Printer Friendly

Jagatprakasamallas Muladevasasidevavyakhyananataka.

The geological fact that about thirty thousand years ago the Kathmandu valley was a Pleistocene lake has precipitated a vast literature in especially Sanskrit, Nevari and middle Indo-Aryan languages which deal with the divine or semi-divine origins of this lake and how it came to be transformed into the fertile valley it now is. It is again in danger of being flooded--in many places this has already happened--this time by concrete and cement.

There are essentially two accounts of its origin, a Hindu and a Buddhist one.(1) In the first volume under review, H. Brinkhaus focuses primarily on the Hindu dossier of this legend, since the two accounts are so radically different, concluding that "a textual connection between the older Pauranic traditions of both sides ... cannot be established". Brinkhaus' meticulous and uncanny text-critical skills, already known from previous publications, especially from his work on the Mischkasten, are here brought to bear on the relevant Sanskrit Hindu pauranic literature, which consists of the Vagvatimahatmyaprasamsa, also known as the Pasupatipurana (PasP), the Nepalamahatmya (NepM), which claims to be part of the Himavatkhanda (HimKh), but which is absent in each and every known manuscript of the latter, and the Nepalamahatmya, which in fact does constitute a major portion of the Himavatkhanda. He takes us on a rather involved and at times tortuous, but always fascinating, journey through a text-historical thicket of enormous complexity affecting the transmission of these texts, where he is able to show convincingly that PasP actually consists of two separate texts, of which the second part, the Pasupatipurana proper, was clearly Saiva from the very beginning, while its first section, the Vagvatimahatmyaprasamsa, seems to have been originally conceived as a Vaisnava work, which subsequently underwent a Saiva recoding. On the basis of a detailed comparison of a selection of passages from all three texts (here the influence of P. Hacker's approach to anonymous texts is unmistakable) Brinkhaus comes to the well-nigh inevitable conclusion that both the NepM and the HimKh represent intermediate phases of the process that ultimately led to the welding together of the PasP's two parts. This he does by way of an in-depth examination of those passages that deal with the genesis of the goddess and river Vagvati/Vagmati |= present day Bagmati~ (along which lies the well-known Pasupatinath temple complex) and the narrative of her imprisonment and ultimate liberation which, leading to the draining of the lake, resulted in the Kathmandu valley. His conclusions for the first complex of passages analyzed in "Excursus I" are as follows: The pauranic texts are far from homogeneous, and both Vaisnavas and Saivas were intent to incorporate the origin of Vagmati into their own scheme of things. In connection with the PasP and NepM, for the Vaisnavas, her headwater was Mrgendrasikhara, a Vaisnavatirtha, whereas for the Saivas, it was Sivapuri and, hence, a Saivatirtha. Both texts indicate that the myth of the Vagmati's genesis, probably Saivite in origin, had been given a different direction by the Vaisnavas, whose view of things was then subsequently altered by the Saivas. On the other hand, the narrative of the HimKh version is strictly Saiva in orientation, and no Vaisnava impulses are left.

The story of the draining of the valley, or how the Vagmati was liberated from her imprisonment at the hands of the Daitya king Mahendradamana, the brother of Prabhavati, is considerably more elaborate and is closely tied to the workings of Pradyumna, the son of Krsna and an incarnation of Kama, and Krsna himself, as outlined in the Pradyumnavijaya portions of the PasP and NepM, and the Pradyumnottara of the HimKh. "Excursus II" treats of the "Indian Version of the Pradyumna-Prabhavati Legend in the Harivamsa". Apart from showing the interrelationships of these texts, another tangential, but no less important, result of their study is that it explodes the myth of religious tolerance that allegedly held sway among the different Hindu persuasions in Nepal. To be sure, there is hardly any evidence for outright physical violence between the two religious factions in question. But as is shown by Brinkhaus, the existence of textual aggression is undeniable. He also offers an intriguing suggestion, namely, that there are indications that the Indian account of the Pradyumna-Prabhavati story in the Harivamsa may originally have come from Nepal. He acknowledges that the latter does not mention Nepal, and that, if his "cautiously offered hypothesis" be true, its genesis had also been long forgotten in its putative homeland, for the story's "(renewed) entry" into Nepalese literature went unrecognized.

The second part of the first volume is devoted to a study of "The Pradyumna-Prabhavati legend in the vernacular dramas of the late Malla period," that is, from the seventeenth century to the year 1768, when the Kathmandu valley was conquered by the first Saha king, Prthvi Narayan the Great of Gorkha, and slightly beyond. After a brief survey of the enormous corpus of published and unpublished Nepalese dramatic literature written mainly in Maithili, Bengali, Hindi and Nevari, Brinkhaus places five plays under the magnifying glass--four with an identical title of Prabhavatiharananataka, by the Bhaktapur kings Jagatprakasamalla (r. 1643-72), Bhupatindramalla (r. 1696-1722), Indramalla (r. 1706-9), king of Patan, and Pratapasimha (r. 1775-77), the second Saha king; and Jagatprakasamalla's Pradyumnavijayanataka.

After conveniently encapsulating the results of his study of these pauranic and dramaturgical sources on pp. 155-59, Brinkhaus presents the latter, written in Maithili, in the form of a critical edition and translation on opposite pages, together with annotations, in "Appendix I". Relevant portions of Indramalla's play in Bengali are given in edited and translated form in "Appendix II"; "Appendix III" consists of a translation of a select passage from Pratapasimha's play in Nevari. This well-executed and well-produced book concludes with a bibliography, a map of the Kathmandu valley and indices.

The second volume--this one auf Deutsch--is an offshoot of the author's work on Nepalese vernacular literature, specifically, drama (nataka). It falls essentially into two parts, of which the first is devoted to a discussion of the oldest extant Nevari plays and oeuvre of Jagatprakasamalla, specifically his Muladevasasidevavyakhyananataka. The oldest Nevari text as such dates from the year 1210, and is contained in a Madhavanidana manuscript. Nepalese Sanskrit/Prakrit manuscripts of plays go back to the fourteenth century, whereas the earliest Nepalese manuscript of a play in a Middle Indo-Aryan language--Brinkhaus suspects it is written in "Bhrajabuli"--survives in a recension dated 1441, although its concluding song suggests that it was composed in 1412.

The Kathmandu valley of the seventeenth century witnessed an enormous upsurge in creative writing, and it is from this period that the oldest Nevari plays have come down to us; each and every one of them is attributed to members of the ruling families of the kingdoms of Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. Of these, only Jagatprakasamalla's Muladevasasidevavyakhyananataka, written in Nevari, has been transmitted in a complete form, that is, with dialogue, songs and stage directions. Brinkhaus has written a separate paper on Jagatprakasamalla's extensive "collected oeuvre", written in Maithili, Hindi, and Nevari, although, to my knowledge, it has not yet appeared in print. This king of Bhaktapur was an astonishingly prolific writer if, indeed, all that is attributed to him did in fact flow from his pen. In his discussion of the play, Brinkhaus points out that the third act is of particular interest for Vaisnava-Saiva intersectarian relations. The critical remarks on the edition of this play are followed by the second part of this book, in which we find the actual edition of the Nevari text with a German translation on opposite pages. This is followed by notes to the edition and translation, a bibliography, with more than forty manuscripts filmed by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, and the volume concludes on pp. 177-83 and pp. 184-207 with, respectively, a valuable Nevari word index, where Sanskrit loanwords are omitted, and a concordance of the songs. Given the extremely limited work that has been done in Nevari philology, the effort on Brinkhaus' part is largely that of a pioneer, and will of necessity be marred in places. There is therefore in my opinion no immediate reason for the rather intemperate critique of this volume in an earlier review by S. Lienhard (Indo-Iranian Journal 33 |1990~: 72-82).

With these two publications that grew out of his work with the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, of which he was the resident director from 1979 to 1981 and then again from 1983 to 1985, Brinkhaus has placed himself in the vanguard of Indo-Nepalese and Nepalese studies. The first volume was originally written in German and presented as a Habilitationsschrift to Hamburg University in 1984; its English version, for which many of us and our Nepalese colleagues will be grateful, is owed to requests to this effect by Nepalese scholars and, above all, to the labors of the translator, Mr. Ph. Pierce. The two volumes amply underscore both Nepal's literary wealth in part unearthed by the efforts of the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, and the outstanding use made of it by Horst Brinkhaus.

1 The Sanskrit Buddhist versions of the myth were briefly studied by J. Brough, "Legends of Khotan and Nepal," BSOAS 16 (1954): 592-97, and R. Emmerick, The Annals of Khotan (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), 4-13. In addition to the enormously complicated textual history of the Sanskrit and Nevari versions of its key-source, the Svayambhupurana, we may mention here that a synoptic recension of this text was translated into Tibetan from the Sanskrit by the famous linguist Si-tu Pan-chen Chos-kyi 'byung-gnas (1699-1774). This work was recently published as the Bal yul rang byung mchod rten chen po'i lo rgyus or Rang 'byung-gi sngon rabs in thirty folios, eight chapters, in Bal yul mchod rten rnam gsum gyi lo rgyus dang gnas bshad gangs can rna ba'i bdud rtsi (n.p., n.d.), 3-59. Si-tu states in his concluding remarks, that his mentor and friend Tshe-dbang nor-bu (1698-1755) of Kah-thog monastery had a stake in this undertaking. The translation itself was completed in 1748, at the 'Bras-spungs ri-bo vihara adjacent to Svayambhu itself. The guide to Nepal's holy places by Khams-sprul IV Bstan-'dzin chos-kyi nyi-ma (1730-79), in A. W. MacDonald and Dvags-po Rinpo-che, "Guide des lieux-saints du Nepal," in Tantric and Taoist Studies in Honour of R. A. Stein, ed. M. Strickmann, vol. 1 (Bruxelles: Institut Belge des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, 1981), 261, notes a 'Bras-spungs temple, which he suggests is the equivalent of Nepali (= Nevari) Kim-to. Page 249 of this paper has it that Si-tu Pan-chen possessed an extensive recension of the Svayambhupurana as well. Finally, a detailed study of references to the valley in the Buddhist canonical literature is owed to Glo-bo Mkhan-chen Bsod-nams lhun-grub (1456-1532), himself a scion of the ruling house of Glo-bo Smonthang, Mustang, Nepal, for which see his Mi'i dbang po mgon po rgyal mtshan gyi dris lan rgyal sras bzhad pa'i me tog, in Collected Works, vol. III (New Delhi), 1977), 5-15, 17-20.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Oriental Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:van der Kuijp, Leonard W.J.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Previous Article:The Pradyumna-Prabhavati Legend in Nepal: A Study of the Hindu Myth of the Draining of the Nepal Valley.
Next Article:A Grammar of Limbu.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters