Parimalapadmagupta, Bhoja

This article is part 29 of 29 in the series Poets on Poetics: Literature as Sanskrit Poets See It

Parimalapadmagupta

Parimalapadmagupta or Parimalagupta is the author of the historical poem, Navasāhasāṅkacarita. This work describes the attainments of Sindhula, Bhoja’s illustrious father. A verse from this work is significant to our discussion:

चक्षुस्तदुन्मेषि सदा मुखे वः

सारस्वतं शाश्वतमाविरस्तु।

पश्यन्ति येनावहिताः कवीन्द्राः

त्रिविष्टपाभ्यन्तरवर्ति वस्तु॥ (1.4)

May the poets’ ‘eye of literature’ be open always. Great poets use it to carefully observe everything under the sun.  

This is a verse about creative imagination. Poets and connoisseurs are blessed with imagination in different ways: one creative and the other appreciative. Parimalagupta has spoken of it in the former sense using a novel image: third eye. Mahima-bhaṭṭa has used the same image for the same purpose.  

Bhoja

Bhojadeva, one of India’s finest kings, is the author of Campūrāmāyaṇa, arguably the best work in the campū genre of Sanskrit literature. In this work, the poet has described Vālimīki-muni as ‘the preeminent usher of sweet words’: madhumaya-bhaṇitīnāṃ mārgadarṣī maharṣiḥ (1.8). Bhoja himself eminently fits this description. Let us examine his thoughts on the campū format:

गद्यानुबन्धरसमिश्रितपद्यसूक्ति-

र्हृद्या हि वाद्यकलया कलितेव गीतिः।

तस्माद्दधातु कविमार्गजुषां सुखाय

चम्पूप्रबन्धरचनां रसना मदीया॥ (1.3)

Campū, a lovely mixture of prose and verse, is akin to a melodious lyric accompanied by musical instruments. I shall compose my work in this format to appease connoisseurs of poetry.

Daṇḍī was the first literary theorist who defined campū as a mixture of prose and verse.  Some scholars argue that this format was not very popular in his time and that is why Daṇḍī has referred to it dismissively as ‘kācit.’ This is not true. From the time of Āryaśūra’s Jātakamāla, poems presenting a mixture of prose and verse were well known. The problem, however, lies with the definition. If we adhere to Daṇḍī’s description, we will have to call every such composition campū – from the Yajurveda to a variety of plays. Suffice it to say Daṇḍī’s definition is far from precise. However, going by the works in this genre, we can gather what the aestheticians had in mind: Campū is a literary composition comprising ornate verses and prose passages anchored to rasa; while it resembles a play, campū is not divided into acts and scenes. In other words, it is a mixture of prose and verse enlivened by an engaging plot and teeming with poetic descriptions, resembling such formats as kathā, ākhyāyikā, khanḍakāvya and mahākāvya.

Bhoja has hinted at these aspects in the present verse. His idea of the prose involved in such compositions is not a sequence of sentences that merely links separate verses; rather, it is a passage with a literary flourish of its own. His conception of verses is similar: they should describe more than narrate, and should appeal as standalone compositions. Bhoja has supplied a wonderful allusion as well. In a campū work, prose should vivify the verse as musical instruments enrich the lyric in a song. Sound and sense should coalesce in the former as pitch and rhythm do in the latter. Further, prose passages offer room for ornate poetical descriptions and literary flourishes, while verses portray the inner contours of various characters and present riveting snapshots of the story. The allusion is apt in this sense, too: poetical descriptions are like musical instruments that enhance the appeal of characters, the lyrics.  

Bhoja has adhered to his definition and has created a wonderful work that allures as music apart from appealing as literature. In this manner, his conception of campū is concise and apt.  

To be continued.

 

Author(s)

About:

Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.

Translator(s)

About:

Shashi Kiran B N holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Sanskrit. His interests include Indian aesthetics, Hindu scriptures, Sanskrit and Kannada literature and philosophy.

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