I loved recording this episode of The Sanskrit Podcast. One thing I didn’t know was how important poetry was in ancient India. We have an unbroken tradition of poetry starting from the second century and coming down all the way to Kalidasa. In this episode, we discuss why anyone should pay attention to this rich tradition and repository of points that we have in Indian culture.
Poetry is like exercise–you know that it is good to do it, but somehow you can never bring yourself to do it. I confess that I don’t read much poetry. I’ve tried, but usually the call of Scandal, House of Cards is louder than the quiet pleasures of poetry. I think I figured out a way to access poetry though–through the vernacular. Tamil poetry is beautiful, particularly since I can understand it. Urdu poetry is also probably beautiful but I don’t understand it. As for the pleasures of Sanskrit poetry, why don’t you listen to the show yourself?
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One the one hand, poetry or any art should not need any justification. Poetry, said Wordsworth, is emotion recollected in tranquility. It is a way to compress emotion and aesthetics through words. We get all that. Poetry is important. Yet, when was the last time you read poetry? How do schools and colleges teach poetry? Why does poetry get cut when there is a funding crunch. To cut to the chase, is poetry relevant in today’s world? To discuss this topic is Dr. Shankar Rajaraman, a psychiatrist, polymath, translator, Sanskritist and most importantly, a poet.