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By Siegfried Lienhard; Jan Gonda (Edtior)

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Extra info for A History of Indian Literature, Volume III: Classical Sanskrit Literature, Fasc. 1: A History of Classical Poetry, Sanskrit - Pāli - Prakrit

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In the following lines by an anonymous poet108 the heron motif skilfully introduced into the first line of the stanza acts as an important marker. In fact it would hardly be possible to interpret the stanza correctly without it. 109 Here it indicates to the alert reader that the event described must be taking place in the rainy season, the last moment for returning from journeys in foreign parts. From this the reader deduces that the husband of the woman described in the stanza has not returned and that the woman herself, a prositabhartrka110, is therefore prepared to die: •08 Subhasitaratnakosa No.

The reader or listener had a command not only of the literary language, its means of expression and style, but was also familiar with the sources and technique of poetry. Naturally he knew the Epics and Puranas which, if the poet did not himself invent his subject matter, were a rich mine of all sorts of themes for the major form of kavya (drama and mahakavya). He also had a knowledge of metrics, decorative figures (alamkara), the theory of the sentiments (rasa) and the implied (dhvani); indeed, he might even be a specialist in some other branches of science as well.

The expressions mlanim upagata, "withered", and durvaha, "hard to bear" do not qualify only tanu, "body"; they can just as easily qualify sraj, "garland of flowers", especially as it was in no way unusual for a poet to describe the body of the lovesick woman as withered or the garland she wore as unbearable and irritating. The line etam mlanim upagatam srajam iva tyaktva tanum durvaham could thus be interpreted either as "(here I now cast off) this withered, almost unendurable body like a withered, almost unbearable garland of flowers" or, bearing in mind the fact that tanu can mean "thin" as well as "body", as "(Here I now cast off) this thin, withered, almost unendurable body like a thin, withered, almost unbearable garland of flowers", thereby adding yet another dimension to this already rich line.

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