The crows and the parasitic koel: a kavi’s take

In saMskR^ita literature we have come across multiple references to the brood parasitic behavior of the koel (Eudynamys). One good verse in this regard is that by the kavi vallaNa. We do not know much of him other than that he was in the court of the kalchuri king lakShmI-karNa (1041-1072 CE) and was probably not very happy with him as a patron. What we know of his religious proclivities are interesting and reflective of a certain strain of Hindus in the final centuries of the tAthAgata-mata in India. Given that he composed stuti-s to rudra, the buddha and the nAstika deity ma~njushrI as worshiped in the ma~njushrIya mUlakalpa, he was clearly eclectic, reminiscent of the admixture witnessed in the late tAntrika traditions such as the Astika shrIvidyArNava and the nAstika kAlachakra. There is a subtle play of dhvani to achieve an epic ring in whatever survives of vallaNa. This particular piece is given by DD Kosambi from a collection preserved by a bauddha Acharya vidyAkAra, which was taken to Tibet even as nAlanda was going up in flames during the attack of Ikhtyaruddin Bhaktiyaruddin Khalji:
yan nIDa-prabhavo yad a~njana-ruchir yat khecharo yad dvijas
tena tvaM svajanaH kileti karaTair yat tair upabrUyase |
tatra-ati-indriya-modima-aMsala-rasodgAras tavaiSha dhvanir
doSho .abhUt kalakaNTha-nAyaka nijas teShAM svabhAvo hi sa ||

As you emerged from their nest (niDa), as you are of black color (a~njana-ruchi), as you fly in the sky (khechara), as you are twice-born (i.e. once from the mother once and then from the egg; dvijaH), you are said to be (upabrUyase) one of their own (svajana) by the crows (karaTa). But then your sensual (aMsala), sentiment-emitting (rasodgAra) voice (dhvani) which delights (modima) the senses beyond description (ati-indriya), they saw as a fault (doSha) as it was your own nature (svabhAva), O male koel.

Only the black-colored male koel makes the melodious song alluded to here. The spotted females make a shrill, repeated call. This naturalistic characterization of the koel may be compared to similar sketches by other Hindu poets:
1) The verse of bhavabhUti
2) The kingfisher by vAkpatirAja

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on August 13, 2013.

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