Caturvidhābhinaya in the Kumārasambhava - Part 9 - The Environment Freezes

This article is part 9 of 9 in the series Caturvidhābhinaya in the Kumārasambhava

The next verse in the third sarga of the Kumārasambhavam is yet another instance where the poet takes the opportunity to personify nature and superimpose elements of abhinaya on it. 

पर्याप्तपुष्पस्तबकस्तनाभ्यः स्फुरत्प्रवालोष्ठमनोहराभ्यः ।

लतावधूभ्यस्तरवोऽप्यवापुर्विनम्रशाखाभुजबन्धनानि ॥ 3.39

The creeper-wives of the trees tightly hugged (āṅgika) the trees with their hands made of tender leaves. The lips of these heroines are the red sprouts and they are throbbing (kampanasāttvikābhinaya) and their breasts are the thick cluster of flowers.


श्रुताप्सरोगीतिरपि क्षणेऽस्मिन्हरः प्रसङ्ख्यानपरो बभूव ।

आत्मेश्वराणां न हि जातु विघ्नाः समाधिबेधप्रभवो भवन्ति ॥ 3. 40

With so much of āṅgika and sāttvika going on around in the background, one can say that the āhārya itself has come to life, thanks to Kālidāsa, who has humanized all the aspects of the enivronment. Hara, the one who removes all the physical attributes s is all involved in himself. None of the external disturbances seem to perturb his internal calm. However, it must be noted that he does lose his composure for a split second when he is faced with Pārvatī. An intense vibhāva, such as Pārvatī in this case, can perhaps perturb the ātmeśvaras too!.

Currently, however, this silence of Śiva should be followed, at least out of decorum by the environment too. Nandīśvara, the leader of the Śiva -gaṇas, who is supposed to be dharma-incarnate tries to take control of the situation. The poet gives an impactful depiction of Nandi’s stance and his action

लतागृहद्वारगतोऽथ नन्दी वामप्रकोष्ठार्पितहेमवेत्रः।

मुखार्पितैकाङ्गुलिसंज्ञ्यैव मा चापलायेति गणान्व्यनैषीत् || 3. 41

Nandīśvara, who stood at the entrance of the latā-gṛha – the bower covered by creepers (āhārya) and with his left hand holding a golden staff  (धारितहेमदण्डः notes Mallinātha, āhārya + āṅgika), placed his (right) finger on his lips – commanding the gaṇas to stop the ‘mischief’.

Commenting on the verse, Mallinātha adds:  मुखेऽर्पितायाः सरोषविस्मयस्तिमितावलोकं निहिताया एकस्या अङ्गुलेस्तर्जन्याः संज्ञया सूचनया एव  - Nandī was full of anger and was amused looking at the ‘misbehaviour’ of his gaṇas and his action spoke much more than words. He wanted to silence the gaṇas and he gives a silent signal. It is left to the connoisseur’s imagination to see what kind of expression Nandī let out on his face and what sāttvika-vikāras might occurred. Mallinātha leaves us with a hint of how it might have been. Nandī’s golden staff could also, potentially, have been a cause of fear!

It is interesting to note that the poet says Nandī asked the gaṇas to be ‘behave’. Though it is not explicitly said, he was probably only issuing commands for the men who come under the purview of his authority – the Śiva-gaṇas. However, we see that this sole action of Nandī translated into freezing of the entire nature – all couples in nature seem to have taken the cue!

निष्कम्पवृक्षं निभृतद्विरेफं मूकाण्डजं शान्तमृगप्रचारम् ।
तच्छासनात्काननमेव सर्वं चित्रार्पितारम्भमिवावतास्थे ।। 3.42 ।।

With the rule of law enforced by Nandī with a simple, but powerful action, the entire nature is frozen in āṅgika and vācika! Starting from the trees to the bees, birds and deer (animals) – the smallest to the largest – all have turned into a painting. The multi-dimensional environment is now reduced in its dimensions to the bare minimal and is almost life-less: the dymanism of the 4D movie is reduced to that of a static āhārya of a nāṭya of the pre-technological era. They might have physically come to a standstill, but have the mentally achieved it?[1]

This effect that the simple āṅgika of Nandī – the placement of his finger across his lips, had on the entire scenery only suggests what must have been the force (or sattva) of the āṅgika. Just a mere, casual placement of one’s finger on the lips would certainly not bring this pronounced effect, even if he is the leader of the world. The āṅgika must have been bolstered by intense sāttvika of firmness, authority, discipline and conviction. The poet leaves the sāttvika as a suggestion and lets us infer it from its effect on the entire eviornment. In other words, the vibhāva of the nature’s mischief and the anubhāva of nature turning static are explicitly mentioned – it is left to us to imagine what must have been the sthāyi-bhāva of Nandī!


दृष्टिप्रपातं परिहृत्य तस्य कामः पुरः शुक्रमिव प्रयाणे ।
       प्रान्तेषु संसक्तनमेरुशाखं ध्यानास्पदं भूतपतेर्विवेश ।। 3.43 ।।

Just as the ‘evil’ planet, Śukra needs to be avoided by a person aiming to achieve his purpose, Manmatha avoided Śiva ’s glance falling upon him! (How ironical! It is exactly the thing he avoids now, causes his live cremation later!) To his relief, the place of Śiva’s penance is covered on all sides by the outgrowth of Nameru trees (āhārya).[2]

Though Manmatha has avoided Śiva ’s glance, he has placed himself in a convenient position such that Śiva is visible to him. He observes Śiva, whose costumes (āhārya), bodily features (āṅgika) and mental frame-work (sāttvika) are absolutely orthogonal to his own. [The next set of verses have been beautifuly treated by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh in his talks and his article on the cinematography in the Kumārasambhavam].

सदेवदारुद्रुमवेदिकायां शार्दूलचर्मव्यवधानवत्याम् ।
         आसीनमासन्नशरीरपातस्त्रियम्बकं संयमिनं ददर्श ।। 3.44 ।||

Śiva was seated under the Devadāru tree, clad in the skin of a (dead) tiger. Manmatha, whose body was soon to be gone, saw the three-eyed Śiva, lord of his own self, seated in deep meditation. Sight and the third eye are recurring features in this segment of verses.


To be continued...


[1]Mallinātha notes at this śloka that Kālidāsa is referring to all kinds of beings but just giving one example – Udbhija, Svedaja, Aṇḍaja, Jarāyuja – those through the sprouting of seeds, out of perspiration (and garbage), from an egg and out of a womb. It should also be noted that the verses 29, 30, 31, and 32 of the third sarga speak of the activities of these very animals  and almost in the same order. Rather than the flying of birds, 3.32 specifically mentions their music, which is now silenced. 3.39 also speaks about the trembling of the sprouts which looks like the lips of the creeper-heroine

[2]It is only surprising that Manmatha thought that Śiva, who is all into himself would even care to look at who is moving around the grove. Manmatha hardly seems to understand what control of mind, samādhi and being an ātmeśvara actually amounts to. He probably seems to have mistaken Śiva to be like any other tapasvin (and perhaps, Pārvatī, who comes later, to be any other apsarā). He does not realise that Śiva is विधाता-तपसः फलानाम् which Kālidāsa knows so well!



Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

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