The Nayikas’ Guide to Romance

Dating-wisdom from the Nayikas - for they know every situation you'd find yourself in.

Your long term crush has finally asked you out and you are jumping with happiness. In all the excitement you still want to prep yourself for the hardships and awkward situations that await you in a relationship. If you don’t know who to look up to, we introduce you to  the Ashta Nayikas.

There is a Nayika (heroine) in every woman. But we aren’t the first ones to say so:

The Nayikas first appeared in the Natya Shastra (a sanskrit text on the performing arts) written by Bharat Muni; though it was the poet Keshavdas who decoded ‘the mystery that is woman’ and featured the Nayikas in his work ‘Rasikpriya‘. From here onwards there was no stopping the popularity of Nayikas amongst artists.

nayikas rasikpriya keshavdas
Raja Indrajit requesting poet Kesavadasa to write Rasikapriya. India, Malwa, Late 17th century, National Museum, New Delhi. Keshavdas holds a white paper in his hand.

The Ashta-Nayikas or the 8 heroines have been a favourite subject of poets and painters for years. Even today, you can identify the traits of these heroines in movies.

The Nayikas have seen many a happy and sad days. Being old players in the field of love they’ve got a list of situations for young love birds – and well, ways to deal with them!

The 8 Nayikas embody different reactions and emotions to varied stages in a relationship. Here’s our selection featuring artworks from the National Museum New Delhi, CSMVS Mumbai, the Government Museum & Art Gallery Chandigarh, Indian Museum Kolkata and Salar Jung Museum Hyderabad.

1. When he tells you that he is coming over, Vasakasajja Nayika suggests some new home decor.

Vasakasajja: she who is ready to receive her beloved

He is coming over to your house and you want to create a good impression. Spruce up the decor, declutter & clean up the mess! Candles and fragrances are a good idea too. When everything is set for the perfect date way before time the Nayika suggests that you talk to the crow sitting in your balcony – because hey, he is the omen for a lovers return and you want to ensure everything goes off well, right ?

2. When he doesn’t turn up for a date (because he got busy and forgot), Utka Nayika asks you to show patience.

Utka: she who is longing in separation

Getting stood up is definitely not a good feeling. You have doubts about his whereabouts. You fear whether he forgot what google maps are for and got lost ? Maybe his friends are holding him back? Did he get into another meeting and didn’t have time to call? Or worse, has he moved on and forgotten your date ? You are anxious about him and are probably deep in thought like the Utka Nayika. Without jumping to any conclusions the Nayika suggests you wait for the separation to end, patiently. Maybe sing a song?

3. When you know he is smitten by you, the Svadhinapatika Nayika suggests you make hay while the sun shines

Svadhinapatika : she who is proud of the loyalty and love she receives

A situation that every girl would die to be in. You get whatever you ask for, be it walking on petals or asking for a cuddle or gifts (so don’t forget the diamonds you always wanted to own ). He listens to all you say and abides by it. Previously thought to be only possible in dreams, the Svadhinapatika Nayika made it happen!

Image : Kapoor Galleries

It does not require the swish of your wand but for you to be a great woman yourself and deserve the star treatment. The more you give, the more you get is the mantra to follow. To enjoy this treatment for eternity you should treat him like a king too!

4. When he comes to apologise after a fight, Abhisandhita (Kalahanatarita) Nayika suggests you don’t savour the apology for too long.

Abhisandhita or Kalahantarika Nayika : she who is divided from her beloved in quarrel

Every relationship has its ups and downs and all couples fight. It is advised that after venting out your feelings, it is civil and in your best interests to accept your partner’s apologies (and maybe render one yourself too). This is a go-to rule unless you don’t want to accept the apology yet and end up sending him away. You’d be regretting it later like the nayika herself did.

5. When you know you have been cheated on, Khandita Nayika suggests confrontation.

Khandita Nayika: she who has been deceived

You invite him for a date night but he leaves you high and dry. Your plans for the night are ruined. You wake up early morning only to see him sheepishly return to you. You know you have been cheated on. You ask him questions and he is unable meet your eye thereby confirming your suspicions. The Nayika wants you to emulate her and not shy away from the situation. Give him a piece of your mind! Because you girl, did nothing wrong and have nothing to be afraid of.

6. When he breaks up (& does not even meet you), Vipralabdha Nayika suggests that you move on.

Vipralabdha Nayika: She who has been neglected, and betrayed.

You send a text via facebook messenger, whatsapp and DM him on Instagram (the Nayika could afford to send a human messenger) asking him to come and meet you (you dressed up and all). He ignores your request or rather seen-zones you and does not turn up. The neglected Nayika would have torn at her clothes and thrown away her (very) expensive jewellery. The idea here is to take a break from all the dressing-up-for-date-night and indulge yourself. He’s just not worth the angst.

7. When he has gone abroad for a business trip, Proshitapatika Nayika suggests that it’s time to hang out with your girl gang

Proshitapatika: she who waits as her beloved has gone abroad

He has been away for too long and his visa expires tomorrow, yet he hasn’t come back at the time he was supposed to. Though you are just impatient to see all the gifts he has bought for you, you miss him too. Now all you need to do is tag your beloved in an ‘I miss you’ post on your insta-story and then go cry to have fun with your BFFs !

Image: Fitzwilliam Museum Collection, Cambridge (UK)

8. When you know that Love brings out the adventurer in you, Abhisarika Nayika wants you to be prepared to take the risk

nayikas abhisarika fearless
Abhisarika Nayika: she who goes forth to seek her beloved

Going on a ‘sneak’ in the middle of the night to meet your boy is not a 21st century thing – some Nayikas have been going on such adventures since forever. Legends (like Abhisarika Nayika) venture into forests full of snakes and goblins at night even on a stormy night. Make sure you do not forget your shoes in all the excitement and be prepared to take the risks. The key to achieving this feat they say, is the love and the desire you have for your significant other.

Being in a relationship is not only about who your partner is, but what qualities they bring out in you and the emotions they evoke. The Ashta-Nayikas agree with this strongly and implore you to come visit them for more advice at your nearest museum!

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