From The Jacket
Shringar is a cosmic order. The cycle of seasons set in the process of destruction and rejuvenation. After a deep slumber nature suddenly vibrates and there is a phenomenal change in the flora, mushrooming of flowers and leaves of various hues with multitudinous variety in size and pattern. There is joy and delight everywhere.
For the roop shringar there is a natural desire of a woman since the onset of the civilisation. The author traces the theory and conceptualization of roopl avanya through the vast available literature and has tried to compress the essential features.
In the realm of poetry shringar-the amorous feeling is regarded as rasraj among the rasas or poetic moods by the Indian aestheticians. The author traces the genesis and evolution of theory of shringar and has given copious illustrations from Sanskrit classics.
There is a visible impact of our ancient literature on the subsequent art and literature, sculpture and painting related to shringar. We also find a unique blending of music and painting in ragmala and barahmasa folios of the painters of various schools. The author has put the impact of the ancient literature in proper perspective as this is not properly recognised or appreciated.
There is a popular belief that there is too much of body in Sanskrit poetry on shringar. While his impression is partially true the author argues that this is a lopsided view. The shringar poetry is not a flesh school of poetry but is in many respects comparable to the great English romantic poetry excelling in the delineation of nature and flight of imagination.
It is a unique effort of bringing under the umbrella of shringar ras the poetry, the music, sculpture and painting, a rare mix of scholarship and popular writing.
About The Author
Shri Ved Bhatnagar is a person with multifaceted personality. A writer, a thinker and a very keen photographer. A scholar of English and Sanskrit literature he has been making consistent efforts through media and translations to popularise the ancient Indian classics. He translated the Meghdootam of Kalidas in free verse in English and made an audio-visual presentation in the prestigious Kalidas Samaroh in 1983/84 in Ujjain. A serial on Meghdootam was telecast on Doordarshan based on his translation. He uses his photographic skill to bring about the pictorial quality of the poems. He has held one-man exhibition of his photographs in Ravindra Bhawan and Birla Auditorium in Jaipur. He is closely linked with the activities of Shruti Mandal Jaipur an Organisation engaged in the promotion of classical music and dancer and holding ballet festivals annually in memory of Udaishankar the creator of this new genre of artistic expression.
One wintry afternoon I stood in awe in front of the caves-the rock shelters of prehistoric men in Alania village about twenty kilometers away from Kota district in Rajasthan. On the exterior and ceiling of the caves there were rudimentary sketches mostly of animals which over the years due to the effect of wind and water have become permanently imprinted.
As the rivulet near the caves moved on with gurgling sound I these sketches? What was this new creative urge that prompted them to rise above their animal instincts? It was a manifestation of the development of new frontiers of human psyche which was a distinct departure from their animal proclivity towards new horizons of enlightenment and though processes. It was perhaps the dawn of Shringar, the onset of a new desire to decorate their surroundings bored with their humdrum routine. The urge later on engulfed the human beings and the ornamentation of different kinds of body particularly by the women folk started.
I was really obsessed with this phenomenon and decided to study in depth this emotion and express it pictorially as initially done by the prehistoric men by way of a tribute to them. Chapter One of the book deals with general conceptualization of Shringar or the Swaroop of Shringar. Chapter two deals with Shringar, as it is generally understood, the use of beauty aids by women to decorate themselves in order to look more attractive and the ornamentation of dwelling places. Chapter three deals with Shringar as a manifestation of a cosmic order, the changes in the flora due to cycle of seasons and its effect on the mood of men and Ragragini theme of Indian painters having relevance to Shringar. Chapter Four deals with the theory and development of Shringar Ras and Shringar poetry till the sixteenth century when the Sanskrit literature, sculpture and painting. The grasp of its essential features contributes to a proper understanding of subsequent Indian literature and art.
I studied a lot of ancient classical literature on the subject erudite in nature but my effort has been to consolidate the various aspects of Shringar and contribute to its better understanding and express in simple and lucid language its main essentials.
A very wrong impression is prevalent among the reade3rs regarding the Shringar poetry-that it is highly erotic, that there is more of body than thought content in it. Nothing can be far from truth. This impression has been created by the translation of some very highly erotic poems like Geetgovind of Jaidev which has found a very wide circulation but eroticism is simply a part of such poetry. The Shringar poetry is rich in thought content, fanciful imagery, delineation of nature and deep understanding of human psychology. I would certainly have a sense of achievement if the book generates curiosity in our ancient literature.
The main purpose of the book is to give an overview of shringar which dominates the Indian way of life, cultural ethos and the psyche and its imprint on art, literature, poetry, painting and sculpture and further to assert its classical base.
In the book I have made certain observations on the concept and development of Shringar and I hope they receive due recognition from scholars and lovers of art and are properly appreciated.
I am extremely grateful to Dr. A.K. Das of Shantiniketan for a very useful discussion with him on Shringar and paintings on Shringar by different schools of painting. To Professor R.P. Sharma of Sanskrit Department and Dr. Nathulal Varma, Faculty of Painting, Fine Arts Department, Rajasthan University,Jaipur, I am highly indebted. While R.P. Sharma guided me to the source material, Nathulal Varma was kind enough to allow me to photograph two of his nayikas painted in traditional miniature style.
Shailendra Agrawal, LA.S., Managing Director, Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and also the Director of Archaeology, Govt. of Rajasthan, was very kind in helping me to get the photographs of Ragmala paintings ofBundi andJaipur school. These paintings are of great significance because of their antiquity and are finest examples of Bundi and Jaipur school of painting and as per the staff of Jaipur Museum assessed to belong to 16th/ 17th c. (Bundi) and 18th c. (Jaipur).
I fondly remember my father Balbir Sahai who initiated me to the Sanskrit classics. It is only due to his blessings that I have acquired the necessary competence to translate the classics in free verse in English. All the verses quoted in this book have been translated by me in English from the original Sanskrit books.
Further all the photographs in this book have been taken by me during my visit to various places of interest in the country. My photos always convey a mood, a feeling as I regard photography not as a means of recording events but as a medium of artistic expression. When I started photographing the wall paintings in Citrashala of Bundi I was almost spellbound by the artistic excellence of the great painters. Some of these paintings are dying as either the paint is chipping or peeling off. I hope I have been able to convey their high sense of aesthetics. The frescoes of Shekhawati region of Rajasthan also had immense attraction for me. Some of my impressions I have included in this book.
Lastly I am deeply indebted to my wife Krishna who in spite of her very busy schedule and commitments gave some useful guidelines while I was writing this book.
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