History of sanskrit literature

The History of Sanskrit literature


The Vedas

The word veda means knowledge. It is explained as the means to attain the true knowledge  which is unattainable through either perception or inference. The whole veda is accepted as inspired revelation.

The Rgveda is the earliest and is in poetry form comprising of hymns , the shortest one containing only one stanza while the longest one  has fiftyeight. The Vedas are not written but handed down from father to son or from guru to disciple. Hence they are called apourusheya.

Those teaching Vedas and those studying are expected to have the knowledge of the seers to whom the hymns were revealed and the metre in which they are in and the deities invoked by them etc.

The hymns  of Rgveda were revealed to rshis who were the medium of communication between gods and men.

Chandhas  or metre is one of the six vedangas. There are seven principal chandhas in Vedas, namely, gayathree, ushNik, anushtubh,brhathee, pankthee thrshtubh and jagathee.

The devathaas are those to whom the hymns are addressed.  A hymn or a part of it and some additional verses are used in a particular rite or rites. This is called viniyoga or application. To get the result of a vedic rite one should have the knowledge of the rshi, chandhas, dhevathaa and viniyoga.

There are threefold accents in all the texts of the four Vedas. These are udhaattha, anudhaattha and svaritha. The vowel which is pronounced from the higher part of its proper place of pronounciation such as throat etc. is called udhaattha or acutely accented. The anudhaattha or gravely accented  is the opposite of this and is pronounced from the lower part of its proper place of pronounciation. Svaritha is in between the two.

The udhaattha priests had  to cite some hymns in particular tones during the performance of ceremonials connected with the Soma sacrifice. Tehse hymnscame to be known as Samaveda. The yajurveda resembles Samaveda in its being derived from Rgveda for ritualistic application.But it has , unlike Samaveda  contains many original matters and prose form is first introduced in yajurveda since it explains all the sacrificial ceremonies except the Soma sacrifice which is explained in Samaveda. Yajurveda is the slow guide for the performance of sacrifices,.

Atharva veda is not included when the Vedas are referred to as thrayee because most of the hymns of Atharvaveda are meant to secure welfare during worldly life while the other three have mainly spiritual significance.

The upavedas

1.      Ayurveda

It is the entire science of life and not only about medical matters but alo about biology.Dhanvanthari is supposed to be the author of Ayurveda.Originally it was huge and was abridged by Charaka. Many treatises on medical science were composed by several authors later. Ayurveda is divided into eight sections namely, suthra ( technique,) Sareera (anatomy),indhriya (organs) chikithsaa (therapeutics ) nidhaana ( pathology), vimaana (diseases and their clinical studies),vikalpa ( toxicology) and sidDhi (success).

2.      Dhanurveda

Dhanurveda is a treatise on knowledge of arms. Though the word Dhanu means a bow  this  deals with all weapons such as discus, sword, spear etc., all the weapons to be used by the four kinds of forces, raTha , gaja, thuraga and padhaathi. The portion that deals with the definition and description of weapons is called dhoukshaa. The second section is called samgraha and it describes the missiles and the line of teachers who possessed the knowledge. The third one , sidDhi deals with the efficacy of charms and means of success. The fourth and the last section delas with the application of the weapons . The origin of this veda is ascribed to Brahma.


This is a treatise on music. The author of this is sage Bharatha. The subject matter consisits of music, dance and musical instruments. These arts are supposed to help meditation and worship and for final emancipation.


This is a treatise on mechanical art. There are 64 books of this subjects propagated by Visvamithra for the improvement of this art and includes politics, training of horses, etc. composed by  various sages  at different times.

The Upaangas

There are four upangas  or subsidiary limbs of the veda. They are Purana,Dharmasastra, Mimamsa and Nyaya.

1.      Puranas

They are 18 in number, divided into three classes dealing with Brahma. Vishnu and Siva. Detailed account of puranas will be given in the section dealing with epics.


There seemed to have been 50 Dharmasastras or more but only 20 ere prevalent in Ancient India. Brahamvaivartha purana mentions the names of 14 which were famous for their scholarly writings.


Jaimini is the author of mimamsa suthras. This will be dealt separately in the section Hindu philosophy. Jaimini has endeavoured to remove the differences in the injunctions of the Vedas.

5. Nyaya

This treatise is the work of Goutama and it is said to be the mirror for understanding all other scriptures as it sharpens the intellect to enable one to understand difficult topics.

The vedangas

These are the subsidiary studies to the Vedas and are six in number. They are , Siksha , Kalpa, vyaakaraNa, niruktha , Chandhas and jyothisha.

1.      Siksha

This has six chapters dealing with letters, (vowels and consonants)accents,(acute . low and circumflex- udhaattha  anudhaattha and svasritha), measure ( short –hrasva, long – dheergha and prolonged- athi dheergha), efforts, (inward and outward)

2.      kalpa

This consists of kalpasuthras or hymns gathered form different samhithas to apply to a particular ceremony.


This is a treatise on grammar . There are nine authoritative grammar , namely,Aindhra, chaandhra,kaaSakrthsna, kaumaara, saakataayana, Saarasvatha, apisala, Saakala and Panini. The last one deals with both vedic and classical languages.


This is a supplement to grammar. The author is Yaska. He explains some vedic verses and gives synonyms of vedic words and their derivations.


This is a book on prosody. It deals with various metres of different lengths  based on the syllables in each line. There are 21 metres in all  of which seven ( gayathree etc.) are very important.


This deals with astrology , auspicious and inauspicious  time and the movement of planets.


The Hindu Philosophy

The Hindu philosophy traces its origin to the Vedas. It is chiefly pantheistic and idealistic. The word dharsana means an insight to  the nature of the Self. Hence the various philosophical systems are classed as darsanas. The source of this may be the upanshad manthra ‘ are dhrashtavyaH SrothavyaH manthavyaHbnidhidhyaasithavyaH’ the advice to Maithreyi by Yajnavalkya in brhadharanyaka upanisha. It means , the Self is to be seen, heard, contemplated and meditated.  It is to be heard from Sruthi vakyas, to be contemplated by application. Then it is to be meditated.

A study of phiolosophy consists of the study of cause and effect. The three schools of Vedanta , namely, dvaitha, visishtadvaita and advaita differ in their concept of the relation of the cause and the effect. The dvaita philosophy holds the view that the cause is different from the effect, t visishtadvaita  holds  that the cause and the effect are identical amd yet different  and in advaita they are one and the same or identical. We shall examine in detail later.

Nyaya , Vaiseshika , saankhya, yoga, Puravamimamsa  and uttaramimamsa or vedanta are collectively known as the shad darsanas, or the six schools of philosophy.  The rest are classified separately as nastika darsanas while this six are astika darsnas. The term astika and nastijka does not correspond to the belief in God as it is normally understood but it means nastikas are the ones who do not uphold the authority of the Vedas and asthikas are the ones who do. In other words, vaidhika and avaidhika.

The schools of  Indian philosophy are. Charvaka, Buddhism, Jainism and the six mentioned already under Hindu philosophy.

They can also be classified according to their theory of causation of the phenomenal world.

1.      asathkaaraNa vadha or asathvaadha.

According to this theory everything that exists has come out of nothing. There is no permanent cause that produces the effect , the world. This view is adopted by Buddhist school.

2.asthakaarya vaadha or aarambhana vadha

This theory says that a cause which exists previously produces an effect which was previously non existent. This is the view of the nyayaikas, vaiseshaikas and the mimamsakas.

3.pariNaama vadha

This view says that everything preexisted in unmanifest state and is brought into manifest state by the causal activity. This is the view of Sankhya and Yoga.

4.vivartha vaadha

The world came from the ultimate cause, , which alone is real,  through maya and the phenomenal universe is not real by ut appears to be so through ignorance. This is the view of advaita Vedanta.

Both parnamavadha and vivartha vadha are termed as sathkaryavadha as the effect is preexistent in the cause in its potential state.In Parinama vadha the cause itself gets transformed while in vivartha vadha the cause remains the same but he effect only seems to be different. Visishtadvaita theory is also sath karya vadha but differs from that of advaita in as much as the effect, the universe , is also real but in its essence it is the same as its cause, that is,  Brahman.



The different philosophical systems of India


1. Charvaka or Lokayatha – the materialist school

Yaavajjeeveth sukham jeeveth

rNam krthvaa ghrtham pibeth

basmeebhoothasya dhehasya

punaraagamanam kuthaH


“ Live well as long as you are alive. Drink ghee even if you have to incur debt for that. When the body is burnt where is the question of returning?”

For this school, perception is the only valid means of cognition. They accept only four elements , namely, earth, water, fire and air, which alone are perceptible by the senses. That is they believe in what they experience by their five senses, namely. The eye. The ear. The nose, the tongue and the skin. There is nothing beyond that they recognize as knowledge. they do not believe in rebirth nor in the absolute realty or a permanent self.  The body, senses and the sense objects are the products of the five elements. A human being is a body possessing sentience  and the only purpose of life is fulfilling the sensual  desires. This kind of people are easily recognized in today’s world indeed! They are out and out materialistic with no inclination towards spirituality. Their only purusharTha is kaama and of the other three, namely, dharma, arTha  and moksha , the first and third are nonexistent and the second, that is arTha is only for the satisfaction of kama.

The charvaka system belongs to the post upanishadic and pre-Buddhist period. The charvakas are of two kinds called dhurthas and susikshithas. To the former there are only four elements and the body is the result of atomic combination. The intelligence is also biological, arising from the combination of the elements like the intoxication arises in wine due to fermentation The latter accepts a soul but according to them it is destroyed with the body.

Founder of this system is said to be Brhaspathi whose chief disciple was chaarvaka from whom the name  was derived, who is also considered as the founder by some. Brhaspathi was a heretic philosopher or it could be the guru of devas who propounded the philosophy so that the humans will not strive for mukthi marga which will result in their abandoning the ritual practices like yajnas etc. that provide food for the devas through the havirbhaga. He name chaarvaka may also be a common name derived from charv to eat or it could be chaaru vaaka as the teachings are palatable to all.

The main objective of the chaarvaka philosophy is to deny life after death and the concept of  punya and papa and that of karma. They do not  accept God  and moksha. The self perished with the body.

2.Jaina darsana

The word jina means a conquerer. The acharyas of Jaina system are called Theerthankaras and there were 24 theerthankaras starting from Rishabha to Mahavira. Though Rshabha is considered to be the first, the philosophy taught by him was primarily theistic. He advocated only bhakthi and austerity and in Srimadbhagavatham he is mentioned as an incarnation of Narayana. He propagated self control and renunciation as opposed to the prevalent practice of karmamarga which consisted mainly of performing the yajnas and other austerities for the purpose of acquiring desired results in this world and the next. But in later periods people who happened to hear about the conduct of Rshabha, which transcended all asramas interpreted it as atheism and propagated a religion abandoning Vedas and this later became Jainism. But actually what Rshabha showed by his behaviour is the importance of renunciation which is more conducive to salvation than the vedic rituals induced by rajas.

The modern Jainism is based on the teachings of Mahavira who gave a new interpretation to the already existing theory of Jainism. He lived in 6th century BC and was a contemporary of Buddha.

The whole universe is divided into two broad categories, namely, jiva and ajiva. The latter includes matter and also space and time. Jiva is the same as athman or purusha in other systems. Consciousness is the essence of the soul. Both sentient and the insentient have souls though in latter it is in dormant form. The soul is capable of extension and contraction according to the body it occupies. Knowledge is the very essence of soul and possesses the ability to know everything but prevented by the obstructions of body, mind and intellect, the effects of karma and freedom from matter (body, mind and intellect) when the karma is removed, results in emancipation and omniscience.

Jainism though denies a supreme God , does not deny a godhead. Every liberated soul, like the theerthankaras is a god.

Of the books on the system that are now available , the aapthaniSchayaalankaara of Arhatchandra Suri, the Vitharaagasthuthi, the syaathvaadha manjari are important.

3.      Buddhism

Buddhism which started in India swept the whole world and became a popular world religion like Christianity and Islam as it spread in many countries in the east. Due to its simple doctrines it was embraced by all classes of people. It was basically a religion for common people though like Jainism it also did not accept the authority if the Vedas which might have been the main reason why  it spread to other countries.

The original literature of Buddhism was in Pali language compiled long after Buddha. Some later Buddhists claimed that these works were misinterpretations and they had separate literature in Sanskrit. They called themselves Mahaayanis and the former as Heenayanis and their school is known as Mahayana buddhism and the former as Hinayana Buddhism.

There are four different schools of Buddhism, namely. Madhyamikas, Yogacharas,southranthikas and vaibhashikas.

The first two are classed as Mahayana Buddhism and the other two as Hinayana.

The Hinayana Buddhists are also known as sarvasthivadins and they are  of two  kinds , namely, southranthikas and vaibhashikas. To the sarvasthivadins everything is real but momentary. That is, everything exists oly for one moment and is destroyed in the next. ‘sarvam dhuhkham, sarvam anaathmaa and sarvam kshanikam.’ It means , everything is misery, everything is non-self and everything is momentary. The self is  also not permanent but only an aggregate of fleeting ideas, while matter is only the aggregate of atoms. The continuity of existence is an illusion like flame of the lamp, which is made up of momentary flickering of fire which appears as one due to the continuity of the flickering. The Southranthikas and Vaibhashikas differ in their concept of reality in as much as to the former the reality is perceptible while to the latter it is inferred, as what is perceived is not real but an illusion.

Mahayana school which was a later development also accepts the principle of prathithya samuthpadha and the four noble truths and the theory of momentariness. There are two schools of Mahayana, namely, maadhyamaikas and vijnanavadins or yogacharas.

According to sunyavadha of maadhyamikas the reality is inexplicable. It is neither real nor unreal but only a beginningless stream of consciousness.

To the vijnanavadin the reality nothing but consciousness. While to the maadhyamikas the world is an illusion, the vijnanavadin  went one step further trying to find the cause of the illusion. The maadhyamikas are so called because  they say that the soul is neither real nor unreal.The ultimate truth is called sunya not because it is a void but because  it is inexplicable. But the word sunya being understood to mean void generally the  sunyavada came to be called as the nihilist philosophy.

According to vijananavada the external world has no existence on its own but the ideas alone exist and are perceived externally.The beginningless ignorance, avidya causes a continuous stream of impressions which create karma.

The Asthika schools of Philosophy

1.      sankhya

The word sankhya means counting as well as thinking. It is in the latter sense Krishna uses it in Bhagavtgita when he says saankhyayoga. The system of saankhya  deals with the knowledge through the understanding of twenty four principles born out of prakrthi and purusha the twentyfifth. Hence the name saankhya. It gives the knowledge of the Self, purusha through right determination

Kapila is generally thought to be the founder of Sankhya system , though whether it is the same sage Kapila, known to be the incarnation of the Lord Narayana , mentioned in Srimadbhagavatham or a different and later one, is not clear. The philosophy advocated by the sage Kapila in Srimadbhagvatham, elaborates on the prakrthi and its evolutes and also purusha but it was mainly on bhakthi and meditation on the Lord who is the Supreme purusha.  But in the system of sankhya, there is  no mention about God. The creation has been attributed to prakrthi or pradhana, the insentient primordial nature. Hence it could be the later thought. The former which accepts a purusha visesha the controller of both prakrthi and purusha came to be known as seSvara saankhya while the present system as prevalent now as Sankhya philosophy is called nireeSvara saankhya.

Sankhya is as old as the Vedanta and Mimamsa schools and there is a mention about its principles in Rk veda. The sankhya principles are accepted in Vedanta of Esvara Krishna.  We shall presently study that with the help of saankhya thathva koumudhi of though the concept of realization and causation  are different. At present the only text available and held to be authoritative of sankhya principles is the saankhya kaarika vachaspathi Misra.

The main tenets of sankhya system are as follows:

Due to the affliction by the threefold misery the inquiry  into the means of removal of it is necessitated. No remedy in the world is capable of removing the misery once for all and with certainty. Even the manthras and homams prescribed in the Vedas give only temporary joy and once their effect wears off it means the return to original position.

The principles or thatthvas as they are known are prakrthi, the primordial nature, and its evolutes, constituting the gross in sentient universe purusha , the individual self, the sentient principle with whose identification with prakrthi through ignorance of its real nature causes samsara. With knowledge he comes to know hat prakrthi is different from himself and that is salvation.

In sankhya system of philosophy according to which there are two Reals, Prakrthi, the insentient matter  and Purusha, the sentient soul. The whole gross universe is the combination of these. Prakrthi is basically made up of three gunas, sattva, rajas and thamas and everything else is the modifications of the three gunas.

Moola prakrthi is the primordial nature in which the three gunas are in equilibrium. They start combining and first mahat or buddhi thathva evolves out of prakrthi. From mahat the ahankra is evolved. This is three fold according to the three gunas and from satvik ahankara the senseorgans, organs of creation and mind are evolved and from thamasik ahankara the five thanmatras, the subtle elements in the form of sound, touch, colour, taste and smell are evolved from which the gross elements space, air, fire, water and earth are evolved. The rajasik ahankara acts only as a catalyst for the activity. Then the whole gross universe comes into existence. Since mind and intellect, buddhi are also the products of the gunas, even the feelings and thoughts belong to the insentient prakrthi.

Prakrthi – (unmanifest) constituent of three gunas, sathva, rajas and thamas.


Mahath or budDhi






Saathvik                      raajasik                  thaamasik

|                            ( only activates others)      |

Five jnanendhriyas                                      Five thanmathras


and smell)

|                                                                       |

Senses of sight,hearing,touch,

Smell and taste (Sukshma indhriyas)          Five gross elements 

earth, water, fire, air and


Five karmendhriyas

Senses of motion,action,talk,

excretion and procreation



Purusha is the individual self who is actionless and hence neither an evolvent nor an evolute. Prakrthi starts creating by the mere presence of purusha who , due to the lack of knowledge of the real nature of prakrthi, identifies himself with it and gets bound. When he acquires the real knowledge about prakrthi and that he is unattached with it, he becomes free.

Prakrthi is not perceptible because it is unmanifest . it is not non-existent like the horn of the hare. The reason for the non-perception of prkrthi is subtlety, because it is beyond sense perception.

In sankhya the cause a s well as the effect , that is the prkrthi and its effects  are real unlike in advaita and Nyaya systems.

The tenets of sankhya regarding cause and effect are,

1. What is non-existent cannot be brought into existence.

This is a refutation of Buddhism according to which everything comes out of nothing. In advaita also the effect , the world is unreal and an illusion though they affirm a real and eternal cause that is Brahman. Sankhya refutes thil also The Nyaya school of philosophy the effect is asath, non-existent in the cause, which is sath because for them the effect is newly produced and not the modification of the cause. This is also refuted by sankhya saying that the effect could not be different from the cause in its essential nature.

2.Every effect must have a cause .

There is a definite connection between the cause and the effect, because ,

3. All effects are not produced from all causes. If anything can come out of anything, one who wishes to make a cloth can get hold of clay and one who wants pot can take the yarn. This point leads to the next reason, namely,

4. A cause can produce only something which it has the power to produce. Hence a non-existent cause and a non-existent effect are both dismissed.

5. Since every effect has a cause , it has the same qualities of the cause. Pot has got the qualities of the clay and not cloth  while the cloth has the same qualities of that of the yarn with which it is made

Purusha is nana, various according to the body he occupies. But he is the witness self, a mere spectator devoid of agency of action which is purely due to the three gunas. purusha is able to get the knowledge of the nature of prakrthi and its evolutes and about his own nature thus he is able to dissociate himself from prakrthi and attains salvation.

Thus in reality purusha is never bound nor emancipated. It is the absence of discrimination of purusha being quite different from prakrthi that creates the delusion of  bondage and liberation.

After this perfect knowledge all attachments and sense of agency cease but the body continues to operate till it falls down like the potter’s wheel which continues to revolve for sometime even after the potter ceases  to operate.

3.Yoga system

Patanjali’s yoga system is always coupled with that of sankhya. The only difference isthat Patanjali admits the existence of eesvara, who he terms as purushaviSesha and untouched by pain, action changes and desire and in Him the knowledge is in perfection.

The yogasystem consists of 194 suthras and divided into 4 paadhaas.They are , samaaDhi or meditation,saaDhana or practice, vibhoothi or occult power and kaivalya or salvation.

Patanjali mentions eight means of attaining salvation and due to that it is called ashtaanga yoga, the word yoga meaning the concentration of the mind to achieve union with the object of meditation. The yoga also secures occult powers like knowing the past, and future , near and distant, ability to converse with spirits and travel through water and air.( what we call the eight siddhis)

The aim of yoga is to become completely free from duhkha through pursuit of true knowledge and meditation on God and final emancipation. The attitude is similar to that of Kapila , the founder of sankhya.

Of the commentaries of patanjali’s yoga suthra that of Vachaspathi Misra is well known.

Though the yogasuthra is the most important text of yoga he was not considered as the creator of yoga which existed before him , the mention of which we can find in Bhagavatgita, and he was only the expounder of the system.

The ashtangayoga or yoga is so called because of its eight limbs which are,

1. yama-inner control such as ahimsa.

2. niyama- outer control such as cleanliness thapas, worship etc.

3.aasana- the physical  postures to discipline the body (which is normally understood as yoga nowadays)

4.pranayama- brath control

5. prathyaahaara- withdrawal of senses from sense objects

6.Dharana-concentration on a particular object sucha s a flame of the lamp

7. Dhyana-steadfast meditation with constant flow of thought to wards the object of meditation

8. samaadhi-oneness with the object of meditation

While sankhya is the theory yoga may be called the practice.


4.Nyaya and VaiSeshika system

The nyaya sysem was founded by Gouthama who was also known as akshapaadha. This system is also called tharka sastra and aanveekshiki sastra because it deals with reasoning and arguments. The system has been developed by various scholars in later years and among them Gangesa bhatta  is foremost.

Like sankhya and yoga this system also aims at the final emancipation of the soul. Individual souls are infinite in number. Jnana or cognition is an attribute of the soul. The final goal is duhkhanivrtthi- freedom from sorrow.Nyaya system deals with sixteen categories into which everything falls but this has been amalgamated later in to the Vaiseshika classification of seven categories. Now the two systems are considered as one under the name of nyayavaiseshika.

The existence of God is accepted in Nyaya through logical argument such as since all things are created there must be a creator.

Vaiseshika system is older to Nyaya and next to Sankhya. KaNaadha is the founder of this system. The vaiseshika school is mainly concerned with inductive method of reasoning , inferring general, saamaanya, from the particular, viSesha , and hence the name. Nyaya school is basically belongs to inductive reasoning, that is from particular, viSesha to general, saamaanya. The final cessation of all miseries is  the goal of both schools but o Vaiseshika it means also a permanent cessation of conncetion with body. The present system of Nyaya vaiseshika into which the two were fused into one, combines the ontology of Vaiseshika with the epistemology of Nyaya.

Vaiseshikas hold only two pramanas, namely perception and inference while Nyaya school accept two additional pramanas , upamana, comparison and sabdha, verbal testimony.


Vaiseshika system is termed as anti vedic in earlier stages due to the rationalistic doctrine  on independent lines  without subjecting to the influence of vedic religion and philosophy. But when the antivedic movement of Buddism held sway in 5th century BC the two systems, Nyaya and Vaiseshika came to be treated as parallels and later merged together. Based on the metaphysics of Vaiseshika,  Nyaya philosophy has built a complete system of epistemology and logic.

The two systems  are treated as samaana thanthra  wit a common rationalistic stress and realistic background in spite of some epistemological and ontological differences.



This school of philosophy is commonly known as poorva mimamsa as it is based on the karmakanda of Vedas as compared with the later portion of the Vedas known as utthara mimamsa comprising of the Upanishads. Hence the Vedanta got its name as it is the antha,  end of the Vedas.The word mimamsa means  a reasoned conclusion. The poorvamimamsa system aims at a rational settlement of the doubtful points in the initial or  ritualistic portion(karmakanda) of the Vedas while the uttaramimamsa or vedanta  deals with their final or the philosophic portion (jnanakanda) of the Vedas.

Jaimini is the founder of this system  and his view is that the salvation is secured by performing the vedic rituals and sacrifices. The doctrines advocated by him are based on the rituals and ceremonies of the Vedas which are known as  kalpa.

Jaimini suthras are 2652 in number and divided into 12 books of 4 chapters or paadhas. They deal with all details of performance of the vedic rites and ceremonies .

According to Mimamsakas souls are many  and they reap the fruits of their own actions. They do not admit the  existence of gods with various forms. The manthras are the body of the gods.

The work of Jaimini is prior to Buddhist period as Buddha formulated his theory mainly as a reactionary measure to the vedic practices. Among the commentaries of Jaimini suthras the Sabara bhashya is well known.

Kumarila bhatta and Prabhakara were famous mimamsakas of later period. The school of thought propagated by them differ slightly in their tenets and their followers came to be known as Bhaattas and Praabhaakaras respectively. Kumarila Bhatta wrote sloka varthika which was a commentary on Sabarabhashya . Prabhakara , commonly referred to as Guru also wrote two commentaries on sabarabhashya.

Mandanamisra was a follower of Kumarila Bhatta  and later became the disciple of Sankara and came to be known as Suresvaracharya. He composed two books on Bhatta school of philosophy.

According to  the Mimamsa and also Vedanta, the Vedas are eternal, being only  revealed to certain rshis and seers. As such they are free from human defects and their authority is unquestionable. The mimamasakas go as far as to say that even words are  eternal and their meanings fixed. The Mimamsa varies form the Vedanta both in its objective and method.it is an enquiry into the religious dharma as the first suthra  of Jaimini says, ‘aThaatho Dharmajijnaasa,’ “then thus is the enquiry into dharma.”

The Mimamsa believes in a real objective world and in the plurality of souls, which however are eternal and omnipresent, and it glorifies heaven, to which the performance of rituals is the way.


6. Vedanta or uttaramimamsa

While the poorvamimamsa is about the karmakanda , uttara mimamsa deales with the jnanakanda comprising of Upanishads. The Vedanta sutras, commonly known as Brahmasutras are the treatise on Vedanta establishing the meaning and implication of the Upanishads as pertaining to Brahman. The principal schools of Vedanta are, the advaita of Sankara, Visishtadvaita of Ramanuja , and the dvaita of Madhva. The difference among them consists in their respective interpretations of the Vedanta sutras, which are the work of Vyasa known as Badharayana.

The first among these was the Sankarabhashya or Saareeraka bhashya of Sankara on the Vedanta sutras, based on advaita principles. In his work Sankara explains the upanishadic passages according to advaita to establish that  Brahman is  the subject matter of the Upanishads. In Sribhashya , his commentary on the Brahmasutras,Ramanuja does the same according to the principles of Vishishtadvaita while Madhva wrote thatthvaviveka on Brahmasutras according to the philosophy of Dvaita.


Acharya Sankara  was the expounder of this philosophy though Goudapadha who was the guru of his guru Govindapada, has dealt with this in detail in jhis commentary on Mandukya Upanishad. Sankara flourished towards the close of 7th and the beginning of 8th century AD. Hindu philosophy and religion was placed on a firm footing by him who roamed all over the country within a short span of his lifetime winning over the arguments of Buddhists and others and the Hinduism revived  through his utmost zeal and endeavour. He established four matts , to protect the vedic tradition at four places in India.

Sankara has explained brahma suthra according to the principles of Advaita and it is known as Saareeraka bhashya. The main commentator of Saareeraka Bhashya was vachaspathi Misra and his commentary is known as Bhamathi. There came many works on advaita based on the Saareeraka Bhashya like the Advaita siddhi of Madhusudhana sarasvathi, Naishkarma siddhi of Suresvara etc.

The main tenets of advaita are

1.brahma sathyam

2.jagan miThyaa

3.jeevo brahmaiva naaparaH

brahma sathyam- Brahman is the only absolute reality which appears as the world,and hence the world , jagath is illusory, miThyaa. The individual soul is Brahman in reality but this knowledge becomes obscured due to avidhya –maya , delusion due to ignorance which produces ego that makes the jeeva identify himself with the body, mind and intellect which are the products of three gunas, like the form, colour and the fear of a snake is superimposed on a rope due to the ignorance of its real nature. When the knowledge of the snake dawns  the rope disappears. Maya creates the world and avidhya creates the ego which results in the perception of the world as real. Avidhya maya is the root cause of delusion and it is called avidhya relating to the individual self and as maya relating to the world as a whole. When the knowledge of unreality of the world arises then the jeeva realizes that he is identical with Brahman. Tjis si the philosophy of advaita in a nutshell.



Yamunacharya known as Alavandhaar , was born about 200 years later and in his famous work Siddhithraya, he refutes the view of advaita. This is mainly because by that time the maya concept of Advaita gathered momentum and the philosophy became dissociated from practicality and relegated to the state of a theory. There was a great disparity between life as such and the ideals advocated by the advaita. In visishtadvaita the world is not unreal but a part and parcel of Brahman, synonymous with Lord Narayana.

Ramanuja to whom Yamuna was the ideal, became the champion of this school. His commentary on brahmasurthra is known as Sribhashya in which he shows that the world, the individual self and Brahman form one integral whole. The world and the jeeva exist in the relationship of body to the soul which is Brahman.This is known as the sareera-sareeri concept which forms the basis of visishtadvaita. Ramanuja explained the philosophy in the light of devotion and Pancharathra , which was supposed to have been instructed by the Lord Himself is the basis of this philosophy. Ramanuja also wrote Vedartha sangraha, gadhyathray etc. to elucidate the principles of visisshtadvaita.

Of the commentaries of Sribhashya , SruthaprakaSika of Sudarsana suri is well known. Later Vedanta desika wrote satha dhushaNi and thatthvateeka of Sribhshya


Acharya Madhva” . He is the great exponent of the Dvaita School of philosophy. Dvaita is employed to indicate this difference between God’s infinite perfection and the finiteness of everything else.

According to his philosophy, the Supreme Being is Vishnu or Narayana.

Vishnu is always the primary object of worship, with all others regarded as subordinate to Him.

This universe is real and is not Mithya or an illusion. The finite beings comprising the universe are subject to a system of gradation, beginning with the Goddess Laxmi, followed by other minor gods, seers, human beings and undivine beings. The rank of any soul in this scheme of gradation depends on the degree of its devotion to God. God is an embodiment of all virtues and excellences and ever remains untouched by any kind of blemish (Dosha). He has countless Roopas and forms.


Every follower of the Madhwa School should have a firm belief in the Pancha-bheda—five real and eternal distinctions.

Five fundamental, eternal and real differences exist in his system.

Between the individual soul (or jīvatma) and God (Brahmatma īshvara or Vishnu).

Between matter (inanimate, insentient) and God.

Among individual souls (jīvatma)

Between matter and jīva.

Among various types of matter.

These five differences are said to make up the universe. The universe is aptly called “prapancha” for this reason.




The epics(2000 to300BC)

There are mainly two classes of epic poetry, the one comprising of ithihasas,aakhyaanas and puranas and the other known as kavyas. The Mahabharatha belongs to the first category and the Ramayana is of the latter type and it is called aadhikaavya.

The Mahabharatham

It contains over100000slokas. It is divided into 18 books called parvas and harivamsa forming the 19th as a complement. All these 18books except the 8th and the last 3 are divided into anuparvas. It is the longest poem in the literary history and is the source of all the puranas. The parvas of Mahabharatha are;

Aadhi,sabha,vana,virata,udhyoga,bhishma,dhrona,karna,Salya,sauptika,stri,Santhi,anuSaasana,aSvamedha,aaSramavaasika,mausala,mahaaprasthaanika and svargaarohaNa.

Aadhiparva- Origin of the sages and royal dynasties, birth of pandavas till the burning of kaandavavana.

sabha parva-rajasooya sacrifice of Yudhishtira

Vanaparva-vanavasa of pandavas

Virataparva- the life of pandavas in viratadesa

Udhogaparva-The incidents leading to the start of the war

Bhishmaparva- war under the leadership of Bhishma and his fall.

Dhrona parva- fight under  the leadership of Dhrona.

Karnaparva- fight under the leadership of Karna.

Salyaparva the role of Salya in the war

sauptikaparva-Asvatthama murdering the sons of Pandavas and Duryodhana’s death

stri-grief of Dhrtharashtra and Gandhari

Santhiparva-various topics on dharma and moksha

anusaasana parva- similar to the previous one

aSvamedha parva- various tales and aSvamedha sacrifice of Yudhishtira.

aaSramavaasika parva- Life of Dhrtharashtra and Gandhari in the forest

mousalaparva- destruction of yadhavas

mahaprasthaanika  parva- final journey of pandavas.

svargaarohaNa parva- Yudhishtira going to heaven

The source of Mahabharatha  seems to be the disconnected battle songs about the ancient kurus and panchala heroes. The real Mahabharatha was what Vaisampayana recited to Janamejaya during his snake sacrifice. The present version is by sauti(the one who narrated the epic to the sages in naimisranya) who gives a brief history of Mahabharatha in anukramanika chapters. It is found here that the original Mahabharatha contained 60,00,000 slokas . Of these 30,00,000 slokas are current among devas,14,00,000among gandharvas,  15,00,000 among pitrs,1,00,000 among men. The portion excluding the legends is called bharatha samhitha  and contains 24000 slokas.

Among the 1,00,000 slokas, 8800 are called vysakoota, or most difficult ones  the meaning of which is hidden and knoiwn only to Vyasa and Suka.  This is connected with the legend of Ganesa writing the slokas on the mountain and his condition being that Vyasa should tell the slokas as speedily as he wrote it and Vyasa in his turn telling Ganesa that he should write only after comprehending the meaning.Vyasa composed these difficult verses so that he would have had time to think about further verses while Ganesa would ponder on their meaning.

The date of Mahabharatha

The Mahabharatha in its first stage must have come into existence about the first century BC. There is a mention of it in aaSvalaayana grhyasuthra, composed about that time.

Vishnu and Siva became the prominent deities at about 300BC as known from the account of Megasathenese . hence the second stage of the epic  must have come into being before 4th century BC.

Several land grants dated between 480 and 500AD quote Mahabharatha as an authority and also refer to the rewards and punishments therein. This shows that The Mahabharatha reached its present stage before the middle of 5th century AD.

Since the original story traces its origin to the conflict between the Kurus and Panchalas, the historical seedof the epic cannot be late than 10th century BC as it is found in Sathapatha brahmana. According to many oriental scholars the epic was composed  about 1500 BC though the tradition holds it that it was composed by Vyasa  at the juncture of dvapara and kaliyuga  which was about 3000 BC.

Episodes of the Mahabharatha

The episodes mentioned in the epic are numerous and of these that of Sakuntala, Rama, Rsyasrnga,Sivi, abduction of Draupadi, Savitri and Nala are famous.


Valmiki composed Ramayana and he taught this to Lava and Kusa, who sang it at the asvamedha  sacrifice performed by Rama before a large gathering.

The present epic contains 24000 slokas distributed into seven books called kaandas, namely aadhi(baala) , ayodhya, aaraNya , kishkindha, sundhara and Lanka(yuddha) and uttara.

The research of Prof. Jacobi has shown that the five kaandaas form the nucleus and the first and the last were subsequently added.

Date of Ramayana

The opinion of scholars is that the original form of Ramayana was composed in 5th century BC and additions were made after 300 BC. There is a mention of the story of Ramayana in bhuddhistic literature and hence it is pre-buddhistic. And it must have been composed before Mahabhartha took a definite shape as there are references to the heroes of Ramayana in Mahabharatha while there is no mention of the latter in the former. In the original text of Ramayana the name of Ayodhya was not given as Saaketha and this name was given by buddhists and mentioned in the mahabhashya of Patanjali. As the earliest buddhisttic literature was composed in the 5th century BC , we could assume that Ramayana was composed in the 6th century BC at the latest. Some of the words do not tally with the system of Panini for their formation. Hence this indicates the Ramayana to belong to pre-panini period. Even thoug the general opinion is that Panini existed in 4th century BC the opinion of some scholars point out that Panini could not have existed later than 8th century BC. This takes the date of Ramayana to a time about 9th century BC.

The style of Ramayana

Valmiki’s poetry is rich in similes. It is called aadhi kaavya and represents the dawn of later kavyas. He was called the aadhi kavi because he composed the first verse in sloka form, which is very popular and goes as ‘maanishaaDha prathishTaam thvam etc.’

According to Prof. Jacobi, the Ramayana is based on Indian mythology. Seetha can be traced to rgveda where she appears as the furrow personified and invoked as a goddess. Rama is synonymous with Indra and his fight with Ravana represents the fight between Indra and Vrthra mentioned in Rgveda. Sarama crossed the river Rosa to retrieve the cows as Hanuman crossed the ocean.

The episodes of Ramayana

1. Descent of Ganges

Sagara and his sons who were burnt by  Kapila and Bhageeratha doing penance to bring Ganga down to sanctify their remains.

2.Visvamithra- How the sage attained his Bramhasrhihood.

3.Origin of sloka- Valmiki giving out a sloka in a metre hitherto unknown on seeing the hunter killing the krouncha bird and later the visit of Brahma who instructed him to compose Ramayna in the same metre.

The popularity of Ramayana id\s given by the following verse.

Yaavath sTHaasyanthi girayaH sarithaScha maheethale

thaavath raamaayaNa katha lokeshu pracharishyathi

As long as the mountains and rivers stay on earth the story of Ramayana will be prevalent in the world. This prophesy it aptly fulfilled as the story has given way to composition of various kavyas and plays and stays ever fresh to the Indian mind till now.






The definition of  a purana is a treatise dealing with five fold topics, 1. Primary creation, 2.dissolution,3.geneology of gods and patriarchs, 4.reigns of Manus and 5. Instructive legends in connection with royal families. The wod puraaNa means puraaNam aakhyaanam and they are said to fill up the gap left by the Vedas.

According to Hindu belief the puranas are as ancient as the Vedas being the breathing of Brahman. It is said in the Agni  and Mathsya  puranas that Purana at first was  remembered by Brhama and then the four vedas came out of his four mouths. The popular belief is that all the 18 puranas and the equal number of upapuranas were composed by Vyasa. The close study of vedic literature shows that the puranas reach back to a great antiquity and rooted in them.  The seed of  a large number of puranic legends are scattered in many of the Rgveda hymns. Atharva veda mentions the name of the purana along with the four Vedas. The existence of the treatises called puranas is proved in the suthra literature. The dharma sastra of Goutama which is the oldest of its kind mentions the name of puranas together with the Vedas , the law books and the vedangas. The Apasthmaba Dharma Sutra, which is supposed to be very old,  also has quotations from puranas which re sufficient proof for their antiquity. These sutras in the opinion of some belong to the 5th century or fourth century BC and therefore the date of Puranas must be at least 6th century BC. It may be that the modern versions of puranas are but recasts of older works.


Position of Puranas in Indian Literature

They are described by the scholars as being the popular sectarian compilations of Mythology, philosophy, history and sacred law and intended for the illiterate masses and those who cannot read the sastras. Puranas afford us far greater insight into all aspects of Hinduism.


Relation with the Vedas

Puranas are considered to be the part and parcel of the Vedas.


Classification of Puranas

There are two kinds of Puransa, namely, the  puranas and Mahapuranas. The puranas are didactic in character and sectarian in purpose. They are classified as Vaishnava Saiva and Brahma puranas on the sectarian side. They are eighteen and divided in to three groups based on the above classification.puranic doctrines consist mainly of the worship of the trinity and as satthvaguna is predominant in Vishnu, rajaoguna in Brahma and thamo guna in Siva theseare also classified according to the three gunas, as saathvik, raajasiK and ThaamasiK.


In Brhannaraadheeya purana it is said that the Vedas were formerly one undivided whole and  consisting of 100 crores of slokas explaining how the purusharthas can be obtained. Vyasa divided and arranged them in 18 parts and each of them came to be known as Purana.


Creation etc. in Puranas.

The process of creation is same as in Sankhya philosophy viz. the primordial prakrthi evolving into the gross universe. While it is caused by the presence of Purusha in sankhy, in puranas it is the volition of Braham. Being desirous of creation Brahma created the virat or Hiranyagarbha which is the cosmic Self who in turn created the prajapathis. These prajapathis in turn created other beings. This manifested world  enters into Brahma at the end of manavanthara and remains there in its potential state till he next creation begins.This state is known as prathisarga. The vamsa or genu ialogy of gods, sages and kings are given in purana and Manvanthara is the period of one Manu. This comprises of 71 yugas ( each four yugas) and there are 14 Manus . They  are Svaayambhuva, Saari ochishaUtthama, thaamasa, rqivatha,Chaakshusha, vaivasvatha,saavarshi, Dhasha saavarshi,brahmasaavarshi,Dharmasaavarshi,dhevasaavarshi Rudra saavarshi and Indrasaavarshi.


Puranas and their names


1. Vishnu

2. naaradheeya

3. Bhagavtha

4. Garuda


6. varaaha




2. koorma






Brahma purana






6. vaamana



Vishnu is glorified and worshipped as the highest deity in this. It is the authority of vasishnava religion for the followers of Ramanuja. It is one of the oldest and divided into six books.

Book 1.Creation of Vishnu and Lakshmi, devas, demons, and primal ancestors of human race . Thereare numerous mythologies , narratives, allegories and legends of ancient kings and sages.

Book 2.Description of the earth with its seven islands and seven seas.The legend of Bharatha in connection with Bhratha varsha.

Book3. Vedas and their division by Vyasa, definition of puranas, Manus and the ages they rule over, mukthimarga and varnasrama dharma.

Book4. An account of solar and lunar araces  and the legends connected with them and a brief account of Ramavatara.


Book6.Description of four yugas and the different kinds of dissolution. The alst chapter  briefly recapitulates the entire purana and ends with the praise of Vishnu.


Naaradheeya purana

In this Narada preaches the doctrine of Vishnubhakthi. Various legends are told  to illustrate this and also lists the sins and punishments. Varnasrama dharma is also mentioned.


Bhagavatha purana

This exerts a great influence in the life and thought of Bhaagavatha  cult. It is considered a holy scripture by vaishnavas. It resembles Vishnupurana in its contents. The work is divided in to 12 skandhas and deals with creation and various incarnations of Vishnu including Kapila and Rshabha. Various other details like the varnasrma dharma and many legends are included in this and the tenth skandha deals wholly with Krishnavathara and is the longest. The 11th describes the end of yadhavas and the departure of Krishna and it contains the famous uddhavagita. The twelfth deals with the paths to salvation , karma bhakthi and jnana.



This was supposed to have been revealed to Garuda by Vishnu Himself. It deals with Solar and Lunar race, the ages of the world, expiatory rites  and glorifications of sacred places. The rules of worship of Vishnu. Siva , Durga, Surya and  Ganesa are also included in this. It deals with may legends and also with an account of astronomy,astrology, grammar, politics,and of precious stones.



This is the most voluminous  purana and derives its came from the lotus at the navel of Vishnu from which Brahma appeared. Here Brahma is said to be the first cause. The purana is divided in to five books, namely, srshti, bhoomi, svarga, paathaala and utthara kanda.

The first book, srshtikanda, deals with cosmological and cosmogonic myths and abounds in legends  glorifying Vishnu. A ptof this book describes the lake Pushkara , sacred to Brahma. There is amention of many feasts and vows  in hunour of Durga.It closes with the birth and marriage of Skandha.

The second book bhoomikanda mentions the legend of Soma sarma who was born as Prahlada. This describes thesanctity of various thirthas and gives the story of Yayathi and his son Puru.

The svargakanda  narrates various lokas of devas, pitrs, gandharvas etc. the story of Sakuntala which resembles that of Kalidasa rather than that in Mahabharatha, the story of Pururavas are given and also varnasrama dharmas and  the modes of worship of Vishnu.


The pathalakanda besides describing the nectar regions deals with the legend of Rama and the asvamedha sacrifice done by Rama to atone for the sin of killing Ravana , a brahmin. The book ends with the tales of Krishna , Radha and othr gopis and the description of the sanctity of saligrama Silas.

The uttarakanda expounds the Vishnu cult with feasts and ceremonies . the months of Magha and Karthika are glorified. The Rama and Krishna legends are described in detail . it speaks on the glorification of Gita and explains what Vishnubhakthi is . The kriyayogasara is an appendix to this.


Varaha purana

I is supposed to be related by Vishnu as Varaha to Bhoodevi and contains brief allusions to creation and genealogy of kings etc. It is a sort of manual for prayers and rules for vaishnavas. It contains stories of Siva, Durga, birth of Ganes   and Ganga.It also deals with Sraddha and prayaschitthas and Mathura maahathmya forms a considerable part of the book and Nachikethas episode is mentioned briefly.



It is one of the old puranas and is in accordance with the definition of a purana. It describes the avatara of Vishnu as a fish to save the Vedas. Besides the usual topics like genealogy etc., there are sections dealing with astronomy, geography and chronology and gives a reliable account of Andhra dynasty. Many legends from Mahabharatha and Harivamsa are also repeated here, besides the glory of Prayag, Varanasi and Narmada. There is also detailed accounts of the rituals connected with building a house , making and investing with power to idols etc. Religious feasts and festivals of both vaishnavites and Saivites also find  a place in this book.



This is about the kurma avatara and Siva is mentioned with high esteem. Though emphasizing that all the three gods of the Trinity are one and the same. .Sakthi is worshipped as female deity. This consists of the fivefold characteristics of purana and narrates the incarnations of Siva. The sanctity of Benares and Allahabad  is also mentioned in this. In the second part Isvaragita and Vyas gita are found. This also deals with expiatory rites for all sins.



The work begins with creation and Siva is the creator. The Vedas  proceed from lings.It deals mainly with the worship of Siva in different forms. Legends about 26 incarnations of Siva are described here and the work is mainly thanthra oriented.


Vayu purana

This too has the fivefold characteristics of puranas. The description of the end of the world and the efficacy of yoga are found in the end.




This is the most voluminous next to Padma purana. This exists not as a collective work but as fragments. It is said by Skandha, hence the name. It is divided into six samhithas, namely, sanathkumaareeya, sootha, VaishNavi, Saankari and sauri. The suta samhitha is divided into 4 kandasdealing with worship of Siva, practice of yoga, ways of attaining salvation, and the rules of vedic rituals.The santhkumarasamhitha is about the glory of the sacred places like Benares.The saura samhitha is about the cosmogenu ic theories. Sankari samhitha is otherwise known as Agasthya samhitha as this was communicated to Agasthya by Skandha. The kasi and uttara kandas of the samhitha describes the glory of Kasi and Orissa.



This is acommunicated to Vasishta by Agni. It describes the incarbnations of Vishnu of which Rama and Krishna.  It deals with the cult of Siva and Durga. There is special mention of thanthric rites in the book  Few chapters are of the work are devoted  on death and transmigration. It gives  of Bhagavatgita  and Yamagita  It also contains cosmological, geniological and geographical sections and this work is peculiar for its encyclopedaedic character.




Kaavyas- Court epics


Sanskrit kavyas may roughly be classified as dhrSya kaavya and Sravya kaavya. Poetry and prose come under the first category and dramas un der the second. Maha kavyas and khandakavyas are written in verse while aakhyaayikaa and kaThaa are written in prose and the mixture of prose and poetry is called a champu kavya. The works in poetry and prose are also known as padhya kavyas and gadhya kavyas.

The appearance of great poets like Kalidasa, Bharavi and Magha eclipsed the earlier poets  that the names and works of them passed into oblivion.

Asvagosha’s Buddha charitha was translated into Chinese in 414 and 521 AD and it is said that he lived in the 2nd century AD at the time of Kanishka, the Buddhist king.

Prof. Maxmuller holds that the middle of sixth century when king Vikramadhithya, who ruled over Ujjain and  whose court the nine gems adorned  was the Augustan period of Indian court poetry. This is referred to as the Renaaissance of Sanskrit literature.



Kalidasa is supposed to have lived in the court of Chandragupta II who acquired the name of Vikramadhithya . the nine jewels who adorned his court were, Dhanvanthari, kshapanaka, amarasimha, Sanku, vethaalabhatta ghatakarpara, kalidasa,varaha mihira and vararuchi. Sanskrit was essentially the language of the court and of learned men. Hence the kavyas are known as court epics.

Nothing is known for certain about the life and character of Kalidasa. Anecdotes regarding his stupidity at first and becoming a poet by the grace of kali etc. which was connected with his name and a legend connected with his murder referring to his skill in samsyaapurana, while he was a guest of the king of Ceylon , Kumaradasa have no validity.

His own poems describing the conquests of Raghu and others denoting his knowledge of the country as it was in his days indicate Samudhraguptha’s time. He was later than Asvagosha , author of Buddha charitha and Bhasa. His knowledge of greek terms prove that he cannot be earlier than Guptas age. He most probably lived in the time of Vikramadhithya or Chandraguptha II which evidence places him in 400AD.

The Ramayana the earliest  kavya . called aadhi kaavya , was succeeded by a number of kavyas  ranging from  the fifth to the twelfth century AD. The two most important ones are Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsam  and kumarasambhavam.

They have several stanzas in common, some though different in expression strikingly analogous in thought. Both have same metre when they describe same thought.

Though Raghuvamsa and Kumarasambhava are the most famous and acquired the status of Mahakavyas his two other kavyas, Rthusamhara and Maeghadhutha are also popular.


A descriptive poem of seasons

This is considered to be the youthful work of Kalidasa. The reasons for this are,

1. It lacks the ethical quality

2. It is too simple and uniform

3.Too easy to understand

It consists of 153 slokas in six chapters

However the poem is far from being a mere description of the seasons. It exhibits a delicate observation and loving sympathy with nature in which we can compare him with Wordsworth. Through out he relates the diverse moods of nature to that of humans and describes vividly the behavior of other beings as well.

The work begins with the description of summer. The days of summer  hang heavily but the nights are cool with moonlight. The midnight is the time of the young damsels to sing and dance and the moon retires in jealousy, says the poet.

Let us see a brief summary of the subject matter before we go into detail about the description by the study of selected slokas which is the objective of this class.

The rainy season advances with a kingly grace. The clouds are the elephants that bear him, the lightning is his flag and the thunder is his drum. Rainy season evokes love.

The autumn comes like a young bride clad in a garment of grass, with a girdle of ripening rice and a face of lotus blossoms the sound of hamsas are the noopuradvani.

The next is Hemantha rthu with paddy ready to be harvested and the advent of snow to indicate the winter.

The winter is cold brings the loves close together to enjoy the warmth of the fire.

Lastly the spring brings back the gaiety. The reason why the poet begins with summer and ends with spring is to end the poem in love and harmony to welcome the new year.

Slokas from Rthusamhara

Greeshmarthu- Summer

sitheshu harmyeshu niSaasu yoshithaam

sukhaprasupthaani mukhaani chandhramaaH

vilokya noonam bhrSam uthsukaH chiram

niSaakshaye yaathi hriyaiva paanduthaam

The moon seeing the faces of the women sleeping soundly in the white palaces for a long time with eagerness becomes pale at the end of the night as though ashamed.

The Moon is ashamed that his face is not as blemishless as the faces of women which  resemble a clear moon.


mrgaaH prachandaathapa thaapithaa bhrsam

thrshaa mahathyaa pariSushka thaalavaH

vanaanthare thoyam ithi praDhavithaa

nireekshya bhinnanjansannibham nabhaH

The deer  very much scorched by the fierce heat of the Sun, with their palates dry with great thirst run to another forest seeing the sky in fragments appearing as a mirage.

The next two slokas describe the state of serpent and the peacock though hostile by nature



uthpluthya bhekaH thrshithasya bhoginaH

phaNaathapathrasya thale nisheedhathi

The frog jumping from the lake the water and the  mud of which was heated by the fierce rays of the Sun, rests in the place under the umbrella  of the hood of the thirsty serpent


Varshaarthu- Rainy season

saseekaraamboDhara mattha kunjaraH

thatithpathaako aSani sabdha mardhalaH

samaagatho raajavath udDhathadhyuthiHraveH mayookhaiH abhithaapitho bhrsam

vidhahyamaanaH paThi thapthapaamsubhiH

avaangmukho jihmagathih Svasan muhuH

phaNee mayoorasya thale nisheedhathi

Being burnt by the rays of the Sun and further scorched by the hot dust on the path, the serpent with his hood bent and breathing heavily moving in a curved manner rests under the shade of the peacock( feathers)


huthaagni kalpaiH savithuH gabhasthibhiH

kalaapinaH klaanthaSareera chethasaH

na bhoginam hanthi sameepavarthinam

kalaapachakreshu niVeSithaananam


The peacocks, fatigued mentally and physically by the rays of the Sun which were like fire, did not kill the serpent which was near and with its face under the circle of the feathers of the peacock.

Not only the peacocks but also the serpents did not care to harm the frogs contrary to the natural enmity between them.

vivasvathaa theekshNa tharaamSumaalinaa

sapankathoyaath sarasaH abhithaapithaH

uthpluthya bhekaH thrshithasya bhoginaH

phaNaathapathrasya thale nisheedhathi

The lakes are heated along with the water and the mud. The frog jumping up and rests in the umbrella of the hood of the thirsty  serpent



saseekaraamboDhara mattha kunjaraH

thatithpathaako aSani sabdha mardhalaH

samaagatho raajavath udDhathadhyuthiH

ghanaagamaH kaamijanaHpriyah priye

The rainy season like a king, having  the rain bearing clouds as the elephant, the lightning as his flag and the thunder sounding like the drum has advanced with shining splendor.


thrshaakulaiH chaathakapakshiNaam kulaiH

prayaachithaah thoyabharaavalambinaH

prayaanthi mandham bahuDhaaravarshiNaH

valaahakaaH SrothramanoharasvanaaH

The clouds prayed by the stocks of chathaka birds, afflicted by thirst, move slowly away raining heavily with sound pleasing to the ears.


mudhitha iva kadhambaiH jaathapushpaiH  samanthaath

pavanachalithaSaakhaiH Saakhibhih nrthyatheeva

hasitham iva viDhatthe soochibhiH kethakeenaam

navasalilanishekaath Chinna thaapo vanaanthaH

The forest till the end looking as though pleased with the kadamba flowers blossoming everywhere, with trees as though dancing with their branches shaken by the wind  and seems to be laughing with the sharp teeth like petals of kethaki flowers.



kaaSaamSukaa vikachapadhma manojna vakthraa

sonmaadha hamsarava noopura naadha ramyaa

aapakvaSaali ruchiraanathagaathrayashtiH

praapthaa Saradh navavaDhooriva roopa ramyaa

The autumn season arrived beautiful in form like a new bride, wearing the white garment of kasa grass, with attractive face  of blossoming lotuses, with jingling anklets in the form of the sound of the excited swans, her beautiful form made of the bent  rice stalks.


mandhaanila aakulitha chaarutharaagraSaakhaH

pushpodhgamaprachaya kungmalapallavaagraH

mattadhvirepha paripeetha maDhuprasekaH

chittham vidhaarayathi kasya na kovidhaaraH

Whose heart will not be moved by the tips of the branches of the trees gently moving in the wind, the sprouts putting forth abundant flowers at their ends, the honey flowing from them and drunk by the bees!


thaaraagaNa pravarabhooshaNam udhvahanthee

meghaavaroDha parimuktha SaSaanka vakthraa

jyothsnaadhukoolam amalam rajanee dhaDhaanaa

vrdDhim prayaathi anudhinam pramadheva baalaa

The night grows everyday like a girl growing into a damsel, wearing the best jewellery in the form of the stars, her face in the form of the moon bereft of the veil that are the clouds and clasd in the white garment of moonlight.


aakampayan phalabharaanatha Saalijaalaan

aanarthayan tharuvaraan kusumaavanamraan

uthphullapankajavanaam nalineem viDhunvan

nyoonaam manaH chalaayathi prasabham nabhasvaan

Shaking the rice stalks bent with the harvest, making the trees bent with flowers dance, making the full blown lotuses in the lake wobbly, the wind aagitates the hearts of the young men.


Hemantharthu- prewinter


navapravaalodhgama sasya ramyaH

praphulla loDhraH paripakva SaaliH

vileena padhmaH prapathath thushaaraH

hemanthakaalaH samupaagatho ayam

This hemantharthu has come , beautiful with fresh tender leaves and crops, blossoming lodhra trees and ripened rice , lotuses hidden under due to snow drops falling.


praphulla neelothphala Sobhithaani

sonmaadha kaadhamba vibhooshithaani

 prasanna thoyaani suSeethalaani

saraamsi chethaamsi haranthi pumsaam

The lakes carry away the hearts of men  beautiful  with full blown blue lotuses, adorned with excited ducks and calm and cool waters.


SiSirarthu- winter


na chandhanam chandhramareechiSeethalaaH

na harmyaprshTam Saradhindhunirmalam

na vaayavaH saandhrathushaara SeethalaaH

janasya chittham ramayanthi saampratham

No sandal paste cool like the rays of the Moon, nor the housetops clean like the autumn Moon, nor the breezes dense and chill pleases the heart of people now.


thushaarasanghaathanipaatha SeethalaaH

SaSaankabhaabhiH SiSireekrthaapunaH

vipaanduthaaraagaNa jihma bhooshithaa

janasya sevya na bhavanthi raathryaH

The nights are not enjoyable for the people as they are cold with fall of snow, further colder by the rays of the Moon and adorned with stars pale and dim.


Vasantharthu- Spring


dhrumaaH sapushpaaH salilam sapadhmam

sthriyaH sakaamaaH pavanaH suganDhiH

sukhaaH pradhoshaaH dhivasaaH cha ramyaaH

sarvam priyam chaarutharam vasanthe

In the spring everything is beautiful, the trees with flowers, the water with lotuses, the women with love, the breeze fragrant, the dusks are pleasant, and the days are nice.


pumskokilaH chootha rasaasavena

matthaH priyaam chumbathi raagahrshtaH

koojath dhvirepho ayam ambujasThaH

priyam priyaayaaH prakarothi chaatu

The male cuckoo intoxicated by eating the juice of the mangoes kisses his mate with love. This buzzing bee in the lotus  does what is pleasing to his lover with skill.

Vide Kumarasambhava for similar description of spring


     pumskokilo yath maDhuram chukooja


     thadheva jaatham vachanam smarasya (KS. Canto 3. Sloka32)


The voice of the male cuckoos singing sweetly with their throat sweetened by eating mango sprouts, became the voice of Manmatha , which served as a blow to the pride of the women who were arrogant.



aadheepthavahni sadhrSaiH maruthaavaDhoothaiH

sarvathra kiSukavanaiH kusumaavanamraiH

sadhyo vasanthasamaye hi samaachitheyam

rakthaamSuka navavaDhooriva bhaathi bhoomiH

This earth shines like a new bride acquiring a red garment at once at the time of spring by the forests laden with kimsuka flowers everywhere shaken by the wind and like a lighted fire.

Vide KS. Canto 3 sloka 30


    mukhe maDhuSreeH thilakam prakaaSya

    raageNa baalaaruNa komalena

    choothapravaaloshTam alamchakaara


The lady spring decorated her forehead with the tilaka made of the bees clinging together which was like the colourful bindhi and she decorated her lips, in the form of mango sprouts with the red colour like the rising Sun.


kim kimSukaiH Sukamukha ChavibhiH na bhinnam

kim karNikaarakusumaiH na krtham nu dhagDham

yath kokilaH punarayam maDhuraiH vachobhiH

yoonaam manah suvadhanaanihitham nihanthi

Have not the minds of the young men, the faces of whose lovers are hidden from view,  been torn by the red kimsuka flowers resembling the beak of a parrot, Have they not been burnt by the karnikara flowers ( fire-like in colour? The cuckoo kills their minds again  by sweet melodies.



aakampayan kusumithaaH sahakaaraSaakhaaH

visthaarayan parabhrthasya vachaamsi dhikshu

vaayuH vivaathi hrdhayani haran naraaNaam

neehaarapaathanigamaath subhago vasanthe

In spring when the snow stops falling, the wind blows shaking the branches of the mango tree full in blossom, spreading the voice of cuckoo to all directions and thus attracts the hearts of men.

Vide KS. Canto 3


     pumskokilo yath maDhuram chukooja


     thadheva jaatham vachanam smarasya


The voice of the male cuckoos singing sweetly with their throat sweetened by eating mango sprouts, became the voice of Manmatha , which served as a blow to the pride of the women who were arrogant.



kundhaiH savibhrama vaDhoohasithaavathaaraiH

udhyothithaani upavanaani manoharaaNi

chittham munerapi haranthi nivrttharaagam

praagevaraagamalinaani manaamsi yoonaam

By the kunda flowers like the laughter of vibrant damsels the gardens are lighted up attractively which steal even the mind of a sage and the minds of youths whose minds are already coloured with passion.

Vide KS canto3sloka 34

.thapasvinah sThaaNuvanoukasasH thaam

     aakaalikeem veekshya maDhupravtrtthim

     praythna samsthambhithavikriyaaNaam

     kaThamchith eeSaa manasaam babhoovuH


The hermits of the forest where Siva was, seeing the untimely spring, became  masters of their minds with difficulty, stopping its activities with effort .

And, sloka 24

. thasmin vane samyaminaam muneenaam

      thapassamaaDheH prathikoolavarthee

      sankalpayoneH abhimaana bhootham

      aathmaanam aadhaaya maDhur jajrmbhe


The spring, who was dear to Manmatha appeared in the forest taking his own form which is disturbing to the penance of the sages who had controlled their senses.


nethre nimeelayathi rodhithi yaathi Sokam

kareNa viruNadDhi virouthi chocchaiH

kaanthaaviyoga parikhedhithachitthavrtthiH

dhrshtvaa aDhvagaaH kusumithaan sahakaaravrkshaan

The one who is on his way ( away from his beloved) seeing the mango trees fully in blossom shuts his eyes, cries and becomes sad, obstructs with his hand ( the smell) and wails loudly as his mind was tormented with the sorrow of separation from his beloved.


aamreemanjula manjareevaraSaraH sath kimSukam yath DhanuH

jyaa yasya alikulam kalanka rahitham Chathram sithaamSuh sitham

matthebho malayaanilaH parabhrthaam yath vandhinH lokajith

so ayam vo vithreethareethu vithanuH badhram vasanthaanvithaH

The god of love, who won the world, accompanied with the spring, lavishes his grace to us, (like a king having the cluster of pretty mango flowers as his arrows, and the Kimsuka flower as his bow and whose bowstring is the row of bees, the moon as his white umbrella , the breeze from Malaya mountain being his elephant in rut and the bards are the cuckoos.



In the field of kavyas  Bharavi comes next to Kalidasa. His only work ‘kirathaarjuneeya ,’ is considered as one among the five maha kavyas. He is suppose to have lived in 6th century AD and who influenced Magha, the author of SiSupalavavadha , another mahakavya, who came later in 8th century.he probably belonged to South India and was known to enjoy the patronage of the king Vishnuvardhana of Pallava dynasty. From the mention of the Pallva kingdom being well spread at that time, this king must have been Mahendrapallava who was known for his poetical skills.

According to an inscription he was awarded a title aathapathra bharavi in praise of his verse,

uthphullasThalanalineevanaath amushmaath

udDhoothaH sarasija sambhavaH paraagaH

vaathyaabhirvriyathi vivarthithaH samanthaath

aaDhatthe kanakamayaathapathra lakshmeem(Kir. 5. 39)

Arjuna goes to Himalayas to do penance and the poet describes the mountain. This sloka means, From this forest of land  lotuses the pollen rising from the lotus flowers is spread by the wind everywhere and gives a beautiful appearance of a golden umbrella.



The work kiratharjuneeyam is set in vana parva of Mahabharatha and traces the incidents that led Arjuna to do penance and obtain the bow gaandeepa from Lord Siva.

The sloka that extols him along with Kalidasa and Dhandin goes as follows:

upamaa kaalidhaasasya bhaaraverarTha gouravam

dhandinaH padha laalithyam maaghe santhi tharayo guNaaH

 Simile is the special quality  of Kalidasa, for Bharavi it is perceptional thought , for Dhandin it is beauty of words and in Magha all three are present.

In the fifteenth canto of his work Bharavi displays his dexterity in playing with words. The conversation between Draupadhi and others and Ydhishtira in the second chapter denote vigour of expression. His mastery of the language is known from the episode below.

Once he had some difference with his patron and left the court. When the king was going to some place he presented himself incognito and he was asked to bear the palanquin as there was one hand short and he did it. The king saw him and had his own doubts and just to reveal his identity he asked him whether the weight is affecting him using the words kim thava  baaDhathi and Bharavi replied that not the weight of the palanquin but the usage of bhaadhathi did. He said “thava  baaDhthi mama bhaaDhathe,” thus indication that the king used parasmai padha instead of Athmane padha. Then King found out who he was and welcomed him back in the court.


Now we shall see the beauty of his poetry.


This sloka is well known to all.

sahasaavidhaDheetha na kriyaam

avivekaH paramaapadhaam padham

vrNthe hi vimnrSyakaariNam

guNa lubDhaaH svayam eva sampadhaH


These are the words of Yudhishtira to Bhima and Droupadhi who advise him that patience is of no use and they had to take action towards Duryodhana.

It means, No action should be taken in haste and indiscrimination is the abode of great calamities. The riches which are partial to virtue  choose one who acts with discrimination.


There is a story attached to this.. Once Bharavi was going on a journey and came to a pond and being tired he rested there and wrote this sloka with his nails on a lotus leaf. A king happened to pass that way and liking the sloka he had it painted in gold in his private bed chamber. Once he went away on hunting for a week and returning he found a young man sleeping in his bed beside his wife. With anger he was about to draw the sword ti kill him but seeing the sloka he stopped. He woke up the queen who informed him that their son stolen while he was a baby was found and returned the previous day. The king sent for the poet who wrote this words and honoured him.

Bharavi’s work begins with the word śrī (Fortune), and the last verse of every canto contains the synonym Lakshmi.


The forceful language can be seen from this sloka where Droupadi chided  Yudhishtira in observing patience while his enemy Duryodhana is flourishing and trying to make his position secure.

She says

avanDhya kopasya nihanthuh aapadhaam

bhavanthi vaSyaaH svsyameva dhehinaH

amarsha Soonyena janasya janthunaa na

 jaathahaardhena na vidhvishaa dharaH (Kir. 2.33)


All beings come under the control of one whose anger is infallible and destroys all obstacles. But for one who is devoid of anger, There is no regard for his friendship nor fear from his enmity.

paribhraman lohitha chandhanochithaH

padhaathiH anthargiri reNu rooshithaH

mahaaraTHaH  sathyaDhanasya maanasam

dhunothi no kaSchith ayam vrkodharaH ( kir. 2.34)


Does not this vrkodhara , (Bheema) who use  to anoint himself with sandal pasre, rowms around from forest to forest now covered with dust,(for securing food and I other requisites for the brothers) hurts the heart of you whose only wealth is the truth? Here the word sathyadhaa is used in a derisive sense meaning that he protects the truth being a sathyasanDha but not his brothers.


The saying bhaaaraverarTha gouravam is justified  as we find in his diction, clarity of words,  profoundity and diversity in meaning. There is a mention about it in the 2nd canto.

sphutathaa na padhaiH apaakrthaa

na cha na sveekrtham arTha gouravam  (Kir. 2.27)

Yudhishtira says this about the speech of Bheema who tried to persuade him to fight against Duryodhana.

It means, the clarity is not sacrificed by words, and also the arThagourava is there. This appears as a description of Bharavi’s own poetry.


The work was popular among critics, with more than 42 commentaries written on it. The style of his work, with cantos 4 to 9 having no relation to the plot but instead being merely an excuse for beautiful descriptive poetry, was influential on all later Sanskrit epic poetry, in which the action was often ignored entirely. Over a tenth of the verses from this work are quoted in various anthologies and works on poetics. The most popular verse is the 37th from the eighth canto, which describes nymphs bathing in a river, and is noted for its beauty. Another verse from the fifth canto (utphulla sthalanalini…) is noted for its imagery, and has given Bharavi the sobriquet of “Chhatra Bharavi”, as he describes the pollen of the lotus flowers being blown by the wind into a golden umbrella (Chhatra) in the sky. Thus, for having verses that are pleasing to lay people as well as clever verses appreciated by scholars, the work is considered to have ‘harmony’ or ‘appropriateness’ at all levels, and has been said to possess samastalokarañjakatva, the quality of delighting all the people.


One of the important aspect of his scholarship is his knowledge of politics. It is seen in the first canto the spy comes and describes the rule of Dhuryodhana. This and his introduction of artificiality in epic style , his verbal embellishments grammatical peculiarities became a tradtion and witnessed in Magha later.

In chapter 15 the skill of Bharavi in the Sanskrit language can be seen.

Fifteenth canto containschitrakavya, decorative composition, including the fifteenth verse  noted for consisting of just one consonant

na nonanunno nunnono nānā nānānanā nanu

nunno’nunno nanunneno nānena nunnanunnanut

Translation: “О ye many-faced ones (nānānanā), he indeed (nanu) is not a man (na nā) who is defeated by an inferior (ūna-nunno), and that man is no man (nā-anā) who persecutes one weaker than himself (nunnono). He whose leader is not defeated (na-nunneno) though overcome is not vanquished (nunno’nunno); he who persecutes the completely vanquished (nunna-nunna-nut) is not without sin (nānenā).”[14]


The 25th verse from the same canto is an example of the form of verse that the Sanskrit aestheticians call sarvatobhadra, “good from every direction”: each line (pada) of it is a palindrome, and the verse is unchanged when read vertically down or up as well:























(and the lines reversed)






















Translation: “O man who desires war! This is that battlefield which excites even the gods, where the battle is not of words. Here people fight and stake their lives not for themselves but for others. This field is full of herds of maddened elephants. Here those who are eager for battle and even those who are not very eager, have to fight.”

Similarly, the 23rd verse of the fifteenth canto is the same as the 22nd verse read backwards, syllable for syllable.

niSithaasirathoabheeko nyejathe amaraNaa ruchaa

saaratho na viroDheenaH svaabhaaso bharavaanutha(Kir.15.22)

thanuvaarabhaso bhaasvaanaDeeroaavinathorasaa

chaaruNaaramathe janye ko abheetho rasithaaSini(kir.15.23)

The 52nd verse of the 15th canto is an example of Mahāyamaka, or the great Yamaka, where all four feet of the verse are the same, but each foot has a different meaning.






Translation: “The arrows (maargaNaaH), of the king (jagadheeSa) Arjuna spread out (vikaaSam eeyuH). The arrows (maargaNaaH), of the lord of the earth (jagadheeSa), Lord Śiva, spread out (vikaaSam eeyuH). The Gaṇas (gaNaaH) who are the slayers of demons (jagadheesamaar) rejoiced (vikaaSam eeyuH). The seekers (maargaNaaH) of Lord Śiva(jagadheesa), i.e. the deities and sages, reached (eeyuH) the sky (vikaaSam) [to watch the battle. ”


Bharavi’s “power of description and dignity of style” were an inspiration for Māgha’s Shishupala Vadha, which is modelled after the Kirātārjunīya and seeks to surpass it . While Bharavi uses 19 different types of metres, Māgha uses 23; while Bharavi praises Shiva, Māgha extols Vishnu; and he has his own instances of one-consonant (daadadoduddaduddaadī…) and sarvatobhadra palindromic verses.



Magha was a poet in kinf Varamlath’s court in Srimala , the then capital of Gujarath in 7th century AD. Thework Sisupalavadha is ther only one attributed to him though there must have been I other works from whivch some slokas a requited by scholars. Magha unlike other s gives abiographical account of himself in the last five slokas of his work. The verses inform that his father was Dattaka and his grandfather was Suprabhadeva, a minister at the court of a king whose name is mentioned in different editions as Varmalāta, Dharmanābha, Dharmanātha, Varmalākhya, etc. These verses are therefore called the nija-vaṃśa-varṇana or kavi-vaṃśa-varṇana by scholars. By his own accounts and that of others, he was born wealthy and lived a carefree life, although according to one legend, he died in poverty.

 A verse extolling Magha goes as follows:

thaavath bhaa Bharaver bhaathi yaavath maaghasya na udhayaH

Udhithe thu punarmaaghe bhaaraveH bhaa raveH iva.

It means, “the lustre of the  Sun lasts until the advent of Maagha (the coldest month of winter)”, but also it means  “the  lustre of Bharavi lasts until the advent of Māgha”.

There is also a saying meghe maaghe gatham vayaH, literaslly meaning that on the clouds in winter a bird went, megha meaning cloud, maagha , the month of winter and vayaH meaning a bird. But the inner meaning is that in reading Meghadhutha and Magha( Sisupalavadha which is the only work attributed to him) the whole life is gone, in appreciation of both Kalidasa and Magha.

The  poet seems to be  inspired by the ”kiratarjuniya ” of Bharavi, and he not only emulates but surpasses it. His work is noted for the intricate wordplay, complexity of text and verbal ingenuity. His vocabulary is denoted by the saying navaSarggagathe maaghe navaSabdho na vidhyathe, meaning when nine sragas of Magha is known there is no more new words. But compared with  Bharavi, the long-windedness of his descriptions loses the gravity and “weight of meaning” found in Bharavi’s poem.

The narrative also wanders form the main action solely to dwell on elegant descriptions, with  almost half the cantos having little  to do with the proper story e.g. while describing the march of an armi, cantos 9 to 11 take  a detour to describe nature, sunrise and sunset, the seasons, courtesans preparing to receive men, and so on. Because of these descriptions,   Śiśupālavadha is an important source on the history of Indian ornaments and costumes.

Māgha describes the simultaneous setting of the sun and  the rising of the  moon on either side of the Meru mountain as like  a mighty elephant with two bells dangling on either side of his body. His striking comparison has earned Māgha the epithet  of ”Ghaṇṭāmāgha”, “Bell-Māgha.

Besides its poetry, the poem also revels in word play and ingeniously constructed verses. The second canto contains a famous verse with a string of adjectives that can be interpreted differently depending on whether they are referring to politics (”rāja-nīti”)or grammar. The entire 16th cento, a message from Sisupala to Krishna, is intentionally ambiguous and can be interpreted in two ways — a humble apology iin courteous words, or a declaration of war. The 19th cento, especially, like the 15th cento of ”Kiratarjunīya”, contains ”chitrakavya” or decorative composition.

Now let us enjoy some of his slokas.

In the first chapter he is describing sage Narada descending from heaven to visit Krishna with a message from Indra. There are some beautiful slokas in the chapter which we shall see presently.

gatham thiraScheenam annooru saaraTheH

prasiddham oorDhvajwalanam havirbhujaH

pathathyaDho Dhaama sarvathaH

kimethath ithyaakulam veekshitham janaiH

(Krishna saw Narada descending from the sky) who was seen with surprise by the people as to what this light (Dhaama)which is falling down and spreads around because the light of the Sun travels across(thiraScheenam) and that of fire goes upwards (oorDhwajwalanam). It was a wonder that this light descends unlike the Sun and the fire. The epithet he uses for the Sun is anoorusaaraThi, the one whose charioteer has no legs , meaning AruNa.


chayasthvishaam ithi avaDhaaritham puraa

thathaH Sareeree ithi vibhavithaakrthim

vibhuH vibhakthaavayavam pumaan ithi

kramaath amum naardha ithi aboDhi saH

He,  Krishna, saw what was understood as a mass of light( chayaH thvishaam) , then having a form with visible limbs (vibhaavithaakrthim) and then as a man( vibhaktha avayavam pumaan) and finally as Narada. The gradual descent of the sage is beautifully described here.


piSangamounjeeyujam arjunacChavim

vasaanam eNaajinam anjanadhuthi

suvarNa soothraakalithaaDharaambaraam

vidambayantham SithivaasasaH thanum

Narada, with fair skin,(arjunacChavim)  was wearing around his waist a rope made of  munjaa grass (piSangamounjeeyujam), yellow in colour (dry) on his lower garment made of the skin of black doe resembled Balarama, (SithivaasasaH thanum)who was of fair complexion and wears a golden girdle on his black colored garment. (soothraakalithaaDharaambaraam)



raNadbhiH aaghattanayaa nabhasvathaH

prThak vibhinna SruthimandalaiH svaraiH

Sphuteebhavath graama viSesha moorChanaam

avekshamaaNam mahatheem muhrmuhuH

Being struck by the wind, (aaghattanayaa nabhasvathaH)the svaras of his veena sounding(raNadhbhiH) individually(prThak) as though playing the scale (graama)and the arohana avarohana(viSeshamoorchanaam) of ragas , which narada was glancing now and then. The wind strikes the veena strings and the svaras sounded themselves without his  playing and he was looking  at them without understanding how they did so.


sa kaanchane yathra muneH anujnayaa

navaambudhaSyaama vapuH nyavikshatha

jigaaya jamboo janithaSriyaH Sriyam

sumeruSrngasya thadhaa thadhaasanam

When Krishna sat on the golden seat after getting  the permission of the sage( after doing the necessary honour for him) putting his body like the dark rainbearing clouds the seat bore a look of the peak of Meru with a jamboo tree on its top.

The dark body of Krishna on the golden eat resembled the peak of Meru , which is golden with a jamboo tree with its black fruits.


sa thapthakaarthasvarabhaasvaraambaraH


vidhidhyuthe vaadavajaathavedhasaH

SikhaabhiraaSlishta iva ambhasaam niDhiH

Krishna his hue being that of the mark on full moon, (kaTora thaaraaDhipa laanChana CChaviH) wearing yellow garment shining like gold, (thapthakaarthasvarabhaasvar ambaraH)he appeared like the ocean enveloped with vadavagni (vaadavajaathavedhasaH)


praphulla thaapicCha nibhaiH abheeshubhiH

SubhaiScha sapthacChadha paamsupaandubhiH

paraspareNa ChurithaamalacChavee

thadhaikvarNou iva thou babhoovathuH

Those two shone a s though they were of same colour(ekavarNou) because the one like the flowers of Thamala tree(dark) and the other like those of sapthaparna tree(white) mingled their rays with each other.


nidhaaghaDhaamaanam ivaaDhidheeDhithim

mudhaa vikaasam munim abhyupeyushee

vilochane bibhrath aDhiSrithaSriNee

sa pundareekaaksha ithi sphuto abhavath


Seeing the sage who shone like the Sun the eyes of Krishna  blossomed with joy,justifying his name as pundareekaaksha.

Let us go to 19th canto now. The canto abounds in word play.


tha thato’thithathaathathuth



“Then the warrior, winner of war, with his heroic valour, the subduer of the extremely arrogant beings, he who has the brilliance of stars, he who has the brilliance of the vanquisher of fearless elephants, the enemy seated on a chariot, began to fight.”


He progresses to just two consonants in the 66th stanza:




“The fearless elephant, who was like a burden to the earth because of its weight, whose sound was like a kettle-drum, and who was like a dark cloud, attacked the enemy elephant.”


By  the 114th stanza, this is  taken to an extreme, with a celebrated example involving just one consonant:


dhaadhadho dhuddhadhuddhaadhee dhaadhadho dhoodhadheedhadho 

dhuddhaadha dhadhaadhe dhuddhe dhaadhaadhaadhadhadho’dhadha


“Sri Krishna, the giver of every boon, the scourge of the evil-minded, the purifier, the one whose arms can annihilate the wicked who cause suffering to others, shot his pain-causing arrow at the enemy.”


The same canto  also contains increasingly ingenious palindromes. The 44th stanza, for instance, has each line a palindrome: that is it reads the same backwards and forwards.


vaaraNaagagabheeraa saa saaraa abheegagaNaaravaa

kaaritharivaDhaasenaa naaseDhaavaarithaarikaa


“It is very difficult to face this army which is endowed with elephants as big as mountains. This is a very great army and the shouting of frightened people is heard. It has slain its enemies.”


The 88th stanza is a palindrome as a whole (syllable-for-syllable), with the second half being the first half reversed. This is known as prathiloma (or gathaprathyaagata) and is not found in Bharavi.


  tha Sriyā ghanayaanastharucaa saarathayaa thayaa
yaathayaa tharasaa chaarusthanayaanaghayaa Srita


Thus all the verbal skills seen in Bharavi are also in this work and more.



Naishadha of Sree Harsha


This is also known as Naishadha charitham. This work is held in high esteem by all scholars and it is extolled as ‘naishadham vidhvath oushadham.’ It describes the story of Nala, King of Naishadha  and his love to Damayanti , the princess of Vidharbha. The message of the lover through the swan is beautifully depicted in it. The present work contains 22 cantos, and describes Damayanti’s svayamvara and marriage to Nala. The work abounds in mythology and pictures the society at that time. It is famous for its sweet and melodious diction. The style is not simple but cumbrous and ambiguous. It is difficult even to the learned.


The poem is especially notable for its descriptive embellishments and skillful presentation of emotion. Śrīharsha’s mastery of metre is evident, but he has been criticized for occasional obscurity and excessive verbal ornamentation.


There are many other less known  kavyas  among them being the two kavyas of Vedanta Desika , Yadhavabhyudhaya and padukasahasra, which contain the merits of all the poets mentioned above.


Prose romances


First ever existing prose literature is in Yajurveda nas after that some portions of Atharva veda. The prose in braahmana especially n Rkveda is also an example of prose literature. The commentaries on philosophy like Brahma suthrabhashya of sankara and sribhashya of Ramanuja, and the commentaries of Vachaspathy Misra  etc are good specimens of Sanskrit prose.


Most important of the prose romances are Dasakumara charitha of Dhandi, Vasavadhattha of Subandhu,  Harsha charitha and Kadambari of Bana bhatta.


Dasakumaracharitha of Dhandin


Dhandin flourished in 6th century AD. He is also supposed to be the author of Kavyaadharsa, a treatise on poetics.

This deals with the adventures of ten young men , one of them Rajavahana the prince of Magadha and the nine others being the sons of the ministers of the king of Magadha. The tales about the adventures of each one are full of wonderful action and depict the state of society at  that time.  The power of description  of the author is indeed very high and charming. The work abounds in figure of speech and has the sweetness of diction which merited the epithet about Dandi that ‘dhandinaH padha laalithyam.’



Vasavadhattha of Subandhu


Subandhu lived in middle of 7th century. He was skilful in ambiguous du iction.Bhana the author kadmabri and harshacharitha holds him in high esteem. The plot of the book  Vasavdhattha is as follows.

Kandharpakethu, the handsome son of king Chinthamani  saw vasavadhattha in his dream and set out to find her with his friend.She was the daughter of king srngaarasekhara, and she was promised to pushpakethu. Kandharpakethu meets hert ins ecret and they fall in love and eloped to Vindhya mountain by the help of amagic horse. They fell asleep and when he woke up kandharapkethu could not find Vasavadhattha  and at last found her in a deep forest as a statue. When he touché dthe statue came to life and she related to him the curse of the sage of the grove where she was turned into a statue.

The book abounds with long compounds,   and ambiguous diction.


Harshacharitha of Bhanabhatta


This and kadambari are the two famous works of Bhanabhatta.`and harsha charitha was his first work. In the introductory verses of the book we come to learn that the fame of  many poets such as Bhasa, kalidasa and Subandhu were spread throughout the country. Bhana was the court poet of HarshavarDhana.The book is famous historically as  it gives the life sketch of harash  and also a sort of autobiography of the author. The work is full of long compounds and obscure passages but shows a great power of description of the author.




In the introductory verses Bhana gives a short description of his family. It is in two parts, the first written by Bhana and the second by his son Bhushana Bhanabhatta  because Bhana died before finishing it. The subject matter of the book is taken from Brhathkathaa of GunaaDya.


Kadambari is a lyrical prose romance that narrates the love story of Kadambari, a Gandharva princess, and Chandrapida, a prince who is eventually revealed to be the moon god. Acclaimed as a great literary work, it is replete with eloquent descriptions of palaces, forests, mountains, gardens, sunrises and sunsets and love in separation and fulfillment. Featuring an intriguing parrot-narrator, the story progresses as a delightful romantic thriller played out in the magical realms between this world and the other, in which the earthly and the divine blend in idyllic splendour.

Kadambari is the masterpiece of Baana in which the descriptions and sometimes narratives and speeches abound in poetical beauty, with simile after simile which goes in a chain  extended far so that one is apt to lose the main idea in the luxurious language. BaNa died before completing the story which was finished by his son later. But this work is admired not for the story value but because of the frequent use of compounds  as it is said, ojaH samaasabhooyasthvam ethath gadhyasya  jeevitham, abundance of compound epithets is the life force of prose, gadhya kavya.

‘Kadhambareerasjnaanam aahaaro api na rochathe,’ meaning. To those who enjoy the taste of kadhamabari even food is not desirable. As one who has thoroughly enjoyed this work I would like to add,

‘na kevalam aahaaro kimthu nidhraa api na rochathe.’ Not only he food but even sleep is forgotten by reading kadhambari.

The story in short is as follows.

In the court of king Sudraka a chandala maiden comes with a parrot and the story unrolls as  the narration of the parrot. Tharapeeda and his minister Sukanasa , had no issue  and through the grace of God they both get sons, Chandrapeeda and Vaisampayana respectively and the two boys became great friends. When they reached manhood and finished their education in cluding warfare, tharapeeda bought a horse for his son and Sukanasa taught him about statecraft and he was sent with vaisampayana  to conquer the world with a big army.

Once Chandrapeeda lost his way following a kinnara pair, and meets Mahasvetha  who said she loved a youth named Pundarika  who died an untimely death. She was consoled by a voice from heaven that she will be united with him soon. She had a close friend kadambari whom she introduces to Chandrapeeda who faals in love with her. But before they could become close Chandrapeeda had to return to his kingdom at the bidding of his father. The first part ends with this.

The second part narrates how Kadambar is united with him and also Mahasvetha with Pundareeka. It traces the story to three janmas and quite intriguing.




It is believed by the Hindus that the art of drama was first fully developed in heaven by sage Bharatha and then it came down to earth. It is closely connected with the epic and lyric with this difference  only that the former has only ths poken words  while the latter always require action. Both take the subject matter from religion, history or the actual life but the epic poet speaks himself while the dramatic poet lets the characters to speak for themselves.


Types of drama:

1.Nataka-The subject matter is drawn from tradition or religion. The hero is either ra king or royal saint  or a god appearing in human form. The dominanat rasa is either srngara or veera. A tragedy being unknown in Sanskrit the end must be happy. Both prose and poetry are employed in a drama but the poetry id bereft of long compoundsand the verses sweet and clear. The prose must be simple. The number of acts should not be less than five and moret han ten.Saakunthalam of Kalidasa, Utthara rama charitham of Bhavbhuthi and Venisamharam of Bhattanarayana are the examples of this kind of drama.


2.PrakaraNa-It is a social comedy and follows the main construction of a nataka, The subject matter is fictitious and chosen by the will of the playwright. Slaves, merchants and various kinds of rogues find a place in this. The dominant sentiment is srngara and the title is derived from the name of the hero or heroine or both and sometimes from the main incident in the play.Malathimadhavam, Mrcchakatikam etc. are examples of this.


3.samavakara- This describes something supernatural. The plot is derived from some tale of demons or gods. The number of heroes may reach twelve and the principal sentiment is veera. AmrthamaThanam and pancharaathra are the examples of this.


4. Eeehaamrga- The play derives the name fro the fact that the heroine id hard to attain like eehamrga, a deer which is sought after. The subject matte3 ris taken partly from legends and partly from poetic imagination. The hero and his rival should be noble and haughty. The death of a great man should not be shown. The number of acts may vary from one to five.  RukmoniharaNam and Vathsarajacharitham are the examples of this.


5. Dima- The heroes are gods demigods or demons, all of haughty types. The subject matter is legendary. The predominant sentiment is fury. The number of acts is four. ThripurabhaaDha and manmathonmaThana are thexamples of this.


6. vyaayoga- It would exhibit a military spectacle. The subject matter is legendary. The hero is either a god or a royal saint. It has only one act and the action too extends only for a day. It is full of strife and battle. PaarThaparaakrama and MaDhyama vyaayoga are the examples of this.


7,Anka-It is a single act play. The subject matter is derived from legends and with poetical development. The hero is from the common folks and the sentiment is karuna. It is a play within a play. Sarmishta-Yayathi is a masterpiece of this kind.

8.Prakaasana-  here the plot is the poet’s invention. It deals with the tricks of low born people of everysort. The rasa  is haasya.

Dramas are divide into two main classes. Rupakas or natakas and uparupaka upanatakas.


Of the upanatakas the most prominent form is a natika, in which a fgay king intriguing to marry the heroine who is somehow introduced into the royal household.The jealousy of the crowned queen comes in the way and how he achieves his desire is the plot of the story. Ratnavali is the best specimen of this kind.


Every Sanskrit drama begins with a prologue and ends with an epilogue.  It is divided into scenes and acts. The greatest  dramatist of India is Kalidasa.  His works are , Sakunthalam, Malavikaagnimithram and VikramorvaSeeyam. Next to him is Bhavabhuthi who wrote Malathimadhavam, Utthararamacharitham and Veeracharitham. The others worth mentioning are  Mrcchakatikam os Sudraka, Sriharsha’s Ratnavali and naganandham, Murari Misra;s anrgha raghavam,  Bhattnarayan’s Venisamharam and the thirteen plays of Bhasa, in which he has covered various incidents fromMahbharatha and Ramayana and also about Udayana and vasavadhattha, and Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadhattha which is unique in character.


Kalidasa’s works.


His style is smooth and flowing.  He does not use big compounds like his followers. He is famous for his similes. He excels all others in describing nature and tender feelings.




Everyone knows the story and hence I am not going to retell it. But I will reproduce some passages which are beautiful.


Dushyantha was chasing a deer and the description of the deer running is very beautiful and this sloka is an oft quoted one.


greevaabhangaabhiraamam muhuranupathathi

syandhane badDha dhrshtiH

paSchaarDhena pravishtaH  Sarapathana bhayaath

bhooyasaa poorvakaayam

SashpaiH arDhaavledaiH Sramamvidhrta mukhabhamSibhiH

keerNa varthmaa

paSya udhagrapluthathvaath viyathi bahutharam

sthokam urvyaam prayaathi


Dushyantha describes the deer which is running away from them. It is turning its neck charmingly looking with its eyes fixed on  the pursuing chariot .Its hind part seems to have entered the front part fearing the arrow, that is the body is bent while it is jumping and it looks as though the hind part has merged with the forepart. The half eaten grass is falling from its fatigues moth marking its path. It jumps so fast that its body seems to be in air rather than on earth.


Later he sees Sakunthala and wonders what was the beautiful damsel doing in a thapovana.  He fears that the sage intended her to follow the life of a hermit and expresses his disapproval thus.


idham kila avyaajamanoharam vapuH

thapaH kshamam saaDhyithum ya icchathi

Dhruvam sa neelothpalapathraDhaarayaa

Sameelathaam Chetthum rshiH vu yavasyathi


The sage who wishes to engage the body of this girl which is of natura beauty is surely wishes to cut the Samee tree ( which is riugh) with the petals of blue lotus.


Again he admires her beauty by a sloka which was also oft quoted and famous.


sarasijam anuvidDham Saivalenaapi ramyam

malinamapi himaamSoH lakshma lakshmeem thanothi

iyam aDhikamanojnaa valkalenaapi thanvee

kimiva hi maDhuraaNaam mandanam naakrtheenaam


The lotus is beautiful even with the moss clinging to it. The black of the moon even though a defect renders beauty to the Moon. This girl is most attractive even in her bark garment. What does not become an ornament to beautiful body?


He wonders whether she was fit for a kshathriya and consoles himself that definitely she is so as otherwise his mind would not be drawn to her. Then he sees a bee troubling her and envies it by the following sloka.


chalaapaangaam dhrshtim sprsasi bahuSo vepaThumatheem

rahasyaakhyaayee iva svanasi mrdhukarNaathikacharaH

karam vyaaDhunvathyaa pibasi rathisarvasvanm aDharam

vayam thatthvaanveshaan maDhukara  hathaaH thvam khalu krthee

Oh bee, you touch the eyes of her which are moving and who is sweating profusely. You move near her ears as though saying some secret. You drink the nectar of her lips while she is warding you off with her hand. You are indeed blessed while I am debating whether she is fit for a kshathriya.

Later Dushyantha describes her to Vidhushka.


anaaghraatham pushpam kisalayam aloonam kararuhaiH

anaavidDham rathnam maDhu navam anaasvaadhitharasam

akhandam puNyaamnaam phalam iva cha thadhroopam anagham

na jaane bhokthaaram kam iha samupasThaayathi viDhiH


She is like  a flower not smelt, a sprout not plucked by fingernails, like a gem not pierced with needle and like fresh honey not tasted. Her form looks like the fruit of unlimited blessing. I do not know who the fate has ordained to enjoy her beauty.


The vidhushaka asked Dushyantha whether she was favourably inclined towards him. He replied by a sloka.


dharbhaankureNa charaNaH kshatha ithyakaande

thanvee sThithaa kathichidheva padhaani gathvaa

aaseeth vivrttha vadhnaa  ha vimiochayanthee

Saakhaasu valkalam asktham api dhrumaaNaam


She claimed that her foot was pricked  by a thorn and her garment was caught in the bush and tarried when her friends departed as thou reluctant o go from his presence.


It is said that


Kaavyeshu naaTakam ramyam thathra ramyaa Sakunthalaa


thathraapi chathurthhoankasthathra Sloka chathushTayam



Of all the kavyas drama is beautiful and there Sakunthala is even more so and there also the fourth act is most beautiful and in that the  four slokas especially.


We shall see the four slokas now.



Yaasyathyadya Sakunthalethi hrdayam samsprshtam uthkanTayaa


KanTassthambhithabaashpavrtthikalushaH chinthaajaDam darSanam


vaiklabyam mama thaavadeedrSam aho snehaadh aranyaukasaH


peeDyanthe grhinaH kaTham nu thanayaaviSleshaduhkaiHnavaiH



Kanva expresses his anguish that Sakuntala is going to her husband’s house.


The heart is touched by grief that Sakuntala is going. The throat is choked with unshed tears and the eyes have lost their sight and the mind is dull. If this is the anxiety of me who is a forest dweller how  much the householders would be affect by the separation of their daughters?



paathum na praThamam vyavasyathi jalam yushmaasvapeetheshu yaa


naadhatthe priyamanDanaapi bhavathaam snehena yaa pallavam


aadhye vaH kusumaprasoothisamaye yasyaa bhavathyuthsavaH


seyam yaathi Sakunthalaa pathigrham sarvairanugnaayathaam


That Sakuntala who will not drink water before you do, even though she likes the sprouts as ornaments she will not pluck from you and the first bloosomin gof flowers used to be her festival, she now goes to her husband’s house, may all of you approve of it.

This was addressed by Kanva to the forest trees.


asmaan saadhu vichinthya samyamadhanaan uchchaiH kulam cha aathmanaH


thvayyasyaaH kaThamapi abaandhavakrthaam snehapravrtthim cha thaam


saamaanyaprathipatthipoorvakam iyam dhaareshu dhrSyaa thvayaa  bhaagyaayaaDheenam athaH param na khalu thath vaachyam vadhoobandhubhiH yaachyathe


Kanva sends a message to Dushyantha.

Considering us whose wealth is penance and also your noble birth you have taken her away from her people by befriending her. ( there is slight admonition here)You have to treat he as equal with other wives. Therafter let her detiny take over. The people on the side of bride could not say more than this.

suSrooshasva guroon kuru priyasakheevrththim sapathneejane

bharthurviprakrthaapi roshaNathayaa maa sma pratheepam gamah

bhooyishtham bhava dakshiNaa parijane bhaagyeshvanutsekinee

yaanthyevam grhiNeepadam yuvathayo vaamaah kulasyaadhayah

Then Kanva gives instruction to sakuntala.

You serve the elders. Show friendship to your co wives. Even if your husband does something unpleasant do not react. Gve generously to servants and do not get excited with your good  fortune. Thus the women get the status of being a grhinee. Those who go on the opposite path are a curse to family.

He whole fourth act is full of beautiful passages.

Sakuntala says her feet are not moving in front though she is desirous of seeing her husband  due to her pangs of separation from the hermitage.her friend replies that the whole forest is grieving , deer  let the grass slip from their mouths and the peacocks stopped dancing and the creepers shed dried leaves like tears.

Then she goes to her favourite creeper vanajyothsnaa which is united with the mango tree and bids farewell and tells her friends that she is leaving it in their care. Then the friends ask her ‘ayam janaH kasya hathe samarpithaH? ‘ meaning, ‘”in whose hands you are leaving us?”

Then Sakuntala tells her father to send message to her when her pet deer which is pregnant gives birth.

At the time of her departure the pet deer pulls her by her garment and she consoles it that her father would look after it after she has gone.

Then sakuntala departs with the disciples of Kanva and Gouthami, the mother of asram.  Kanva expresses his feelings by one more sloka

uthpakshmaNoH nayanayoH uparudDhavrtthim

baashpam kuru sThirathaya virathaanubanDham

asmin na lakshitha nathonnatha bhoomibhaagam

maargam padhaani khalu the vishayeebhavanthi

it means, the unshed tears are obstructing the vision and he finds the path uneven because he could not see properly.


It is the love story of Pururavas and Urvasi. Pururavas rescues Urvasi from demon Kesi when he was returning from worshipping thebnSun and falls in love with her. It was reciprocated and Urvasi mentioned his name in a dance recital in Indra’s court instead of the name  Purushotthama as she was playing the role of Lakshmi. She was cursed by Bharatha the director of the Natya but Indra allowed her top remain with Pururavas till she got a son. The rest of the story is about their life on earth and her return to heaven when their son Ayus was seen by Pururavas.


The hero of the play belonged to Sunga dynasty reigning in VidhiSa . The play is about the love ofkimgAgnimithra and Malavika, one of the queen’s attendants  who was actually a cousin of the queen living incognito due to a shipwreck. When the truth is known both lovers are united.









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