“The Growth and development of erotic literature in India went through Vedic references to female beauty, erotics, and sex dialogues of yam-yami & others etc. Earnest pursuit of knowledge of sexual matters appeared in the Upnishadie period. The fruition of this came from the tradition of Nandi, svtaketu, Babhravya & Vatsyayana and the later writers.
Later on, scientific pursuit of sexual knowledge was over shadowed by erotic poetry. Commented upon by Aandavardhan on different context it upholds the intrinsic poetic excellence of these erotics poems vide .
This was followed by the trend of describing the beauty of female body in great details. The present work “Sringara Kavya” of Shankar belongs to the last trends, and there too it confines itself to dealing with female bosom.
Dr. Amal Shib Pathak was awarded Ph. D. by University of Lucknow in the year 1968 for his work on “Stage and stagecraft of Sanskrit Plays” he worked under Dr. A.C. Banerjea, the than Reader of the Department of Sanskrit, Pali & Prakrit of Lucknow University, who later became vice chancellor of Faizabad University.
Dr. Pathak had earlier edited natya Lochamam of trilochanaditya & Kama Samuha of Ananta. Sringara kavya of Shankar is the third work passing through his hand.
The manuscript of Sringara Kavya of Shankar was found clubbed with that of Kama Samuha of ananta under BBRAS-1167 of Asiatic Society of Bombay. I have constructed the text of the present work Sringara Kavya on the basis of this manuscript only. There were a few places where I could not decipher the words of the scribe. At a few other places I have taken some liberty in their translation into English.
As regards poet’s date no clue could be gathered from internal sources, nor is there any reference in it of earlier works that could help. As it is a minor work it has not been quoted by other poets who came later, either. The female breasts as we know are the most obvious and attractive part of her body. It will be observed that in evolution of Sanskrit erotic literature from ‘description of female body’, the description of female breast will be in sequence of linear progression, so to say. Hence I have placed Shankar after Ananta the Author of Kama Samuha and before the advent of Riti Kala in Hindi literature in the 17/18 cen.
I am appending the portion of description of female breasts appearing in Ananta’s Kama Samuha which may underline the shift in trend of Sanskrit erotic which may underline the shift in trend of Sanskrit erotic literature. Shankar does not seem to be aware of ananta’s work. However, the recurrent comparison of breast with Lord Shiva and the string of pearl necklace resembling water bubbles of the streams of river Ganga falling on Lord Shiva’s head is a common meeting point of their imagination. Both have devoted a large number of verses in describing female bosom.
Sringara Kavya is small work and the manuscript seems to be complete as the second verse of the work and the last colophon indicate that very clearly.
I now venture to place it before the learned for whatever it is worth. It is found of some use my efforts will be amply rewarded.
Trends of Erotic Literature in Sanskrit
Early Vedic reference: We come across erotic references and beginnings of awareness of sex knowledge in the Vedic literature. This was followed by gradual development of sexology in the later Vedic period. Sexual union between man and woman was interpreted in terms of sacrificial rituals by Vedic seers. It has been dealt with in great details in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. There is a vivid description in Chhandogya Upanishad.
(Indication of desire im ‘Himakara’, the two of them communicate for coition, it is ‘Prastava’ when they lie on the bed it is ‘Udgitha’ and beginning of act is ‘Pratihara’ and leading to culmination is nidhana. This coitus is like sacrifice in accompaniment of Vamdevya Mantras. He who knows this nature of amdevya Mantra as intertwined with human copulation procreates, reaches full length of life and attains ‘offs prings, cattles and fame).
Before the Vedic interpretation of human copulation was articulated, the rituals and beliefs of pre-historic times linked fertility of fields under cultivation to fertility of women. The women used to strip naked in the fields and sexual union with a man in the field was the culmination of this rituals. In central America it was practice to select a man and a woman to perform sexual intercourse in the field for better harvest. Interestingly the horse sacrifice ie Aswamedha Yajna refers to prescribed sexual act which appears in vajsaneyi Samhita. The imagery of field and ‘sowing of seeds representing woman and man in the context o human genetics persisted for a long time vide manusmriti
(Woman is the field and man is the seed)
Passages in vedic and post-vedic literature indicate that in the beginning Vedic seers laid grad emphasis on creation and preservation of human life. Satapatha Brahmana commands that semen should be sprinkled in the vaigina of women only, it should not be wasted. “ the swed seed of man will germinate when the heat arises in the body of man due to man”.
An observation made By N.C. chaudhury in his book,’ Continent of circe’ runs as follows “But even early Aryan society, despite its robust naturalism, knew that something besides unthinking enjoyment had to be brought into sexual life. So early Brahamanism made procreationits supreme motive. “In this connection vide (One who does not have offspring can not aspire for heaven)there is a passage in Rgveda which says-“may Vishnu construct the womb may Twastr fabricate the members, may Prajapati sprinkle; may Dhatri cherist the embryo.
Such mantras and many sacrificial rituals of Vedic times related to human genetics. There knowledge was considered very sacred and was the exclusively preserve of a few. The Pravahana Jaibali-Aruni Uddalaka-episode in Chhandogya Upnanisad brings this out. In this context Sk De in his “ancient Indra erotics & Erotic Literature.”
It is not until we come to Brihadaranyaka Upanisad that we find for the first time sex problems in the interest chiefly of genetics begin to occupy the attention of the sages even though little of their wisdom has been preserved for us. The Upanisad no doubt loftily declares (6.4.22) the desire stands on the same level as any other desire but later on gives (6.2.12 & 6.4.2) brief exposition of the mystery of sexual relationship ascribed to pravahana Jaibali of Panchal country who is sought for instruction by Uddalaka Arjuna t the instance of his inquisitive son Sevetaketu. “ All the same hey recognized that fountain head of all pleasure is the area of reproduction in the human body.
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