Kalidasa; Rajendra Tandon (tr.);
Ritusamhara (The garland of seasons)
topics: | drama | sanskrit | translation
Ritusamhara is considered an early work, though its authenticity is contested, in view of the simple construction and the stock-in-trade metaphors, lacking originality, and is in particular contrast with other descriptions, e.g. that of summer in Ayodhya after Kusha returns there in RaghuvaMsham, or the untimely spring created around Shiva in Kumarasambhavam. Sanskrit critics have lamented the lack of variety of rasas, with the singular-minded focus on shringara rasa. However, the weak poetic imagination has also been attributed to his immaturity. There is no storyline as such; the main theme is that of lovers and how they sport in the various seasons. sa-chandana stana (sandal-anointed breasts) and su-vipulam shroNI (heavy hips) abound, but these erotic aspects are played out against the play of nature where "trees bend low with the weight of flowers" (2.27) and "the dark clouds stoop down with weight" (2.20) and "swans walk prettier than charming women" (3.17). Each canto ends with what is annotated by Tandon as a prayer, where the lovers are wished well. The last chapter is that of vasanta, traditionally associated with love, but there is no progression, no conclusion. The stanzas seem rather diffuse, and seem to be flitting from lovers to diverse themes, without a coherent structure. This edition includes the original text, both in devanagari and in roman. The translations by Tandon are competent, and the roman transliterations help by performing some of the aNvaya (breaking-up into constituents) which make it easier to follow. however, many transliterations have erroprs which leaves one wondering about the accuracy of the entire endeavour.
निपातयन्त्यः परितस् तटद्रुमान् प्रवृद्धवेगैः सलिलैर् अनिर्मलैः। स्त्रियः सुदुष्टा इव जातविभ्रमाः प्रयान्ति नद्यस् त्वरितम् पयोनिधिम्॥ nipaatayantyaH paritaH taTa drumaan pravR^iddha vegaiH salilaiH anirmalaiH striyaH su duSTaa iva jaata vibhramaaH prayaanti nadyaH tvaritam payonidhim like women blind in love mindlessly straying from the path of virtue, dirty rivulets in flood rush towards the ocean, uprooting the trees on their banks. verse 2.7 p. 87 -- pIna stana uraHsthala bhAga shobhAm- AsAdya tat pIDana jAta khedaH | triNa-agra lagnaiH tuhinaiH patadbhir- AkrandatIva uShasi shItakAlaH the dew drops resting on the tips of morning grass are tears of sorrow shed by hemanta, at seeing the lovers fondling the breasts of their beloveds at the pain suffered by those big, round mounds, so delectable to look at. (4.7) more literal analysis; original text with aNvaya: पीन स्तन उरःस्थल भाग शोभाम् [swelling breasts bosom part beauty] आसाद्य तत्पीडन जात खेदः [achieving by-that-pressing caused pain] तृण-अग्र लग्नैः तुहिनैः पतद्भिर् [grass-tip attached dew falling] आक्रन्दती-इव उषसि शीतकालः [wailing at dawn hemanta] swelling breasts, splendid bosom in pain after hard squeezing move the winter morning to tears as dew drops on grass-tips (my version) -- na bhabati kimidAnIM yoShitAM manmathAya is there anything [about women] that does not excite amour? (6.33)
Tandon's translations tend to verbosity, and to overdramatization. For example, in this famous verse 4 of the opening grishma-r^tu-varNanam: नितम्बबिम्बैः सदुकूलमेखलैः स्तनैः सहाराभरणैः सचन्दनैः। शिरोरुहैः स्नानकषायवासितैः स्त्रियो निदाघम् शमयन्ति कामिनाम् ॥१ nitamba-bimbaiH sadukUla-mekhalaiH stanaiH sahArAbharaNaiH sa-chandanaiH | shiroruhaiH snAna-kaShAya-vAsitaiH striyo nidAghaM shamayanti kAminAm ||4|| The following quatrain construction by the Mysore Sanskrit scholar K. Krishnamoorthy follows the original closely: With their hips adorned by silk and girdle And breasts gilded by necklace and sandal paste, And hairs scented with bathing powders, Women relieve the summer-heat of lovers. - Kalidasa, K. Krishnamoorthy, Sahitya Akademi 1994 (this authoritative appraisal is severely critical of the lack of imaginative rasa-bodha in ritusamhara: "The sensuality and cloying love depicted in these verses [4-9] is such that it cannot bring fame to any poet."] Tandon brings forward the last phrase, and makes the lover "lie on her" - To relieve their lovers of heat, Women make them lie On their girdled, round hips covered with silken robes, or On their sandal anointed breasts Heavy with ornaments. They seek help from fragrant flowers Set in coiffures after a bath, To intoxicate and delight their lovers. but i am not convinced it serves a poetic purpose, or that a modern Kalidasa would have approved of this device. A third alternate, not as tight as Krishnamoorthy, by Chandra Rajan: Curving hips, their beauty enhanced by fine silks and jewelled belts; sandal-scented breasts caressed by necklaces of pearls, fragrant tresses bathed in fragrant water; with these women sooth their lovers In burning summer, my love. - Chandra Rajan (Complete works of Kalidasa, Sahitya Akademi 1997) other versions include this rendering by Manish Nandy which uses a simpler, modern english prose: The women soothe their roused lovers adorning their round hips with silk and girdle, sporting their breasts in sandal and jewellery, washing and perfuming their curls. - Manish Nandy, Ritusamhara, Dialogue Publications 1970
giirvani: _ritu samhAram - kavi kAlidAsa_ by Desiraju Hanumanta Rao. Complete text, in Devanagari and Roman, with detailed aNvaya, translation and analysis.