Re: dharma sandEham

Ramakrishna S. Pillalamarri (pkrishna@ARL.MIL)
Tue, 19 Aug 97 19:31:07 EDT

>Which other language has more number of letters than telugu?

ivALa akkirAju nakkanu tokki unTADu! Before I answer his question,
aren't I entitled a little detour?

viSwanAtha acyuta dEva rAyalu gAru, in his book "vEdAravindamu", vol-1
has an article on "bhAsha puTTuka". Following are some excerpts from
this essay, translated to my limited ability. I would request the
readers to consider the comments qualitatively, read the essay in its
original telugu script (a SASE to adiyan would do it - 19 Idlewild
St/Bel Air/MD 21014), and refrain from any instinctive and gratuitous
flames. The author has not requested these excerpts to be posted here.
If these comments of mine seem unwarranted, I would be just delighted.

A language is like a flowing river; starting as unknown mountain creek,
and ending in an amorphous ocean, and (eventually) losing its existence
altogether! For example, there are none at present who speak Sumerian,
Hittite, Gothic languages.

Sound is made in space, filled with some air. We all know that
vibrations in this space result in sound. These vibrations are present
in the thunder in the sky, a lion's roar, or the evening news on the
tube. Thus the 'capacity' to perturb air molecules and create sound is
present everywhere. The source for the creation of a 'sound'/'letter'/
'utterance' is the same. taittereeya brAhmaNam says "vAgvai vAyuh".

The sound of the cry of a lion bringing food to the den, and when it is
not; the majesty of an ocean roar; of a nightingale's song - they all
induce different feelings in the listener. Jim Corbett was known to
imitate the roar of a lioness, and draw out the male lion out of the
cave. So, there is a definite meaning for sounds, whether composed of
'letters' are not. Our SAstras say "SabdArtha sambandhamu nityamu"

A sound that is not composed of letters may indicate a mood, a feeling,
in a very broad sense, but cannot discriminate subtly between the
variety of things in this creation. While birds and animals may be able
to create sounds that are necessary for the limited purpose of their
bodily needs (sthUla, sUkshma), only man has the ability to create
sounds composed of letters, to take care of even the needs of the
intellect (j~nAna dEham).

There is a branch of study created for the understanding of vEdas,
called "Siksha". This elaborately describes the processes by which a
sound is produced, starting from nAbhi. tyAgarAja encapsulates this
discourse with the phrase "nAbhee hRt-kanTha-rasana nAsAdula yandu
SObhillu sapta-swara ...".

(I'd leave the following in telugu) sRshTi kAraNamaina mahA caitanyamunu
vEdamu brahamu-anunu. A brahmamunaku pradhAnamugA mooDu lakshaNamulu
unnavi. okaTi j~nAnamu, renDu prANamu, mooDu Sabdamu. A j~nAnamu ee
aksharamulanu kalipi mATalu, mATalanu kalipi vAkyamulu cEyunu. vAkyamu
laguTaku mATalaku kAvalasina pratyayAdulu, vyAkaraNamu - oka dAni venTa
nokaTigA pravahincu cunDunu. sAraswatamaina pravAha magunu. vEdamu "Etou
sAraswatou utsou" aninadi. utsamu - anagA UTa-bAvi. You are not sure
where exactly it is coming from. It keeps coming drop after drop. As you
think about it, new ideas keep springing up.

prANa lakshaNamina brahmamu paSu-pakshyAdulugA, anEkamulaina mAnava
jAtulugA praLayAntamu varaku puTTucunE yunDunu. Sabda brahmamu mEgha
swAnamugA, jalapAta dhwAnamugA, kOkila kUtagA, simha-garjanagA,
priyurAli mATagA, veeNA nikwANamugA, anEkamaina jAtulatO puTTi, vAritO antarinc.

My apologies to a) those who happened on this post, and read it and got
bored, b) those that were put off by the rambling and disjointed
excerpts, and the less-than-stellar translation, and c) to VADR for
including parts of his essay here, in such a fashion.

Coming back to akkirAju's question, the following is given as one of the
footnotes in the essay.

A list of "letters" in various languages. This is according to
western lexicologits(? linguists? philologists?). There may be
minor differences in the exact numbers; plus or minus one, or two.

Language   Letters   Consonants   Vowels
English      26         21          5
Arabic       28         25          3(?)
Chinese      36         28          8(?)
Slavik       32         25          7
Eskimo       48         45          3
Shirokee     85         80          5
Irish        18         15          3
German       31         33          8
Greek        24         10          6
Hebrew       34         32          2
Japanese     76         70          6
Sanskrit     48         34         14
Thai         65         38         27
Tibetan      38         31          7

>akkiraju "dharma sandEhAlu unnappudu... adharma sandEhAlantE eviti?"

anagA anagA oka rOjuna oka kUcipUDi programme cUstunnAnu. One of the many
reasons for the current trend of women portraying men-roles is that it is
still frowned upon for men and women to be dancing in proximity. But the
two artists on the stage, a man and a woman didn't seem to subscribe to
this dicta. Next to me was sitting a man who is a well-known dance-critic.
I asked him the question, prefacing it as a 'dharma sandEham'. He (who 
shall remain anonymous) gave me an answer (which I won't go into here) of 
sorts, prefacing his answer "adi dharma-sandEhamu enduku avutundee, adharma-

Ramakrishna "PMM- I didn't post much for days!" Pillalamarri