Accepted Paper:

The circulation of kāma: from erotics to rīti poetry  


Nadia Cattoni (Lausanne University)

Paper short abstract:

The Braj poet Dev (17th c.) wrote texts focused on descriptions of the nāyikā, the feminine figure of love poetry. To innovate in a genre codified by others, he introduced in one of his work erotic systems of knowledge from scientific treatises. The paper will present the link between the two genres.

Paper long abstract:

In early modern literature, especially in the so-called rīti poetry, kāma is a central topic. Poets create love poetry focusing principally on the feminine protagonist, the nāyikā, describing with meticulousness their body and attitudes. The Braj poet Dev (1643/73?-1767?) is no exception to this general trend, and became a specialist of descriptions of the nāyikā in a genre called nāyikābheda. He wrote hundreds of poems on this theme, following rules defined by poets preceding him.

But, in one of his works, Dev decided to innovate and to offer new lists of descriptions of the nāyikā. For that purpose, he took inspiration in texts on erotic, and by this, transferred erotic systems of knowledge from scientific treatises to rīti poetry.

In this paper, I propose to go through Dev's Rasavilāsa (1726?) and to show its links with two Sanskrit kāmaśāstras, the Ratirahasya (12th c.) by Kokkoka and the Anaṅgaraṅga (16th c.) by Kalyānamalla. Through examples, I will show the link between these two genres, but also the way the poet Dev plays with these references, introducing by various methods contents from kāmaśāstras.

Panel P24
Secular knowledge systems in early modern literary cultures