Thursday, December 23, 2010

Njanappana... chaos... attractors... brahmi...

WARNING: A very long post ahead! :D
Just this morning, being extremely bored and tired of ramming in metallurgy into my skull, I decided I'd just randomly surf the net. And so, for some unfathomable reason, I had Poonthaanam's Njanappana stuck to my head and one particular verse kept repeating itself -
"കണ്ടു കണ്ടങ്ങിരിക്കും ജനങ്ങളെ
കണ്ടില്ലെന്നു വരുത്തുന്നതും ഭവാന്‍
രണ്ടു നാലു ദിനം കൊണ്ടൊരുത്തനെ
തണ്ടിലേറ്റി നടത്തുന്നതും ഭവാന്‍"
Meaning: If Bhagavan (Krishna) wishes, those people whom we see today may disappear (may be dead) by tomorrow. Again if Bhagavan decides, with in a few days (two or four days) a healthy man’s dead body may be carried to the funeral pyre.

Quite philosophical ne? And this set me thinking... human beings are so transient. In this gargantuan world, where everything doesn't remain the way it was a while back, change is probably the only constant. be it in people or in places... And that thought inturn had me reaching for the website with information on Poonthanam. I mean, here was a guy who so languidly depicted change with such profound a metaphor. Forget the question of the existence of God... it is true that our future is as inexplicably uncertain as it can get. Probably we can have a Lorentz attractor constructed for our future and we realize, it's deterministic chaos as with every other phenomenon we observe, with the degree of change in probable observation changing from one system to another... Okay... enough Science jargon! Let me get to the point.

All this talk on the transient got me into something that we all take for granted... languages. Yes, we think it's something that has always remained the way we knew it... or did it? I've been quite the buff as far as languages go. Sometimes, I let me Quantum mechanics slip when I meet some script that looks distinctly similar but so different. And you've got to admit... languages define us as a people and a culture and when one understands the language, one has understood the people who speak it. And so, I turned my attention to Brahmi. And for those who don't have an inkling what it is, I'm not referring to the medicinal herb that is being advertised like crazy these days! This is a script... a code for writing what was being spoken - a sign that Man had finally moved beyond just grunting random sounds and into the true folds of sapience and sentience.

Almost every single Indian language owes its present written form to Brahmi and it amazes me that the final product resembles nothing like how it looked ages ago!
The evolution of the alphabet 'NA' through the ages (click for a detailed view)
Amazing and so... beautiful, isn't it? Now, I have half the mind to take up the study of languages! :D

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