[INDOLOGY] suicide as a result of love

dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk
Mon Jun 6 08:09:44 UTC 2016

In Purnabhadra's version of the Pancatantra (ed. Hertel 1908 pp. 46-55; tr. A.W. Ryder 1956, 
pp. 89-104), a weaver falls in love with a princess, swoons, then resolves on suicide by fire. 
He is saved by his friend, a chariot-builder or carpenter (rathakAra), who promises to use his 
skill to effect a union, and is spectacularly successful. It's a wonderful story, involving sex, 
politics, and religion.

This is a mock-heroic example: the motif of suicidal despair resulting from love at first sight, 
which is expected of exalted characters, is transferred to a man of low degree.


On 6 Jun 2016 at 8:51, Andrew Ollett wrote:

I have the feeling that this is a relatively common motif in story literature. The one example 
that comes to mind is the Prakrit verse romance Lilavati, in which one of the characters 
(Kuvalayavali) has a "gandharva" wedding with a Gandharva (Citragada), and when her 
father finds out and curses them, she is so overcome with shame that she tries to hang 
herself from a tree. She is stopped at the last moment by her mother Rambha. This is around 
v. 658 in A.N. Upadhye's edition.

On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 8:25 AM, Alex Watson <alex.watson at ashoka.edu.in> wrote:
    Dear List Members

    A colleague, Madhavi Menon, who is writing a book entitled 'A History of Desire in 
    India', has asked me the following question. All help appreciated; I will forward your 
    responses to her.

    "Are there any narratives in Sanskrit/Buddhist literature/philosophy/history that talk 
    about suicide, or atma-hatya, specifically in relation to love and desire?"

    Yours Alex

    Alex Watson
    Professor of Indian Philosophy
    Ashoka University
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