Kamayani [Hindi]

by Jaishanker Prasad

About Kamayani:

Kamayani (Hindi:कामायनी) (1936) is a Hindi epic poem (Mahakavya) by Jaishankar Prasad (1889-1937). It is considered the greatest literary works written in modern times in Hindi literature. It also signifies the epitome of Chhayavadi school of Hindi poetry which gained popularity in late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

About Author:

Jaishankar Prasad (Hindi: जयशंकर प्रसाद) (January 30, 1889 – January 14, 1937), one of the most famous figures in modern Hindi literature; a dramatist, novelist, poet and a story-writer, he was one of the pioneers of the Chhayavaadi school (Neo-romanticism) of Hindi poetry<sup></sup>.


Kamayani depicts the interplay of human emotions, thoughts, and actions by taking mythological metaphors. Kamayani has personalities like Manu, Ida and Shraddha who are found in the Vedas. The great deluge described in the poem has its origin in Satapatha Brahmana. Explaining his metaphorical presentation of Vedic characters, the poet said:
"Ida was the sister of the gods, giving consciousness to entire mankind. For this reason there is an Ida Karma in the Yagnas. This erudition of Ida created a rift between Shraddha and Manu. Then with the progressive intelligence searching for unbridled pleasures, the impasse was inevitable. This story is so very ancient that metaphor has wonderfully mingled with history. Therefore, Manu, Shraddha and Ida while maintaining their historical importance may also express the symbolic import. Manu represents the mind with its faculties of the head and heart and these are again symbolized as Faith (Shraddha) and Intelligence (Ida) respectively. On this data is based the story of Kamayani."

The plot is based on the Vedic story where Manu, the man surviving after the deluge (Pralaya), is emotionless (Bhavanasunya). Manu starts getting involved in various emotions, thoughts and actions. These are sequentially portrayed with Shraddha, Ida, Kilaat and other characters playing there part, contributing in them. The chapters are named after these emotions, thoughts or actions. Some people consider that the sequence of chapters denotes the change of personality in a mans life with age.

Following is the sequence:
  • Chinta (Anxiety)
  • Asha (Hope)
  • Shraddha (Reverential belief, Faith, Virtue of being a woman)
  • Kama (Sexual love)
  • Vasna (Passion for material pleasure)
  • Lajja (Shyness)
  • Karma (Action)
  • Irshyaa (Jealousy)
  • Ida (Logic, Intellect)
  • Swapna (Dream)
  • Sangharsh (Internal conflict)
  • Nirved (Disregard of worldly things, Renunciation)
  • Darshan (Philosophy, Vision)
  • Rahasya (Hidden knowledge, Mystery)
  • Anand (Bliss, Self-realization, Shiva)
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