Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ancient Palindromes III

Ok, you could have read the whole page yourself, but you gotta admit, a Sanskrit palindrome is pretty cool.

Palindromes of considerable complexity were experimented with in Sanskrit poetry. An example which has been called "the most complex and exquisite type of palindrome ever invented"[1], appears in the 19th canto of the 8th century epic poem śiśupāla-vadha by Magha. It yields the same text if read forwards, backwards, down, or up:

ra-sA-ha-vA vA-ha-sA-ra
(nA da vA da da vA da nA
ra sA ha vA vA ha sA ra
kA ya sA da da sA ya kA
sa kA ra nA nA ra kA sa)

(note: hyphen indicates same word). The up and down reading depends on re-reading the text back up again; the last four lines have been reversed above to clarify this property.

The stanza translates as:

[That army], which relished battle (rasAhavA) contained allies who brought low the bodes and gaits of their various striving enemies (sakAranAnArakAsakAyasAdadasAyakA), and in it the cries of the best of mounts contended with musical instruments (vAhasAranAdavAdadavAdanA).

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