Sunday, 8 January 2012

Plagiarism and Research, Adaptation and Inspiration

Plagiarism and Research, Adaptation and Inspiration

‘To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.’

Good definition. Yeah!

When I was struggling in 2009, to complete my Ph.D. dissertation/thesis within the deadline, my Vedänta/Pänini/Chanting-student (who was earlier my classmate, while I was doing my Masters in Sanskrit) said, ‘All this is fine. But, where is your own input/conclusion?’ I said, ‘My dear Horatio! There is nothing original in our area of interest, except Rgveda. Even the other three Vedas are repetition of Rgveda.

Rgveda (Säkala-säkha) has 10,552 mantras.

Krshna-Yajurveda (Taittiriya-säkhä) has 700 hymns from Rgveda-Samhitä.

Sukla-Yajurveda (containing 2,085 mantras) is in fact Krshna-Yajurveda made easy by Rshi Yäjnavalkya (by separating the mantra and brähmana portions) for you and me.

All but 99 of Sämaveda’s (Ränäyaniya-Säkhä) 1,875 verses (sämans) are borrowed from Rgveda.

About a fifth (20%) material of Atharvaveda (Saunaka-Säkhä) is from the Rgveda, with variations in reading.

So why do you want to undermine/belittle my composition skill, the ability to put things more cogently, so that it is easily understood by average readers?

Now within the Rgveda, if I have to show the repetitions, this blog itself will become a mini-research, and I may lose some of my readers.

Most significant is the repetition of three consecutive verses of the Äprisüktas RV-III.4.8-11 seen by Visvämitra Gäthina, in VII.2.8-11 seen by Vasishtha Maiträvaruni. This is considered the longest repetition in Rgveda.

I innocently asked one Sanskrit Professor (Veda), how did this happen. His reply was, ‘Vasishtha did tapas, saw the mantras. Visvämitra did tapas, saw the same mantras.’ I keep my understanding/conclusion to myself.

The famous Sauri-Rk (RV-IV.40.5) addressed to Sürya in the fourth mandala – ‘hamsah sucishad, vasur-antarikshasad, hotä vedishad, atithir-duronasat—is repeated in Sukla-Yajurveda-X.24, XII.14, SYV-Känvasäkhä XIII.5.18, XV.6.25, Taittiriya-Samhitä-I.8.15.2, IV.2.1.5, Aitareya-Brähmana-IV.20, Taittiriya-Äranyaka-X.10.2 in toto.

Süryä Sävitri-Suktam (RV-X.85)
Süryä Sävitri (daughter of Sürya) is the seer of RV-X.85 containing forty-seven rcä, conventionally used in the wedding. This Süktam contains the complete description of her wedding ritual. Hence, this is known as Süryä-Süktam or Viväha-Süktam.

Of the 47 mantras of this Viväha-Süktam, at least 42 are repeated in to to, or with some changes, and in different sequence in the fourteenth (31 mantras repeated) and fifteenth (11 mantras repeated) kändas of Atharvaveda credited to Süryä Sävitri. Both the kändas are about her/Vedic wedding, the seer also being Süryä-Sävitri.

Mantras X.18 and 19 with minor modifications are also repeated in Atharvaveda as AV-VII.86.1 and 2, the Rshi being Atharvä, and the Devatäs being Sävitré, Sürya and Candramä.

Bhägya-Suktam (RV-VII.41)
Then there is Bhägya-Süktam ÅV.-VII.41 containing seven åcä, where Vasiñöha has invoked all the Devatäs and Bhaga for prosperity and well-being. This is repeated in Taittiréya-Brähmaëa-II.8.9.

Source/s of Mantras of Navagraha-Süktam
Navagraha-Süktam available in popular texts and regularly chanted in temples is not available in Rgveda, since the grahas (celestial bodies) were not yet treated as devatäs. They appear to have been compiled later in post-Vedic period being adaptations of various rcä. Their source has been identified.

Seeds of Upanishadic Mantras in Rgveda
Many Upanishadic mantras have their seed in Rgveda.

dvä suparnä sayujä sakhäyä samänam vrksham pari shasvajäte,
  tayor-anyah pippalam svädvatti-anasnan-anyo abhi cäkasiti’
                                                                         - RVS -I.164.20 = Mun. Up.- III.1.1

‘asatah sad-ajäyata’
- AVS -X.72.2, 3=Ch. Up.-VI.2.1

Vikramorvasiya is based on Purüravä-Urvasi-Samväda (RV-X.95).
Kälidäsa’s famous drama Vikramorvasiya is based on Purüravä-Urvasé-Samväda (RV-X.95).

Bhagavad-Gitä has many slokas adapted from Kathopanishad. (please see my third article on Kathopanishad.

There are around 300 versions of Rämäyana.

Mändukya-Kärikä on Mula-Madhyamaka-Kärikä
Mändukya-Kärikä of Gaudapäda (6th century CE) is based on Mula-Madhyamaka-Kärikä of Nagarjuna (1st century CE)

Kathä Literature
The famous Panchatantra is available in different recensions and recasts, the best-known recast being Näräyana’s Hitopadesa. Hitopadesa was an adaptation of Panchatantra (around 3rd century BCE). Panchatantra is the most frequently translated literary product of India.

Brhat-kathä-manjari by Kshemendra (1025-1075 CE), and the famous Kathä-sarit-sägara of Somadeva (1063-1081?), both from Kashmir, are in metrical Sanskrit, being translation of the original ‘Brhat-kathä’ of 100,000 sloka written in Paisachi language by Gunäditya (1st-4th century CE).

‘Odissi is a poor imitation of Bharatanätyam’, so said Rukmini Devi Arundale in 1960s!

How many Sunflowers I have seen based on Van Gogh’s, and how many adaptations of ‘Last Supper’?

Of the many adaptations in Bollywood, one good one was Dil Diyä Dard Liyä, a remake of Wuthering Heights.

Bollywood Music
The famous Song (or Kafi) ‘Merä Piyä Ghar Äyä is a Punjabi Sufi song written by noted Punjabi Mystic Poet Baba Bulleh Shah alias Abdulla Shah (1680-1757 CE). He composed this poem at the return of his spiritual guru Inäyat Shah. This song is part of most of the Qawwali performances. It is one of the best known songs of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and part of his album ‘Qawwali:The Essential Collection’. The Song was cleverly and quickly adapted by Anu Malik on Mädhuri and became an instant hit, before the general public could identify the source of lyric or music. Qawwalis are Sufi devotional/love songs dedicated to the Divinity in Islam, popular in Punjab and Sind regions of Pakistan and India.

The above is based on what I have studied/read/glanced through/listened/seen. What I have not read/listened/seen must be endless.

And they say, ‘I am inspired by the concept’. So am I.

  1. Saraswati, Ätmaprajnänanda, Nomenclature of the Vedas
  2. Saraswati, Ämaprajnänanda, Rsikas of the Rgveda
  3. The Cultural heritage of India, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture
  4. Wikipedia

Did you read this in Indian express on 7th ?

Shakespeare borrowed from Boccacio, T S Eliot shored up his work with plundered fragments, and Disney, the most zealous enforcer of copyright, freely filched from myth and fairytale around the world. Would Joyce’s own Ulysses have been possible without the great wellspring of the Odyssey?
- (Free at last, Editorial, Indian express, 7th January 2012)

and this today on 8th ?

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