Please Wait...

The Eight Nayikas

The Eight Nayikas
Item Code: IHJ003
Author: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788121504799
Pages: 80, (16 B/W Illustrations
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.9 Inch X 7.4 Inch
weight of the book: 420 gms
From the Jacket

Indian writers have long been interested in the classification of Heroes and Heroines in well-defined types. Such classifications are typically developed in Sanskrit treatises such as Natyasastra, the Sahitya-Darpana, and Kama Sutra and in other works and later in vernacular literature of Hindu-vernacular literature of Hindustan, chiefly in Rasikapriya, Satsarya, and the Bhasa-bhusana.

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, the greatest among the Indian Art-historians, was born in Colombo on August 22, 1877. After graduating from the University of London, he became the Director of the Mineralogical Survey of Ceylon. Between 1906 and 1917, when he joined as the Curator of Indian Art in the Boston Museum he was busy lecturing on Indian Art and formed societies for the study of Indian Art. In 1938, he became the Chairman of National committee for India's Freedom. His contributions on Indian philosophy, religion, art and iconography. Painting and literature are of the greatest importance as were his contributions on music, science and Islamic art. He died on September 9, 1947.



On the one hand from the standpoint of Rhetoric and the Art of the Poetry and the Drama, and on the other, from that of Erotic, Indian writers have long been interested in the classification of Heroes and Heroines in well-defined types. Such classifications are typically developed in Sanskrit treatises such as the classical Bharatiya-Natya-Sastra, in the Sahitya-Darpana, and in the Kama Sutra and in other works, and in the later vernacular literature of Hindustan, chiefly in the Rasika-priya of Kesava Dasa, the Sat-saiya of Bihari Lal, and the Bhasa-bhusana of Jasvant Singh.

Thus Bharata defines fourteen Nayakas or types of Hero-lover, Possessive, Animated, Pleasing, and Miscreant, Evil, Untruthful, Refractory, Braggart, Shameless, and Brutal (Bharatiy-Natya-Sastra, XXII, 286 ff).

A more frequent classification distinguishes four Nayakas as: Anukula or faithful (to one beloved), Daksina or impartial (kind to one while loving another), Satha or cunning (both unkind and false), and Dhrsta or Shameless (indifferent to blame). (Sahitya-Darpana, 70-74, and Bhasa- bhusana, 1, 6, 7: the Rasikapriya, II, 2, gives the same list, with the substitution of Atula, with the same meaning, for Anukula.)

From another point of view the types of Hero-lover are three: Husband (Pati), Paramour (Upapati), and one who resorts to Hetairai (Vaisika). (Rasamanjari: Bhasa-bhusana, 1.) Another threefold classification divides Heroes and Heroines into the Worthy (Uttama), Unworthy (Adhama), and Mediocre (Madhyama). (Bharatiya-Natya-Sastra, XXIV, 1.)

The Heroine (Nayika) occupies considerably more space than the Hero (Nayaka) in the literature of Drama-turgy and Erotic, and Schmidt remarks (loc.cit.) that this "is quite natural, since it is men that are classifying women: had the situation been different. Moreover, we can easily allow that woman is a much more interesting and many-sided object of study than man." The first classification of Heroines (the beloved) is threefold: Maiden, Wife, or Hetaira. (Kama Sutra, etc.) Another threefold classification classes women as: Gazelle-like (Mrgi), Mare-like (Vadava), or Elephant-like (Hastini). (Ratirahasya, etc.)

A better-known classification makes a fourfold division: The lotus (Padmini), Variegated (Citrini), Conch (Sankhini), and Elephant-women (Hasini), in descending order of merit. (Ratirahasya, Anangaranga, Bhasa-bhusana, Rasikapriya, etc.) There is also a fourfold classification according to age: Bala (up to sixteen), Taruni (sixteen to thirty), Praudha (thrirty to fifty-five), and Vrddha (over fifty-five). (Rati-rahasya, etc.)

Another threefold classification distinguishes Heroines as: One's own (Svakiya), Another's (Parakiya), and Anybody's (Samanya or Sadharana). This corresponds to the classification of Heroes as Pati, Upapati and Vaisika. (Sahitya-Darpana, Bhasa-bhusana, etc.) Still another threefold classification distinguishes: The artless or youthful (Madhya) and the Mature (Praudha or Pragalbha). All these are Svakiya. (Sahitya-Darpana, Bhasa-bhusana, etc.)

In the same way there are six kinds of Parakiya Heroines, which it is hardly necessary to detail here. Several other classifications we also omit. It is interesting to note that there are also three ways in which the lover may first see the beloved, viz.: In a dream, in a picture, or face to face. Finally we come to the classification of Svakiya Heroines according to the immediate circumstances of their relations with their lovers. It is this classification, into Eight, that forms the subject of the present work, especially in relation to the representation of these type in the Pahari paintings, such as we reproduce in the accompanying figs.

The locus classicus for the eight Nayikas is the Bharatiy-Natya-Sastra, XXII, 197, 198: "The following are the eight varieties of Heroine: Vasakasajja, she who is ready to receive her beloved, Virahotkanthita, she who is longing in separation, Svadhinapatika, she whose lord is faithful to her, Kalahantarita, she who is divided from her beloved by a quarrel, Khandita, she who has been deceived, Vipralabdha, she who waits in vain, Prosita-bhartrka, she whose beloved is gone abroad, and Abhisarika, she who goes forth to seek her beloved."

The same classification is found in the Dasarupa, Sahitya-Darpana, etc. The same names, in a different order, are also given in the Bhasa-bhusana, but the number is in creased by the addition of three others, viz., the pravatsya-patika, she who anticipates separation, the Agamapatika, she whose beloved is on his way home, and Agatapatika, she whose beloved has just returned. The poet Sardar further divides the Abhisarika into three, and other authors add two more, making five, viz.: Suklabhisarika, she who visits her beloved on bright moonlit nights, Krsnabhisarika, she who does so on dark nights, Divabhisarika, she goes at twilight, and Nisabhisarika, she who goes at night.

It will not be necessary to quote more detailed descriptions of the eight Nayikas, given by Bharata and others, since it is our main purpose to quote the text and translation of Kesava Dasa, and to correlate this with the pictures. Before proceeding to this text and translation we give a short notice of the poet and his wife.

Kesava Dasa, the son of Kasinatha, was a Sanadhya Brahman of Orcha in the district of Bundelkhand. His home was originally at Tehri, whence he settled at Orcha under the patronage of Raja Madhukar Shah, whose son and successor, Indrajit Shah, assigned him a grant of twenty-one villages. His first work, a philosophical poem, was written in Samvat 1600 (Ad 1543). He then wrote the Rasikapriya, with which we are here concerned: it was completed on the seventh day of Kartika-sudi,s. 1648 (Ad 1591). This was followed by the Kavipriya, a work on rhetoric, in s. 1658 (Ad 1601). Still later he wrote a poem on the life of Rama, and a work on prosody. The date of poet's death does not appear to be known.

The Rasikapria is one of the oldest, and certainly the most important of the Hindi works on love-poetry. It was composed by Kesava Dasa, who was doubtless quite familiar with the older Sanskrit literature on the subject, in the name of his patron Indrajit Shah, who is designated in the colophon of each chapter as the author. One evidence of the authoritative chapter as the author. One evidence of the authoritative character of the work of Kesava Dasa, who, as it were, set the fashion in this kind of vernacular literature, is afforded in the fact that most of the sets of Pahari paintings of the seventeenth (from which few survive, and those chiefly from the Jammu district) and the eighteenth century (from which many survive, mostly from the Kangra district), conform to his definitions, and a considerable number of them are actually inscribed with extracts from the text quoted below. Several of our illustrations are thus accompanied by texts.

Beside the printed text to which we have already alluded (supra, p.1), we have before us five manuscript leaves, on paper, two miniatures on each leaf in illustration of the accompanying verse. These miniatures are of the earliest seventeenth century Mughal style; that is to say, Mughal technically (embodying a due proportion of Rajput tradition), though purely Hindu in subject. It will be remembered that Kesava Dasa visited the court of Akbar, upon the occasion of Akbar's imposing a fine of ten million rupees on Indrajit Shah, for "discobedience and revolt". He had a secret audience with Raja Birbal, Akbar's minister, and recited to him a poem, which so pleased Birbal, that he exerted himself to have the fine remitted. It is quite possible that our fragment of what may well have been the editio princeps of the Rasikapriya was prepared for Raja Birbal or for Akbar himself, on the occasion of Kesava Dasa's visit to the Mughal court. We mention the matter here, as it proposed to publish these leaves, with notes of their contents, in a future number of the Journal of Indian Art.

The Rasikapriya differs from most of the works on Rhetoric, Sanskrit or Vernacular, previously referred to, in that it is more than a merely metrical description and analysis of the elements of poetry; the Rasikapriya itself is rasavant, or poetical. We would call special attention to the dialogue of verse 31.

The Rasikapriya is divided into sixteen chapters, of which we are here concerned only with the second, third and seventh. The second (Nayaka-laksana) describes the four classes of Heroes: the third (Nayaka-jati-varnana) names the eight classes of Heroines. Chapter VII (Astanayka-varnana) deals in greater detail with the different types of Heroines enumerated in chapter 3. We proceed to quote the greater part of the text of this chapter, with some commentary and reference to the pictures.




Illustrations   vii
Chapter One Introduction 1
Chapter Two Rasikapriya Chapter VII, Text and Translation 8
Chapter Three Other Poets 33
Chapter Four Other Conditions of the Nayika 40
Index   44

Sample Pages

Add a review

Your email address will not be published *

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Post a Query

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Related Items