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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 ’10: Nature in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual.
Volume 4, No. 1 (2010)
To the Memory of Joanna Kusio

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)
Chettiarthodi 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. Ulrike Niklas (Universität Köln a. R.)
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) 2010
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.

  • In memoriam Joanna Kusio
  • Joanna Kusio: The image of the mountains in kuṟavañci poems
  • Natalia Świdzińska: Idealized landscape of South Indian temple
  • Jacek Woźniak: Ceṅkaṇmāl and kaṭṭuvicci in Tirumaṅkaiyāḻvār’s Ciṟiya tirumaṭal. A Few Remarks
  • Jaroslav Vacek: The tiger in Sangam literature – select images and textual properties
  • Jean-Luc Chevillard: A tree-guided tour of the Eḻuttatikāram
  • Giuliano Boccali, Tiziana Pontillo: The background of the samastavastuviṣayarūpaka and its importance in early kāvya
  • Daniela Rossella: The Ratimañjarī by Jayadeva
  • Stephania Cavaliere: Some applications of precepts about the description of the moon in the Rāmacandrikā of Keśavadāsa
  • Dagmar Marková: Another Aspect of the Landscape of Devakīnandan Khatrī’s Candrakāntā
  • Oliwer Hellwig: The Arrangement of Plant Names in Sanskrit Dictionaries
  • Petr Holman: O. Březina’s Galium
  • Adalbert Gail: Liṅgodbhava in Cambodia. Brahmā and the case of the mendacious Pandanus flower
  • Colour Pictures
Joanna Kusio In memoriam Joanna Kusio


The image of the mountains in kuṟavañci poems
Joanna Kusio, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

Mountains have always occupied an important place in Tamil cultural tradition. They must have played a significant role in the life and imagination of the Tamils. Younger (2002, p. 17) observes that: “Probably at one time a large percentage of the population in South India and Śri Lanka actually lived in the mountains, where the tropical forests contain a wide variety of animals and are still rich in natural fruit and root produce.” In the later period, he adds (ibid., p. 17): “The mountainous region continued to play a minor role in the economy as a supplier of raw materials, but its most important role was as a symbolic reminder of the social origins and roots out of which the South Indian understanding of human experience developed. For all of South India and Śri Lanka, the mountains continue to represent freedom and naturalness, or the liberating anti-structure that stands against the highly structured society in the more heavily populated areas.” According to Varadarajan (1969, p. 203), “In Tamilnad, the mountain ranges are never out of sight and it is the mountain scenery which many of the poets paint with special interest.” The present paper is an attempt at presenting how they were visualised by the authors of kuṟavañci poems.

An Idealized Landscape of a South Indian Temple
Natalia Świdzińska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

The article deals with the symbolism of the elements associated with nature i.e. stone / rock / mountain, water and tree in a South Indian temple in the context of the Tamil talapurāṇas (ancient [stories/myths] about [sacred] places). Talapurāṇas can be found in most of the temples in Tamil Nadu, particularly the important ones, and are also popular and commonly known by their devotees. These stories correlate the localization of the pan-Indian myths with particular South Indian temples. The article, after presenting the introduction on the symbolical elements of nature in temples, deliberates on their appearance in different talapurāṇas, concluding with thoughts on their importance and consequences for Dravidian culture and identity.

Ceṅkaṇmāl and kaṭṭuvicci in Tirumaṅkaiyāḻvār’s Ciṟiya tirumaṭal. A Few Remarks
Jacek Woźniak, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

The female fortune-teller known as kuṟatti or kuṟavañci is a well-known figure of late mediaeval Tamil literature, especially important in the poems belonging to the genres of kuṟam and kuṟavañci. Female divination is a motif present also in earlier Tamil literature, especially in Old Tamil caṅkam poetry, where the fortune-teller is generally called by the name of kaṭṭuvicci. Kaṭṭuvicci and the motif of divination occur also in the hymns of the āḻvārs from the post-caṅkam era. One of these poems is the Ciṟiya tirumaṭal by Tirumaṅkaiyāḻvār. Its heroine, after seeing an unknown man, feels love-sick and kaṭṭuvicci is asked to perform rituals to cure her. She recognizes that man as Viṣṇu. The whole poem is an allegorical image of the soul wishing to get united with its beloved God. The article presents the hero and heroine and in addition interprets – in terms of Śrīvaiṣṇava theology – riding a maṭal as a practice of bhakti, kāmanōy as a prapatti, and tries to show a kaṭṭuvicci as an embodiment of Goddess Śrī.

The tiger in Sangam literature – select images and textual properties
Jaroslav Vacek, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

This paper is another contribution to the description of fauna in Sangam poetry. It provides a picture of the ‘tiger’ derived from the analysis of the individual texts describing the tiger’s behaviour and other properties. The tiger belongs to the more frequently occurring animals in the Sangam texts, under two names – puli (148x) and uḻuvai (19x), besides a few metaphorical applications of the vēṅkai flower, to which it has a similar colour and thus the flower is occasionally mistaken for a tiger. Besides realistic descriptions of the tiger and its role in nature, there are a few symbolical uses of the tiger as well (see below). There are a certain number of formulas, which are used with reference to the tiger, some of which are exclusively applied to the tiger, while others are more generally used. A systematic survey of the most typical formulas, some relatively very frequent, is presented in the final Table. All this sums up new material useful for a deeper understanding of Old Tamil Sangam stylistics.

A tree-guided tour of the Eḻuttatikāram
Jean-Luc Chevillard, CNRS University Paris Diderot (Paris 7), France

Tree-related vocabulary figures prominently inside the TE (Eḻuttatikāram of the Tolkāppiyam), an ancient treatise dealing with the phonetics and morphophonology of Tamil, but attempting a complete botanical identification of that vocabulary is a difficult task (not attempted here). This article, examining how the individual items inside that vocabulary are dealt with, and how their treatment fits in with the global organization of the TE, aims at providing insights on the nature of those items. They are not basically free forms, but bound forms (or stems), to be concatenated with other elements, in order to obtain the attested linguistic forms, at the end of a derivational process of which the TE is the explicit formulation. This in turns provides an insight into the way the first grammatical description of Tamil was made, probably on the basis of an analysis of existing complex expressions. The language, having thus been analysed and equipped with a grammar, was then on its way to becoming a normalized language, more suitable for literary expression than a language without a grammar. Later grammarians would elaborate on that first step, in a long “domestication” process of language by grammar, the results of which are still visible today, whenever the tamed centamiḻ standard is preferred over more spontaneous dialectal usages.

The background of the samastavastuviṣayarūpaka and its importance in early kāvya
Giuliano Boccali, University of Milan and Tiziana Pontillo, University of Cagliari, Italy

This paper aims at reconstructing some steps in the evolution of the rūpaka- as a key figure in traditional ancient Indian poetry within the framework of broader research in progress on the genesis of classical literature. The starting-point is the importance that both texts – which must have constituted the beginning of kāvya-tradition and the most ancient technical definitions of rūpaka – seem to attribute to the samastavastuviṣayarūpaka-s. As a working hypothesis, the recurring occurrences of the epic and kāvya works have been examined as a final stage in the continuous slow evolution of a similar intellectual attitude towards a reality which crosses ritual, speculative and finally poetical contexts, whose technical formulation could be informative about the date and the milieu of the origin of kāvya.

The Ratimañjarī by Jayadeva
Daniela Rossella, University of Potenza, Italy

The Ratimañjarī attributed to Jayadeva, presented here for the first time in English translation from Sanskrit, is a short poem in sixty stanzas (it does not include parts in prose): it is devoted to describing different types of men and women in an erotic milieu and different ways of making love. In writing his taxonomy, the author draws strong inspiration from the natural world: flowers, plants and animals suggest to him his suggestive nomenclature, which allows the reader to penetrate the labyrinth of sex in an accurate and detailed way. Unlike other treatises on kāma, which usually devote much attention to the context and to the social life of their public, and which tirelessly stress the primacy of the dharma on the other puruṣārthas, this work exclusively focuses on the erotic side of the relations between men and women. Probably written in favour of an exclusively male audience, the text pays much attention to female pleasure: here women are never described as girlfriends, wives or courtesans, but only as partners more or less designed for giving pleasure to men, and at the same time to be completely satisfied by him. Without doubt, the Ratimañjarī is a paean of passion and pleasure which – as Jayadeva seems to suggest to us – all creatures of the triloka deserve to enjoy.

Some applications of precepts about the description of the moon in the Rāmacandrikā of Keśavadāsa
Stefania Cavaliere, University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy

The paper takes into account the descriptions of the moon made by the Hindi poet Keśavadāsa in his Kavipriyā and Rāmacandrikā. Respecting the traditional poetic features prescribed by alaṅkāraśāstra, Keśavadāsa uses descriptions not only as elements functional to the story he is narrating, but as the main opportunity for showing his poetic skill. By analyzing such a topic, we can see how the poet employs structural features like dialogues, descriptions, etc. as though they were a means of increasing the aesthetic emotion he intends to arouse in the reader. We can say, therefore, that in Keśavadāsa’s works form and substance are indivisibly intermingled. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that referring to the description of the moon the author uses exactly the same words in both works, maybe because he believes himself to have found the finest way to make a poetic description of the moon.

One Aspect of the Landscape of Devakīnandan Khatrī’s Candrakāntā
Dagmar Marková, Oriental Institute, Prague, Czech Republic

Nature as depicted by Devakīnandan Khatrī in his fantastic Hindi novel Candrakāntā, published first in 1888, is full of steep slopes and dark caves. Though beautiful, it is as full of treacherous snags and of uncertainty as Khatrī’s time was: any beauty is only on loan, a menace can be hidden behind any beauty. The motif of a light at the end of a tunnel appears again and again, but that may be a delusion. The recurrent motif of darkness, of inaccessible mountains, of caves and narrow tunnels fits into the picture of the post-uprising mental world of a North Indian towards the end of the 19th century.

The Arrangement of Plant Names in Sanskrit Dictionaries
Oliver Hellwig, Universität Heidelberg, Germany

Although plant dictionaries (Nighaṇṭus) are crucial for understanding the botanical terminology of Sanskrit texts and especially of medical works, there is no detailed study examining the systematics that were used to organize these works. The paper investigates which principles guide the arrangement of plant names in the Guḍūcyādivarga of the Rājanighaṇṭu and whether their arrangement can be helpful in identifying unknown or questionable items mentioned in this chapter.

O. Březina’s Galium
Petr Holman, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Highly valued poetry, philosophical essays and extensive collected letters (just published for the first time as a whole) of the leading personality of Czech Symbolism Otokar Březina (* 1868 in Počátky – † 1929 in Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou) is very well-known to the literary and cultural world. Much less known is the poet’s ‘inexplicable bent’ for Our Lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum Linn.), a flower extensively growing in his favourite places in the West of Moravia. The main aim of this article is to outline the symbolism, practical usage and meaning of Galium verum in Březina’s art and life.

Liṅgodbhava in Cambodia. Brahmā and the case of the mendacious Pandanus flower.
Adalbert J. Gail, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

An amusing legend, reported by the Śiva- and the Skandapurāṇa, enlarges the traditional Purāṇic story about Śiva’s appearance as a flaming liṅga. Brahmā who failed to explore the upper surface of the liṅga makes Pandanus/Ketakī witness of this lie to the gods that his effort was successful. Śiva punishes Ketakī by excluding her from his cult.

In contrast to all Indian versions the pictorial realisation of the story in the Buddhist Bayon temple – the textual basis of which seems to be the Śivapurāṇa – is distributed on two walls of a small chamber. The first panel reports the myth, including the ketakī episode, the second one celebrates Śiva’s dancing triumph over Brahmā and Viṣṇu (Fig. 9).

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