Maharṣi Vālmīki's sense of humour - part 6

He is described as ‘smitapūrvābhibhāṣī’, someone who always has a smile before he talks. There are many instances which proves that he had a great sense of humour. We see that he had said, ‘ परिहासो ह्ययं मम (it was just a prank)’, to Trijaṭa.

During their stay in the forest Śrī-rāma, Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa were all very happy. The beauty of nature and their casual conversations made them happy and they never thought of their stay as an ordeal. Till Sītā was kidnapped there is no inkling of any complaints about their stay or difficulties. Śrī-rāma took utmost care to make Sītā, who was tenderness personified, as comfortable as possible. He says to Sītā.

दर्शनं चित्रकूटस्य मन्दाकिन्याश्च शोभने ।
अधिकं पुरवासाच्च मन्ये च तव दर्शनात् ॥

लक्ष्मणश्चापि धर्मात्मा मन्निदेशे व्यवस्थितः ।
त्वं चानुकूला वैदेहि प्रीतिं जनयतो मम ॥

नायोध्यायै न राज्याय स्प्रुहयेऽद्य त्वया सह ॥

-Ayodhyākāṇḍa 95.12,16,17

[My dear! I feel happier seeing the river Mandākinī and Citrakūṭa than being in Ayodhyā. The noble Lakṣmaṇa, has always been favourable and has followed my words to the dot. Vaidehi! If I’m with you and Lakṣmaṇa, then I neither need Ayodhyā nor the throne.]

Later after she was kidnapped, Śrī-rāma, heartbroken, says this to Lakṣmaṇa.

अस्मिन् मया सार्धमुदारशीला शिलातले पूर्वमुपोपविष्ट ।
कान्तस्मिता लक्ष्मण जातहासा त्वामाह सीता बहुवाक्यजातम् ॥

Araṇyakāṇḍa 63.12

[Lakṣmaṇa, this is the rock upon which my beloved, the one of the flawless character, would sit beside me with a wonderful smile. Didn’t she spend many a day chatting with you in jest here?]

The sense of humour of the trio.

Śrī-rāma, Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa have arrived at the banks of Gaṅgā. Guha is waiting to take them across the river with his boat. Śrī-rāma wants to have some fun at the expense of Sītā. He addresses Lakṣmaṇa thus, “Lakṣmaṇa! Get into the boat first, then help this courageous woman get into the boat by holding her hand!” Śrī-rāma seems to suggest that “Sītā is indeed brave, except when it comes to getting into a boat!” “Let her get into the boat if she is indeed daring”, is his opinion. Lakṣmaṇa understood his intent and said, “Yes she is indeed brave” and helped her get into the boat first and then he followed (Ayodhyākāṇḍa 52.75,76).

The episode of Śūrpaṇakhā

Śrī-rāma’s sense of humour is evident in the episode of Śūrpaṇakhā. Seems like maharṣi Vālmīki has deliberately brought in hāsya in this episode. The old woman she was, its comical to see Śūrpaṇakhā being overcome by lust. And she had the gall to express it in public in the presence of Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa, rather than in privacy is something to be ashamed about. Śrī-rāma, the mind reader he was, was able to see through her facade and machinations in the first glance itself. He declared, “राक्षसी प्रतिभासि मे (You seem like a Rākṣasī to me).”

How inappropriate her lust was, has been portrayed wonderfully by maharṣi Vālmīki.

सुमुखम् दुर्मुखी रामं वृत्तमध्यं महोदरी ।
विशालाक्षं विरूपक्षी सुकेशं ताम्रमूर्धजा ॥

प्रीतिरूपं विरूपा सा सुस्वरं भैरवस्वरा ।
तरुणं दारुणा वृद्धा दक्षिणं वामभाषिणी ॥

न्यायवृत्तम् सुदुर्वृत्ता प्रियमप्रियदर्शना ॥

Araṇyakāṇḍa 17.10-12

[Śrī-rāma’s handsome face vs Śūrpaṇakhā’s ugly one, his thin waist vs her pot belly, charming lotus like eyes vs crooked eyes, thick black hair vs copper hair, pleasant form vs terrifying form, melodious voice vs frightening voice, youth vs terminal old age, straight talk vs crooked speech, noble vs base, endearing vs endangering]

What a match indeed! If they’d marry it would be a model pair worthy of emulation!

See how Śūrpaṇakhā conducts herself in lust while speaking to him: he directly goes and asks him, “Who are you? Why do you pretend to be a tapasvin with matted locks? Yet you take a wife and carry bows and arrows. Why have you come here? Tell me the truth!”. Śrī-rāma told everything as it is. She replied, “I’ve come to take you as my husband. Be my husband for eternity!” Looks like till then she didn’t have a husband with whom she lasted long! But seeing Sītā with him she had doubts about what would Śrī-rāma do. She proposed a ready solution. She said, “Don’t worry, I’ll eat her.” What if Lakṣmaṇa poses a problem to her carefree behaviour? She would eat him too. Seeing that Sītā is beautiful and Śrī-rāma might not abandon her, she said, “What is the use of this woman? She looks ugly. She isn’t befitting to your charms! I’m the one. She is disgusting, ignoble! Her waist has just depleted. What ugliness!”

‘Go to Lakṣmaṇa…’

Seeing her shamelessness he wanted to play a prank. He said, “Ārye, I’m already married. As you say she might be ugly, but still she is my beloved! For a woman like you it would be difficult to live with cowives! Behold, there is my younger brother. An impeccable character. Handsome. Resplendent. He is unmarried. His name is Lakṣmaṇa. Valourous man, still not acquainted with the conjugal pleasures. He is in search of a wife! You are indeed a great match! Marry him. You won’t have to bother about co-wives.” he said, “It would be like the union of the sun rays with the golden Meru!”

Already drowned in lust, Śūrpaṇakhā didn’t understand this prank. She immediately approached Lakṣmaṇa, “O Lakṣmaṇa! See my lustrous skin! I’m your match!” He also found it funny. He couldn’t help but laugh. He had heard what Śrī-rāma told her. He too played along and said, “Indeed your complexion resembles the lotus! But I’m a servant to my elder brother. Being a wife of a servant would you like to be one? Would it be appropriate to be the servant of a servant? It's better to be my brother’s wife instead. O lotus eyed one. What a great complexion! Be the younger wife of my brother. As you have already observed his wife is thin, pale, ugly, of emaciated waist and old. My brother would abandon her and marry you. Who in the right mind would refuse a beauty like you!”

This is the sixth part of the multi-part translation of the Kannada book "Valmiki Munigala Hasya Pravrtti" by Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Dr. N Ranganatha Sharma. Thanks to Dr. Sharada Chaitra for granting us permission to translate this wonderful work. The original in Kannada can be read here

Author(s)

About:

Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Ranganatha Sharma was a renowned Sanskrit scholar and an authority on Vyakarana or Grammar. He is noted for his translation of the entire Valmiki Ramayana into Kannada, which was published with a foreword by DVG. He has authored several books in Kannada and Sanskrit. He is a recipient of the national award for Sanskrit learning and has received the Rajyotsava Award.  

Translator(s)

About:

Raghavendra G S is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Science. He is a keen student of classical literature in Sanskrit and Kannada. He is one of the contributing editors of Prekshaa.

Prekshaa Publications

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective...

Yaugandharam

इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...

Vanitakavitotsavah

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Vaiphalyaphalam

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Nipunapraghunakam

इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।

Bharavatarastavah

अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...

Bharatilochana

ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...