Poetry at Sangam




On Translating the Divine Woman 1

Parāpratyakchitīrūpā, paśyantī parādevatā,
madhyamā vaikharī rūpā, bhaktamānasahamsikā…2

I was schooled in Sanskrit verse by my maternal and paternal grandfathers, the late Thandaveshwara Iyer and the late Mahadeva Iyer and initiated into translation, by the well known Indian born British poet, translator and writer, Dr Debjani Chatterjee, MBE.3 The resonance of Sanskrit hymns, chanted by the elders of my family, continues to exert its hypnotic influence on me, as years later, I find myself reading Sanskrit poetry, with a view to translation. This year, Rasāla Books gifted me with the unexpected opportunity of translating two Sanskrit texts as a project for a book; the texts being Kālidāsa’s Śyamalādaṇḍakam and Mooka Kavi’s Āryā Śatakam. I succeeded in enlisting my uncle, Sanskrit scholar and neurosurgeon from Kerala, Dr M.Sambasivan into the project as guide and co-translator.

Hailing from a Brahman tantri (high priest) family, where the “Mother Goddess” is worshipped, idolised and meditated upon, I interpreted Rasāla‘s offer as a calling from the Divine Woman. However, I had always felt that the Devī-worship in my family was surrounded by contradictory ideals. There was an all prevalent patriarchy within family circles, despite the omnipresent goddess and I grew up questioning this Brahmanical patriarchy. This initial interrogation drew me into religious texts that exalted Devī, subsequently leading me into reflection on the position of womanhood in Kerala-oriented, traditional, Tamil Brahmin families. Many of my poems such as “Dakshayani4″ and “Sita5″ and my ekphratic work6on the female subjects of the eminent Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma like “Descent of Ganga ” enunciate this deliberation.

I would like to use the term, Divine Feminism for the Hindu worship of goddesses, in view of the radical thought process that links “Mother Worship” to feminist thought. Although goddess worship is a striking feature of the multifaceted religion or “way of life” that is Hinduism, this is not unique as elements of mother worship can be seen in Native American, African and ancient Egyptian traditions. The Catholic faith too venerates womanhood in The Madonna as “Mother of God” and Theotokos (Greek for “Bearer of God”). However, only Hinduism bestows ultimate supremacy to the Mother Goddess and classifies her as an equal to the all-powerful Male God. The Hindu worship of goddesses in the form of Devī, AmbāL and Kālī, is a tradition that can be traced back to the Vedic times. The Vedic hymns eulogise female divinities, albeit the imbalance in numbers and verses; prominent among them are the verses on UṢas, Prthvī, Sarasvatī (River), Vāc, Aditi and Nirrti. The evolution of the Puranic (mythical) goddess Devī is either a combination or a descendant of the above. The Mahādevī (Great Goddess) does not appear in Hinduism, until the medieval period (6th -15th century CE), according to David Kinsley (18). In the Hindu pantheon, the female trinity of Lakṣmī, Pārvatī and Sarasvatī are gendered counterparts of Viśnu, Śiva and Brahmā respectively. Many texts including Śyamalādaṇḍakam and Āryā Śatakam demonstrate a tendency to unite all three goddesses under one great female being under a common designation of Devī or Mahādevī. This affirmation of unity bridges the Shaivaite and Vaishnavite differences and combines the qualities of many goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, ranging across the north, south, east and west of India; thus putting an end to any sectarian desire to create a superior goddess. Kinsley (132) dates this tradition to the text Dēvī Mahātmyam, the composition period of which is approximately around the sixth century CE. However, this penchant for unifying goddesses under one umbrella can be seen in Śyamalādaṇḍakam and Āryā Śatakam; these texts preceding the Dēvī Mahātmyam, if the approximate flourits of the respective poets are to be taken into consideration. The ideology of the great goddess or the transcendental divine mother, Ādi Parāśakti, subsumes all other goddesses as partial manifestations of the ultimate female reality. The underlying theological assumption is the affirmation of an all powerful female matrix. The Lalitā Sahsaranāmam catalogues the thousand names (and epithets) of this Mother Goddess, exalting her to a status of cosmic supremacy. She is lauded as Viśvādhikā (transcending the universe), Vyāpinī (omnipresent), Anekakotibrahmāndajananī, whose womb encompasses many universes and Aprameyā, one who is immeasurable (Kinsley: 133). The central ideology underlying the worship of the Mahādevī is quintessential of the worship of the female entity Śakti (or energy), which is a polarity to Śiva, the male force. Equal status is attributed to Śiva and Śakti, as exemplified in the Ardhanārīśvarastotram: Jagatjanannyaischajagadhēkapitrē (mother and father of the universe).

Both Śyamalādaṇḍakam and Āryā Śatakam exalt the power of the goddess, affirming Śakti as the ultimate reality, while unifying the polarities of Śiva and Śakti in cosmic proportions. They also glorify the goddess as a dynamic entity that creates, pervades and governs the universe. The Divine Woman is said to be manifest in the universe that she has created; she is deified as the bestower of knowledge and understanding to her devotees. This evocation of Divine Motherhood can be befittingly termed Divine Feminism, an Indian tradition followed during the religious festival of Navarātrī and other forms of Devī Pūjā like Lakṣmi Pūjā, Santōṣi Mā Vrat and Kālī Pūjā. As a native of Trivandrum and having lived through this feminisation of the Divine in the Aattukaal Ponkala, the festival at the Aattukaal Bhagavati Temple, considered the world’s largest congregation of women, I have often felt that it is high time, this religious idealisation is translated into socio-cultural spheres. Being a “Mother 7worshipper,” bestowed with an uncanny tendency towards l’écriture feminine et indienne, I was enchanted with the idea of translating the Divine Woman.

The primary purpose of this article is to elucidate the process of translation based on my interpretation of the texts; however, texts are incomplete without authors. Therefore, I would like to embark on a brief introduction of the authors. Both Kālidāsa and Mooka Kavthi are legendary figures. The flourit of Kālidāsa is approximated to be between 4th and 5 century CE. Kālidāsa is speculated to have lived either near the Himalayas or in Ujjain (Central India) or in Kalinga (Central-Eastern India). The name Kālidāsa, or servant of Kālī has its origins from the goddess, who is said to have initiated the poet into verse. Mooka Kavi’s flourit is approximated to be between 398 and 437 CE in Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Legend has it that Mooka Kavi was speech impaired and by the grace of the deity Kāmākṣi, he was gifted with speech; subsequently, he is said to have composed 500 verses in Sanskrit entitled Mooka Panchāśati in praise of the goddess, of which Āryā Śatakam constitutes of a hundred verses. The dates of these flourits are approximations and would certainly elicit debates; any discussions on the flourits of these legendary poets are most welcome.

There are many similarities between Śyamalādaṇḍakam and Āryā Śatakam as both texts eulogise their invoked deities, Śyamalā and Kāmākṣi as the ultimate goddess or Mahādevī, attributing them with the qualities of many other goddesses. They extol the divine female in her manifest forms, unifying her various aspects into an all powerful individual deity. For the remit of this article, I aim to expound on the translation of only one text, Śyamalādaṇḍakam. There are many versions of this text, each vying for originality. Traditionally, religious texts are passed down from generation to generation as incantatory verse; hence it was difficult to locate an authentic printed text. After a lot of research, Venetia Kotamraju (Founder-Editor of Rasāla Books) and I have chosen from the most technically correct versions of the text and individual verses, based on the advice of Sambasivan and Shankar Rajaraman, Rasāla‘s general editor.

Śyamalādaṇḍakam, considered the first lengthy composition of Kālidāsa, abounds in elaborate literary devices such as personification, metaphor, simile and hyperbole and rhetorical devices such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance and sibilance, all interwoven to create one of the most mellifluous verses in Sanskrit Literature. The text opens with descriptions of Śyāmalā as a form of Sarasvatī and as the daughter of Maharṣi Matanga. Śyāmalā is addressed as Mātangi, a Tantric form of Sarasvati and one of the ten Mahāvidyās (Wisdom Goddesses). Mātangi is also considered the embodiment of thought or word, bestowing knowledge, creative talent and psychic power to her devotees (Frawley: 138). In this dandaka8, Śyāmalā is portrayed as a beautiful woman, in the prime of youth, playing a gem studded vīna. The invocatory verse or dhyāna mantrā depicts her as dark complexioned, referring to her skin tone, both as emerald green (marakataśyama) and darkling sapphire (māhendra nīla). She is epitomised as a divinely bewitching woman with upraised breasts adorned with saffron or kumkum, carrying a noose, goad, sugarcane bow and flower arrows, enthroned on a navaratnapīḍā (gem studded throne), atop a radiant lotus, the latter qualities are usual9ly associated with the goddess, LaLitāTripurasundarī, the primary deity of the Śakta Tantric tradition, which attributes Devī with the status of the Supreme Brahman or Godhead.

After the initial quatrains (I might be right in calling them caturspadi10), the dandaka verses attribute qualities of Pārvatī to Śyāmalā as she is described as Krittivāsa priya, beloved of the hide-clad Shiva and Sānumatputrika (daughter of the mountain – as in Himavān’s daughter). Highly sensuous verses describe the goddess, excelling in Kesādhipāda varnanā (top to toe description), epitomising feminine beau11y, with minute detail paid to jewellery and cosmetics, t following the tradition of sōlah śringar , catering to every part of the female body. Śyāmalā is visualised as wearing the crescent moon and rapt in the cadence of celestial music that emanates from her vīna strings. She is depicted as being redolent with musk and camphor and intoxicated with the divine nectar, sōmā, which is symbolic of immortality. There is repetition and listing of the elaborate jewellery worn by the goddess, like the tādanga or palm-leaved earring, ruby studded bangles that blaze across the universe, pearl necklaces with moonbeam lustre, pearl studded nose ring and ruby encrusted waistband (mēkhalā).

The goddess is attributed with a curvaceous and voluptuous form with globular breasts, tender creeper waist, buxom hips and deep navel. Many verses constitute a strong erotic element in the alankāra (figurative devices) such as rūpaka and upama (metaphors and similes). In the worship of the mother goddess, Hindu tradition offers no restraint in the description of the female body in documentary detail, often creating a visual image evoking the sensuality of the sculptured stone goddesses of Indian temples. For instance, the goddess’s deep navel, fringed by a line of dark hair is compared to a lake surrounded by a line of darkling grass, her sensuous hips and thighs are paralleled to the golden plateaux of Mount Meru and her slender legs are described as being more seductive than Kāma12′s blue- lilied quiver. These descriptions anticipate the writing of a female body that I label as l’écriture feminine et indienne. These erotic elements need to be closely adhered to in translation, without offending any religious sentiment. Some examples of my translation of these sensuous verses are:

Your upraised breasts, golden goblets, bow your glorious curvèd form, O woman, the three worlds bow down to you.

A line of dark hair adorns your glistening, deep navel lake, like a chain of darkling grass, O woman endowed with sweet speech.

This depiction of the female body in atiśayokti or hyperbole serves to create the supreme female physique of the goddess. The reverence for the female body, which is part of the Hindu iconisation is poetised here. There is also a tendency to express in vyatireka (or comparative excellence), the peerless beauty of the goddess, which surpasses the beauty of nature. Examples of this are:

 The flutter of your sparkling sanguine eyes, drunk on divine wine, blithely belittles the blue lily gracing your ears.

 Your beautiful palms rival blossoming lotus flowers at the break of purple dawn.

Texts like Śyamalādaṇḍakam certainly pre-empt Western écriture feminine by writing the female body and by listing feminine virtues or qualities. In effect, the text can be classified as a blazon as it idolises womanhood by cataloguing female attributes; in this case, the woman happens to be divine. Here, the erotic elements cater to Devī worship in Tantric terms as the physical appearance of the goddess epitomises female sensuality and associates Devī Pūjā with the worship of a desirable woman. This is highlighted in my translation as follows:

 Woman, with enticing eyes, feignèd blooms on tendril brows, arching like the frolicking flowered bow of Kāma, watering the world with your winèd word of wisdom, bewitching beauty anointed with allure of gorochana, O Rema, goddess of grace.

 Your bountiful globe like breasts, radiant with pearl necklaces that shimmer in starry rows, curve your tender creeper like waist, ringèd by three wavy folds, O ocean of beauty, woman bearing the vallaki vina, raining riches on your minions.

 Your sensuous hips, engirdled by an exquisite ruby encrusted waistband, rivals the beauty of the golden plateaus of the halcyon Meru, woman, mellow as moonlight.

Here the context demands some elucidation of Tantra due to the worship of the female body and the presence of erotic elements in the representation of the goddess, especially in the catalogue of her vital statistics. Tantra is a genre of meditation and ritualistic practice that is said to have arisen in India around the 5th century CE; this is a complex tradition interwoven with spiritual beliefs and symbolic overtures. The erotic sensuality in the association of Śiva and Śakti subscribe to the Tantric worship of their union. In Śyamalādaṇḍakam the goddess is attributed with all forms of beauty, physical, sensual and spiritual. Traditionally, Tantra reveres the Cosmic Female and seeks to develop a higher consciousness through the female energy or śakti. A number of ritualistic practices are associated with Tantric worship: the deity is evoked through yoga (meditation), mudra (hand gestures), mantra (chanting of words, syllables, phrases or hymns), mandala and yantra (the last two being geometrical diagrams or three-dimensional structures, symbolic of the forces of the universe). The source text invokes the tantric form of Sarasvatī called Mātangi, through verse or mantra. The psychic power of the Goddess is evoked in the closing verses of Śyamalādaṇḍakam, listing the various aspects of tantric worship. Here, the verse takes an incantatory form in true Tantric tradition as in:             sarvamantrātmike, sarvatantrātmike, sarvayantrātmike, sarvaśaktyātmike, sarvapīṭhātmike {soul of all mantras, soul of all tantras, soul of all yantras, soul of all śaktis and soul of all pīṭhas (divine abodes as in śakti pīṭhas) }.

The employment of pathetic fallacy (human moods echoed in nature) is a common practice in many Sanskrit texts. Śyamalādaṇḍakam is no exception; many aspects of the goddess are compared with nature. Śyamalā is extolled as the dweller of the divine kadamba forests, her complexion is eulogised as being lustrous as the blue lily; she is portrayed as wearing the crescent moon, with conch like neck and lips as luscious as bimba fruit. This listing of the attributes of the goddess constitutes pathetic fallacy as she is identified with nature or Prakriti, which spontaneously recreates itself. Śyamalā is specified both as the power that pervades the finite nature and the cosmic force that pervades the infinite universe. As Prakriti, the Goddess is the embodiment of creative energy, spilling forth in the world and suffusing it with vitality. Mātangi also reveals herself in the metamorphic form of Kālī; she is alluded to in the dandakam, as Kālī or Kālika , the cosmic soul. In Tantric tradition, the overpowering Kāli is venerated in many forms: as the dark warrior goddess, as ritualistic partner to Śiva and as compassionate mother. The Tantric element of the enunciation of beauty is married to the poetry of Kālidāsa, creating uniquely euphonic verse. The goddess is invoked in the dandakam in her dark, mysterious, often ecstatic and intoxicated form. She is considered the vibratory sound or nāda that flows in the subtle channels or nādis of the human body and mind. Śyamalā is portrayed as holding a rapturously singing parrot, with tri-coloured neck, enticing wings and shimmering red beak. The parrot is envisaged as the embodiment of knowledge and music. Kālidāsa illustrates it wonderfully as:

Sarvavidyāvishēshātmakamchādugātāsamucharanamkantamullolasadhvarnarājitrayam, komalashyamalōdhārapakshadvayamthundaśōbhāthidhuribhavatkimshukamthamshukam lāLayanti parikrīdasē.

My translation of this passage uses parenthesis in the listing of the characteristics of the parrot, in order to gain prosody:

Woman, blissfully caressing the rapturously singing parrot, sprite of cognizance, nectar of song and speech, with tri coloured neck of sparkling sheen, enfolded in the enticing down of darkling wings, with shimmering beak surpassing the crimson of kimśuka flowers.

In the translation of Śyamalādaṇḍakam, I had to transport figurative devices into the target language of English from the source language, Sanskrit. This involved detailed research and interpretation of religious, ritual and poetic terms. As far as connotations are concerned, I had to employ some discretion in order to elicit them in translation, while adhering to poetry. For instance, the lesser known connotations in the form of synonyms of the Gods had to be explained as in the case of Krittivāsa priya, where Krittivāsa literally means the “hide-clad one”, who is none other than Śiva. I have translated Krittivāsa priyē as the “beloved of the hide-clad Śiva”. In other places, I have translated verbatim, the connotations like sānumatputrikē as “maiden of the mountain,” alluding to Pārvatī as the daughter of Himavān. Expressions like Lakṣmīśa, bhutheśa and thoyeśa have been translated as “lord of fortune”, “lord of spirits” and “lord of waters” instead of Viśnu, Śiva and Varuna. Here I have followed the anaphora (repetitive listing) of the original text.

After the invocatory verses (dhyana śloka), which are in the form of quatrains (4 lined verses) the Śyamalādaṇḍakam is in the dandaka meter, which houses more than 28 syllables per line. It would be a Herculean task to emulate this syllabic pattern of the source text in English. The dandaka style of Sanskrit poetry uses repetition, listing, phonology and alankarās (figurative devices), using the same gana or foot throughout. The end result is a rhapsody, a flowing euphonic eulogy. I have attempted to emulate in English, the dandaka pattern by presenting longer phrases, followed by shorter phrases as illustrated by:

Your glimmering crescent-moon like toe nails , worshipped by the celestial consorts of the supernal diśa deities, their dark locks diademed with darkling light , lustrous as luscious durva grass luring deluded herds of deer, O woman, radiant as moonlight, resplendent and inviolate.


durvāngurāśankisārangasamyōgarīnkhannakhendujwalē, prōjwalē, nirmalē

In the translation of many verses, like the above, I had to invert the order of the verse for the sake of meaning. Hence, I had to start the translation from the end of the verse or phrase and then proceed backwards. Here, parenthesis was a god-given device as also illustrated in:

Invoked in song by the kinnaras, whose vina-strains enchant the ears, lauded by congregations of Yakśa, Gandharva and Sidha women, O woman, revered by the consorts of gods, who seek plenitude for all the world !


ŚravanaharanadakśinakvāNayāvīNayakinarairgīyasē, yakṣagandharvasidhyānganā mandlair archyasē, sarvasoubhagyavanchāvadhirbhivadhūbhi surānam samāradhyase.

Trying to adhere to the metrical pattern of the dandakam would only end in disaster, hence my attempt has been to resort to free verse. The śabdālankāram (phonological devices) in Śyamalādaṇḍakam is awe inspiring, overflowing with assonance and alliteration. A great example is the dhyāna mantrā or invocatory verse.

Manikya vīnamupalaLayanti
Madalāsām Manjulavagvilāsām Mahēndra nīladhyutikomalāngī
Matangakanyām manasāsmarami

My translation is as follows:

Blithely caressing a gem studded vina,
Winèd languor lilting with lucid word,
Bewitching as the blue black sapphire,
Let me invoke you, daughter of Matanga

In the opening quatrain, the source text uses anuprāsa or alliteration of the consonant m, which is extremely difficult to emulate in English. Here, I have tried to bring in some alliterative effects, as in “languor lilting with lucid word,” and “bewitching as blue-black sapphire.” It would be ludicrous to emulate the source text and create a reverse rhyming pattern with all the lines beginning with the same sound or syllable. Similarly the internal rhymes, sibilance and assonance in one of the opening verses of the dandakam are also impossible to echo in translation:

Sadararābdhasangītasambhāvanasambhramālōlanīpsragābadhachūlīsanāthatrikē, sānumatputrikē.

After many drafts, I knew that bringing in a similar phonological effect would only end in a grand fiasco. Hence, I have attempted prosody, mirroring the dandaka pattern of long phrases, followed by short ones. My attempt here has been to highlight the visual and auditory images, with occasional alliteration. Again, the device of parenthesis is copiously used here:

Woman, rapt in the cadence of celestial melody, its rising crescendo daintily swinging your nīpa twinèd blue black hair on your buxom hips, O maiden of the mountain.

I have essayed to establish the cultural milieu by the use of occasional Sanskrit words from the source text in order to create an interlanguage that accentuates the classical element of the text. Some examples are the listing of flora, like nīpa (flower) vīna, kimśukā (flower) and kadamba (forest) and the retention of the Sanskrit philosophic and tantric terms such as tattva and yantra. I have endeavoured to highlight the approximated composition period of the text by the use of archaic diction, as illustrated in words like: bedizened, blithe, bounteous, damsel, feignèd, winèd, and winsome.

In India, Sanskrit is revered as the devabhāṣā (language of the Gods); thus conferring it with elitist status and limiting its accessibility to the “learned upper castes”. I have always felt that if the divinity is taken out of Sanskrit, what remains is pure poetry. This disinvestiture of divinity from the language would make it more accessible, thus eliciting interest in ancient Sanskrit texts, which are timeless and always open to new interpretations. Traditionally, translations from religious Sanskrit verse were conducted by Sanskrit scholars and religious pundits, who pitch on the religious significance of the texts or the Sanskrit prosody rather than the poetic element in the English translation, with the exception of a few scholars like the ageless Ralph T H Griffith, who caters to the poetic element. Often amidst the religious paraphernalia, many scholars paraphrase the hymns, totally ignoring the poetic element. However, more attention has been paid to poetry in translation by contemporary translators. My approach to this translation has been to cater to the poetic element that would elicit the religious aspects. However, my first reaction to Kālidāsa’s erudite Sanskrit was to throw my hands heavenward, appealing to the Divine Mother, who revealed herself as Vāc in the elaborate discussions with Venetia on meaning and in the debates with Sambasivan on interpretation and context.

Translating Sanskrit poetry is always a challenge, the complex declensions of the language furnishing a malleable word order in polar opposition to the rigid English syntax, which is neither ductile nor malleable. I have tried to overcome the problem of word order by using rhetorical devices like anaphora, repetition, listing and parentheses as mentioned earlier. My attempt has been to recreate the mellifluous verse of Śyamalādaṇḍakam by holistically following certain recurring phonological patterns and by maintaining the sensuously religious mood, while adhering to the elaborate imagery and figurative devices like upama (simile), rūpaka (metaphor), utprēka (personification) and atiśayōkti (hyperbole). I have chosen to avoid a literal translation; my aspiration has been to employ a poetic phraseology in order to create some sort of prosody, which would read well against the source text. I am aware that the influence of Griffith looms large on my translation, elements of his invocatory, incantatory and evocative style have certainly filtered into my translation; this signifies my partiality towards the Griffithian tenor.

Translation is more than merely literal, it has to be based on interpretation. The meeting of the text and context is also crucial. I have endeavoured to interpret the Divine Woman in contemporary terms, as a revolutionary awakening to womanhood. I have been closely guided in this interpretation by Sambasivan, who is himself a well known Tantri (practitioner of tantra) from Kerala. Adhering to the tradition of Rasāla Books, I have awarded foremost importance to the poetry of the source text. The process has been tedious, many drafts were written, combining discussions with both Sambasivan and Venetia. A lot of compromises had to be made, in order to reach a consensus for a common meeting ground of all the textual and contextual elements: the mellifluous poetry, the religious and tantric aspects and my feminist reading. Kālidāsa’s verse has withstood the test of time; my translation attempts to give it some degree of contemporaneity. The translation of the text is in its almost-final draft form. The whole process has endowed me with a great feeling of satisfaction and joy in the translation of the Divine Woman, through whom I feel, I have re-addressed the woman- question.

Revisiting the concept of the Divine Woman would certainly raise an awareness of women and religion, which in turn would promote female self-perception, especially within India. The eulogisation of Devī as the Universal Mother generates awe; unfortunately, this awe restricts itself solely to religious spheres in India, where female foeticide, dowry fires, denial of inheritance rights to women, assault against women and lack of gender equality are burning issues. My question is when the female entity and the female body are sanctified in the hymns to Devī, why then is this Indian reluctance to respect women? This question has haunted me throughout the translation of the texts and will continue to do so. If only the Divine Woman translates herself into the socio-cultural plexus of India, we would see true awakening!


I. Primary Source

II. Sanskrit Hymns cited
1. Ardhanarīśvarastotram
2. Lalitā Sahsaranāmam
3. Āryā Śatakam.

III. Works Cited and Bibliography
1. Frawley, David, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, Twin Lakes, USA, Lotus, 1994, Second Edition, 2003.
2. Kinsley, David, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition, New Delhi, Motilal Banarasidass, 1998, 2005.
3. Morgan, Les, Croaking Frogs: A Guide to Sanskrit Metrics and Figures of Speech, UK, Mahodara Press, 2011.

IV. Journals and Anthologies cited
1. Harper Collins Book of English Poetry, Ed. Sudeep Sen, New Delhi, 2012
2. Muse India (online) – Poetising Indian Inheritance (Themed Issue), Ed. Usha Kishore, Issue 48, Mar-Apr, 2013.


1 This article is based on my forthcoming book, Translations of the Divine Woman, from Rasāla Books, India.

2 LaLitā Sahasranāmam – Śloka 81 – Devi is eulogised as the manifestation of speech, differentiated into four degrees: vaikharī, madhyamā, paśyantī and parā. David Frawley (55) defines them – as audible speech, thought, illumined speech and the transcendent. This is my invocation to the Divine Woman.

3 MBE – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

4 “Dakshayani”– Muse India, Mar-Apr, 2013

5 “Sita” – HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, (Ed. Sudeep Sen) 2012

6 “Descent of Ganga” – Muse India, Issue 48, Mar-Apr, 2013

7 L’écriture feminine et indienne (appropriation of the French l’écriture feminine) – is the title of my poem, published in the journal, New Writing, UK, 2007. Subsequently, I have transferred this term to my critiques, in order to define Indian feminist writing.

8 The technicalities of the dandaka verse would be considered at a later stage in the text.

9 Tantric tradition is elicited later in the text.

10 I am still a student of Sanskrit verse, so I am using the escape clause, “I might be right.”

11 Sōlah śringar – Hindi for sixteen adornments

12 God of Love