The Samdesarasaka of Abdul Rahman: (with Indexes)

The Samdesarasaka of Abdul Rahman: (with Indexes)

Rs. 520.00
  • Book Name The Samdesarasaka of Abdul Rahman: (with Indexes)
  • Author C.M. Mayrhofer
  • Language, Pages English, 275 Pgs. (HB)
  • Upload Date 2023 / 10 / 10
  • ISBN 9788120814288, 8120814282

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The Samdesarasaka of Abdul Rahman: (with Indexes)
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This is a message poem (Diitakavya) in the tradition set by KAliclasa's famous Sanskrit poem Meghaditta, composed in Apabhrarnga by a Muslim poet of the thirteenth century. The Nayika here is a beautiful young woman of Vijayanagara whose beloved husband left her on business and has not returned, and the messenger is a traveller on his way from Multan to Cambay, a place where coinci-dentally her lover has gone.



The edition of the Samdesarasaka in the Singhi Jain Series, which was published in 1945, gives a text of the poem itself and its commentaries, prefaced by essays on the textual tradition by Sri Jina Vijaya Muni, and on the grammar, language and metric of the poem by Professor Harivallabh Bhayani. This edition has not been surpassed, and indeed cannot be surpassed except by the constitution of a new text, on different manuscript materials - if any should come to light - and different principles. Sri Jina Vijaya Muni enunciated the principles of his edition of the text as the consensus of- the majority of the manuscripts, moderated by his sense of the grammar, metre and style of the author'. The manuscripts present relatively few substantially different readings but a great confusion of orthographical variants. Professor Bhayani noted the difficulty of deciding in each case whether to assign these to diverse scribal practices or to different pronunciations of the words in question2, whether by the author or by the copyists. His approach is likewise statistical.

Whether or not one accepts the principle that the majority constitutes the rule, there is no doubt that the frequency of a given form in a text is an essential datum both for the work of editing the text, because it provides arguments for editor's sense of the author's style, and for the work of describing the language of the text. These two domains of course flow into one another, because the text is the product of a series of judgements about the language, and the description of the language is derived from a particular state of the text. There is a third domain which needs to be invoked: the understanding of the text, without which the elements of the language cannot be identified, and which underlies-any establishment of the text. One way of expressing a particular understanding of a text is to translate it. A translation is necessarily a commentary, the more so as the language of the translation is remote from the original.

The present work aims to supplement the weakest points of the Singhi Jain edition: the absence of a complete verbal index to serve as the basis of statistical observations, and the absence of a translation. The text printed here makes no claim to authority; it is simply a transcription of the text of Sri Jina Vijaya Muni, incorporating most of the corrections and conjectures of Professor Bhayani, and some minimal other changes. The translation naturally owes much to the tippanaka-avacarika, the "stanzawise summary"1 of Professor Bhayani, and the Dvivedi-Tripathi edition, but it ventures to depart from them in numerous places. It is not intended to be read for pleasure, erring as it does on the side of literalness, but as an aid to the reading of the text. It goes without saying that many places in the text remain ambiguous or quite obscure. Text and translation are followed by an index which lists every occurrence of every word, with the meaning assumed by the translation. The lemmas of the index are accompanied by a note, something less than an etymology, referring the reader to a lexicographical coordinate, by default to Monier-Williams. Then follow tables of the inflections found in the text. These are intended to be used in conjunction with the reverse index of words, each entry of which is accompanied by a description of the form in terms of the table of inflections, and in some cases a brief commentary. Finally, there is a reverse index of lemmas subdivided into parts of speech, which can serve as a repertory of final word-elements. I hope that this manner of presenting the linguistic data of the text will be found as useful as it is novel.

The Samdesarasaka is notorious for the difficulty of its language and style, which straddle the gap between Middle Indo-Aryan and Old Vernacular, and are not adequately explained in the reference books devoted to either. May the present edition provide future readers with the means of readier access to its charms.



In the literature of love in India, the messages that pass between pairs of lovers (nayaka, nayika), separated against their will and pining to be reunited, constitute an important motif. The most famous example in classical literature is Kalidasa's Meghadata. The speaker is a heavenly being, a yaksa, who has been exiled for a year from Alaka to Ramagiri; the addressee is his wife in Alaka. In a relatively small part of the poem (verses 101 - 109), he expresses his desire to be reunited with her, impatience with the passage of his time of exile, reassurance to her of his fidelity. Such is the text of the message which he entrusts to the cloud of the title, despairing of other means of reaching his beloved. It is preceded by a description of the route which the messenger is to follow to find the wife, and a description of the wife herself. The yaksa concludes his message with kind words for the cloud to send it on its way. The poem is framed by narration of the yaksa's state of mind, in which the pathos of his situation emerges. Often in Indian literature a lover's perturbation finds expression in speech addressed to the natural world, but here the irony of the lover's recourse to an insentient object as the bearer of his passionate speech is explicit'. The yaksa's descriptions of landscapes and cities and their peoples which occupy the greater part of the poem resound with the desire and sorrow which he feels but can hardly communicate to his beloved from exile.

Kalidasa's Meghadata was much imitated by later poets, and indeed the message poem seems to have been already established as a genre when he composed, the source of the genre being most likely a popular tradition of poetry associated with the rainy season2. If one considers it as a genre, then the characteristic which distinguishes it from the very many short compositions on the same themes of love in separation and its reflection in the natural world, which are to be found in the anthologies, is the sustained dramatic situation of the speaker. It is instructive to compare t4e situation in the Meghadata with that in the Samdesarasaka.

In the SDR, the nfiyika is a young woman of. Vijayanagar whose man (he is called her piya or naha) left her on business and has not returned. The reader encounters her when she is watching for him, and weeping in her solitude. She sees a traveller on the road, and overcoming her modesty she runs after him and asks for his attention. The traveller proclaims his admiration for her beauty, to which she reacts coyly, but, persisting, asks him where he comes from and where he is going to. He replies that he comes from Samora, describing at length the beauty of the town and its surroundings, and that he is on his way from Multan to Cambay. "That is where my husband is staying," she exclaims, and asks the traveller to wait while she gives him a message for her man. She then utters the first of many passionate reproaches and prayers to her absent lover, including that of the impossibility of telling all that she has to convey. The traveller politely expresses his pressing need to continue his journey, and asks for her message; she continues in her passionate vein. As the day wanes, from time to time he interrupts to calm her and to remind her of his business, but to no avail; finally he surrenders to her charm (presumably, it is too late to set out this day) and inquires about her sorrow: when did her lover leave? Her answer is that he left in summer; this is accompanied by a description of the season, followed by a description of the other seasons', all the time addressing the traveller and describing her physical and mental suffering. At last, she breaks off, apologising to him for her importunacy, and concludes with the request that he speak to her lover in a propitiatory manner, in whatever terms seem appropriate. She gives him leave to go, and she turns to go; at that moment she sees her husband returning.

It was suggested above that the messenger poem is inherently pathetic and ironic, but in the SDR these aspects are handled in a parodic manner, which is not to say that they are derided, but that their use both depends on and diverges from a model, in this case the tradition of the Meghadata.
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