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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nice verses on a vidyādhara

Third-type vidyādharas? Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

I came across these nice verses in the Pṛthivīrājavijaya of Jayānaka (ed. Ojhā). One of Pṛthivīrāja's ancestors is hunting in the forest when he comes across a white palace (actually, now I see that his was built by him) where he finds an odd fellow sound asleep. The king cannot figure out for a while what the man is, although the bees in v. 37 seem to give it away. The translations are idiomatic (traduttore trattore and all that).

puṣpasrajām amaralokabhuvām upāstim 
ārabdhavadbhir alibhir madhuraṃ dhvanadbhiḥ | 
vidyādharo 'yam iti kaiścana mūrtimadbhir 
vidyākṣarair iva samāśritayāmikatvam || 4.37 

Like formidable embodied syllables of a spell,
bees humming sweetly "This is a vidyādhara!"
were his night-watchmen as they started to worship
his garland of flowers from the world of immortals.


taṃ vīkṣya bhūpatir acintayad eṣa tāvad 
asvapnatāṃ vyabhicaraty atha śeṣaśāyī | 
devo 'yam etad api nāsti sa dṛśyate yais 
teṣāṃ bhavanti na hi divyadṛśāṃ vikalpāḥ || 4.39 

The king beheld him and thought to himself:
"Well, that's odd: he's asleep (therefore not a god)*;
I have it! It's the god [Viṣṇu], he sleeps on a snake!
But that can't be either: for those with a divine vision
would not entertain doubts after having seen Him."

*Gods do not sleep.

nātrāsate na ca manuṣyaviśeṣam enam | 
saṃbhāvayāmi na ca vaiśravaṇasya yo 'pi 
dhartā naraḥ spṛśati so 'pi mamopadhānam || 4.40

He does not bear any of the signs of gandharvas, siddhas,
kiṃnaras! But he is not some special human either.
Nor can he be that odd fellow who carries Kubera,
for he too touches my footstool (in obedience).

nāgo 'pi nāyam uragatvavibhinnayāpi 
mūrtyā na hi vyabhicaranty ahayaḥ phaṇitvam | 
lobhasvabhāvamalinā khalu jātir eṣā 
ratnaṃ varākadhanavad vijahāti nāṅkāt || 4.41

No, he's no nāga. Though they shed their slithering bodies,
they could never hide their hoods. What's more: that lot
is well-known to be greedy, never would they cast away
precious jewels as if they were worthless. (But he does!**)

**In a previous verse some jewels seem to fall off the sleeping fellow.

vidyādharatvam api yad †dvija†pādalepa-
kaukṣeyakāñjanamalatrayakalmaṣaṃ syāt | 
tat tāvad asya na bhavaty atha yaḥ prakāras 
turyas tam asya mukhadarśanato vidhāsye || 4.42 

(We all know:) vidyādharas would be smeared
on their feet, on their eyes, or else, carry*** a sword.
No sign of those on this fellow. Let me just check
his mouth whether he be of that fourth kind.

***This is weird. How can we take a sword to be a kalmaṣa? I also wish someone could tell me how to take 'dvija-' here.

Anyhow, the king does proceed to examine the mouth of the funny being. Just as he does so, the man's mouth opens slightly and his 'pill' (gulikā, later said to be a siddhagulikā) pops out and rolls under the king's foot. This was the source of his powers, and at the same time a sure sign to the king that he is a fourth-type vidyādhara (the ones who pop pills so to speak). The vidyādhara wakes up in terror as he realizes that his pill is gone. I find the next image quite funny: he bows his head in shame as if looking for places down here - he knows that his career as a high-flier is over. Well worth a read, Jayānaka is a good poet.

[By the way: if you do decide to download the book, DLI has it in several 'versions' (same book, multiple scans). One of them is legible, but there are pages missing. These can be recovered from the other version, which is an inferior scan. Finally, a third version cannot be accessed, the link is broken or something.]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I also wish someone could tell me
> how to take 'dvija-' here.

Well, it is corrupt, as you rightly saw. The right reading is no doubt that of Belvalkar, who has yat kila pādalepa- . In general, Belvalkar's edition is probably better than the Ojhā and Gulerī one (though this impression of mine is not based on a careful comparison). Curiously, the later editors seem to have been unaware of Belvalkar's work. I think that Belvalkar's edition is also available on DLI somewhere.

> ***This is weird. How can we take a
> sword to be a kalmaṣa?

Strictly speaking, the sword is said to be a mala, not a kalmaṣa (but this makes no real difference). I'd suggest that the answer is that all three things are dark/black. (See on dark steel swords Hanneder 2005 'Der “Schwertgleiche Raum”'.)

> Jayānaka is a good poet.

A very good one indeed, in my opinion, and far too little read. Another reason to thank you for this post!


12:03 am  
Blogger PDSz said...

Thanks for the comments, H.! I should have thought of yat kila (as I might have unconsciously: I inserted `we all know' in brackets). I did see somewhere that there was a Bibl. Ind. (?) edition of the text, but I could not find it on DLI. You wouldn't by any chance have a scan? There are significant portions missing in this ed. Very strange indeed that the good Ajmeris had no idea of a previous edition (is that also based on Kashmiri mss.?).

1:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I did see somewhere that there was
> a Bibl. Ind. (?) edition of the text,
> but I could not find it on DLI.

This link should work:,%20park%20street%20calcutta&contributor1=&vendor1=svi&scanningcentre1=rmsc,%20iiith&slocation1=SVDL&sourcelib1=SVI-KSRI-CHENNAI%20&scannerno1=&digitalrepublisher1=&digitalpublicationdate1=0000-00-00&numberedpages1=260&unnumberedpages1=2&rights1=OUT_OF_COPYRIGHT&copyrightowner1=&copyrightexpirydate1=&format1=%20&url=/data7/upload/0172/413


1:50 am  
Blogger PDSz said...

puuthviiraajavijayamhaakaavyamuu... oh, goodness. Many thanks!

2:08 am  
Blogger PDSz said...

I found this in the meantime:

Seems to collate inscriptions against the work, very useful little article.

2:10 am  

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