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So That It Might Become Clear: The Methods and Purposes of Narrative Abridgement in Early Modern Jain Purāṇic Composition

Department of Religion, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
Religions 2019, 10(6), 355;
Received: 6 May 2019 / Revised: 26 May 2019 / Accepted: 28 May 2019 / Published: 30 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)


Scholars have long known that Jain authors from the early centuries of the common era composed their own versions of the story of Rāma, prince of Ayodhyā. Further, the differences between Jain and Brahminical versions of the narrative are well documented. Less studied are later versions of Jain Rāma narratives, particularly those composed during the early modern period. This paper examines one such version of the Rāma story, the fifteenth-century Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa by the Digambara author Brahma Jinadāsa. The paper compares Jinadāsa’s work with an earlier text, the seventh-century Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa, authored by Raviṣeṇa, as Jinadāsa explains that he has at hand a copy of his predecessor’s work and is recomposing it to make it “clear”. The paper thus demonstrates the multiple strategies of abridgement Jinadāsa employs in recomposing Raviṣeṇa’s earlier narrative and that, to Jinadāsa, this project of narrative abridgement was also one of clarification.

1. Introduction

In thinking about what constitutes a “new direction” in the study of Jains and their religious history, two possibilities immediately come to mind. First, the scholar might introduce new material not yet studied, whether this be new texts, communities, ritual practices, etc. Second, the scholar might revisit, with new questions, methodologies, or theoretical scaffolding, those texts and practices that have already been examined and explicated by previous generations of scholars. In thinking about the importance of new work being done in Jain studies, the scholar might look first to the past, particularly to times when visions of the future of the study of Jains have been offered up. Padmanabh Jaini (2010a), for instance, in his 1975 address to the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, outlined three areas he saw as particularly important and fruitful avenues for future work in the field, one of which was that scholars give due attention to Digambara communities, literature, and scholarship. “Western Jaina scholarship”, Jaini remarked, “has been essentially Śvetāmbara scholarship” (Jaini 2010a, p. 28). This paper builds on Jaini’s vision by looking at Digambara literature and, further, aims both to introduce new material and explicate the ways in which that new material helps scholars to understand better the history of literary production and dissemination by Jain authors in the early modern period.
The paper takes as its main focus the fifteenth-century Digambara author Brahma Jinadāsa, who resided in the Vāgaḍ region of modern-day southern Rajasthan and northern Gujarat. Specifically, the paper focuses on one of his numerous compositions, Padmapurāṇa (“The Deeds of Padma”),1 which tells the story of Rāma, the epic prince of Ayodhyā.2 The fact that Jain authors were active participants in the literary tradition of detailing and praising the life of Rāma is not unknown to scholars.3 The majority of such scholarship, however, has focused on early versions of the narrative, rarely taking into any serious account versions of the Rāma story written after the tenth century CE.4 Much of this scholarship has also examined Jain narratives comparatively against Brahminical versions of the deeds of Rāma, particularly Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa. These studies of Jain Rāma material tend to paint Jain authors as highly reactionary towards perceived Brahminical encroachment on lay patronage; that is, the reason given for Jain Rāma composition in the first place is to offer the laity the popular stories of the pan-Indian hero in an acceptably Jain format so that those laypeople would not stop patronizing Jain ascetics.5 This is an example of a problematic assumption of Jain studies writ large, one which Cort (1998, p. 3) summarizes well by explaining that Jainism has been characterized as a “fundamentally unoriginal movement, the history of which is essentially a history of passive reception of Hindu influences”.
Here I eschew Brahminical comparisons to Jain Rāma narrative composition, instead taking the history of such literary work as a cohesive, self-evident whole. By the time of Jinadāsa in the fifteenth century, I argue, there was a clear Digambara lineage of Rāma narrative composition, into which Jinadāsa inserted himself when he composed his Padmapurāṇa. Jinadāsa in particular saw himself as the successor to one author and composition: the seventh-century Raviṣeṇa’s Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa. This paper thus asks why Jinadāsa felt the need to re-write the narrative of Rāma that he had inherited from his predecessor. More specifically, it attempts to understand why Jinadāsa rewrote the Padmapurāṇa in the same language as Raviṣeṇa did. What changes does Jinadāsa make to Raviṣeṇa’s earlier narrative, and how might those changes help scholars to understand the motivation for later Jain authors of purāṇic literature? What becomes evident from the comparative reading of Jinadāsa’s and Raviṣeṇa’s texts is that Jinadāsa embarked on a literary project of abridgement or condensation vis-à-vis his predecessor’s narrative. The fact that such literary condensation occurred in later Jain versions of purāṇic classics has not gone unnoticed by scholars. De Clercq (2014, p. 352), for instance, in her analysis of the fifteenth-century author Raïdhu’s Apabhramsha’s Paumacariu (“The Deeds of Padma”), notes that Raïdhu’s version of the oft-told narrative is “much more condensed than those of his illustrious forerunners”, namely, Svayambhūdeva (eighth century) and Puṣpadanta (tenth century).6 Further, Chojnacki (2018a, 2018b) discusses the literary phenomenon of “epitomisation” popular among Jain authors in the thirteenth century, wherein scholar-monks composed drastically abridged summaries of earlier works, including purāṇas.7 What this paper aims to do is to outline the specific mechanisms employed in this project of abridgement or condensation. I argue that Jinadāsa consistently utilized specific strategies of condensation at the textual levels of chapter structure, narrative content, and grammatical complexity. What is more, I argue that for Jinadāsa, these strategies of condensation were, simultaneously, strategies of literary clarification and that understanding these strategies of condensation further helps us to understand the anticipated audience of Jinadāsa’s work.

2. Jinadāsa, Raviṣeṇa, and the History of Jain Rāma Literature

Jinadāsa was a member of the Digambara Balātkāra Gaṇa, the largest Digambara monastic group in north India during the early modern period.8 Jinadāsa’s guru—and, according to tradition, older brother—Sakalakīrti, was the founder of the Balātkāra Gaṇa branch in the Vāgaḍ region. As with many pre-modern South Asian authors, we know little about Jinadāsa’s life beyond his monastic affiliation and general geographic area. The Sakalakīrtinu Rās (“The Story of Sakalakīrti”), a biography of Sakalakīrti written by one Brahma Guṇarāja, explains that the brothers were born into a wealthy family in Pāṭaṇ, Gujarat, but provides little additional information. It is likely that Jinadāsa was born sometime in the late-fourteenth century, probably between 1380 and 1390, though an exact date of birth is impossible to know.9 We also do not know for certain when Jinadāsa died, though scholars believe his last work to have been his Harivaṃśapurāṇ Rās (“The Story of the Hari Clan”), a vernacular (bhāṣā) version of Kṛṣṇa’s life and family. That text is dated to 1463.10 A prolific author, Jinadāsa is credited with composing between 60 and 80 works in both Sanskrit and bhāṣā over the 20-year period between 1444 and 1464 CE. Many of Jinadāsa’s texts, including his Padmapurāṇa, are re-compositions of older narratives that were well known among Jain communities.
The history of Jain treatments of the Rāma story can be traced back to the fifth-century CE and Vimalasūri’s Prakrit Paümacariya (“The Deeds of Padma”). In the millennium separating Vimala and Jinadāsa, numerous authors, both Digambara and Śvetāmbara, composed their own versions of the Rāma narrative, oftentimes drawing from the compositions of their predecessors.11 The seventh-century author Raviṣeṇa, for instance, wrote a Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa that largely followed Vimala’s earlier Prakrit narrative. Indeed, much scholarly ink has been spilled tracing the histories of influence among centuries of Jain Rāma narratives. Two primary narrative vectors have emerged. The first begins with Vimala and includes both Raviṣeṇa’s Padmapurāṇa and, much later, Jinadāsa’s text of the same name. Also included in this lineage are the two treatments of the Rāma story by the great twelfth-century Śvetāmbara polymath Hemacandra. In both his Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra (“The Deeds of the Sixty-Three Illustrious Men”) and his Yogaśāstrasvopajñāvṛtti (“Auto-commentary on the Yogaśāstra”), Hemacandra incorporates a version of the Rāma narrative that follows Vimala’s. Finally, the eighth-century Apabhramsha Paümacariu of Svayambhū also follows Vimala’s version of events.
The other major stream of Jain Rāma narratives begins with the ninth-century Sanskrit Uttarapurāṇa (“The Latter Book”) by Guṇabhadra. The most important difference between Guṇabhadra’s version of the narrative and Vimala’s is that Rāma’s wife, Sītā, in Guṇabhadra’s version is actually the daughter of the story’s main antagonist, Rāvaṇa, who abandons her as a baby. It is King Janaka who later finds the abandoned girl and rears her as his daughter. Guṇabhadra’s version thus incorporates an incestuous element into the Rāma narrative, as Rāvaṇa becomes enamored with Sītā, who is not only another man’s wife, but also, unknowingly, his own daughter. There are additional smaller differences between Vimala’s and Guṇabhadra’s versions of the Rāma story; for instance, in Vimala’s version, Daśaratha is king of Ayodhyā, whereas in Guṇabhadra’s version, he is king of Varanasi. The tenth-century Apabhramsha Mahāpurāṇa (“Great Book of Deeds”) of Puṣpadanta largely follows Guṇabhadra’s version of the narrative.
As mentioned above, Jinadāsa’s Padmapurāṇa follows the narrative as laid out originally by Vimalasūri. More specifically, though, his text is a re-composition of Raviṣeṇa’s earlier Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa. Attempting to place Raviṣeṇa and his Padmapurāṇa into a specific historical context is a difficult task. Raviṣeṇa provides little information about himself in the Padmapurāṇa. He mentions no specific gaṇa, or lineage, to which he belongs, though he does give us a list of his most immediate gurus, or teachers, in the 123rd chapter of the work.12 The presence of the affix sena attached to Raviṣeṇa’s name led Pannālāl Jain to propose that he was a member of the Sena saṅgha (monastic community), though Raviṣeṇa himself does not mention this.13 As to when Raviṣeṇa lived and wrote, he explains that he composed the Padmapurāṇa 1203 years and six months after Lord Mahāvīra attained nirvāṇa (ultimate release from the world of saṃsāra, or perpetual rebirth), which would place him some time around 677 CE. Other pre-modern authors mention Raviṣeṇa in their own texts. Uddyotanasūri mentions Raviṣeṇa in his Kuvalayamāla (“The Garland of Blue Lotuses”), composed probably in the mid-to-late eighth century, as does Jaṭāsiṃhanandi in his Varāṅgacarita (“The Deeds of Prince Varāṅga”). There is still disagreement among scholars as to when Jaṭāsiṃhanandi himself lived, though he is usually placed between the sixth and ninth centuries CE. Finally, Punnāṭa Jinasena—not to be confused with the more famous Jinasena, author of the Ādipurāṇa (“The Deeds of the First Jina”)—mentions Raviṣeṇa in his Harivaṃśapurāṇa (“The Deeds of the Hari Clan”), completed in the late-eighth century CE. This information thus supports dating Raviṣeṇa to somewhere in the mid-to-late seventh century.
Raviṣeṇa does not mention where he composed his text, and looking at the other authors who mention Raviṣeṇa is unhelpful because they all wrote in different regions.14 Jyoti Prasad Jain argues that Raviṣeṇa was probably based in the north and traveled in the general region of Rajasthan and Gujarat, though he gives no evidence for this assessment.15 Other scholars, such as A.N. Upadhye, Agarcand Nahta, and Paul Dundas do not even hazard a guess as to where Raviṣeṇa wrote.16 The Padmapurāṇa is also Raviṣeṇa’s only surviving work, though tradition credits him with authoring additional texts, including a Harivaṃśapurāṇa. With no surviving manuscripts of other texts, however, it is impossible to pinpoint Raviṣeṇa’s provenance.17

3. Jinadāsa’s Literary Project

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Raviṣeṇa’s life, scholars can be confident in demonstrating that by the middle of the fifteenth century Jinadāsa had access to a manuscript copy of Raviṣeṇa’s text, for there is clear evidence in Jinadāsa’s Padmapurāṇa that he was working directly from a copy of Raviṣeṇa’s earlier work when composing his own. In fact, the opening verses of Jinadāsa’s text suggest this, as he lifts them verbatim from Raviṣeṇa. Both texts, therefore, begin with the following two verses:
I bow to Mahāvīra, the auspiciousness of the three worlds; who is the ultimate cause of accomplishment; who is himself accomplished; who has fulfilled the most auspicious goal of life; who teaches proper conduct, knowledge, and viewpoint; and whose lustrous feet, the rays of light emanating from which resemble radiant lotus filaments, are touched by the crown of Indra.
Jinadāsa’s wholesale adoption of Raviṣeṇa’s opening verses, I argue, serves as a subtle nod to the fact that he wants people to understand his composition in relation to that of his predecessor.
An even more compelling piece of evidence that Jinadāsa was working from a copy of his predecessor’s text is the fact that he tells the reader that this is the case. In the introductory chapter of the work, Jinadāsa provides a lineage of the story of Rāma, beginning with Mahāvīra and progressing to the present. Towards the end of this lineage, Jinadāsa explains that Raviṣeṇa “made” or “created” a text of the story, using the Sanskrit cakre, from the Sanskrit verbal root kṛ. The use of this verb is important; according to Jinadāsa, Raviṣeṇa is the first person to actually write down the narrative. Before Raviṣeṇa, according to Jinadāsa, the mechanism by which the story had been passed down was specifically verbal: Mahāvīra narrated the story to Gautama, who told it to Sudharma in turn, and so on. Raviṣeṇa, though, at least in Jinadāsa’s version of the textual lineage, is the first to create an object that tells the story of Rāma, and it is this object, this new text, that Jinadāsa specifically says he has at hand 800 years after the time of Raviṣeṇa. He writes: “And, having obtained (prāpya) the work consisting of [Raviṣeṇa’s] words, I make this treatise clear, with an introduction (kathāmukhena), so that people may understand it”.19 Thus, Jinadāsa is clear that he not only has at hand a copy of Raviṣeṇa’s earlier text, but that he is rewriting the story of that text in a new way, making it “clear” (sphuṭa). The rest of this article, then, will attempt to decipher what, exactly, Jinadāsa means by “clear” in this sense and how he goes about reworking Raviṣeṇa’s text to achieve that goal.
Jinadāsa provides a clue as to what he means by “clear” in the very verse in which he introduces his project. The term kathāmukhena, which I translate above as “with an introduction”,20 can also be read as “by means of (mukhena) story (kathā)”. Read this way, Jinadāsa here situates his Padmapurāṇa within the specific literary genre of kathā or ākhyāna, narrative story. As Gary Tubb (1985) explains, the tradition of Sanskrit poetics has long accepted the division of texts into three broad categories: śāstra, or prescriptive texts; ākhyāna, story literature; and kāvya, high poetry. All three of these classifications are didactic in some way; they “necessarily provide instruction in at least one of the four major goals of human life (puruṣārtha)” (p. 141). It is in the mechanism of edification that the differences between the three categories rest. As Tubb (1985, pp. 141–42) explains:
A śāstra, or prescriptive work, is of interest because of the authority of its pronouncements; in such a work the word itself is of primary importance. In an ākhyāna, or story, what holds our interest is the plot being presented; in such a work it is therefore the sense rather than the word that is predominant. Finally, in a kāvya, or work of belles lettres, the predominance lies not in the words alone, nor in their ultimate meaning, but in the special operation (vyāpāra) through which the words are linked to our apprehension of that meaning; in such a work what holds our attention is the beauty of the poetic act of expression.
Tubb (1985, p. 142) goes on to cite Abhinavagupta’s eleventh-century Locana (commentary) to Ānandavardhana’s Dhvanyāloka (“The Splendor of Suggestion”), which states that:
Scripture…teaches after the fashion of a master, by giving direct commands. The story literature edifies us more gently, after the fashion of a helpful friend, by presenting interesting examples of what fruits befell the actions of others in the past. And poetry instructs us in the most effective way, after the fashion of a beloved woman, by so delighting us that we are scarcely aware of an underlying purpose.
One aspect of Abhinavagupta’s extended metaphor is especially worthy of note, the fact that only in kāvya is edification explicitly linked to pleasure. Kāvya, tradition holds, cannot but delight its consumer, and while prescriptive works and story literature are also didactic, they do not—and in fact oftentimes should not—fundamentally delight in the same way that kāvya does.
What will become apparent in the following analysis is that under this tripartite schema of śāstra, kathā/ākhyāna, and kāvya, Raviṣeṇa’s Padmapurāṇa best fits into the third category, while Jinadāsa’s text, as he tells the reader, is best understood to function as a kathā. Raviṣeṇa revels in poetic detail. His literary asides and many-verse-long meditations on matters extraneous to the action at hand serve both as ruptures that retard the natural progress of the narrative and also as testaments to his own poetic skill and invitations to appreciate and delight in it. These are discreet, ephemeral moments to be savored, wallowed in, puzzled over, and enjoyed, their purpose manifest not by their ability to drive the rest of the narrative, but in their beauty and ability to engender delight. In Jinadāsa’s version of the narrative, the potential beauty of the story takes a backseat to the importance of the outcome of the narrative itself. Each episode contributes to the overall narrative’s eventual resolution—the fruits, in the words of Abhinavagupta, that befall the characters—but there is no need to dwell on any single episode. Best instead to continue the progress, as the point of the narrative becomes clear in its resolution. Thus, Jinadāsa’s literary project—his vision of clarity—is to transform Raviṣeṇa’s kāvya into an ākhyāna and, in doing so, to transform the narrative’s mechanism of edification.

4. Methods of Narrative Condensation and the Concept of Clarity in Jinadāsa’s Padmapurāṇa

Understanding that Jinadāsa’s textual project vis-à-vis Raviṣeṇa’s earlier narrative was the pursuit of clarity, in this section I lay out three interrelated ways in which Jinadāsa goes about condensing Raviṣeṇa’s narrative in order to achieve such status. First, Jinadāsa abridges Raviṣeṇa’s text at the level of chapters (parva), oftentimes combining multiple chapters in Raviṣeṇa’s text into a single chapter in his own, in the process eliminating large numbers of verses. Second, at the level of verse, Jinadāsa consistently eliminates types of content from Raviṣeṇa’s narrative, thereby simplifying and streamlining the narrative itself. Finally, Jinadāsa also employs a different style of composition than Raviṣeṇa, and I compare Raviṣeṇa’s literary hypotaxis with Jinadāsa’s more simplistic, predictable style.
Raviṣeṇa’s Padmapurāṇa is divided into 123 parvas. Jinadāsa’s, on the other hand, is divided into 83. First, we can examine the ways in which Jinadāsa combines multiple of Raviṣeṇa’s chapters into single chapters in his own work, in the process eliminating content from the earlier narrative. In this section we will look at a single example: Jinadāsa’s twelfth parva entitled “A Description of the Marriage of the Beautiful Añjanā” (añjanāsundarīvivāhavyāvarṇanaḥ). This chapter of Jinadāsa’s text includes not only the story of Añjanā’s (Hanumān’s mother) wedding to Pavanañjaya (his father), but also the seemingly unrelated stories of the vidyādhara Indra’s attainment of nirvāṇa and the sage Anantabala’s discourse to Rāvaṇa and his retinue on the proper performance of dharma. In Raviṣeṇa’s text, each of these three episodes constitutes a single chapter, his thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth. Before moving forward, though, it is necessary to provide brief descriptions of the events of the each of these episodes; this will help in explicating how Jinadāsa works to abridge and streamline his predecessor’s work. Raviṣeṇa’s thirteenth parva is entitled “A Description of the Nirvāṇa of the Vidyādhara Indra”, (indranirvāṇābhidhānam) and begins immediately after Rāvaṇa has conquered his vidyādhara rival Indra in battle. Indra’s father, Sahasrāra, comes before Rāvaṇa to ask for Indra’s release. At first, Rāvaṇa explains that he will only release Indra if Sahasrāra agrees to clean Rāvaṇa’s palace and city. Sahasrāra is shamed by the prospect of performing such lowly work, but, before he can answer, Rāvaṇa explains that he is only joking and agrees to release Indra.
Sahasrāra and Indra return to their home on the Vijayārdha mountain, but Indra is incapable of enjoying his newfound freedom because of the shame stemming from his defeat at the hands of Rāvaṇa. He spends much of his time in the Jina temple located in the palace grounds, over which, on one occasion, the sage Nirvāṇasaṅgama flies. The sage recognizes that he is flying over a Jina temple and descends so that he may perform proper worship. In the temple he meets Indra, who honors the sage and requests him to narrate his past lives. Nirvāṇasaṅgama agrees and, at the end of the narration, takes his leave. Indra is left disaffected with worldly life and pleasures and, accompanied by sons and numerous other vidyādharas, takes ascetic initiation. After performing austerities for a long time, he eventually attains nirvāṇa.
The next parva in Raviṣeṇa’s Padmapurāṇa is entitled “Anantabala’s Discourse on Dharma”, (anantabaladharmābhidhānam), and begins with Rāvaṇa returning to his capital of Laṅkā from Mount Meru, where he had been dutifully worshipping the Jinas.21 On his journey, he begins to hear soft noises and notices that the sky has slightly reddened. He asks his attendant, Mārīca, about the nature of these occurrences, and Mārīca responds that the sage Anantabala has just achieved omniscience on the Svarnagiri mountain. The noise was thus caused by the gods rushing to pay obeisance to Anantabala, and the reddening of the sky stemmed from the sunlight reflecting off of the jewels in the gods’ crowns. Rāvaṇa recongnizes the auspicious nature of the event that Mārīca has just described and descends to Svarnagiri mountain, where he joins the gods in worshiping Anantabala. Eventually, Rāvaṇa requests that Anantabala give a sermon on dharma. The sage agrees, explaining the nature of karma and the relationship between action and rebirth, the fruits and repercussions of different types of charitable giving (dāna), and the rewards for those who follow the dharma. He ends his sermon with a discussion about the importance of taking vows for both renunciates and householders and by expounding the virtues of the Jinas. Hearing Anantabala, Rāvaṇa becomes worried because he knows himself to be incapable of keeping the prescribed householder vows (anuvrata). He decides to take a single vow, one that will prove important later in the narrative. In front of Anantabala, Rāvaṇa vows never to force himself upon a woman who is married to another man. The parva ends with Rāvaṇa’s brother, Bhānukarṇa,22 vowing to offer prayers to the Jinas every morning and not to take food before praising Digambara renunciates.
Finally, Raviṣeṇa’s fifteenth parva is titled “A Description of the Marriage of the Beautiful Añjanā” (añjanāsundarīvivāhābhidhānam). The parva picks up immediately from the end of its predecessor, describing how Hanumān, who at this point in the story is Rāvaṇa’s ally and a member of his retinue, also took a vow in front of Anantabala. This is the introduction of Hanumān to the narrative, and Gautama, the primary disciple (gaṇadhara) of Mahāvīra who is narrating the entire Padmapurāṇa to King Śreṇika, takes a moment to narrate the story of Hanumān’s lineage and birth, beginning with the unfortunate tale of the marriage of Hanumān’s parents, Añjanā and Pavanañjaya. The story begins with Añjanā’s father, Mahendra, worrying about finding a good husband for his daughter. He consults his ministers and, after much discussion, two possible suitors eventually rise to the fore: Vidyutprabha and Pavanañjaya. Given a tip that Vidyutprabha will soon take ascetic initiation and become a monk, therefore leaving Añjanā a widow, Mahendra eventually decides that Pavanañjaya will make the best husband for his daughter. Mahendra consults Pavanañjaya’s father Prahlāda about the arrangement, and both agree that the wedding should occur at once.
As preparations for the ceremony are being made, though, Pavanañjaya decides that he wants to see his wife-to-be before the actual wedding. Accompanied by his friend Prahasita, the prince sneaks into Añjanā’s compound, where he overhears one of Añjanā’s handmaidens lament about the upcoming nuptials, arguing that Vidyutprabha would have made a better husband even if he were planning on taking monastic vows. Pavanañjaya becomes enraged at this and threatens to kill both the handmaiden and Añjanā before Prahasita calms him down. His pride injured, though, Pavanañjaya decides not to go through with the marriage; the following morning, Pavanañjaya, accompanied by his army, abandons his betrothed and the two families. Both Mahendra and Prahlāda pursue Pavanañjaya and eventually convince him to return and marry Añjanā. Pavanañjaya still holds a grudge, though, and while the chapter ends with a description of the wedding and the joy of the two families, the following chapter reveals the extent to which Pavanañjaya is still angry about the perceived slight against him. Immediately following the wedding ceremony he leaves Añjanā, causing her to fall into a deep depression.
In sum, 721 verses make up Raviṣeṇa’s version of these narrative episodes. The chapters are 113, 381, and 227 verses, respectively. In contrast, Jinadāsa condenses these episodes into a single chapter consisting of only 400 verses, meaning Jinadāsa’s treatment of the episodes is nearly 45% shorter than Raviṣeṇa’s. As mentioned above, the title of Jinadāsa’s single chapter that includes all three of these episodes is “A Description of the Marriage of the Beautiful Añjanā”, and indeed, the majority of the 400 verses that make up the chapter focus on this aspect of the narrative. The other two episodes are subsumed within the larger framework of the marriage of Hanumān’s parents and severely condensed. The section of Jinadāsa’s text that tells the story of Indra’s nirvāṇa is only 94 verses, compared to the 113-verse treatment of Raviṣeṇa. Similarly, the section of Jinadāsa’s text that narrates Anantabala’s sermon on proper dharma constitutes 138 verses, as compared to Raviṣeṇa’s 381-verse corresponding chapter. This leaves 166 verses in Jinadāsa’s chapter that focus on the story of Añjanā and Pavanañjaya’s marriage, as opposed to Raviṣeṇa’s 277 verses. Thus, in Jinadāsa’s treatment, each narrative episode is condensed to some degree, but it is Anantabala’s discourse on dharma that is cut down the most. Why might this be the case? An examination of the content of Anantabala’s sermon as found in Raviṣeṇa’s version of the text but absent in Jinadāsa’s provides a first step in answering this question: Jinadāsa eliminates much of the doctrinally technical elements of Anantabala’s speech that are found in Raviṣeṇa’s version of the text. To provide one example of this phenomenon, first read below an excerpt from Raviṣeṇa’s account of Anantabala’s sermon to Rāvaṇa:
The soul wanders, its own power bound by the fetters that are the masses of the eight types of karma, beginningless and eternal. It perpetually takes birth in innumerable hundreds of thousands of wombs, experiencing pain and pleasure caused by the many sense organs. Sometimes beloved, other times hated, sometimes foolish, it spins around in the four-fold possibilities of existence, as if on a potter’s wheel, because of the ripening of different karmas. On account of knowledge-occluding karma it does not understand what is beneficial for itself. This is true even when it attains human birth, which is incredibly difficult to attain. Creatures burdened with heavy loads of sin on account of past actions, overcome by the sense organs and the grasping out by means of touch and taste, having performed all sorts of despicable acts, fall into hell, which in turn delivers various methods of great suffering to beings. Indeed, such creatures fall [into hell] like stones fall into water. Some men, whose minds are completely wicked and overcome with the desire for the riches of others, kill their own mothers, fathers, brothers, children, wives, and friends! They kill those that are still in the womb, the young and the old, and women. Some who are extremely cruel kill men, birds, and deer. All of those people of small intellect, whose minds have deviated from dharma, having killed both terrestrial and aquatic beings, fall into the extremely frightful hell.
Though merely a small excerpt of Raviṣeṇa’s account of Anantabala’s discourse, the language that Raviṣeṇa employs here is paradigmatic of Anantabala’s entire sermon. The sage begins with a diagnosis of the condition of most souls: they are weighed down by the negative karma that has accrued over innumerable lifetimes. Such souls wander from birth to birth in myriad bodies in different levels of the universe; they are ignorant of the amazing opportunity that is human birth and squander it through acts of self-serving violence. Anantabala describes the myriad ways in which one’s karmic history can manifest in a human birth; whether a jīva is born into a rich or poor family, or why someone born a pauper might also be physically beautiful while a rich person may be physically abhorrent are all the intricate workings of karma. Anantabala then goes on to discuss how one can take advantage of a human birth, focusing on the auspicious life of a householder and one’s duty to support renunciates. He explains that a proper recipient of support can be identified by one’s action, noting particularly that wicked people oftentimes endorse the consumption of meat.24
Raviṣeṇa’s articulate and exhaustive description of dharma via the mouth of the character Anantabala is highlighted when compared to Jinadāsa’s treatment of the same episode. In Raviṣeṇa’s text, Anantabala’s discourse constitutes 142 verses, whereas in Jinadāsa’s version, Anantabala’s sermon is a mere 12! Below is the sermon in it totality:
Then the Lord Anantavīrya,25 an abode of tender compassion and dear to all, himself spoke this beneficial speech, imbued with truth. Because of the eight-fold types of karma, the body, wandering through the forest of existence, perpetually finds sorrow in many hundreds-of-thousands births. Such foolish ones, covered by an obstruction to knowledge on account of his bewildered mind, spinning around like a potter’s wheel, do not know what is beneficial for them. Even having attained human birth, which is very difficult, those who have been conquered by the sense organs fall into a narrow, crowded pit, according to one’s wicked acts. With auspicious, good acts, one attains happiness, and with inauspicious, wicked acts, one attains sorrow. But the soul that has entirely abandoned both the auspicious and the inauspicious goes to the abode of bliss. Because, like a true friend, it instantly rescues a soul that has fallen into a bad rebirth, the wise thus call it “dharma”. They, on account of dharma, go to the heavens, such as the Saudharma heaven, which are abodes of happiness, entirely covered with various chariots and palaces, and happily attended to by divine women! And anything that is thought to be delightful in the upper, lower, and middle worlds, which is held in high esteem and is desired by all, that is so only because of dharma. It cannot be otherwise, o king! He who is born as a king or something similar, a glorious provider and enjoyer of fine things, who is perpetually protected by servants, that is indeed the fruit born from the tree of dharma. Indra indeed enjoys happiness that is born from the mind, together with his wife Śacī, served by the forces of the gods. That indeed is the fruit born from the tree of dharma. Those who destroy the wrestler who is delusion (moha) via the glorious weapons of the three jewels attain mokṣa, which is the great fruit of pure dharma. Having achieved human birth and then having done appropriate dharma, one gains all the fruit that is born from heaven, etc., with living beings.
Comparing Jinadāsa’s and Raviṣeṇa’s accounts of Anantabala’s sermon sheds light on how Jinadāsa condenses his predecessor’s narrative. The overall tenor of both versions of the sermon is the same, but Jinadāsa oftentimes abridges Raviṣeṇa’s descriptions, omitting comparisons that in Raviṣeṇa’s text add emphasis to the point being made. For example, Raviṣeṇa includes a line in his version of the story that compares a wicked person’s fall into hellish realms with a stone falling into water; the action is quick, nearly instantaneous, and unavoidable. The image of the plummeting stone also highlights the heaviness of negative karma, which drags the soul downward into hellish rebirth. Jinadāsa omits this comparison in his version of the sermon, though he does make the same overall point as Raviṣeṇa, that jīvas burdened by the karma accrued through wicked actions indeed fall into the hell realms. Most noticeably, though, Jinadāsa also omits Raviṣeṇa’s entire discussion of the murderous man, a discussion that acts as a markedly negative diagnosis of how most people waste their human births. Raviṣeṇa dwells on describing how people act wickedly, providing a litany of victims—mothers, fathers, brothers, children, wives, and friends—whom people delight in tormenting on account of their own greed. Jinadāsa does not provide any sort of similar discussion, giving instead a more subdued description of the common human condition. It is true, Jinadāsa acknowledges, that people who are controlled by their senses and sensual desire are likely to end up in hell, but he also quickly moves on from this discussion. Jinadāsa instead simply states that positive repercussions and delightful rebirth stem from the performance of auspicious actions and that negative rebirth stems from the performance of wicked acts. Returning to the larger question, though, of why it is Anantabala’s discourse on dharma that Jinadāsa so drastically abridges, I argue that, to Jinadāsa, such lengthy discussions retard the steady progress of the narrative, and it is in that progress and the narrative’s eventual conclusion that the importance of the story lies. Anantabala’s discourse on dharma is not essential to the plot of the narrative and thus can be abridged.
We see Jinadāsa similarly abridging content in other areas of the text. For example, in the middle of Raviṣeṇa’s twenty-third parva he provides a 78-verse description of Kaikeyī, Rāma’s step-mother. Raviṣeṇa goes into minute detail describing Kaikeyī’s proficiency in the arts of dance, song, and music; speech and the arts of letters and poetic composition; painting, modeling and engraving; garland making; perfumery; cooking; jewelry making and embroidery; and metal work. According to Raviṣeṇa, Kaikeyī is well versed in the care for both animals and humans, and she understands the problems with false doctrines. She is knowledgeable of sports, dice games, and gambling. She understands the difference between those things that have souls (jīva) and inanimate objects (ajīva), and is knowledgeable of geography and topography. Each of these subjects is further broken down into subgroups, and Kaikeyī is an expert in them all. To give but a brief example of this, below is an excerpt from Raviṣeṇa’s description, which details the different types of sport or play in which Kaikeyī is proficient:
Sport is of four types: “With Gesture” (ceṣṭā), “With Paraphernalia,” (upakaraṇa), “With Speech,” (vānī), and “With Profit,” (kalāvyatyasana). That sport which is born from the body is called ceṣṭā. And that which involves a wooden ball and the like is commonly known as upakaraṇa. Furthermore, that which involves various forms of elegant speaking is the play of speech. That which is played with various types of dice games and gambling is known as kalāvyatyasana. Thus [Kaikeyī] was exceedingly skilled in the many divisions of sport.
The level of specificity here is important; it is not enough for Raviṣeṇa to say that Kaikeyī was proficient at different sports and games. Instead, the author catalogues the subgroups of the larger order of “sport”. And what is more, he does the same for every order of “art” that he describes, in the process creating an exhaustive list of courtly arts and their subgroups. This fact is highlighted when one compares Raviṣeṇa’s account of Kaikeyī’s artistic proficiency with Jinadāsa’s account, which, given below in its entirety, constitutes a mere five verses:
The daughter named Kaikeyī was extremely beautiful, with splendid and auspicious features. She had perfected all of the arts. [She was] skilled in song, dance, etc.; practiced in the distinctions of figure drawing and verse composition; and was well versed in the manifold kinds of reasoning. She had knowledge of the nine rasas and in the assessment of valuable things. O king, she was skilled in measurement as well as in the medical sciences. She was knowledgeable of the sciences of magic, medicinal herbs and mantra. Thus, she who was knowledgeable of proper behavior possessed knowledge of fine arts. Her fame, born from her virtue, beauty, and proficiency in fine arts, shined throughout the world, and her beauty surpassed even that of the goddess Śrī!
Similar to his treatment of Anantabala’s discourse on dharma, Jinadāsa’s description of Kaikeyī’s artistic proficiencies differs from Raviṣeṇa’s in terms of both content and style. Raviṣeṇa’s list is extensive, indeed exhaustive; it encapsulates a classificatory system of courtly arts within the poetic description of Kaikeyī’s proficiency in them. In all, Raviṣeṇa’s description is detailed and technical. Jinadāsa dispenses with this; his description is not so much a classification as a list of common areas of proficiency expected of any princess. For Raviṣeṇa, the importance of this list of Kaikeyī’s skills is threefold. First, at the level of the narrative itself, the exhaustive list of proficiencies helps to construct the character of Kaikeyī as an exceptional woman, especially given the importance she has in driving the plot of the narrative later in the text. Kaikeyī is an important character in any version of the Rāma story; her use of Daśaratha’s boon to install her own son, Bharata, on the throne and exile Rāma, Sītā, and Lakṣmaṇa to the forest sets in motion the events that will eventually lead to Sītā’s abduction and Rāvaṇa’s death. Because of this importance, Raviṣeṇa provides Kaikeyī a privileged place among Daśaratha’s wives. Compare the exhaustive description of Kaikeyī given above with his descriptions of Daśaratha’s other wives, provided in the twenty-second parva:
Daśaratha gained a body that was decorated with delightful youthfulness. He was tall like a mountain peak decorated with various lotus flowers. Then he married the daughter of King Sukośala of Darbhasthala. A woman of alluring charm, she was born of his beautiful queen Amṛtaprabhā and her name was Aparājitā. In the case of womanly virtue, she was unsurpassed even by Ratī. There is also a delightful city named Kamalasaṁkula, the king of which was named Subandhutilaka. His wife was named Mitrā. Those two had a daughter named Kekayā who was endowed with virtue. It was as if her head was crowned by a garland of blue lotuses, though they were actually her beautiful blue eyes. Because that beautiful one with lovely limbs was born from Mitrā, therefore in the world she was known as Sumitrā. Daśaratha married her, as well as another daughter of a great king, named Suprabhā, who with her beauty was the shame even of Śrī.
These are stock descriptions of queens; the women are beautiful and virtuous, but there is no detail in their characterization. The description coincides with their relative importance in shaping the narrative as a whole as it moves forward; that is to say, Daśaratha’s other three queens do little to influence the course of the narrative. Thus, the first reason for Raviṣeṇa’s detailed account of Kaikeyī’s artistic skills is to mark her as an important character.
The second reason for the list’s importance resides outside of the text, as it projects an anticipated audience for Raviṣeṇa’s work. Raviṣeṇa’s description of Kaikeyī affords him the opportunity to perform his own knowledge of the minutiae of specifically courtly practices and expectations. Through the description of Kaikeyī’s proficiencies, Raviṣeṇa presents himself as knowledgeable of the courtly milieu, as someone who understands the practices and comportment of someone properly royal. This fact helps us to understand to whom Raviṣeṇa is speaking, that is, the intended audience of his work: people with the capacity to appreciate the performance of that type of knowledge; people for whom those practices and proficiencies have purchase.
Finally, Raviṣeṇa’s list is important for a third reason. A 78-verse description of any person or event is not insignificant, especially when the content of those verses is not narrative, but rather highly technical descriptions of different types of artistic and skilled action. Raviṣeṇa’s meditation on Kaikeyī’s artistic proficiencies disrupts the timely progress of the narrative’s plot. This is intentional, for as an episode in and of itself, the description of Kaikeyī encourages the reader to leave behind the specific narrative in which it is placed, to appreciate not just Kaikeyī as an exemplary princess or courtly figure, but to celebrate the ideal of courtly decorum more broadly. Further, Jinadāsa’s disinterest in the courtly aspects of Raviṣeṇa’s list is highlighted only when read alongside Raviṣeṇa’s account. If the attention to courtly decorum signifies to the reader Raviṣeṇa’s courtly audience, Jinadāsa’s intentional aversion to such description similarly provides a clue as to whom he is speaking. His audience is one for which a catalogue of minute courtly practices is unhelpful in understanding the larger point of the narrative, a point that is driven by the plot.
In other places, a comparison of Raviṣeṇa and Jinadāsa highlights just how invested in creating poetic beauty Raviṣeṇa is, and, conversely, how little interest Jinadāsa has in the same. Again, this makes sense given that Raviṣeṇa wrote a kāvya and Jinadāsa’s literary project, as discussed above, is to transform that kāvya into a kathā. To demonstrate this, we can compare the two authors’ descriptions of Mount Kailāśa. First, below is Raviṣeṇa’s description of the mountain. The first two verses are particularly unique, consisting of a complicated comparison of Mount Kailāśa to the fundamentals of Sanskrit grammar:
[Mount Kailāśa] acquired a resemblance to grammar, for as grammar is comprised of various verbal roots, mountains are strewn with various minerals, and as grammar is furnished with words that follow the same rules for derivation, the mountain was made up of thousands of troops demi-gods. Whereas grammar is filled with good letters and sounds, so too the mountain is full of gold. And whereas grammar is loaded with different metrical constructions, so too the mountain is loaded with footsteps. Both grammar and the mountain possess natural, crude states, and both undergo consistent transformation. As grammar consists of different vowels, so too does the mountain consist of various noises.
This part of Raviṣeṇa’s description of Kailāśa, though a mere two verses, is important to our discussion for two reasons. First, the verses are poetically complex; Raviṣeṇa’s literary hypotaxis is certainly on display. Each compound is a śleṣa (pun or double entendre) that when read one way describes the mountain and read another way describes Sanskrit grammar. For example, take the first compound in the first verse: nānādhātusamākīrṇaṃ. The meanings of the first and last words in the compound remain the same for both readings; nānā means “various” or “manifold” and samākīrṇa means “strewn with”, “covered with”, or “overspread with”. It is upon the middle word in the compound, dhātu, that the śleṣa depends. Read with an eye towards the grammatical, dhatu refers to verbal roots, from which verbs are conjugated. Read with an eye towards a mountain’s topography, though, dhātu refers to the various mineral deposits that are common in descriptions of mountains in Sanskrit literature. So, the entire compound taken together reads both as “[that thing which] is strewn with various verbal roots”, and “[that thing which] is strewn with various minerals”. What is even more though, is that Raviṣeṇa does not tip his hand that this is a comparison that the reader should be making until the very end of this set of verses, when he finally explains that Kailāśa has “acquired a resemblance to grammar” (labdhavyākaraṇopama). Because the mechanism of comparison consists of the compound śleṣas themselves, and therefore not marked by common comparative signifiers like iva, Raviṣeṇa is able to mask the comparison until the end of the verses, thus forcing the reader to go back and rework the compounds to understand the comparison itself. It is a sly poetic maneuver, but it also highlights Raviṣeṇa’s interest in producing good kāvya, poetry that simultaneously challenges and delights the qualified reader.
Raviṣeṇa’s description of Kailāśa, though, does not end here; the next twelve verses abandon the comparison with Sanskrit grammar in favor of a more standard kāvya description of place:
It appeared to be breaking through the sky with its clusters of sharp peaks. And it appeared to be laughing because of its waterfalls with their heavy mists. Cuckoo birds and black bees were drunk from the wine of the honey from the jasmine flowers; the mountain was dense with various types of trees, the tops of which filled the skies. [The mountain] was covered in heart-stealing flowers, etc., that grew in all seasons. In its valleys thousands of animals delightfully wandered. It was filled with net-like groups of snakes that were free from the fear of herbal medicine. With its heart-stealing fragrance it seemed to be forever youthful. The broad rocks were like its chest. The trees were like massive arms. The deep caves were like a mouth. [Thus] the mountain was fashioned as if it were an extraordinary man. Dense with groups of slopes shaped like autumnal clouds, it was as if the entire world was washed with milk. Over here, lions slept without fear in the mouths of caves. Over there, trees rustled with the breath from the hissing of sleeping serpents. Over here herds of antelope played on the edges [of the forest]. Over there the upper parts of the mountain resounded joyfully with herds of rutting elephants. Over here there were multitudes of flowers; it was like the mountain was thrilled with delight. Over there the landscape was made terrible by the heavy masses of bears’ matted hair. Over here the mountain was filled with the faces of monkeys that resembled groups of lotuses. Over there the mountain was made fragrant because of the oozing sap of the trees, injured by rhinoceroses. Over here the mountain was dense with clouds, entangles by forked lightning. Over there the sky was brilliantly lit, as if the mountain’s peak were the sun. In some forested areas, with trees densely spread out and laden with sweet-smelling flowers, it was as if the mountain was trying to outdo the Pāṇḍuka forest!
The description of Kailāśa here balances on the edge between beautiful and dangerous. On the one hand, the mountain is intoxicating. It is sweet smelling, both because of flowers and the sap of trees. The bees that reside on the mountain are intoxicated by jasmine-flower honey, and the mountain is verdant and luscious in all seasons. This is the pleasurable abode of the gods. On the other hand, beneath the sensual delights of the mountain lie dangers. The mountain is a wild place. Lions, serpents, and bears populate it, and though it lacks the medicinal herbs necessary to cure snakebites, the poisonous snakes themselves abide there. Part of the reason the mountain smells so good is because the trees have been stripped of their bark by rhinoceroses, and the faces of monkeys may be mistaken for lotuses. Even the weather is unpredictable, with dangerous lightning illuminating parts of the sky. This is the frightful mountain, the mountain that is inaccessible to the common man and appropriate only for asceticism.
I quote Raviṣeṇa’s verses at length because their importance is highlighted when compared to the episode as narrated by Jinadāsa:
[Mount Kailāśa] was filled with various minerals, caves, and sounds. For weak-minded men, the mountain was inaccessible, in the same way that grammar is, being filled with various verbal roots, meters, and letters.
This is the extent to which Jinadāsa describes Mount Kailāśa; the next verses describe Rāṿana landing on the mountain and his confrontation with the ascetic living there, Vāli. Jinadāsa’s indebtedness to Raviṣeṇa is marked by his use of similar vocabulary; he takes vicitradhātu and svara directly from his predecessor’s text. Close examination of this verse highlights the two trends in Jinadāsa’s process of condensation discussed earlier: his tendency to remove content from Raviṣeṇa’s verses and his use of paratactic language. As to the first, Jinadāsa leaves out all of the natural imagery that Raviṣeṇa so meticulously constructs. His depiction of the mountain is not beautiful; rather, its primary characteristic is that it is inaccessible to man. Even this description, though, lacks the descriptive power of Raviṣeṇa’s. Jinadāsa provides, for example, no account of the many predators that roam the mountain. Further, his comparison between Kailāśa and Sanskrit grammar takes up only one-half of a verse, compared with the two verses in Raviṣeṇa’s text. Like Raviṣeṇa, Jinadāsa employs śleṣa here, and the double meanings function in the same way as they do in Raviṣeṇa’s text, though some of the meanings require a bit of a stretch of the imagination. Gahana, for instance, means “cave”, which works with the mountainous aspect of the description, but it has a less precise grammatical meaning. It is the name of a specific meter and can therefore be extrapolated to mean “meter” more broadly, but it is a clunky maneuver nonetheless. One way to remedy this is to think of gahana not as its own śleṣa, but rather as an adjective agreeing with both vicitradhātusaṃkīrṇa and svarasaṃyuta. In this case, gahana would simply mean “dense” or “thick”, which would mean Kailāśa is densely replete with mineral deposits and noises in the same way that grammar is densely replete with both verbal roots and letters. This trajectory of analysis makes sense because it also helps to connect the two halves of the verse itself. Gahana can further mean “difficult to grasp or understand”, which correlates nicely with duṣprekṣya in the second half of the verse, which means “difficult to see or look at”. In the end, gahana here is probably working in all three ways, as an imprecise śleṣa itself, correlating with Raviṣeṇa’s description of caves and derivative noun forms; as an adjective to both vicitradhātusaṃkīrṇa and svarasaṃyuta; and as a link between the two halves of the verse. This move is the second trend in Jinadāsa’s overall use of language: his willingness to sacrifice precision in an effort to condense Raviṣeṇa’s work. Similar to our discussion above regarding descriptions of Kaikeyī, Jinadāsa’s abridgement of Raviṣeṇa’s account works to quicken the pace of the narrative.
At the level of grammar and verse construction, too, Jinadāsa streamlines Raviṣeṇa’s text. Raviṣeṇa revels in extending thoughts over more than one verse and does this through literary hypotaxis, the use of subordinating clauses and adjectival constructions that connect interrelated thoughts over multiple verses. One example of this is the very beginning of the text, translated above, where Raviṣeṇa describes Indra, the King of the Gods, bowing to Lord Mahāvīra. Another example of this can be found in the excerpt analyzed above from Raviṣeṇa’s version of Anantabala’s sermon to Rāvaṇa. Below are Raviṣeṇa’s 24th and 25th verses from the episode:
Some men, whose minds are completely wicked and overcome with the desire for the riches of others, kill their own mothers, fathers, brothers, children, wives, and friends. They kill those that are still in the womb, the young and the old, and women. Some who are extremely cruel kill men, birds, and deer.
These verses are not grammatically complicated, each line being essentially a string of either nominative or accusative plural nouns with a single governing verb in the present, ghnanti, from the Sanskrit root han, meaning “to kill”. But the construction of the verses, the placement of each component, is intentionally intricate. In the first verse, the halves switch between describing objects of the verb and its subject; the first half is a list of objects (mothers, fathers, brothers, children, wives, and friends), whereas the second half provides only adjectival descriptions of an as-yet undisclosed subject (those who minds are wicked and who are overcome with desire for others’ riches). The beginning of the second verse, though, switches back to listing objects of the verb (those in the womb, the young and old, and women), which, of course, the reader still does not know. Finally, in the last line of this two-verse unit, the reader is provided with both the concrete subject of the verse and the verb: “men” (narāḥ) and “kill” (ghnanti). By switching between objects and adjectival nominatives, Raviṣeṇa purposefully retards the natural progress of the thought, fostering a heightened tension in the reader, the resolution of which is simultaneously mundane and shocking because of Raviṣeṇa’s use of the common Sanskrit term “man” (nara), followed immediately by the as-yet undisclosed verb “to kill”. What, then, does man do? According to Raviṣeṇa, man kills. The verse is not over, though; it continues to explain that some men are particularly cruel and kill not only other humans, but birds and deer as well. The qualifier “some” (kecid) does not delineate between men who kill and men who do not, but rather the objects that each group kills. Some men kill their families and friends; others kill strangers and animals. The verses are powerful because of their construction, because the hypotaxic language keeps the reader on edge before driving home the ultimately discomforting point: men squander away their privileged human birth by committing wanton acts of violence.
If Raviṣeṇa’s work is marked by literary hypotaxis, Jinadāsa’s is marked by parataxis, or the use of short and simple sentences with predictable and consistent grammatical constructions. As an example of this, we can look to his 114th verse in this episode, again provided below:
Through auspicious, good acts, one attains happiness, and through inauspicious, wicked acts, one attains sorrow. But the soul that has entirely abandoned both auspicious and inauspicious goes to the abode of bliss.
The first quarter of the verse establishes the paradigm for everything that follows. Happiness (saukhyam) comes from auspicious karma (śubhena karmaṇā). The second quarter of the verse is even simpler: And sorrow (duḥkham) comes from inauspicious karma (aśubhakarmaṇā). The relationship between the condition and its cause is the same as in the first quarter, but its expression is simplified by compounding aśubha and karmaṇā. The second half of the verse is perhaps the simplest, because the reader is for the first time given a subject with a finite verb and direct object. The soul (jīva) goes (yāti, from the root ) to the abode of bliss (śivālaya). The compound śubhāśubhavihīnaḥ (that which has entirely abandoned both auspicious and inauspicious) is clearly marked as nominative singular, meaning it agrees with jīva. In one verse, then, Jinadāsa communicates three related ideas, each of which both conceptually and grammatically builds off of what preceded it.
Another example of Jinadāsa’s parataxic language can be seen in verses 118 and 119, provided below:
He who is born as a king or something similar, a glorious provider and enjoyer of fine things, who is perpetually protected by servants, that is indeed the fruit born from the tree of dharma. Indra indeed enjoys happiness that is born from the mind, together with his wife Śacī, served by the forces of the gods. That indeed is the fruit born from the tree of dharma.
Here, Jinadāsa’s parataxis centers on the repetition of the phrase “taddharmadrumajam phalam”, which translates to, “That is the fruit that is born from the tree of dharma”. The repetition of the phrase in the same place in both verses signals that it functions in the same way, which clues the reader into how to read verse 119. It also emphasizes the omnipotent universality of dharma: it applies exactly the same to both terrestrial kings and the king of the gods, Indra.

5. Conclusions

We are thus left with three mechanisms of abridgement that Jinadāsa employs with respect to Raviṣeṇa’s earlier narrative. First, and most broadly, Jinadāsa reformulates the structure of the text as a whole by amending the content of individual chapters, or parvas, within it. By subsuming individual, discreet parvas in Raviṣeṇa’s text into broader chapters in his own, Jinadāsa frames the narrative as a whole as one primarily concerned with and driven by the timley progression of the plot. Within these broader, more inclusive chapters, Jinadāsa further consolidates Raviṣeṇa’s text in two ways. First, he limits the amount of content that he takes from Raviṣeṇa’s text, oftentimes discarding anything seemingly too complex, repetitive, or unnecessary to further the action of the episode. We saw this in each of the three examples discussed above: Jinadāsa discards Raviṣeṇa’s nuanced discussion of dharma in the episode with Anantabala, the exhaustive list of Kaikeyī’s artistic proficiencies, and the complex, poetically beautiful description of Mount Kailāśa. Third, at the level of literary style, Jinadāsa replaces the complex hypotaxis of Raviṣeṇa’s Sanskrit with simplified parataxis. That is to say, not only does Jinadāsa limit the actual amount of content he draws from Raviṣeṇa’s text, he chooses to present information he does include in a grammatically and stylistically simpler way. All three of these mechanisms, I argue, work together to intentionally speed up the pace of the narrative, to transform Raviṣeṇa’s kāvya into an ākhyāna, and thus, in Jinadāsa’s own language, to make the text clear.
It is important that we take this analysis one step further; it is not enough simply to point out that Raviṣeṇa’s and Jinadāsa’s texts belong to different traditional literary genres. The importance of this analysis lies in the fact that these two literary genres anticipate different consumers. Raviṣeṇa’s kāvya anticipates a reader of high literary taste and knowledge of the courtly poetic tradition. Only a sahṛdaya—the learned man, or connoisseur—is capable of fully appreciating, and of being edified by, the virtues of poetry. Such a connoisseur would most likely have been located in a royal court. Such an idea is not unprecedented, as scholars know that other pre-modern Jain authors were active participants in the courts of pre-modern South Asia. Jinasena, for instance, was a minister in the court of the Rāṣṭrakūṭa king Amoghavarṣa and is believed to have converted the ruler to Jainism.36 Hemacandra, too, was an active member of a royal court; he advised the twelfth-century Caulukya ruler Kumārapāla in Gujarat.37 Thus, it is highly possible that Raviṣeṇa himself was located in a courtly setting and that members of the court—Jain and non-Jain alike—constituted the anticipated audience for his kāvya Padmapurāṇa. In contrast, the edificatory process of the ākhyāna rests in the mere comprehension of word and meaning. In the case of Jinadāsa, one must be knowledgeable of Sanskrit, of course, to understand the story and be able to follow it to its conclusion, in which Rāma and Sītā both renounce the world and become Digambara ascetics. What audience, then, does Jinadāsa’s text anticipate? I argue that it is the group of learned, temple-based Digambara brahmacārins, paṇḍitas, and bhaṭṭārakas, men educated in Sanskrit and yet outside of the realm of the court. These men serviced local communities of lay Jains, acting as ritual specialists and religious and political advisors. This milieu did not require appreciation for or instruction via poetics, and I argue, therefore, that Jinadāsa’s ākhyāna Padmapurāṇa reflects these socially determined expectations.
To return to the larger topic of the present volume, that of new directions in the study of Jains and Jainism, what this paper has demonstrated is the clear diversity present within the history and lineages of Jain Rāma composition. Jain Rāma stories not only provide diverse perspectives to examining the larger, pan-South-Asian Rāma narrative tradition as a whole;38 the history of Jain Rāma composition was itself a diverse tradition, and much can be gleaned from understanding that diversity. There is, moreover, much future work to be done on this subject. Jinadāsa himself, for instance, wrote another Rāma story, the Rām Rās (“The Story of Rām”), in the local vernacular language (bhāṣā) of the Vāgaḍ region.39 Additional authors, too, wrote vernacular versions of the Rāma story during the early modern period.40 How, scholars might ask, does a change in the language of composition affect the Rāma story’s modes of presentation and moral edification? What can be said in the local language that cannot be said in the cosmopolitan language of Sanskrit, and vice versa? How can examining Jain diglossic literary production contribute to the larger field of the emergence of bhāṣā religious literature in South Asian during early modernity? All of these questions, and I am sure more, are open to scholars who are willing to engage seriously with Jain narrative material.


This research builds on a PhD thesis funded by the Harvard University Committee on the Study of Religion and the Shraman Organization’s 2016 Jinendra Varni Dissertation Summer Research Fellowship.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


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The work is sometimes titled Rāmcaritra (“The Deeds of Rām”).
As none of Jinadāsa’s works have been edited and published, including his Padmapurāṇa, this paper is based on three manuscripts (two complete, one incomplete) of the Padmapurāṇa housed in the Āmer Śāstra Bhaṇḍār in Jaipur and scanned during the summer of 2015.
On the history of Rāma narratives by Jain authors, see Bhayani (1983), De Clercq (2005) and Kulkarni (1990). For a history of Jain Rāma narratives composed and circulated specifically in Gujarat, see Joshi (1995).
The major exception to this trend is the famous twelfth-century Śvetāmbara polymath Hemacandra. See below for more details.
See, for one example of this, the work of Jaini (2010b).
There is evidence that this trend in literary condensation was not limited to Jain authors. Bangha (2014, pp. 367–68) points out that the fifteenth-century poet Viṣṇudās from Gwalior composed a vernacular (bhāṣā) Rāmāyan that simultaneously “invoked Valmiki’s Sanskrit Rāmāyaṇa as a model,” and “reproduce[d] the techniques of condensation and omission that are typical of oral performances and composition”. It is important to note, however, that the mechanisms for and impetuses behind condensing a narrative may differ according to the language of composition: cosmopolitan (Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Apabhramsha) or vernacular bhāṣā.
Building from the work of Granoff (1993), Chojnacki (2018a, pp. 1207–8) specifically argues that the emergence of paper as a mode of knowledge transmission, particularly as opposed to oral transmission from master to student, may at least in part account for the popularity of such narrative epitomes.
For an overview of the state of Digambara monastic communities in late-medieval and early modern north India, see Detige (forthcoming) and Joharāpurakara (1958). To those conversant in Hindi, the gaṇa’s name of “Balātkāra” is likely surprising, given its meaning of “using violence” or “employing force”. Padmanabh Jaini (2017) argues that the original name was balakāra, derived from the Sanskrit valayakāra, which refers to some who makes and sells bangles. There was a large community of Jain bangle-makers in Karntaka in the tenth century; munis from this community may have traveled north, retaining the title balakāra. The name later become balātkāra, Jaini argues, after a fourteenth-century debate between Digambaras and Śvetāmbaras, during which the Digambara monk Padmanandi used the powers (balātkāra) of mantra to make a stone statute of Sarasvatī speak. This, the group become known as the Balātkāra gaṇa and, at least in the north, the original bangle-related meaning of the name disappeared.
Kāstūrcand Kāslīvāl (1967, p. 23) dates Jinadāsa’s birth to 1388, based on the fact that the Sakalakīrtinu Rās places Sakalakīrti’s birth in 1386. Premcand Rāṃvkā (1980, p. 13) collates other scholars’ hypotheses as to Jinadāsa’s date of birth: Paṇḍit Hīrālāl Śāstrī places it in 1380 and Bihārī Lāl Jain places it in 1368.
For an overview of purāṇas in Jain literature, including the place of Rāma narratives in that history, see Cort (1993).
His immediate teacher’s name was Lakṣmaṇasena, whose teacher was Arhanmuni, whose teacher was Divākara Yati, whose teacher was Indraguru. Raviṣeṇa 123, 167.
Uddyotanasūri wrote the Kuvalayamāla in Jalor, in southeast Rajasthan. Jinasena composed his Harivaṃśapurāṇa in Gujarat, not too far away from Jalor, but Jaṭāsiṃhanandi is thought to have composed the Varāṅgacaritra in Karnataka.
For the first two authors, see Śukla (1974, p. 11). For Dundas, see Dundas (2002, p. 239).
There may be some clues in the Padmapurāṇa itself; for instance, in the eighteenth parva he describes the Vindhya mountain range as being “completely devoid of water” (Raviṣeṇa 18, 39). This depiction of the mountains is similar to that found in other South Indian poetry, and it is something that Jinadāsa changes, instead saying the mountains are indeed replete with water (Jinadāsa 15, 41). We know that Jinadāsa is from north of the Vindhyas, so perhaps Raviṣeṇa’s description of the mountain range did not make sense to him.
Raviṣeṇa 1, 1–2. Jinadāsa 1, 1–2. siddhaṃ sampūrṇabhavyārthaṃ siddeḥ kāraṇamuttamaṃ | praśastadarṣanajñānacāritrapratipādinam || surendramukuṭāśliṣṭapādapadmāṁśukeśaram | praṇamāmi mahāvīraṃ lokatritayamaṅgalam ||.
Jinadāsa 1, 65. tadvākyaracanāṃ prāpya | mayātra kriyate sphuṭaṃ | granthaḥ kathāmukhenātra | vidanti manujā yathā ||.
In the verse I translate kathāmukhena as “with an introduction” because immediately following this verse Jinadāsa goes on to provide an overview of the major plot points of the story.
In many Jain versions of the Rāma story, including both Raviṣeṇa’s and Jinadāsa’s, Rāvaṇa is portrayed as a devout Jain who suffers from the singular flaw of unchecked passion.
More commonly known as Kumbhakarṇa.
Raviṣeṇa 14, 18–26. karmaṇāṣṭaprakāreṇa santatena nirādinā | baddhenāntarhitātmīyaśaktirbhrāmyati cetanaḥ || subhūrilakṣasaṃkhyāsu yoniṣvanubhavansadā | vedanīyaṃ yathopāttaṃ nānākaraṇasaṃbhavam || rakto diṣṭo ’thavā mūḍho mandamadhyavipākataḥ | kulālacakravatprāptacaturgativivartanaḥ || budhyate svahitaṃ nāsau jñānāvaraṇakarmaṇā | manuṣyatāmapi prāpto ‘tyantadurlabhasaṃgamām || rasasparśaparigrāhihṛṣīkavaśatāṃ gatāḥ | kṛtvātininditaṃ karma pāpabhāragurūkṛtāḥ || anekopāyasambhūtamahāduḥkhavidhāyini | patanti narake jīvā grāvāṇa iva vāriṇi || mātaraṃ pitaraṃ bhrātṝn sutāṃ patnīṃ suhṛjjanān | dhanādicoditāḥ kecid viśvaninditamānasāḥ || garbhastānarbhakān vṛddhāṃstaruṇān yoṣito narāḥ | ghnanti kecinmahākrūrā mānuṣān pakṣiṇo mṛgān || sthalajān jalajān dharmacyutacittāḥ kumedhasaḥ | mītvā patanti te sarve narake puruvedane ||.
Raviṣeṇa 14, 71.
Another name for Anantabala.
Jinadāsa 12, 110–121. svāmī tato ‘nantavīryaḥ | karūṇākomalāśayaḥ | jagau tatvārthasanmiśraṃ | vacaḥ sarvapriyaṃ hitaṃ || karmaṇāṣṭavidhenāṃgī | bhrāmyamāṇo bhavāṭavīm | prāpnoti bhūrilakṣāsu | duḥkhaṃ yoniṣu saṃtataṃ || kulālacakravanmūḍho | bhramannātmahitaṃ kvacit | jñānāvaraṇasaṃvīto | na vetti matimohataḥ || manuṣyatvamapi prāpya | durlabhaṃ cākṣanirjitāḥ | pāpakarmavidhāyāṃ te | patanti śvabhrasaṃkaṭe || śubhena karmaṇā saukhyaṃ | duḥkhaṃ cāśubhakarmaṇā | śubhāśubhavihīnastu | jīvo yāti śivālayaṃ || pataṃtaṃ durgatau jīvaṃ | yato dhārayati kṣaṇāt | dharma ityucyate tasmāt | vibudhairbāṃdhavopamaḥ || saudharmādidivaṃ yānti dharmataḥ sukhamaṃdiraṃ | nānāvimānasaṃchannaṃ | divyanārīsukhānvitaṃ || sukhanāmāpi yannūnaṃ | śrūyate sarvavallabhaṃ | ūrdhvādhomadhyaloke ca dharmāttannānyathā nṛpa || dātā yaśasvān bhoktā ca yaḥ sadā bhṛtyarakṣitaḥ | nṛpatirjāyate vānyastaddharmadrumajaṃ phalam || bhanukti saukhyamindro ‘pi | surānīkaiśca sevitaḥ | śacyā saha manojātaṃ | taddharmadrumajaṃ phalaṃ || ye hatvā mohamallaṃ ca | ratnatrayasitāyudhaiḥ | prāpnuvantīha yanmokṣam | śuddhadharmaphalaṃ mahat || mānuṣyameva prāpyātra | dharmaṃ kṛtvā yathocitaṃ | phalaṃ svargādijaṃ sarvaṃ | labhyate prāṇadhāribhiḥ ||.
Raviṣeṇa 24, 67–69. ceṣṭopakaraṇaṃ vāṇī kalāvyatyasanaṃ tathā | krīḍā caturvidhā proktā tatra ceṣṭā śarīrajā || kandukādi tu vijñeyaṃ tatropakaraṇaṃ bahu | vākkrīḍanaṃ punarnānā subhāṣitasamudbhavam | nānādurodaranyāsaḥ kalāvyatyasanaṃ smṛtam | krīḍāyāṃ bahubhedāyāmasyāṃ sātyantakovidā ||.
Jinadāsa 19, 73–77. kanyā cābhūnmahāramyā | śubhalakṣaṇalakṣitā | kalānāṃ paramāpannā | sarvāsāṃ kekayābhidhā|| nṛtyagītādikuśalā citravyavahṛtau tathā | bhedānāṃbuddhimāptānāṃ | vividhānāṃ pravedinī || kovidā rasavatyāṃ ca | navāyāṃ parīkṣaṇe | vastūnāṃ mānakarme ca | cikitsitavidhau nṛpa || mantrauṣadhādīndrajālakriyāyāṃ śāstradakṣiṇā |ityādyāḥ sā satkalāṣca dadhāra nayakovidā || kalārūpaguṇodbhūtā | tasyāḥ kīrttirmahītale | śuśubhe svena rūpeṇa | jayanti śriyamapyaho ||.
Raviṣeṇa 22, 170–176. vapurdaśaratho lebhe navayauvanabhūṣitam | śailakūṭamivottuṅgaṃ nānākumu[d]abhūṣitam || athāmṛtaprabhāvāyāmutpannāṃ varayoṣiti | darbhasthalapureśasya cāruvibhramadhāriṇaḥ || rājñaḥ sukośalākhyasya tanayāmaparājitām | upayeme sa ratyāpi strīguṇairaparājitām || puramasti mahāramyaṃ nāmnā kamalasaṃkulam | subandhutilakastasya rājā mitrāsya bhāminī || duhitā kaikeyī nāma tayoḥ kanyā guṇānvitā | muṇḍamālā kṛtā yasyā netrendīvaramālayā || mitrāyā janitā yasmāt suceṣṭā rūpaśālinī | sumitreti tataḥ khyātiṃ bhuvane samupāgatā || mahārājasutāmanyāṃ prāpāsau suprabhāśrutim | lāvaṇyasaṃpadā bālāṃ janayantīṃ śriyastrapām ||.
Raviṣeṇa 9, 112–113. nānādhātusamākīrṇaṃ gaṇairyuktaṃ sahasraśaḥ | suvarṇaghaṭanāramyaṃ padapaṅktibhirācitam || prakṛtyanugatairyuktaṃ vikārairvilasaṃyutam | svarairbahuvidhaiḥ pūrṇaṃ labdhavyākaraṇopamam||.
Raviṣeṇa 9, 114–125. tīkṣṇaiḥ śikharasaṃghātaiḥ khaṇḍayantamivāmbaram | utsarpacchīkaraiḥ spaṣṭaṃ hasantamiva nirjharaiḥ || makarandasurāmattamadhuvrataparaidhitam | śālaughavitatākāśaṃ nānānokahasaṃkulam|| sarvartujamanohārikusumādimirācitam | caratpramodavatsattvasahasrasaduptyakam || auṣadhatrāsadūrasthavyālajālasamākulam | manohareṇa gandhena dadhataṃ yauvanaṃ sadā || śilāvistīrṇahṛdayaṃ sthūlavṛkṣamahābhujam | guhāgambhīravadanamapūrvapuruṣākṛtim || śaratpayodharākārataṭasaṃghātasaṃkaṭam | kṣīreṇeva jagatsarvaṃ kṣālayantaṃ karotkaraiḥ || kvacidviśrabdhasaṃsuptamṛgādhipadarīmukham | kvacitsuptaśayuśvāsavātāghūrṇitapādapam || kvacitparisarakrīḍatkuraṅgakakadambakam | kvacinmattadvipavrātakalitādhityakāvanam || kvacitpulakitākāraṃ prasūnaprakarācitam | kvacidṛikṣasaṭābhārairuddhatairbhīṣaṇākṛtim || kvacitpadmavaneneva yuktaṃ śākhāmṛgānanaiḥ | kvacitkhaḍgikṣatasyandisālādisurabhīkṛtam || kvacidvidyullatāśliṣṭasaṃbhavadghanasaṃtatim | kvaciddivākarākāraśikharoddyotitāmbaram || pāṇḍukasyeva kurvāṇaṃ vijigīṣāṃ kvacidvanaiḥ | surabhiprasavottuṅgavistīrṇaghanapādapaiḥ ||.
Jinadāsa 10, 95. vicitradhātusaṃkīrṇaṃ gahanaṃ svarasaṃyutaṃ | adhīrāṇāṃ ca duḥprekṣyaṃ yadvadvyākaraṇaṃ nṛṇām||.
Raviṣeṇa 14, 24–25. For the Sanskrit, see note 23 above.
Jinadāsa 12, 114. śubhena karmaṇā saukhyaṃ | duḥkhaṃ cāśubhakarmaṇā | śubhāśubhavihīnastu | jīvo yāti śivālayaṃ ||.
Jinadāsa 12, 118–119. dātā yaśasvān bhoktā | ca yaḥ sadā bhṛtyarakṣitaḥ | nṛpatirjāyate vānyaḥ | taddharmadrumajaṃ phalaṃ ||bhanukti saukhyamindro ‘pi | surānīkaiśca sevitaḥ | śacyā saha manojātaṃ | taddharmadrumajaṃ phalaṃ ||.
See Clines (2018).
See, for instance, Plau (2018) and his contribution to this volume.

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Clines, G.M. So That It Might Become Clear: The Methods and Purposes of Narrative Abridgement in Early Modern Jain Purāṇic Composition. Religions 2019, 10, 355.

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Clines GM. So That It Might Become Clear: The Methods and Purposes of Narrative Abridgement in Early Modern Jain Purāṇic Composition. Religions. 2019; 10(6):355.

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