Cakra-Bandha ("The Wheel Formation")
Posted May 15, 2011
Sanskrit poetry is enriched with a great variety of metrical patterns, figures of expression and innumerable other features. The mere combination of short and long syllables in verses with from one to 26 syllables per quarter makes a total of 67,108,864 possibilities. Citra-kavitva is one of the most impressive kinds of compositions, consisting in poems in the form of animals, flowers, etc.
Such poetry has been common among Indian poets for at least 2,000 years, and poets like Magha (7th century) became renowned for his intricate arrangements in the form of sword, zigzag, wheel, etc. The rules for such compositions were laid down in several treatises on poetics, among which King Bhoja's 11th-century Sarasvati-kanthabharana has a distinct place.
Although not so well-known yet, several Gaudiya poets wrote works that are nothing less than the consecrated maha-kavyas of Kalidasa and others. The book called Stava-mala contains Srila Rupa Gosvami's poems arranged in different shapes, such as lotus, drum, wheel, etc., in which the exquisite vocabulary, grammatical constructions, and figures of expression are breathtaking. Inspired by these, what follows is my humble attempt to write a citra-kavitva.
Some of the characteristics of this formation are as follows. The first three lines of the verse are arranged as the six spokes of a wheel, sharing the same syllable at the centre. The first and the last syllable of the first three lines are shared with the fourth line, forming the rim. The last syllable of the third line is the first and the last syllable of the fourth line. With some exceptions, a syllable with a short vowel is considered long when followed by two consonants, so here the first syllable of the three first lines should be long when read towards the centre, but short when read in the rim.
smaryam vedyam rtam prapatti-satadha vaidesya-patre dade
svarnanga-prabhu-campakanghri-sarano dharmyam pradatte ca me
vrtvasambhu-cakram vyathatma-samako yah krsna-pantha sa vai
vaikunthe smayinah svato'nivrtabho deve sa me patu vai."
Translation: "Taking full shelter at Lord Caitanya's feet, which are just like yellow campaka flowers due to His golden complexion, he made the foreign people recipients of his mercy by imparting to them the Supreme Absolute Truth and hundreds of ways to engage in devotional service. This Truth is to be known and remembered by all, and therefore he imparts the eternal religious principles to me also. Restraining a multitude of inauspicious characteristics common in this age, he pacifies the suffering conditioned souls, for he is indeed the personified path back to Krsna. Now situated in his original constitutional position in the spiritual world, with unobstructed effulgence he is smiling lovingly at Krsna. May that Srila Prabhupada always protect me."
Another common feature of this construction, as exemplified by Magha in his famous cakra-bandha in the Sisupala-vadha (19.120), is a hidden signature, a somewhat modest though ingenious way to sign one's work. It should start in one of the inner lines of the wheel and be read clockwise towards the centre. Eight inner lines can be drawn from the centre, one for each syllable. Here, in the sixth syllable of the second spoke (from the centre) we read 'pra', and in the sixth syllable of the third spoke we read 'bhu', etc. Continuing in the fourth inner line, we have the following: prabhupada-padya-cakram demyan-krtam ("This poem in the form of a wheel was composed by Demian to glorify Srila Prabhupada.")
For those who appreciate poetry, this is an insignificant drop compared to the ocean of nectar written by Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti and so many others.
Note: A version of this article, complete with explanatory illustrations and formatted for printing as a .pdf document, is available for free download. /living2/Cakrabandha.pdf
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