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Reading: Thieves in the Storehouse of Sarasvatī: Metaliterary Aspects of the Caurapañcāśikā

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Thieves in the Storehouse of Sarasvatī: Metaliterary Aspects of the Caurapañcāśikā

Author:

Andrew Ollett

Abstract

The Caurapañcāśikā is a short Sanskrit poem about remembered love. It can, however, be read as a poem about poetry: its ascription to the poet Bilhaṇa, the stories about its composition, and the choice of metaphors in the text invite us to think of the beloved as an embodiment of literature (kāvya), and the poet’s constant return to her in memory as a model of the kind of relationship that participants in a literary culture (sahṛdayas, rasikas) have to literature. The main implications of this reading are the attribution to literature of the qualities of the beloved—and vice versa—and the characterization of literature as an inalienable possession in the “storehouse of Sarasvatī in the heart,” which memory keeps safe from the dangers of political life to which it is constantly exposed.

How to Cite: Ollett, A., 2014. Thieves in the Storehouse of Sarasvatī: Metaliterary Aspects of the Caurapañcāśikā. Asian Literature and Translation, 2(4), pp.1–15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2014.10209
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Published on 05 Apr 2014.
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