Parables and Commonplaces

  • A. K. Ramanujan


No culture we know is innocent of ‘encounter’ with another. In India, even remote hill-tribes like the matriarchal, pastoral Todas have had visitors and visitations — their poetry has, for long, borrowed Sanskrit images. The Sanskrit of the ancient Vedas has non-Sanskritic tribal words. Even the primal innocence of the Garden of Eden, according to some, was seduced and destroyed by an alien Serpent, speaking a different tongue. A Persian proverb says, ‘God spoke to man in Persian, the Devil in Turkish.’ The Turks have, of course, a proverb in reverse.


White Woman House Tree Cultural Encounter American Indian Family Indian Epic 
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  1. 2.
    A. K. Ramanujan, trans. The Interior Landscape London, 1967, p. 19. See also the Afterword, pp. 97–105.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Jai Ratan, ed. Contemporary Hindi Short Stories 1962, pp. 15–20.Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    Adapted from Nirad C. Chaudhuri’s summary in The Continent of Circe 1965, p. 286.Google Scholar

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© Guy Amirthanayagam 1982

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  • A. K. Ramanujan

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