bunpeiris Cambridge Literature

Tuition Cambridge IGCSE Literature at Kandana

bunpeiris Cambridge IGCSE Literature

Tuition Cambridge IGCSE Literature at Kandana

Private Tuition in ENGLISH Literature, Language Cambridge IGCSE, OL, Edexcel & National OL Targeting “A” Grade, at Kandana Saturdays and Sundays small groups by an Int’l School Master. Printed tutorials of absolutely high quality content and past papers. Classes are supported with an outstanding library of high quality, hard bound[hbk] study course books, literature course books, classics, language reference, fiction, biography, history etc.
bunpeiris@gmail.com Call 0777100060

William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet

William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
Shakespeare is for all cosmos, for all times: above image is of 2013 Hollywood movie adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet starring Douglas Booth & Hailee Steinfeld; below [Home Page Slide Show] images are of 2013 Bollywood movie adaptation titled Ramleela starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Becoming Krishna

Becoming Krishna by bunpeiris

Let noble thoughts come to us from every side. Rigveda 1-89-I [1]
 “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Shakespeare
“She had always wanted words, she loved them, grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape. Whereas I thought words bent emotions like sticks in water.” 
Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

If yet I have not all thy love,

Dear, I shall never have it all;
I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move,
Nor can entreat one other tear to fall;
All my treasure, which should purchase thee-
Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters- I have spent,
Yet no more can be due to me,
Than at the bargain made was meant;
If then thy gift of love were partial,
That some to me, some should to others fall,
Dear, I shall never have thee all.

INTERPRETATION:  The poet says that he does not have all of his beloved’s love though he has tried to buy it using his “treasure” or fund of sighs, tears, oaths and letters.
He speaks as though he and his lady had entered a bargain by which he has already got his “due”. 
But he thinks that she has more love left in her heart which is now being given to someone else. So sadly, he will not be able to possess her completely.

I need more of you by Bellamy Brothers:  
I need more of you, changin my rain into sun
More of you, put on my blues on the run
I need more of you, darling, I need more of you
More, anything less wouldn't do

Lovers’ infiniteness by John Donne
I need more of you by Bellamy Brothers
If yet I have not all thy love,
The poet says that he does not have all of his beloved’s love 
 I need more of you, changin my rain into sun

Master Nobody: Tell me, doesn’t the song sing the same plea that the poet let flow? Don’t they seem to sing from the same sheet of hymns?
Student Zaka: It seems to sing of the same, sir.
Master Nobody: Then, why do you say, irrelevant content are brought into the discussion?
Student Zaka: In this case, poem and song seems to sing of the same theme.  But when you bring in Mahabaratha into a lesson, we find it hard to follow. We guess it is not relevant.
Master Nobody: Now, if you find a quote from Mahabharata is irrelevant, if you see an episode from Mahabharata isn’t of any value in a discussion in literature, you have failed to see that literature is all about us: how we must live. See, Zaka, as the street story teller told Scheherazade, the narrator of 1001 Arabian nights, the stories tell us how to live.
As such, let noble thoughts come to us from every side.
Mahabharata, though called a Hindu Epic Poem, in terms of its literary value, is timeless and universal as the dramas of Shakespeare. On 3rd October 2014 Mariyam Asif Siddiqui, a 12-year-old Muslim girl at Cosmopolitan High School in Mumbai, won sixth grade category inter-school 'Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Champion League' competition organized by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON). The Bhagavad Gita consists of 700 verses of Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit, which form part of the Mahabharata. Why shouldn’t Zaka, a Muslim student, three years older than Mariyam, listen to an episode in Mahabaratha with little more patience? [http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2015/04/10/bhagavad-gita_n_7022500.html]

Have I, myself, begun to be tormented in the same way that Krishna, the protagonist of Cambridge OL prescribed work of literature, “The English Teacher”, had been?

Krishna was against the Anglicized culture being fostered by Mr. Brown and his other teachers in college. Mr. Brown and his teachers accept forceful appreciation of British culture. Krishna has a pro-Hindu perspective from the beginning of the text. Am I becoming Krishna when I find overwhelming delight in quoting Mahabarata? When I read the tome of a book in Sinhala, from cover to cover, now weeping, now smiling from ear to ear, I was only 10 years old. A decade later I went on to read it again, this time the English translation.

Yudhistra: ………………… Grandfather, tell us how to kill you.
Bhishma placed a hand on Yudhisthira’s shoulder: “O son of Pandu, as you say, I am invincible. When I take my weapons and my large bow in hand, I am incapable in being defeated in battle by the very gods with Indra at their head.
“Draupada’s valiant and wrathful son, who is known in your army as Shikandi-it is he who will cause my fall. Formerly he was a woman, as everyone knows. Therefore, I will not strike him, even if he attacks me. Place him in forefront of the fight and let Arjuna stand behind him. Only Arjuna or the illustrious Krishna can bring me down in battle. If Shikandi faces me I will not fight. Then it will be possible for Arjuna to slay me. Do this, O Yudhistara, and gain victory.

Mahabharata, The Greatest Spiritual Epic of All Time.

"In the realm of dharma, artha, kama, and moksha, (ethics, economic development, pleasure, and liberation), whatever is found in this epic may be found elsewhere, but what is not found here will be impossible to find" (Mahabharata, Adi Parva 56.33)

The Mahabharata, the world's greatest and longest known epic poem [with 100,000 verses exceeds the Bible and all of  Shakespeare's plays put together] in any language is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. The Sanskrit epic written by Maharishi Vyasa narrating the Kurukshetra War and fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes is ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey sung by Homer combined, or about four times the length of the Ramayana written by Maharishi Valmiki.
Mahabharata also presents philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas. Among the principal works and stories in the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad Gita, During the time of Raj, the veteran colonial administrators would advise newcomers to the civil service to read one book if they wanted to grasp the essence of the ancient continent and its peoples: Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is more deeply woven into the fabric of Indian culture than any other story: it has cut into the Indian psyche to the very core. It's influence in subcontinent-wide. It has brought about an array of divine beings to the forefront of the Hindu pantheon, led by Krishna or Vishnu. Indians in all strata of society, in their numerous languages, tosses about the sayings of millenniums old Mahabharata as if picked from the newspaper of the day; Bollywood drops names, bring in characters and imitates the heroism and courage. As they go on, it seems, the Indian languages find Mahabharata plays no second fiddle, when it comes to the idiomatic use of phrases from the King James Version of Bible in English. Beloved heroes of the Mahabharata are an unending source for the expectant Indian mothers hunting for Sanskrit names. Seemingly endless numbers of Indian children are named after the heroes, not to forget Sri Lanka’s indomitable Captain Cool who brought cricketing glory to the island in Lahore in 1996: Arjuna.There goes the spread of Mahabarata. If Mahabharata is of no relevance to the humanity, no work of literature would ever be.

"I have never seen a nation supporting another nation like that,"
Sunil Wettimuny recalled Pakistani supporters cheering the Sri Lankan side.
Pakistanis also protested against the injustice meted out to Sri Lankans In Australia by the Australians with a banner:
‘There was an umpire named Hair
Who has a body of an overgrown bear
With a brain as small as a Hare
Who treated Sri Lankans unfair’
 Can you pen such a banner? 

Mahabharata also has a soothing effect on the Indian psyche: unlike Ramayana in which ten-head King Ravana of Lanka was killed by India’s Prince Rama, Mahabharata, owing to its complexity and range make no concessions to the extremists. Radical elements of India find no slogans to inflame million mutinies: it hasn't been co-opted by the nationalist, fascist, aryan-supremacy crowd that is ascendant in India at the moment.

There are many ways to read the Mahabharata: we can have several interpretations. You may argue on your own view.
[a] The Kurus and the Pandavas are sometimes said to represent forces that exist in each society and individual.
[b] Mahabharata is an allegory for a inner war between right and wrong.
[c] The story is a history of the Aryan conquest of much of Eurasia.
[d] Mahabharata is a vehicle to both educate and entertain the masses in camps and villages through the ages, invented by thinkers of great imagination and polished over the centuries.

[e] Mahabharata demonstrates how the good can be taken advantage of by the devious. 
[f] Mahabharata makes a compelling case for immersing oneself into the world as opposed to asceticism
[g] Most of all, as I see Mahabhatha as a testimony to the inevitability of karma or destiny: we all are pre-programmed, said Krishna, one of the nine avatars of Lord Vishnu:”]:”O Arjuna, I am time itself, grown mature, capable of destroying the world, and now engaged in subduing it. Even without your effort, all the opposing warrirors shall cease to exist. Therefore arise and win great glory, conquer your enemies, and enjoy a prosperous kingdom. They are already slain by me. You, O Arjuna, are merely the occasion. Kill Drona, Bhisma, Jayadratha, Karana, and all the other great warriors whom I have already doomed. Do not fear, but fight and conquer your enemies in battle.”

All kinsmen, all friends take sides, torn asunder over their conflicting loyalties and duties. Arjuna and Krishna discuss duty at length; he could hardly find his heart to wage war against his uncles and cousins and former teachers, but he must. As the destiny would have it, all the enemies of Five Pandavas would be killed. The five Pandavas led by righteous Yudishtara, who were deprived of their kingdom, would become victorious over their cousins Kauravas led by Duryodhana in the epic war. Destiny.

Destiny  Paris was the son of Priam, King of Troy. Though he was born in a royal family, he had been brought up in obscurity because an oracle had prophesied that he would one day bring ruin to the city. He did
Before Achilles was born, the Fates told his mother that he would die young. After his birth she bathed him in the river Styx, whose magic waters gave protection from all woulds and diseases. However the waers did not touch the heel b which Thetis had held hm. So, when Paris shot a poisoned arrow at Achilles, the gods guided Paris’ arrow to his heel which was the only vulnerable part of his body. Achilles dies from the wound."The Trojan War" Communicate in English, Literature Reader 8 [Used for grade 7- Int'l] by Ratna Sagar

Now, coming back from Krishna of Mahabharata to our Krishna, the protagonist of “The English Teacher”, we see Krishna realizes the futility of an education such as he was engaged in serves to effectively keep his countrymen in subjugation not only physically, but also in their approach to life and mind-set, being discontent with their lot and hankering after another culture which will not sustain them.
However Krishna reflects no contemptuous and spiteful account of the hatred of the British ruler that fires lesser persons [such as..mm..] up, on and off. 
In reality he is enthralled with the dramas of the Master, William Shakespeare: “As I read on, I myself was moved by the force and fury of the storm compressed in these lines. The sheer poetry of it carried me on….  At the thought of helpless humanity I nearly broke down.”
Such is the force of Shakespeare’s words, having realized the helpless condition of the man battered by the weather gods, unable to defend, being reminded of the pathetic condition of the humanity, Krishna was nearly in tears. I am not far. 

Words of Shakespeare
In our words
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' th' world,
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!

Blow, winds! Blow until your cheeks crack! Rage on, blow!
Let tornadoes spew water
until the steeples of our churches and the weather vanes are all drowned.
Let quick sulfurous lightning, strong enough to split enormous trees,
singe the white hair on my head.
Let thunder flatten the spherical world,
crack open all the molds from which nature forms human beings,
and spill all the seeds from which ungrateful humans grow!

In the south- western coastal belt of mine [I am from Moratuwa - hometown and schooltown], where my roots are, not so long ago, when assaulted by the South-Western Monsoon, unable to eke out a living by going fishing in the Indian Ocean, the fishing populace could go starving unless fish was preserved and stored. [Jadi]


My father, Baminahennadige Donald B. Peiris of Lakshapaiya, Moratuwa used to say that's how his mother would say during the monsoon rain
“It rains, oh! It pours with unfathomable fury and ferocity,
Those Ants may dine
Those who have suffered the sea and saved fish for the monsoon months
Those Grasshoppers may whine

Those who have been idle and failed to save in the unruffled months

Study hard today while you are nourished
For tomorrow without your own oar
you would be drowned

The Ant and the Grasshopper
In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

Then the Grasshopper knew...  It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Dilum: Sir, who made Shakespeare into Cambridge OL syllabus?
Master Nobody: Why, the Cambridge International Examination Board itself, indeed.
I know, since Merchant of Venice is written in four centuries ago, you find it hard to grapple with the language. But in the British education system, the 1990 National Curriculum in English lists Shakespeare as the only author that all British school children, over the age 13, must study (Curtis, 2008)
Furthermore, when in 1983 the Secretary of State in UK required the nine GCE boards to devise a common core for A level the English working party could agree only one thing that is not vague and general: that at least one play by Shakespeare must be studied.
Dilum: what is the logic behind such a resolution, sir?
Master Nobody: Shakespeare has no rivals. He is the master story teller. He knows us better than we do. Shakespeare was, through his dramatic characters, the inventor of human personality as we have come to understand it. In short, Shakespeare invented our understanding of ourselves. He put words into my mouth, when I have no words to express my grief.
No, no, no life! Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all?

King Lear: William Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s plays remain the outward limit of human achievement: aesthetically, cognitively, in certain ways morally, even spiritually. They abide beyond the end of the mind’s reach; we cannot catch up to them. Shakespeare will go on explaining us in part because he invented us… ’
Harold Bloom, the doyen of American literary critics and author of “Shakespeare, the Invention of Human” and “The Western Canon”.
Now, Cambridge OL poems. Some of the poems can be interpreted as love between man and a woman as well as the Divine Love. Now Divine Love, the concept of love between man and the God inherent in Christianity is alien to majority of our nation, and of source to the students, the biblical references wouldn’t be picked up; no bells would ring reminding the quotations from the Bible. Herein again, is a situation where I found myself falling into the thinking of our Krishna. The master, not the lord. Let me quote a couple of lines from two poems from the current Cambridge OL syllabus and previous syllabus.
Love  III  by George Herbert
Poet is a lost soul that God [Love] is courting and trying to reassure

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back Guilty of dust and sin
Solomon 5:6. "I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself" (Authorized Version, 1611).
God is accepting of the poet’s faults even as the poet draws back and feels, “guilty of dust and sin”
 ‘Dust’ has a special meaning from the bible. Dust means human or flesh. This meaning comes from the famous saying in the bible: ‘Dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return’. Herbert, the guest, feels embarrassed because he is human.
What does the guest mean by ‘sin’? The guest feels guilty of original sin in the first stanza. Christians like Herbert believe this sin is in a person’s soul since birth.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in,
The poet shows how he is troubled in spirit because he feels sinful:
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
If I lacked any thing. echoes a version of Psalm 23, which begins: "The Lord is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing" (Psalms in the Version of the Great Bible, 1539)

The Demon and the Damozel — 2008
Dynamics of Desire in the Works of Christina Rossetti and Dante Gabriel Rossetti
By Suzanne Waldman

A birthday by Christina Rossetti [Not in your syllabus now]
Regular Interpretation
Interpretation in the perspective of  Divine Love
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
[Singing bird symbolizes change of season from winter to Spring/re-birth of nature.] The poet has come out of an uneventful life to joyous days. Water’d shoot a growing sprout of a plant that symbolizes growth of love, lushness & fertility
She celebrates her state of bliss on finding the love of her life-God.
The Lord will guide you always: he will satisfy your needs. You will be like  well-trodden garden, like a spring whose waters never fail [Isaiah 58:11]
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickest fruit.
[Apple tree symbolizes nourishment to the human race.]
In spite of my enrichment, I am humbled
Old Testament says that those who ‘lay hold’ of this tree ‘will be blessed’ [Proverbs 3:18]

In an attempt to bring all those love poems closer to our students, I thought of translating a Sinhala song into English so that they could pick a cue in enjoying poems.

Kurullanta Gee Gayanne by Victor Ratnayake
Breathe yourvoice to those nightingales  
Offer your cheeks to the pink lotus overwhelming the pond, so they look still more rosier 
Let the jewels hold the sparkle of your eyes tight, so those may shine brighter 
share your vermilion lips with the tender leaf of Ironweed, so those may stay lovelier http://www.bunpeiris.com/2015/01/breath-your-voice-to-those-nightingales.html
However all isn’t lost. Haven’t Cambridge International Examinations already chosen R. K. Narayan’s “The English Teacher”?  Well, would Cambridge go further? In his Bengali novel titled “Chokher Bali” [1902], Tagore (1861-1941) [“The God of Poemswas awarded the Noble Prize for literature for the poem Gitanjali, in 1913] pillories the custom of perpetual mourning on the part of widows, who were not allowed to remarry, who were consigned to seclusion and loneliness.

It was made into a movie, [a box office hit in 2003] with Aishawarya Rai playing the lead role of Binodini. Unlike Jane Eyre, Binodini isn’t destined to see the fulfillment of life.


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