The etymological meaning of the word ‘sāhitya’ is sahitasya bhāvaḥ – the union of several entities. In popular usage, however, it has come to mean a literary work—comprising genres like prose, verse, drama, and novel—that induces delight in its readers. Sāhitya is equivalent to the English word ‘literature.’
देडूकच्छेदनाद्वा विशति यदि गृहं तत्र नो नो विचारः |
किं त्वस्माकं सुरङ्गाकलनयति पुरे घोषयामास यस्मा
त्तस्मादेतत्सुरङ्गाधिप इति बिरुदं प्रोचुरेतत्पुरस्थाः ||
Nature Myths: In novels like ‘Vamshavruksha’, Jalapatha’, ‘Grahana’, ‘Datu’, ‘Parva’, ‘Nirakarana’, ‘Nele’ and some other novels, nature myths, natural phenomena and natural features like rain, spring or change of seasons, rivers, floods, cataracts, eclipses, mountains have been used effectively to reveal the influence of nature on the human situation.
नारायणस्य शय्यायां भोजनं स्यात्तु नोचितम् |
कथं साधु तदीयादिजन्मभक्षणमेव वः ||
The use of myth in ‘Saakshi’ also functions beautifully at another level by equating the mythical and magical power with the creative power of disinterested observation in an artist (novelist). This reminds me of what Coleridge says ‘’about the magical power of creativity, the power of an artist, in his poem ‘Kublakhan’:
‘That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That Sunny dome! Those caves of ice;
And all who heard should see them there
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Myth has become a prominent term at present in literary criticism. A large group of writers, myth-critics like Robert Graves, Francis Ferguson, Maud Bodkin, Richard Chase, Northrop Frye, Joseph Campbell and others view the genres and individual plot patterns of many works of literature - including what appear on the surface to be highly sophisticated and realistic world, as recurrences of basic mythic formulas.
भूत्वा पौल्कसकात् प्रपद्य रजकानाभाष्य पौराणिकान्
गानस्थानमुपेत्य चाशुकरणानालिङ्ग्य नत्वा कवीन् |
वेश्यासद्मनि संप्रविश्य च गता वैद्यस्य पाणिग्रहं
भूयो हन्त ! सुवर्णकारसदने सानन्दमास्ते मृषा ||
माणिक्यक्रमणं लोके मङ्गलाय भवेत्किल |
मङ्गले सहजेsस्माकं माणिक्यात्किं प्रयोजनम् ||
पूषवाडान्वयाब्धीन्दो स्वस्ति नारायणप्रभो |
नेत्रे गात्रे तथा श्रोत्रे वक्त्रे पुष्पेषुशोभ ते ||
यागक्रियार्थं खलु वृक्षराजो
वर्णक्रियार्थं खलु भृङ्गराजः |
तुलाक्रियार्थं खलु विट्तराजो
न किञ्चिदर्थं भुवि नर्सराजः ||
Naḍimiṇṭi Maṅgaleśvaraśāstri was a scholar, who was born in a town called Nāgūru of the Pārvatīpura province in the Viśākhapaṭṭaṇam district of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. He lived in the 19th century and was an authority on language and grammar. In his wit, he was like the famous Rāmakṛṣṇa of Tenāli.