Some times it may boomerang
(Repartee in Sanskrit Literature)
Dr.Chilakamarthi Durgaprasada Rao
Sanskrit literature is vast and it is a treasure house of all literary trends ancient as well as modern. Repartee is one of the modern trends of English literature. According to Sankaranarayana dictionary Repartee means a ready reply retort; a witty reply or replies; talk characterised by clever and witty replies; cleverness and wit in making replies.
We can come across a number of examples in Sanskrit literature for repartee. As a piece meal I would like to introduce one.
Once, Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu visited Kailash to see her friend Parvati, the wife of Lord Siva. Parvathi welcomed Lakshmi with love and affection. Since Lakshmi was very rich she wanted to make fun of Parvati, who is a simple and ordinary woman. Lakshmi on seeing the surroundings of her house thought of making fun of Parvathi. At the very out set she put a question: (1) भिक्षार्थी स क्व यात:? bhiksharthi sa kva yatah? (Where did the beggar go)? Since Siva is known to all as ‘Adibhikshu’ Lakshmi had a chance of ridiculing Parvati by using the word ‘beggar’. This question pinned the heart of parvati, because no woman can tolerate while her husband is abused even by her own kith and kin. What to say about others. But what she can do? She cannot push Lakshmi out of her house who happened to be the guest then. So she wanted to teach her a lesson silently. She replied. सुतनु बलिमखे ‘ sutanu! Bali makhe’ (Oh my dear beautiful one! he might have gone to attend the sacrifice preformed by Bali). The idea behind Parvathi’s reply is that her husband alone is not a beggar the husband of Lakshmi is also a beggar who approached the king, Bali for three feet of land. This unexpected answer like slapping on her cheek shocked Lakshmi. It took some time for Lakshmi to become normal.
After coming to normal state Lakshmi put another question to Parvati in the same manner. She asked (2) ताण्डवं क्वाद्य भद्रे? Tandavam kva adya bhadre ? (Oh! My dear Parvathi! Where does your husband dance today? The very intention of Lakshmi in putting this question is that Lord Siva always spends time in dance without doing any useful work. This question also hurt the feelings of Parvati. She understood that the intention of Lakshmi is put her in tension. Now she became free from tension and retorted. मन्ये बृन्दावनान्ते ‘Manye brindavanante’ (I hope that he is dancing in Brindavana). The central idea of Parvati’s reply is that not only her husband but Lakshmi’s husband also dances. But there is a huge difference between those two. Siva dances lonely while Krishna dances along with other women who fall in love with Him. She reveals her intention without saying. “My husband is better than that of yours”. On hearing this smooth but pungent reply again Lakshmi was puzzled. She concealed her feelings and put one more question (3) क्वनु च मृगशिशु: ? kvanu cha mRugashishu: (Where is your animal like child). It is well known to all that Lord Ganesha, son of Parvati is elephant headed and he is not that handsome as Manmatha (Cupid) son of Lakshmi and also he is considered as the most handsome personality even among Gods.
This bitter criticism made by Lakshmi against her son made Parvati very sad. She answered नैव जाने वराहम् naiva jaane varaaham .( There was a pig roaming around he my son might have gone to play with it. Parvathi apparently answered that my son is elephant headed only but your husband (Adivaraha) is a pig totally. My son is far better than your husband. It is known that Lord Vishnu took the form of Varaha (pig) to protect the Earth. Lakshmi again received shock for the third time. Lakshmi some how concealed her feelings again and asked Parvathi बाले ! कच्चिन्न दृष्ट: जरठवृषपति: baale kachchit na dRuShTah jaraTha vRuShapathih (Where is the old ox, your vehicle? It is not seen here)
The intention of Lakshmi in putting this question is that they (Lakshmi and her husband) ride on Garuda which flies in the sky but parvati ride on an ox which a very old one.
Parvati again gave a very strong reply in a very silent manner. गोप एवास्य वेत्ता Gopa evaasya vettaa (a person who rears cattle knows about that very well). Why do you ask me about ox? How can I answer? Your husband rears cattle, so it is better to ask him about that.
Actually this is a fiction and this jovial conversation reveals the fact that a person how great he or she may be but they are not supposed to degrade others. If they do so some times it may boomerang. So be careful. Treat others also as you wish to be treated by others. No one is superior and no one is inferior. Treat everybody equally irrespective of their status high or low and haves and have not’s. The poet finally concludes that the conversation of Lakshmi and Parvati may protect us all. This is the sloka.
भिक्षार्थी स क्व यात: ? सुतनु बलिमखे ताण्डवं क्वाद्य भद्रे?
मन्ये बृन्दावनान्ते क्वनु च मृगशिशु: ? नैव जाने वराहम्
बाले ! कच्चिन्न दृष्ट: जरठवृषपति: गोप एवास्य वेत्ता
लीलासल्लाप इत्थं जलनिधि हिमवत्कन्ययो: त्रायतां व ||
( From कुवलयानन्दम् of Appayyadikshita )