Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ray-trospective: Thoughts on Ghare Baire and Charulata. (Part-I)

Satyajit Ray directed Ghare Baire (based upon the novel Ghare Baire by Rabindranath Tagore): the triangle between the characters, and the eventual resolution of the triangle.

The poster of the film was designed by Ray and completed by his son Sandip Ray. The silhouetted figure of the heroine Bimala (representing Ahalya/Sita/Panchali?), and her elongated shadow, against the doorway. What is especially clever is the way Ray uses the stained glass in the arch of the doorway; immediately setting the story in the late-Victorian era, around the period in which Tagore set his story. (Victoria = Vijaya = Aparajita. Unvanquished. The Pancha-Kanya are women who triumph over every adversity and emerge victorious. The Pancha-Kanya, women of substance, represents everywoman, and offer a mirror to society. Pancha-Kanya (lit. interpreted as five virgins), but can they imply Pandava? (Kanya = girl, woman or daughter). The pañcakanyāḥ/Pancha-Kanya: Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari. Sometimes Sita is replaced with Kunti. (Sita, Kunti and Panchali are non-different). Also, stained glass is associated with churches and chapels. The silhouetted figure of the heroine Bimala, and her elongated shadow, against the doorway: implying crossing the metaphoric threshold aka 'Lakshmana-rekha' - part of 'Ramcharitmanas', Tulsidas' retelling of the Ramayana? Crossing the 'threshold' of traditional gender norms etc which weighs affection, togetherness, passion, emotions and feelings etc against routine/obligation, drudgery and "wifely duties"?)

Since Ravana is janus-faced and relentless (very determined to get what he wants), he can be referred to as Ramachandra and Lakshmana (simultaneously). However, can Ram/Ramachandra and Lakshmana be used as allegories/metaphors, and therefore, can they be applicable for a set of qualities/attributes/traits? Lakshmana implies focused. (Laksh = the aim, mana = mind, implying steady-minded). Arjuna is parantapa (one who concentrates the most). Therefore, Lakshmana could be used as a metaphor for Arjuna? Lakshmana accompanied Sita to Maharshi Valmiki's ashram (hermitage). Is this Lakshmana a metaphor for Maharshi Valmiki? Lakshmi and Lakshmana implying twin souls? Therefore, if Lord Ram were to be used as a metaphor for an ideal husband, would it imply Lakshmana aka Maharshi Valmiki (Maharshi Vashistha/Maharshi Gautama/Maharshi Parashara/Maharshi Veda Vyasa/Arjuna)? Devavrata or Bheeshma Pitamaha? 

(Bheeshma means great. Pitamah means grandsire. Devavrata undertook a kathor vrata (great vow, pratigya, pledge) and [thereafter] became known as Bheeshma. Maharishi is honorific for learned personages of rare intellect and wisdom. Brahmarishi = the highest Rishi. Brahmarshi Vashistha, one of the Saptarishi [a reference to the seven great Rishi/sages] and a celebrated Vedic sage, was the preceptor [guru] of the Raghu clan (Raghukula, Raghuvansh - the lineage of Raghu to which Sri Rama (Sita) belonged. Soul mates and twin souls may not be synonymous. There can be many soul mates but only one twin soul. Sri and Rama are honorifics for Lakshmi).

Bidhir Bnadhan:

Nikhilesh's character: peace-loving and somewhat passive/understated (undemonstrative, no grand gestures), humble/modest, self-controlled and decent, chivalrous, caring, confident, greathearted, sensitive, urbane, handsome, mature, open-minded, responsible, dignified, perceptive, progressive, a man of character and a man of his words (a little romantic/idealistic, but with the strength of mind to follow his ideals/values, to walk the talk).

Sandip's character: ostensibly dynamic, popular, passionate orator, radical revolutionist, pompous, boastful, selfish, irresponsible, takes things for granted, ungallant (chickenhearted, pusillanimous), self-admiring, supercilious/indifferent, quite handsome, charming, ostensibly (ostentatiously) a man of action, talks about lofty ideals but does not practice what he preaches (hypocritical, unscrupulous, janus-faced, deliberately duplicitous, low on principles/ethics. Savours the good life, cannot withstand hardships).

Modeled after Nandi and Bhringi respectively – representing two sets of characteristics, different types of masculinity?

Nandi probably symbolises or embodies [viable] ethics/values, qualities and principles that is inspiring and worthy of emulation and chivalrous [gallant] masculinity - understated, confident masculinity. Nandi: assertiveness, confidence, energy, incisiveness, determination, strength of mind and body, stamina, nobility, unselfish qualities/characteristics and leadership; to be strong and self-controlled and decent; to be confident enough to take defeat (disappointments, unpleasantness) on the chin and not pass the buck of blame unfairly; to have grace under fire [to remain relaxed and self-assured], to be dignified, to have pride but not boastfulness; to know how to behave with women or to treat women well but not allowing oneself to be pushed around; to take calculated risks, to push fear [of failure, disappointments] aside and to be dutiful (kartavya, responsible), and chivalrous.

Bhringi, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Nandi. Bhringi, therefore, could represent machismo, a he-man complex; a strong or exaggerated sense of masculinity/manliness [or emphatic/ostentatious/vainglorious/pompous - conspicuous and sometimes pretentious display or puffed up (with vanity) masculinity] stressing attributes such as physical courage, blatant virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness [being 'macho']. In other words, exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled with a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of outcome or significance.)

|| ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā ।
pañcakanyāḥ smarennityaṃ mahāpātakanāśinīḥ

Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari

One should forever remember the Pancha-Kanya (lit. interpreted as five virgins, can imply Pandava?) who are the dispellers of negativity (from unclean hearts and minds).

Note: A variant of this verse replaces Sita with Kunti. The Pancha-kanya is one and the same. Sita and Kunti are non-different, implying deity or personification of nature/earth (dharitri, Bhudevi, Sridevi). Kunti is also called Pritha ("the palm of the hand") - implying fortune. (Lakshmi/Sridevi = the deity of fortune). Therefore, Kunti and Panchali is one and the same. Arjuna is also known as Kaunteya (of Kuntī). One who belongs to Kunti/Panchali? Or modest/down-to-earth?  

Agni-pariksha implies adversity. Agnipath rather. Ray (also) uses the stained glass in the arch of the doorway to depict a rising sun. Personification of the Sun (Savitr) is Savitri, a reference to Sri SarasvatI (the Eternal Divine). Therefore, Savitri = the Pancha-kanya. There is also a story involving Kunti and Suryadev. A son, Karna, was born to them (through surrogacy or test-tube baby/IVF procedure?) but was given up for adoption. (Here Karna could be a metaphor, though). However, Gandharva-Vivaah (which required mutual consent but no rituals) was prevalent, so there may have been other reasons for this. But what could Suryadev imply? Kaushika means a king of the solar dynasty, possibly implying a clan with the sun as its insignia/emblem. Could Kaushika be a reference to Lord Indra? Or to Maharshi Gautama? The mutual attraction between Ahalya and Indra? Indra is the leader/king of the Devas (enlightened beings, those with a predominance of positive aspects/qualities and/or the citizenry of a certain geographic realm), the lord of Svargaloka (possibly implying a geographic realm known for its scenic beauty) and deity of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra. Indra is depicted as a heroic, almost brash, even amorous character. However, Indra can also be used in a general sense as a leader. Arjuna's father was Indra hence he is called Aindri. (Maybe some puzzle is implied here). But who was Shachi, also known as Indrani (queen of Indra), Aindri, Mahendri and Aindrani - one of the Sapta Matrika? (Sapta Matrika = Seven forms of Durga/Shakti).

From the Ramayana we gather that Sita (of Videha/Janakapuri/Mithila) and Prince Ramachandra (of Ayodhya) were married (Svayamvara). Ram's abandonment of Sita: was it direct or indirect (e.g. emotional abandonment)? Lava and Kusha were twins? Who was this Lord Ram? (It may not be a reference to Ravana).

Sati and Savitri is a reference to the Eternal Divine. Sati is probably the feminine of Satya, the Eternal Divine. (Sati and Parvati, also known as Durga, are one and the same). Savitri implies the personification of the Sun (Savitr). Their modern connotations are [perhaps] due to medieval sensibilities.

A fresh thinking/approach is [therefore] necessary w.r.t. the epics and the many stories, anecdotes and fables that are part of the ancient texts. Subjective history is unhelpful. Archeological findings, artifacts, hieroglyphs, imageries etc need to be intellectually discussed. The many fables and stories come with highly imaginative (and intellectually stimulating) extended metaphors, similes, allegories, symbolism and imagery. These need to be (intellectually, wisely, imaginatively and rationally) comprehended and interpreted, rather than persisting with archaic or simplistic/superficial explanations and points of view. ... What we get to read are essentially the interpretations, translations and points of view of scholars, writers and dramatists that came about after the decline of the Gupta era. This was not a very enlightened phase, and [therefore] the interpretations, stories etc were simplistic, and probably also reflected the prevalent social milieu, i.e. the collective social mindset/values and/or the understanding of the said writers, storytellers, besides histrionic excesses and so on. Some of these probably have contributed towards the stratification of society, including on gender lines, 'supremacy' of one divinity over another, 'masculinisation' of the divine and other selfish aspects. However, discussions, and a non-simplistic understanding/interpretation can help gain clarity to some extent. Common sense too need not be eschewed. Persisting with incorrect/subjective understanding/interpretation or obscurantism etc is unhelpful. Stagnation (especially intellectual laziness or stagnation) is deleterious for a people and thereby for a society/civilisation (since behavioural aspects, attitude, mindset, thought process etc shape up the societal aspects/values). Open-mindedness is required. Evolution is necessary, inevitable. The Vedas say, Charaiveti, Charaiveti. Keep moving. To continually seek and keep moving towards the eternal quest (knowledge, enlightenment, creativity, self-improvement, Self-realisation, etc). Progressive change/transformation/evolution is inevitable. This advice is timeless. (Gautama Buddha too used these words as a message to the world to keep moving).


The iconic song from Charulata (Satyajit Ray's adaptation of Tagore's NastaNir). Soumitra Chattopadhyay perfectly cast as the young Tagore. But what could the picture represent? And Soumitra's hand gestures? Reminiscent of Krishna Radha Raas Leela Dance? There's also a bit of Ring a ring a roses (children's rhyme).

Feluda is modeled after Sabyasachi, Arjuna. Feluda loves khoyer chhara mishti paan (an allusion to Panchali, pronounced Paanchaali?) Here too there is something about paan. (Sabyasachi = ambidextrous, perhaps implying indefatigable. Jishnu = the irrepressible one).

Aami otithi tomaari dvarey. What could this imply? A reference to Dvārakā (also known as Dvaravati, city with many doors/gates)? Gateway? Haridvar? Universal, all of humankind? Confluence (yoga)? Prayaga? (Also, Kadambari is used for Sri SarasvatI).

Master auteur Satyajit Ray's adaptation of Puss in Boots in "Gupy Gyne Bagha Byne" [lit. "The Adventures of Gupy and Bagha"] and "Hirak Rajar Deshe" [lit. "In the Land of the Diamond King" or "The Kingdom of Diamonds"] is top-class. Rather, Hirak Rajar Deshe brilliantly captures the essence of Tagore's "Where the mind is without fear [...]" Jantarmantar Ghaar, magajdholai (brainwashing, straitjacketing of the mind) etc is a reference to intellectual inactivity/regimentation and [resultant] ennui and stagnation that inevitably results in a civilisational decline (the proverbial quagmire, since the quality of humankind declines).


Bertie is not averse to giving the "old oil" (charm) whenever the need arose, most notably to Aunt Dahlia. Just the thought of being barred from her dinner table, and thereby deprived of the roasts and boileds of her supremely skilled French chef Anatole - God's gift to the gastric juices - is usually enough to make Bertie answer Aunt Dahlia's call to Brinkley Court, except when some prize-giving is involved. (Bertie would rather shove it off on to his "horn-rimmed spectacles"-wearing Newt-fancier friend "with a face like a fish" - Gussie Fink-Nottle [engaged to Madeline Bassett who soberly speaks of the stars as "God's daisy chain".])

"It surprises many people, I believe, that Bertram Wooster, as a general rule a man of iron, is as wax in the hands of his Aunt Dahlia, jumping to obey her lightest behest like a performing seal going after a slice of fish. [...] When she says Go, accordingly, I do not demur, I goeth, as the Bible puts it..."

Bertie, however, did put his foot down ("cringe like a salted snail" despite being a descendant of the Woosters, who did their bit in the Crusades - according to Aunt Dahlia) and refused to play Santa "before an audience of charming children who wouldn't hurt a fly."

"Well, her efforts were ... what's that word I've heard you use?"
"Bootless, sir?"
"Or fruitless?"
"Whichever you prefer, sir."
"I was not to be moved. I remained firm. I am not a disobliging man, Jeeves. If somebody wanted me to play Hamlet, I would do my best to give satisfaction. But at dressing up in white whiskers and a synthetic stomach I draw the line and draw it sharply. She huffed and puffed, as you heard, but she might have known that argument would be bootless. As the wise old saying has it, you can take a horse to the water, but you can't make it play Santa Claus."
"Very true, sir."

Bertie is [perhaps] alluding to the crafty and quick-witted Puss of the "The Master Cat: or Puss in Boots" tale. (Puss has a desire for boots, which could represent seven-league boots. The Master Cat or the Booted Cat uses ingenuity, flattery and deceit to acquire power, wealth, etc. The cat - a creature that has mastered the arts of persuasion and rhetoric (ingratiating, unctuous?) - has enough wit and manners to impress the king, the intelligence to defeat the ogre, and the skill to arrange a royal marriage for his (not royal or noble) master. Puss's career is capped by his elevation to grand seigneur. He enjoys life as a great lord who runs after mice only for his own amusement.) Satyajit Ray's adaptation of this tale in "Gupy Gyne Bagha Byne" and "Hirak Rajar Deshe" is top-class.

Where the mind is without fear: The mighty verses of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. There is a touch of magic in the poem. A powerful breath of sensible air. Cheers to the country!

BG 9.17: || pitāham asya jagato mātā dhātā pitāmahaḥ vedyaḿ pavitram oḿkāra || ~ "I am the father (pitā) of this universe (jagato), the mother (mātā), the support (dhātā) and the grandsire (pitāmahaḥ). I am the bestower of non-transient/enlightened knowledge (vedyaḿ) - i.e. the wisdom of knowledge (para vidya, enlightened knowledge, wisdom that broadens the thinking process and dispels all illusions), the change-maker/all-purpose problem-solver (dispeller of negativity/negative energy or unpleasant/obsolete/retrograde aspects) and oḿkaara (the pranaavah)." (OM, written out as AUM, is very auspicious. Omkaara = the praṇava (pranaavah naad) is Shabda Brahmn (Primordial Sound).


Who was Devavrata, who undertook a kathor vrata (great vow, pratigya, pledge) and [thereafter] became known as Bheeshma?

Bheeshma's Sharashajya (lying on a bed of arrows) and Christ's Crucifixion (affixed to the cross): is there a connection?

What does the term "Holy Grail" means?

What could crucifixion imply? Something to do with the Swastika (also known as the gammadion cross or cross cramponnée) - a symbol that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross?

The word swastika derives from the Sanskrit svastika - which means "lucky or auspicious object" or well-being. It is composed of su- meaning "good, well" or "auspicious" and asti meaning "being" or "to be". The suffix -ka either forms a diminutive or intensifies the verbal meaning, and suastika might thus be translated literally as "that which is associated with well-being," corresponding to "lucky charm" or "thing that is auspicious." Thus swastika means any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote auspiciousness, good luck or well-being. Swastika literally means, "to be good". Suasti means "well-being." Alternatively: "swa" is "Higher Self" (higher mind or higher manas?), "asti" meaning "being", and "ka" as a suffix, so the translation can be interpreted as: "being with higher self".

'Cross my heart and hope to die' is a phrase. It means to give your heart to God (the Eternal Divine). To tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Attest to the truth of something; solemnly assure someone that the truth has been spoken. It is generally accompanied by hand gestures such as crossing one's hands over one's chest. Breaking a promise/pledge = "hope to die". 

Satyavati is Pitamahi. Bheeshma is Pitamah. (Bheeshma means great. Pitamah means grandsire. Satyavati means: one who is truthful. It probably implies, personification of the Eternal Divine. (Truth is a reference to the Eternal Divine, the higher power. Thus, Satyameva Jayate. 'Truth stands invincible' or 'Truth always prevails'.) There is a story involving a fish associated with Satyavati. Matsya-avatar? Fish-shaped birthmark or scar on the face? Feluda loves fish fry. Byomkesh Bakshi is married to Satyavati. Implying Byomkesh and Satyavati is one and the same?).

Ganga could be a metaphor for a knowledge stream. Therefore, Ganga being Bheeshma's mother could be allegoric, implying a learned person (or [perhaps] a prodigiously knowledgeable person). King Santanu gets married to Ganga. Could Shantanu (the King of Hastinapur) be a reference to Karna (aka Satyabhama)? There is a story involving Maharshi Parashara and Satyavati. (They have a Gandharva-Vivaha, which requires mutual consent but no rituals).  Shar or Bāṇa = arrow. Maharshi Parashara. Bheeshma lying on a sharashajya (a bed of arrows). ... Satyavati and Shantanu had two offspring (sons): Chitrangada and Vichitrvirya. (However, Chitrangada was the princess of Manipura, [very likely] a reference to Panchali. Vichitr = unusual, uncommon, curious, atypical, different, unconventional, offbeat. Virya = virility, masculine vigour. Who was Shikhandi?). Are Satyavati and Ganga one and the same? Are Maharshi Parashara, the prodigiously knowledgeable Maharshi Veda Vyasa, Bheeshma and Arjuna one and the same? 

Devavrata undertook a kathor vrata (great vow, pratigya, pledge) and [thereafter] became known as Bheeshma. Shantanu and Bheeshma were father and son or is there some puzzle involved? Could Bheeshma have been a reference to Arjuna? And Shantanu a reference to Karna (aka Satyabhama aka Pandu)? Are Bheeshma and Maharshi Veda Vyasa one and the same? (Destiny chose Vyasa's DNA to rule Hastinapura.)

Bheeshma was learned, had stature, character and personality, as well as qualities and abilities that were fit for kings. He had deep knowledge of political science and statesmanship. He was not needlessly aggressive and also had a sense of kartavya. He was a true Kshatriya, a peerless warrior, and did not exhibit anger etc unnecessarily. Despite his stature and gravitas, he did not want to antagonise Duryodhana and his accomplices (which included Karna)? Or was he helpless/uncomfortable/constrained/ill-at-ease - like a fish out of water? Despite his stature, wisdom, capability etc and despite being cognisant of everything, he was totally sidelined/ignored/disregarded due to the hegemony of Duryodhana, etc?

The pañcakanyāḥ/Pancha-Kanya (lit. interpreted as five virgins, can imply Pandava?) is one and the same. Ahalya = without blemish, one with no hala (negativity, sin, fault; halahala = toxic aspects). Immaculate? (Kanya = girl, woman or daughter).

Satyavati is mentioned as the adopted daughter of Dāsaraja. Does it imply ten kingdoms? Dāsaraja and Dasaratha one and the same? (Therefore, Satyavati = Sita?) Was Ayodhya under the suzerainty of Lanka?

Bheeshma = Veda Vyasa = Arjuna? Bheeshma-Satyavati = Valmiki/Vashistha-Sita = Gautama-Ahalya = Arjuna-Krishna (Panchali, Kunti) = Radha-Krishna = Jesus and Mary?

Remarriage/second marriage? Gandharva Vivaah? Severance of ties with Ravana/Karna (aka Pandu aka Satyabhama aka Shantanu)? In which case the notion that Vedic marriages were airtight may be incorrect. (Arjuna cannot be castigated for remaining silent when indignities were being heaped on Panchali. Karna's behaviour may have to be considered instead.)

Is our understanding of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata the outcome of subjective analysis and [non-progressive] points of view of various storytellers, commentators, interpreters, dramatists etc? Influenced by histrionic excesses, medieval biases and archaic sensibilities (due to contemporisation several centuries ago, largely reflecting the then prevalent societal mindset/values, and so forth)?

The Ramayana is not a victimhood narrative. The Ramayana (like the Mahabharata, 'Great History of the Bharatas' - a reference to the descendents of Puru, Yayati's youngest-born; Mahabharati = Panchali) is an interesting tale. It also brings out various aspects of human nature, societal aspects and the changing contours of relationships in all its myriad shades. When power, unbridled ambition and their associated aspects are involved, mere emotions do not suffice. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata (including the Srimad Bhagavad Gita) cannot be comprehended through a casual, cursory, simplistic or superficial reading. And yet, they have been turned into precisely that, largely inane discourses.

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