By Jagannatha Pandita
G S S Murthy
This work, “Bhamini-vilasah” is a collection of verses of Jagannatha Pandita, an erudite scholar and poet of the 17th century. Although each verse is independent, the poet has thematically categorized the collection into four parts: 1.Introductory (129 verses) 2.Love (183 verses) 3.Pathos (19 verses) and 4.Peace (46 verses). Possibly these were composed over a long stretch of time and later compiled into a book.
The poet has called the collection, “Bhamini vilasah”. “Bhamini” would generally mean a beautiful young woman. It could also mean an angry woman.
Meaning of “Vilasah” can cover a wide range. It could mean sport, pleasure, graceful movement, or elegance.
As a compound word, “Bhaminivilasah” can be interpreted in different ways. It could convey that it is written to appease an angry maiden or it could mean that the text basically deals with different moods of a woman. Or it could also mean that the work covers a wide gamut of emotions like the varying moods of a woman. As all these shades of meaning cannot be conveyed in English simultaneously, I have simply translated it as “Womens’ Elegance”.
Jagannatha Pandita who lived during the reign of emperor Shahajehan (1592-1666) in Delhi for several years under his patronage was a Telugu Brahmin whose father Perubhatta was an erudite scholar. Jagannatha, endowed with sharp intellect, acquired deep knowledge in various fields of learning under the tutelage of his father. It is said that he first went to Tanjore to establish himself. But failing in his effort he moved North ultimately landing in Delhi where Shahjehan recognized his merit and offered him his patronage. His fame spread far and wide.
A story goes that young Jagannatha fell in love with a Muslim girl –emperor’s daughter- and married her.
He has authored a number of well known works, the most famous of which is “Rasagangadhara”- a treatise on poetics. His “Gangalahari”, a hymn to river Ganga, is equally famous and popular.
He was also a contemporary of Appayaadikshita, author of “Kuvalayananda”- again an authoritative work on Figures of speech. Appayyadikshita was Jagannatha Pandita’s literary rival and he severely criticized Appayyadikshita in his work.
In any such collection of independent verses there is always a possibility of variations in the number and text of verses. In what follows I have depended on the version published in 1991 by “Gangavishnu Srikrishnadas Prakashan”, Kalyan, Mumbai with a Hindi translation by Mahavir Prasad Dvivedi. I shall try to convey the gist of the Sanskrit text in English prose trying to be as close to the text as possible. Wherever required I shall provide short notes to assist the reader in following the text.
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माधुर्यपरमसीमा सारस्वतजलधिमथनसम्भूता ।
पिबताम् अनल्पसुखदा वसुधायां मम सुधा कविता ॥ १ ॥
On this earth my poetry is ambrosia. Those who savour it get unlimited pleasure. It is generated by the churning of the ocean of literature and is the ultimate in sweetness.
[ Jagannatha Pandita, who was quite conscious of his capabilities, does not appear to consider modesty a virtue!]
दिगन्ते श्रूयन्ते मदमलिनगण्डाः करटिनः
करिण्यः कारुण्यास्पदमसमशीलाः खलु मृगाः ।
इदानीं लोकेऽस्मिन् अनुपमशिखानां पुनरयम्
नखानां पाण्डित्यं प्रकटयतु कस्मिन् मृगपतिः ॥ २ ॥
Elephants whose temples are darkened by the flow of ichor are only heard at the horizon. The she elephants are pitiable. The deer are of no match. Now in this world, where can this king of beasts display the proficiency of its nails of incomparable sharp edge?
[The poet obliquely bemoans his fate of not being able to wrestle with a matching scholar by describing the fate of a lion who does not find any elephant nearby to fight with. This is “anyokti” [अन्योक्ति] or “anyapadesha” [अन्यापदेश], where the poet obliquely refers to some human situation through an analogical happening in nature. We shall come across many such अन्योक्तिs in this work.]