“Bouquet of Rasa” and “River of Rasa”

By Bhānudatta
Translated by Sheldon I. Pollock

“Bouquet of Rasa” and “River of Rasa”

Bhanu is probably the most famous Sanskrit poet that no one today has ever heard of. His “Bouquet of Rasa” and “River of Rasa,” composed in the early sixteenth century, probably under the patronage of the Nizam of Ahmadnagar in western India, attracted the attention of the most celebrated commentators in early modern India. Some of the greatest painters of Mewar and Basohli vied to turn his subtle poems into pictures. And his verses, such as this one,

You stayed awake all night and yet
it’s my eyes that are throbbing;
you were the one who drank the rum
and yet it’s my head that’s splitting;
and in the bower buzzing with bees
it was you who stole beauty’s fruit,
yet I’m the one the Love God wounds
with his arrows that burn like fire

were prized by poets everywhere: Abu al-Fazl, the preeminent scholar at Akbar’s court, translated it into Persian, and, Kshetráyya, the great Andhra poet of the next century, adapted it into Telugu. Many writers have described the types of heroines and heroes of Sanskrit literature (the subject of the “Bouquet of Rasa”) or explained the nature of aesthetic emotion (that of the “River of Rasa”), but none did so in verse of such exquisite and subtle artistry.

442 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-6755-9  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-6755-9  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation


“River of Rasa,” The Fourth Wave: “Description of the Involuntary Physical Reactions” (pp. 188–99)
(19 pp, 0.58mb)

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Download the title page and table of contents and one chapter of the book (in English and Sanskrit on facing pages), bundled together as a .pdf file. You can also download the CSL Front Matter (6pp, 1.3mb). It describes how we transliterate the Sanskrit text in the Roman alphabet and includes a guide to pronunciation. It also explains our system of representing phonetic fusion (sandhi).

You can set Adobe Acrobat Reader to display the Sanskrit text and translation in facing page view. Simply go to “View” in the toolbar, select “Page Layout” and click on “Facing.”

About the Translator

Sheldon I. Pollock is William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Columbia University. He has also translated Ramáyana II: Ayódhya and Ramáyana III: The Forest of the Ramáyana and Rama’s Last Act.

He is the author of The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India and editor of Cosmopolitanism and Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia.

About the Manuscript

The commentary on the Rasatara?gi?? of Bh?nudatta is the Rasikarañjan? of Ve?idatta Bha???c?rya (18th century?). It is British Library IO San 1703a (two additional copies were used in the CSL edition: Oriental Institute, Baroda, mss. nos. 839 (inc.) and 10805).

The album of Rasamañjar? paintings was produced in Udaipur probably c. 1650 if not a little earlier. The bulk is preserved in the National Museum (NM), New Delhi; a half-dozen additional leaves have been located in museums and private collections in Europe and the US, and are identified in the edition.