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Durable Link to this BlogFriday, December 7, 2007

Social Life in Pampa's Classics

Many learned dissertations have been written on the literary merit of the classics authored by one of Karnataka's greatest poets, Pampa. (10th Century CE). But the fact that Adipurana and Vikramarjuna Vijaya also form authentic source for the study of social history of the period is yet to be fully explored. No author can escape social milieu of his times and though bound by the strict conventions of 18 descriptions and other poetic norms, Pampa has succeeded in providing a few glimpses of the contemporary society, which find good corroboration in epigraphs, sculptures and contemporary Sanskrit classics. His fascination for Banavasi and its environment, his sound knowledge of Warfare, his interest in sports, games and amusements, his respect for women and his love for good living have provided material for life and times of his period.

Special mention may be made about a drinking bout different described in Vikramarjuna Vijaya. It was celebrated with due rituals. Samples of liquors were offered to respective gods & Mother Earth. It was then first offered by youngsters to elders. Then the equals including women shared it in elegant glasses shaped like various birds. Kakkara, Maricha-Todarpu (Peppered Liquor) & Krishna Sura (black-wine) seem to have been special brews of Karnataka. Some drinks were highly inebriating. Women needed support to get up after a good drink.

In the famous dance-sequence of Neelanjana described in Adipurana, we find mention of various poses and sequences described in Bharata's Natyashastra. Dancing all the time, Neelanjana reveals bare and beautiful body very artistically without missing the beat. One is reminded of belly-dance or cabaret, going through Neelanjanas dance description. The sequence though used to show momentariness of material happiness, it does throw light that a class of society indulged in witnessing striptease type of dance, prevalent in those times.

Drinking & dancing scenes are depicted in sculptures contemporary of Pampa's works.

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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