Layers of Composition in the Kesi-Goyamijja Dialogue (Uttarajjhāyā 23)

Published: 01.05.2016
Updated: 02.10.2016

Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter: SOAS - University of London

Thanks especially to Ludwig Alsdorf's studies of various chapters of Uttarajjhāyā, we know that variations in metre are a guide to the textual history of Jain Prakrit narrative texts. The Citta-Saṃbhūijja dialogue (Utt., ch. 13) comprises a basic triṣṭubh dialogue, some anuṣṭubh amplification, and 'at a still later stage... vv. 1-3 which give, in the āryā metre characteristic of the latest layer of the canon, the briefest possible extract from the prose tale furnishing just the most indispensable frame for the ensuing dialogue' (Alsdorf, 'The story of Citta and Sambhūta', Belvalkar Fel. Vol., 1957, 202ff.). In the related Citta-Saṃbhūta Jātaka 498 in Pali there is no such attempt to create an independent verse text, freed from any prose elaboration: the verse dialogue remains embedded in a prose kathānaka. While the triṣṭubh Citta-Saṃbhūijja has only a prologue in āryā metre, the anuṣṭubh dialogue Namipavvajjā (Utt. ch. 9) opens and closes with a miniature frame-story in āryā metre (vv. 1-5 and vv. 55, 59-60).

Where there is no such prosodic diversity, it may be seen that strophic structure can be a guide. In KesiGoyamijja (Utt., ch. 23), the important account of the conference on ethical and sartorial behaviour between Pārśva's disciple Kesikumāra and Vardhamāna's disciple Goyama, the text's obviously composite nature is confirmed by variations in its strophic arrangement.

The evident tṛcas, three-verse strophes, that may be observed in, for example, the Vīra-tthava (Sūyagaḍaṅga 1.6) are invariably ignored in editions and translations. Alsdorf has shown that, despite its ragged appearance due to intrusive gnomic verses, the Namippavajjā dialogue (Utt., ch. 9) has a 'well-thought-out' basic distich structure (Alsdorf, 'Namipavajjā', Ind. Stud. Norman Brown, 1962, 8ff.). Editions and translations of the Kesi-Goyamijja (Utt., ch. 23) likewise ignore its strophic construction, despite the fact that (allowing for a couple of instances of disruption due to fairly obvious interpolation) the strophes were clearly enough demarcated in the commentary of Devendra- Nemicandra, as edited in 1937. Its explanations are presented there in appropriate groups: triads (iti sūtratrayārthaḥ), tetrads (iti sūtracatuṣṭayārthaḥ), and pentads (iti sūtrapañcakārthaḥ).

The function of the āryā prologue in Citta-Saṃbhūijja, etc., introducing the occasion and the speakers, is taken over in Kesi-Goyamijja by four tetrads, i.e., by a passage in the same anuṣṭubh metre as the subsequent text, but with a different strophic structure. This is not immediately obvious, since the commentary splits the first tetrad into an editorial ādi-sūtra (as providing a link with the preceding chapter) and a triad, sūtratraya. It treats the third, vv. 9-13, as an anomalous pentad: but v. 9, with āryā openings and a resolved seventh syllable (the chapter has resolution otherwise only of the first syllable), is an explicable, but actually superfluous reference to Kesi and Goyama, the strophe being otherwise concerned with the perplexities of rank-and-file Pārśva and Vardhamāna disciples.

Uttarādhyayanasūtra: Kesigoyamijja (Detail)
Gujarat, Jain, ca. 1460
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The verses 18-33 comprise five triads, one describing the scene and four combining Goyama's replies with Kesi's requests for clarification of the issues of a monk's vows and a monk's dress. Here the commentator splits the first triad into one verse, describing the monks, and two verses, a sūtradvaya that lists the bystanders. He also does not recognize as evidently superfluous the two lines 21cd... Goyamo iṇam abbavī and 22cd... Goyamo iṇam abbavī. As a result, he and the translators are forced to read 22b Kesiṃ Goyamamabbavī as 'Goyama said to Kesi'; but the excision justifies the more plausible reading Kesī Goyamam abbavī 'Kesi said to Goyama' found only in the V & A manuscript (depicted above), while restoring a symmetrical tṛca in lieu of the commentator's two distichs.

Thereafter, despite again dividing the first strophe, vv. 34-38 into one plus four verses, the commentator recognizes pentads, sūtrapañcaka. The exchanges take the form of two-verse questions posed by Kesi and oneverse answers (firstly, vv. 34-5 'How do you deal with enemies?', 36 'One being defeated, five are defeated; five being defeated, ten are defeated; ten by ten I defeat all enemies'), followed by further one-verse leading questions from Kesi and one-verse answers (vv. 37 'What are the enemies?', 38 'Oneself, one's vices, one's senses'). Goyama's answer seems ostensibly to envisage a notion that each convert will in turn generate a number of disciples, but Kesi, showing no interest in any such literal meaning, asks for an esoteric interpretation. Subsequent questions are more purely metaphorical, concerned first with problems (vv. 39-58: 'How do you avoid bondage / inner poison / moral fires / driving forces') and then with solutions (vv. 59-84: 'What is the way / the landfall (dīva) / the boat / the luminary / the safe place?').

Thus the original query turns out to have been a leading question, posed in the interests of establishing a consensus. As the commentator puts it, Kesi knows the answers already (ad v. 34: jānann api, aparam api vastutattvaṃ pṛcchan Keśiḥ... āha); and as Jacobi inferred, the colloquy demonstrates 'the unity in doctrine subsisting between the Law of Pārśva and that of Mahāvīra' (SBE, 1895, 124, n.). That Kesi is actually submitting to a better formulation of the shared dogma is made quite clear if, not implausibly, we emend the untranslatable purimassa in v. 87 to read purimammi:

pañcamahavvaya-dhammaṃ   paḍivajjai bhāvao, purima[mmi] pacchimammi   magge tattha suhāvahe. '(Kesi) wholeheartedly adopted the doctrine of five major vows, in that ancient and modern way that brings bliss.'

These pentads have no real bearing on the reasons that, in the triadic section, had been put forward  for the conference, whereas the closing five verses 85-89 revert, not indeed to the issue of clothing, but interestingly only to the number of vows as the bone of contention. We might see these five verses, not as a pentad, but as the expanded version of a triad. Devendra does not present them as a pentad. The first of the five, Kesi's standard pentad opening (v. 85 sāhu Goyama pannā te, chinno me saṃsao imo), expanded to a full verse, is treated separately in his commentary, as is the somewhat unusual final invocation, v. 89... pasīyantu bhayavaṃ-Kesi-Goyamā. The distich (sūtradvaya) v. 86f., describing Kesi's concession in the matter of vows, together with v. 88, acknowledging Goyama's efficacy (mahāpuruṣa-phalam āha), might be considered to have once constituted a suitable fourth triad associated with the clear-cut issue of the vows, vv. 18-27. Tṛcas are arguably the most ancient strophic form regularly found in Indian literature.

Two aspects of the text which may betray secondary elaboration of the topic are not, however, distinguished by a change of strophic form. The first of the pentads, the parable of the enemies, differs from the stock metaphors of the subsequent pentads, bondage, etc. More significantly, the triads vv. 28-33 that raise the question of dress, but seem to leave it open as being of little consequence beside knowledge, faith, and conduct (v. 33cd), are ignored in the concluding concordat.

J.C. Wright is Emeritus Professor in Sanskrit at the University of London, and Senior Research Fellow in the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

CoJS Newsletter
Issue 11, March 2016
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