What does the term "Datta, Dayadhvam and Damyata" signify in the poem 'What the Thunder Said' ?
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The Waste Land is a tricky compilation of Eliot's meanderings and responses to current events, mythology, and obscure texts.
Fortunately for the reader, Eliot took it upon himself to make a series of notes at the end of the poem to explain some of his references.
In the section of "The Waste Land" entitled 'What the Thunder Said,' Eliot uses personification, making the rumbles of the thunder into a conversation piece. This is actually based on a Hindu fable about what thunder says when it rumbles “Datta, dayadhvam, damyata” (Give, sympathise, control)" (from Eliot's note for line 401).
Representing the coming of a destructive storm, Eliot's 'What the Thunder Said' is the last section of the poem.
What the thunder says is "Da" which is interpreted by three parties differently. It is interpreted as "Datta" by men which means "give" as men are naturally avaricious. The demons interpret the sound as "Dayadhavam" which means "compassion" as they are cruel. Finally, the Gods interpret it as "control" as they are uncontrollable. It is expected that by listening to what the thunder says, the waste land can be nourished and repaired.
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