AKSHARASLOKA RASIKARANJINI: G. Kamalamma; Rainbow Books, Chengannur-689124. Rs. 95.
‘Aksharasloka', the scholarly tradition of reciting slokas, both in Malayalam and Sanskrit, was common among connoisseurs in Kerala, till a few decades ago. Subject to rigorous rules on the ‘meter' and other elements of poetry, the recital in a competition takes the form of a relay, with each participant called upon to recite a sloka starting with the first letter of the third line of the sloka recited by his predecessor. Whoever fails will get eliminated. Clearly, this called for considerable learning and prodigious memory.
There are voluminous poetic compositions eminently suited for recital. The author of the book under review has done yeomen service by handpicking the gems from among those works, most suited for recitation. She has drawn from classical Sanskrit literary works by Adi Sankara (Soundarya Lahari), Bharthruhari, Kalidasa and so on as well as from poetic works in Malayalam from the 15 century down to the modern era.
Extracts from the best metaphysical and popular works of many poets, well known and not-so-well known, figure in this commendable compilation. They are of a piece with the best ever written in traditional style of meters, and the compilation features a wide range of celebrated works of poetry.