in its approach. It focused on Computational Positivism philosophy which is, in short, establishing concordance between what is observed and what is computed. It explored this theme and approach which seems to be prevalent in Indic tradition, across many fields of science, including astronomy etc. This approach is different than what is found in Greek tradition which is more towards axiomatic approach. Computational positivism employs aspects of computational thinking. And this is where it gets interesting, for me, who has been in field of computers. Computational thinking often involves abstraction, automation, algorithmic approach. This aspect has been argued by Prof Roddam Narasimha who was to be at the conference to talk about it.

After Y Narahari’s inaugural address, Prof Roddam Narasimha spoke about the very theme of the conference. Prof N N Jha, spoke about Navya Nyaya(Indian Logic). Indian mathematics and astronomy was reviewed by Prod M D Srinivas. Prof Sunadara Rajan baffled audiences by going over Amarkosha’s documentation of plant semantics. Prof Iyengar explored probability aspects are employed in Indian classical music. I could not attend last two sessions on the first day. One them was by Navajyoti Singh who explored Jain mathematics and other was Shabdabodha aspects in computational linguistics by Amba Kulkarni.

The second day had few more interesting topics in fields of astronomy, Ayurveda, concepts of consciousness and self, aspects of computational thinking in India mathematics. The most interesting from my perspective was review of various propositions of claims of science and technology in ancient India and highlighting how can it be approached, by Prof Mayank Vahia. He also briefly covered evolution of science. The conference concluded with panel discussion on the current relevance of Indic perspectives in the field of science and technology, which I could not attend. The conference had also tutorials on different topics. The first part of the tutorial was a day before the actual conference began and second part was after the conference concluded. I wish I could have attended but I was not, especially one on Tantrasangraha/Yuktibhashya which are important treatise on Indian astronomy works, belonging to Kerala school mathematics.

The conference talks are recorded and can be found here for those who want to listen and learn.

Last couple of words on the venue itself. This venue of this conference was Faculty Hall in Main Building of IISc. The full size statue of Sir Jamsetji Tata is located right in front of this huge stone building. He funded the construction of building of IISc, upon request from Swami Viveknanda, as the history tells. The walks during lunch break inside the campus impresses anyone and was amazing experience. I would like ti visit this place again, whenever I get opportunity next.

Jallary Natural Forest

Bengaluru is famous for its lakes and gardens. Both of them disappearing fast due to urbanization, and construction activities. Bengaluru is also fortunate to have urban forest area  which are managed by state government forest department. Bannerghatta National Park is one such example. There are many other smaller forest parks dotted at various parts across Bengaluru. One such park is Jallary Natural Forest.

This forest park is located near the place I usually stay with my folks during my Bengaluru trips. I make sure that I visit it at least once. This forest is also called Arekere Reserve Forest or Doresanipalya Forest. Arekere is a lake nearby. The forest now is mainly consists of Bamboo bushes and Eucalyptus(neelgiri) trees. It is said in the past it used to consists of Jallary trees(Lac tree. The Lac extract is used in making of ornaments). There are various trails inside one can take. One can spot various creatures, insects such as black colored centipedes alongside. There many ant hills as well, many be some of them are dead with no apparent activity. One can sport many butterflies as well.


A little search on Internet provides some information about local interest on preserving this forest area and also efforts to bring its past glory. The forest, on one edge, has a environment management and policy institute as well(EMPRI), run under Government Of Karnataka. Do plan to visit the forest next time when you are in Bengaluru.

बंगळूरूमधील कर्नाटक राज्योत्सव

कर्नाटक राज्य स्थापनेचा दिवस म्हणजे १ नोव्हेंबर आणि तो राज्योत्सव दिवस म्हणून राज्यभर साजरा होतो.  ह्या वर्षी कर्नाटक राज्य स्थापनेला ६० वर्षे झाली. मी त्या दिवशी योगायोगाने बंगळूरूमध्ये होतो, त्यामुळे मला कर्नाटकाच्या राजधानीत हा दिवस कसा साजरा केला गेला हे पाहायला मिळाले. त्याबद्दल येथे लिहतो आहे.

बेंगळुरूची परिस्थिती ही तशी थोडी मुंबईसारखी झाली आहे असे म्हण्याला हरकत नाही. मुंबईत जसे मराठी भाषेची, मराठी माणूस यांची गळचेपी कित्येक वर्षे झाली आहे, तसेच काहीसे बेंगळुरूचा बाबतीत गेल्या २५-३० वर्षात झाले आहे असे दिसून येईल. जसे जसे माहिती-तंत्रज्ञान क्षेत्र शहरात वाढू लागले तसे तसे शेजारील राज्यातून वेगवेगळे लोकं येऊन राहू लागले आणि त्यातून कन्नड भाषेची, स्थानिक कन्नड माणसाची गळचेपी सुरु झाली. हे सर्व सांगण्याचे कारण की ज्या तऱ्हेने शहरात स्थापना दिवस साजरा केला गेला ते सर्व पाहून त्यामागची ही पार्श्वभूमी आहे. तसेच नुकतेच घडलेले कावेरी पाणी वाटप प्रश्नाच्या संदर्भात घडलेल्या अप्रिय घटना, त्याच्याही आठवणी ताज्या होत्या. त्यामुळेही की काय, हा दिवस मोठ्या उत्साहात साजरा केला गेला.

सकाळी सकाळी आलेल्या इंग्रजी(The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Times of India) तसेच कन्नड(प्रजावाणी, विजय कर्नाटक) वर्तमानपत्रातून विविध लेख, इतिहास इत्यादी रकानेच्या रकाने भरून माहिती आली होती. तसेच दूरचित्रवाणी वाहिनांवर कन्नड भाषा, कर्नाटक राज्य यांची महती सांगणारी गाणी, चित्रपट यांची चालती होती. कन्नड चित्रपटसृष्टीमधील प्रसिद्ध नट राजकुमार यांची बरीच गाणी आणि चित्रपट ह्या विषयावर होती(राजकुमार ह्यांनी १९८० मधील कन्नड भाषेसाठी झालेल्या गोकाक आंदोलनात देखील सक्रीय सहभाग घेतला होता). बंगळूरू आकाशवाणीवर पुणे आकाशवाणी प्रमाणे दररोज सकाळी चिंतन हा कार्यक्रम प्रसारित होत असतो. कर्नाटक राज्योत्सावाच्या निमिताने त्या कार्यक्रमात विविध विचारवंत महिनाभर कर्नाटक राज्य, कन्नड भाषा, याबद्दल आपले विचार व्यक्त करताहेत. मी ऐन दिवाळीत बेंगळुरू मध्ये असल्यामुळे काही कन्नड मासिकांचे दिवाळी विशेषांक घेतले. त्यात देखील कर्नाटक राज्य एकीकरण चळवळीचे प्रयत्न, त्याचा इतिहास, आणि उत्तर कर्नाटकातील जनतेचा असलेला सहभाग याबद्दल सविस्तर सांगणाऱ्या खास पुरवण्या आलेल्या मला दिसल्या. कर्नाटक राज्य स्थापन करण्यासाठी झालेला लढा, एकीकरण समिती, त्याचा इतिहास याबद्दल देखील मी कधीतरी लिहीन. १९५६ साली जेव्हा राज्य अस्तित्वात आले, तेव्हा त्याचे नाव मैसुरू हेच कायम ठेवले होते. पण १९७३ मध्ये कर्नाटक असे नामकरण करण्यात आले, त्याबद्दलची माहिती आली होती.

बंगळूरू मध्ये नातेवाईकांकडे आमचा मुक्काम असलेल्या गृहसंकुलात देखील कर्नाटक राज्योत्सावानिमित्ताने कार्यक्रम होता. सुरुवातीला झेंडा वंदन झाले(लाल आणि पिवळा रंग असलेल्या कर्नाटकाचा झेंडा), सभासदांनी, मुला-मुलींनी कर्नाटक राज्यगीत(‘जय भारत जननिया तनुजाते जाते’ हे कर्नाटक माते), आणि इतर राज्य-स्तुतीपर गाणी म्हटली. वातावरण एकूण भरून गेले होते. बऱ्याच जणांनी वेशदेखील त्याच रंगसंगती मध्ये परिधान केला होता.

संध्याकाळी बाहेर पडलो, तर ठिकठिकाणी, चौकाचौकात कर्नाटक माता म्हणजे भुवनेश्वरी देवीची प्रतिमेचे पूजन, फडफडता झेंडा, पताका यांनी सजवलेले मंडप दृष्टीस पडले. रस्त्यांवरील रिक्षा देखील ह्या निमित्ताने सजल्या होत्या. सरकारी कार्यक्रम तर होतेच(ज्यात भाषणे, कर्नाटक राज्य कला, संस्कृती, जानपद यांचे दर्शन देणारे कार्यक्रम), पण त्याच बरोबर प्रमुख आकर्षण म्हणजे राज्योत्सव प्रशस्ती पुरस्कार समाजातील विविध क्षेत्रातील व्यक्तींना त्यांच्या सेवेबद्दल दिला जातो. त्याचीदेखील माहिती ठिकठिकाणी आली होती. आम्ही नंतर जवळच असलेल्या मॉलमध्ये चर्चेत असलेला एक कन्नड सिनेमा पाहायला गेलो, ज्याचे नाव मुकुंद मुरारी, जो परेश रावळ अभिनित हिंदी सिनेमाची कन्नड आवृत्ती होती. तर मॉलमध्ये, सिनेमागृहात देखील राज्योत्सावानिमित्त सजावट दिसली. जाहिराती  दाखवणाऱ्या इलेक्ट्रोनिक फलकावर देखील कर्नाटक राज्योत्सव, राज्याचा नकाशा जो पिवळा आणि लाल रंगात दाखवला जातो, तसा आणि राज्यातील आजी माजी प्रसिद्ध व्यक्ती यांचे छायाचित्रे झळकत असलेली दिसली. दुसऱ्या दिवशी मी रेल्वेने चेन्नईला जाणार होतो, त्यामुळे रेल्वे स्टेशनवर गेलो असता, तेथेही मला कर्नाटक राज्याचा झेंडा झळकत असलेला दिसला. संपूर्ण नोव्हेंबर महिना राज्यभर काहीना काहीना कार्यक्रम ह्या निमित्ताने होत असतात. बेंगळुरच्या विधानसौधा भागात जावू नाही शकलो, पण तेथेही रोषणाई, सजावट असते.

महाराष्ट्रात मी अशा तऱ्हेने महाराष्ट्र दिन साजरा केलेला मला तरी दिसत नाही. आपापल्या सहकारी गृह्संकुलातून महाराष्ट्र दिन साजरा करायला काय हरकत आहे. मुंबई आणि इतर मोठ्या शहरातून मराठी भाषेची, मराठी संस्कृतीची गळचेपी होत असताना, त्याबद्दल जनजागृती करायला हा नक्कीच चांगला मार्ग आहे.

How to skin a giraffe?

Well, this blog is not about how to skin giraffe in literal sense! Absolutely not. This is about a play of the same name I had watched recently  at famous drama hotspot Ranga Shankara in Bengaluru during my recent visit to the city.

I picked up this weirdly named play to watch over the weekend. And I would say I enjoyed it. But don’t ask me the relation of the name of the play and story in it. I did not find any direct, to my best of knowledge. But let’s keep aside the name and focus on the story. The story is actually simple. It is about various attempts made for a marriage between daughter and sons of two kingdoms. The play was in English mainly, but it also used lot of other Indian languages. The presentation, stage, costume, multi-lingual narration, and also multi-modal live music makes it unique. The costume gave me a feeling of Greek era. The stage and props used for depicting various characters such as king, queen etc is very minimalist and innovative. Theater is a place where all such liberties can be taken, things can be denoted and told indirectly, and also lot of white spaces are left for interpretation by audience. This makes it very lively.


The story also had an undercurrent which basically trying to get these two married for convenience and not because they genuinely like each other. This is a comment on the society’s attitude towards marriage of and for convenience, for other benefits. This used to be very common all over, include princely states of India during pre-Independence era. It seems that this play is inspired by 19th century play titled Leonce and Lena by German playwright George Buchner. Their Facebook page tells about this adaption. The adaption of German plays is not new to Indian theater, especially GRIPS theater which originated in Germany has grown in India, about which I have written here. It is adapted for presentation keeping the theme intact. The original play related details are on Wiki here. The names of the main characters are kept same which are Popo and Pipi.

The play starts with king’s monologue titled “I must think” where he gives various reasons as to why he must think for other people. This monologue comments on and points to the life of general people which is so monotonous, boring where they don’t have time to think what is good and bad for them. This consisted of absurd expressions and terms, with very interactive sense in it. Then play slowly elaborates the intentions of the king and the queen about the marriage, which both denounce and escape their respective residence to run away independently. The play then uses a modern dating show concept to bring them back, understand each other, and eventually make them like each other. At the end, both king and queen makes them marry by forging them, this throws the light on the mindset of the society.

The dating show and also the host of that show itself was impressive. The host interacts with audience in interesting way, to tickle them, and make them speak their mind. The other distinctive feature of this play was its music. The duo sitting on the stage at the rear side, had carried various musical instruments with them, Indian, western, and others as well. They playing them during the scenes added a different color to the play. All in all this 100 minute social satire was different experience which unfolded in front of us.


गेल्या काही वर्षापासून सुदर्शन रंगमंच नावाचे प्रायोगिक नाटकांसाठी, इतर कलाप्रकारातील प्रयोगांसाठी पुण्यातील संस्था छान काम करते आहे. त्याच प्रकारची अजून एक संस्था म्हणजे आसक्त कलामंच. त्यांच्या ‘रिंगण’ ह्या अभिनव संकल्पनेतून त्यांनी कादंबरी अभिवचन, नाटकाचे अभिवाचन यासारखे उपक्रम राबवले आहेत. काल त्यांनी कर्नाटकातील दोड्डाटा ह्या लोकनाट्य प्रकारावर प्रकाश गरुड यांनी केलेल्या संशोधनाच्या निमित्ताने एक कार्यक्रम सादर केला. मी त्या कार्यक्रमाला हजर होतो,  त्याबद्दल थोडेसे. वर्तमानपत्रातील जाहिरात पाहून मला वाटले की दोड्डाटाचाच प्रयोग होणार आहे. कारण मी पूर्वी यक्षगान सारखे प्रयोग कन्नड संघाद्वारे आयोजित केलेल्या कार्यक्रमात पुण्यात पहिले आहेत. पण तेथे गेल्यावर समजले की प्रकाश गरुड यांच्या संशोधनावर कार्यक्रम आहे.

मला महाराष्ट्र आणि कर्नाटकतील भाषेचे अनुबंध, कलेतील अनुबंध, तसेच एकूणच संस्कृतीमधील अनुबंध याबद्दल आस्था आहे. मी माझ्या ब्लॉग वर त्याबद्दल बरेच लिहिले आहे. रहमत तरीकेरी यांनी लिहिलेले अमीरबाई कर्नाटकी या गतकाळातील गायिकेचे कन्नडमधील चरित्र मी मराठीत आणले. वि भा देशपांडे, नाडकर्णी या नाट्य-अभ्यासकांनी नाट्य-क्षेत्रामधील या देवाणघेवाणीबद्दल बरेच लिहिले आहे. मी स्वतः काही कन्नड नाटकं कर्नाटकात पहिली आहेत. दोड्डाटा(Doddata) याचा शब्दश: अर्थ आहे मोठा खेळ. म्हणजेच छोटा खेळ असला पाहिजे आणि तो आहे, त्याला म्हणतात सण्णाटा(Sannata). तसेच बयलाटा, म्हणजे उघड्यावरील खेळ(outdoor performance). दोड्डाटाला आणखी एक प्रती शव्द आहे तो म्हणजे हिरेआटा. हिरे म्हणजे थोरला. आणखी एक कलाप्रकार म्हणजे कृष्ण पारिजात, जो प्रामुख्याने बेळगाव जिल्ह्यात प्रसिद्ध आहे.

प्रकाश गरुड हे गरुड सदाशिवराव यांचे नातू आहेत. गरुड सदाशिवराव हे सुरुवातीच्या काळातील कन्नड नाट्यक्षेत्रातील, म्हणजे कंपनी थिएटर काळातील एक मोठे नाव. त्यामुळे नाट्यकलेचा वारसा त्यांना मिळाला. प्रकाश गरुड आणि त्यांची पत्नी रजनी यांनी कन्नड नाट्यक्षेत्रात बरेच काम केले आहे. धारवाड मध्ये कळसूत्री बाहुल्यांच्या खेळाशी संबंधित संस्था ते चालवतात. त्यांना IFA(India Foundation for Arts) कडून दोड्डाटा वर संशोधन करायला त्यांना मिळाले. ह्या लोककलाप्रकारांच्या  इतिहासावर आधी बरेच काम झाले आहे. गेल्या २०० वर्षात दोड्डाटा हा कलाप्रकार उगम पावला. प्रकाश गरुड यांना रस होता तो आता काय परिस्थिती आहे हे पाहण्यात, तसेच त्यांचा विकास का खुंटला आहे हे जाणण्यात. त्यात त्यांनी उत्तर कर्नाटकातील विविध भागात जाऊन त्यांनी, सध्या हयात असलेल्या कलाकारांच्या मुलाखती घेतल्या, त्यांचे त्यांचे काही कार्यक्रम रेकॉर्ड केले. ते त्यांनी प्रेक्षकांना कार्यक्रमादरम्यान दाखवले. त्यांना दिसले असे की दोड्डाटा असो, किंवा इतर कलाप्रकार असोत, त्यांना आजच्या युगात उतरती कळा लागली आहे. यक्षगान हा कलाप्रकार जसा शिवराम कारंत यांच्या प्रयत्नांमुळे जिवंत राहिला, तसे येथे होत असतना दिसत नाही. ह्या लोककला प्रकारातील कलाकार अशिक्षित, किवा खालच्या वर्गातून आलेले असत. आपली शेतीसारखी आणि इतर काम करता करता थोडे फार ही कला शिकून, ते ही सादर करत. पुढची पिढी तयार करण्याचे प्रयत्न खुपच तोकडे आहेत असे दिसले.

त्यांनी दोड्डाटा आणि सण्णाटा यातील फरक देखील स्पष्ट केला. वापरले जाणारे संगीत, वेशभूषा, यात तो फरक आहे. भक्ती पंथांच्या(जसे कि वैष्णव, शैव, लिंगायत) प्रभावामुळे सादर होणारे विषय कसे आले याबद्दल त्यांनी विवेचन केले. ते म्हणाले की स्वातंत्र्यापूर्वी उत्तर कर्नाटकात महाराष्ट्रातील सत्ताधाऱ्यांची(जसे की पेशवे आणि त्यांचे सरदार, त्यानंतरचे संस्थानिक) होती. त्यांनी ह्या कलेला विशेष उत्तेजन दिले नाही. थोडाफार आश्रय मिळायचा तो गावातील जमीनदार लोकांकडून. आता कुळे आणि जमिनदारी नष्ट झाली असल्यामुळे तोही आश्रय खुंटीत झाला. तसेच त्यांनी असेही एक निरीक्षण नोंदवले की आधुनिक काळातील ज्या नाटकांनी(उदा. हयवदन, जोकुरस्वामी इत्यादी) लोककलेचे फॉर्म वापरले, ते मुख्यत: यक्षगानाच्या स्वरूपाचे होते. त्यामुळे देखील दोड्डाटा आणि सण्णाटा या लोककलेचे मुख्य प्रवाहात येणे म्हणावे तसे झाले नाही.

त्यांचे सादरीकरण इंग्रजी मध्ये होते. शेवटी अजित जोशी यांनी त्यांची छोटेखानी मुलाखत घेतली. एका प्रश्नाला उत्तर देताना त्यांनी रामायणापेक्षा महाभारतावर ह्या लोकनाट्यांचे विषय का बेतले असतात हे विषद केले. प्रकाश गरुड यांनी सादर केलेला विषय महत्वाचा होता, संशोधन आणि दस्तऐवजीकरण देखील महत्वाचे आहे, पण ते म्हणावे तेवेढे प्रभावी पणे प्रेक्षकांपर्यंत पोहचले नाहे असे जाणवत राहिले. भाषेची अडचण असावी असे वाटले. रजनी गरुड यांना तर त्यांचे अनुभव कथन करायला अवकाश मिळालाच नाही. काही वर्षांपूर्वी बेंगळुरू येथे गेलो असता, जानपदा लोका(Janpada Loka) नावाचे, कर्नाटका जानपदा परिषत्तु ह्या संस्थेचे, लोककला संग्रहालय पाहायला गेलो होतो, तेथे विविध कर्नाटकातील विविध लोककलाप्रकार, त्यांचा इतिहास, हे पहायला आणि अनुभवायला मिळाले होते, त्याची ह्या निमित्ताने आठवण झाली. कर्नाटकात साजत होणारा मैसुरू दसरा महोत्सवात विविध जिल्ह्यांची संस्कृती दाखवणारी जम्बो सवारी(Jumbo Savari) नावाची मिरवणूक असते. त्यात बऱ्याचदा दोड्डाटा आणि सण्णाटा आणि इतर कलाप्रकारांचे सादरीकरण असते. आशा एवढीच आहे, ते कलाप्रकार फक्त संग्रहालय आणि अश्या मिरवणुकीतुनच फक्त दिसू नयेत!

Narahimha Tirth

A day trip to Mulbagal

Every time I go to Bengaluru, I try to live the city to its fullest, to what it has to offer. There are so many different facets, from the language, culture, sheer travel perspective that one can explore. I have tried sharing those in the past here, and there are many things I have not written, due to sheer laziness. This time I decided to head out of the city for a quick excursion to a holy place called Mulbagal(or Mulubagilu), which is near Kolar, about 80 kilometers towards north-east from south Bengaluru where I was put up. In fact, this town is eastern end of state of Karnataka.

We started off early in the morning, from south Bengaluru, that weekend. Despite early morning of a Saturday, it took good 40 minutes to hit the highway from that famous hanging bridge near Whitefield area, which goes to Kolar and further. The road was nice there on. This highway is also called MBT Road, which is Madras Bombay Trunk Road. One of my favorites things to do while driving in and around Bengaluru is to tune into one of Kannada radio channels. This gives a good taste of finer nuances of Kannada language, which I am not entirely exposed, despite my mother tongue being Kannada, as I don’t live in Bengaluru. I have narrated my fondness to radio here.

Mulbagal is famous for Sripadraya(or Sripadaraja) Mutt and Narsimha Tirtha. It also is famous as second capital of famous Vijaynagar empire of 16th century. Our visit was mainly for these two places. There are other tourists attractions which we did not plan, but one may find more about them here on Wiki. Sripadaraya is part of linage of Madhwacharya, who founded Dwaita philosophy(which is one among  Vedanta or Uttar Mimamsa philosophy systems. Please refer my blog here on this topic.). My family being ardent follower of Madhwacharya, a visit to this holy place was due to for long time. Sripadaraya is also known for his contribution to  Haridasa, which is a Bhakti movement in Karnataka. I am a fan of Haridasa literature.

The monastery complex has shrines of Sripadaraya and his disciples, temple of Narsihma(in fact Yognarsimha), temple of Anjaneya. It also has pond(also called pushkarani) called Narsimha Teerth which has a shrine at the center. I also noticed a colony of bird around that central shrine, but could not recognize the birds unfortunately(They did not seem like bats though, which is what one would usually find at such a place which is not quite easily accessible by humans. I have seen many of them during my trekking days in Sahyadri range, especially on the ceilings of the caves). We attended prayers, and also participated in feast after the prayers. I also was lucky to find a book which is a volume produced during National Haridasa Literature Conference in 2012 organized by the monastery. I hope sometime to also get hold of Dasa Sahitya volumes produced  Project Dasa Sahitya by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams(TTD). Their volumes are result of research and compilation of sources of scattered Haridasa literature.

Anyways, this trip reminded me of a trip to Kolar which near Mulbagal which I had taken way back during my maiden trip to Bengaluru in 1992. Kolar is famous for now abandoned gold mine/fields. That trip was in a state transport bus. Bengaluru and its outskirts has grown so much. I guess it has started showing its effect on this garden city. I read other days that it recorded a hottest day in the history of the city. I had outlined state of lakes in Bengaluru amidst this concrete jungle. Hope things change before that damage is irreparable. Also,  if you are interested in reading more about my other Bengaluru explorations, feel free to refer this page.

Don’t forget to share your experience and thoughts!

Bombe Habba

Dasara Doll Festival(Bombe Habba)

Mysore Dasara(called Nadahabba in Karnataka) is very famous and known for its grandeur and jumbo savari(elephant procession) which is held at Mysore Palace. The other specialty of Dasara festival as celebrated in and around Bengaluru and Mysore(Mysuru) is display of dolls at homes and outside, and tradition of inviting neighbors for viewing. I had heard about this since last few years. Though I have not seen celebrated in this way in other parts of Karnataka, especially, region I from, which is Bijapur, northern Karnataka.

My long wish of traveling to Bengaluru and Mysuru during Dasara time got fulfilled this time. But my another wish of Mysore Palace during festival still pending, as I did not have time for it this time. Doll displays caught my eyes, starting from airport and few other places in the city. I wanted to quickly share those images here and also introduce this festival here.

Bombe Habba

Doll Arrangement at Bengaluru Airport

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Bombe Habba

At the street side near Ramkrishna Mutt in Bengaluru

There is enough information available on the Internet on the history and details on the way it is observed. You may look here for example-I don’t need to repeat it here.

But one thing, I must say, it reminded my of my childhood memories of Ganpati Festival in Maharashtra. Every home in Maharashtra installs Ganpati idols and decorates the area. As children, we would make trips to each home, all 10 days of the festival, and look at the decorations and appreciate. Though there was no formal awards for best decoration etc, the environment was similar and each house would do its best to decorate in best possible manner. That tradition seems have lost since last 15-20 years for whatever reasons, I hardly see anything like that. Hope the same does not happen to Bombe Habba.

Talking of diversity and specialties of Dasara festival, let me conclude by mentioning that I learnt during my flight back to Pune, that state of Chattisgarh(rather district of Bastar) celebrates Dasara for 75 days. Now that is definitely special!

Vellore Fort, Nandi Hill

It has been a while now, I have stopped going on some serious trekking expeditions which I used to do in the past, mainly in Sahyadri range(I am tracing that here). But I still take time to visit forts or hills whenever I find time during my travel for other reasons. Vellore is a place which I never had in my travel bucket list. I had to visit it last year for personal reasons. But when I was looking for information as to what tourist attractions this place has, and my curiosity arose, after I noticed mention of a fort on the top of the list. I decided to I take some time out to visit Vellore fort.

The town of Vellore is about 2 hours drive from Bengaluru, towards south east and is located in southern state of Tamil Nadu. The road is beautiful and it is a good drive generally.  In the last few years, some non-descript towns have suddenly achieved fame due to growth of educational institutes. Vellore is one such town. But it also has come to be known as premier medical center which developed during pre-Independence days, much to the efforts of Ida Scudder, one of Christian missionaries in India in 20th century. Marathi biography of Ida Scudder by Veena Gavankar talks of her life and work in Vellore. I have not read the book yet though-it is in my list.

Vellore fort is at the center of the town itself. It was hot, humid day of month of May. We still braved into it to visit the fort. The fort is a land fort and is in decent condition. The rampart wall is still intact. There is water filled ditch on the outside of the wall all around, obviously, for protection. It was interesting to know that it was under Maratha rule for some time. The ASI board at the fort tells that it is 16th century fort built during Vijayanagar empire. The most impressive building inside the fort is the temple. It is temple of Lord Shiva known as Jalagandeeshwar. It houses huge and intricately carved gopur.

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We spent about an hour or so at the fort and hurried back to Bengaluru same evening to reach by late evening. I could not stop by Golden temple which has become famous since few years, situated outside Vellore.

During my stay in Bengaluru , we decided to visit Nandi Hill which has been skipped by me during many of past visits to Bangalore. Nandi Hill(also called as Nandi durga) is situated in the north-east area of the city. This is the only hill around Bengaluru giving some opportunity for trekking and even some rock climbing adventure.

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There is a motorable road all the way up there. The name of the place is derived from Nandi outside Shiva temple. Much of the rampart wall and bastion is in good state, which is built by Tipu Sultan. It is not a full-fledged fort. It probably was used as residence for Tipu because of its weather, and hence there was a need to build some defense. Nonetheless, it provides good hike and a walk. The hill also has a cliff with a steep fall to the base, which, as told by locals, was used as a point of from where Tipu’s prisoners were sentenced to death by pushing them off the cliff. Beware of local self-declared guides, who might be after you to avail their services.

There is good amount of greenery on the hill and provides panoramic view of surroundings. No doubt that it is popular place among the people of Bengaluru seeking some solace from city life. It was late afternoon, when we started our journey back to city, as we wanted to reach home before traffic picked up! We took city bus both ways and was not bad experience at all.

I also had visited Chitradurga, another fort in Karnataka, during my trip 2-3 years back, when I drove down to Bengaluru from Pune. More about it in the next blog. Stay tuned!