Examining the Chandodarshana

We had earlier alluded to the Neo-vedic composition attributed daivarAta gajAnana sharma aka daivarAta, a student of the great Sanskrit poet kAvyakaNTha gaNapati shAstrI. A student of Sanskrit poetry will be definitely benefited by reading his masterly work on indrANI or umA devI, the umA-sahasraM, a 1000 verse composition in which each 25 verses are in different Chandas. Some of them bring out the wonders of dhvani in the classical meters. While I had heard of this neo-Vedic composition for long it took a while before I finally laid my hands on the Chandodarshana in nAgarI script along with its anvaya bhAShya to examine it.

shrI gaNapati curiously comments that at the time of the production of the Chandodarshana the young daivarAta was not particularly well-versed in saMskR^ita composition. He says these mantra-s came out of his mouth while he was meditating near the reNukAMbA temple and he [gaNapati muni] collected and recorded the full and clear ones. To me the whole piece seems to be gaNapati muni’s work with daivarAta apparently a mere instrument. He gives this away by cryptically alluding to his ancestor in the opening phrase “vasiShTho giraH” Now the big question is it really a simulation of vedic? Below are the conclusions of my analysis:
-svAra rules: largely follow R^ig vedic pattern, with kaMpa svarita-s and basic udAtta accents generally similar to their vedic counterparts.
-mythology and history: Very low mythological content compared to the real veda- vR^itra saMgrAma, vala, namuchi etc receive little attention. Vedic heroes like divodAsa athitigva, trasadasyu, sudAsa etc receive no mention.
-ritual: Limited references to ritual in general. References to the soma ritual are very few in comparison to the actual vedic corpus. The shrauta fire ritual too is minimally alluded to. Instead a ritual of drinking and offering pa~ncha gavya is presented. Ritual words : e.g. juhomi, havAmahe, yajAmahe are minimally used.
-devatA-s: marut-s, ashvinA and mitrAvaruNa have a relatively limited presence compared to the real veda. The devatA dvandva-s are also conspicuous by their absence or rarity. There is an enormous emphasis on sarasvati, way beyond what is seen in the RV – in fact she is the most hymned deity in this collection. viShNu is identified with the puruSha, something which is absent in the RV or the earlier vedic texts. sarasvatI is mainly hymned in her aspect as vAk rather than as the deity of the water cycle and rivers, which is the dominant theme in the RV. rudra’s wife is named as gaurI rather than pR^iShNi, which is the name in the RV. brahmaNaspati is prominently connected with sarasvati- something which is typical of later hindu thought rather than in the RV.
-influence of the nirukta: The nirukta scheme of ordering deities, and the terms and synonyms used by the nirukta play a dominant role in the refrains and organization of the hymns.
-language: While there are archaisms that resemble the vedic language rather than classical saMskR^ita, there are many features distinguishing it from the real RV language e.g. : use of classical dvandva i.e. ashvinau instead of RV ashvinA; use of the term puruSha throughout the corpus in the sense of person. puruSha is a late RV word coming to fore only in the maNDala 10 in the puruSha hymn; use of the particle IM (usually meaning “now” or “indeed” – like in ya IM shR^iNotyuktam) in an excess and implying its tAntric sense as a bIja of the devI. In essence, different layers of RV dialects are homogenized. Use of vyAhR^iti-s in RV-styled verse is again not typical of the original. vyAhR^itis are typical of yajushes.
-philosophy: several upaniShadic elements seem to dominate. e.g.: prANa-s being compared to marut-s, Atman, puruSha etc.

So in short Chandodarshana is a modern author’s emulation of the R^ig, conditioned by the subsequent interpretive tradition and developments. Nevertheless, it is one of those rare modern examples of vedic-styled poetry that bears many features of the original. It does illustrate gaNapati muni’s tremendous poetic abilities both in the classical and vedic realm — he would have truly been a R^iShi had he lived in the vedic period.

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