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Elements Of Poetry In The Mahabharata

Elements Of Poetry In The Mahabharata
Item Code: IDE770
Author: Ram Karan Sharma
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1988
ISBN: 8120805445
Pages: 190
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.8" X 6.5"
weight of the book: 440 gms

From the Jacket:

This book represents the first attempt of its kind to present a detailed, systematic analysis of the upamana dharmas (Tertia comparationis) of the various objects of comparison found in the Mahabharata. It also critically examines the position of the Great Epic as a fascinating specimen of Oral poetic composition abounding, as it does, in the repetitions of the poetic formulae of the various categories. A study of some of the major figures of speech also provides an authoritative material useful for further research of the evolution of Tertia comparationis in the successive stages of Indian literary tradition.

"In any case…Sharma's research has led us to a pre-height from where we can see the Gauri-Shankar of the Mahabharata." - Friedrich Wilhelm

About the Author:

Dr. Ram Karan Sharma (born March 20,1927) was initiated to Vedic and Vedangic studies he worked with Prof. M.B. Emeneau in the University of California.

He is an M.A. (Sanskrit and Hindi) from Patna University, Sahityacarya, Vedanta Sastri and Navya-Vyakarana Sastri from Bihar Sanskrit Association. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Founder Director, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Vice Chancellor, K.S.D. Sanskrit University, Darbhanga and Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi, Secretary, Central Sanskrit Board, Organising Secretary, First and Fifth World Sanskrit Conferences, a participant in several world Sanskrit conferences and oriental conferences, and associated with many academic bodies of various organizations Dr. Sharma has all along been making distinct contributions to the cause of promotion of Sanskrit studies in India and abroad.

Author of six publications including creative writings in Sanskrit and about one hundred research papers/poems etc. Dr. Sharma is a recipient of the award of Certificate of Honour from the President of India (for distinguished services for promotion of Sanskrit Studies).

Preface To The First Edition

THIS WORK IS BASICALLY THE SAME as that submitted in partial satis- faction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of California in June, 1959. It owes its present shape to the esteemed guidance of my learned guru, Murray Barnson Emeneau, Professor of Sanskrit and General Linguistics of the departments of Classics and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. I cannot express in words my sense of indebtedness to his intellectual gifts in connection with the work. All that is good in it is his; the rest is mine: punas ca bhuyo 'pi namo namas te.

I must record my grateful thanks to Professors Madison S. Beeler, Joseph E. Fontenrose, John J. Gumperz, Arthur E. Hutson, S. M. Katre, V. Raghavan, and the late Professor Ferdinand D. Lessing for their kind suggestions and generous help with the work.

My visit to the University of California was made possible by a grant of leave from the University of Bihar and by financial grants from the State Department of the United States under the Fulbright and Smith- Mundt acts through the United States Educational Foundation in India and the Institute of International Education. To add to this, the Com- mittee on South Asian Languages of the Association for Asian Studies granted me a fellowship for the year 1958-59. My special obligation is due to all of them.

I wish also to offer my sincere thanks to the Editorial Committee of the University of California, which has so kindly agreed to undertake the publication of the work.


THE PRESENT STUDY IS BASED ON MATERIALS from the Mahabharata (Critical Edition, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poena), Books 1 (Adi, 1933) and 3 (Vans, 1941) edited by Vishnu Sitaram Sukthankar, and Book 6 (Bhisma, 1947), edited by Shripad Krishna Belvalkar. An attempt is made here to present a detailed account of what we may call poetic expressions of the corpus. It is not a rhetorical discussion of the soul of the poetry of the Mahabharata. It rather aims at enumerating the symbolic, alliterative, paronomastic, or repetitive linguistic features that beautify the body of the Mahabharata.

Chapter 1 deals with the similes (upama) of the corpus; the arrange- ment of the sections is based on the fields from which the objects of comparison (upamana) are collected. Chapters 2 through 8 deal with the metaphors and other figures of meaning (arthalamkaras) that are found. Chapter 9 presents some specimens of popular idioms found in the corpus, arranged again according to the fields from which they are collected. Chapter 10 is the compilation of the passages representing typical figures of sound (Sabdlalamkaras). To complete the study, chap- ter 11 analyzes passages representing the techniques of oral poetry.

AB J. Gonda informs us, Arnold Hirzel in his Gleichnisse und Meta- phern im Rgveda tried to collect as completely as possible the similes in the Rgveda; he arranged the materials "nach sachlichen Gruppen." Mrs. Rhys Davids took practically the same point of view in her "Similes in the Nikayas."! No such study seems yet to have been made of the Mahabharata. E. W. Hopkins in his The Great Epic of India merely sug- gests that "on epic similes and metaphors an interesting essay remains to be written."! Of course, he lists many examples of epic similes and metaphors (pp. 403-444);but the purpose there is to show the parallel- ism in the two epics rather than to present a study of the epic figures. Emeneau in his paper "The Sinduvsra Tree in Sanskrit Literature" suggests that the compilation of an encyclopedia of traditional Sanskrit stock-in-trade comparisons "would be an aid to the scholar who occupies himself with the interpretation of Sanskrit literature."! The present study of the Mahabharata may be said to be an attempt in that direc- tion, viz., a study of the figures in Sanskrit literature.

As Hopkins rightly points out, "the presence in the epic of rupakas, metaphors, of this or that form, no more implies acquaintance with a studied ars poetica than do such phenomena in other early epic poetry.":' What Patanjali says about language in general:

ye punah karya bhava nirvrttau tavat tesam yatnah kriyate tad yatha ghatena karyam. karisyan kumbhakarakulam gatva 'ha kuru ghatam karyam anena karis- yami 'ti/ na tadvac chabdan prayoksyamano vaiyakaranakulam gatva 'ha kuru sabdan prayoksya iti/

An effort has to be made for the accomplishment of things that are to be made; for example, one who needs a pot goes to the family of a potter and says, "Make me a pot; I will use it." But nobody who wants to use words goes to the family of gram- marians and says, "Make me words; I will use them.'

applies to the figurative language of epic poetry as well. It does not follow, however, as stated for epic grammar by Kulkarni and Yarrow, that many 'aberrant' poetic usages exist in the Mahabharata.! Any discussion of aberrancy implies a previous canonical formulation of some rigid norm. Such a canon did exist in the field of grammar, in the prescriptions of the great grammarians (munitraya). But the tradi- tion of rhetoric has been somewhat different. The definition and concept of poetry have always been changing and growing, from the time of Bharata (first century A.D.) to the time of Panditaraja Jagannatha (seventeenth century A.D.). What is still more significant from our point of view is the fact that the poetic techniques as evolving in the works of rhetoricians through the ages and those successively adopted by the poets concerned have not been synchronous. We cannot say, for example, that as Sriharsa belonged to the twelfth century when the dhvani school was at its highest peak, his poetry would be necessarily based on the principles of dhvani.

Poets have been traditionally regarded as unrestrained persons (nirankusah kavayah). Their poetry is free from the restrictions of nature (niyatikrtaniyamarahitam, Kavy. Pr 1.1). As a seed is to the growth of a creeper, the earth and irrigation being just accessories, so is the poetic intuition (imagination) to the growth of poetry; study and practice are accessories thereof (pratibhai 'va srutabhyasasahita kavi- tarp prati/hetur mrdambusambaddhabijamala latam iva, Candraloka 1.6). The poetic defect arising from a poet's lack of learning can be hidden by the excellence of his poetic intuition; but failure in imagina- tion is too apparent to be hidden (avyutpattikrto dosah Saktya samvri- yate kaveh/yas tv asaktikrtas tasya jhag ity eva 'vabhasate, Locana on Dhvanyaloka 3.6).

In every community, poetry appears first. Rhetoric may follow. If a community's language of poetry is rhythmical, allegorical, or alliter- ative, it is not because of a rhetorician's prescription. By nature, a com- munity's emotional language of lamentation, honor, anger, wonder, etc., is what we call poetic in the real sense of the term. We can always hear, for example, the so-called elements of alliteration, repetition, introduc- tion, refrain, rhythm, rhyme, and allegory, even in the language of lamentation of an illiterate village woman. Thus Visvanatha's definition of poetry (vakyam rasatmakam kavyam SD 1.3, poetry is a language of emotion) seems to be a universally recognized fact.

The result of the above discussion may be summarized thus: Firstly, if the language of the Mahabharata is poetic, it does not follow that there is some influence of the science of rhetoric in it. Secondly, even if we do not get evidence of a well-developed science of rhetoric prior to the composition of the Mahabharata, we should not deny the poetry of the Mahabharata the place it deserves, in the light of what has been said about its poetical virtues by later rhetoricians, poets, critics, or other writers.

Raghavan? presents the views of Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta, Ksemendra, and the author of the Bhagavata that the Mahabharata is essentially and primarily a work (prabandhakavya) of the sentiment of tranquillity (santa rasa). As these critics have shown, all the struggles of the Pandavas, their wars, victories, and sufferings, lead to one central theme, that peace, quietude, and tranquillity are the summa bona of human life.



Introduction 1
1. Smile (Upama) 15
  I. The Gods (Deva)
1. The gods in general. 2. Indra. 3. Siva. 4. Visnu. 5. Brahma 6. The Asvins. 7. Savitr. 8. Mitravaruna. 9. Kubera. 10. Kartikeya. 11. Kama. 12. Yama.
  II. The Goddesses (Devi)
1. Aditi. 2. Uma. 3. Sri. 4. Rati. 5. Kimnari and Apsaras.
  III. Sacrificial Objects (Yajna) 29
  IV. Fire (Agni) 30
  V. Sun (Surya) 33
  VI. Moon (Candra) 36
  VII. Planets (Graha)
1. Planets in general. 2. Specific planets, (a) Mars and Mercury (Mangala-Budha), (b) Venus (Sukra), (c) Venus and Mars (Sukra-Mangala), (d) Mercury and Venus (Budha-Sukra), (e) Saturn (Sanaiscara), (f) Mercury and Saturn (Budha-Sanaiscara).
  VIII. Comet (Dhumaketu) 42
  IX. Constellation and Stars (Naksatra, tara) 42
  X. The Earth (Prthivi) 43
  XI. Sky (Akasa) 43
  XII. Cloud (Megha) 44
  XIII. Lightning (Vidyut) 47
  XIV. The Wind (Vayu) 48
  XV. Ocean (Samudra) 51
  XVI. Lake (Saras) 53
  XVII. River (Nadi) 54
  XVIII. Well, Water (Udapana, Jala) 54
  XIX. Mountain (Parvata) 55
  XX. Cattle: Cow, Bull, Ox (Go) 58
  XXI. Horses (Asva) 62
  XXII. Elephant (Gaja) 62
  XXIII. Lion (Simha) 64
  XXIV. Tiger (Vyaghra) 66
  XXV Snake (Sarpa) 66
  XXVI. Other Animals
1. Monkey (Vanara). 2. Camel (Ustra). 3. Domestic animals (Pasu). 4. Wolf (Vrka). 5. Boar (Sukara). 6. Jackal (Krostuka). 7. Dear (Mrga). 8. Dog (Sva). 9. Porcupine (Salyaka). 10. Rabbit (Sasa). 11. Frog (Manduka). 12. Mouse (Indura).13. Tortoise (Kurma). 14. Conchshells (Sankha).15. Female crab (Karkataki).
  XXVII. Birds (Paksin)
1. Birds in general. 2. Garuda. 3. Swan (Hamsa). 4.Osprey (Kurari). 5. Peacock (Mayura). 6. Cuckoo (Pumskokila). 7. Eagle (Syena). 8. Curlew (Kraunca). 9. Crane (Baka). 10. Cakravaka. 11. Crow (Kaka). 12. Partridge (Tittiri).
  XXVIII. Insects
1. Moth (Salabha). 2. Bee (Bhramara).
  XXIX. Forest (Vana) 76
  XXX. Trees and Plants
1. The tree in general. 2. Butea frondosa (Kimsuka). 3. Palmyra palm (Tala). 4.Sal tree, Shorea robusta (Sala). 5. Bamboo (Vamsa). 6. Asoka tree. 7. Plantain tree (Kadali). 8. Mango (Cuta). 9. Silk-cotton tree (Salmali). 10. Pipal tree, Ficus religiosa (Asvattha). 11. Reed, Amphidomax karka (Nala). 12. Creeper (Lata). 13. soma and Putika. 14. Flowers (Puspa). 15. Fruit (Phala). 16. Sesamum indicum (Tila). 17. Black gram (Masa). 18. Rice (Sali). 19. Turmeric (Haridra). 20. Cotton (Tula). 21. A tuft of reeds (Saratula). 22. Plants as elucidative of philosophical or ethical ideas.
  XXXI. Lotus (Kamala)
1. Day-blooming lotus. 2. Night-blooming Lotus (Kumuda)
  XXXII. Metal
1. Gold (Svarna). 2. Silver (Rajata). 3. Copper (Tamra).
  XXXIII. Jewel (Ratna)
1. Cat's eye (Vaidurya). 2. Crystal (sphatika). 3. Pearl (Mani). 4. Gem (Ratna).
  XXXIV. Relatives (Sambandhin)
1. Father (Pitr). 2. Mother (Matr). 3. Teacher (Guru)
  XXXV. Sages (Rsi)
1. Brhaspati. 2. Valmiki. 3. Vasistha. 4. Kapila. 5. Dadhica. 6. Angiras. 7. Bhrgu.8. Atri. 9. Agastya. 10. Aurva. 11. Trita. 12. Kaksivat.
  XXXVI. Kings (Rajan)
1. Yayati. 2. Pururavas. 3. Puru. 4. Sibi. 5. Manu. 6. Iksvaku. 7. Bhagiratha. 8. Rantideva. 9. Mandhatr. 10. Prthu. 11. Dambhodbhava. 12. Khatvanga. 13. Nabhaga. 14. Dilipa. 15. Sahasrarjuna. 16. Rama. 17. Krsna. 18. Rajuna. 19. Bhisma. 20. Ajamidha. 21. Sasabindu. 22. Gaya. 23. Nrga.
  XXXVII. Other Personal Names
1. Parasurama. 2. Hanumat. 3. Valin and Sugriva. 4. Personal names as standards of conjugal love. 5. Savitri.
  XXXVIII. Various Phases of Human Life
1. Witness (Saksin). 2. Ordinary, common folk (Prakrta). 3. Helpless or unprotected person (Anatha). 4. Intoxicated person (Matta). 5. A diseased person (Vyadhiklista). 6. Dumb person (Jadamuka). 7. Lame persons, persons with crippled arm (Kuni Pangu). 8. A disordered, frantic person (Unmatta).9. One insane owing to demoniac seizure (Avista). 10. Eunuch (Kliba). 11. The virtuous (Sukrtin). 12. The enemy (Amitra). 13. An unchaste woman (Pumscali). 14. Impure person (Asuci). 15. A wicked person (Nrsamsa). 16. A distressed person (Arta). 17. A coward (Kapurusa).18. Hungry persons. 19. Persons afflicted with heat. 20. Base men (Nica). 21. Spectators. 22. Neutral (Udasina). 23. Caste (Varna). 24. Age (Vayas). 25. A corpse. 26. Falsehood (Anrta). 27. Phases of human life as elucidative of philosophical or ethical ideas.
  XXXIX. Philosophical Terms
1. Soul (Atman). 2. Indifference to things of the world (Vairagya).3. Virtue (Dharma). 4. The Vedas (Veda). 5. Elements of speech. 6. Five elements (Panca-mahabhuta). 7. Sense organs (Indriya).8. Mind (Manas). 9. Life (Prana). 10. Body (Deha).
  XL. Material Culture.
1. Cart (Sakata) and its parts. 2. Ship (nau) or raft (Plava). 3. Swing (Dola). 4. Iron (Loha). 5. Saw (Krakaca). 6. Weapons (Sastra) and machine (Yantra). 7. Wood (Kastha). 8. Mirror (Adarsa). 9. Clothers (Vastra). 10. Painting (Citra). 11. Garland (Mala). 12. Ornaments (Alamkara). 13. Mark on the forehead (Tilaka). 14. Kettledrum (Dunbudhi). 15. A leather bag (Drti). 16. Leather (Carman). 17. Needle (Suci). 18. Pot (Ghata). 19. Banner (Dhvaja). 20. Puppet (Darumayi yosa). 21. Medicine (Ausadha). 22. Pillow (Upadhana). 23. Trap (Vagura).
  XLI. Supernatural Appearances
1. Golden trees. 2. An imaginary town in the sky (Gandharvanagara). 3. Celestial car (Vimana).
  XLII. Miscellaneous
1. Nector (Amrta). 2. Poison (Visa). 3.Seasons (Rtu). 4. Spring (Vasanta). 5. food (Ahara). 6. Perfume (Gandha).7. A post (Sthanu). 8. Shadow (Chaya).9. Pilgrimage centers (Tirtha). 10. fog (Nihara). 11. Anthil (Valmika). 12. Snow (Hima). 13. Success (Siddhi)
  XLIII. Malopama 123
2. Metaphor (Rupaka) 126
  I. Complex Metaphor
1. Tree. 2. Butter and Razor. 3. Boat on a river. 4. River. 5. Ocean. 6. Fire. 7. Cloud. 8. Gambling. 9. Palace. 10. Gateway of heaven. 11. The City of Nine Gates. 12. Chariot. 13. Ornament. 14. Lamp. 15. Lotus. 16. Lake. 17. Lion. 18. The Old Sage.
  II. Simple Metaphor 131
3. Poetic Fancy (Utpreksa) 133
  I. Utpreksa of Verbs 133
  II. Utpreksa of Nouns and Adjectives 135
4. Hyperbole (Atisayokti) 137
  I. Understatement of the Qualities of objects of Comparison 137
  II. Presenting Something Unreal or Incongruous 138
  III. Fanciful Overstatement with Api (Even) 138
5. Inference from Circumstances (Arthapatti) 139
6. Antithesis (Virodha) 140
  I. General 140
  II. Ambiguious Antithesis 142
7. Exclusion by Specification (Parisamkhya) 143
8. Miscellaneous Figures 144
  I. Excellence (Vyatireka) 144
  II. Converse (Pratipa) 144
  III. Poetical Doubt (Samdeha) 144
  IV. Mistaker (Bhrantiman) 145
  V. Equal Pairing (Tulyayogita) 145
  VI. Accompaniment (Sahokti) 145
  VII. Poetical Reason (Kavyalinga) 145
  VIII. Description of Nature (Svabhavokti) 146
  IX. Incongruity (Visama) 147
  X. Modal Metaphor (Samasokti) 147
9. Idioms 148

A. Idioms in General

  I. Human Body
1. Feet. 2. Hands. 3. Lips and teeth. 4. Eyes.5. Corners of the mouth.6. Back.7. Marrow of the bones
  II. Animal World
1. Lion. 2. Tiger. 3. Elephant. 4. Snake. 5. Crow and Jackal. 6. White crow.
  III. Miscellaneous
1. Sesamum seeds (Tila). 2. Grass (Trna). 3. Root. 4. Thorns. 5. Sacrificial objects. 6. Fire and Javelin. 7. Mountain and mustard. 8. Mud. 9. Hook. 10. River. 11. Needle. 12. Mirror. 13. Poison. 14. Pot.; 15. Knot. 16. Wilderness. 17. Scraping with a sharp object.
  B. Idioms in Verbal Phrases  
  I. General 157
  II. Periphrases Expressive of Death 157
  III. Expressions for Goodbye 158
10. Figures of Sound (Sabdalamkara) 159
  I. Repetition of Consonants (Anuprasa)
1. Repetition of a consonant more than once. 2. Repetition of more than one consonant once. 3. Repetition of more than one consonant more than once. 4. Repetition of words and meanings differing only in relation to their immediate constituents (Latanuprasa). 5. Rhyme (Antynuprasa).
  II. Chime (Yamaka) 162
  III. Paronomasia (Slesa) 163
  IV. Indirect Mode of Expression (Vakrokti)
1. Linkage or concatenation. 2. Repetition of similar or identical words within verses. 3. Chiasmus.
11. Techniques of Oral Poetry 167
12. Index 177

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