Mahfil. v 7, V. 7 ( 1971) p. 219.


Graphics file for this page
John T. Roberts

SOME SANSKRIT POETIC MOTIFS IN THE PRAKRIT SATTASAI

Prakrit poetry is based for the most part upon the Sanskrit poetic tradition in outline, meter, theme and idiom. A few Slokas drawn from the Sattasai (attributed to Hila, tenth century) have here been chosen as representativee

The collection begins with a salutation:

Give greeting to Pasupat^s evening sacrifice

In which is floating the anger-red moon face of Gauri

Like a plucked offering-lotus. (1.1)1

As in the Sanskrit, many are the poems of love, jealousy, and longing, often mingled with images of nature. The themes sometimes seem a bit more homey and less refined than their Sanskrit counterparts, as one might expect from a more folk-oriented tradition.

The husband smiled when his moon-like face

was touched by his wife^s hand, Though that hand was smeared with black

which clung there from work in the kitchen. (1.13)

Who is more stubborn than a couple angered by love,

Who lie in bed feigning sleep

Filled with pride, motionless, restrained,

With baited breath and cocked ear? (1.27)

When the pair of deer face the blow to protect each other, The hunter releases the bow, wet with emotion-drawn tears. (7.1)

The themes of viraha^ or longing in separation, are some of the most beloved:

Her face, in separation from you, Is like a house without wealth, Like a cave stream without water, And like a barn without cattle. (7.9)

The first day of the rainy season traditionally heralds the return of the husband who has left home for seasonal work elsewhere. He is not always on time:

The woman, with the palm of her hand,

Protects the date of his return written on the wall,

From the streams of water rolling around the hole

in the house Which has been de-strawed by the monsoon wind. (2.70)



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