Creativity – Knowing the meaning

We are posting this article after over a year of unprecedented time!  The term “unprecedented time” made us think, when did we know the Time before? This article is not exclusively about toys or plays but about one of their outcomes – learning to be creative! Here we are trying to present “the creativity” from a few diverse areas to emphasize on the real meaning of creativity. Please note that each of these examples have some common elements such as they implemented quite “different” techniques than conventional style of that time. In terms of our time they used “disruptive innovation” methods, and were targeted for the overall welfare of the “society”.

Like most other things, with time the term “creativity” also has been diluted to a great extent, and we have started to be happily satisfied with this degraded level. So we thought of presenting some of the creative works as discrete dots in this article, we are leaving it up to the readers where to connect them with their own!

So here are some of the historical events for you to ponder about, remember the emphasis here is the “creativity” not the history.

Panchatantra (200 BCE – 300 CE) Sri Vishnu Sharma.
Who doesn’t know the Panchatantra, but the real story behind creation of this timeless collection of fables is not as popular. The king of Mahilaropyam had three foolish sons for whom it was impossible to acquire the political and diplomatic abilities to rule the kingdom. The King tried many ways but all in vain, finally one minister advised him to consult Sri Vishnu Sharma. He accepted the challenge and thus Panchatantra came into existence as an outcome to his teachings. Even after two thousand years post this incident, it is accepted as very relevant across the world and is the most translated literature product of India. Why the world did not witness another Vishnu Sharma, do all creative parents got busy following Harry Potter and Princesses?

Nalanda University (5th – 13th century).
Historically it has been verified that the Nalanda was burning for 3 months. A great grand Library of approximately 9 million manuscripts, spread across 3 multistory buildings standing up to 9 stories high. Now one should imagine the amount of manuscripts lying there in the library, much before the invention of any mechanized printing technologies. How did such a massive scale of books (manuscripts) come into existence, did the teachers (masters) and  studying scholars kept writing, publishing research articles?

Goswami Tulsidas (16th century).
Amongst his many creations the Ramcharitmanas (श्रीरामचरितमानस) was the greatest innovation of that time, despite the great Sanskrit scholar of all time, he composed it in local language Awadi to be understood by any laymen, and that deserves a separate chapter in the history of literature. His another composition, “Hanuman Chalisa” in praise of Lord Hanuman, is the most popular stotra amongst all and is till date regularly recited by almost all the devotees of Sri Hanuman and his Lord Sri Rama. Why did he took this route, just to be a different poet?

Another example of Sri Venkatadhvari (17th century) poet, who created the Raghava-Yadaviyam (राघव-यादवीयम्). It is a very unique creation of 30 shlokas. When read in regular forward fashion, it tells the story of Lord Sri Rama but when it is read in reverse letter by letter, it narrates the story of Lord Shri Krishna! A wonderful demonstration of verbal ingenuity of the composer and encryption capability of the Sanskrit language.

It’s not limited to literature works only, there are very interesting mathematical compositions too. Consider the case of the ka·ṭa·pa·yā·di (कटपयादि) system, is an ancient encoding system (around 1st-4th century) to depict letters to numerals for easy remembrance of large or complicated numbers as a verse. For example, the following verse when decoded using the Katapayadi table (e.g. ga=3, pa=1, bha=4, etc.), reveals the value of Pi upto 31 digits.

गोपीभाग्यमधुव्रात-शृङ्गिशोदधिसन्धिग ।
खलजीवितखाताव गलहालारसंधर ॥

Oh Krishna, the fortune of the Gopis, the destroyer of the demon Madhu,
Protector of cows, the one who ventured the ocean-depths, destroyer of evildoers,
One with plough on the shoulder and the bearer of nectar, may (you) protect (us).

The curious case of Lilavati. The name “Lila-vati” itself means the lady who possessed playful qualities (Līlā = play, -vatī = female possessing the quality). It is in fact a mathematical system developed by Bhaskara (12th century) as an attribute to his daughter Lilavati! The most interesting chapter of the entire mathematical history, is unfortunately not known to even most Indians. What a novel way to teach mathematics to his daughter. About nine hundred years later we are all behind our kids to secure good grades in math subject, without giving a second thought, why?

अये बाले लीलावति मतिमति ब्रूहि सहितान्
द्विपञ्चद्वात्रिंशत्‍त्रिनवतिशताष्टादश दश।
शतोपेतानेतानयुतवियुतांश्चापि वद मे
यदि व्यक्ते युक्तिव्यवकलनमार्गेऽसि कुशला ॥
(लीलावती, परिकर्माष्टक, १३)

Oh Lilavati, intelligent girl, if you understand addition
and subtraction, tell me the sum of the amounts 2, 5, 32, 193, 18,
10, and 100, as well as [the remainder of] those when subtracted from 10000.

I beg pardon to our readers, for unable to list more such people and incidents that glorify their creative contribution. If anything to be blamed is my limited knowledge. It would really be nice of you, if you can contribute by sharing any such person/event in the comment section and make this article more complete.

It is not like in current times we do not have such people in possession of such creative powers. The thing is that we as a society are not giving much attention and recognition to such creators of the original contents which actually helps the society at large. The most creative domain of our time looks to be of movies and music, because society has given them more importance. Along with such contemporary creative domains, the society must focus and recognize other domains that actually helps it to elevate from mundane businesses.

As a final word to our readers, first thing please do utilize your creative potential and second thing, consider the betterment of the society.

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