"Saantideva's literary ability

Timothy C. Cahill tccahill at LOYNO.EDU
Tue Nov 27 21:09:48 UTC 2001

On Tue, 27 Nov 2001, George Hart wrote:

>    The exact opposite is found in the beginning of the
> Rasagangadhara, where Jagannatha praises himself extravagantly.  I remember
> remarking on that to my Sanskrit teacher, Seshadrinathan, who merely
> replied, "sthaane."  G. Hart

Sri Seshadrinathan's reply was quite appropriate --and very much
reprentative of the high esteem in which scholars hold Jagannatha's poems
and analytical skills.  As someone once said of Muhammad Ali (the boxer):
it ain't boasting when you back it up!  I should point out to members of
the list who are unfamiliar with the *Rasagangadhara* that its first verse
is a *very* beautiful invocation to Krishna.  It runs:

smRtaapi taruNaatapaM karuNayaa harantii nRNaaM
abhanguratanutviSaaM valayitaa zatair vidyutaam/

kalindagirinandinii taTasuradramaalambinii
madiiyamaticumbinii bhavatu ka'pi kadambinii //

The verse has no hint of self promotion.  A *very* sensitive critic might
actually use this verse (last line) to exemplify the "self-demoting" trope
under discussion: the indescribably beautiful form of Krishna is invoked
to touch Jagannatha's heart/mind, thus making all else possible.

   The verse to which Prof. Hart refers occurs as the sixth in this
opening series. It follows a beautifully crafted poem in which Jagannatha
pays homage to his father (a "Mahaguru"), and his teachers. It is curious
how often this latter, descriptive poem is taken to represent Jagannatha's
character while the earlier verses are forgotten.

Tim Cahill

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