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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bharat Ek Khoj on Doordarshan: Nostalgia

Way back, in the 1980's (1988 to be precise), there used to appear a serial on Doordarshan called Bharat Ek Khoj. It presented in dramatic form, a depiction of the history for India for 5000 years till the year 1957, and was based on a book by Jawaharlal Nehru (first Indian Prime Minister) called Discovery of India. This is a pretty famous book, and the series was very gripping. Written and directed by the famous director, Shyam Benegal, and was an excellent depiction of history, especially for those who either have not been very interested in Indian history, or never got a chance to see it in a connected form, that is, a single series covering 5000 years.
I was a kid at that time, but I remember watching it regularly, and now that I am older, I got a chance to suddenly view the opening track (very impressive) on Youtube,

and memories got suddenly refreshed. I still have not found the DVD of the series, and am actively looking. There were so many things that were great in the series. For one, they had an excellent narrator; Om Puri's voice seems like a perfect fit. And, unlike some of today's serials dealing with mythology or history, there was no excessive dramatization; costumes seemed of the period with seeming artificial.
One needs to of course remember that the serial was based on the writings and evidence available from the period when Jawaharlal Nehru wrote the book, and if such a serial came out at this point of time, just the period of history from the time of the Indus Valley would have sections either not acceptable to the Left, or to the RSS/BJP. In addition, sections dealing with the Marathas vs. the Mughals would be sure to have agitations, given how easily the Shiv Sena is wont to take up controversial series as a part of its appeal to its voter base and to seem relevant.
Having said that, the serial covered so many periods such as the Vedic people and the writings of the Vedas, beginning of the caste system (consider it part of the innocence of youth that I did not understand this part of the serial, of course I would easily understand it now, although whether I would still be able to rationalize it remains to be seen), the period of Chanakya and the invasion of Alexander, Ashoka, classical ages, Kalidasa, the formation and survival of the Delhi sultanate (the slave dynasty and ahead), Mughals, Marathas, British East India Company, the first war of Independence of 1857, and numerous others).
For those who are interested in the lyrics of the opening ditty, a bit of information, it is actually the Nasadiya Sukta from the Rig Veda. For those who are not so interested in the lyrics of this one, please ignore from this point onwards (I for one found it perfectly captivating):

Original lyrics:

Srishtee se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhi nahin
Antariksh bhi nahin, akash bhin nahin thaa
chhipaa thaa kyaa kahaan, kisne dhakaa thaa
us pal to agam, atal jal bhi kahaan thaa

Srishtee kaa kaun hai kartaa
Kartaa hai vaa akartaa
Oonche aakash mein rahtaa
Sada adhyaksh banaa rahtaa
Wahin sachmuch mein jaantaa..Yaa nahin bhi jaanataa
Hai kisi ko nahin pataa, nahin pataa,
Nahin hai pataa, nahin hai pataa

Weh tha hiranyagarbh srishti se pehle vidyamaan
Wahi to saare bhoot jaat ka swami mahaan
jo hai astitvamaana dharti aasmaan dhaaran kar
Aise kis devta ki upasana karein hum avi dekar

Jis ke bal par tejomay hai ambar
Prithvi hari bhari sthapit sthir
Swarg aur sooraj bhi sthir
Aise kis devta ki upasana karein hum avi dekar

Garbh mein apne agni dhaaran kar paida kar
Vyapa tha jal idhar udhar neeche upar
Jagaa chuke vo ka ekameva pran bankar
Aise kis devta ki upasana karein hum avi dekar

Om ! Srishti nirmata swarg rachiyata purvaj raksha kar
Satya dharma palak atul jal niyamak raksha kar
Phaili hain dishayen bahu jaisi uski sab mein sab par
Aise hi devta ki upasana kare hum avi dekar
Aise hi devta ki upasana kare hum avi dekar

English translation:

At first was neither Being nor Nonbeing.
There was not air nor yet sky beyond.
What was wrapping? Where? In whose protection?
Was Water there, unfathomable deep?

There was no death then, nor yet deathlessness;
of night or day there was not any sign.
The One breathed without breath by its own impulse
Other than that was nothing at all.

Darkness was there, all wrapped around by darkness,
and all was Water indiscriminate, Then
that which was hidden by Void, that One, emerging,
stirring, through power of Ardor, came to be.

In the beginning Love arose,
which was primal germ cell of mind.
The Seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom,
discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing.

A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
What was described above it, what below?
Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
thrust from below and forward move above.

Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
Even the Gods came after its emergence.
Then who can tell from whence it came to be?

That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held it firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows - or maybe He does not!


Jonh said...

Hi Friends I Have founded the great link on Bharat Ek Khoj on mystica music .we have seen the intresting television series on dordarshan ,Bharat Ek Khoj written by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru , bharat ek khoj directed by shyam benegal
Hope you liked it

Sunny said...

Friends i bought the dvds from

Excellent service.
I would like to buy other products from future.


Enjoy Nautanki TV