R. Soneji rsoneji at
Fri Dec 13 06:12:19 UTC 1996

Peter J. Claus wrote:
> Date: December 12, 1996
> Indology List
> indology at
> Reply to Devesh Soneji
> I'm not exactly sure what you mean by the Satyabhama myth, but the story
> of how Krishna gets the parijata (flower) tree from Swargaloka for her is
> a very popular story in the folklore of Karnataka and Andhra (although I
> can't give references for it there).  There is a prose translation of one
> version of the Tulu paaDdana (ballad) tradition in The Folktales of India
> (Beck,, U. of Chicago Press, 1987. p. 155) In the Yakshagaana of
> the coastal region there are several different versions in drama form. In
> Northern Karnataka there is a whole genre of drama called parijata aaTa.
> Somehow, they are all apparently drawn from four lines from the Bhagavata
> Purana which describe only that when Krishna and Satyabhama were in
> Swargaloka, walking in the pleasure garden of Indra, Satyabhama saw a
> flower that such a beautifual smell that it attracted many bees.  He then
> battles Indra's army to a stale-mate to obtain it for her.  As a
> settlement, the tree is on earth for 6 months of the year and in heaven
> for six months.
> But the various folk forms use this to greatly and imaginatively elaborate
> on Krishna's romantic character in various disguises and on the intriguing
> problems of being a god with two (+) wives as well as jealousy between
> co-wives.
> Other than the Tulu piece, though, I don't think any have been translated
> or even described in English. There is (I'm told) a piece of Bengali
> literature from which some of the Karnataka traditions draw; perhaps
> someone on the list knows of this.
> Peter J. Claus
> fax: (510) 704-9636
> pclaus at

Reply to Peter J. Claus,

I am, incidentally, writing a thesis on devadasi dances of Andhra, and as you are well 
aware, the theme is a central narrative not only in the repertoire of the gudisanis 
(temple dancers), but also the Brahmin dramatic traditions of villages such as Kucipudi 
and Melattur (in TN).  I was actually looking for Sanskrit sources which present the 
narrative in a less elaborated format.  A couple of the references which I had mentioned 
were given to me by devadasi informants themselves (ie. BhagP and VisnuP).  I was 
wondering if there are other sources either Sanskrit or vernacular which my help in 
observing the diffusion of the myth in liturature.


Devesh Soneji
University of Manitoba
Fax: (204) 257-7377
rsoneji at

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