RE: Telugu Natakalu - 2

Ramarao, Ram (
Thu, 7 Aug 1997 14:11:19 -0500

Sri Sadananda wrote:
>Another interesting theory I heard recently is that there is not a single
>reference to Krishna or Mahabharata any where in Kalidaasa's writing, but
>there is plenty of reference to Rama, Ramaayana and, of course, Raghuvansa
>was attributed to him. I do not know if this is true.  Implication of this
>theory is that Mahabharata was written or assembled after Kalidaasa!
This is not true. Here's a couple of slokas from Megha Dootham that
refer to Kurukshetra war:

(#51 in the book)
Bramhaavartham janapadamatha@h chaayayaa gaahamaana@h
kshEthram kshathra pradhana piSunam kauravam thadbhajE thaa@h
raajanyaanaam SithaSara Sathairyathra gaandeevadhanvaa
dhaaraapathaisthvamiva kamalaanyabhya varshanmukhaani

(#52) Hithwaa haalaamabhimatharasaam rEvathee lochanaankaam
bandhupreethyaa samara vimukhO laangaleeyaa@h sishEvE
krithvaa thaasaamabhigamamapaam soumya! saaraswatheenaa-
mantha@h Suddhasthvamasi bhavithaa varna maathrENa krishNa@h

It is true that Kalidasa has refered in most places to Shiva and Rama,
not Krishna.

In fact, a broader question is: when did Krishna become a god?

We see references to Krishna grow exponentially only after Kalidasa's
time. But I believe that the Mahabharata written by Vyaasa was there
before him (in fact even before Buddha, who was in 7th century BC).
Vedas do not talk about Vishnu, let alone Krishna. Indra is the foremost
god in Vedas, followed by Shiva, followed far behind by Brahma. Even
later, Vishnu's place was only as Upendra. All great deeds -
tripuraasura samhaaram, haalahala bhakshanam were done by Shiva (in the
form of a person?) while the deeds associated with Vishnu can easily be
attributed to him without his really having to do anything with them -
matsya, koorma etc., incarnations. Vishnu's role in these Shiva's
achievements was relatively minor.

We see Indra lose his position slowly and become essentially a drunken
womanizer after the ksheerasaagara mathanam (he got the amritham and all
the apsarasaas from that event which must have spoiled him!). In a way,
this event can be interpreted as the triumph of Vishnu and Indra over
Shiva and his followers (asuraas). So after this, the contest for
supremacy is between Shiva and Vishnu, leaving Indra to a minor role -
running to Vishnu for help whenever some daanava invaded Amaraavathi. I
think for a while it was an even popularity distribution between them
two. Then came Rama's legend. Since Raavana was on Shiva's side, Rama
naturally became a Vishnu incarnation. 

Interestingly, Vishnu needed several incarnations to boost his standing
while Shiva didn't need any!

Even according to one version of the avathaaraas, Krishna is not one of
them - Balarama is. Thus, it seems that Krishna was propped up to be an
incarnation on the same level as Rama by some interested group. Adi
Sankara, who was a prolific writer himself, recited many sthothraas but
all I remember are those about Shiva, his family, his various forms;
Rama and Anjaneya. There are Govinda sthothraas but the word Govinda
does not have to mean Krishna if we take the "go" sabdam to mean earth
rather than cow. If Adi Sankara is from 1st century AD and given his
legendary travels and visits to all temples of name at the time, the
fact that he doesn't prominently talk about Krishna could mean that
Krishna has not yet reached the same status as the other deities
(remember, Sankara praised Lakshminarasimha also quite lavishly) nor was
there a prominent temple for him. 

In essense, it does not surprise me that Kalidasa only refers to the
central Mahabharata characters in passing if we theorize that Krishna
gained prominance later. This does not mean that he was not worshipped
by then but it was not widespread.

Sri Pillalamarri and Sri Rao referred to some stories in Bharata
appearing before Kalidasa. But I do not think that it proves anything
about Bharata: those stories were not really part of the Bharata story;
they were told to a Bharata character (usually Dharmaja, whom everybody
found to be a very good listener) by one of the elders - Vyaasa,
Bheeshma, Naarada, ... Bharata was not the first time those stories
appeared. In fact, Bharata is supposed to be a treatise by Vyaasa where
he brought together stories from many disparate sources. That's why it
>is called Panchama Vedam.