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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For whom the ‘karnikaram’ blooms.

On 25th June 2009 I made a posting in my blog with the title 'Karnikaram'
I had raised a doubt whether 'karnikaram' is indeed 'kani konna' (golden shower, Indian laburnum) the state flower of Kerala as assumed by so many Malayalees.
'karnikaram poothu thalirthu, kalpanakal thalameduthu…' and
'Vaalittu kannezuthum karnikaram, ninne varavelkkum shankupushpam....' are very popular film songs. And 'karnikaram; in these songs is taken to mean 'konna poo'. Perhaps, the lyricists had a different meaning in mind.
In the Malayalam translation of Shloka 5, Dashakam 67 of Narayaneeyam (Vanamala Vyakhyanam) too 'karnikara' in the line "Ha chootha, ha champaka, karnikara..' is 'konnapoo'.
Subsequent to my earlier blog post I had sent a letter to Prof.O.N.V.Kurup requesting a clarification. Unfortunately he could not find time to give any clarification. I addressed a letter to Smt. Leelavati c/o Bhaktapriya, Guruvayur. I do not know whether it reached her. There was no reply. I sent letters to Prof.Rajesh, and a few other eminent Malayalam literary figures at the addresses obtained from the Kerala Sahitya Academy publication Malayalam Literary Survey. None of them responded.
The latest use of the word 'karnikara' to mean 'konna poo' was on Metro Manorama (Thrissur) of 2nd. November 2010. The Malayala Manorama Thrissur Metro supplement reports planting of 1000 'karnikaram' (Konna) saplings by the Bharathan foundation. I sent an email to Malayala Manorama too . There was no response. As 'kani konna' is our state flower besides being an integral part of every Malayalees' nostalgia, I thought I should get authoritative information on it myself. I could get a copy of 'Amarakosha' in Malayalam lipi and with Malayalam translation from the District Library. The translator is K.K.Balakrishna Panikker with a Foreward by K.P.Narayana Pisharody.
Shloka 6 in the Chapter "Oushadhee Varga", Page 99 is as under:
"Aaragwadhe, Raajavriksha, Shamyaaka, shChathurangula:
Aarevatha, Vyadhighatha, Krthamaala, Suvarnaka:
These are the eight names in Sanskrit for 'Konna"
Shloka 42/43 in the same Chapter, Page 106 which comes after the Shlokas dealing with the names of such medicinal plants like Kadukka, (Harithaki) and 'Charala' clearly states that Dhrumotpala, Karnikara,and Parivyadho are the names of the Karnikara tree.
"Amarakosha" is the last word on Sanskrit synonyms. The jury is no longer out. 'Karnikaram' is not our state flower,'Kani konna'. It a fragrant yellow flower called 'kanak champa' which adorns the ears of Krishna. "Karnikara is the Sanskrit and Malayalam names of 'kanak champa'-Dinner plate tree (Pterospermum acerifolium'. The Tamil name of this is given as 'vennagu' and the Marathi name is 'karnikar'. The narration given in the internet is:-
'the golden hued flower has a beautiful tassel like form which makes it look very ornamental. It has an intense fragrance, perceptible from a great distance while it is on the tree. The fragrance starts fading the moment it is plucked. The golden pendant flowers of the 'karnikara' adorn the ears of Srikrishna of the Bhagavatam (karnayoh karnikaram)

Those interested in seeing a photo of Kanak Champa can visit the following site:

Monday, November 1, 2010

A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment

(Translation of Sri Balachandran Cullikkad's jottings in Face Book as reported by Malayala Manorama on 26th October 2010. The jotting was a sequel to and in response to the controversy in regard to the funeral of the deceased poet Ayyappan)
Dear Friends,
When I die, immediately give my corpse to the Medical College.
do not place my corpse for public viewing
nor display it on the Channels.
Don't disgrace flowers by placing any on my corpse,
nor ever permit State honours or a ceremonial gun salute,
please don't condole nor praise me.
Don't utter a blatant lie like my death is an irreplaceable loss
and sully memories of me,
thousands of new poets write much better than I did.
Let nobody share the grief of my wife,
that is my Holy relic for her alone.
Don't institute any award in my name,
nor hang my photo on the Academy wall
or build any memorial.
If my poems cannot sustain memories of me,
I prefer to be forgotten
by everyone…. forever.

There is an advantage in dying in comparative anonymity. You do not have to worry about the possible inconvenience and nuisance you may cause to others even in death. Balachandran Chullikkad is an icon and has to take precautions while still alive. Most newspapers must be ready with obituary material on him to be given to the printing section at a moment's notice and this must be constantly being updated. Only the 'shocks' 'memories' 'reactions' of the netas, cultural leaders, film and serial artists have to be collected. Balachandran meanwhile appears to be determined to spoil the show. He seems to be unaware of the extra number of copies of newspapers that can be sold and the greater number of eyeballs that can be attracted. Some people are contrary all the time.
I respect his sentiments. I commend the following lines from Czeslaw Milosz' titled "Dedication" to Chullikkad

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seed
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.

This is the only poem of Milosz which I have read.