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In Pursuit of Love: A Historical Analysis of ‘Feeling’ in Bāṇabhaṭṭa’s Kādambarῑ
Emotions and their aetiology were a major preoccupation of the composers of Sanskrit creative literature (kāvya) of the first millennium CE. Among the many extant literary compositions of the period Bāṇabhaṭṭa’s Kādambarῑ occupies a distinctive position as being among the earliest examples of prose (gadya) in which the author worked with the popular technique of emboxed stories steeped in sentimentality. This paper will look closely at the Kādambarῑ to explore the emotional world shaped by the kāvyas. Divided into two sections, this paper will first look at the role of stories and storytelling in informing ways of navigating the emotional universe of the first millennium CE and consequently the construction of the ‘feeling community’. Following this, the second section will analyse the attitudes towards love and its myriad facets in early India through Bāṇa’s lenses. By assessing the interactions between early Indian creative literature, particularly the kathā, and society, this paper will argue that by the mid-first millennium CE love emerged as a primary emotion that informed interpersonal relationships and group affinities of the post-Gupta period.
Keywords kathā, Sanskrit kāvya, emotion, love, storytelling, post-Gupta