Kamayani is one of the magnum opus, which means the great work of Jaishankar Prasad. It was considered a great epic of the human psyche. It is an epic of romance (Chhayavad). It is published in 1936. It is a long narrative poem. This poem is completed in seven years. In this poem, Manu, Shraddha, and Ida keep their historicity intact signifying symbolic meanings. Shraddha is the symbol of Faith. Ida is the symbol of Intellect and Manu is the symbol of Mind. The main story of Kamayani can be divided into four parts –
- The flood and destruction of the race of Gods.
- The meeting of Manu and Shraddha.
- The Union of Manu and Ida.
- The Journey of Manu to Kailash.
About Jaishankar Prasad
Jaishankar Prasad was a prominent figure in Hindi Literature as well as Hindi theatre. He was also known as a Chhayavadi poet. He is considered one of the Four Pillars of Romanticism in Hindi Literature along with Sumitranandan Pant, Mahadevi Varma, and Suryakant Tripathi Nirala. Prasad started writing poetry with the pen name Kaladhar. He was a poet, play writer, novelist, story writer, and literary critic. He led the revolt in poetry as well as in every field. He wrote seven books of poetry, thirteen plays, three novels, five collections of short stories, and one book on Literary essays. In her glowing tribute to Jaishankar Prasad, the poet-critic Mahadevi Varma said:
“Whenever I remember our great poet,
Prasad a particular image comes to my mind.”
Structure of Kamayani
The basic structure of Kamayani has been drawn after the original Vedic literature. This is also said that it is written in the pattern of Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is the epic of emotions, feelings, and sentiments. The poetic texture of Kamayani has two aspects: –
At the level of content, Kamayani has higher pleasure, aesthetic seriousness, deepest subtleties, and dazzling image which established it as a great epic in Hindi Literature.
At the level of form, Kamayani’s phonological organization, sweet and melodious overtones it is sense relations win our hearts.
Theme Of Kamayani
Jaishankar Prasad has divided the whole theme of Kamayani into 15 Cantos – Anxiety (Chinta), Hope (Aasha), Faith (Shraddha), Eros (Kama), Passion (Vasna), Shyness (Lajja), Action (Karma), Jealousy (Irshya), Intellect (Ida), Conflict (Sangharsh), Dream (Svapna), Renunciation (Nirved), Bliss (Anand), and Mystery (Rahasya).
Kamayani Poem Analysis
Manu is the hero of this epic. According to Hindu Mythology, he is supposed to be the progenitor of the human race. Manu is the first man in Indian History. The Poem has three main characters – Manu, Shraddha, and Ida.
The description in Canto Worry and Hope is related to the flood and destruction of the race of Gods, while the Cantos from faith to Jealousy is related to the meeting of Manu and Shraddha. The union of Manu and Ida consists form intellect to Renunciation and lost part, the Journey of Many to Kailas comprises of last two cantos – Mystery and Bliss.
The story of Kamayani begins with a horrible flood in which the whole divine race and their glory are completely destroyed. Manu also belongs to this race of gods who escaped death because at that time he was in his boat. Something mysterious pushed the boat in such a way that it dashed against the top of the Himalayas Mountain. Manu was seeing that great deluge with a heavy heart and tearful eyes which had destroyed his whole family and society. This destruction was caused mainly for three reasons – Pride, excess of luxury, and inactivity. Once he meets Shraddha (the daughter of Kama) and marries her. Kama, Vasana, and Lajja enter their life.
Manav the son of Manu and Shraddha is born and is also the symbol of human progeny. Manu is then called upon by Karma to perform the sacrifice. Swayed by Irshya he abandons Shraddha and Manav. In the course of his wandering, he meets Ida, who is the embodiment of intellect. Her prosperous kingdom Sarasvat region has been ruined by the flood. Charmed by her Manu lays the foundation of a new human society. When in his over-enthusiasm he tries to possess Ida, but she refuses to marry him. Then he tries to rape her.
Manu’s this act brings about a popular revolt. He is badly bounded. Shraddha arrives with Manav and sees Manu. Forgiving his betrayal she restores him to health. Ashamed of his bad behavior, Manu is repentant and decides to renounce the world. So he slips away without informing his wife and child to undergo penance to have a darshan of reality. Shraddha entrusts Manav to Ida and joins Manu in this journey to achieve bliss in Kailash.
Kamayani begins on a note of despair and ends on a note of bliss. Through this poem, Jaishankar Prasad has given the massage to humanity that in this blind race of materialism, everybody is running after wealth and luxury but its ultimate result is nothing except destruction.