Kamayani (Hindi:कामायनी) (1936) is a Hindi epic poem (Mahakavya) by Jaishankar Prasad (1889–1937). It is considered one of the greatest literary works written in modern times in Hindi literature. It also signifies the epitome of Chhayavadi school of Hindi poetry which gained popularity in late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Kamayani depicts the interplay of human emotions, thoughts, and actions by taking mythological metaphors. Kamayani has personalities like Manu, Ida and Śraddhā who are found in the Vedas. The great deluge described in the poem has its origin in Satapatha Brahmana. Explaining his metaphorical presentation of Vedic characters, the poet said:
Ida was the sister of the gods, giving consciousness to the entire mankind. For this reason, there is an Ida Karma in the Yagnas. This erudition of Ida created a rift between Shraddha and Manu. Then with the progressive intelligence searching for unbridled pleasures, the impasse was inevitable. This story is so very ancient that metaphor has wonderfully mingled with history. Therefore Manu, Shraddha and Ida while maintaining their historical importance may also express the symbolic import. Manu represents the mind with its faculties of the head and heart and these are again symbolized as Faith (Shraddha) and Intelligence (Ida) respectively. On this data is based the story of Kamayani.
The plot is based on the Vedic story where Manu, the man surviving after the deluge (Pralaya), is emotionless (Bhavanasunya). Manu starts getting involved in various emotions, thoughts and actions. These are sequentially portrayed with Shraddha, Ida, Kilaat and other characters playing their part, contributing in them. The chapters are named after these emotions, thoughts or actions. Some people consider that the sequence of chapters denotes the change of personality in a man's life with age.
Following is the sequence:
- Chinta (Anxiety)
- Asha (Hope)
- Shraddha (Reverential belief, Faith, Virtue of being a woman)
- Kama (Sexual love)
- Vasna (Passion for material pleasure)
- Lajja (Shyness)
- Karma (Action)
- Irshyaa (Jealousy)
- Ida (Logic, Intellect)
- Swapna (Dream)
- Sangharsh (Internal conflict)
- Nirved (Disregard of worldly things, Renunciation)
- Darshan (Philosophy, Vision)
- Rahasya (Hidden knowledge, Mystery,chupa hua)
- Anand (Bliss, Self-realization, Shiva)
A musical play adaptation of "Kamayani" has been directed by Dr. Shakuntala Shukla and Vyomkesh Shukla. This play is produced by the banner of "Roopvani, Varanasi".
- Kamayani of Jai Shankar Prasad - As I saw It and Understood It by Dr.Girish Bihari 1st Edition 2006, Published by Film Institute, Lucknow (U.P.) - INDIA