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Untitled -- Bhartrihari

Guest poem submitted by Anustup Datta:
(Poem #773) Untitled
 She who is always in my thoughts prefers
  Another man, and does not think of me.
 Yet he seeks for another's love, not hers;
 And some poor girl is grieving for my sake.
         Why then, the devil take
 Both her and him; and love; and her; and me.
-- Bhartrihari
In stark contrast [to e. e. cummings' love poetry - t.] is this short
quatrain (in the Sanskrit) from Bhartrihari - a man who wrote fiery love
poems in his youth and turned to the renunciation of worldly pleasures in
his old age. The theme is not new - love can be terribly confusing - but the
mode of expression is really charming and captures the frustration of the
lover perfectly. A little gem, which grows on you as you read it a second
time.

Anustup.

[Biography]

  born AD 570?, Ujjain, Malwa, India
  died 651?, Ujjain

Hindu philosopher and poet-grammarian, author of the Vakyapadiya ("Words in
a Sentence"), regarded as one of the most significant works on the
philosophy of language, earning for him a place for all time in the
sabdadvaita (word monistic) school of Indian thought.

Of noble birth, Bhartrihari was attached for a time to the court of the
Maitraka king of Valabhi (modern Vala, Gujarat), where most likely his taste
for sensuous living and material possessions was formed. Following the
example of Indian sages, he believed he must renounce the world for a higher
life. Seven times he attempted monastic living, but his attraction to women
caused him to fail each time. Though intellectually he presumably understood
the transitory nature of worldly pleasures and felt a call to yoga and
ascetic living, he was unable to control his desires. After a long
self-struggle, Bhartrihari became a yogi and lived a life of dispassion in a
cave in the vicinity of Ujjain until his death.

Bhartrihari entitled three of his works sataka ("century"): The Sringara
(love) -sataka, Niti (ethical and polity) -sataka, and Vairagya (dispassion)
-sataka. Although all three are attributed to him, only the first is
regarded as his with certainty by most scholars. In another work sometimes
attributed to Bhartrihari, the Bhatti kavya ("Poem of Bhatti"), he performs
linguistic gymnastics to demonstrate the subtleties of Sanskrit.

        -- EB

89 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Ajit Narayanan said...

Or, as Stephen Sondheim puts it so nicely in 'Sweeney Todd':

Sweet Polly Plunkett saw her life pass,
Flew down the city road, crying,
"I am a lass who alas loves a lad
Who alas has a lass loves another lad
Who once I had
In Canterbury."

ajitQ

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