THE CONCEPTS OF ‘VIOLENCE’ AND ‘NONVIOLENCE’ IN YAŚŌDHARA CARITE A JAIN NARRATIVE POETRY OF KANNADA POET JANNA
THE CONCEPTS OF ‘VIOLENCE’ AND ‘NONVIOLENCE’ IN YAŚŌDHARA CARITE , A JAIN NARRATIVE POETRY OF KANNADA POET JANNA
B.A. Viveka Rai, Würzburg/Mangalore, India (email@example.com)
This is synopsis of my paper presented at the Seventh International Würzburg Colloquium on “Perspectives of Indian Studies: Exploring Jain Narrative Literature. ” at the University of Würzburg, Germany on 30th of August 2013.
A Jain Kannada poet of 13th century AD figures prominently among the major classical poets of Kannada literature. Janna was born into a family of eminent scholars in 1163 AD near Halebidu, once the centre of art and sculpture in Karnataka. He held high positions in the court of Hoysala kings. His chief patron was King Vīra Ballāla who conferred on him the title ‘Emperor among the poets’ and made him his court poet.
The two major classical epics of Janna:
Ananthanatha Purāna (1230 AD) is a typical Jain Purāna composed in traditional classical ‘Champu‘ style (Mixture of prose and verses containing ‘vrutta‘ and ‘kanda‘ meters)
Yaśōdhara Carite (1209 AD) is shorter in size with only four cantos (‘avatāra‘) with totally 319 verses, mainly in ‘kanda‘ meter and ‘vruttas’ only at the end of each canto.
THE STORY OF YAŚŌDHARA CARITE CAN BE IDENTIFIED IN PREVIOUS WORKS ON THE SAME THEME
1. Samarāichcha kahā: Haribhadra – Prakrut – 8th C AD
2. Bruhatkathā Kōśa: Hariśena – Sanskrit -10th C AD
3. Yaśastilaka Campu: Sōmadēva – Sanskrit – 959 AD
4. Jasaharacariu: Pushpadanta -Prakrut – 968 AD
5. Yaśōdhara Carita: Vadiraja – Sankrit – 1025 AD
CONCEPTS AND MODES OF VIOLENCE IN YAŚŌDHARA CARITE
1. Physical and barbaric
The poetry begins in the first canto with the description of violent pictures and actions: detailed description of the festival of the evil goddess Māri with animal sacrifice and human sacrifice. Here the description of the spring season depicts the symbolic representation of violence. The narration of barbaric scenes of bringing different animals to the temple for sacrifice to the goddess Māri gives an idea of violence.
The different modes of physical violence are depicted in the third canto in the pretext of various rebirths and deaths of Yaśōdhara and his mother Candramati.
They were made to participate and also subjected to violent actions including direct killing.
2. Mental violence/torture
In the second canto, both husband Yaśōdhara and wife Amrutamati suffer from mental torture due to the broken minds between them. After knowing the adultery of his wife Amrutamati who secretly meets and had sexual relations with Așțavanka, the mahout (elephant-driver), Yaśōdhara suffers from mental torture. An incident wherein Amrutamati comes back after having sexual act with Așțavanka and sleeps by the side of Yaśōdhara in his bed, his feelings are expressed like this:
“The king turned a little to her side, and felt her breasts touch him. They were, once smooth and yielding, he felt, but now they seemed hard and repulsive. A mere touch of hers was, once, enough to send him into rapture. But today it sickened him.”
Amrutamati‘s mental agony was of different type. When once she came late to meet her lover Așțavanka, the elephant-driver, he beats her and assaults her physically in a brutal way by kicking her and pulling her hair. But Amrutamati does not feel it as a violent act. She begs with him:
“My love, my master, it is true I am late, but not without reason. My husband, the fiend he is, sat me on his lap and plied his caresses on me……. Listen, if you desert me now, this would be my end…”
3.Sankalpa Himse: Intention of violence/thought of violence/ritual violence
‘Sankalpa‘ = Solemn vow; Resolution
Canto 3 of Yaśōdhara Carite
Yaśōdhara believing in Jain philosophy of nonviolence rejects the idea of offering an animal as sacrifice to goddess. He says to his mother: “Mother, the shedding of blood whether animal’s or man’s will never bring good…. Blood will always have blood. You forget, mother, that compassion for life, for all life in nature, is the very essence of Jainism. How can we who believe in the joy of life, then, believe in violence as efficient means?”
The mother’s reply: “Dear son, don’t disregard the words of your elders. Honor my words; don’t the kings, in matter of Dharma, do deeds that bring peace, tell me. If you don’t like to kill life and offer sacrifice to gods, at least make a cock/chicken out of flour-paste (dough) and offer it with love. But if you don’t pay heed to my words, I will not hesitate to offer myself as sacrifice to the gods and ward off the evil.”
‘He pondered: Every thought contains the seed of action. Now that I’m giving assent, what misdeeds would follow, I don’t know. If I don’t put her words into action, mother will die; if I do, the misdeed will attend on the next birth. His mind wavered, but the mother’s love prevailed.’
Yaśōdhara made a ‘dough-cock’ for a symbolic offering to goddess. But before he could cut the dough-cock, an evil spirit entered into the body of it. The dough-cock crowed like a living bird when Yaśōdhara cut it as an offering.
This kind of ‘Sankalpa-violence’ resulted in six rebirths and deaths of Yaśōdhara and his mother Candramati as pairs of enemies and finally both embracing Jainism and becoming ascetics.
KANNADA LITERATURE AND JAINISM
Kannada Literature begins with classical epics of Jain poets from 10th AD:
– Pampa: Ādipurāna; Vikramārjunavijaya (Pampabhārata)
– Ponna: Śāntipurāna
– Ranna: Ajitapurāna; Sāhasabhīmavijaya
Followed by Cavundaraya, Nagacandra, and other Jain poets.
Virashaivism, a new religious cult in Karnataka was established in 12th AD . Basavanna and others were the protagonists.
Conflict between Jainism and Shaivism/Virashaivism.
Identity and survival of Jainism in Karnataka after 12th AD.
In the second half of 12th AD Chola kings attacked Jains in Northern Karnataka. Jain basadis were burnt and destroyed. There was also attack by Shaiva propagandists likes Viruparasa, Adayya and Goggayya.
Rāghavānka’s ‘Sōmanātha cāritra ‘(13th AD) gives the account of conversion of a Jain temple into Shaiva temple at Puligere.
So Jain poets changed their content and style.
Janna was the pioneer in writing Jain poetry with compassion at the time of survival of Jainism in Karnataka.
Popular stories with Jain ideology. Stories related to ‘nōmpi‘ (religious/austere act). Importance of ‘fasting’ and ‘conclusion of religious fast’ based on Jain philosophy: such themes became popular in Jain narrative literature after 12th century. ‘Jīvadayāsthami’ is a religious fasting based on the philosophy of compassion towards all living beings. This is highlighted in Janna’s Yashodhara Carite which strives for the popularisation of Jainism among the common mass of Karnataka.
At the end of Yaśōdhara Carite, there is a dramatic change related to the idea of violence. The cruel goddess Māri appears suddenly in her temple and addresses the crowd asking them: “To desist from killing bird or beast and ordained that henceforth offer her only sandal and flowers, grain, incense and betel leaf in a holy worship.” So Māri, the goddess of violence herself converted into a goddess of nonviolence. Interestingly Māridatta, the king who organized all kinds of human and animal sacrifices was impressed by the philosophy of nonviolence and he released all the animals brought to the temple for sacrifice. As a mark of penitence , he renounced royalty and became a Jain monk. The folk religion which advocated sacrifice of human beings and animals was converted into Jainism, a religion of nonviolence. Māri was a deity of the masses in folk religion. So the conversion of Māri into Jainism denotes the conversion of folk – religions into classical religions to attract the masses.
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