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Madly after the MusesBengali Poet Michael Madhusudan Datta and his Reception of the Graeco-Roman Classics$

Alexander Riddiford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199699735

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699735.001.0001

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(p.235) Appendix 5Siṃhal-bijay kābya

(p.235) Appendix 5Siṃhal-bijay kābya

Madly after the Muses
Oxford University Press

(p.235) Appendix 5 Siṃhal-bijay kābya

The following is Madhusudan’s brief English plan for the first three books of the SVK. I transliterate Indian names, originally written in Bengali characters, into Roman script.1

Book I.—Invocation; description of the voyage. They near Ceylone, when Murajā excites Pavana to raise a storm, which disperses the fleet. The ship with Vijaya and his immediate followers is wrecked on an unknown island. The hero lands and after worshipping the devatā [viz. godheads] of the place, and eating prasād [viz. food offerings] wanders out alone to explore the island. Lakṣmī prays to Viṣṇu to defeat the ill designs of Murajā. He consoles her and by a favourable gale directs the other ships to the same port. The chiefs, alarmed by the absence of the prince, send out messengers all around to seek him. On the return of the messengers without the prince, they set sail and retire to a neighbouring island and encamp there.

Book II.—The adventures of Vijaya. Murajā, on finding Vijaya separated from his companions, sends a Yakṣ a to lead him to the city of the king of the island [Andaman]. He marries Vimohinī, the king’s daughter, and has a castle in a distant wood assigned to him for his residence. In the society of his wife, he forgets the purpose of his voyage, as well as his companions.

Book III.—Lakṣmī sends Vijaya a vision. He prepares to leave his new home, in search of the companions of his voyage, as also of the Island Kingdom, promised to him and his descendants.

This English sketch is complemented by 24 Bengali verses, presumably from the passage following the ‘Invocation’ in Book 1 (‘They near Ceylone, when Murajā excites Pavana to raise a storm…’). I translate these verses as follows:2

In her golden palace Murajā who showers nectar and bewitches the Lord of Yakṣas, hearing that sound in the city of Alakā, cast her gaze and looked towards the ocean in astonishment, a beautiful vessel was floating, her sails fluttering up into the sky, filling all directions with an auspicious sound. In her rage, the good lady said to her moon-faced friend;—‘Open your eyes, moon-faced lady, and look over here, Vijaya is proceeding to Siṃhala in his desire to acquire that kingdom, (p.236) leaving behind his own country at Lakṣmī’s command. (10) What shame! While I have breath I shall not let that man take the kingdom, my friend. Did I adorn Siṃhala like a garden only to give it away to another? My body is ablaze with anger when I call to mind Lakṣ mī’s arrogance, O moon-faced lady, how am I to look upon Lakṣ mī handing over my land to her devotee! Her father is the Ocean, so she calms him through supplication. Go, my friend, and summon the charioteer to bring Puṣ paka [viz. Kubera’s chariot] here; as the King of Winds is graciously aboard, I will go at once with a storm. (20) I will restrain the miscreant, then I shall see what happens.’ The chariot, effulgent with golden brilliance, came rattling to the gate, the horses whinnied with stomping of feet, scattering sparks all about. The beautiful lady mounted the chariot with joy, fitting it out with bewitching equipment.’


(1) From Basu (1893, 1993 reprint) 357–8 (the best edition available to me).

(2) Translated from Basu (1893, 1993 reprint) 357–8.