Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

The  “Rukminiparinaya”

of  Bellamkonda Rama Raya 

The “Rukminiparinaya”
of Bellamkonda Rama Raya Kavi

Dr. K. S. R. DATTA

Bellamkonda Rama Raya (A. D. 1875-1914) was a great Sanskrit writer who made a significant contribution to Sanskrit and Advaita Vedanta. He was born in Pamidipadu in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. In a short span of 38 years of his life he produced 143 works including kavyas, stotras and works on ethics, grammar, and Advaita Vedanta. His major works are the Bhagavadgitabhashyarthaprakasika, Sankarasankarabhashyavimarsah etc., where he meets the criticism of Ramanuja and Vedanta Desika against Sankara and gives a word-to-word reply to their arguments. All his writings have the characteristic clarity and lucidity.

Though mainly a philosopher, Rama Raya was able to write, like Vedanta Desika, sweet poetry too apart from dry and abstract subjects like Vedanta or Dharma-sastra. Poetry wooed him in his early age. So the art of writing poetry was acquired by him not by his effort but by the grace of Lord Hayagriva. He was a born-poet. Being highly proficient both in kavyasand sastrashe could be called, in the words of Rajasekhara, an ubhayakavi. His mastery over sastraslike the grammar, logic and Vedanta amply justifies his writing of poetry, since a knowledge of these sastrasis considered a necessary pre-requisite for writing kavyas.

Rama Raya was inspired by the sweet and devotional poetry of ancient writers, especially of Kalidasa, Santara and Vedanta Desika. His intense devotion to God and his love for poetry made him produce a few independent poetical works. He combined devotion and poetry in his works and thus made his life fruitful.

The following kavyasof Rama Raya are available to us. 1) Srikrishnalilatarangini, 2) Samudramathana-campuh, 3) Rukmini-­parinaya-campuh, 4) Kandarpadarpavilasa-bhanah.

Now let us study briefly the Rukminiparinaya-campuh. As the name suggests, the work deals with the story of Krishna wedding Rukmini. The adhyayas52, 53 and 54 of the tenth skandhaof the Bhagavata-purana, depicting the story of Lord Krishna marrying Rukmini, form the basis of the present work. While the story in the original is only in 161 verses and is small and simple, it has been elaborated by Rama Raya. This work is in nine vilasasor chapters and is comparatively smaller than Rama Raya’s other kavyas. It contains 618 verses and 53 prose pieces. Vilasa II, the biggest of all, has 111 verses and six prose pieces. The prose pieces are small and the entire work has not more than ten big gadyas; but for the small number of gadyas, this work is more a padyakavyathan a campuh.

There is a very brief commentary by Rama Raya himself on this and he has not named it. He observes in the beginning of the commentary on the first verse that he writes his own com­mentary lest he should be misconstrued. However, it does not satisfy the pancalakshanasof a standard commentary.

The Rukminiparinaya-campuhis a typical mahakavyafulfilling all the requisites. It commences with a salutation to Madhava, Who is the Supreme Soul, Who is otherwise called satyam, jnanam and anantam. The author observes that even a matter of fact statement (svabhavokti) made with regard to gods like Brahma and others, will be hyperbolic; on the other hand, any hyperbolic statement, made by Brahma, etc., will be a natural statement with regard to Madhava. Krishna (Madhava) is the hero and Rukmini is the heroine of the work and sringarais the chief sentiment. Rama Raya states that his work, which may contain some blemishes, will yet be delightful and sweet like the indistinct words of a parrot.

The story as contained in this work is mostly faithful to the core of the original, i. e., the Bhagavata-puranawith a few deviations or innovations. Rukmini, the daughter of Bhishma, the king of Kundina, aspires to marry Krishna Whose virtues, narrated and praised by her father’s bards, have attracted her to Him. But her brother, Rukmi, insists on her being wed to Sisupala whom she dislikes. She sends her message of love; through a Brahmin, to Krishna. That Brahmin returns and informs her of Krishna’s readiness to marry her. On the day of wedding, Krishna arrives at Kundina along with Balarama and takes away Rukmini on his chariot while all the princes look on helplessly. When Rukmi chases and hurls abuses at him, Krishna shows his Narasimharupa and tries to kill him. But, he desists from killing as Rukmini intervenes. Krishna reaches Dvaraka along with Balarama and Rukmini. In the meanwhile, Bhishma too arrives at Dvaraka and he himself celebrates the marriage of his daughter with Krishna. Thus, Rukmini weds Krishna and leads a happy life with him. A close study of this work reveals that Rama Raya has imitated and profusely drawn from the Krishnalilatarangini(Taranga XII) of Narayanatirtha in the field of story, descriptions, etc.

The poet has made the following innovations in the story: (1) the Brahmin messenger returns to Kundina and reports to Rukmini about Krishna’s agreeing to marry her as desired by her while in the original story it is stated that Krishna, along with His retinue and the Brahmin, came straight to Kundina. Later, on Krishna’s arrival, the Brahmin informed Rukmini of Krishna’s plan to take her away to Dvaraka. (2) Krishna shows his Nrisimhavatara to Rukmini and attempts to kill him. This is not found in the original story. (3) Rukmini intervenes and begs of Krishna in philosophical terms to desist from killing her brother. (4) Rukmini’s father comes to Dvaraka to celebrate his daughter’s marriage with Krishna. The original story says that Krishna married her at Dvaraka and it seems no relative of her attended the marriage.

The author seems to have been influenced much by the story contained in Bammera Potana’s Andhramahabhagavatain the context of the wedding of Rukmini, in places like Rukmini sending a message to Krishna through a Brahmin and her worry over his delay in returning from Dvaraka. The only deviation herein is that Krishna is described as having shown his ferocious Narasimharupa to kill Rukmi.

In matters like describing Rukmini’s intense love for Krishna (VilasaI), the beauty of Rukmini (VilasaII), the marriage of Krishna and Rukmini (VilasaVIII), the applause of the ladies of the town for the fine match of Rukmini and Krisbna (VilasaIII) and the love sports of Krishna and Rukmini (VilasaIX), Rama Raya closely imitates Kalidasa’s description of Parvati’s beauty, her marriage with Lord Siva, the ladies of Oshadhiprastha eulogising the match of Siva and Parvati and their love sports.

During the wedding, Bhishma, while offering his daughter to Krishna says. “This, my daughter, who is very dear to me like my heart, is being offered to you. May she be accepted by you as your better half, ardhangi.”This is reminiscent of the King Janaka’s saying, while giving away Sita to Rama in marriage. The priest remarks that Krishna’s wish was to make Rukmini his purnangiand not merely his ardhangiand this is a unique way of indicating Krishna’s abundant love for Rukmini.

Though Rama Raya is a devotee of Hayagriva (Vishnu), he is equally devotional to other gods. He bursts into raptures of praise when he makes Rukmini eulogise the goddess Gauri in the temple a little before her proposed marriage with Sisupala. These slokas, full of devotion, evidently show that he was influenced by the Devidasaslokiattributed to Kalidasa.

The poet seizes every opportunity to portray Krishna as the Supreme God, Who creates, maintains and destroys this Universe and Who grants mokshato all the individual souls. These philoso­phical ideas are very ingeniously put into the mouth of Rukmini who eulogises and entreats the enraged Krishna to pardon and save the life of her brother.

To demonstrate his knowledge of the mantras, slokas etc., recited during the wedding ceremony, the poet has composed eight verses called mangalashtakasrecited during the marriage of Krishna with Rukmini, wishing well to the couple and this is rarely done by other writers. The Vedic ideas like Yo vaitaam brahmano veda …(Taittiriyaranyaka, 1,27,3) and Sahasrasirsha purushah sahasrakshah ........ Rigveda X, 90. 1) are incorporated in certain verses as eulogies of Lord Krishna by Brahma, Rudra and Indra.

Rama Raya’s proficiency in the Kamasutrasis also well revealed when he describes the love-sports of Krishna and Rukmini in detail in VilasaIX. It may be mentioned here without any reserva­tion that he goes a step further than Kalidasa in describing the love-sports. Perhaps he was guided by the Bhagavatacampuwhich too is highly erotic in canto VI.

In accomplishing some astonishing feat of verbal jugglery Rama Raya shows great skill in the ingenious construction of verses known as the citrabandasand follows the examples found in the Kiratarjuniya(canto XV), the Sisupalavadha(canto XIX) and the Yadavabhyudaya(canto VI). He has exhibited his mastery of metrics by using a variety of metres. Being an Andhra, he introduces, now and then, rules of Telugu prosody like praasamaitriand yatiniyamain canto VII.

An interesting feature of Rama Raya’s work lies in the way of skillfully introducing the manners and customs of Telugu people observed during marriages. He has composed .and introduced five nirajanaslokascalled Mangalahaarati-paataluin Telugu, which are recited by the elderly suvasiniladies, who hold and wave, by way of blessing the couple, a metallic plate containing water mixed with turmeric and lime powder. This is an auspicious custom observed even now in Andhra and other parts of South India. The suvasiniladies, wishing well of Krishna is imitative of Kausalya’s conferring blessings on Rama at the time of his going to the forest.

He seems to compete as it were with Bana in writing prose with long and high-sounding compounds whose meaning can be known after the second or third reading only with the help of a lexicon. His descriptions are often graphic and effective and for this purpose he resorts to gadya. He uses a variety of sabdalanakarasand arthalankaras. though he composed this work after the Samudramathana-campuand the Ramaparinaya-campu, which are simple and easy in style, he must have written this in order to display his learning and skill in writing in an ornate style also. He claims, in his commentary on the first verse of the first canto, that this work is an uttama-kavyasince it abounds in dhvanior suggestion.

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