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Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic,Peterson,2003,SUNY

Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic,Peterson,2003,SUNY

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Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

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Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic
The Kiratarjun¯ of Bharavi ¯ ¯ iya ¯

Indira Viswanathan Peterson


Published by State University of New York Press, Albany © 2003 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. Cover photo courtesy of Gary Michael Tartakov. Passages cited in this work from: Louis Renou, “Sur la structure du Kavya”, Journal Asiatique 247: 159, pp. 1–113, appear with the ¯ authorization of Peeters Publishers. For information, address State University of New York Press, 90 State Street, Suite 700, Albany, N.Y., 12207 Production by Diane Ganeles Marketing by Anne Valentine Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Peterson, Indira Viswanathan, 1950– Design and rhetoric in a Sanskrit court epic : the Kiratarjun¯ of ¯ ¯ iya Bharavi / Indira Viswanathan Peterson. ¯ p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-7914-5613-7 (alk. paper)—ISBN 0-7914-5614-5 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Bharavi Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya. 2. Epic poetry, Sanskrit. 3. Sanskrit poetry– History and criticism. I. Title. PK3791.B252 Z62 2000 891 .21-dc21 2002066785 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

In memory of my gurus in Sanskrit poetry: S. Venkataramanan, grandfather Daniel H. H. Ingalls, teacher

The composition in cantos is a great poem, because it is great (in compass), and speaks of great things. Bhamaha, Kavyalamkara, I. 19 ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ Later they return and meet on the broad highway that leads to some lofty destination, some noble city, filled with magnificent regal dwellings, and adorned with temples and palaces and other marvellous architectural marvels. Torquato Tasso, Discourses on the Heroic Poem


List of Figures Acknowledgments 1. Introduction: The Study of the Sanskrit Court Epic 2. The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯ 3. The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya 4. Prelude to Action: Epic Speech in Bharavi’s Poem ¯ 5. The Debate between the Brothers: Logic, Rhetoric, and Politics in the Court Epic 6. Landscapes with Women: Bharavi’s Descriptive Art ¯ 7. The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic 8. The Theater of Combat 9. Wrestling with God: Rasa and Bhakti in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya A Note on the Translation Selections Appendix A. Draupad¯ Rebukes Yudhisthira: Kir. i .. I. 27-46

ix xii 1 7 21 47

67 89 117 139

161 189



Appendix B.

Contents The Journey of the Apsaras: Kir. VII. 1-40 Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter: Kir. XVII. 1-64 The Wrestling Match, Theophany, and Boon: Kir. XVIII. 1-19; 42-48


Appendix C.


Appendix D.

215 221 223 269 289 303

List of Abbreviations Notes Bibliography Index Index of References to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


1. The apsaras dancers try to disturb Arjuna’s penance. ´ 2. Disguised as a hunter, Siva directs the boar to attack Arjuna. 3. Arjuna and the hunter shoot arrows at the boar. 4. Combat between Arjuna and the hunter. 5. The Double Palindrome: Sarvatobhadra (“Good from all sides”), Kiratarjun¯ XV.25. ¯ ¯ iya ´ 6. Arjuna wrestles with Siva disguised as a hunter. 7. Ascetic standing on one leg receiving a boon from a god.


33 39 41

153 165 179


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I thank the following institutions for supporting my work on the Sanskrit court epic genre and Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya: the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, for a Whiting Fellowship for dissertation research at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Mount Holyoke College, for a Faculty Fellowship; and the American Institute of Indian Studies, for a Senior Research Fellowship for reading kavya manuscripts and kavya commentaries ¯ ¯ in India. I am grateful to the late S. S. Janaki, Director of the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Madras, for her hospitality and support during my affiliation with the Institute, and to V. L. Manjul, Librarian of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, for sending me copies of the commentary manuscripts that I requested. Two loves of long standing have come together for me in this study: a fascination with epic poems and a love of Sanskrit poetry. Both have grown and gained depth from exchange of ideas with my teachers. My grandfather, S. Venkataramanan, initiated me into the delights of Sanskrit verse at a very young age. Daniel H. H. Ingalls guided me in my research mahakavyas and inspired me with his deep ¯ ¯ knowledge of Sanskrit kavya and his sensitivity for the subtleties of ¯ language and literary form. I am sorry that neither of my gurus lived to see this book in print. To the late Cedric Whitman and to Gregory Nagy I owe thanks for introducing me to Homer, the Greek language, and comparative epic studies. Thanks go to Wendy Doniger and the anonymous readers for SUNY Press for their careful reading and thoughtful suggestions, which have made this a better book. I am deeply grateful to Nancy Ellegate, Senior Acquisitions Editor at SUNY Press, for the care and patience with which she has helped turn the manuscript into a book, and for her encouragement, good advice, and many kindnesses.




Thanks to Diane Ganeles for her skilled editing, and to Joan Davis for preparing the index. Gary Tubb, the late Barbara Stoler Miller, George Hart, David Shulman, Gary Tartakov, and Hank Heifetz inspired me to further effort by responding enthusiastically to my earlier work on Bharavi. Colleagues and students at the various institutions at ¯ which I read papers from my work in progress rewarded me with interest, and with stimulating and challenging questions: the late S. S. Janaki, Nagaraja Sharma, A. V. Subramaniyan, and members of Rasodaya and the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute in Madras, R. N. Dandekar and the Bhandarkar Research Institute in Pune, the South Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago, and my kavya seminar at the South ¯ Asia Institute at Heidelberg University, Germany, in 1991. From Mary-Ann Lutzker I learned much about the relationship between Bharavi’s mahakavya and visual representations of his epic theme. ¯ ¯ ¯ M. S. Nagaraja Rao’s work on kiratarjun¯ sculpture gave me fresh ¯ ¯ iya perspectives on the relationship between Bharavi and folk versions ¯ of the narrative; it was a pleasure and a privilege to discuss my work in progress with him. As for Michael Rabe, it would be hard to put into words the delight of recognition and discovery that his work on the kirata theme and the Mahabalipuram sculpture has evoked. ¯ Thanks to Michael also for sharing an appreciation of word-play and polysemy in Indian art and literature. I thank Michael Rabe, I. Job Thomas, Gary Michael Tartakov, and M. S. Nagaraja Rao for providing me with photographs of depictions of the kirata-Arjuna narrative in South Indian art. I am ¯ grateful to Jarrod Whitaker for his excellent diagram of the Double palindrome verse in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya. It is perhaps fitting that a study on so complex a poem as Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya had to be matched with equally complex computer technology. This book would not have been possible but for my initiation into the TeX system by Thomas Malten at the University of Heidelberg and Jurgen Botz at Mount Holyoke College. Finally, as always, I thank Mark, Maya, and my parents for their love and encouragement.

Chapter 1

Introduction: The Study of the Sanskrit Court Epic

For the single stanza there are any number of poets; there are a hundred poets for the short poem. But for the great poem there is one poet, perhaps two— three would be hard to find. Raja´ ekhara1 ¯ s

This book is about a Sanskrit court poem and the aesthetics of a major genre of Indian poetry. The court epics (mahakavya) of the great ¯ ¯ classical authors occupy a place in the Sanskrit literary tradition comparable to that of Virgil and Dante in the West.2 Yet the masterworks of the mahakavya genre have remained largely unknown to ¯ ¯ readers outside India. In this book I have tried to illuminate for a nonspecialist audience the literary strategies of the Sanskrit court epic through the study of an exemplary poem, the Kiratarjun¯ (Arjuna ¯ ¯ iya and the Hunter) of the sixth-century author Bharavi.3 ¯ The mahakavya (“great poem”) is a verse genre of kavya, the ¯ ¯ ¯ stylized literature cultivated in the courts of India in the Sanskrit and Prakrit languages from the beginning of the first millennium.4 Kavya is literature conceived above all as a form of art in the ¯ medium of figurative language. Its purpose is to achieve aesthetic effects through the exquisite manipulation of language and of the conventions of form. Kavya is also, in Leonard Nathan’s felicitous ¯ expression, primarily a “literature of affirmation,” celebrating and idealizing the courtly world in which it flourished.5 The mahakavya is the most prestigious of the kavya genres, ¯ ¯ ¯ and court epics continued to be written well into the nineteenth century.6 Despite the genre’s importance in Sanskrit literature and India’s courtly culture, however, with very few exceptions, neither



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

traditional poeticians nor modern scholars have given it the careful attention it deserves. On the one hand, Sanskrit writers on poetic theory have failed to develop an adequate critical approach to the mahakavya, focusing instead on the poetics of the drama ¯ ¯ and the self-contained, quatrain-like verse form that is the standard unit of classical Sanskrit poetry. On the other hand, until recently, specialists in Indian literary studies have approached the Sanskrit mahakavyas as arenas for philological investigation, not as ¯ ¯ the serious works of literature they are.7 It appears that a number of factors, including Western preconceptions about epic poetry and the confusing treatment of the mahakavya in Indian criticism, have con¯ ¯ spired to make the Sanskrit court epic largely inaccessible to modern readers. The study of the Kiratarjun¯ I offer here is intended to suggest ¯ ¯ iya a viable approach to the Sanskrit court epic. I have argued that careful examination of textual passages in the Kiratarjun¯ reveals the ¯ ¯ iya existence of compositional principles unique to the mahakavya genre ¯ ¯ that resonate with, but are not explained by, conceptual categories in Sanskrit criticism. Secondly, I have suggested that the distinctive classicism of the court epic can be better illuminated through comparison with other kinds of literary discourse in India. A third point is that, while kavya is characterized by a formalist aesthetic, poems ¯ such as the Kiratarjun¯ are deeply engaged with the values and ¯ ¯ iya ideologies of the courtly world that they portray, and must therefore be studied in their cultural context. Lastly, I have shown that the Sanskrit mahakavyas challenge conservative theories of epic. ¯ ¯ Despite its formal and cultural specificity, Bharavi’s poem shares ¯ many of the salient characteristics of epic poems across cultural and typological boundaries, strengthening the case for a more flexible conception of epic poetry. Celebrated as one of the five classics of the mahakavya genre,8 ¯ ¯ Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya is the earliest and most esteemed literary treatment of an important episode in the Mahabharata, India’s ¯ ¯ ancient war epic and a major text on dharma (Law, sacred duty), the ¯ central principle of the Hindu cosmic and moral orders.9 The Kairata episode depicts the Pandava hero Arjuna’s dramatic encounter with ¯.. ´ Siva, one of the great gods of the Hindu pantheon, during the forest exile of the five Pandava princes and their wife Draupad¯ 10 ¯.. i. Arjuna performs penance in a Himalayan forest in order to propitiate the gods and win from them celestial weapons that will help the Pandavas overcome their cousins, the Kauravas, in righteous ¯.. war (dharmayuddha) and regain the kingdom that had unjustly been



taken away from them. The drama of the narrative turns on the trial ´ Siva sets for the hero. Appearing in the guise of a tribal hunter or ´ mountain man (kirata), Siva quarrels with Arjuna over the shooting ¯ of a boar and tests his courage in various kinds of single combat. The god ultimately reveals himself and grants the hero the boon of an invincible celestial weapon, the Pa´ upata (pa´ upatastra). In ¯s ¯s ¯ the Kiratarjun¯ Bharavi transforms the brief episode into an ele¯ ¯ iya ¯ gant kavya poem, replete with the descriptive and rhetorical topics ¯ through which the mahakavya evokes the world of the Indian court. ¯ ¯ Arjuna and the Hunter is the only work attributed to Bharavi, ¯ and very little is known about the poet. Bharavi is named as a ¯ great classical poet in an inscription of 634 A.D. of the Chalukya king Pulakesin II, who ruled in the Deccan region of South India.11 References in a work of the critic Dandin (7th–8th centuries) suggest .. that the poet flourished in the mid-sixth century and was associated with one or more royal houses in what is now Karnataka in the Deccan region.12 There are no explicit historical references in ´ the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya. In addition to glorifying the god Siva, the poem’s mythical narrative allows the court poet, in a manner characteristic of early kavya, to exalt his patron by identifying him with an eminent ¯ hero in the older epic.13 Nevertheless, “…texts have ways of existing that even in their most rarefied form are always enmeshed in circumstance, time, place, society—in short, they are in the world, and hence worldly.”14 As I will show in the course of this study, Bharavi’s very choice of narrative and his treatment of it appear to ¯ be refractions of his sixth-century South Indian milieu. From the sixth century onward, the narrative of Arjuna’s combat with the kirata has been a popular theme in the literature and arts of ¯ South India and the Indianized classical traditions of Southeast Asia. Among the literary treatments is a version of the episode included in the eleventh-century Arjunawiwaha (Celebration of Arjuna), the ¯ oldest court poem (kakawin) in Old Javanese.15 The narrative is ¯ depicted in sculpture and painting and enacted in various traditions of theater and dance, including the Kathakali dance of Kerala, the kuttu ritual drama of the Tamil Draupad¯ cult, and the Wayang ¯ i shadow-puppet play of Indonesia.16 The largest number of literary works on the subject were produced in the Deccan region, in Sanskrit and in Kannada, the language of Karnataka, and many of these are classified as devotional (bhakti) texts. Sculptural reliefs depicting ´ the kirata-Arjuna episode adorn nearly every Siva temple in Kar¯ nataka and neighboring areas. In the Deccan, both sculpture and


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

texts show an awareness of Bharavi’s poem, but also present details ¯ from folk and devotional versions of the narrative.17 The epic theme and the historical and cultural milieux of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya draw the poem into a web of complex transactions among the discourses of heroic epic and kavya, court and ¯ temple, Sanskrit and regional languages, and folk and classical traditions in Indian civilization. Religious devotion (bhakti), martial valor (paurusa), sacred duty (dharma), and ascetic self-control . (tapas), are central themes in the narrative of Arjuna and the hunter in all its versions, from the Mahabharata onwards. How¯ ¯ ever, Bharavi’s treatment of these themes differs in substance and ¯ style from nearly every other telling, including the epic source itself. The divergence stems from the trenchant aestheticism of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, which contrasts with the very different emphases of the Mahabharata and the later, non-kavya interpretations. The ¯ ¯ ¯ mahakavya poem’s social, historical, and cultural meanings are ¯ ¯ encoded in and experienced through the architectonics of form, the interrelationship of structures. What the Kiratarjun¯ has to say ¯ ¯ iya about ideal values must be grasped in and as the relations of poetic language that constitute it. For this poem, as for any work of art, but perhaps more self-consciously than most, the medium is the message. Indian commentators on the Kiratarjun¯ have for the most ¯ ¯ iya part concentrated on the literary processes that occur at the microscopic level of the stanza, the focus of Indian criticism of the verse genres in kavya. I have paid attention to the commentators and crit¯ ics. Unlike them, however, I have directed my study towards those aspects of Arjuna and the Hunter that for us need the most comment, yet have remained unspoken assumptions in the tradition, “the macroscopic levels of genre, proportions and rhetoric.”18 These, as I will argue below, are the key to a full appreciation of Bharavi’s ¯ poem and the court epic form. The following chapter is devoted to the problem of the poetics of the Sanskrit court epic. Here I discuss the formal features and aesthetic goals of the mahakavya and show how they differ from those ¯ ¯ of the older epic as well as the other kavya genres. I also show how ¯ we might transcend the limitations of both the traditional and the Western critical approaches in understanding the structural strategies of the mahakavya. I argue that in the court epic the design of ¯ ¯ extended poetic passages is achieved, and their rhetoric advanced, not through the linear movement of narrative, but through the artistic repetition and variation of figures of speech (alamkara) and other . ¯



compositional elements of the kavya stanza in the larger canvas of ¯ verse-sequences and the poem as a whole. Chapter 3 is an introduction to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya. In the first part of the chapter the poem is examined in relation to its historical setting, and to the Mahabharata and epic poetry in general. In the ¯ ¯ remainder of the chapter I provide an overview of the commentators’ and critics’ application of the aesthetic theory of rasa (mood) to the mahakavya, followed by a summary discussion of the noncanonical ¯ ¯ compositional strategies that I have discerned in Bharavi’s poem. ¯ Chapters 4 through 6 offer close analyses of compositional strategies in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s speeches and descriptions, the two types of poetic passage that characterize the mahakavya style and reflect ¯ ¯ the political, erotic, and heroic preoccupations of the courtly civilization. The last three chapters focus on the structure and rhetoric of the descriptions and debates surrounding Arjuna’s penance, his ´ combat with Siva, and the god’s self-revelation to the hero, key passages and central images in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya. In the concluding chapter I compare the mahakavya poet’s distinctive treatment of ¯ ¯ ´ the heroic and devotional aspects of Arjuna’s encounter with Siva with the handling of these elements of the narrative in other works on the subject, including visual representations. Throughout, the challenge is to be mindful of the dynamic by which “literature as autonomous language”19 fruitfully relates to the text as a worldly event in a particular Sanskrit poem.

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Chapter 2

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯

Il semble que l’indianisme moderne n’ait pas accordé aux problèmes de la forme toute l’attention qu’ils méritent. Encore faut-il entendre par là, non les catégories grammaticales, mais les structures. Louis Renou1

The Norms of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯ This chapter focuses on three mutually related questions: What kind of a poem is a mahakavya? Why, given the genre’s prestige within ¯ ¯ the tradition, have Western scholars found it difficult to discern literary value in Sanskrit court epics? And, how, given the lack of an adequate generic poetic for court epic in Sanskrit criticism, may we fruitfully respond to poems such as the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya? The definition of the mahakavya in a standard Sanskrit work on poetics is a useful ¯ ¯ starting point for exploring all three issues. Kavya is a highly codified literature. Even the earliest kavya ¯ ¯ poems convey the flavor of norm and convention, and the norms of the mahakavya have remained remarkably constant through time. ¯ ¯ However, the treatises on poetics devote very little space to the mahakavya genre. Dandin and Bhamaha (7th–8th centuries), the ¯ ¯ ¯ .. authors of the earliest major works on kavya poetry, treated the ¯ mahakavya as a subgenre of stanzaic verse, and most later writ¯ ¯ ers followed suit.2 Furthermore, the three most celebrated Sanskrit court epics, the Kumarasambhava (The Origin of Kumara) and ¯ ¯ . the Raghuvamsa (The Lineage of Raghu) of Kalidasa (4th–5th cen¯ ¯ .´ turies), and Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya, predate the works on poetics. If anything, the history of the mahakavya reveals a gradual evolution ¯ ¯



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

in style, with the major poets making innovations that eventually became trends. Nevertheless, Dandin’s succinct definition of the mahakavya in ¯ ¯ .. his Kavyadar´ a (Mirror for kavya) is useful for our study, since it ¯ ¯ s ¯ provides a list of the characteristics and requirements that distinguish the court epic from contiguous genres in kavya and non-kavya ¯ ¯ literature. The later writers on poetics do little more than add details to Dandin’s list.3 Dandin lived in South India less than a .. .. hundred and fifty years after Bharavi. He appears to have been inti¯ mately familiar with Bharavi and his poem, and to have held him ¯ in high regard; a reference in his Avantisundar¯ ikatha is one of the ¯ few historical allusions to Bharavi available to us.4 Among the pre¯ seventh-century mahakavyas Bharavi’s poem closely fits the ideals of ¯ ¯ ¯ Dandin’s description. It seems more than likely that the Kiratarju¯ ¯ .. n¯ iya, whose acclaim in the seventh century is attested by a royal inscription, served Dandin as a model for the genre, a function it .. serves even today in the curriculum of Sanskrit poetry and criticism. The Kavyadar´ a is primarily devoted to the poetics of the catus¯ ¯ s . pad¯ “the verse or stanza made up of quarters (pada),” which can i, ¯ constitute a poem by itself, or form the building block for sequences of verses. The definitions of the kavya genres in the opening chapter are ¯ only a prelude to the main themes of the treatise, the deployment of language in poetry, and the classification of figures of speech. Having defined poetry as being of three kinds, prose, verse, and mixed, Dan. din identifies “verse” as the catuspad¯ 5 He then proceeds to describe i. . . the distinctive characteristics of the mahakavya.6 ¯ ¯ The composition in cantos (sargabandha) is a “great (or extended) poem” (mahakavya). Its definition is as follows. ¯ ¯ Its beginning is a benediction, a salutation, or an indication of the plot. It is based on a traditional narrative, or on a true event from some other source. It deals with the fruits of the four aims of life. Its hero is skillful and noble. Adorned (alamkrtam) with descriptions of cities, oceans, mountains, . . seasons, the rising of the sun and moon, playing in pleasureparks and in water, drinking-parties and the delights of love-making, the separation of lovers, weddings, the birth of a son, councils of war, spies, military expeditions, battles, and the victory of the hero; not too condensed; pervaded with rasa (aesthetic mood) and bhava (basic emotion); with ¯ cantos that are not overly diffuse, in meters that are pleasing to hear, with proper junctures, and ending with different

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯ meters (that is, meters diferent from the main or carrying meter of the canto);—(such a) poem, pleasing to the world and well ornamented (sadalamkrti), will last until the end of . . this creation. Even if it lacks some of these features, a kavya ¯ does not become bad, if the perfection of the things that are present delights the connoisseurs.7


“Sargabandha,” “a composition in cantos,” appears to have been the technical term for the Sanskrit mahakavya, distinguishing it ¯ ¯ especially from the Prakrit mahakavyas, which are metrically and ¯ ¯ ¯ formally different from their Sanskrit counterparts.8 The mahakavya’s classification under the verse forms of kavya draws attention ¯ ¯ both to its relationship with the lyric stanza (muktaka), and its difference from the other extended genres (prabandha). Unlike the prose narrative (katha and akhyayika) and the mixed genre of the drama, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ the mahakavya is a poem composed entirely of quatrain-like kavya ¯ ¯ ¯ stanzas, the majority of which are grammatically and syntactically independent of their neighbors. The kavya poet frames the cantos ¯ of his or her poem in a variety of elaborate kavya meters, usually ¯ keeping to a single “carrying” meter up to the end of a canto.9 Here, too, is one of the major differences between court epic and the older epics. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are narrative poems com¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ posed mainly in the sloka, the standard meter of technical treatises ´ as well as non-kavya literary and religious texts in Sanskrit.10 The ¯ major division of verses in the sloka meter comes at the halfway-point ´ rather than at the quarter, and sloka verse-sequences have a steady, ´ flowing rhythm that is quite different from the rhythm of sequences of kavya verses, whose structural autonomy is accentuated by the ¯ striking internal balance of their verse quarter (pada) segments.11 ¯ But the mahakavya’s heroic themes firmly link it with the older ¯ ¯ heroic epics. Like the latter, the court epic is essentially an abhyudaya, a depiction of the victory or “rise” of a noble hero, who may be a god or a human being.12 By direct statement and by indirection, the world of the mahakavya is that of the courtly version of dharmic ¯ ¯ kingship. By including in its consideration all of human aspiration— in the Hindu formula of the four aims of life: religious duty (dharma), politics (artha), the life of the affections (kama), and liberation from ¯ birth and death (moksa)—the poem embraces the world of dharma in . its entirety.13 Even though the two earliest extant mahakavyas (the ¯ ¯ Buddhacarita and the Saundarananda) treat Buddhist themes and were written by a Buddhist poet (A´ vaghosa, circa 1st century A.D.) s . the formula has such normative force in the literary context that


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Buddhist and Jaina poets have turned it to their own advantage by using it subversively.14 Dandin stresses the list of topics the author of a mahakavya ¯ ¯ .. must treat, because this list is the backbone of the genre. It represents the comprehensive scope of the court epic form. The mahakavya ¯ ¯ paints landscapes, offers discourses on politics and dharma, depicts kings and heroes at work (combat, councils of war) and at play (lovemaking, drinking parties, water-sports). The poetician Rudrata (9th . century) states that it is only in the court epic genre that all of the standard topics of kavya (kavyasthana) are treated.15 These include ¯ ¯ ¯ nearly all the topics of primary epic poems, and several that are specifically keyed to the tastes of connoisseurs in the courtly culture. The court epic was the earliest arena for the development of the art of long descriptive passages in kavya.16 Dandin takes care to ¯ .. note that the court epic must be of a respectable length—discursive, not too condensed (asamksiptam). Leisurely description is an impor. . tant strategy whereby the long poem acquires its “epic” proportions, unfolding in a discursive manner. This is also one of the characteristics that distinguish the mahakavya from drama, the other major ¯ ¯ extended genre of Sanskrit kavya.17 ¯ Mahakavyas need to be contrasted with other kinds of discursive ¯ ¯ texts as well and especially from texts in the category of sastra (tech´¯ nical treatises) and itihasa-purana (heroic and mythic narratives).18 ¯ ¯. The former primarily teach, the latter primarily tell a story, usually in order to help the reader/listener to gain spiritual benefits (phala). Court epics may tell a story and may impart moral values in doing so, but their primary function is to adorn and beautify, and thus render auspicious, the persons and milieu that they celebrate. Alamkara, “ornament,” a key concept in Sanskrit poetics as well as . ¯ in Indian civilization, is useful in explaining the cultural function of kavya.19 In its oldest meaning, alamkara, is literally “a making ¯ . ¯ adequate.”20 Kavya, “poetry,” is language “made adequate” by orna¯ mentation, that is, by the use of figures of speech. In Sanskrit poetics “alamkara” means “figure of speech.” In Indian civilization orna. ¯ ments are intrinsically auspicious, that is, life-affirming, capable of ensuring the prosperity and well-being of the person or thing they adorn. As language in its most artistic—“ornate,” “figurative”—form, kavya works are themselves alamkaras, auspicious ornaments for ¯ . ¯ their courtly milieu. But drama and court epic, the two poetic forms with themes and imagery closest to the lives of kings, are especially charged with the auspicious function of reflecting, augmenting, and ensuring the prosperity and royal glory (´ r¯ of the king, under whose s i)

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯


protection the community of patrons and poets flourished. The king was ultimately exalted even through works patronized by ministers, queens, courtiers. Kings and other members of the court themselves ¯ ¯ wrote kavya works.21 Not surprisingly, both drama and mahakavya ¯ were assiduously cultivated in courtly circles, and in both genres the hero is most often a king. But there are also significant contrasts between drama and court epic. The kavya play is a rite of order, the courtly analogue to the Vedic ¯ sacrificial ritual. It was performed at ritual moments in the sacred calendar, especially in connection with the festival of Indra, god of rain and fertility, divine counterpart of human kings.22 Drama’s auspicious function in the classical culture seems to stem from its conception as a form of life-increasing ritual, similar to the sacrificial rite in the religion of the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. The court epic, on the other hand, functions directly as a verbal, literary medium for magnifying the king. It is a ceremonial text not in that it is embedded in specific sacred contexts, but that, as a sophisticated form of panegyric or praise-poem, like the chants of the Veda, it embodies the sacred power of speech, a power that is capable of increasing the glory of the object of praise. Court poets also wrote official panegyrics (pra´ asti) in the kavya style. These were recorded s ¯ in inscriptions, as in the case of Ravik¯ irti’s inscriptional panegyric for the Chalukya king, in which Bharavi’s name appears, quoted in ¯ chapter 1 above.23 The plot of the typical Sanskrit drama focuses on the delicate delineation of the emotional states (bhava) that leads to the devel¯ opment and realization of rasa (aesthetic flavor or mood), especially the erotic mood. Drama’s concern is the private, introspective, emotional aspects of the royal or heroic persona, especially as these are ¯ ¯ manifested in relation to women.24 The mahakavya highlights the king’s public, socially active role. The court epic plot, as we have seen, traces an abhyudaya, the rise of the hero through military exploits, and it is advanced through the archetypal epic topics of challenge, assault, council, campaign, embassy, combat, and victory (jaya, vijaya).25 When the Buddhist poet A´ vaghosa wrote a mahas ¯ . kavya on of the life of the Buddha, he presented the princely sage’s ¯ life on the model of a military career, the hero’s martial exploits embodied especially in his victory over the temptation of Mara, god ¯ of desire and death. Certainly, the life of the Buddha is a perfectly ´¯ suitable theme for a heroic mahakavya. Prince Siddhartha of the Sa¯ ¯ ¯ kya clan was destined to be a world-conqueror, a turner of the wheel of empire (cakravartin); the heroic atmosphere and symbolism of the


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

royal milieu pervade his later history as the Buddha, vanquisher of Mara and turner of the wheel of the Dharma.26 ¯ But the court epic differs from drama also in its breadth of approach and expression. In India’s Sanskritic classical civilization, although the king’s power and greatness manifest themselves primarily in combat and conquest, an active eroticism is an intrinsic aspect of his auspicious function.27 Unlike the typical play, which focuses on the erotic aspect of the heroic life, the court epic, more sweeping in its range, treats not only military campaigns and councils of war, but also lovemaking and the enjoyment of nature. The connection betwen elaborate, large-scale description and the king’s glory must be sought ultimately in the iconic, representational character of the mahakavya. The subjects of the great epic ¯ ¯ descriptions are picturesque, panoramic, monumental: the imposing landscape of the Himalayas, the king setting out with his army for a “conquest of (the lands in) the eight directions” (digvijaya), the prince or the god going in procession through the streets of the capital city, a multitude of courtly lovers playing in the water. These grand scenes, though stylized in the kavya manner, and therefore imper¯ vious to questions of realism, are yet the closest poetic counterparts we have for the grandeur, the sheer splendor, of the Indian court. The court epic expresses the ceremonial aspect of kingship. It is an iconic representation of the life of kings in its grand, ideal, spectacular manifestations: the great epic descriptions are poetic homologues to the royal pageants and battles they depict. A final trait of court epic is its uniformly serious tone, a characteristic that is intrinsically related to its fully idealized world. Drama, by contrast, is by nature heterogeneous and multivocal.28 The chief figures in the plays tend to be drawn from the world of the court, but the plays are also populated by a large number of characters drawn from the wider world. In the drama, prose dialogue contrasts with lyrical verse, the Sanskrit of the noble characters with the Prakrit dialects of the commoners, courtly elegance with the inane witticisms of the Vidusaka. The character of the noble ¯. hero is also presented as a complex mixture of suffering and vulnerability, majesty and strength of character. Finally, in the drama the creation of rasa, aesthetic mood, depends on performance, on the combination of poetic language with extralinguistic means, in particular, of acting, and of stylized gesture (abhinaya). Many Sanskrit critics admired the drama’s all-embracing syncretism, but others have claimed superiority for the verse genres in general, and for

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯


the mahakavya as the verse genre that is the most difficult to ¯ ¯ achieve.29 In contrast to the drama, in terms of artistically representing the mundane world, the mahakavya, the poem with the “great” scope, ¯ ¯ is in fact the most restricted of the kavya genres. It concentrates on ¯ the acts of its heroes and heroines, who are gods and goddesses, at the very least incarnations, noble kings, warriors. They invariably speak and act on an elevated plane, exuding a grave elegance even in play. Indeed, unlike in the drama and kavya narrative texts in ¯ prose and verse, the speech and actions of the characters in a court epic are alike represented in language at its most stylized, in the formally perfect kavya stanza. ‘Mahakavya’ connotes both a poem ¯ ¯ ¯ conceived on a large scale and a great poem. When Dandin’s contem.. porary Bhamaha described the court epic as “a great poem, a poem ¯ about great things” (“mahatam ca mahac ca”), he was surely reflect¯ . ing on the many kinds of greatness that give the genre its unique ambience: grand themes, large compass, amplitude of expression, and a consistently lofty tone.30 The expansive, “epic” traits of the mahakavya are what I have ¯ ¯ in mind when I refer to it as the “court epic.” In its essential generic characteristics, feeling, and cultural function the mahakavya is ¯ ¯ closer to epic poems than to any other kind of poem in the literatures of the world. It seems to me that the English word ‘epic’ is of sufficient breadth to include in its scope many traditions of extended poems of a heroic and courtly nature, however different the development of those traditions may have been from the particular trajectory of Western epic from Homer to Milton. Within the Western tradition it has repeatedly been argued that Homer and Milton have less in common than Homer and oral epic poets in other cultures. It is for this reason that most comparative studies of epic have focused on primary epics.31 But as Thomas Greene and others have shown, there are arguments for more universal “norms of epic,” features that transcend the traditional distinction between primary/heroic and secondary, literary or derivative epic poems.32 Important among these features for a study of the Sanskrit court epic is the fact that most epic poems include within themselves a variety of subgenres and modes—hymn, panegyric, lament, pastoral, love poetry, and strategies of presentation—lyric, narrative, oratorical.33 As we shall see, the problematic reception of Sanskrit mahakavyas in the West is ¯ ¯ tied in with the stylistic range of epic, its polyglossia of forms, which is, however, quite different from the heterogeneity of Sanskrit drama that I have described above.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Encountering the Great Poem Western Responses to the mahakavya ¯ ¯ Through the early years of the study of Indian literature in the West, the epic aspects of mahakavya remained largely outside the ¯ ¯ understanding of Western scholars of kavya. European scholars of ¯ the nineteenth century, the “Orientalists,” were primarily classicists who approached the major kavya genres as strict analogues to the ¯ Aristotelian “kinds” of lyric, epic, and drama.34 Their observations on kavya reflect a continuous adjustment between expectations and ¯ actualities. Superficial resemblances were soon seen to conceal radical differences. Indian drama, for instance, was preoccupied with plot construction, but in a very different way from the Greek drama; the plots of Sanskrit plays mapped the development of emotional states, not of action. Tragedy was impossible in the kavya dramatic canon. ¯ Nevertheless, both drama and lyric poetry were seen as reflecting a delicate feeling for nature and human psychology that were considered to be entirely appropriate for these genres. Moreover, aesthetic response to the drama could be guided by the sophisticated aesthetic theory developed with reference to it in the Sanskrit critical tradition. With the mahakavya, however, all attempts at ¯ ¯ adjustment were strained to the limit and ultimately seem to have failed. Two factors seem above all to have been responsible for the problem. The first of these is that European norms for epic poetry were at once more clearly defined, yet considered to be more universal in their application, than the criteria for other kinds of poetry. The Sanskrit mahakavyas appeared to lack every one of the characteristics that ¯ ¯ Europeans had learned to expect of literary epics in their own tradition, not to mention the Homeric epics, whose Indian counterparts were the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Secondly, the Indian poet¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ icians were not of much help in explaining the finer points of the principles of composition that were unique to the mahakavya. Let us ¯ ¯ look at the specifics of both issues. Albrecht Weber’s evaluation of the mahakavya is representative ¯ ¯ of the view of nineteenth century Western scholars: The form of exposition of the later kavyas abandons more ¯ and more the epic domain and passes into the erotic, lyrical or didactic-descriptive field; while the language is more and more overlaid with turgid bombast, until at length in its

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯


later phases, this artificial epic resolves itself into a wretched jingle of words.35 Ignoring, for the moment, the charges of artificiality and mannerism, let us note the fundamental assumption of this description, that narrative, and in particular, heroic narrative, is the proper domain of epic. The “erotic, lyrical and didactic-descriptive” emphases of the mahakavya are un-epic-like, extraneous to the true ¯ ¯ interests of the genre. This view is repeated in the majority of histories of Indian literature, including the works of Indian scholars of the modern era such as S. K. De, who speaks of the court epic as having subject matter that is “too thin and threadbare to support a long poem,” and “irrelevant and often commonplace descriptions and reflections (which) hamper the course of the narrative.”36 The problem of narrative flow is closely related to the problem of organic form. From the Western perspective, kavya epics are totally ¯ lacking in organic unity: The theme, therefore, is often too slender and insignificant; whatever may be there of it is swamped by a huge mass of digressive matter, on which the poet chiefly concentrates; and the whole poem becomes, not an organic whole, but a mosaic of poetic fragments, tastelessly cemented together.37 It is argued further that, in a true epic, structural unity depends as much on formal devices of continuity as on the continuous exposition of the narrative. Discussing the transitional style of the early kavya ¯ epic poet A´ vaghosa, E. H. Johnston gets to the heart of the European s . reader’s discontent with the mahakavya’s formal characteristics: ¯ ¯ When we come to the classical kavya, we find this method ¯ much developed. The principle that each verse is a unit is still more strongly held, . . . so that ultimately a kavya ¯ epic became little more than a collection of miniature poems loosely strung on the thread of the story.38 In sum, Western scholars have viewed the aesthetic of stanzaic composition as the very antithesis of the movement and feeling of an epic poem, of narrative and formal continuities, and larger structural unities of any kind.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

The Court Epic in the Traditional Poetics The theoretical literature on kavya developed alongside kavya itself, ¯ ¯ as part of the wider development of a tradition of sastra texts— ´¯ theoretical treatises and technical manuals—in all the major intellectual disciplines. Alamkara´ astra, “the theory of figures of speech . ¯ s¯ (alamkara),” the term that has signified “poetics” in Sanskrit from . ¯ early in the history of kavya, is an accurate index of the focus of the ¯ poetics of stanzaic composition in kavya.39 For writers from Dandin ¯ .. and Bhamaha onwards, the lyric stanza, the unit of much of Sanskrit ¯ kavya, is the exemplary arena for the use of figurative language, the ¯ differentia of poetry. The choice is easily explained. In Edwin Gerow’s concise formulation, the formal characteristics of the structurally self-sufficient stanza of four quarters encourages the “. . . tendency toward the expression of one bewilderingly complex but stringently coherent idea or image within the stanzaic unit. The stanza imposes its form on the poetic content, which is delivered compactly as image, as figure.”40 In terms of the alamkara concept in its broader sense, . ¯ the ornamental nature of kavya is most perfectly manifested in the ¯ stanzaic form, and the use of alamkara, figure of speech, becomes . ¯ the measure of the poet’s art. In the long history of Sanskrit kavya, other streams of the¯ ory have fed into alamkara poetics. The theory of rasa (“mood,” . ¯ “flavor”)—originally developed with reference to plot structure in the drama and essentially a psychological theory of aesthetic experience—has been profoundly influential in the poetics of the nondramatic genres.41 From early on, the Sanskrit poeticians used the idea of rasa to explain the architectonics of the mahakavya, whose ¯ ¯ discursive plot they viewed as structurally analogous to that of a play. Thus, as early as Dandin and Bhamaha we come across the idea ¯ .. that a mahakavya must have cantos “pervaded by rasa and bhava,” ¯ ¯ ¯ and that it could be analyzed into segments embodying the appropriate junctures (of the development of the plot) as in the drama. As I will show in the next chapter, the problem with this is that, while the rasa concept is quite useful for describing the dominant and shifting moods of a long poem, and even in mapping its plot as a whole, rasa theory is in effect keyed to the structure of drama, and its finer points apply to drama alone. Indeed, rasa poetics does not address the literary strategies and structural dynamics specific to the mahakavya and its component segments. Even the brilliant critics ¯ ¯ ¯ Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta (9th and 10th centuries), who give much space in their works to the poetics of the mahakavya as a ¯ ¯

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯


composition in extended canvas (prabandha), frame their discussion only in terms of rasa (or the rasa-related concept of dhvani, “suggestion”), and have thus failed to develop analytical tools specific to extended composition in the stanzaic form.42 The deployment of figures of speech, of images within the framework of the stanza, has continued to be the primary concern of Sanskrit poets and critics in their investigation of poetic language, in the court epic as much as in detached stanzaic poems. The commentators, for the most part, have concentrated on elucidating processes within the stanza, especially the use of the figures of speech that have been so elaborately classified and discussed by the poeticians. The preoccupation of the Indian critics with the poetics of the stanzaic unit led them to neglect the question of larger arenas of composition in the mahakavya. Most of the writers on poetics show some ¯ ¯ awareness of the importance of the court epic’s descriptive topics as units of composition, as coherent poetic passages.43 But very rarely, and largely in the stray remarks of a commentator or critic, do we find a discussion of the literary strategies involved in creating such passages. In short, there is in the Indian tradition no viable generic poetic of the court epic, analogous to that developed for the drama. The preoccupation of the Sanskrit writers on stanzaic poetry with the structure of the stanza has led many modern scholars to conclude that there is really no need for an independent poetic for the court epic genre.44 The scholars of our time have done well in showing greater sensitivity to traditional Indian approaches to kavya ¯ poetry. But there is reason to believe that this approach has its own dangers. Having attended to the theorists, we also need to go beyond them. The aggressively conventional nature of kavya liter¯ ature can easily blind us to the sometimes enormous gaps between prescription and practice, between practice and criticism, in Sanskrit kavya. Nor is this problem peculiar to the study of Indian classical ¯ literature. Gordon Williams has suggested that “figures of thought” in Roman poetry have been completely neglected in the history of Latin scholarship, mainly because of the lack of fit between rhetorical theory and poetic practice.45 It can be shown that, like the Roman poets who cultivated “figures of thought” that went unnoticed in the mainstream of rhetorical criticism, the mahakavya poets cultivated ¯ ¯ generic strategies of their own in the treatment of formal and thematic units larger than the stanza—cantos, long descriptions on the conventional topics, speeches and didactic discourses, the poem as a whole. Not the poeticians, but the poems themselves, are our best source for clues to these processes.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Beyond the Critical Tradition: New Approaches to the Mahakavya ¯ ¯ The topics of a mahakavya are not mere items on a list, but coherent, ¯ ¯ viable arenas of composition for the poet and enjoyment for the connoisseur. Indian readers have always taken the middle road between the exclusively microscopic and the macroscopic approaches to the court epic. In a reading of a sequence of epic verses, their primary response is indeed to the figures of speech and the complex structure of the individual stanza; but they also respond to the passage as a whole. Kalidasa (4th–5th century) is famous for his similes, ¯ ¯ and the stanza is the frame of reference of simile as for the other alamkaras. But Kalidasa is equally celebrated for the great descrip¯ ¯ . ¯ tive sequences in his epics: the Himalayas, the Goddess Parvat¯ ¯ i’s penance, King Raghu’s campaign of conquest, Princess Indumat¯ i’s choice of a bridegroom.46 A comparison of mahakavya poets’ handling ¯ ¯ of the traditional topics reveals them using conventions in structuring the verse-sequence and canto as well as the stanza. Treating the mahakavya topic of the women of the city rushing out to catch ¯ ¯ a glimpse of the hero riding on the street, Kalidasa uses an almost ¯ ¯ identical sequence of verses in both of his epics.47 And Kalidasa’s ¯ ¯ passage has many points in common with the earlier poet A´ vas ghosa’s handling of the same topic in the Acts of the Buddha.48 If . Bharavi vied with Kalidasa in treating the topics, Magha (9th cen¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ´ s ¯ tury) expressly constructed the entire Slaying of Si´ upala on the model of the Kiratarjun¯ in an attempt to outdo Bharavi’s epic tech¯ ¯ iya ¯ nique, while in his Triumph of Hara (Haravijaya) the Kashmirian poet Ratnakara (9th century) tried to match individual passages in ¯ Magha, and so on.49 ¯ Telling evidence for the felt integrity of court epic passages comes from the treatment of the mahakavya in the great antholo¯ ¯ gies of Sanskrit kavya stanzas. Looking into the eleventh century ¯ monk Vidyakara’s principles of selection in the oldest anthology of ¯ detached stanzas available to us, D. H. H. Ingalls noticed that the editor selected “very sparingly from the great kavyas,” but quoted ¯ profusely from the drama, which is, in fact, one of the chief sources of the verses in the anthology.50 Among the reasons for this differential treatment is no doubt the discerning reader’s feeling that a single verse from a mahakavya descriptive passage, however striking in ¯ ¯ its imagery and structure, is not truly autonomous, that its complete enjoyment is possible only when it is read as part of the entire sequence of verses that constitutes the description.51 The metrical

The Poetics of the Mahakavya ¯ ¯


statistics of Vidyakara’s anthology are equally revealing. Stanzas in ¯ the principal meters of the great epics hardly occur in the anthology, while the majority of the stanzas represent the meters of independent “floating” verses and single verses from the drama.52 The stanzas of the mahakavya are clearly held to be qualitatively and structurally ¯ ¯ different from the detached stanzaic poem. The problematic history of the Western reception of the Sanskrit court epic has amply demonstrated the pitfalls of looking for narrative continuity and linear principles of organization in this literary genre. What, if any, are the alternative processes and structures that create a poetic passage out of the formally disconnected, selfsufficient, often apparently randomly placed, stanzas in a kavya ¯ epic sequence? I have tried to anwer this question first at the most general level, using Jan Mukarovsky’s concept of foregrounding. The Prague School theorist has argued that the central function of poetic language is the “maximum foregrounding” of the utterance—a view very similar to the conception of poetic speech upheld by some Indian theorists.53 To discern the strategies of foregrounding in the mahakavya, we need to begin with the salient traits of kavya poetry ¯ ¯ ¯ as a whole. A major principle of kavya is the avoidance at every level, ¯ of linearity, symmetry, and repetition of an obvious kind. Kavya ¯ poets pride themselves in the variety and complexity of the linguistic and expressive means they can press into service in their chosen area of composition. At the same time, however, poetic effects are achieved by the subtle, stylized variation of repeated elements. Within the framework of the stanza, for example, the poets will use alliteration, not rhyme, balanced strucutures, but not simple parallelism. Words are replaced by synonyms or varied in form, not repeated; figures of speech proliferate through subtle variations played on a basic image or idea. A second tendency of kavya is its intense conservatism. Con¯ vention governs every aspect of kavya composition, from the subject ¯ matter of poetry and the formal requirements of the stanza and of figures of speech (alamkara), to the objects with which a woman’s . ¯ face may be compared. It is this tension between underlying unities and endless variation, between predictability and diversity, that results in the foregrounding of particular elements and the achievement of poetic design in the kavya stanza. In the extended syntax ¯ of the mahakavya’s verse-sequences and cantos, the same tension ¯ ¯ between convention and variation generates intricate structures of relationship among the stanzas. The Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s sequences neatly exemplify the compositional strategies of the court epic poet. Although the stanzas in a


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

mahakavya sequence are grammatically self-sufficient, their content ¯ ¯ and impact are shaped by contiguity and context. The rich kavya lexi¯ con of near-synonyms and the canonical figures of speech (alamkara) . ¯ acquire new, genre-specific functions in the mahakavya passage. ¯ ¯ Underlying the dazzling variety of images, words, ideas, and other elements in each of the descriptions and rhetorical sequences in the Kiratarjun¯ is a surprisingly small and coherent body of material ¯ ¯ iya from the domain of kavya. Beneath the variegated surface of each ¯ segment recurrent, unifying elements at every level—metrical, lexical, semantic, figurative, formal, thematic—are foregrounded by techniques of variation, achieving design beyond the boundaries of the stanza. In contrast to the balanced structure of the individual stanza, however, the structure of the mahakavya’s verse-sequences ¯ ¯ is nonlinear and asymmetrical. Louis Renou had noted that kavya ¯ verses representing speech differ structurally and stylistically from stanzas with a descriptive focus.54 The contrast holds true for the court epic poet’s compositional technique at the macroscopic level as well. The distinct differences between the structural strategies and effects of the descriptions and the speeches in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya allow us to speak of two styles of composition in the mahakavya, the ¯ ¯ descriptive and the rhetorical or oratorical. The court epic sequence has been mistakenly characterized as a static composition.55 It has often been compared to a necklace of gems or a picture gallery.56 While these metaphors capture the sensuous and graphic impact of the kavya passage, they fail to recognize its dynamic quality. ¯ The linkages among the stanzas in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s stanzaic sequences are rendered dynamic by their discursive syntax, which is analogous to that of music. As we shall see, the musical analogy applies quite closely to court epic composition.57 Before elucidating the above generalizations about style and composition in the court epic through analyses of specific passages in Bharavi’s poem, in the ¯ next chapter I offer an introduction to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya.

Chapter 3

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya

In the unbounded world of poetry, the poet alone is the creator. ¯ Anandavardhana1

Preceded by the Kumarasambhava (Origin of Kumara) and Raghu¯ ¯ . vamsa (The Dynasty of Raghu) of Kalidasa (4th-5th centuries), and ¯ ¯ .´ ´ s ¯ ´ s ¯ followed by the Si´ upalavadha (The Slaying of Si´ upala) of Magha ¯ (9th century), and the Naisadh¯ iyacarita (The Narrative of Naisadha) . . ´ iharsa (12th century), Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ stands, stylistiof Sr¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya . cally as well as chronologically, at the midpoint of the list. of the “Five great mahakavyas.” ¯ ¯ Whereas Kalidasa’s reputation as the preeminent kavya poet ¯ ¯ ¯ rests on the lyric grace of his verse, which spans several genres (including drama and the short lyric sequence [laghukavya]), Bha¯ ¯ ravi’s verse is praised for its density of meaning (arthagauravam).2 The adjective guru, “weighty, heavy” (from which the noun “gauravam” is derived) carries the connotations of “dense, rich, complex, elevated, great, dignified.” The thirteenth-century scholar Mallinatha, the author of the Ghantapatha (Bell-road), the best-known ¯ ..¯ commentary on the Kiratarjun¯ ¯.¯ iya, compared Bharavi’s verse to a ¯ coconut—the fruit has a shell that is hard to crack, but one can split it open at one stroke, and when this has been accomplished, one is rewarded with a flood of sweet rasa, juice, aesthetic pleasure.3 The stylistic ideal exemplified in Bharavi’s stanzas is difficulty, flow¯ ering from the kavya poet’s mandate to “deepen our apprehension ¯ by dislocating and goading to new life the supine energies of word and grammar.”4 His compositional style at the macroscopic level is equally characterized by elaboration and complexity. In the Kiratarjun¯ we see for the first time in the history of the ¯ ¯ iya mahakavya the decisive subordination of narrative to the descriptive ¯ ¯



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

and rhetorical topics. Bharavi’s descriptions and speeches are longer ¯ (often covering half a canto or an entire canto), his language more self-consciously erudite, his meters more elaborate, and his alam. karas more like elaborate conceits, than their counterparts in his ¯ predecessors. While Kalidasa devotes short segments of his poems ¯ ¯ to a display of meters and sound-patterns, Bharavi dedicates half a ¯ canto (canto XV) to citrakavya, elaborate pattern verses, stanzas in ¯ which sounds and letters are arranged to create complex patterns, or can be read so as to yield multiple meanings. In contrast to the limited number of standard meters used in the Kumarasambhava ¯ . and Raghuvamsa, Bharavi uses twelve meters, including several ¯ .´ unusal ones, as the main or carrying meters in eighteen cantos. In all these respects, Bharavi set the standard for the later mahakavya ¯ ¯ ¯ poets, as Bana (7th century) did for writers of prose. In a tradition ¯. that prizes the difficult as an artistic ideal, Bharavi is the poet’s poet. ¯ As we shall see, while the Kiratarjun¯ represents a major point ¯ ¯ iya in the development of compositional style in the mahakavya, it is ¯ ¯ also the unique achievement of a master poet.5 A fourteenth-century poet, the South Indian Queen Gangadev¯ paying homage to Bharavi ˙ ¯ i, ¯ in a mahakavya of her own, offers a more felicitous metaphor than ¯ ¯ Mallinatha’s for the pleasures of reading this difficult poem: ¯ Like a garland of bakula flowers releasing fragrance when crushed, Bharavi’s verse ¯ delights the connoisseur.6

Heroes, Kings, and Gods: The Epic Theme in Historical Context Bharavi was the first poet to write a court epic on an episode from ¯ the Mahabharata. Among the pre-sixth-century mahakavyas avail¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ able to us, A´ vaghosa’s two poems have Buddhist themes. Kalidasa’s s ¯ ¯ . Kumarasambhava is an interpretation of the myth of the marriage ¯ . ´ of the god Siva and the goddess Parvat¯ while, as its title indi¯ i, cates, the Raghuvamsa (The Lineage of Raghu) is a poetic account .´ of the lives of the kings of the Raghu line, including Rama, hero of ¯ the Ramayana.7 A number of factors contributed to the appeal of ¯ ¯ . the Mahabharata’s Kairataparvan episode for Bharavi. It appears ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ´ that the tale of Arjuna’s encounter with Siva was an especially

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


´ appropriate theme for a court epic written by a Saiva poet in sixth century South India. A celebration of an epic hero, Arjuna and the Hunter is at the ´ same time a poem in praise of the god Siva. The Kairataparvan is ¯ one of the few passages in the Mahabharata devoted to the exaltation ¯ ¯ ´ of Siva.8 Following in the wake of the spread of the Vedic religion, Buddhism, and Jainism, from the beginning of the first millennium ´ ´ the worship of Siva (Saivism) and that of Visnu (Vaisnavism) had .. .. become, in their sectarian variations, flourishing popular religions all over India. By the era of the imperial Guptas (4th–6th centuries), ´ patronizing the Saiva and Vaisnava sects and erecting and endow.. ´ ing temples for Siva and Visnu were established strategies whereby .. kings expressed devotion, at the same time proclaiming and legitimizing their sovereignty. The Gupta capital Ujjain was a great ´ center of Saivism, and Kalidasa, who was associated with the Gupta ¯ ¯ court, devoted one of his two celebrated mahakavyas to a major myth ¯ ¯ ´ of Siva.9 Bharavi’s work might well have been written for a warrior ¯ ´ or king who wished to be portrayed as a devout worshiper of Siva.10 The critic Dandin’s description of Bharavi as “a staunch follower ¯ .. ´ of the Saiva religion” (maha´ aiva) confirms the poet’s own devotion ¯s to the god.11 The fragments of historical information we have for Bharavi ¯ come from two South Indian sources in Sanskrit: the inscription of 634 A.D. of the Chalukya Pulakesin II mentioned above, located in a temple in Aihole in Karnataka, and a passage in the Avantisundar¯ ikatha, a prose work by Dandin, author of the celebrated Kavyadar´ a. ¯ ¯ ¯ s .. Since Bharavi is named as a renowned poet in Pulakesin’s inscrip¯ tion, the Kiratarjun¯ must have been well known in Karnataka ¯ ¯ iya in the Deccan plateau for some time prior to the mid-seventh century. The critic Dandin (7th–8th centuries) was himself a kavya poet ¯ .. attached to the Pallava court at Kanchipuram in the Tamil region of South India. His comments suggest that Bharavi flourished in the ¯ mid- to late sixth century, and that his patron was a prince Vishnuvardhana, most likely to be identified with the younger brother of the Chalukya Pulakesin II and founder of the Eastern Chalukya dynasty at Vengi in the eastern Deccan. In the Avantisundar¯ ikatha, ¯ narrating the life of his ancestor Damodara, Dandin says that Da¯ ¯ .. modara, a native of Maharashtra, migrated to the South Deccan, ´ where he met Bharavi, “the great Saiva, a powerful personality, ¯ … and the source of (poetic) speech …,” in the entourage of a prince Vishnuvardhana: “maha´ aivam mahaprabhavam gavam prabha¯s ¯ ¯ ¯ . . . vam prad¯ iptabhasam bharavim …”.12 Dandin also names two kings ¯ . ¯ .. . .


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

besides Vishnuvardhana who knew Bharavi’s work: the Pallava ¯ Simhavishnu (ca. 550–585 A.D.) and the Ganga king Durvin¯ ita. The latter was Pulakesin II’s father-in-law and wrote a commentary on ¯ the fifteenth canto of the Kiratarjun¯ 13 It thus appears that Bha¯ ¯ iya. ravi was associated with the major South Indian royal houses of his time, and that between the sixth and seventh centuries his fame had spread in the Deccan (the area of south-central India spanning the Karnataka and Andhra), and in the Tamil region as well. Not only were the major and minor dynasties of the Deccan prior to the ´ sixth century ardent supporters of Saivism, between 575 and 600 the Kalacuris of the West Deccan built the great cave-temple complex of Elephanta, arguably the most impressive monument dedicated to ´ Siva.14 Pallava connections with the narrative of Arjuna and the hunter in the seventh century are no less impressive. Simhavishnu’s son, Mahendravarman I (571–630 A.D.) celebrated the episode in the benedictory verse of one of his plays.15 Mahendravarman’s son Narasimhavarman I (630–688), who took the honorific title “Mamalla” (mahamalla, “Great Wrestler/Warrior”), commissioned ¯ ¯ for the seashore temple complex at Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) a colossal rock-relief depicting a scene of asceticism and divine grace. Scholarly controversy continues to rage over the correct identification of the theme of this striking, enigmatic sculpture, which has been interpreted as one of two myths from the great epics—Arjuna’s ´ penance and the boon of the Pa´ upata from Siva, or the penance of ¯s king Bhag¯ iratha to bring the celestial river Ganges down to earth, a ´ feat that he accomplishes through Siva’s gracious intervention.16 In popular oral tradition, however, the sculpture is decidedly “Arjuna’s ¯ Penance.”17 In the light of my own study of the kirata narrative and Bharavi’s poem in the context of South Indian religion and history, ¯ it seems to me quite likely, as recently proposed by art historian Michael Rabe, that the Mahabalipuram relief is the visual analogue to a dynastic panegyric (pra´ asti), in which Mamalla intended both s ¯ epic legends to be suggested.18 The royal patron wished to include, as ancestral figures in this visual panegyric to the Pallava dynasty, ´ both epic heroes who won Siva’s grace—Arjuna, whose penance and winning of the Pa´ upata were instrumental in bringing victory ¯s and sovereignty to the Pandavas, and reestablishing dharma in the ¯.. world, and Bhag¯ iratha, whose penance was instrumental in bringing the life-giving waters of the sacred Ganges to earth. Rabe’s analysis is complex, and deserves to be considered and evaluated in detail. However, most important for the present study

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


is his central point, namely, that the “Great Penance” relief has been executed in a style analogous to that of several kavya forms involv¯ ing play upon verbal and formal elements, as described by Dandin in .. the Kavyadar´ a. The core of the relief is a double-entendre connoting ¯ ¯ s both penance legends from the epics, left deliberately vague as to differentiating features, but rich in minute visual clues that allow us to decipher its multiple allusions, making the whole the visual counterpart to a type of kavya poem that can be read in such a way as to yield ¯ multiple narratives.19 The sculpture’s cultural background supports this hypothesis. King Mahendravarman had himself commissioned ´ a sculptural depiction of Siva receiving the Ganges in his matted hair as a gesture of grace toward Bhag¯ iratha, intended as an allegorical expression of his own royal power and persona.20 At the same time, the epic stories of Arjuna and Bhag¯ iratha appear repeatedly (and ´ often together) in the hymns of the Tamil Saiva devotional poets of ´ the Pallava era, as instances of the grace of Siva toward his steadfast devotees, and these are the only pan-Indian epic hero-narratives invoked in these poems.21 Kavya connoisseurs relished polysemy and word-play. Bharavi’s ¯ ¯ poem abounds in verses with multiple meanings and verbal tricks (citra), and Dandin himself authored a long kavya in which each ¯ .. verse yielded two meanings, so that the poem as a whole con¯ tained two narratives (dvisamdhanakavya).22 Given Bharavi’s fame ¯ ¯ . in the Pallava kingdom in Narasimhavarman’s reign, it is likely that the Great Penance relief was at least partly inspired by the kavya ¯ author’s great poem on a theme that was already significant in the religion and popular culture of the region. It is also likely that the narrative of the hero and the god-as-hunter captured the imagination of the talented Pallava Mamalla of Kanchipuram as much as ¯ that of his formidable enemy, the Chalukya Pulakesin II, whose capital Badami Mamalla razed to the ground, and on whose inscription Bharavi is so highly praised. In the final analysis, while the riddle ¯ of the exact content of the Great Penance relief may have to remain unsolved, there can be no doubt that the Kiratarjun¯ was written ¯ ¯ iya ´ and celebrated in a regional milieu in which Saiva religion received strong royal patronage and inspired many works of art, and myth often served for historical and political allegory. Something of the atmosphere of rivalry among diverse religious sects in sixth-century South India comes across in Bharavi’s treat¯ ment of Arjuna’s asceticism, a major theme in the kirata narrative. ¯ Long segments of the mahakavya are devoted to justifying the mar¯ ¯ tial goal of Arjuna’s ascetic practice. In these passages Bharavi ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

appears to be defending the hero’s combination of a warrior’s violent ends with the nonviolent discipline of ascetics, and he appears to be aiming his rhetoric at an implied audience of challengers, who are most likely to have been Buddhists and Jainas.23 Buddhism and Jainism, the so-called sramana (“those who strive for libera´ . tion”) religions, had been established in South India as early as the 3rd century B.C. Rejecting the Hindu gods, scriptures, and rituals, along with the Hindu ideal of dharma (social duty) based on classhierarchy, Buddhist and Jaina monks upheld the alternative ideal of a life devoted to monastic discipline and absolute nonviolence. The emergent Hindu sects in the South had to contend with their Buddhist and Jaina counterparts for royal patronage and popular ¯ support.24 For several centuries after Bharavi, Karnataka remained the arena of a continuous struggle for royal patronage and social ´ ¯ influence between Jainas and Saivas.25 Bharavi’s choice and treatment of the Kairataparvan episode are deeply embedded in the social, ¯ political, and religious history of South India.

The Epic Background The Kiratarjun¯ stands in a complex relation to its epic source. ¯ ¯ iya Shaping the Mahabharata episode into a long poem in the kavya ¯ ¯ ¯ style meant extending the epic material in various ways. And yet, Bharavi’s “great poem” (mahakavya) is itself given depth by the rich ¯ ¯ ¯ background of the Great Epic. The Kiratarjun¯ is resonant with ¯ ¯ iya allusions to the Mahabharata’s Kairataparvan episode, and beyond ¯ ¯ ¯ it, to the epic as a whole. To begin with, there is the ambience of the forest. Both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have a For¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ est (vana, aranya) section.26 In the Indian epics the forest is the . place of the heroes’ wanderings in exile. It is the arena of adventure, of encounter with gods, mysterious beings and powers. It is also the venue for amassing spiritual power or for world-renunciation, for seeking liberation from birth and death by practising asceticism (tapas) involving yoga and control of the senses. In short, the forest is a twilight world of nature and supernature, a place of encounter and supramundane experience, the ground of transformation.27 The symbolism and atmosphere of the Forest Book translate beautifully into the kavya idiom. The springboard for kavya description is pre¯ ¯ cisely the intermingling of the divine, natural, and human worlds that is the premise of the classical culture and that permeates the Mahabharata, an epic in which the best of human heroes are those for ¯ ¯ whom there is no match among “gods, gandharvas, men, snakes, and

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


demons.”28 The particular themes of the Forest Book that are highlighted in the Kairataparvan dovetail with the mahakavya poet’s ¯ ¯ ¯ concern with the warrior’s way of life (ksatra-dharma) in relation to ¯ . the scheme of the four ends of human existence. At the beginning of the Mahabharata’s Forest book, the exiled ¯ ¯ Pandavas have already moved from the world of Culture—the palace, ¯.. the assembly hall, Indraprastha, the city they had established— into the world of the forest, but it is in Arjuna’s experiences in the Kairataparvan sequence that the many meanings of the forest are ¯ most dramatically expressed. In this episode Arjuna travels to the Himalaya, India’s sacred mountain range, the home of the devas (gods) and land of shamans. Here Arjuna undergoes the equivalent of an initiatory ritual (d¯ . a) in preparation for the Mahabharata iks ¯ ¯ ¯ war, which is conceived as a great sacrificial ritual (yajña). Here he ´ encounters Mahadeva, (Siva, “the great god”), and receives a boon, ¯ after which he travels to the celestial world of the warrior-god Indra, Arjuna’s father and king of the gods. All the motifs of a hero’s initiation are here: the journey to the sacred mountain, the ascent, the trials of asceticism and combat, the encounter with the god in disguise, the winning of the magic weapon.29 The encounter with the boar, too, participates in the initiatory symbolism of the kirata narrative. The motif of the hero’s wild boar ¯ hunt appears to be part of the folklore of cultures as far apart in time and space as those of classical Greece and modern India.30 For instance, the boar incident in Annanmar Katai (the Brothers ¯ .. ¯ Epic), a local epic of the Kongu region of Tamilnadu in South India, points at the folk-magical-heroic aspects of the boar-hunt motif in the Kairataparvan. The heroes of the local epic undergo a test of ¯ their self-control through having to face and kill a wild boar. This animal is a forest-dweller and is most active at night. It is strongly associated with nonhuman spaces, and in the local story it is linked to enemy forces. For all these reasons it symbolizes dissolution and the heroes’ potential loss of control over their kingdom.31 From the earliest times in Sanskrit and Tamil literature hunters and tribal peoples of the forest have been stereotypically portrayed as wild, menacing figures opposed to settled peoples. These “wild” foresters or “mountain men” are known by generic names, such as kirata, sabara and pulinda (in Sanskrit), v¯ tar, eyinar, and maravar ¯ ´ e. ¯ ¯ (Tamil).32 Setting the heroes, who belong to the cultivator groups, against the malicious forest V¯ ttuvas (“hunters”) of the V¯ e. . iramalai hills, The Brothers Epic stresses the opposition between the forest (Nature) and the world of Culture: “The hunters build an alliance with a huge wild boar (Kompan, “Tusker”) and connive with this ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

beast to uproot the family’s most fertile fields. This vast destruction draws the heroes into a hunt for the boar. Finally there is war with the hunters themselves.”33 The kirata-Arjuna narrative emphasizes ¯ a different aspect of the wilderness, its sacred power, embodied in the “wild man” who confronts the hero. At the center of the mystery ´ of the Kairataparvan is the god Siva’s persona as a kirata, going ¯ ¯ ´ back to the Vedic myths of Siva as Rudra and Pa´ upati, enigmatic s god of the wilderness, healer, cosmic archer, guardian of primordial wholeness, and Lord of animals.34 As I will show in the last chapter of ´ this book, like the boar-hunt, Siva’s persona as hunter and trickstergod, and the forest mystique of the Mahabharata episode itself, are ¯ ¯ linked with wider folk hero-cults and legends. Finally, it is the unique blend of traits in Arjuna’s heroic personality in the Mahabharata, and especially in the Kairataparvan, ¯ ¯ ¯ that make the epic episode a particularly appropriate source for Bharavi’s mahakavya. Among the heroes of the two old epics, Ar¯ ¯ ¯ juna is the quintessential ksatriya (warrior). In the Mahabharata, ¯ ¯ . though each of the five Pandava brothers portrays various facets ¯.. of the complex personality of the king, warrior, and hero, Arjuna is the hero-figure par excellence.35 The Kairataparvan highlights ¯ the distinctive combination of self-control, heroism, and devotion in Arjuna’s character. As a hero, Arjuna combines the qualities of the warrior and the king. As the middle brother among the five Pandavas, he ¯.. stands intermediate between the vigorous, physically oriented Bh¯ ima and the cerebral Yudhisthira.36 Like Rama of the Ramayana, ¯ ¯ ¯ . .. Yudhisthira epitomizes the ethical, wise, and austere aspects of the .. royal persona; he is also a severe critic of ksatriya dharma and the . violence inherent in it, as well as an eloquent advocate of renunciatory, “brahman,” values.37 If Yudhisthira represents the epic hero .. in his remote, kingly aspect, Arjuna presents his active and socially involved side, of which combat and weapon-winning are symbols.38 The kirata episode and the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya certainly highlight the use of weapons as a mode by which the warrior incorporates into himself “the various divine powers that . . . are considered essential to kingship.”39 But the episode of the hunter suggests that the perfect warrior must also be the perfect yogi (man of discipline), acting in the world, yet transcending the sphere of sensual desire by disciplining the body and mind. The rites of austerity (tapas) Ar´ juna undertakes render him fit for his encounter with Siva and, ultimately, for disciplined dharmic action in the war against the Kauravas, very much in the spirit of the Bhagavad G¯ a, the god it ¯

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


Krishna’s discourse on sacred duty to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra in the Mahabharata.40 ¯ ¯ . The persona of the epic hero entails a divine aspect. The heroes of the two Indian epics represent this divine connection in different ways. As an avatara (incarnation) of Visnu, the Preserver god of the ¯ .. cosmic triad, Rama of the Ramayana is not only a hero, but becomes ¯ ¯ ¯ . the compassionate God of postepic Vaisnava bhakti theology. As sons .. of gods, all five Pandava brothers have a divine dimension, but none ¯.. of them is elevated to the status of God; that role is reserved for Krishna, who is Visnu incarnate.41 Arjuna, however, is once again an .. intermediate and mediating figure, for he is Nara, “Man,” the human partner of Visnu-Narayana in a former age, and inseparable friend ¯ ¯ . .. of Krishna, the incarnation who takes part in the Mahabharata’s ¯ ¯ action. This relationship is emphasized throughout the older epic, ´ while Arjuna’s mystical connections with Siva come to the fore in the 42 Kairata-parvan. As the ideal hero-devotee Arjuna-Nara receives ¯ Krishna’s revelation of his divine form in the Bhagavad G¯ a, and it ¯ ´ Siva’s self-revelation in the kirata episode, the two major theopha¯ nies in the Mahabharata. The classical poets often homologized their ¯ ¯ patron-king to the god-king Rama, but Arjuna, whose this-worldly ¯ humanity allowed him to be a devotee, a bhakta, as well as a quasidivine figure and a warrior with yogic self-control, was even closer to the classical ideal of the the warrior-king. In the older epic the heroic character is not idealized in quite the same way or to the extent that it is in the mahakavya. The ¯ ¯ Mahabharata’s Arjuna is allowed to show a flawed face to the world, ¯ ¯ and the qualities that make a man a hero in the folk versions of the story are quite different from those required in the Sanskritic tradition. On the surface, the hero of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya appears to fit E. M. Forster’s definition of the “flat” character, the character about whom we learn nothing more than what we see, the one whose behavior and persona are entirely predictable.43 But Arjuna’s flatness is deceptive, like that of the puppet of the Wayang shadowplay, in which the old Indian epics are enacted. Made of translucent stretched animal-hide, thin as a paper-cut-out, with elongated sticklike articulated arms and a head with exaggerated contours, the Arjuna-puppet of the Javanese shadow-play is manipulated behind a screen illuminated from the back, so that the audience sees only the dark silhouette, the shadow, moving across the screen. Yet, in the audience’s imaginative world, the shadow-figure moving on the good side of the world-tree is larger than life. Physically, it is rich with intricate carving: “Perforations in a great variety of shapes and


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

sizes are perhaps the most arresting feature of a puppet when it is seen against a screen with light behind it.”44 Bharavi’s Arjuna ¯ is likewise animated and rendered deep and rich by the layers of myth and narrative etched in him. But ultimately in kavya—and in ¯ this it is different from popular heroic texts—what matters is not the specificity of the heroic persona, but its ‘fit’ in the total ambience of the work. Bharavi would have approved of James McNeill ¯ Whistler’s view of his “Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother,” that (it was) “the arrangement that mattered, not the sitter . . . .”45

From the Mahabharata to the Mahakavya: Plot, Mood, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ and Rhetoric in the Kiratarjuniya ¯ ¯ In this section, beginning with a canto-wise summary of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, I turn to a consideration of the strategies by means of which Bharavi transformed an epic episode into a mahakavya. The ¯ ¯ ¯ Kiratarjun¯ ([The Poem about] Arjuna and the Hunter) is a work ¯ ¯ iya in eighteen cantos (most likely an allusion to the eighteen Books of the Mahabharata and the eighteen Chapters of the Bhagavad G¯ a) ¯ ¯ it ¯ and 1,040 verses, in twenty-four kavya meters.46 The opening scene ¯ of the mahakavya is set in the Dvaita forest, where the five Pandava ¯ ¯ ¯.. brothers and their wife Draupad¯ are spending part of the thirteen i years of forest exile imposed upon them by their hostile cousins, the hundred Kauravas, headed by Duryodhana. Challenged by the Kauravas to a dice game, King Yudhisthira has pledged and lost the .. kingdom, his own freedom, and that of his brothers and wife. At the beginning of the court epic plot, Yudhisthira receives a hunter .. disguised as a brahman student, whom he had sent to spy on the rule of the Kaurava usurper Duryodhana in his capital. The poem begins with the spy’s report to the king. Canto I. Yudhisthira’s spy informs him that the scheming Suyo.. dhana (Duryodhana) is flourishing, and that he will not return the kingdom to the Pandavas at the end of their exile as promised. Yudhi¯.. sthira must respond to the situation. Draupad¯ makes a fiery speech, i .. rebuking the king for his inaction and urging him to wage war. Canto II. Strong man Bh¯ ima, second of the five brothers, supports Draupad¯ and exhorts the king to fight with the enemy. i Yudhisthira refuses, extolling the virtues of patience, and saying .. that they should wait till the right opportunity presents itself. The sage Vyasa appears. ¯

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


Canto III. Vyasa tells Yudhisthira to prepare for the eventuality ¯ .. of a war in which he and his brothers will have to fight against the great old Kuru warriors, including their uncle Bh¯ . ma and teacher is Drona. The way to strength, says the sage, is for Arjuna to per. form penance (tapas) in order to win celestial weapons from Indra, king of the gods. He initiates Arjuna with a powerful mantra and instructs him to practice ascetic vows in the Himalayas. Vyasa van¯ ishes, and a guhyaka or yaksa (a demi-god, servant of Kubera, god . of wealth, in his Himalayan realm) appears to accompany Arjuna on his northward journey. Sad though she is at the thought of parting from Arjuna, Draupad¯ addresses him in a speech of exhoratation i and blessing. The family priest Dhaumya arms the hero, and he leaves with the yaksa. . Canto IV. Description of Arjuna’s journey with the yaksa: the . autumnal landscape, cowherds and their women. They see the Himalayas from a distance. Canto V. The Himalayas are described. The yaksa blesses Arjuna . and disappears. The hero reaches the mountain Indrak¯ (Indra’s ila peak). Canto VI. Arjuna enjoys the natural beauty around him as he climbs up the peak and chooses a spot for his ascetic exercise. His penance is described. Disturbed by the strange appearance and fiery ascetic power of the fully armed warrior practising tapas, the guhyaka demigods of Indrak¯ complain to Indra, king of the ila gods, who is in fact Arjuna’s divine father. Secretly pleased with his son’s power, Indra yet plans to test his resolve. He sends the apsaras nymphs (his celestial courtesans and dancers) to seduce Arjuna.47 Canto VII. The nymphs and their lovers, celestial musicians called gandharvas, journey through the sky, along the celestial course of the River Ganges, in celestial chariots, accompanied by elephants. Their descent on Indrak¯ peak, their encampment in ila the woods, and the play of the elephants in the river are described. Canto VIII. The apsaras and their lovers gather flowers in the woods. They bathe and play in the Ganges. Canto IX. Description of sunset, twilight, and the rising moon. The nymphs and their lovers drink wine and make love. Day breaks. Canto X. The apsaras reach Arjuna’s hermitage. Awed and attracted by his ascetic power, they fall in love with him, and try to seduce him with their own charms and the beauties of nature that they magically create. They fail in their efforts. Admitting defeat, the nymphs and gandharvas return to Indra.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Figure 1 The apsaras dancers try to disturb Arjuna’s penance. Relief sculpture, Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid, Karnataka. Courtesy: M.S. Nagaraja Rao. Photo: Jenny Moon

Canto XI. Indra himself sets out to test Arjuna. He arrives at the ascetic’s hermitage disguised as an old brahman and questions the purity of Arjuna’s motives in undertaking tapas. He accuses the hero of misusing tapas, which is a peaceful means for attaining spiritual goals, to achieve a selfish and violent purpose. In a powerful speech Arjuna justifies his asceticism as part of his duty (dharma) towards his king and family. Pleased, Indra reveals his divine identity and ´ ¯s instructs him to propitiate the god Siva in order to win the Pa´ upata shaft, which will help the Pandavas defeat their enemies. ¯.. Canto XII. With renewed determination, Arjuna practises fiercer asceticism. Threatened by the terrible power of his tapas, the sages ´ ´ of Indrak¯ approach Siva in supplication (17-31). Siva reassures ila them and tells them that Arjuna is destined to kill the demon Muka, ¯ who will attack him in the form of a boar. Wishing to test the hero’s ´ valor, Siva himself goes to Indrak¯ in the guise of a chief of kiratas ila ¯ (hunters, mountain men), accompanied by his hosts (the ganas). . Canto XIII. Arjuna sees a wild boar rushing at him. Both he and ´ Siva simultaneously shoot arrows at the beast, killing it. As Arjuna tries to retrieve his arrow, a hunter appears and claims that the ´ arrow belongs to his master, the kirata chief (Siva). ¯ ´ Canto XIV. Arjuna defends his right to the arrow. Siva’s army attacks Arjuna and showers arrows on him. He wards them off. Canto XV. In a speech framed in citra (“pattern”) verses Skanda, ´ the general of Siva’s army, exhorts the fleeing hosts to return, and ´ they obey him. Siva and Arjuna shoot arrows at each other.

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


´ Figure 2 Disguised as a hunter, Siva directs the boar to attack Arjuna. Ceiling painting, Virabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh. Courtesy: I. Job Thomas.

Canto XVI. The god and the hero fight with supernatural weapons; Arjuna loses. ´ Canto XVII. Arjuna tries in vain to overcome Siva in combat with ´ the bow and the sword. He throws rocks and treetrunks at Siva. Canto XVIII. A fistfight and a wrestling match between the god ´ and the hero ensue. The combat ends when Arjuna seizes Siva by the feet and tries to throw him. The Great God suddenly reveals his true identity and expresses his pleasure at Arjuna’s exploits. Arjuna praises him in a stotra (hymn) and asks for his grace in the form of a boon that will help the Pandava brothers vanquish their unjust ¯.. ´ enemies. Siva transmits the magic lore of the Pa´ upata weapon to ¯s Arjuna, and, in a personified form, the knowledge of the weapon enters Arjuna. All the gods gather around the hero, give him other celestial weapons, and praise him. The poem ends with the victorious Arjuna bowing to his brother, King Yudhisthira, who is now assured .. of ultimate success for the Pandavas in their conflict with their ¯.. cousins. Any reading of Bharavi’s mahakavya presumes a close acquain¯ ¯ ¯ tance with the Mahabharata. The commentators often allude to the ¯ ¯ larger context of the older epic, but they do not comment on the


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

changes Bharavi introduced into the Kairataparvan narrative. As ¯ ¯ the following summary will show, in order to create a court epic of eighteen cantos out of the fifteen adhyayas (chapters) of the epic ¯ episode, Bharavi omitted some elements, changed others, and added ¯ new material as well. The forester-spy’s report to the king, the incident with which the Kiratarjun¯ opens, is an invention of the mahakavya poet, bring¯ ¯ iya ¯ ¯ ing the events of the Forest Book directly into the ambit of classical Indian political theory. In the debate that follows, three concentrated speeches in a little over two cantos replace the meandering conversation that takes place among Draupad¯ Bh¯ i, ima and Yudhisthira, .. covering nine chapters in the older epic.48 In the Mahabharata, the ¯ ¯ preceptor Vyasa gives the mantric instruction to Yudhisthira, who ¯ .. passes it on to Arjuna, whereas in the court epic the sage directly instructs Arjuna, most likely to highlight Arjuna’s centrality in the action of the poem. Bharavi’s introduction of a yaksa spirit of the ¯ . Himalayas as the hero’s guide and companion heightens the mystery of the hero’s initiatory journey into the mountainous abode of the gods. A very interesting detail in Bharavi’s version is the iden¯ tification of the mountain peak of Arjuna’s penance as "Indrak¯ ila" (Indra’s pillar, post, or peg). John Irwin has suggested that indrak¯ ila, a term that is used in the context of the Vedic sacrificial ritual, symbolically connotes the cosmic pillar or axis mundi and is a reference to the Vedic god Indra’s cosmogonic act, which involved "pegging the Primordial Hill to the bottom of the Ocean.”49 It is possible that Bharavi drew on local or oral traditions for the name "Indrak¯ ¯ ila.” The post-Bharavi versions are aware of the name, and it appears in ¯ South Indian folk renderings of the kirata narrative. In any event, ¯ the name resonates with the initiatory symbolism of Arjuna’s journey and the importance of his encounter with his divine father Indra on his sacred peak. By elaborating on the situations already present in the epic episode and by adding several new characters and situations, Bharavi includes in his poem a large number of the descriptive ¯ and rhetorical topics that a court epic was expected to treat. In the hunter-spy’s report and the opening debate the court poet presents the mahakavya topic of the "political council" in the context of the ¯ ¯ political theory expounded in such classical texts as the Kautil¯ . iya Artha´ astra.50 Arjuna’s journey to the Himalayas and his penance s¯ are the occasion for the descriptions of a mountain, asceticism, and a season (autumn). The play of the apsaras and their lovers in the Himalayan woods is the pretext for the treatment of a series

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


of descriptions focusing on women, nature, and the erotic mood. However, the overall effect of Kiratarjun¯ is not that of a random ¯ ¯ iya collection of kavya topics, but of an intensely focused, even dramatic ¯ poem. The structural relations among the various plot elements, cantos and other segments of the poem will be my concern in the discussion that follows. From the perspective of the traditional critics the outline of the court epic narrative is a “plot” (itivrtta). In their view the maha¯ . kavya’s plot develops in a manner similar to that of a kavya play, and, ¯ ¯ like the dramatic plot, it is driven by the goal of achieving a dominant aesthetic mood (rasa). Dandin did not invent the dictum that a maha¯ .. kavya must be pervaded by rasa and bhava (the emotional bases from ¯ ¯ which rasas arise). The works of Kalidasa and Bharavi show that the ¯ ¯ ¯ early mahakavya poets were aware of the applicability of rasa poetics ¯ ¯ to the court epic form. The medieval commentators, who are our principal guides to the mahakavyas, speak of these poems in terms of ¯ ¯ rasa theory, although loosely and selectively. Considerations of rasa are an important aspect of the shared aesthetic discourse of court epic poets, critics, and commentators. A brief examination of the structure of the Kiratarjun¯ in the light of the traditional criticism ¯ ¯ iya will illuminate the usefulness as well as the limitations of the rasa aesthetic in relation to the mahakavya. ¯ ¯ The theory of rasa (aesthetic mood, flavor) was presented as an aesthetic for the drama in Bharata’s Natya´ astra, a text completed ¯ . s¯ at roughly the same time as Kalidasa’s dramas.51 In simplified terms ¯ ¯ rasa is the universalized essence or flavor of eight (or nine) fundamental human emotions (bhava), experienced by the audience of a ¯ work of art. Through the representation in a coordinated manner of several kinds of contributory emotional elements—the causal and conditional factors, the effects, and the transitory emotions (vibhava, ¯ anubhava, and vyabhicaribhava)—a stable, basic emotion is sug¯ ¯ ¯ gested in a work of art, through a character who functions as its locus (a´ raya). The stable emotion is then distilled into the experience ¯s (“taste,” asvada) of the corresponding rasa, aesthetic flavor, in the ¯ ¯ viewer, listener, or reader. In the Natya´ astra Bharata identified the ¯ . s¯ stable emotion (sthayibhava) as well as the component elements that ¯ ¯ give rise to the sthayin for each of the eight rasas. The later writers ¯ on rasa identified srngara (the erotic mood) and v¯ (the heroic) as ´. ˙ ¯ ira the enduring, fundamental moods, and added santa (the peaceful), ´¯ as the ninth rasa. Since rasa is based on the artistic evocation of emotional and psychological conditions, and since drama is the art form in which


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

emotional states can be represented most convincingly and through the widest variety of means (in the classical Sanskrit drama these included music, dance, and mime), drama was the original sphere of the rasa aesthetic. But the ideal of rasa gradually permeated the discussion of all the poetic genres, and, eventually, other arts such as music and painting as well. As I noted earlier, however, it was not until some time after the flowering of the classical genres that the poeticians began to develop an adequate language for discussing the application of rasa theory to poetry as a whole, and it is in the ¯ ninth century text Dhvanyaloka (Light of Suggestion) of Anandavar¯ dhana that we find the first full-fledged and successful articulation of ¯ this development. In his theory of poetic suggestion (dhvani), Anandavardhana ascribed to language itself, and therefore to verbal art, the same power of emotional suggestivity as dramatic representation, and thus made it possible for critics fruitfully to apply rasa ¯ theory to all kinds of kavya. Anandavardhana invoked the princi¯ ple of suggestion (dhvani) primarily to explain the complex aesthetic effect of short lyric poems in emotional and psychological terms. But he also devotes a section of the Dhvanyaloka to a detailed discus¯ sion of rasa in relation to extended genres (prabandha). According ¯ to Anandavardhana, a good prabandha must be pervaded by a single dominant aesthetic mood or “flavor,” a pradhana or ang¯ rasa, ¯ ˙ i offset by one or more subsidiary moods. Chief among the strategies a poet must employ to achieve this effect is the disposition and interrelationship of elements in various parts of the work, beginning with the components of the plot. Using examples from the court epics of ¯ Kalidasa and other poets, Anandavardhana also shows how kavya ¯ ¯ ¯ description should be deployed to achieve particular rasa effects.52 ¯ Few later writers on poetics pursued the implications of Anandavardhana’s analysis of plot, description, and mood for mahakavya ¯ ¯ criticism. As for the commentaries on the mahakavyas, it is under¯ ¯ stood that their chief purpose is to illuminate the stanzaic microcosm. The commentators proceed verse by verse, parsing and construing each one (anvaya), breaking up difficult compounds, providing notes on vocabulary, grammatical points, and meaning, and, especially in controversial cases, explaining the figures of speech.53 Predictably, the few remarks addressed to large-scale structural issues are plot-centered and formulated in terms of rasa theory. In the Natya´ astra Bharata analyzes the development of the ¯ . s¯ dramatic plot as coming about through the interrelationship of three kinds of structures consisting of five items each: five objective components of the plot, five stages in the progression of the action, and

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


five joints or “junctures in the presentation of the action,” which are of a relatively subjective character.54 The most important item in the list is the karya, the aim or goal of the poem’s action, lit¯ erally, “that which is to be done,” the last of the five items in the first group (the components of the plot). When applying these structural items to a mahakavya, the commentators use the karya as ¯ ¯ ¯ their guide for identifying the protagonist and charting the progression of the plot.55 The diffuse, manifold aims of the mahakavya were ¯ ¯ not intended to be exclusively guided by the finely calibrated emotional structures of the dramatic plot. Few commentators apply the detail of dramatic theory to the court epic plot. Thus the late (17th century?) commentator Citrabhanu’s discussion of Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s action in terms of the larger elements of plot analysis, the junctures and stages (avastha and samdhi), is largely a pedantic tour ¯ . de force—although it does demonstrate how well the poem’s concentrated, “dramatic” structure lends itself to such an analysis.56 More representative are the summary pointers to the development of plot and rasa found in Mallinatha’s Ghantapatha.57 I will briefly con¯ ..¯ sider the comments of Mallinatha and other commentators on the ¯ macroscopic aspects of composition in the poem. In his comment on the final stanza of the first canto (Kir. I.46) Mallinatha gives the following summary view of the poem: ¯ The hero is the middle one of the Pandavas, ¯.. a partial incarnation of Lord Narayana (Visnu). ¯ ¯ . .. For the sake of establishing his (the hero’s) superiority, however, the divine hunter was described in some detail. The erotic and other rasas occur as subordinate moods. The principal rasa in this poem is the heroic in its aspect of victory in combat. The poem contains several descriptions, such as the description of a mountain. The outcome is Arjuna’s winning celestial weapons.58 The commentators are unanimous in identifying the Kiratarju¯ ¯ ¯ niya’s dominant rasa as v¯ ira, the heroic, based on the stable emotion called utsaha, “tireless energy in pursuing an undertaking.”59 It is ¯ also generally accepted that the Kiratarjun¯ evokes “combat hero¯ ¯ iya ism” (yuddhav¯ ira), as opposed to the other three varieties of v¯ ira described by the later poeticians: generous heroism (danav¯ ¯ ira), religious heroism (dharmav¯ ira), and compassionate heroism (dayav¯ ¯ ira). The last three kinds of v¯ strongly suggest the influence of ascetic ira


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

and nonviolent ideologies, and some theorists have even tried to make santa (the peaceful) a variety of v¯ ´¯ irarasa, based on the analogy between physical and spiritual courage.60 Bharavi’s poem is one ¯ of the earliest mahakavyas to focus on what would appear to be the ¯ ¯ most natural rasa for the mahakavya, the poem with the military and ¯ ¯ heroic plot. The intensity of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s plot makes the effect of v¯ rasa in this poem somewhat different from the rasa experience ira of Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa, which depicts the lives of a number of ¯ ¯ .´ warrior-kings in an episodic manner. Moreover, Kalidasa and A´ va¯ ¯ s ghosa had to overcome considerable difficulty in fitting the plots of . the Kumarasambhava and the Buddhacarita into the framework ¯ . of the political success of a warrior hero. The Kumarasambhava’s ¯ . chief rasa is srngara, the erotic, and, to complicate matters, as ´. ˙ ¯ Gary Tubb has shown, its hero is really a heroine, the goddess Par¯ ´ vat¯ whose ‘goal’ is to marry the god Siva.61 As a Buddhist poem i, expressly designed to guide men’s minds towards nonviolence and world-renunciation, The Acts of the Buddha could hardly emphasize the heroic in any worldly sense of the term. The older narrative epics were themselves seen as expressing values other than military heroism. Looking for aesthetic flavor in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, several Sanskrit critics, led by ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ ¯ Anandavardhana, tried to establish that, despite the centrality of war and warriors in the two epics, the predominant rasa in each is ¯ ¯ something other than the heroic.62 In their view, the Mahabharata, in which internecine conflict leads to devastation, grief, and chaos, ends on a dominant note of santa, “the peaceful,” the rasa ´¯ that is based on world-weariness (nirveda) and connotes the peace of quietitude and renunciation. In the Ramayana, tinged through¯ ¯ . out with pathos and ending with personal grief for its chief figures, the prevailing rasa is karuna, the pathetic, based on sorrow. By . choosing from the older epic a heroic episode with a wholly positive ending, Bharavi avoided the ambivalence towards the acts of heroes ¯ discerned in these works by the critics, creating a poem which is in every way a celebration of ksatradharma, the dharma of war.¯ riors (ksatriyas), and a work that fits very nicely into the ultimately . upward curve of the court epic’s plot.63 If the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s main rasa is unambiguous, other aspects of the plot are not as straightforward as they might at first appear to be. More than one commentator raises the question: “Who is the poem’s hero (nayaka, ‘he who leads the action’), Arjuna, or the god ¯ who tests him?” The poem is called “kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya” (The Poem about Arjuna and the Hunter), says Mallinatha, because it is a narrative ¯ about the combat between Arjuna and the hunter. “But Arjuna is

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


Figure 3 Arjuna and the hunter shoot arrows at the boar. Relief sculpture, Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid, Karnataka. Courtesy: M.S. Nagaraja Rao. Photo: Jenny Moon

clearly the hero; the hunter is described only in the role of the hero’s antagonist, and for the purpose of exalting the hero.”64 Here Mallinatha is directly concerned with plot structure, basing his argument ¯ on the karya, the ultimate goal of the poem’s action. The goal deter¯ mines the rasa of the poem, serves to bind its various parts together, and helps identify the poem’s chief actor (nayaka). In saying that ¯ the winning of celestial weapons is the phala (the outcome of the action), Mallinatha implies that this is the goal towards which the ¯ plot is directed and that, as the character who accomplishes the goal ´ through the upaya (means) of propitiating Siva, Arjuna is unam¯ biguously the hero. Few critics would agree with Citrabhanu, who ¯ argues that Yudhisthira is the hero, as the instigator of the action of .. the poem, whereas Arjuna is merely his agent.65 More useful is the commentator Vidyamadhava’s argument, ¯ ¯ namely, that the poem has two heroes. As a devotee fighting with the Great God in disguise, Arjuna fails to exemplify a typical hero who wins a real victory over a genuine antagonist: Only in those cases in which we can speak of two enemies may we conclude that one is the victorious hero and the other, the antagonist. But here, because there is no enmity between the kirata and Arjuna, who play the roles of god and devotee, ¯ respectively, there is also no protagonist-antagonist relationship . . . both are the poem’s heroes. That is why the poem is called Arjuna and the Hunter. . ..66


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Vidyamadhava’s suggestion is intriguing, for it raises the impor¯ ¯ tant issue of the relationship between the poem’s heroic and devotional aspects. Certainly, as Mallinatha acknowledges (at the end ¯ of his commentary on I.46), the inclusion of both the hero and the hunter in the poem’s title, in the dvandva (“coupling”) compound “kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iyam,” “a work about Arjuna and the kirata” (kiratar¯ ¯ ¯ junav adhikrtya krto granthah) points to the importance of both ¯ . . . actors in the narrative.67 The bhakti flavor of the poem’s final sequence, progressively manifested in the mysterious, unearthly nature of the combat between Arjuna and the kirata, in the deity’s self-revelation and the ¯ hymn of praise with which Arjuna responds, and, finally, in the boon of the Pa´ upata weapon, does put the entire action in a different per¯s spective. If the winning of the weapon is the goal, then the god, who blesses by first testing the hero, and then granting him the boon, is not a real opponent at all, and Arjuna is not a victor in combat. His heroic eminence (abhyudaya) consists, rather, in his having passed the test that the god had set for him. In Bharavi’s version, as in all the ¯ other versions of the tale, the powerful climax of the heroic rasa that occurs in the combat scenes is offset by the devotional vignette of the hero paying homage to the god. The dominant mood of the poem, with the culmination to which the plot has been building up, needs to be experienced, at the very least, in relation to bhakti, if not to be weighed against it. There is also the related issue of the kavya status ¯ of the Kiratarjun¯ as opposed to the bhakti classification of many ¯ ¯ iya of the later texts on the kirata theme. If the poem does indeed stress ¯ the rasa aesthetic and other kavya concerns, how should we read the ¯ bhakti elements of the text? Or, to put the question from the opposite ´ perspective, how does Bharavi the Saiva poet reconcile and balance ¯ the devotional concerns of the kirata tale with his aesthetic concerns ¯ as a kavya poet? The relationship between rasa and bhakti in the ¯ poem, especially as it is manifested in the concluding sequences, will be my concern in the final chaper of this book. An underlying assumption of Mallinatha’s commentary, and of ¯ most commentaries on the court epics, is the expectation that a good mahakavya will treat all, or at least several, of the nine rasas. If ¯ ¯ the heroic mood predominates, at least two other major rasas, the erotic (´ rngara; primarily in the erotic play of the apsaras) and the s. ˙ ¯ peaceful (´ anta; in Arjuna’s rites of austerity), also receive extens¯ sive treatment in the Kiratarjun¯ 68 The marvellous (adbhuta) ¯ ¯ iya. mood, and the terrifying (bhayanaka), supplement the heroic rasa ¯ ´ in the descriptions of Arjuna’s appearance and his combat with Siva.

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


Figure 4 Combat between Arjuna and the hunter. Relief sculpture, Kailasanatha temple, Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu. Courtesy: Gary Michael Tartakov

And while neither Mallinatha nor the other commentators draw our ¯ attention to the fact, the configuration of rasas in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya ¯ conforms remarkably well to the ideal later upheld by Anandavardhana, namely, that in an extended composition several rasas must be evoked in a subordinate capacity to enhance and nourish the principal (ang¯ rasa, either in a contrastive or complementary man˙ i) ner, depending on whether these other rasas are inherently opposed to the main rasa, or have an inherently supportive relationship to it.69


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

In the traditional discourse of rasa, description plays an essential role in suggesting mood in a poem. According to the rasa theory, the stable emotion of a work (here: utsaha, energy) is to be per¯ ceived in its locus (here: the hero Arjuna). However, this emotional basis of rasa can itself be evoked only through the depiction of its constituent elements. Describing the delineation of the heroic rasa, Bharata names several conditions to be portrayed in the hero, including presence of mind, determination, discipline, vigor, and dignity.70 He says that the heroic mood should be represented on the stage by consequents such as firmness and by transitory states such as judgment, pride, and indignation.71 Like the presentation on stage, the long descriptions and speeches in the Kiratarjun¯ portray the ¯ ¯ iya emotional condition and character of the hero through transitory emotional states (e.g., Arjuna’s anger when provoked by the hunter) and conditional elements, such as the hunter’s challenge (for the heroic mood), or the tranquil, sacred atmosphere of the Himalayas as a place suitable for asceticism (for the peaceful rasa).72 Mallinatha ¯ identifies the various components of rasa in several contexts in his commentary of Bharavi. ¯ ¯ In the Dhvanyaloka Anandavardhana argues that the author of ¯ an extended work who is intent on achieving rasa should “. . . reject any situation occurring in the plot that is not appropriate to the rasa, and add other narratives that are appropriate to the desired rasa, even if he has to invent them, as in the works of Kalidasa.” Vrtti on ¯ ¯ . Dhv. 3.14: “. . . itivrttava´ ayatam. . . . yatha kalidasaprabandhesu.” s¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . . The changes Bharavi has effected in the Kairataparvan narrative ¯ ¯ would lend themselves rather well to justification in terms of mood. One could, for example, show that the sequences in the poem that focus on the erotic and peaceful rasas have been carefully placed, contrasting with the heroic mood only to “nourish” it, and enhancing its uncontested flowering at the end of the poem. One can also point to the skill with which Bharavi has portrayed the hero’s response ¯ to each of the traditional “four goals of life”: kama (pleasure) in ¯ the scenes with the apsaras, artha (wealth and success) in Arjuna’s ´ debate with Siva’s messenger, moksa (liberation from karma) in his . conversation with Indra, and dharma (sacred duty) throughout the poem.73 The fact remains, however, that crucial aspects of the court poet’s approach to the poem’s theme remain outside the ambit of the traditional criticism. For mahakavya commentators such as Malli¯ ¯ natha, in terms of compositional style, and to a large extent in respect ¯ of thematic issues as well, the kavya poem is a closed universe. Rasa ¯

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


theory broadens the arena of criticism somewhat, but does not facilitate a contextual study of the text. It does not, for instance, address the issues raised by Bharavi’s use of motifs that are common to very ¯ different types of Indian literature. Not only heroic narratives, but general themes such as combat and asceticism, and more specific motifs such as the temptation of the ascetic by the courtesan, appear not only in older epic and kavya but in mythological texts (purana), ¯ ¯. devotional poems, and folk narratives. My approach to thematic issues in the Kiratarjun¯ has been motivated in part by the need ¯ ¯ iya to address the allusivity of the mahakavya genre. ¯ ¯ I give here two examples of ways in which particular passages in the Kiratarjun¯ may be read, within and outside of the rasa ¯ ¯ iya discourse. The first of these is the description of the Himalaya in Canto V. Arjuna goes to the Himalaya range to perform penance because the sacred Himalaya mountain is the abode of the gods. Kalidasa’s mahakavya Kumarasambhava, a poem treating the wed¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . ´ ding of the god Siva with the goddess Parvat¯ daughter of the ¯ i, Himalaya, opens with a celebrated description of the Himalaya, noted for its evocation of the mystery, grandeur, and sacred associations of the mountain. Bharavi’s description of the Himalaya in ¯ Canto V of the Kiratarjun¯ contains a number of allusions, not only ¯ ¯ iya ´ to Siva, who is to appear in his own poem as the hero’s opponent, but to the goddess Parvat¯ and the wedding of the god and goddess. ¯ i It also echoes many of the images in the older poet’s description of the mountain. These allusions link the Kiratarjun¯ description to ¯ ¯ iya Kalidasa’s famous passage. At the same time, they allow the poet to ¯ ¯ acknowledge the numinous presence of the goddess on the mountain, even though, as I will show in my discussion in Chapter 9, he omits the goddess from his version of the kirata-Arjuna combat in order to ¯ focus intensely on Arjuna’s active, heroic persona. My second example is Bharavi’s addition of the sequence of the ¯ erotic revels of the apsaras to the narrative. This addition, placed before Arjuna’s encounter with Indra, achieves a number of aims. We have already noted the contrast the erotic and descriptive focus of this passage provides, both to the heroic rasa and the peaceful (´ anta) s¯ moods—evoked by the political council and Arjuna’s asceticism. Kings, gods, and their consorts are the usual actors in the requisite mahakavya scenes of lovemaking and pleasurable play. The apsaras ¯ ¯ and their lovers are the players in the pleasure sequences of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya. Underlying the contrast they provide to the peaceful mood of Arjuna’s asceticism is a very old narrative motif in Indian literature and mythology, the temptation of the self-controlled ascetic


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

by the courtesan or beautiful woman, a theme that had been used significantly and effectively by Kalidasa and A´ vaghosa in their court ¯ ¯ s . epics.74 In the kavya context, the motif usually serves to exalt the ¯ hero’s strength of character by showing that he is immune to sexual temptation (kama). In the case of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya, we have a further allusion to other narratives of Arjuna in the older epic. In the Mahabharata sequence that follows the encounter with ¯ ¯ the hunter (indralokabhigamanaparvan) the triumphant Arjuna ¯ travels to this father Indra’s paradise, where he lives for several years. During this time the apsaras Urva´ ¯ tries to seduce Arjuna. si The self-controlled hero is not swayed by sexual temptation; he rejects the courtesan’s advances, saying that, as his father Indra’s ¯ consort, she is like a mother to him.75 In Bharavi’s poem, whose focus ´ is on the hero’s encounter with Siva, instead of Arjuna traveling to Indra’s paradise, the apsaras bring that world and its values (erotic pleasure) to him in order to sway his mind, but fail in their attempt. The implications of the later portions of the Mahabharata episode ¯ ¯ are thus absorbed into the heroic drama of the Kiratarjun¯ prior ¯ ¯ iya to the combat scenes, allowing the combat and divine revelation to become the undisputed climax of the poem. As noted earlier, too, the temptation of Arjuna by the apsaras represents the first of the three values of life that the hero will reject, in order to adhere to dharma (sacred duty) as the highest value. Rasa is a traditional discourse that enables us to discuss some aspects of design and rhetoric in the Kiratarjun¯ in terms of the ¯ ¯ iya poetic strategies of connection, juxtaposition, and contrast. But the careful reader will discover that such strategies command a greater domain in the poem, that they operate in terms of style, theme, texture, and rhythm, in ways that I have summarily described at the end of the previous chapter, and that are not accounted for in the traditional criticism. To give just one example, the commentators continually refer to the kavya text’s connections with the content of ¯ systems of traditional learning, in fields ranging from poetics and grammar to astronomy and law. But their critical perspective does not allow them to respond to the continuous dialogue between Bha¯ ravi’s style in the Kiratarjun¯ and the rhetorical styles of a broad ¯ ¯ iya range of literature: epic and purana, secular and devotional lyric ¯. poetry, wisdom literature (texts on n¯ iti), and treatises (´ astra texts) s¯ on law (dharma), politics (artha), and philosophy (dar´ ana). In my s analyses of particular passages in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, I have tried to illuminate the dialogic nature of the mahakavya style. ¯ ¯

The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya


Artistic juxtapositions of various kinds pervade Bharavi’s court ¯ epic, and the particular forms that they take appear to be specific to the Kiratarjun¯ and Bharavi’s stylistic preferences.76 Contrast and ¯ ¯ iya ¯ opposition are central devices in Bharavi’s dramatic and intense style ¯ in the poem. Description and speech, and therefore the descriptive and oratorical styles of mahakavya composition, alternate with each ¯ ¯ other throughout the work. But the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s speeches and descriptive sequences are also thematically related; lyrical description and debate continually contrast with and comment upon one another. There is a recurrent thematic contrast between penance and combat, Arjuna’s two major activities in the poem. The contrast is developed discursively, but also through recurrent images and grammatical constructions involving contrast, paradox, and antithesis. Multiple meanings extend beyond the limits of individual stanzas, spilling over into longer passages and across sequences. Examining the compositional strategies operative in the Kira¯ tarjun¯ has to some extent involved imaging the structural dynam¯ iya ics of the poem itself. My discussion of the speeches in Cantos I through III in chapters 4 and 5 is meant to contrast with the analysis of the play of the nymphs in the sixth chapter. Since Arjuna’s active role in the poem begins with his tapas in Canto VI, like an Indian Tristram Shandy, the hero does not become the focus of discussion till Chapter 7. Here I elucidate Bharavi’s poetic strategies for express¯ ing and advancing his interpretation of the ethical and philosophical dilemma embodied in Arjuna’s penance. How can a warrior use the peaceful means of the ascetic to achieve violent ends? How can a man be an active hero and a self-controlled yogi at the same time? I show that Bharavi poses this dilemma both in the speeches of those who ¯ challenge him and in the complex imagery of his descriptions of the hero’s ascetic rites. The eighth and ninth chapters are a considera´ tion of the drama of the hero’s encounter with Siva, which unfolds ¯ in the final cantos of the Kiratarjuniya. The concluding images of ¯ ¯ heroic combat and bhakti devotion bring together the major themes of the poem. My study ends as the Kiratarjun¯ does, with a con¯ ¯ iya ´ templation of the scene in which Siva, pleased with Arjuna, reveals himself to the hero, and gives him the boon he seeks.

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Chapter 4

Prelude to Action: Epic Speech in Bharavi’s Poem ¯

The epic hero tends to be an orator, and the women of the epic are equally eloquent. Hermann Oldenberg1

Rhetorical Frames The poets of the Mahabharata skilfully exploited the rich possibil¯ ¯ ities of rhetorical variation. The entire epic is a series of framed speeches, beginning with the bard Saut¯’s telling of the narrative of ı the Kuru princes as it was related by Vai´ ampayana to King Janas . ¯ mejaya, a descendant of the Kurus. Within the narrative frames, the voices of a multitude of characters emerge and recede, telling yet other tales, entreating and lamenting, arguing, questioning, teaching.2 The shorter of the two old epics offers a rhetorical picture that is at once simpler and more dramatically oriented. The principal narrative of the Ramayana is told in the voice of the author-persona ¯ ¯ . Valm¯ki, but the voices of individual characters come to the fore in a ¯ ı series of speeches placed at crucial points in the action. What Renate Söhnen says of the “dramatic speeches” in the primary epic applies to the Kiratarjun¯ya orations as well: they shape the direction of ¯ ¯ ı the action, and provide it with fresh impulses.3 This is especially true of the Ayodhyakanda, the second book of the epic, which depicts ¯ ¯.. the events that lead up to Rama’s exile. Here, as Sheldon Pollock ¯ has observed in the introduction to his translation of this book, “the narrative is propelled by the intensely dramatic series of confrontations” between the principal characters.4 Taking his cue from the



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Ramayana in this respect as in many others, the kavya poet A´ va¯ ¯ . ¯ s ghosa presents the drama of prince Siddhartha’s renunciation in the ¯ . form of spirited arguments between the prince and the various people who try to dissuade him from his resolve. Kalidasa strives for ¯ ¯ a different effect, a stylistic equilibrium. In the Kumarasambhava ¯ . and the Raghuvamsa persuasive speech—rhetoric in the narrower .´ sense, and in the sense in which it is the focus of this chapter and the next one—never overshadows the narrative and descriptive modes.5 With Bharavi, rhetorical discourse in the mahakavya regains ¯ ¯ ¯ expansive—one might say “epic”—proportions. Key moments in the Kiratarjun¯ya’s action are marked by clusters of long orations by the ¯ ¯ ı principal actors. In fact, the poem opens with a debate that stretches over three sargas, culminating in Arjuna’s tapas. The penance itself prompts the debate between Indra and Arjuna in the eleventh canto. ´ The heated argument Arjuna has with the messenger Siva has sent to claim the slain boar as his own kill leads directly into the hero’s ´ combat with Siva and his troops. In each case, persuasive oratory forms the backdrop to action. Like the speeches in the Ramayana, ¯ ¯ . and like those in Homer and Virgil, the key speeches in the Kiratarju¯ ¯ n¯ya constitute what Thomas Greene has called the the deliberative, ı as opposed to the executive, aspect of the epic plot—together with the descriptions, they help create the epic balance of “action as spectacle, as geste, as object of awe, and action as political event.”6 ´ According to Kautilya’s Artha´ astra (KAS), the authoritative classis¯ . cal text on political theory, “All undertakings should be preceded by ¯ consultation (mantra, deliberation).”7 As we might expect, Bharavi’s speeches occur in conventional contexts, reflecting the essentially political and war-like nature of epic—the political council (mantra), the challenge to the hero. In the spirit of epic poetry, too, they transcend the limits of political and military strategy, and point at the larger moral universe in which the poem is grounded. Indeed, the persuasive speeches are an important means by which the ethical bases and implications of kingship and political action are established, contested, affirmed in the mahakavya. The breadth of the epic ¯ ¯ ideal comes into play when Yudhisthira’s lecture on naya, statecraft, .. or Arjuna’s defence of his austerity expand to encompass the field of dharma, the Law, itself. In this respect the Kiratarjun¯ya’s speeches ¯ ¯ ı are direct descendants of the didactic discourses in the Mahabha¯ ¯ rata, an epic whose ethical concerns have earned it the status of a textbook of dharma.

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Of course, there are significant differences between the Maha¯ bharata speeches and those in the Kiratarjun¯ya. As always, the ¯ ¯ ı court epic’s ultimate focus is on expressive design. The effect of the kavya speech turns on the formal balance and subtlety of its ¯ individual stanzas, their epigrammatical quality. Many stanzas in the Kiratarjun¯ya’s first three cantos are studied and savored as ¯ ¯ ı exquisite specimens of the gnomic subhasita (well-turned verse), a ¯. genre prized for its facility in embodying ethical and political “wisdom” (n¯ti) in the formal perfection of the miniature stanza. But the ı mahakavya speech is meant to be read as a sustained poetic passage, ¯ ¯ not just as a string of gnomic verses. Bharavi, in a more deliber¯ ate manner than Kalidasa, uses his poem’s speeches to express a ¯ ¯ self-conscious concern with the technical aspects of reasoning and argument, with rhetorical strategies, and with the nature of speech as an instrument of rhetoric. In several of the speeches he includes reflections on the qualities of effective speech, drawing on the classical theories of reasoning that are authoritatively elaborated in the disciplines of Logic (Nyaya) and Hermenuetics (M¯mamsa).8 This is ¯ ı ¯ . ¯ not to say that the kavya speeches have nothing of the primary epic’s ¯ sensibility. The most dramatic arguments in the Kiratarjun¯ya occur ¯ ¯ ı in emotional contexts and use language charged with emotion. In the mahakavya no less than in the Mahabharata powerful rhetoric ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ depends on tone and rhythm, suggestion and dramatic presentation. We shall see, however, that in transforming the affective aspects of language into formal elegance and the stylized evocation of aesthetic mood kavya once again distances itself from epic discourse. ¯ The sastric disciplines of Logic (Nyaya) and Hermeneutics (M¯´¯ ¯ ı mamsa) provide the interpretive framework for the classical com¯ . ¯ mentator’s discussion of the kavya speeches. Mallinatha treats each ¯ ¯ speech as a coherent argument, elucidating it with reference to the strategies of argumentation and rebuttal used in traditional debate.9 It seems to me that the traditional commentator is right in drawing our attention to the logical framework of the rhetorical sequences. Since logic has been deliberately foregrounded in these sequences, any study of composition in the speeches must take into account the fact that they explicitly refer to logical discourse. We must, as Mallinatha does, also attend to the referential nature of the rhetorical ¯ passages in the poem. The structure and impact of Bh¯ma’s speech ı and Yudhisthira’s response can be fully understood only when we .. look at them in relation to each other, treating them as speech and counterspeech.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

But we cannot treat the kavya speech simply as a piece of ¯ rhetoric, any more than we can treat Marvell’s “To his coy mistress” as an exercise in formal logic, however closely the structure of that poem might imitate that of a formal syllogism.10 After all, “Although a lyric may imitate logical discourse, that is not what it is, and the reader’s experience of its conclusion (in either sense) will be determined by the fact that he ultimately responds to the poem as something other than a piece of reasoning.”11 The maha¯ kavi aims to achieve a poetic rendering of the discourse of argument, a process that inevitably results in a two-way transformation. Formal design, meter and other rhythms, metaphor, lexicon, figures of speech—all these engage with the framework of reasoning, are charged with rhetorical significance.12 But the framework of reasoning is itself transformed by its poetic context. It becomes one more element in the complex process in which aspects of language and form meld to create the poetic passage, kavya, whose ultimate object ¯ is aesthetic pleasure. The most fruitful approach to the mahakavya ¯ ¯ speeches, then, is to study the interplay of rhetorical frame and context with the generic features of kavya discourse, recognizing—in a ¯ way that the traditional commentators generally do not—that this interplay occurs not only within the bounds of the unitary verse, but throughout the speech. I have chosen the speeches of Draupad¯, Bh¯ma, and Yudhisthira ı ı .. in the first two sargas of the Kiratarjun¯ya as exemplars of the poem’s ¯ ¯ ı epic-dramatic speeches. The sequence is exemplary in more than one way. The three speeches offer three different perspectives on heroic action and kingship. Their stylistic variety illustrates the range of rhetorical strategies in the poem. Lastly, the sequence stands in close yet complex relationship to its epic source. At the very outset, Bharavi both evokes the spirit of the Great ¯ Epic and parts company with it. Where the Mahabharata poets offer ¯ ¯ a meandering exchange of ideas among Draupad¯, Yudhisthira, and ı .. Bh¯ma in verses extending to eleven chapters, Bharavi’s presentaı ¯ tion of the same material occupies no more than the greater part of two cantos. As in the Mahabharata, at the beginning of the first sarga ¯ ¯ the heroes of the kavya are living out a part of their long exile in a ¯ forest, here identified as the Dvaita forest (Dvaitavana).13 But their political deliberation is instigated, not by Draupad¯ as in the older ı epic, but by news brought by Yudhisthira’s spy, a hunter who has .. been sent out to Duryodhana’s kingdom in the guise of a brahman ´ student. (The hunter in disguise foreshadows the role of Siva, the god disguised as a hunter, in the poem). The forester-spy describes

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how the treacherous, unscrupulous Duryodhana is winning the trust of the people of the Pandava kingdom by his just rule. Duryodhana’s ¯.. benevolence is just a facade, a political expedient, says the spy; he wants popular support, so that he may boldly refuse to return the kingdom to the Pandavas at the end of their exile as promised. ¯.. The spy’s speech provides an immediate cause for the debate among the Pandavas. For Draupad¯ the description of the rogue ¯.. ı Duryodhana enjoying his unjustly won status is enough to reopen old wounds. In terms of the traditional analysis of plot-structure, such a cause is necessary for the further development of the plot. The speech simultaneously serves for the description of a king’s realm and rule, which is one of the traditional topics for the beginning of an epic poem.14 Finally, it throws light on the relationship between maha¯ kavyas and classical political theory. Kautilya includes foresters, ¯ . hunters, or mountain-men (kirata, vanecara) in the groups listed as ¯ appropriate for kings to employ as spies.15 The portrait the forester paints of the effective and seemingly benevolent rule of Duryodhana corresponds in minute detail as well as in its general outline to Kautilya’s delineation of the measures an astute king will take in order . to placate the population of conquered territories.16 By introducing the spy and his strategic oration, Bharavi sets in motion the trans¯ formation of the more eclectic political material of the older epic into the technical contexts and terms of the ideals of statecraft that preoccupied the kings, courtiers, and intellectuals of his own time.17 Space does not permit a detailed discussion of political theory in the Mahabharata, which certainly contains elements of the classi¯ ¯ cal artha´ astra doctrine, even though these are not identical with s¯ ´ the KAS’s arguments or the positions Kautilya takes. The older epic . contains major passages on the subject of rajadharma, the conduct ¯ of kings, the most well known of these being the discussion between ´¯ Yudhisthira and the wise Bh¯sma. Book XII (Santiparvan). Neverı. .. theless, it is clear that the Kiratarjun¯ya’s political theory is derived ¯ ¯ ı ´ from classical texts such as the KAS. The remaining speeches in the first two sargas present a similar mixture of ideas from the world of the older epics and the classical kavya. First, an angry Draupad¯ criticizes Yudhisthira for aban¯ ı .. doning the active, aggressive norm of the warrior-king and taking up the ideals of a renouncer. With her fairly direct argument in favor of just violence as the definitive norm for ksatriyas, Draupad¯ ı . represents a view strongly articulated in the older epic. The debate between Bh¯ma and Yudhisthira, on the other hand, moves decidı .. edly in the artha´ astra’s world of complicated political strategy or s¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

classical statecraft (naya), and as I will show in the next chapter, is a poetic interpretation of aspects of a king’s policy as described in ´ the KAS. The epic debate over conflicting social and ethical norms, political theory, formal rhetoric—how do form and language in the persuasive orations alchemize all these into kavya? I have demon¯ strated some of these processes in this chapter with a detailed analysis of Draupad¯’s speech to Yudhisthira.17 This is followed in ı .. chapter 5 by a brief, selective study of statecraft and poetic strategies of response in the argument between Bh¯ma and Yudhisthira. ı .. In discussing Draupad¯’s speech I have begun with an abstraction, ı the frame-structure of the argument, reflecting the central themes of the speech. I have then considered the themes and argument in relation to the speech’s expressive design, the organization of lexical, semantic, and figurative elements over groups of verses. I have gone into some detail in the latter aspects, in order to highlight the speech’s kavya qualities. I have also used Draupad¯’s speech as the ¯ ı vehicle for a comparison between Bharavi’s rhetorical style and that ¯ of the Mahabharata. ¯ ¯

Rhetoric and Emotion in Draupad¯’s Speech ı Draupad¯’s speech is a stylized study in the emotional aspect of epic ı rhetoric. The Pandava exile is the direct result of an unfair dice game; ¯.. the Kaurava Duhsasana had dragged Draupad¯ by the hair in the ı . ´¯ assembly hall (sabha), as her husbands looked on, helpless. Now, as ¯ they live a life of hardship in the forest, rancor smolders in Draupad¯’s heart. News of the enemy’s prosperity intensifies her anger, ı and she gives a speech designed to “arouse the king’s (Yudhisthira’s) .. anger, to stir him to action” (manyuvyavasayad¯pin¯h girah I.27). ¯ ı ı. . The good king has too long honored his word given to a treacherous enemy. He must now manifest manyu, the righteous indignation with which a good warrior is expected to respond when provoked, ´ and that moves him to act against the enemy. The KAS lists amarsa . (anger, resentment) among the qualities of an effective king. In the rasa poetic, anger is one of the transitory emotions that help evoke the heroic mood. Draupad¯’s inflammatory words themselves depict ı anger; they also initiate the fuller manifestation of this and other transitory emotional bases of the v¯ra rasa in the poem.18 ı The speech derives its persuasive power from a combination of factors. First, Draupad¯’s arguments appeal to a range of powerful ı

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emotions. In stinging words, the queen blames Yudhisthira for bring.. ing about their exile; she invokes the active ideal of the warrior’s life; she asks the king to have compassion for his brothers, who are suffering in exile. By arousing guilt and shame, a sense of duty, fraternal affection, and pride in the king, she hopes ultimately to awaken the the desired response, anger, and the will to act. Secondly, the force of Draupad¯’s rhetoric does not rely exclusively on the content of her ı arguments, but arises equally from expressive and organizational strategies that have rhetorical power of their own. In the Mahabharata’s Kairata Draupad¯ initiates an exchange ¯ ¯ ¯ ı with Yudhisthira stretching over six chapters. The greater por.. tion of her speeches is taken up by a free-flowing exposition of ideas on the relative merits of anger and forbearance, human effort and fate (purusakara, daiva) in relation to the warrior’s way of . ¯ life. In the Kiratarjun¯ya 19 kavya verses (I.27–46) carry the con¯ ¯ ı ¯ tent of Draupad¯’s 170 verses in the epic episode. In fact, the ı kavya speech is closely based on just a portion of a single speech ¯ ¯ ı in the epic sequence.19 Bharavi charges Draupad¯’s entire oration with concentrated emotion. He also highlights the most dramatic portion of the Mahabharata passage, a long sequence in which ¯ ¯ she laments the degradation of the Pandavas in vivid, intensely ¯.. ¯ ¯ emotional language.20 In the mahakavya the queen’s speech is a tightly constructed passage with a tripartite structure and a circular design.21 The queen opens the argument with the topics of Yudhisthira ’s (former) glory and the importance of action for a war.. rior; she ends it by invoking the same topics in reverse order and with a more positive tone; at the center of the speech are two versesequences describing the pitiable condition of Yudhisthira and his .. brothers. The result is an enclosing pattern.22 Both of Draupad¯’s speeches in the poem have this circular strucı ture, and the other speeches in the sequence end, likewise, with a restatement of the opening theme.23 To end with the theme with which one began is to bring a sense of closure to an argument. In the five-part syllogism in classical Indian Logic the final statement (nigamana) confirms the hypothesis (pratijña) by restating it. The ¯ nigamana of the syllogism is by no means a simple repetition of the hypothesis. Its technical purpose is to demonstrate the soundness of the probans.24 But in the discourse of everyday speech, to repeat a topic or an idea, to restate it in even a slightly altered way, is to clinch the argument—that is, to establish its validity—in emotional and experiential terms, for, “. . . when an utterance is repeated, its second occurrence, by confirming our experience of the first, will


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

to that extent appear valid.”25 The symmetrical thematic design of Draupad¯’s speech suggests the rhetorical and closural effects of ı reiteration in nonpoetic speech.

Two Figures of Speech Each of the three segments of Draupad¯’s speech is richly varied ı in rhetorical strategy, and each has its own structural dynamic. The rhetoric of the first segment of the speech is achieved primarily by means of two canonical figures of speech (alamkara): simile . ¯ (upama) and substantiation (arthantaranyasa).26 Both figures are ¯ ¯ ¯ commonplaces of Sanskrit court poetry. Simile is the very armature of the kavya stanza, and substantiation is a great favorite with the ¯ mahakavis. It is the specific configuration of the two figures, their ¯ interaction with each other and with their microcontext, the argument of the first segment, that points to their particular rhetorical function in this poetic passage. It is also worth noting that the substantiations are concentrated in the first and last portions of the speech. Substantiation is a figure in which—as its name ‘arthantara¯ nyasa,’ “making another statement (to corroborate the first state¯ ment),” indicates—the truth of a general statement is corroborated by adducing another, more specific, statement in support of it, or vice versa, as shown by the first two instances of the figure in this speech: Those who do not “use craft against the crafty” will be defeated; crooks will penetrate and destroy such defenseless men.27 Men respect the king who shows anger at the right time. “Whether he is friendly or hostile, / people have no respect / for one who lacks indignation.” (33) The rhetorical value of the figure lies in the facility it affords to apply a general truth to the case at hand through corroboration.28 With the two substantiations in this context Draupad¯ accomplishes two goals at once, contrasting Yudhisthira’s ı .. behavior with that of an ideal king, at the same time establishing the universal validity of her view. The general statement gives her argument the kind of authenticity that could not have been achieved by a mere personal attack on the king. The four similes capping four successive stanzas have a very different impact, charging this part of the speech with color and drama. The king has thrown sovereignty away with his own hands, “like a rutting elephant tearing off his garland with his trunk” (the word hasta indicates both hand and trunk) (29); treacherous enemies will

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destroy naive kings like “sharp arrows that pierce and kill the warrior without armor” (30). The king has let enemies snatch away his sovereignty, which is like a “ lovely highborn wife” (31); and anger ought to inflame Yudhisthira as fire sets dry sam¯ wood ablaze (32). ´ ı .. The importance of simile in kavya stems from an ideal inherent ¯ in the kavya conception of poetry itself, namely that “. . . the poetic ¯ passage must refer to a greater range of ideas and things than its immediate words literally convey.”29 The simile is just such a broadening of the expression: A second thing, by nature irrelevant, is brought into the context, whereby the first, the relevant, or subject term is illuminated in a peculiarly characteristic way. The simplest form of non-literalness is just this doubling of the subject.30 It does not come as a surprise to find that simile is the basis of the definition and classification of a substantial class of alamkaras in . ¯ Indian poetics: “Of the approximately one hundred figures enumerated, perhaps fifty are reducible to a basic simile or are describable in terms appropriate to the simile.”31 The poeticians analyse comparison into four component aspects: the upameya, the subject of the comparison, the “thing to be compared”; the upamana, the standard or “agent” of comparison, “the ¯ object introduced to concentrate attention on the essentials of aspect or behavior”; the sadharanadharma, “ ‘shared property’: the quality ¯ ¯ . so singled out”; and the dyotaka or “ ‘clarifying element’: the comparative adverb ‘like’ (iva), or a similar indicator.”32 The poeticians use the permutation-combinations of relationship among these components, and their formal expression, to differentiate between the canonical simile (upama) and the other figures that involve the pro¯ cess of comparison in a significant manner. I will have more to say about the internal structure of kavya comparisons in the context of ¯ the court epic’s descriptions.33 The Indian philosophers recognize the importance of comparison as a category of thought, a way of knowing. “ ‘Comparison’ (upamana) ¯ is allowed by nyaya [Logic] as one of the four criteria of apprehen¯ sion, along with perception, inference, and verbal authority.”34 In the philosophy of Hermeneutics “. . . perception ceases to be inchoate as soon as the mind becomes aware of similarities and differences in its content; knowledge, definite perception, is awareness so deter¯ mined in similitude.”35 The “example” (udaharana) is one of the five . members of the syllogism in Indian Logic (Nyaya); and analogy or ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

illustration (drstanta) is an instrument of argument in philosophical . .. ¯ exegesis and debate. The upama of kavya poetics is closely related to ¯ ¯ all of these conceptions of similitude as a category of thought, and yet distinctive in its characteristics and function as an aspect of poetic language. The differences and similarities between the use of comparison in the poetic passage and nonpoetic texts will be crucial to our understanding of the debate between Yudhisthira and Bh¯ma. ı .. In the case of the four similes in the opening segment of Draupad¯’s speech, we need to note above all that they are examples of ı the canonical figure upama, and that it is the specific rhetorical ¯ purpose of the segment, involving a carefully contextualized application of simile’s generic function—of illumination through its being “the reasoned use of irrelevancy”36 —that gives them their particular resonances. Each simile presents an image of violence—positive or negative—that graphically exposes the king’s pitiable weakness; collectively, the images make the argument compelling. Let us examine two of the similes from the perspective of Draupad¯’s argument. In verse 31 a series of slesa, a canonical figure in ı ´ . which a word yields more than one meaning, enlarges the field of the comparison.37 What other king, proud of his birth and assured of loyal friends, would let enemies steal the glory of his royal house that is like a lovely highborn wife in love with his virtues? Here Draupad¯ plays on the traditional conceit of sovereignty or ı royal glory, sr¯/laksm¯, the goddess fortune, as the king’s consort. ´ ı . ı First, there is punning play on the word “kulajam,” born from the ¯ kula: the king inherits royal fortune from his royal house (kula); a good consort is highborn, a woman born in a good family (kula). “Para” is both “the other man, the stranger” and “the enemy.” Similarly with gunanuraktam (loving the <good> qualities): sr¯ loves ¯ ´ ı .¯ the king’s expertise as a statesman, his technical skill in the six measures (guna) of foreign policy or statecraft (sadgunya), while the . .¯ . . queen loves his personal virtues (guna).38 With the phrase “apa. harayet” “lets or causes <others> to steal, take away” Draupad¯ ¯ ı repeats her accusation of the first verse, namely that Yudhisthira .. is himself responsible for the loss of his sovereignty. But in this verse the emphasis is slightly different, and the accusation even

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stronger. The causative form of the verb implies that Yudhisthira .. stood passively by, watching others “snatch away” his power (or even prompted them to do so).39 We may read here a thinly veiled allusion to the central event of the drama in the assembly hall, the root cause of Draupad¯’s anger. “Apaharayet” awakens the shameful memory ı ¯ of the time when she, the Pandavas’ highborn consort—daughter of ¯.. King Drupada and daughter-in-law of Pandu—was insulted by Duh¯.. . sasana in the assembly hall, as her defeated husbands looked on ´¯ helplessly. Indeed, she directly mentions the event in her farewell speech to Arjuna.40 I.32 King, as you walk on a path scorned by self-respecting men how is it that anger does not inflame you as a kindled fire blazes up and sets fire to the dry sam¯ tree? ´ ı The simile of the sam¯ tree works in a different way. Unlike the ´ ı previous three instances of simile, it is a case where the violence imaged in the simile has positive as well as negative connotations. In fact, the blazing fire is the figurative representation of a ksatriya. king’s productive anger (manyu), the primary virtue of his way of life, a desired quality, unlike the senseless violence of the rutting elephant’s tearing off of his garland, or the shameful violence that the king has allowed to be perpetrated on his royal fortune and on his own self (the latter, in the form of the deceitful acts of the enemy that will pierce and kill him like sharp arrows). As followers of dhvani poetics would have noted, however, with the negative question at the end—“How is it that anger does not inflame you . . .?”—we are back to ¯ the negative portrait of the king.41 Nuances abound. Mallinatha does not fail to note the significance of the sam¯ tree in this comparison: it ´ ı is invoked because “its nature is to burn quickly.”42 In Indian belief, fire resides in the sam¯ tree and need only be kindled to be activated; ´ ı so is anger inherent in Yudhisthira and ought to be awakened by the .. behavior of his enemies. In these four similes we see the creative tension in kavya ¯ sequences between the tendency towards striking variety in the individual verses and that towards homologies among the verses within a sequence. Undercutting the autonomous structure of the verses and their imagery is a rhythm of conceptual parallelism, and it is a


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

persuasive rhythm. And yet, the functional parallelism of the similes is offset by the sheer diversity and color of the images, and the sophisticated variation in their formal expression. To sum up, the interaction of the rhetorical frame with a limited range of figures of speech culled from the domain of kavya and set up ¯ to resonate with each other, gives a peculiar aesthetic coherence to these five verses. Their formal aspects illumine various relationships of meaning among them. The segment has a design and a rhythm of its own. This brings us to the next part of the speech, in which rhythm and design become even more explicitly foregrounded. The Lament as Genre: From the Mahabharata to Bharavi ¯ ¯ ¯ In the central section of her speech (III.34–40) the queen depicts the dramatic contrast between the Pandavas’ royal luxury in the past ¯.. and their life of hardship in the forest, which is totally unworthy of their inherent greatness. In the first three verses she describes the suffering of Yudhisthira’s brothers Bh¯ma, Arjuna, and the twins ı .. (Nakula and Sahadeva); then she focuses on Yudhisthira’s own .. pathetic condition. This portion of the speech stands out because of its schematic structure. In each of the seven stanzas Draupad¯ ı contrasts past splendor with present hardship. Bh¯ma, who once ı anointed himself with the finest fragrant sandal-paste, as is the custom of men who live a life of ease, is now covered with dust; Arjuna, who once brought Yudhisthira the wealth of conquest, now fetches .. him the bark cloth that he must wear in his life as a hermit in the forest (a double contrast, since this image reflects on the king’s own condition); king Yudhisthira used to sleep on a luxurious bed and was .. awakened by auspicious songs, but now he lies on forest ground overgrown with rough grass and awakes to the “unholy howls of jackals.” In rhetorical terms the repeated contrast works in much the same way as the figures of speech in the previous segment. Successive images of dramatic contrast set up a repetitive rhythm that both expresses and appeals to the emotions.43 Everything in this set of verses, from the framework of contrast down to the items in the catalog of suffering, has its antecedent in the Mahabharata passage. As ¯ ¯ I pointed out earlier, in this segment more than any other, Bharavi ¯ appears to have kept very close to his epic model. It remains to ask why he chose to do so and to observe the ways in which he maintains the essential distinction between kavya and primary epic. ¯ In imitating the rhythm and detail of Draupad¯’s epic speech ı Bharavi is evoking the lament (vilapa), a subgenre of epic poetry. ¯ ¯

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The great battle passages in the two old epics offer many examples of laments, in which, like Draupad¯, the speakers mourn the death or ı downfall of beloved people, using the formulaic language and the conventional imagery of the contrast between past splendor and present degradation. Arjuna and Dhrtarastra in the Mahabharata, and the ¯ .. ¯ ¯ . monkey king Valin’s wife Tara in the Ramayana mourn their slain ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . relatives in very similar terms.44 The lament became one of the “set pieces” that the kavya poets took over from the epic—Aja’s lament ¯ for Indumat¯ and Rati’s for the slain Kama are among the most celı ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ebrated passages in Kalidasa’s mahakavyas.45 In the Kiratarjun¯ya ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ the discourse of the lament moves Draupad¯’s argument from the ı realm of public issues and general truths to the world of personal experience. Here Bharavi exploits the ancient emotional associations ¯ of lament imagery to invest Draupad¯’s words with their particular ı emotional aura. The passage gains in power from its deliberate allusions to epic style. Comparing some of the Kiratarjun¯ya stanzas with ¯ ¯ ı their Mahabharata models will give us a good sense of the process ¯ ¯ whereby Bharavi creates a stylistic balance between epic and kavya ¯ ¯ in this segment. Let us consider two stanzas on Yudhisthira in the court epic .. passage: I.38. You who once slept on a luxurious bed and woke up to the auspicious songs and panegyrics of bards, now lie on ground overgrown with ku´ a grass s and awake to the unholy howls of jackals. 40. Your feet always rested on a jewelled footstool where they were gilded by the pollen from the wreaths on the heads of kings. Those feet now tread on clumps of ku´ a grass cropped by deer. s It is easy enough to identify counterparts for these verses in the Mahabharata passage: ¯ ¯ O king, when I see this bed (´ ayanam), s and think of the one you had before, I grieve for you who are unused to hardship and accustomed to comfort.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic And grief chokes me when I think of that jewel-encrusted ivory throne on which you sat in court, and see this ku´ a-grass cushion s on which you now sit.46

Bharavi has made eclectic use of the originals, rearranging ¯ items, putting together ideas from different verses into a single stanza, altering details, refining images. In stanza 38, for instance, his chief interest seems to have been to paint a more vivid picture of the king’s sleeping arrangements than the Mahabharata poet. Not ¯ ¯ only is the royal bed contrasted with “ground overgrown with ku´ a s grass” (“adabhradarbham .... sthal¯m”), there is the additional disso¯ ı nance between the auspicious bardic songs that awakened the king in the past and the “unholy howls of jackals” (a´ ivaih sivarutaih) that s . ´ ¯ . wake him now. The reference to ku´ a grass in contrast to the royal s bed is a typically kavya touch, since it involves a novel bit of play on ¯ the sounds in darbha, the word he uses for ku´ a grass in this verse: s darbha, in combination with the erudite word adabhra (profuse), yields the compound “adabhradarbham.” The similar sound-play in ¯ “a´ ivaih sivarutaih” (“the unholy howl of jackals”—´ iva is a female s s ¯ . ´ ¯ . jackal, siva means “auspicious”), however, is formulaic—the phrase ´ occurs in at least one other lament in the Mahabharata, the image ¯ ¯ of howling jackals usually signifying death, the battlefield, the cremation ground, the desolate forest.47 More typical of the subtlety of kavya’s style are the refinements ¯ in verse 40. Substituting a jewelled footstool for the Mahabharata’s ¯ ¯ more straightforward ivory throne allows Bharavi to accomplish a ¯ tour de force. First, he can allude to a motif in classical political strategy and symbolism, the king-emperor’s circle of subordinate kings (the mandala), and then he can improve on the older epic .. by means of a kavya conceit. The feet that rested on the jewelled ¯ footstool were colored (rañj-) by pollen (rajas, “dust”) from the floral chaplets on the crowned heads of kings; they now tread on “clumps of barhis (ku´ a) grass cropped by deer”—the last item, as opposed to the s simpler “ku´ a-grass-seat” (ku´ abrs¯) of the Mahabharata. Both the s s . ı ¯ ¯ grass and the deer suggest the peaceful hermitage, the forest setting of Yudhisthira’s exile; the contrast is intensified by the implication .. that the grass growing around the hermitage is short and prickly. Of course, in the Mahabharata as well as the court epic ku´ a grass ¯ ¯ s invokes—in contrast to kings and warriors—brahmans, hermits, and other holy men, who use it in their daily life and in sacred rituals.

Prelude to Action


In fact, Mallinatha reads the word “dvija” in the compound mrga¯ . dvija as meaning “deer and hermits” (dvija, twiceborn man), instead of taking it in the commoner sense in which it occurs in the older epics: “the teeth of deer (or animals)” (teeth, like brahmans, are ‘twice-born’). We need not accept this somewhat strained interpretation, but the fact remains that, by bringing in the ku´ a grass twice s in this short sequence Bharavi insists on drawing our attention to ¯ the brahman-king contrast. He does it quite elegantly, too, using two different synonyms (darbha and barhis) for the Mahabharata’s ¯ ¯ plainer ku´ a. s It is in the area of lexical variation that we see some of the most interesting stylistic contrasts between Bharavi and the Mahabha¯ ¯ ¯ rata. The Mahabharata laments display a high proportion of the ¯ ¯ verbal repetition that is typical of the older epic, going back to its roots in an oral tradition. Repetition and recapitulation are the norm in primary epic.48 Verbs, epithets, and entire phrases recur, including formulae occupying as much as a half a sloka—“duhkhanarham ´ . ¯ sukhocitam” (“unused to hardship and accustomed to comfort”) in Draupad¯’s speech to Yudhisthira. (III.28.10). The opposite situation ı .. holds for the mahakavya passage. Here, if Draupad¯ uses two words ¯ ¯ ı for grass in her speech, in eight verses she uses seven different ones for “king.”49 This is characteristic of kavya usage, in which lexical ¯ variation is the norm, and a rich vocabulary of near-synonyms was developed to answer the needs of the stanzaic style.50 In different stanzas in the Kiratarjun¯ya passage the king is bhupati, “lord of ¯ ¯ ı ¯ the earth,” or naradhipa “lord of men,” or bhubhrt (“supporter of the ¯ ¯ . earth”), and so forth. Within the stanza, the choice of words depends on a variety of factors—nuances of meaning, metrical needs, sound patterns. For instance, the choice of words in the phrase “arañjayad raja-´ irah-srajam rajah,” appears to have been chiefly motivated ¯ s ¯ . . by the consideration of stylized kavya euphony, expressed in the ¯ form of alliteration (anuprasa), a canonical sabdalamkara (“figure ¯ ´ ¯ . ¯ of sound”): “pollen (rajas) from the wreaths (sraj-, garland, chaplet) on the heads of kings (raja-) gilded (arañjayat, colored)” (40). The ¯ example demonstrates that such alliteration is often meaningful in affective terms, unveiling integral connections between apparently discrete phenomena. The verbal root rañj-, from which the verb arañjayat is formed, means “to color, redden,” but also “to please, to stir the affections”; in the latter sense it is used by the poets to derive the word “rajan” for “king,” since a king is said to please his subjects (the ¯ root drops its nasal sound-? in several of its forms).51 Similarly, in verse 44 the word laksma for “sign,” in “laksm¯-pati-laksma,” “sym. . ı . bol (laksma) of the lord-of-royal glory” (laksm¯pati) is inspired by its . . ı


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

alliterative affinities with laksm¯, a word that denotes royal fortune. . ı Thus when we note that the simple word “dhana,” wealth, occurs more than once in Draupad¯’s kavya speech, in contexts where any ı ¯ one of its many synonyms could have served, we need to ask why. In verse 34, Draupad¯ addresses Yudhisthira by an epithet that ı .. describes his essential character: he is satyadhana, “one who treasures truth,” “a man who looks upon truth as his wealth.” The word may also be a specific allusion to Yudhisthira’s own sincere .. declaration to Bh¯ma in the Kairata episode: ı ¯ The promise I made is a true one, remember, I choose, over life and eternity, Law. neither kingdom nor sons, neither glory nor wealth, Can even come up to a fraction of Truth (satya)!52 But Draupad¯’s use of the term is loaded with irony. In this verse she ı is implying that this quality of Yudhisthira’s is directly responsible .. for his brothers’ undeserved hardship. Stubborn adherence to truth as the highest value is the trait that has led him to place the word given to a false enemy above all other considerations, including his duty toward his brothers. In the very next verse (35) Draupad¯ uses ı “dhana” in its more usual, concrete associations. In the past Yudhisthira’s brother Arjuna earned the title Dhanamjaya (“winner of .. . wealth”) by winning wealth (vasu) in expeditions of conquest (35).53 Again, in verse 38, she uses the word “mahadhana” (rich, costly, ¯ luxurious) to describe the king’s former bed.54 In other words, it is Yudhisthira’s loyalty to the abstract value of truth, which is “wealth” .. only in a metaphorical sense, that has directly caused the princes’ loss of mundane wealth (dhana), a legitimate value and attribute of royal warriors, who live by conquest (jaya). Indeed, as Dhanam. jaya, “winner of wealth by conquest,” Arjuna represents the normal warrior-prince, whereas, as satyadhana, Yudhisthira is eccentric. .. In a sequence in which the contrast between wealth and penury is the obvious theme, the repeated word, dhana—linked with other words, varied in its use, rich in meaning—draws our attention to the ironic subtheme of the contrast between Arjuna and the king. It breaks the segment’s symmetrical rhythm, infusing it with the kind of complexity that the kavya style requires. ¯ The most formulaic element in Draupad¯’s Mahabharata speech ı ¯ ¯ is the refrain with which she punctuates several of her verses: “Why are you not moved to anger?” (kasman manyur na vardhate).55 In ¯ the Buddhist Jatakas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata the ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯

Prelude to Action


refrains appear in emotional and rhetorical contexts, indicating their association with the spoken word, and with powerful emotion.56 Epic laments use refrains to intensify emotion and to give an exaggerated expressive quality to a poetic passage in which parallelism and symmetry are already standard features.57 In life, spontaneous emotional discourse tends to be disorderly,58 but epic laments are not representations of spontaneity. Their repetitive rhythms give the universal authenticity of communal experience, “... those subterranean rivers of corporate belief and sentiment which find their expression in the iterative procedures of ritual,”59 to the personal emotion being expressed in the speech. The fact that Bharavi does not include a refrain in Draupad¯’s speech—or, for that ¯ ı matter, in any other speech in the Kiratarjun¯ya—clearly illumi¯ ¯ ı nates the difference between older epic and the mahakavya. This is ¯ ¯ an outstanding example of the kavya poet’s abhorrence of linearity ¯ and absolute symmetry. It appears, on the other hand, that Bha¯ ravi fully recognized the affective power, and therefore the rhetorical effectiveness, of the overall conception of the older laments, and so kept very close to the rhythms and images of his epic model.60 Closing Arguments In the last segment Draupad¯ makes the transition to a different ı pattern, to themes and strategies reminiscent of the initial segment. In five verses the queen once again relates Yudhisthira’s situation .. to universal truths about kings, warriors, and policy towards the enemy; the figure “corroboration” appears once more: “A man of self-respect (manin) may rejoice even in defeat, / only so long as his ¯ enemies / have not broken his courage” (41); “It is detached ascetics, not kings, who conquer their enemies and reach perfection through peace.” (42); “Kings who want to conquer will find ways to break treaties made with enemies.” (45). These closing arguments are buttressed by the syntax of formal reasoning—“On the other hand, if you prefer to reject action and choose forbearance . . .” (44)61 , and lead up to direct and decisive advice on how to act: “O king, give up peace! I implore you, assume your splendid warlike spirit (dhaman) once ¯ more, / so that you may kill the enemy!” (42). A number of features here mark transition and closure. The sarga ends together with the speech. The word dhana, occurring for the last time in the speech in this segment, signals the closure of a motif begun in the previous section, the wordplay on Yudhis. thira’s values. Draupad¯ addresses the king as one of the “foremost ı .


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

among heroic men, those who value their fame above everything (ya´ odhana),” a standard epithet for warriors (verse 43). This is s Yudhisthira as he ought-to-be, in contrast with Yudhisthira as he .. .. has been, satyadhana, “he who values truth above all.” The recurrent word “dhaman,” war-like spirit or luster, highlights Draupad¯’s ¯ ı positive theme.62 The final verses also look forward to the rest of the poem, for the plot has just been set in motion. One of these forward-looking links is a striking new motif, an antithesis different from the antitheses of the previous passage. The queen crowns her criticism of Yudhisthira’s behavior by contrasting war and peace, the warrior’s .. life with that of ascetics who live in the forest. Kings by definition, she says, must be motivated by the desire for conquest—in traditional political theory the ideal king is a vijig¯su (“one who wishes to ı. conquer”).63 It is ascetics not kings, who conquer their enemies (the senses) by means of sama (calming the passions), since they seek the ´ cessation of all desire.64 If Yudhisthira wishes to pursue the policy .. of forbearance (ksama), he ought to throw away his bow, the symbol ¯ . of kings, and behave like an ascetic living in a forest hermitage— wear his hair in matted locks and make sacrificial offerings in the sacred fire in the forest (44). As we shall see, the antithetical images of the bow and the matted hair, warriors, and ascetics, are recurrent themes in the entire poem.65 In verse 45 samdhi, the Artha´ astra’s s¯ . technical term for peace (as the result of a treaty), marks a more immediate transition, from the emotional tenor of the queen’s speech to the more overt orientation to political theory in the argument between the two brothers. The last two verses in the speech conform to the theorists’ observations on the conventions for ending a sarga (sarganta) in a ¯ mahakavya. One of these is a change in meter; the other is the special ¯ ¯ attributes of the final stanza of the sarga, including the foreshadowing of things that are to follow in the poem’s action. Two new meters, each with a quicker rhythm and a greater number of syllables than the one previous to it, appear in the last two verses, breaking the steady beat of Vamsastha, the sarga’s carrying meter. Again, the .´ new rhythms signal both transition and closure. The final verse, in the energetic, lilting meter Malin¯ (fifteen ¯ ı syllables per quarter, of which the first six are short) is a tour de force, rich with many kinds of resonance. Tradition requires an auspicious element, mangala, at the beginning and end of a court epic.66 ˙ The Kiratarjun¯ya begins with the word sr¯ (good fortune), and Bha¯ ¯ ı ´ i ¯ ravi uses the word laksm¯ (indicating auspiciousness) as a sort of ı .

Prelude to Action


signature in the final stanzas of all the sargas, in effect introducing the practice of ending each sarga with a word signifying mangala.67 ˙ In the case of the first sarga, the entire stanza is a benediction, representing an utterance with auspicious magical power. Draupad¯ ı makes the wish that the king’s lost sovereignty or royal splendor (laksm¯) should return to him; here the word laksm¯, interchange. ı . ı able with the sr¯ of earlier verses in the sarga, signifies the goddess of ´ ı fortune, wealth, and sovereignty, and the radiant aura of wellbeing that these bring. A verbal repository of beneficent power, here it is a trigger word, foretelling the auspicious conclusion of the plot, as well as that of the poem as a work of art—redounding, eventually, to the royal patron whom it serves as ornament. The real punch of this particular closing stanza, however, stems from the stylistic elegance with which the auspicious goal is accomplished. In effect, Bharavi ¯ uses elaborate figuration to enlarge a very basic kavya simile into an ¯ especially dense network of images and meanings appropriate to the poem as a whole. Like the sun grown dim from the withdrawal of light by the decree of fate and time, with feeble rays, sunken in the fathomless ocean, you are weak from the loss of heroic spirit by the fateful decree of your promise, with prosperity lost, sunken deep in misfortune. May Fortune’s splendor yet come back to you when you rise to overcome your enemies, even as she returns to the sun at daybreak when he rises to dispel darkness! In this stanza Draupad¯ compares Yudhisthira to the sun. The ı .. sun is one of the most frequently used standards of comparison (upamana) for heroes and powerful seers and ascetics in the older ¯ epics, whence it is passed on to kavya.68 A common ground for such a ¯ comparison is the idea that heroic, royal, and ascetic power manifest themselves in the form of radiating luster, an idea that Bharavi will ¯ exploit in his description of Arjuna as the warrior-ascetic in later sargas. Both heroic luster (tejas) and ascetic power (tapas) are a kind of light-heat, combining brilliance with the power to burn. Tejas, d¯pti (burning brilliance), dhaman (radiance), and tapas (heat), are ı ¯ all words used for signifying the sun’s properties. The kavya poets ¯ use the double significance of such words to render the comparison


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

(usually a simile or metaphor-based figure) dense and compact, often with the help of figurative puns (´ lesa). Brilliance is only one among s . several attributes shared by the king and the sun in Bharavi’s verse. ¯ Moreover, the figure in the verse is formally a purnopama, a com¯ . ¯ plete simile, in which all the constituents of the comparison—the sun, the king, the qualities they have in common, the comparative adverb iva (like)—have been overtly stated.69 The verse gains its density from the number of ways in which words are doubled to imply the many points of similarity; verbs common to both object and standard of comparison, straightforward slesas, compounds joining things compared. Both the king and the ´ . sun have fallen as a result of the decree of vidhi, “fate, natural law” and samaya (for the sun, the appointed time for setting, for the king, the agreement he made with the Kauravas). Both are weakened (jihma, the sun has grown dim) by the loss / withdrawal (samhara) . ¯ of d¯pti (radiance, heroic power). The figurative compound “apatı ¯ payodhi,” “misfortune-ocean” allows the adjective “plunged” (magna) to apply equally to the sun and the king. Similarly, the sun/king will cast off (ud-as-) the “darkness-enemy” (riputimira). And both the king and the sun are destined to rise: the verbal root ud-i in ud¯ı yamanam has both a metaphorical and a physical meaning. Both ¯ will also regain their lost laksm¯, splendor, brilliance, prosperity, . ı wealth, sovereignty. The connotations of majesty, dominion, and the unfailing nature of the sunrise invest the benediction, the wish for the king’s rise, with prophetic power. The rise of the dharmic king itself becomes a symbolic manifestation of order in the cosmos.70 A final point. As with any device of foreshadowing, the full impact of the sun-image in this verse cannot be experienced until the reader encounters its echoes and refractions later on in the poem. Like the imagery of violence pitted against peaceful ways, the imagery of the brilliant sun is a major motif that is developed throughout the poem, up to the last sarga, and deserves a fuller discussion, which will be more appropriate in the context of a later chapter. At this point, we must turn our attention to the relation between rhetoric and politics in the Kiratarjun¯ya, as it is manifested ¯ ¯ ı in the dialogue between Bh¯ma and Yudhisthira. ı ..

Chapter 5

The Debate between the Brothers: Logic, Rhetoric, and Politics in the Court Epic

Therefore he sent me along with you to teach you all of these matters, to make you a speaker of words and one who is accomplished in action. Homer, Iliad1

Modes of Argumentation The opening lines of Bh¯ ima’s speech in the second canto of the Kira¯ tarjun¯ are an effective introduction to classical ideals of political ¯ iya rhetoric. Draupad¯ speech moves Bh¯ i’s ima to address the king. Bh¯ ima is so impressed with the queen’s argument that he opens his speech by praising it in no less than four stanzas (II. 2–5): Considering the matter from all angles out of affection for us the proud lady has delivered a difficult oration that would astonish Brhaspati himself, . the Lord of Speech. Though statecraft is difficult to fathom, like a lake, once a stairway has been built, one may enter in. But a person who can set forth the true and proper path for others to follow is hard to find. In this trenchant speech that promises happy results although it is distasteful



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic to those who have lost their strength, I see, as in a potent drug, much merit in small compass. Since you are a lover of good qualities, this beneficial speech should please you. Is it not true that wise men on the side of virtue judge a speech by its merits and not by who has spoken it?

In Bh¯ ima’s view the queen’s speech is a stunning achievement in every way. It is, in the first place, a well argued piece of political theory (naya), presented with an eloquence that would astonish Br. haspati, the Lord of Speech, himself. Secondly, like strong medicine, its stinging words are beneficial, since they are motivated by genuine concern and embody the solution for the king’s problems. Lastly, since the queen has considered the issues “from all angles,” it is admirably objective, and it behooves the king, as an equally objective listener, to judge the speech “by its merits.” By declaring Draupad¯ i’s speech a masterpiece of argument on statecraft (naya) Bh¯ ima has moved the terms of discourse directly into the realm of political strategy. As we shall see, the king’s response is cast in the same terms. Effective rhetoric, the other topic of Bh¯ ima’s praise, is equally the focus of the court epic’s oratorical passages. In the classical traditions of India, sound is sacred, and speech is a Goddess (vac, bharat¯ sarasvat¯ Great issues in Indian philos¯ ¯ i, i). ophy and theology revolve around aspects of verbal expression and theories of meaning. It is not surprising that the Sanskrit court poets, whose art is premised on the aesthetic possiblities of language, are self-consciously interested in the nature of language itself. Much has been written about Bharavi’s views on the subject, as they may be ¯ garnered from the introductory and concluding stanzas of the Kira¯ tarjun¯ ¯ iya’s speeches.2 Fascinating and important as they are for the light they can throw on Bharavi’s intellectual milieu, what interests ¯ us here is their rhetorical function within the speeches themselves. What are the criteria by which a speech may be evaluated? At the beginning of his response to Bh¯ ima Yudhisthira stresses logic .. and sound arguments, but also the appropriate means by which such arguments are expressed. The king lists a whole array of features that make a speech a good one; Bh¯ ima’s oration qualifies on all these grounds, managing to encompass qualities that might seem difficult to combine. It is free from the fault of illogic (lack of sound

The Debate between the Brothers


reasoning, viplava) that is condemned by the logicians.3 The utterances fit the ideal of the grammarians as to how words and sentences ought to convey meaning. The words are absolutely clear (sphuta-), . yet richly charged with meaning (endowed with arthagaurava, the quality for which Bharavi’s own work has been praised); each word ¯ carries its own sense (prthagarthata) without obscuring the contex¯ . tual force (samarthya).4 And, finally, the speech meets the criteria ¯ of the philosophers regarding valid and effective arguments, including the requirement that a good argument ought not to contradict scripture (agamavirodhatva): “You have argued your case forcefully, ¯ ¯ / with many supporting arguments (upapatti)— / yet your reasoning (anumana, inference) does not contradict the Texts (agama, ¯ ¯ Scripture).”5 The elements of sound argumentation as described by various speakers in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya are drawn from the sastras of ´¯ grammar, Logic (Nyaya), and reasoning (tarka), but their ulti¯ mate source and proving ground are philosophical argument and debate (vada), and Hermeneutics. After the logicians, the M¯ amsa ¯ im ¯ . ¯ philosophers above all have concerned themselves with the defining characteristics of valid statements and theses; the style and procedure of the great commentaries (bhasya) are tested against the ¯. im ¯ . criteria of the M¯ amsakas, who hold that there are six indications (linga) by which tatparya, the purport of a passage dealing with ˙ ¯ a topic, may be understood: consistency in the meaning between introduction and conclusion, repetition of the main topic, novelty of the subject matter, result intended, corroborative and eulogistic remarks as distinguished from the main theme, and “arguments in favor of the main topic” (upapatti or yukti).6 Formulated primarily in the context of interpreting the utterances of the Vedas, which are revealed texts (´ ruti), the indications allow the means ing of a speech to be “obtained objectively without any reference to the speaker or the author,” although it is admitted that subjectivity plays a part in understanding authored speech.7 Also, in vada, ¯ ideal, valid argumentation, as opposed to specious modes of argument, such as chala, jalpa, and vitanda, the speaker aims at getting ..¯ at an objective truth.8 It is in ideas such as these that we must see the roots of Bh¯ ima’s claim of objectivity for Draupad¯ speech and i’s his own. Certainly Bh¯ ima’s argument can be profitably analysed in terms of logical argumentation. However, as readers we are not merely interested in the speech’s objective content, but in its emotional undertones, suggested meanings, and unique, subjective nuances.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

For these, again, the contending voices in the poem are our guide. Take, for instance, the disparity between Bharavi’s introduction to ¯ Bh¯ ima’s speech and his characterization of Yudhisthira’s response to .. Bh¯ ima. In the first instance, the poet describes Bh¯ ima as delivering a “powerful speech, full of good supporting arguments (upapattimat).” But the transition to Yudhisthira’s speech gives an entirely different .. impression of the king’s brother: II.25 When Bh¯ ima, overcome by anger, had thus revealed his disquiet, the king began to pacify him like one calming an elephant run amuck. At the end of Yudhisthira’s speech, the poet speaks once more, .. describing the king serenely and clearly (anakulam) instructing “the ¯ agitated (akula-)” Bh¯ ¯ ima in the path of good political policy (nayavartma). Bh¯ ima’s speech is no less emotional than Draupad¯ and i’s, its logic, partisan at best. The king’s own grandiloquent praise of his brother’s “flawless intellect” that is reflected in his speech, which is “free of faulty reasoning and errors of grammar, pleasing and propitious, as in a clear, polished mirror” (II.26), is meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Authorial comment and conflicting points of view undercut the claims of each speaker in turn. Similarly, the schematic structure of traditional debate does not quite apply to the brothers’ discourses. In philosophical argument, the proponent of a thesis structures his arguments in such a way as to anticipate those of his opponent. Before expounding his own position he presents the purvapaksa, the opponent’s position ¯ . and the objections he might raise to his thesis.9 In the speech and counterspeech in the second canto Bharavi follows the method of ¯ anticipation and direct rebuttal to some extent, but prefers to indicate the mutual referentiality of the arguments in other ways. As I noted earlier, however, the use of concrete example or illustration (drstanta) and counter-example, however, is a point of commonality . .. ¯ between these two kavya speeches and the discourse of persuasion ¯ in nonpoetic contexts.10 There are, of course, significant differences between the way in which similes and metaphors function in a kavya ¯ passage, and the way in which they are used by the logicians and philosophers as an instrument of proof, as I will show when I discuss Bh¯ ima’s imagery below. In addition to statecraft and reasoning the

The Debate between the Brothers


dynamics of response are a key issue in the analysis of rhetoric and structure in this debate.

Bharavi and the Artha´ astra ¯ s¯ After praising Draupad¯ speech, Bh¯ i’s ima laments the decline of the king’s discriminating intellect and active spirit (II. 6 and 7). Then, drawing on the artha´ astra doctrine, he argues that kings must cons¯ stantly take offensive or defensive measures against rivals, and that for Yudhisthira this is the moment for offensive action (8–12). In .. the last segment the Pandava teaches the king the significance of a ¯.. warrior’s pride (abhimana) as the basis for heroic activity (paurusa, ¯ . vikrama) (13–15, 18–21), supporting his argument with a cluster of vivid images drawn from nature: the king must learn lessons from the behavior of the lion (18, 21) and the nature of fire (20). He points out the uncertainty and humiliation involved in hoping that Duryodhana will return the kingdom as promised (16–17), and ends the speech by urging the king to wage war at once (22–24). Bh¯ ima’s speech is surprisingly similar to Draupad¯ Like Draui’s. pad¯ he begins his argument by lamenting Yudhisthira’s decline. His i .. arcane tract on political strategy offers quite a contrast to the rhythmic lament placed at the center of the queen’s speech. Yet, with the long section on a warrior’s pride and heroic action (abhimana, vik¯ rama), replete with illustrations from nature, we are back in the realm of emotion. The exhortatory mode, the concern about a warrior’s pride, owe more to the idealized conception of the ksatriya hero . than to the technicalities of the artha´ astra’s foreign policy. s¯ King Yudhisthira’s response falls into two parts: a long didac.. tic tract on the dangers of anger (kopa, amarsa) and rash action . for a statesman, and, conversely, the usefulness of patience (titiksa, .¯ ksama) for those who wish to practice statecraft (naya) (30–43); and a ¯ . second portion, in which the king uses arguments from political theory to refute Bh¯ ima’s and Draupad¯ assessment of Duryodhana’s i’s position. Arguing against the views of the queen and his brother, Yudhisthira describes Duryodhana as an undisciplined man (vinaya.. pramathin, avin¯ ¯ ita-) who is destined for downfall because both allies and subjects will ultimately abandon a king who is puffed up with arrogance (mada) and egotism (mana) (44–53). The arrival of the ¯ seer Vyasa cuts the king’s argument short. But the contrast between ¯ the two points of view has been established. The brothers have


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

used the teachings of the artha´ astra to support very different images s¯ of the perfect hero and the wise king. Each of the two speeches can be seen as a poetic rendering of an ideological position regarding Kautilya’s teaching on sadgunya, the . .¯ . . ´ six measures of a king’s policy towards a rival king. The KAS itself presents a complex debate over the issues of policy, weighing and balancing several points of view before coming down on any side. Moreover, in the artha´ astra tradition, policy is always an opens¯ ended affair, depending on a whole host of factors, beginning with the assumption that for every maneuver the ambitious king, the wouldbe conqueror (vijig¯ . u) must take into account his relationships with is his entire political context, domestic as well as foreign, allies as well as enemies. The Kiratarjun¯ debate offers a selection of views from ¯ ¯ iya the tradition, put together to constitute two positions, represented by Bh¯ ima and Draupad¯ on the one hand and Yudhisthira on the i .. other. Neither of the arguments corresponds in every detail to specific positions taken by Kautilya’s text. . At the heart of the argument is the interpretation of the material ´ in the sixth and seventh books of the KAS, in which Kautilya explains . the notion of mandala, the ideal circle of kings among whom political .. relations operate, and sadgunya, the six measures of foreign policy, .¯ . . the elaboration of the permutation-combinations of such relationships from the point of view of the king-at-the-center, the would-be conqueror (jig¯ . u). Bh¯ is ima advocates acting according to the section in Book 7 in which the enemy king’s relative strength or weaknesss in the future as well as the present is described as the factor that will determine whether a king must maintain a treaty or make war. A closer look at some of Bh¯ ima’s stanzas on policy, along with Mallinatha’s introductory comments on them, will reveal the intimate ¯ relationship between the kavya passage and the sastric text. Malli¯ ´¯ natha quotes frequently from the Kamandak¯ N¯ ara, a later text ¯ ¯ iya itis ¯ on the artha´ astra. s¯ Then, in anticipation of the doubt that this indifference is due to the fact that it is the time for indifference, (the speaker) introduces a distinction by means of two stanzas in order to state precisely that it is not the time for indifference. (Mallinatha) ¯ II.8 A wise man who seeks prosperity can easily put up with the rise (udaya) of his enemies

The Debate between the Brothers if it will end badly for them, but not with their decline (pariksaya), however great, . if it will eventually lead them to success (phala).


Then, having stated the course of action (to be taken) in the case of the rise and decline of one among the two, (the speaker) now states the course (to be taken) when ruin threatens to strike (both) (simultaneously). (Mallinatha) ¯ 9 A skilful man bides his time if he judges that the enemy will soon meet with greater decline (ksayayukti), . whereas his own will be less. When the situation is the reverse, he takes preventive action (tatpratikaram). ¯ ´ The KAS’s classification of the five factors (pañcanga) of for¯˙ eign policy is Bh¯ ima’s broad frame of reference: allies, means for the accomplishment of objectives, determination of time and place, precaution against mishaps, and accomplishment of undertakings.11 Closer to the context, decline, stability, and advancement (ksaya, . sthana, and vrddhi) are defined as the three possible results of the six ¯ . ´ measures of foreign policy in KAS. VI.2.5. The kavya passage bristles ¯ with technical terms from the artha´ astra.12 The entire argument s¯ is based on, but not identical with, Kautilya’s summary of policy . ´ regarding an enemy in terms of relative decline and rise in KAS VII. 13–19 and 24–31. Yudhisthira’s spontaneous reaction to Bh¯ ima’s argument is to .. lecture to him on the virtue of patience and self-control. As we know, this is in keeping with the personal characteristics of the three brothers, Yudhisthira’s brahman-like, ascetic persona contrasts with .. ima, with the the impetuous, quick-tempered, physically active Bh¯ heroic, active, yet thoughtful Arjuna mediating between the two.13 The difference between the epic and the kavya is that here Bha¯ ¯ ravi’s Yudhisthira reverses his role. In the primary epic others try to .. persuade the hopelessly idealistic king to temper his idealism with the intricacies of Realpolitik. Here the king himself self-consciously and purposefully puts his habitual idealism in a political perspective: patience as a policy will ultimately be more effective than precipitate action motivated by anger.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic II.37 Even a strong man ruins all his means to power when he fails to resist the assault of anger’s darkness— the dark fortnight destroys the digits of the moon. II.42 A quick temper makes a man neglect the right opportunity and means of action, hurts his body and senses. You should not let it deprive you of the success gained from statecraft, as though you were a common man.

In the latter part of his response Yudhisthira applies aspects .. of Kautilya’s sadgunya doctrine in an analysis of Duryodhana’s . .¯ . . prospects. His scenario follows those sections of the seventh book ´ of the KAS, which go into the details of the varying relationships between the kings in a mandala. In contrast to the generalities of the .. beginning of the speech, here Yudhisthira is extremely specific: for .. instance, he explains in detail the situation that is likely to develop for the Vrsnis, old “natural” friends (sahajah suhrdah, a category of ¯. .. . . . ´ allies described in the KAS’s mandala theory) of the Pandavas, vis¯.. .. à-vis Duryodhana, and the resultant effect on kings occupying other positions in the mandala. The reader needs to be well acquainted .. indeed with the factional intrigues of the Mahabharata narrative as ¯ ¯ well as with the artha´ astra doctrine. s¯ In contrast to Bh¯ ima, Yudhisthira maintains that it is the char.. acter of the enemy king, not his material strength or weakness (pertaining to the ko´ a, treasury, and bala, army), that will ultis mately determine his rise or fall, as well as the behavior of his allies. Here Yudhisthira is stressing an aspect of the artha´ astra doctrine s¯ .. that Bh¯ ima simply ignores, the discipline and education (vinaya) of the king. The topic of vinaya, treated at the very beginning of ´ the KAS, shows the influence of the ascetic philosophies on political theory, for it stresses self-control and conquest of the passions and the senses as a very important prerequisite for kingship.14 In this view, before conquering political enemies a king must overcome the passions that are figuratively seen as the arisadvarga, “the group . . of six enemies” residing within a man.15 The king’s portrait of an

The Debate between the Brothers


arrogant Duryodhana losing his allies and other kings in the man. dala because of his lack of discipline clinches Bharavi’s portrayal ¯ . of Yudhisthira as an astute strategist, not just an idealistic and .. dharma-minded man. The relationship between the two—if we include Draupad¯ i’s, three—arguments is best explained with reference to the list of the excellences of the king (svamisampat) at the beginning of Book Six ¯ ´ of the KAS: Born in a high family, endowed with good fortune, intelligence and spirit, given to seeing elders, pious, truthful in speech (satyavak), not breaking his promise (avisamvadaka), ¯ . ¯ grateful, liberal, of great energy (mahotsaha), not dilatory ¯ (ad¯ irghasutra), with weak neighbouring princes, resolute, ¯ not having a mean council (of ministers), desirous of training (vinayakama),—these are the qualities (guna) of one easily ¯ . approachable. Desire to learn, listening, learning, retention, thorough understanding, reflecting, rejecting (false views) and intentness on truth,—these are the qualities of intellect. Bravery, resentment (amarsa), quickness and dexterity (da¯ . ksya),—these are the qualities of energy (utsaha).16 ¯ . This is followed by a list of personal excellences (atmasampat), ¯ which include specific skills in carrying out sadgunya, conquest of the .¯ . . passions beginning with desire (kama), and farsightedness (d¯ ¯ irghaduradar´ ita). ¯ s ¯ It is easy to see how selectively Bh¯ ima, Draupad¯ and Yudhii, sthira have drawn from this rather eclectic sketch of the perfect king. .. The impatient Bh¯ ima and the queen stress the king’s “qualities of energy”; the same energy (utsaha) that is the basis of the v¯ rasa ¯ ira in poetry. Yudhisthira’s wise king leans towards the ethical quali.. ties of intellect and personality: piety, truthfulness, “not breaking his promise,” desire for discipline (vinaya). Bh¯ ima and Draupad¯ i see the king’s patience as a disadvantage—their king would not be “dilatory” (ad¯ irghasutra, not procrastinating); against this view ¯ Yudhisthira argues that patience, discipline, and consideration are .. the preconditions for the dexterity (daksata or daksya) that is an ¯ . . ¯ aspect of energy and an essential quality for kings who wish to act effectively.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

On a more impersonal level, the debate is about the relative merits of the three kinds of power (´ akti) a monarch is supposed s ´ to possess and the means for gaining them, according to the KAS doctrine: the powers of mantra (counsel) prabhu- (command over material resources) and utsaha (energy).17 Draupad¯ and Bh¯ ¯ i’s ima’s advocacy of the priority of the power of energy (utsaha) has its coun¯ terparts in the popular literature on artha, especially in the verses on n¯ “worldly wisdom,” success, many of which can be found in the iti, animal tales of the Pañcatantra.18 Yudhisthira judges the power of counsel (mantra, defined in the .. ´ KAS as the power of knowledge) as being superior to the power of a king’s material resources (treasury, ko´ a, and army, bala), which s Bh¯ ima invokes as important sources of strength.19 As Minoru Hara has pointed out, after setting forth diverse preliminary views, Kautilya puts utsaha in the lowest position among the three kinds of ¯ . power: First, dignity (prabhu) prevails over energy (utsaha) . . . ¯ Again, mantra is superior to prabhu, . . . “The power of counsel is superior. For, the king with the eyes of intelligence and science is able to take counsel even with a small effort and to overreach enemies possessed of energy and dignity by conciliation and other means and by secret and occult practices. Thus, the king, superior in each latter one among the powers of energy, dignity and counsel, overreaches (the enemy)”.20 In this sense, Yudhisthira does emerge as being a cautious but astute .. strategist. The Language of Kavya in the Two Speeches ¯ The extent and limits of the discourse of sastra in the Kiratarjun¯ ´¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s political orations is easily illustrated with an example from Bh¯ ima’s speech. Kir. II.9 (Bh¯ ima) A skilful man bides his time if he judges (viganayya) . that the enemy (para-) will soon (acirena) meet with greater . (bhuyas¯ decline (ksayayukti), ¯ i-) . whereas his own will be less. When the situation is the reverse (vipar¯ ita-), he takes preventive action (tatpratikaram). ¯

The Debate between the Brothers acirena parasya bhuyas¯ ¯ im . Soon of the enemy greater vipar¯ am viganayya catmanah it ¯ . ¯ . . (and) the opposite considering his own ksayayuktim upeksate krt¯ . i . . decline ignores a skilful man (subject)


kurute tatpratikaram anyatha ¯ ¯ performs remedial action (when the situation is) the reverse. ´ Bh¯ ima’s sentence in the kavya verse closely resembles the KAS’s ¯ explanation of the king’s policy with respect to ksaya (decline) in . VII. 26. Perceiving “I shall decline after a longer time (ciratarena) . or to a lesser extent or in such a way that I shall make greater advancement, the enemy (parah) (will decline) in the . reverse manner (vipar¯ . ),” he should remain indifferent itam (upekseta) to his decline (ksayam).21 . . . ´ The technical terms of the KAS verse—the words cited in parenthesis—appear in the kavya stanza in slightly altered forms ¯ (the formal changes are required by the grammar of the stanza). More striking is the similarity in the syntax of the two passages. The sentence in the sastra text is markedly elliptical. In “vipar¯ ´¯ itam viganayya” [“considering (his own decline) to be the opposite ¯ . . (that is, the lesser)”], Bharavi directly echoes the ellipsis of vipar¯ ¯ itam parah, [“the enemy (will decline) in the reverse manner”], . . and he adds yet another elliptical construction in “kurute tatpratikaram anyatha,” “takes remedial action if (the situation is) the ¯ ¯ reverse (that is, the enemy’s decline is perceived as not likely to occur soon, likely to be smaller than one’s own, and occur in such a way that one has no chance for advancement).” This is the style of bhasya, the prose commentary by means of which the founda¯. tional texts, the sutra aphorisms, karika verses, and other primary ¯ ¯ ¯ statements of doctrine in the various disciplines, are explicated. In his study of kavya, Renou has noted kavya’s stylistic affini¯ ¯ ties with bhasya prose, which is only one step removed from the ¯.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

extreme ellipsis of the sutra aphorism.22 In the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya’s political speeches we observe Bharavi deliberately imitating charac¯ teristic aspects of the vocabulary, syntax, and style of the scientific texts. Yet there are substantial differences between the kavya stanza ¯ ´ and the KAS sentence. In the technical portion of Bh¯ ima’s speech Bharavi exaggerates an inherent tendency in kavya as a whole, in ¯ ¯ which the poetic effect of the stanza depends to a great extent on the striking, suggestive juxtaposition of verbal elements that need to be unravelled as much in terms of logic and syntax as in terms of the “pure image.”23 In the verse in question he pushes to the limits of feasibility the artistic dislocation of word order, a kavya ¯ technique that is a favorite with him in other contexts as well.24 The distinctive feature of the arrangement of elements in the court epic stanza is their exquisite balance within the parameters of the four quarters of the stanza, rendering the utterance’s intelligibility of quite a different order and feeling than that of the sastric text. The ´¯ combination of ellipsis and poetic disarrangement of words renders Bh¯ ima’s starkly technical stanza artistically interesting, matching the complexity of its content, even in the absence of other kavya ¯ touches, including the all-important figures of speech. It is also in such stanzas and contexts that Bharavi favors figures of speech ¯ involving a combination of logic and arrangement of words within the stanza, such as the “karanamala,” “chain of causes,” and ekaval¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ ¯ i, “a single row.”25 The lexicon of Yudhisthira’s speech offers a different sort of con.. trast between kavya and sastra. It is typical of the authors of the ¯ ´¯ smrtis and the Mahabharata to reiterate in verse after verse the ¯ ¯ . word signifying the subject of a didactic passage. Repetition and formal variation of the word is also a common technique, but the stanza is the boundary of such intentionally artistic strategies.26 Bharavi’s usage is quite different. The major topic of Yudhisthira’s ¯ .. twenty-eight verses in the Kiratarjun¯ is statecraft, naya. The king ¯ ¯ iya uses the term in the sense of “statecraft” only in three stanzas.27 But a closer look at the speech reveals “naya” appearing in a subtler version of the kind of word-repetition we noted in Draupad¯ i’s speech. By repeatedly invoking vinaya (discipline, modesty) as a crucial precondition of naya (good policy), Yudhisthira draws attention .. to the etymological relationship between the two words; both are derived from the same root, n¯ whose basic meaning is “to lead, i, to guide.” Duryodhana will not be able to keep up his pose of

The Debate between the Brothers


humility (vinaya, vi-n¯ 45). Time will reveal him his true colors, as i, a vinayapramathin or avin¯ ¯ itasampad (a conceited fellow, 52). Since he is a crook, that is, since his self-discipline and civility are false (tavata vinayena), the Pandavas’ friends are merely tolerating him ¯ ¯ ¯.. with an equally false courtesy (vinayad iva). Such is the fate of the ¯ conceited, undisciplined king. N¯ appears repeatedly in the passage—as a verb-form, by itself, i or with prefixes that introduce interesting variations in meaning. Good warriors “direct (n¯ their manly efforts (paurusam) towards i) . virtuous means” (35). But “A man who aspires to advance must first use his intelligence to do away with (apa-n¯ anger’s darkness,” and i) Fortune quickly abandons “men who have studied scripture, yet fail to discipline (vi-n¯ the passions”(41). The king cautions his brother i) against letting a quick temper deprive him (apa-n¯ of the success i) gained from good policy (42). In tracing the course of this extended play on the meanings of n¯ we are drawn into an exploration of the i ethical bases of statecraft. The variations on the verbal root are reminiscent of the play on words in Draupad¯ speech; they are clearly a i’s part of the aesthetic of the passage and are artistically more complex than anything we might encounter in a non-kavya text. ¯

The Rhetoric of Response The last point I want to address in relation to the two speeches is the dynamic of response that emerges from their juxtaposition. Draupad¯ speech shows how crucial figurative language is for the i’s rhetoric of the speeches in Bharavi’s poem. In the speeches of the king ¯ and his brother we can observe language and imagery functioning as instruments of responsive rhetoric. I have already spoken of the illustrative imagery of Bh¯ ima’s argument. Yudhisthira’s speech, too, is as .. rich in imagery as it is in words of wisdom. In the process of building his case in favor of forbearance, Yudhisthira also responds to several .. of Bh¯ ima’s arguments for action. Instead of systematically refuting these points, he picks up words and images from Bh¯ ima’s speech and turns their meaning around to fit his own point of view. He thus rebuts some of Bh¯ ima’s strongest arguments, in a manner that is neither linear, nor systematically structured. The king picks up a word here, a figure there, from his brother’s speech, weaving them into different configurations of meaning in his own verses. One of Yudhisthira’s verses may refer to two of Bh¯ ima’s, or the other way around. .. Let us look at a few examples of this process of reversal as response.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

An Exchange of Words PROSPERITY AND THE PROPER TIME FOR ACTION Bh¯ ima II.10 If kings remain passive and disregard (anu-pal-) ¯ their enemies as they amass resources (prabhu´ akti-), s royal fortune will soon leave them, as though it were afraid of the censure of the people. Yudhisthira II.30 and 31 .. One should not act in haste— lack of discrimination is the prime source of misfortune. Prosperity loves the virtues, and will of its own accord choose the man who thinks before he acts. He who saves (anupalayan) the seeds of fortune ¯ and waters them with the rain of discrimination will certainly harvest the fruit of action, like the world attaining autumn’s fruit. The argument turns on the verb anu-pal-: “to wait upon, guard, ¯ obey, watch over.” Bh¯ ima understands “watching” to mean “neglecting, watching passively, being inactive.” Yudhisthira uses the word .. in its more usual meaning, of guarding, protecting, waiting for the fruit.

Bh¯ ima II.13 When a high-minded and self-respecting man (abhimana¯ van) ¯ aspires to attain a coveted and lofty goal, he must depend on his own effort (atmapaurusam) ¯ . as his only help against failure. II.19. To a man who values self-respect (abhimanadhana-) ¯ above all, to one who would give up transient life

The Debate between the Brothers


for lasting fame, wealth (laksm¯ fickle as a flash of lightning, . i), is surely no more than an incidental gain (anusangikam ¯ . . phalam)! Yudhisthira II.48 .. When arrogant men (abhimana´ alin-) ¯ s¯ have not achieved their goals wealth will stiffen the pride (mada) that had been restrained only by false civility. In the next verse (II.49) he goes on to speak of the fate of the arrogant king (madamanasamuddhatam nrpam). For Bh¯ ¯ ima, who . uses the word in the sense of a warrior’s self-respect, abhimana is a ¯ virtue. Wealth (laksm¯ does not affect a man who values abhimana ¯ . i) above all else. For Yudhisthira, on the other hand, abhimana or ¯ .. mana is mere pride, a destructive quality associated with arrogance ¯ (mada), a conceit that is simply fed by wealth (vibhutayah). The ¯ . varying connotations of the word make the reversal possible.


In II. 13, quoted above, Bh¯ ima claims that paurusa (one’s own effort, . manliness) is a man’s only help against failure in achieving his goals. He continues with: II.14 Misfortune overcomes the man who fails to act; one beset by misfortune has no future (ayati); ¯ he who has no hope for the future (nirayati) ¯ is fated to be insignificant; one not respected (agar¯ an) can never be the abode iy ¯ of royal Fortune. Yudhisthira II.35 .. Men who want to conquer (jig¯ . avah) is . first conquer the impulse to anger; then, focusing on the most worthy (gar¯ iyas¯ goal, i-) the one that promises good future results (adusitayatim ¯. ¯ .


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic phalanispattim), . they use virtuous means in their manly efforts (paurusa-). .

According to Bh¯ ima, manly effort, valor (paurusa, vikrama) is . the most important consideration in action. Valor assures the king of a good future (ayati). Yudhisthira reverses the causal sequence: ¯ .. it is only after considering whether the result of action (phala) will produce good future consequences (adusitayati) that a king (jig¯ . u) ¯. ¯ is may act. Without this assurance and without virtuous means, his manliness (paurusa) is in vain. . THE RESULT OF ACTION: PHALAM Bh¯ ima II.21 What (phala, fruit) does the king of beasts expect to gain when he springs at thundering clouds? It is, after all, the nature of the great man not to tolerate the rise of his enemies. An important point brought up in the speeches is a man’s attitude toward phalam, fruit, the result of action. For Bh¯ ima, some kinds of results—for instance, wealth—are merely incidental; fame, conquest, and being true to one’s own nature (svabhava) are more ¯ important than a considered vision of the results of action. The lion will spring even at the thunderclouds, assuming from their roar that they might be his proverbial enemies, elephants. He does this not for any concrete benefit, but because it is his nature not to tolerate the rise of enemies. Obviously, Yudhisthira’s view is quite the opposite. .. Action must be capable of bearing the right kind of fruit (phala´ alin¯ s¯ i 31); it must be directed toward a goal with good future consequences (ayati, 35).28 ¯ An Exchange of Images To Bh¯ ima, the king in adversity is like the waxing moon; both command the respect of men because they have the potential to rise and grow mighty: II.11 Although a king may have suffered decline (ksaya-) . his subjects will bow to him as to the new moon when he rises for further growth, bearing his natural, auspicious lustre (dhama) unharmed. ¯

The Debate between the Brothers


Yudhisthira, on the other hand, uses the moon as a symbol of .. decay. In II.37 he compares a man’s failing power to the waning moon, claiming that anger’s darkness will ruin a king’s means of power, just as the “dark fortnight (ksayapaksa) destroys the digits . . of the moon.” Both men play on the word of tamas (or its synonyms: timira, and so on), whose basic sense is darkness, but which has rich meanings connected with the originally Samkhya doctrine of ¯ . the three gunas, the primordial qualities of matter. Tamas is the . lowest of the three gunas, whose interaction is essential to the . world-process. It connotes, among other things, darkness, ignorance, inertia, heaviness, delusion. Tamas, “the darkness of ignorance and inertia resulting from misjudgment” (pramadajam tamah), says ¯ . . Bh¯ ima, is the root cause of Yudhisthira’s lack of proper anger. Yudhi.. sthira, of course, reverses the relationship between delusion and .. anger: tamas, “delusion,” is the result of anger and dissension. He speaks of times “when the darkness of disagreement / obscures and complicates the course of action” (33). “A man who aspires to advance / must first do away with the darkness of anger” (36), and “he must resist the assault / of anger’s darkness” (37). In Bh¯ ima’s speech, as in Draupad¯ the destructive power of i’s, fire is a virtue. Fire is like a warrior’s anger; like the waxing moon it commands the respect of men: “Men walk on a heap of ashes, not on a blazing fire” (this seems to be a reference to fire-walking rituals, in which devotees walk on glowing coals covered by ashes).29 The resentment that ought to motivate Yudhisthira to make war on his .. enemies is also a blazing fire (II.24). Not only does Yudhisthira reject .. anger as a purely negative and destructive force, he uses the image of fire to speak of the elements that will destroy the king himself: the smallest quarrel among a king’s officers (here Duryodhana’s) is enough to ruin, as a fire kindled by rubbing twigs together can burn down an entire mountain (II.51). The lion is Bh¯ ima’s outstanding standard of comparison for powerful warriors and kings (II.18, 21). The fact that it is brought in as a model from the world of nature in two verses framed as “corroborations” gives it greater persuasive force than a mere simile would have. Yudhisthira must act like the lion, who is the king .. of beasts because of his fiercely independent, warlike character. The lion will attack even the thunderclouds because they roar like his enemies, the elephants, and will subsist only on rutting elephants (elephants with mada, ichor from their temples, running over their faces) that he has killed himself. These models suffer an ironic fate in Yudhisthira’s argument. The king simply ignores ..


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

the analogy of the lion, and he aims his entire speech at pacifying his brother, as one would calm an elephant run amuck (dviradam . dustam iva).30 .. The case of fire is relevant here as well. Against fire, Bh¯ ima’s symbol of burning power, Yudhisthira holds up the sun as a symbol of .. power that can be regulated. The sun’s light-heat can be constructive (36, 38, the sun dispels darkness, shines over the earth) or destructive (46, the strong king splits enemy forces as the sun splits open lotus petals), depending on the use to which it is put. Hence a king who is like the sun can display gentleness and strictness at the appropriate times (38), whereas he who is like fire can only burn, destroy. The images of controllable power with which the king counters Bh¯ ima’s images of brute force are in keeping with the calm reasoning of the king’s speech, its quiet appeal to forbearance. While avoiding direct and sequential reference to Bh¯ ima’s arguments, Yudhisthira’s .. speech continually touches upon and reverses them. The significant words and images in Bh¯ ima’s arguments undergo a radical change in Yudhisthira’s scheme of things. By deflating his brother’s most force.. ful images even as he turns his words around, Yudhisthira responds .. to his speech simultaneously on many levels of discourse. The proposition and rejection of specific empirical examples is an ancient aspect of philosophical argument. The brothers’ debating technique resonates with the practice of the commentators, who support their arguments with drstantas that are usually drawn from the world of . .. ¯ nature and experience, well-known examples or illustrations of great antiquity, usually handed down in a tradition of teachers within a school.31 Discursive and Presentational Forms ¯ The speeches in the Kiratarjuniya are remarkable for their stylis¯ ¯ tic variety. The rest of the orations are as different from each other as Draupad¯ speech is from those of Bh¯ i’s ima and Yudhisthira. Indra .. and Arjuna’s debate in the eleventh sarga offers complexly patterned verses and dramatic rhetoric. In Canto XIV, Arjuna’s response to the hunter makes much greater use of the language of reference used in formal debate (“as for your argument . . .”) than any of the other speeches in the poem.32 The formal language of the court epic speeches ultimately puts them closer to oratory and textual explication and at a further remove from the spoken language, which is more faithfully evoked in the vigorous, colorful, colloquial language and style of the older epic’s speeches.

The Debate between the Brothers


The philosopher Susanne Langer’s theory of discursive and presentational forms of symbolic expression is helpful in explaining the generic structural features of the speeches and debates in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, characteristics that they share with other aspects of stanzaic kavya. Rather than enter into a long description of Langer’s ¯ distinction between the two forms of expression, I quote excerpts from Cedric Whitman’s lucid summary of it:

The discursive mode [of expression] is the logical, syntactical symbolism of language, and it relates primarily to the process of logical, rational thinking. Its communications require time, and they depend for intelligibility upon a selective series of articulate sounds and a systematic syntax. The presentational mode is that of the visual arts, whose syntax, if so it may be called, lacks the systematic aspect of language, requires no time to be envisioned whole, and relates primarily to the intuitive side of the mind. It is the latter which is essentially the mode of art, but two major arts offer odd combinations of both modes. Music, though consisting basically of tones, which are presentational, requires time to be heard entire, and employs in the laws of harmony and counterpoint an extended syntax analogous to that of language. And poetry uses, as its only medium, the discursive mode of language. Yet when we speak of the “direct appeal” of an image or symbol, we mean that it appeals as an image of painting or sculpture appeals to the mind, that is, presentationally and without the intermediate office of any extended, or, rational, syntax.33

We must note that the words “rational” and “intuitive,” used in relation to discursive and the presentational forms, do not imply an opposition between “rational” and “irrational” but one between a mode of expression that functions on and appeals to the process of reasoning and another that operates without recourse to this process. Langer’s terms apply rather well to the modalities in the kavya ¯ speeches. The discursive form of expression, as represented by the argument, the logical framework, in the speeches is obvious. So is the essential function of images, which are mainly presentational in nature. But the overall design of the speech, its formal structure,


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

mixes the two modes. It is, in a way, as much a discursive mode as the logical framework; being a sequential form, it has an extended syntax. But it also has a presentational aspect in the rhythms and patterns I have described above; these are like the tones of music, and have a direct appeal to the mind—not to the process of reasoning. The total effect of the poetic passage, in a more essential and exaggerated manner than a real-life oration, depends on a combination of the direct appeal of formal design, and the sensuous textures of language and imagery. And it is through the constant interplay of modes of expression and the structures that evolve from them that the speeches acquire variety, multiformity, richness. Bharavi introduces a touch of realism in the way in which he ¯ concludes the king’s speech. Yudhisthira’s argument is long, ram.. bling, open-ended. We are uncertain as to which of the arguments carries the most weight. But then, we are not required to decide. The king is cut short by the arrival of the sage Vyasa, the putative author ¯ of the Mahabharata and important participant in the epic’s action. ¯ ¯ Vyasa endorses the need for action, but also the inadvisability of tak¯ ing military action. He suggests a middle course: Arjuna will please the gods with penance and win weapons which will ultimately help in war. The third canto ends with a series of vivid scenes. The sage initiates Arjuna into the worship of the god Indra with powerful sacred lore (vidya): ¯ Then, as a ray issuing from the glowing disc of the sun at dawn enters the blossoming water-lily, the sacred lore, bright as a spark of fire, issued from the sage’s mouth and entered that of Arjuna.

(III. 25)

The hero is enjoined to perform ascetic rites on a Himalayan peak, but also to arm himself in order to defend his practice against all intruders (II.28). The family priest arms the hero with bow, sword, armor, and two great quivers full of arrows. Draupad¯ delivers a fiery i farewell speech, exhorting the hero with yet another image of the sun: This yoke of responsibility has fallen upon your shoulders

The Debate between the Brothers because you are a capable warrior, just as the splendor of the day is lodged in the sun on account of his brilliance . . .


(III. 50)

Arjuna sets off on his mission, accompanied by a yaksa, a . Himalayan spirit, who will guide him to his sacred destination.

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Chapter 6

Landscapes with Women: Bharavi’s Descriptive Art ¯

In the shyama vines I see your limbs, your look ¯ in the eye of a startled doe, the loveliness of your face in the moon, in the peacock’s plumage your hair, the playful lift of your brows in the light ripples of rivers, but O sadly, nowhere, my passionate girl, is the whole of your likeness in any one of these. Kalidasa1 ¯ ¯

From Catalogue to Counterpoint: Organization in the Descriptive Sequence When Arjuna sets off toward his Himalayan destination, the Kira¯ tarjun¯ya moves into the descriptive mode for a long stretch. Seven ¯ ı successive cantos are devoted almost entirely to kavya’s descriptive ¯ topics—the hero’s northward journey through an autumn landscape, the sacred mountain Himalaya, Arjuna’s penance in his forest retreat on Indrak¯la peak, the scenes with Indra’s courtesans, ı the apsaras nymphs. In this chapter I will focus on one of these descriptive sequences, the play of the apsaras in beautiful landscape settings, or what I will call the poem’s erotic sequence, since it builds up to, and culminates in the erotic revels of the apsaras and their companions, the celestial musicians called gandharvas. Flying down to Mount Indrak¯la from Indra’s world through the regions of the air, ı the apsaras and their lovers enjoy the mountain landscape on the banks of the River Ganges. They gather flowers in the woodlands, and swim and play in the river.2 After enjoying the beautiful sunset and nightfall, they drink wine and make love. I have already spoken



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

of the multiple uses to which Bharavi puts the apsaras sequence in ¯ terms of the canons of the mahakavya plot and the rasa aesthetic.3 ¯ ¯ The scenes with the nymphs are equally interesting for what they can tell us about the court epic’s descriptive themes and about the descriptive strategies that are unique to it. It is no coincidence that the landscape is as much the subject of the erotic sequence as the human actors in the scene. Women, nature, and the erotic are inextricably intertwined in Sanskrit court poetry. These themes, and the sensuous universe they evoke, have their rightful place in kavya as a form of art, mirroring their impor¯ tance in the courtly culture as stimulants of auspiciousness and aesthetic pleasure. Already in the Ramayana there are long kavya¯ ¯ . ¯ like descriptions of the seasons.4 Such lyric descriptions are often presented in the voice of a character, usually a lover, spouse, or friend, giving them subjectivity, the immediacy of physical presence and the present tense, and the affective intimacy of private conversation.5 From the earliest times onward verses on women, landscapes, and love are the epitome of lyricism in Prakrit and Tamil as well as Sanskrit.6 The higly developed language of visual and sensory images that is characteristic of such verses reveals much about the nature of kavya itself. The court epic’s erotic descriptions are an ¯ essential aspect of the genre’s lyrical qualities and its roots in the lyric stanza. The erotic sequence begins with a journey, more specifically, an aerial journey, a topic that Kalidasa handles elegantly in both his ¯ ¯ epics, as well as in his lyric masterpiece, the Meghaduta, whose cen¯ tral theme is the journey of the Yaksa’s messenger, the rain cloud, . over the spectacular landscapes of central and northern India. The cloud’s flight is itself reminiscent of another famous one, that of the monkey Hanuman in the Ramayana.7 With the themes of journey ¯ ¯ ¯ . and flight come altered perspective, panorama, fantasy, and, in the older epics and Kalidasa’s poems, precise allusions to real places.8 By ¯ ¯ contrast, the landscape of the journey of Bharavi’s nymphs is decidely ¯ mythic, and the emphasis of the passage is fantasy. The scenes of flower-gathering and water-play in the Himalayan forest belong to the genre of the nature idyll, but this is “nature” in the courtly idiom of kavya. Nature appears in these scenes chiefly as a participant in ¯ the sporting acts (kr¯da, ‘play’) of the celestial lovers, who are variı. ¯ ants of courtly lovers playing in the palace’s pleasure-gardens and lakes.9 Finally, all the topics in the erotic sequence have in common the quality of being “crowd scenes” of a sort favored in epic and court epic descriptions from the earliest times, as in Valm¯ki’s description ¯ ı

Landscapes with Women


of the women of Ravana’s harem, Kalidasa’s description of the suitors ¯ . ¯ ¯ at Indumat¯’s choosing of a bridegroom, or A´ vaghosa and Kalidasa’s ı s ¯ ¯ . descriptions of the women of the royal palace and city rushing to the windows to watch the hero ride by.10 They involve multitudes and a diversity of gestures and acts that calls to mind the central problem of stanzaic composition: What are the organizational principles, the structural strategies, of the mahakavya’s monumental descriptions? ¯ ¯ The language of the older epic poets imitates the continuity and progression of action in the discourse of narrative. In the Mahabha¯ ¯ rata and Ramayana successive slokas are strewn with conjunctions ¯ ¯ . ´ and verbal continuatives (“then,” tatah; “having done ‘x’. . .”), mark. ing the narrative’s “what next?”. These concatenating devices are a survival from the compositional and performance techniques of oral narrative poetry, where repetition and continuation helped the poet to pause and improvise, to gather up the narrative, and to reinforce it for his audience.11 Among the court epic poets A´ vaghosa stands s . out as a transitional poet in his consistent use of epic concatenation, combining it with the very un-epic-like style of the kavya stanza. ¯ As E. H. Johnston, the editor and translator of A´ vaghosa’s epics, s . puts it, this trait gives “to some of his passages the semblance of a formally stated proposition of Euclid.”12 Kalidasa, Bharavi, and the ¯ ¯ ¯ later poets hardly use it, except as a marker of the transition from one passage to the next.13 Continuity is the operative principle of the older epic poetry, even when narrative flow is not at issue. Many descriptions in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are little more than catalogues, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . lists of the names of heros, the kinds of trees in a forest, the breeds of horses, or the variety of weapons in an army.14 Even when his subject matter is a unitary object, the epic poet tends to build the description by means of a simple paratactic construction, a noun followed by a series of adjectives or other modifiers. The highly inflected nature of Sanskrit requires the modifiers to be cast in the same case as the noun, and, since words can be joined by compounding, the adjectives can occupy half a sloka or more. The result is a series of ´ words that look and sound alike, and a sequence of verses which is, in effect, one long sentence. Like concatenation, epic parataxis and the catalogue form reflect the epics’ oral traditional past, in which grammatical parallelism made for ease in composition and performance, and catered for listeners who “. . . took delight in hearing just how long their bard could ‘keep it up’ in a given construction.”15 Once again, A´ vaghosa appears to have adopted a narratives . descriptive style midway between that of the older epics and the


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

classical court epic. Johnston avers that this was because of the Buddhist mahakavi’s important extra-aesthetic objective, namely, ¯ to spread the message of the life of the Buddha, a purpose for which effective narration was essential: In order then to obtain the unity vital to his purpose, he adopted the procedure of articulating his poems as clearly as each verse. The proportion of space allotted to each episode was calculated with care, and verses were grouped together by various devices, as it were into paragraphs, each with a single subject.16 As though this were not enough, A´ vaghosa’s “paragraphs” abound s . in verbal and grammatical parallelism, and repetition of every variety, including the older epic device of repeating words in identical positions in the verse’s metrical scheme.17 Johnston comments on the poet’s “insistence on symmetry, his exposure of the framework and his non-functional decoration,” which “. . . are characteristic of early work, not of a time when the greatest art is so to conceal the art that the reader is unconscious of its presence pervading the whole poem.”18 Kalidasa, consummate artist and poet of the golden mean in ¯ ¯ the kavya style, is in fact no less interested than A´ vaghosa in ¯ s . effective narration and well-proportioned description. But in developing his descriptive sequences, he remains true to the kavya ideals ¯ of asymmetry and variation, avoiding all conspicuous and unvaried repetition, and only occasionally marking transitions among his verse—“paragraphs” with variations on a motif—a recurrent image or theme, or a repeated figure speech such as alliteration.19 The majority of Kalidasa’s descriptions, however, are shaped in terms ¯ ¯ of lexical and figurative patterns that emerge in the course of the entire passage and are subtler and far more complex than devices of linear demarcation. In the Kiratarjun¯ya Bharavi favors the last ¯ ¯ ı ¯ strategy almost to the exclusion of all others, setting the standard for descriptive style in the mahakavya after him. ¯ ¯ To gain some measure of understanding of Bharavi’s complex ¯ descriptive technique we must begin with the simplest level of the text, that of the content of the description. The journey of the nymphs, the first descriptive passage in the Kiratarjun¯ya’s erotic ¯ ¯ ı sequence, abundantly illustrates the variety of the passage’s content. The setting of the description is constantly changing: first the upper regions of the sky, the location of Indra’s paradise, the air and

Landscapes with Women


the region of the clouds, then the mountain peaks, and the banks of the Ganges on the Himalaya. The multitude of apsaras constitutes no less than an army (sena) of Indra, sent to face Arjuna in combat. ¯ The splendid horse-drawn aerial cars (vimana) in which the nymphs ¯ ride with their lovers correspond to the chariot corps (ratha) of the ancient Indian army; like other royal armies, this one has majestic elephants (gaja).20 Stripped down to its essential subject matter “the Journey of the apsaras” seems to be just a stylized version of the catalogues and lists that are so common in the older epics. But the conspicuous formal parallelism of the old epic lists creates the effect of stasis and order, whereas the constantly changing subjects and forms of Bharavi’s passage convey the opposite feeling. In the kavya descrip¯ ¯ tion, the catalogue form is combined with an essentially discursive structure, the linear framework inherent in the nature of the descriptive topics themselves. When, for instance, the court poet wants to give a detailed physical description of a person, he can turn to the limb-by-limb, or so-called foot-to-head (padadike´ anta) progres¯ ¯ s¯ sion, a canonical kavya frame for this topic.21 Time and space are ¯ the fundamental linear bases for kavya description. The birth and ¯ upbringing of a prince, sunset scenes, descriptions of the seasons, ¯ are framed by the progression of time.22 In the seventh canto of Bharavi’s poem love’s army journeys in a royal procession such as the ones that must have been seen in the Chalukya and Pallava capitals and that are so evocatively depicted in the Ajanta cave paintings from the Vakataka-Gupta age. Like other kavya journeys, proces¯ ¯. ¯ sions, and royal conquests, the flight of the apsaras develops around the linear frame of movement through space.23 The catalogue is composed of discrete units juxtaposed with one another. Time and space operate as frames of linear progression, of connected and sequential movement. Both structures are no more than what I have called them: frames, starting points in the process of achieving the dynamic, contrapuntal design that is characteristic of kavya passages; and in this they are analogous to the logical ¯ framework of the political speeches. In the Kiratarjun¯ya’s lyrical ¯ ¯ ı descriptions, the linear frame is continually in tension with the gradually evolving discursive structures of language and imagery unique to each passage. In the “Journey of the apsaras” Bharavi dislocates ¯ the linear frame, replacing it with a series of patterns created by images in intricate relationship across the boundaries of stanzas. In the descriptions of the revels of the nymphs in the Himalayan woods and the River Ganges, he uses the framework of sequential


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

and spatial progression to offset figurative motifs that develop in resistance to the dictates of sequentiality. To explore the movement and design of these descriptions is to get some sense of the musicality of kavya descriptive technique and to understand the extended range ¯ and functions that the figurative language of the erotic acquires in the spacious canvas of a mahakavya description. In what follows I ¯ ¯ will discuss imagery and movement in the “Journey of the apsaras” in some detail, then elucidate particular strategies in the descriptions of the women gathering flowers and playing in the river with their lovers.

Fashioning a Raga: The Journey of the Apsaras ¯ Untwisting the strands The linear frame of the apsaras’ journey traces the descent from Indra’s heaven through the sky and atmosphere to the banks of the Ganges on a Himalayan peak. The description of the flight takes up twenty-five verses out of the forty that constitute the seventh canto. The remaining verses depict the encampment of the apsaras, with a section on the activities of the army’s elephants. The dislocation of continuous, sequential movement in the description begins at the level of the subject matter itself. Successive verses treat different elements of the scene. Chariots, women, elephants, horses, the army, and the river come to prominence as if by turn, but not at regular intervals, nor in any particular order. Reading the verses in sequence is an experience not unlike Richard Lannoy’s characterization of the experience of seeing the paintings on the walls of the Ajanta caves: Because of this tonal equality (of the wall paintings) one is constantly discovering new figures which were unseen through the deliberately unaccented or ‘suppressed’ tonality of detail, and the tempo of this slow discovery is very precisely calculated . . . . When viewed by flickering light, as was intended, only fragmentary glimpses of the colors and lines of the objects depicted can be obtained. A body undulates towards the eye from an indistinguishable blur; moments (perhaps minutes) later, a second body wells out of the blur and is seen to be intertwined with the first.24 . . . The scanning vision imposes its own non-lineal, atemporal, or non-sequential scheme on narrative technique. . . . It

Landscapes with Women


could be said that the Ajanta artist is concerned with the ¯ order of sensuousness, as distinct from the order of reason, to use Schiller’s terms.25 As we read the verses in Bharavi’s description, images appear ¯ and vanish. As we encounter each entity for a second and a third time, though—and this happens over intervals of anywhere from two or three to ten verses—they begin to acquire the contours of familiar objects. The same words and core-images reappear in association with the same subjects: these I will call “theme words” and “themes.”26 As the description progresses, diverse themes begin to be woven together in increasingly complex patterns. Untwisting the strands of the composition, grouping together verses on the same subject in a deliberate disturbance of their freely rotating order in the passage, will enable us to look at individual themes and at the process by which they are linked with each other.

CHARIOTS ROLLING: VII. 1, 4, 11, 12, 22 VII.1 Then the roll of drums, echoing and spreading in the vast spaces of the gods’ flying cars, proclaimed the departure of the nymphs with Indra’s men to guard them, riding on sumptuous chariots and elephants. 4 Suspended in the sky by the magic of the gods, the chariots were drawn far by swift horses. With the fellies of their wheels not turning, they rolled on like flying cars. 11 Churned up by elephants and horses plunging in, the sky-river’s waves struck the long line of flying cars moving in her tracks, and so for the first time ever rolled back from a bank.26a


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic 12 Once the chariots had left the path of the planets where their axles had knocked against the bases of the gods’ mansions the fellies in the wheels turned freely, churning the water in every cloud they met. 22 Peacocks, craning their necks, eagerly listened, hearing thunder in the rumble of the chariots, magnified by deep echoes on highlands from which roaring cataracts came crashing down.

Sound and motion are the themes of the verses on carriages. The first and last verses (1 and 22) bring in the chariots only obliquely. But when we get to the image of the peacocks mistaking for thunder the rumble of chariots, magnified by echoing (sammurcchan ¯ pratininadaih) on the highlands, we are reminded of the roll of . drums “echoing (-bhinnaih) and spreading (sammurcchan) in the ¯ . vast spaces of the god’s flying cars” in the first verse. In the three other verses Bharavi uses the idea of rotating motion ¯ to play on the fantasy of normal chariots (rathas) behaving like the magical flying cars (vimana) of the gods. Unlike other chariot wheels, ¯ those of celestial vimanas do not actually rotate (vrt-). Depending on ¯ . the exact nature of the skyscape through which they are traveling, the apsaras’ chariots behave now like rathas, (12) now like vima¯ nas (verse 4). The precise outlines of the image, ringing changes on the behavior of the wheels—now rotating, now not—is made possible by the physical geography of the celestial regions. At the first level of the descent from Indra’s heaven in the highest regions (the realm of the planets) the rotation (vivartana) of the wheels is obstructed by the bases of the god’s mansions. The next level is the track of the sacred River Ganges, one of whose three streams flows in the sky.27 Verse 11 is really about the Ganges water, churned up by the horses and elephants, rolling against the solid bank formed by the row of chariots—for the first time, because the Ganges in its celestial course has no banks at all. But the image of water being ploughed and churned is resumed in the next chariot verse, and this time it is the

Landscapes with Women


chariot wheels that churn the water in the rain clouds. Rain clouds connect to thunder, to the thundering waterfalls, and to the peacocks who eagerly listen for thunderclouds, since they like to dance in the rain.28 The linear progression of the chariots’ descent is offset by the echoing imagery which, like the carriage wheels, completes a revolution, linking the drumroll and the apsaras’ rathas to the atmosphere and sounds of the mountain landscape. Other verses in the passage will show that the recurrent imagery of clouds and moving water is open-ended, linking the chariot verses with verses on other subjects. The network of recurrent theme-words and expressions signals and reinforces the thematic links: sammurcchan (“spread¯ ing, extending, magnifying”); words signifying the rolling motion of the wheels and the water, all derived from the verb vrt, “to rotate”; . and, lastly, a number of words derived from the root bhid- (to split, break, open), a verb connected with the major themes of the entire description. NYMPHS FLYING: VII. 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 15, 16 VII.2 Leaving Indra’s shining city where crowds of immortals had gathered, eager to see them, the women found their parasols quite useless as they flew above the sun. 3 Winds blowing against their faces tossed them about, lotus eyes glazed over with weariness, the sun’s hot rays gave the women the glow of wine-flushed cheeks. 5 Making small hairs thrill on saffron-painted breasts, shining like pearls on faces where the tilaka design had faded, the sweat of exertion became an ornament for the women. Even disorder enhances a beauty’s loveliness.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic 7 Amazed that the women’s bodies, more delicate than a garland of flowers, could resist the sun’s heat, the gandharvas understood the excellence of the variety with which the creator endows his creations. 10 The wind shook lotuses humming with drunken bees, tossed up the pollen rolled up in tight balls. Cool from touching the sky-river’s waves, it brought relief to the women wearied by the heat. 14 Every time the wind blew back the nymphs’ fine skirts, it was as though the flashing rays from the great gems on their belts became a swirling skirt for their thighs. 15 Making the tilaka paint run, yet pleasantly relieving fatigue, the clouds with their cool spray earned the beautiful women’s esteem: a small fault does not negate a great favor. 16 When the rainbow’s arc broke on a cloudbank white as wavy sand, the light from gems in the nymphs’ jewels supplied its missing curve.

The recurrent motif in the first few verses is the effect of the sun’s heat on the nymphs’ lovely, delicate bodies. Semantically related words, derived from the root tap (to burn), highlight the theme: atapa ¯ is “the heat of the sun” (7);29 atapatra in v. 2 is a parasol ( literally ¯

Landscapes with Women


“protector from the heat of the sun”) ; and samtapam, (v. 10) is liter. ¯ ally “weariness born from heat” (10). Other evocative words are also repeated, words suggesting beauty and erotic passion: sr¯, “beauty” ´ ı (3 and 8); raga (color, passion) in kapolaraga, “the flush on the ¯ ¯ cheeks” (3); and stanangaraga, “the designs painted on the breasts ¯˙ ¯ (with saffron and musk)” (5).30 The women’s delicacy is stressed in the recurrent floral imagery related to the verb dhu-, to shake: In ¯ verse 3 the wind tosses about (dhutanam) and tires the flower-like ¯ ¯ ¯ women with eyes elongated like the lotus petal; in verse 10 the cool river breeze shakes real lotuses (dhunvan), tosses up their pollen (uddhuta-), and brings comfort to the wilting women. All this is ¯ interwoven with the contrastive imagery of disorder and beauty, natural charms and ornament, the sun’s burning heat and the women’s cool strength. Because of the distance between the verses in which they occur, the repeated words are not monotonous like closely and obviously placed repetitions, functioning instead with the subtlety of associative devices. The three verses from 14 to 16 form a small group of their own, repeating old themes, introducing new ones, always connecting the verses on the apsaras to verses on other topics. The skirts ballooning in the wind (vivrtti, “a circling,” also from vrt,) and the circle of gem. . rays remind one of the rolling chariot wheels; the image of the gently showering clouds looks forward to the verses on elephants (including verbal echoes).31 The rainbow’s broken arc resonates with the cluster of words and images connoting disjunction, a recurrent visual theme in the passage. Simile, Relationship, and the Two Universes of kavya ¯ ELEPHANTS, CLOUDS, MOUNTAINS 8, 13, 20, 24, 30 I will turn next to upama (simile), the key to imagery in kavya ¯ ¯ description. I have already spoken of the essential function of simile as an enlarging device, an instrument for expanding the range of discourse within the boundary of the stanza.32 The first group of verses on elephants illustrates a crucial aspect of the mature mahakavi’s ¯ descriptive art: the use of simile to extend the range of the image beyond the individual verse. VII.8 Painted with designs of red lead, bound with golden chains,


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic temples flowing with rut, the celestial elephants looked just like clouds glittering with lightning, shot through with the sun’s tawny rays, showering rain.33 13 Pierced by the tusks, the clouds began to shower rain, reviving the elephants who were wilting from the heat. Is it not true that those who are set on helping others will be kind even to those who hurt them? 20 Flanked by clouds as they flew down from the sky towards Indra’s mountain peak the great elephants looked like the mountains lying still on the ocean-floor with motionless wings. 24 Enraged by the scent of rut wafted by the wind from the track of wild elephants nearby, the elephants of the gods refused to obey the driver’s command— only when enticed and distracted by their mates were they persuaded to move. 30 When the expert trainers had removed banners and saddlecloths and plates of armor from the celestial elephants, and coaxed them to lie down on the ground to rest, they shone like mountains lying

Landscapes with Women scattered about, their forests swept away by hurricane winds at the dissolution of the universe.


In these verses we immediately recognize themes and words that connect with the other groups: clouds split open by tusks and shot through with the sun’s rays (the word bhinna, from bhid-, “to break,” signifies both); clouds showering rain. These clouds revive the elephants as they did the celestial beauties, this time illustrating a different universal truth, the forgiving nature of the great. But it is the similes that draw our attention to the central themes in this group. Three verses each present an elaborate comparison: between elephants and clouds (8), and between elephants and mountains (20 and 30). Each simile is perfectly intelligible and effective by itself, but becomes immensely more suggestive when apprehended in the context of the other verses in in the group. In verse 8 the rutting elephants, exuding (ksarantah, “flowing with”) rut from their . . orifices, are compared to showering (ksarantah) clouds. In 13 it is . . the clouds that are showering, and they relieve the tired elephants. Clouds figure once again in 20, in which the elephants, flying down with clouds on either side, look like winged mountains. In the last verse in the group (30) the elephants lying on the ground look like fallen mountains—neither wings nor clouds figure in the imagery. Verse 21 alone does not fit into this pattern of alternating images. Presenting a naturalistic depiction of an enraged elephant, it signals a new theme, properly the theme of the sequence of nine verses on elephants further on in this canto. There is nothing unusual about Bharavi’s choice of standards ¯ of comparison for elephants in this passage. Blue-gray rain clouds and massive mountains are the conventional, most frequently used standards of comparison (upamana) for elephants in kavya poetry. ¯ ¯ What is worth noting in these verses on elephants, however, is the way in which the standards of comparison correlate with the shifting landscape context. At different points in the description the standard of comparison that the poet has chosen for the subject of the verse appears to be identical with whatever landscape element happens to form the physical setting of the verse. The elephants are compared to clouds when they are flying amidst actual clouds, but to winged mountains when they are in the process of landing on the mountain peak, with clouds on either side of them (20). Finally, when the elephants are actually on firm ground on the mountain, the image


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

concentrates on mountains. In the similes themselves, what appears to be sheer fantasy is actually a poetic play on a common fund of mythology about elephants. Cosmic elephants (diggaja) support the eight directions. Not only are clouds and cosmic elephants related by birth, mountains once actually had wings. When they flew about destroying things on earth and in the celestial regions, Indra cut off their wings with his thunderbolt. In verse 20 the poet likens the elephants flanked by clouds to the few winged mountains of the legend that are said to have escaped Indra’s anger by hiding in the ocean. In Sanskrit poetic analysis, one of the marks that distinguishes the upameya, the object being described in a verse involving comparison, from the standard of comparison (upamana) that is applied ¯ to it, is that the former is the “thing in context” (prastuta, prakara¯ nika), whereas the latter is the “thing not relevant to the (actual) . context” (aprastuta).34 That is, the two terms belong to different universes of meaning: the subject of description, the contextually relevant “thing,” belongs primarily to what I would call the “objective” (in the sense of concreteness and relevance) universe of the comparison, while the upamana belongs, not to the objective universe, but to ¯ a wholly “figurative” one. But Bharavi ’s fantasy landscape provides ¯ a situation in which such distinctions become blurred. Elephants are the upameya, the subjects of the comparison in the verses in this group, and elephants are being compared to clouds and mountains. But these elephants are flying elephants, moving through an “objective landscape” of clouds and mountains. The result is a complex interaction between the objective and figurative universes. Since the landscape elements, the actual context of the description, are also the conventional standards of comparison, they belong to the objective as well as the figurative universe of the passage. One could look at it another way. In effect, the landscape elements appear now figuratively and now objectively conceived in the progression of the elephants’ journey. The changing imagery of the verses— from clouds to mountains to winged mountains—seems to herald and reflect the changes in the landscape, the objective context, itself. Bharavi’s use of the conventional images of kavya in such descrip¯ ¯ tions turns out to be anything but random. The verses on elephants are at once remarkably coherent and remarkably dynamic in their imagery. The dynamic of simile and context working across verseboundaries occurs over and over again in this passage, as in the following verses on the army.

Landscapes with Women THE ARMY ADVANCING: VII.9, 17 AND 18, 25 VII.9 Drawing far away from the hot sun’s unapproachable disc the army reached the River of the Gods with her lovely waves like a single braid of hair bound by the nymphs of the directions. 17 Discussing strategies for the success of their mission, Indra’s army traversed the path of the birds and reached Indrak¯la’s ı cloud-covered peak. 18 Covered with the lotuses that were the women’s faces, flecked with the foam of their bright white parasols unfurled by the wind, deeply rumbling with the beat of drums, the army shone like the sky-river as it landed on the mountain-peak. 25 Enveloped in thick dust kicked up on the roads by the chariot wheels, dust red like river waters after the first rains, the army spread over the dense forests like the Ganges flowing with turbid waters at summer’s end.


A river is one of the oldest comparisons for an advancing army in Indian literature.35 But the Ganges is no ordinary river. As the sky-river that also flows on earth in the Himalayas, it can function


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

simultaneously as the objective landscape setting and the standard of comparison for the apsaras’ army in the celestial as well as the terrestrial portion of its journey. Having passed through the river’s celestial course, the army finally spreads over the very same forests that the river’s floods cover in the rainy season. The sky, the mountain, and the river are at once the scene’s landscape and its changing figurative ground. F. W. Thomas notes that in stanza 18 “. . . it is the heavenly Ganges stream, as it falls on the Himalayan summit, which is compared to the alighting company.”36 Throughout the decription the imagery seems to follow the movement of the objective participants in the scene: the river, the army, the women floating in the breeze, the flying elephants, horses, and chariots. Indeed the army and the river are metaphors for the major themes of flow and unbroken movement that dominate the vocabulary and imagery of the entire description.37 Transformation and exchange: Elephants at play The sequence of verses on elephants (VII.31–39), stands out as the only part of the the seventh canto in which the poet concentrates on a single subject in successive verses.38 The sequence is striking in other respects as well. The motif of flowing rut, already a creative theme in elephant verses, is now linked with various aspects of the behavior of rutting elephants—mating gestures, hostility towards elephants from other herds, play in the river. Some verses are formulated in canonical figures, but the basis of the description is a selective naturalism, in which the poet draws on Indian elephantlore, painting vignettes that show an intimate understanding of the animals and their behavior. There are verses with no figures at all (32 and 34), although such verses are classified by the poeticians as employing svabhavokti, naturalistic depiction, in its own right ¯ distinguished from nonpoetic speech. In other verses an observation from life becomes the foundation for a striking trope. So for instance, the bees swarming on the elephant’s bed wet with rut (v. 31) create the momentary illusion of the chain that might very well have slipped from the elephant’s back and legs as he rose quickly. While the phenomenon here is only an apparent substitution, a series of real substitutions and exchanges takes place in other verses.39 Elephant ichor perfumes the river water, lotuses perfume the elephants’ cheeks. River water, red with lotus pollen, rubs off the ruddy fluid of rut (madajala) on the cheeks, then itself flows down the cheeks, taking the place of the rut, which it resembles. If the elephants are

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now fully transformed by their immersion in the water, the water is in turn completely transformed by their play, in color, smell, and motion, so much so that it now looks like a cloth dyed red with Madras (madder)—the analogy is perfect, down to the detail of the waves looking like the wrinkles in the dyed cloth spread out to dry. There is an unmistakeable echo with the earlier image of the dust-covered army flowing like the river’s turbid, reddish floods. Other echoes of confusion and transformation are fairly obvious, especially in the images of the scented wind (fragrant with the smell of rut as well as of flowers), the whirling dust, and the elephants’ thunder-like trumpeting that throws the cakora birds (Chukar partridges) and peacocks into confusion. Having looked at individual themes in the “Journey of the apsaras” we may step back and look at the totality of patterning in the passage. The analogy with a patterned cloth and tapestry seems appropriate to the sequence’s effect, but only up to a point. It seems more fruitful to explore the close relationship between technique and effect in the kavya passage and classical Indian raga music. In its ¯ ¯ discursive movement and free-form, asymmetrical design the kavya ¯ description is more like music than like an object with a symmetrical pattern. It is possible to think of the strategies of design in the Journey of the apsaras more generally, in terms of such concepts in Western classical music as polyphony, fugue, or counterpoint. But in detail and feeling the mahakavya technique shares a cultural ¯ ¯ specificity with the strategies of performing a classical Indian raga ¯ scale-type or mode. Like the the raga performance, the court epic ¯ description is aimed at evoking a rasa experience, and its complexity is more like the complexity of melodic progressions that characterizes the raga than the diversity and contrast of voice and tone that ¯ are the basis of Western techniques such as polyphony.40 The kavya description and the raga-in-performance have sev¯ ¯ eral points of similarity. “A raga is not a tune, nor is it a ‘modal’ scale, but rather a continuum with scale and tune as its extremes. Many ragas can share the same intervallic structure, that is, the same scale-type (mela, that); at the same time, any number of ¯. ¯ compositions or improvisations can be in the same raga.”41 A raga exists, not as an entity, not even as a set of notes or patterns, but as a potential melodic configuration in improvised performance, whose ever-changing, but fundamentally recognizable Gestalt is inherent in the defining notes that are permitted in it. The kavya passage ¯ is, of course, far less elusive; once it has been composed, it has a clearly-defined concrete existence. The similarities betwen raga ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

and mahakavya lie rather in the compositional processes of the ¯ ¯ two forms. The basic conventional pairs of subjects and standards of comparison in a court epic sequence are like the basic (canonical, defining) notes of a raga scale-type; and the process of building up ¯ a description, a complex pattern, by means of subtle variations on these familiar component elements is very similar to the way in which a singer or player of Indian classical music builds up a raga ¯ through fresh permutation-combinations of the permitted sequences made up of the permitted notes of the raga. ¯ The recognizability of a raga may turn on one or more of any number of heterogeneous factors of different orders of abstraction; intervallic structure, a particular way of ornamenting one or more scale degrees, characteristic motifs, even characteristic tessitura or pace. Such factors in turn are perceived in terms of contrasting possibilities.42 Reading a mahakavya passage is rather like listening to a singer ¯ ¯ performing a raga; it involves both the delight of recognition and the ¯ adventure of encountering spontaneous, idiosyncratic improvisation and ornamentation on the basic components. Many points of similarity can be identified for raga exposi¯ tion and mahakavya description, but most important for us are ¯ ¯ two aspects of raga performance technique: the nonlinear nature of ¯ raga patterns and virtuoso passages in raga improvisation. Impro¯ ¯ visation is a key technique in raga performance, so that no two ¯ performances—even by the same performer—are identical. In alap ¯ ¯ (alapti) or the improvised exposition of a raga, the classical singer ¯ ¯ develops increasingly complex (pulsed or unpulsed) and increasingly ornamented, melodic patterns out of the raga’s characteristic pro¯ gressions of notes and intervallic structures. The apparently random and certainly asymmetrical structures of kavya passages are analo¯ gous to raga improvisation, and demand from the reader the same ¯ kind of aesthetic response. Within a performance it is characteristic of raga-performers to select one or more motifs, lines, or progressions ¯ for detailed variation, so that the exposition dwells on this point for a while.43 When we approach the descriptions in the seventh and eighth cantos of Bharavi’s poem in terms of this performance tech¯ nique, the variations on the activities of the elephants (VII), and, as we shall see, the sustained passage on the similarities between faces

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and lotuses (VIII below) become intelligible in terms of virtuoso passages, in which a particular topic or image has been singled out for detailed, virtuosic treatment. The Revels of the Nymphs Women and plants: The universes conflated Bharavi leaves the linear frame of spatial movement largely undis¯ turbed in his description of the play of the nymphs and the gandharvas in the Himalayan woods and the earthly waters of the Ganges. The stylistic virtuosity of these passages stems at least in part from the poet’s insistence on the catalogue-structure. In the description of the women gathering flowers (puspavacaya) the emphasis is on . ¯ lexical variation, whereas in the water-play passage, it is on figuration. In both, the major theme is the relationship between the two universes of kavya as it is expressed in the relationships and ¯ transactions between human beings and nature. The first description moves through three major themes in the sequential framework of the celestial lovers’ movement ever deeper into the woods in search of flowers. At first, the poet focuses on the integral relationship between the women and the flowers and sprays they are plucking, then he describes the lovers’ erotic gestures and feelings in terms of the woodland setting and the activity of flower-gathering. Finally, as in the description of the rutting elephants, he describes the ways in which both women and landscape are transformed as a result of the expedition. The richness of the kavya lexicon in the mahakavya appears ¯ ¯ ¯ to have been enhanced by the process of stanzaic composition. What began as a practical need has been turned into an advantage; if every stanza is a chosen moment, revealing only an aspect of the scene or the object being described, then the descriptive vocabulary becomes that much more nuanced and precise. In a passage whose themes are women and plants, the favored subjects of lyric kavya, these ¯ subjects are named in almost every verse, each time with a different word, carrying its own specific associations and descriptive force.44 In successive verses in the description of flower-gathering the apsaras are suranganah: celestial women, vanajayateksanah: women with ¯˙ ¯. ¯ . .¯. long eyes curved like the lotus-petal, nitambinyah: women with full, . rounded hips, vilasinyah: graceful women, coquettes, and so on.45 ¯ . We are not allowed to forget that these women are celestial beings, but the emphasis of the epithets is on what they have in common


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

with the idealized generic “women” of court poetry: the apsaras are, above all, voluptuous beauties, whose gestures and attributes create an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere of the erotic.46 The forest setting offers the kavya poet unlimited possibilities ¯ for naming and describing its diverse flora. Bharavi reserves these ¯ possibilities for a later episode, choosing instead to focus on those aspects of the plants that he finds most appropriate for the topic at hand—beautiful women picking flowers.47 In the idealized conventions of kavya, a beautiful woman’s body is a creeper (lata), her face, ¯ ¯ a flower; her slender arms (bahu) are vines, her soft hands (pani) ¯ ¯. with the slim fingers painted with lac dye (alaktaka) are like the young, reddish sprays or shoots (pallava) of plants and trees, with their budding foliage. In the immediate context of a flower-picking excursion, however, these comparisons become actualized juxtapositions, with a wider, more flexible potential for illumination than a frozen metaphor (rupaka). ¯ It does not come as surprise then, that in this passage, instead of naming specific plants or trees, Bharavi uses various kavya syn¯ ¯ onyms to speak of generic “flowers,” “creepers,” “trees,” and their young leafy “sprays” (or shoots).48 By using generic terms Bharavi ¯ calls attention to the identity of the flora in this particular scene with the generic trees, shoots, and flowers that are the standards of comparison for the appropriate parts of a woman’s body. Their pervasive—and exclusive—presence in the description of women picking flowers gives it a particular figurative coherence. But, as the following sequence of four verses will show, it is the play of language connecting one stanza to another that gives expression to this integrity. VIII.5 Seduced by the scent of cosmetic oils the bees of the forest flew to the coquettes’ slim arm-creepers with graceful shoots in the form of hands red with lac dye, and blooming with gleaming nails. 6 The a´ oka branch with tender shoots s swaying in the breeze, blossoms swarming with bees drinking honey,

Landscapes with Women appeared to the women like a young woman waving her arms, agitated by a sharp love-bite on the lip. 7 Why do you tire yourself, proud lady? It is no use at all to wave your arms that look like tender shoots. How will you drive away this swarm of bees flying towards you, mistaking you for a creeper of paradise?


The metaphoric compound “panipallava” “hand-shoot” in verse ¯. 5 would normally be a cliché signifying nothing more than “hand.”49 But the elaborate completeness of the metaphor in this verse, its detail—beginning with the implicit comparison of the perfume of the women’s cosmetic oils to the scent of flowers or buds, ending with the likening of the gleaming nails to clusters of buds—indicates otherwise. Verses 6 and 7 are meant to continue the creative—and playful—conflation of the human element with its partner in nature. The nymph’s girlfriends first see the likeness of their friend in the a´ oka branch with its shoots swaying in the breeze: it seems to be s a girl waving her arms. They then tell her that it is no use for her to wave her hands to try to drive away the bees flocking to her; they will not be able to tell the difference between her and the plant. We, too, are meant to take the bees’ confusion seriously, wondering, like them, how to tell the hand from the shoot, the girl from the branch, and, like them, failing ultimately. The flower-gathering expedition is a prelude to the lovemaking of the apsaras and their lovers, to be described in a later canto. Words repeated in the span of short sequences in the passage on flowerpicking create webs of erotic suggestion, highlighting the sequences as vignettes of sexual arousal. Consider the repetition of the richly suggestive word “akula” in the sequence VIII. 14–19. Here it is used ¯ to describe a woman’s eyes filling with tears (baspakula-) when her ¯. ¯ lover calls her by another woman’s name (14), the loosened knot of another nymph’s skirt (´ ithilakuloccaya-, 15), and locks of long s ¯ hair hanging about a girl’s face (vilambamanakulake´ apa´ a-). The ¯ ¯ s ¯s . word, which can convey a range of meanings, from physical disarray to emotional and sexual excitement and confusion, has been intentionally highlighted.50 Obviously, such repeated words, set against


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

a background of a varied vocabulary, are yet another strategy for foregrounding, in this case, drawing attention to the underlying coherence of erotic imagery and themes in the description.

Figuration as Play in Court Epic Descriptions When Bharavi moves from the descriptive topic of flower-gathering ¯ to that of water-sports (salilakr¯da), he also moves from the comparı. ¯ ison of women with flowers and woodland plants to that of women with rivers and objects associated with the riverine landscape. At the end of the first description, he has a sequence of five syntactically connected stanzas (22–26) describing the beauty of the apsaras as they emerge from the woods and approach the Ganges, in whose waters they want to bathe. In these verses the poet compares the women’s hips to sandbanks, their navels to the hearts of lotuses, and their faces studded with drops of perspiration, to lotuses adorned by drops of water. The description of the water-play begins in the next verse, and the imagery continues to focus on the riverine landscape. The principal objects of description in this passage are: the nymphs, their lovers, water (and waves), lotuses (and bees). Here I have traced the occurrence of the pair “face and lotus” throughout the passage. The similitude between the woman’s face and the lotus is explored in nine out of the thirty-five verses. In some verses, the lotuses that actually appear in the river are described (27, 28), in others, the flowers are entirely figurative or imaginary (25, 47). In yet others, they are both objective and figurative (35, 36); in some there is a direct linking of the women’s faces (objective) with the lotuses (also objective) (42, 44), and in one verse (29) it is not clear whether the lotus in question is a real or an imaginary one. VIII.25 With half-closed eyes, and studded with perspiration, the nymphs’ faces looked as lovely as lotuses with half-open petals beaded with drops of water. 27 Then with the sweet calls of wild geese, with the fluttering petals of lotuses shaken by glittering fish,

Landscapes with Women with her waves rolling onto banks that were free of mud, the River of the Gods seemed to invite the nymphs to plunge into her waters. 28 A cooling breeze arose from the waves, carrying drops of water, brushing past the lotuses. Gently blowing, it seemed to offer the wearied women a helping hand. 29 The gait of the wild geese could not compare with the nymphs’ coquettish walk, the sandbanks could not equal their full and heavy hips, nor could the lotuses rival their faces with long eyes. 35 “Are these the twin petals of a lotus heavy with bees, or the eyes of the girl with the tremulous glance? Are these her curved lashes, or a still, silent swarm of bees? . . . 36 Is this her mouth parted in a smile, revealing teeth like lotus filaments, or is it a blooming lotus?” Plagued by such doubts as these, it took the beauties a long time to find their friend hidden in a bed of lotuses. 42 Bright faces against lotuses, swaying strands of pearls



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic against the surging foam, radiant golden skin against saffron-tinted water— the timid women could offer no contrast to the waves. 44 With her water graced by the reflection of the nymphs’ smiling faces whose beauty put her lotuses to shame, the river Ganges reaped the benefit of her clarity. 47 Half-hidden by spreading curls dishevelled from swimming, the womens’ faces looked like lotuses covered by swarms of bees.

Let us examine the repetition of subjects along with their conventional standards of comparison—these might be called conventional “pairs”—such as the face and the lotus, the hand and the shoot, in the mahakavya descriptions. Not only does each instance ¯ ¯ where the pair appears explore a different aspect of the relationship between the two, but often, the image is “developed” in accordance with the development of the “theme” of the passage. The mahakavya poet’s selection of a small range of figurative ¯ ¯ elements that are appropriate for the objective landscape features of the topic gives a particular kind of integrity to the description. Each description has its own inner harmonies in the correspondence of its figurative and objective domains. The paring down of the objective and figurative components of the theme offers the poet a larger arena than the stanza in which to exercise his skill in playing—through a variety of alamkaras—on the nuances in basic relationships between . ¯ the human and the natural worlds. Within the framework of the watersports topic he can create an entire set of figures of speech that explore different facets of the relationship between the lotus and the woman’s face. Where the detached stanza presents a single striking image, the epic poet’s extended play has the effect of variations on a theme and of encompassing the entire tradition of kavya verses on a ¯ particular theme “in a single location,” as Kalidasa puts it, describing ¯ ¯

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his virtuosic assemblage of comparisons for the various aspects of the young Parvat¯’s beauty in Canto I of the Kumarasambhava: ¯ ı ¯ . She was a collection of all things that are natural similes for beauty, each one in its right place, fashioned by the universal creator with his full energy, as if eager to see all beauty in a single form.51 In the description of Parvat¯, Kalidasa achieved a tour de force ¯ ı ¯ ¯ by using not only a large number of different standards of comparison (these are, however, conventional standards, appropriate for different parts of the body), but an equally large number of figures of speech. In the watersports passage above, Bharavi creates a passage ¯ with a strong sense of repetition as well as variation: faces are always compared with lotuses, only the figures vary. Verse 29 is a vyatireka, an alamkara in which the excellence of the subject of comparison (the . ¯ face) leads to a perception of its superiority over the standard of comparison (the lotus).52 Verses 35–36 embody samdeha (or sasamdeha) . . (“Doubt”): “Is this a face or is it a lotus?”.53 The figure differs from bhrantimat (“Confused”) in that in the latter, “confusion is complete ¯ to the point of mistake,” and from apahnuti, in which one denies the subject of the comparisor prison (face), and affirms the standard of comparison (lotus) instead.54 A perfect similarity between the women and the waves is suggested in 42, but in stanza 44, the women triumph once more, putting the lotuses to shame (vyatireka). Verses 25 and 47 are basic similes (upama), focusing on different aspects of ¯ similitude between the face and the lotus. The ease with which objects move between the objective and figurative universes of discourse expresses a vision in which these universes are seen, not as being arbitrarily linked through an imposed coupling in the form of convention, but as being intrinsically related to each other. The Vedic conception of the human, natural, and divine worlds as parallel and related orders of reality “of equal antiquity and permanence” eventually led to the idea of the ultimate identity of these worlds.55 Like many other aspects of their poetry, the figurative play of the mahakavya poets seems to ¯ ¯ affirm the continuation of this vision in the classical tradition. The shifting universes of kavya’s figurative language might also suggest ¯ the Advaita (monistic) Vedanta philosophical assumption underly¯ ing the poems of many of the great poets and critics:—the idea of the unitary, real Self, through which the distinctions between subject


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

and object, the phenomenal and that which is beyond the phenomenal (i.e., that which is ultimately real) are shown to be illusory. Placing beautiful women in beautiful landscapes facilitates a profusion of figures of speech that play on this idea, such as, bhrantimat ¯ (Confusion or Erroneous Conception), samdeha (Doubt), and m¯lana ı . (Concealment), in which the borders of the objective and figurative universes become blurred. The classical poets are clearly aware of the potential for playing with the phenomenal and figurative universes that is offered by ideas of relationship and identity between human and landscape elements when these are juxtaposed. Once again, as Kalidasa puts it, it ¯ ¯ might be the wish of the creator that facilitates such play (Kumara¯ sambhava I.49) or an act of the poet in making use of the conventions . of his tradition. The latter idea is reflected in Kalidasa’s other epic, ¯ ¯ the Raghuvamsa, in a verse which occurs in a description of a king ´ . playing in the water with the women of his harem: Every object which is a natural simile for the beauty of women, and for the parts of their bodies— whirlpools, which are like their charming navels, waves, which one can compare with their eyebrows, and sheldrakes, which are the metaphors for their breasts— all these are, in fact, here, close by these graceful women as they bathe (in the river).56 Passage and canto boundaries mark transition and change in the dominant imagery of the Kiratarjun¯ya’s sequences. In the same ¯ ¯ ı way that meters change at the end of cantos, new images appear in the final verses of descriptive sequences. In stanzas 56 and 57 of the eighth canto, Bharavi foreshadows the topic of the next descriptive ¯ passage, the lovemaking of the apsaras and gandharvas, by evoking images of night and lovemaking. VIII. 56 They had driven the pairs of sheldrake birds to opposite banks of the river, and had stolen the lotus-beds’ beauty. Their strands of pearls gleaming from having been washed in the waters of the divine Ganges, they shone like nights radiant with canopies of stars.57

Landscapes with Women 57 Altered in hue from mixing with liquid sandal paste, variegated by the light of gems in broken ornaments, the river-water with its rippling waves, enjoyed and abandoned by the women, became lovely as a bed at the end of love-making.


The process of mingling and exchange, of the blurring of distinctions, begun in the play in the woods and the water reaches its consummation in the passages on sunset, the pleasures of wine, and lovemaking in the ninth and tenth cantos. Leaving the apsaras to their enjoyment of the night’s erotic delights, in the next chapter we move on to a very different subject, Arjuna’s penance.

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Chapter 7

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic

Whatever is hard to be traversed, whatever is hard to be attained, whatever is hard to be reached, whatever is hard to be performed, all (this) may be accomplished by austerity; for austerity (possesses a power) which it is difficult to surpass. Manusmrti1 .

Arjuna’s Austerity: Variations on a Theme Arjuna’s austerity is a seminal event in the action of the Kiratar¯ ¯ jun¯ya. It is remarkable, though, that Bharavi describes the hero’s ı ¯ tapas in no less than four sequences of verses in cantos 6 and 12, twice in the authorial voice, and twice in the speeches of the denizens of the Himalayas, who report the hero’s ascetic rites to the gods.2 Whereas in the Mahabharata Indra intercepts Arjuna as soon as ¯ ¯ he has reached Indrak¯la, in the Kiratarjun¯ya the god arrives at ı ¯ ¯ ı the scene only after Arjuna’s ascetic practice is well under way, and the guhyakas who live on the mountain have approached him with the news of Arjuna’s ascetic practice (canto VI). Similarly, after Indra’s visit, in canto XII the description of Arjuna’s renewed efforts at asceticism is followed by the complaint of the worried Himalayan ´ hermits to Siva. In part, the repetition is a result of the poet’s need to resume the thread of the main narrative (and a contrasting mood as a bridge to the heroic) after the sequence with the nymphs.3 The details of Bharavi’s treatment of the austerity theme suggest, how¯ ever, that the poet has courted this repetition, using it to artistic advantage. Studied in relation to each other, the four passages on the tapas reveal the function of Arjuna’s penance as a central motif in the poem’s thematic rhetoric.4



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Tapas, literally “a burning”, has been variously translated as “penance,” “austerity,” and “ascetic practice.” With the exception of the expiatory meaning of “penance,” the Sanskrit term “tapas” carries most of the connotations of the above English terms in varying degrees in different contexts.5 Although the range of activities that can be included under tapas is wide, at the very least tapas presupposes the disciplining of mind and body according to the philosophy and technique of yoga, as a result of which the practitioner of tapas accumulates great magico-spiritual power.6 Arjuna’s initiation in the third sarga is the first step towards his yogic practice. In the preparatory stages of yoga, the person undertakes psychophysical and ethical discipline in order to create in himself a preponderance of the existential quality called sattva (purity, exaltation, goodness, light), the subordination of rajas (the intermediate, active mode) and the destruction of tamas (“darkness”): “Through the performance of the members of Yoga, and with the dwindling of impurity, [there comes about] the radiance of gnosis [which develops] up to the vision of discernment.” (Yogasutra 2.28).7 Bharavi’s description of Arjuna’s ¯ ¯ tapas closely relates to the rules (vidhi) of yoga described in the Yogasutra of Patañjali, also evoking many of the severe ascetic prac¯ tices prescribed for hermits of various kinds in the law texts such as Manu.8 The eight components (anga) of yogic practice as presented in ˙ Patañjali’s Yogasutra (PYS) begin with the exterior elements, yama ¯ (the abstinences or restraints) and niyama (the observances), and culminate in the interior practice: yogic concentration (dharana,) ¯ .¯ meditation (dhyana), and enstasy (samadhi.)9 The five abstinences ¯ ¯ listed in PYS 2.30 are: noninjury, truthfulness, chastity, not stealing, and absence of acquisitive desire.10 The five observances (PYS 2.32) are cleanliness (e.g., the savana, bathing at the appointed times), contentment, austerity, recitation and study of scripture and mantra, and surrender of works to God.11 Posture (asana) and ¯ breath control (pranayama) are also crucial components of yoga. The ¯.¯ ¯ actual practice of austerity includes activities ranging from severely restricting one’s food intake, or eating nothing at all for long periods of time, to deliberately exposing oneself to the elements. In the tapas sequences Bharavi richly documents the hero’s progres¯ sion from the various yogic disciplines to the harsher aspects of tapas. The poet begins his first account of Arjuna’s asceticism by describing the hero’s success in increasing his sattvic quality by ¯ controlling the sense faculties:

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic VI.20 Taking pleasure only in disciplining (´ ama) the senses s he subdued the darkness (tamas) of evil with his pure virtues.(´ uciguna-) s . Stainless (vimala,) he grew day by day with virtuous acts (carita) like the cool white moon waxing with its crescents.


Arjuna is practising yoga according to the rule (vidhi) (VI.19); having “undertaken the restraints and the observances” he is “disciplined” ( prayata, VI.22). He propitiates Indra with meditation (manasa, “with the mind”), with the recitation of mantra ( japa, pre¯ sumably of the mantra specific to Indra, given to him by Vyasa), ¯ and with worship ( pranati,) conforming to the yogi-devotee’s prac. tice of propitiating the god he has chosen to honor by means of the three instruments—mind, word, and (physical) act.12 The rest of the passage evokes the remarkable effect of Arjuna’s activities on his environment: his penance charms the animals in the forest and creates a calm and peaceful natural scene around him: VI.24–27 Though he bore arms he bore malice towards none, he surpassed sages with his virtuous conduct (carita). Himself free of passion, he charmed the beasts of the forest. Is there anyone whom virtue does not delight? Because of Arjuna’s tapas a favorable, soft, scented breeze blew around him; the sun’s rays shone gently on him, defying the summer season; the tall trees bowed down with fresh sprout-hands folded in reverence, so that he might pluck them; spread with soft grass, earth made a bed for him every night; raindrops, falling from a cloudless sky, settled the dust. In all these ways austerity itself


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic served the emaciated Arjuna, as if moved to compassion for him.

The scene shifts immediately to the community of guhyakas, ( yaksas, demigods who live on the Himalayas as vanacara [forest. dwellers]. The guhyakas are perturbed by Arjuna’s appearance—an armed warrior performing tapas—and astonished by the power of his tapas. They wonder whether he is a “seer, or a demon, / or an illustrious prince.”13 Suspecting that this warrior’s tapas is aimed at amassing cosmic powers that will enable him to usurp Indra’s position as warrior-god and king of the gods, they report what they have seen to Indra. As one would expect, the guhyakas’ description of the hero’s tapas focuses on their own reactions to the phenomenon: VI.31–32 Bountiful Indra! Clothed in gleaming barkcloth, scorching the universe as if he were a second sun or moon, a blameless man is practising austerity, seeking a great conquest! That man has terrifying arms, like snakes. He carries a great bow that instils terror in his enemies. Yet in his pure conduct he surpasses the most virtuous sages. The symmetry between these two accounts of the tapas and the two passages in sarga XII is unmistakable. The hero has met Indra’s ´ challenge, and the god has advised him to propitiate Siva through austerity. Arjuna’s activities arouse fear and suspicion in the sages ´ who live in the Himalayas, and they report the matter to Siva. Again, we have the poet’s description, followed by the sages’ reactions. But if the motif is identical, the description is strikingly different. This time Arjuna engages in extremely rigorous ascetic practices such as the vrata (rule) of standing on one leg (ekapada) and staring at the ¯ sun, subjecting his body to extraordinary hardship, hoping thereby to please the Great God (Mahadeva). Formerly he lived on fruit and ¯ water; now he spurns all food.

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic XII.2 The pure one passed many days standing on one leg on the ground, staring at the sun, fasting all the while, firm in the resolve for victory over his enemies.14 XII.4 He had no desire for the ripe fragrant fruits that hung within reach, nor for pure, cool water. Austerity itself becomes ambrosia for good men.


In the initial stages of tapas Arjuna merely surpassed other ascetics with his power, but now he surpasses the forces of nature themselves.

XII.7 Arjuna the conqueror appeared to be brighter than a blazing fire at midnight, calmer than the ocean’s depths, loftier than a mountain. XII.10 When the emaciated ascetic walked to the river for his ritual bath (niyamasavana), crushed by his steps, the Himalaya seemed to sink to the earth. Virtue, not physical bulk, gives substance to a man’s character.15 XII.11 As he stood with arms raised an unapproachable light rose above his head, spread over space, and blocked the celestial paths of the gods and sages.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

In the final description, the Himalayan sages describe Arjuna’s tapas as a cosmic force. The ascetic’s tapas is “causing distress to all the worlds.”16 His smallest movement affects the entire universe: XII.28 When he moves, the whole world moves with him. When he restrains his senses, the heavens in all the directions, planets, stars, winds and all, stand still. The guhyakas had wondered about Arjuna’s identity in human ´ terms. The sages who report to Siva are convinced that the hero is a god or a cosmic power: XII.15 The sages understood: “It must be Indra himself, or the sun, or Fire with the spreading flames, who is practising such harsh austerity. This is no ordinary man!” The four passages are variations on a theme. They differ from each other, but are also linked to each other in a number of ways. First, each description in reported speech, immediately following the poet’s narration, serves as a comment on the preceding account, adding fresh detail, throwing the scene in relief, surrounding it with heightened mystery and awe, as seen from the perspective of the mountain-dwellers. The initial descriptions concentrate on the technical aspects of Arjuna’s internal transformation through yoga; this is a dynamic process that happens within the hero.17 The reports, by contrast, present the external effects of Arjuna’s acts. At another level, the two descriptions in canto XII present a clear contrast with those in canto VI. What Bowra says of the repeated descriptive themes in Homer applies equally to Bharavi: “With his recurring ¯ passages, he can give one emotional colour here and another there, and by reminiscence of an earlier scene he can implicitly point to a contrast.”18 Of course, Bharavi ’s repeated use of a motif is not ¯ strictly comparable to “composition by theme” in primary epics, as Albert Lord and others have described it.19 Nevertheless, the comparison is instructive, in that it draws attention to the fact that more

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


than necessities of plot can motivate the repeated use of a theme in a long poem. Together the four accounts of Arjuna’s tapas portray the hero’s progression from human to cosmic, natural to supernatural dimensions, and the transformation of tapas itself from a gentle force that calms the forest to a burning power that commands the attention of the great gods. Through the process of tapas the epic hero acquires “epic” stature, equalling the gods and cosmic powers in his majesty and capability. But something else is happening as well. If by varying his descriptions of Arjuna’s tapas Bharavi creates an impressive image ¯ of the hero’s increasing psychophysical power, he uses the opposite principle to establish the moral superiority and integrity of Arjuna’s character as a warrior-hero, the nayaka, and the locus ¯ (a´ raya) of the dominant heroic mood. The circumstances and effects ¯s of Arjuna’s tapas alter and develop, but its philosophical premises remain constant. The ascetic’s thoughts are steadily concentrated on vijaya, victory over the Pandavas’ enemies, the ultimate goal of ¯.. his efforts. He practices austerity with unwearied vigor; his achievements in self-control and virtue put the most accomplished ascetics to shame.20 But the poet’s most effective tool for conveying the constancy of the hero’s character is the striking and enigmatic visual image of the warrior-ascetic, which becomes the leitmotif of the descriptions of Arjuna’s tapas. At the center of the poem, we find Arjuna practicing the vows of the muni, a man sworn to the niyamas beginning with absolute noninjury (ahimsa): The emaciated hero is standing on one leg, face . ¯ lifted towards the sun, arms raised up. His tawny hair streams around his face in tangled, matted locks. He wears the hermit’s bark garment and a sacred thread. He is also fully armed, carrying a sword, Gand¯va, his great bow, and the two inexhaustible quiv¯ . .ı ers he had won from Agni, the Fire-god, in the Khandava forest. It ¯.. is this strange figure, the warrior-ascetic, eventually represented so many times in the sculpture, painting, and theater of South India and South-east Asia, that arouses the curiosity of the guhyakas and that greets the apsaras at the end of their journey, at the hermitage on Indrak¯la mountain. The issue of the hero’s unusual ı appearance, which is raised only once in the Kairata (III.38.33–34), ¯ is invoked in all the descriptions of his austerity in the Kiratarju¯ ¯ n¯ya. It also becomes the point that prompts the guhyakas, the ı sages, Indra, the apsaras, and the kirata messenger to criticize ¯ Arjuna’s tapas, and to question and challenge his motives. The image of the warrior-ascetic thus links the description of Arjuna’s


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

penance with the speeches in the sargas surrounding the descriptive segments. The warrior-ascetic is an ambivalent figure. Those who encounter the hero find him awesome and terrifying, yet attractive. His appearance is enigmatic, but it seems at the same time oddly convincing. The combination of intrinsically incompatible qualities and attributes—martial power and tranquillity, the symbols of the warrior and those of the ascetic—make the hero appear strange. But he seems to succeed in uniting these opposites in his persona. Practicing penance to please Indra, “He displayed two kinds of splendor, / one innate, the other acquired, / of martial power and peace (VI.22). Though he bore arms / he felt malice for no one” (VI.24). Later, ´ describing the hero’s fierce asceticism to Siva, echoing the guhyakas ´ words, the Himalayan sages exclaim to Siva (XII.27): He carries a bow with two mighty quivers, armor, and a great sword; he wears his hair in matted locks, he is dressed in deer-skin and bark. This strange attire goes against the rules of ascetics (munitavirodhi), ¯ and yet he shines in it! The verbal formulation of the riddle itself embodies the conjunction of opposites. In the sentence “He displayed two kinds of of splendor, / one innate, the other acquired, / of martial power (jaya) and peace (´ ama)” (VI.22), jaya and sama, “innate” and “acquired” s ´ (sahaja and itara) are coupled in dvandva compounds, in which each pair of opposites forms one word in the dual number: jaya´ amau and s sahajetarau.21 But the ramifications of the image continue till the end of the poem. Immediately after the scene with the nymphs, in Indra’s speech to Arjuna (XI.9-36) and Arjuna’s response (XI.37-79), Bharavi discursively explores the ethical and philosophical issues ¯ raised by the image of the warrior-ascetic. Indra’s Argument: The impossibility of an armed ascetic As the king of the gods who support the Pandava cause, and as ¯.. Arjuna’s divine father, Indra approves of Arjuna’s effort on behalf of the Pandavas. Yet, when the guhyakas bring news of the hero’s tapas, ¯.. he wishes to test his determination and integrity. Disguising himself as an aged brahman ascetic, Indra confronts Arjuna, and argues

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


that the hero’s warlike appearance is totally incompatible with the nature and legitimate purpose of asceticism. An ascetic cannot be armed!22 The hero is using wholesome, spiritually oriented means (tapas) to achieve wrong ends (worldly and violent aspirations). Indra begins his speech by congratulating Arjuna on practicing tapas at his “tender age” (v.10). He tells Arjuna that the objects of sense are transient, and the pleasure arising from them illusory. “. . . As transmigratory existence (samsara) / is something to . ¯ be cast off, / the worthy man applies himself to the goal of liberation (mukti) (13).” Then he launches into a vivid description of the hero’s incongruous appearance (VI.14-19). Your praiseworthy resolve tells me that you are a wise man, but your incongruous attire makes my heart doubt. Why are you clad in armor, as if ready to fight? Ascetics wear only deerskin and bark. If you are truly detached, and seek liberation, why this fierce bow, these two great quivers, on the body of a man who wishes no harm to any being? If you are indeed an ascetic, this sword you carry— terrifying to mortals as though it were another arm of Death’s— does not convince me of your peaceful attitude (´ ama). s Surely you seek victory over your enemies. Where is a symbol of anger, where are men of peace? Where is a weapon, and where ascetics?23 He who turns activities designed as means for liberation


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic into the means of slaughter is a fool who muddies clear water that quenches the ill of thirst. As rivers flow into the ocean, all misfortunes flow toward the man who gathers transient wealth by injuring creatures.

Indra continues to explain the transience and futility of all wealth and worldly pleasure, and in particular the injustice and ultimate illogicality of causing pain to others while attempting to avoid pain for oneself at all costs. “Therefore,” he says, “give up your efforts for war! / Do not ruin your excellent tapas! / So that you may put an end to rebirth, / practice peace, O ascetic (edhi santas tapo´¯ dhana)!” (XI.31) The crux of Indra’s argument is this: Tapas is a way of action open only to world-renouncers. It is an uncompromisingly peaceful (´ anta) undertaking, since it presupposes and requires s¯ the complete conquest of desire and the sense faculties, and aims at absolute release from worldly existence. Specifically, it requires the unconditional vow of nonviolence (ahimsa) practiced by the true . ¯ renouncer. Any attempt to win worldly ends by means of austerity is bound to be tainted by sensual desire, anger (krodha), and violence. A warrior’s tapas, which puts nonviolent means to violent ends, is especially a perversion of a pure activity. The image of the warrior-ascetic implies the fundamental conflict between violence (implied by jaya) and peace (´ ama), the heroic and the calm moods, s activity and quiescence, between ksatradharma—the way of life of .¯ warriors, who are householders ( grhastha) par excellence—and the . way of the renouncer ( yati-dharma,) between continued existence in this world ( pravrtti) and ultimate liberation from birth-and-death . (nivrtti, moksa). . . The rhetoric of antithesis The central theme of Indra’s speech is mirrored in its very language and its rhetorical structure. In the remarkably high concentration of antithetical constructions in this speech we may discern its rhetoric which, like Arjuna’s appearance, is a rhetoric of antithesis, of the juxtaposition of opposites and incompatible values.24 In verse after verse, as in the descriptions of the warrior-ascetic, words and expressions with opposite meanings are placed right next to each other

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


within a verse-quarter ( pada), or placed in parallel or symmetri¯ cally contrasting positions in two or more padas, insistently drawing ¯ attention to the tension between the terms so juxtaposed. In the following selections I have tried to give examples of rhetorical design in the verses of this sequence. Identically numbered items in the verses indicate members in an antithetical pair. The slash / indicates division between padas in a verse. ¯ XI.11cd 1sulabha ramyata loke / 1durlabham 1hi gunarjanam ¯ ¯ . .¯ Physical beauty is 1easy to find in the world, but amassing virtue is 1difficult. XI.12cd 1apataramya visaya / 1paryantaparitapinah ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ . 1the senses are pleasing for a while, 1but in the end they are a torment. The antitheses pile up in the description of Arjuna’s arms (quoted above), climaxing in the figure of speech called visama (the . incongruous) in verse 18. XI.15 1yuyutsuneva 2kavacam / kim amuktam idam tvaya ¯ ¯ . . 1tapasvino hi vasate / 2kevalajinavalkalam ¯ Why are you clad in armor, as if ready to fight (yuyutsu)? Ascetics (tapasvinah) wear only . deerskin and bark. XI.18 jayam atrabhavan nunam / aratisv abhilasukah ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯. . 1krodhalaksma 2ksamavantah / 1kvayudham kva ¯ ¯ . . . . 2tapodhanah ¯. Surely you seek victory over your enemies. Where is a 1symbol of anger, where are 1men of peace? Where is a 2weapon, and where 2ascetics?25 The pattern continues, with increasingly complex variations, in the subsequent verses, especially in the segment in which Indra talks about the dangers of desire and attachment.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic XI.26cd. 1apriyair iva 2samyogo / 2viprayogah 1priyaih saha . . . 2Meeting with 1unpleasant experiences / and 2parting from 1pleasant ones. . . 26 XI.28 tada 1ramyany 1aramyani / 2priyah 2´ alyam tadasavah ¯ ¯. ¯. ¯. s ¯ . . 3tadaikak¯ 3sabandhuh sann / istena rahito yada ¯ ı ¯ . .. When you have lost your beloved, even 1pleasant things are 1unpleasant, dear 2life itself becomes a 2thorn, and though you are 3surrounded by friends, you are 3alone.

The formal tensions in these verses, reflecting the conflicts embodied in Arjuna in his warrior-ascetic persona, are instrumental in the cumulative rhetoric of Indra’s argument against him.

Arjuna Responds: The Solution of Svadharma By no means does Indra have the last word on the conundrum of the warrior-ascetic. In his handling of Arjuna’s tapas, of the hero’s response to those who challenge him, and of the resolution of the action of the poem, Bharavi leaves no doubt as to his view on the ¯ questions raised in Indra’s speech: Like the kavya figures of speech ¯ called visama (the incongruous) and virodha (conflict), which present . a seeming antithesis, a conjunction of elements that only appear to clash, Arjuna’s appearance is a virodhabhasa, an apparent contra¯ ¯ diction, not a real one.27 The poet, the guhyakas, and the sages view the conundrum of the warrior-ascetic approvingly and with a sense of wonder. In Arjuna’s response to Indra we find out that the nature of the hero’s mission demands his paradoxical appearance, that there is a logic to the paradox.28 Arjuna’s answer to Indra, and therefore to all those who question his motives, is that his ultimate aim is not victory or violence for its own sake, nor for the sake of worldly goals such as fame, wealth, or territory. Rather, he is bound by the dharma that is most particularly his own, his sacred duty as a ksatriya, to combine warlike motives . with asceticism. Indeed, in this sense asceticism is only an aspect of his ksatriyahood. “Father, you do not know / the context of my . penance,” Arjuna says to Indra, “That is why you wish to instruct me /

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


in the code of conduct / proper to ascetics”(XI.42). Arjuna’s warrior identity is his first defence: XI.45 and 46 I am a ksatriya, . Dhanamjaya, son of Pandu by Prtha. ¯.. . . ¯ I stand at the command of my eldest brother who has been exiled by our cousins. It is at the behest of Krsna Dvaipayana ( Vyasa) ¯ ¯ .. . that I have taken up this mode of life, concentrating my efforts on pleasing gracious Indra. What is the context of the hero’s austerity? Arjuna gives a vivid description of the events at the assembly hall (sabha), when the Pan¯ ¯. davas and Draupad¯ were insulted by the Kauravas.29 He tells Indra ı that, since that time he, Dhanamjaya, has clung to life only with the . hope of avenging the insult. In the course of his argument he clearly states why, in the hierarchy of values, he places dharma not only above kama and wealth, but above liberation as well. ¯ XI.66 I do not crave the pleasures of sense, nor wealth, unsteady as the ocean’s waves; nor do I seek the sequestered haven of liberation, afraid of the thunderbolt that is transient existence. XI.69 Until I have uprooted our enemies and restored the glory of our line, I will think of liberation from existence itself as an obstacle to victory. Arjuna then makes a long, impassioned speech on the nature and behavior of the true warrior, comparing the proud ksatriya to a . lofty mountain (60, 63) and the man lacking pride to a “blade of grass” (trna, 59, 70). He defines ksatriyahood as an identity that is formed .. . by an inner sensibility, but is manifested above all in the public life of men. It is to be measured by a man’s mana (pride), because ¯ of which he performs valorous deeds, so that his name (naman) is ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

praised in assemblies (samsad) as a real man ( purusa, puman), an ¯ . . “exemplar used in benedictions for other ksatriyas” (udaharanam ¯ . . a´ ¯hsu). This is how a hero’s all-important “fame” or “glory” ( ya´ as) ¯ sı . . s is constructed. The keywords occur over and over again, hammering out Arjuna’s points. The vocabulary and phrases of the speech are strongly reminiscent of Draupad¯’s and Bh¯ma’s speeches in the first ı ı three cantos.30 Once more, the fire in this section, the emphasis on the emotional bases of the heroic life, establishes in the context of v¯ra rasa the integrity of Arjuna’s character, in which feeling fuses ı with the form of the social code that the hero so eloquently defends: XI.70 So long as a man (purusa) . has not won back with his arrows the fame that his enemies have seized it is as good as if he had not been born, as if he were dead, as if he were a mere blade of grass! Like his elder brother Yudhisthira, Arjuna too puts ironic ref.. erence to good use in refuting Indra’s thesis. In the few instances in which we find balanced antithetical constructions in Arjuna’s speech, they appear to be direct references to Indra’s words. When Arjuna says, “Until I have uprooted (samucchedena) our enemies / and restored the glory of our line, / I will think of liberation from existence itself / as an obstacle to victory” (XI.69), he is rejecting another kind of uprooting (uccheda) that Indra has recommended to him, urging him to “put an end to (literally “uproot”) (the chain of ) birth.” In another instance, Indra says: “He who turns activities / designed as means for liberation / into the means of slaughter / is a fool who muddies clear (svaccha-) water / that quenches the ill of thirst.” In Arjuna’s speech we find an ironic echo in: “The waters of the oceans / and the minds of honorable men / refrain from overstepping their bounds— / even when they are agitated (akulita-, stirred), ¯ they remain pure (svaccha, clear).” The crux of Arjuna’s argument, his direct response to Indra, is taken up again at the end of the speech: absolute nonviolence is an inappropriate means and the pursuit of moksa an inappropriate . end for the true pursuit of his svadharma, the code for one’s particular class (varna) and stage in life (a´ rama). As a ksatriya he is ¯s . . bound by the command of his guru and his elder brother to direct

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


his tapas towards the overthrow of the Pandavas’ enemies. A war¯.. rior’s highest duty is to defend family honor. For Arjuna, therefore, sama, the calm self-restraint of an ascetic, is only a step towards ´ jaya, the legitimate, dharmic goal of a warrior’s way of life. In the case of the warrior practicing an ascetic vow, weapons are a symbol of continuing ksatriyahood, and a reminder that for him, tranquil. lity is a temporary state. Renunciation is not only inappropriate for the ksatriya’s class duties, it is also a violation of the prescribed . “sequence of the stages of life (a´ ramas)” through which a twice¯s born man should move: student, householder, forest-dweller, and renouncer. A householder must fulfill his duties before he takes up renunciation: XI.76 How can I become a renouncer before my time? To do so would be to violate dharma! The ancient law-givers teach us to take the stages of life in order, not to break their sequence! Arjuna’s final word on the matter is: “Men of self-respect stand by their own dharma, / they do not transgress it. . . .”31 Arjuna approaches both his tapas and the ultimate goal of victory over enemies in the spirit of sva-dharma, sacred duty that transcends action in a purely profane sense. His reply to Indra has unmistakeable resonances with the definitive svadharma text, Krishna’s teaching to Arjuna in the Bhagavad G¯ta. In fact, I see the ı ¯ dialogue between Indra and Arjuna in the Kiratarjun¯ya as a con¯ ¯ ı sciously worked out variation on the form as well as the content of the G¯ta. ı ¯ Bharavi casts the entire XIth sarga of the Kiratarjun¯ya, con¯ ¯ ¯ ı taining the dialogue between Indra and Arjuna, in the older epic’s sloka meter, also the basic meter of the G¯ta. The metrical resem´ ı ¯ blance becomes striking when we note that this is one of the only two sargas in which Bharavi uses the sloka as the carrying meter, ¯ ´ in contrast to the elaborate kavya meters of the other sargas.32 More ¯ suggestive are structural resemblances and verbal echoes in comparable contexts in the two texts. The copulative (dvandva) compounds combining two antithetical concepts, categories, values, are typical of the G¯ta’s terse, balanced rhetoric, its language of paradox. In ı ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

such phrases as “A man who sees inaction in action / and action in inaction. . .” (“1karmany 1akarma yah pa´ yed / 2akarmani 2karma s . . . ca yah”) and “Impartial to joy and suffering, / gain and loss, vic. tory and defeat, / arm yourself for the battle, / lest you fall into evil’ (11 “sukhaduhkhe same krtva / 22labhalabhau / 33jayajayau,”)33 we ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . . ¯ have the definitive antithetical “pairs” or dualities, (dvandva), of existence. The resemblance between the two texts extends to particular phrases, ideas, verses, including the striking metaphor with which Arjuna ends his speech: XI.79 I shall perish on this mountain peak like a cloud split apart (vicchinnabhravilayam), ¯ ¯ . or please Indra of the thousand eyes and pull out the thorn of dishonor! The “cloud split apart” has a possible counterpart in the sixth chapter of the G¯ta, where Arjuna enquires into the fate of the man ı ¯ who has neither faith nor discipline of action: “Doomed by this double failure, is he not like a cloud split apart . . .’ (chinnabhram iva)?34 ¯ The most significant—because essential—link between the dialogues in Kiratarjun¯ya XI and the G¯ta is in Arjuna’s situation and ¯ ¯ ı ı ¯ the teaching of svadharma. The setting of the G¯ta is the battlefield ı ¯ of Kuruksetra, “the field of dharma,” Arjuna is seated in a chariot . driven by Krishna, who is an incarnation of the god Visnu. Faced by the horror of having to kill his kinsmen, elders, and teachers in battle, Arjuna lays down his weapons, rejecting his ksatriya duty to kill . as a code that will trap him forever in the chain of birth-and- death, forged by good and evil karma. He turns to Krishna for advice, asking whether renunciation of all acts is not the better choice for all men. In the eighteen chapters of the G¯ta Krishna unfolds the teaching of ı ¯ svadharma as the best way for all men, including ksatriyas, provided . men act in the spirit of disciplined, desireless action, karma-yoga, following one’s own dharma, performing deeds for the sake of dharma, rather than for the sake of attaining a goal and its fruit.35 The contrast with the situation in the Kiratarjun¯ya is obvious. Here Indra, ¯ ¯ ı king of gods, ksatriya and householder par excellence, disguises him. self as a (brahman) renouncer, and plays devil’s advocate, providing Arjuna with many of the same arguments that he, Arjuna, might have made on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. The Arjuna of the Kira¯ . tarjun¯ya, though, has learned his lesson well. Here it is he who ¯ ı

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


embodies Krishna’s G¯ta teaching of karma-yoga, and gives Indra ı ¯ a resounding defence of the G¯ta teaching of svadharma. ı ¯

Playing Devil’s Advocate: The Sources of Indra’s Critique The foundation of Indra’s argument is the problem of violent action (himsa), in relation to ultimate value, which is really a specific case . ¯ of the more general problem of ends and means. Indra’s speech presents the absolute and idealistic perspective, the point of view of the renouncer and the dharma of nivrtti, the cessation of all action. . It is essentially a condemnation of ksatradharma itself. But in the .¯ classical literature the absolute point of view is upheld not by the brahmans, but by Buddhism and Jainism, the sramana (“striver”) ´ . religions, especially in their vigorous advocacy of the monastic life and ideals. Expounding what is essentially a “´ ramana” position, s . Indra’s argument is only the purvapaksa, the opinion to be refuted, ¯ . in the debate. Our approbation is to be given to Arjuna’s response, representing the conservative solution of the brahmanical social system and the relativistic point of view, which seeks to make a case for legitimate (i.e., “dharmic”) violence, to reconcile widely varying ends with a limited number of means. But why is such a defence at all necessary? What are the social, historical, and philosophical roots of Indra’s critique, his particular formulation of the relationship between tapas, the doctrine of noninjury, and liberation from karma? The history of the early brahmanical religion reveals a complex evolution of yoga and tapas as means for supporting both of the conflicting ends and ways of life embodied in the warrior-ascetic.36 In the Vedic religion itself we see tapas (creative heating, engendering power) being used in two fundamentally conflicting ways: On the one hand, as an instrument in the context of the sacrificial ritual for the continuation of the natural and supernatural orders as conceived within the limits of social life; on the other, as a means for the personal, interior, asocial, and ultimately transcendent, mysticism of the ecstatic muni (‘the silent one’).37 Vedic ritualistic religion was followed by a period of growing preoccupation with the idea of karmatransmigration and consequently with release from birth-and-death, resulting in speculative and renunciatory philosophies gaining the upper hand: within brahmanism, the ideology of the Upanisads; and, . breaking away from the Vedic religion, the “´ ramana” ideologies of s . Buddhism and Jainism, with their monastic ideal, and their radical


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

rejection of the very premises of brahmanism. The brahmans reacted by redefining and systematizing the relationship between communal and personal religious values in a social context under the umbrella of dharma and incorporating renunciation itself into the system, as ultimate value. As Arjuna says in his speech, not until the fourth stage of life, that of the world-renouncer, can a man achieve the adhikara (fitness) to pursue tapas as a means to moksa. So much for ¯ . the textbook view of the matter. In the Manusmrti’s chapter on the rules for asceticism (MS, . chapter 6) there is confusion as to the classification and application of the rules for the hermit or forest-dweller (muni), the person in the third stage, the not-yet renouncer, and the renouncer proper (samn. yasin, yati).38 Certain ascetic values and practices already applied ¯ to the chaste student, the initiate-to-be, the person in the first stage. And as we have seen, ideals such as svadharma and karmayoga are clearly steps in the direction of incorporating asceticism into the householder stage as well.39 From the empirical perspective austerity has continued to be used in diverse and ambiguous ways in the later brahmanical religion. However “fit” the notion of ascetic practice as an instrument appropriate for the goal of transcendence alone might have been, there is no indication that the magical power of yoga and tapas, capable of achieving more worldly goals, was ever rejected. As countless narratives in the epics and puranas attest, through tapas anyone— ¯. men and women of all castes and classes, and even demons—may obtain the favor of the gods, progeny, power over enemies, wealth, paradise, the seat of Indra himself. Men practiced tapas because it was an unparalleled means for amassing power, even in the worldly sense. What matters is the sincerity, personal integrity, and steadfastness of the person undertaking asceticism. In the section on tapas, the Manusmrti acknowledges these aspects of austerity: . MS X1.239 Whatever is hard to be traversed, whatever is hard to be attained, whatever is hard to be reached, whatever is hard to be performed, all (this) may be accomplished by austerity; for austerity (possesses a power) which it is difficult to surpass.40 XI.235 All the bliss of gods and men is declared by the sages to whom the Veda was revealed, to have austerity for its root (tapomulam), austerity for its middle, and austerity for its end.41 ¯

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


Tapas can lead not only to final liberation, but also to finite goals. The inherent ambiguity of tapas is only deepened by the fact that the rules (vidhi) and identifying marks (linga) of the renouncer’s asceti˙ cism are appropriated by persons who perform tapas for worldly ends. Every tapasvin (practitioner of tapas) has to wear tree-bark and observe the other markers of the ascetic, restrain the senses, observe the savana baths and fasts, practice yoga. It is through absolute control and purity of mind and body that ascetic power becomes effective. The strongest criticism of these ambiguities came from Buddhism and Jainism, both of which focused uncompromisingly on transcending karma-samsara and which institutionalized world. ¯ renunciation on a far larger scale (through monastic orders) than brahmanism, rejecting the compromising structures of class and stage of life. By the logic of the relentless focus on karma and the chain of births, too, both religions categorically rejected violence as ethical value under any circumstances, upholding noninjury (ahim. sa) as the cardinal principle.42 Given the challenging presence, if not ¯ dominance, of Jainas, and to a lesser extent, Buddhists, in sixthcentury Deccan, in a religious and intellectual context not unlike that which might have inspired the Bhagavad G¯ta itself, it is reasonı ¯ able to see in the old “brahman” ’s uncompromising position at least some reflection of sramana arguments regarding legitimate ends and ´ . means, set up only to be refuted by Arjuna. The portions of Indra’s speech in which he speaks of the transience of pleasant experiences has its counterparts in much of the early literature oriented to renunciation, in brahmanical as well as sramana works. The aged “brahman”’s words resonate with tradi´ . tional verses on the subject. For instance, Indra’s “Meeting with unpleasant experiences / and parting from pleasant ones // have grieved your heart in past births, / and will do so in future ones.” (“krtavan anyadehesu karta ca vidhuram manah/ apriyair iva sam¯ ¯ . . . . . yogo viprayogah priyaih saha” [XI.26]) echoes traditional verses such . . as this one in the Buddhist Dhammapada, a Pali text: ¯ ma piyehi samagañchi appiyehi kadacanam ¯ ¯ ¯ . . piyanam adassanam dukkham appiyanam ca dassanam43 ¯. . ¯. . . . . . Men should not cling to pleasant things, or to unpleasant things. Not to see pleasant things is pain, and to see unpleasant things is also pain.44


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Similar verses occur in the Ramayana, the Manusmrti, and the ¯ ¯ . . Mahabharata itself.45 ¯ ¯ Nevertheless, it is in the Buddhist works that we find the highest concentration, and the repeated and most powerful expression, of these ideas. When Bharavi’s Indra speaks on the subject of tran¯ sience, he uses formulaic phrases involving the expressions priya, (dear ones, pleasant experiences), samyoga, samagama (meeting, ¯ . union), and viprayoga (parting, loss). Not only in Buddhist didactic texts of a non-kavya nature, but in the court epic Buddhacarita the ¯ same formulae occur over and over again in significant contexts, in ´¯ particular in the Sakya prince’s response to those who try to persuade him to give up his resolve to renounce the world and to return to the duties of a ksatriya ruler-to-be.46 . The Buddhist critique of the brahmanical compromise was directed first at the use of austerity as a means to attaining worldly goals, and then at the use of physical mortification itself as a pernicious means to any end whatsoever. Once again, within the kavya literary tradition itself, A´ vaghosa gives forceful expression ¯ s . to these ideas in his portrayal of the life of the Buddha. A´ vaghosa’s s . prince Siddhartha repeatedly expresses sentiments directly opposed ¯ to those of Arjuna, rejecting the dharma of warriors and householders in favor of the dharma of nivrtti, transcendence over samsara. . . ¯ Particularly abhorrent to him are the reasons that might prompt a ksatriya householder to practice tapas. Thus Siddhartha says to ¯ . the Magadhan king who offers him his kingdom: “For I have not entered the forest because of anger, nor have I cast aside my diadem because of enemy arrows, nor have I set my ambitions on loftier enjoyments, that I decline this proposal of yours.”47 When the prince rejects the ascetic practices of the men in an a´ rama (hermitage), ¯s he does so because “. . . your dharma aims at paradise, while my desire is for release from rebirth . . . For the dharma of cessation from activity is apart from the continuance of active being.”48 Ultimately, however, the Buddha adopts the middle way, rejecting all asceticism as a pernicious barrier to the tranquility of mind that is the necessary precondition for nirvana.49 Without suggesting that ¯. Bharavi was specifically referring to A´ vaghosa’s poem or to the life ¯ s . of the Buddha, I want to point out that the older Buddhist poem and the Kiratarjun¯ya resonate with each other, presenting diamet¯ ¯ ı rically opposed views toward the purpose of asceticism, stemming from sramana and brahmanical concerns. ´ . The emphasis of the Jaina objections to brahmanical asceticism is quite different from that of the Buddhist critique. It is in

The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic


the Jaina doctrine that one finds the most stringent criticism of the combination of violence and ascetic means, the focus of the Kiratar¯ ¯ jun¯ya’s warrior-ascetic figure. The Jainas are also radically different ı from the Buddhists in holding the view that ultimate liberation from karma-samsara is possible only through a combination of absolute . ¯ nonviolence with extreme asceticism. It is from this perspective that a warrior’s tapas, directed toward a worldly goal, however noble, is meaningless, because asceticism should be the means towards the only ultimate goal, liberation from samsara, and must be absolutely . ¯ untainted by violence. And this is indeed the thrust of Indra’s argument. If the language of Indra’s speech borrows from the Buddhists, its main point is closer to the arguments of the Jainas. At the very least, Arjuna’s spirited defense of the brahmanical justification of the ´ warrior’s dharma becomes especially powerful in the poem of a Saiva brahman author writing in a cultural milieu dominated by sramana ´ . groups. Within the conceptual framework of brahmanism itself, the logic of the karma doctrine, a central tenet shared with the sramana reli´ . gions, leads directly to the troublesome conclusion that only absolute nonviolence can lead to liberation from karma and its effects. The question Arjuna raises in the G¯ta is a legitimate one: If all acts ı ¯ (karma) bear fruit, acts of injury to other living beings with whom one is bound in the beginningless chain of life-forms, birth-and-death, will surely bear evil karma that will push one lower and lower in the hierarchy of beings. As Manu puts it: “By the restraint of his senses, by the destruction of love and hatred, and by the abstention from . . . injuring the creatures, he becomes fit for immortality (amr. tatva/moksa).”50 Under the circumstances, how can a ksatriya, whose . . duty it is to kill, ever hope to be free of karma without renouncing all action, i.e., by becoming a renouncer without ever having practiced ı ¯ his dharma?51 As I have noted above, the G¯ta solves the problem by investing all selfless and dharmic action, including violence, with ultimate value, the value of karma (action) that will not bear fruit and that will not taint the actor. Yet the ambivalence of asceticism has always been a central theme in Hindu myth and literature before and after Bharavi. The ¯ tension between the world-affirming, creative power of tapas and its world-negating facet are caught in balance in the all-embracing per´ sonality of Siva who is at once the ithyphallic yogi and the loving spouse of the Mother Goddess. In the Kumarasambhava Kalidasa ¯ ¯ ¯ . ´ portrays the union of Siva and Parvat¯ through the power of the ¯ ı ´ feminine, creative tapas the Goddess undertakes to gain Siva for


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

her husband, persuading him to abandon his own mysterious and utterly withdrawn ascetic practice.52 If the Buddha rejects the life of worldly pleasure and royal luxury to turn his mind toward enlightenment, Rama of the Ramayana incorporates renunciation into the ¯ ¯ ¯ . very framework of familial and royal duty, willingly going into forest exile on the eve of his coronation, giving up the kingdom to a younger brother to help his father honor a promise. Rama does not perform ¯ tapas, nor does he become a full-fledged ascetic, but he lives a life of self-restraint and openly criticizes the violence of the ksatriya way . of life. When his younger brother Laksmana urges him to take up . . arms against Bharata, the brother whom he (Laksmana) regards . . as the usurper, Rama says to Laksmana: “So give up this ignoble ¯ . . notion that is based on the code of kshatriyas; be of like mind with me and base your actions on righteousness, not violence.”53 Later, when cynical Jabali advises Rama to ignore his feelings for his father ¯ ¯ ¯ and brothers, and accept the kingdom offered to him in the way a warrior ought to, once again the prince lashes back, with: “I reject the kshatriya’s code, where unrighteousness and righteousness go hand in hand, a code that only debased, vicious, covetous, and evil men observe.”54 In the Mahabharata, if Arjuna accepts Krishna’s ¯ ¯ teaching of just violence, the elder Yudhisthira preaches peace and .. continues to be deeply ambivalent about the Pandavas’ war with ¯.. their cousins. The problem of violence is never fully resolved by the G¯ta teaching; the warrior-ascetic represents a compromise, not ı ¯ a solution. Ultimately, in the Kiratarjun¯ya as in the other great ¯ ¯ ı texts of classical Indian literature, it is the problem, the tension, the image, that engages the mind, in the spirit of myth, which is “a contemplation of the unsatisfactory compromises which after all, compose social life.”55

Chapter 8

The Theater of Combat

I sing of warfare and a man at war.1

In the twelfth canto of the Kiratarjun¯ya the Great God himself ¯ ¯ ı assumes responsibility for the “action” in the poem’s final segment, becoming both director and actor in the theater of the hero’s conflict with God. When the troubled sages of the Himalayan forests ´ approach Siva for relief from the terrifying effulgence and power of ´ Arjuna’s tapas, Siva unfolds his plan to test the hero’s capability. He will send the demon Muka in disguise to attack Arjuna. The hero ¯ ´ will shoot an arrow in self-defense; meanwhile, Siva himself, as the kirata chief, will also shoot an arrow into the animal and will thus ¯ initiate a quarrel with Arjuna. Arjuna will have no choice but to ´ fight with the kirata. In sum, Siva tells the sages, the cosmic ten¯ sion created by the hero’s austerity can be resolved only through physical combat, and on the battlefield, the natural arena for heroic deeds. Actualizing Arjuna’s heroism will be the supreme purpose of the play—l¯la, God’s sport, and the theater of combat—that is to be ı ¯ enacted on the mountain: XII.39 Witness the matchless, inborn strength of his arms as he unleashes his fury in combat, wasted by austerity, unaided by allies and friends! ´ Siva’s plan is set in motion. Disguised as a “chief of the kiratas”, ¯ the god appears in the forest with a large retinue of hunters. The



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

demon Muka, disguised as a huge, fierce boar, is dispatched to attack ¯ Arjuna. Suddenly Indra’s son saw the beast with the menacing visage and solid tusks and a massive torso fit to uproot mountains. (XII.1) Seeing the boar racing toward him with raised bristles, Arjuna becomes perturbed. He suspects that this is no ordinary boar, but a magical creature (a demon, perhaps?) conjured up by his enemies to attack him, at the very least to disturb his austerity, so that he would not be able to achieve his goal. All goes according to plan. Pierced by ´ the arrows of the hunter-chief and the hero, the beast dies, but Siva’s magical arrow disappears. The “chief ” sends a messenger to retrieve “his” arrow from the animal’s carcass, but Arjuna stops him, pointing out that the arrow seen in the boar’s carcass could only be his own. A long debate follows, ending in Arjuna’s refusal to give up the ´ arrow. The hunter-chief sends his army, led by Skanda (Siva’s son), to attack Arjuna. Arjuna successfully repulses the army, whereupon the “chief ” himself appears and engages in combat with the hero. The assault of the wild boar is a major turning point in the Kira¯ tarjun¯ya’s plot. The long debates in the forest and on the mountain ¯ ı peak, Arjuna’s endorsement of action as the warrior’s prerogative and duty, the strange figure of the armed ascetic, all have their logical culmination in a series of acts of war for the hero. The poem makes another major swing from deliberation to “action as spectacle, as geste,” paralleling Arjuna’s movement from heroic potential and yogic discipline to heroic action. We will consider this moment in the course of the discussion in this chapter and the next. Meanwhile, it will be useful to examine the generic aspects of the treatment of ´ combat in the poem. Following Arjuna’s altercation with Siva’s messenger (sarga XIII–XIV), four and a half cantos of battle description allow the v¯ra rasa to be fully established as the poem’s dominant ı mood. Combat also brings the poem firmly into the realm of the older war epic—in one of its forms the Mahabharata is Jaya, “victory,” the ¯ ¯ narrative of the war between the Kuru princes.2 But where does the Mahabharata end and kavya begin in the battle scenes? What ¯ ¯ ¯ does Bharavi do with the rich repertoire of imagery and common¯ place inherited from the older epics and kavya works on the theme of ¯

The Theater of Combat


heroic combat? Specific aspects of the structure and imagery of the battle cantos offer insight into these matters.2a

Bharavi and the Epic Tradition of Combat Description ¯ The four war books of the Mahabharata offer the full range of epic ¯ ¯ battle description.3 The audience’s attention is sustained by the continually changing focus on the fortunes of particular heroes, military strategy, and modes of fighting. Over the span of the battle chapters there occurs again and again a discernible, rhythmic movement from the description of large clashes (tumula-yuddha) to combat between individual heroes. The great, bloody engagements involve footsoldiers, and warriors fighting from elephants, horses, and chariots (the gaja, turaga, and ratha units), using bows, arrow, spears, maces, and other weapons. In addition to the equipment of the average warrior, the principal heroes have recourse to celestial weapons (divyastra) given by the gods, such as the Pa´ upata, which Ar¯ ¯s ´ juna wins from Siva. In the Ramayana, whose particular ambience ¯ ¯ . derives to a large degree from its generous component of the fantastic, Valm¯ki expands the supernatural aspects of the combat between ¯ ı Rama and the raksasa-demons, dwelling on the exchange of magical ¯ ¯ . weapons with conjuring powers. Bharavi’s immediate model, the Kairata in the Mahabharata, is ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ no more than a relatively simple vignette of single combat, acquiring its dynamism mainly from the rapid progression of action in which ´ Siva strips Arjuna of his weapons and proceeds to crush him to pulp.4 The hero and the “hunter” start off with a fierce exchange of arrows, but the hunter manages to destroy all of Arjuna’s equipment—bow, arrows, quivers, sword, and armor. He forces Arjuna to fight with uprooted trees and rocks, then with his bare fists, and finally, to engage in a wrestling bout. The kavya version is expansive and ¯ inclusive, ranging over the entire combat repertoire of the older epic. More importantly, in shaping the combat cantos Bharavi retains the ¯ rhythm of Mahabharata’s battles, moving from panoramic, and in ¯ ¯ many ways generic, scenes to the bouts of single combat between Arjuna and the kirata. Each descriptive segment presents a variation ¯ on the theme of battle. The clashes between Arjuna and the gana-army led by Skan. da, general of the gods (sargas XIV and XV), belong to the category of generic, large-scale combat. The variations in this segment consist of the complex verbal patterns (citra) in which the battle is


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

described, and in the circumstance of the lone hero facing, and successfully repelling, the multitude of troops. The combat shifts to a different mode and plane in the next canto, in which the hero and the hunter-chief discharge magical missiles at each other, creating supernatural effects, suggesting the adbhuta (marvelous) rasa. In canto XVII Bharavi returns to the narrative according to the ¯ Mahabharata, describing the progression from combat with bows ¯ ¯ and arrows to the fistfight between the opponents. The remaining ´ events—the wrestling bout, Siva’s revelation of his true identity, Arjuna’s prayer and hymn of praise, the arrival of the world-guardian (lokapala) gods, the gift of the Pa´ upata and other divine missiles, ¯ ¯s and Arjuna’s return to his brothers in the forest (with no mention of the long sojourn in Indra’s paradise narrated in the older epic)—are all compressed into the eighteenth canto. As several traditional Indian critics have pointed out, the Maha¯ bharata is a poem with sorrowful overtones.5 Amidst the epic’s ¯ positive imagery of heroism and physical combat there are powerful images of grief over the death of beloved warriors. Despite divine origins and divine aid, the Pandavas, too, must face loss and sor¯.. row. Kalidasa’s and Bharavi’s mythic themes preclude such human ¯ ¯ ¯ grief. They find greater use for other aspects of the older epics’ combat descriptions: the entirely predictable images of bloodshed and death, but also cosmic, mythic, and simply “grand” imagery. In the older epics, especially when the perspective shifts from the personal and individual to the generic, the imagery tends to be macabre rather than sorrowful, a tradition that fits more easily into kavya’s concern ¯ with the picturesque and stylized presentation of scene and emotion. The celebrated grisly images in the brief yet fully accomplished battle vignette in Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa VII—a warrior’s headless trunk ¯ ¯ .´ dancing on the battlefield, vultures and jackals wrenching limbs and flesh off mangled corpses, heads of kings rolling on the battlefield like clusters of lotuses—are refinements on the staples of spectacular combat scenes in the Mahabharata. In fact, epic prototypes for the ¯ ¯ more striking images in the Kalidasa passage may easily be found ¯ ¯ in a single passage in the Mahabharata, such as Dronaparvan 97.6 ¯ ¯ . Bharavi’s departures from epic techniques and imagery are as ¯ instructive as are the many areas where he draws on the tradition. He gives little space to the blood-and-gore aspects of battle—with good reason, as I will show below. In other areas, the difference is small, but significant. For the poets of the Mahabharata, war is ¯ ¯ a great sacrificial ritual ( yajña), the sacred duty of ksatriyas.7 To . the metaphor of sacrifice, Bharavi adds ascetic practice as a major ¯

The Theater of Combat


´ metaphor for the combat between the hero and Siva. In the twelfth and fourteenth cantos Bharavi’s suggestive use of mythic imagery ¯ shows the kavya poet drawing fruitfully on the image-world of the ¯ primary epic. On the other hand, the complicated “pattern” (citra) stanzas in sarga XV have no counterpart in the older epics. They demand explanation, as much in terms of their place in the battle context as in terms of their function in a mahakavya. Finally, in the ¯ ¯ sustained personification and symbolization of the hero’s weapons we see what might well be Bharavi’s contribution to heroic imagery ¯ in mahakavya as well as epic. The imagery of arms is strikingly ¯ ¯ present in the passage on Arjuna’s confrontation with the boar, as it is in the battle descriptions. The configuration of combat themes and imagery leads naturally into the climax of the action, the final agon between the hero and God, and the moment of revelation.

Cosmic Imagery in the Combat Scenes The theater of combat is the most appropriate arena for epic grandeur and heroic imagery. As the old blind king Dhrtarastra notes in the ¯ .. . opening verse of the Bhagavad G¯ta, Kuruksetra, the “field of the ı ¯ . Kurus,” the arena of the Bharata war, is dharmaksetra, a field of ¯ . dharma (i.e., of establishing right).8 Even where the stakes are not quite so high, battle in the epics brings into play the divine dimension of the epic heroes. The gods, too, are actors in the combat. Not surprisingly, epic battle description presents nature, supernature, and the human world in cosmic terms, especially in terms of cosmic dissolution. The epic heroes are repeatedly compared to the sun, moon, and fire at the time of cosmic dissolution ( pralaya, yuganta), ¯ to Indra, to the god of death himself (Antaka, Kala, Yama), and to ¯ ´ the cosmic deities Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, actors in the creation ¯ .. and dissolution of the universe.9 Madeleine Biardeau and Alf Hiltebeitel have shown that the imagery of pralaya has a special significance in the case of the Bha¯ rata war, which not only resembles yuganta, “the end of a yuga” ¯ (age in a cosmic cycle), but marks the actual end of one.10 Hiltebeitel also demonstrates that, in especially charged situations in the Mahabharata, such as the death of Karna, or the chief event of the ¯ ¯ . Sauptika-parvan, in which the warrior A´ vatthaman, possessed by s ¯ ´ Siva, raids and slaughters the sleeping Pandava camp, the cosmic ¯.. imagery is equally charged. It functions as a coherent symbol system, referring to “background myths,” such as the burning of the three


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

´ cosmic cities or citadels (tripura) of the demons by Siva.11 In such ´ scenes, comparing a warrior with Siva, or with Antaka (Yama, god of Death), has precise cosmic and mythic nuances. Bharavi makes ¯ sparing use of the generic cosmic imagery, so that his detailed evo´ cation of specific mythic personae of Siva as Destroyer and Visnu in .. one of his cosmic incarnations (avatara), at significant moments in ¯ the development of the action becomes particularly striking. ´ Here is the first of these moments, the tableau that greets Siva the hunter when he arrives at the scene of the boar’s attack: XIII.17. ´ Siva beheld him with wonder, as he stood with bow drawn taut in a full circle, as if he were seeing his own self, terrifying his enemies as he stood poised to destroy the three cities. ´ Siva sees Arjuna as one imbued with his own qualities as the Destroyer-creator aspect of Deity, epitomized in a specific mythic analogy. The hero with the drawn bow, ready to discharge an arrow ´ at the boar that is rushing at him, looks like Rudra-Siva, the archer preparing to shoot an arrow with the intent of burning to ashes the triple cosmic citadels (tripura) of three arrogant demons who threaten to destroy the universe. A complex of features reveals the myth’s character as a narrative of cosmic dissolution and regeneration, among them Rudra’s fiery arrow, which is really Time itself; the presence and cooperation of the three gods of cosmic process, Brahma ¯ ´ the Creator, Visnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer on a single .. chariot composed out of a combination of the elements and energies of the universe; and the triple-world symbolism of the demon-cities (in heaven, earth, and the atmosphere).12 The image in the Kiratarjun¯ya suggests meanings at several ¯ ¯ ı levels. At the simplest visual level, it plays upon Arjuna’s resemblance to the ancient image of Rudra the Archer, the bearer of the bow ´ pinaka, a persona of Siva that figures in Vedic as well as epic myths.13 ¯ ´ Kavya allusions to Siva the bowman, however, are usually made ¯ ´ with reference to the triple city myth and Siva’s persona as cosmic Destroyer, as for example, in the famous image of the King Dusyanta . pursuing a deer from his chariot in the opening scene of Kalidasa’s ¯ ¯ ´ Sakuntala.14 Apart from other aspects of the king’s resemblance to ¯

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´ Rudra-Siva, the success of Kalidasa’s image of the royal archer on ¯ ¯ the chariot rests on the congruence of its detail with the image of the god with the drawn bow in the myth. In the Kiratarjun¯ya, on the ¯ ¯ ı other hand, the images in the myth and the kavya context vary in ¯ detail and the focus is on something else—the act of seeing itself and the Destroyer-god’s response of wonder at seeing in Arjuna with the drawn bow a mirror-image of his own self/persona (atma), entailing ¯ ¯ the recognition of the hero’s identity with him. The image’s multiple suggestions proceed from this recognition. I have already spoken of Arjuna-Nara’s intimate partnership with Visnu (Krishna)-Narayana as actors in the Mahabharata war.15 ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ .. In a series of articles Alf Hiltebeitel has convincingly argued that aspects of Arjuna’s heroic personality derive from a mystical iden´ tity with Rudra-Siva as the cosmic Destroyer; that this identity is revealed in several of Arjuna’s important acts as destroyer of the Pandavas’ enemies in the Mahabharata war; and that much ¯.. ¯ ¯ of the symbolism of Arjuna’s deeds in war is closely related to the eschatological imagery of the triple city myth.16 In the context of ´ the kirata tale, the purpose of Arjuna’s encounter with Siva is the ¯ ultimate destruction of his enemies in the Bharata war. Through ¯ this encounter Arjuna is to receive the Pa´ upata, also known as the ¯s Brahma´ iras (“Brahma’s head”) and Raudra (“pertaining to Rudra”) s ¯ missile. The weapon’s very names suggest a manifold association ´ with cosmic divinity. It embodies the cosmic energies of Siva as Pa´ us pati, Lord of the Animals, who receives the sacrificial victim, and as Rudra the Destroyer of the triple cities; as well as of Brahma the ¯ ´ Creator, who is Siva’s charioteer in the tripura myth. The weapon’s connection with Arjuna-Nara brings Visnu’s energy into the configu.. ration, completing the association of both Arjuna and the Pa´ upata ¯s with the function of each of the gods in the cosmic triad. Wielding the Pa´ upata or Brahma’s head missile in the Bharata war, Arjuna ¯s ¯ ¯ will represent all three gods.16a ´ Finally, like Siva’s arrow of Time in the triple city myth, the Pa¯ supata is itself an instrument of universal destruction. In the Maha´ ¯ ´ bharata’s Kairata episode, Arjuna begs Siva to give him ¯ ¯ . . . that divine weapon, the dreadful Pa´ upata weapon, my ¯s lord, which is called Brahma’s Head, gruesome, of terrible ¯ power, which at the horrible end of the eon ( yuganta) will ¯ destroy the entire world. With it I may burn down in battle the Danavas and the Raksasas, the evil spirits and the Pi´ a¯ ¯ . s¯ cas, Gandharvas, and Snakes.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

´ In the context of the Bharata war, the Pa´ upata is Siva’s fiery ¯ ¯s 17 arrow. Thus, in the image of Great God “seeing himself” in the warrior, Bharavi brings together several strands of the kirata nar¯ ¯ rative’s meaning: the cosmic implications of the hero’s endeavor, the terrible “world” destruction to come, and the complex relationship ´ between Siva and the hero. Yet other themes are brought into play in a sequence in the fourteenth sarga. The three verses that I will quote below are placed almost in succession at the end of the chain of eight grammatically connected verses (XIV.35-42) in which Bharavi describes Arjuna’s ¯ appearance as he stands over the carcass of the giant boar. Arjuna ´ has shot an arrow into the beast, and Siva’s gana troops rush toward . “the hero with the white horse/ like waterladen rainclouds striking (a great mountain) at summer’s end.” (XIV.42). My concerns here are, on the one hand, the cosmic and mythic images that unify the verses, and on the other, the stylistic devices that give the sequence its iconic power. XIV.38 (The troops reached Arjuna who stood) invested with the splendor of Yama, god of Death, because he had slain the boar that lay at his feet, like Pa´ upati, Lord of the Beasts, s standing over the victim placed before him by priests who have invited him to the sacrifice, 40 broad-necked, with the shoulders of a mighty bull and a chest massive as a stone wall, looking like the Great Cosmic Boar about to lift up overburdened Earth out of the vast ocean, 41 darkly shining like an emerald, with a noble figure, surpassing all creation in splendor, like Purusa, the Primal Person . manifest in human form like the sun mirrored in water.

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In the first two verses the carcass of the demonic boar, a concrete object in the scene, becomes the pivotal point of the mythic images, allowing the stereotyped likening of the warrior to the god of Death (Yama, Antaka, Kala) to unfold into a foreshadowing of ¯ Arjuna’s role as the agent of destruction in the the Bharata war. ¯ Arjuna himself, standing over the slain boar, bow in hand, is RudraPa´ upati—Rudra, Lord of the Beasts—standing over the animal s victim at the sacrificial ritual, to which the priests have invited him.18 Here is the Mahabharata’s recurrent metaphor of war as the ¯ ¯ ksatriya’s sacrifice, a ritual for the performance of which Arjuna is . being consecrated and readied. The direct references to Pa´ upati and s the sacrificial pa´ u (sacrificial victim, generally an animal) immedis ately evoke the prize Arjuna seeks, the terrible Pa´ upata weapon, a ¯s multiform of Rudra-Pa´ upati himself, capable of effecting universal s destruction. In the next verse (XIV.40) Arjuna is compared to Mahavaraha, ¯ ¯ Visnu in his incarnation as the Great Boar, rescuing Goddess Earth .. from the flooded cosmic ocean, in which she has been hidden by the demon who has stolen her.19 The sacrificial symbolism continues in this mythic allusion as well, for in his boar (varaha) incarnation ¯ Visnu becomes yajñavaraha, embodying the Vedic sacrifice ( yajña) ¯ .. itself.20 The actual presence of the demonic boar, the antihero, no doubt serves as a foil to its converse, the Cosmic Boar as the redeemer of Dharma and the Vedic sacrifice at the end of the eon. The description of Earth as “overburdened” or oppressed refers to the oppression of the earth by evil beings such as the demon Muka. The boar-slayer ¯ is also the Cosmic Boar, whose act of slaying is a prelude to his great heroic acts in the Bharata war, as a partial incarnation (amsavatara) ¯ ¯ . ´¯ of Visnu, who is born to rid the earth of evil oppressors such as the .. Kauravas and to restore Dharma. The suggestion of Arjuna’s identity as an incarnation is fleshed out in the last verse (XIV.41), in which he is directly described as the “Primal Person (Purusa) in human form, like the sun mir. rored in water” (another mirror-image!). The reference is to Arjuna’s mythic identity as Nara (“Man”), the human partner of Narayana, ¯ ¯ . the Primeval Person (Purusa); the Nara-Narayana pair, and its ¯ ¯ . . multiform, the Arjuna-Krishna pair, is central to the older epic’s conception of the human-divine relationship in the epic action. Both ´ in the Mahabharata and in the Kiratarjun¯ya Siva explains the ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ı appropriateness of Arjuna’s deeds in this narrative by revealing that Arjuna is Nara, the ancient hermit-warrior who, along with Nara¯ ¯ yana, performed asceticism for thousands of years in the Badar¯ ı .


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

hermitage prior to taking up arms in order to save the oppressed earth from the forces of evil: Kir. XII.35 This man and Acyuta (Krishna) have come down to earth at the behest of lotus-born Brahma, ¯ and live among men in order to protect the world from being destroyed by demons.21 The effect of the three mythic images I have discussed here is to reveal the hero’s divine aspect and the cosmic significance of his actions. The exaltation of the hero is one of the strategies whereby the heroic mood is developed in a kavya work. Unveiling Arjuna’s cosmic ¯ dimensions certainly serves Bharavi as an effective instrument for ¯ developing v¯ra rasa in the crucial combat segment of his epic, but its ı significance for the final scene of revelation can be understood only by studying the details and nuances of the poet’s portrayal of the hero’s ´ encounter with Siva. The multiplication of similes in a sustained description adds to the sense of grandeur that attaches to Arjuna. The connected syntax gives the sequence an emotional quality as well, as do multiple similes in a single verse in the figure called malopama (garland or chain of similes) used by Kalidasa, Bharavi, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ and Magha to cap long descriptions in their poems.22 ¯ The eight verses in the sequence stand out, not only because of their grandiose imagery, but also because they are syntactically connected. The piling up of a number of distinct, striking epithets and comparisons for the hero in one long sentence has the effect of illuminating the coherent majesty of his figure and personality, as well as their dazzlingly various attributes.23 To connect a series of complex kavya verses is to foreground them, since a discrete completeness is ¯ the salient feature of the individual verse. But the device is not as rare as it might seem: Kalidasa begins his Kumarasambhava with ¯ ¯ ¯ . fifteen grammatically connected stanzas describing the Himalaya, and shorter and less striking sequences of this type are scattered throughout the epics of A´ vaghosa, Kalidasa, Bharavi, Magha, and s ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . the other mahakavis.24 The Sanskrit poeticians and commentators ¯ treat such sequences of verses as separate subgenres of stanzaic composition, classifying them by name (a group of two stanzas is a yugmaka or yugalaka, a group of four, a kalapaka, of five or more, ¯ a kulaka). In the syntactically connected passages of kavya epics ¯

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we see the mahakavis deliberately adopting the epic technique of ¯ parataxis. The epic origins of the strategy are most obvious in sequences where the verses are grammatically parallel to each other, as in the Kiratarjun¯ya example above. Indeed, such passages give a distinctly ¯ ¯ ı “epic” flavor to the kavya cantos in which they occur in significant ¯ numbers, as in the in the first sarga of the Raghuvamsa, where epic .´ style is hinted at in other features as well, beginning with the use of the sloka meter. Most importantly, though, it is the strict formal ´ parallelism of the verses that is characteristic of the older style. All four connected sequences in RV.I follow this method, offering a series of qualifiers for a noun, the subject of the description: “the dynasty of the Raghu princes” (“raghunam,” genitive plural), the king and ¯.¯ queen (“tau dampat¯,” “that couple,” nominative dual), and so on.25 ı By contrast, the Kumarasambhava’s Himalaya sequence is a kavya ¯ ¯ . tour de force of variation: each verse is in a different construction, and the verses are connected by the relative pronoun in the full range of its forms.26 There is reason to believe that the kavya poets self-consciously ¯ choose one of the two types of connection, depending on the effect they wish to achieve. It appears that strict parallelism is favored when the process of seeing an object or a person, or moving towards and reaching him/her or it, is to be suggested.27 The majority of the connected sequences in kavya involving parallel structures, such as ¯ the above passage on Arjuna, indicate a viewer, the gaze, or a particular perspective. The troops see Arjuna; Arjuna sees Indra (Kir. XI); the gandharvas see the apsaras (Kir. VIII); Yudhisthira sees .. ´ the sage Vyasa (Kir. II), Siva’s hosts reach and surround the hero ¯ (Kir. XIV).28 These passages are direct descendants of long connected sequences involving a viewer and the viewed in Ramayana, as, for ¯ ¯ . example, in the scene in which Hanuman sees S¯ta in the A´ oka ¯ ı ¯ s grove. Similar motivations are at work in epic descriptions of cities and mountains in connected verses, a practice faithfully followed by the mahakavis.29 In epic, as in kavya, such passages are animated ¯ ¯ by the tension between the abundance of attributes and the unity of person and vision, but also stand out in a different way, being patches of description in a primarily narrative text. Citra: Verbal and Military Maneuvers The citra-kavya section of the fifteenth canto of the Kirtarjun¯ya is ¯ ¯ ı the most flamboyantly complex portion of the poem. Citra- (display,


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

variety, picture) is the name given to various kinds of patterned verse, pure word play, in which the focus is on the patterned arrangement of the syllables in a stanza.30 Under the broad classification of patterns of “sound” (´ abda) and meaning (artha) many different s kinds of verses are included in citra—some construct patterns that yield iconic images, others must be read in multiple ways and may yield multiple meanings, while others create peculiar sound effects. What brings this wide variety of puzzle verses together is their ‘tricky’ quality and the reader’s pleasure in arriving at the solution.31 Nevertheless, the later poets do not include riddles, conundrums and puzzles of the type of Dandin’s prahelika in the citra cantos of their ¯ .. mahakavyas.32 ¯ ¯ Patterned verse is not unique to Indian poetry. Classical poets in the West wrote pattern poetry, and later Western examples include the carmina figurata of the German Baroque and the picture poems ¯ of George Herbert.33 Bharavi’s pattern verses have earned him admiration from traditional Indian audiences (King Durvin¯ta undertook ı ¯ to write a commentary on the fifteenth sarga, and even Anandavardhana, who criticized citra as an obstacle to rasa, wrote an entire citra-kavya) and notoriety of long standing among Western schol¯ ars who have seen this aspect of Bharavi’s poetry as signaling the ¯ irreparable decline of taste in Indian literature.34 More recently, scholars have begun to take this aspect of Sanskrit poetry more seriously, mainly as a result of bolder investigations into the expressive nature of poetic speech, and a renewed interest in the nature and importance of “difficulty” in poetry.35 I think Edwin Gerow has captured the essence of citra as poetic utterance when he places it in sharp contrast to poetry based on an intentional structure. The differentia of citra as poetic speech “… is not so much a conveying of meaning as the imposition of modes of repetition (forms) on what is in principle an inchoate, unstructured, and fundamentally unintentional level of expression—a kind of elemental reordering or creation in the stuff of language.”36 It is a paradoxical, but perfectly logical step from verses where formal manipulation allows excess of meaning (punning verses making up entire kavya epics) to a preoc¯ cupation with verses in which form is all. As I hope to show below, the latter is particularly appropriate in a culture such as India’s, which is strongly aware of meta- and symbolic languages as means for accessing the powers of the cosmos. Having already offered in the fifth canto metrical variety and the common form of pattern called yamaka (in which identical syllabic sequences are repeated, to yield different meanings), Bharavi ¯

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reserves the fifteenth sarga for the more complex and more visually oriented patterns of citra.37 There are several instances of niyama (‘regulation,’ ‘observance’), in which only one consonant, or two, or restricted classes of consonants, are used in the entire verse, or, conversely, a sound is avoided throughout. V.5 contains only ‘y’, 14, only ‘n,’ 7 and 20 are nirausthyas (lacking labial sounds), 38 is a .. dvyaksara, using only ‘c’ and ‘r’. Bharavi omits the bandhas (‘delim¯ . itation,’ or simply, ‘structure’, ‘composition’) that imitate natural objects, usually weapons such as the bow, arrow, sword, and so forth. But verses 12, 16, 18, and 25 and 27, and others contain elaborate, geometrically formulated, patterns: gomutrika (‘cow’s urine,’ imitat¯ ¯ ing the zig-zag pattern in which that animal urinates as it moves), samudgaka (‘casket’), pratilomanulomapada (palindrome, ‘with the ¯ ¯ grain, against the grain’), double palindrome (sarvatobhadra, ‘good from every side’) and ardhabhramaka (‘half-rotation’). These are verses “ … which, through a geometrical limitation of the sequence of their syllables, can be read in more than one way to give the same meaning. The most transparent example is the palindrome ( pratilomanuloma), which specifies that the sequence of syllables be the ¯ same when read backwards.”38 The sarvatobhadra (“good, or auspicious, from all directions”) or Double Palindrome is a more complex version of the pratilomanuloma. This is a verse, “having the same number of lines as ¯ syllables, that can be read backwards and forwards both vertically and horizontally.” Mathematically the verse has the dihedral symmetry called D4 in group theory, the symmetry of a square that can be flipped about a horizontal axis, flipped about a vertical axis, or rotated through ninety degrees.38a Represented in standard verse lineation, the example from the Kiratarjun¯ya reads: ¯ ¯ ı devakanini kavade vahikasvasvakahi va ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ kakarebhabhare kaka nisvabhavyavyabhasvani (XV. 25) ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ The verse is not an independent stanza, but the second verse in a sequence of five verses in the sloka meter, itself part of a speech in ´ which Skanda, the general of the hunter-chief’s army, exhorts his soldiers to fight, as they scatter before Arjuna’s spirited response to their attack. The phrases in this stanza are part of a description of the great battles Skanda and the army of the gods have fought in the past against powerful demons:


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic Despicable cowards! (You once proved your mettle in great battles against demons,) in which the din of combat excited the gods, in which the soldiers attacked their enemies with the proper manoeuvres, in which rutting war elephants abounded, battles which incited to action both the brave and the cowardly.

These meanings are teased out of the verse by the ingenious use of rare words and words used in obscure meanings, chosen for their “fit” in forming the double palindromic structure. The dynamic of the verse, and its mathematical properties, are best demonstrated through diagramming, as in figure 5. In addition to Dandin’s defini.. tion of the figure sarvatobhadra, Mallinatha also gives instructions ¯ on how to construct the double palindromic square, shown in the figure. Of greatest interest to us is not the individual patterns in the citra verses, but the very fact of their presence in the Kiratarjun¯ya. ¯ ¯ ı Clearly the first level of pleasure offered by the citra passage is the intellectual one, but it remains to be seen how appropriate this is at this point in the poem. From the poeticians’ examples of such verses and from the great kavyas such as Bharavi’s, we learn that citra ¯ ¯ verses are usually about combat or praise of deities, especially the Great Goddess, also known as Durga (‘difficult of access,’ ‘invincible’), ¯ who is the Goddess of weapons and war.39 Some of the iconic bandhas in the detached stanzas cited by Rudrata and others, and compara. ¯ ble verses in Anandavardhana’s Century in Praise of the Goddess (Dev¯sataka), include imitations of weapons, royal insignia, comı´ bat paraphernalia, such as the arrow (´ ara), sword (khadga), and s . drum (muraja).40 Yantras (symbolic icons, magical diagrams) and mandalas (cosmograms) are central means of worshipping deities .. and activating cosmic powers in the esoteric religious paths called tantra in India.41 The Goddess, the one who is made up of the energies of all the gods, symbolized in their weapons, Durga, who ¯ herself bears a vast array of weapons and helps kings attain victory in combat, is the tantric deity par excellence. Furthermore, tantric practice requires initiation, and tantric worshippers (adepts) use samdha-bhasa (esoteric language) in their communications with ¯ ¯.¯ .

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Figure 5 The Double Palindrome: Sarvatobhadra (Good from all sides). Figure by Jarrod L. Whitaker

the deity. The secret language of tantra is a multiform of the magical power of sound, mantra, as conceived in the Vedic tradition itself. ¯ Anandavardhana, who, like Abhinavagupta and Ratnakara, ¯ author of the Haravijaya, hailed from the region of Kashmir, where tantric practice and philosophy have been of great importance, must have written the Century in Praise of the Goddess as an act of tantric worship; the author himself declares that he wrote the poem at the Goddess’s behest.42 The many pictorial bandhas in his poem represent the concretized power of the Goddess; and the last twenty-two stanzas of the poem (verses 80–101) constitute a great magical cakra, the Great Wheel.43 Other mystical poets, such as the early Tamil ´ Saiva saint Campantar (7th century), and the Carnatic composer ´ ı Muttusvami D¯ksita, an adept of the Sr¯vidya tantra, use citra¯ ı . ¯ bandhas in their devotional hymns (the latter poet, in praise of the Goddess).44


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Citra-kavya is appropriate for the combat context of Bharavi’s ¯ ¯ fifteenth sarga. A. K. Warder has suggested that in the early por´ tions of the sarga “the rout of the army of kiratas (i.e., Siva’s ganas,) ¯ . is depicted with increasing confusion of rhyme and alliteration.”45 Edwin Gerow makes a similar connection between pictorial verses ´ s ¯ and the climax of the combat between Krishna and Si´ upala in the ´ supala.46 David Smith points final canto of Magha’s The Slaying of Si´ ¯ ¯ out: “Word-play manifestly befits the portrayal of war: its brutal treatment of the normal sentence forces the reader to share the discomfort undergone by the protagonists.”47 I would add that, in the Kiratarjun¯ya the citra verses represent increasingly complex bat¯ ¯ ı tle formations or arrays (vyuha)—these are described not only in ¯ the Mahabharata but also in the texts on political theory—calculated ¯ ¯ to engage the reader as well as the combatants in a “battle” with their various forms of difficulty. In this they resemble the goddess Durga, “the difficult of access,” the other great subject of such verse. ¯ The unique appropriateness of the Kiratarjun¯ya’s citra passage, ¯ ¯ ı however, arises from the magical and initiatory symbolism and contexts of such verse: Already initiated (d¯ksita) by Vyasa to perform ı . ¯ penance, Arjuna is about to enter into his intiation-in-combat for the battle-sacrifice yet to come at the hands of the Great God.

Arms and the Man: The Warrior’s Identity ´ Siva has told the Himalayan sages that it is on the battlefield that they will witness the hero displaying his essential qualities. It is also on the battlefield that the essential significance of the hero’s weapons is revealed. The rich imagery of arms in the combat scenes makes explicit the inalienable relationship between the warrior and his weapons, a theme that has been suggestively developed all the way through the poem. Starting from the commonplace of the hero’s weapons as the symbols (cihna, laksma, sign) of warriorhood and the . instrument for actualizing his heroism, Bharavi moves on to the idea ¯ that Arjuna’s weapons are his friends (mitra, suhrd) and counsellors . (saciva) when he is in need; finally, they are the very qualities that make him a hero. In the initial debate, Draupad¯, condemning Yudhisthira’s ı .. renouncer-like behavior, angrily tells him to throw away the bow, “the symbol of kings (warriors)” (I.44). Later, in her fiery farewell speech to Arjuna, exhorting him to fulfil his mission, she makes

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the warrior’s weapons her metaphor for heroism itself. In identical words and parallel expressions, she first describes the hero’s weapons, blunted and dulled by disuse, then the hero himself, resembling his weapons, since he is bereft of his glory (tejas connotes both “glory” and “lustre”), his pride (abhimana) lost.48 A double defini¯ tion at the end of the sequence completes the homology between the hero’s weapons and the heroic persona: III.48 A warrior (ksatriya) is one who is capable . of protecting (trana-) good men; ¯. a bow (karmuka) is that which is able to ¯ accomplish deeds (karma) in war. To use these two words in their mere general sense, but lacking their full meaning, is equal to giving them the wrong derivation. The homology is made possible by etymologies whereby ksatriya . and karmuka are connected, respectively, to the verbal root trai¯ (to protect), and karma (action), respectively. In interpreting this verse, I have followed Roodbergen, who has pointed out the errors in Cappeller’s reading of it, and discussed in detail Mallinatha’s expla¯ nation of the grammatical point on which the meaning of this verse turns. In brief, it has to do with the distinction between the generic meaning of words and their “full (semantic) import”; the words “ksatriya” and karmuka can be understood in their mere generic ¯ . sense, as “warrior” and “bow,” but their full meaning is conveyed by their constituent parts and explained in the etymologies above. When a speaker ignores the latter, he is negating the words’ proper derivations and is guilty of faulty usage.49 More than grammar is at stake here: the misuse of language is really an expression of the real abuse to which the subdued Arjuna and his dull, rusty weapons have put their “warrior-hood” and “bow-ness.” A fine example of the humanization of the hero’s arms occurs in the thirteenth canto, at the juncture at which Arjuna’s tapas is interrupted by the demon Muka, who attacks the hero in the guise of ¯ the wild boar. Seeing the great, menacing beast rushing at him, Arjuna agonizes over his course of action. It does not befit him, as a man who has accepted the discipline of ascetic vows (vrata), for whatever purpose, to kill any living being. Yet the seer Vyasa has himself ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

commanded him not to yield to anyone who might confront him in a hostile manner. Arjuna now remembers the command, reiterated in the guhyaka’s parting blessing, and implied in the hero’s own speech to Indra.50 Considering the maintenance of his vow in strict accordance with the seer’s command to be his highest duty, the hero decides to resist the boar’s attack. He turns to his personal weapon, the bow Gand¯va, with the two inexhaustible quivers given to him ¯ . .ı by Agni the Fire-god at the burning of the Khandava forest. Gand¯va ¯.. ¯ . .ı responds to him in the manner of a trustworthy friend. XIII.14 Reflecting thus, he took up the foremost symbol of heroic manhood ( paurusacihna) . called “a bow”. Stringing it, he fitted it with a straight arrow that was like an honest counsellor who knows the enemy’s strength, and helps (his king) to break him. 15 Drawn taut by Dhanamjaya . who was weak with exertion, yet resolute, the great strung bow bent readily, though it was so hard as to be inflexible, just as a noble friend, a man of firm principles, responds at once when one who has lost his wealth appeals to him for help. In these verses and many others like them, the identification of arms with friends is made possible by the use of a series of words with double meanings. To point out only a few of these words: guna . is virtue as well as a bowstring, rju is “straight” and “honest,” guru . can mean firm or weighty in the physical sense, connoting nobility of character as well, p¯d- conveys both the appeal for help and the ı. physical act of causing to bend, and anati is both “bending” and “com¯ pliance.” The sustained portrayal of weapons as a hero’s intimate and loyal friends, along with the entire complex of punning images and words, becomes a major motif in the combat cantos, illuminating every aspect of the friendship metaphor, marking turning points in the combat and confrontation.

The Theater of Combat


´ When Arjuna’s magic missile puts Siva’s gana hosts to sleep, . XVI.28 Some stood leaning on their strung bows, which were great and sturdy, and made of excellent cane, as they would on worthy friends who are noble and steadily loyal because they are from the best families, their strength tried and tested from long acquaintance. Here too, the detail of the comparison is animated by the standard puns on guna (virtue and bowstring), guru (noble, weighty), and . so on, but also by additional double-entendres: made out of the best cane-plants (vamsa), the bows are like friends “born in the best fam.´ ´ ilies (vamsa).” When Siva breaks all of Arjuna’s arrows, he grieves .´ over their breaking “even where they had no joints ( parvan),” as one might weep over the “untimely ( parvan, season, time) downfall” of good men (XVII.29). The multivalent vocabulary gives depth and resonance to such verses. As a hero, Arjuna possesses and displays, paurusa (martial valor, heroic deeds); but so does his arrow . (sphutapaurusa-, XIII.32 below), as also a man’s noble friends. The . . same words can thus simultaneously connote the hero, his weapons, and his heroic allies, revealing the metonymical relationship among these entities.51 A further function of the common vocabulary applied to the hero’s own qualities and those of his weapons is to illuminate their mutual relationship as one of tender sensitivity and reciprocal love. It is not surprising that Arjuna loves his weapons and relies on them. But the weapons, too, love and serve their master and friend. Bha¯ ravi gives sustained treatment to the theme of loving relationship at two critical points in the action. The first of these is a continuation of the sequence of the boar’s attack; the second is the moment during ´ the combat with Siva when Arjuna discovers to his utter amazement that the inexhaustible quivers given by Fire are, for the first time, empty of arrows. The boar sequence requires no comment: XIII.32-34 Then, even though he had a great store of arrows, Partha ran towards the boar, ¯ wishing to recover that arrow


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic which had displayed its capability. One who has accomplished his task is dearer to a grateful man than one who merely holds out the promise of future deeds. Like a favor done to a villain the arrow did not find a foothold in the beast’s carcass, but vanished into it. Having shown its ability it nobly faced downward as though such a display of valor were an embarrassment, and it carried its lustre as though it were its peerless glory. As Arjuna stood there, thoughtfully drawing the arrow out, was he enquiring aloud of its welfare, or clasping it in his eyes’ warm embrace?

The second extended description of Arjuna and his weapons (XVII.36-47) is a portrait of action in slow motion. With full confidence (savisrambham) Arjuna dips his hand into the quiver (36). . Though it is empty, like “a friend suddenly gone bankrupt” (dhvastarthasare sahasaiva bandhau), the hand continues to search for ¯ ¯ an arrow (37). The finger gropes frantically (38). Bearing on his back the “inexhaustible” quivers that are now inexplicably empty, Arjuna is like the world at the end of a yuga dissolution, bearing the eastern and western oceans, dried up (by the fires and hurricane winds of cosmic dissolution) (39). Ignoring his own misfortune, the hero grieves over the emptiness of the quivers, as a good man would when his benefactors are in distress (40). At a loss for a remedy, the hand reluctantly parts from the quiver, like “a nobleman from his friends” (41); and the great quivers appreciate being placed on the hero’s back because, “when one has failed one’s master / to remain in front of him/ would be impudence”(42). The final stanza in the sequence serves as an appropriate comment on this particular aspect of the kavya strategy of attributing human behavior to inan¯ imate objects.52 At this point in the combat, having lost his arrows, ´ Arjuna is unable to fight back, and Siva hacks the armor off his body

The Theater of Combat


(43-46). The double quivers fall to the ground along with the armor, as if out of compassion for their friend and master: XVII.47 Although the quivers lying on the ground were manifestly inanimate, in facing downward at the time of the hero’s distress, they surely demonstrated that they were endowed with consciousness. The personification of the quivers is effective in revealing the symbiotic nature of the hero’s relationship with his weapons, especially because of the recurrent images associated with sustained punning and the unusually slow pace of the description. The behavior of the weapons becomes perfectly authentic, and therefore emotionally suggestive, in a cosmos in which there are no strict boundaries between human and nonhuman, animate (cetana) and inanimate (acetana), and in a literature that becomes “a great ceremony in which each step affirms the value of the life humanized by participation”.53 The final category of arms imagery I want to consider here demonstrates the flexibility and versatility of the Kiratarjun¯ya’s ¯ ¯ ı central images. As Arjuna moves from one battle-stance to another, the imagery can move from the vividly concrete to the abstract. Again, the instances occur at moments of strategic importance in the action. Of the two verses I give below, the first rounds off a long ´ sequence of connected verses depicting the first impression Siva’s troops get of Arjuna; the second marks the point in the combat in which, having lost bow and arrows, the hero reaches for his sword. XIV.37 ´ (Siva’s troops saw Arjuna) leaning on his bow, his means for overcoming his enemies, as if on his inflexible courage, keeping to his own calm nature, and yet invincible, like the ocean unmoving without a breath of wind.54


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic XVII.55 Then he grasped as his last resort the warrior’s ultimate means for achieving his goals, that which is invincible by enemies, the treasurehouse of war-might, the mighty sword, as though it were his pride incarnate.

In other verses, Arjuna’s arrows are compared to political strategies (upaya, XIV.52), or to his heroic energy or effort (utsaha, ¯ ¯ XIV.57), while his opponents’ weapons are like the fruit of action (kriyaphala) nullified by time and fate (kala, krtanta, XIV.51 and ¯ ¯ . ¯ ´ XVI.29). When Arjuna discharges the serpent-missile at Siva, the god wards it off with his Garuda golden eagle missile, just as a . king counters the divisive tactics of his enemy with naya (political ´ strategy, XVI.42). In the seventeenth canto Siva’s attempts to parry Arjuna’s arrows are compared, in technical terms, to the tactics of a general in battle (XVII.27). The portrayal of arms as heroic qualities underscores the role of weapons as an inalienable part of the ksatriya’s identity, an . idea already presented in the image of the warrior as yogi. More specifically, the abstract imagery of weapons in the combat scenes covers the entire domain of conflict, kingship, and heroic conduct. In these contexts the description of heroic action turns into meditations on, and a psychological exploration of, the nature of heroism itself. When the warrior’s arms are humanized, the focus is on the emotional bases of the heroic mood; when weapons are likened to heroic virtues, combat tactics and aspects of heroic action, the focus is on the metaphysical implications of the action. Description, especially in the latter case, becomes reflexive. Action is compared to the very thoughts and feelings that motivate it, that is, action is, in a sense, compared to itself. The sustained intellectualization of action is perhaps the hallmark of Bharavi’s battle description. ¯

Chapter 9

Wrestling with God: Rasa and Bhakti in the Kiratarjun¯ya ¯ ¯ ı

Today your strength and power have been matched with mine, blameless hero! I am pleased with you. Mahabharata III.40.53.1 ¯ ¯

It is time to consider the final sequences of the Kiratarjun¯ya ¯ ¯ ı as the culmination of the poem’s action and as the climax of the ´ divine play staged by Siva. If weapons are an integral part of Ar´ juna’s heroic persona, why does Siva succeed in stripping him, one by one, of all his weapons, till he has no choice but to wrestle with ´ the god? Who wins the combat—the hero, or the god? How do Siva’s master plan and the nature of bhakti as devotion to God affect the audience’s ultimate experience of the heroic rasa, the poem’s dominant mood? Bharavi’s treatment of the combat scenes is structured ¯ differently from the Kiratarjun¯ya’s epic source and merits compar¯ ¯ ı ison with it. The concluding sequences of the kirata narrative are ¯ so different in different versions, depending on the particular ideological contexts and literary conventions of the text, as to call for a comparative analysis of these various endings, the better to illuminate the mahakavya author’s conception of the relationship between ¯ ¯ the heroic and devotional aspects of his poem’s theme. Bharavi’s Arjuna and the Hunter is the only Sanskrit court epic ¯ among the numerous literary works on the kirata theme.2 Of the ¯ post-Bharavi versions of the Kairata-parvan only two works, both ¯ ¯ written in languages other than Sanskrit, share the courtly spirit of the Kiratarjun¯ya. The first of these forms part of the Kannada Vikra¯ ¯ ı marjunavijaya (“Victory of Valiant Arjuna”), a retelling of several ¯ episodes in the Mahabharata with a focus on Arjuna, written by ¯ ¯ ´ the Jaina poet Pampa (10th century) to glorify his Saiva patron, the



Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

Chalukya king Arikesari.3 The second work is the Arjunawiwaha ¯ (The Celebration of Arjuna), the earliest of the Old Javanese court poems (kakawin) modeled on Sanskrit mahakavyas, written by Mpu ¯ ¯ ¯ Kanwa between 1028 and 1035 A.D. for King Airlangga of East Java.4 The courtly kakawin played an important role in Airlangga’s rise as ¯ the great hero of the culture of the new age in East Java. It also inspired many treatments of the kirata story in temple sculpture ¯ and painting in Java, Bali, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and in the texts for the Javanese wayang shadow play.5 Most of the remaining versions of the epic episode are devotional ´ poems or segments of Saiva puranas (compendia of aspects of sec¯. tarian religion and mythology). Their main purpose is to celebrate ´ devotion (bhakti) to Siva, and they are stylistically simpler than the ´ court poems. The Sanskrit Sivapurana treats the kirata episode as ¯. ¯ ´ one of several Saiva narratives.6 To the category of bhakti text also belong the versions of the narrative in several regional manuscripts of the Sanskrit Mahabharata. The majority of the literary renderings ¯ ¯ of the theme, however, are Kannada devotional works produced in Karnataka, mainly between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries.7 Lastly, no less important than the written versions for the study of the kirata-Arjuna theme in India are the visual representations ¯ ´ of the episode, found in the major Siva temples in Karnataka and Andhra, dating from the seventh through the nineteenth centuries.8 Early examples are found in the Tamil region as well. The so-called kiratarjun¯ya relief panels, depicting a sequence of scenes from the ¯ ¯ ı narrative, occur among representations of various episodes from the two epics, which are usually sculpted on pillars or on the exterior walls or basements of temples.9 The narrative is also represented in painting and wood carving in temples in Andhra and Kerala in South India, dating mainly from the sixteenth century onwards.10 The Kannada versions of the episode closely resemble the version in the regional manuscripts of the Mahabharata, but add what ¯ ¯ appears to be a further local touch. In these works, at the end of the contest between the god and the hero, the goddess Parvat¯ gives Ar¯ ı juna a weapon called the Anjanastra. M. S. Nagaraja Rao has shown that, in the depictions in temple sculpture and painting, elements not found in any written version of the story, and most probably deriving from folk traditions in Karnataka and Andhra, are incorporated into the narrative. Both sculpture and regional language renderings draw upon the folkloric associations of the story of Arjuna and the ´ hunter. All over South India the worship of Siva and hero-cults of Arjuna are embedded in local history, and the kirata-Arjuna theme ¯

Wrestling with God


continues to be celebrated in vibrant traditions of folk theater and religious ritual. In Gingee and elsewhere in Tamilnadu, in “street theater” (Terukkuttu) performances of the Kairata, Arjuna climbs ¯ ¯ ´ up the tall “tapas tree” (“tree of austerity”), singing hymns to Siva, while women in the crowds surrounding the tree get possessed by the hero’s spirit. This ritual enactment of Arjuna’s austerity is a crucial part of the worship of Draupad¯, goddess and heroine of the ı Mahabharata.11 As I noted earlier, the narrative has also drawn ¯ ¯ to itself associations with the folklore of forest and hunting tribes. ´ At several temple-sites in Andhra and Tamilnadu, Siva-the-hunter is identified as a member of a local hunting tribe and celebrated in this persona in festival reenactments of the kirata tale. At Srisailam, ¯ ´ Siva Mallikarjuna is called Chenchu Mallayya, “the Wrestler (?) Lord ¯ of the Chenchu hunter tribe,” and he is said to have fought with and then married the goddess Parvat¯, who is said to be a Chenchu ¯ ı tribeswoman.12 It is not coincidental that the temples at Lepakshi and Srisailam house celebrated representations of the kirata theme ¯ in sculpture and painting. I do not mean to imply that there was at any point a strict separation between the folk and literary aspects of the kirata narrative. ¯ On the contrary, there is evidence of a selective but ongoing dialogue among the versions of the story, across the boundaries of ideological context and literary convention.13 The temptation of Arjuna by nymphs from Indra’s paradise, a sequence Bharavi introduced into ¯ the plot in order to offer the erotic description required in a court poem, frequently appears in later written versions and narrative friezes that diverge from Bharavi on other points.14 Identifying a ¯ local hill as the mountain on which Arjuna performed his austerities, the people of Vijayawada in Andhra call the hill “Indrak¯la,” ı “Indra’s Peak,” a name that was, as we know, unknown to the Mahabharata and first appears in Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ya, and later ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ı in the Kannada versions, as the name for the Himalayan site of Arjuna’s asceticism.15 Did Bharavi invent the name, or were he and ¯ the Kannada poets drawing on a local tradition? Whatever the case, it is clear that the differences between Bharavi’s version, the lit¯ erary devotional texts, and the oral traditional narratives cannot be explained with reference to chronology or to ignorance of one another. It can be shown, as I hope to do in the remainder of this chapter, that in making the choices that they did in depicting the conclusion of the narrative, the authors of the diverse canons were motivated by specific aesthetic and ideological concerns. In Bharavi’s ¯ case, as I will show below, the aesthetic-ideological concerns of kavya ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

led the poet to eliminate the role of the Goddess, omit a worship sequence prior to the theophany, and dramatically alter the moment of revelation. I will begin my comparative analysis of Bharavi’s treat¯ ment of the climactic events in the narrative with a consideration of the sequence depicting the wrestling match and the moment of revelation.

Illusion, Reality, and the Marvelous Heroes are by definition awe-inspiring figures. The rasa known as adbhuta, the marvelous, is an essential aspect of the epic and kavya ¯ poets’ description of great heroes and spectacular battles. Adbhuta is equally integral to descriptions of the gods appearing and acting ´ on the human plane, which is what happens when Siva becomes a hunter in order to engage in combat with the Kiratarjun¯ya’s ¯ ¯ ı hero. With the theophany—or, in Alf Hiltebeitel’s phrase, the bhakti tableau15a —in the eighteenth canto the marvelous reaches its acme, but its tone is already set in the earlier combat scenes. One way in which Bharavi achieves the atmosphere of wonderful events is by ¯ underscoring—in ways that the Kairata does not—the fundamen¯ ´ tally unreal nature of the combat engineered by Siva, as well as its supernatural dimensions. To begin with, there is the poet’s manipulation of some of the ´ generic topics of epic battle description. Siva’s general Skanda is the mouthpiece for the first of two generic battle descriptions. What in the Mahabharata would have been a positive account of an engage¯ ¯ ment becomes in Skanda’s speech a negatively phrased exhortation to the gana-warriors, fleeing from Arjuna’s arrows, to return and do . battle as they ought to. In Skanda’s words, the things that should be happening in a real battle are simply not happening here. As if to heighten the sense of the hypothetical nature of the combat description, Skanda’s speech, as well as other portions of the fifteenth canto, are framed in citra verses, so that our attention is drawn to verbal and visual puzzles, rather than to meaning, imagery, and mood. Moreover, in these sequences potentially standard descriptions of the chaos and carnage of war are similarly defused by irony. In canto XVI, for example, the only person to speak of a bloody battle is Arjuna, but his reflective speech (XVI.1-16) turns out to be a parody of epic battle description, for the puzzled hero is wondering why he is experiencing defeat at the hands of a mere troop of hunters, in a battle that seems to lack most of the signs of real battle,

Wrestling with God


´ Figure 6 Arjuna wrestles with Siva disguised as a hunter. Relief sculpture, Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid, Karnataka. Courtesy: M. S. Nagaraja Rao. Photo: Jenny Moon.

including the assault of cavalry and infantry, and widespread injury and bloodshed. Here are some sample verses: XVI.15-18 (In this battle) the peacock-feather crest of the spear buried in the elephant-rider’s chest does not hang limp like his beloved’s loosened coiffure with its crest of blue lotuses. Here Death’s mouth does not gape wide with tongue greedy to devour the three worlds, to snap up in an instant, as at the end of time, countless shining warriors losing their lives.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic And the strength that once vanquished the might of great armies of invincible warrior heroes is overpowered now, in this battle with little men, like sunshine by the light of the moon! Is this magic, or just my mind’s confused imaginings? Has my heroic strength failed me, or have I become another person? Unlike in the past, the arrows shot from Gand¯va ¯ . .ı have no impact on the hunter!

Speculations about the magical nature of the battle make Arjuna suspect that the hunter is not what he seems to be, that he, like the boar, is a hostile being in disguise, and a person with control over magical means. The hero decides to take countermeasures by using supernatural weapons. At Arjuna’s initiative the hero and the god fight with magical missiles, which conjure up elements and creatures that devour each other (XVI. 25-62). Tor´ rential rain from Siva’s Varunastra (weapon of Varuna, god of the .¯ . ¯ waters) quenches the raging fires produced by Arjuna’s Agneyastra ¯ ´ (weapon of Agni, god of fire). One of Siva’s magical missiles releases great flocks of Garuda golden eagles, sworn enemies of snakes, to . devour the serpents born from Arjuna’s Nagapa´ a astra. The bat¯ ¯s tle takes place entirely on a supernatural plane, and images of an eerie, unearthly beauty—of skies crimsoned by the fire born from ¯ Arjuna’s Agneya missile and covered by the whirring golden wings of a myriad eagles—highlight the unreal, illusory nature of the combat. ´ And yet, the unreality of Arjuna’s combat with Siva’s army does not negate the impact of the heroic rasa in the battle cantos. Later, ´ when the hero and the god meet in single combat, Siva takes every available opportunity to wound Arjuna—and at last, blood flows, affirming both Arjuna’s humanity and his courage. The hunter continues to remain unhurt for the greater portion of the engagement, although in one verse (XVIII.4) Bharavi describes the the god’s chest ¯ covered with “blood from (his?) wounds”. And the audience knows

Wrestling with God


that Arjuna will achieve his goal. Common to both heroism and devotion, the marvelous is a bridge between the heroic and devotional perspectives. Arjuna’s heroism is in no way called into question by the understanding that this is not a fight between equals, nor a fight unto death. Bharavi makes it clear that the combat is simultane¯ ously a genuine test of Arjuna’s valor, and an instance of l¯la, divine ı ¯ ´ sport, on Siva’s part. He ensures this double vision for his readers by carefully controlling the perspectives from which both actors and audience view the events of the combat. In Bharavi as much as in the ¯ ´ Mahabharata episode the power of Siva’s revelation depends on the ¯ ¯ delicate balance of ignorance and knowledge on the part of Arjuna, ´ Siva, and the audience.

Points of View: Ignorance and Knowledge in the Combat Cantos At the very beginning of the kirata narrative in the Mahabharata the ¯ ¯ ¯ seer Vyasa tells Yudhisthira that Arjuna will win celestial weapons ¯ .. ´ from Siva, Indra, and the other world-guardians. In the Kiratar¯ ¯ ´ jun¯ya Siva’s intervention comes to the fore only from the eleventh ı canto onwards, for the sage has instructed Arjuna only to propitiate Indra. In the Mahabharata, when the Himalayan ascetics approach ¯ ¯ ´ Siva for an explanation of the hero’s enigmatic asceticism, the god merely assures them that he knows Arjuna’s purpose and will help him accomplish it. In the twelfth sarga of the Kiratarjun¯ya, Bharavi ¯ ¯ ı ¯ uses the same context to reveal the Great God’s plan in its entirety ´ to the reader. Siva gives the sages a detailed account of Arjuna’s divine identity as the warrior-ascetic Nara, who performed tapas side by side with Visnu Narayana in the Himalayan hermitage of ..¯ ¯ ¯ . Badar¯vana in the dim past, preparing to combat demonic evil in the ı ´ universe.16 He also foretells the precise manner in which he, Siva, will test the hero’s courage, using the boar as a pretext. He ends his speech by inviting the sages to come and witness “the matchless, inborn strength of his arms / as he unleashes his fury in combat” with the god in disguise.17 The seers, the god, and the reader become knowing witnesses to the events that follow, culminating in the boon of the Pa´ upata and other weapons. ¯s In the older epic the hero is himself ignorant of the divine plan. The warrior fights with sincerity because he does not know that he is fighting with God. The epic poets are fully aware of the impor´ tance of Arjuna’s ignorance. When Siva reveals himself, he invokes


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

the sincerity of the hero’s engagement in combat: “The Lord said: ‘O Arjuna, I am pleased with your matchless deed. There is no warrior (ksatriya) equal to you in valor and endurance!”18 As I will . show below, however, the Mahabharata tradition has preserved sev¯ ¯ eral versions of the narrative at this point, and the actual effect of ´ Siva’s words depends on the detail of the events that prompts his revelation. Bharavi is clearly concerned about making an unambiguous ¯ ´ connection between Arjuna’s heroic deeds and Siva’s pleasure; the hunter’s real identity must come as a complete surprise to the hero. Indeed, with this in mind, in contrast to the detailed revelation of ´ Siva’s plan in the twelfth canto, the poet goes to great lengths to preserve Arjuna’s ignorance till the very end of the combat, reshaping even minor details to suit his purpose. A good instance of this is the way in which he changes the content of a brief sequence in the Kairata in which Arjuna speculates about the hunter’s real identity. ¯ In the older epic the hero wonders whether his opponent might be ¯ Rudra himself.19 In Bharavi’s version (XVI.19-25) he merely suspects that his opponent might be a superhuman entity, but no mention is made of Rudra. In fact, Arjuna ends his speculation with a reference ´ to Siva as “this savage, battle-crazed fellow!” ´ The mahakavi’s careful use of epithets of Siva in the combat can¯ tos is equally illuminating, for here his purpose is deliberately to pit Arjuna’s ignorance against his own and the reader’s knowledge of ´ Siva’s identity. While the narrator in the Kairata text refers to the ¯ ´ god both by the standard names and epithets of Siva (e.g., Maha¯ deva [III.40.49], and by reference to his kirata identity (III.40.45 ¯ and 47), Bharavi (in the authorial voice) stresses our knowledge, ¯ ´ referring to Siva exclusively in his divine persona, as “the Lord” ¯s ´ . ´ (I´ vara XVII.22), Sambhu (XVII.27 and 51), Siva (XVIII.3), “Slayer of Kama” (Smarari XVII.30), and so on. From the fifteenth canto ¯ ¯ ´ onwards, there are only three verses in which Siva is called “the kirata.” Two of these, in canto XVI, mark the beginning and end of ¯ Arjuna’s speculation about the unreal nature of his combat with the hunter. In the third verse, in the seventeenth sarga, the hero views with misgiving the “hunter-chief ” advancing towards him, twanging his bow to the left and right, “. . . Like a trainer who has lost contol / over an elephant run amuck / warily watching the beast / as it flaps its ears in alternation” (XVII.25). Significantly, these ´ are the only verses in which we see kirata-Siva solely through Ar¯ juna’s eyes. We are to understand that, to the hero his opponent is never anything other than an arrogant mountain man, although

Wrestling with God


he might be a man with superhuman or magical powers, while to the poet, and to us, the knowing witnesses, the “kirata” is always ¯ ´ Siva, the Lord. ´ What of the perspective of Siva, who is the director of the drama, as well as one of its principal actors, the seeming villain of the ´ piece? As if Siva’s omniscient speech in the twentieth canto were not enough, at every stage in the combat Bharavi makes us privy ¯ ´ to Siva’s intentions and his reactions to Arjuna’s deeds. In this he departs quite radically from the Mahabharata account of the com¯ ¯ bat, which we see primarily from the point of view of the bewildered ´ Arjuna. In these contexts Siva is portrayed quite unambiguously as ´ the gracious God of the bhakti religions. We should recall that Siva’s plan is to demonstrate to the world “the matchless, innate strength of (Arjuna’s) arms (bhuja)” (XII.39).20 In accordance with this intention, ´ throughout the combat Siva takes measures to protect the hero from genuine physical injury, as in XIV.48: Wishing to show that his opponent’s valor was quite invincible, ´ Siva shot a harmless arrow at the mighty warrior who stood parrying hundreds of arrows . . . At the end of the fifteenth canto we are reminded that Arjuna’s ´ valor is both genuine and a function of Siva’s grace: XV.53 As they watched the valiant deeds of splendid prince Arjuna, ´ which were thus displayed by Siva, even sages who know the true nature of things were thrilled, and felt the hair on their limbs stand on end. Note the play on “tattva,” the true nature of things, the nature of reality itself, in the metaphysical sense, but, surely, also the imme´ diate truth of the natures of Siva and Arjuna, and of the combat between them. ´ Siva himself receives the fiercest of Arjuna’s assaults with supreme indulgence, love, and delight. Two verses in canto XVII ´ reveal Siva’s feelings at the height of the combat.


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic XVII.13-14 As the Himalaya mountain welcomes the powerful thrusts of Indra’s elephant ramming his tusks against its slopes the Lord of the hosts experienced great delight at his supreme heroism. Then he who is the origin of all origins endured defeat for some time. It was as though he wished to extend to the hero in the form of heroic deeds an arm fit for bearing all his burdens.

´ The above verses are followed by Siva’s reflections on a hero’s absolute inner necessity to prove himself in combat; the vignette ends with the god’s resolve to further engage Arjuna in furious battle, in which neither combatant would have a clear advantage—all in the cause of Arjuna’s glory, which is here likened to the white crescent ´ moon that adorns Siva’s head. XVII.18 In this manner, wishing to create among the hero’s enemies a reputation for him bright as the crescent moon on his own head, ´ . Sambhu proceeded to engage in a systematic pattern of combat, in which each combatant won and lost by turns. In the next stage of the combat, Arjuna unwittingly experiences ´ the effect of Siva’s love. XVII.33 ´ The hermit found Siva’s arrows delightful like kind counsel offered by a dear friend, for they were sent with his welfare in mind,

Wrestling with God and did not wound him in any critical spot.


At the end of this canto Arjuna has been stripped of all his weapons. The two inexhaustible quivers have long been emptied. The sword is broken, and so is the great bow Gand¯va. Arjuna has ¯ . .ı resorted to rocks and tree trunks in his efforts to ward off his opponent. The loss of weapons implies the ultimate crisis of identity for the hero. He has responded to the crisis with the instincts of a true hero, improvising weapons when the ones that he has relied on are broken. Finally, when even the trees and rocks prove futile, he turns ´ to the strength of his arms, striking at Siva’s chest, which is like “a golden rock,” with his bare fists. The final verse in the canto likens ´ Siva’s reaction to the hero’s gesture to an indulgent father’s response to the childish anger of an only son: XVII.64 As a father indulges even rude acts on the part of a dear child, an only son who has climbed upon his lap, so Smara’s enemy endured even the impertinence of the Pandava, ¯.. who had come to him seeking valorous deeds of a kind his enemies with all their troops could not hope to achieve, the means to fame and royal glory. ´ Once again, we are looking at Arjuna from Siva’s perspective, which is that of the bhakti god toward his beloved devotee. The last-quoted verse, which is also the final verse in the seventeenth sarga, shares motifs and images with early bhakti devotional liter´ ature. The Tamil Saiva authors of the T¯ varam hymns, the earliest e ¯ ´ bhakti poet-saints, often call out to Siva as the loving father who forgives their transgressions.21 According to the hymns and the hagiographical tradition, Cuntaramurtti, one of the three saint¯ ´ authors, achieved sainthood by unwittingly quarreling with Siva.22 ´ As Cuntaramurtti himself reports it, Siva is the “good Lord who once ¯ graciously / took me for his own, / who gave me as reward / for my angry, threatening words in the assembly hall, / the name and life of the ‘Rude Devotee’“. . .”23 There are similar tales in the long history of the various bhakti movements as well, of devotees whose devotion the Lord puts to an agonistic test, a mode whose significance for the


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

kirata narrative I will discuss below, in the context of the result of ¯ the contest between the god and the hero. Climax: The Moment of Revelation in the Kiratarjun¯ya and other Versions of the Kirata Narrative ¯ ¯ ı ¯ Bharavi, the Mahabharata, and the Lives of the Bhakti Saints ¯ ¯ ¯ In all the versions of the kirata narrative, the combat between ¯ the god and hero culminates in a wrestling match, after which ´ ´ Siva reveals himself to the hero.23a The tableau of Siva and Arjuna wrestling is a popular subject in sculptural renderings of the narrative. Wrestling (malla-yuddha) is an ancient art in Indian tradition, and we have descriptions of its practice in several epic and puranic stories. In the narratives of Krishna, in the great, specially erected wrestling arena (malla´ ala) of King Kamsa of Mathura, s¯ ¯ ¯ . Krishna defeats the pugilists/wrestlers (malla) Canura and Mustika ¯.¯ .. ¯ in a wrestling match.24 The combat between Bharata and Bahubali, brothers contending for universal emperorship in an important Jaina sacred narrative, ends in a bout of wrestling, at least as the ninth ¯ century poet Jinasena presents it in his Sanskrit Adipurana.25 In ¯. the Ramayana Rama shoots the monkey-king Valin during his com¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ bat with his brother Sugr¯va, in which the two monkeys engage in a ı fistfight, wrestling match, and fighting with trees and rocks.26 In his form as Khandoba, a regional deity of the Maharashtra-Karnataka ¯.. ¯ ´ region, Siva is known as Mallari (“Slayer of the Wrestler/s?”), a name ¯ ´ identified in the cult as referring to Siva’s victory over the demons 27 Mani and Malla. The wrestling match between Arjuna and the . hunter is one of the best known of the wrestling stories, its popularity attested by the frequent depiction of the wrestling scene in relief sculpture. Like the boar hunt, wrestling and boxing are forms of ritualistic as well as heroic display that the Kiratarjun¯ya shares ¯ ¯ ı with the Greco-Roman world—the two sports are important items, not only in the Olympic games, but also in the funeral games for heroes, as in the wrestling match between Odysseus and Ajax in the funeral games for Patroclus in the Iliad (Book 23).28 The close connection between boxing and wrestling in the Indian context is seen in the common terminology used for the two sports, and the easy transition made from one to the other in many of the literary descriptions of wrestling. In the Mahabharata the unarmed ¯ ¯ combat scene in the Kairata is largely a description of a fistfight, until ¯ ´ Siva suddenly seizes Arjuna and crushes him “into a ball of flesh,”

Wrestling with God


rendering him unconscious. Bharavi, too, begins the eighteenth ¯ canto with a description of the combatants fighting with their fists, but the fight quickly turns into a real wrestling bout: XVIII.8 Then those expert warriors (ahavamalla), ¯ proud of having no weapons but their mighty arms, their limbs locked together in tricky wrestling grips, began a bout of fighting that shook the mountain. Their limbs completely entangled in typical wrestler fashion, the experts in battle (ahavamalla)—the word malla can mean boxer, ¯ wrestler, or simply “athlete” or “warrior”—change position with lightning speed, with now one, now the other, on top: XVIII.9 They moved so fast that the gana-troops . were left wondering, “Is this one over here the Lord, or is it the Pandava? ¯.. ´ Is the ascetic lying under Siva, or is the mooncrowned god beneath him? Who is sitting on top, Jisnu the Conqueror, or the birthless god?” .. But Bharavi ends his account of the wrestling in a dramatic ¯ sequence that has no antecedent in any version of the Mahabha¯ ¯ rata, and that has been used in only two major textual treatments of the theme after the mahakavi: the kirata-Arjuna narrative in ¯ ¯ ´ ´ the Saiva mythological compendium Sivapurana, and the eleventh¯. century Old Javanese classical poem, the Arjunawiwaha of Mpu ¯ Kanwa, part of which is devoted to a narration of the kirata-Ar¯ juna episode. Both works appear to have borrowed several specific narrative details from Bharavi, but they depart from the Kiratar¯ ¯ ¯ jun¯ya in major ways as well. Interestingly, while several of the ı Indian sculptural versions of the theme have some details in common with Bharavi’s version, none of them depicts the final moment ¯ in the wrestling match as Bharavi describes it.29 Interpreting the cli¯ max of the wrestling match is very important for our understanding


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

of the unique relationship between rasa and bhakti in the Kiratar¯ ¯ jun¯ya and the difference between Bharavi’s and other renderings of ı ¯ the kirata theme. ¯ In Bharavi’s poem the climax of the wrestling match is the cli¯ max of Arjuna’s heroic activity. It also prompts, and coincides with, ´ the complete revelation of Siva’s love for Arjuna as his devotee. The moment is captured in three verses early in the eighteenth canto. XVIII.12–14 When the Destroyer of the Three Cities took a flying leap into the sky, Arjuna of the monkey-banner swiftly sprang up after him, depressing the earth with his feet, and seized the god’s feet in mid-air. Astonished (vismitah) by that deed, . the Highest Person, the Ender of all deeds, at once gathered into his arms the peerless hero who was about to throw him to the ground, and pressed him to his chest in a tight embrace. The Lord was not as pleased with his penance as with his boundless courage. How much more valuable is inborn courage to a good man than a host of acquired virtues! At one level, Arjuna acts exactly as one would expect a hero ´ to act in a contest of strength. Kirata-Siva’s flying leap is a well¯ known move practised by Indian wrestlers. When Arjuna springs up after the hunter to seize him by the feet, he is reacting with an equally typical wrestling technique, and one which he hopes will win him victory, for he is planning to dash his opponent to the ground. From the reactions of the spectators (verse 9 above), it is ´ clear that several times in the course of the fight Siva and Arjuna have been throwing each other to the ground, each sitting on top of the opponent, trying to crush him, or to knock the wind out of him. Whirling the opponent in the air and dashing him to the ground would be just the right move for getting a decisive advantage over him. Indeed, this is just what Krishna does in order to defeat—and

Wrestling with God


kill—his opponent Canura in the wrestling match in Mathura; the ¯.¯ ¯ Jaina hero Bahubali, too, lifts and whirls his opponent Bharata like ¯ a firebrand.30 ´ But Arjuna’s act of grasping Siva’s feet has quite other meanings and effects. The devotional significance of the hero’s gesture will be immediately obvious to those familiar with the soteriology of bhakti religion. By grasping the Lord’s feet (caranagrahana), Arjuna unwit. . tingly assumes the posture of the devotee (bhakta), the suppliant who has taken refuge (´ aranagati) in God. In the bhakti theology, God, by s .¯ definition, bestows his grace upon any devotee who seeks him as his sole refuge. Krishna himself teaches Arjuna the theology of refuge in ´ the Bhagavad G¯ta.31 It is clear that Siva has no choice but to favor ı ¯ Arjuna with his grace. It is also clear that Arjuna’s act of taking refuge, though unconscious, is both a sincere gesture of devotion, since it is the culmination ´ of a steadfast vow of yoga and austerity directed towards Siva, and a genuine act of heroism, of resolute action according to his own dharma. Here is a bhakti tableau that causes the Lord himself to react with amazement (vismaya), in contrast to the standard pattern of human-divine encounters, in which the devotee beholds the Lord with wonder. Vismaya is also the the stable emotion of the marvelous (adbhuta) mood. The impact of Arjuna’s act (karma) is captured in verse 13, which begins with the word “vismita” (astonished), and is marked by a sudden change of meter.32 In verse 14 it is revealed that Arjuna’s heroism is the direct cause of the Lord’s pleasure: “The Lord was not as pleased with his austerity / as with his boundless courage.” It is only with this observation firmly in mind ´ that we are allowed to witness the moment in which Siva reveals his true divine identity to Arjuna, who immediately bows to him in worship. At the same time, the hero sees himself fully restored to his former glory, with all his weapons intact, affirming the fact that his innate heroic splendor has never been in serious danger of being diminished, even by the temporary loss of weapons. It is his turn to display vismaya, wonder, the emotional basis of the marvelous rasa: “upayayau vismayam,” XVIII.16. ¯ In the presence of the celestial beings (including the world guardian gods) who have arrived on the scene, Arjuna sings a ´ grand hymn of praise (stotra), in which he glorifies Siva as the supreme Deity (XVIII.21-43). He ends the stotra with two verses expressing his own concerns and wishes. The first of these is a plea ´ for forgiveness, a formal portion of Saiva devotional practice and ritual:


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic XVIII.42 O Lord of all Knowledge, please forgive this misdeed which I have committed in ignorance (asamvidanasya), ¯ . for you are the sole refuge, even for wicked men who seek shelter with you, having opposed you (virodhya) when they were deluded (mohat). ¯

In the next verse Arjuna asks for the means for victory in bat´ tle, the ultimate goal of his tapas. Siva and the lokapala gods grant ¯ him the Pa´ upata and other celestial weapons. Towering over the ¯s world, ablaze with the “twofold splendor of asceticism and martial ´ power,” and commanded by Siva to go and conquer his enemies, Arjuna returns to his King and his family in their forest retreat (XVIII.47, 48). The precise nuances of the rasa-bhakti configuration in the Kira¯ tarjun¯ya become clearer when we compare Bharavi’s treatment of ¯ ı ¯ the moment of revelation with its counterparts in other versions of the kirata narrative. In the Mahabharata text according to the Crit¯ ¯ ¯ ical Edition, when Arjuna is forced to engage in the wrestling bout ´ with Siva, he rapidly loses strength. The Lord crushes and mangles his body, till he is rendered unconscious, and his body looks like a ball of flesh (pinda). .. The Great God grabbed Arjuna and attacked him fiercely and with all his might, stunning him. So Phalguna (Arjuna), looking like a ball of flesh with his limbs crushed by the God of Gods, O Bharata, lost control of his body. Subdued by the God ¯ with the great spirit, Phalguna (Arjuna) stopped breathing ´ and fell down unconscious, and Bhava (Siva) was pleased. The Lord said: O Arjuna, I am pleased with your matchless deed! There is no warrior (ksatriya) equal to you in valor and . endurance! Today your strength and power (samam) have been matched with mine, blameless hero! I am pleased with you, hero with the strong arms. O bull among men, look at me! I will give you (supernatural) vision, hero with wide eyes! You were a sage in the past, and you shall conquer the gods themselves in battle.33 ´ In the above account, as in others, Siva responds specifically to Arjuna’s heroism, rather than to any of his devotional acts, including

Wrestling with God


the propitiatory asceticism he has performed. In the Mahabharata ¯ ¯ ´ Siva explicitly identifies Arjuna’s “courage and endurance (v¯rya and ı dhrti)” as the source of his pleasure, and he declares that Arjuna . is the ideal ksatriya, whose conduct in the combat with the divine . ´ hunter has rendered him equal to Siva himself in splendor and warmight. By undergoing the test of combat, by persevering in the face of the loss of his weapons, Arjuna has become qualified to receive ´ Siva’s weapon of destruction. In spirit, Bharavi’s interpretation is ¯ very close to the older epic on these points. Why then, does the kavya ¯ ´ poet change the details of the specific act that trigger Siva’s selfrevelation? Madeleine Biardeau, and following her, Jacques Scheuer, have ´ convincingly interpreted the symbolism of Siva’s crushing Arjuna in the Mahabharata.34 By becoming in effect an embryo-like ball of ¯ ¯ flesh, in a state of unconsciousness that resembles death, Arjuna undergoes a sort of ritual death at the hand of the Great God and then is “reborn.” As a result, the hero has undergone a process of initiation (d¯ksa) in his many capacities as warrior, shaman, sacrificer, ı .¯ ´ and devotee, and at the same time become Pa´ upati-Rudra-Siva’s s “victim” (pa´ u) in the sacrificial ritual that maintains order in the s universe. Lacking this sequence, the kavya poem also lacks the force ¯ of the rich initiatory symbolism of the older epic. This is the price Bharavi has had to pay to get the precise effect he wants. ¯ The Mahabharata hero is physically overpowered, stunned out ¯ ¯ of his wits, deprived of bodily control and consciousness. In short, he is subdued, if not soundly defeated—even though only temporarily— by the god. Bharavi’s Arjuna, on the other hand, is not only fully ¯ conscious at this critical moment, but also tireless, uninjured, and vigorous. Moreover, he has all but gained the upper hand in the combat, for, having grabbed his opponent by the feet, he is about to dash him to the ground. In terms of combat, the potentially devotional, submissive act of foot-grasping actually signifies potential victory for ´ the hero. It is only after this moment that Siva reveals himself, and Arjuna is allowed to assume a thoroughly devotional attitude. As the archetype of the invincible hero, Arjuna is not allowed to be defeated, even though his opponent is God himself. The text of the Critical Edition is not entirely representative of the treatment of the episode’s critical moment in the entire Mahabharata tradition, for the editors have rejected some explic¯ ¯ itly devotional material found just before the moment of revelation in several groups of Mahabharata manuscripts.35 At the point in ¯ ¯ the narrative where Arjuna becomes unconscious, these manuscripts


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

´ contain a passage describing Arjuna worshipping Siva. In these versions the hero lies unconscious for a short while then he quickly makes a sthandila (altar) of earth, at which he offers ritual worship .. ´ to Siva. When in the course of his devotions he places a garland of flowers on the altar, he finds that the flowers are miraculously transferred to the kirata’s head, revealing that the kirata is none other ¯ ¯ than the Great God himself. Whatever be the truth concerning the textual authenticity of the above-described sequence, it is clear that to include it would mean considerably altering the flavor of the passage. In the worship sequence an act of conventional and ritual devotion (puja) is inter¯ ¯ posed between the warrior’s heroism in combat with the god and ´ the god’s self-revelation. Siva’s response is not immediately related to Arjuna’s “courage and endurance” in the way it is in the Critical Edition or the Kiratarjun¯ya. ¯ ¯ ı Conclusion: The Hero and the Hunter in South Indian Literature and Art Finally, we turn to the Kannada bhakti versions of the Kairata¯ parvan episode. The most important examples of this genre, (which ´ includes Saiva sectarian puranas) are: the Kiratal¯la portion of ¯. ¯ ı ¯ ´ the Sivatattvacintamani of Lakkanna Dande´ a (15th century); the ¯ .. .. s . Channabasavapurana of the V¯ra´ aiva poet Virupaksa Pandita ¯. ı s ¯ ¯ . .. ´ (1585 A.D.), which includes the episode; and the Sabara´ ankaras ˙ vilasa of another V¯ra´ aiva, Sadaksaradeva (17th century), which ¯ ı s . . . is devoted exclusively to the kirata story. The narratives in all ¯ three texts closely resemble the version of the tale as found in the manuscripts of the Southern recension of the Mahabharata, except ¯ ¯ in a few details, such as the identification of the location of Arjuna’s penance as Indrak¯la and the gift of a weapon called añjanastra from ı ¯ Parvat¯. In all three works, at the end of the wrestling scene, Arjuna ¯ ı loses strength; blood oozes from his mouth. He decides that he must ´ have committed some sort of error in his daily worship of Siva—the texts use the technical term “´ ivaparadha,” “error or offfence coms ¯ ¯ ´ ´ mitted against Siva,” a Saiva cultic term signifying an offense of commission or omission, especially in ritual conduct. Then, as in the variant Mahabharata versions, he quickly fashions an altar (sthan¯ ¯ . dila), or, according to these Kannada texts, a linga image out of ˙ . earth (most of the South Indian sculptures depict the linga image) ˙ and offers ritual worship to it. As in the epic narrative, the flowers that he offers to the linga or altar are miraculously transferred ˙

Wrestling with God


Figure 7 Ascetic standing on one leg receiving a boon from a god. Detail of colossal relief sculpture, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. Courtesy: Michael Rabe.

´ to the hunter’s head, whereupon Arjuna recognizes Siva. When the ´ ´ warrior has asked for forgiveness and praised Siva, both Siva and 36 Parvat¯ grant him weapons. The evidence suggests that the Kan¯ ı nada bhakti poets and the authors of the worship sequence in various manuscripts of the Sanskrit Mahabharata’s southern recension were ¯ ¯


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

operating at the very least in the same universe of discourse and possibly from a shared sectarian perspective. This version of the events appears to be an effort to make Arjuna’s deeds more compatible with the behavior of the conventional devotee (bhakta) and to subsume the climax of the episode under a type of plot common in the post-epic accounts of divine revelation ´ in the lives of Saiva bhakti saints, especially in South India.37 The result, however, is not particularly convincing, since the purpose of the kirata narrative is in the first place to test Arjuna’s commitment ¯ to his heroic cause and way of life, and it therefore does not conform to the types of devotee-stories in which heroic values do not figure. Heroism can of course be defined in a number of ways, and ´ many of the saints in the South Indian Saiva hagiographies do display various kinds of heroism. Several of the sixty-three Nayanars ¯ ¯ ¯ ´ of the Tamil Saiva tradition, for instance, endure ordeals set up by ´ Siva to test their consuming devotion to him, and their devotional acts range from a fanatic commitment to worship rites to the readi´ ness to kill their own relatives, if the latter were to insult Siva or his devotees.38 A vivid illustration may be seen in the story of the hunter-saint Kannappar, who plucked out his own eyes and offered .. ´ them to the image of Siva when the latter made the image’s eyes ı s bleed in order to test the hunter’s devotion.39 The V¯ra´ aiva (“mil´ itant” or “heroic” saiva) saint Basava’s vow “never to let Siva win, ´ even in a dream; a vow always to give victory to the devotees” illuminates both the folk/heroic emphases of V¯ra´ aiva devotional religion ı s in Karnataka and Andhra, and the fanatic love that the saints were supposed to have for the community of devotees, who were considered to be superior to the Lord Himself.40 Closer to Arjuna’s warrior-hero persona are the bhakti saints ´ who unwittingly direct their acts against Siva (“mohad virodhya”), ¯ when he approaches them in disguise and opposes or otherwise challenges them in order to test their devotion. Among other Tamil ´ Saiva narratives the kirata narrative is similar to the story of Cun¯ ´ taramurtti, the “harsh devotee” (vanrontan) who quarrels with Siva ¯ .. ¯¯ when the latter comes to test him in the ¯ guise of an old man. The ´ incident ends with Siva revealing his true identity and favoring Cuntaramurtti with his grace.41 But not all the saints of this last ¯ category are quite like the hero: for many (as with Kannappar and .. Basava), all their acts, often including the resistance they offer to challengers, is directly motivated by a complete, exclusive, fanatical ´ devotion to Siva. Nor is Arjuna a truly “antinomian” devotee, the ´ reformed sinner who, having maliciously opposed Siva when he was

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deluded by arrogance and erroneous views, ultimately realizes his ´ error, becomes aware of Siva as the supreme Deity, and turns to him for refuge. Demons are the characters who most often fall into this stereotype in Hindu mythology, and the demon-king Ravana is ¯ . ´ a well-known example in Saiva mythology.42 The kirata-Arjuna narrative is more powerful as a tale of the ¯ interplay of heroism, divine l¯la and grace, than as a primarily devoı ¯ tional tale that accommodates ritual devotion or (even temporary) submission from the hero at the climactic moment. The folk versions of the narrative, in sculpture as well as in literature, endorse this judgment in their own way, demonstrating that the heroic elements of the narrative, which are so prominent in Bharavi’s version, are ¯ indeed the soul of this tale. M. S. Nagaraja Rao has shown that many examples from the Andhra and Tamil countries appear to be closer to the Mahabharata ¯ ¯ narrative than to Bharavi, although the influence of the Kiratar¯ ¯ ¯ jun¯ya may be detected in some details.43 At least in the Karnataka ı and Andhra areas, the sculptures diverge significantly from the written sources, especially in their treatment of the scenes surround´ ing Siva’s revelation. According to Rao, they are based on a local, folk-oral version of the story of Arjuna and the hunter that must have had strong currency in the Karnataka region for several centuries, at least since Bharavi’s time, if not earlier.44 As I noted earlier ¯ (chapter 1), some of the artists seem to have known and used Bha¯ ravi’s poem. At least three of the major examples Nagaraja Rao cites for the Deccan area include a depiction of the sequence in which the apsaras try to seduce Arjuna. The salient points of the folk/oral version are as follows: Parvati, having heard that Arjuna was invincible because of an auspicious mark on his back, expressed a desire to see this mark of Arjuna. This could be done only when he was defeated and turned his back. This was impossible, as Arjuna ´ was invincible. So Siva thought of a plan . . .45 ´ Disguised as a kirata, Siva goes to Indrak¯la mountain (identi¯ ı fied as a local mountain in the folklore of several south Indian sites), where Arjuna is performing tapas. He also sends the demon Muka ¯ to the mountain, instructing him to attack Arjuna. The kirata and ¯ the hero quarrel over the boar and begin to fight. ´ During this fight, Siva purposely fell in such a way that Arjuna came over him, and Parvati, standing behind Arjuna,


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic could see the back of Arjuna, with broad shoulders and aus´ picious mark. She then indicated to Siva that she had seen the back and auspicious mark by raising her right hand. ´ Thereupon Siva revealed his true form and Arjuna begged his ´ pardon for his ignorance and consequent fight. Siva bestowed the boon of Pa´ upata and Parvati, the añjalikastra.46 ¯s ¯

The element of divine play is prominent in this version of the ´ tale, and the playful relationship between Siva and his consortgoddess Parvat¯ motivates the action here, as it does in many stories ¯ ı in the Puranas. In the Mahabharata and other versions of the ¯. ¯ ¯ ´ Kairataparvan the Goddess Parvat¯ accompanies Siva in the guise ¯ ¯ ı of a huntress (kirat¯) and observes the combat. In the oral narratives ¯ ı of the tale, she plays an even more important part in the action. She is present in nearly all the sequential depictions of the narrative in sculpture and painting. It seems likely that Bharavi has ¯ eliminated the Goddess from his version of Arjuna’s encounter with the hunter because, in the kavya canon the presence of a beloved ¯ consort (suggestive of the erotic mood) would be considered inappropriate in the context of the battle scenes, and might in fact be considered an impediment to the undisturbed flowering of the v¯ra rasa in the climactic portion of the poem. The presence of ı women is absolutely forbidden in the military one-act play called vyayoga.47 ¯ But the revelation of Arjuna’s heroism clearly stands out as the central theme and goal of the folk narrative. After all, it is because ´ the invincible hero will never turn his back to anyone, that Siva has been forced to stage the fight. As the gracious bhakti god and goddess, ´ Siva and Parvat¯ take equal delight in the revelation and vindication ¯ ı of the hero’s reputation, even if it means letting him gain the upper hand in the fight. And here we have the fundamental difference in the climax of the tale as told in the several versions we have looked into so far. In the Mahabharata Arjuna seems to have lost the fight when ¯ ¯ ´ Siva reveals himself. It is not clear which way the combat would have ´ gone in Bharavi’s version, had Siva not been forced to reveal himself. ¯ But here, in the oral narratives, Arjuna has all but overcome kirata¯ ´ Siva at the moment of revelation; in some accounts it is his victory that precipitates the theophany. According to Nagaraja Rao, a number of narrative sculptures of the story depict the following sequence of frames for the concluding events of the tale: Arjuna sits on top of ´ Siva at the end of the wrestling match, while Parvat¯, dressed as a ¯ ı

Wrestling with God


´ kirat¯, peers at his back. Both Siva and Parvat¯ appear in the final ¯ ı ¯ ı scene, and in many instances Parvat¯ is depicted as holding an astra. ¯ ı As Rao points out, these scenes are perfectly in accordance with the regional and oral traditional narratives, while there is nothing in the Mahabharata or the Kiratarjun¯ya versions to support them.48 ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ı We must note that the visual depictions often include a sequence in which Arjuna worships the linga (this appears to be a representation ˙ ´ of the Siva worship that is part of his rites of austerity), followed by the sequences in which Arjuna gains the upper hand, as in the oral narratives.49 Three versions of the kirata episode remain to be examined ¯ ´ in comparison with the Kiratarjun¯ya: the Sanskrit Sivapurana, ¯ ¯ ı ¯ Pampa’s Vikramarjunavijaya (a Kannada courtly version of the ¯ Mahabharata), and Mpu Kanwa’s Old Javanese court poem, the ¯ ¯ Arjunawiwaha. A Sanskrit bhakti poet with pretensions to kavya ¯ ¯ ´ style, the anonymous author of the Sivapurana amalgamates ele¯. ments of Bharavi’s poem with those of the Mahabharata versions.50 ¯ ¯ ¯ The details include the sequence with the apsaras, Arjuna’s worship of the linga, and, quite in contrast with the other bhakti versions, ˙ ´ Siva’s revelation after Arjuna grasps his feet in a wrestling grip. ´ Needless to say, the “heroic” aspect of the final move in the Sivapurana is considerably diluted by the inclusion of the worship of the ¯. linga sequence that precedes it. As should be expected, the style ˙ ´ of the Siva-purana (a standard sloka text) does not resemble that ¯. ´ of a mahakavya in any way. The case of the Old Javanese court ¯ ¯ poem is quite different. As a court poet exalting his king, and as a poet working in a religious atmosphere quite different from that of premedieval South India, Mpu Kanwa appears to have modeled his treatment of Arjuna primarily on Bharavi’s, and his poem’s style ¯ mainly on the kavya style of Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya. The Kannada court ´ poet Pampa, on the other hand, depicts Arjuna as throwing Siva down, and throttling him till he catches sight of the divine third ´ eye on Siva’s forehead and realizes his error.51 It is possible that as a Jaina, the poet found the folk versions more congenial than Bharavi’s since, in the former, Arjuna’s triumph is accomplished at ¯ the cost of at least a temporary defeat for the Hindu god, portraying Hindu divinity in a not very complimentary light. This would be quite compatible with the Jaina poets’ treatment of the Hindu gods in general.52 In the final analysis, Bharavi’s approach to the climax of the ¯ kirata-Arjuna combat satisfies the demands of both rasa and bhakti. ¯ Rasa and bhakti exist in a symbiotic relationship with each other


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

in the Kiratarjun¯ya. Each needs the other for its fullest manifes¯ ¯ ı tation, but neither should prevail at the cost of the other. As the quintessential hero and vehicle of the v¯ra rasa, Arjuna cannot lose ı the fight, even in a battle that has been “staged” by God, lest the rasa ´ experience be disturbed. The hero must win Siva’s grace only in the heroic idiom, by a sustained exhibition of valor. At the same time, as the Great God who in effect accomplishes the hero’s purpose for him, ´ Siva too must remain exalted, his glory undiminished even by a pretended defeat. Seen in this light, Bharavi’s climactic scene emerges ¯ ´ as being no less a bhakti tableau than the scene of Siva’s revelation in the “bhakti” versions of the narrative. In spirit Bharavi’s vision of ¯ the bhakti moment is closer, on the one hand, to the Bhagavad G¯ta, ı ¯ and on the other, to the folk traditional perspectives on the relationship between heroes and gods, than to the literary and visual texts of the later devotional tradition (the puranas, purana-like poems, ¯. ¯. some sculpture based on such texts), for he chooses to portray the bhakti God as one who looks for integrity of character rather than submission in his devotee. So Arjuna must grasp the Lord’s feet, as a bhakta (devotee) would, but he must be completely ignorant of the devotional implica´ tion of his gesture. Siva, on the other hand, can and does immediately respond to this gesture in both its meanings, devotional and heroic. ´ The heroic-devotional tableau of Arjuna grasping Siva’s feet in midair is an apt metaphor for Bharavi’s approach to rasa and bhakti ¯ in his poem: in this visual double-entendre (´ lesa) the poet achieves s . a classical suspension of the two values and themes. In some ways the image, and the poem itself, were to be emblematic of a moment of suspension just prior to the radical transformation of aesthetics in Indian civilization. Not many kavya poets after Bharavi could treat ¯ ¯ a “religious” theme from the purist point of view of the classical rasa poetic. Bhakti, devotion, as a transmutation of the fundamental rasa of srngara, the erotic, itself became the chief rasa of much of Indian ´. ˙ ¯ literature and art.53 Epilogue and Coda: The Ascetic-hero as the Rising Sun Through a number of suggestions, Bharavi indicates that Arjuna’s ¯ tapas has actually been a preparation for his true test, his combat ´ with Siva. In the battle scenes not only does Arjuna continue to carry his weapons with ease, but puts to good use the dual power of his innate ksatriya tejas and the acquired power of tapas: .

Wrestling with God XVII.48 As he stood established in his courage like the sun in a clear sky, joined with the twofold glory stemming from penance and his own heroism, the Lord wore him down with an incessant barrage of arrows, just as the smith of the gods trimmed down the sun with his tool.


In a metaphor used in the final combat scenes, war itself becomes yoga. To the hero in combat the battle itself is the supreme form of tapas: XVII.54 The restrained ascetic, whose endeavor was about to bear its auspicious fruit, ´ underwent, in the form of Siva’s arrows, such aspects of austerity as chanting mantras and fasting as he stood maintaining his ascetic rule of heroism there in the holy hermitage of battle.54 Combat is the highest vow or rule (vrata) and tapas for a true warrior, since it is his true dharma; conversely, the most rigorous asceticism becomes meaningful to a ksatriya only when it helps him . accomplish his dharma. Thus, Arjuna’s strenuous penance serves as ´ a prelude to his combat with Siva who challenges him disguised as a kirata. It is by following his own dharma in it fullest expression, ¯ that is, by exhibiting his prowess in battle, that he finally succeeds in ´ pleasing Siva: “His tapas did not give the lord as much pleasure as did his boundless courage. How much more does inborn courage (nijasattvam) help good men than a host of acquired virtues!” (XVIII.14). ´ At the end of the poem, pleased with Arjuna’s heroism, Siva gives him the Pa´ upatastra, the weapon destined to annihilate the Kaurava ¯s ¯ forces in the Bharata war. Like the mantra of the warrior-god Indra ¯ that emanated from the sage Vyasa and, with a brilliant physical ¯ form, entered the hero prior to his journey (canto III), at the end of the poem the Pa´ upata weapon enters him in bodily form, is literally ¯s incorporated into him:


Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic XVIII.44 When Indra’s son had eloquently spoken, and stood with head bowed in reverence, the Lord lovingly put him at ease, and transmitted to him the secret lore called “the bow,” that carries the flaming Rudra weapon. 45 Tawny-eyed, auspicious, with a fearsome body ablaze with a lustre glorified by the universe, carrying the trident as his weapon, ´ he went thrice round Siva, as the gods sang hymns of praise for him, then, like the sun entering a cloud, he entered the hero, Pandu’s son.55 ¯..

Bharavi’s poem achieves its artistic closure in a sun-image and ¯ in a balance of elements. Verse 47, a complex stanza in the majes´ tic Sikharin¯ (“crested”) meter, focuses on Arjuna as hero, and .ı echoes the final verse of the first canto, in which Draupad¯ compares ı Yudhisthira to the sun, as well as many other verses in the penance .. and battle cantos in which Arjuna has been compared to the sun.56 It thus reinforces the connection between Yudh¯sthira and Arjuna, ı. . the king and the warrior, both of whom will play key roles in the war for dharma. The poem ends with verse 48. In this stylistically much simpler verse, in the lilting meter Malin¯, we are told simply that Ar¯ ı juna returns to his brother and bows to him. The final stanza is really a coda that rounds off the narrative, just as the previous verse completes the progression of images in the poem.57 Both verses include the auspicious signature “laksm¯.” At the end of the Kiratarjun¯ya, ¯ ¯ ı . ı shining like the rising sun, Arjuna has achieved, for Yudhisthira .. as well as for himself, the abhyudaya, preeminence, that Draupad¯ ı desired for them, and that is the ultimate goal of the noble hero of the court epic. XVIII. 47 and 48 The gods praised in chorus the victor with the indomitable energy, when, having risen to preeminence with his power, he stood bearing a heavy yoke for the preservation of the world, towering over all the worlds

Wrestling with God because of his innate warlike splendor, and radiant with the lustre of austerity.58 ´ When Siva said,“Go, conquer your enemies!” Pandu’s son bowed at the Lord’s lotus feet, ¯.. then, praised by the hosts of gods, and bearing the massive glory of victory, he returned home, and bowed to Dharma’s son.


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A Note on the Translation Selections

The majority of the translations of the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, including the excellent German translation by Carl Cappeller, are in prose.1 However, as early as 1831 Friedrich Rückert, who was a poet in his own right, had translated selections from the poem into German verse.2 In 1894 Romesh Chunder Dutt published a translation of selected stanzas from the epic’s main episodes in rhymed English verse.3 In the appendices that follow, I have provided verse translations of selected passages from the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya. I have made no attempt to match the complexity of Bharavi’s verse or the poetic effects of ¯ the original. The purpose of these selections is to give an idea of the sustained effect of entire descriptive and rhetorical sequences in the court epic. Most of the verses translated here have been discussed in detail in the preceding study of the poem, obviating the need for annotation. The passage translated in Appendix A relates to chapters 4 and 5, the selection in Appendix B relates to chapter 6, and the passages translated in Appendices C and D refer to chapters 8 and 9.

1 Cappeller, Bharavi’s Poem. Prose translations of portions of the epic include ¯

those of Pangarker (1902) and Subrahmanya Sastri (1900). K. Bahadur, The Kiratarjun¯ of Bharavi, translated into English (2 volumes, Khatmandu, ¯ ¯ iya ¯ 1972 and 1974) is a prose translation of the entire epic. 2 Übersetzungen aus dem Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya nebst Analyse,” Jahrbücher für Wissenschaftliche Kritik, Band I (1831), 13 ff, and 142 ff.; partially reproduced in Cappeller, Bharavi’s Poem, pp. 200–203. ¯ 3 “The Hunter and the Hero,” in Lays of Ancient India (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trübner, 1894), 119–224.


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Appendix A

Draupad¯ Rebukes Yudhisthira: Kir. I.27-46 ı ..

27 When Drupada’s daughter heard that their enemies were flourishing, she could no longer hold back the resentment they had provoked. She spoke words designed to arouse the king’s anger, to stir him to action. 28 “For a woman to advise men like you is almost an insult. And yet, my deep troubles compel me to overstep the limits of womanly conduct, make me speak up. 29 The kings of your race, brave as Indra, have for a long time ruled the earth without a break. But now with your own hand you have thrown it away, like a rutting elephant tearing off his garland with his trunk. 30 Fools who do not use craft against the crafty are destined for defeat. Rogues will penetrate and destroy them like sharp arrows that pierce and kill the warrior who has no armor to protect him. 31 What other king, proud of his birth and assured of loyal friends,



Appendix A
would let enemies steal the glory of his royal house, that is like a lovely highborn wife in love with his virtues? 32 King, as you walk on a path scorned by self-respecting men how is it that anger does not inflame you as a kindled fire blazes up and sets fire to the dry sam¯ tree? ´ ı 33 Men willingly submit to the man who makes effective use of anger to overcome his difficulties. Whether he is friendly or hostile, people have no respect for one who lacks indignation. 34 You who treasure truth, does it not pain your heart to see Bh¯ma who once wore red sandal-paste ı now covered with dust, he who once rode in a great chariot, now wandering in the mountains? 35 Indra-like Arjuna, Winner-of-Wealth, he who once conquered the Northern Kurus and brought you great treasure, now fetches you the bark you wear. Why are you not stirred to anger? 36 Look at the twins, bodies hardened from sleeping on the forest floor, hair grown long and dishevelled, like wild elephants! How can you still remain calm and content? 37 I do not understand your attitude— but then, men’s minds work in such different ways! When I think of your utter misfortune, my griefs press heavily on my heart.

Draupad¯ Rebukes Yudhisthira ı ..
38 You who once slept on a luxurious bed and woke up to the auspicious songs and panegyrics of bards, now lie on ground overgrown with ku´ a grass s and awake to the unholy howls of jackals. 39 King, your body was once sleek, nourished by the rich food that you dined on after giving the brahmans their share. Now, as you live on wild berries, it grows painfully lean, along with your fame! 40 Your feet always rested on a jewelled footstool where they were gilded by the pollen from the wreaths on the heads of kings. Those feet now tread on clumps of ku´ a grass cropped by deer. s 41 It truly wrenches my heart to think that the enemy is the cause of your plight. A man of self-respect may rejoice even in defeat, only so long as his enemies have not broken his courage. 42 O king, give up peace! I beg you, assume your splendid warlike spirit once more, so that you may kill the enemy! It is detached ascetics, not kings, who conquer their enemies and reach perfection through peace. 43 If men like you, who value their fame above all else, most eminent among great heroes, acquiesce in such an insult, alas, self-respect is dead, for it has lost its only abode! 44 If you choose to reject heroic action and see forbearance as the road to future happiness, then throw away your bow, the symbol of royalty,



Appendix A
wear your hair matted in knots, stay here and make offerings in the sacred fire! 45 Since your enemies are bent on deceiving you, it is not proper for a mighty hero like you to hold to your promise. Kings who want to conquer can find ways to break treaties made with enemies. 46 Like the sun grown dim from the withdrawal of light by the decree of fate and time, with feeble rays, sunken in the fathomless ocean, you are weak from the loss of heroic spirit by the fateful decree of your promise, with prosperity lost, sunken deep in misfortune. May Fortune’s splendor yet come back to you when you rise to overcome your enemies, even as she returns to the sun at daybreak when he rises to dispel darkness!”

Appendix B

The Journey of the Apsaras: Kir. VII. 1-40

1 Then the roll of drums, echoing and spreading in the vast spaces of the gods’ flying cars, proclaimed the departure of the nymphs with Indra’s men to guard them, riding on sumptuous chariots and elephants. 2 Leaving Indra’s shining city where crowds of immortals had gathered, eager to see them, the women found their parasols quite useless as they flew above the sun. 3 Winds blowing against their faces tossed them about, lotus eyes glazed over with weariness, the sun’s hot rays gave the women the glow of wine-flushed cheeks. 4 Suspended in the sky by the magic of the gods, the chariots were drawn far by swift horses. With the fellies of their wheels not turning, they rolled on like flying cars. 5 Making small hairs thrill on saffron-painted breasts, shining like pearls on faces



Appendix B
where the tilaka design had faded, the sweat of exertion became an ornament for the women. Even disorder enhances a beauty’s loveliness. 7 Amazed that the women’s bodies, more delicate than a garland of flowers, could resist the sun’s heat, the gandharvas understood the excellence of the variety with which the creator endows his creations. 8 Painted with designs of red lead, bound with golden chains, temples flowing with rut, the celestial elephants looked just like clouds glittering with lightning, shot through with the sun’s tawny rays, showering rain. 9 Drawing far away from the hot sun’s unapproachable disc the army reached the River of the Gods with her lovely waves like a single braid of hair bound by the nymphs of the directions. 10 The wind shook lotuses humming with drunken bees, tossed up the pollen rolled up in tight balls. Cool from touching the sky-river’s waves, it brought relief to the women wearied by the heat. 11 Churned up by elephants and horses plunging in, the sky-river’s waves struck the long line of flying cars moving in her tracks, and so for the first time ever rolled back from a bank.

The Journey of the Apsaras
12 Once the chariots had left the path of the planets, where their axles had knocked against the bases of the gods’ mansions, the fellies in the wheels turned freely, churning the water in every cloud they met. 13 Pierced by the tusks, the clouds began to shower rain, reviving the elephants who were wilting from the heat. Is it not true that those who are set on helping others will be kind even to those who hurt them? 14 Every time the wind blew back the nymphs’ fine skirts, it was as though the flashing rays from the great gems on their belts became a swirling skirt for their thighs. 15 Making the tilaka paint run, yet pleasantly relieving fatigue, the clouds with their cool spray earned the beautiful women’s esteem: a small fault does not negate a great favor. 16 When the rainbow’s arc broke on a cloudbank white as wavy sand, the light of gems from the nymphs’ jewels supplied its missing curve. 17 Discussing strategies for the success of their mission, Indra’s army traversed the path of the birds and reached Indrak¯la’s ı cloud-covered peak.



Appendix B
18 Covered with the lotuses that were the women’s faces, flecked with the foam of their bright white parasols unfurled by the wind, deeply rumbling with the beat of drums, the army shone like the sky-river as it landed on the mountain-peak. 19 Straining at the bit, muzzles curved back from the pull of the reins, the horses flew over the bridge made by a cloudbank and brought the chariots rushing headlong to earth. 20 Flanked by clouds as they flew down from the sky towards Indra’s mountain peak the great elephants looked like the mountains lying still on the ocean-floor with motionless wings. 21 Flying with ease in the sky the horses had kept an even course on the uneven terrain of the heights, but at the foot of the mountain they left a continuous track on the sandy riverbank. 22 Peacocks, craning their necks, eagerly listened, hearing thunder in the rumble of the chariots, magnified by deep echoes on highlands from which roaring cataracts came crashing down. 24 Enraged by the scent of rut carried by the wind from the track of wild elephants nearby,

The Journey of the Apsaras
the elephants of the gods refused to obey the driver’s command— only when enticed and distracted by their mates were they persuaded to move. 25 Enveloped in thick dust kicked up on the roads by the chariot wheels, dust red like river waters after the first rains, the army spread over the dense forests like the Ganges flowing with turbid waters at summer’s end. 30 When the expert trainers had removed banners and saddlecloths and plates of armor from the celestial elephants and coaxed them to rest lying down on the ground, they shone like mountains lying scattered about, their forests swept away by hurricane winds at the dissolution of the universe. 31 A king elephant, waking from the sleep of exhaustion rose from his bed, leaving it wet with rut, so that the row of bees which for a moment alighted on it looked as though it were his chain, fallen as he got up hastily. 32 The celestial river’s current blocked the path of an elephant straining to cross over to the other bank smelling of the rut of wild elephants. When the driver drove the sharp goad into his head, he merely shook it off, and paid no attention. 33 The water that the elephant sprayed with his trunk



Appendix B
without finishing his drink for fear of his driver rubbed off the red streams of rut flowing down his cheeks, then took their place. 34 Having instantly smelled the rut of wild elephants in the water, the elephant would not drink it, although it was cool and he was thirsty. Eyes rolling in rage, he stared at the other bank. 35 Playing in the river, the bull elephants perfumed the water with flowing rut. When they came out, their cheeks smelled of lotuses, and lotus filaments covered the streaks of rut. 36 Covered with the copper-red dust kicked up by the army, ruddy with the pollen of lotuses trampled down by the elephants, striking the banks in sudden waves where it had been stirred up, the water shone like a cloth colored with red madder dye. 37 Handsome bull elephants, chained by the neck and hind legs, streaming rut as they stirred among the black aloe trees, looked like rocks dripping water, just rolled down from cliffs. 38 Mixing it with the fragrance of many flowers, the wind wafted the scent of elephant-rut, sweet-smelling like crushed cardamom. profusely streaming from every opening, settling the dust everywhere.

The Journey of the Apsaras
39 Sounding like the deep thunder of clouds the trumpeting of the mighty elephants of the gods awakened lions and put them on their guard, spread out over the riverbanks, threw the cakora partridges and peacocks into confusion. 40 Beautiful garments now hung from their branches, the travel-weary women rested against them, and the divisions of the celestial army surrounded them. And so the trees of the forest looked as splendid as the trees in a pleasure-park in the city.


Appendix C

Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter: Kir. XVII. 1-64

1 Then, when his missiles had vanished like friends who could help him in difficulty, valiant Arjuna renewed his courage by seizing his great bow as though he were reaching for his innate heroic spirit. 2 Delighted to engage in combat with a strong warrior, yet dismayed by the enemy’s success, he shone like a smoldering forest-fire, its blazing splendor half-hidden by smoke. 3 He relied on his invincible spirit, the courage that never failed him, as on a close and steadfast friend, an arm held out to support him even in the terrible crises of combat. 4 He was filled with anxiety over his fame, dearer to him than life, like a proud wife worthy of his family about to be snatched away by the enemy before his very eyes. 5 The hero wanted to quickly uproot his enemy who stood before him like the Himalaya mountain, but the Lord effortlessly resisted his spirited attack,



Appendix C
as if he were stemming the current of the celestial river Ganges.1 6 Arjuna expected his arrows to be true to their nature, and therefore to bring him victory. Like words that yield the right meaning because they have ancient, pleasing associations and are adorned by appropriate usage and stylistic virtues, the arrows were honed and ready, and primed for action by years of practice and usage. 7 His zest for combat was renewed by his resolve to fight again, but he was distressed by the unfamiliar taste of defeat. Like a great serpent spewing poison from its eyes Arjuna shed tears of impatient anger. 8 As if to cool it, perspiration bathed his face, heated up with war-lust, with hair dishevelled from fighting and wide eyes red from anger. 9 As he prepared for combat, his face clouded with anger, and with three lines furrowing his brow, he resembled the sun sending out rays of light from behind a bank of clouds just before the rain. 10 Like a celestial elephant, a bearer of the sky, making a mountain-peak echo with its trumpeting, he twanged his bow, making it roar like a raincloud, ´ . and he tormented Sambhu’s troops with his arrows as the god of Love torments men with amorous longings.

Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter
11 Like a reasoned argument used to persuade an obstinate man, like envy directed against an impartial person, like Speech employed to describe the Ineffable One, the arrows became powerless ´ against Siva’s body. 12 Like the rays of the winter sun striking the base of a high mountain ´ the arrows Pandu’s son shot at Siva ¯.. did not hurt him. 13 As the Himalaya mountain welcomes the powerful thrusts of Indra’s elephant ramming his tusks against its slopes the Lord of the hosts experienced great delight at his supreme heroism. 14 Then he who is the origin of all origins endured defeat for some time. It was as though he wished to extend to the hero in the form of heroic deeds an arm fit for bearing all his burdens. 15 When a hero who has suffered defeat redoubles his heroic energy and performs more glorious deeds, sparked by action, fame radiates from him like rays from the sun. 16 Enemies are afraid of a man who has proved himself in action. Men who are intimidated quickly lose their courage. Pride abandons those who lack courage, as light leaves a lamp whose flame is extinguished.



Appendix C
17 Thereafter, with their pride and spirit broken they become an easy target for the conquering hero, as a herd of elephants is subdued by the leader of the enemy herd, who masters them with his scent. 18 In this manner, wishing to create among the hero’s enemies a reputation for him bright as the crescent moon on his own head, ´ . Sambhu proceeded to engage in a systematic pattern of combat, in which each combatant won and lost by turns. 19 Like human beings, who are seized by the inherent qualities of their births as soon as they are born, ´ Siva’s many troops were overpowered by the hermit’s diverse arrows. 20 When Arjuna darkened the sky with his arrows the frightened armies trembled as they listened to their sound, like trembling herds of cows listening to thunder-claps on a rainy night. 21 Just as the single moon appears as many to men suffering from glaucoma, to his enemies, overcome by fear and confusion, the hero, skilfully shooting arrows, appeared to be not one man but many. 22 ´ When Siva’s troop-leaders became thus agitated, the Lord’s face registered an alteration, just as the image of the sun

Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter
reflected in a great lake alters with the rippling waves. 23 Gracious by disposition, the Lord was not angry. How can there be any real alteration in the Highest One? The change was only an apparent manifestation. The real nature of the great is beyond comprehension. 24 Then the goblin hosts saw their Master drawing with his arms Death’s bow, with the double bow-string flashing like the split tongue of Taksaka, king of snakes. . 25 Like a trainer who has lost contol over an elephant run amuck warily watching the beast as it flaps its ears in alternation, Arjuna watched with apprehension as the hunter-chief twanged his fierce-bow alternately to the left and the right. 26 Like river-creatures disappearing into the mouths of great sea-monsters Arjuna’s shower of arrows was swallowed up ´ by Siva’s arrows. 27 ´ Siva did to Arjuna’s arrows everything that a warrior does to his enemies: Using secret strategies he broke their ranks, obstructed their maneuvers, and destroyed them.



Appendix C
28 Although Arjuna’s arrows were at first repulsed and destroyed by his enemy, shot swiftly by the angry hero, they succeeded in creating ´ confusion among Siva’s troops. 29 Arjuna’s spirit was shaken by the destruction of his arrows, broken even where they had no joints, as by the untimely downfall of good men, who are adorned with rectitude and always follow the path shown by their teachers. 30 Dispatched to break the Pandava’s arrows, ¯.. ´ Siva’s arrows fell, losing their heads, and thus reaped the immediate and complete reward for their destructive mission. 31 With great skill Arjuna shot tricky arrows ´ that destroyed Siva’s own and had a devastating effect on his confused troops. 32 Seeing Arjuna’s valor, reinforced by extra effort, reach new heights of excellence, ´ Siva, the destroyer of the three cities, released a thick shower of arrows like a cloud showering in summer. 33 ´ The hermit found Siva’s arrows delightful like kind counsel offered by a dear friend, for they were sent with his welfare in mind, and did not wound him in any critical spot.

Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter
34 Having seen that the hero’s powerful arrows matched or surpassed his enemy’s, and seeing his own troops paralyzed by despondency, the Destroyer, the moon-crested god, assumed his own divine powers. 35 Then, like the sun devouring the waters, he consumed the entire store of arrows held by Arjuna, who wished to cross the ocean of combat, energized by ascetic power and heroic spirit. 36 Then Arjuna confidently put his hand inside the mouth of his empty quiver, like a thirsty elephant inserting its trunk into a rock-crevice where other elephants have drunk. 37 When it found the quiver empty of arrows, like a relative who has suddenly lost his wealth, the hand still continued to reach out, like one reluctant to lose faith in his benefactor on account of the certainty of immediate disappointment. 38 Like a hero’s mind investigating the science of statecraft, eager to devise strategies for world-conquest, the index-finger groped frantically in the quiver. 39 The downcast Arjuna, carrying the two great quivers empty of their arrows, looked pitiable, like the ravaged universe bearing the eastern and western oceans, drained at the end of a cycle of cosmic time.



Appendix C
40 Partha did not grieve so much ¯ over the loss of his arrows as he did over the empty state of the quivers. Sunk in misfortune, good men ignore their own troubles and worry about their friends. 41 Unable to offer help, the hand reluctantly parted from the quiver’s mouth, like a noble man who finds it hard to leave a good friend even when he has turned him away, for he has helped him in the past. 42 At that moment it became clear that the master had done the twin quivers a favor by placing them on his back. It is impudence to stand before one’s lord, having failed to fulfill one’s appointed task. 43 Having destroyed his inexhaustible store of arrows, ´ Siva pierced him with iron arrows in vulnerable spots, like the opposition in a debate charging the speaker with major faults, when he has already failed in his defence. 44 Soon, like a strong wind ripping away a single black cloud from the sun, he stripped the hero of his suit of armor, chased in gold and studded with gems. 45 and 46 Stripped of his armor, he shone like a great sword unsheathed, like a snake that has sloughed off its skin,

Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter
like a war-elephant that has thrown off its face-cloth, enraged by an enemy-elephant, like a lion who has emerged from its mountain-cave, awakened by the rumble of rainclouds, like a smokeless fire burning by night. 47 Although the quivers lying on the ground were manifestly inanimate, in facing downward at the time of the hero’s distress, they surely demonstrated that they were endowed with consciousness. 48 As he stood established in his courage like the sun in a clear sky, joined with the twofold glory stemming from penance and his own heroism, the Lord wore him down with an incessant barrage of arrows, just as the smith of the gods trimmed down the sun with his tool. 49 Heroic indignation became a suit of armor against the numberless arrows for the hermit, whose limbs were impervious to pain as he moved swiftly in combat. 50 Then, with a roar of anger, the hero with the long, shapely arms, his splendid body streaming with blood, leaped up with such force that the earth shook under his feet. 51 And, like a mighty elephant ramming at its post with its tusks, ´ wishing to crush Siva,



Appendix C
he struck him with his bow, curved like the crescent moon and resembling Indra’s thunderbolt. 52 ´ Swiftly, Siva absorbed into himself that bow which flew at him, just as the sage Jahnu, sitting in meditation in the supreme Light took in the three turbulent streams of the Ganges.2 53 Bereft of his bow, and therefore disabled in his acts, like hospitality lacking generosity, Arjuna was thoroughly pierced by the thick shower of arrows ´ that Siva shot at him with playful ease. 54 The restrained ascetic, whose endeavor was about to bear its auspicious fruit, ´ underwent, in the form of Siva’s arrows, such aspects of austerity as chanting mantras and fasting as he stood maintaining his ascetic rule of heroism in the holy hermitage of battle. 55 Then he grasped as his last resort the warrior’s ultimate means for achieving his goals, that which is invincible by his enemies, the treasure-house of war-might, his mighty sword, as though it were his pride incarnate. 56 ´ Parrying Siva’s arrows, Arjuna skilfully made a swordsman’s moves, the sword blazing in his hand like a sunlit wave in the sea.

Arjuna’s Combat with the Hunter
57 As the sun shines both in his own realm, and in his reflected form in the water, ´ to Siva’s hosts Arjuna appeared to have two distinct forms as he whirled around the battlefield. 58 Severed from its hilt ´ by an arrow shot by Siva, his bright sword rolled from his hand, like a bolt of lightning from a cloud. 59 Deprived of bow and armor, his fine sword broken, he stood clean and bare, like land that has just been cleared. 60 Having suffered defeat at the enemy’s hands, the proud hero wanted to conquer him, although he had nothing left but the strength of his arms. ´ He pelted Siva with a hail of rocks, knocking down the forest-trees. 61 When the Lord of hosts had completely destroyed the shower of rocks with his arrows Indra’s son began to throw at him uprooted trees, which covered the sky as he tossed them up. 62 ´ But Siva turned into a sacrificial offering to the gods of the battlefield those blossoming trees with bark and marrow torn to bits, and flowing sap reddening the earth.



Appendix C
63 Like a crocodile surfacing from the Ganges river, Arjuna, the Gand¯va-bowman, ¯ . .ı shot up from the stream of arrows, and throwing himself against the three-eyed god, violently struck him with his fists on his chest hard as a golden rock. 64 As a father indulges even rude acts on the part of a dear child, an only son who has climbed upon his lap, so Smara’s enemy endured the impertinence of the Pandava, ¯.. who had come to him seeking valorous deeds of a kind his enemies with all their troops could not hope to achieve, the means to fame and royal glory.

Appendix D

The Wrestling Match, Theophany, and Boon: Kir. XVIII. 1-19; 42-48

1 Then, when the ascetic who was like an enraged elephant began to fight with his formidable arms as his weapon, ´ Siva threw aside his bow and quivers, and struck back at him with fists like hammers. 2 The crackling sound that arose ´ as Siva and Arjuna’s fists forcefully struck each other, echoed in the mountain caves, loud as the sound of a huge rock splitting. 3 The hero with the monkey-banner felt no pain ´ from the great bruises Siva’s fists inflicted upon him. Who can even try to act in the manner of men of character? 4 His rock-hard chest covered with the blood streaming from his wounds, ´ Siva shone like a cloud suffused with the rosy glow of dawn.



Appendix D
5 Again and again Arjuna’s fists struck the trident-bearer’s chest, and glanced off, like the mighty waves of the ocean, crashing against the broad slope of the Sahya mountain, and rolling back. 6 When the three-eyed god struck him with both fists on the neck, Arjuna staggered a little, eyes rolling, like a man who is drunk. 7 Enraged by defeat, he quickly flung himself forward with great force, and seizing the moon-crested god’s arms with his own, he forced them wide apart, and held them there. 8 Then those expert warriors, proud of having no weapons but their mighty arms, their limbs locked together in tricky wrestling grips, began a bout of fighting that shook the mountain. 9 They moved so fast that the gana-troops . were left wondering: Is this one over here the Lord, or is it the Pandava? ¯.. ´ Is the ascetic lying under Siva, or is the moon-crowned god beneath him? Who is sitting on top, Jisnu the conqueror, or the birthless god? .. 10 It was as if, unable to bear the weight ´ of Arjuna and Siva, and afraid of being destroyed, the mountain moved when they moved, stopped when they stopped,

The Wrestling Match
bent down, when they bent down, and straightened up, when they stood up. 11 When they released the grip around each other’s limbs, and hopped lightly about each other, loudly striking their arms, the rivers, their banks depressed by the wrestler’s steps, began to overflow. 12 When the Destroyer of the Three Cities took a flying leap into the sky, Arjuna of the monkey banner swiftly sprang up after him, depressing the earth with his feet, and seized the god’s feet in midair. 13 Astonished by that deed, the Highest Person, the Ender of all deeds, at once gathered into his arms the peerless hero who was about to throw him to the ground, and pressed him to his chest in a tight embrace. 14 The Lord was not as pleased with his penance as with his boundless courage. How much more valuable is inborn courage to a good man than a host of acquired virtues! 15 ´ Then, beholding Siva in his own glorious form, his body smeared with snow-white sacred ash and his head crowned with the crescent moon, the Pandava bowed to him. ¯.. 16 And the hero with the gait of a bull was amazed to find himself as before, his strong frame clad in armor,



Appendix D
possessed once again of bow and quivers, his sword restored to its sheath. 17 Clouds showered the earth, a gentle rain of celestial flowers fell from heaven, and the sound of unstruck drums filled a sky suddenly grown bright. 18 Celestial geese with tinkling bells around their necks flew above, drawing the aerial cars of the gods. It was as if they embraced all of space with their spreading wings. 19 Making a canopy of garlands strung of celestial flowers swarming with bees, the wind offered comfort to the Lord, who sat on his bull like a cloud. ´ (XVIII. 20-43. Arjuna sings a hymn of praise [stotra] for Siva, ending with a prayer for forgiveness [42] and the request for a celestial weapon.[43]) 42 O Lord of all Knowledge, please forgive this misdeed which I have committed in ignorance, for you are the sole refuge even for wicked men who seek shelter in you, having opposed you when they were deluded. 43 Lord, you love dharma, the Law, and sustain the law laid down by the scriptures! Give me the power by which I may gain victory in battle against the enemies who have wronged Dharma’s son! 44 When Indra’s son had spoken eloquently, and stood with head bowed in reverence,

The Wrestling Match
the Lord lovingly put him at his ease, and transmitted to him the secret lore called “the bow,” that carries the flaming Rudra weapon. 45 Tawny-eyed, auspicious, with a fearsome body ablaze with a luster glorified by the universe, carrying the trident as his weapon, ´ he went thrice round Siva, as the gods sang hymns of praise for him, then, like the sun entering a cloud, he entered the hero, Pandu’s son. ¯.. 46 Then for the fulfillment of his desire, ´ at a sign from moon-crested Siva, the world-guardian gods led by Indra gave him various weapons calculated to bring victory, and blessed him with certain success. 47 The gods praised in chorus the victor with the indomitable energy, when, having risen to preeminence with his power, he stood bearing a heavy yoke for the preservation of the world, towering over all the worlds because of his innate warlike splendor, and radiant with the lustre of austerity. 48 ´ When Siva said, “Go, conquer your enemies!” Pandu’s son bowed at the Lord’s lotus feet. ¯.. Then, praised by the hosts of gods, and bearing the massive glory of victory, he returned home, and bowed to Dharma’s son.


List of Abbreviations


Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute Buddhacarita Bhagavad G¯ta ı ¯ Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London Dhvanyaloka ¯ Madeleine Biardeau, “Etudes de mythologie hindoue” (V) Part II. Bhakti et avatara. ¯ Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics Gaekwad’s Oriental Series History of Religions Harvard Oriental Series P. V. Kane, History of Sanskrit Poetics Indo-Iranian Journal A. K. Warder, Indian Kavya Literature ¯ Journal Asiatique Journal of the American Oriental Society Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Journal of Oriental Research, Madras Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Kavyadar´ a of Dandin ¯ ¯ s .. Kautil¯ Artha´ astra s¯ . iya Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya Kumarasambhava ¯ . Mahabharata ¯ ¯ J. A. F. Roodbergen, Mallinatha’s Ghantapatha on the ¯ ..¯ Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya Manusmrti .



List of Abbreviations
Nachrichten von der Königlischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen Philosophy East and West Patañjali’s Yogasutra ¯ Ramayana ¯ ¯ . Raghuvamsa .´ Sacred Books of the East Series, ed. by Max Müller ´ s ¯ Si´ upalavadha Saundarananda Subhasitaratnakosa ¯. . Louis Renou, “Sur la structure du Kavya” ¯ Transactions of the American Philological Association Trivandrum Sanskrit Series Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes Zeitschrift der deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft


Chapter 1
1. muktake kavayo’nantah samghate kavayah satam / mahaprabandhe ¯. ¯ ¯ . . ´ . tu kavir eko dvau durlabhas trayah. Kavyam¯ amsa, p. 54, line 3 ff. ¯ ¯ im ¯ . ¯ . 2. I use the term “court epic” to distinguish literary epics in the courtly kavya tradition from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the two older Indian ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . epics in Sanskrit which, though not strictly transmitted in an oral tradition in their final form, have their roots in oral heroic epic traditions, and can therefore be called primary epics. 3. Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iyam of Bharavi. With the Ghantapatha commentary ¯ . ¯ of Mallinatha. Edited by Pandits Durgaprasad and Kasinath Pan¯ durang Parab (Bombay: Nirnaya Sagar, 1922). For other editions of the Kiratarjun¯ consult Carl Cappeller, Bharavi’s Poem Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya ¯ ¯ ¯ iyai or Arjuna’s combat with the Kirata, Harvard Oriental Series, vol. 15 ¯ (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1912), pp. xxii–xxv; and V. Raghavan, New Catalogus Catalogorum (Madras: University of Madras, 1968), vol. 2, pp. 159–60. The most reliable translation of the entire poem is the German prose rendering of Carl Cappeller, in Cappeller, Bharavi’s ¯ Poem. For other translations, in German, English, and other languages, see Raghavan, New Catalogus, vol. 2, 160–61, Cappeller, Bharavi’s Poem, ¯ pp. xxii–xxv, and Siegfried Lienhard, A History of Classical Poetry: Sanskrit, Pali-Prakrit, Vol. III, fasc. 1, The History of Indian Literature series, ed. J. Gonda (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1984), p. 184n. Throughout this study my discussion of verses and passages in the Kiratarjun¯ is accom¯ ¯ iya panied by my own translations of selected verses, and at the end of the book I have provided translations of selected passages from the poem. 4. Sanskrit and the Prakrits belong to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family of languages. For an excellent general introduction to Sanskrit kavya poetry, see D. H. H. Ingalls, An Anthology of Sanskrit ¯




Court Poetry: Vidyakara’s Subhasitaratnakosa, Harvard Oriental Series 44 ¯ ¯. . (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965). 5. Leonard Nathan, The Transport of Love: Kalidasa’s Meghaduta ¯ ¯ ¯ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. 4. 6. See M. Krishnamachariyar, History of Classical Sanskrit Literature (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1937, 1974). 7. In “Sur la structure du kavya” (SSK ), JA (247: 1959), pp. 1–113, ¯ Louis Renou made a beginning in the literary study of the mahakavya. His ¯ ¯ focus, however, was confined to the stanza as a unit of composition. Three recent studies with a specific focus on the mahakavya genre are: Indira V. ¯ ¯ Shetterly (now Peterson), “Recurrence and Structure in Sanskrit Literary Epic: A Study of Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya,” Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, 1976; Gary A. Tubb, “The Kumarasambhava in the Light of Indian Theories of the Mahakavya”, Ph.D. ¯ ¯ ¯ . dissertation, Harvard University, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, 1979; and David Smith, Ratnakara’s Haravijaya: An Introduction to the ¯ Sanskrit Court Epic (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985). In Ratnakara’s ¯ Haravijaya Smith offers an excellent study of the courtly culture of the Kavya poetry. ¯ 8. The following poems are listed as the “five classic mahakavyas” ¯ ¯ (pañca mahakavyani): the Kumarasambhava and Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . .´ ´ s ¯ (4th–5th centuries), the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya of Bharavi, the Si´ upalavadha of ¯ ´ iharsa (12th century). Magha (9th century) and the Naisadh¯ ¯ iyacarita of Sr¯ . . Some lists include a sixth mahakavya, the Ravanavadha or Bhattikavya ¯ ¯ ¯ . . ¯ of Bhatti, and others name Kalidasa’s Meghaduta, which is properly not a ¯ ¯ ¯ .. mahakavya. ¯ ¯ 9. Mahabharata, Book III (The Book of the Forest), Kairataparvan ¯ ¯ ¯ (“The episode of Arjuna and the hunter”). Mahabharata, Critically Edited ¯ ¯ ¯ . by V. S. Sukthankar. Volume 3, Aranyakaparvan, Part I (Poona: BORI), 31.24–42. The events of the episode are briefly narrated again in a later portion of the same Book of the epic, III.35.163 ff. For an English translation of the text, see The Mahabharata, volume 2, Translated by J. A. B. van ¯ ¯ Buitenen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975). 10. A variety of explanations are given for Draupad¯ polyandry (not the i’s norm in Indian epic society), both in the epic itself and by later scholars. 11. The relevant line of the inscription at the Aihole temple, composed by Pulakesin’s panegyrist Ravik¯ irti, reads: “. . . May Ravik¯ irti, whose fame as a poet equals that of Kalidasa and Bharavi, triumph!”(sa vijayatam ravik¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ irtih kavita´ ritakalidasabharavik¯ . ). On this inscription see J. F. Fleet, Indian ¯s ¯ ¯ ¯ irtih Antiquary 8, 1879, 237–245; and F. Kielhorn, Epigraphia Indica (6:1–2). 12. Bharavi’s historical context is discussed in chapter 3. ¯



13. The eminent mahakavya author Kalidasa, for example, does not ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ refer to his royal patron by name in any of his works, including his two court epics. However, Harsavardhana, the 7th-century ruler of Thanesar, is . the hero of Bana’s major prose work Harsacarita, and court epics focusing ¯. . on historical events and figures became a vogue after the 11th century. See Chandra Prabha, Historical Mahakavyas in Sanskrit: Eleventh to Fifteenth ¯ ¯ Century A.D. (Delhi: Meherchand Lacchmandas, 1976). 14. Edward W. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983), p. 35. 15. On the Arjunawiwaha, see Mary-Ann Lutzker, “The Celebration of ¯ Arjuna: The Arjunawiwaha in South and South East Asian Art,” Ph.D. Dis¯ sertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1984 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms). 16. On the kirata episode in Kathakali dance, see Clifford R. Jones ¯ and Betty True Jones, Kathakali: An Introduction to the Dance Drama of Kerala (San Francisco: American Society for the Eastern Arts, 1970). On the Tamil terukkuttu Mahabharata dramas, see Alf Hiltebeitel, The ¯ ¯ ¯ Cult of Draupad¯ Volume 1. From Gingee to Kuruksetra (University of i. . Chicago Press, 1988), chapter 12 Alf Hiltebeitel, The Cult of Draupad¯ i. Volume 2. On Hindu Rituals and the Goddess (University of Chicago Press, 1991), and Richard Armando Frasca, The Theater of the Mahabharata: ¯ ¯ Terukkuttu Performances in South India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii ¯ Press, 1990). On Mahabharata narratives in performance traditions in ¯ ¯ Java, Bali, and Malaysia, see Lutzker, “Celebration of Arjuna,” and Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger and Laurie J. Sears, eds., Boundaries of the Text: Epic Performances in South and Southeast Asia, Michigan papers on South and Southeast Asia Number 35 (Ann Arbor, Michigan; University of Michigan Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, 1991). 17. For a detailed discussion of these versions of the kirata narrative, ¯ see chapter 9. 18. Helen Vendler, The Odes of John Keats (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983), p. 8. 19. Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism. Excerpted in W. J. Bate, ed., Criticism: The Major Texts (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970, 1952), enlarged edition, pp. 609–25, p. 623.

Chapter 2
1. “It appears that modern Indologists have not given to problems of form the attention that they deserve. And the forms in question are structures, not grammatical categories.” SSK, p. 61.



¯ 2. Dandin, Kavyadar´ a (K.Ad.) I; Bhamaha, Kavyalamkara I. See ¯ ¯ s ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ .. E. Gerow, Indian Poetics, A History of Indian Literature, vol. 5, fasc. 3 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977), p. 228. 3. For a systematic discussion of the history of the definition of the mahakavya genre in Sanskrit poetics, see Tubb, “The Kumarasambhava,” ¯ ¯ ¯ . chapter 3. 4. See chapter 3 for further discussion of Dandin’s connections with .. Bharavi. ¯ ¯ 5. K.Ad. I.13. On the classification of the kavya genres, see Siegfried ¯ Lienhard, A History of Classical Sanskrit Poetry: Sanskrit, Pali-Prakrit. History of Indian Literature series, ed. J. Gonda, vol. III, fasc. 1 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1984), pp. 44–48. 6. Dandin confines his discussion of the definitive features of the kavya ¯ .. genres in the main to the genres of prose and metrical composition, saying that the varieties of mi´ rakavya (poetic forms in a mixture of prose and s ¯ verse) have been discussed in other texts. ¯ 7. K.Ad. I. 14–20. Material in parentheses mine. 8. Court epics in Prakrit and Apabhramsa are divided into units called .´ “a´ vasa” and “kadavaka” (“chapter”), respectively. See A. K.Warder, IKL ¯s ¯ . vol. 1 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1972), pages 174–77. 9. On the kavya meters and their syllabic patterns, see Ingalls, ¯ Anthology, “Index of Sanskrit Meters”, pp. 587–89. ´ 10. “Sloka” denotes both a particular meter and, more generally “verse” (in any meter). In its version by Valm¯ki the heroic epic Ramayana has ¯ ı ¯ ¯ . enough kavya and kavya-like features to be known as the “first kavya poem” ¯ ¯ ¯ (adikavya). Valm¯ki uses a few kavya meters as well. A portion of the vast ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ¯ Mahabharata text is cast in the longer tristubh meter. The sloka meter is ¯ ¯ ´ .. used in kavya poetry as well. ¯ 11. See E. H. Johnston, The Buddhacarita: Or Acts of the Buddha. Part II (Lahore: University of the Panjab, 1936), Introduction, pp. lxxxiii– lxxxiv. 12. See Tubb, “Kumarasambhava,” pp. 64–69 and p. 119. ¯ . 13. These aims are collectively known as caturvarga: “the group of four,” or purusartha: “the ends of man.” Dharma as one of the purus.¯ . arthas connotes “religious duty” in the narrower sense of the term, while the ¯ encompassing notion of dharma signifies “Law,” in the sense of the entire cosmo-moral order.



14. See Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 4, for A´ vaghosa’s subversive use of the purusartha scheme in the Buddhacarita. s . .¯ 15. “Mahakavyas are those poems in which the four aims of life are ¯ ¯ extensively treated, as are all the dominant moods of aesthetic enjoyment, and all the conventional topics of poetry.” Rudrata, Kavyalamkara 16.5. ¯ ¯ . ¯ . “tatra mahanto yesu ca vitatesv abhidh¯yate caturvargah sarve rasah kri¯ ı ¯. . . . yante kavyasthanani ca sarvani.” ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯. 16. The descriptions in the kavya prose romances match the scale of ¯ the mahakavya’s verse-sequences. Nevertheless, although Sanskrit prose is ¯ ¯ of great antiquity, going back at least to the Vedic Brahmanas, specimens ¯ . of prose kavya in the full-blown kavya style that have survived are later ¯ ¯ than verse kavya. Bana’s Harsacarita and Kadambar¯ (7th century), and ¯ ¯. ¯ ı . Dandin’s Da´ akumaracarita, works in the kavya prose genres known as s ¯ ¯ .. katha and akhyayika, are later than Kalidasa and Bharavi. Prose passages ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ have their own rhythms, which are quite unlike those of stanzaic kavya. On ¯ Bana’s descriptive style, see Robert A. Hueckstedt, The style of Bana: An ¯. ¯. Introduction to Sanskrit Prose Poetry (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1985). 17. I have discussed the relationship between description and mood (rasa) in mahakavyas in chapter 3. ¯ ¯ 18. On the complex relationship between kavya and sastra, poetry and ¯ ´¯ systems of learning, see Lienhard, History of Classical Poetry, pp. 2–4. 19. The verb-root occurs twice (in different grammatical forms) in Dandin’s definition of the mahakavya. ¯ ¯ .. 20. See J. Gonda, “The Meaning of the Word Alamkara.” In S. M. Katre . ¯ and P. K. Gode, eds., A Volume of Eastern and Indian Studies in Honor of F.W. Thomas (Bombay, 1939), pp. 97–114, and A. K. Coomaraswamy, “Ornament,” in Coomaraswamy:1. Selected Papers: Traditional Art and Symbolism, edited by Roger Lipsey, Bollingen Series LXXXIX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977), pp. 241–53. 21. For examples of mahakavyas written by members of royal courts, ¯ ¯ see Prabha, Historical Mahakavyas. ¯ ¯ 22. See Barbara Stoler Miller, ed., Theater of Memory: The Plays of Kalidasa (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984) Introduction, ¯ ¯ pp. 12–39., and passim. 23. David Smith sees the mahakavya in its panegyrical function as ¯ ¯ paralleling, and in some ways replacing, the Vedic mantras. For his ideas on the ritual nature of kavya, see Ratnakara’s Haravijaya, pp. 55–82 and ¯ ¯ 96–97.



24. For an introduction to the traits and structural strategies of the Sanskrit drama, see Barbara Miller’s essay, “Kalidasa’s World and his ¯ ¯ Plays,” in Miller, ed., Theater of Memory. 25. These are included in the poeticians’ list of topics. 26. Gary Tubb has shown how Kalidasa fitted the military plan of the ¯ ¯ mahakavya to what is essentially a love-plot, depicting the union of the great ¯ ¯ ´ God Siva and the Goddess Parvat¯ through the latter’s efforts to win him for ¯ ı her husband. Tubb, “Kumarasambhava,” chapter 5. ¯ . 27. We should note that just such a complementarity of functions is entailed in the conception of the Tamil king, whose heroic persona is expressed in love as well as in war, in the classical Tamil literature of south India, which flourished between the 3rd c. B.C. and the 1st c. A.D. See A. K. Ramanujan, Poems of Love and War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985). 28. See Miller, ed., Theater of Memory, Introduction, pp. 17–33. 29. According to the 9th-century poetician Vamana, drama is the best ¯ of the kavya genres because, like a painted canvas (citrapata), it has a vari¯ . ety (citra-) that derives from the completeness of its particular elements. “sandarbhesu da´ arupakam sreyah . . . taddhi citram citrapatavad vi´ esasas ¯ s . ¯ . . ´ . . . kalyat”. Kavyalamkarasutravrtti. I.3.31. Contrast this with Raja´ ekhara’s ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ ¯ s . praise of the mahakavya, quoted in the epigraph to chapter 1. ¯ ¯ 30. “The composition in cantos is a mahakavya (“great poem”), since it is ¯ ¯ great (in compass), and speaks of great things.” sargabandho mahakavyam ¯ ¯ . mahatam ca mahac ca yat. Bhamaha, Kavyalamkara I.19. ¯ . ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ 31. See, for instance, Traditions of Epic and Heroic Poetry. Edited by Robert Auty et al., under the general editorship of A. T. Hatto, 2 volumes (London: The Modern Humanities Research Association, 1981). 32. Thomas M. Greene, “The Norms of Epic,” Perspectives on Poetry, edited by James L. Alderwood and Harold E. Toliver (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), 194–208, and Thomas M. Greene. The Descent from Heaven: A Study in Epic Continuity (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1963). See also J. B. Hainsworth, The Idea of Epic. Eidos: Studies in Classical Kinds, General Editor, Thomas G. Rosenmeyer (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1991). 33. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski has used the phrase “strategies of presentation,” to distinguish these from genres and modes, in Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 9–11.



34. On genre theory in the West, see Alistair Fowler, Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982); and Rosalie L. Colie, The Resources of Kind: Genre Theory in the Renaissance, edited by Barbara K. Lewalski (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), chapter 1. The Orientalists’ misunderstanding of the mahakavya genre is a good example of Oriental¯ ¯ ist attitudes and discourses, as Edward Said has characterized them in his Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979/1978). 35. Albrecht Weber, The History of Indian Literature, translated from the second German edition by John Mann and Theodor Zachariae (London: Trübner, 1882), p. 195. See also A. A. Macdonell, A History of Sanskrit Literature (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1971), second Indian edition, p. 277 (originally published in London: W. Heinemann, 1900). 36. Sushil Kumar De, History of Sanskrit Literature; Prose, Poetry and Drama (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1947), p. 28. 37. Ibid., p. 175. 38. Johnston, The Buddhacarita, Part II, p. lxxiv. 39. On the names for poetics, see Kane, HSP, 341–44. 40. Edwin Gerow, A Glossary of Indian Figures of Speech (The Hague: Mouton, 1971), p. 72. Emphasis mine. 41. And on Indian aesthetic theories of music and the visual arts. On rasa and aesthetic theory in the Sanskrit tradition, see Gerow, Indian Poetics, pp. 245–50, and J. L. Masson and M. V. Patwardhan, Aesthetic Rapture: The Rasadhyaya of the Natya´ astra. In two volumes (Poona: Deccan College, ¯ ¯ ¯ . s¯ 1970). ¯ 42. See The Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana. With the Locana of ¯ Abhinavagupta. Translated by Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and M. V. Patwardhan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990. ´.˙ ¯ 43. In the Srngarapraka´ a the 11th century critic Bhoja gives a system¯s atic classification of contextual units (prakarana) in the court epic. Among . contexts inherent in the plot (prastuta) Bhoja distinguishes between chiefly narrative contexts and speeches (anga), and chiefly descriptive seqences ˙ ´.˙ ¯ (varnaka). See Raghavan, Bhoja’s Srngara Praka´ a, p. 15. ¯s . 44. For instance, E. Gerow, in his study of Indian theories of figures of speech, reflects the prevailing view when he says: “The kavya poetry was ¯ complete in the stanza. The ability of a poet like Kalidasa to compose great ¯ ¯ works was in fact an ability to compose many beautiful stanzas; the multiplication of stanzas does not alter the critical point of view, for it was



not a creative multiplicity.” Gerow, A Glossary, p. 74. Compare Hermann Oldenberg, Die Literatur des Alten Indien. (Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta 1903), p. 212. 45. Gordon Williams, Figures of Thought in Roman Poetry (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1980), Introduction. 46. KS I, KS V, RV IV, RV VI. 47. KS VII.56-69; RV VII.5-16. 48. BC III.13-21. 49. See Hermann Jacobi, “On Bharavi and Magha,” WZKM (Vienna ¯ ¯ Oriental Journal) III (1889):121–45; and Smith, Ratnakara’s Haravijaya. ¯ 50. Ingalls, An Anthology, p. 34, pp. 35–39. 51. Ibid., p. 34. 52. See Ingalls, An Anthology, pp. 30–49, and the statistics in the Index of Sanskrit Meters, pp. 587–89 of the same volume. 53. Jan Mukarovsky, “Standard Language and Poetic Language,” in Linguistics and Literary Style, Donald Freeman, ed., (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970), pp. 40–56, p. 43. The idea of vakrokti (nonstandard speech) propounded by the sixth-century Sanskrit critic Bhamaha ¯ in his Kavyalamkara is an example of a theory of foregrounding. See the ¯ ¯ . ¯ discussion in Kane, HSP, and Gerow, Indian Poetics. 54. “La tendance du k(avya) dans son ensemble est à éviter ce qui est ¯ linéaire, toute répétition non modifiée, tout parallèlisme non compensé.” Renou, SSK, p. 10. 55. E.g., Renou, SSK, pp. 2–3. “La composition du k(avya) est tout ¯ statique: elle se fait par juxtaposition d’éléments un cadre pour ainsi dire immobile.” 56. William Jones applied the necklace analogy to the Persian ghazal, an Asian poetic form that he perceived to be static. Sir William Jones, “Persian Song,” Poems Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatick Languages (London: 1772). More recently, several scholars have successfully argued against the Western perception of static qualities in two other non-Western poetic forms, the Persian ghazal and the Arabic qasida. See A. J. Arberry, “Orient Pearls at Random Strung.” BSOAS (XI, pt. 4): 699–712; and Renate Jacobi, Studien zur Poetic der altarabischen Qaside (Wiesbaden: F. Steiner, 1971. 57. See chapters 5 and 6.

Notes Chapter 3


1. “apare kavyasamsare kavir ekah prajapatih”. Dhvanyaloka (Uddy¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯ . . ota 3), 1979, p. 464. 2. According to a traditional verse, “Bharavi’s verse is characterized ¯ by density of meaning” (bharaver arthagauravam). ¯ 3. Mallinatha, Introductory verse number 6 to the Ghantapatha, ¯ ..¯ “narikelaphalasammitam vaco bharaves sapadi tad vibhajyate / svadayantu ¯ ¯ ¯ . rasagarbhanirbharam saram asya rasika yathepsitam.” “Bharavi’s verse is ¯ ¯ . ¯ split open in a moment like a coconut, so that connoisseurs may taste its inner core full of rasa.” On Mallinatha’s commentary, see J. A. F. Rood¯ bergen, Mallinatha’s Ghantapatha on the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ iya, I–VI. Part One: ..¯ Introduction, Translation, and notes (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1984) (MGK); on the comparison of poetry with various kinds of fruit, see Ibid., p. 372–73. 4. George Steiner, “On Difficulty,” On Difficulty and Other Essays (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 18–47, p. 40. 5. For a comparison of compositional style at the level of versesequences in the epics of A´ vaghosa, Kalidasa, and Bharavi, see Shetterly s ¯ ¯ ¯ . (Peterson), “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 4. 6. “vimardavyaktasaurabhya bharat¯ bharaveh / dhatte baku¯ ¯ i ¯ . lamaleva vidagdhanam camatkriyam.” Gangadev¯ Madhuravijaya I.9, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ˙ ¯ i, ¯ edited by G. Harihara Sastri, 2nd revised edition, Srinivasa Sastri (Trivandrum: Sridhara Press, 1924). Bakula (mimusops elengi) flowers release their scent only when crushed. 7. At least three mahakavyas based on the Ramayana were written ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . by poets who were either contemporaries of Bharavi, or lived not longer after ¯ him. These are: the Ravanavadha of Bhatti, the Prakrit Setubandha of Pra¯ . .. varasena, and the Janak¯harana of Kumaradasa. See Lienhard, History of ¯ ı ¯ ¯ . Classical Poetry, pp. 180 ff. On the six short drames of Bhasa (2nd–3rd ¯ century?) on Mahabharata themes, see A. K. Warder, IKL vol. 2 (Delhi: ¯ ¯ Motilal Banarsidass, 1974), p. 262 ff. ´ 8. On Siva-related themes in the Mahabharata, see Jacques Scheuer, ¯ ¯ ´ Siva dans le Mahabharata (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1982); ¯ ¯ ´ and Alf Hiltebeitel, “Siva, the Goddess, and the Disguises of the Pandavas ¯.. and Draupad¯,” History of Religions 20.1 and 2 (1980–81): 147–74. ı ´ 9. The Kumarasambhava, “The Origin of Kumara (the son of Siva).” ¯ ¯ . See Hank Heifetz, The Origin of the Young God (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.)



10. Without, however, implying that he worshipped the god exclusively. The Guptas and other Indian rulers often paid homage to more than one of Hinduism’s many gods and patronized Buddhism and Jainism as well. ¯ ¯ 11. Avantisundar¯ of Acarya Dandin, ed. K. S. Mahadeva Sastri, TSS ı .. ´ 172 (Trivandrum, 1954), p.10. It would be dangerous to assign a Saiva affili´ ation to Bharavi on the basis of his Saiva theme alone. The Jaina poet Pampa ¯ (10th c.) dealt with the narrative of Arjuna and the hunter in the Kannada version of the Mahabharata he wrote for his patron-king Arikesari. ¯ ¯ 12. Avantisundar¯, p. 10. P. V. Kane, among others, has a detailed disı cussion of this passage in: History of Sanskrit Poetics (HSP), (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass), 1961, third revised edition, pp. 93–101. A. K. Warder suggests that the dates of the Chalukya Vishnuvardhana are somewhat too late for him to have been associated with Bharavi, and that the Vishnuvardhana ¯ in question is more likely to have been Ya´ odharman Vishnuvardhana of s the Aulikara family, thought to have been a feudatory of the Guptas, who is known to have flourished in Malwa, north of the Deccan, in the middle of the sixth century. Warder, IKL, volume 3 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1977), pp. 198–200. Ya´ odharman was a rather prominent figure in the peripheries s of late Gupta history. But Dandin’s reference to Bharavi’s connection with ¯ .. the South Indian kings, and the overwhelmingly South Indian, Pallavan, and Chalukyan connections of the kirata-Arjuna theme (see below) seem to ¯ me more persuasive than Warder’s argument. Nothing in Bharavi’s poem ¯ suggests any knowledge of the North Indian king and his most important achievements, an ambitious digvijaya (tour of conquest), and the expulsion of the Huna invader Mihirakula from Malwa in north central India to India’s western boundaries. On the other hand, Kane (HSP) has pointed out that the date of Dandin’s Vishnuvardhana need not prevent us from identifying him .. with the later Eastern Chalukyan king, because at the time that Dandin’s .. ancestor visited Vishnuvardhana, the latter was a young prince. 13. On Durvin¯ta and Pulakesin, consult G. Yazdani, ed., The Early ı History of the Deccan, Parts I–VI (London: Oxford University Press, 1960). 14. On Elephanta and on the various dynasties who ruled in the Deccan between the third and seventh centuries A.D., see Charles D. Collins, The ´ Iconography and Ritual of Siva at Elephanta (Albany: State University of ´ New York Press, 1988). The list of patrons of Saiva religion and art in preseventh-century Deccan includes rulers from the Vakataka, Satavahana, Kadamba, Vishnukundin, Pallava and Rashtrakuta dynasties. 15. “May this quarrel which first divided you two, itself become a permanent source of mutual love, the like the kirata’s strife with Arjuna!” ¯ L. D. Barnett, trans., “Mahendravikrama-varman, ‘matta-vilasa’: A Farce,” ¯ BSOAS (V: 1930), pp. 697 ff. “virodhah purvasambaddho yuvayor astu . ¯



sa´ vatah parasparapr¯ ´ ¯s itikarah kiratarjunayor iva”. Mattavilasa, edited by ¯ ¯ ¯ . . Ganapati Sastri, TSS 1917. 16. For a detailed account of the controversy and a study of the kirata ¯ theme in Indian art, see T. N. Ramachandran, “The Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iyam or ‘Arjuna’s Penance’ in Indian Art,” Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art 18 (1950–51): 1–111; p. 58 ff. 17. This tradition goes back at least to the eighteenth century: see Michael D. Rabe, “The Mamallapuram Pra´ asti: A Panegyric in Figures,” ¯ s Artibus Asiae Vol. LVII, 314 (1997): 189–241. 18. Rabe, “The Mamallapuram Pra´ asti,” p. 191. ¯ s 19. Rabe (“The Mamallapuram Pra´ asti”) argues that the Great ¯ s Penance relief contains allusions to other mythic-heroic ancestors of the Pallava dynasty as well. ´ 20. On Mahendravarman’s Siva Gangadhara relief at Tiruchirappalli, ˙ ¯ see Heinrich von Stietencron, “Das Kunstwerk als politisches Manifest,” Saeculum 28 (1977): 366–83, and Rabe, “The Mamallapuram Pra´ asti”, 219– ¯ s 221. On political allegory in Indian sculpture, in addition to Stietencron, see Frederick Asher, “Historical and Political Allegory in Gupta Art,” in Bardwell L. Smith, ed., Essays on Gupta Culture (Columbia, Missouri: South Asia Books, and Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983), 53–66. ´ 21. Indira Viswanathan Peterson, Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989), pp. 35, 129, 137, 139, 174, 254–55, and 288. 22. Rabe, “The Mamallapuram Pra´ asti.” On poems intended to yield ¯ s multiple meanings, see Lienhard, History of Classical Sanskrit Poetry, 148–50 and 222–25. A poem that “joins” two narratives (e.g, the lives of the god-heros Rama and Krishna) is known as a dvisamdhanakavya. The ¯ ¯ ¯ . dvisamdhanakavya attributed to Dandin has not survived. On verses with ¯ ¯ .. . multiple meanings and formal play in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, see chapters 7, 8, and 9. 23. I have developed this argument in chapter 7. 24. The hymns of the Tamil saints who led popular movements pro´ moting ecstatic devotion (bhakti) to Siva in the Pallava kingdom in the sixth and seventh centuries are full of invective aimed at Jainas and Buddhists. ´ On the Tamil Saiva controversy with Jainas and Buddhists, see Indira ´ Viswanathan Peterson, Poems to Siva: Introduction, pp. 10–11, 19–20; ´ and poem 221 ff; and Indira Viswanathan Peterson, “Sramanas against . ´ the Tamil Way: Jains as Others in Tamil Saiva Literature,” in John Cort, ed., Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), pp. 163–186.



´ 25. In Speaking of Siva (Baltimore Md.: Penguin, 1973), A. K. Ramanujan gives an account of the V¯ra´ aiva bhakti sect’s (11th century ff.) conflict with ı s the Jainas in Karnataka. ¯ . 26. The Vana (or Aranyaka) parvan (Book III) in the Mahabharata, ¯ ¯ ¯ . and the Aranyakanda (Book III) in the Ramayana. ¯. ¯ ¯ . 27. On the forest in the Mahabharata, see van Buitenen, The Mahabha¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ rata, vol. 2, Introduction to the Forest Book. On the adventures of the epic heroes, see Walter Ruben, Waldabenteuer der Indischen epischen Helden, Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Vorträge und Schriften, Heft 82 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1962); and Nancy E. Falk, “Wilderness and Kingship in Ancient South Asia.” HOR 13 (1973–74): 1–15. For parallel motifs in the ancient Near Eastern epic Gilgamesh, see N. K. Sandars, The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin, 1972, 1964). 28. Said, for instance, of Nala, the hero of a narrative in the Forest Book (MBh III.50.28). 29. A number of scholars have written on the Mahabharata war as ¯ ¯ sacrifice, and on the initiatory nature of the epic’s Kairataparvan episode: ¯ Alf Hiltebeitel, The Ritual of Battle: Krsna in the Mahabharata. (Ithaca: ¯ ¯ .. . Cornell University Press, 1976); Madeleine Biardeau, “Études de mythologie hindoue (V) Part II. Bhakti et avatara”, Bulletin de l’école française ¯ ´ d’Extreme-Orient 65 (1978):146–64, see pp. 19, and 155 ff; Scheuer, Siva dans le Mahabharata; and, most recently, Ruth C. Katz, Arjuna in the Maha¯ ¯ ¯ bharata (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988), pp. 90–104. ¯ The initiatory plot in the Mahabharata includes the continuation of the com¯ ¯ bat narrative in the Kairataparvan, in which Arjuna goes to Indra’s paradise ¯ and wins weapons from that god as well. 30. In Greek myth and epic, for example, in addition to the narrative of Achilles and the boar, there is the story of Meleager. On the wild boar motif in a Tamil folk epic, see Brenda E. F. Beck, The Three Twins: The Telling of a South Indian Folk Epic (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982). 31. Ibid., p. 167. In her discussion of the boar incident in the Annanmar ¯ .. ¯ Katai (pp. 166–68) Beck draws connections and parallels between several motifs—including austerity, initiation, divine encounter, and dissolution imagery—in the Tamil local epic narrative and the Kairataparvan episode. ¯ The Annanmar Katai itself self-consciously refers to the Mahabharata. ¯ ¯ ¯ .. ¯ 32. On “kirata,” see Benjamin Walker, ed., The Hindu World: An Ency¯ clopedic Survey of Hinduism (New York: Praeger, 1968) (2 vols.), volume 1, p. 555. 33. Ibid., p. 16 and passim. Material in parenthesis mine.



34. On the complex persona of Rudra-Pa´ upati, see C. Sivaramamurti, s ´ ´ Satarudr¯ya: Vibhuti of Siva’s Iconography (Delhi: Abhinav Publications, ı ¯ ´ 1976); and Stella Kramrisch, The Presence of Siva (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981), chapters 1–5. 35. See Katz, Arjuna, chapter 1 and passim. 36. As the third of five brothers, Arjuna is madhyama, the middle brother, but the term has also been used for Bh¯ma, as the middle brother ı in character as well as in age, between Yudhisthira and Arjuna. This is the .. early dramatist Bhasa’s usage in his Madhyamavyayoga, a play with Bh¯ma ¯ ¯ ı for its protagonist. 37. On Arjuna, Rama, Yudhisthira, and ascetic values, see chapter 7. ¯ .. Rama is a warrior as well as an exemplary king, but as with Yudhisthira, ¯ .. ascetic, renunciatory ideals predominate in his character. See the discussions of Rama as the renouncer-hero in the introductions to The Ramayana ¯ ¯ ¯ . of Valm¯ki: An Epic of Ancient India, volume 1, Balakanda, translated by ¯ ı ¯ ¯.. Robert P. Goldman, with annotations by Sally J. Sutherland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984) and The Ramayana of Valm¯ki: An ¯ ¯ . ¯ ı Epic of Ancient India. Volume II, Ayodhyakanda, Introduction, Transla¯ ¯.. tion, and Annotation by Sheldon I. Pollock. Edited by Robert P. Goldman (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985). 38. Georges Dumézil put forward the theory of a trifunctional ideology of kingship and other important civilizational categories in the so-called Indo-European cultures, of which the ancient Indo-Aryan culture of the Mahabharata is a branch. Dumézil, Mythe et Épopée. L’idéologie des trois ¯ ¯ fonctions dans les épopées des peuples indo-européens. vol. I, Bibliothèque des sciences humaines (Paris: Gallimard, 1968). Thomas Greene speaks of a universal contrast in epics between a wise, thoughtful king-figure, and a brilliant, but impetuous, warrior-hero. Greene, Descent from Heaven, chapter 1. 39. Katz, Arjuna, p. 44 40. Mbh Book VI. 41. See Mahabharata, vol. 1, translated by J. A. B. van Buitenen ¯ ¯ (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), Introduction; and Indira V. Peterson, “The Ramayana of Valm¯ki: The World of A Hindu Epic.” Review ¯ ¯ . ¯ ı essay on Goldman, trans., The Ramayana of Valm¯ki, Religious Studies ¯ ¯ . ¯ ı Review, vol. 12, number 2 (April 1986): 97–102. 42. See my discussion in chapter 8. On aspects of Arjuna’s close rela´ ´ tionship with Siva, also see Alf Hiltebeitel, “Siva, the Goddess, and the Disguises of the Pandavas and Draupad¯”; and the same author’s “The two ¯.. ı



Krsnas on One Chariot: Upanisadic Imagery and Epic Mythology,” HOR .. . . vol. 24, number 1 (August 1984): 1–26, pp. 15 ff. 43. E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel, San Diego: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1985; originally published 1927. 44. Bettie Erda, Shadow Images of Asia: A Selection of Shadow Puppets from the American Museum of Natural History, Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Katonah Gallery, March 18 – May 27, 1979 (New York; Katonah Gallery, 1979), p. 7. 45. Richard Dorment, “Paint in the Public’s Face: The Absurd Whistler v Ruskin Affair,” Review of Linda Merrill, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in “Whistler v Ruskin” (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1992), Times Literary Supplement No. 4656 (June 26, 1992):16–17; p. 16. 46. See chapter 7 for a discussion of the relationships between the Kiratarjun¯ and the G¯ a. For a list of the meters in the Kiratarjun¯ and ¯ ¯ iya it ¯ ¯ ¯ iya their distribution in the poem, see Cappeller, Bharavi’s Poem, pp. 193–95. ¯ The twelve meters that serve as carrying meters for entire cantos or sub´ stantial portions of cantos are: Vamsastha, Upajati, Sloka, Vaital¯ ¯ ¯ iya, .´ ¯ Svagata, Puspitagra, Udgata, Aupacchandasika, Pramitaksara, Praharsini, ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ ¯ . . . ¯ ¯ Rathoddhata, and Drutavilambita. Various meters occur in succession in ¯ cantos V and XVIII. For a statistical comparison of metrical usage in the major mahakavyas, see H. D. Velankar, “Prosodial Practice of Sanskrit ¯ ¯ Poets,”JBRAS 24 (1948–9), 49–92. 47. To avoid the awkward locution apsaras-es, I have used “apsaras” both for the singular and the plural of the word. 48. Mahabharata III, Kairataparvan, chapters 28–37. ¯ ¯ ¯ 49. John Irwin, “A´ okan’ Pillars: A Reassessment of the Evidence—IV: s Symbolism,” Burlington 118, 1976, pp. 734–52, p. 740. I thank Samuel K. Parker for bringing Irwin’s article to my attention. 50. See my discussion in chapter 5. 51. See Masson and Patwardhan, Aesthetic Rapture. 52. Dhv. 3. 53. For a detailed study and translation of Mallinatha’s Ghantapatha ¯ ..¯ on the first six cantos of the Kiratarjun¯ya, especially from the point of view ¯ ¯ ı of grammar, see Roodbergen, MGK. 54. Arthaprakrti, avastha, and samdhi: Natya´ astra, Adhyaya 19. The ¯ ¯ . s¯ ¯ . . pentads of plot analysis are further subdivided. 55. In his study of the Kumarasambhava, Gary Tubb has shown that it ¯ . is indeed in respect of the development of the plot that the dramatic theory



is most useful in discussing the overall structure of a mahakavya. Tubb, ¯ ¯ Kumarasambhava, chapter 5. ¯ . 56. In Citrabhanu’s analysis, the “beginning” (arambha) stage and ¯ ¯ . opening (mukha) juncture are represented by the first three cantos (the Pandava’s political council); the two and a half sargas following the political ¯.. council show the yatna (“effort”) stage and the pratimukha (“progression”) juncture. Cantos VI through XI, comprising the incidents with the apsaras and Indra, present the samdhi called “development,” literally “the . womb” (garbha), and the stage of “possibility of attainment” (praptya´ a). ¯ ¯s¯ The fourth stage, niyatapti, (“certainty of attainment”) together with the ¯ avamar´ a (“examination”) samdhi belong to the battle cantos, up to XVII; s . and the stage called “attainment of the fruit” (phalagama) and the juncture ¯ called “completion” (nirvahana) of the plot are accomplished in the eigh. teenth and final sarga. The Kiratarjun¯ya of Bharavi with the commentary ¯ ¯ ı ¯ ´ Sabdarthad¯pika of Citrabhanu. Edited by T. Ganapati Sastri (Trivandrum: ¯ ı ¯ ¯ Government Press, 1918). TSS LXIII, p. 5 (introduction to the commentary). For a somewhat different analysis of the cantos according to dramatic theory, see Warder, IKL vol. 3, p. 209. 57. The Nirnayasagar edition of the Kiratarjun¯ya includes the Ghan¯ ¯ ı . tapatha commentary of Mallinatha, who is also the author of the standard ¯ .¯ commentaries on the other classic mahakavyas. Although Bharavi’s poem ¯ ¯ ¯ acquired a large number of commentators, most of them after Mallinatha, ¯ the latter’s commentary remains the best exegesis of the poem. See Roodbergen, MGK. On a list of commentaries on the Kiratarjun¯ya, a large number ¯ ¯ ı of which are unpublished, see Raghavan, New Catalogus, vol. 2, pp. 162–64. Of these I have consulted the following: Government Oriental Manuscripts Library ms. of Vidyamadhava’s Vidyamadhav¯ya; Adyar Library ms. of ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ´ Devarajabahatta’s Sukhabodhin¯; and Citrabhanu’s Sabdarthad¯pika, cited ¯ ı ¯ ¯ ı ¯ .. earlier; and 4. BORI manuscripts: Ekanatha’s Prasannasahityacandrika, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯s ¯ ı ¯. Praka´ avarsa’s Laghut¯ a, Ka´ inatha’s Subodhin¯, and Allatanarahari’s ¯s . . ik ¯ T¯ka. (Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute Government Mss. Catalogue .ı ¯ D XIII.1, items 104, 114, 87, and 102, respectively.) 58. “neta madhyamapandavo bhagavato narayanasyamsajah/ tasyot¯ ¯.. ¯ ¯ . ¯ .´ . karsakrte tvavarnyatataram divyah kiratah punah// srngaradiraso’ngam ¯ . ¯ . ´. ˙ ¯ ¯ ˙ . . . . . atra vijay¯ v¯rah pradhano rasah / sailad¯ni ca varnitani bahu´ o divyastraı ı . ¯ s ¯ . ´ ¯ ı . ¯ labhah phalam.” ¯ . 59. On utsaha and v¯ra in the Natya´ astra, see Minoru Hara, “Utsaha,” ¯ ı ¯ . s¯ ¯ JOR vols. 40–41 (1970–71, 71–72), Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute Silver Jubilee Volume, edited by Dr. S. S. Janaki (1981):15–30. 60. Bharata does not recognize “compassionate heroism.” Under Dhv. ¯ 3.26 Anandavardhana refutes theorists who claim that santarasa is nothing ´¯



but another name for the compassionate variety of v¯rarasa. The commenı tator Abhinavagupta gives varying opinions in his commentaries on the NS ´¯ and the Dhv. See Masson and Patwardhan, Santarasa, pp. 92–103, and ´ antarasa in the Mahabharata,” Arvind Sharma, 133–137; and Gary Tubb, “S ¯ ¯ ¯ ed., Essays on the Mahabharata, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991, 171–203. ¯ ¯ 61. Tubb, Kumarasambhava, chapter 5. ¯ . ¯ 62. See Anandavardhana’s discussion of rasa in the two epics in Dhv. ´¯ 4.5 ff, as also Gary Tubb’s study of the critic’s views on the subject, in “Santarasa in the Mahabharata.” In his Ramayanamañjar¯ and Bharatamañ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . ı ¯ jar¯, digests of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the later critic Kseı ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ . mendra presents both as evoking world-weariness and resignation, turning the audience’s minds towards santa (peace). ´¯ 63. Bhasa’s short plays on Mahabharata episodes have a strong heroic ¯ ¯ ¯ flavor, but other rasa-shadings as well. The vision of heroism presented in ¯ the Urubhanga (The Breaking of the Thighs) and Karnabhara (The Trial ˙ ¯ . of Karna) is suffused with pathos. See Barbara Stoler Miller, “Karnabhara: ¯ . . The Trial of Karna,” in Sharma, ed., Essays on the Mahabharata, 57–67; and ¯ ¯ . ¯ Edwin Gerow, Urubhanga: The Breaking of the Thighs, in the same volume, ˙ pp. 68–83. The tenth-century poetician Kuntaka cites the drama Ven¯sam.ı . hara (“The Binding of the Braid”) of Bhatta Narayana as a good example of ¯ ¯ ¯ . .. the transformation of the epic material, orignally pervaded by santarasa, to ´¯ unalloyed v¯ra. Kuntaka, Vakroktij¯vita, 4.16,17. In the Ven¯samhara Naraı ı ¯ ¯ .ı . ¯ yana treats the final combat between Bh¯ma and Duryodhana, ending in a ı . gruesome victory for Bh¯ma, and the fulfilment of Draupad¯’s vow of binding ı ı her braid only after her husband had avenged the insult done to her by the Kauravas in the assembly hall. See the discussion in David Gitomer, “The Catastrophe of the Braid: The Mahabharata in Classical Drama. The Ven¯¯ ¯ .ı samhara of Bhatta Narayana.” Unpublished manuscript, 1991, Afterword. ¯ ¯ . .. . ¯ 64. Mallinatha, Ghantapatha, ad Kir. I.46. ¯ ..¯ 65. In Citrabhanu’s opinion, as the stimulator and “master organizer” ¯ of the action, as well as authoritative king and elder brother, Yudhisthira .. is the true nayaka (‘leader’) of the karya, with Arjuna acting only as the ¯ ¯ ´ subordinate executor. Citrabhanu, Sabdarthad¯pika, introduction, pp. 2–5. ¯ ¯ ı ¯ 66. “. . . Rather, Arjuna is the hero by virtue of the depiction of (such actions) as listening to the spy’s report, seeing the hunter, performing penance, fighting, asking for the weapon, and so forth; and the kirata ¯ is the hero by virtue of the narrative regarding the hunt, combat, and amusing himself, giving a boon, and so on; and thus, both are the poem’s heroes. That is why the poem is called Arjuna and the Hunter. . . .” Bharavi’s ¯ Kiratarjun¯ya; with the commentary Vidyamadhav¯ya of Vidyamadhava, ¯ ¯ ı ¯ ¯ ı ¯ ¯



Manuscript D 11493, Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, introduction to the commentary, p. 4. 67. The compound is formed according to a special rule in the grammar of Panini (4.3.88: adhikrtya krte granthe), pertaining to the titles of texts. ¯. . . See Roodbergen, MGK, p. 75, and note 586, p. 413. 68. These are the three rasas that the later tradition has recognized as most appropriate for sustained treatment in a major work. E.g., Vi´ vanatha, s ¯ Sahityadarpana, 317: “Of srngara, v¯ra and santa, one ought to be selected ¯ ´. ˙ ¯ ı ´¯ . as the main rasa (of a kavya).” ¯ 69. Dhv. 3.21 ff. 70. Some items in the list: Asammoha (presence of mind), adhyavasaya (determination), naya (political acumen), vinaya (discipline), pratapa ¯ ¯ (activity, vigor), and prabhava (nobility, dignity, “presence”). ¯ 71. For the complete text and translation of the passage in Natya´ astra ¯ . s¯ 6.67 and 68 ff, see Hara, “Utsaha,” p. 17–18. Vi´ vanatha includes tarka ¯ s ¯ (reasoning), anger (krodha), and laughter (hasa) among the vyabhicaris ¯ ¯ (transitory emotions) of v¯ra rasa: Sahityadarpana 3.234; and 3.171–72. ı ¯ . 72. The two kinds of conditional elements that act as the causes of the heroic are: the object of hostility (alambana vibhava) e.g., the Kauravas and ¯ ¯ the hunter-chief ) and the atmosphere and stimulants of the mood (udd¯pana ı vibhava) e.g., the insult at the hand of the Kauravas, the peaceful atmo¯ ¯ sphere of the Himalayan forest, and so on. Anandavardhana takes care to stress that in nondramatic poetry, the components of rasa must be suggested through language in all its aspects, including the very phonemes that are the building blocks of utterance. Dhv. 3.2 ff. On the component elements of the heroic rasa, see Sahityadarpana 3.232 ff. ¯ . 73. See Indira V. Peterson, “Arjuna’s Combat with the Kirata: Rasa ¯ and Bhakti in Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ya.” Arvind Sharma, ed., Essays on the ¯ ¯ ¯ ı Mahabharata (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991, 212–250), pp. 217–220. ¯ ¯ 74. In the Kumarasambhava the gods try to use Parvat¯ beauty as ¯ ¯ i’s . ´ the instrument for breaking Siva’s ascetic practice and persuading him to marry the goddess, so that a great son will be born to the divine couple. In the Buddhacarita the king instructs courtesans to seduce the young prince to draw him away from thoughts of renunciation. On the motif of the ascetic and the courtesan, see Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, Asceticism and Eroticism ´ in the Mythology of Siva (London: Oxford University Press, 1973). 75. This episode has been left out of the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata. ¯ ¯



76. In the analyses that follow, I have compared aspects Bharavi’s ¯ compositional style with those of the earlier mahakavya poets A´ vaghosa ¯ ¯ s . and Bharavi. For a more detailed comparison, see Shetterly/Peterson, ¯ Recurrence and Structure, chapter 4.

Chapter 4
1. “Der epische Held pflegt mehr oder weniger zugleich Redner zu sein, und auch die Frauen haben an dieser Gabe Teil.” Hermann Oldenberg, Das Mahabharata: Seine Entstehung, seine Inhalt, seine Form (Göttingen: ¯ ¯ Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1922), p. 149. 2. Interlocution and emboxing are standard techniques in the story literature of India (e.g., the Buddhist Jataka in Pali), and Sanskrit sastric ¯ ´¯ and puranic texts as well. ¯. 3. Renate Söhnen, Untersuchungen zur Komposition von Reden und Gesprächen im Ramayana. Two volumes. Studien zur Indologie und Iranis¯ ¯ . tik, Monographie 6, (Reinbek: Dr.Inge Wezler, Verlag für orientalistische Fachpublikationen, 1979), p. 38 and 42. 4. Pollock, The Ramayana, p. 45. Söhnen, Untersuchungen, argues ¯ ¯ . that this is true of the entire epic. Note, however, that her major examples are taken from the Ayodhyakanda. ¯ ¯.. 5. There are few persuasive orations in Kalidasa’s mahakavyas, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ although these include two celebrated dialogues (samvada:) the argument . ¯ ´ between Parvat¯ and Siva in Kumarasambhava V, and that between King ¯ ı ¯ . Dil¯pa and the lion in Raghuvamsa II. Compared to the speeches in the older ı .´ epics, these are brief. I have compared the speeches in A´ vaghosa and Kalis ¯ . dasa with those in the Kiratarjun¯ya in chapter 4 of my Ph.D. dissertation: ¯ ¯ ¯ ı Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” 1976. 6. Greene, Descent from Heaven, p. 21. See also page 20. 7. “mantrapurvah sarvarambhah” KAS I.15.2. R. P. Kangle, The ¯ ¯. ¯ . ¯. Kautil¯ya Artha´ astra. Parts 1–3. University of Bombay Studies in Sanskrit s¯ . ı Prakrit and Pali nos. 1–3. Part 1: A critical edition with a glossary; Part 2: An English translation with critical and explanatory notes; Part three: A study (Bombay: University of Bombay, 1960, 1972, 1965). Material in parenthesis mine. 8. See my discussion in chapter 5. 9. For example, in his remark on verse II.22, Mallinatha uses the ¯ verb nigamayati (“he sums up”), to describe Bh¯ma’s summing up of his ı argument in this verse. The m¯mamsakas use the term “upasamhara” for ı ¯ . . ¯



the summing up of a passage. Nigamana is the technical term in Nyaya logic ¯ for the deduction, the last member of a syllogism. For further discussion of logic, rhetoric, and debate in classical India, see chapter 5. 10. See J. V. Cunningham’s discussion of Marvell’s poem in: Tradition and Poetic Structure (Denver: Swallow, 1960), pp. 41–43. 11. Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 132. 12. In other words, the logical structures in a poetic passage such as a court epic speech are something more than “. . . a convenient string on which to hang those true jewels of poetic art, metaphors.” Smith, Poetic Closure, p. 138. 13. In the Mahabharata, in the course of the episode the Pandavas ¯ ¯ ¯.. move from the Kamyaka wood to Dvaitavana, a lake and a forest region. See ¯ Cappeller’s remarks, Bharavi’s Poem, Einleitung, p. xxi, also note 1 on the ¯ same page. 14. Although here it is a description of the just rule of a villain, the ¯ pratinayaka. See Anandavardhana’s discussion of the topic in Dhv. ¯ ´ 15. See KAS I.12.9 and I.12.23. The former verse mentions kiratas; in ¯ ´ the latter, the KAS notes that forest-dwellers should be employed as spies ´ in the forest regions. The KAS also mentions the false student (kapatika) as ¯ . ´ a type of spy (I.11.1 and 2). In KAS VII we read that a king is enjoined to employ mlecchas (foreigners or tribal folk) as spies. 16. U. N. Ghosal takes this view. See his History of Indian Political Ideas (Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 361. 17. Consult Ghosal, History of Indian Political Ideas, p. 350 ff., for a study of the relationship between Mahabharata ideas of kingship, the full¯ ¯ blown artha´ astra tradition, and the great kavya writers, especially Bharavi s¯ ¯ ¯ (pp. 360–62). For a recent critique of Ghosal, see Braj M. Sinha, “Arthasastra Categories in the Mahabharata: From Dandan¯ti to Rajadharma,” in ´¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ .. ı Sharma, ed., Essays on the Mahabharata, pp.368–83. Sinha sees the differ¯ ¯ ence between the older epic and the texts on political theory thus: “. . . both, the Artha´ astra and the Mahabharata, are concerned with the art of states¯ ¯ ¯ craft in the monarchical state. However, while the Artha´ astra confines itself s¯ to the investigation of the phenomenon of the State as a wielder of coercive authority (danda), the Mahabharata deals with the same as an incident in ¯ ¯ .. a comprehensive scheme of duties of the King in terms of the dharma categories of the Dharmasutras . . .” (Ibid., p. 368–9). I have argued that other ¯ points of view are represented in the older epic itself, and that Bharavi, ¯ too, offers a spectrum of perspectives within the parameters of artha´ astra s¯ theory. See my comments in this chapter and chapter 5.



17a. Kiratarjun¯ I. 27–46, translated in Appendix A. ¯ ¯ iya 18. See my discussion of v¯ra rasa in chapter 3 above. Amarsa is ı . one of the thirty-three transitory emotions mentioned in the Natya´ astra ¯ . s¯ VI.18–21. Krodha (anger) is the stable emotion of the raudra (angry) rasa. The phrase manyuvyavasayad¯pin¯h girah (I.27), quoted above, suggests ¯ ı ı. . udd¯pana-vibhava, the stimulant or incitatory bases of the heroic mood’s ı ¯ stable emotion. 19. Mahabharata III. 28. 10-36. ¯ ¯ 20. The epic slokas on Pandava hardship form the bulk of the ´ ¯.. sequence, which Bharavi follows closely—twenty out of the twenty-seven ¯ verses in III. 10-36. 21. Rather like the ring-composition schema that has been identified as the typical structural design of similar orations in the Iliad and the Ra¯ mayana. Dieter Lohmann, Die Komposition der Reden in der Ilias (Berlin: ¯ . Walter de Gruyter, 1970); and Söhnen, Untersuchungen. 22. abccba. Introduction I.27-28. a: Through his own fault, Yudhisthira has lost his kingdom and glory. 29–33. .. b: A ksatriya (warrior) should respond to provocation with anger and take . action against his enemies. c: Yudhisthira’s brothers are being made to suffer undeserved hardship. .. 34–36. c: Yudhisthira has been brought low; he is suffering in exile. 37–41. .. b: He should act, since he is a warrior, not an ascetic (a man of peace). 42–45. a: Benediction: If he acts, he will regain his glory. 46 (this verse of blessing is also the last stanza in the sarga). 23. Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and structure,” chapter 2. 24. “. . . to indicate that the probans is not vitiated by the presence of a counter-probans proving the contrary (asatpratipaksitatva), nor stultified by . a stronger proof (abadhitatva).” Mahamahopadhyaya Kuppuswami Sastri, ¯ A Primer of Indian Logic: According to the Tarkasamgraha of Annambhatta . .. (Madras: Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, 1961) p. 224. 25. Barbara H. Smith, Poetic Closure, p.156. 26. For upama and arthantaranyasa see Gerow, Glossary, p.141 and ¯ ¯ ¯ 118 respectively. See also Roodbergen, MGK, Appendix 2. 27. I.30. 28. The corroboration can be made affirmatively (sadharmya) or ¯ through contrast (vaidharmya).

29. Gerow, Glossary, p. 141. 30. Ibid.


31. Gerow, Glossary, pp. 140–41. For other aspects of the importance of simile in Sanskrit poetics, see Gerow’s Introduction, especially pp. 16–17, 35–38, 55 ff.; and the entry upama, pp. 140 ff. ¯ 32. Gerow, Glossary, p. 142. 33. See chapter 6. 34. Gerow, Glossary, p. 17. material in brackets is mine. 35. Ibid., p. 37. 36. Gerow, Glossary, p. 36. 37. For discussions of the figure slesa, see Gerow, Glossary, pp. 38–42; ´ . Ingalls, Anthology, p. 19; and Roodbergen, MGK, Appendix 2. ´ 38. The doctrine of sadgunya is elaborated in KAS Book 7. .¯ . . 39. Mallinatha notes the force of the causative. ¯ 40. Kiratarjun¯ya III.47. There is also an allusion to the Mahabharata ¯ ¯ ı ¯ ¯ passage in this verse. Compare Mbh. III. 28. 32: “When you see me, born in the family of Drupada, daughter-in-law of the noble Pandu, here in the ¯.. forest, why does your anger not blaze up?” 41. In fact, the speech is full of rhetorical questions of this sort, with a similar impact. 42. Roodbergen, MGK, p. 57. 43. In Mallinatha’s opinion these verses belong to the group of ten, ¯ beginning with verse 32, with which Draupad¯ “inflames the king’s anger.” ı See Roodbergen, MGK, p. 56, transition to I.32. Mallinatha has nothing ¯ more to say about the construction of the segment. 44. MB VII.50.18–40; VIII. 5.10–80. Ram. IV.20, 23. ¯ 45. RV VIII and KS 4. 46. III. 28. 10 and 13, in my translation. 47. In his lament for his son slain in battle, Arjuna uses this formula to speak of the “inauspicious female jackals” (a´ ivah sivah, Mahabharata s ¯. ´ ¯. ¯ ¯ VII. 50. 38.) Other standard “lament” items occurring in this lament include the prince’s costly bed, the parasol that shaded his face, the songs of bards, and so on.



48. See Albert B. Lord, The Singer of Tales (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961). 49. The distribution is as follows: bhupati (29), naradhipa (31), nara¯ ¯ deva (32), nrpa (39), rajan (40), nrpa and bhubhrt (42), laksm¯pati (44), ¯ ¯ . . . . ı ksit¯sa (45). Only one of these (nrpa) is repeated. Kings and kingship are . ı´ . key themes in the other speeches in this sequence as well. 50. Ingalls, Anthology, pp. 6–8. 51. See Kenneth Langer, “Suggestive Uses of Alliteration in Sanskrit Court Poetry”. JAOS 98.4 (1978), pp. 438–45. 52. van Buitenen, Mahabharata, volume 2, III.35. 21. “Law” is van ¯ ¯ Buitenen’s rendering of “dharma.” The Sanskrit verse reads: mama pratijñam ca nibodha satyam/ vrne dharmam amrtaj j¯vitac ca / rajyam ca ¯ . ¯ .. . ¯ ı ¯ putra´ ca ya´ o dhanam ca /sarvam na satyasya kalam upaiti. ¯s s ¯ . . 53. The choice of vasu for wealth seems to have been motivated by its meaningful alliteration with “vasavopamah”, Indra-like. Vasava is one of ¯ ¯ . Indra’s names. 54. The adjective has many synonyms, including the epic formula maharha, costly, rich. ¯ 55. This refrain occurs (with slight variation) in III. 28. 19, 20–21, and 23–32. The formulaic phrase “duhkhanarham sukhocitam” (“unaccustomed . ¯ . to suffering, used to comfort”) occurs in verse 10, and the formula “ka san¯ ´¯ tir hrdayasya me” (“How can my heart be at peace?”), in verses 12 and 16. . In his lament for his slain son Abhimanyu, in Mahabharata VII (Drona¯ ¯ . parvan), 18 ff., Arjuna uses several refrains, including “How can my heart be at peace?” (verses 33–36). 56. Oldenberg has pointed out that in the Buddhist Jataka stories ¯ refrains occur in poetic-rhetorical, as opposed to prosaic-narrative, portions of the text. See Hermann Oldenberg, “Jatakastudien,” NKGWG ¯ Philologisch-historische Klasse (1918), 429–68; and “Noch Einmal Jataka ¯ und Epen” NKGWG Philologisch-historische Klasse (1919), 61–79. Pollock, Ramayana, vol. 2, p.43., notes refrains in the following passages in the ¯ ¯ . Ayodhyakanda: 25.6, 61.8, 69.14, 77.3, 92.4, 103.4. ¯ ¯.. 57. Heifetz, Origin of the Young God, pp.152–4 gives examples in the literatures of different languages for laments that embody the “wavelike rhythm used for mourning” (p.154). 58. And artists may choose to so represent it in art. Geoffrey N. Leech, A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry (London: Longmans, 1969) gives the example of Othello’s “Nay, that’s certain;—but yet the pity of it, Iago! O! Iago, the pity of it, Iago!” (Othello, IV.l)

59. Leech, Linguistic Guide, p. 84.


60. Even A´ vaghosa, who is stylistically closer to the Ramayana, stops s ¯ ¯ . . short of using a refrain in the women’s lamentations over the renunciation of Prince Siddhartha (BC canto VIII). In the famous vilapas in his ¯ ¯ two epics—Rati’s lament in the Kumarasambhava, and the laments of Aja ¯ . and the goddess of the city of Ayodhya in the Raghuvamsa (canto VIII; ¯ .´ and XVI.9–22.)—Kalidasa omits the refrain as well as all parallelism and ¯ ¯ repetition of an obvious kind. 61. “. . . atha ksamam eva nirastavikramah . . . paryesi. ¯ . . . 62. The word occurs in four out of the six verses in this concluding section (including verse 46, the last verse in the canto). ´ 63. KAS VI.2.13: “The king, endowed with personal excellences and those of his material constituents, the seat of good policy, is the would-beconqueror.” 64. They are nihsprhah, detached, v. 42. . . ¯. 65. See chapter 7. In verse 43 of this passage the queen chides Yudhisthira for putting up with “such an insult” “nikaram ıdrsam.” In the third ¯ ¯ .´ .. sarga she will describe the insult (nikara) in incendiary terms to Arjuna ¯ before he sets off on his mission. 66. In his commentary on this stanza, Mallinatha quotes the gram¯ marian Patañjali’s statement regarding this in the Mahabhasya. Roodber¯ ¯. gen, MGK, p. 75. 67. Mallinatha suggests that the word laksm¯ creates “camatkara ¯ ¯ . ı ‘(a sense of ) wonder’.” Ibid. 68. See Ram Karan Sharma, Elements of Poetry in the Mahabharata. ¯ ¯ University of California Studies in Classical Philology 20 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), and K. A. Subrahmanya Iyer, “Studies in the Imagery of the Ramayana” Part II, JOR 4(1930): 32–44. ¯ ¯ . 69. Gerow, Glossary, pp. 159–60. 70. The verse contains many more double-entendres than the ones I have mentioned above. For a detailed discussion, see Roodbergen, MGK.

Chapter 5
1. The Iliad of Homer. Translated with an Introduction by Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Phoenix Books, 1951/1966). Translation of Iliad IX.441–3, Phoenix to Achilles.



´.˙ ¯ 2. See especially V. Raghavan, Bhoja’s Srngara Praka´ a. Madras: ¯s Punarvasu, 1978, pp. 251–54; K. Kunjunni Raja, Indian Theories of Meaning, p. 56, 154–55; and Sivaprasad Bhattacharya, “Four Passages of the Kiratarjun¯ya and their Interpretation.” Proceedings and Transactions of ¯ ¯ ı the All India Oriental Conference, Thirteenth Session, Nagpur University (October 1946): 174–82. 3. On sound argumentation according to the Nyaya philosophy see ¯ D. Chattopadhyaya and M. Gangopadhyaya, Nyaya Philosophy. Literal ¯ translation of Gautama’s Nyaya-sutra and Vatsyayana’s Bhasya. Free ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯. Translation by Phanibhusana Tarkavagisa (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past and Present, 1968), part 1. ´.. ¯ 4. Raghavan, Bhoja’s Srngarapraka´ a, pp. 251–54 discusses these ¯s terms individually. suci refers to grammatical purity, while sphutata ´ . ¯ appears to be a synonym for the attribute of prasada, clarity. On samar¯ ¯ thya, see the Varttika on Panini II.1.1.:“prthagarthanam ekarth¯bhavas ¯ ¯. ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ¯ . samartha-vacanam.” 5. upapattir udahrta balad anumanena na cagamah ksatah, II.28 ab. ¯ . ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . . . On the relationship between Scripture (´ ruti, agama) and tarka (reasoning) s ¯ in the classical traditions, see Heidrun Brückner, “Revelation and Argu´ . mentation: Some References to the Relation of sruti and tarka in Samkara’s ´ Brhadaranyakopanisadbhasya,” in Joachim Deppert, ed., India and the ¯ . ¯. . . West: Proceedings of a Seminar Dedicated to the Memory of Hermann Goetz (Delhi: Manohar, 1983), pp. 209–220. cf. Bhartrhari, Vakyapad¯ya I.30:“Nor ¯ ı . can dharma be established by means of argumentation alone, unrelated to scripture (agama); even the knowledge of the seers (rsi) has scripture for its ¯ .. reference.” 6. In the translation of Raja, Indian Theories, p. 184. The verse listing the six marks (lingas) of purport reads: “upakramopasamharav abhyaso’˙ ¯ . ¯ ¯ purvata phalam /arthavadopapatt¯ ca lingam tatparyanirnaye.” Cited from ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ˙ . ¯ . Nyayako´ a, p. 714. ¯ s 7. Raja, Indian Theories, p. 184. 8. On the classification and definitions of kinds of argument in the Nyaya philosophy, see Chattopadhyaya and Gangopadhyaya, Nyaya Phi¯ ¯ losophy, on Nyayasutra 1.1.1. For a general introduction to tarka and vada ¯ ¯ ¯ in the Nyaya philosophy, see: Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian ¯ Philosophy, vol. I, pp. 360–61. 9. For a discussion of some of the strategies of debate, and for a general description of Indian philosophical argument, see: Karl H. Potter, Presuppositions of India’s Philosophies, Original ed. issued in Prentice-Hall Philosophy Series (1st ed., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963; 2nd reprint ed., Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975), chapter 5, pp. 56–92.



´ ˙ For a detailed study of methods of proof in the philosopher Sankara’s commentary on two Upanisads, see Heidrun Brückner, Zum Beweisverfahren . ´ . Samkaras: Eine Untersuchung der Form und Funktion von drstantas im . .. ¯ ´ . Brhadaranyakopanisadbhasya und im Chandogyopanisadbhasya des Sam¯ . ¯. ¯ ¯. . . . karabhagavatpada (Berlin: Verlag von Dietrich Reimer, 1979), Marburger ¯ Studien zur Afrika-und Asienkunde, Serie B, Asien, Band 5. ´ . 10. On the latter, see Brückner, Zum Beweisverfahren Samkaras. 11. sahayah, sadhanopayah, de´ akalavibhaga, vinipataprat¯kara, and ¯ ¯. ¯ ¯ ¯. s ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ¯ siddhi. 12. Noted in parentheses in the verses quoted. 13. See chapter 3. ´ 14. KAS 1.6.5-10 and 12 describe kings who ruled over the earth because they had perfect control over their senses. cf. also A´ vaghosa, BC. s . II.31, SN 7.39, 44, in common with epic examples of undisciplined kings. Manu, MS VII. 39 ff, discusses vinaya as a virtue for kings, giving examples of disciplined kings who flourished, and undisciplined ones who perished. In verse 40 of this passage Manu declares that even kings who lived in the forest (exiled kings such as Yudhisthira?) regained their kingdom because .. of their disciplined behavior. 15. cf. MS 44. indriyanam jaye etc. ¯.¯ ´ 16. KAS 6.2 -6. ´ 17. See KAS 6.2.33. 18. Minoru Hara, “Utsaha,” offers a compilation of quotations from all ¯ of these sources in his discussion of the three saktis in the context of the ´ ideal of energy (utsaha). ¯ 19. I.10.: prabhu´ akti; 12: “ko´ adanda-”. s s .. ´ 20. Hara, “Utsaha,” p. 23, quoting KAS 9.1.16 (original text, followed ¯ by Hara’s translation). Hara translates prabhu´ akti as “dignity.” s 21. ciratarena vrddhy udayataram va ksesye, vipar¯tam para iti jñatva ı . ¯ ¯ . . . ¯ . . ksayam upekseta. . . 22. Renou, SSK, p. 11. 23. On artistic dislocation of word order in lyric kavya, see Nathan, ¯ Transport of Love, pp. 4–7. 24. On the relation between meter and word order in kavya stanzas, ¯ see Sheldon I. Pollock, Aspects of Versification in Sanskrit Lyric Poetry, American Oriental Series vol. 61 (New Haven Conn.: American Oriental



Society, 1977). On the various factors figuring in the placement of words in a Kiratarjun¯ya stanza, see Renou, SSK, p. 3–4 and 25 ff. ¯ ¯ ı 25. The figures are defined in Gerow, Glossary, p.173 and 172. For examples in the present sequence, see see II.14, below, II.49 and 50 (kara¯ ¯ namala), and II.32 (¯ kaval¯). See Renou’s comments in SSK, p. 9. ¯ ¯ e ¯ ı . 26. Yudhisthira’s tract on anger (krodha, MB III.30) in the Kairata¯ .. parvan episode is a good example of this technique, as in: “krodho hanta ¯ manusyanam krodho bhavayita punah iti viddhi mahaprajñe krodhamulau ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . ¯.¯ . . bhavabhavau” (III.30.1). ¯ 27. In two of them the point is the “success that results from the (right) use of statecraft” (nayapaditasiddhi, 32 and nayasiddhi, 42); in the third, ¯ ¯ Duryodhana is “a king who abuses statecraft” (nayah¯na). ı 28. Phala, the fruit of acts, comes up in the context of the results of good ´ and bad policy in KAS VI.2.6. Both speakers in the Kiratarjun¯ya passage ¯ ¯ ı accept the inevitability of the fruits of action. 29. II.18 30. Bh¯ma compares Yudhisthira’s mighty brothers to the celestial eleı .. phants who support the directions in space (dviradan iva digvibhavitan, 23) ¯ ¯ ¯ and to the four vast cosmic oceans (caturas toyanidh¯n, 23). Yudhisthira ı .. politely reasons with Bh¯ma to control his temper, lest he give the ocean an ı advantage over him in composure (II.40). ´ . 31. See Brückner, Zum Beweisverfahren Samkaras. 32. See chapter 7 for a detailed analysis of the Indra-Arjuna debate. For a study with translations, of other speeches in the poem, see Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 2, and for stylistic comparison with speeches in the BC and Kalidasa’s epics, ibid., chapter 4. ¯ ¯ 33. Cedric H. Whitman, Homer and the Heroic Tradition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958), p. 105. The ideas contained in this excerpt are based on Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite and Art, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1957).

Chapter 6
1. Meghaduta 101. Nathan, Transport of Love, p. 83. ¯ 2. For a translation of the “Journey of the apsaras” sequence (VII. 1–40), see Appendix B. 3. See chapter 3.



4. Kiskindhakanda, IV. 28 (the Rainy Season), and IV. 30 (Autumn). ¯ ¯.. . 5. Rama “speaks” the seasonal descriptions in the Ram.; in Kali¯ ¯ ¯ dasa’s Meghaduta the description is in the voice of the lovelorn yaksa. Siva ¯ ¯ . ´ describes the sunset to Parvat¯ in the KS, and Rama describes the landscape ¯ ı ¯ to S¯ta on their aerial journey back to Ayodhya. On description as speech, ı ¯ ¯ see Renou, SSK, and Warder, IKL II, 230. 6. The Maharastr¯ Prakrit lyrics of Hala’s Sattasa¯, the centuries of ¯ ¯ ¯ .. ı ¯ ı Amaru and Bhartrhari, and the verses in Kalidasa’s mahakavyas and plays ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . concerning the erotic rasa, are among the most celebrated examples of kavya ¯ verse. As George Hart has pointed out (George L. Hart, The Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and their Sanskrit Counterparts, Berkeley University of California Press, 1975), the Sanskrit descriptive lyric has adapted many features that are finely developed in the earlier Tamil and Prakrit lyric traditions. 7. Two of Kalidasa’s celebrated aerial journeys occur in Kumarasam¯ ¯ ¯ . bhava VI (the flight of the seven sages to the Himalayan capital of Osadhi. prastha); and Raghuvamsa XIII (Rama and S¯ta fly back to Ayodhya from ¯ ı ¯ ¯ .´ Lanka). ˙ ¯ 8. In the older epics, see for instance the narratives of Arjuna’s pilgrimages in the Mahabharata and Rama’s wanderings in the Ramayana. In ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . the Meghaduta, and in Raghuvamsa, cantos IV and XIII, Kalidasa lovingly ¯ ¯ ¯ .´ traces a route-map for his characters’ journeys. ´ 9. For comparable passages in Kalidasa, see the description of Siva ¯ ¯ and Uma’s water-play in Kumarasambhava VIII and of king Ku´ a sporting ¯ ¯ s . with his queens in Raghuvamsa XVI. .´ 10. Ram. V. 9; RV VI; BC III; KS VII. ¯ 11. Jan Gonda notes this characteristic of epic technique in his Stylistic Repetition in the Veda, Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afd. Letterkunde. N.R. vol. LXV No. 3. Amsterdam: 1959, pp. 313–14, p. 321. 12. Johnston, Buddhacarita I, p. xciv. Interestingly, before the epic poets, the poets of the Vedic hymns had used continuatives to link verses that are self-sufficient in ways that the epic slokas are not. See Gonda, Stylistic ´ repetition, pp. 313–23; and Maurice Bloomfield, The Atharvaveda. Grundriss der Indo-Arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde II, IB. (Strassburg: Trübner, 1899), p. 43. 13. Thus Bharavi begins the description of the apsaras gathering flow¯ ers in the woods with “atha” (then, thereupon) in the first verse of the eigth canto; the next (and only other) occurrence of atha is in the middle of the sarga, signalling the beginning of a new sequence, the description of the



women playing in the river. For a comparative study of descriptive style in A´ vaghosa, Kalidasa, and Bharavi, see Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and s ¯ ¯ ¯ . Structure,” chapter 4. 14. On parataxis in the Sanskrit epics, see D. H. H. Ingalls, “The Harivamsa as a Mahakavya.” In Mélanges d’indianisme à la mémoire de Louis ¯ ¯ .´ Renou, Publication de l’Institut de civilisation Indienne (Paris: Editions E. de Boccard, 1968), pp. 381–394. On syntactically connected verses in the court epics, see ch. 8. 15. Ingalls, “The Harivamsa,” p. 392. .´ 16. Johnston, The Buddhacarita, I, pp. lxxxiv–v. 17. For a discussion with examples, see Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” Chapter 4. Johnston, Buddhacarita, I, xciv, notes word-repetition in A´ vaghosa as a characteristic of early kavya writing. s ¯ . 18. The Buddhacarita, I, p. xcv, 19. On Kalidasa’s strategies for structuring verse sequences, includ¯ ¯ ing parallelism and the use of recurrent figures of speech, see Indira Peterson, “Kalidasa’s garland of similes: Malopama Kalidasasya.” Rama¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ranjan Mukherjee Felicitation Volume (Calcutta 1992, 408–415), and Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 4. 20. Chariots, elephants, cavalry, and footsoldiers (ratha, gaja turaga, padati) constitute the four corps of the army in ancient India. ¯ 21. On this descriptive frame, and Bana’s use of it, see Hueckstedt, The ¯. Style of Bana, chapter 4, p. 80 ff. ¯. 22. In his Sarasvat¯kanthabharana (V. 130-31) the eleventh century ı .. ¯ . poetician Bhoja says that “a wealth of places” (de´ a-sampat) and the descrips . tion of scenes marked by the passage of time (kala) fosters rasa in a kavya. ¯ ¯ The statement is interesting in that it acknowledges the usefulness of time and space as useful frameworks for variation in description. On this passage in Bhoja’s text, see Tubb, The Kumarasambhava, p. 84–87. ¯ . 23. Raghu’s journey of royal conquest (digvijaya) in RV canto IV is structured around the idea of the aspiring emperor’s triumphant circumambulation of India; the chronologically and spatially organized progression of wedding rites is the frame-structure for the description of the wedding of ´ Siva and the Goddess in canto VII of the KS. 24. Richard Lannoy, The Speaking Tree: A Study of Indian Culture and Society (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 47. 25. Ibid., p. 49.



26. At another level, we begin to notice shared themes between different subjects: these might be called the “major themes” of the passage. 26a. In Hindu mythology Ganga, the river Ganges, is a goddess. The ˙ ¯ conception of the river as a woman is integral to the imagery in this passage. 27. The Ganges is also known as the sky-river and the river with the three courses or streams: tripathaga, trisrotas. ¯ 28. In Sanskrit literature, peacocks anxiously await the rainy season, their mating season, and mistake every deep sound they hear for the roll of thunder. 29. Also note the alternative usnamsudyuti, “the heat of the sun” in v. 3. ..¯ . ´ 30. The tilaka is the design that women paint on their foreheads. Classical poetry also depicts the custom of women painting designs (angaraga) ˙ ¯ on their breasts with sandal paste and saffron or musk. On these customs, see Ingalls, An Anthology, notes to the poems. 31. Note the similarity in construction and diction in verse 13 (on elephants) and verse 15 (on the apsaras). 32. See chapter 4. 33. In Indian elephant science, during the rutting season elephants are said to flow from seven orifices, including the temples. The word “mada” (intoxication), madajala (flow of rut), which I have translated by “rut,” is often translated as “ichor”. In his translation of the Kumarasambhava Hank ¯ . Heifetz has used the word musth, which has the connotations of the Germanic “must,” “fermented liquid,” as well as the Perso-Hindi word mast, ‘intoxicated’. Heifetz, Origin of the Young God, Introduction. The pungent smell of ichor is compared to the smell of cardamom (ela) or of the leaves of ¯ the saptachhada tree. 34. See Gerow, Glossary, p. 141. 35. For references in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, see Sharma, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . Elements of Poetry in the Mahabharata; and the War (Yuddha) books of ¯ ¯ both epics. See also Kalidasa, RV IV. 32. ¯ ¯ 36. “Bharavi’s Poem,” p. 873. ¯ 37. Some words denoting flow: ksarantah (8 and 11), varsadbhih (11), . . . . aviralapatibhih (23), sruti (23), srotobhir madajalam ujjhatam ajasram (38). ¯ ¯ . Continuity is suggested in the image of clouds building a bridge in v. 19: “setutvam dadhati payomucam vitane” and in that of a row of bees looking ¯ ¯ like a chain (31), or of the rays from the gems completing the rainbow’s arc. 38. Translated in Appendix B.



39. The canonical figure parivrtti (“Exchange”) expresses “non-literally . an exchange of ideas and things.” Gerow, Glossary, p. 203. 40. There are, of course, differences between Indian classical music and kavya as well. The concept of raga and the various ragas in Indian music ¯ ¯ ¯ have developed in India over a period of hundreds of years, with a definitive split between North (Hindusthani) and South Indian (Carnatic) music in the postmedieval era. For the purposes of the following general comparison I am ignoring the differences between the two musical systems. 41. Harold Powers, Essay I (“The region, its music and music history”) and II (“Theory and practice of classical music”) under “India, subcontinent of.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, vol. 9, 69–141 (London: Macmillan, 1980), p. 98. Emphasis mine. 42. Ibid., p. 99. 43. There are several different examples of this technique in North and South Indian music, usually in connection with a text line. An example would be the niraval technique of South Indian music. For the details of South Indian raga-alapana, see David B. Reck, “India/South India” and ¯ ¯ ¯ “South India: Instrument Building and Performance,” in Jeff Todd Titon et al., eds., Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples (New York: Macmillan, Schirmer Books, 1984), Essays 6 and 7, pp. ´ 208–293. For a discussion of a similar technique in Tamil Saiva devotional ´ singing, see Peterson, Poems to Siva, p. 59 ff. 44. On the nuances of expressions signifying “beauty” in Sanskrit court poetry see D. H. H. Ingalls, “Words for Beauty in Classical Sanskrit Poetry,” American Oriental Series vol. 47, ed. Ernest Bender, Indological Studies in Honor of W. Norman Brown (New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society, 1962), 87–107. 45. For a complete list of words for women in this description, see Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 1. 46. On the suggestive use of words for women in kavya poetry see ¯ Langer, “Suggestive Uses of Alliteration.” 47. In the description of the apsaras’ attempt to seduce Arjuna in sarga X, Bharavi is more specific about the different kinds of flowers and ¯ plants that are part of the scene. 48. The few that are named are the a´ oka, the sandalwood-tree (cans dana), a variety of grass called ka´ a, and the lotus growing in the mountain¯s streams. The sandalwood, though part of the conventional flora of kavya, is ¯ native to South India, not the Himalayas, and the reference betrays Bha¯ ravi’s lack of firsthand knowledge of the north Indian mountains that were so familiar to Kalidasa. On plants, trees, and flowers in Sanskrit court poetry, ¯ ¯



consult the sectional introductions and notes in Ingalls, An Anthology. In this passage, trees are taru, sakhin (v. 3, 13), bhuruh (20), mah¯ruh (21), ´¯ ¯ . ı etc; creepers are v¯rudh (2) or lata (4, 11, 7); flowers are kusuma (3, 14, ı ¯ 16, 20), puspa (11, 15, 19, 21); taruprasuna (18), (´ akhinam) prasava (13), ¯ s¯ ¯ . . and so forth. The shoots or sprays are pallava (4, 6, 7, 15, 21, 22), pravala ¯ (21), and latanta (16). See Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” ¯ chapter 1, pp. 65–66. 49. And it is used thus in a verse further on in the same description. 50. And repeated in the company of other sexually and emotionally charged words: stana (breast), manas, uras (heart). See my detailed discussion of this passage and canto IX in chapter 1 of Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” pp. 71 ff. 51. Heifetz, Origin of the Young God. Translation of KS I.49: sarvopamadravyasamuccayena / yathaprade´ am vinive´ itena // sa nirmita ¯ ¯ s . s ¯ ¯ vi´ vasrja prayatnad / ekasthasaundaryadidrksayeva. s ¯ . ¯ . . 52. Gerow, Glossary, p. 276. 53. Ibid., 312. 54. Ibid., p. 220; p. 109. 55. Thomas J. Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition (Encino, Calif.: Dickenson, 1971), p. 25. 56. RV XVI.63: avarta´ obha natanabhikanter bhangyo bhruvam ¯ s ¯ ¯ ¯ ˙ ¯ . dvandvacara stananam / jatani rupavayavopamanany aduravart¯ni vila¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ¯ . sin¯nam. ı ¯ 57. The closing of lotuses and the nightly separation of sheldrake birds are among the conventions of kavya poetry. ¯

Chapter 7
1. XI.239. Translations from the MS are from Bühler, The Laws of Manu. In the numbering of the edition of the Sanskrit text that I have used, this is verse number 238. 2. There is yet another description of Arjuna and the effects of his tapas on the forest and the mountain at the beginning of the tenth sarga (verses 5–15), presented from the point of view of the nymphs who arrive at the hermitage to fulfil their mission. 3. Cappeller, Bharavi’s Poem Kiratarjun¯ya, xxi. ¯ ¯ ¯ ı 4. The relevant sequences are: VI. 19-28; VI.29-37; XII.1-14; XII.17-31.



5. On tapas as heat, see Chauncey Blair, Heat in the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda (New Haven Conn.: American Oriental Society, 1961). 6. I have discussed the social history and implications of tapas at the end of this chapter. 7. “yoganganusthanad a´ uddhiksaye jñanad¯ptih.” In the translation ¯ ˙ ¯ .. ¯ ¯ s ¯ ı . . of Georg Feuerstein, in The Yoga-Sutra of Patañjali: A New Translation and ¯ commentary (London: Dawson, 1979). On the Yogasutras and yoga philoso¯ phy, see M. R. Yardi, The Yoga of Patañjali. With an Introduction, Sanskrit Text of the Yogasutras, English Translation and Notes. Bhandarkar Orien¯ tal Series No.12 (Poona: BORI 1979) and Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. Translated from the French by Willard R. Trask. Bollingen Series LVI. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1958; 2nd ed. 1969). 8. See The Manusmrti. With the Manvarthamuktaval¯ commentary of ¯ ı . Kullukabhatta with the Maniprabha commentary by Pandit Haragovinda ¯ ¯ .. . Sastri. Edited with Introduction, Interpolated verses and index by Pandit ´¯ Gopala Sastri Nene, Kashi Sanskrit Series 114. Dharma Sastra Section no. 3 (Varanasi: The Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1970); and The Laws of Manu. Translated by Georg Bühler (New York: Dover, 1969. 1st ed. Sacred Books of the East XXV, Oxford: Clarendon). The various rules for asceticism are given in chapter 6, 19ff. Similar descriptions are available in the epics and puranas as well. ¯. 9. PYS 2.29: “Restraint, observance, posture, breath-control (pranayama), sense-withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration, meditative¯.¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ absorption and enstasy are the eight members.” Feuerstein, Yoga-sutra. ¯ 10. ahimsa, satya, brahmacarya, asteya, aparigraha. . ¯ 11. samtosa, tapas, svadhyaya, ısvarapranidhana. ¯ ¯ ¯´ ¯ . . . 12. manas, vac, kaya. ¯ ¯ 13. (VI.36). 14. Manu (MS VI.22) prescribes “standing on tiptoe,” “tisthed va pra¯ .. padaih.” . 15. Here Bharavi uses his favorite double-entendre word, guru, which ¯ can connote physical heaviness as well as noble qualities and “substance” or “weight” in a metaphorical sense. See chapter 6. 16. “pandutanayatapasa janitam jagatam a´ arma,” XII.25. ¯.. ¯ ¯ s 17. Kalidasa achieves a similarly dynamic portrait of Parvat¯’s tapas ¯ ¯ ¯ ı in KS V.



18. C. Maurice Bowra, Tradition and Design in the Iliad (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), pp. 95. 19. On the technique in oral poetry, see: Walter Arend, “Die Typische Szenen bei Homer,” Problemata (7:1933), pp. 1–162; Albert B. Lord, “Composition by theme in Homer and Southslavic Epos” TAPA (82:1951), pp. 71–80; and James A. Notopoulos, “Continuity and Interconnexion in Homeric Oral Composition,” TAPA (82:1951), 81–101. 20. VI.19, 24, 32, XII.29 21. mahas¯, the word for “two kinds of splendor,” is also in the dual. ı 22. XI.1-36. 23. The construction “kva . . . kva” (“Where is . . . / where is . . .?”) conveys the incompatibility or the vast disparity between two things. 24. See Renou’s remarks on Bharavi’s general fondness for striking, ¯ antithetical constructions: SSK. 25. There is a crisscross pattern in this verse, with the first and second items in the first pada put in apposition respectively with the first and second ¯ item in the second pada. ¯ 26. See MS. VI.62, quoted below, where the commentator Kulluka ¯ explains apriya (“the unpleasant”) as implying unpleasant persons such as enemies, as well as unpleasant experiences such as disease and old age. 27. For the alamkaras visama and virodha, see Roodbergen, MGK, . ¯ . Appendix 2. virodha simply means contradiction, and virodhabhasa, “an ¯ ¯ apparent contradiction,” is another name for the alamkara. Roodbergen . ¯ (pp. 552) cites the vrtti of Ruyyaka’s Alamkarasarvasva as requiring the . . ¯ seeming contradiction “to reside in one and the same substratum’.” Visama . is quite simply the combination of incompatible things. 28. XI. 37-79. 29. XI.47-58. 30. See Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 2. 31. Compare XI.78: “svadharmam anurundhante natikramam”. ¯ 32. I believe that the use of sloka in the fifteenth canto is motivated ´ by the need for a short meter with a relatively flexible syllabic structure that could accommodate the elaborate verbal and visual designs and puzzles that the poet constructs in the citra mode. See my discussion of this canto in chapter 8. 33. BG IV. 18, and 2.38. Translation, Barbara Stoler Miller, The Bhagavad-G¯ta: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War (Bantam Classics, 1986). ı ¯



34. (BG VI.38). Translation: Miller, Bhagavad G¯ta. ı ¯ 35. The two old epics face the problem of dharmic violence in different ways, but it is an important issue in both. In fact, as Madeleine Biardeau has rightly argued, although the Bhagavad G¯ta is the most dramatic statement ı ¯ of the issue in the Mahabharata, the entire epic is in a way about the recon¯ ¯ ciliation of quietistic values with “just” violence in the way of life of warriors and kings. Biardeau, “The Salvation of the King in the Mahabharata,” in ¯ ¯ T. N. Madan, ed., Way of Life: King, Householder, Renouncer. Essays in Honor of Louis Dumont (Delhi: Vikas, 1978/1982), 75–97. Biardeau more specifically sees the older epic as opposing brahman to ksatriya values. Also . see my discussion of Arjuna’s identity as Nara, in his pairing with Krishna (Narayana) in the Mahabharata, in chapter 8. ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ 36. For the history of asceticism in the brahmanical religion see: A. S. Geden, “Asceticism: Hindu,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. II:87–96; Eliade, Yoga; and H. D. Sharma, History of Brahmanical Asceticism. Wendy O’Flaherty discusses the ambivalent nature of tapas in her Asceticism and Eroticism. For samnyasa (renunciation) and asceticism, ¯ . in addition to MS, chapter VI, see P. V. Kane, HDS, vol. 2, part 2 (Poona: BORI, 1941), vide samnyasa. ¯ . 37. The details of the relationship between the two kinds of asceticism are considerably more complex than my brief sketch can convey. For detailed discussion, see Hopkins, Hindu Religious Tradition, chapter 2; and Eliade, Yoga, pp. 101 ff. 38. For discussions of the relationship between the householder, “wanderer,” and renouncer, see: J. C. Heesterman, “Householder and Wanderer,” in Madan, ed., Way of Life, 251–71; and Romila Thapar, “The Householder and the Renouncer in the Brahmanical and Buddhist Traditions,” Ibid., pp. 273–97; see especially 285–86. 39. See Hopkins, Hindu Religious Tradition, ch.2, and Kane, HDS, vol. 2, part 2 (Poona: BORI, 1941), Chapters XXVII, pp. 928–29, and chapters XXVII and XXVIII, 917–75. Also see Heesterman, “Householder and Wanderer,” in T. N. Madan, ed.,Way of Life. 40. Translations from the MS are from Bühler, The Laws of Manu. In the numbering of the edition of the Sanskrit text that I have used, this is verse number 238. 41. XI.234 in the Sanskrit text edition. 42. See my discussion of karma and noninjury below. 43. Dhammapada, Piyavagga XVI. 210. 44. See also verses XI.27 and 28.



45. E.g, Ramayana II.98.16: “sarve ksayanta nicayah patanantah ¯ ¯ . ¯. ¯ ¯. . ¯ ¯ samucchrayah/ samyoga viprayoganta maranantam ca j¯vitam”: death is ¯. ¯ ¯ ¯ ı . .¯ . . certain; and MS VI.62: “viprayogam priyai´ caiva samyogam ca tathapris ¯ . . . yaih”. . 46. Buddhacarita VI. 16 “bhutvapi hi ciram slesah kalena na ¯ ¯ ¯ . ´ . . bhavisyati”; IX.32. “yada tu bhutvapi ciram viyogah”; VI.46. “niyatam ¯ ¯ ¯ . . . . viprayogantas tatha bhutasamagamah”; IX.35 “kale viprayogo niyatah”; ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . . VI.47. “samyogo viprayoga´ ca tatha me praninam matah.” IX.32 “nante s ¯ ¯. ¯ . ¯ . . yadi syat priyaviprayogah”; VI.48. “tasmat svapnabhute samagame”; IX.33. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . “yat svapnabhutesu samagamesu bhavini viprayoge . . .” ¯ . ¯ ¯ . 47. Johnston, BC XI.51. Compare BC VI. 15.: “I have entered the penance grove to put an end to birth and death, and not forsooth out of yearning for Paradise, or out of lack of affection or out of anger.” 48. Ibid., VII.48. 49. “This is not the way of life for passionlessness, for enlightenment, for liberation. That is the sure procedure which I found that time beneath the jambu tree.” (BC XII.101). 50. MS VI.60, on the samnyasin. ¯ . 51. Hans-Peter Schmidt has carefully traced the evolution of the ahimsa doctrine as applied to brahmans and renouncers in the brahman. ¯ ical dharma texts, in “The Origin of Ahimsa,” Mélanges d’Indianisme à la . ¯ mémoire de Louis Renou. Publications de l’Institut de civilisation Indienne. Paris: Editions E. de Boccard, 1968, pp. 625–55. Among the points he makes: “[. . .] the ritual ahimsa-theory is the ultimate source of the later renunica. ¯ tory ahimsa-doctrine.” (pp. 649–50); “The ahimsa-doctrine of the renouncer . ¯ . ¯ is, in fact, a complete reversal of the ritual theory.”; and “Since its earliest occurrence the ahimsa-doctrine is connected with metempsychosis.” . ¯ (pp. 650.) 52. KS I and V. 53. Pollock, Ramayana, vol. II. 18.36. ¯ ¯ . 54. Ibid., 101.20. 55. Mary Douglas, “The Meaning of Myth: With Special Reference to La Geste d’Asdiwal,” The Structural Study of Myth and Totemism, edited by Edmund Leach, A.S. Monographs 5 (London: Tavistock, 1967), pp. 52.

Chapter 8
1. Virgil, The Aeneid, I.1. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Random House, 1981).



2. See Sylvain Lévi, “Tato jayam ud¯rayet,” trans. L. G. Khare, ABORI ı 1 (1918–19), 13–20; and Irawati Karve, Yuganta: The End of an Epoch ¯ (Poona: Deshmukh Prakashan, 1969). 2a. The description of the combat in Canto XVII has been translated in Appendix C. ´ 3. The four books: 7, 8, 9, and 10 (Bh¯sma, Karna, Drona, and Salya), ı. . . are each named after one of the Kaurava marshals. Book 11 (Sauptikaparvan) depicts A´ vatthaman’s slaughter of the sleeping Pandava camp. s ¯ ¯.. For details about the art of war and other military matters in the Mahabha¯ ¯ rata, consult E. Washburn Hopkins, “The Social and Military Position of the Ruling Caste in Ancient India as Represented by the Sanskrit Epic,” JAOS (volume 13, 57–376; see esp. 181–329). 4. See my discussion of this detail in chapter 9. 5. See my discussion of santarasa in the Mahabharata, chapter 3. ´¯ ¯ ¯ 6. Compare the following; RV VII.7 and Mahabharata Drona 97.7 ¯ ¯ . (heads like lotuses); RV. VII.49 and Drona 97.14 (carrion birds); RV VII.37 . and Drona 97.19 (the clash of matched warriors), and RV VII.51 and Drona . . 97.12 (the headless trunk dancing on the battlefield). It is to be noted that, in spite of its martial theme and sweeping canvas, the RV contains only two relatively short, sustained descriptions of battle, and one stylized description of a campaign of conquest. The great battle between Rama and Ravana, a ¯ ¯ . major descriptive theme in the Ramayana, is treated in a brief and subdued ¯ ¯ . description in Kalidasa (RV XII.84–100). The only full combat description ¯ ¯ occurs in a minor episode and concerns the prince Aja’s clash with the disappointed suitors of his newly won bride Indumat¯ (Canto VII. 37-63). i 7. See Alf Hiltebeitel, The Ritual of Battle: Krishna in the Maha¯ bharata (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976); and Sharma, Elements ¯ of Poetry. 8. BG I.1. 9. For epic examples, see Sharma, Elements of Poetry. 10. “The Mahabharata, which tells about the end of the yuga previ¯ ¯ ous to ours and involves an avatara (Krishna), incorporates a variety of ¯ rich eschatological symbolism.” Hiltebeitel, The Ritual of Battle, p. 229. In chapter 12 of the book, Hiltebeitel discusses this eschatological symbolism with reference to Madeleine Biardeau’s work. He notes that, of the three types of cosmic dissolution (on different scales of cosmic time) which the Puranas describe, the Mahabharata imagery is concerned with the naimit¯. ¯ ¯ tikapralaya or the “occasional reabsorption,” related to the yuga cycle. For specific references and further discussion, see Hiltebeitel, “The Two Krsnas,” .. . especially p. 7.



11. On the Karna episode, see Hiltebeitel, “The Two Krsnas,” on the . .. . Sauptika-parvan, Hiltebeitel, Ritual of Battle, chapter 12; on background myths, Ibid., chapters 6 and 12. For epic and puranic accounts of the triple ¯. city myth, consult Wendy D. O’Flaherty, Hindu Myths (Penguin, 1975), pp. 125–37. 12. For a detailed discussion of the cosmological symbolism in this ´ myth, and of the relationship of Arjuna and Siva in the context of the burning of triple city, see Hiltebeitel, “The Two Krsnas.” As Hiltebeitel puts it, .. . ´ this is a myth of cosmic destruction as well as of cosmic recreation:“Siva’s destruction of the three cities thus confronts two cosmological images: the demonic three cities of heaven, atmosphere, and earth versus a chariot composed of the reintegrated forces of the Hindu universe…The universe, as a chariot, is reconstructed, while a counteruniverse, Tripura, is destroyed.” Ibid., p. 16. ´ 13. See Stella Kramrisch, The Presence of Siva (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981), chapter II and chapter IX.1. 14. See Sakuntala I.1., in Miller, ed., Theater of Memory. ¯ 15. Chapter 3. ´ 16. See Hiltebeitel, “The Two Krsnas,” and “Siva, the Goddess, and the .. . Disguises of the Pandavas.” ¯.. 16a. “Brahma´ iras”, a name of the Pa´ upata, should not be confused s ¯s with ‘Brahmastra’ (Brahma’s weapon), a celestial weapon associated with ¯ ¯ Brahma. The term ‘Brahma’s Head’ probably alludes to a myth in which ¯ ¯ ´ Siva cut off Brahma’s head and absorbed his power. ¯ 17. van Buitenen, Mahabharata, vol. 2, p. 302. ¯ ¯ 18. On Rudra as Lord of the Beasts, see Kramrisch, The Presence of ´ Siva,chapters I and III. 19. On the myth of the cosmic boar varaha see O’Flaherty, Hindu ¯ Myths, pp. 184–197. In the avatara narratives Visnu takes over a role played ¯ .. earlier by the Vedic divinity Prajapati and possibly by the boar Emusa. ¯ ¯. On the boar narratives in Indian mythology, see Maheshwari Prasad, Some Aspects of the Varaha-katha in Epics and Puranas (Delhi: Pratibha ¯ ¯ ¯. Prakashan, 1989). 20. On Visnu as yajñavaraha, see Biardeau, EMH(V), p. 151. ¯ .. 21. This myth serves as another justification for the appropriateness of Arjuna’s warrior-ascetic persona. 22. On the function of the malopama in mahakavyas, see Indira ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ Peterson, “Kalidasa’s Garland of Similes”. ¯ ¯

23. See Renou, SSK, p. 7. 24. KS I.1-15.


25. The four sequences are: RV I. 4-9, 35-45, 48-53, and 82-85, describing respectively the Raghu princes, the royal couple, the sage’s hermitage,and the cow Nandin¯. ı 26. “whom” (yam) in v. 2., “whose” (yasya) in v. 3, and so on. 27. The finite verbs “saw” dadar´ a, etc., or “reached” (prapat, etc.) s ¯ usually initiate or cap these sequences. ´ s 28. Comparable examples abound in the KS and the Si´ : Hari sees the ´ s mountain Raivataka (Si´ . IV), the seven sages reach the Himalayan city of ´ Osadhiprastha (KS.VI), Kama sees the meditating Siva (KS III), and so on. ¯ . 29. Matching Valm¯ki’s Ayodhya we have A´ vaghosa’s Kapilavastu, ¯ ı ¯ s ¯ . Kalidasa’s Osadhiprastha, and Magha’s Dvaraka. As for mountains, the ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ . Ramayana’s Suvela has its counterparts in Kalidasa’s Himalaya and ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ Magha’s Raivataka. ¯ 30. On citra and its varieties, see Gerow, Glossary, p. 175 ff; and Daniel ¯ H. H. Ingalls, “Anandavardhana’s D¯ v¯sataka.” JAOS 109, no.4 (1989): 565– e ı´ 75. Ingalls offers the translations “display” and “picture” for citra. 31. According to Gerow, Glossary, p. 175: “citra, ‘glitter’ (and duskara, . ‘difficult’, kr¯da, ‘play’) (are) names used variously by different authors to ı. ¯ cover separate phenomena, but grouped together because of their basis in pure word play.” 32. On the latter, see Gerow, Glossary. 33. On Indian citra-kavya and carmina figurata in the West, see ¯ Lienhard, History of Classical Poetry, p.150–58. 34. Keith, History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 114: “Bharavi, however, is ¯ guilty of errors of taste from which Kalidasa is free. Especially in Canto XV ¯ ¯ he sets himself to try tours de force of the most foolish kind, redolent of the ¯ excesses of the Alexandrian poets.” On Anandavardhana’s poem, see Ingalls, ¯ Anandavardhana’s Dev¯sataka. i´ 35. Steiner, On Difficulty. See also Lienhard’s comment, History of Classical Poetry, p. 156. 36. Gerow, Glossary, pp. 23–24. 37. Note, however, the mahayamaka (‘super-’ or ‘mega-’ yamaka; the ¯ same sequence is repeated in all four padas) in XV.52. Metrical diversity ¯ and yamaka seem to go hand in hand in the mahakavyas. See, for example, ¯ ¯ the ninth canto of the RV.



38. Gerow, Glossary, p. 176. On the specifics of these patterns, consult ¯ Ibid., and Ingalls, “Anandavardhana’s Dev¯sataka.” ı´ 38a. I thank Mark Peterson for this information. 39. Gerow, Glossary, p.180; and Smith, Ratnakara’s Haravijaya, ¯ p. 135, have noticed citra-kavya’s military associations. ¯ ¯ 40. See Gerow, Glossary, and Ingalls, “Anandavardhana’s Dev¯sataka”. ı´ 41. See Gerow, Glossary p. 178. The name of the double palindrome (“auspicious from all sides”) is suggestive of its sacred function. ¯ ı´ 42. Ingalls, “Anandavardhana’s Dev¯sataka". 43. Ibid. ´ 44. On Campantar, see Peterson, Poems to Siva, p. 82; and on D¯ksita, ı . see Indira V. Peterson, “Sanskrit in Carnatic Music: The Songs of Muttusvami D¯ksita” IIJ (29):1986, 183–99. ¯ ı . 45. Warder, IKL III, p. 223–24. 46. Gerow, Glossary, p. 180. 47. Smith, Ratnakara’s Haravijaya, p. 135. ¯ 48. The focus of this speech is on two parallel sets of connected verses, two balanced periods (III.41–44; 45–49.) In the first of these, Draupad¯ uses ı an active form of the verb to describe the harm inflicted on the entire ksatriya . race by the Pandavas’ defeat and disgrace in the assembly hall. In the sec¯. ond, participial forms and adjectives in the passive voice paint a picture of Arjuna’s personal degradation. See Shetterly/Peterson, “ Recurrence,” chapter 2, pp. 119–126 and 185–89. 49. See Roodbergen, MGK, pp. 201–203, and notes. 50. nijam parasmai padav¯m ayacchan (not yielding to any other, ¯ . ı Vyasa, III.28); ksatre sthitah pathi (established in the Ksatriya code the ¯ .¯ . . guhyaka, V.49); and kuru tata tapamsy amargaday¯ vijayaya (“Son, practice ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ ı ¯ austerity for the sake of victory, and do not yield to anyone who opposes you!” Arjuna, quoting Vyasa, XIII.13). ¯ 51. For example “bhanga” connotes physical breakage as well as the ˙ idea of downfall; both arrows and good men are ornamented by rjuta: . ¯ rectitude, straightness. 52. The technique is similar to the “pathetic fallacy” of English poetry. 53. Nathan, Transport of Love, p. 2, in a related context. See also Renou’s remark on the humanization of inanimate objects in kavya poetry, ¯ SSK, p. 7.



54. “As if on his inflexible courage”: dhairya ivanapayini. The ocean’s ¯ depths are said to be calm. See also XVII. 1.

Chapter 9
1. “samam teja´ ca v¯ryam ca mamadya tava canagha / pr¯tas s ı ¯ ¯ ı . . te’ham . . .”. 2. Also in Sanskrit, and in the kavya canon, are two minor works on ¯ the subject. These are Vatsaraja’s Kiratarjun¯yavyayoga, a one-act “military ¯ ¯ ¯ ı ¯ play” (vyayoga) from the 12th century, and Anantabhatta’s Bharatacampu, ¯ ¯ .. a narrative in a mixture of prose and verse (campu), datable to the 15th ¯ century. Neither text approaches the stylistic elegance of Bharavi’s maha¯ ¯ kavya. ¯ 3. On the Vikramarjunavijaya, see G. Yazdani, ed., The Early History ¯ of the Deccan, Parts I-VI (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 246, and B. N. Sumitra Bai and Robert J. Zydenbos, “The Jaina Mahabharata”, ¯ ¯ in Essays on the Mahabharata, edited by Arvind Sharma (Leiden: E. J. Brill, ¯ ¯ 1991), 251–273, p. 264. 4. Airlangga ruled between 1000 and 1048 A.D. The first third of the Arjunawiwaha was directly inspired by Bharavi’s Kiratarjun¯ya. The ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ı Javanese author follows Bharavi in important details of plot and style, show¯ ing at the same time that he knew a version or versions of the Mahabharata, ¯ ¯ and adding uniquely Javanese elements to the narrative. For a detailed study of the Arjunawiwaha in relation to its sources, and of the kirata theme ¯ ¯ in Indian and Southeast Asian art, see Lutzker, “Celebration of Arjuna”. 5. Lutzker, “Celebration of Arjuna”; and Gralapp, “Balinese painting and the Wayang Tradition”. ´ 6. Sivapurana, Satarudr¯yasamhita 38–40. ¯. ´ ı ¯ . 7. The Tamil devotional poets of the Pallava era (6th–7th centuries) ´ frequently allude to Arjuna’s encounter with Siva. For a list of Kannada versions of the kirata story in Karnataka, see Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarju¯ ¯ ¯ n¯yam, chapter 1. ı 8. See my discussion in chapter 3. Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam, ¯ ¯ ı focuses on the kirata theme in the art of Karnataka and neighboring areas. ¯ The earliest kiratarjun¯ya narrative reliefs in Karnataka are found in three ¯ ¯ ı Chalukya temples (Papanatha, Virupaksa, and Mallikarjuna) at Pattadakkal, and date from 740 A.D. The theme is treated in temples built by the Chalukyas and Rastrakutas, and by a succession of later dynasties in Karnataka, and Andhra, prominent among which are the Nolamba, Hoysala, Vijayanagara, Kakatiya, and Nayaka.



9. Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam. The relatively small size of many ¯ ¯ ı of these reliefs and their lack of prominence reflect nothing more than the subordination of the stories of epic heroes and devotees to the major myths ´ of Siva himself in the sculptural program of the temple. In Pallava and Cola temples the story is commemorated by a standardized iconic form (murti) ¯ ´ of Siva peculiar to the Tamil region. On the iconographic forms (murti) of ¯ ´ Siva called the Kiratarjunamurti or Parthanugrahamurti (“The Lord who ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ favored Arjuna”), see T. A. Gopinatha Rao, Elements of Hindu Iconography, volume II. part 1 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1985; reprt. of the 1914 Madras edition), pp. 214–17. 10. Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam. The paintings in Lepakshi ¯ ¯ ı (Andhra) and Tiprayar (Kerala) are noteworthy. 11. On the Kairata-parvan episode and Arjuna’s austerity in the myth, ¯ ritual, and theater of the Tamil cult of the worship of Draupad¯, see Hilteı beitel, The Cult of Draupad¯ vol. 1., ch. 12, Hiltebeitel the Cult of Draupadi, ı vol. 2, p. 213 ff, and Frasca, Theater of the Mahabharata, p. 150 ff. 12. The temples at Vicayamankai, Tiruv¯ tkalam, Vettuvark¯ yil, and ˙ e. . o .. other sites in the Tamil region are similarly associated with hunter legends combined with the kirata tale. See Ramachandran, “The Kiratarjun¯yam”, ¯ ¯ ¯ ı pp. 35–39; p.89 ff. 13. On the complexity of relationships among “folk” and “classical” phenomena, see Stuart Blackburn and A. K. Ramanujan, Another Harmony: Essays in Indian Folk Literature. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988). 14. See, for instance, the kiratarjun¯ya panel at the Hoysalesvara ¯ ¯ ı temple at Halebid in Karnataka. Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam, plate XIV. ¯ ¯ ı 15. Ramachandran, “The Kiratarjun¯yam.” The Vijayawada hill also ¯ ¯ ı goes by a name in Telugu, the local language: “Arjunikonda” (“Arjuna’s Hill”). 15a. Hiltebeitel, “The Two Krsnas,” p. 2. .. . 16. XII.33-39. 17. XII.39. 18. Mahabharata, Critical Edition, III. 40. 52. I have discussed this ¯ ¯ passage in greater detail below. 19. Mahabharata III.40., 28–31. ¯ ¯ 20. The reference is physical. ´ 21. Peterson, Poems to Siva. See part Two, section III, Introduction, p. 206.



22. Ibid.,p. 302 ff; and David Dean Shulman, Songs of the Harsh Devotee: The T¯ varam of Cuntaramurttinayanar, University of Pennsylvania e ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ Studies in South Asia no. 6 (Philadelphia: South Asia Regional Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1991). ´ 23. Peterson, Poems to Siva, p. 304, poem 248. 23a. For a translation of the combat description in the 18th canto, see Appendix D. 24. The incident is described in the Harivamsa, an early text appended .´ to the Mahabharata, and in the Bhagavata Purana, a South Indian text, ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯. c. 10th century. 25. See G. Ralph Strohl, “Dharma, tapas, and Kingship: an Inquiry into the Jaina Contribution to Sanskrit Literature”, paper presented at the Wisconsin South Asia Conference, November 1991. I believe that Jinasena’s work was influenced by Bharavi in many respects. See my comments on the ¯ denouement of the wrestling between Bharata and Bahubali, below. ¯ 26. Ramayana, IV.16. ¯ ¯ . 27. On the mythology of Khandoba, See Günther D. Sontheimer, “The ¯.. ¯ Mallari / Khandoba Myth as Reflected in Folk Art and Ritual”. Joachim ¯ .. ¯ Deppert, ed., India and the West: Proceedings of a Seminar dedicated to the memory of Hermann Goetz (Delhi: Manohar, 1983), pp. 209–220. 28. Virgil offers a spectacular boxing match in Aeneid, Book 4. 29. An example of of the moment as captured in sculpture is found in Java at the Chandi Jago temple. Mary-Ann Lutzker, personal communication, 1991. 30. Strohl, “Dharma, tapas, and Kingship,” p. 4. The Krishna-Canura ¯.¯ scene is depicted in a relief sculpture on the East wall of the Pallava Vaikunthaperumal temple in Kanchipuram. D. Dennis Hudson, personal communication, 1992. 31. See especially G¯ta XVIII. 62–66. The doctrine of saranagati or praı ¯ ´ .¯ patti was developed in complex and divergent ways in the two major divisions ´ ı of the Tamil Sr¯vaisnava tradition. See the discussion in John Carman and .. Vasudha Narayanan, The Tamil Veda: Pillan’s Interpretation of the Tiru.. ¯ ¯ vaymoli (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). For the 11th century ¯ Tamil ¯ commentator Pillan’s explication of “grasping the feet of the Lord” as ¯ .. ¯ the way to salvation, see Ibid., pp. 113, 117, 227. 32. The meter changes from Upajati to Svagata. Further on, Arjuna ¯ ¯ ¯ utters a hymn of praise in a variety of meters.



33. Translation of Mahabharata (Critical Edition) III.40.49-54. ¯ ¯ Emphasis and material in parentheses mine. ´ 34. Biardeau, EMH (V), p. 150–1; and Scheuer, Siva dans le Mahabharata, 232–7. ¯ ¯ 35. These include manuscripts from the Northwestern, Central, and Southern recensions of the Mahabharata. See Critical Edition, critical appa¯ ¯ ratus, under III.40.51. For Biardeau’s criticism of the decision to omit this bhakti material in the Critical Edition, consult EMH (V), p. 178, n.1. 36. Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam, chapter 1, pp. 7–13. ¯ ¯ ı ´ 37. For example, in the lives of the sixty-three Tamil Saiva saints, narrated by the 12th century author C¯ kkilar in his Periya Puranam. e ¯ ¯. ¯ ´ 38. See Peterson, Poems to Siva, pp. 44–47. 39. For a retelling of the story of Kannappar according to the Periya .. Puranam, see G. Vanmikanathan, Periya Puranam: A Tamil Classic on ¯. the Great Saiva Saints of South India. By Sekkizhaar (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1985). ´ 40. Velcheru Narayana Rao, Siva’s Warriors: The Basava Purana of ¯. Palkuriki Somanatha (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), p. 11; ¯ ¯ as recorded in the Telugu Basava Purana of Palkuriki Somanatha. ¯. ¯ ¯ ´ 41. See Peterson, Poems to Siva, pp. 301–302, and Shulman, Songs of the Harsh Devotee, Introduction. 42. On reformed demon-devotees, see Wendy D. O’Flaherty, The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ´ ´ 1976), chapters 4 and 5. On Ravana and Siva, see Peterson, Poems to Siva. ¯ . 43. See Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam, chapter 5, and plates. ¯ ¯ ı 44. Ibid., Chapter 5, p. 85. Consult plates and discussion concerning sculptures in the Kedaresvara (Halebid), Mallikarjuna (Basaralu), Sirivala Isvara (Kadur); and the Papanatha and Virupaksa temples at Pattadakkal in Karnataka. 45. Ibid., p. 18. 46. Ibid. Emphases mine. In some versions Parvat¯’s boon is called the ¯ ı Anjanastra. 47. There is, however, a kavya tradition of juxtaposing the erotic ¯ with the heroic and the gruesome in battlefield scenes. In Dhv. III.18 ff. ¯ Anandavardhana discusses at length the appropriate occasions for combining potentially clashing moods. I pointed out (in Chapter 3) that Bharavi has ¯



already introduced both the Goddess and srngara rasa at the appropriate ´. ˙ ¯ places. 48. Nagaraja Rao, Kiratarjun¯yam. In addition to the discussion of ¯ ¯ ı individual sculptures, see Epilogue, p. 90. 49. Ibid., Plates XLI, XLII. ´ 50. For a comparison of the kirata narrative in the Sivapurana and ¯ ¯. the Kiratarjun¯ya, see Veda Vyasa Shukla, Kiratarjun¯ya-´ ivapuranayos ¯ ¯ ı ¯ ¯ ı s ¯. tulanatmakam adhyayanam [A Comparative Study of the Kiratarjun¯ya and ¯ ¯ ı ´ the Sivapurana] (Khoda: Garg Publications, 1978–79). ¯. 51. Ibid., p. 6. 52. Padmanabh S. Jaini, “Jina Rsabha as an avatara of Visnu,” Bul¯ . .. letin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (Vol.XL,2, 1977: 321–337); and P. S. Jaini, “The Jaina Puranas: A Puranic ¯. Countertradition,” paper read at the Conference on the Puranas, Univer¯. sity of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 1985. Also consult Sumitra Bai and Zydenbos, “The Jaina Mahabharata.” Nagaraja Rao argues that there is ¯ ¯ ´ no reason to attribute Siva’s defeat to Pampa’s Jaina sectarian prejudice against the Hindu gods, since it is more likely that Pampa was simply recording a version of the kirata episode that was popular in his time, and which ¯ is also represented in the sculpture of the period. Ibid., pp. 89–90. 53. On this transformation, see Gerow, Glossary, pp. 78–81. 54. ‘The ascetic rule of heroism: v¯ravratam; “holy hermitage of battle”; ı punyarana´ rama. . . s 55. These two verses, with their detailed description of the Pa´ upata ¯s as a personified power and the embodiment of a secret science (Veda) of weapons, should help explain the disputed iconography of the Pa´ upata¯s ´ murti, an iconographic form of Siva that is found in temples in the Tamil ¯ region. The key point is that the murti in question is a personified form of ¯ ´ a weapon that is at the same time an embodied power of Siva (Rudra). Its distinctive features as an iconographic form are those described in Bharavi’s ¯ two verses: the blazing, fiery form and the tawny eyes, and the weapon with the trifold shape (a circumlocution for “trident” tri´ ula). As M. E. Adiceam s¯ has shown in an extensive discussion of the murti, it is, indeed an astradeva, ¯ ´ a “weapon-deity” form of Siva, a personified weapon, including in its most ´ salient forms, the trident itself. M. E. Adiceam, “Les images de Siva dans l’Inde du sud: Pa´ upatamurti”, Arts Asiatiques 24 (1971): 23–50. Closer ¯s ¯ to the topic of this book, it is my belief that Bharavi’s description of the ¯ trident-bearing personification of the lore of weapons strengthens the view, forwarded by Rabe, “The Mamallapuram Pra´ asti,” that the trident-bearing ¯ s



attendant-like figure in the Pallave relief sculpture in Mahabalipuram (see my discussion in chapter 3) is meant to suggest the Pa´ upata weapon itself. ¯s 56. For examples, see Shetterly/Peterson, “Recurrence and Structure,” chapter 3. 57. This type of double closure is common in long poems. For a detailed discussion of the strategy, see Smith, Poetic Closure, 186–95. 58. In this verse, as in I.48, the comparison between the sun and the warrior is enriched by expressions suggesting multiple meanings. udaya indicates “rise,” as well as “preeminence” (abhyudaya), and there is a play in the meanings of tapas (heat, penance) and dhaman (radiance, light/glory). ¯

Appendix C
1. When Bhag¯ratha brought the celestial river Ganges down to earth ı ´ to purify the ashes of his ancestors, Siva caught its torrential currents in his matted hair. 2. Another reference to the myth of the descent of the Ganges (see verse 5 above). Angered when the celestial Ganges flooded his hermitage, the sage Jahnu drank up her waters, but released them at Bhag¯ratha’s request. ı


Abhinavagupta. Abhinavabharat¯ on Natya´ astra. Ed. M. Ramakrishna¯ ı ¯ . s¯ kavi, GOS No.36. Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1956. 2nd rev. ed. Four vols. ´ Adiceam, M. E. “Les Images de Siva dans l’inde du sud: XI. - Pa´ upatamurti” ¯s ¯ (1). Arts Asiatiques 24 (1971): 23–50. The Aeneid of Virgil. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Random House, 1981. ¯ ¯ Anandavardhana. The Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhanacharya. With the ¯ ¯ ¯ commentary of Abhinavaguptacharya. Edited by Pandit Durgaprasad and Kasinath Pandurang Parab. Kavyamala Series number 25. ¯ ¯ ¯ Bombay: Nirnayasagar, 1891. ¯ Anandavardhana. The Dhvanyaloka. Edited with Abhinavagupta’s Locana ¯ commentary and a new subcommentary Taravat¯ by Ramsagar Tri¯ ¯ ı pathi. Four books in three volumes. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979. ¯ ¯ Anandavardhana (3). The Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana. With the Lo¯ cana of Abhinavagupta. Translated by Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and M. V. Patwardhan. Edited and with an introduction by Daniel H. H. Ingalls. Harvard Oriental Series volume 49. Edited by Gary A. Tubb. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990. Annambhatta. The Tarkasamgraha of Annambhatta. With the author’s .. . .. own D¯pika, and Govardhana’s Nyaya-bodhin¯. Edited with critiı ¯ ¯ ı cal and explanatory notes by the late Yashwant Vasudev Athalye, together with Introduction and English translation of the text by the late Mahadev Rajaram Bodas. Revised and Enlarged Second Ed. by A. D. Pusalker. Bombay: Department of Education, Maharashtra, 1963. Bombay Sanskrit Series LV.




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abhimana (warrior’s pride), 71, ¯ 80–81 Abhinavagupta, 16–17 abhyudaya (rise of hero or king), 9, 11, 40, 186 adbhuta (the marvelous). See rasa ¯ Adipurana, 172 ¯. ahimsa (non-injury) doctrine, 123, . ¯ 126, 135, 257n51 Aeneid, 257n1; boxing match in, 264n28 Aihole inscription. See Pulakesin II Airlangga (King), 162, 262n4 Ajanta cave paintings, 93, 94–95 alamkara (figures of speech), 5, 10, . ¯ 16, 17, 19, 54–58, 78, 112–13, 128 alamkara´ astra (poetics), 16 . ¯ s¯ amarsa (anger), 52, 242n18 . ¯ Anandavardhana, 16–17, 21, 36, 38, 42, 152–53, 239n72. See also Dhvanyaloka ¯ Anantabhatta, 262n2 .. anjanastra, 178 ¯ ¯ Annanmar Katai (The Brothers’ .. ¯ Epic), 27–28, 234n31 apahnuti (denial), figure of speech, 113 apsaras: in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 43–44, 123, 163, 183; journey of, 31, 89, 90, 93, 94–95, 105; lovemaking of with gandharvas, 31, 89, 109,

114–15; revels of, 89, 90, 93–94, 107–10 argumentation, modes of, 67–87 Arikesari (Chalukya king), 161–62 Arjuna: actualization of heroism of, 139; asceticism (tapas) of, 24–26, 43–44, 117–24, 119–20, 120–22; ´ combat of with Siva, 32–33, 139–86; cosmic and mythic images of, 146–48; encounter of ´ with Siva, 2–4, 259n12; function of tapas for, 48; as hero, 28, 39, 123–24, 184; heroic personality of, 28, 238–39n66; ignorance of, 167–68; as partial incarnation of Visnu, 147; as Indra’s son, 186; .. initiation of as hero, 27, 31, 34, 154, 167, 177; as middle brother, 235n36; mystical identity of with ´ Rudra-Siva, 144–45; as Nara, 145, 147–48, 167; nymphs’ description of, 253n2; as Purusa, . 147; sacred duty of, 128–33, 185; ´ stotra (praise of Siva) by, 33, 175–76, 218; view of dharma of, 128–33; as warrior, 28, 123–24, 128–30, 154–60; weapons of, 154, 160; as winner of weapons, 218–19 Arjunawiwaha (The Celebration of Arjuna), 3, 162, 173, 183, 262n4



use of artha´ astra doctrine by, s¯ 71–76; use of connected stanzas by, 148; use of lament by, 59–60; use of rasa poetics by, 35; use of speeches by, 22 Bhasa, plays of, 238n63 ¯ Bh¯ ima, 28, 66, 67–81, 71 Bhoja, on units in court epic, 229n43 bhrantimat (Confused), figure of ¯ speech, 113, 114 Biardeau, Madeleine, 143, 177, 256n35 boar (varaha), 2, 146; as anti-hero, ¯ 147; assault of, 32, 140–41; in Greek myth, 234n30; hunt, motif of, 27–28; in Indian mythology, 259n19; in Tamil folk epic, 234n30; Visnu as cosmic, 146, .. 147, 259nn19, 20. See also Muka ¯ Bowra, C. Maurice, 122 boxing and wrestling, 172–73 brahmanical asceticism, Jaina critique of, 136–37 brahmanical compromise on violence, 133, 136 brahmanical religion. See Vedic religion Brahma´ iras, 259n16a. See also s Pa´ upata ¯s Brhaspati, Lord of Speech, 67 . Buddha, 136, 138; as hero of mahakavya, 11–12 ¯ ¯ Buddhacarita (Acts of the Buddha), 9, 11–12, 18, 38, 136, 239n74; ascetic’s temptation in, 43–44; Buddhist themes in, 9, 11, 18, 22, 136; concatenation in, 91–92; connected stanzas in, 148; crowd scenes in, 91; lament in, 245n60; narrative-descriptive style of, 91–92; parallelism in, 92; refrains in, 245n60; symmetry in, 92; use of spirited rhetoric in, 47–48. See also A´ vaghosa s .

arms, imagery of, 143 army: advancing, 103–104; four corps of Indian, 250n20; of Indra, 93, 102–103; as metaphor, 104 artha : politics, 44, 76; wealth, 42 arthantaranyasa (substantiation), ¯ ¯ figure of speech, 54 ´ Artha´ astra (KAS). See Kautil¯ s¯ . iya Artha´ astra s¯ artha´ astra doctrine, 51–52; s¯ Bharavi’s use of, 71–76; and ¯ Mahabharata, 241n17 ¯ ¯ ascetic: and courtesan, 43, 239n74; posture, 120, 121, 179; practice, as metaphor for combat, 142–43 A´ vaghosa: as transitional poet, 15, s . 91. See also Buddhacarita atha, use of, 249–50n13 Avantisundar¯ ikatha, 8, 23. See also ¯ Dandin .. bakula flowers, 22, 231n6 Bana, 22 ¯. Bhagavad G¯ a, 29, 131–33, 135, it ¯ 137, 138, 143, 175; svadharma in, 132–33 Bhag¯ iratha, penance of, 24–25, 267nn1, 2 bhakti: relationship of with rasa, 40, 183–84; saints, 171, 180–181; tableau, 166, 175; texts, 3, 162 Bhamaha, vi, 7, 13 ¯ Bharata, theory of rasa of, 35–36, 237n60. See also Natya´ astra ¯ . s¯ Bharatacampu, 262n2 ¯ ¯ Bharavi: as court epic poet, 1, 2; ¯ biography of, 3, 232n12; and climax of Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 182–84; density of style in, 21–22, 45; descriptive art of, 22, 89–115; historical allusion to in Dandin, .. 8, 23; praise of by Gangadev¯ 22; ˙ ¯ i, praise of by Ravik¯ irti, 11; South Indian associations of, 23, 25–26;

Buddhism, 23, 26, 133–34, 135, 136 Buddhists, 26, 135; critique of brahmanical compromise by, 136; works of, 9–10, 26, 135–36


Campantar, 153 Cappeller, Carl, 155, 189, 223n4, 253n3 catalogues, in epic poetry, 91; in mahakavyas, 93 ¯ ¯ catuspad¯ (four-line verse form), i . poetics of, 8 Chalukyas, 3, 11, 23–25, 93, 162, 262n8 Channabasavapurana of Virupaksa ¯. ¯ ¯ . Pandita, 178 . Chandi Jago temple, Java, 264n29, 178 chariots, rolling, 95–97 citra (type of kavya), 22, 25, 32, ¯ 149–54; defined, 149–50; geometric patterns in, 151; verses, 22, 32, 150, 164; visually oriented patterns in, 151 Citrabhanu, commentary on ¯ Kiratarjun¯ of, 37, 39, 237n56, ¯ ¯ iya 238n65 clarity, grammatical, 246n4 climax of Bharavi’s tale, difference ¯ in, 182–84 closure, double, 267n57 clouds, 97, 101, 132, 251n37 combat in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya: ascetic practice as metaphor for, 143; cosmic imagery of, 143–49; and description, epic tradition of, 141–43, 258n6; ignorance and knowledge in, 168–72; irony in description of, 164–67; large scale, 141–42; single, 141; theater of, 139–60 comparison: components of, 55; importance of, 55–56

continuity, words suggesting, 251n37 court epics. See mahakavyas ¯ ¯ courtesans, ascetics and, 43–44, 239n74 crisscross pattern in verse, 255n25 Cuntaramurtti, 171, 180 ¯

Dandin, 3, 7–10, 23–24, 35, 150, .. 152. See also Kavyadar´ a ¯ ¯ s De, Sushil Kumar, 15 debate: about arrow, 140; between Bh¯ ima and Yudhisthira, 51–52, .. 67–87; in Buddhacarita, 48; dynamic of response in, 79–84; political, 34; traditional system of, 70 Deccan region of South India, 23, 24 demons, in Hindu mythology, 181 description in court epic, 18, 89–115; figurative and objective interaction in, 102; framestructures for, 250n23; organization of, 89–94; as speech, 249n5; time and space in, 250n22 Dev¯sataka (Century in Praise of the i´ Goddess), 152–53 Dhammapada, 135 dhana (wealth), ironic use of, 62, 63–64 dharma (Law, sacred duty), 2, 4, 9, 26, 32, 38, 42, 44, 48, 128,132, 133, 134, 136, 185, 226n13, 244n52 dharmayuddha (righteous war), 2–3 dhvani (poetic suggestion), 3, 17, 36, 57 Dhvanyaloka (Light of Suggestion), ¯ 36, 42 d¯ . a (initiation), 27 iks ¯ D¯ . ita, Muttusvami, 153 iks ¯ Discourses on the Heroic Poem, vi


erotic sequence, characteristics of, 90–91 expression: discursive mode of, 85; presentational aspect of, 86

drama: aesthetic theory of, 14, 36; and court epic, 10–12; excellence of, 228n29; ritual nature of, 11, 227n23; typical plot of Sanskrit, 11 Draupad¯ 2, 30, 163 i, Draupad¯ speech, 50, 51, 52–66, i’s 154–55; Bh¯ ima’s view of, 67–68; circular design of, 53–54; closing arguments in, 63–66; farewell of, 86–87; figures of speech in, 54–58; focus of, 261n48; repetitive rhythm in, 58; similes in 54, 56; use of “insult” in, 245n65 drstanta (illustration), figure of . .. ¯ speech, 56, 70, 84 Duhsasana, 52 . ´¯ Dumézil, Georges, 235n38 Durga (Goddess), 152, 154 ¯ Durvin¯ (Ganga king), 24, 150 ita Duryodhana, kingship of, 30, 50–51, 75 Dusyanta (King), 144–45 . Dutt, Romesh Chunder, 189 Dvaita forest, 30, 50 dvandva compound, 40, 124, 131, 132

Elephanta, 24, 232 elephants, 83–84, 99–102; compared with clouds and mountains, 101–102; flying, 102; mythology about, 102; rutting, 54, 57, 83, 104–105, 107, 251n33; standards of comparison with, 99–102 emboxing, 240n2 epic poetry: catalogues in, 91, 93; characteristics of, 2; concatenating devices in, 91; European norms for, 14; paratactic construction in, 91; subgenres of, 13

figures of speech. See alamkara . ¯ final statement (nigamana): in argument, 53, 240–41n9 fire, as symbol, 83, 84, 130 flora of forest: conflation of with women, 108–10; in sarga X, 252n47; varieties of, 252–53n48 flow: narrative, 15; words denoting, 251n37 foot-grasping, 33, 174–75, 177, 183, 184, 217 foregrounding, 19, 20, 110, 148, 230n53 ´ foreign policy: KAS classification of, 73; six measures of, 72, 74, 75 Forest Book, in Mahabharata, ¯ ¯ 26–27, 34 forest: adventures of epic heroes in, 234n7; ambience of, 26; exile in, 30, 50, 58, 64; flora of, 108–10; folklore of, 163; in kirata/Arjuna ¯ narrative, 28, 31, 107; in Mahabharata, 26–28, 34; ¯ ¯ meanings of, 27; people of, 27; in Ramayana, 26 ¯ ¯ . Forster, E.M., 29 fortune, royal. See laksm¯ sr¯ . . i, ´ i four goals of life. See life, four goals of

´ ganas (goblin hosts of Siva), 32, . 207, 216 gandharvas (apsaras’ companions), 31, 32, 89, 110, 114, 145, 149, 196 Gand¯ (bow of Arjuna), 123, 171 ¯ . . iva Gangadev¯ (Queen), 22 ˙ ¯ i Ganges river, 31, 89, 96, 103–104, 110, 114, 204, 214; descent of, 24,

25, 267nn1, 2; as goddess, 251n26a; as sky-river, 95, 96, 104, 251n27; as river of the gods, 196, 199, 204. See also Bhag¯ iratha German Baroque, carmina figurata of, 150 Gerow, Edwin, 16, 150, 154, 229–30n44 Ghantapatha (Bell-road), ..¯ commentary of Mallinatha on ¯ Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 21, 37, 231n3, 236n34, 281n3, ghazal, Persian, 230n56 Great Penance relief, 24–25, 233n19 Greene, Thomas, 13, 48 guhyakas, 31, 117, 122, 120, 123, 124, 128, 156. See also yaksa . Guptas, 23, 93 guru, as double entendre, 254n15


hunter, Arjuna and, in South Indian literature and art, 178–84. hunters: names for, 27; as spies in ´ KAS, 51; temples associated with legends of, 263n12. See also kirata ¯

Hara, Minoru, 76 Haravijaya (Triumph of Hara), 18, 153 Harsacarita, 225n13 . Herbert, George, 150 Hermeneutics (M¯ amsa), 49 im ¯ . ¯ hero: acts of war for, 140–41; Arjuna as, 28, 39, 123–24, 184; celebration of, 23; -devotee, 29, 39; divine aspect of, 28, 148; guide of, 34; initiation of, 27, 31, 34, 154; in Mahabharata, 26–27; ¯ ¯ rise of, 9; Yudhisthira as, 39 .. heroic mood. See rasa; v¯ rasa ira Hiltebeitel, Alf, 143, 145, 164 Himalaya mountain, description of, 43, 93, 203, 205 Himalayas, 12, 27, 31, 34, 42, 89, 149, 151 Homer, 13, 14, 48, 67, 122 human beings and nature, relation between, 107, 112–13, 114

Iliad, wrestling in, 172 imagery: of arms, 143; exchange of, 82–84; function of, 85, movement of in court epic description, 159–60 Indian rulers, patronage of many gods by, 232n10 Indra, 27, 31, 32, 34, 44, 93, 123; argument of, 124–28; army of, 93, 102–103; city of, 195; devil’s advocate, 132, 133–38; disguise of as brahman, 124; festival of, 11; paradise of, 142; propitiation of, 86, 119, 124; visit of, 117; as warrior god, 120, 185 Indrak¯ (Indra’s Peak), 31, 32, 34, ila 89, 117, 163, 178, 181, 198 Ingalls, D.H.H., 18 interlocution in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 240n2 irony in the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 70, 130, 164–67 Irwin, John, 34

Jainas, 10, 23, 26, 135, 136–37, 174, 183; in Deccan, 135 Jainism, 26, 133–34, 135 Jataka stories, 62, 244n56 Jinasena, 172, 264n25 Johnston, E.H., 15, 91, 92

Kairataparvan, of Mahabharata, 2, ¯ ¯ ¯ 22–23, 26, 28, 29, 141, 145, 234n21, 234n29; and the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 26–30, 53


and human beings, relation between, 107, 112–13, 114; prose genres of, 227n16; purpose of, 1; Ramayana as, 226n10; rich ¯ ¯ . lexicon of, 107–110; speech, formal perfection of, 19, 49; style of, compared with bhasya, 77; ¯. time and space in, 93; variety and complexity in, 19–20; verse, examples of, 249n6; women and nature in, 90, 108; words for beauty in, 252n44; words for women in, 107–108, 252nn45, 46; writers, and kingship, 241n17 Kavyadar´ a (Mirror for Kavya), ¯ ¯ s ¯ 8–9, 23, 25. See also Dandin .. Kavyalamkara, of Bhamaha, vi, ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ 226n2, 230n53 Kavyalamkara, of Rudrata, 227n5 ¯ ¯ . ¯ . Kavyalamkarasutravrtti, 228n22 ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ . kings: circle of (mandala), 72–74; .. compared with sun, 65–66, 84; conduct of (rajadharma), 51; ¯ discipline and education of (vinaya), 74–75, 247n14; excellences of, 75; images of, 71–72; powers of, 76; words for, 61, 244n49 kingship: ceremonial aspect of, 12; and desire for conquest, 64; implications of, 48; kavya writers ¯ and, 241n17; perspectives on in Kiratarjun¯ speeches, 50 ¯ ¯ iya kirata (hunter, mountain man), 3, ¯ 27–28, 39, 51, 123, 238–39n66. See also hunters kirata/Arjuna theme: in folk theater ¯ and religious ritual, 3, 162–63, 181–82; in folklore of forest and hunting tribes, 28, 163; heroic purpose of, 180; in Indian literature and art, 3–4, 162, 178–84, 233n16; Kannada bhakti versions of, 178–81; literary works on, 3–4, 161–63, 262n2; in

Kalacuris, 24 Kalidasa: ascetic’s temptation, ¯ ¯ theme of in, 44; asymmetry and variation in descriptive style of, 92; balanced use of rhetoric by, 48; compared with Bharavi, ¯ 21–22; court epics of, 7; crowd scenes of, 91; description of Himalaya mountain by, 43; description of women by, 89; dramas of, 35; on humans and nature, 114; image of King Dusyanta in, 144–45; journeys in, . 90, 249nn7, 8, 250n23; lyric grace ´ of, 21; mahakavya on Siva and ¯ ¯ Parvat¯ by, 23; on Parvat¯ ¯ i ¯ i, 112–13, 137–38, 254n17; speeches in mahakavyas of, 48, ¯ ¯ 240n5; use of concatenation by, 91; use of lament by, 59, 245n60; use of rasa poetics by, 35; use of simile and description by, 18, 92 Kamandak¯ N¯ ara, 72 ¯ iya itis ¯ Kannada, 3; devotional works, 162 Kannappar, Tamil saint, 265n39 .. karma doctrine, 135, 137 Karnataka, 3–4, 23, 26, 162, 181, 262n8 Kathakali dance, Kerala, 3 Kauravas, 3, 28, 29, 30, 129, 147 ´ Kautil¯ Artha´ astra (KAS), 48, s¯ . iya 51–52, 247nn16, 17; influence of on the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 73–79; excellences of king in, 75; on issues of policy, 72, 73; mandala .. theory in, 74; political theory of, 34; spies in, 50–51, 241n15; on virtuous kings, 247n14 Kautilya, 48, 51, 72 . kavya poetry/literature: Advaita ¯ ideas in, 113–14; conservatism of, 19; definitive features of, 10, description in, 10; figurative language, importance of in, 16, 79, 92; meters in, 226n9; nature

´ Sivapurana, 162; in temples of ¯. Andhra, 162–63, 181; in temples of Karnataka, 162; in temples of Kerala, 162; in temples of Tamil region, 263nn9, 12; visual representations of, 162 Kiratarjunamurti (iconographic ¯ ¯ ¯ form of Siva), 263n9 Kiratarjun¯ (Arjuna and the ¯ ¯ iya Hunter), 3; aestheticism of, 4; alliteration in, 61–62; antithesis, rhetoric of in, 126–28; bhakti flavor of, 40; central narrative themes in, 2–3, 4; compared with other court epics, 21–22; commentaries on, 4, 21, 39–41, 44, 237n57; combat description in, 140–42; compositional strategies in, 19–20; complex patterning of description in, 94–107; cultural context of, 2, 3; devotion to God in, 161–87; epic background of, 26–30; epic speech in, 47–66; erotic sequence in, 89–90, 92–93; foreshadowing in, 64, 114–15; heroic rasa in, 37–40; ´ influence of KAS on, 73–79; lexical variation in, 61–62, 92; meter, change of in, 64, 2634n32; meters in, 22, 30, 186, 236n46; modifications of Mahabharata ¯ ¯ episode in, 34–35; mood (rasa) in, 35–45; narrative voices in, 47; plot of, 30–33, 38, 39; political theory in, 51; rasa/bhakti configuration in, 161–87; resonance of with Bhagavad G¯ a, it ¯ 131–33; rhetoric in, 44, 47–52; setting of, 21–45; sloka meter in, ´ 131; structure of, 21–45; subhasita (gnomic stanzas) in, 49; ¯. turning point of, 140–41 Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iyavyayoga, 262n2 ¯ Krishna, 28–29, 131, 132, 138, 145, 148 154, 172, 174, 175


ksatriya. See warrior . ksatradharma/ksatriyadharma, .¯ . duty of warriors, 27, 28, 38, 124, 136; and violence, 28, 51, 126, 133, 137, 138, 185. See also warrior ksatriyahood, 128–30, 131, 142–43, . 147. See also warrior Ksemendra, on rasa, 236n63 . Kumarasambhava (The Origin of ¯ . Kumara), 7, 21, 22, 38, 43, 48, ¯ 113, 137–38, 148 ku´ a grass, 59–61 s kuttu ritual drama, 3 ¯

laksm¯ (royal fortune, . i auspiciousness), 10, 50–57, 62, 65, 66, 186, 194 laments (vilapa): in the poems of ¯ A´ vaghosa and Kalidasa, 59, s ¯ ¯ . 245n60; in Bharavi, 59–60; as ¯ genre, 58–63; languages for, 244n57; in Mahabharata, 59–60, ¯ ¯ 61; in Ramayana, 59; refrains in, ¯ ¯ . 62–63, 244n55; standard items in, 243n47 landscape, in kavya poetry, 90 ¯ Langer, Susanne, 85 Lannoy, Richard, 94–95 Lepakshi temple, 163 life, four aims or goals of (purusartha), 9–10, 42, 226n13, .¯ 227n14 l¯ a (play), 139, 167, 181 il ¯ linga sequence in versions of kirata ˙ ¯ episode, 135, 178–79, 183 lion, as symbol, 83–84 Lord, Albert, 122 lotus: and face of woman, 110–12, 113; closing of, 253n57

Magha, 18, 21, 148, 154. See also ¯ ´ s ¯ Si´ upalavadha


18–20; norms of, 7–13; as panegyric, 227n23; poetics of, 4–5, 7–20; plot of, 11, 16, 35; politics in, 67–87; Prakrit, 9, 12, 90; problem of continuity in, 15, 19; rasa in, 40–41; sloka meter in, ´ 149, 151; speeches as oratory in, 84; tone of, 2, 12; topics in, 10; in traditional poetics, 16–17; use of stanza in, 107; western responses to, 2, 14–15. mahayamaka, 260n37 ¯ Mahendravarman I (Pallava king), 24, 25 Mallinatha, 21; commentary of on ¯ Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 231n3, 237n57, 245nn66, 67; on difficulty of Bharavi’s verse, 21; on Double ¯ Palindrome, 152; on “dvija,” 61; on goal of the poem, 38–39; on I.46, 37; on I.32, 243n43; on policy statements in Bh¯ ima’s speech, 72–73; on rasas in mahakavya, 40–41; on ¯ ¯ significance of sam¯ tree, 57; on ´ i speeches in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 49. See also Ghantapatha ..¯ malopama (chain of similes), 148 ¯ ¯ Mamalla. See Narasimhavarman I mandala (ideal circle of kings), 72, .. 74; cosmogram, 152 manliness. See paurusa . mantra: (counsel), 31, 34, 48, 76; (incantation), 119 Manusmrti, 117, 134 . Meghaduta (of Kalidasa) 90 ¯ ¯ ¯ Meleager, 234n30 metaphors: rivers as, 104; for combat, 142–43; for friendship, 155–58; use of, 70 m¯ ilana (concealment), figure of speech, 114 Milton, John, 13 M¯ amsakas, criteria for im ¯ . argumentation of, 69

Mahabalipuram, rock relief at, 24–25 Mahabharata: catalogues in, 91; ¯ ¯ climax of kirata/Arjuna tale in, ¯ 182–83; concatenating devices in, 91; cosmic imagery in Sauptikaparvan of, 143–44; as counterpart of Homeric epic, 14; eschatological symbolism in, 258n10; Forest Book in, 26–27, 34; grief in, 142; Kairataparvan ¯ episode in, 22–23, 26, 28, 29, 53, 141, 145, 234nn29, 31; meter in, 9; moment of revelation in, 176–78; lament in, 59–60, 61; Parvat¯ in Kairataparvan of, ¯ i ¯ 182–83; Pa´ upata in, 145; ¯s problem of violence in, 138; rajadharma (conduct of kings) in, ¯ 51; rasa of, 38; refrains in, 62–63; rhetoric in, 47; as textbook of dharma, 2, 48; theophanies in, 29; III.40.53, 161; as war epic, 2, 140, 141, 142, 258n3; wrestling in, 172, 176, 177–78 mahakavyas, 1; functions of, 10, 11; ¯ ¯ based on Ramayana, 231n7; by ¯ ¯ . Buddhist and Jaina poets, 10; change of meters in, characteristics of classic, 8–14, 224n8; cities and mountains, descriptions of in, 260n29; commentary on, 16–17; contrasted with sastra texts, 10; ´¯ crowd scenes in, 90–91; defined, 8–9; description in, 89–115; and drama, 10–12; erotic themes in, 90; evolution of, 7–8; figuration as play in, 110–15; five classic, 2, 21, 224n8; grammatically connected stanzas in, 148–49; grand scale of, 12–13; heroic themes in, 9, 13; iconic character of, 12; as kavya ¯ genre, 1–12; meters in, 64, 260n37; new approaches to,

moksa (liberation from karma), 9, . 42, 126, 128, 130, 134 mood. See rasa moon, as symbol, 82–83 mountain men. See hunters; kirata ¯ Mpu Kanwa, 162, 183 Muka (demon disguised as boar), ¯ 32, 139, 140, 142, 147, 148, 155 Mukarovsky, Jan, 19 muktaka, independent stanza, 9 muni (ascetic), 123, 133, 134


Nagaraja Rao, M.S., 162, 181–82, 182–83 Naisadh¯ iyacarita (The Narrative of . ´ iharsa, 21 Naisadha) of Sr¯ . . Nara, Arjuna as, 145, 147–48, 167 Nara-Narayana pair (of ascetics) ¯ ¯ . 147, 167 Narasimhavarman I (Pallava king), 24, 25 Nathan, Leonard, 1 Natya´ astra, 32, 35, 36–37, 237n59, ¯ . s¯ 239n71, 242n18. See also Bharata naya (statecraft) 56, 67–68; use of, 248n27; usefulness of patience in, 71; in Yudhisthira’s speech, 48, .. 78–79; ´ Nayanars, of Tamil Saiva tradition, ¯ ¯ 180¯ n¯ use of, 78–79 i, nigamana. See final statement non-violence, 26, 38–39, 123, 126, 135, 137, 138 Nyaya (Logic), 49, 53, 55, 69; ¯ argumentation in, 246nn3, 8; comparison in, 55 nymphs: description of Arjuna by, 253n2; flying, 97–99; revels of, 107–10. See also apsaras

organic form, 15

pada, verse quarter, 8 ¯ palindromes, 151–52, 153 Pallavas, 23, 24, 93 Pampa, 161–62, 183, 232n12, 266n52. See also Vikramarjunavijaya ¯ Pañcatantra, 76 Pandavas, 2–3, 24, 27, 28, 29, 32, ¯.. 33, 50–51, 57, 129, 142, 241n13, 242n20, 248n30 panegyric, 24. See also pra´ asti s Panini, grammar of, 239n67 ¯. Parvat¯ as Chenchu tribeswoman, ¯ i: 163; Kalidasa on, 112–13, ¯ ¯ 137–38, 254n17; in Mahabharata ¯ ¯ Kairataparvan, 182–83; tapas of, ¯ 137–38; union of with Siva, 137–38 past and present, compared, 58–59 Pa´ upata (pa´ upatastra) (divine ¯s ¯s ¯ weapon), 3, 24, 28, 32, 33, 141, 147; cosmic significance of, ´ 145–46; gift of by Siva to Arjuna, 33, 142; incorporation of, 33, 185–86 Pa´ upatamurti, 266–67n55 s ¯ Patañjali’s Yogasutra (PYS), 118, ¯ 245n66 pathetic fallacy, in English poetry, 261n52 patience, virtue of, 71, 73–74 paurusa (valor), 4, 71, 79, 81–82, . 157 peacocks, 251n28 Periya puranam, 255n37 ¯. plants. See flora of forest plot: in court epic, 11, 35; development of dramatic, 36–37; of Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 30–33; typical kavya, 11 ¯ poetry: classical Sanskrit, 1, 2; importance of “difficulty” in, 150; multiple meanings in, 233n22. See also epic poetry; kavya ¯


38, 40, 43, 184; heroic (v¯ ira), 35, 37–38, 42, 130, 140, 148, 184, 239n70; in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 35–45; in mahakavyas, 37; peaceful ¯ ¯ (´ anta), 35, 38, 40, 43, s¯ 237–38n60; in Ramayana, 38; ¯ ¯ . theory of, 16, 35–45 ratha. See chariots Ratnakara, 18, 153 ¯ ´ Ravana, as devotee of Siva, 181 ¯ . ¯ Ravikirti, 11 reasoning: in poetic context, 50; in speeches, 69 refrain, use of, 62–63, 244n55 Renou, Louis, 7, 20, 77–78 repetition, as epic technique, 249n11 revelation, moment of, 172–87 reversal, as response, 79–82 rhetoric: as backdrop to action, 48; ethical and political function of, 48; importance of figurative language in court epic speeches, 79; logical framework of, 49; qualities of effective, 49. See also speeches ring-composition schema, 242n21 river, as metaphor for army, 103–104 Roman poetry, “figures of thought” in, 17 Roodbergen, J.A.F., 155 Rückert, Friedrich, 189 ´ Rudra-Siva (the archer), 28, 144–45 Rudrata, 10 . rut, elephant, 83, 104–105, 251n33 ´ Sabara´ ankaravilasa of s ˙ ¯ Sadaksaradeva, 178 . . . ´ Sabdarthad¯ a (commentary on ¯ ipik ¯ the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya), 237n56 sadgunya (six measures of foreign .¯ . . policy), 72, 74, 75

Pollock, Sheldon, 47 power (´ akti), kinds of, 76 s prabandha (extended composition), 9, 17 pralaya (cosmic dissolution), 143, 158 pra´ asti (dynastic panegyric), 11, s 13, 24 Pulakesin II (Chalukya king), 3; inscription of, 23, 25, 232n13 punning, 150, 156, 157, 159 purnopama (complete simile), 66 ¯ . ¯ purusartha. See life, four goals of .¯ purvapaksa (opponent’s opinion), ¯ . 70, 133

Rabe, Michael, 24–25 raga music: improvisation in, ¯ 105–106, 252nn40, 43; niraval technique in, 252n4 Raghuvamsa (The Lineage of .´ Raghu), 7, 21, 22, 38, 48, 142. See also Kalidasa ¯ ¯ Raja´ ekhara, 1 ¯ s Rama, 28, 29, 47, 138, 141, 172; as ¯ renouncer king, 138, 235n37 Ramayana: catalogues in, 91; ¯ ¯ . combat in, 141; concatenating devices in, 91; connected verse sequences in, 149; as counterpart to Homeric epic, 9, 14; description of seasons in, 90; key speeches in, 47, 48; lament in, 59; mahakavyas based on, 231n7; ¯ ¯ rasa in, 38; refrains in, 62–63; renunciation in, 138; viewer and viewed in, 149 rasa (mood): marvelous (adbhuta)140, 164–65, 166–67; and aesthetic theory, 8, 36, 229n41; ang¯ (principal), 36, 41; ˙ i and bhakti, 40, 183–84; commentary on, 35–37; in drama, 11, 35–36; erotic (´ rngara), 35, s. ˙ ¯

´ Saivas: conflict of with sramanas, ´ . 233nn24, 25 ´ Saivism, 23, 25, 162, 180 ´ Sakuntala, 144–45 ¯ sama (peaceful attitude), 125, 131 ´ samdeha (doubt), figure of speech, . 113, 114 sam¯ tree, simile of, 55, 57 ´ i saranagati (taking refuge in God), ´ .¯ ´ ivais . 175; doctrine of in Sr¯ . nava theology, 264n31 Sarasvat¯ . thabharana of Bhoja, ikan . ¯ . 250n22 sarga (unit of composition in mahakavyas), 9; conventions for ¯ ¯ ending, 64. sargabandha (composition in cantos), mahakavya, 8, 9, 15, 30 ¯ ¯ sarvatobhadra (Double Palindrome), 152 sastra, 44, 76 ´¯ Saundarananda, 9 Scheuer, Jacques, 177 Schmidt, Hans-Peter, on ahimsa . ¯ doctrine, 257n51 Self, idea of, 113–14 sheldrakes, separation of, 253n57 Siddhartha (Prince), 11, 48, 136 ¯ Simhavishnu (Pallava king), 24 simile. See upama ¯ ´ s ¯ Si´ upalavadha (The Slaying of ´ s ¯ Si´ upala), 18, 21, 154. See also Magha ¯ ´ Siva, 144–45; as destroyer god, 144–45; as destroyer of the three cities, 163, 174, 217; feelings of in combat with Arjuna, 169–70; as gracious God, 169–72; Kalidasa’s ¯ ¯ mahakavya on Parvat¯ and, 23; ¯ ¯ ¯ i linga image of, 163–63, 175, 178, ˙ 183; as kirata, 28, 32, 139, 168; as ¯ Lord of the Beasts, 147; in Mahabharata, 167–68; names ¯ ¯ and epithets of, 168; as Pa´ upatamurti, 28; perspective ¯s ¯


on Arjuna of, 169–71, 174; propitiation of, 23, 30; test of devotees by, 171; trident of, 266n55; as trickster-god, 28; union of with Parvat¯ 22, 137–38, ¯ i, 163; as yogi, 137 ´ Sivapurana, 162, 173, 183 ¯. ´ Sivatattvacintamani of Lakkanna ¯ .. . Dande´ a, 178 .. s Skanda, 140, 141; speech by, 32, 151, 164 slesa (figure of speech using words ´ . with more than one meaning), 56, 66, 243n37; visual version of, 24–25, 184 sloka: meter, 9, 131, 149, 183, ´ 226n10, 255n32; verse, 91 Smith, David, 154 Söhnen, Renate, 47 speech: criteria for evaluation of, 68–69; kavya, 19, 49; sacred ¯ nature of, 68 speeches: dynamic of response in, 79–84; reasoning in, 69; use of refrain in, 62–63, 244n55. See also rhetoric spies, 30, 34, 50–51, 241n15 sramanas, 26, 133–137. See also ´ . Buddhists, Jainas sr¯ See laksm¯ ´ i. . i sr¯ ´ i/laksm¯ (sovereignty), . i 56–57, 65 ´ Sriharsa, 21 . srngara (the erotic). See rasa ´. ˙ ¯ standing on one leg, ascetic practice of, 120, 121 stanzas: kavya composition in, 15; ¯ grammatically connected, 148–49; lyric, 16; poetics of, 17; structure of, 17 statecraft. See naya sthandila (altar), 178 .. stotra (hymn of praise), 33, 175–76, 218 subhasita (well-turned verse), 49 ¯.


upama (simile),18, 54, 55, 56, 70, ¯ 99–104, 113, 148 Upanishad, 133 utsaha (energy of warrior or king), ¯ 75, 76, 160, 237, 247n18

sun: Arjuna as, 147; ascetic-hero as rising, 184–87; image in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 86, 87; king compared with, 65–66, 84, 187; warrior compared with, 143, 187, 267n58 svadharma, teaching of, 130, 131, 132–33, 134 symbolism: eschatological, 258n10; initiatory, 34; of fire, 83, 84; of lion, 83–84; of moon, 82–83; sacrificial, 142–43, 147

Tamil: devotional poets, 255n37, 262n7; king, heroic persona of, 228n27; saints, hymns of, 171, 233n24; region, temples in, 162, 263nn9 tantric practice, iconography in, 152–53 tapas: defined, 4, 118; description of, 117, 122–23, 253n2; function of for Arjuna, 48; inherent ambiguity of, 135; meanings of, 267n58; of Parvat¯ 137–38; as ¯ i, peaceful undertaking, 126 Tasso, Torquato, vi tejas (ksatriya power), 184 . T¯ varam hymns. See Tamil saints’ e ¯ hymns Thomas, F.W., 104 tilaka (mark painted on forehead), 97, 98, 251n30 traditional poetics, court epic in, 16–17 transience, in Buddhist works, 136 triple cities myth, 144, 145 Tubb, Gary, 38, 226n26, 236–37n55

´ union of Siva and Parvat¯ in ¯ i, Kumarasambhava, 22, 137–38, ¯ . 163

Vaikunthaperumal temple, Kanchipuram, 264n30 Vaisnavism, 23, 29 .. Valm¯ 47, 90–91, 141, 226n10 ¯ iki, Vamana, on drama, 228n29. See ¯ also Kavyalamkarasutravrtti ¯ ¯ . ¯ ¯ . Vatsaraja, 262n2 ¯ Vedic: hymns, continuities in, 249n12; orders of reality, 113; religion, 11, 23, 133 Ven¯ . hara, transformation of . isam ¯ Mahabharata material in, ¯ ¯ 238n63 Vidyakara, 18–19 ¯ Vidyamadhava (commentator on ¯ ¯ Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya), 39–40 Vikramarjunavijaya (Victory of the ¯ Valiant Arjuna), 161–62, 183 vilapa. See lament ¯ vimana, flying car of gods, 96 ¯ vinaya (discipline), 74, 75, 78 violence: in combat, 26, 142; as definitive norm for ksatriyas, 28, . 51, 126, 133, 137, 185; dharmic, 133, 137, 138, 256n35; problem of, in Mahabharata, 138 ¯ ¯ v¯ (heroic) rasa, 52: and bhakti, ira 40, 183–84; causes of the, 239n72; in South Indian representations of kirata/Arjuna narrative, ¯ 178–84; juxtaposed with erotic, 265–66n47; in plays of Bhasa, ¯ 238n63. See also rasa V¯ saiva religion, 180 ira´ Virgil, 48 virodha (contradiction), 255n27 visama (figure of speech, the . incongruous), 127, 128

Vishnuvardhana (prince), 23–24, 232 Visnu, 23, 29, 132, 144, 145; as .. incarnation of Great Boar, 146, 147; as Narayana, 147; as ¯ ¯ . Purusa, 147 . Vyasa, 34, 71; arrival of, 30–31, 86; ¯ initiation of Arjuna by, 154–56, 167 vyatireka (superiority), figure of speech, 113


war: as ksatriya’s sacrifice, 142, . 147, 234n29; Mahabharata, 138, ¯ ¯ 140–41 Warder, A.K., 154 warrior: Arjuna as quintessential, 28; compared with sun, 65, 267n58; culture of, 129–30; Draupad¯ on, 63–64; duty of, 132, i 185; keywords for, 129–30; and king, 29; ksatradharma, dharma .¯ of, 27, 38, 124, 133, 136; as perfect yogi, 48; pride of, 71, 80–81, 155. See also hero; ksatriya; ksatriyahood . . warrior-ascetic, 25, 65, 117–38, 142–43, 167; as ambivalent figure, 124; as leitmotif, 123–24; as compromise, 138; king, ideal of, 29 Wayang shadow play, 3, 29–30, 162 weapons: and heroic persona, 154–155; heroic qualities of, 160; humanization of, 154–60; imagery of, 143, 154, 159; kinds of, 141; loss of, 171; science of, 266n55; as symbols, 28, 154–55; use of supernatural, 28, 33, 48, 141, 166. See also Pa´ upata ¯s

Weber, Albrecht, 14–15 Whistler, James McNeill, 30 Whitman, Cedric, 85 Williams, Gordon, 17 women: compared with rivers, 110; described by Kalidasa, 89; ¯ ¯ descriptive words for, 99, 107–108; faces of and lotus, 19, 110–12, 113; and plants, 107–10 word order, artistic dislocation of in kavya, 78 ¯ wrestling (malla-yuddha), 33; and boxing, 172–73; climax of in Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya, 174–75; examples of, 172; flying leap in, 174; foot-grasping in, 174–75; in Iliad, 172; in Mahabharata, 172, 176, ¯ ¯ 177–78

yaksa (demigod), 31, 34, 87, 90, 120, . 249n5. See also guhyakas yamaka (alliterative figure of speech), 151 yoga, components of, 118, 122, 135; rules of, 118; war as, 185 Yogasutra. See Patañjali’s ¯ Yogasutra ¯ yogi (practitioner of yoga), 9, 28, 45; ´ Siva as, 137; warrior as, 48 Yudhisthira: brothers of, 248n30; .. cerebral persona of, 28; compared with sun, 65; debate of with Bh¯ ima, 49, 50, 67–87; as hero, 39; as king, 28; lecture on naya (statecraft) by, 48, 78–79; loss of kingdom by, 30, 65; spy ordered by, 30, 50–51; tract on anger by, 248n26

Index of References to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya

(Quoted passages are in boldface)
I., 30 I.27, 52 I.27–46, 53, 191–94 I.27–28, 242n22 I.29, 54 I.30, 54–55 I.31, 55, 56 I.32, 55, 57 I.33, 54 I.34, 62 I.35, 62 I.38, 59, 60, 62 I.40, 59, 60, 61 I.41, 63 I.42, 63 I.43, 64 I.44, 61, 63, 64, 154 I.45, 63, 64 I.46, 37, 40, 64–66, 65 II.13–15, 71 II.13, 71, 80 II.14, 71, 81 II.15, 71 II.16–17, 71 II.18, 71, 83 II.18–21, 71 II.19, 80–81 II.21, 82, 83 II.22–24, 71 II.24, 83 II.25, 70 II.26, 70 II.28, 86 II.30, 80 II.31, 80 II.33, 83 II.35, 79, 81–82 II.36, 83, 84 II.37, 74, 83 II.38, 84 II.41, 79 II.42, 74, 79 II.44–53, 71 II.45, 78–79 II.48, 81 II.49, 81 II.51, 83 II.52, 79

II., 30, 40, 149 II.2–5, 67–68 II.6–7, 71 II.8, 72–73 II.9, 73, 76–77 II.10, 80 II.11, 82



Index of References to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya
VII.15, 98 VII.16, 98 VII.17, 103 VII.18, 103, 104 VII.20, 100, 101 VII.21, 101 VII.22, 96, 96 VII.24, 100 VII.25, 103 VII.30, 100–101, 101 VII.31–39, 104 VII.31, 104 VII.32, 104 VII.34, 104

III., 31 III.25, 86 III.28.10, 61 III.34–40, 58 III.40.45, 47, 49, 168 III.41–44, 45–49, 261n48 III.47, 243n40 III.48, 155 III.50, 86–87

IV., 31

V., 31, 43, 150 VIII., 31, 106–107, 149 VIII.5, 108, 109 VIII.6, 108–109, 109 VIII.7, 109, 109 VIII.14–19, 109–10 VIII.14, 109 VIII.15, 109 VIII.22–26, 110 VIII.25, 110, 110, 113 VIII.27, 110–11, 110 VIII.28, 110, 111 VIII.29, 110, 111, 113 VIII.35, 110, 111, 113 VIII.36, 110, 111, 113 VIII.42, 110, 111–12, 113 VIII.44, 110, 112, 113 VIII.47, 110, 112, 113 VIII.56, 114 VIII.57, 115

VI., 31, 117, 122 VI.10, 125 VI.13, 125 VI.14–19, 125–26 VI.19, 119 VI.20, 119 VI.22, 119, 124 VI.24–27, 119–20 VI.24, 124 VI.31–32, 120

VII., 31, 106 VII.1–40, 195–202 VII.1, 95, 96 VII.2, 97, 98–99 VII.3, 97, 99 VII.4, 95, 96 VII.5, 97, 99 VII.7, 98, 98 VII.8, 99, 99–100, 101 VII.9, 103 VII.10, 98, 99 VII.11, 95, 96–97 VII.12, 96, 96 VII.13, 100, 101 VII.14–16, 99 VII.14, 98

IX., 31

X., 31

XI., 32, 132, 149 XI.9–36, 124

Index of References to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya
XI.11cd, 127 XI.12cd, 127 XI.15, 127 XI.18, 127 XI.26cd, 128, 135 XI.28, 128 XI.31, 126 XI.37–79, 124 XI.42, 129 XI.45, 129 XI.46, 129 XI.59, 129 XI.60, 129 XI.63, 129 XI.66, 129 XI.69, 129, 130 XI.70, 129, 130 XI.76, 131 XI.79, 132 XIV.37, 159 XIV.38, 146 XIV.40, 146, 147 XIV.41, 146, 147 XIV.42, 146 XIV.48, 169 XIV.51, 160 XIV.52, 160 XIV.57, 160


XII., 32, 117, 120, 122, 139, 143 XII.1, 140 XII.2, 121 XII.4, 121 XII.7, 121 XII.10, 121 XII.11, 121 XII.15, 122 XII.27, 124 XII.28, 122 XII.35, 148 XII.39, 139, 169

XV., 32, 141, 143, 151, 149–54 XV.5, 151 XV.7, 151 XV.12, 151 XV.14, 151 XV.16, 151 XV.18, 151 XV.20, 151 XV.25, 151, 151, 152 XV.27, 151 XV.38, 151 XV.53, 169

XVI., 33, 164, 168 XVI.1–16, 164 XVI.15–18, 165–66 XVI.19–25, 168 XVI.25–62, 166 XVI.28, 157 XVI.29, 160 XVI.42, 160

XIII., 32, 140, 155–56 XIII.14, 156 XIII.15, 156 XIII.17, 144 XIII.32–34, 157–58

XIV., 32, 84, 140, 141, 143, 149 XIV.35–42, 146

XVII., 33, 142 XVII.1–64, 203–14 XVII.13–14, 170 XVII.18, 170 XVII.22, 168 XVII.25, 168 XVII.27, 160, 168 XVII.29, 157 XVII.30, 168


Index of References to the Kiratarjun¯ ¯ ¯ iya
XVIII.3, 168 XVIII.4, 166 XVIII.8, 173 XVIII.9, 173, 174 XVIII.12–14, 174 XVIII.13, 175 XVIII.14, 175, 185 XVIII.16, 175 XVIII.21–43, 175 XVIII.42–48, 218–19 XVIII.42, 176 XVIII.44, 186 XVIII.45, 186 XVIII.47, 176, 186–87 XVIII.48, 176, 186–87

XVII.33, 170–71 XVII.36–47, 158–59 XVII.37, 158 XVII.38, 158 XVII.39, 158 XVII.40, 158 XVII.41, 158 XVII.42, 158 XVII.43–46, 158–59 XVII.47, 159 XVII.48, 185 XVII.51, 168 XVII.54, 185 XVII.55, 160 XVII.64, 171

XVIII., 33, 142 XVIII.1–19, 215–18

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