Science of Speech
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCCXXI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Santi Parva, Section CCCXXI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
An extract from the dialogue between King Janaka, the ruler of the Videha and a woman of the name of Sulabha, belonging to the mendicant order.
Sulabha said: O king, speech ought always to be free from the nine verbal faults and the nine faults of judgment. It should also, while setting forth the meaning with perspicuity, be possessed of the eighteen well-known merits.
Ambiguity, ascertainment of the faults and merits of premises and conclusions, the conclusion, and the element of persuasiveness or otherwise that attaches to the conclusion thus arrived at- these five characteristics appertaining to the sense- constitute the authoritativeness of what is said. Listen now o the characteristics of these requirements beginning with ambiguity, one after another, as I expound them according to the combinations.
When knowledge rests on distinction in consequence of the object to be known being different from one another, and when (as regards the comprehension of the subject) the understanding rests upon many points, one after another, the combination of words (in whose case this occurs) is said to be vitiated by ambiguity. By ascertainment (of faults and merits), called Sankhya, is meant the establishment, by elimination, of faults or merits (in premises and conclusions), adopting tentative meanings. Krama or weighing the relative strength or weakness of the faults or merits (ascertained by the above process) consists in settling the propriety of the priority or subsequence of the words employed in a sentence. This is the meaning attached to the word ‘Krama’ by persons conversant with the interpretation of sentences or texts. By conclusion is meant the final determination, after this examination of what has been said on the subjects of religion, pleasure, wealth, and Emancipation, in respect of what is particularly is that has been said in the text. The sorrow born of wish or aversion increases to a great measure. The conduct, O king, that one pursues in such a matter (for dispelling the sorrow experienced) is called Prayojanam.
[Note: By ‘prayojanam’ is meant the conduct one pursues for gratifying one’s wish to acquire or avoid any object. Wish in respect of either acquisition or avoidance, if ungratified, becomes a source of pain. The section or conduct that one adopts for removing that pain is called Prayojanam. In the Gautama-sutras it is said that ‘yamarthamadhikritya pravartate, tat prayojanam.’ The two definitions are identical.]
Take it for certain, O king, at my word, that these characteristics of Ambiguity and the other (numbering five in all), when occurring together, constitute a complete and intelligible sentence.
[Note: By occurrence of these five characteristics together is meant that when these are properly attended to by a speaker or writer, only then can his sentence be said to be complete and intelligible. In Nyaya, the five requisites are Pratijna, Hetu, Udaharana, Upanaya, and Nigamana. In the Mimansa philosophy, the five requisites have been named differently. Vishaya, Samsaya, Purvapaksha, Uttara, and Nirnaya.]
The words I shall utter will be fraught with sense, free from ambiguity (in consequence of each of them not being symbols of many things), logical, free from pleonasm or tautology, smooth, certain, free from bombast, agreeable or sweet, truthful, inconsistent with the aggregate of three, (viz., Righteousness, Wealth, and Pleasure), refined (i.e., free from Prakriti), not elliptical or imperfect, destitute of harshness or difficulty of comprehension, characterized by due order, not far fetched in respect of sense, corrected with one another as cause and effect and each having a specific object.
[Note: These characteristics, though numbering sixteen, include the four and twenty mentioned by Bhojadeva in his Rhetoric called ‘Saraswati-kanthabharana.]
I shall not tell thee anything, prompted by desire or wrath or fear or cupidity or abjectness or deceit or shame or compassion or pride. (I answer thee because it is proper for me to answer what thou hast said). When the speaker, the hearer, and the words said, thoroughly agree with one another in course of a speech, then does the sense or meaning come out very clearly. When, in the matter of what is to be said, the speaker shows disregard for the understanding of the hearer by uttering words whose meaning is understood by himself, then, however good those words may be, they become incapable of being seized by the hearer.
That speaker, again, who, abandoning all regard for his own meaning uses words that are of excellent sound and sense, awakens only erroneous impressions in the mind of the hearer. Such words in such connection become certainly faulty. That speaker, however, who employs words that are, while expressing his own meaning, intelligible to the hearer, as well, truly deserves to be called a speaker. No other man deserves the name. It behoveth thee, therefore, O king, to hear with concentrated attention these words of mine, fraught with meaning and endued with wealth of vocables.
From The Mahabharata
Vana Parva, Section XLVI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Vaisampayana said: One day, knowing that Arjuna’s glances were cast upon Urvasi, Indra (the lord of heaven), calling Chitrasena to himself, addressed him in private saying, "O king of Gandharvas, I am pleased; go thou as my messenger to that foremost of Apsaras, Urvasi, and let her wait upon that tiger among men, Arjuna. Tell her, saying these words of mine, as through my instrumentality Arjuna has learnt all the weapons and other arts, worshipped by all, so should thou make him conversant with the art of acquitting one’s self in female company."
Thus addressed by Indra, the chief of the Gandharvas, in obedience to that command of Indra, soon went to Urvasi that foremost of Apsaras. And as he saw her, she recognised him and delighted him by the welcome she offered and the salutation she gave. And seated at ease he then smilingly addressed Urvasi, who also was seated at ease, saying, "Let it be known, O thou of fair hips, that I come hither despatched by the one sole lord of heaven (Indra) who asks of thee a favour. He who is known amongst gods and men for his many inborn virtues, for his grace, behaviour, beauty of person, vows and self-control, who is noted for prowess and respected by the virtuous, and ready witted; who is endued with genius and splendid energy, is of a forgiving temper and without malice of any kind; who has studied the four Vedas with their branches, and the Upanishads, and the Puranas also; viz., (that person is) Arjuna, who is known to thee, O Urvasi. Know thou that hero is to be made to taste the joys of heaven. Commanded by Indra, let him today obtain thy feet. Do this, O amiable one, for Arjuna is inclined to thee."
Thus addressed, Urvasi of faultless features assumed a smiling face, and receiving the words of the Gandharva with high respect, answered with a glad heart.
Urvasi said: Hearing of the virtues that should adorn men, as unfolded by thee, I would bestow my favours upon any one who happened to possess them. Why should I not then, choose, Arjuna for a lover? At the command of Indra, and for my friendship for thee, and moved also by the numerous virtues of Arjuna, I am already under the influence of the god of love. Go thou, therefore, to the place thou desirest. I shall gladly go to Arjuna.
Vaisampayana said: Having thus sent away the Gandharva successful in his mission, Urvasi of luminous smiles, moved by the desire of possessing Arjuna, took a bath. And having performed her ablutions, she decked herself in charming ornaments and splendid garlands of celestial odour. And inflamed by the god of love, and her heart pierced through and through by the shafts shot by Manmatha keeping in view the beauty of Arjuna, and her imagination wholly taken up by the thoughts of Arjuna, she mentally sported with him on a wide and excellent bed laid over with celestial sheets.
And when the twilight had deepened and the moon was up, that Apsara of high hips set out for the mansions of Arjuna. And in that mood and with her crisp, soft and long braids decked with bunches of flowers, she looked extremely beautiful. With her beauty and grace, and the charm of the motions of her eye-brows and of her soft accents, and her own moon like face, she seemed to tread, challenging the moon himself. And as she proceeded, her deep, finely tapering bosoms, decked with a chain of gold and adorned with celestial unguents and smeared with fragrant sandal paste, began to tremble. And in consequence of the weight of her bosoms, she was forced to slightly stoop forward at every step, bending her waist exceedingly beautiful with three folds.
And her loins of faultless shape, the elegant abode of the god of love, furnished with fair and high and round hips and wide at their lower part as a hill, and decked with chains of gold, and capable of shaking the saintship of anchorites, being decked with thin attire, appeared highly graceful. And her feet with fair suppressed ankles, and possessing flat soles and straight toes of the colour of burnished copper and dorsum high and curved like tortoise back and marked by the wearing of ornaments furnished with rows of little bells, looked exceedingly handsome.
And exhilarated with a little liquor which she had taken, and excited by desire, and moving in diverse attitudes and expressing a sensation of delight, she looked more handsome than usual. And though heaven abounded with many wonderful objects, yet when Urvasi proceeded in this manner, the Siddhas and Charanas and Gandharvas regarded her to be the handsomest object they had cast their eyes upon. And the upper half of her body clad in an attire of fine texture and cloudy hues, she looked resplendent like a digit of the moon in the firmament shrouded by fleecy clouds.
And endued with the speed of the winds or the mind, she of luminous smiles soon reached the mansion of Arjuna, the son of Pandu. And, Urvasi of beautiful eyes, having arrived at the gate of Arjuna’s abode sent word through the keeper in attendance. And on receiving permission, she soon entered that brilliant and charming palace. But, upon beholding her at night in his mansion, Arjuna, with a fear-stricken heart stepped up to receive her with respect and as soon as he saw her, the son of Pritha, from modesty, closed his eyes. And saluting her, he offered the Apsara such worship as is offered unto a superior. And Arjuna said, ‘O thou foremost of the Apsaras, I reverence thee by bending my head down. O lady, let me know thy commands. I wait upon thee as thy servant.’
Vaisampayana continued: Hearing these words of Arjuna, Urvasi became deprived of her senses. And she soon represented unto Arjuna all that had passed between her and the Gandharva, Chitrasena.
And Urvasi said: O best of men, I shall tell thee all that hath passed between me and Chitrasena, and why I have come hither. On account of thy coming here, O Arjuna, Mahendra had convened a large and charming assembly, in which celestial festivities were held. Unto that assembly came, O best of men, the Rudras and the Adityas and the Aswins and the Vasus. And there came also numbers of great Rishis and royal sages and Siddhas and Charanas and Yakshas and great Nagas. And, O thou of expansive eyes, the members of the assembly resplendent as fire or the sun or the moon, having taken their seats according to rank, honour and prowess, the Gandharvas began to strike the Vinas (stringed musical instrument like the Sitar) and sing charming songs of celestial melody.
And, O perpetuator of the Kuru race, the principal Apsaras also commenced to dance. Then, O son of Pritha, thou hadst looked on me only with a steady gaze. When that assembly of the celestials broke, commanded by thy father, the gods went away to their respective places. And the principal Apsaras also went away to their abodes, and others also, O slayer of foes, commanded by thy father and obtaining his leave. It was then that Chitrasena sent to me by Indra, and arriving at my abode, O thou of eyes like lotus leaves, he addressed me, saying, "O thou of the fairest complexion, I have been sent unto thee by the chief of the celestials. Do thou something that would be agreeable to Mahendra and myself and to thyself also. O thou of fair hips, seek thou to please Arjuna, who is brave in battle even like Indra himself, and who is always possessed of magnanimity." Even these, O son of Pritha, were his words. Thus, O sinless one, commanded by him and thy father also, I came to thee in order to wait upon thee, O slayer of foes. My heart hath been attracted by thy virtues, and am already under the influence of the god of love. And, O hero, even this is my wish, and I have cherished it for ever!
Vaisampayana continued: While in heaven, hearing her speak in this strain, Arjuna was overcome with bashfulness. And shutting his ears with his hands,
Arjuna said: O blessed lady, fie on my sense of hearing, when thou speakest thus to me. For, O thou of beautiful face, thou art certainly equal in my estimation unto the wife of a superior. Even as Kunti of high fortune or Sachi the queen of Indra, art thou to me, O auspicious one, of this there is no doubt! That I had gazed particularly at thee, O blessed one, is true. There was a reason for it. I shall truly tell it to thee, O thou of luminous smiles! In the assembly I gazed at thee with eyes expanded in delight, thinking, ‘Even this blooming lady is the mother of the Kaurava race.’ O blessed Apsara, it behoveth thee not to entertain other feelings towards me, for thou art superior to my superiors, being the parent of my race.
Hearing these words of Arjuna,
Urvasi answered: O son of the chief of the celestials, we Apsaras are free and unconfined in our choice. It behoveth thee not, therefore, to esteem me as thy superior. The sons and grandsons of Puru’s race, that have come hither in consequence of ascetic merit do all sport with us, without incurring any sin. Relent therefore, O hero, it behoveth thee not to send me away. I am burning with desire. I am devoted to thee. Accept me, O thou giver of proper respect.
Arjuna replied: O beautiful lady of features perfectly faultless, listen. I truly tell thee. Let the four directions and the transverse directions, let also the gods listen. O sinless one, as Kunti, or Madri, or Sachi, is to me, so art thou, the parent of my race, an object of reverence to me. Return, O thou of the fairest complexion. I bend my head unto thee, and prostrate myself at thy feet. Thou deservest my worship as my own mother; and it behoveth thee to protect me as a son.
Vaisampayana continued: Thus addressed by Arjuna, Urvasi was deprived of her senses by wrath. Trembling with rage, and contracting her brows,
Urvasi cursed Arjuna, saying: Since thou disregardest a woman come to thy mansion at the command of thy father and of her own motion- a woman besides, who is pierced by the shafts of Kama (Cupid or god of love), therefore, O Arjuna, thou shalt have to pass thy time among females unregarded, and as a dancer, and destitute of manhood and scorned as an eunuch.
Vaisampayana continued: Having cursed Arjuna thus, Urvasi’s lips still quivered in anger, herself breathing heavily all the while. And she soon returned to her own abode. And that slayer of foes, Arjuna also sought Chitrasena without loss of time. And having found him, he told him all that had passed between him and Urvasi in the night. And he told Chitrasena everything as it had happened, repeatedly referring to the curse pronounced upon him. And Chitrasena also told everything unto Sakra, who calling his son unto himself in private, and consoling him in sweet words, smilingly said: ‘O thou best of beings, thou hast now vanquished even Rishis by the patience and self-control. But, O giver of proper respect, the curse that Urvasi hath denounced on thee will be to thy benefit, O child, and stand thee in good stead. O sinless one, you will have on earth to pass the thirteenth year of your exile, unknown to all (remaining incognito).It is then that thou shalt suffer the curse of Urvasi. And having passed one year as a dancer without manhood, thou shalt regain thy power on the expiration of the term.
Thus addressed by Sakra, that slayer of hostile heroes, Arjuna, experienced great delight and ceased to think of the curse. And Arjuna, the son of Pandu, sported in regions of heaven with the Gandharva Chitrasena of great celebrity.
The desires of the man that listens to this history of the son of Pandu never run after lustful ends. The foremost of men, by listening to this account of the awfully pure conduct of Arjuna, the son of the lord of the celestials, become void of pride and arrogance and wrath and other faults, and ascending to heaven, sport there in bliss.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to Brahmasri Sreeman K M Ganguly and Hinduism com for the collection)