Wednesday, May 7, 2008


By : Prof. Dr. Abhiraja Rajendra Mishra   
Ex-Vice Chancellor,
Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi. 

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(The present scholarly article of Prof. Dr. Mishra reflects valuable views on 
Sanskrit Gīti-kāvya “Mātrigītikāñjalih” written by Harekrishna Meher 
and here it is published with kind permission of the author.
Brief bio-data of Prof. Mishra available at the end of this article. )  
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Very opulent appears the Modern Sanskrit Kāvya Literature. Therein 'Gītikā' (lyric or song) like vernal beauty in sylvan riches bears some special attraction. How is this ? If here such  inquisitiveness arises, then comes up the solution with ancient heritage.

“Gītishu sāmākhyā” (‘Sāma’ is a name of Gīti) – this is cited by Achārya Rājaśekhara. The same meaning is expressed by the word ‘sāma’ used in the Sāmaveda. That is ‘sāma’ which pleases the deities with its rhythmic sweetness (sāmayati toshayati laya-mādhuryeņa devān iti sāma). Thus the word ‘sāma’ appears as a synonym of Gīti. So this can be asserted that being synonymous with ‘sāma’, the concept of ‘Gīti’ is very ancient.

Āchārya Bharata, Bhāmaha, Udbhata, Mammata and others have defined ‘kāvya-śāstra’, but have not formulated any special kind of kāvya called ‘gīta’ (lyric or song). However, some defining features are found in opinions of some great poets of Sanskrit. Amongst them, first comes Kālidāsa who has described the specialities of ‘gīti’ in some other context in the Uttara-bhāga of his Meghadūta-Kāvya. In the pen of this great poet, Yaksha’s wife, pining through separation from her husband, places a lute on her lap having dirty clothes and desires to sing some ‘geya’ in his name. Of what kind is this ‘geya’ ? The verse may be observed : 

“ Utsańge vā malina-vasane saumya ! nikshipya vīņām
mad-gotrāńkam virachita-padam geyam udgātukāmā /” 

In this śloka, Kālidāsa has enunciated two specialities of ‘geya’ (‘gīta’ or ‘gīti’) intended by himself. One is ‘gotrāńkatva’ and the other is ‘virachita-padatva’. From Kālidāsa’s view-point, presence of these two specialities is essential in ‘gīti’.

‘Gotra’ means ‘utterance of name’. ‘Ańka’ means ‘sign’ or ‘a distinct mark’. ‘Gotrāńka’ is that where remains the special sign of utterance of name. The sense of ‘gotrāńka’ is ‘gotrāńkatva’. Whatever Yaksha’s wife endeavours to sing, therein lies some censure to her loving husband. In the midst of the song, several words of address (sambodhana) for her husband have been used. This ‘gotrāńkatva’ is generally not seen in the verses such as ‘muktaka’, ‘yugmaka’, ‘sandānitaka’, ‘kalāpaka’ and ‘kulaka’, where simple descriptions are made. But in a lyrical composition, ‘gotrāńkatva’ is very essential and inevitable. It is difficult to say whether the message sent by Yaksha to his separated wife contains the form of ‘gīti’; but in his message, ‘gotrāńkatva’ is obviously observed, as in the following lines :  

“Avyāpannah kuśalam abale ! prichchhati tvām viyuktah /”  
(O Weak helpless one ! Separated from you, your companion Yaksha, however alive till now, asks about your well-being.) 

“Mā kaulīnād asita-nayane ! mayyaviśvāsinī bhūh /”  

( O Blue-eyed lady ! Please do not lose trust in me through false rumours.)  

“Tat kalyāņi ! tvam api nitarām mā gamah kātaratvam /”
( O Blessed one ! You also must not feel distressed and afraid.)

In the song sung by Queen Hamsapadikā in Śākuntalam drama (5/1), ‘gotrāńkatva’ is clearly seen as ‘anyāpadeśa’. The song is

“Abhinava-madhu-lolupas tvam
tathā parichumbya chūta-mañjarīm /
madhukara ! vismrito’syenām katham //” 

(O Drone ! How is it that hankering for new new honey and after kissing the mango-blossom, you now seem to be satisfied with a simple stay in the lotus ? How did you forget the mango-blossom ? )

Really ‘gotrāńkatva’ is not a mere utterance of name of the desired hero or heroine etc. Also it forms a mention of personal feeling. In songs, expression whatever made by a beloved lady to her lover or by a lover to his beloved is not a mere statement. Therein lies some inner heart-touching speakable thing like untold before, which can be comprehended by person concerned. For instance, in Rāmāyaņa, the esteemed Sītā has sent message for Rāma in the mouth of Hanuman; also in Śrīmad-Bhāgavata, King Bhīshmaka’s daughter princess Rukmiņī has given message in the mouth of a Brahmin to Lord Krishna, the King of Dvārakā. By properly observing such message, so heart-touching, replete with compassion, filled with sentiment and opener of secret, the eyes of a connoisseur get suffused with constant tear-drops due to excessively emerging emotions.

This is the defining concept of ‘Gīti’. Words simply bearing descriptions cannot be named ‘Gīti’. Indeed ‘Gīti’ is such an expression wherein lies some heart-felt message and which is able to forcefully set other knowables aside. All these things depend on the poetic genius. If ‘Gīti’ is unable to express such emotions, it has no fault. Verily fault lies in the poetic genius. As Dhvanikāra says : “Na kāvyartha-virāmo’sti yadi syāt pratibhā guņah” (If genius is really a merit or excellence, then meaning of kāvya does not have any stop.)

Word-arrangement of ‘Gīti’ is more attractive than that of other literary compositions. Because, other compositions are mere descriptions of stories etc. But ‘Gīti’ is such an exceptional phenomenon that contains abundance of emotional feelings. Therefore ‘Virachita-padatva’ is a salient speciality of ‘Gīti’. A ‘Gīti’ where words are specially composed is ‘Virachita-pada’ and the sense of ‘Virachita-pada’ is ‘Virachita-padatva’. In Gīti, how are the words composed ? Answer is in the following discussion.

Before drawing a desired portrait, a painter holds his mental state just like a Yogī; then gradually draws lines, depicts thick and thin limbs, and by brushing various colours creates a definite form (1). By all means, an author of Gīti resorting to his ‘bhāvayitrī pratibhā’ composes a song or lyric by arrangement of word-meanings that are capable of arousing the exact emotional feelings and thus earns eternal celebrity. Such ‘Virachita-padatva’ can be found in the love-letter of Śakuntalā meant for King Dushyanta in Abhijñāna-Śākuntalam drama (3/14) as follows : 

“Tava na jāne hridayam mama punah
kāmo divāpi rātrāvapi /
Nirghriņa ! tapati baliyas tvayi
vritta-manorathāyā ańgāni //" 

( O Ruthless One ! I do not know how your heart is; but the powerful Cupid heats my limbs day and night. My yearning is engrossed in you.)

In this illustration, all the specialities of Gīti intended by poet Kālidāsa are attained simultaneously. With the address (gotrāńka) ‘Nirghriņa’ (O Ruthless One ! ), Śakuntalā through ‘Virachita-pada’ has revealed distress of her heart. In this Gīti, each word has been specifically composed. Each word cannot change its place in front or back, and also cannot be replaced by any other word. In this Gīti, each word expresses such an internally suggested meaning that is very profound and can be experienced by connoisseurs only. Here long discussion in this regard is not necessary (2).

In Śākuntalam drama (Act-V), in the context of Queen Hamsapadikā’s song, Kālidāsa has evinced another speciality of ‘Gīti’ in the mouth of King Dushyanta. After listening the song, the King says :
“Aho ! Rāga-parivāhinī Gītih.” ( Oh ! Gīti has the overflow of Rāga.)
Then his friend Vidūshaka asks :
“Kim tāvat gītyā avagato’ksharārthah ?”
( Did you comprehend the meaning of wordings of the song ?)

These two lines, in any manner, are able to express the defining concept of Gīti. Here it is said that Gīti has the pervasion of Rāga, the musical mode. In accordance with time, place and person, Gīti can be sung with a particular Rāga. One more speciality is that the meaning of Gīti, like female bosoms, cannot be seen or be perceptible by all. It has the sense internally hidden.

Gīti is set with a particular musical mode (Rāga). In this respect, Āchārya Abhinavagupta has given proofs in his work “Abhinava-Bhāratī ”(Chapter-IV). The lines are as follows :
“Rāghavavijaya-Mārīchavadhādikam Rāga-kāvyam. Tathā hi Rāghavavijayasya hi dhakka-rāgeņa eva vichitra-varņanīyatvena nirvāhah. Mārīcha-vadhasya kakubha-grāma-rāgeņaiva. Ata eva rāga-kāvyani uchyanta etāni.”
(Rāghavavijaya and Mārīchavadha etc. are known as rāga-kāvyas. Rāghavavijaya can be presented with marvellous designs in dhakka-rāga. Mārīchavadha-kāvya can be composed with kakubha-grāma-rāga. For this reason, all these are regarded as rāga-kāvyas.)

In the prologue of Śākuntalam drama, Kālidāsa affirms Gīti’s ‘hāritva’ (attractiveness) and ‘rāgāśrayatva’
(the sense of being resorted to a musical mode) in his statement: "Tavāsmi 
gīta-rāgeņa hāriņā prasabham hritah” (I have been perforce attracted by your ravishing melodious song set with rāga). From this matter, it can be asserted that the life-like two attributes of Gīti are the capability to attract the mental state of listeners and the pervadingness with rāga (3).

What is said to be ‘Gīti’ is also called ‘Gīta’ and ‘Gāna’. Amarakosha declares : “Gītam gānam ime same”. According to Halāyudha : “Gītam gānam iti proktam”. The ‘Geya’ desired by Kālidāsa is also a synonym of ‘Gīta’ and ‘Gāna’. There is no scope of doubt in this matter.

After the great poet Kālidāsa, the special characteristics of Gīti have been elucidated in detail by Śūdraka, the author of the drama ‘Mrichchhakaţikam’. In Act-III of this drama, the hero Chārudatta contextually says :  

“Sādhu gītam Rebhilena.  
‘Raktam cha nāma madhuram cha samam sphutam cha
bhāvānvitam cha lalitam cha manoharam cha /
Kim vā prasasta-vachanair bahubhir maduktair
antarhitā yadi bhaved vaniteti manye’ // ”

(Master Rebhila has sung the song very wonderfully. Really this song was impassioned or replete with rāga, was sweet, well-balanced, distinct, full of emotions, graceful and charming to the mind. What can be praised more with my words ? Methinks, it was some female disguised as male Rebhila that was singing.)

From the above-stated verse, it is found that according to Śūdraka, a song (‘Gīti’ or ‘Gīta’) is overwhelmingly endowed with a rāga, is filled with sweetness, is smooth, well-expressed, full of emotions, graceful and attractive to the mind.

Similarities can be observed in the opinions of the two great poets Kālidāsa and Śūdraka regarding ‘Gīti’. Kālidāsa says : ‘Rāga-parivāhinī Gītih’ (Gīti has the overflow of of rāga) and Śūdraka opines : ‘Raktam Gītam’ (Song is set with rāga). Kālidāsa shows ‘attractiveness’ (hāritva) of Gīti in his statement ‘Gīta-rāgena hārina’, while Śūdraka says : ‘Manoharam Gītam’ (Song is attractive to the mind).

In Kālidāsa’s opinion, Gīti is composed with some special words (Virachita-pada), while Śūdraka describes it as full of emotions (Bhāvānvita). With the words ‘madhura’ (sweet), ‘lalita’ (graceful), ‘sama’ (balanced) and ‘sphuta’ (distinct), though Śūdraka wants to explain some thing more, yet all these attributes such as sweetness etc. merge within the very specialities of Gīti expounded by Kālidāsa.

Sprung from Sāmaveda-Gomukha, the Gīti-Mandākinī, sanctifying the Sanskrit literature that bears the form of Motherland India, has been flowing continuously till now. On one side,Gīti has same age with Sāma. On the other, the concept of Gīti enumerated in detail by Kālidāsa with the name of ‘Gīta’ (Tavāsmi gīta-rāgeņa), ‘Gīti’ (Aho rāga-parivāhinī Gītih) and ‘Geya’ (Geyam udgātukāmā), and elucidated thereafter by Śūdraka became exposition of rāga-kāvya. Achārya Abhinavagupta has given two examples of rāga-kāvyas that are Rāghava-vijaya and Mārīcha-vadha. From the above discussion, it can be proved that rāga-kāvya existed before tenth century A.D.

The most ancient rāga-kāvya presently available is ‘Gīta-Govindam’ of poet Jayadeva. Tradition of rāga-kāvya emerged from this and many literary works have been written thereafter. For instance, ‘Gīta-Girīśam’ of Śrīrāma Bhaţţa, ‘Krishna-Gītam’ of Somanātha, ‘Gīta-Gaurīpati-Kāvyam’ of Bhānudatta, ‘Sańgīta-Raghunandanam’ of Mahārāja Viśvanātha Simha, ‘Gīta-Gańgādharam’ of Kalyāņa Kavi, ‘Gīta-Pītavasanam’ of Śyāmarāma and ‘Pārvatī-Gītam’ of Jayanārāyaņa (4). ‘Dhīvara-Gītam’ of Radhāvallabha Tripāthy and ‘Gīta-Bhāratam’ of Abhirāj Rājendra Mishra – these two books of twentieth century also enrich that tradition.

Some ignorant people opine that Sanskrit Yuga prevails upto Paņđitarāja Jagannātha. But in fact, this is not so. Many changes have come in administration. Age has changed. Also changed have been the values of life. But till now, unchanged is Sanskrit. The same grammar, the same language-form, the same metre-arrangement, the same tradition of scriptures and philosophies, the same composition of kāvya that springs from poetic genius – all are as before. Till now Sanskrit kāvya endowed with ‘guņa’, ‘rasa’ and ‘vritti’ exists alive. Today also here exist poets bearing the self-spirit and dignity of Kālidāsian genius. In India, today also exist Sanskrit poets in whom lies the poetic confidence of Bhāsa, Bhavabhūti, Māgha, Śrīharsha, Bānabhatta, Jayadeva and others.

In twentieth century, Sanskrit has gained all-round prosperity in comparison to other Indian languages. Numerous mahākāvyas, khaņđa-kāvyas, stories, novels and dramas etc. are being regularly composed in Sanskrit. In this literature, tradition of lyric poem is extremely rich. Though all the present lyricists have not engaged themselves in composing rāga-kāvyas, yet it must be admitted that Sanskrit poetry has become very popular only through lyric tradition. Nowadays through televisions and radios, Sanskrit poems are established in the society, and are intelligible and congratulated by all.

Among the modern Sanskrit lyricists, Harekrishna Meher has indeed earned much fame by virtue of his poetic merit. From his identity, it is known that he has authored several books in Sanskrit, English, Hindi, Oriya and Kośali languages. His genius is equally adept in churning critical scriptures, also in composing the flower-like delicate kāvyas. ‘Mātrigītikāñjalih’ (5) is one of the Sanskrit works of this brilliant poet of Orissa. This gīti-kāvya comprises twenty-five lyrics that are very graceful and based on various topics. Mind of the connoisseur gets extremely exhilarated with sentiments by reading these lyrics again and again. In these lyrics, various matters such as worship to Motherland India, universal well-being, eternal glory and greatness of woman, recognisation of Self, adoration to God Tryambaka, prayer to Gāyatrī, appreciation to poets and literary artistes, honour of love, praise of childhood, ten incarnations of God and the like have been delineated.

Composed with very simple lucid words capable of expressing exact emotions, these lyrics are really endowed with the above-mentioned significant specialities of Gīti, that are ‘Geyatva’, ‘Manohāritva’, ‘Lālitya’ and ‘Bhāvānvitatva’. The noble-minded connoisseurs are real judges in this regard. Almost all the lyrics are marked with original thinkings.

Displaying the beauty of life and honouring noble feelings in all the beings, the poet in his ‘Jīvana-Gītikā’ speaks thus : 

Paśya madhumayam Viśvamīśvaram
prītim śāntim hridi sarveshām ,
Sādhaya sāram Paropakāram
labhasva kīrttim saphala-suveshām.
Mānavatāyāh kalaya mahattvam
Chirantanam parichintaya tattvam
Sakalātmani sadbhāvanam /
Jīvanam sundaram, Sundaram tanu-tapovanam //” 

(Behold the universe and the Almighty God nectareous. Behold love and peace in the hearts of all. Render the best well-being to others. Acquire glory resplendent with a fair form. Count the greatness of humanism. Deliberate over the eternal phenomenon that forms noble feeling in all the selves. Life is beautiful. Beautiful is the penance-grove of physical body.)

Arrangement of delicate and comely words in the lyrics forcibly attracts the mind. For example, in ‘Vibhu-Gītikā’, the following lines :  

“Prakriti-Purushayoh svayamvare,
Bhāva-vimugdhe kalevare ;
Sarasa-sumadhure priyādhare,
Sneha-vigalite netra-jhare ;
Dīvyati bhavato dravyatvam,
Dravyatvam, Divyatvam /
Sarvasmin He Svāmin !
Tvamasi Tvamasi Tvamasi Tvam //”

(In the wedding assembly of Prakriti and Purusha, in the body overwhelmed with attractive emotions, in the juicy lips of beloved spouse and in the flow of the eyes drippling with affections, scintillates thy fusion, the fusion, the divinity. O Lord ! in all Thou art, Thou art, Thou art.)

The greatness of Kāla-Purusha, the controller of all the universe, is depicted in ‘Samaya-Gītikā’. Some lines are as follows : 

“Kvachidutkarsham kvachidapakarsham
chitram rachayati bhavataś chakram;
Abalam sabalam śushkam sajalam
svairam kurute saralam vakram.
Alańghanīyo naya-kramaste /
Samaya ! namaste, Samaya ! namaste //”

(The wheel of thine wonderfully generates somewhere prosperity and somewhere degradation. It can easily transform a powerless into a powerful one, a dry into a watery, and a straight into a curve. The series of thy canon is impregnable. O Time ! Salutations to thee; Salutations to thee.)

The poet proclaims that all the universe is eternally pervaded with music. In the beginning of ‘Sańgīta-Gītikā’, he declares : 

“Vidhātuh prāńgaņam
vitatam sańgītamayam,
Prakrityāh prati-kaņam
niyatam yuta-tāla-layam /
Vitatam sańgītamayam //”

(Entire courtyard, all the creation of the Creator is permeated with music. Every aspect of Nature is endowed with regular musical rhythm and concord.)

In ‘Navavarsha-Gītikā’, New Year’s auspiciousness, happiness, good health and all-round well-being are wished for all. For example, 

“ Hridaya-mandire prema-jyotir vīrājatām,
Mano’ravindam vindatu vimalam sundaratām.
Suchintanam, Chirantanam,
Haratu vishāda-vimarsham /
Śubham bhavatu nava-varsham /
Saukhyamayam, Nirāmayam,
Vitaratu paramam harsham //”   

(May the light of love be brilliantly enkindled in the temple of hearts. May the lucid lotus of mind bear excellent comeliness. May noble thoughts perpetually eradicate all dejections and depressions. May the New Year be auspicious. May it confer on all supreme bliss with happiness and diseaselessness.) 

‘Deśa-Gītikā’, the poet offers salutations to the Motherland India. Beauty of Nature designed with the grace of diction can be observed in the following lines : 

Gańgā-salile salīla-sulalita-hāsā.
Kusumārāme rasabhara-surabhi-samīrā,
Taruvara-puñje rañjita-mañju-śarīrā.
Vihańga-tāne Mańgala-gāne
Śyāmala-śasyā vijayate /
Bhārata-mātā parama-namasyā vijayate /
Svatantratāyā Raņa-vīrāņām
Saphala-tapasyā vijayate //”

(Our Motherland has the brilliance of beauteous feet washed by oceans. She has graceful smilings with gestures in the water of Gańgā. She bears flavorous and fragrant zephyr in the flower-gardens. In the clusters of trees, she contains colourful and comely figures. Having sweet cooings of birds forming auspicious songs, she is prosperous with green crops. Victory to our Motherland Bhārata, greatly adorable by us. Victory to the prolific penance of the warriors who fought and achieved freedom of our country.)

Thus some lines expressive of heartiest sweet feelings were presented above from Mātrigītikāñjali-kāvya. All other lyrics should be enjoyed by the wise readers. Of these lovely lyrics, one feature which impresses more is the proper usage of rules of grammar. For the learned litterateurs of Sanskrit, it is a matter of pleasure that Poet Dr. Harekrishna Meher uses words with grammatical propriety. The flow of rhythm lying in the words of these lyrics reminds us of the grace of Oriya language. The treasure of Goddess of Learning will certainly be rich with this gīti-kāvya.
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1. Chitre niveśya parikalpita-sattva-yogā / (Śākuntalam, 2/9).  

2. For details, see my book “Śāstrālochanam”, pp. 66-73.  
    (Bhāratīya-Samskriti-NikasheŚakuntalāyā Madana-lekhasya Kāñchanatvam)   
    Akshayavata Prakashan, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.

3. For more details, see my work “Śāstrālochanam”, pp. 27-36.  

    (Svātantryottaram Gīti-kāvyam : Vāńmaya-Viśleshaņam).  

4. All these books have been published by
    Kaushambi Prakashan, Daraganj, Allahabad. Uttar Pradesh.

5. “Mātrigītikāñjalih” of Harekrishna Meher has been published by
     Kalahandi Lekhak Kala Parishad, Bhawanipatna, Orissa, India,1997.  

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[About Prof. Abhiraja Rajendra Mishra] 
In Modern Sanskrit Literature, Dr. Abhiraja Rajendra Mishra is an eminent poet, a lyricist, a deep-delved scholar, researcher, translator, playwright and critic. Former Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit in Himachal Pradesh University of Shimla, Visiting Professor to University of Indonesia and Ex-Vice-Chancellor of Sampurnananda Sanskrit University of Varanasi, Popularly known as “Triveņī-Kavi” hailing from Allahabad, this renowned personality for his original literary contributions has been honoured with Sahitya Akademi Award, Rashtrapati Award, Valmiki Samman, Vachaspati Samman and other several provincial awards. A versatile genius, creative and prolific writer, he has authored many books in Sanskrit, Hindi, English and Bhojpuri languages.

Some of his main literary works are :
Ikshugandha, Aranyani, Abhiraja-Yasobhushanam, Dhara-Mandaviyam, 
Janaki-Jivanam, Madhuparni, Samskrit Sahitya Mein Anyokti, Sapta-Dhara,
Poetry and Poetics, Abhiraja-Saptasati, Abhiraja-Sahasrakam, Mridvika, 
Natya-Panchagavyam, Natya-Panchamritam, Vag-Vadhuti, Srutimbhara, 
Bali-Dvipe Bharatiya Samskritih, Vimsa-Satabdi-Samskrita-Kavyamritam (Ed.), 
Sejarah Kesusatraan Sanskerta (History of Sanskrit in Bahasa Indonesia). 
Suvarna-Dvipiya Rama-Katha, Samskrita-Satakam.  

After retirement from Sampurnanada Sanskrit University of Varanasi, now resides at : 
Teachers’ Colony, Lower Summer Hill,  Near Senior Secondary School,  
Shimla-171005, Himachal Pradesh, India.  
Phone: 0177-6534607,  Mobile : + 91- 94181-76968. 
* * * 
(Later on, this article has been published in "SRADDHA",  
Sanskrit Research Journal, Volume-II, 2011, 
Post-Graduate Department of Sanskrit, Gangadhar Meher Autonomous College, 
Sambalpur, Odisha)
For Some Comments on "Matrigitikanjalih", please see : 
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