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Bhakti-rasamrta-sesa :: Jiva Gosvamin

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The Bhakti-rasamrta-sesa (ed. Haridas Das, Nabadwip: Haribol Kutir, 1942) is based on a single manuscript found in the library of the Radha Damodar temple in Vrindavan and presumably now held in the Vrindavan Research Institute. It is based closely on the Sahitya-darpana of Visvanatha Kaviraja, from which it differs primarily in its examples. This edition was prepared with a fairly rigorous comparitive reading of the two books, rationalizing the Sesa text according to the karikas, etc. Only occasional notes have been given, however. A separate edition of Sahitya-darpana will be posted in the near future.

A short article is given in the comments below. Jan Brzezinski 2004-02-13
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Original written in: Unknown
Entry added: February 14th 2004
Entry updated: July 2nd 2007
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Added by: Jagat
Text version: 1.10 (legend)
Keywords: alankara, jiva, goswami, gosvamin, rasamrita, sesa, shesha
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1.1 version uploaded 2007-07-02
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The authorship of the Sesha. · Posted by Jagat on February 14th 2004 - 04:08 +0100
The Bhakti-rasamrita-sesha is based on a single manuscript found in the library of the Radha Damodar temple in Vrindavan and presumably now held in the Vrindavan Research Institute. The scribal comment at the end is as follows:

kAmyakAkhya-vane mAghe zrImad-dAmodarAlaye
zAke vasv-eka-rtu-vidhau rAkAyAM kUja-vAsare
gopIdhavaM guruM natvA yatnenAti mudAnvitA
rasAmRtasya zeSaM hi likhitaM vRndAvane

This date is 1618 Saka or 1696-7 A.D. No other manuscripts of this work have been found.

Bhakti-rasamrita-sesha is an appendix to Rupa Goswami's important work dealing with the rasas. Like the Harinamamrita-vyakarana, it appears that the author's intention was to produce a work on the alankaras that would be suitable for Vaishnavas who took seriously the instruction to remember Krishna in everything that they did. Thus, though Jiva follows the Sahitya-darpana almost word for word in the substance of this work, he goes to his own works and those of other colleagues in Vrindavan for his examples.

Even then, he does not use as many of such examples as one might expect, considering the amount of material he had to fall back on. A great many of the examples remain those composed or selected by Vishwanath Kaviraj, merely being “doctored” in order to make them palatable to Vaishnavas. This has been done much on the model of Rupa himself, who did the same with a number of verses in his anthology Padyavali. Thus, verses from even such classical erotic authors as Amaru are made acceptable for the holy ears of renounced devotees by the changing of a word, or by replacing the anonymous or secular lovers with the transcendental Radha and Krishna.

As an example, we can look at the first verse quoted in Rasamrita-sesa, which is originally found in Amaru-sataka (78) and has been quoted in Sahitya-darpana. The Sesa reads:

zUnyaM kuJja-gRhaM vilokya zayanAd
utthAya kiJcic chanair
nidrA-vyAjam upAgatasya suciraM
kRSNasya dRSTvA mukham |
visrabdhaM parirabhya jAta-pulakAm
Alokya gaNDa-sthalIM
lajjA-namra-mukhI sahAsam amunA
bAlA ciraM cumbitA ||

The original is exactly as above, only kuJja has replaced Amaru's vAsa, and kRSNasya dRSTvA has taken the place of nirvarNya patyuH. This is the general pattern of emendation, though some changes have been more drastic where the subject matter somehow clashes with the author's views of how Radha and Krishna's love dalliances should be conducted.

In his introduction, the author justifies such an approach by claiming that the author of Sahitya-darpana has occasionally focused his attentions in the wrong place:

asthAne paripAtAn
mlAyati sAhitya-darpaNaH so'yam |
murajiti samarpyamANaH
sthAne kAntiM sadA labhatAm || (1.4)

Once the Sahitya-darpana had been thus purified, the author would offer it back to Krishna.

The order of chapters in Sesha is somewhat different from that of Sahitya-darpana. The following table compares the two :

Sahitya-darpana --> Bhakti-rasamrita-sesha
Ch. 1 (introductory) --> same
Ch. 2. (vAkya-svarUpa) --> same
Ch. 3 (rasa-svarUpa) --> Covered in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani.
Ch. 4. (dhvani theory) --> Ch. 3
Ch. 5. (vyanjanA-svarUpa) --> dropped.
Ch. 6 (dramatic theory) --> Covered in Nataka-candrika.
Ch. 7. (doSas) --> Ch. 5.
Ch. 8. (guNas) --> Ch. 7.
Ch. 9 (rIti) --> Ch. 6.
Ch. 10. (alaGkAra) --> Ch. 4.

The most important of the seven chapters is that on alankara, which is more than double the length of the rest of the book combined. The following observation can be made from the quoted material.

A number of verses (I have detected some 25 in all) quoted from Gopala-campu indicates that Sesha was compiled after that work. Nearly all the quotes come, however, from the first volume of that work or the very earliest parts of the second, which might be an indication of when Sesha was compiled. The second volume of Gopala-campu was finished in 1592.

Surprisingly, only one verse has been quoted from Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.1 on p. 19) and none from Ujjvala-nilamani. The author does quote the entire twelve verses of citra-kavya written by Rupa in his Stava-mala.

It is something of a surprise to find a large number of verses from Krishna Das Kaviraj's Govinda-lilamrita and Kavi Karnapur's Alankara-kaustubha. It makes me suspicious that perhaps someone else finished a work that Jiva only started, for after a certain point in chapter 4, there are no further examples from Gopala-campu. On the other hand, Govinda-lilamrita in its 11th and 17th chapters contain a large number of verses in which the prominent alankaras are named, usually as a combination of several different such conceits simultaneously. Perhaps the availability of this material facilitated the search for examples. The same can be said for the Alankara-kaustubha, from which not only Krishna-conscious examples could easily be found, but also in some cases, explanations of those examples.

I have tracked down altogether 36 quotes from GLA and 26 from AK. (Note that Haridas Das himself states he added the AK examples for the sukshma alankara, which appeared to have been left out of the Sesha manuscript.)

Other than the five verses from the Bhagavatam that are quoted to support the philosophical basis for the work, the author quotes only two verses from that text. One, 10.31.19, is used as an example of the eighth kind of rupaka. The other, the words of Kubja as she brazenly invites Krishna to her residence (10.42.10), is cited as an example of the flaw of gramyata. Of other books mentioned by name, only one is not previously found in Sahitya-darpana, i.e., Krishna-karnamrita 55. A number of exemplary verses could not be traced and are likely to be original and written to fit the context.

I have some doubts that this book was written by Jiva himself. He may have given it as a task to one of his students, possibly Krishna Das, who succeeded him at Radha Damodar and to whom several manuscripts from its library can be credited. Krishna Das appears to have been only a moderately competent scholar and much of what he did is incomplete and lacking in originality. It is hard to see how a book by as influential a thinker as Jiva could carry so little of his personal stamp. Jiva or one of his students would no doubt have been able to quote Gopala-campu, and would indeed have had an interest in doing so, but the energy to find verses not previously marked as containing a specific alankara (or to compose such exemplary verses) was lacking in the compiler of this work, who found it easier to make slight adjustments in the examples given by Vishwanath or to borrow wholesale those of other authors like Krishna Das and Kavi Karnapur. Rupa Goswami's work, so full of excellent examples of the poetic art, seems strangely neglected herein.

It is my wish to find more examples of verses in the Gaudiya Vaishnava corpus to supplement those found here and in Alankara-kaustubha. To that end, I have already gathered a fair number, but they have not all been carefully placed in the exact appropriate location. I invite others to contribute such examples as they discover them.

Jan Brzezinski