The Spectrum of Love: Analysis of Sanskrit Writings
Justin Chernick Sense and Sensuality McHugh, 2012 Eike, 9am The Spectrum of Love Love is of particular interest in Sanskrit writings. Sometimes it is tied to positive, life giving undertones and other times, it is associated with violent, feverish attacks. Looking at two Sanskrit poems concerning the way women and men deal with love sheds light on how complicated the culture’s view on the phenomenon was. Through the use of nature-related metaphor, the female reaction to love is given a pure characteristic.
The breeze is commonly used as a romantic symbol in Indian poetry. In poem 1129 by Acala (found in Vidyakara’s “Treasury” of Sanskrit Poetry), it is noted to pollinate jasmine flowers, a metaphor for how love creates new life. The beautiful, natural image of the gentle spring breeze “scattering the pollen” establishes a pure, natural erotic mood. However, this mood is presented with the subtlety of metaphor, which sets an air of tension as the reader begins to anticipate a more concrete, explicitly depicted Rasa.
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The poem then directly ties in a human element by noting how the wind plays with the hair of Gujerat women, which relates to the sexual stimulation the breeze has on them. This perpetuates the sexual nature of the poem and helps convey the romantic Rasa on a more blatant level. The poem really materializes this mood by then adding that the curls of hair have “lost their flowers / and are loosened and disheveled / from the fondling of their lovers” (Acala). Here the poet shows how ravaged these women are from their love.
Acala builds tension through the work by using subtle, sexually suggestive metaphors but ultimately releases it all by referencing male “lovers” in the last line, establishing solidity to the metaphor in the poem’s end. The structure of the poem is vaguely sexual as the rasa is implicitly expressed at the beginning, building the sexual excitement until it explicitly and ultimately confirmed in a sort of climax or release of tension. In Sanskrit Poem 486 (Sanskrit Poetry), a very different take on rapturous love is described. The poem describes a man’s reaction to a young women’s glance.
The imagery is very violent and negative to serve as an analogue to how all consuming the man’s love is. After being exposed to woman’s “pupil flashing glance” and “dancing…lifted eyebrow,” the narrator develops crippling symptoms like the onset of an illness. He first notes that he gets “bathed in a flood of sweat” and then “begin[s] to tremble. ” While his immediate reaction might be described literally, this response suggests a parallel between being love struck and being overcome by sickness. This metaphor is used to warn of the dangers of falling in such ferocious love, while setting the mood as romantic.
There is a dynamic sense of contrast as the reader is both subjected to the erotic excitement of the situation as well as the pain that the main character is in. This should establish a romantic yet compassionate mood. The poem concludes with the narrator confirming the split Rasa: “Love’s proud attack / is violent as chaff fire. ” While both Sanskrit poems concern love and even share some of the same mood, they have two very different undertones. The first poem, which looks at the female reaction to love, is tied to nature. As the breeze helps pollinate flowers, women are reminded of their lovers.
This connection of nature and life to female love suggests a more noble, pure undertone. In contrast, the man’s reaction to a woman’s glance is nearly fatal, as he experiences violent symptoms of love’s attack. While both are very convincing writings, the wide spectrum of human reactions to love shows how intricate the Indian perspective of the phenomenon was. Justin Chernick Works Cited “Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara’s Treasury [Paperback]. ” Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara’s Treasury: Vidyakara,Daniel H. H. Ingalls: 9780674788657