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A brave bloodsucker

Patricia Sullivan’s write-up “Mosquito moves” (Spectrum, July 27) was interesting. Mosquitoes are a terrible plague. They give sleepless nights to their victims and make life unbearable for them. Until it was found that malaria was spread by mosquito bites, people thought that it was caused by night mist rising from the ground or because of the unhealthy air of marshes.

Some historians have attributed the fall of the Roman Empire to the ravages of malaria in Italy. The attempt of the French to dig the Panama Canal was thwarted by malaria spread by ‘mesquitees’. It was only after their extermination in vast swamps on each side of the waterway that the Americans could complete the canal.

The Sikandarnamah of Nisami has a couplet
“Ba andesh az aan pashsha-e-neshdaar
Ke Namrood ra guft sar pesh daar”
(Think of the stinging mosquito, which asked Namrood to hold out his head).


It was same Namrood about whom Ghalib said:
“Eya veh Namreed kee Khudaai thee
Bandagi mein mera bhala na hua.”

He was a cruel king, who called himself God. He tried to burn Prophet Ibrahim alive. The pyre, on which he was thrown, metamorphosed into a garden, known as Gulsaar-e-Ibrahim. As a result of divine wrath a mosquito entered his brain and tormented him. He got relief only when he was given a shoe beating on his head.

Poet Zauq said:
“Pashsha say seekhey sheva-e-mardaanagi koi
Jab qasd-e-khoon ko aaey to paihley pukaar dey”
(Someone should learn the manner of showing valour from a mosquito. When it comes with a resolve to suck the blood of its victim, it gives a shout beforehand).


Facts about Vedas

This refers to Kuldip Dhiman’s review of Frits Stall’s book ‘Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras...’ (Spectrum, July 6). The argument that the Vedas were composed in different parts of the Indian subcontinent and at different times is not completely correct.

According to Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83), the founder of Arya Samaj, Vedas existed in this celestial world in the form of waves. The four Vedas were perceived by the four rishis (sages) in their state of mediation — Rigveda by Angi, Yajurveda by Vaayu, Samveda by Aditya, and Atharva-veda by Angira — who passed on the knowledge to their disciples through oral transmission.

Another important aspect probably not touched by the author (as is apparent from the book review) is the Vedic chant. Vedic mantras are not recited in a fixed pitch (tone), the usual base note but in three tones, namely: udatta (raised), anudata (grave) and svarita (middle) corresponding to the modern note-combination:
Ga and Ni; Re and Dha; Sa, Ma and Pa, respectively. The Vedic chant is also
known as Sam-gaan.

V.K. RANGRA, Delhi

Knowing Lata

This has reference to the comments on, “Knowing Lata” (Spectrum, July 27). The release of a book on the living legend is a good step and the writer Snehasis Chatterjee deserves congratulations from the music lovers as well as fans of the singing legend.

I succeeded in getting a copy of the book and got to learn some unknown things about the melody queen. The book has several interesting facts, like Lata got her name from a female character, “Latik” played by herself in one of her father’s plays, “Bhaaw Bandhan”.

Further, at the age of five, she started to work as an actress in her father’s sangeet naatak in Marathi. And on the first day in the school, she started teaching songs to other children. When the teacher stopped her, she was so angry that she stopped going to the school.

Master Vinayak gave her a small role in Navyug Chitrapat’s Marathi movie “Pahili Mangalaa-gaur” (1942). After his death in 1948, Ghulam Haider mentored Lata as a singer. When Sashadhar Mukherjee, who was then working on the movie “Shaheed” (1948), dismissed her voice by calling it “too thin” an annoyed Haider responded that in the coming years producers as well as directors would “fall at Lata’s feet” and “beg her” to sing for their movies.

Moreover, music composed by the nightingale for movies under the pseudonym of Anand Ghan were “Ram Ram Pavhana “(1950), “Maratha Tituka Melvava” (1963), “Mohityanchi Manjula” (1963), “Sadhi Manase” (1965), “Tambadi Mati” (1969).


Slipping on spin

This refers to Vaibhav Sharma’s write-up “Turning point” (Saturday Extra, July 12). Ajantha Mendis, the conjurer, came, played and demolished the much-vaunted Indian batting line-up single-handedly to help Sri Lanka win the Asia Cup tournament with a handsome margin of 100 runs. The Indians, who are reportedly ‘good’ players of spin, were simply bamboozled by Mendis’ guise and guile; tricks and flickers. He seemed to have cast a spell over the Indian batsmen who disastrously failed to read and play him.

Consequently India was bowled out for a paltry 173 in just 39.3 overs and the wrecker-in-chief was the little known Mendis whose bowling analysis read a whopping 8-1-13-6. His was an epoch-making feat, as he became the first ever bowler in the history of the Asia Cup to claim six wickets in a match.

Though it will be too early to hail that the next big spinner has appeared on the cricketing horizon, yet to endorse the views of the writer, he has done enough to be called the new sensation. His deadly blows at crucial juncture in the Asia Cup final will continue to haunt the Indians for a long time to come. Apparently his introduction into the attack was the turning point, which made the Indians
bite the dust.


Mahatma and the Martyr

Mahatma and the Martyr” (July 27) has once again focused on historical
debate whether Mahatma Gandhi could have prevented hanging of Bhagat Singh
and his associates.

After going through various writings by different authors, I feel Gandhi possessed a very strong personality which was a real asset that saw him through many hardships ultimately giving the world the concept of ‘Satyagraha’ and non-violence forming the core of Gandhism.

That strong personality and conviction towards nonviolence led Gandhi to regard Bhagat Singh’s mode of militant nationalism as most injurious to the cause of India’s independence. That is why Gandhi, I must say, only made hollow efforts to save Bhagat Singh just to show the world that he also cares for such revolutionaries.

Glorifying, propagating and spreading the ideas and thoughts of Bhagat Singh who emerged as a legend of our freedom movement should be our national priority and will definitely enthuse the nation especially our youth. I am sure that if all nationalist Indians focus, propagate and spread revolutionary ideas of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, the very first victims of revolutionary movement will be neo-colonial political class and bureaucrats.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bhatinda

Injustice to Urdu

I am a regular reader of The Tribune since 1945 and during my school days, Urdu was a compulsory subject. No writer in free India has written such an impressive and incomparable article as “Injustice to Urdu in India” by Justice Markandaya Katju (August 3). Those were the happiest days when our Urdu and Persian teachers so decently demonstrated with dignity while teaching us the subject.

It is impossible to meet and congratulate Justice Katju. So let me have the honour of saluting this great supporter of Urdu who has glorified it as in the past. Well done!



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