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A.K. Ramanujan's Astronomer

To read the poem is to be reminded of a world peopled by alchemists, horoscope-makers, astrologers, astronomers and palmists, who is what, God knows! A stargazer, who is the one in reality? Our stargazers have not remained just as scientific gazers but have lapsed into astrologers and rather than becoming astronomers have degraded into an Indian khagolshastri just for the namesake, but the hastarekhavid, the jyotishacharya is in reality the matter of his deliberation. What does the hastarekha tell? What does your fate, your star? Ramanujan too appears to be a medievalist alchemist dealing with bhasma for all cure. None the else he is the spokesman of this poem working as a hastarekhavid, an Indian astrologer and the whole world a matter of astrology. The calendar-makers, how can they be cosmonauts and astronauts?

Ursa Major, the Great Bear Constellation in the northern sky is a common phenomenon to be observed as the formation looks like a bear. The knowledge of the stars and planets is a scientific study of research and knowledge. But we the human beings use it for our trifle things. Actually, the bear is within us and we like to pounce upon our food stuffs.

Sky-man in a manhole
with astronomy for dream,
astrology for nightmare;

fat man full of proverbs,
the language of lean years,
living in square after

almanac square
prefiguring the day
of windfall and landslide

through a calculus
of good hours,
clutching at the tear

in his birthday shirt
as at a hole
in his mildewed horoscope,

squinting at the parallax
of black planets,
his Tiger, his Hare

moving in Sanskrit zodiacs,
forever troubled
by the fractions, the kidneys

in his Tamil flesh,
his body the Great Bear
dipping for the honey,

the woman-smell
in the small curly hair
down there.

While discussing the poem, the picture of an Indian astronomer dances before the eyes, be he a South Indian or a North Indian, astronomical to his full, a man of the heavenly bodies and the galaxy rather than this earth. The star world is the point of his discussion, not human predicament. But no Aryabhatta is he, nor a Varahamihira. While going after his astronomical quest, he loses track of and gets astrological.

Apart from being an astronomer, he turns into a horoscope-maker, an astrologer of some sort and a palmist. A skyman he has the fear of being prone to falling into ditches. But do we use the knowledge in learning the bodies or lapse into astrology and palmistry?

Astronomical calculations are not so easy to deal with. These are very complicated and complex. But to please the folks we start using it otherwise. Observations are important, not prophecies and predictions.

The poet is perhaps mocking an astronomer, on seeing him engaged in astronomical matter, the thing of the celestial bodies. The memory of a Vedic mathematician father too is in it. How was it their make-over, take-over?

Astronomy is different from astrology and our astronomers have lapsed into astrological and horoscopic things rather than the study of stars, planets and heavenly bodies.

Ramanujan’s poetry offers no solutions, just goes on presenting bizarre situations and awkward positions. What is the remedy? He says it not. God knows, what sort of jyotishacharya is Ramanujan! The earth moves round the sun or the sun moves round, what is the truth?

But whoever says it is the jyotishacharya, the sky is the limit, the earth is the center of all and he cannot do without. However, be it his studies of the sky world and its impact on the palm lines of man, he has to be on the guard of it that he may fall into mundane and mortal cravings of man. A reading of his poetry perplexes us with regard to the assessment as for whether he is in favour of rites and rituals or against these odds and ends. To be pontifical is not at all good. To put it otherwise, Ramanujan forgetting English language and literature has turned into a Tamil, a Kannadiga; a South Indian litterateur and his study a study of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. None the else he has himself turned into a jyotishacharya of some sort and his poem seems to be a study in jyotish and khagolshastra and what more to say?


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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