Friday, July 16, 2010

when the pigs fly or rocks float - अम्बुनि मज्जन्त्यलाबूनि

in the epic mahAbhArata, duryodhana the kaurava prince was ever jealous of the pANDavas and invited dhRitarAShTra for a gambling game, a roll of dice. vidura the wise minister opposed the idea, for its sinister plot. shakuni, duryodhana's uncle has a biased dice, made of his own father's bones! and was known for winning. because the official invite went from the king dhRitarAShTra, yudhiShThir didn't refuse.

one by one, yudhiShThir loses his wealth, kingdom, his brothers, himself and finally their wife, draupadI. at this duryodhana orders vidura himself, the wise and old minister to bring draupadI, the princess wife of the pANDavas and ask her to sweep the palace like a maid-servant.

enraged by this, the saddened vidura says that 'Bottle gourds may sink and stones may float, but this kid of dhRitarAShTra will never like my good advice.'

he uses "मज्जन्त्यलाबूनि शिलाः प्लवन्ते ..." (majjantyalAbUni shilAH plavante) i.e. "bottle gourds (a variety of cucumber) sink and rocks float" [sabhA parva, 66:11]

this is used to indicate an impossible situation which will never happen, similar to 'when pigs fly ...'


this has become a nyAyaH or a maxim/saying in sanskrit. the full phrase is :
अम्बुनि मज्जन्त्यलाबूनि ग्रावाणः प्लवन्ते
= ambuni majjantyalAbUni grAvANaH plavante

breaking up the words (anvaya):
अम्बुनि मज्जन्त्ति-अलाबूनि ग्रावाणः प्लवन्ते
= ambuni majjanti-alAbUni grAvANaH plavante
= in water, sink cucumbers stones float


in rAmAyaNa, this had already been achieved, when the rocks thrown in the sea to build the bridge were sinking, it is said that, when the name rAma was written on them, they started to float, so that the bridge could be made faster and easily. (tulasIdAsa's rAma-charita-mAnasa)

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

ambuni = in water
ambu = water
-ni suffix after -u ending neutral denotes 'in, on' (saptamI vibhakti)

majjanti = [they] drown (plural)
alAbUni = alAbU = bottle gourd
alAbUni = plural

grAvANaH = grinding stones
grAvan = grinding stone, as in grinding herbs

shilAH = huge rocks
shilA = huge rock

plavante = [they] float (plural)

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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