Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mullah Nasruddin

I believe most of us in India grew up reading Tinkle comics. Apart from Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha and Indrajal (Phantom, Mandrake et all) there weren't many comics. Oh yeah...there was Chacha Chaudhary too. But Tinkle remained my all time favorite. Over the years some of the characters in Tinkle comics have sort of become legends by themselves - Supandi, Shikari Shambu, Kalia the crow, Doob doob, Chamataka, Tantri the Mantri, Nasruddin Hodja... yeah remember him? It's about him that I want to talk about today.


For a long time I always thought that Hodja ('d' is silent), was a fictitious character - until I picked up a book called "The funniest tales of Mullah Nasruddin", at Hyderabad airport the other day. So much of my material for this blog post comes from that book and the credit / criticism goes to that author.


Nasruddin Hodja was born in 1208 in the Turkish village of Sivrihisar. Around 1237, he moved to Aksehir and lived the rest of his life until he died in 1284. Though he was quite famous during his own lifetime, the earliest written reference of him comes almost 200 years after he died in a book called Saltukname. Hodja was a priest who lived in extreme poverty during his lifetime but he was also one of the wittiest persons who lived during that era. It was his wit that brought him fame. His fame spread beyond Turkey...so much so that all the neighboring nations claimed that he was born in their country!!


How did Hodja come to be so funny? The legend goes that when Nasruddin was a young boy in school, two of his classmates killed, cooked and ate a lamb, which was probably their teacher's pet. The teacher was deeply anguished and shocked by this outrage and soon discovered who the culprits were. Hodja's classmates confessed that one of them had slit the lamb's throat, while the other had flayed and cooked the meat. As for Nasruddin Hodja, his sole role in the despicable affair was that he had watched and laughed during the entire proceedings.


So the teacher cursed the threesome: "Let him who slit the throat of my lamb have his own throat slit. Let him who flayed my lamb be himself be flayed. And let him who laughed be laughed at by the whole world"


Curse or no curse, Hodja has survived for the last 700 years :-) Millions of people continue to laugh at his wit. It might interest you to know that UNESCO had declared 1996 as the Nasruddin Hodja year and Turkey celebrates every year July 5th to 10th as International Nasruddin Hodja festival. So next time you read about this legend, do remember that he died of hunger as a very poor man but left billions of smiles through centuries - that are truly priceless.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Deepa J said...

I am a die-hard fan of Tinkle comics too. Your blog seems intersting. Shall read thru when I find more time. Btw, how about Archie comics? i like them too.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Teshu said...

Oh yeah, I adore all comics including Archie. People who visit my house think its some kids library with literally thousands of comics all over the shelves :-)

11:41 PM  
Blogger Deepa J said...

wow! I am not so lucky. I read all comics from a lending library. So I have a very few collections of my own! Wanted to ask you... Are you a Harry Potter fan too? And besides, I find it irritating when someone tells me, "oh come on grow up, how can you still read comics" I mean, there is nothing related to being grown up to enjoy these kids' books, right? You just go back to your childhood days, and relishing those memories only get sweeter with time.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Teshu said...

You know its funny, I haven't read a single Harry Potter book yet. Just didn't find it too interesting for some reason. And yeah, lots of people do tell me am a kid when they see comics, video games and toys all over my house. Which I think is a compliment because I would hate to grow up.

Truth is when we were kids we were so damn eager to grow up. When someone asked my age when I was 10 yrs old I would actually add a couple of years because I thought being grown up was the best thing that could happen. How wrong I was :)

1:21 PM  
Blogger Prasanna Kumar said...

Interesting.......



Hi Teshu thanks for replying……. And it would be nice; I would like to know more about the role of RBI in curtailing inflation….. I am an engineer, I worked for 2 yrs and now I am doing MBA, you have mentioned in your profile that you are an investment banker, now that the Wall Street is in a blood bath and the investment banks have gone extinct what is your role now in the world of banking and finance. It would also be nice if you could let me know what you think about this financial crisis triggered by the money market crunch.

11:39 PM  

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