Kavi Samaya: Parrots and Pomegranates

That parrots eat pomegranates, and are dangerous witnesses given their ability to report a conversation word for word, is well established in kāvya. This anonymous poet in the Subhāṣitāvali uses both these ideas in describing the morning after a young couple’s wedding night. The translation is taken from AND Haksar’s abridged version of the Subhāṣitāvali, with many thanks to him.

 

दम्पत्योर्निशि जल्पतोर्गृहशुकेनाकर्णितं यद्वच-

स्तत्प्रातर्गुरुसंनिधौ निगदतस्तस्यातिमात्रं वधूः ।

कर्णालम्बितपद्मरागशकलं विन्यस्य चच्ञ्वाः पुटे

व्रीडार्ता प्रकरोति दाडिमफलव्याजेन वाग्बन्धनम् ।। कस्यापि

 

When the pet parrot of the house,

which heard at night the couple’s love-talk,

began repeating it in front

of the elders in the morning,

the bride, embarrassed and aghast,

took a ruby from her eardrop

and, pretending to the bird,

that it was a pomegranate seed,

stuffed the gem inside its beak

to stop it prattling any more.

 

Verse 2214 in the Subhāṣitāvali, translated by AND Haksar

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