FLASHES OF MY LIFE 11: A boyhood memory -- The greatness of my father!
THIRD OF MY FOUR FAVOURITES FROM RAGHUVAMSA
त्यागाय सम्भृतार्थानां सत्याय मितभाषिणां।
यशसे विजिगीषूणां प्रजायै गृहमेधिनां॥ I – 7.
tyAgAya sambhRRiitArthAnAM satyAya mitabhAshhiNAM .
yashase vijigIshhUNAM prajAyai gRRihamedhinAM ..
(I, Kalidasa, am going to tell you )About those kings who amassed riches only for the sake of munificence; who were reticent only for the sake of veraciousness; who were ambitious to campaign only for the sake of their upper hand and who got married only for the sake of meetly progeny...
Shloka #s 5, 6, 7, 8 of the first canto give you an areal description of the amazing qualities of the entire line of kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty, whoe stories Kalidasa is going to take up in the rest of the epic. Though all these four verses are of the same high quality and delineate the rare greatness of the line of Ikshvaku kings, I chose even in my boyhood, this particular shloka as my favourite because of the first line of the shloka. What impressed me even as a growing youth was the fact that they earned riches only to give them away and they spoke less in order that they may not slip into the sin of utterance of even a harmless falsehood.
But as my age advanced into adulthood and as the fifties of the last century opened up the process of birth control (though not the occurrence of a progeny) as a personal scientific human achievement, the last quarter of this shloka –‘prajAyai gRRihamedhinAM’ - began to connote a still more wonderful quality of the Ikshvaku kings than the other ones listed by Kalidasa himself in shlokas 5 to 8. At my age 10 when my father taught me this shloka he could, naturally, only translate it for me (in Tamil, as you can see in my boyish handwriting in the first picture below of 1937) as, ‘those who got married only for the prospect of begetting heirs for them’ – which meaning, naturally, could not have made any great impression, as a spectacular characteristic of kings, on a boy of ten!
Incidentally, look at the second picture below of another page of the same notebook of mine as a boy, and you will see the initials of my father (RV) with a date 12/12 of 1937. This shows that he was regularly checking whether I had learnt and recorded what he taught me. Also note that side by side he was making me learn some grammatical peculiarities, as far as what concerns the particular shloka. All this work of his, at the time when he himself had an office routine as a Sheristadar (Senior Court officer in charge of records and bookings of cases) in the Sub Court for which he had to be present in the Office from 11 AM to 5 PM and to boot, he had the practice of daily morning river bath, and then a two hour puja and to cap it all he had to be both a mother and a father for me (since he lost his wife even when I was not yet six). And again, particularly in 1937 he had to teach me every night, the (7th class lessons of) algebra and geometry that I had missed in school because I had just then been double promoted by St Joseph’s Sec. School, Cuddalore from class 6 to class 8 (I form to III form in the terminology of those days; in other words, I was allowed in 1937 to skip the short term of class 6 and the long term of class7). What a great father I had! We should all pray that we should be born to such type of a father in our next birth !