pratiika/allegory

mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Tue May 1 06:58:31 EDT 2007


In current Indian writing on Sanskrit drama,
the term pratiika-naa.taka is sometimes used for
allegorical dramas in the tradition of the
Prabodhacandrodaya of K.r.s.namizra, e.g.,
Suuryasa.mkalpodaya, Caitanyacandrodaya, Am.rtodaya,
etc. But just when and where is this term
pratiika-naa.taka first used? Is it, in fact, 
a modern coinage based on Eng. "allegorical drama"?

Even if the term is of recent origin, was there ever
another way of theorizing "allegory" in traditional
dramaturgy and poetics? (In esoteric religious materials,
of course, we find such notions as niguu.dhaartha applied to 
allegorical readings of tantric texts and the like, but
I am not interested in that sort of thing here, unless
a direct link to notions of literary allegory seems likely.)

Of course, as has been widely noted, the practice of
allegorical writing in India can be found as early as
some hymns of the .rg-veda. However, I am not interested here
in texts that, as a matter of fact, are allegorical or
have been treated as allegorical (e.g., Za.nkara's reading of
Arjuna's grief at the opening of BhG). My question concerns
just the conceptualization and theorization of "allegory."

With thanks for your houghts about this.

Matthew T. Kapstein
Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies
The University of Chicago Divinity School

Directeur d'études
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris



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