Indologic Eureka

mrabe at mrabe at
Thu Nov 14 13:20:50 UTC 1996

Dominik and fellow Indology-netters:

I am pleased to announce a successful completion of the task of translating
the text that accompanies the Krannert Museum's 16/17th c. manuscript page
that was posted on the Indology Website on 21 January, 1996.

Annette van der Hoek, an ABD Indologist in the Netherlands [c/o Rene de Bos
<Rene.deBos at>], has recently risen to the task of translating
the text, and while its authorship remains unknow, this is what she reads:

nirkhata ne(m)n bhaii cakacuu(m)dhii //52//
pata pare c jha(m)khata mukha dekhyau//
abe ruupa nakha sikha lo(m) pekhyau//
upamaa(m) kahu(m) pata(m)tara kohuu(m)//
sura nara naaga lo(m)ka mana mohuu(m)//
badana kalaa nidhi puurana tarunii//
upamaa(m) aura na kou baranii//

(properly in transcription the t in line 2 and the first one in line 4
should have a dot written underneath as a sign of their retroflex character)

Looking with the eyes I have become blinded.//52//
(But)when the veil fall off I saw her grieving face.
Now,from head to toe her beauty was perceived.
How can I give any adequate comparison;
in my mind I am bewildered as are Gods, men and snakes.
The face of the young woman is like a full moon.
No other comparison can be given.

As to its larger purport, she very graciously adds (after consultation with
an unnamed mentor):

__Although the verse is a description of beauty we do agree (because of the
sadness perceived on the otherwise beautiful lady's face in line 2) that it
is still a Biraha poem (poem of separation) so typical of the Bhaktiperiod
we discussed before and describing the separation of Radha from her beloved
Krsna. (even if it concerned the separation of a more worldy couple it would
still be read as a symbol for Radha-Krsna as well).

__The poet voices his opinion of the almost outer worldly beauty of the lady
described by mouth of one of her lady-friends, a Sakhi (revealed by
grammatical gender). Sakhis are classically the go-betweens between lovers
and ofcourse have the job of consoling the heroine in distress when need be.
So it does seem that the painting (Radha with Sakhis attending on her)
sticks pretty close to the poem but the fact that the verse stops so
suddenly where the painting begins, gives rise to the idea that the painting
is a later addition. (Has the manuscript ever been checked for possible text
underneath the painting?)

__Maybe the painter got the general drift of the poem -that may not have been
exactly in the Hindi he spoke- and thus managed to stay stay quite close to
the text. The fact that the heroine (the taller lady) is still wearing her
veil unlike the one in the poem, suggest this may have been the case.
He did place the scene in the typical "kunj", the grove bordering the
village where Krsna used to meet his beloveds (or where they would stand
waiting for him..)and which -as we discussed before- stands symbol for Krsna

__We think that possibly the poet wanted to emphasise the contrast between the
heroine's beauty and ,at this particular moment, her sadness; elaborating on
the beauty more in this verse and probably picking up the distinct Biraha
theme and connected sadness in one of the later verses of his undoubtedly
lengthy account. (worse than this mail)

__As far as placement in time is concerned we suggest the 16th or 17th
century, just so as not to assume we have made the rare find of a 15th
century manuscript and based somewhat on the handwriting. More detailed
study of the handwriting and  the paper would naturally lead to a more
precise estimate.

>It's nice when these new media of ours actually help with real
>intellectual issues (INDOLOGY is surprisingly good at this, I think).
>Let me know when you have pulled together the responses, and have a
>"siddhaanta"saastra", and I can post it with your original image for a few
>weeks, before withdrawing the stuff, perhaps.
>Best wishes,
>Dominik [on October 29th]

P.S. I would be remiss not to add thanks also to Y. Malaiya,
<malaiya at CS.ColoState.EDU>, who also provided a reading on August 29th.  As
his contained a few unresolved questions of construction I hadn't posted
further notice when Annettee stepped forward.  By way of token
compensation, however, I must urge everyone with graphical browsing
capability to take a look at his own COMPREHENSIVE Website devoted to the
_Languages and Scripts of India_,  It includes links to
several other manuscript illustrations as well.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list