The Seasons of Madhumālatī’s Separation: The <i>Madhumālatī</i>, Part 2

Aditya Behl

in Love's Subtle Magic

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195146707
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199978878 | DOI:
The Seasons of Madhumālatī’s Separation: The Madhumālatī, Part 2

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This chapter turns the knowledge of the Shattari mystical context to an exegesis of certain key passages in the romance, set within a complete reading of Mañjhan's text. The Madhumālatī differs from the other romances of the genre in that the hero does not have two wives; nor is there a final annihilation. Instead, Mañjhan structures his story around a double plot: two couples come together in the end, and the poetic description of marriage and the journey to the beloved's land signifies the ascent to a paradise of eternal love. There is a poetic play between the secret mysteries of divine presence and what can be publicly told. The hero and heroine swear a binding oath of silence, and Mañjhan exploits this to hint at the greatest mystery of all: the dissolution of boundaries between God and human beings at the higher levels of spiritual perfection. The reading focuses on the way in which poetic personification suggests spiritual mysteries, showing how the hero's meeting with Pemā or “Love” in a dark forest evokes spiritual macrocosms and self-transformation. Love's descent into this world from the paradisal mango grove of her father's kingdom slyly hints at larger cosmologies, and Manohar's conquest of the evil demon who brought her there advances him on the quest for perfection. The chapter also highlights the generic set piece of the bārah-māsā, which is set here in the voice of the divine heroine rather than the worldly wife.

Keywords: Hindavī Sufi romances; Shattari; Mañjhan; marriage; self-transformation; love; spiritual perfection

Chapter.  7743 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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