Hindi/Sanskrit: छटामय/chhaTaamay(a)

souminwé

Senior Member
North American English, Hindi
I'm tackling Ajneya's poetry, which is hard considering his knowledge of Sanskrit and how he likes to play with it. This specific line has me trying to recall my Sanskrit grammar:

किन्तु झलकती थी इस में तब मधु की मन-मोहक माया!
हरित-छटामय-विटप-राजि पर विलुलित थे पलाश के फूल[...]

kintu jhalaktii thii is meN tab madhu kii man-mohak maayaa!
harit-chhaTaamay-viTap-raaji par vilulit the palaash ke phuul [...]

Platts gives the following definition for chaTaa, which is repeated at spokensanskrit.de :
S چهٿا छटा ćhaṭā, s.f. A lump, mass; assemblage; number; multitude; a collection of rays of light; light, lustre, splendour, brilliance, brightness, refulgence, a glory;—a straight or continuous line or mark:—ćhaṭābhā (ćhaṭā+ābhā), s.f. Lightning.


Seems that chhaTaamay was coined by Ajneya. I have a foggy memory of -maya (-मय) as a suffix in Sanskrit. Does anyone know what function it has and how to then interpret chhaTaa + maya?
 
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  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    -maya in Sanskrit implies "made of" or "consisting of" or "full of". "chhaTaamaya" would be "lustrous", full of "lustre". Btw. I would interpret "हरित-छटामय विटप-राजि" as trees with a green lustre.

    EDIT:
    On a second thought, my interpretation of the phrase above sounds slightly strange - but that maybe influenced by the Bengali usage, where "chhaTaa" is common only for direct or reflecting sources of light, like the sun, a bright lamp, diamond, etc. So, maybe here it refers to the rays of sunlight filtering through the foliage, which would be closer to the usage I am familiar with.
     
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    souminwé

    Senior Member
    North American English, Hindi
    I'd initially broken up the compound into harita, chhaTaamaya viTaparaaji, but I think I was misguided by the dashes. I take it you broke the compound into haritachhaTaa-maya viTaparaaji?

    I think your second thought there makes the most sense. At the same time, I'm not sure what a viTapa looks like, and spokensanskrit.de (not the most reliable source, but easy to search) seems to suggest it means something like "bush". If it's a type of tree, then there are "trees" with shiny, green bark (I know too little of Indian flora and fauna to put my finger on anything).

    Hm I also suspect I should've transcribed it as "harita-chhaTaamaya-viTapa-raaji" , since it's the dashes seem to be for ease of reading rather than actual oral separateness. And it turns out I had misquoted it (I had confused another dash with a replacement for a semicolon and not a compound marker):

    किन्तु झलकती थी इस में तब मधु की मन-मोहक माया!
    हरित-छटामय-विटप-राजि पर विलुलित थे पलाश के फूल-मादकता-सी भरी हुई थी
    मलयानिल में परिमल धूल


    kintu jhalaktii thii is meN tab madhu ki man-mohak maayaa!
    haritachaTaamayaviTaparaaji par vilulit the palaash ke phuul-maadaktaa-sii bharii huii thii
    malayaanil meN parimal dhuul


    To be honest this confuses me somewhat further because of the appearance of another thii....
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    "chhaTaa" is a common word used in Hindi, and it can mean brightness, colorfulness. More literally, it gives one the impression of something splashing around, being bountiful: usually color, light, something positive. For example, "aaj phulon kii kya chhaTaa hai": which means that the flowers are blooming, splashing in colour, etc.

    "may" is another common suffix, used to indicate "full of", as Dib jii said. "rangmay" means "full of colour", etc. I do not know what "viTap" and "raji" mean, though. From the above post, it seems that "viTap" is some plant, but what's "raji"?
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    On my part, I confused "viTapa" (branch, twig) with "viTapii" (<viTapin) (tree), I think partially under the influence of "paada-pa" (tree).

    The poem is describing a scene of springtime ("madhu" - another name of spring season). "palaasha" (or "kiNshuka") flowers - along with the song of cuckoos and "malayaanila" - Southern breeze, etc. - are one of the defining natural markers of Indian springtime, especially in the drier regions, but extending into Bengal. Many dry forests in India "light up" during this season in flaming red "palaasha" flowers - in English it is sometimes poetically called the "flame of the forest". Garlands and wreaths made of palaasha flowers are a standard decoration and festive ornaments during this time (at least in Bengal), e.g. in Saraswati puja, and in "vasanta utsava" celebrated at Shantiniketan. The "palaasha" tree is definitely not a bush (usually like 5-10 metres high), nor does it have shiny green bark. In fact, in spring when they bloom, they normally don't have much green on them (including leaves) - which produces the dramatic "flame of the forest" effect. So, I am actually a bit surprised that the poet talks about "greenery" at all. On the other hand, "harit" - though usually means "green" in Hindi - has a "yellow to green" range in Sanskrit (just like "niila" has a "blue to black" range). Though that is also not much help to understand the poem, I guess.

    EDIT:
    Here is a beautiful verse from THE MASTER of imagery, Kalidasa:
    आदीप्तवह्निसदृशैर्मरुतावधूतैः सर्वत्र किंशुकवनैः कुसुमावनम्रैः।
    सद्यो वसन्तसमये हि समाचितेयं रक्तांशुका नववधूरिव भाति भूमिः॥ ६-१९ ऋतुसंहारः


    "Now in the springtime, overspread everywhere with the wind-shaken* glowing flame-like palaasha (kiMshuka) forests, weighed down under flowers, the Earth looks truly like a new bride in her red clothes."

    *I believe there is a pun here in "मरुतावधूत", wind-shaken which grammatically qualifies the "forests", but can also mean "fanned by the wind" and thus strengthening the simile of "आदीप्तवह्नि", glowing flames.

    ====

    @littlepond: "viTap" here is branches and twigs of a tree. "raaji" as the second element in a Sanskrit compound is a collective plural marker, e.g. puShparaaji, vrikSharaaji, etc.
     
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    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    palaash or Tesuu ke phuul indeed cover the northern hills with flaming orange around Holi time, and there are many poems in Hindi as well about them. Thanks a lot, Dib jii, for the meanings of "viTap" and "raaji"!
     

    souminwé

    Senior Member
    North American English, Hindi
    That was really comprehensive Dib! Thanks a lot. I've really got to hit the books with Sanskrit and use better sources is what I learnt here, lol
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    You are welcome.


    kintu jhalaktii thii is meN tab madhu ki man-mohak maayaa!
    haritachaTaamayaviTaparaaji par vilulit the palaash ke phuul-maadaktaa-sii bharii huii thii
    malayaanil meN parimal dhuul


    To be honest this confuses me somewhat further because of the appearance of another thii....

    I don't know if it's still bothering you, but you should probably read "...vilulit the palaash ke phuul; maadaktaa-sii bharii huii thii; malayaanil ..." I guess you didn't quote that last sentence completely.
     

    souminwé

    Senior Member
    North American English, Hindi
    You are welcome.



    I don't know if it's still bothering you, but you should probably read "...vilulit the palaash ke phuul; maadaktaa-sii bharii huii thii; malayaanil ..." I guess you didn't quote that last sentence completely.

    I'm not using a source document, so I'm afraid the document is riddled with errors in the division of the text and use of punctuation. Anyway thanks again
     
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