On Sentiments in the Avadānakalpalatā
The Avadānakalpalatā, a collection of Buddhist legends in 108 chapters, was written by the Kashmiri poet Kṣemendra (ca. 990–1066 CE). In additon to this work, the poet wrote two treatises on poetics: the Kavikaṇt.hābharaṇa and the Aucityavicāracarcā. The former, comprised of fifty-five verses, illustrates the prerequisites for being a poet; the latter, which consists of thirty-three verses, as well as a prose autocommentary, illustrates how a poet should observe aucitya (“poetic propriety”) concerning the twenty-seven components of poetry. Furthermore, three verses from the Avadānakalpalatā are quoted in the Aucityavicāracarcā to illustrate the propriety of sentiment (rasa), truth (tattva), and names (nāman). The Aucityavicāracarcā and its commentary are brought to attention of scholars preparing a critical edition of the Avadānakalpalatāa, for Kṣemendra gives brief explanations of these verses. No attempt is, however, made to consider the verses in question in the light of poetic theory advanced in the treatise. This paper aims to answer the question of how a particular sentiment is suggested by Kṣemendra, focusing on verses 105–112 of the twenty-fourth chapter of the Avadānakalpalatā, devoted to the depiction of a cremation ground. A closer examination of the text reveals the following:
• In the Aucityavicāracarcā, Kṣemendra allows poets to use a mixture of sentiments on the condition that a subordinate (aṅga) sentiment should not be more fully developed than a predominant (aṅgin) sentiment.
• In verse 111, which is quoted in the Aucityavicāracarcā as an example of the propriety of sentiment, Kṣemendra, using a simile in which a she-jackal and a corpse are compared to a woman and her lover, respectively, suggests two mutually exclusive sentiments, namely, the loathsome (bībhatsa) and the erotic (śṛṅgāra). According to the poet, the former is predominant, and the latter is subordinate, which can be recognized by the fact that the object of comparison in the simile is not explicitly expressed by the word kāminī (“amorous woman”).
• In verses 105–110, 112, we can find the words udvega (“anxiety”), vipākapūyakuṇapāghrāṇa (“inhaling the stench of festering corpses”), virati (“indifference to worldly enjoyments”), syandana (“perspiration”), mūrcchat (“one who is in a swoon”), gṛdhra (“vulture”), and vāyasa (“raven”), which points to the possibility that Kṣemendra uses a mixture of two sentiments: the loathsome and the terrifying (bhayānaka).
• A perusal of verse 112 reveals that Kṣemendra employs the word bhavabībhatsakutsā (“[Having said thus] with scorn because of disgust with the transmigratory world”), so that one can discern that the predominant sentiment is the loathsome.
• The pun Kṣemendra uses in verse 111 is not constructed in accordance with the demands of the poetic rules laid down by the critics claiming that the ornament of speech is the soul of poetry. Consideration of the structure of the pun in question convinces us that Kṣemendra held the view that a poet should consider a sentiment to be the essence of poetry.
In conclusion, (1) Kṣemendra suggests not merely a loathsome sentiment, but erotic and terrifying sentiments in Avadānakalpalatā 24.105–112 as well; and (2) considerable care is devoted to ensuring that a predominant sentiment is the loathsome by means of both implicit and explicit expressions.
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