Posts tagged ‘rAma setu’

December 31, 2008

sarajA shivAjI rAma hI ko avatAru hai [shivarAja-bhUShaNa 166]

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

…and rAma setu also finds mention in the annals from the pen of the favourite poet of cHatrapati shivAjI.

In this clever kavitta, with a marvelous turn of phrases, our king of poets bhUShaNa churns out a dual-meaning (shleSha) poem.  On one hand, he offers a description of rAmachandra, and on the other that of shivAjI’s, and in the last line equates the two.  Here is the kavitta in manaharaNa meter variety:

सी-ता संग सोभित सुलच्छ्न सहाय जाके
…भू पर भरत नाम भाई नीति चारु है
भूषन भनत कुल-सूर कुल-भूषन हैं
…दासरथी सब दास जाके भुज भुव भारु है
अरि-लँक तोर जोर जाके संग बन्दर हैं
…सिन्धु रहैं बान्धे जाके दल को न पारु है
तेगहि कै भेंटै जौन राकस मरद जानै
…सरजा सिवाजी राम ही को अवतारु हैं !!

The two different meanings are in the subsequent lines in different colours:

Whose presence is ever embellished by Sita by His side and graced by lakShamaNa to His assistance
Whose side shrI never leaves, and who is always assisted by the generals of good lakShaNa
Whose brother named bharata is always eager to spreads benevolence on earth in his name
Whose name this earth takes with affection as a “bhartA”, the nourisher
Says bhUShaNa, He Who is the real crown-jewel of all sUrya-kula
Says bhUShaNa, He Who is the real crown-jewel of all shUra-s (braves)
That son of dasharatha, whose arms are supporting the weight of entire earth
In whose service are valorous rathI-s (Lieutenants) to support the weight of the kingdom
To fame of whose might is destruction of laMkA in collaboraton with vAnara-s
Who breaks the very back of the enemy, such are whose mighty arrows
Who even constructed a bridge over ocean, whose army has no count
At doors of whose forts are always dwelling elephants, whose army has no count
Who knows how to slay rAkShasa-s when encountered
The Very embodiment of manliness who meets his enemies only with his sword
That shivAjI, the Lionheart, says bhUShaNa, is none other than another incarnation of rAmachandra!

Do notice the turn of words… “sindhu rahain bAndhe” means ‘constructed setubandha’ and since sindura also means elephant, the phrase becomes “sindhura hain bAndhe”, ‘Elephants are tied’ too!  Likewise, “marada” while means ‘slaying’ in one sense, but also ‘Manliness’ in the second…

It is not without a reason that bhUShaNa has always left us mesmerized!

October 30, 2008

A portion from madhurAvijaya

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

duritaikaparam tuluShkanAtham drutamutkhAya jagat-trayaika-shalyam|
pratiropaya rAmasetu madhye vijaya-stambha-shatAni bAhushAlin||

O mighty and brave king! Go forth then, and without further delay uproot from my lands this Kingdom of turuShka-s, pain to the three worlds. Go forth my dear Lord, and securing your victory, establish One Hundred Victory Pillars in middle of the famed rAma-setu!

In February 1918, Professor D R Bhandarkar thus remarked in a lecture to the students of Calcutta University: “South India has recently become a land of discoveries. Not many years ago the students of ancient Indian poetics were taken by surprise by the discovery of Bhamaha’s work on Alamkara in Trivandrum. The dramas of Bhasa…for a long time remained hidden from modern eyes until…discovered seven years ago at the same place, viz. Trivandrum. Such was also the case with the Arthasastra of Kautilya, the work looked upon as entirely lost…” [1]

The first decade of the last century was indeed remarkable for re-discoveries of the lost manuscripts of several invaluable saMskR^ita works from the hidden chests of Kerala’s monasteries and private libraries. Among those delightful finds was this poetic yet historic chronicle of early vijayanagara period called madhurA-vijaya or kampArAya-charitam penned none other than by ga~NgAdevI the spouse of prince kampanarAya the son of bukkarAya, the co-founder of that empire. Discovery of this work in first decade of 1900s by Pandit N Ramasvami Sastriar from a traditional library of Trivandrum on a moth-eaten palm-leaf manuscript, sandwiched in a single binding between two unrelated works, remained an overlooked affair – thanks mainly to the luster of the other brilliant simultaneous finds of the category noted by Prof. Bhandarkar.

In later years however, and especially even after the publication of its contents by G Harihara Sastri and V Srinivasa Sastri, madhurA-vijaya remained and till date remains, contemptuously ignored by most of the secularist and marxist historians. And, for a good reason. This work not only falls outside their historiographic template that projects medieval Indian History as a perpetual victory march of Islam over defeatist Hindus, but also comes as a jarring note in their negationist orchestra of whitewashing the record of Islam in India.

We came to look into this source a very important reference it makes to rAma setu, thanks for pointing which go to our friend Shri Harish Duggirala. However, we feel compelled to provide in this note, a literal translation of one portion from this chronicle, where the queen-poetess records an event that triggers the campaign of her husband prince kampana against the Sultan of Madurai, finally resulting in the sealed fate of spread of Islam in south India.

Historical Background

The context of madhurA-vijaya is this. First wave of Jihad into South led by Malik Kafur the eunuch general of Ala-ad-deen Khilji, left dakShiNApatha stunned and in a state of shock by the unforeseen and unprecedented destruction and barbarity. While south was yet to recover from the resulting disarray, within a few years turuShka-s mounted a second wave of Jihad now under Khusaroo Khan, and yet once more after a brief period under Ulugh Khan aka Muhammad bin Tughlaq. The invading marauders left behind a local turuShka government in Madurai which later became a sultanate beginning with Jalal-ud-din Ehsan Shah and passed on to a series of hands, each proving oneself of a greater zeal than his predecessors in uprooting Hindus from the most sacred lands of their culture. It was then that important deities such as that of shrIra~Ngam were removed to the relative safety of tirupati hill shrines – a story well recorded in telugu chronicles. The year was around 1333.

While the banks of sacred tAmraparNI were scenes of such events, a few hundred miles towards its north, the shores of tu~NgabhadrA were to simultaneously witness another phenomenon. By the blessings of bhuvaneshwarI residing on her banks, an independent kingdom is conceived just then, to again raise the standards of Aryakula in face of Jihad and soon become a bulwark against Muhammedan progress in dakShiNApatha. After its first ruler Hariharadeva had stabilized it, the reign of vijayanagara came into the hands of bukkArAya, waters from whose hands were again supplying plenty of nourishment to the tree of dharma. Like a great monarch however, he looked beyond the immediate boundaries of his state, and he decided to go forward and eradicate the remnant of Jihadist imperialism anywhere in the entire region south of kR^iShNA to strategically secure the whole of dakShiNApatha, a policy which indeed eventually resulted in bringing Islamic progress in South India to a complete halt for over two and a half centuries, and protected Hindu culture here from suffering a similar ravishment as it did in the North.

The Southbound March

This is the point from where the poetess-princess begins her narrative in madhurA-vijaya. After providing the prevailing scenario and background, she limits the scope of her chronicle to describing, in a very poetic and sonorous narration of one campaign that was trusted by the Emperor, her father-in-law, into the command of her husband kumAra kampana. The mission of the campaign was to liberate the tamil country of madurai once ruled by mighty pANDya-s and now usurped by Mohammedans, then being ruled by turuShka-s mercenary Kurbat Hasan Kangoo.

Being empowered by the Emperor, kampana amasses his forces and amid the chants of brAhmaNa-s performing dIkShA-s with atharvan mantra-s, public cries of ‘jaya, jaya’, and ladies of city showering akShata, he marches swiftly southwards at the head of a large cavalry. Some draviDa kings would submit to him as vassals, while some others will require some military attention. Finally, having conquered large regions in northern parts of Tamil country, he sets up his headquarter in kA~nchIpuram. Here he would stay for some time slowly encircling the region controlled by Mohammedans, monitoring their movements, and waiting for the right moment to pounce upon Madurai and deliver the final sucker punch. The period is around early 1370s.

Staying in kA~nchIpuram, while prince is discharging his duties of expanding boundaries of vijayanagara and consolidating its control over territories recently won, this period is remembered by the poetess as a romantic honeymoon. The seventh sarga is devoted by her to record the amorous memories of the time spent in the gardens of kA~nchI, swinging in her husband’s arms and tasting the fruits prescribed by the shAstra of third kind. There are several palm-leaves lost in manuscript leaving a lacuna at this point, although going by the theme it is probably not such a disastrous loss of historic information.

Petitioner from madurA

This honeymoon, indeed a distraction from the original mission as it seems to the reader, comes to an abrupt end through the visit of a remarkable visitor. A weird yet impressive lady, apparently a citizen of Madurai, comes to appeal the vijanagara General to quickly save the tamil country from the tyranny of mohammedans and not delay the operation anymore lest nothing worth saving would be left. The event forms the transition from seventh sarga to eighth, and we shall now turn to a literal translation of this heart-rendering appeal:

O King! That city, which was called “madhurapurI” for its sweet beauty, has now become the city of wild animals, making true its older name “vyAghrapurI”, the city of tigers, for humans dwell there no longer. (1) The famed temple of shrI-ra~Ngapattana has fallen to decay, and its structure being reduced to rubble. So much that viShNu who famously slept there in his deep yoga-nidrA, has now literal protection only of the hood of sheSha-nAga who has to be ever cautious from the falling bricks of the debris. (2) How do I describe the condition of the abode of the slayer of gajAsura! In the bygone days after slaying the gajAsura, Lord shiva had taken its skin for his garment. And now being stripped he has gone back to being digambara. Wild elephants have now made the shivali~Nga their plaything, and all but spider-webs are the decorations of his abode. (3) (when such is the state of those famous temples – ) how would other deva-sthAna be any better! Moth have eaten away the once-beautiful wooden structures, the maNDapa-s have developed cracks in which now grass grows, and garbha-gR^iha-s of many others are dilapidated and crumbling. My Lord, my heart is crying as I describe to you the situation of our beloved devatA-kula. (4) Those deva-mandira-s which used to resound with the joyous and pious beats of mR^ida~Nga, today only the echo of fearful howls of jackals can be heard there. (5) That ga~NgA of South, mighty kAverI, which used to earlier flow in proper channels curbed with dams created by our noble rulers of past – she now flows like a vagabond without discipline like her new lords these turuShka-s, her dams being breached beyond repair. (6)

In our agrahAra-s mighty columns of sacred yaj~na smoke used to curl up and reach the skies in mid of sonorous chants of vedic mantra-s. Alas! On this day from those same agrahAra-s emit only the despicable odours of animal meat being roasted by musalmaans, and the vedic chants have been replaced by harsh noises of drunk goons. (7) The gardens of madurA were once famous for its nAlikera-trees. The turuShka-s have chopped down the nAlikera-s and replaced these with terrible iron-shUla-s upon which are adorned the garlands of human skulls to terrify the people. (8.) Those our streets which used to once echo with the pleasing sounds from the anklets of our young ladies playfully walking, those are now filled with the noises from iron shackle in which our brAhmaNa-s are these days bound, sounds that pierce into our hearts like iron-thorns. (9) Spiders have taken over all our gopura-s, and the beautiful sculptures of roof decorations now only support their cobwebs. (10)

My Lord, The yards of the houses of nobles earlier used to be awash with the waters perfumed by sandal and camphor. My heart is filled with sorrow, seeing those very verandahs now being cursed by the streams of tears of shackle-bound dvija-s. (11) It is hard to say my King, whether we get more troubled by hearing the ill-ominous noises emitted by owls that now live in our abandoned gardens, or get more perturbed by the Persian language uttered by the pet-parrots from the houses of those musalmans. (12) Earlier during the times of pANDya-s, our ladies used to bathe in tAmraparNI, and her waters used to become white from the sandal-paste of their breasts. But now, my lord, she only wears the colour of red, from the streams of blood flowing into her, from the cows slaughtered all over the country by the sinful occupiers! (13) There is no agriculture left, as Lord Indra being angered has stopped sending rains. Those then, who escape the misery from turuShka hands, prematurely meet yamarAja through starvation. (14)

My King! I am unable to bear the looks of those draviDa ladies who used to be once richly gifted in beauty. Raped by the ravaging turuShka-s, those tender women now have dry lips and warm breaths, and their long undone hair is terrible to look at. I can not describe the dishonour and suffering always painted on their faces, knowing no hope of protection. (15) With Shrotriya-s gone, the veda-s have disappeared. With dharma-kathA gone, character has also departed. With Dharma and puNya-s gone, all nobleness has disappeared. Only in gain seems to be the person of kali, the promoter of vice. (16)

Relating this way all the condition of madhurApurI to kampana, the lady then made to appear a divine sword, and approached the king. This lady petitioner now reveals that she is no other than the presiding devI of madurA. (17)

From 18th to 25th, she would now relate a mythology of the sword of how it originally belonged to shiva, who gave it to the pANDya-s, and by the virtue of which lakshamI always playfully resided in the houses of chola-s and pANDya-s. Now, seeing pANDya-s become unable to wield the mighty sword of shiva any longer, sage agastya has decided to take it away from them and instead invest it into the kShatriya grips of vijayanagara. From 26th to 29th she describes the qualities of this divine sword, and blesses kampana for victory.

My king, this sword being unable to be wielded by other kings even in imagination, is now being invested into your lotus-hands by the providence. (30) Take this and go forth, chop down the heads of turuShka-s of lengthy hair, red eyes and terrible voice. Go, quickly cover the earth with their skulls. (31) Let the rising sun of your bravery diminish the moon-smiles of the drunken women of turuShka-s. (32) This earth is tired of continuously oozing with the sweats of adharma burning from the fires of the ill-deeds of turuShka. Now quickly cool her down by showering over her the blood of these miscreants! (33) My dear King, Go forth then and let this sword of yours help the pishAcha-s and DAkinI-s satisfy their thirsts to fullest from the wine that flows in the veins of those vidharmI tyrants. (34)

duritaikaparam tuluShka-nAtham drutamutkhAya jagat-trayaika-shalyam|
pratiropaya rAmasetu madhye vijaya-stambha-shatAni bAhushAlin||

O mighty and brave king! Go forth then, and without further delay uproot from my lands this Kingdom of turuShka-s, pain to the three worlds. Go forth my dear Lord, and securing your victory, establish One Hundred Victory Pillars in middle of the famed rAma-setu! (35)

Ten palm-leaves after this are lost, and the next sarga, ninth and the last, describes the rage of the armies of vijayanagara pouring into madurA, resulting in complete rout of mohammedans and effectively liberation of the whole lands of dakShiNApatha.

There has been a single manuscript found so far of madhurA-vijaya, spread over sixty-one palm leaves. Several leaves are missing in middle and some towards the end. Besides its value for historical insights, the work is a fine sample of poetry of vaidarbha-school and on footsteps of kAlidAsa’s style as confessed by poetess in its preface. It is divided in nine sarga-s and composed in a variety of meters: anuShtup, upajAti, mAlinI, dr^uta-vilambita, and shikhariNI. The work is also significant that it is one of the earliest medieval poetry found so far from the pen of a woman. Poetess also pays gratitude to the telugu poets of Andhra-desha, indicating probably that the poetess herself belonged to telugu mother-tongue, and also signifying parallel progress in, and equal respect for, the poetry in both the languages. What is most significant however is that poetess never lets her poetic mind get the better of the responsibilities of an honest chronicler, and despite the poetic embellishments she keeps the account historically accurate.

[1] Lectures on the Ancient History of India (D. R. Bhandarkar, Univ. of Calcutta Publication, 1919)

1. madhurAvijayam ga~NgAdevyAvirachitam (Ed. By G. Harihara Sastri & V. Srinivasa Sastri, The Sridhara Power Press Trivandrum, 1924)
2. madurAvijaya mahAkAvyam (Ed. with Hindi Translation by Dr. Sharada Mishra, Shri Sharada Publications, Patrakaranagara Patna, 2001)

October 16, 2008

rAjA bhojadeva and rAma setu

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

This interesting reference to rAma setu comes from one of those trifling and forgotten episodes, which although insignificant in detail, change the course of history.

One dark night a contingent of armed men, under a crimson flag decorated with golden garuDa, the royal insignia of mAlava country, was swiftly riding on the wild banks of vetrAvatI (betavA) along with a prisoner and an execution-warrant.

Despite being a mighty ruler of mAlava, with boundaries stretching between chambal in north to godAvarI in south, paramAra mu~njadeva was living with a sense of insecurity from a young prince, a nephew of his own and hardly a teenager. This prince, bhoja his name, was quickly gaining many admirers among paNDita-s and Generals alike. Despite being inflicted with a terrible brain tumor, he was proving himself to be a rare talent of both shastra and shAstra, hard to say which his better forte was. All the influentials of the kingdom were foreseeing the promise of the chakravartin-crown kissing his brows. Envy and alarm having taken possession of the king’s better judgment, he at last decided to liquidate this potential danger to his throne, and ordered his trusted guards for a secret execution, for which the prince was now stealthily being taken into the woods on the banks of betavA in thick of that night.

The young victim of royal envy was composed to bravely meet his end, and after his prayers to vAgdevI and mahAkAla of ujjayinI, the youth had only one last wish. Once the executioners return back to the capital, they should pass on a message to his king-uncle, which he scribbled upon a cloth in form of a chhanda, his last, and apocryphally, in his own blood:

mAndhAtA sa mahIpatiH kR^ita-yugAla~NkAra-bhUto gataH
seturyena mahodadhau virachitaH kvAsau dashAsyaAntakaH
anyechApi yudhiShThira prabhR^itayo yAtA divaM bhUpate
naikenApi samaM gatA vasumatI manye tvayA yAsyati

{An emperor like mAndhAtA passed who came to grace satya-yuga. Next yuga saw another great who constructed even a setu over ocean to destroy the ten-headed devil, and he too passed. Yet in the next age came yudhiShThira of mighty fame. While all those great monarchs departed in their respective eras, the earth did not accompany any of them. It seems likely O Emperor that she might finally go with you when your own time comes.}

Having scribbled these last lines of his life, bhoja was now ready to meet his death.

But little did he know that destiny had other plans for him.

Seeing an unnecessary and wasteful end to such a talented prince, a ray of mercy arose in the heart of the commanding officer. At his risk, and in his hope against hope, he decided to put off the execution by a day and leaving bhoja in custody of his men, he rushed to the capital and delivered the message to the King. The King, reading the lines, was so moved that all his envy was washed away now by guilt. When the commander informed him that prince was still safe, he was overjoyed and not only did he himself bring bhoja back, but also declared him the heir in preference over his own sons.

And indeed it would seem destiny had other utility of bhoja when it inspired him to scribble that chhanda on the banks of betavA that night and saved his life. For, it was then that hundreds of miles away on the shores of the Oxus and Syr-Dariya, barbaric hordes of turuShka-s and Usbecs, having recently equipped themselves with the zeal of Islam, were gathering storm to pour down upon the Hindus, for the first time inside India-proper to the east of Indus.

It was bhoja, who had now become the mighty ruler of mAlava when the savage marauders from west and now followers of Quran, marching under the banner of mahamuda of gazna, invaded gujarAta which was on bhoja’s south-western neighborhood and ruled by an enemy prince. When bhoja heard of the sack and desecration of somanAtha, even in the domain of his enemy, he immediately marched with his army and that of his neighbours to punish Mahmud. And chroniclers, both Hindu and Muslim, record that bhoja meted out such harsh retaliation on the returning army of turuShka-s and Usbecs, marching in pursuit of Mahmud all the way upto Indus, destroying entire Muslim enemy that was met on the way and crushing invaders so completely, that never again in his life Mahmud dared to set his eyes to the east of Indus. The complete annihilation befell the branch of forces of Quran that had wandered northwards beyond the banks of Ganga, and this ensured that India was safe from Islamic invasions for almost 150 years to come. No wonder bhaviShya purANa remembers bhoja as the slayer of muhammad, and alludes to prophet appearing to bhoja in dream and giving him his confessions of creating a corrupt dharma.

And that chhanda which bhoja wrote that night mentioning rAma setu, was not to be his last after all. During the long fifty-five years of his reign, despite being always on the battlefield he did compose numerous works varying greatly in nature, spanning across the subjects of philosophy to politics, poetry to civil architecture, and much more.

(The basic story as well as the said chhanda is recored by biographer merutu~Nga in his prabandha-chintAmaNi)

July 30, 2008

On Rama Setu in padma purANa

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Representing the Union of India in the Supreme Court, Senior Attorney Fali Nariman was reported to have stated the following: “the Padma Purana states Lord Rama broke the bridge after rescuing Sita. And according to the Hindu faith, something that is broken cannot be worshipped” and “This is why nobody has till date declared it a monument.” 

This statement prompted us to look into the original sources and examine the claim made by the Union of India.  The below note summarizes our findings.

1. padma purANa is one of the eighteen main purANas, a mahApurANa of vaiShNava category, and is listed as second in that list. It is also counted among the six of this list that are considered to be of predominantly sAttvika content (the other five being viShNu, nArada, bhAgavat, garuDa and vArAha). This purANa comprises of fifty-five-thousand shloka-s and is therefore one of the lengthiest.  There are four main recensions of this purANa available. The most commonly found is the northern one in devanAgarI, and is widely printed and circulated by several publishers like Geeta Press Gorakhpur etc. The other major recension is from the southern sources, and an 1883 edition of Vishvanath Narayan Mandalika printed from Pune in the Anandashram Sanskrit Series in four volumes represents this recension. Another edition from the southern recensions, primarily from certain karNATaka and Andhra manuscripts is edited by Kshemaraj Srikrishnadas Shreshthin and printed from Mumbai. Finally, another primary recension with quite a lot of differences and of fair antiquity is the eastern recension available in Bengali script. The most complete version of this being the manuscript preserved in the National Library Kolkata, while two other manuscripts are available in the Asiatic Society of Kolkata and these display quite some differences with other recensions and slight differences with each other as well.

2. The arrangement of sections in this purANa itself and their sequencing is a matter of difference between these different recensions. The eastern one has six khaNDa-s in the following order: i) sR^iShTi-khaNDa ii) bhUmi-khaNDa iii) swarga-khaNDa iv) pAtAla-khaNDa v) uttara-khaNDa, and vi) kR^iyA-yoga-sAra. The VN Mandalika edition has a different list and sequence: i) Adima-khaNDa ii) bhUmi-khaNDa iii) bramha-khaNDa iv) pAtAla-khaNDa v) sR^iShTi-khaNDa, and vi) uttara-khaNDa. In the second southern recension the Kshemaraj edition, chapters are similar to the eastern version, but after sR^iShTi and bhUmi khANDa are arranged bramha-khaNDa, pAtAla-khaNDa and uttara-khaNDa omitting as it would seem the swarga-khaNDa. However a closer examination would show that the swarga-khaNDa of one recension is in reality what has been split into two independent khaNDa-s by the others: the Adim-khaNDa and bramha-khaNDa. kR^iyA-yoga-sAra likewise is but an appendix in the uttara-khaNDa as well. With that said, the most common book-arrangement appears to be the one mentioned in the eastern recension minus the kR^iyA-yoga-sAra as a separate book.

3. The dating of padma purANa, like many other scriptures is a matter of debates, but most scholars now agree for this to go back at least as far back as the 4th century of CE. We are of the opinion that it might be dating back ever earlier than this, but as it does not concern us for the present purpose, we shall skip that discussion.

4. We should however mention in the passing that some of the contents of the padma-purANa, interestingly but not surprisingly, have been used as the base matter for some major classical saMskR^ita literature. The primary references used by the legendary kAlidAsa in his works, has been a subject of intense research. Haradatta Sarma has convincingly demonstrated that while composing raghuvaMshaM, kAlidAsa should have relied upon padma purANa more than on vAlmIki’s rAmAyaNa for the itihAsa-content. [1] Likewise, ample research now shows that kAlidAsa should have also had the benefit of referring to this purANa, more than the mahAbhArata, for the skeletal story behind his masterpiece abhij~nAna shAkuntalam.

5. ‘padma purANa’ is also the title of an important jaina saMskR^ita scripture, written by jaina scholar AchArya raviSheNa in the 6-7th century of the CE, adaptation/recension of which are found in prAkR^ita as ‘pauma-chariya’ by vimalasUri and in apabhraMsha tongue as ‘pauma-chariu’ by swayaMbhU. The subject matter of all of these jaina texts is the legend of rAma whom they have revered here as padma. There are some intriguing similarities between rAma’s story in the padma purANa of vyAsa (the one of our focus in this note), and the padma-purANa of jaina recension, including the peculiar coincidences in the flow of the narrative, in spite of the huge differences they display in the specifics. However we shall leave it for future to explore this connection between the jaina and hindu padma-purANa-s further.

6. The story of rAma finds an important coverage in the padma purANa, and occurs in two different books: the sR^iShTi-khaNDa as well as pAtAla-khaNDa. rAma-setu finds narration in both of these books as well. The story is generally the same as in vAlmIki’s rAmAyaNa but differs dramatically in the details. pAtAla khaNDa provides a very unique story about how the vAnara senA crossed the sea and reached the coast of laMkA. In some recensions of the sR^iShTi-khaNDa, rAma is described to be trifurcating the setu on request from vibhIShaNa. The text is generally the same in the referred recensions and editions, ignoring some scribal mistakes, and in one particular devanAgarI recension this mention is missing altogether.

7. pAtAla-khaNDa, contains one hundred and seventeen chapters and among these is a lengthy section titled shiva-rAghava-saMvAda spanning over several chapters and containing a dialog between rAma and mahAdeva. The 116th chapter of this section is known as purAkalpIya-rAmAyaNa-kathanaM and contains jAmbavanta’s narration of the rAmAyaNa’s events. In this section is this strikingly unique description of the enterprise of crossing the sea by the vAnara senA:

{(219) Now, I am going to relate (to you) the efforts (made) towards crossing the sea. (220) Then rAma said, I would worship Lord shaMkara and appeal to him about our predicament, and then we shall do as guided by him. Saying this, he started praying to mahAdeva. (221 is a beautiful hymn containing several names of maheshwara, which rAma uttered to invoke him). (222, 223) mahAdeva then appeared to rAma with all his attributes. (224) rAma saluted mahAdeva with joined palms and prayed to him again in the daNDavata posture. (225) parameshvara then addressed rAma promising him the desired boons. (226) rAma replied to mahAdeva: ‘O shambhu, only give us the means to cross this sea so that we may reach laMkA’. (227) (hearing this,) shambhu then answered: ‘This is my bow ajagavaM. It immediately takes any shape as desired (by its wielder). Take this and climbing through it you can overcome the sea and reach laMkA’. (228- Then intent upon this course, rAma invoked that ajagavaM, (229) and when the bow appeared, rAma worshipped it. (230) Shiva then handed it over to rAma, (231) and rAma threw the bow across the ocean. (232) rAma, lakShamaNa and the entire senA of as numerous vAnara-s as six-parArdha [2] fulfilled their objective (of crossing the ocean) by climbing that bow. (233) Seeing those vAnara-s approaching the shore though the bow, (234) and alarmed by the force of the vAnara-s, a rAkShasa coast-guard by the name of atikAya immediately approached rAvaNa.}

Besides this particularly striking description, there is no further mention of the rAma setu in pAtAla-khaNDa.

8. Earlier in the sR^iShTi-khaNDa, is this another unique mention of rAma setu in the fortieth chapter known as vAmanapratiShThA (in some recension thirty-fifth chapter, and in some missing altogether). The background of the mention is that after winning the war at laMkA and fulfilling his objectives there, rAma is readying to return back to ayodhyA along with his entourage by using the puShpaka vimAna offered by vibhIShaNa. Before departing, rAma has entrusted the rAkShasa kingdom to vibhIShaNa and when insisted by vibhIShaNa, he has given him instructions about conducting the empire and some interesting orders to recover and restore a certain mUrti-s of vaiShnavI and of vAmana which were commissioned earlier by bali the great dAnava emperor. In this context is the following dialog recorded between vibhIShaNa and rAma in the vAmanapratiShThA chaper of the sR^iShTi-khaNDa the first book of the padma-purANa:

{(130) Hearing this from rAghava, vibhIShaNa responded to him. ‘All that you have ordered shall be obediently executed, O rAghava. (131) (However,) O Lord, this sacred setu of yours could be used by all the people of the world to approach (into laMkA) and therefore should be obstructed. (132) What control do I have in this matter O deva, but this is a need of mine.’ Hearing these words uttered by the best rAkShasa, The Scion of Raghu (133) took in his hands the missile kArmukaM, and breached the setu in the middle at two places over a length of ten yojana, (134) therefore dividing it into three parts with a one-yojana gap on the either side. Then approaching the shore-forest, he worshipped mahAdeva the Lord of umA. (135) There he established The Three- Eyed mahAdeva by the name of rAmeshwara. rAma, the Great Prince then prohibited the God sAgara, (136) that the Southern Sea should neither thunder there, nor flow across. Issuing his prohibitions this way, rAma then sent off the God sAgara. From the sky then emitted the following AkAshavANI. (137) Spoke rudra: O rAghava, you have auspiciously established me here. O Brave One, so far as the worlds remain, so far as the earth is intact, (138- till then I shall reside myself at the Setu, O Scion of Raghu! Hearing these nectar-like words uttered by mahAdeva himself, rAghava the Hero then spoke in these intelligent and sweetest words. (rAma humbly salutes devadeva and sings a hymn in his praise which spans over shloka-s 139 to 147. shloka 148 is a comment by sage pulatsya in praise to this hymn. In shloka-s 149-151, rudra speaks again, praising the deeds of rAma.) (152) O raghunandana, to this place created by you whichever man comes and even (merely) glances at it in the sea, (153) (even if) he be an extreme sin-fallen, all their sins would get destroyed, O rAma. The wicked crimes as heinous as brAhmaNa-slaying etc., even these (154) would be released here by mere darshana, no doubt.}

9. In conclusion, we can only say that the statement made by the Attorney in the Hon’ble Supreme Court that according to padma purANa: a) rAma “destroyed” the setu; and b) setu can no more be an object of worship; – are both absolutely inaccurate if not downright false.   Very unambiguously, the referred recensions of the padma purANa state that rAma trifurcated the setu for the sake of protecting laMkA, and at the same time he and lord mahAdeva invested spiritual powers into setu as a place of worship forever. Till this word remains, and till the earth is intact – “yAvajjagadidaM, yAvaddharAsthitA” are this purANa-s own exact words.  As to “therefore, nobody has declared it a monument”, since the Attorney is referring to padma purANa, in which lord mahAdeva himself has declared it a unique sacred place of worship, releaser of the sin and crime, and abode of his own – this remains and would remain a sacred monument for Hindus; and Union of India can do little about it. 

[1] Haradatta Sarma, “Padmapurana And Kalidasa”, Calcutta Oriental Series, 1924.

[2] parArdha is the largest measure of count. One parArdha is measured by number of mortal days in the span of 50 bramha-years (and would equal “one hunderd-thousand-billion” according to mahAbhArata).

1. Scanned pages (# 1028 and 1029) from the southern recension 1 of the purANa, edited by Vishvanath Narayan Mandalika, Anandashram, 1894, Pune.
Anandashram1 Anandashram2

2. Scanned pages from the southern recension 2 of the purANa, edited by Khemraj Srikrishna Das Shreshthi, 1867, Sri Venkateshwar Mudranalaya Mumbai.

3. Complete text of sR^iShTi khaNDa of the northern recension, where this reference mentioned in point #8 could not be located: 

4. Complete text of the pAtAla khaNDa of the northern recension, in which the section mentioned in the point # 7 can be located:

May 23, 2008

On Hindu Theatrics, bhavabhUti and rAma setu

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

From astronomy to legal system, music to statecraft, linguistics to mathematics, medicine to architecture, metaphysics to politics, from the art of war to the science of love: apparently not much escaped the ancient Hindus without being committed into the human knowledge in form of the most profound and erudite thesis upon the subject. The world of theatrics and dramatics was no exception. Ancient Hindus evolved a most intricate and detailed theory about performing arts, and centuries before the rest of the world would have any inkling to the subject, they wrote down a complete philosophy of dramatics.

A detailed handbook of drama called nATya shAstra was brought forth by bharatamuni at some ancient point in time, exact dating of which is not known to us today, but speculated by many to be in range of 5th century before the CE to 3rd century after.[1] And even then, it appears to have been built upon the foundation of even earlier works.[2] This elaborate thesis comprising of over six-thousand shloka-s spanning over thirty-seven (or thirty-six [3]) chapters, covers every aspect of theatrics in its finest details – from the nature of the script and costumes to the language of the dialogs, the kind of music to be played and the lyrics, the qualities of and the do-s and don’t-s for the actors, guidelines for the directors, recommendations on the shape and size of the stage and the auditorium, duration of the play, recommended number of acts in a play, when should the play be performed… and a lot more.

Dramatics was obviously an important part of life in Hindu society not only for its entertainment value, but also as a major instrument of public education and means of social discourse for the entire society. bharatamuni explains in nATya shAstra, that the very purpose for which drama was invented (or descended from bramhA as he says) was public education, and especially to provide the fourth varNa and women access to learning and knowledge. [4] (this would of course fly in the face of those mlechCha Indologists and their Indian protégés, who insist that performance of drama in Hindu society was limited to the exclusive elite audiences with knowledge of saMskR^ita. [5])

Springing from the solid bedrock of this profound theory of theatrics, countless plays were produced and enacted in the public theaters of India over centuries, and demand of drama by the society was met with nourishing and plentiful supply from a galaxy of several brilliant play-writers… shUdraka, danDI, kAlidAsa, bhAsa, harSha, bhavabhUti… to name a few.

Let us turn to bhavabhUti, who occupies a unique place in the world of the Hindu drama, even though the number of plays written by him is miniscule compared to the works of other literati of his time. Despite being small in volume, bhavabhUti’s plays stand out for a remarkable finesse of language; and indeed as some of the best examples of the eloquence in the spoken-saMskR^ita, so much so that there is probably no writer who came up to bhavabhUti in his wonderful command of saMskR^ita, its fluency and elevation of diction. His plays also stand out for representing a careful balance of all the rasa-s, including interestingly his liking for the genre of bhayankara one – horror – which is otherwise generally ignored by the other dramatists. bhavabhUti followed the established framework and norms set forth by the nATya-shAstra of bharatamuni, even as he experimented with many a novel techniques of language and alaMkAra-s.

He was born in the 7th century vidarbha, in house of nIlakaNTha udumbara, a taittirIya kAshyapa brAhmaNa – to these details he himself attests. His given name was shrIkanTha, and he went on to became a genius play-writer as a protégé of the king yashovarman who ruled from kannauj between CE 725 and 752.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, the very philosophy of Hindu nATya was to not only provide a cheerful and jolly entertainment to public on occasions but also depict rich ethical values and learning. To achieve this, many dramatists built their themes upon the prevailing social traditions and popular tales, with which audiences were already familiar, drawing often from mahAbhArata, purANa-s, rAmAyaNa, and particularly from the latter.

bhavabhUti was no exception. bhavabhUti, like kAlidAsa before him, chose to render in drama the popular saga of rAmayaNa. Of the three known works of bhavabhUti, mAlatI-mAdhava is a fictitious romantic love story mired in royal intrigues, while the remaining two – uttara-rAma-charita (“the story of rAma’s later life”) and mahAvIra-charita (“the story of the highly courageous one”) – are the dramatic narratives of the life of rAma.

This also reflects how popular the saga of rAmAyaNa must have been, back in bhavabhUti’s time as much as earlier during the time of vAlmIki, or as popular it is amid the Hindus of present time too. On the popularity of the saga of rAmAyaNa, swAmI vivekAnanda had aptly commented: “Rama, the ancient idol of the heroic ages, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, the ideal father, and above all, the ideal king… and what to speak of Sita? All our mythology may vanish, even our Vedas may depart, and our Sanskrit language may vanish for ever, but so long as there will be five Hindus living here, even if only speaking the most vulgar patois, there will be the story of Sita present.” [6]

bhavabhUti’s dramatic narratives of rAma’s life, while not straying too far from the main storyline of vAlmIki rAmAyaNa, still make clever innovations of format, to make the script suitable for the requirements of theatrics and an effective staging before audiences.

One good example of this is how bhavabhUti presents the episode of setu-bandhana in his play mahAvIra-charita. Unlike vAlmIki who could afford to describe that complex tale in a direct narration, bhavabhUti is obviously concerned more about the effective staging of the scene in a theater. And the original format, as in vAlmiki’s narration, would make it very challenging for the play-director to present that scene before audiences. Imagine the trouble to the director in depicting a scene involving a large number of actors in vAnara’s role carrying large rocks throwing into a thundering ocean… and the bridge progressively coming about… and army then crossing over, and so on.

Therefore, to the directors rescue, bhavabhUti makes use of a clever literary work-around. He presents the story of setu construction to the audiences not directly, but through a dialog between rAvaNa and his noble wife mandodarI. In this episode which occurs in the sixth act of mahAvIra-charita, mandodarI would narrate the tale of setu-construction to her husband.

Let us now turn to how he presents the script of this scene, and may be, enjoy with our imagination how more than a millennium back this scene would have been enjoyed the then audiences.

(Picture a stage with a background depicting a palace-balcony overseeing the lush gardens, and rAvaNa standing in the center, apparently lost in thoughts of how to win over the sItA’s heart.)

Entry of mandodarI with a maid.

Maid (speaking in prAkR^ita): Here, Queen, here is the silver staircase for you to climb.

Mandodari (climbing the stairs while looking at rAvaNa, addressing audiences in prAkR^ita):
Why! Isn’t that our Ten-Headed Emperor himself! (then looking more directly at him as she reaches closer – ) Alas! Why does he gaze towards ashoka vATikA!! (now with sorrow in her voice – ) Why! Even during the times of invasions by enemy, does Emperor remain indifferent like this? (finally reaching near rAvaNa, addresses him – ) Victory to the Ten-Headed Emperor! jedu jedu mahArA.a dasakandharo!!

rAvaNa (as if fixing his posture): Why! mandodarI? (and sits down to the left)

mandodari (also sits down): mahArAj, what did you decide?

rAvaNa: about what?

mandodari: About the enemy army’s invasion.

rAvaNa (with sarcastic surprise): Why! Enemy! enemy’s army!! Invasion by enemy’s army!!! All the strange stuff you tell me today devi!

(changes tone for this ode: – )
That me — who in battlefield could hold two enraged elephants with two hands —
and then with the other four, block the dikpatI-s coming from all the four directions —
Mighty blows of indra’s vajra etc. were only good enough to leave slight bruises upon the skin of whose chest —
that me — now has got some enemy! Surely, an amusing thing I hear today!
(back to normal tone) so be it! Let us hear that too devi, say, who is that?

mandodarI: Followed by all the vAnara-s, marching ahead of sugrIva, matched in step by his younger brother, that son of dasharatha — rAma — so I hear.

RavaNa: a mendicant with a younger brother, devi!! So, what to speak of him! he would have gone away by now.

mandodari: Emperor! Better to be careful from this group. and there is more –
Encamping on the sea coast, rAma invoked sea-God. When he did not turn up – then –
(falling back to saMskR^ita, sings this ode -)
He then deployed certain prayoga-s of weapons, by which, in less than half a moment –
Entire water started revolving in a vortex, and also turned as red as blood –
The alligators began to fall unconscious, and the shells of tortoises started rupturing-
All creatures indeed of the ocean became unconscious, conch shells started exploding with thundering sounds.

rAvaNa (indignantly): So what?

mandodari (back to prAkR^ita): Emperor! After that, hounded by the arrows of rAma, Sea-God came forth from the waters, and falling to the shelter of rAma’s feet, told Him the path of how to cross over the ocean. And I hear further, that the Courageous One has even got that path constructed.

rAvaNa (quipping sarcastically): Very well! Let us then also hear devi, how is that path constructed!!

mandodari: Emperor! They are constructing a bridge by using the mountains brought by thousands of vAnara-s.

rAvaNa: devi, you have been conned by someone! This ocean knows no limits. The mountains found in the entire continent of jambU, and even those of all other continents too, would surely not be able to fill even a part of this ocean!!

Besides, by calling him brave and courageous you make a misjudgment about our own courage! Careless about the streams of blood flowing from the veins of our severed heads – nay! – smiling with the eyes filled with the tears of joy – had we performed our offering of our heads at the feet of Lord shiva. He, who pleased with us had accepted such our offering, that Lord Shiva himself is witness to our courage!!!”

mandodari: Emperor! Please do not dismiss this without paying a serious thought. This construction of setu is a unique event! By the earlier puNya-s of a certain vAnara, it seems even the stones are floating at the surface of the water!!!

rAvaNa (shaking his head in denial): To this stupidity of women – that stones can float over water – what can be said!!! What more to say devi than this:

(sings this ode — )
about our knowledge of scriptures, knows bhamhA himself, the propagator of vedA-s,
about our command, knows indra himself, the commander of Gods,
about our strength, knows vajra, and about our glory the whole world,
about our power knows mount kailAsha; and what is more —
about our courage knows none other than shiva Himself —
whose holy feet we had lavishly washed with our own blood!

(thundering sounds from the background)

mandodari: Emperor! Protection! Protection! (acts to be terrified, looks at him in fear)

rAvaNa: devi! Fear is baseless.

===(In the background, chorus makes more clear noises this time that inform the audience that rAma-lakshamaNa with sugrIva’s army have arrived at the gates of laMkA.)===

As the curtains would fall in a few more dialogs and the scene comes to an end, imagine now a vidUShaka probably appearing in front of the crowds to entertain them with his antics, amid the applause (or booing) from the audience. Behind the curtains the manager and his staff would get busy to hurriedly re-arrange the stage for the next scene – which happens to be a scene of a council meeting in the court of rAvaNa. That discussion should be of good interest to war-historians, since it provides many hints about how garrison was managed in event of a siege in near-abouts of 7-8th century India. The scene also provides many a details about prevailing social customs and etiquettes – sugrIva is mentioned walking behind rAma, while lakshamaNa is mentioned walking by his side; mandodarI’s extremely respectful conduct of an argument without really being argumentative with rAvaNa, and so on.

One would also easily notice that the characters of mandodarI and the maid are speaking in prAkR^ita, while rAvaNa responds in saMskR^ita. Therefore, the bilingual dialog is a significant hint that not only the characters but also audiences understand both the languages. Also notice, how mandodarI falls back to saMskR^ita at times, particularly to sing the odes, and then such transitions between the two tongues are sudden yet perfectly natural.

To understand this intriguing yet interesting usage of saMskR^ita-prAkR^ita bi-lingual dialog, we need not go any farther than nATya shAstra itself, in which bharatamuni spends one complete chapter upon the nature of language to be used in the dialogs. In the seventeenth chapter known as bhAShA-lakshaNaM, he describes in intricate details how prAkR^ita must be utilized along with saMskR^ita in the drama. Here in fact, he begins by describing the details of prAkR^ita tongue, and explains the forms of root words and etymology by examples. It is here, that he lays down the thumb-rule about choice of tongues for different characters.

By default, saMskR^ita is to be used for higher and medium types of characters, whereas minor characters should speak prAkR^ita. However, even for the higher and medium ones, if a character is illiterate, “intoxicated by prosperity”, “depraved in mind with poverty”, he should be assigned dialogs in prAkR^ita. Likewise, for those in disguise, jaina ascetics, children, persons possessed by evil spirits, ladies, men of feminine qualities, low-lives, intoxicated ones – for these the language should be prAkR^ita. saMskRita on the other hand is appropriate for sannyAsI-s, bauddha monks, and brAhmaNa-s of ukSha and shrotriya varieties. [7]

Therefore, bhavabhUti is following this edict of nATya shAstra, when he makes mandodarI speak in prAkR^ita. But then why does he makes her switch occasionally to saMskR^ita as well?

The answer is, he does so to follow another finer edict of nATya shAstra. That is explained explicitly by bharata muni, that the queens, courtesans and female artistes should speak in devavANI depending upon the situation, particularly when describing something of a technical subject matter such as war, politics, diplomacy, or astrology etc. So, we know why mandodarI switched occasionally to saMskR^ita, when talking to rAvaNa about enemy’s invasion.

To conclude our note, let us finally turn again to rAma setu which is mentioned at one more place by bhavabhUti in mahAvIra-charita. In the seventh act, this scene is about rAma, sItAdevI and lakshamaNa returning back to ayodhyA from laMkA in the pushpaka vimAna. sItAdevI gets the aerial view of rAma setu and in her amazement, she inquires her brother-in-law about it as follows:

सीता : जो अम्हाणं जेट्ठससुरेहिं किदनिम्माणो त्ति वुड्ढपरंपराए सुणीअदी। एदस्य मज्झेवि किं एदं दूरप्पसारिदं धवलंसुअं विअ अहिणवतिणच्छण्णासु भूमिसु दीसइ।
sItA (in prAkR^ita): I have been hearing that ancient tradition, that this massive flood in ocean came into existence by efforts of our Great-Grand Fathers-in-law. [8] Now, even in the heart of that ocean, what is that thing, which is shining as if a bright strip of cloth spread over greenery?

लक्षमणः : देवि!
सोत्साहं धृतशासनैः सकुतुकैवृक्षौकसां नायकैः
दिक्पर्यंतधराधरेन्द्रशिखराण्यानाय्य निर्मापितः।
कल्पांतावधिवन्दनीयमहिमा लोकस्य सेतुर्नवः
कीर्तिस्तम्भ इवायमार्यचरितस्याम्भोनिधौ लक्ष्यते ॥

lakshamaNa: devi!
That, which was constructed by those great vAnara heroes cheerfully —
By bringing the rocks from the great mountains in all the directions —
That new Bridge whose fame is to remain till the last day of this universe —
Behold this! that Pillar of Glory of the character of our Arya!

The approving applauses from the audience.


[1] Manmohan Ghosh dates him to 5th century BCE. AB Keith dates him to 200s of the CE.

[2] pANini, the great grammarian of the sixth century BCE, records in aShTAdhyAyI that shilAli and kR^ishashva compiled naT-sUtra-s : पाराशर्यशिलालिभ्या भिक्षुनटसूत्रयोः(aShT.4.3.110). Unfortunately this compendium is not found so far. bharatamuni himself acknowledges the earlier AchArya-s of dramatics, mentioning them by name: shilAli, kR^ishashva, dhUrtila, shANDilya, vAtsya, kohala and sadAshiva. Further, abhinavagupta mentions padmabhU as another earlier AchArya, and dhana~njaya mentions drohiNI and vyAsa too to have been pre-bharat masters of theatrics. — quoted from ‘Bhavbhuti ki kratiyo ka Natyasastriya vivechan’ by Ashok kumar Dubey, 1999, Allahabad University Press.

[3] “Whether there are thirty-six chapters in the nATya shAstra or thirty-seven – This debate has been going on since long time. Even in the twelfth century, the great savant AchArya abhinavagupta too was burdened with this dilemma. In his commentary on nATyashAstra, known as abhinavabhAratI, he writes in the preface that, ‘I begin now commentary upon the thirty-six chaptered nATya shAstra.” However in the end of his commentary he says, ‘Thus completes the thirty-seventh chapter’. Today there are two versions of manuscripts of nATya shAstra: one containing the thirty-six and the other thirty-seven chapters”. — quoted from Hindi book ‘bharat aur unakA nATyashAstra’, Braj Ballabh Mishra, 1988, Publisher: Uttar Madhya Kshetra Samskritik Kendra, CSPSingh Marg Allahabad.

[4] नेमे वेदा यतः श्राव्याः स्त्रीशूद्राद्यासु जातिषु। वेदमन्यत्ततः स्रक्ष्ये सर्वश्रव्यंतु पंचमं॥
धर्म्यमर्थ्यं यशस्यंच सोपदेश्यं ससंग्रहं। भविश्यतश्च लोकस्य सर्वकर्मानुदर्शकं॥ (nATyashAstra 1.14)
bharatamuni narrates that the drama descended from bramhA as a fifth veda, just like the earlier four veda-s descended from Him. However unlike the rest of the four veda-s, study of which was denied to the women and shUdra-s, the very purpose of the fifth one – nATya – was for being of utility to everyone, including especially these sections, for education and instruction into the right ways of dharma, besides spreading happiness, enjoyment and merriment in the society.

[5] Professor Horace Wilson, ‘The Dramatic System of the Hindu’, 1830s: “The Hindu Theatre is distinguished from every other by a most remarkable peculiarity ; it is not in the vernacular tongue ! … The explanation of this peculiarity is to be found in the constitution of Hindu society — not only the highest offices of the state, but the highest branches of literature, being reserved for the privileged tribes, or Brahmans. … The Brahmans in the boxes had it all to themselves; and some even of them may have had no great share of Sanscrit. Even among them, as Prof Wilson says, but a small portion could have followed the expressions of the actors so as to have felt their full force, and the plays of the Hindus must therefore have been exceedingly deficient in theatrical effect.”

[6] Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

[7] Dr. S. Kalyanaraman has considered nATya shAstra an important source of historic information on Indic linguistic studies. Commenting upon this subject of bharata-recommended choices for language, he writes: “While discussing the choice of Samskr.ta and Prakr.ta, Bharata notes that Sanskrit should not be employed to those (characters) who are intoxicated by prosperity, depravd in mind with poverty and those who are illiterate even though they belong to the uttama type. (Abhinavagupta gives the example of Arjuna in the disguise of Br.hannala_ for the last type). For those who enter in disguise, Jaina monks, mendicants and wandering ascetics, the Prakr.t language may be employed. So also for children, persons affected by evil spirits, ladies, those possessing feminine qualities, persons of low characters, intoxicated ones and mendicants who professed religious marks, the language should be Prakr.t. (18.38-39). Wandering ascetics, sages, Buddhist monks, (consecrated Brahmins), s’rotriyas (learned Brahmins) and those who wear religious marks should be assigned the Sanskrit language. For the queen (consecrated as Maha_devi_), courtesans, female artistes, Sanskrit should be employed depending upon the situation. The queen is expected to know the connotation of words relating to matters of alliance, martial preparation, the auspicious or inauspicious movements of planets and stars and the notes of birds foreboding good or bad omens. Hence she should be assigned the language of Sanskrit on the appropriate occasions. (18.40-43). Bharata then goes on to enumerate others such as courtesans who should use Sanskrit, cestial nymphs who come down to earth who should use Prakr.t” (Dr. Kalyanaraman refers to the chapter 17 of NS as lakshaAAlankArAdivivekaH and chapter 18 as bhAShAvidhAnaM. However, in the version of NS that I have access to, chapter 17 is titled bhAShAlakShaNaM and chapter 18 as dasharUpanirUpaNaM. shloka # mentioned by him also differ in my version.)

[8] sItA here refers to the ancient paurAnika tradition of king sagara and his many descendants having undertaken the enterprise of bringing mighty river ga^ngA to the plains of jambUdvIpa. BhAgIratha, his worthy descendant, at last succeeded in this endeavor. ga^ngA eventually merged with the ocean at the place known as ga^ngA-sAgara (in bay of bengal). The traditions says that this way king sagara and his descendants caused “another sea”. (affected a water level rise in sea?) As rAma descends from the lineage of that king sagara, sItA is referring to those ancient kings as jeTTha-sasure (jyeShTha shvashuraiH) – senior fathers-in law.

Original text of this scene from mahAvIra-charita :

ततः प्रविशंति मन्दोदरि चेट्टी च।

चेट्टी: इदो भट्टिणी एदं अ राआसोअवाणमग्गदुआरअम।

मन्दोदरी (सोपानं नाटयित्वा, रावणं निरूप्य) : कहं एसो महाराअ दसकन्धरो उवट्ठिदो वट्ठदि। (निर्वर्ण्य) कहं असअवणिआसम्मुहंपुलोएदि। (सखेदं) कहं इरिसे वि रिउवक्खा हिओए संवुत्ते राअकज्जाणवेक्खो लक्खीअदि महाराअदसकन्धरो त्ति। (उपसृत्य) जेदु जेदु महाराअदसकन्धरो!!

रावणः (आकार संवरण नाटयित्वा) : कथं मन्दोदरी (इति पार्श्वे समुपवेशयति)

मन्दोदरी (ततः कृत्वा): महाराअ किं एत्थ चिन्दिदम?

रावणः : कुत्र?

मन्दोदरी: रिउवक्खाहिओए

रावणः (सोत्प्रासं) : कथं रिपुस्तत्पक्षस्तदभियोगश्च एत्यश्रुतं श्रव्यते देव्या!
योहं द्वाभ्यां भुजाभ्यां मृधभुवि युगपन्मत्तदिग्दंतिदंतान
रुद्ध्वा दोर्भिश्चतुर्भिः सरभसमजितान्दिक्पतिइनप्यरौत्सम।
दीव्यद्वजादिचण्डप्रहरणपतनक्षुण्णवक्षस्त्वचो मे
तस्यापि प्रातिभाट्याद्रिपुरिति कलितः कोप्यपूर्वः प्रमादः॥
भवतु। तथापि श्रोतव्यं देवी स कः?

मन्दोदरी: णिखिवलमुक्कणुगददसुग्गीवाग्गेसरो सहकणिट्टो दासरही रामो त्ति सुणीअदि

रावणः : किं सहानुजस्तापसः? देवि! किं गतेन तेन तैर्वा सः?

मन्दोदरी: महाराअ! समुदाओ क्खु संकीअदी। अवरं अ साअरवेलासु सेणां विणिवेसिअ आहूदो णेण साअरो ण णिग्गदो भवणादो त्ति । तदा तु!
प्रायुंग्तास्त्रं स किंचिज्जलनिधिकुहरे यन्महिम्ना क्षणार्धा-
दावृत्यावृत्त्य चक्रभ्रममखिलमभूत्काथतः शोणमम्भः।
उन्मूर्छन्नकचक्रं झटिति परिदलत्कच्छपौधं प्रमुह्यद-
भूयः पाथोमनुष्यः स्फुटदतुलरवं प्रस्फुटच्छंखशुक्ति॥

रावणः (सावज्ञं) : किं ततः?

मन्दोदरी: महाराअ! तदो अ पुंखमेत्तपेक्खिज्जमाणतिक्खसरणिअरपह्मलिदसरीरेण णिक्कमिअ सलिलादो सवादवडणं अव्भत्थिअमग्गो उवदिट्ठो। साहसिएण उण तेण साहिज्जवित्ती सुणीअदि।

रावणः (सहासं) : अस्तु श्रूयते। देवि! कीदृशः?

मन्दोदरी: महाराअ! वलीमुहासहस्साणीदेहि महीहरेहिं सेदू णिम्मीअदि।

रावणः : देवि! विप्रलब्धासि केनचित! अकलितगाम्भीर्यमहिमाकिलायं पाथोनाथः।
जम्बुद्वीपे-थवान्येषु द्वीपेष्वपि महीधराः।
यावंतस्तैः कुक्षिकोणो-प्यस्य न भ्रियते किल॥
अपि च – साहसिकेनेति वदंत्या देव्या विस्मृतप्रायम। मत्साहसेतु उत्पुष्यद्गलधमनिस्फुटप्रसपैत्प्रत्यग्रक्षतझरोनिवृत्तपाद्यः।
हर्षाश्रुप्रचुरमधुस्मितस्फुटश्रीवक्वाब्जाचिंतचरणः शिवः प्रमाणम॥

मन्दोदरी: महाराअ! ओधारेहि किं वि अन्णारिसी रअणा कस्स व विलीमुहस्स हत्थपुण्णदो उवरि ज्जेव चिट्ठिन्दि ते महीधरा जलम्मि त्ति।

रावणः (सशिरःकम्पम) :
इदं तदप्रतीकार्य मौग्धमबलानां यद्ब्रावाणोपि प्लवंत इति। देवि! किं बहुनोक्तेन?
श्रुतं मे जानाति श्रुतिकविरथाज्ञां सहचरः
स शच्या धैर्यं चाशनिरथ यशोदस्त्रिभुवनम ।
बलं कैलासाद्रिः किमपरमहो साहसमपि
क्षरत्कीलालाम्भःस्नपितचरणः खण्डपरशुः ॥
(नेपथ्ये महान कलकलः )

मन्दोदरी: महाराअ! परित्ताहि परित्ताहि! (इति सत्रासमुदीक्षते)

रावणः : देवि! अलं शंकया।

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