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Rāméśvara Stuti

Rameswara Stuti (“A praise of Rama and Siva”) is a Telugu poem by Siddhartha Jayanti, based on Hindu classic stories about Rama and Siva. It has the curious property of being a dvyarthi kavya. Dvyarthi is a Sanskrit word meaning, “having two meanings.” Kavya simply means poem. A dvyarthi kavya is a poem that exploits the ambiguity of language, so that a single poem can have two meanings. It is notable that both meanings in dvyarthi kavyas are first-class meanings unlike in double-entendre, where there is only one first-class meaning and the second meaning is innuendo. So, Rameswara Stuti is not about both Rama and Siva like the title might suggest at first sight. Rather, it is about either Rama or Siva depending on how you choose to read it.

Dvyarthi Kavya originated in the Sanskrit classics. It was first introduced in Telugu poetry by Pingali Surana (16th century CE) who wrote an approximately fifty page long work called Rāghavapāndavīyam that simultaneously tells the stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the prologue to Rāghavapāndavīyam, Surana lists six different types of techniques he uses to compose such a long yet cogent double meaning work. A few of these are present in the Rāméśvara Stuti. For a simple illustration of a pair of homophonous two word phrases in English, consider: “An ocean” and “A notion.” Since these two phrases sound identical when read (in some dialects of English), they would be written identically in a phonetic language (like Telugu). Dvyarthis are composed by joining together multiple such phrases and sentences, while employing creatively worded descriptions, and exploiting the grammatical properties of sandhis (liaisons) and samasas (compound words).

Finally, a transliteration and loose translation of the two meanings of Rameswara Stuti:




śrīkaravaradāsadāsohaṁ ||

Of Rama: He who married Sita an incarnation of Lakshmi—who was born from the churning of the milk-ocean; he who stood strong even in the face of the despair of years of searching for his kidnapped wife; he who eventually rescued his wife from the demon that kidnapped her; I bow down to even the servants of this emanator of the greatest wealth of humanity.

Of Siva: He who was once stolen by a demon; he who knows the secrets of truth and is delighted by men in pursuit of this eternal truth; he who protected the world from harm by accepting the poison that came out of the milk-ocean and trapped it in his throat; he who embodies auspiciousness and gives the greatest gift of all; In essence, we (he and I) are identical.

As is traditional, Rama’s story is described as a journey, and Rama is depicted as a hero to look up to and learn from. Siva is represented as a high state of consciousness that the poet is wishing to rise up to and unite with.

Salutatorian's Address

Salutatorian at Hindu Commencement

Siddhartha Jayanti was the Salutatorian of the 2020 Virtual Hindu Commencement at which Congress Woman Tulsi Gabbard was the Commencement Speaker. The graduating class consisted of students from around the globe who were graduating at all levels of education. Siddhartha was receiving his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

In the tradition of american universities like Princeton and Harvard, the speech is in a classical language, Samskrtam. The speech is annotated with subtitles in both English and Samskrtam.