From the Jacket:
This book represents the first attempt of its kind to present a detailed, systematic analysis of the upamana dharmas (Tertia comparationis) of the various objects of comparison found in the Mahabharata. It also critically examines the position of the Great Epic as a fascinating specimen of Oral poetic composition abounding, as it does, in the repetitions of the poetic formulae of the various categories. A study of some of the major figures of speech also provides an authoritative material useful for further research of the evolution of Tertia comparationis in the successive stages of Indian literary tradition.
"In any case
Sharma's research has led us to a pre-height from where we can see the Gauri-Shankar of the Mahabharata." - Friedrich Wilhelm
About the Author:
Dr. Ram Karan Sharma (born March 20,1927) was initiated to Vedic and Vedangic studies he worked with Prof. M.B. Emeneau in the University of California.
He is an M.A. (Sanskrit and Hindi) from Patna University, Sahityacarya, Vedanta Sastri and Navya-Vyakarana Sastri from Bihar Sanskrit Association. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Founder Director, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Vice Chancellor, K.S.D. Sanskrit University, Darbhanga and Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi, Secretary, Central Sanskrit Board, Organising Secretary, First and Fifth World Sanskrit Conferences, a participant in several world Sanskrit conferences and oriental conferences, and associated with many academic bodies of various organizations Dr. Sharma has all along been making distinct contributions to the cause of promotion of Sanskrit studies in India and abroad.
Author of six publications including creative writings in Sanskrit and about one hundred research papers/poems etc. Dr. Sharma is a recipient of the award of Certificate of Honour from the President of India (for distinguished services for promotion of Sanskrit Studies).
THIS WORK IS BASICALLY THE SAME as that submitted in partial satis-
faction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at
the University of California in June, 1959. It owes its present shape to
the esteemed guidance of my learned guru, Murray Barnson Emeneau,
Professor of Sanskrit and General Linguistics of the departments of
Classics and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. I
cannot express in words my sense of indebtedness to his intellectual
gifts in connection with the work. All that is good in it is his; the rest
is mine: punas ca bhuyo 'pi namo namas te.
I must record my grateful thanks to Professors Madison S. Beeler,
Joseph E. Fontenrose, John J. Gumperz, Arthur E. Hutson, S. M. Katre,
V. Raghavan, and the late Professor Ferdinand D. Lessing for their
kind suggestions and generous help with the work.
My visit to the University of California was made possible by a grant
of leave from the University of Bihar and by financial grants from the
State Department of the United States under the Fulbright and Smith-
Mundt acts through the United States Educational Foundation in India
and the Institute of International Education. To add to this, the Com-
mittee on South Asian Languages of the Association for Asian Studies
granted me a fellowship for the year 1958-59. My special obligation is
due to all of them.
I wish also to offer my sincere thanks to the Editorial Committee of
the University of California, which has so kindly agreed to undertake
the publication of the work.
THE PRESENT STUDY IS BASED ON MATERIALS from the Mahabharata
(Critical Edition, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poena),
Books 1 (Adi, 1933) and 3 (Vans, 1941) edited by Vishnu Sitaram
Sukthankar, and Book 6 (Bhisma, 1947), edited by Shripad Krishna
Belvalkar. An attempt is made here to present a detailed account of
what we may call poetic expressions of the corpus. It is not a rhetorical
discussion of the soul of the poetry of the Mahabharata. It rather aims
at enumerating the symbolic, alliterative, paronomastic, or repetitive
linguistic features that beautify the body of the Mahabharata.
Chapter 1 deals with the similes (upama) of the corpus; the arrange-
ment of the sections is based on the fields from which the objects of
comparison (upamana) are collected. Chapters 2 through 8 deal with
the metaphors and other figures of meaning (arthalamkaras) that are
found. Chapter 9 presents some specimens of popular idioms found in
the corpus, arranged again according to the fields from which they are
collected. Chapter 10 is the compilation of the passages representing
typical figures of sound (Sabdlalamkaras). To complete the study, chap-
ter 11 analyzes passages representing the techniques of oral poetry.
AB J. Gonda informs us, Arnold Hirzel in his Gleichnisse und Meta-
phern im Rgveda tried to collect as completely as possible the similes in
the Rgveda; he arranged the materials "nach sachlichen Gruppen."
Mrs. Rhys Davids took practically the same point of view in her "Similes
in the Nikayas."! No such study seems yet to have been made of the
Mahabharata. E. W. Hopkins in his The Great Epic of India merely sug-
gests that "on epic similes and metaphors an interesting essay remains
to be written."! Of course, he lists many examples of epic similes and
metaphors (pp. 403-444);but the purpose there is to show the parallel-
ism in the two epics rather than to present a study of the epic figures.
Emeneau in his paper "The Sinduvsra Tree in Sanskrit Literature"
suggests that the compilation of an encyclopedia of traditional Sanskrit
stock-in-trade comparisons "would be an aid to the scholar who occupies
himself with the interpretation of Sanskrit literature."! The present
study of the Mahabharata may be said to be an attempt in that direc-
tion, viz., a study of the figures in Sanskrit literature.
As Hopkins rightly points out, "the presence in the epic of rupakas,
metaphors, of this or that form, no more implies acquaintance with a
studied ars poetica than do such phenomena in other early epic poetry.":'
What Patanjali says about language in general:
ye punah karya bhava nirvrttau tavat tesam yatnah kriyate tad yatha ghatena
karyam. karisyan kumbhakarakulam gatva 'ha kuru ghatam karyam anena karis-
yami 'ti/ na tadvac chabdan prayoksyamano vaiyakaranakulam gatva 'ha kuru
sabdan prayoksya iti/
An effort has to be made for the accomplishment of things that are to be made; for
example, one who needs a pot goes to the family of a potter and says, "Make me a
pot; I will use it." But nobody who wants to use words goes to the family of gram-
marians and says, "Make me words; I will use them.'
applies to the figurative language of epic poetry as well. It does not
follow, however, as stated for epic grammar by Kulkarni and Yarrow,
that many 'aberrant' poetic usages exist in the Mahabharata.!
Any discussion of aberrancy implies a previous canonical formulation
of some rigid norm. Such a canon did exist in the field of grammar, in
the prescriptions of the great grammarians (munitraya). But the tradi-
tion of rhetoric has been somewhat different. The definition and concept
of poetry have always been changing and growing, from the time of
Bharata (first century A.D.) to the time of Panditaraja Jagannatha
(seventeenth century A.D.). What is still more significant from our point
of view is the fact that the poetic techniques as evolving in the works of
rhetoricians through the ages and those successively adopted by the
poets concerned have not been synchronous. We cannot say, for example,
that as Sriharsa belonged to the twelfth century when the dhvani school
was at its highest peak, his poetry would be necessarily based on the
principles of dhvani.
Poets have been traditionally regarded as unrestrained persons
(nirankusah kavayah). Their poetry is free from the restrictions of
nature (niyatikrtaniyamarahitam, Kavy. Pr 1.1). As a seed is to the
growth of a creeper, the earth and irrigation being just accessories, so is
the poetic intuition (imagination) to the growth of poetry; study and
practice are accessories thereof (pratibhai 'va srutabhyasasahita kavi-
tarp prati/hetur mrdambusambaddhabijamala latam iva, Candraloka
1.6). The poetic defect arising from a poet's lack of learning can be
hidden by the excellence of his poetic intuition; but failure in imagina-
tion is too apparent to be hidden (avyutpattikrto dosah Saktya samvri-
yate kaveh/yas tv asaktikrtas tasya jhag ity eva 'vabhasate, Locana on
In every community, poetry appears first. Rhetoric may follow. If a
community's language of poetry is rhythmical, allegorical, or alliter-
ative, it is not because of a rhetorician's prescription. By nature, a com-
munity's emotional language of lamentation, honor, anger, wonder, etc.,
is what we call poetic in the real sense of the term. We can always hear,
for example, the so-called elements of alliteration, repetition, introduc-
tion, refrain, rhythm, rhyme, and allegory, even in the language of
lamentation of an illiterate village woman. Thus Visvanatha's definition
of poetry (vakyam rasatmakam kavyam SD 1.3, poetry is a language
of emotion) seems to be a universally recognized fact.
The result of the above discussion may be summarized thus: Firstly,
if the language of the Mahabharata is poetic, it does not follow that
there is some influence of the science of rhetoric in it. Secondly, even if
we do not get evidence of a well-developed science of rhetoric prior to
the composition of the Mahabharata, we should not deny the poetry of
the Mahabharata the place it deserves, in the light of what has been
said about its poetical virtues by later rhetoricians, poets, critics, or
Raghavan? presents the views of Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta,
Ksemendra, and the author of the Bhagavata that the Mahabharata is
essentially and primarily a work (prabandhakavya) of the sentiment of
tranquillity (santa rasa). As these critics have shown, all the struggles
of the Pandavas, their wars, victories, and sufferings, lead to one central
theme, that peace, quietude, and tranquillity are the summa bona of
A. Idioms in General
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