Sunday, September 13, 2015

(2) Adultery in works of Sanskrit literature

1. Introduction

As we have taken pains to stress, there are no comprehensive works of Sanskrit poetry or drama that have an adulterous woman as the heroine. The prostitute figures prominently as a character in the bhaṇikās and prahasanas, and the "chaste" prostitute in Mṛcchakaṭikā. The prostitute is the main character in the 8th century Damodara Gupta's "Doctrine of the Bawd" (Kuṭṭanī-mata), where the adulteress is highly glorified in a significant speech given by the courtesan Manjari. The great collections of Prakrit and Sanskrit poetry, the muktaka found Hāla's Gāthā-sattasāī (2nd to 4th centuries A.D.), Jayavallabha's Vajjālagga (ca. 740ā.D.), Vidyakara's Subhāṣita-ratna-kośa (Srk, 11th c.) and Sridhara's Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛta (Skm, 1204 A.D.), etc., contain numerous verses about women who are unchaste or wanton under the rubric of asatī (Prakrit asaī). The asatī may also be called svairiṇī, kulaṭā, or occasionally, raṇḍā. These terms, which are already value-loaded, are not generally used by the critics. The character intended appears to be the paroḍhā, though on some occasions, it may be the unmarried parakīyā nāyikā, the kanyā.

As we have seen, the poeticians, especially the later ones, had a generally unfavourable attitude toward the paroḍhā and advised against making her the heroine of any work of literature; indeed, no comprehensive Sanskrit literary work prior to those of Rupa Goswami has such a heroine. Since certain illustrative verses in works as early as Dhvanyāloka describes the words or actions of the asatī, it would appear that they did not consider such characterization to be entirely devoid of aesthetic value. The compilers of the anthologies, who were doubtlessly inspired, at least in part, by this tradition of the illustrative verse were not limited in their research to complete works like plays or mahā-kāvyas, but drew from other sources as well. They thus appear to be somewhat less dogmatic on this point. Along with the section on the asatī, many of the anthologies also have a parallel section on the chaste wife (satī), though this is generally shorter than the one devoted to the unfaithful one (e.g. Vajjālagga has 9 verses on saī, 25 on asaī.)

These collections have been compiled in widely differing times and places and the verses within them are not confined to the contemporaries of their editors. We should thus not expect any homogeneous attitude to any one subject, other than perhaps that which the editors imposed by their own selections. The earlier Prakrit anthologies show a rather more earthy and naturalistic attitude when compared with the later Sanskrit collections, which progressively adhere to the orthodoxy of both style and subject matter that permeates the medieval literature.

The existence of the fragmentary verses in the anthologies points to a tradition of stories about adulterous women in popular literature of the time. Indeed, there are numerous stories about such women in the kathā literature such as Kathā-sarit-sāgara and Śuka-saptati. These works generally reflect the misogynistic traditions of Indian (Buddhist-Jain-Hindu) thought. Examples of this are multifarious; numerous verses found in Pañcatantra 1.4 ("The story of Aṣāḍhabhūti, the jackal and the messenger girl, etc."), a tale that contains the account of an adulterous woman, have found their way into the anthologies. (1)

According to this wisdom, every woman is a potential adulteress and cannot be trusted; she will lie, steal, sell her family down the road just to satisfy her lusts. She is held to be uncontrollable in her desires and ready to engage in adulterous activities with the first man who presents her with an opportunity, whether it brings dishonour on her family or not.

As many of the verses chosen as examples herein will show, the theme of adultery is treated with some jocularity by the Sanskrit author, as is the prostitute. Clearly, by the time of Vallabha's collection, Subhāṣitāvalī (Sbh, 14th century), the subject was not one that was dealt with as a part and parcel of the discussion of love, but rather as belonging to the realm of humour. Thus, verses that praise the glories of parakīyā love are included in the chapter of verses entitled hāsya. The humorous treatment of the vulgar svairiṇī permeates all literatures. Of this type of woman we find the mock panegyric in the Prakrit anthology, Vajjālagga:
After sixty, she attains good fortune,
she becomes the equal of Rambhā after a hundred;
but Indra cedes a place on his throne to the wanton
when she has known her thousandth lover. (2)

This is not, however, the type of nāyikā whose features figure in the gopī-Krishna story. Though some of the elements of the asatī described in the anthologies are adopted in adaptations of this story, when we look for antecedents in poetic sources, we are looking for a sympathetic treatment of the adulteress, not the sarcastic or phlegmatic.

The first of the anthologies, that of Hāla, contains numerous verses that allude to the asatī woman, as does the later collection of Prakrit verses, Vajjālagga. Hāla's collection is remarkable for its freedom from the poetic conventions which mark the later literature. The asatī is shown to be a real person and more common than later society would perhaps admit. The sentiment arising out of the adulterous relation is shown in numerous verses filled with poetic suggestion. The following verse, in which a farmer observes the path of an asatī on her way to a tryst serves as an example:
Seeing the long green path in the morning
cutting through the sesamum field, white with dew,
where the wanton had secretly gone to her tryst,
the ploughman did not feel excessively disturbed. (3)

Despite seeing that someone has damaged his crops, his lack of disturbance is no doubt the result of personal experience.


1 Pañc 1.184 = Srk 819, Spd 3767, Sbh 1937, etc.; Pañc 1.185 = Spd 3766 = Sbh 2342. Pañc 1.187 = Sbhr 352.9, etc.

2 Vajjā 478:
saṭṭhīe hoi suhavā saeṇa rambhattaṇaṁ ca pāvei |
puṇṇe jārasahasse indoaddhāsaṇaṁ dei ||

[ṣaṣṭhyā bhavati subhagā śatena rambhātvaṁ ca prāpnoti |
pūrṇejārasahasra indro 'rdhāsanaṁ dadāti

3 Hāla 696,
diṭṭhūṇa hariadīhaṁ gose ṇājūrae halio |
asaī-rahassa-maggaṁ tusāra-dhavale tila-cchette ||

[dṛṣṭvā haritadīrghaṁ prātaḥ nātikhidyate halikaḥ |
asatī rahasya-mārgaṁ tuṣāra-dhavale tila-kṣetre

2. Kulaṭopadeśa

Included in many of the anthologies is a certain type of verse that contains the apparent advice to be chaste, given by the womenfolk of the heroine's family or perhaps by the dūtī. Morality lessons such as this would naturally heighten the dramatic tension of a narrative that treated of an adulterous love affair. In BhP, (4) Krishna himself advises both the wives of the Brahmins and the gopis against indulging in an immoral relation with him, instructing them in the duties of a faithful wife. Such instructions are, as often as not, intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and perhaps meant to encourage the very activity they ostensibly discourage. Verses of this type are found particularly in Vajjālagga and Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛta. The following is an example of the words of a mother fearing for her daughter-in-law's virtue.
By the grace of the gods and the Brahmins,
in all this time, my daughter,
our family has never known
the disgracing of a faithful wife. (5)
The verse contains a double entendre on the last compound saīttaṇa-kalaṅko which may also be read as "the disgrace of having a faithful wife."

The social circumstances in which loveless marriage was arranged were compensated for by illicit, adulterous love affairs that were perhaps tolerated to some extent by the society. Certainly, the Vajjālagga seems to take the problems of the young girl given in marriage to an old man sympathetically:
There are thickets nearby, the gods are hidden,
there are lots of young men around;
because we have given you in marriage to an old man:
don't cry, my dear, for his village is a good one. (6)
Here, the meaning of a "good village' is given a new dimension probably not intended by the brokers of the marriage.


4 BhP x.29.18-27. See also Pv 290-1.

5 Vajjā 477:
devāṇaṁ bambhaṇāṇaṁ ya putti pasāeṇa ettiyaṁ kālaṁ |
na hu jāo amha ghare kayā bi saīttaṇakalaṅko ||

[devānāṁ brāhmaṇānāṁ ca putri prasādena etāvat-kālam |
na khalu jāto 'smad-gṛhe kadācit satītva-kalaṅkaḥ

6 Vajjā, 472.
niyaḍa-kuḍaṅgaṁ pacchanna-deulaṁ bahu-juvāṇa-saṁikiṇṇaṁ |
thero pai tti māruvasu putti dinnā si suggāme ||

[nikaṭa-kuṭaṅgakaṁ pracchanna-deva-kulaṁ bahu-yuva-saṁkīrṇam |
sthaviraḥ patir iti mā rodīḥ putri dattāsi sugrāme

3. In praise of adultery

It is only a short step from such tacit approval of adulterous activity to overt recommendations of indulgence. Occasionally, the society of unfaithful women or a dūtī is pictured trying to persuade a chaste hold-out to join the club, following the prescriptions of Kāma-sūtra by telling her that her beauty is not to be wasted on only one man, particularly not if he is deficient in some way.
"The husband is to be worshipped;
the religious duty of a woman is to follow in his footsteps."
My friend! Who has taught you doctrines like this,
which lead you down the wrong path?
What is the use of beauty if your mind is not absorbed in young men?
And what the instructions of religious teachers
for one who has not the undying fame achieved
through an encounter with love's profound secrets?(7)
Jayavallabha includes a verse in which the wanton expresses the happiness of her affairs, conveying her satisfaction at the event and a lifelong commitment to a single individual paramour:
If anything has been achieved in this life
by me, a mortal, it is clearly this:
the sports I have enjoyed
in these bowers with my lover.(8)
Generally, though, it is rather the male voice that comes through in the eulogies of adulterous love. Damodara Gupta's verse about the nature of love with the three types of nāyikā summarizes the familiar wisdom about extra-marital adventures:
Sex with one's own wife is for procreation,
with a prostitute to quieten one's malaise,
but the congress that is the most pleasurable
[and thus most worthy of the name surata],
which is most difficult to obtain--
that with the wives of other men.(9)
Govardhana has perhaps taken the glorification of the attitude of the votary of the clandestine love to the extreme:
My mistress's buttocks on the floor;
me, her lover, on her lap;
fear in her mind;
her head resting on her sleeping husband's arm,
the breath stifled in her mouth:
if I could always have sex like that,
I would consider the three worlds as so much straw.(10)
A number of other verses of this type can be found in the anthologies. The most popular of them is attributed to Lakshmidhara, who probably predates Govardhana by more than two centuries. It is found in nearly all the anthologies:
Where the moon is not inveighed against
and no sweet words of a messenger are heard,
where speech is never choked with tears and the body grows not thin;
but where one sleeps in one's own house
with her own husband who is subservient to her wishes;
can this routine of household sex, this wretched thing,
deserve the name of love? (11)
Though only a few verses of this type are found amongst the thousands contained in the numerous anthologies, this is perhaps the classical expression of the sense of excitement and adventure present in the adulterous relation which hasled to the glorification of parakīyā love in the writings of the later Vaishnava Tantrikas such as Lochan Das and others. (12) It certainly fits the spirit of the verses found in Bharata and Rudra Bhatta where hidden love is glorified.(13)

The famous affair of the god Indra with Ahalya (Ramāyaṇa ii.48) is cited as the archetype of the adulterous relation, the brevity of their passionate intercourse being particularly called to attention:
No words were spoken, no elaborate art was used;
it began from the first touch of his hand
and ended by the time her skirt was loosed,
often they trembled and cast about their eyes:
their intercourse was swift as Indra's with Ahalya. (14)
The example of Indra and Ahalya is also given in the Kāma-sūtra, i.2.45, where it is used as an illustration that kāma is the ultimate goal of life, sought even by the gods. (15) Bhoja (Skā 5.276), gives this verse as an appropriate example of saṁkṣipta-sambhoga: i.e. the sexual union which comes at the time of the first meeting after the long wait of the pūrvānurāga.


7 Skm, 538 (Śaraṇasya);
ārādhyaḥ patir eva tasya ca pada-dvandvānuvṛttir vrataṁ
kenaitāḥ śakhi śikṣitāsi vipatha-prasthāna-durvāsanāḥ |
kiṁ rūpeṇa na yatra majjati mano yūnāṁ kim ācāryakaiḥ
gūḍhānaṅga-rahasya-yuktiṣu phalaṁ yeṣāṁ na dīrghaṁ yaśaḥ ||

8 Vajjā 479:
ja-i phuḍu ettha muyāṇaṁ jamma-phalaṁ hoi kiṁ pi amhāṇaṁ |
tā tesu kuḍaṅgesu hateṇa mama taha nu kīlejjā ||

[yadi sphuṭam atra mṛtānāṁ janma-phalaṁ bhavati kim apy asmākam |
tatas teṣu kuḍaṅgeṣu hā tena samaṁ tathāho krīḍeyam |]

9 Kuṭṭ 811:
dāra-ratiḥ santataye vyādhi-praśamāya ceöikāśleṣaḥ |
tat khalu surataṁ surataṁ kṛcchra-prāpyaṁ yad anya-nārīṣu ||

10 Asś 568,
śroṇī bhūmāv aṅke priyo bhayaṁ manasi pati-bhuje mauliḥ |
gūḍha-śvāso vadane suratam idaṁ cet tṛṇaṁ manye tridivam ||

11 indur yatra na nindyate na madhuraṁ dūtī-vacaḥ śrūyate
nālāpā nipatanti bāṣpakaluṣānopaiti kārśyaṁ tanuḥ |
svādhīnām anukūlinīṁ sva-gṛhiṇīm āliṅgya yat supyate
tat kiṁ prema-gṛhāśrama-vratam idaṁ kaṣṭaṁ samācaryate ||

This verse is found in Srk 823; Sbh 2398; Spd 3782; Smv 75.4; Skb 5.192; ÇPr 3.397; Sab 4.148; SK 5.298; Ssm 937. Other verses in this style include Srk 813, 814, 824. This translation by Ingalls.

12 Durlabha-sāra, cited by Dimock, Place of the Hidden Moon, 211. Also Ratnāvalī, ibid. 213.

13 See note 28 (Nāṭ 22.207) and 42 (ŚṛT 2.30) in the previous article.

14 [Ingall's trans.] Srk 814 (Yogeśvarasya), Svm 87.10 (anon.), Skb 5.276, SRPr 3.178, 3.235, 3.308, 4.453, 4.514.
vyapeta-vyāhāraṁ gata-vividha-śilpa-vyatikaraṁ
kara-sparśārambha-pragalita-dukūlānta-śayanam |
muhur baddhotkampaṁ diśi diśi muhuḥ preṣita-dṛśor
ahalyā-sutrāmṇoḥ kṣaṇikam iva tat-saṁgatam abhūt ||

15 Also Kuṭṭ 858:
śirasā racitā jalayo dadhati nideśaṁ triviṣṭapegaṇikāḥ |
para-dāra-rasākṛṣṭas tathāpi bheje śacī-patir ahalyām ||

Damodara Gupta also gives the examples of Govinda and Ravana (859-60).

4. Vidagdhā asatī

The use of suggestion remarked upon above in connection with the verse from Hāla is found in other verses from that collection dealing with the asatī. One of these has found its way into the works of many of the major poeticians as an example of poetic suggestion, most notably, of course, in Dhvanyāloka.(16) This verse subsequently becomes the prototype for a great number of other verses found in all the anthologies and include the verse by Viśvanātha cited earlier.
This is the place where my mother-in-law sleeps,
and here I, and this is where the rest of the family lie.
Oh traveller, blind in the darkness of the night,
be careful not to trip over my bed. (17)
Amongst the numerous Sanskrit pastiches of this extremely popular theme, the most widely quoted is the following anonymous verse:
"That's where my aged mother sleeps,
and there sleeps daddy, the oldest man you'll ever met.
Here sleeps the slave girl, worn out from her chores,
and here sleep I, who must be guilty
to deserve these few days absence of my lord."
Through the ruse of statements such as these
the youthful wife informed the traveler of her intent. (18)
This theme is repeated in all permutations and combinations. The asatī cannot openly invite the traveller in, but she can make it quite clear that opportunity is knocking. The following verse by Rudrata is another early example of the type:
I am alone, a woman and controlled by others,
the master of this household has gone abroad,
why do you ask to remain here for the night?
Oh foolish traveller, can you not see
that my poor mother-in-law is both blind and deaf? (19)
Sridhara's term for the woman speaking the above verses is the vidagdhāsatī, the experienced and clever wanton. These verses are amusing rather than erotic, i.e., rasābhāsa rather than rasa. One is invited to laugh at the boldness of the woman who dares indulge in such acts, to find hilarity in the foolish mother-in-law who is too blind and deaf to police the uncontrollable wife of her son. The moral tone is neutral if not intended to titillate. In Rupa Goswami's plays, as well as those of his followers, Radha's aging mother-in-law Jatila is repeatedly deceived by Radha and her girlfriends (sakhīs), though Radha is certainly not a wanton in the sense of a svairiṇī. The humorous is stated by the poeticians to be arelative of the erotic; Rupa Goswami and later Gaudiyas like Vishwanath Chakravarti take this relation seriously. It fits the mood in which Rūpa casts Krishna as the dhīra-lalita nāyaka, or light-hearted lover (parihāsa-viśārada).

A natural situation one would expect to find in the dramatic representation of adultery is the attempt, real or feigned, of a woman to repel the advances of the men who would tempt her to adultery. We have examples of this in verses that describe the satī. The woman who is attracted may make such attempts and later fail. The following verse is given by Singabhupala as an example of the upapati nāyaka:
My husband is jealous of my every breath,
my co-wives can sense my very thoughts,
my mother-in-law divines the meaning of my eyes' every movement,
my sisters-in-law are glued to my every move;
therefore, at a distance I make you this plea,
what is to be gained by giving me these feeling glances?
Oh, you who are so clever in the arts of love!
Your efforts are wasted. (20)
It is rather the apparent efforts of the woman to dissuade this lothario that are wasted, for she reveals her attraction for him by the long vocative, vaidagdhī-racanā-prapañca-rasika (or, according to other readings, vaidagdhī-madana-prapañca-catura).

The sentiment in this verse has been approved by Rūpa as worthy of Radha and has cited it in his compilation, Padyāvalī. Indeed, Rupa Goswami has devoted a rather large portion of UN to this type of statement, which is given the name there of svayaṁ dautya, or "giving the message oneself." Rupa says that these are of three kinds, verbal (vācika), by bodily movements (āṅgika) and through eye movements (cākṣuṣa) and these have, in turn, numerous subdivisions. (21)


16 Dhvanyāloka 1.2, 2.7.

17 Hāla 669,
ettha nimajjaī attā ettha ahaṁ, ettha pariaṇo sayalo |
e pahiya rattiyandhaya māmaha sayaṇe nimajjihisi ||

[ito nivasati śvaśrūr atrāham atra parijanaḥ sakalaḥ |
he pathika rātry-andha mā mama śayane nimaṅkṣyase

SāhD also sees Hāla 4 as offering similar suggestion. Quoted in Kāvya-prakāśa, 136. Other verses of this type are Srk 811, Skm 546-550; Kāvyālaṅkāra 7.41 (cited in Smk, Spd, Smv), Srk 810-2, 828; Vajjā 491-5; Smv 87.4-6, 11-2; Spd 3773-5.

18 Srk 812, Skm 548 (attributed to Bhaṭṭa), Smv 87.12 (attributed to Rudra), Sbh 2247 (attr. to Rudraṭa), etc. Trans. here by Ingalls.

19 KāvA 7.41, Skm 547, Spd 3773, Smv 87.11, etc.

20Ras 1.83 ad.; also quoted in Spd 3776 and Pv 204.
svāmī niḥśvasite 'py asūyati mano-jighraḥ śapatnī-janaḥ
śvaśrūr iṅgita-daivataṁ nayanayor īhāliho yātaraḥ |
tad dūrād ayam añjaliḥ kim amunā dṛg-bhaṅgi-bhāvena te
vaidagdhī-madana-prapañca-catura vyartho 'yam atra śramaḥ ||

21 UN 7.1-53. Also see Pv 207, 250, 257, 309. Viṁ 6.10.

5. Guptā asatī

A rather similar type of suggestive verse found in the anthologies is that of the guptāsatī, the "concealed wanton" (according to Sridhara's divisions). The following verse attributed to Vidyā or Vijjakā is found in most of the anthologies and is also used as the illustrative verse for the paroḍhā in several of the works on poetics. Once again, there is no explicit description of adulterous behaviour; one is simply invited to see through the unfaithful wife's ruse and be amused rather than titillated.
Good neighbour wife, I beg you,
keep your eye upon my house for a moment;
the baby's father hates to drink the tasteless water from the well.
Better I go then, though alone, to the river bank
dark with tamāla trees and thick with rattan,
which with their sharp and broken stems may scratch my breast. (22)


(22) Srk 807, Skm 541, Spd 3769, Smv 87.7. This verse is used as an example first in Dhanika's commentary on the Daśa-rūpaka (2.20) and later in Hemacandra's Kāvyānuśāsana (7.28).

6. The Abhisārikā

As we have seen from the discussion on the views of the poeticians, the abhisārikā is one of the dramatic conditions of the heroine to which the parakīyā woman is most suited. Thus, though the anthologies generally describe the abhisārikā in maritally ambiguous terms--sometimes stated to be "an innocent lass," and at others it is made clear that she is indeed a married woman on her way to meet her paramour. One of the genres of the abhisārikā verse is given the title svairiṇī-pralāpaḥ
by Sridhara: "the lament of the adulterous woman." These verses, a number of which are also found in Vajjā, contain the words of a married woman cursing the rising of the moon as she hurries to her tryst:
Oh full moon! You who are unloved by the wanton,
do not be so proud of yourself!
it won't be long before you will be
looking like a broken bangle.(23)
The dilemma of the paroḍhā woman trying to keep her word to her lover is expressed in this anonymous verse in Srk:
"My husband is no easy fool, the moon is bright,
the way is mire and people love a scandal;
yet it is hard to break a lover's promise."
Driven by such thoughts, a certain beauty in going to a meeting
set for love starts from her house door many times, only to turn back. (24)
The following statement of the heroine's companion at the arrival at the kuñja contrasts clearly the quasi-divine quality imputed to the adulterous relationship and the "sinful" nature of the mundane marital relation:
Tighten your bodice over your breasts,
take several small steps,
here is the trysting grove, the place of pilgrimage
where the sin of being sexually enjoyed by your husband
shall be washed away. (25)
Of course, this particular verse would not be considered appropriate for Vaishnava poets because of the belief that the gopīs were never sexually enjoyed by their husbands, a major theological point of which one is frequently reminded in the Vaiṣṇava writings. The popularity of the abhisāra theme in the Radha-Krishna context is proven, however, by two verses in the abhisāra section of Skm (780, 789), both by contemporaries of the compiler, which contain their names.

The favoured lieux of the secret rendezvous of the asatī are frequently described. Hāla has a number of places: the banyan tree appears to have been a favourite meeting place because of the denseness of the foliage. The thick reeds by the riverbank also seem to have been a favoured spot.
When spoken to, she did not answer,
she became angry with each and everyone,
all without any apparent reason:
the riverbank was burning.(26)
The banks of the Revā and Muralā rivers are for some reason singled out in more than one verse each as being ideal places for clandestine liaisons. In one of these, the wanton woman is shown as unable to tolerate the touch of her husband; her only concern seems to be to find anyone who can free her from him.
When her husband consorts with her, her bones grind,
his playful joking cuts her to the marrow,
his lovemaking gives her great pain,
his flattery only upsets her;
all the time she meditates with concentration on the banks,
thick with reeds, of the Muralā river,
which she has frequented since her childhood.(27)
These sites are the precursors of the banks of the Yamunā and the kunjas of Vrindavan as well as the caves of Govardhan, which become the preferred sites for Krishna and his multitudinous affairs.


23 Vajjālagga 489:
asaīṇaṁ vippiya re gavvaṁ mā vahasu puṇimāyanda |
dīsihisi tumaṁ kaiyājaha bhaggo valayakhaṇḍo vva |

Other verses in this genre, Vajjā 483-90, Skm 806-10.

24 Srk 830, Skm 76.3. [Ingalls' translation]

25 Skm 781.
niviḍaya kucayor nicola-bandhaṁ
racaya laghūni kiyanticit padāni |
upaśama-tīrtham ayaṁ sa te nikuñjaḥ ||
See also Skm 776 (=Srk 830), 778, 808, 810.

26 Hāla 416 (Rolaevassa):
vāhittā paḍivaaṇaṁ ṇa dei rūsei ekkam ekkassa |
asaī kajjeṇa viṇāpaī-ppamāṇe ṇaīkacche ||

27 Skm 532 (Umapatidhara):
patyuḥ kelibhir asthiṣu cchiduratā marma-kṣatir narmaṇā
śṛṅgāreṇa guru-vyathā samudayaty uccāṭanaṁ cāṭubhiḥ |
dhyāyantyāḥ satatotsukena mana sā nīrandhra-vānīriṇīr
ākaumāram upāsyamāna-muralā-sīmā-bhuvaḥ subhruvaḥ ||

This verse seems to have received inspiration from Damodara Gupta's Kuṭṭ:
keliṁ pradahati majjāṁ śṛṅgāro 'sthīni cāṭavāḥ prāṇān |
na karoti manas tuṣṭiṁ dānam abhavyasya gṛha-bhartuḥ ||

7. The lakṣitā asatī

Of course, sometimes the adulteress is found out; this is the lakṣitāsatī or "discovered wanton." The usual situation is one in which a friend of the nāyikā divines that she has been indulging in some sexual activity by the customary telltale signs. Verses of this kind are found in Skm 551-5. The tone in all these five verses, written mostly by Bengali contemporaries of Sridhara, is of bemused observation. There is no tone of danger, anxiety or disapproval, though the heroine is obviously being called upon to dissimulate.

The sudden arrival of the husband coming upon his wife in the company of herlover is a natural dramatic situation in a story of adultery. This is the stuff of which Suka-saptati is made. A typical example (29): An unfaithful woman is with her naked lover when she hears her husband coming. She has him climb into a basket hanging from the ceiling and runs out to tell her husband that a naked ghost is haunting the house and to run for an exorcist. The foolish cuckold departs and his wife releases her lover who escapes.

I have, however, only come across two verses in the anthology literature hint at such a situation, both of them in Hāla (397, 401). There, the quick thinking wife immediately finds an explanation for her lover's presence before her husband can accuse them of any wrong doing. In Rūpa's writings, it is often the sakhī or girlfriend of the nāyikā who must be nimble-witted; indeed, it is one of her tasks to deceive the nāyikā's husband or in-laws: (28)
When you were picking flowers for the goddess Katyayani,
why did you playfully go into that cave, hidden behind the thorns,
your breasts thus immediately became covered with scratch marks,
and now, my friend, your husband's sister is staring at you
with doubt in her mind. (29)
This easy deception is light-hearted in spirit as indeed are the prototypes from Hāla. Suggestive word plays are also a stock feature of these situations in Rupa and his imitators.


28 UN 8.98: patyādeḥ parivañcanā; example, UN 8.115.

29 Pv 312 = UN 3.18 (example for paroḍhā nāyikā):
kātyāyanī-kusuma-kāmanayā kim arthaṁ
kāntāra-kukṣi-kuharaṁ kutukād gatāsi |
sadyastanaṁ stana-yuge tava kaṇṭakāṅkaṁ
patyuḥ-śvasā sakhi sa-śaṅkam udīkṣate 'sau ||

8. The adulterous woman's diatribe against her lover

Another type of verse that has resonance in the Radha-Krishna episodes, perhaps more as a result of Chandi Das's Bengali songs than of any prior Sanskrit tradition, are the lamentations of the fallen woman who describes her sufferings and her diatribes against the one who has caused the fall. A good sample passage of such a woman is given in Kuṭṭanī-mata (843-854):
"I was not able to preserve my chastity,
nor was I able to freely enjoy your body.
Both my present and my future have been ruined,
now where shall I, being ill-born, go? ānd what shall I do?" (30)
This passage of eleven verses is particularly notable for its final line, in which Manjari, its speaker, concludes by saying, "Lucky are those lovers who hear their mistresses give them a tongue-lashing when they are alone." (31)

These words (as is particularly demonstrated by the example given) reveal the extent of the adulterous mistress' commitment to her lover. Radha often demonstrates her commitment to her paramour Krishna in similar speeches.


30 na kṛtā caritarakṣā na ca bhuktaṁ tvaccharīram apayantram |
dṛṣṭādṛṣṭabhraṣṭā kva yāmikiṁ karomi durjātā ||

31 Kuṭṭ 854: sopālambhā vijane dhanyāḥ śṛṇvanti bandhakīvācaḥ |

9. Radha the adulteress in Padyāvalī

The above review, which I hope is indicative of the general spirit of the anthologies, reveals a focus primarily on the svairiṇī character rather than the punarbhū type of devoted adulteress. The type of love Rupa envisaged resembles more closely that which has been described as that of the kanyā, who is unfailingly dedicated to her lover. To this are added the quality of mystery and otherness, the challenge of the chase, etc., that are features of the extra-marital relationship, with the added difficulties presented by the existence of a husband. Some of these elements of adventure found in Rupa's works are drawn from the traditional themes of the wanton, but in general the asatī has been only partially influential on Rūpa in his characterization of Radha. He has found a number of verses which he has drawn upon in his anthology of verses, Padyāvalī, though he gives the names of their authors, we have no knowledge of the sources from which they were drawn or whether plays containing these themes were known at that time. Radha's main characteristic, as found in the gopīs of the BhP, is her willingness to ignore social convention to accede to the immense and overwhelming attachment that she feels for Krishna. The only verse that shows this character of the paroḍhā is the verse cited above by Rudra Bhaṭṭa in the ŚṛT.

A few verses have been preserved in the Padyāvalī compilation of Rupa Goswami, none of which is found in any other anthology. The authors quoted writing verse in which Radha is portrayed as a paroḍhā determined to overcome the obstacles of her situation are Sarva-vidyāvinoda (in plural, could be senior contemporary of Rupa (172, 173), Sanjaya Kavisekhara (170), Sarana, the contemporary of Jayadeva (168), Pushkaraksha (176). Others are either anonymous or those written by Rupa himself, which show the different character of the love that Radha feels for Krishna:

If my husband is angry, then let him be angry,
if my relatives criticise me, then let them;
what further, grave disturbances could come to me in this world?
I only hope that my eyes will be widened
so that they can drink in the body of Krishna, the essence of all beauty. (32)


Let my husband kill me; let my co-wives laugh me in the face,
let my elders take the side of my husband,
and my parents become ashamed;
if the whole family must be disgraced,
so be it, my mind still loves Krishna more and more. (33)

Another good example is the verse (Pv 179), cited in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (14.128) as an example of rāga, the stage of love (sthāyi-bhāva) in which pain is perceived as a pleasure. Here Radha actually prays that the reputation of adulteress may befall her, for by this it will become general knowledge that she is romantically connected with Krishna: "May my identity be perfected even by false accusations that I have consorted with Krishna..." Ordinarily such false accusations would be a cause of great distress, but in this case, the gopI welcomes them. (34)

These added elements found in the Krishna-oriented verses of Rūpa's anthology reflect developments in the Radha-Krishna mythology that postdate the major compilations of Sanskrit verse. These developments are primarily found in the vernaculars and shall be discussed elsewhere.

The singular devotion of Radha for Krishna with its overlay of religious connotation bestows a unique character to her adulterous state, leading Krishnadāsa Kavirāja, a prominent junior contemporary of Rupa Goswami, to write in his Govinda-līlāmṛta:

On the one hand, she is the most devoted wife,
and yet she is falsely accused of being the wife of another man.
On the one hand, her love stands out,
and yet she always faces hurdles due to being under others' control.
ānd though she is so anxious [for his company],
she is unable to be with him always:
These three harpoons tear at my heart,
having been plunged to the core of my being. (35)


32 Pv, 176 (Puṣkarākṣa):
svāmī kupyati kupyatāṁ parijanā nindanti nindantu māṁ
anyat kiṁ prathatām ayaṁ ca jagati prauḍho mamopadravaḥ |
āśāsyaṁ punar etad eva yad idaṁcakṣuś ciraṁ vardhatāṁ
yenedaṁ paripīyate muraripoḥ saundaryasāraṁ vapuḥ ||

33 Pv, 175 (anonymous):
svāmī nihantu vihasantu puraḥ sapatnyo
bhartur bhajantu guravaḥ pitaraś ca lajjām |
etāvatā yadi kalaṅki kulaṁ tathāstu rāmānuje
mama tanotu mano'nurāgam ||

34 Pv, 179 (anonymous), UN 14.128:
tārābhisāraka caturtha-niśā-śaśāṅka
kāmāmbu-rāśi-parivardhana deva tubhyam |
argho namo bhavatu me saha tena yūnā
mithyāpavāda-vacasāpy abhimāna-siddhiḥ ||

35 11.121:
pātivratyaṁ kva nu para-vadhūtvāpavādaḥ kva cāsyāḥ
premodrekaḥ kva cāpara-vaśatvādi-vighnaḥ kva cāyam |
kvaiyotkaṇṭhā kva nu baka-ripor nitya-saṅgādy-alabdhir
mūlaṁ kṛṣṭvā karṣati hṛdayaṁ kāpi śalyatrayī naḥ ||

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although, in further regard to the "d's" primary esoteric practical nature; perhaps the d is some kind of retroflex consonant or retroflex implosive which alludes to Khecarī Mudrā (as well as being of some secondary exoteric syntax).