A fragment of a play written on the Buddhist legend of prince Sudhana and the kinnarī has been microfilmed by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. It was probably written at the end of the eleventh century in Bengal by a Buddhist scholar called Śāntākaragupta. The present article contains a critical edition and an English translation of the fragment, as well as an analysis of the intertextuality of the play and especially the literary influences that shaped the author’s poetic diction.
The Story of Sudhana and the Kinnarī
In September 2000, when I was browsing the collection of microfilm copies of manuscripts made by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, I came across an incomplete palm-leaf manuscript (reel no. E 1122/16) written in Bhujimol-type Newari script. Only four damaged folios survive, they are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 5. The manuscript contains the text of a Sanskrit play, and, according to the description on the label, “the nāṭaka seems to be based on Buddhist piety”. When I read the fragment it became clear that what I had in front of me was a dramatised version of the popular Buddhist legend of prince Sudhana and Manoharā, the kinnarī.
The different versions of the story were compared and analysed by Padmanabh S. Jaini (1966), and more recently by Martin Straube (2006).1 The Mahāsāṅghika-version is preserved in the Mahāvastu under the title Kinnarījātaka, and a similar version is also available in Chinese translation. The Mūlasarvāstivāda-version is found in the Bhaiṣajyavastu, it was translated into Chinese and Tibetan, and it was also included in the Divyāvadāna (Sudhanakumārāvadāna). Haribhaṭṭa also incorporated the story in his Jātakamālā2 (c. 400), and later Kṣemendra in his Bodhisattvāvadānakalpalatā (eleventh century).3 Sudhana’s tale is also found among the Central-Asian Khotanese (Saka) texts4 and in fifteenth century Pali recensions of the Paññāsajātaka.5 Figurative representations of the story are known for example from Nāgārjunikoṇḍa6 and Ajantā.7 The story also inspired the creators of the great stūpa in Borobudur, as well as several poems and plays in Burma and Siam.8 The following short summary is based on the Divyāvadāna:9
There was a king of Uttarapañcāla called Mahādhana, his son was Sudhana, the bodhisattva. The subjects of the wicked neighbour king took refuge in Mahādhana’s kingdom, which was protected and made rich by a nāga. The rival king hired a snake charmer to capture the nāga, but the serpent asked the help of a hunter who killed the snake charmer. Following the advice of a hermit, the hunter asked the nāga to reward him with the ‘unfailing noose’, amoghapāśa, with which the serpents had protected themselves against Garuḍa. One day the hunter came to a mountain where he saw a hermitage next to a big lake. The sage who lived there told the hunter that once every month Manoharā, the daughter of Druma, the king of the kinnaras, came to bathe in the lake together with five hundred kinnarīs, and their dancing and singing enchanted all beings, including the hermit himself. The hunter then captured Manoharā with the unfailing noose. She begged the hunter not to touch her because she was “to be enjoyed by a king” (rājabhogyā). She gave him her magic crest-jewel, cūḍāmaṇi, without which she could not fly away. Prince Sudhana happened to arrive there while hunting, and the hunter handed over Manoharā to him together with the jewel. Sudhana immediately fell in love with her. They returned to Hastināpura where the prince spent all his time with his beloved.
The wicked purohita of the king started scheming to bring about the ruin of Sudhana so that the rival brahmin in his service could never become purohita. He persuaded the king to send the prince on a military expedition to punish a rebel chief, but Sudhana forgot about his task when he met Manoharā to say goodbye to her. Finally the king forbade Sudhana to meet the kinnarī again before the expedition. Sudhana asked her mother to protect Manoharā and not to give her the crest-jewel unless her life was in danger, then he left for the campaign. With the help of Vaiśravaṇa (Kuvera) he pacified the revolt without any bloodshed.
Meanwhile the king had an inauspicious dream, and the purohita convinced him that the best preventive act was to perform a sacrifice of all beings including a kinnarī. Manoharā begged the queen to give her back the crest-jewel, with the help of which she flew away from the palace. She went back to the hermitage of the sage who had told the hunter about her regular visits to the lake. She asked the ṛṣi to give prince Sudhana her ring and to explain him the difficult and dangerous way he had to follow to find her again in the kinnara king’s palace.
Sudhana returned victorious from the campaign and learnt from his mother that Manoharā had escaped to avoid being sacrificed. The prince was inconsolable and went to see the hunter who had captured the kinnarī. The hunter told him about the hermitage with the lake and suggested him to ask the hermit about Manoharā. Sudhana escaped the palace at night and, lamenting much and asking the moon and various animals and trees about his beloved, he reached the sage’s hermitage. The ṛṣi gave him Manoharā’s signet ring together with her detailed instructions about the route to be taken.
When he reached the palace of Druma, king of the kinnaras, Sudhana noticed some kinnarīs drawing water to wash off the stink of humanity from Manoharā. The prince dropped the signet ring into one of the jars, and Manoharā recognised it when it fell into her lap. Her father, the kinnara king, put Sudhana to two tests, and after he succeeded in both, he was united with his beloved. After some time the couple returned to Hastināpura, where Sudhana was crowned.
This love story between a male human and a female fabulous creature has much in common with the celebrated legend of Purūravas and Urvaśī, while it would be difficult to point out its inherently Buddhist features. Kinnaras belong to the shared heritage of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu religions. Druma is also mentioned in the Mahābhārata as the lord of the kiṃpuruṣas who attends upon Kuvera in his sabhā.10 The same passage seems to classify kinnaras and naras as two kinds of gandharvas.11 In other texts, too, kinnaras are reported to live on the Himālaya (or some other mountain) and they are famous for their singing.12 When a woman is addressed as kinnarakaṇṭhi in a play it is to compliment her on her sweet voice.13 In the Vāyupurāṇa their women are said to be especially beautiful.14 Manoharā, the kinnarī, also captivates her captor in no time. That kinnaras consider themselves superior to human beings is shown by the fact that they devote considerable efforts to wash off the “stink of humanity” (manuṣyagandha) polluting Manoharā.15 On the other hand, there is something animal-, or more specifically, bird-like about kinnaras: Manoharā is captured by a hunter with a noose the serpents used against their arch enemy, the giant bird Garuḍa, and she is able to fly with the help of a magic crest-jewel.16
Critical Edition and English Translation of the Fragment
The fragment of a dramatised version of the Sudhana-story preserved in the above mentioned Nepalese manuscript contains most of a Sanskrit interlude (śuddhaviṣkambhaka) and a small part of the act itself that followed it. It is not the beginning of the play, since there is no nāndī or prastāvanā, in fact we are already half-way through the story: Sudhana and Manoharā have already met, the interlude is going to report the results of the wicked purohita’s machinations, and the act proper seems to have contained Sudhana’s disturbed lamentations, comparable to Act Four of the Vikramorvaśīya. The critical edition and translation of the fragment which I give below leave much to be desired. The palm-leaves are damaged and it is often difficult to decide whether the akṣaras I read on the microfilm are on the top folio or I actually see the letters on the folio below through a hole. The Bhujimol-type script contains several akṣaras that look very similar, and the scribe himself seems to have misread and / or misrepresented certain letters. In fact, the scribe does not seem to have fully (or at all) understood what he was copying, his knowledge of Sanskrit is far from perfect, which is not very fortunate when copying a kāvya text. All emendations and conjectures are mine, unless it is stated otherwise.
- a.c.before correction
- p.c.after correction
- tent.tentative / diagnostic conjecture
- *illegible akṣara
- †…†enclose akṣaras that the editor considers to be corrupt but he cannot see how to emend them
- 〚…〛enclose akṣaras that were deleted in the manuscript by the copyist
- <…>enclose akṣaras that are not found in the manuscript but that the editor supplied
Verse numbers have been supplied by the editor.
The Author of the Play: Śānt(y)ākara(gupta)
We are fortunate that verses 9 and 10 are quoted in the Saduktikarṇāmṛta, which enables us to supply the missing words of verse 10. The anthology also names the author of these verses as Śāntyākara. Both the Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa and the Saduktikarṇāmṛta quote further verses from probably the same poet, though his name appears with slight variations as Śāntākaragupta in the former, and as Śāntyākaragupta in the latter anthology. Two of these verses might have originally belonged to Sudhana’s monologue in the same act:
Saduktikarṇāmṛta 980 (attributed to Śāntyākaragupta):
kiṃ khidyase bhuja? mudhādhara tāmyasi tvaṃ. cakṣur vimuñca śucam. asti hṛdi priyeyam. āśleṣacumbanavilokanakelayo ’pi setsyanti vaḥ: sphuṭati me hṛdayaṃ muhūrtam.
Why are you tired, arm? Lower lip, your exhaustion is pointless. Eye, give up your pain. The beloved is here in the heart. Playful embraces, kisses, and glances will also be accomplished for you: my heart will burst in a moment.
Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa 776 (attributed to Śāntākaragupta):
śarān muñcaty uccair Manasijadhanur, makṣikaravā rujantīme, bhāsaḥ kirati dahanābhā himaruciḥ. jitās tu bhrūbhaṅgārcanavadanalāvaṇyarucibhiḥ saroṣā no jāne mṛgadṛśi vidhāsyanti kim amī.
Kāma’s bow shoots lots of arrows at me, the humming of the bees hurts, the moon casts fire-like rays. But, defeated by the beauty of the knitting of her brows, her canticles and her charming face, I do not know what they will do in their anger against the doe-eyed girl.
Another verse quoted in the Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa (29, attributed to Śāntākaragupta) might have been the nāndī verse of the play:
amīṣāṃ Mañjuśrīruciravadanaśrīkṛtarucāṃ śrutaṃ no nāmāpi, kva nu khalu himāṃśuprabhṛtayaḥ? mamābhyarṇe dhārṣṭyāc carati punar indīvaram iti krudhevedaṃ prāntāruṇam avatu vo locanayugam.
“We haven’t heard even the name of those who have accomplished a resemblance to the beauty of Mañjuśrī’s radiant face, how far then are such things as the moon? Yet the waterlily dares come into my presence!” May [Mañjuśrī’s] pair of eyes, red at the corners as if in anger at this thought, protect you.17
Finally Saduktikarṇāmṛta 1518 (attributed to Śāntyākara) might have belonged to a passage in which Sudhana was dispatched to defeat the rebel chief:
dṛpyatpratyarthipṛthvīpativitatayaśaḥkaumudīkṛṣṇapakṣo lakṣmīsaṃcāradūtaḥ suranaranagarārambhanirvighnayaṣṭiḥ saṃgrāmāmbhodhimādyadbhujabhujagaphaṇānalpakalpāntakṛṣṇaḥ18 khaḍgas te deva jīyād ayam uditamahīmaṇḍalākhaṇḍalasya.
A dark fortnight for the moonlight of the widespread fame of arrogant hostile kings, the messenger of Lady Fortune’s passage, the unobstructed pillar of the construction of the towns of gods and humans, the hood of the serpent of your arm that revels in the ocean of battle, dark like the end of a great eon:19 this sword of yours, Sire, who are Indra born on earth, may it be victorious.
The facts that it only survives in a single fragment of a Nepalese manuscript and that it seems to be quoted only in two anthologies compiled in Bengal make it likely that Śānt(y)ākara(gupta) composed his play somewhere in the northeastern part of the Subcontinent. Verse 776 of the Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa is only found in ms N, which, according to Kosambi, is an earlier version, compiled by Vidyākara “about ad1100, at the Jagaddala Vihāra, the place where the last great Pāla [i. e. Rāmapāla] was crowned”,20 while it is missing from ms K which “represents the complete inflated version”, datable around 1130.21 Verse 29 is found in both versions. The Saduktikarṇāmṛta is about a century later, it was compiled by Śrīdharadāsa in ad1205, under the patronage of king Lakṣmaṇasena.22
If we look around in late 11th-century Bengal for a possible candidate for the authorship of the Sudhana-play, we find a Buddhist scholar called Śāntākaragupta who, according to the colophon of the Tibetan translation of the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna, was one of its revisors together with Abhayākaragupta, Śākyarakṣita, and Vidyākaraśānti.23 Śāntākaragupta translated several texts (Avalokiteśvarasādhana, Ālambanaparīkṣā, Ālambanaparīkṣāvṛtti, Trikālaparīkṣā)24 into Tibetan together with Tshul khrims rgyal mtshan, who also collaborated with Abhayākaragupta,25 who was active during the reign of Rāmapāla (c. 1075–1128).26
The Intertextuality of Śāntākaragupta’s Play
It is not easy to trace back Śāntākaragupta’s play to a particular version of the Sudhana-legend on the basis of such a small fragment. Moreover, as it was perfectly legitimate, he most probably changed the plot here and there. For example, Sudhana is informed about what happened to Manoharā by his friend, Cārāyaṇa (a character invented by the author, very likely the vidūṣaka of the play), when he is still on his way to the palace, and not by his mother in the harem. The incident of the robbers might also have been thought up by Śāntākaragupta: its function is perhaps to demonstrate that the bodhisattva excels not only in the perfection of heroism (vīryapāramitā) but also in the perfection of liberality (dānapāramitā).27
Both of the surviving Buddhist plays of classical Indian literature, Candragomin’s Lokānanda (extant only in Tibetan translation) and Harṣa’s Nāgānanda, are centred on the theme of commitment to giving, culminating in extreme self-sacrifice, which of course requires fearless behaviour.28 The heroes of both plays marry a perfect and devoted lady, but unlike the reluctant Maṇicūḍa in the Lokānanda, Jīmūtavāhana behaves as a typical enamoured nāyaka in the first three acts of the Nāgānanda. He is so much enchanted by the heroine that the vidūṣaka starts teasing him: “Old chap, just where has your firmness gone?”29 As we saw above, the same question is asked about Sudhana, whose passionate longing for Manoharā, however, reaches a much higher stage than Jīmūtavāhana’s infatuation. The bodhisattva Sudhana’s “madness” requires some explanation, and although the verse that gives this explanation is sadly incomplete, perhaps its gist was that living the life of Sudhana was a necessary stage on the path leading to full enlightenment, similarly to the conclusion we find at the end of the Divyāvadāna-version of the story: “liberality and energy were no more than causes, bases, prerequisites of unexcelled, Supreme, Perfect Awakening” (trans. Tatelman).30
The author of the Sudhana-play was at home with classical Indian dramatic literature. His work presupposes several centuries of development and maturation, and although it is not necessarily a crowning achievment, it stands firmly rooted in kāvya tradition and builds on well-established standards. To start with the characters: the two hermits in the prelude were most probably invented by Śāntākaragupta, and to find plausible names for them he turned to his great predecessors: Gālava is a student of the sage Mārīca in the Abhijñānaśākuntala, another Gālava is a śiṣya of Bharata in the Vikramorvaśīya, and Śāṇḍilya is an ascetic disciple of Kauśika in the Nāgānanda. Cārāyaṇa is also a good name for a vidūṣaka: Rājaśekhara already used it in his Viddhaśālabhañjikā.
Sometimes the author’s use of set phrases helps the editor to emend the garbled text of the manuscript in a plausible way. For instance, bhuvanīyamahimā can be fairly securely corrected to bhuvanamahanīyamahimā, “whose greatness is to be honoured by the world”, on the basis of similar expressions in the Kirātārjunīya,31 the Mālatīmādhava,32 the Mahāvīracarita,33 and the Anargharāghava.34
Sudhana’s desperate search for Manoharā in the forest is reminiscent of Rāma’s madness after he discovers that Rāvaṇa has carried off Sītā, and the ramblings of Purūravas in Kālidāsa’s Vikramorvaśīya. Rāma asks various trees and animals in some way related to Sītā whether they have seen his beloved wife: bilva-fruits remind him of her breasts, the kakubha and the elephant’s trunk evoke her velvety thighs, the does’ timid looks are similar to her glances.35 Verse 6 in Śāntākaragupta’s play (no nārīruditadhvanir …), based on the tattvākhyāna type of upamā,36 is comparable to Vikramorvaśīya 4.7 (70):
navajaladharaḥ saṃnaddho ’yaṃ na dṛptaniśācaraḥ. suradhanur idaṃ dūrākṛṣṭaṃ na nāma śarāsanam. ayam api paṭur dhārāsāro na vāṇaparamparā. kanakanikaṣasnigdhā vidyut priyā na mamorvaśī.
This is a new cloud ready [to discharge water], not an arrogant demon. This is the rainbow, extending far, not a bow, and this is a heavy rain shower, not a series of arrows. This is lightning, smooth like a streak of gold on a touchstone, not my beloved Urvaśī.37
In the Yuddhakāṇḍa, before the battle starts, Rāma is lost in thought over Sītā and sends the wind to her in a famous verse:38
vāhi vāta yataḥ kāntā, tāṃ spṛṣṭvā mām api spṛśa. tvayi me gātrasaṃsparśaś, candre dṛṣṭisamāgamaḥ.
Blow, breeze, where my beloved stays. Touch her and then touch me. For the touching of our limbs now depends on you, as on the moon depends the meeting of our glances. (trans. Goldman, Goldman and van Nooten)
This verse resonates in many works of classical Indian literature,39 and it was probably in the mind of Śāntākaragupta when he composed verse 7 (rajanimukhasamīra …). A subtle difference between the two verses can, however, be detected: Sudhana appears to be more altruistic than Rāma, as it suits a bodhisattva. In the same soliloquy Rāma says: “And yet, even though I long for her so much, I can survive just knowing that that lady of the lovely thighs and I still share the same earth. And like a parched rice paddy drawing water from a flooded one, I live on through knowing that she lives.” (transl. Goldman, Goldman and van Nooten)40 Śāntākaragupta’s poetic image is different and more complex in verse 8 (durgādhā viṣamaiva …), but again one has the feeling that the text of the Rāmāyaṇa is there in the background.
Śāntākaragupta’s most important source of poetic inspiration, however, appears to be not the Rāmāyaṇa, nor the Vikramorvaśīya, nor other versions of the Sudhana-story, but the Anargharāghava. The popularity of Murāri’s Rāma-play in 11th–12th century Bengal is shown by the fact that both the Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa and the Saduktikarṇāmṛta quote many of its verses, and Śāntākaragupta seems to have been among Murāri’s admirers. The somewhat unusual syntax of the above mentioned verse 8 (yad … majjanti naivāsavas, tad …, “the fact that my life-breaths … do not sink means that …”) also occurs in the Anargharāghava (1.15): yad … mām anuśāsti … tan mayi gurur gurupakṣapātaḥ, “the fact that he instructs me means that my guru is very biased toward me”.
The sage in the Sudhana-play is said to have been honoured by Śiva, who “gave him, when he was a guest in his home on Kailāsa, water for washing his feet, with Ganges water flowing down from his heads shaken sideways out of wonder” (verse 1). Similarly, Rāma says the following about Viśvāmitra in the Anargharāghava: “It is as if he had been bathed in the sap coming from the flower garland of Indra’s headdress when the god bowed down politely in front of him.”41 (trans. Törzsök)
The striking image of verse 2—the ears of the good drinking in sweet words and as a result their eyes shedding tears of joy as oyster shells shed pearls—also has its parallels in the Anargharāghava. In the Prologue the assembly wishes to see a play “whose excellent writer has filtered the nectar of hundreds of learned compositions through his mind, in due order, like the oyster shell filters water, and produced pearls in the form of words, which he then strung into necklaces.”42 (trans. Törzsök) Verse 11 of Act Two describes the dawn, when the oyster shells of lotus buds, after drinking in the rain of darkness, seem to emit pearls in the guise of bees that possess the quality of their source (i. e. they are dark as the night, just as pearls are clear like water).43 One might also wonder why our Buddhist author selected the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa as the hallmark of the sage’s learning. A simple reason might be that this is the Vedic text that is mentioned by name in Murāri’s play: Janaka is called “the man who is referred to in the stories of the Śatapatha”.44
The bodhisattva Sudhana’s deeds have a strong effect on the people: their limbs turn into fields of cultivation nourished by rain, with bristling hair-sprouts watered by tears of joy (verse 4). The expression devamātṛka, “having the [rain-]god as foster-mother” and its opposite, nadīmātṛka, “nourished by rivers” both occur in the Anargharāghava. Trees on Kailāsa are said to be watered by streams coming from melting moonstones.45 On the other hand, the gardens of Laṅkā are said to be “irrigated by the tears of Indra’s thousand eyes” and thus, quite contrary to Śāntākaragupta’s image, adevamātṛka, “not nourished by rain”:46 the imprisoned Indra’s flowing tears are fancied to fill irrigation canals.
Prince Sudhana describes the moon’s domination over the world in verse 9. The moon is called “a wrestler in battle”, mārāṅkamallaḥ, an expression that is familiar from Sena-period praśasti literature. In the Deopārā inscription of Vijayasena (mid 12th century) king Hemantasena is referred to as mārāṅkavīraḥ.47 In the Mādhāinagar inscription of Lakṣmaṇasena (end of 12th – beginning of 13th century) the same king is called mārāṅkamallaḥ,48 and the author of the Deopārā-inscription, Umāpatidhara used the same expression in a verse quoted in the Saduktikarṇāmṛta (no. 2088).49 But the word mārāṅka already occurs in the Anargharāghava (5.45): Vālin addresses Rāma as rātriṃcaravīracakramārāṅkavaijñānika, “proficient at the battle against demon heros”. The interpretation of mārāṅka as “battle” I owe to Rucipati, the commentator of Murāri’s play, who explains it as “in which there is the mark of killing, i. e. war or battle”.50
The rest of verse 9 can also be compared with the conceits of the poet of the Anargharāghava: Murāri speaks about the moon’s splendour (indor mahaḥ) to which the moonstones on the top of the Eastern Mountain offer water for washing the feet with their exudations (niryāsaiḥ).51 In another verse he likens the moonbeams to adzes (kartarī),52 and the hearts of shelducks bursting into flames in Śāntākaragupta’s verse might seem a bit less surprising when we read in Murāri’s play that fire enters their minds from the sun-stones in the evening.53
But it would be unfair to think that Śāntākaragupta’s poetic erudition covered the Anargharāghava alone. Verse 10, which creates a magical atmosphere with its skillful alliterations, contains conceits that are familiar from many works of Sanskrit poetry. Kāma’s army already features in the Raghuvaṃśa (9.43) where it consists of red garments and the cooing of cuckoos. A verse quoted in the Saduktikarṇāmṛta compares amorous moanings with the battle-cries of Kāma’s victorious and thus cheerful batallion.54 Murāri calls the moon “first among heroes in service of the God of Love” (trans. Törzsök).55 But perhaps the closest parallel to the structure of verse 10 is found in the work of a fellow, though later, Bengali poet, Jayadeva:56
trans. Miller bhrūcāpe nihitaḥ kaṭākṣaviśikho nirmātu marmavyathāṃ. śyāmātmā kuṭilaḥ karotu kabarībhāro ’pi mārodyamam. mohaṃ tāvad ayaṃ ca tanvi tanutāṃ bimbādharo rāgavān. sadvṛttastanamaṇḍalas tava kathaṃ prāṇair mama krīḍati? Glancing arrows your brow’s bow conceals May cause pain in my soft mortal core. Your heavy black sinuous braid May perversely whip me to death. Your luscious red berry lips, frail Rādhā, May spread a strange delirium. But how do breasts in perfect circles Play havoc with my life?
Saduktikarṇāmṛta 980 (kiṃ khidyase bhuja …), probably quoted from Śāntākaragupta’s play, varies the familiar idea of the beloved staying in the lover’s heart while his body feels the pangs of separation. A well-known variation on this theme is found in the Mālavikāgnimitra (3.1):
trans. Balogh–Somogyi śarīraṃ kṣāmaṃ syād asati dayitāliṅganasukhe, bhavet sāsraṃ cakṣuḥ kṣaṇam api na sā dṛśyata iti. tayā sāraṅgākṣyā tvam asi na kadā cid virahitaṃ. prasakte nirvāṇe hṛdaya paritāpaṃ vrajasi kiṃ? My body may well be haggard, bereft of the joy of my beloved’s embrace. My eyes may well brim with tears, never seeing her for a moment. But you, my heart, are ever united with that doe-eyed girl— why then do you burn with pain in your ceaseless exaltation?
Saduktikarṇāmṛta 1518 (dṛpyatpratyarthipṛthvīpati …) might also have belonged to the Sudhana-play. Śāntākaragupta’s poetic conceits in this verse are reminiscent of inscriptional panegyrics and other vīrarasa-poetry. Another verse in the same kupitakhaḍga-section of the Saduktikarṇāmṛta (1516)57 is particularly comparable:
paryaṅko Rājalakṣmyā, haritamaṇimayaḥ pauruṣābdhes taraṅgo, bhagnapratyarthivaṃśolbaṇavijayakaristyānadānāmbupaṭṭaḥ, saṃgrāmatrāsatāmyannarapatisuyaśorājahaṃsāmbuvāhaḥ khaḍgaḥ kṣmāsauvidallaḥ samiti vijayate Mālavākhaṇḍalasya.
A bed for Royal Fortune, an emerald wave on the ocean of manliness, a strip of the coagulated ichor of the massive victorious elephants that have broken the enemy’s lineage (cane-like enemies?), a rain-cloud for the swan of the glorious fame of the kings who are exhausted by the terror of war (or, if we read °tāmyanmuralapatiyaśo° with Ruyyaka, then “of the fame of the Muralas’ king”), the Earth’s harem-guard: the sword of Mālava’s Indra is victorious in battle.
In this verse white fame appears in the form of a white swan, but the comparison of fame with moonlight is also well-established: it appears in many inscriptions,58 as well as in epics59 and plays.60 The image of the “ocean of battle” is also familiar from Sanskrit poety,61 and the identification of the sword with a snake or the hood of a snake is also not novel:62 it appears, for instance, in the above mentioned Deopārā-inscription composed by Umāpatidhara.63 Lakṣmī’s attachment to the sword of heroes is mentioned, for instance, in the Kādambarī and in the Anargharāghava.64 Bāṇa also pictures Royal Fortune as a woman hastening to a secret rendezvous, being attracted by the sword.65 In a punning verse quoted by Mammaṭa the sword blade is called mahākuṭṭanī, “great procuress / great cutter”.66
One could easily adduce further parallels to demonstrate Śāntākaragupta’s indebtedness to many centuries of writing poetry in India.67 But where should one place his art on the scale between poetic influence and plagiarism?68 I do not think it would be fair to classify him simply as a plagiarist or a poetaster who merely rehashed long-established clichés. Borrowing single words was not considered blameworthy according to Rājaśekhara, provided that they were not punning words.69 Borrowing more than three (not punning) words was condemned by the masters, but Rājaśekhara held the view that what one should really avoid appropriating is a string of words with a distinctive feature, something that makes that expression stand out.70 I think Śāntākaragupta more or less succeeded in keeping away from this fault.71
As for adopting ideas, his borrowings sometimes fall into the category of ālekhyaprakhya, “like a painting”, when “due to the application of some processing (or polishing, tweaking) the idea appears to be different”,72 and sometimes they are closer to the tulyadehitulya-type, “similar to a person who looks similar”, when “though the subject is different, one has the impression of sameness due to extreme similarity”.73 But being original and inventive was not an easy task around 1100, especially when one was not a cintāmaṇi poet, “to whom lots of wonderful ideas come as soon as he starts thinking, ideas that are the unique source of rasa and that have never been seen before by the talented poets of yore”.74 It was not easy to create fresh-sounding verses when cakravākas had been pining and moonstones had been oozing for a thousand years. Śāntākaragupta nevertheless managed to write good poetry, and occasionally he achieved really high standard, as in the beautifully alliterating, atmospheric verse 10.
Agrawala, Prithvi K. (1983) Imperial Gupta Epigraphs / Guptādhirājalekhamaṇḍala, being Vol. X. pt. I of the Ancient Indian Epigraphical Sources / Pratnābhilekhasaṃhitā. Books Asia. Varanasi.
Alaṃkārasarvasva: see Janaki.
Anargharāghava: see Bhat, Vol. II.
Bailey, H.W. (1966) ‘The Sudhana poem of Ṛddhiprabhāva’, BSOAS 29/3, pp. 506–532.
Bālarāmāyaṇa: see Śástri.
Balogh, Dániel—Somogyi, Eszter (trans.) (2009) Mālavikā and Agnimitra by Kālidāsa. Clay Sanskrit Library. New York University Press—JJC Foundation. New York.
Banerji, Sures Chandra (ed.) (1965) Sadukti-karṇāmṛta of Śrīdharadāsa. Calcutta.
Bhartṛhari’s Śatakatrayī: see Kosambi.
Bhat, B.R. Harinarayana (crit. ed.) (1998) The Commentary of Viṣṇubhaṭṭa on the Anargharāghava of Murāri. Vol. I: The Commentary of Viṣṇubhaṭṭa, Vol. II: The Anargharāghava of Murāri As Read By Viṣṇubhaṭṭa, Notes, Appendices. Publications du Département d’Indologie 82.1–2, Institut français de Pondichéry—École française d’Extrême-Orient. Pondicherry.
Biswas, T.K. (1981) ‘Kinnara—Kinnarī’ in: Anand Krishna (ed.), Chhavi-2. Rai Krishnadasa Felicitation Volume (Varanasi), pp. 266–269.
Bolensen, Friedrich (1846) Vikramorvaśī, das ist Urwasi, der Preis der Tapferkeit, ein Drama Kalidasa’s in fünf Akten. St. Petersburg.
Caturveda, Vrajamohana and Singh, Nag Sharan (1995) The Vāyumahāpurāṇam. Second Edition. Nag Publishers, Delhi.
Coulson, Michael (1989) A Critical Edition of the Mālatīmādhava, Revised by Roderick Sinclair. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
Dalal, C.D. and Sastry, R.A. (eds.) (1934) Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara. Revised and enlarged by Ramaswami Sastri Siromani. Third Edition. Gaekwad’s Oriental Series No. I. Oriental Institute. Baroda.
De Chiara, Matteo (2013) The Khotanese Sudhanāvadāna. Beiträge zur Indologie 48. Harrassowitz. Wiesbaden.
Divyāvadāna: see Tatelman.
Durgâprasâd, Paṇdit and Parab, Kâśînâth Pâṇdurang (eds.) (1895) The Kirâtârjunîya of Bhâravi with the Commentary (Ghaṇtâpatha) of Mallinâtha and Various Readings. Bombay.
Durgâprasâd, Paṇḍit and Paṇśîkar, Wâsudev Laxmaṇ Śâstrî (eds.) (1929) The Anargharâghava of Murâri with the Commentary of Ruchipati. Kâvyamâlâ 5. Fourth Edition. Bombay.
Edgerton, Franklin (ed.) (1944) The Mahābhārata, for the first time critically edited by Vishnu S. Sukthankar and S.K. Belvalkar. Vol. 2: The Sabhāparvan, being the second book of the Mahābhārata, the great epic of India. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Poona.
Gītagovinda: see Sharma.
Goldman, Robert P.—Goldman, Sally J.—van Nooten, Barend A. (2009) The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki. An Epic of Ancient India. Vol. VI: Yuddhakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. Princeton and Oxford.
Granoff, Phyllis (2009) ‘The Alchemy of Poetry: Poetic Borrowing and the Transmission of Texts’ in: Gérard Colas et Gerdi Gerschheimer (ed.), Écrire et transmettre en Inde classique. Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient. Paris.
Grimal, François (ed. trans.) (1989) Mahāvīracarita de Bhavabhūti accompagné du commentaire de Vīrarāghava. Publications de l’Institut français d’indologie, no. 74. Institut français de Pondichéry. Pondicherry.
Hahn, Michael (trans.) (1987) Joy for the World. A Buddhist Play by Candragomin. Dharma Publishing. Berkeley.
Hahn, Michael (2007) Haribhaṭṭa in Nepal. Ten Legends from His Jātakamālā and the Anonymous Śākyasiṃhajātaka. Editio Minor. Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series XXII. The International Institute of Buddhist Studies of The International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies. Tokyo.
Hahn, Michael (2011) Poetical Vision of the Buddha’s Former Lives: Seventeen Legends From Haribhaṭṭa’s Jātakamālā. Aditya Prakashan. New Delhi.
Hultzsch, E. (1998) Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta, edited from manuscripts with the commentary of Vallabhadeva and provided with a complete Sanskrit-English vocabulary, with a Foreword by Prof. Albrecht Wezler. (reprint of the 1911 edition) Munshiram Manoharlal. New Delhi.
Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1966) ‘The Story of Sudhana and Manoharā: An Analysis of the Texts and the Borobudur Reliefs’, BSOAS 29/3, pp. 533–558. (reprinted in Jaini, P.S. (2001) Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies. Motilal Banarsidass. Delhi, pp. 297–329.)
Janaki, S.S. (ed.) (1965) Alaṃkāra-sarvasva of Ruyyaka, with Sañjīvanī commentary of Vidyācakravartin. Delhi.
Jhalakikar, Vamanacharya Ramabhatta (ed.) (1983) Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammaṭa, With the Sanskrit Commentary Bālabodhinī. Eight edition, reprinted from the seventh revised edition. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Poona.
Kādambarī: see Parab and Paṇsîkar.
Kale, M.R. (1936) Veṇīsaṃhāra of Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa an the Commentary of Jagaddhara. Motilal Banarsidass. Delhi.
Kāvyamīmāṃsā: see Dalal and Sastry.
Kāvyaprakāśa: see Jhalakikar.
Kāvyādarśa: see Thakur and Jha.
Kirātārjunīya: see Durgâprasâd and Parab.
Kosambi, D.D. (ed.) (1948) The Epigrams Attributed to Bhartṛhari, Including the Three Centuries, for the first time collected and critically edited, with principal variants and an introduction. Singhi Jain Series. Bombay.
Kosambi, D.D. and Gokhale, V.V. (eds.) (1957) The Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa compiled by Vidyākara. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Lokānanda: see Hahn (1987).
Mahābhārata: see Edgerton.
Mahāvīracarita: see Grimal.
Majumdar, Nani Gopal (ed. trans.) (2003) Inscriptions of Bengal, containing inscriptions of the Candras, the Varmans and the Senas, and Īśvaraghoṣa and Dāmodara. Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar. Kolkata. (reprint of the 1929 ed.)
Mālatīmādhava: see Coulson.
Mālavikāgnimitra: see Balogh–Somogyi.
Martin, Dan (2011) Tibskrit Philology, compiled and typed by Dan Martin, edited by Alexander Cherniak. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/37359227/Tibskrit%202011.pdf
Meghadūta: see Hultzsch.
Miller, Barbara Stoller (1984) The Gītagovinda of Jayadeva. Love Song of the Dark Lord. Motilal Banarsidass. Delhi.
Mukherji, S.C. (1999) ‘The Royal Charters of King Madanapāla and the Chronology of the Pāla kings of Bengal and Bihar’ in: Journal of Bengal Art, Vol. 4, pp. 61–65.
Nāgānanda: see Skilton.
Parab, Kâśînâth Pâṇdurang (ed.), Paṇsîkar, Vâsudeva Laxmaṇ Śâstrî (rev.) (1916) The Kâdambarî of Bâṇabhatta and his son (Bhûshaṇabhatta) with the commentaries of Chandra and his disciple Siddhachandra. Bombay.
Pollock, Sheldon (2007) Rāma’s Last Act by Bhavabhūti. Clay Sanskrit Library. New York University Press—JJC Foundation. New York.
Raven, Ellen M. (1990) ‘Naras and Kinnaras in a Rocky Landscape’ in: Claudine Bautze-Picron (ed.), Makaranda. Essays in Honour of Dr. James C. Harle (Delhi), pp. 67–78.
Rucipati’s commentary on the Anargharāghava: see Durgâprasâd and Paṇśîkar.
Saduktikarṇāmṛta: see Banerji.
Śástri, Govinda Deva (ed.) (1869) The Bálarámáyana. A Drama by Rájaśekhara. Benares.
Schlingloff, Dieter (1973) ‘Prince Sudhana and the Kinnarī. An Indian Love-story in Ajanta’, Indologica Taurinensia 1, pp. 155–176.
Sharma, Aryendra—Deshpande, Khanderao—Sharma, V. Sundara (eds.) (1969) Gītagovinda Mahākāvyam of Jayadeva With Three Commentaries. Sanskrit Academy Series No. 19. Hyderabad.
Skilton, Andrew (trans.) (2009) How the Nāgas Were Pleased by Harṣa & The Shattered Thighs by Bhāsa. Clay Sanskrit Library. New York University Press—JJC Foundation. New York.
Straube, Martin (2006) Prinz Sudhana und die Kinnarī. Eine buddhistische Liebesgeschichte von Kṣemendra. Texte, Übersetzung, Studie. Indica et Tibetica 46. Marburg.
Straube, Martin (2007) ‘Die Adaptation von Kṣemendras Sudhanakinnaryavadāna im Bhadrakalpāvadāna’ in: Konrad Klaus und Jens-Uwe Hartmann (eds.), Indica et Tibetica. Festschrift für Michael Hahn zum 65. Geburtstag von Freunden und Schülern überreicht. Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde, Heft 66. Wien, pp. 521–538.
Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa: see Kosambi and Gokhale.
Tatelman, Joel (ed. trans.) (2005) The Heavenly Exploits. Buddhist Biographies From The Divyāvadāna. Volume One. Clay Sanskrit Library. New York University Press—JJC Foundation. New York.
Thakur, Anantalal and Jha, Upendra (eds.) (1957) Kāvyalakṣaṇa of Daṇḍin (Also Known As Kāvyādarśa) With Commentary Called Ratnaśrī of Ratnaśrījñāna. Darbhanga.
Törzsök, Judit (ed. trans.) (2006) Rāma Beyond Price by Murāri. Clay Sanskrit Library. New York University Press—JJC Foundation. New York.
Uttararāmacarita: see Pollock.
Vāyupurāṇa: see Caturveda.
Viṣṇubhaṭṭa’s commentary on the Anargharāghava: see Bhat, Vol. I.
Vogel, J.Ph. (1937) ‘The Man in the Well and some other Subjects illustrated in Nāgārjunikoṇḍa’, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, Vol. XI (Paris), pp. 109–121.
Vyas, R.T. (gen. ed.), Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. Text as Constituted in its Critical Edition. Oriental Institute, Vadodara 1992
Veṇīsaṃhāra: see Kale.
Vikramorvaśīya: see Bolensen.
Cf. Bailey 1966De Chiara 2013.
Cf. Jaini 1966: 533f.
Cf. Vogel 1937: 119–121.
Cf. Schlingloff 1973.
Cf. Jaini 1966: 534.
Cf. Tatelman 2005: 221ff. Jaini 1966: 538ff.
Tatelman 2005: 297.
Kosambi and Gokhale 1957: xxxix.
Kosambi and Gokhale 1957: xxiii xxxix.
Banerji 1965: viii.
Cf. Martin 2011: 254.
Cf. Martin 2011: 46815 816 818.
Cf. Mukherji 1999: 62Martin 2011: 376f.
Majumdar 2003: 47verse 10.
Majumdar 2003: 110verse 5.
Also quoted by Ruyyaka (c. 1100Kashmir) in his Alaṃkārasarvasva as an illustration of rūpaka (p. 48).