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Pandanus is a biannual peer-reviewed international journal publishing original research papers in English on nature symbolism in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual. It has a regional focus on South Asia but welcomes papers from other regions. The journal is the outcome of the Pandanus project, based at the Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies, Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. Pandanus volumes started coming out in 1998 on an annual basis as a result of co-operation between three Universities ... please click here to read the full text of Pandanus Mission Statement.

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Pandanus ’09: Nature in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual.
Volume 3, No. 2 (2009)
To the Memory of Kamil V. Zvelebil

Editor-in-chief: Jaroslav Vacek
Deputy Editor: Martin Hříbek
Members of the Editorial Board:
Giuliano Boccali (University of Milano, Italy)
Alexander Dubianski (University of Moscow, Russia)
Adalbert J. Gail (Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany)
Oldřich Král (Charles University in Prague)
Dagmar Marková (Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
Chettiarhodi Rajendran (University of Calicut, Kerala, India)
Danuta Stasik (University of Warsaw, Poland)
Lidia Sudyka (Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland)
Eva Wilden (EFEO, Paris, France)
Gyula Wojtilla (University of Szeged, Hungary)
Reviewed by Prof. Emanuela Panattoni (University of Pisa)
and Prof. Oldřich Král (Charles University in Prague)
English correction: Dr. Mark Corner, formerly lecturer at Charles University, presently HUB University, Brussels
Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies
Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague
Celetná 20, 116 42 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Publisher: Stanislav Juhaňák - TRITON
First edition, Praha (Prague) 2009
ISSN 1802-7997
(Registration number of MK ČR) E 17677
The publication of this journal was financially supported by the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic as a part of the Research Project No. MSM0021620824, “The Foundations of Modern World in the Mirror of Literature and Philosophy”, a project of the Faculty of Philosophy, Charles University in Prague.

  • Literary Images – Interpretations
    • Tiziana Pontillo: Late Vedic rupakas based on nature imagery: Ritual identifications as a sort of alamkara-pattern
    • Daniela Rossella: Nature and inner peace in the Theragathas
    • Paola M. Rossi: The forest of meditation: The poetry of the paradoxical connotation in the Buddhist Theragathas
    • Chettiarthodi Rajendran: The snow did not destroy his glory – Kalidasa’s perceptions of Himalaya
    • Giuliano Boccali: Sattasai, between nature and court poetry
    • Eva Wilden: Fidelity worthy of mullai: Meta-poetic games in Sangam poetry
  • Animate Nature
    • Elena Mucciarelli: Non-realistic image of animals in the Rgvedasanhita: a glance into the hymns of Dirghatamas (RV 1.140–164)
    • Anna Trynkowska: Army elephants on the march in early Sanskrit mahakavya literature and one stylistic device
    • Jaroslav Vacek: Cow (a, an) in Sangam literature – select properties and formulas
    • Ulrike Niklas: Callikkattu – the Tamil form of tauromachy
  • Human Body
    • Dagmar Marková: Two Hindi women writers on a very intimate theme: rajasvala
    • Hana Waisserová: Body, nature and roots in Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’: Bodily trauma, and abjection as defining “Eastern” subjectivity and rootedness
  • Review Section
    • Danuta Stasik, The infinite Story. The Past and Present of the Ramayanas in Hindi.
    • Sigfried Lienhard & Giuliano Boccali, Poesia indiana classica.


Late Vedic rupakas based on nature imagery: Ritual identifications as a sort of alamkara-pattern
Tiziana Pontillo, University of Cagliari, Italy

The hypothesis according to which “many of the Vedic identifications might be understood as metaphors” was already advanced thirty years ago. The fresh approach of this paper consists in verifying a supposed cultural and technical connection of the earliest conceptualizing of the rupaka as an extended homology with the ritual and speculative procedures of substitution, rearranged by the Vedanga and Darśana-traditions. The structure of some late Vedic passages based on nature imagery is compared with the most ancient śastra-definitions of this alamkara, by paying special attention to the relationship between the whole and its parts. To theVarttika of Katyayana is attributed the value of being a source of inspiration to the alamkaraśastra-writers for the exceptional role accredited to the upamana inside the rupaka.

Nature and inner peace in the Theragathas
Daniela Rossella, University of Potenza, Italy

The first and principal aim of my paper is to list the natural phenomena and the animals taken into consideration by the Theragathas, with particular attention to those associated with monks’ spirituality. In fact, the presence of nature in the Monks’ Stanzas is considerable; it appears both as a scenario of monastic life, and in the framework of similes or tropes intended to depict it, the Buddhist faith and the Enlightened himself. Moreover, since the text of the Theragathas is universally considered to be the most important forerunner of the kavya proper, I would like to suggest some preliminary hypotheses regarding the existence, at the time when “the literature as a form of art” originated, of the “calmed rasa”.

The forest of meditation: The poetry of the paradoxical connotation in the Buddhist Theragathas
Paola M. Rossi, University of Milan, Italy

This paper aims at analyzing the poetical devices of the Buddhist Theragathas, focusing attention on the antithetical and paradoxical stylistic structures, especially on the compounds in -kama. The starting point is the famous article of Professor Lienhard, Sur la structure poétique des Theratherigatha (1975), in which “tension” is considered the core of the new Buddhist poetry. Here, such a concept is highlighted and extended through some considerations about the use of punning in the Buddha’s teaching, so that a poetry of paradoxical double meaning is outlined. Moreover, the new Buddhist poetry of paradoxical connotation seems to be not only a device to parody the profane and “courtoise” world, in order to stigmatize its mundane values, and the Brahmanical tradition, the religious “rival” of the Buddhism, but also a means to avoid every dogmatic assertion, as representation of the paradoxical inconsistency of existence itself. Such an awareness results from the meditative process, which constitutes the main subject of the bhikkhus’ poems. Therefore, the new Buddhist poetry represents the path of meditation itself, which implies both an ethical attitude and a cognitive approach.

“The snow did not destroy his glory” – Kalidasa’s perceptions of Himalaya
Chettiarthodi Rajendran, University of Calicut, Kerala, India

The present paper is an attempt to investigate the mythological and geographical features of Himalaya in Kalidasa’s poetry and to unravel the cultural context in which the great mountain is located in the imagination of the poet. The paper will address such questions as the sources utilized by Kalidasa in his portrayal of the mythical elements, the factual accuracy of the descriptions of the geographical features of the mountain, the common elements of the description in Kalidasa’s different works and the overall emotive dimension of the descriptions. It can be seen that of the main descriptions from the pen of Kalidasa, the one we find in Kumarasambhava, the longest one of the three, is centred on the mythical and physical aspects of the great mountain which, apart from being the location of the story is also a character in the story. In Meghasandeśa, Himalaya serves as a fine resting place for the cloud in his onward journey slightly further northwards, to reach Alaka on its slopes. In stark contrast with these two descriptions, in Raghuvamśa, Himalaya is a place to be conquered by Raghu, set on his victory over all the directions (digvijaya) and hence a hostile terrain. In all these descriptions, Kalidasa brings to the fore the rich biodiversity and uniqueness of Himalaya which has an unparalleled place in his imaginative world.

Sattasai, between nature and court poetry
Giuliano Boccali, University of Milano, Italy

Western scholars have often considered the setting in the countryside to be one of the most characteristic features of Hala’s Sattasai. However, an accurate analysis of the anthology seems to disprove this statement: a minority of the stanzas are explicitly set in the countryside. Furthermore, though hardly anybody has taken into consideration the possibility that setting the gathas in such an environment had some programmatic purpose on the part of the compiler, by both looking at the socio-historical situation at the time of the Sattasai, and valuating the level of formalization of kavya poetry, whose rules were already well established, and the opinion of traditional Indian theoreticians, the role played by the rural setting might be put in quite a different perspective.

Fidelity worthy of mullai: Meta-poetic games in Sangam poetry
Eva Wilden, EFEO/Hamburg University, Germany

Sangam literature went through several successive productive phases which can roughly be characterised as formulaic, referential and self-referential. After an initial stage where themes are associated with formulae (as is typical of an oral tradition), there follows a stage of explicit formulation of conventions (no doubt supported if not initiated by theoretical texts), during which poets overtly submit to rigid regulation while secretly subverting it. The poetic strategy of this stratum is the intertextual reference. This is followed by a stage of self-reflection: tradition turns upon itself, reasserting convention only half in earnest by way of meta-poetic jokes. This is the time of the uyar-tinai uman (KT 224.5), the “uman that is a high-class [noun]”, that is, a dumb man, not an owl, or of mullai canra karpu (for example NA 142.10), a fidelity worthy of jasmine (or mullai tinai ?). The present paper will deal, firstly, with isolated instances of such games in the early anthologies, and secondly with (apparently later) texts whose matrix is inscribed with a meta-poetic attitude, such as AN 122, an exercise in the various reasons that make night trysts a hazardous undertaking, and the Cirupanarruppatai, with its playful repetitions of the Sangam repertoire.

Non-realistic images of animals in the Rgvedasamhita: a glance into the hymns of Dirghatamas (RV 1.140–164)
Elena Mucciarelli, Universita degli Studi, Milano, Italy – Eberhardt Karl Universität, Tübingen, Germany

In many of the Rgvedic hymns ascribed to the rsi Dirghatamas, it seems that the author takes advantage of the whole spectrum of poetic devices in order to obscure, intentionally, the concrete starting point of his verses. Thus the ritual action he is referring to seems to fall apart and everything the actual context involves, including natural elements, loses its organic unity. Within this poetical and visionary structure it is interesting to see how animals enter into his world and how he manages to let us share the vision he has of the nature surrounding him. While hymn 1.162, dealing with the sacrificial horse, is clearly a practical ritual-hymn, hymn 1.163 treats the same subject under a more speculative perspective, and the horse, though always a concrete horse, slips into the shape of the Urpferd, losing the distinctive features of the natural animal.

Army elephants on the march in early Sanskrit mahakavya literature and one stylistic device
Anna Trynkowska, University of Warsaw, Poland

The paper discusses the presentation of elephants in all the fragments of the early Sanskrit court epic poems (till the 7th century AD) that depict an army on the march. As Aśvaghosa’s Buddhacarita and Saundarananda, as well as Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhava, do not contain any such passages, source material for the present study has been collected from the other five – all predominantly heroic – early sargabandhas, namely Kalidasa’s Raghuvamśa, Bharavi’s Kiratarjuniya, Bhatti’s Ravanavadha, Magha’s Śiśupalavadha and Kumaradasa’s Janakiharana. A survey of the physical characteristics and behaviour of elephants shown in the relevant scenes of these poems is followed by some remarks on stylistic devices employed by the authors, among which one particular type of simile is given special attention.

Cow (a, an) in Sangam literature – select properties and formulas
Jaroslav Vacek, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

The cow appears in the Sangam texts relatively very frequently (a 119x, an 50x), mainly in the Kalittokai (41x + 5x), Akananuru (19x + 13x), Purananuru (13x + 9x), Kuruntokai (6x + 10x), Narrinai (10x+5x), Paripatal (13x + zero) and Patirruppattu (10x + 3x). The paper discusses some selective occurrences of the cow in the Sangam texts and the related formulas, besides some of its basic properties and activities (including the provision of its dairy produce). The samples confirm the former finding that the descriptions in Sangam are realistic. There is a basic opposition between village-related descriptions and wilderness-related images (including the killing of cows and eating their meat). There are relatively few formulaic expressions with a higher frequency (pal an 15x; pal a 11x – many cows; nal an 9x; *nal a 0 – good cow) besides some less frequent ones (cetu a 4x; cetu an 1x – red cow; mutu a 4x – old cow; naku a 1x – young cow).

Callikkattu – the Tamil form of tauromachy
Ulrike Niklas, University in Cologne, Germany

This paper focuses on callikkattu, the Tamil form of tauromachy as it appears in classical and folkloristic Tamil literature, and in today’s Tamil culture. The interesting and most important point is that this “ritual sport” has migrated from the cowherd communities (who are not involved in it at all nowadays) to the rather warrior-minded group of the “Mukkulattor” (among them especially the Kallar and Maravar). The paper tries to find reasons for this change in the underlying layer of village religion as well as in specific features of caste culture.

Two Hindi Women Writers on a very intimate theme: rajasvala
Dagmar Marková, Oriental Institute, Prague, Czech Republic

Two Hindi women writers chose a woman’s experience of her natural monthly cycle to represent her position in the family and in society. Sunita Jain chose the seclusion and the restrictions put on the menstruating woman as the most characteristic feature of her deplorable position in a backward family. Citra Mudgal depicts a busy urban working mother who even finds her hygienic and health needs in last place during this short and yet uncomfortable time, from which no woman can be spared. The lives of the two different women are poles apart.

Body, nature and roots in Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’: Bodily trauma, and abjection as defining “Eastern” subjectivity and rootedness
Hana Waisserová, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

This paper is to explore particular narrative deployment of the abject and the traumatic as framed by nature in Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’; it exhibits multiple versions of trauma, memory loss and abjection. It seems trauma is a response to the abject on condition one is rooted and defined by natural and particular local environments. By way of contrast rootedness emphasizes a sense of belonging to a particular cross-cultural moment or imaginary space, which is defined by local nature and local histories. Events, especially the most traumatic ones (such as death, abuse, home violence, illness, etc.) are referred to repeatedly. The traumatic structure of the narrative encourages the reader to interpret the novel via trauma and abjection (by Julia Kristeva). Foregrounded by lush and vivid nature and deep and calm water, traumas occur. Furthermore the natural elements become characteristic of rural “rooted” existence (in contrast to the Western living environments of Rahel) which as if inevitably invites bodily abjection and traumas. Abjection is explored through bodily references, and compared to Freud’s concept of the uncanny. Via trauma and abjection Roy employs rather critical quests for the affirmation of particularity and choice. The paper contributes to interpretations of cultural markers of difference, or otherness; this argument suggests that transcultural osmosis affects social, historical and cultural narrative aspects of new literatures with a dynamics beyond traditional interpretations.

Review Section

Stasik, Danuta, The infinite Story. The Past and Present of the Ramayanas in Hindi. Manohar, New Delhi 2009, 319 pp. ISBN 978-81-7304-815-9. Price 995 Rs. – Annotated by Dagmar Marková.

Lienhard, Sigfried & Boccali, Giuliano, Poesia indiana classica. Marsilio Editori, Venezia 2009, 250 pp. ISBN 978883179607. Annotated by Petr Duda.

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(c) 1998-2016 Seminar of Indian Studies, Institute of South and Central Asia, Faculty of Arts, Charles University.