Art scholar BN Goswamy’s new work is about Indian art from 1100-1900. Two extracts on passion
"Clearly, the young lady is a virahini: in love but separated from her lover; ‘burning in the fire of separation’, as so many descriptions of this particular state express it in Sanskrit and Hindi rhetorical poetry"
‘Yaad aavai jab piyu ki, viraha uthai man jag / jyun chooney ki kaankari, jab chhirako tab aag’. In translation: ‘The moment I think of my lover, this desperate feeling of separation returns; it is as if my heart were a clod of burnt lime: each time even a drop of water falls on it, it begins to sizzle, for there is nothing but heat locked inside.’
In 16 sections—prabhavas is what they are called—and close to 400 verses, the poet Keshavadas of Orchha created what is regarded as a classic in its genre: the Rasikapriya. The title is difficult to translate in one word, as is all of the Braj Bhasha text, for it is replete with words and expressions, similes and metaphors, which can only be savoured in their rich cultural context. One thing is certain though: the work, completed by Keshavadas towards the very end of the 16th century for his patron, Rao Indrajit, has stayed as a benchmark in what is called ritikala poetry—poetry of the age of tradition. It is all about love: that of the nayak for the nayika, and hers for him.
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