Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court: The Kiratarjuniya by Indira Viswanathan Peterson

By Indira Viswanathan Peterson

"Explores the earliest literary therapy of Arjuna's conflict with the good god Siva, supplying an advent to the Sanskrit courtroom epic."

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45 From the Mahabh ¯ arata ¯ to the Mahak ¯ avya: ¯ Plot, Mood, ¯ and Rhetoric in the Kirat ¯ arjun ¯ iya In this section, beginning with a canto-wise summary of the ¯iya, I turn to a consideration of the strategies by means of Kirat ¯ arjun ¯ which Bharavi ¯ transformed an epic episode into a mahak ¯ avya. 46 The opening scene of the mahak ¯ avya ¯ is set in the Dvaita forest, where the five Pan ¯ . ava brothers and their wife Draupad¯i are spending part of the thirteen years of forest exile imposed upon them by their hostile cousins, the hundred Kauravas, headed by Duryodhana.

A in a former age, and inseparable friend of Krishna, the incarnation who takes part in the Mahabh ¯ arata’s ¯ action. This relationship is emphasized throughout the older epic, ´ while Arjuna’s mystical connections with Siva come to the fore in the 42 As the ideal hero-devotee Arjuna-Nara receives Kairata-parvan. ¯ Krishna’s revelation of his divine form in the Bhagavad G¯ita, ¯ and ´ Siva’s self-revelation in the kirata ¯ episode, the two major theophanies in the Mahabh ¯ arata. ¯ The classical poets often homologized their patron-king to the god-king Rama, ¯ but Arjuna, whose this-worldly humanity allowed him to be a devotee, a bhakta, as well as a quasidivine figure and a warrior with yogic self-control, was even closer to the classical ideal of the the warrior-king.

Convention governs every aspect of kavya ¯ composition, from the subject matter of poetry and the formal requirements of the stanza and of figures of speech (alam ¯ to the objects with which a woman’s . kara), face may be compared. It is this tension between underlying unities and endless variation, between predictability and diversity, that results in the foregrounding of particular elements and the achievement of poetic design in the kavya ¯ stanza. In the extended syntax of the mahak ¯ avya’s ¯ verse-sequences and cantos, the same tension between convention and variation generates intricate structures of relationship among the stanzas.

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