Category Archives: Ancient Literature

Panchatantra in art : some depictions

           Panchatantra literally means five treatises. It is an ancient collection of animal fables. The animals have human virtues and vices. The original text is believed to be in Sanskrit prose and verse.  It has been dated to 300 B.C  and attributed to Vishnusharma, an octagenarian Brahmin who is mentioned in the prelude of the text of many translations that are available. Some sources mention Vasubhaga as the creator of the inter-related animal fables. The illustrations depicted below show some fables from the sub books of the Panchatantra.

Panchatantra manuscript, The Birds Try to Beat Down the Ocean, watercolor on paper, Rajasthan, India, 18th century. 

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) – Philadelphia Museum of Arts: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=panchatantra, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61455723

        The Panchatantra has been widely translated into as many as 50 languages across the world. Most European versions of the text are derivative works of the 12th-century Hebrew version of Panchatantra by Rabbi Joel. In 550 A.D it was translated into Pahlavi by Burzoa. In 750 A.D an Arabic translation Kalila wa Dimnah was done by Abdullah Ibn-al-Muqaffa. In the 12th century a Persian translation by Rudaki was titled  Kalileh-o-Damneh. In the 15th century Anwar-i-suhayli in Persian by Kashefi was done which was known as The fables of Bidpai in European languages. It was translated into English by Arthur Ryder in 1925.

18th century Panchatantra manuscript page, The Elephants Trample the Hares picture.jpg

Panchatantra manuscript, The elephants trample the hares, watercolour,18th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) – Philadelphia Museum of Arts: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=panchatantra, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61455729

     The Panchatantra is for the learning of niti or appropriate moral conduct by three ignorant princes. The Panchatantra consists of five parts, each having a main story. Each story contains sub-stories. The titles of the sub-books are Mitrabheda, Mitralabha, Kakolukiyam, Labdhapranasam and Apariksitakaram.

Mitrabheda is the story of Damanaka who is an unemployed minister in a lion’s kingdom. Along with Karataka he conspires and breaks up aalaiances of the king. The book has over 30 fables.  Mitralabha is a collection of the adventures of a crow, a mouse, a turtle and a deer. This book focuses on the importance of friendship and alliances. It has ten fables.

8th century Panchatantra reliefs at Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal Hindu monuments Karnataka.jpg

Panchatantra reliefs, Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka, 8th century.

By Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     Kakolukiyam is  a treatise which focuses on war and peace. It points out that a battle of wits is more powerful than a battle of swords. it has 18 fables. Labdhapranasam is a compilation of ancient fables full of moral teachings. It is a guide on what not to do. It has 13 fables in the translation by Arthur Ryder.  Apariksitakaram  is acollection of moral filled fables. The characters are human beings. It has 12 fables in the translation into English by Arthur  Ryder. The stories are titled The loss of friends, The lion and the carpenter, The unteachable monkey, The monkey and the crocodile among many others in the five sub books.

8th century Panchatantra legends panels at Virupaksha Shaivism temple, Pattadakal Hindu monuments Karnataka 2.jpg

Panchatantra panel, Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka, 8th century .

By Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 ‘Panchatantra’ relief ,Mendut temple, Central Java, Indonesia.

By Original uploader was BesselDekker at nl.wikipedia – Transferred from nl.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Shreevatsa using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5836212

A page from the 18th-century Panchatantra manuscript, Rajasthan India.jpg

Panchatantra manuscript, Rajasthan,18th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

References:

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

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Nayikas in art : some glimpses from miniatures

 

          The Nayika occupies a very important place in Indian art and literature. She is seen in different moods. A translation of the word nayika is heroine. The depictions in art have captured her description in different hues and settings. The Kangra nayika is fluid in movement surrounded by nature. The elements of nature are captured in strong colours. The nayika could also be forlorn, sitting in a forest with the background in slightly softer shades. There is a  nayika in every woman. Bharata first captured the various nayikas , eight in number or the ashta nayika in his Natyashastra. Human feelings of eagerness, anger,separation, dejection etc. are all expressed through these paintings. The Nayika goes through different moods in her lifetime as per the situation prevailing then. Various poets and authors have described the feelings through their works in literature. Kalidasa has captured the anguish of separation of his nayika Shakuntala in his work Abhijnanashakuntalam in Sanskrit.  

     A nayika”s beauty is very much a part of the shringara rasa which includes the amorous , the erotic, the decorative, song and dance. The heroine forms the  central character in many works of Indian literature. Through the work one can experience her different moods and emotions, her challenges, her failures and her victories. The description of her beauty and character also make interesting reading and understanding of the social environment of a given era. A nayika brings out the best in a poet or dramatist, by lending her presence by illusory, historical or real presence.

Proshita-patika nayika, painting, early 19th century.

By Unknown – http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/labs/splitsecond/painting.php?id=15, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17106519

       Bharatmuni composed the Sanskrit treatise Natyashastra ( between 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, with others adding to the main work) on dance and the performing arts,  in which he has classified eight types of nayikas  called ashtanayikas. This theme has been well used in painting, sculpture, dance  and drama. Bharatamuni has focussed on the nayikas as she can appear in a given drama again depending on the plot. He has envisaged women as the root cause of happiness.

 

Swadhinabhartruka nayika, Kalighat painting, 19th/20th century.

By The original uploader was ENVI1 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Redtigerxyz using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11806481

  The Natyasastra  describes eight types of nayikas. Though the term can encompass many types of nayikas in many facets and contexts, the various states of the nayika in love are depicted in drama. Bharatmuni has described many kinds of nayikas depending on other factors like social status, nature and also on how she is treated by the king as being part of the royal harem during ancient times. The different nayikas are the    Vasakashajja,Virohotkanthita,Svadhina-bhartruka,Kalahanatarita,Khandita, Vipralabdha, Proshitabhartruka and Abhisarika.

    Vasakashajja means one who is dressed up for union. She  is depicted below in a painting readying her shajja or bed with flowers. She is full of longing and is in a state of waiting for her lover.

Vaskashajja nayika, painting,late 17th century.

By Unknown – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, X623.2_IMLS_SL2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10966883

      One who is distressed by separation is virohikanthita or  Utka,  a nayika who is pining for her lover who has failed to meet her or come home due to preoccupation. She is utterly disappointed.

File:Utka Nayika. A lady awaits her lover in the forest. 1775-1780. Kangra, British Museum, London.jpg

Utka nayika, painting.Kangra,late 18th century.

By Anonymous (British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    A nayika is a svadhinabhatruka if she is one who is having her husband in subjugation. She controls her husband who is subjugated because of her intense love for him. He listens to her, applies mahawar on her feet, vermillion on her forehead. Radha has been portrayed as such in Geeta Govinda. Such a nayika  is  happy, proud and feels fortunate.

     Kalahanatarita is a nayika who is separated or angry with her lover due to quarrel. Sometimes she is separated due to her arrogance. In this state her lover is usually shown pleading with her, or leaving her house dejected. She might also be shown refusing his advances. She may also be depicted refusing a wine-cup that he is offering to her. The nayika is however repentant without him.

   Khandita is a nayika who is enraged with her lover because he has not come to her and probably spent his time with another woman and she is angry with him. In this state she is depicted as offended and rebuking her lover.

Vipralabhda is a nayika  who is a deceived heroine is a vipralabdha, one who has waited for her lover, she is usually depicted throwing away her jewellery and adornments. She is disappointed and her heart is full of discontent.

    Proshita-bhartruka is a nayika  who has a travelling husband and who does not come back on the scheduled day. She is depicted seated alone or surrounded by her maids and refusing to be consoled. She does not bother to dress up or apply any make-up or comb her hair.

    Abhisarika is the nayika who moves, setting aside her modesty to meet her lover secretly. She is shown facing dangers on her way like snakes and animals in the forest, thunder-storms etc. She is shown depicted as starting from the door of her house, in a hurry to reach her destination. She is drunk with the emotion that she feels and just wants to meet her lover who is waiting for her.

Abhisarika nayika,painting, Garhwal, 18th century.

By Mola Ram (MFA [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Vipralabdha Nayika. Jaipur, ca. 1800, British Museum, London.jpg

Vipralabdha nayika.,painting, Jaipur, 1800, British Museum, London.

By Anonymous (British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Nayika bheda in Kathak/Jyotishi, Chetana,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,2009.
  • shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in

 

 

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

 

© author

 

Ritusamhara : a garland of seasons

          An epic poem by the celebrated poet of ancient India, Kalidasa from the Gupta era about the six seasons of India. A vivid, sensual and with frankly  erotic undertones, it is a work abounding with the shringara rasa.  This rasa is believed to be the source of all the other rasas; totally nine in number. The shringara rasa includes the feelings of erotic love,song, dance and decoration. Ritu means seasons and samhara means a group or compilation. A better translation of Ritusamhara would be a medley of seasons or a garland of seasonsRitusamhara has been translated into English, Tamil, Marathi etc.

    An early work of Kalidasa; though sometimes its authorship has been challenged. The six seasons portrayed are the grishsma, summer, the varsha or rains, sharat or autumn, hemanta or early winter, shishira or winter and vasanta the spring season. The poet has set lovers ,animals and the separated against the backdrop of nature in different seasons. The sensuality of the work is very raw; the moods captured by the poet in a primal form. Every canto ends with a blessing or benediction !

File:Henri Biva, Looking out onto a lake on a summer day, oil on canvas, 73 x 60.3 cm.jpg

Summer,landscape painting.

By Henri Biva (Christie’s London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The poet describes the summer season or grishma first. The description is vivid with references to the searing heat and its effect on human beings and animals. The animals are thirsty, the men lacking in longing for their beloved and the separated looking up to the sky. The women are trying to rekindle passion in their lovers by various means.

   ससीकराम्भोधरमत्तकुञ्जरस्तडित्पताकोऽशनिशब्दमर्दलः ।
समागतो राजवदुद्धतद्युतिर्घनागमः कामिजनप्रियः प्रिये ।। २.१ ।।

नितान्तनीलोत्पलपत्त्रकान्तिभिः क्वचित्प्रभिन्नाञ्जनराशिसंनिभैः ।
क्वचित्सगर्भप्रमदास्तनप्रभैः समाचितं व्य्ॐअ घनैः समन्ततः ।। २.२ ।।

तृषाकुलैश्चातकपक्षिणां कुलैः प्रयाचितास्तोयभरावलम्बिनः ।
प्रयान्ति मन्दं बहुधारवर्षिणो बलाहकाः श्रोत्रमनोहरस्वनाः ।। २.३ ।।

बलाहकाश्चाशनिशब्दमर्दलाः सुरेन्द्रचापं दधतस्तडिद्गुणं ।
सुतीक्ष्णधारापतनोग्रसायकैस्तुदन्ति चेतः प्रसभं प्रवासिनां ।। २.४ ।।

प्रभिन्नवैडूर्यनिभैस्तृणाङ्कुरैः समाचिता प्रोत्थितकन्दलीदलैः ।
विभाति शुक्लेतररत्नभूषिता वराङ्गनेव क्षितिरिन्द्रगोपकैः ।। २.५ ।।

The rains or the Varsha ritu is depicted full of energy. The earth has come to life with thunder and lightning and rivers full of water speeding towards the oceans. Forests are green and verdant. Women hurry to meet their lovers bedecked with flowers and perfume. The separated lovers gaze at the clouds with dismay and longing.

सुवासितं हर्म्यतलं मनोहरं प्रियामुखोच्छ्वासविकम्पितं मधु ।
सुतन्त्रिगीतं मदनस्य दीपनं शुचौ निशीथेऽनुभवन्ति कामिनः ।। १.३ ।।

नितम्बबिम्बैः सदुकूलमेखलैः स्तनैः सहाराभरणैः सचन्दनैः ।
शिरोरुहैः स्नानकषायवासितैः स्त्रियो निदाघं शमयन्ति कामिनां ।। १.४ ।।

नितान्तलाक्षारसरागरञ्जितैर्नितम्बिनीनां चरणैः सनूपुरैः ।
पदे पदे हंसरुतानुकारिभिर्जनस्य चित्तं क्रियते समन्मथं ।। १.५ ।।

पयोधराश्चन्दनपङ्कचर्चितास्तुषारगौरार्पितहारशेखराः ।
नितम्बदेशाश्च सहेममेखलाः प्रकुर्वते कस्य मनो न सोत्सुकं ।। १.६

File:The Eager Heroine on Her Way to Meet Her Lover out of Love (Kama Abhisarika Nayika) LACMA M.71.49.6.jpg

Eager maiden in the rain, abhisarika nayika,painting,18th century, Nurpur, Himachal Pradesh,LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Trees Being Poured by Rain

Rain,image.

http://www.pexels.com

Painting by Sobha Singh,20th century.

By India4art – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28320346

Sharat ritu or autumn has arrived and the rivers have slowed down. The sky has few clouds and the moons glows clearly. Cool breezes blow and the beautiful maidens watch the scene in delight. They wear jasmine in their hair.

व्योम क्वचिद्रजतशङ्खमृणालगौरैस्त्यक्ताम्बुभिर्लघुतया शतशः प्रयातैः ।
संलक्ष्यते पवनवेगचलैः पयोदै राजेव चामरशतैरुपवीज्यमानः ।। ३.४ ।।

भिन्नाञ्जनप्रचयकान्ति नभो मनोज्ञं बन्धूकपुष्परजसारुणिता च भूमिः ।
वप्राश्च पक्वकलमावृतभूमिभागाः प्रोत्कण्ठयन्ति न मनो भुवि कस्य यूनः ।। ३.५ ।।

मन्दानिलाकुलितचारुतराग्रशाखः पुष्पोद्गमप्रचयक्ॐअलपल्लवाग्रः ।
मत्तद्विरेफपरिपीतमधुप्रसेकश्चित्तं विदारयति कस्य न कोविदारः ।। ३.६ ।।

तारागणप्रवरभूषणमुद्वहन्ती मेघावरोधपरिमुक्तशशाङ्कवक्त्रा ।
ज्योत्स्नादुकूलममलं रजनी दधाना वृद्धिं प्रयात्यनुदिनं प्रमदेव बाला ।। ३.७ ।।

कारण्डवाननविघट्टितवीचिमालाः कादम्बसारसकुलाकुलतीरदेशाः ।
कुर्वन्ति हंसविरुतैः परितो जनस्य प्रीतिं सरोरुहरजोऽरुणितास्तटिन्यः ।। ३.८ ।।

 

Maple Tree and Body of Water Photo

Autumn, image.

Source ; pexels.com

        Hemanta or early winter comes and the rice is harvested. Women don’t find lotuses; they use sandalwood paste on their bodies and use fragrant waters in their hair. They come together with their lovers at night. Women show signs of the night’s passion in the morning with tousled hair and sleeping till the sun rises spreading its warmth.

    Shishira is winter and it is very cold. People decide to stay indoors. Harvested rice lies on the floor. Snow fall also happens in some places. Lovers drink wine and after a night of lovemaking women emerge like goddesses; says the poet. their hair is freshly washed and after decorating their faces they begin the day.

पाकं व्रजन्ती हिमजातशीतैराधूयमाना सततं मरुद्भिः ।
प्रिये प्रियङ्गुः प्रियविप्रयुक्ता विपाण्डुतां याति विलासिनीव ।। ४.११ ।।

पुष्पासवामोदसुगन्धिवक्त्रो निःश्वासवातैः सुरभीकृताङ्गः ।
परस्पराङ्गव्यतिषङ्गशायी शेते जनः कामरसानुविद्धः ।। ४.१२ ।।

दन्तच्छदैः सव्रणदन्तचिह्नैः स्तनैश्च पाण्यग्रकृताभिलेखैः ।
संसूच्यते निर्दयमङ्गनानां रतोपभोगो नवयौवनानां ।। ४.१३ ।।

काचिद्विभूषयति दर्पणसक्तहस्ता बालातपेषु वनिता वदनारविन्दं ।
दन्तच्छदं प्रियतमेन निपीतसारं दन्ताग्रभिन्नं अवकृष्य निरीक्षते च ।। ४.१४ ।।

File:Adolf Kaufmann - Sonnenuntergang in Winterlandschaft.jpg

Winter, painting.

Adolf Kaufmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

      Spring or Vasanta ritu has been personified as a ”he” by the poet. ‘He’ touches and transforms everything. Nature.Humans. Ponds are full of water.Lotuses bloom. Trees are flowering. Women wear bright clothes,flowers,pearlstrings, bangles and anklets. Bees are humming. the soud of the koel (cuckoo bird) is very appealing. Lovers are busy with each other, as described by the poet.

सुगन्धिनिःश्वासविकम्पितोत्पलं मनोहरं कामरतिप्रबोधकं ।
निशासु हृष्टा सह कामिभिः स्त्रियः पिबन्ति मद्यं मदनीयमुत्तमं ।। ५.१० ।।

अपगतमदरागा योषिदेका प्रभाते कृतनिबिडकुचाग्रा पत्युरालिङ्गनेन ।
प्रियतमपरिभुक्तं वीक्षमाणा स्वदेहं व्रजति शयनवासाद्वासमन्यं हसन्ती ।। ५.११ ।।

अगुरुसुरभिधूपामोदितं केशपाशं गलितकुसुममालं कुञ्चिताग्रं वहन्ती ।
त्यजति गुरुनितम्बा निम्ननाभिः सुमध्या उषसि शयनमन्या कामिनी चारुशोभां ।। ५.१२ ।।

कनककमलकान्तैश्चारुताम्राधरोष्ठैः श्रवणतटनिषक्तैः पाटलोपान्तनेत्रैः ।
उषसि वदनबिम्बैरंससंसक्तकेशैः श्रिय इव गृहमध्ये संस्थिता योषितोऽद्य ।। ५.१३ ।।

प्रफुल्लचूताङ्कुरतीक्ष्णसायको द्विरेफमालाविलसद्धनुर्गुणः ।
मनांसि भेत्तुं सुरतप्रसङ्गिनां वसन्तयोद्धा समुपागतः प्रिये ।। ६.१ ।।

द्रुमाः सपुष्पाः सलिलं सपद्मं स्त्रियः सकामाः पवनः सुगन्धिः ।
सुखाः प्रदोषा दिवसाश्च रम्याः सर्वं प्रिये चारुतरं वसन्ते ।। ६.२ ।।

ईषत्तुषारैः कृतशीतहर्म्यः सुवासितं चारुशिरश्च चम्पकैः ।
कुर्वन्ति नार्योऽपि वसन्तकाले स्तनं सहारं कुसुमैर्मनोहरैः ।। ६.३ ।।

वापीजलानां मणिमेखलानां शशाङ्कभासां प्रमदाजनानां ।
चूतद्रुमाणां कुसुमान्वितानां ददाति सौभाग्यमयं वसन्तः ।। ६.४ ।।

 

File:Vasant Ragini, Ragamala, Rajput, 1770.jpg

Vasant ragini,Ragamala, Rajput, Kota, Rajasthan. 1770.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mural,Ajanta caves,Maharashtra.

By Indischer Maler des 6. Jahrhunderts – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153070

File:First night.png

Mithila painting.

By Mithiart.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Source of Sanskrit text : sa.wikisource.org

 

 

References :

  • Kalidasa;Ritusamhara (The garland of seasons/Rajendra Tandon,tr. New Delhi :Rupa and Co, 2008.
  • indianetzone.com

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

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