Krishana’s Forgotten Poets
Harsha V Dehejia
The 17th and 18th centuries were the high point of ritikavya or mannered and courtly romantic poetry. In this poetry, Krishna is a prince who enlivens the courts of the Rajputs, and ensures that more important than military exploits and political intrigue is to live so as to love, and to love so as to be fully human, where matters of the state a...re put aside and affairs of the heart are heeded, where the many situations of longing and belonging must be negotiated with a certain romantic finesse, where under canopies of love and in pleasure gardens in stately mansions, unhurried romance takes precedence over worldly concerns, where flasks of wine, bowls of fruits, containers of sandal paste and flower garlands are always present as accessories for the celebration of fleeting romantic moments, where sakhis and sakhas ensure that beautiful and intimate moments of love are safeguarded, where mirrors of adornment are a statement not of one's status but of the importance of making that amorous situation perfect and beautiful, for in that beautifully romantic courtly moment is the eternity of love. This is the message of ritikavya and the courtly paintings of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that it inspired. This book brings together the forgotten ritikal poets and enriches their poetry with paintings. Ramanand Sharma with his expertise in Braj poetry of this period has collected little gems of romantic poetry and translated them into Hindi. Harsha Dehejia has then taken this a step further and translated the Hindi into English. Harsha Dehejia and Vijay Sharma have discovered paintings from museums that accompanied this poetry, found paintings that illustrate the mood of the poetry and commissioned new paintings. The book is rich with the sounds and sights of ritikavya and will be a delight to connoisseurs of Krishna's shringara rasa in poetry and painting.