"Stuti", pronounced "Sthuthi", means "prayer/song". "Ninda" means "blame/complaint." A "ninda stuti" is essentially a prayer that is also a complaint.
Prayers are supposed to be polite. If one is praying to an omnipotent entity, it is advisable to be as inoffensive as possible. God loves you, but you’re His bitch, pal.
The Hindus do things differently. They decided to break up the monopoly. Why not have a bunch of gods? Why not make them compete, like ravenous insurance agents, for your prayers? So the Hindus dreamt up 330 million gods. Impossible?
Absolutely. It’s way too small a number. Judging from CIA fact index, the number of gods is currently estimated to be about 6,446,131,400. It’s still an underestimate.
The logic is quite straightforward. "Aham Brahmasmi." I am the Brahman. Not just me. Every living thing is a piece of the Brahman. Since we’ve not included aliens, bacter, Delhi’s crows and opposums, the exact number of Gods is, like Rumsfeld said, an "unknown unknowable."
But this is not about a holy census or an unholy consensus. It’s about the consequences of having a market in Gods. One begins to take certain liberties. Such as getting a tad familiar with the Supernatural.
Here is a perfect tale, orginally in Kannada. Kannada is one of the state languages of India; as the Wikipedia advises, it should not be confused with Canada.
A Story And A Song
A housewife knew a story. She also knew a song. But she kept them to herself, never told anyone the story nor sang the song.
Imprisoned within her, the story and the song wanted release, wanted to run away. One day, when she was sleeping with her mouth open, the story escaped, fell out of her, took the shape of shoes and sat outside the house. The song also escaped, took the shape of something like a man’s coat and hung on a peg.
The woman’s husband came home, looked at the coat and shoes, and asked her, "Who is visiting?"
"No one," she said.
"But whose coat and shoes are these?"
"I don’t know," she replied. He wasn’t satisfied with her answer. He was suspicious. Their conversation was unpleasant. The unpleasantness led to a quarrel. The husband flew into a rage, picked up his blanket, and went to the Monkey God’s temple to sleep.
The woman didn’t understand what was happening. She lay down alone that night. She asked the same question over and over: "Whose coat and shoes are these?" Baffled and unhappy, she put out the lamp and went to sleep.
All the flames of the town, once they were out, used to come to the Monkey God’s temple and spend the night there, gossipping. On this night, all the lamps of all the houses were represented there– all except one, which came late. The others asked the latecomer, "Why are you so late tonight?"
"At our house, the couple quarreled late into the night," said the flame.
"Why did they quarrel?"
"When the husband wasn’t home, a pair of shoes came into the veranda, and a coat somehow got onto a peg. The husband asked her whose they were. The wife said she didn’t know. So they quarrelled."
"Where did the coat and shoes come from?"
"The lady of our house knows a story and a song. She never tells the story, and has never sung the song to anyone. The story and the song got suffocated inside; so they got out and have turned into a coat and a pair of shoes. They took revenge. The woman doesn’t even know."
The husband, lying under his blanket in the temple, heard the lamp’s explanation. His suspicions were cleared. When he went home, it was dawn. He asked his wife about her story and her song. But she had forgotten both of them.
"What story? What song?" she said.
Source: A. K. Ramanujan, Collected Essays, ed. Vinay Dharwadkar, Oxford India. 1999. pp. 438-439
Eight hundred years ago, the Kashmiri pundit
Kshemendra described a poet’s education in the Kavikanthabharana (verses 10-11). Here’s a loose translation.
With his eyes
a poet should learn
the form of leaves.
Know how to make
Study the nature of each living thing.
The features of ocean and mountain,
the motion of sun, moon, and stars.
His mind should enter into the seasons.
learning their languages.
It’s not a bad prescription for science fiction. The Pandit tells us to keep the imagination real, so to speak. The mundane SF movement, if it does not devolve into quakebottom literature, might produce the kind of writing Pandit Kshemendra had in mind. Stories rooted in this world, and yet.