Rasamanjari: 'A Bouquet of Delights'

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Rasamanjari: 'A Bouquet of Delights'
18th Century A.D.

Language: Sanskrit Script: Devanagari.
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: L: 29 W: 14 cm.
Acc. No. 61.1185

A 15th century text on Indian aesthetics largely responsible for the birth of Reeti-kavya or Reeti-dhara - classical stream, in subsequent Hindi poetry, 'Rasamanjari', is a book of attributes seeking to classify the women in love, the 'Nayikas', as such women are identified in the tradition, and their classification under different types, as the 'Nayika-bheda'. A great Sanskrit classic Rasamanjari, a long poem with epical stretch but not an epic, is a work by the known Sanskrit poet Bhanudatta. The idea of classifying young damsels indulged in love is as early as the 4th century BC when in his 'Natya-shashtra' sage Bharata attempted at fixing the partitioning lines between different classes. However, such elaboration as the Rasamanjari reveals was not seen ever before.

The Rasamanjari not only describes the types of females but also males, the 'Nayakas', as the text calls them, especially how when in love the both classes behave. The loving ones age, experience in love, status and even love-situation are vital in their classifications. The book treats the subject most sensitively and with great care in rendering details. Significantly, the folio represented here is invocatory invoking Lord Shiva, the poet's benevolent deity, it invokes him in his Ardhanarishvara - half male-half female manifestation obviously for finding a blend of both sets of elements in those in love, males or females. The left half of the folio is devoted to the beautifully rendered image of Ardhanarishvara against an as beautiful, colourful and diversely conceived background. The text has been rendered on the right half.

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