Fascinating insights into dust

While many of us find it a chore to remove dust from our homes and places of work, for David Shulman, professor emeritus of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jeruselam, the particle is a fascinating subject to research and speak about. On Wednesday evening, standing beneath the banyan tree at Kalakshetra, he held a large audience spellbound as he spoke about different kinds of dust, including romantic dust.

Recalling his stay at Rajahmundry and how he used to mop the house every morning but the dust would return very quickly, he said that dust had an amazing ability to regenerate. “Once I became interested in dust, I wanted to look up at how it has been mentioned in Indian literature,” he said, after which he read out three verses from the Kamba Ramayana that talk about the dust in Mithila.

Poet Kamban, he said, in his description of the city, talks about the musth from elephants and the white foam from frothing horses and how these fell on the mud on the roads. When the mud hardened, the chariots churned up dust,” he said. The author spoke of how Damayanthi described the dust in sunlight streaming into the room and said that it looked as if the blacksmith was once again chopping off chunks of Surya’s brilliance. He did that once so that he could be with his wife, who could not stand Surya’s radiance.

The Whabiz Merchant Memorial lecture (IV edition) was organised by Prakriti Foundation in association with Kalakshetra Foundation. Celebrated poet Hoshang Merchant, brother of Whabiz Merchant, read out a poem in her memory.

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