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N§laka³t¦ad§k½ita
N§laka³t¦ad§k½ita’s time, place and
family background:
In its literary history that spans several
millennia, Sanskrit has been enriched by the
works of innumerable authors. It would not
be a great loss to the reader if he or she
happened to miss reading some of them. But
then, there are others whom a genuine lover
of Sanskrit literature cannot afford to ignore.
That the works of N§laka³thad§k½ita belong
to this latter genre is proof enough of his
uniqueness in Sanskrit literature. In his close
observation of human nature and especially
in his application of humor and sarcasm to
the service of poetry, he stands side by side
with the Kashmirian poets, K½emendra and
Bhalla¿a. The Sanskrit idiom, over which he
has an excellent grasp, makes his humor
appear natural and unlabored.
Fortunately, N§laka³thad§k½ita, unlike most
Sanskrit poets who scarcely provide us with
personal details, has been liberal enough in
including autobiographical details in most of
his works. In the preface to his work,

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N§lakan¿¦avijayacampÀ, he gives the date in
which it was composed as the Kali year 4738
(which corresponds to A.D. 1637). Apart from
this, the writings of his elder contemporaries
such as Appayyad§k½ita,
Ratnakhe¿a¾r§niv¡sad§k½ita, Ve±ka¿amakhi
and Yaj²an¡r¡ya³ad§k½ita, contemporaries
such as Ve±ka¿¡dhvari and R¡jacÀ¢
¡ma³id§k½ita and younger contemporaries
such as R¡mabhadrad§k½ita, Mah¡devakavi
and Cakrakavi also help in determining his
date. Based on a tradition that
Appayyad§k½ita lived for 72 years and died
in A.D. 1626 when N§laka³¿had§k½ita was
barely 12 years old, one could infer that the
poet was born in A.D. 1613. It was, without
doubt, in present-day Tamil Nadu that
N§laka³¿had§k¾ita was born. He spent a
greater part of his life at the city of Madurai
to whose presiding deity, M§n¡k½i, he was
deeply devoted and in the court of whose
king, Tirumalan¡yaka, he served as a
minister.
His own works, especially Nalacaritra and
Ga±g¡vatara³a give ample information about
the illustrious family in which he was born.
His forefathers, mentions the prelude to

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Nalacaritra, were realized souls who taught
all branches of learning, chanted the Vedic
lore, drank the holy soma juice, defended the
doctrine of Advaita and were famed
throughout the world. Among them was one
Acc¡d§k½ita who hailed from the clan of
Bharadv¡ja. Of his eight sons, the fifth,
Śr§ra±gar¡j¡dhvar§ composed several works,
chief among which are Advaitavidy¡mukura
and Vivara³adarpa³a. His son, the famous
Appayyad§kh¾ita, who is known to have
written 104 works on various subjects also
took the lead in establishing the Śaiva
doctrine. The Nayaka ruler, Cinabomma,
honored him with a shower of gold coins.
N§laka³¿had§k½ita humbly salutes
Appayyad§k½ita more than once in his
works. Appayyad§k½ita’s brother,
Acc¡d§k½ita was also a great scholar and the
verse of one Gurur¡ma, quoted in Nalacaritra,
describes him as a man of letters, wellversed in grammar, the philosophical schools
of S¡¯khy¡, M§m¡ms¡ and Vai¾£½ika, logic
and poetics. His grandson, N¡r¡ya³¡dhvar§
commented on works such as
S¡hityaratn¡kara and Mah¡v§racarita and was
believed to be an incarnation of goddess
P¡rvat§. N§laka³¿had§k½ita was his second

a Na¿aka (one of the ten major types of drama). The short works are satires. Śivotkar½ama²jar§ and Ś¡ntivil¡sa. Ānandas¡garastava. Kalivi¢a¯bana. G§rv¡³endra Sarasvat§. Nalacaritra and a host of short works. a CampÀ (a literary form that combines versified poetry and prose). he fancies his father’s poetry as the holy water that washes the left foot of Śiva.4 son by BhÀm§dev§. spanning almost the entire gamut of Sanskrit literary forms. He has chiefly to his credit two Mah¡k¡vyas (epic-poems composed of verses divided into chapters called Sargas). N§laka³¿havijaya. He was tutored by his father in the traditional sciences as well as in literature. Śival§l¡r³ava and Ga±g¡vatara³a. N§laka³¿had§k½ita’s works: N§laka³¿had§k½ita’s muse is by no stretch of imagination limited. Any¡pade¾a¾ataka. the foot that belongs to P¡rvat§ who occupies Śiva’s left half. Vair¡gya¾ataka. namely. In the first canto of Ga±g¡vatara³a. Sabh¡ra²jana¾ataka. didactic poems or hymns . He also studied Advaita under his family preceptor.

is borne out by these works. That he was an erudite scholar in various branches of learning.5 in praise of various deities. Śaiv¡gama (texts on Shaivate philosophy) and N§ti¾¡stra (polity). Vy¡kara³a (grammar). Ala±k¡ra¾¡stra (aesthetics). Let us now discuss these works in some detail. Gurutattvam¡lik¡. Spread over 22 . especially those that are ritualistic).M§m¡ms¡ (one of the six branches of Indian philosophy that is concerned with the interpretation of Vedic injunctions.R¡m¡ya³as¡rasa±graha (also known as Raghuv§rastava). Śivatattvarahasya. Aghaviveka and Ca³¢§rahasya. Apart from these. Tarka (logic). Ved¡nta (one of the six branches of Indian philosophy that is concerned with the knowledge of Self). to name just a few. Kaiya¿avy¡khy¡na. Saubh¡gyacandr¡tapa. a few manuscripts and printed works bear evidence to the fact that N§laka³¿had§k½ita also authored the following works – Mukundavil¡sa. Major works of N§laka³¿had§k½ita Śival§l¡r³ava – The Śival§l¡r³ava belongs to the literary genre known as the M¡h¡k¡vya.

apart from a praise of the art of poesy and poets in general. The principal sentiment is one of serenity though other sentiments too find appropriate expression. It is based on the Sanskrit work. Periyapur¡³am and Tiruvi©aiy¡¢al. The poem begins with a prayer addressed to the river Ga±g¡ The first Sarga.63).6 cantos. N§laka³¿had§k½ita speaks thus about the sadistic pleasure which the . That the Śival§l¡r³ava is a prototypical mah¡k¡vya can be gathered from the following points –      The work is divided in to 22 Sargas and describes the saga of virtuous kings from the Pandyan country. also contains verses that make fun of the wicked. The plot is chosen from the H¡l¡syapur¡³a. The title literally translates as “The ocean of Shiva’s exploits”. H¡l¡syapur¡³a (which is a part of Skandapur¡³a) and two Tamil works. In one of these verses (1. it describes the 64 exploits of Shiva.

Let us go through some of these in detail. Some examples could be cited here in translation – In this kingdom. The 20th and 21st Sargas in particular have verses in several meters. Every Sarga has verses composed in one meter throughout with a change in metrical structure at the end.7   wicked derive out of deriding others – “A hundred-fold richer than the joy of those that have realized the Self is the joy which poets beget when they infuse their words with suggestion and a thousand-fold. billion-fold richer is the joy which the wicked derive through finding faults in what others utter”. nay. The expanse of Śiva’s 64 exploits give the poet ample scope to employ his descriptive powers. would take one look . invoked by sacrificing priests. The 2nd Sarga starts with a novel and beautiful description of the P¡³¢yan province. the gods. evidencing N§laka³¿had§k½ita’s expertise in prosody.

But the pitcher-born Agastya managed to write the aphorisms of Dravidian grammar only because he managed to make some corner of this kingdom his home”.7). (2. (2. a mere potter. so he can keep drinking T¡mrapar³§’s naturally sweet water.22) Next follows a description of the forest of Kadamba trees in the vicinity of V»½¡dri – The hundreds of deer that roam around this forest seem to have .8 at its prosperity and plead with them thus – “We are willing to take on your role if only you would agree to part with your kingdom”. (2.5) His father was but a lump of clay and his grandfather. This is followed by a description of the river T¡mrapar³§ in 8 verses. antidote to the side-effects he suffered by gulping down salty seawater. one of which is translated below The sage Agastya never abandons the mountain Malaya.

salvation too was worth a blade of grass.18) When the king’s wife brought her close so he could hold her. The 5th Sarga contains descriptions of the spring season and the birth of his daughter – The cuckoos were unhappy with the mango trees in full fruit. Neither could they savor the bounty in entirety nor could they find a place to perch (6. barely managed to discharge pending duties. tall trees rubbed against it with the tips of their branches. (2. on every full-moon night.79) In their immense joy. (2.30) When hermit-boys climb up the tall trees of this forest to pluck flowers. the little girl sprang up to hug him.9 dropped down from the lunar orb when. . (6.35). As he held her nectarous form in his arms. the ever-anxious celestials intercept them on their way and cajole them to know the reason why hermits below are performing penances. the couple scarcely remembered Śiva.

(7.85) The two verses translated above allude to the poetic convention that the C¡takas subsist on raindrops and swans migrate to the M¡nasa Lake during the rainy season and return back to their respective lakes during autumn. Even the passing away of clouds made no big difference to anyone save the C¡taka birds who were now doomed to death. forests flourished and lakes filled up with water. could locate their respective lotuses only by the difference in their nectar. color and smell. (6. (7.10 cared little to revere sages and didn’t even greet each other.81) The 7th Sarga ends with a description of autumn – The earth’s surface was rendered cool. The subsequent Sarga contains descriptions of a counsel between Ta¿¡tak¡. Malayadhvaja’s daughter and .74) Swans returned back to their lakes but robbed as they were of signs that marked their territories.

he still held up the rays that followed him. with the onset of autumn. encourage the king. Without putting up with such suffering how could he possibly digest the title ‘Friend of the world’ conferred on him? (8.9) Though the sun kept sinking in the water of the western ocean. Then why don’t you do the same with me this time? Is it because you fear I am just a young girl?” (8. in every autumn. Then follows the description of a military march and preparations for battle – When. my father. Sumati followed by a description of the evening – ‘You would. clouds departed. one could see a rainbow stretching all along the horizon and her army’s mahouts felt it . to go on a military expedition.21) The idiomatic usage of the verb ‘j§ryati’ (to be digested) in the above verse is worth noting.11 her minister.

After this comes a description of Ta¿¡tak¡’s victory march.12 was so near they could lay their hands on it (8. like a king’s officials. But. oh! She is just a child”. open the hitherto closed doors of Vi½³u’s harem . (8. the rays of sun.5) The sound of her war-drums had travelled but a few miles when the news of her prowess had travelled a .44) The 9th Sarga begins with a description of day-break in verses sung by women to awaken Ta¿¡tak¡. (9.40) How ladies of hamlets greeted Ta¿¡tak¡ on her way is described in 7 verses starting from the 43rd– “K¡li! Look at her. where abides lak½m§.the lotus. bees for dwarfs and winds for messengers. Kubjika! Doesn’t her face resemble her father’s? She is older to my daughter by five or six months. She is Malayadhvaja’s daughter. With the coming together of swans standing for chamberlains.

It seemed as if she was returning back to tell Śiva. like that of your kindness. (9. is unfaltering. a distance ten times farther than what her fame had managed to reach. (9. Like your speech. (9. O mother! She purifies the universe like your fame.54) Following this are a few verses describing how hunters living on the slopes of Himalayas honored her. her lord. Her flow. slipping from the matted locks of Śiva. Look at Bhag§ratha’s daughter. she is sweet as nectar and full of depth.32) In the guise of her army it was the river Ga±g¡ herself who climbed up the Himalayas. Her fame had by now travelled a distance ten times farther than the latter and her enemies had escaped to some remote corner of the world. .13 distance ten times farther.15) Then comes a beautiful description of the river Ga±g¡ in several verses Look at her. something that was left over in her hurry to leave.

P¡²cajanya. is the most inferior among them”. you should know. These.63) The above verse is based on two episodes appearing in the Mah¡bh¡rata.14 “In this very place. a certain human injured the foremost leader of our clan with his bow – so narrate some of our elders. A dialogue between Ta¿¡tak¡ and the Ocean then follows “These are the best among elephants roaming the peaks of Main¡ka. has been living there for ages” (9. they say. are conches gifted to you by the Western Sea. residing in a plantain-grove on the slopes of Himalayas. And this is the bounty of gems from the continent Gabhastim¡n. oh Mother. the first where Arjuna fights with Śiva in the guise of a hunter and the second where Bh§ma meets his brother. Then comes a description of the Northern Ocean in the Uttarakuru province. Hanum¡n.90) . (9. Dear Mother! Yonder is a grove of golden plantains and a very old monkey.

headed by Nandi. the minister spoke thus to the king’s daughter – “This chap here is known to us. (10. (10. (10.15 The Sarga that follows begins with the description of a battle between Ta¿¡tak¡ and the guardian-deities of the directions starting with Indra – Like a sandy bridge built in water. . the celestial horde that had only managed to grow plump with the offerings of Brahmin priests just disappeared in front of her.38) Pointing out the various winds individually. please do call me to bear witness” – thus did the fire-god tell her and she bid him farewell with a smile.55) Then comes a description of her fight with Śiva’s hordes.12) Some humorous verses on her encounter with the fire-god and windgod are given below “When you are married off. He is the breeze from the Malaya Mountain”.

when Ta¿¡tak¡ was given away in marriage. father or grandfather of either the giver. the bride and groom. decked up for their marriage – When the groom was made up. Śiva? Therefore. (11. felt ashamed to even feel ashamed. (11. the accompanying holy chant was . felt ashamed while the Apsarases. celestial maidens. approach her in a gait that was measured and slow. the presiding deity of Śiva’s love. universe’s first sample of feminine beauty. Indra held a large mirror in front of him as if to prove false the scriptures which declare that He has no mirror-image.31) Beholding Ta¿¡tak¡. Lak½m§.76) The 12th Sarga describes the marriage between Śiva and Ta¿¡tak¡ Who knew the lineage. Vi½³u or the acceptor.16 The Sarga that follows describes how Ta¿¡tak¡ and Śiva.

17 strangely brief and just this – “I am giving her to you” and nothing else. . the tip of his crown broken and his hair disheveled. under whose rule there was a famine in the Pa³¢ya kingdom. the raingod. (12. (12. Sundare¾vara’s successor. in which the latter was defeated – As Indra. took to his heels following the defeat. A war ensued between the king and Indra. Then comes the story of Ugra.13) The 13rd Sarga starts with a description of Sundare¾vara’s rule.8) When the groom caught hold of Ta¿¡tak¡’s lotus-foot in order to place it on the stone-slab. the gods joined him from every nook and corner like pieces of cotton reeling in a whirlwind. Vi½³u blessed him thus – “May this first effort at holding her foot bring about more such opportunities in the days to come”.

None could hear Brahmins chat. the world seemed like molten gold.14) The 16th Sarga has a short description of the noon – There was not a soul on the street. Bees rested within lotus. (16. forsake him neither by day nor by night.35) . frogs continued to croak. Therefore the sun and the moon. (14.11) The 15th Sarga begins with a description of the rainy season – Even as peacocks cooed sweetly.18 The 14th Sarga describes king Urga as having made a trip to Mount Meru on the orders of Śiva. like two patrolling guards. A catchy description of the mountain follows – He is the abode of all gems and is himself golden in form. When it was noon. Do poetasters remain silent just because great poets are busy composing poetry? (15.

When a wicked minister torments the subjects it is the king who is put in trouble. the king of Colas – When soldiers.19 The next Sarga.57) The 18th Sarga that follows describes a battle between the P¡³¢yan king. in which is narrated the story of how the Pa³¢yan king’s younger brother.19) The above verse plays on the poetic convention that those killed in battle reach heaven by cleaving through the sun. (17. they encountered a few accountants from the divine realm waiting at the other end to keep count (18. killed in battle. . contains a description of summer – It was the sun who scorched the world but the season was blamed for it. joined hands with the neighboring ruler to defeat his brother in war. a cheat. Śivap¡da¾ekhara and his enemy. cleaved through the sun’s orb on their way to heaven. horses and elephants.

41) The Sarga that follows contains a description of bad poets who dominate the literary field much to the dismay of genuine poets – Let those that understand the secrets of poetry censure us as they wish. But what we cannot bear are these deaf and dumb fools who plague the path of poesy like rabid dogs. We do not fear them for Śiva is kind to us. and the events preceding it – The snowy peaks of Himalayas first melted away and then dried up exposing the bare lands underneath. Pralaya. (20. the mountain stood like a piece of reed. (19.20 The 19th Sarga starts with a description of Sugu³ap¡³¢ya’s hunting expedition followed by a description of the final dissolution of the universe. Covered everywhere with dry grass.21) The 21st Sarga has a description of the Cola country followed by a .

thinking that the other will take responsibility of protecting me from this calamity. doesn’t seem to care anymore.31) The last Sarga contains an enumeration of Śiva’s 64 pastimes as part of a praise sung by gods. O Śiva. N§laka³thad§k½ita as a master storyteller One of the 64 episodes is narrated below. took recourse to the pair of your feet. under this pretext. The near-verbatim translation of the stories proves how capable the poet was in adding subtle details to the narrative so as to make it all the more interesting. How the young boy was crowned a king . (21.21 devotee’s plea to Śiva in verses that overflow with emotion – Having disregarded the commonsense wisdom that one must always seek help from a single source. has managed to summarize the entire content of his epic-work. each of your feet. I. The poet. And now.

Though elders in his family wanted to coronate the boy as the king’s successor. The king’s sons from the dance girls grabbed this opportunity and made away with his wealth leaving behind his five-year old son. But as days passed. Lord Śiva appeared before them in the garb of a merchant. pleased with his devotion. Surrounded by several of his servants and literally glittering with prosperity. he told them that he was a gem-merchant and asked his men to lay bare his wares. And then he laid bare his vast knowledge of gemology. . who knows what fate has waiting for us?” When they were wondering thus.22 King V§rap¡³dya had several sons from dance girls and not one from his queen. where can we procure the gems to make him a crown? With each depending on the other. how can we lose hope? On a second thought. anointing him as our next king seems a far-fetched idea. they wondered – “Without a crown how can we coronate him and unless we coronate him. granted him a son from his wife. now a pauper. Lord Śiva. It was not long before the king was killed by a tiger when he went out hunting. But with Śiva’s blessings on our side.

in the heavens above and the worlds below? Who has an inking about their color. how and who should wear them? Who has the faintest idea of how to sell and buy or to gift and accept them when gifted? Who has learnt how to guard them safely or test them thoroughly? Who . cost. on the earth. from the dirt of Indra’s thousand eyes and the bones of Dadh§ci?” “Who knows their different sources. feel. weight. Who knows how they were born from Bala’s body when he was made Indra’s sacrificial beast and Brahma granted the former a boon? Who has heard of the gems that were produced from the ¾iva’s person or the foam flowing from the mouth of the primeval boar? Or for that matter. measurement. the essence of what gems are is known only to the chosen few. shape. flaws or merits? Who has ever heard of how they are classified or which among them are genuine? Who can identify those among them that are artificial in color alone and those that are artificial in every sense? And who knows when.23 “There is not a soul on this earth who has not seen gems and not one who has not worn them on his person but like the knowledge of the Supreme Self.

he gave them his gems and disappeared. and anointed the boy as their next king. Convinced by this act that he was the Lord himself. whose bow is Meru. how they are differentiated in to animate and inanimate or how mortals and immortals should employ them? Who can answer how difficult or easy it is to procure them. the king’s son. The new king who had . fashioned a crown in keeping with custom. Saying so. to accept these gems. has the capacity to know all about gems other than Śiva. gem among gods. After you have designed a crown with these gems and coroneted the prince with it. they praised the young prince’s fortune. may I ask.24 understands their secrets. which among them are accidental in origin or which have medicinal value? Who can even spell the names of their hundred varieties? And who. pay me whatever suits you”. the mountain with gem-studded peaks? It behooves this grandson of Devap¡³ ¢ya. servants and all. before their very eyes. divine or philosophical? Who is a master of their classification based on the four castes? Who knows how they are divided in to masculine and feminine.

81) Ga±g¡vatara³am – This work. criticize the wicked and the ignorant. Some verses from this Sarga are translated below – . Ga±g¡. also fulfils the criteria for a Mah¡k¡vya.25 already bathed in a shower of ¾iva’s grace. descended to the world of mortals. Also given are the translations of some fine verses Sarga 1 The first Sarga is introductory in nature and contains verses that praise poets of yore. delineate the importance of poetic genius in the creation of literature.55 – 14. bathed again in the ritual waters of the coronation ceremony. describe the role of connoisseurs and critics. describes the story of how the celestial river. The potted contents of this poem. (14. are given below. make fun of bad poets and give a sketch of the poet’s illustrious family and the reason why he chose to write a poem on Ga±g¡. The story proper begins from the 60th verse with a description of king Bhag§ratha’s rule. which like Śival§l¡r³ava. in 8 Sargas.

(1. treasury and kingdom. (1. What we poets ask of our connoisseurs is just this much – “Don’t raise objections before listening to what we have to say”. ministers and dependents were all from the past but what was new were his fame. Nor do we seek their help in stringing words together. Brahma. (1. (1. sets out to count but feels he is handicapped without the fifth face which Śiva lopped off.13) We do not want them to help us with meaning.26 All praises to Vy¡sa whose utterances the creator.73) Sarga 2 .27) The students of Ve±ka¿e¾varamakh§. my master.53) Bhag§ratha’s army. (1.2) Though she is soft. the poet’s muse will still not yield to the critic’s squeeze.20) It doesn’t pain me if fools don’t appreciate what is appreciable. It pains me when they appreciate what is not. (1. carry bundles of palm-leaves in both their hands as if they were oars to help them cross the flood of his eloquence.

Sagara’s son from a second wife. nor Dil§pa. who went searching for their father’s sacrificial horse and ended up being burnt to ashes by sage Kapila for wrongly calling him a thief. Vasi½¿ha. With the commencement of his penance also commences summer. Bhag§ratha entrusts the responsibilities of his kingdom to his ministers and proceeds to perform penance in honor of Brahma under whose care the river now was. A¯¾um¡n’s son. “When Ga±g¡ was about to say something.11) . Brahma thought she was acting smart and cursed her to become a river” (2. to earth and then offer oblations to them with her waters. then informs Bhag§ratha that the only way to redeem his ancestors of their pitiable condition was to bring the celestial river. Ga±g¡. Neither A¯¾um¡n. could succeed in accomplishing this mission. the sons of Sagara. And it was now left for Bhag§ratha to complete the task. The royal sage.27 The second Sarga starts with Bhag§ratha learning from the elders in his family about the fate which befell his ancestors.

56) Sarga 3 In the 3rd sarga. Brahma appears before him and asks him to propitiate Śiva. gods in the heaven above suffered more than men on earth.28 “But Ga±g¡ considered this curse as a boon in disguise and with her huge waves. The king . she attacked everything on her way”. (2. (2. She also requests him to find out a way by which her descent could be made possible and saying so. his seat of holy Darbha grass as throne and his hut as bungalow and then realizing his mistake. When the heart-broken king is unsure about whose help he has to now solicit. Ga±g¡ informs Bhag§ratha about the force with which her waters would descend and the impact it would have on the universe.12) During the first three or four days of his life as an ascetic. the king would erroneously refer to his hermitage as city. feel embarrassed. formidable like the oceans at the time of Pralaya.23) As the summer advanced. so too did the king’s penance. disappears. And unable to bear the heat of his austerities. (2.

Ga±g¡. would be reduced to non-issues”. the Himalayas and Mount Kail¡sa. or for that matter. (3. disrespecting the creator’s creation. how can Brahma manage to stay in his abode?” (3. So saying. would rush forward to help you. agree to descend without as much as caring for anybody. (3.29 then selects a spot on Mount Kail¡sa and begins to meditate once more.5) “Even if I. Just think of me and I shall appear before you”. please tell me where you would stand and offer oblations to your forefathers”. throwing up a dense shower of droplets.42) . (3. Ga±g¡ disappeared. now with the object of securing ¾iva’s grace.26) “If Śiva himself. by the dint of your good karma. “When my flooding waters will fall with full force upon the peaks of the Himalayas. This canto has descriptions of ¾iva’s greatness.7) “If you feel that the words of your elders must not be transcended then try to find a means by which you can fetch me to earth. even the three worlds.

Bhag§ratha’s arm. the advent of winter. the gods. (3.2) Seeing the severity of his penance. they are immediately dozed off by thick masses of snow which melt due to the very same fires”. (4. was raised in penance and it looked like a pillar of victory erected by the king after defeating great sages by his austerities.30 “When fires break out in the forests of bamboos on the Himalayan slopes. marked by scars from his bowstring. (4.58) Sarga 4 In the 4th Sarga are described Bhag§ratha’s penance. the arrival of Śiva along with his retinue.6) The above verse suggests that the gods were initially apprehensive that the king wanted to usurp their positions but seeing the magnitude of his austerities realized that he was aiming for something higher. . gradually overcame their apprehensions. proud of the petty offices they owned. Bhag§ratha’s request to Śiva and Śiva readiness to receive the flow of ga±g¡.

(4. was now clinging to the tip of his matted locks. was wearing on his neck.39) Skanda approached his father to catch the crescent moon which.58) The Lord was trying to restrain the deer in his hand from grazing on the holy DÀrv¡ grass which his son.69) . If that’s how it is you could imagine what this mountain range would have been like in winter. (4. (4.26) Seeing her sons snatch away their father’s coats . loosened at the time of climbing Nandi.17) They say that summer in the Himalayas is akin to winter elsewhere.31 The daughter of Himalayas. (4. Ga³£¾a. spent the winter somehow. (4. warming her palms in the heat of Śiva’s fiery third eye. Śiva started from his abode.elephant’s and tiger’s hides. P¡rvat§ hurriedly covered him with the tip of her upper garment.30) Not knowing what fruit he should bestow on his devotee that would match the severity of his penance. overcome with shame like a debtor. (4.

3) I have heard that a certain hunter. The havoc created by the river is described in several verses that are a proof of the poet’s skill in creating humor. Some of these verses are translated below: Deciding to inform Brahma about her travel. the king of mountains and my soft-hearted elder sister.32 Tightening the tiger-skin and asking his sons to move aside.4) If I am not stopped. ready to receive the celestial torrent. the Lord put his weight on solid ground. It seems he is keen to stop my flow whose force you have already tested. god knows what will happen to my old father. roams on the peaks of Kail¡sa. (5. with an uneven number of eyes. (4. There is also a dramatic element in these verses that lends them an extra charm. (5. she approached him and spoke these words that revealed a total absence of humility and an exuberance of pride.92) Sarga 5 The 5th Sarga describes Ga±g¡’s descent from the abode of Brahma in to the matted locks of Śiva. .

(5. go back to your respective homes. now subdued. a few Yak½as. Trickling from ¾iva’s dreadlocks. (5. O gods. couldn’t think of a way out. the river. even Brahma. or better still. On her way. If you are interested to know what will happen.33 P¡rvat§. (5. the creator of this universe. give up fear and just gather at some corner of this universe.21) When the Lord shook his locks that were made wet by the waters of the divine river. And then neither ¾iva nor the silver mountain will exist. One may exhibit whatever cleverness one has when others are in trouble but when it comes to one’s own troubles.5) Move aside. Ga±g¡ engulfs the . a few Vidy¡dharas and a few sages got scattered and lost consciousness.12) When the river started to flood. everyone is equally crippled. a few damsels from heaven. (5. follows Bhag§ratha.64) Sarga 6 The 6th Sarga describes Bhag§ratha’s efforts at procuring Ga±g¡ from Śiva through penance and praise.

34

hermitage of Jahnu, is drunk up by him and
then released through his ear. She then
reaches the holy city of K¡¾§ When the king took leave of Śiva and set out
in his chariot, the river followed him as if she
were his white fame. (6.25)
She had earlier been imprisoned by Śiva for
rushing at him with great force and now this
sage, Jahnu, drank her up at the drop of a
hat. The Lord may be strong but his
devotees are stronger. (6.37)
Sarga 7
The 7th Sarga describes the city of K¡¾§ when
the river entered it. The sudden commotion
which the river’s entry caused in the city, the
conversations which women had amongst
themselves on seeing the king and the river
that followed him, the praises which sages
showered on Ga±g¡ and the prayers offered
by Bhag§ratha to Lord Vi¾van¡tha are
superbly detailed by the poet.
When their old supervisors dispersed in fear
on seeing the approaching river, the students
welcomed the short respite which they got
from studying. (7.3)

35

“This river is like our wretched glance. It
follows Bhag§ratha wherever he goes” – So
said the women of K¡¾§. (7.12)
Sarga 8
The 8th Sarga describes the victorious return
of Bhag§ratha to his capital after offering
oblations to his forefathers in the hermitage
of Kapila. This canto has descriptions of the
ocean and the city of serpents in the nether
world.
V¡suki ruled over that kingdom in the nether
world and he paid not a penny to his
servants, the serpents, because they
subsisted on wind alone for their food and
made any hole they could find their home.
(8.36)
Some of these serpents are from the clan of
Vi½³u’s bed, some from Śiva’s earring and
few others from the reins of the sun’s horses.
And therefore none of them have any fear of
Garu¢a. (8.40)
The above verse alludes to the mythological
facts that Vi½³u reclines on a serpent, Śiva’s
ornaments are snakes and so are the reins of
the sun’s horses.

36

Nalacaritra This is a N¡¿aka, one of the ten major types
of drama described by the legendary sage
Bharata in his N¡¿ya½¡stra. Unfortunately
however, the drama is incomplete, ending
abruptly in the 6th act. The work is based on
the famous story of Nala and his beloved,
Damayant§, that occurs for the very first
time in the epic Mah¡bh¡rata. The contents of
this drama are summarized below along with
the English translations of some memorable
verses –

Act 1
The drama begins with a customary
invocation, the N¡nd§. There are three verses
given here, the first on Śiva’s Ardhan¡r§¾vara
form, the second on goddess P¡rvat§ and the
third on R¡ma’s side-glances. This is followed
by a long prelude where, through the
dialogues between the stage-manager and
his assistant, the audience is introduced to
the subject of the drama as well as its
composer and the illustrious family in which
he was born. At the end of the prelude, we

like an object reflected in the mirror. Is this the way you show your strength? Is this a joke you are playing on me? Or is this your only skill? (1. when he caught a divine swan which he came across while hunting and then freed it. has seen Damayant§ in a dream. . The jester then asks the king to paint the lady of his dream so that the astrologer Saty¡c¡rya. The king is sure that she is unmarried because he didn’t see a marital cord adorning her neck. the grateful bird promised to unite him with the woman of his heart. family.37 are told that Nala. the king. which till now was peaceful. the reason why he is sad. skilled in the art of interpreting bodily marks. He also tells him how. his friend. could look at it and comment on her whereabouts. And my mind.13) He then reveals to the jester C¡r¡ya³a. Then enters Nala exhibiting his lovelorn condition – O K¡ma. marital status and the like. you have shown me something that is impossible to attain. is not where it must be.

When C¡r¡ya³a leaves to get the articles for painting. a mark of feminine beauty. angry at the king’s love for another lady. The astrologer predicts that the lady is either from Vidarbha or Vir¡¿a.38 The above verse tangentially refers to the three lines on Damayant§’s neck. The tired king orders him to dismiss the crowd but let Saty¡c¡rya alone in. would surely . The jester chides the astrologer when the latter asks the king the reason why he was summoned – “Aren’t you an astrologer? Why do you hold a mirror in your hand and ask us how your face looks? It is you who must be telling what is going on in the king’s head”. the chamberlain arrives and informs the king that his subjects are waiting at the palace’s doorstep to get a glimpse of him. The jester inadvertently blurts out the king’s desire for the mystery woman and the queen’s servant. is the daughter of a king. the jester enters with the queen’s servant. who is carrying the articles necessary to paint. Kal¡vat§. When the king finishes painting the lady exactly as she was seen in his dream. Meanwhile. departs saying that she would narrate all that had occurred to her mistress. the astrologer arrives.

that very day. After the swan leaves. deciding to marry Damayant§.39 marry. narrate everything about her to the king. her husband. There he meets the divine swan which he had seen earlier and learns from it about Damayant§. Indra. a gem of the three worlds. After the astrologer leaves. He also gets a message from the goddess Sarasvat§. wanted Nala to marry her. is worried about his master. Act 2 The second act begins with an interlude where V¡caspati. the daughter of king Bh§ma from Vidarbha. He also predicts that a non-human messenger who has the power of speech would. about how the creator Brahma. having created this girl. the king entertains himself with a walk in the royal garden. who is described here as Bh§ma’s sister. would have a partner who is a monarch and would face lot of obstacles both before and after her marriage. the preceptor of gods. Furthermore. heralds announce that it is afternoon and the king exits to have a bath. the sage .

it would imply that Indra is more suitable than Nala. Then enters V¡cahaspati’s student. the capital of Vidarbha. enters the stage accompanied by Vi¾v¡vasu. who has a penchant for inciting quarrels has visited Indra.40 N¡rada. who is in an adjacent aerial car and M¡tali. The trio then traverse through various places on the way before entering Ku³¢inapur§. his charioteer. apparently for Damayant§ who is now suffering the pangs of love. Here they see a woman in the garden plucking soft shoots. who has already been instructed by V¡caspati on what to do. After the interlude ends. Vi¾v¡vasu and the two decide on a plan to make Damayant§ marry Indra by requesting Nala to become Indra’s love-messenger to Damayant§. This would lead to a two-fold benefit. . Indra. King Nala would not get angry at Indra for sending somebody else as a messenger to Damayant§ and Damayant§ would consider marrying Indra because if someone as accomplished as Nala could agree to become a messenger of Indra.

Bh§ma’s tutelary deity and herself sets out to bring Damayant§ there. Act 3 The third act starts with a short interlude between S¡vitr§. a goddess and friend of and Ana±galat¡. Hiding himself under a charm. the goddess orders Ana±galat¡ to fetch goddess Sarasvat§ to the temple of Gaur§.41 After dismissing M¡tali. . Mistaking Vi¾v¡vasu for Bhadramukha. the woman introduces herself as Damayant§’s friend and describes to him her mistress’s lovelorn condition. an attendant of Damayant§. Having known that she is in a deplorable state. he not only overhears their conversation but also continues to speak to Vi¾v¡vasu without the woman getting to know about it. From their dialogue it is clear that Damayant§ has set her heart on Nala alone. Nala’s messenger. Indra orders Vi¾v¡vasu to find out from her about what Damayanti’s desire is. The woman departs to inform Damayant§ that Nala would be arriving any moment while Indra and Vi¾v¡vasu wait for Nala in an adjacent garden of Campaka trees.

V¡santik¡ and Candrakal¡. In the meantime. Listening to Sarasvat§ ask . unaware of the fact that he is hiding behind a tree. Nala asks the jester to go and stop them. the king and his jester follow them. On hearing a commotion behind the screens and anticipating that his soldiers must have come looking for him. the woman who had conversed with Vi¾v¡vasu in the previous act. As the womenfolk prepare to leave for the temple of Gaur§. The king and the jester also enter the garden where the three are sitting and hide behind a tree to overhear their conversation. Sarasvat§. The goddess is also worried that Nala has not yet turned up. Damayant§ and her friends go out looking for the goddess and all of them meet midway. The king who is initially in doubt about the identity of the lovesick woman in front of him learns that she is none other than his sweetheart. Knowing that Sarasvat§ is searching for her. They are confused about the identity of the person with whom S¡ra±gik¡ had spoken. S¡ra±gik¡.42 Then enters Damayant§ along with three of her friends. who is pained beyond measure on account of Damayant§ is searching for her along with S¡vitr§.

who are aware of Indra’s intentions. Nala describes to the jester C¡r¡ya³a how Indra. When the king does enter the . Nala prepares himself to meet the lord of gods while the womenfolk.the knowledge of Tiraskari³§ . (13) Indra also grants him the power of disappearing at will . if needed. decide to hide Damayant§ from his view. But when the bashful girl is still confused about what to do. the jester arrives and informs Nala that Indra has just arrived. by force. Nala. pleaded with him to become his love-messenger and how he promised Indra thus – I shall be your messenger and speak to her in such a way as behooves the cause of love.43 S¡vitr§ if Nala had arrived.so he can enter the harem unseen. I shall also bring her to you. Act 4 In the fourth act. the king reveals himself and offers his respect to the goddess Sarasvat§ asks Damayant§ to offer a betelleaf to their guest. after approaching him along with Vi½v¡vasu. But what I cannot say is whether or not she will accept you.

Nala is now in a fix because he doesn’t know how to report this back to Indra. S¡vitr§ reads out a message where it is made clear that Damayant§ would adore him and none else as the lord of her life if he accepted her and would die if he didn’t. He fears Indra would not believe him. The jester also informs the king about Bh§ma’s decision to give his daughter in marriage to Nala alone. However. . It is moonrise by then and the jester arrives with a message from Indra which he whispers in to Nala’s ear.44 harem. he is recognized by S¡vitr§ through her divine powers. S¡vitr§ in turn has been sent by goddess Sarasvat§ who has already been made aware of the conversation between Indra and Nala through her spies. The letter has says this – “You have humiliated us and therefore. Soon a messenger arrives from Indra and leaves after placing a letter in front of the king. we shall do to you what we deem fit”. it is finally decided that the jester will report to Indra on the behalf of Nala that the latter did all that he had promised to do as a messenger but had no say on whether Damayan¿§ would accept him.

S¡ra±gaka. Damayant§ is reclining on Nala’s lap and dreams that she is in a forest and that her beloved has abandoned her. whatsoever. N§laka³¿havijayac¡mpÀ – A Summary of the story Written in the CampÀ style with a mixture of prose and poetry. about the friendship between Pu½karaka. this work is based on the mythological story of how the sage Durv¡sas . Bhadramukha. Nala and damayant§ are married by now and are in each other’s joyful company. that might be responsible for such a state of affairs in the kingdom. In the sixth act which is incomplete Nala’s minister. The drama ends incompletely with K¡mantaka dispatching the chief security of the city.45 Acts 5 and 6 The fifth act is a short one. The king meanwhile sends a message to K¡mantaka about the sudden degradation of piety in his kingdom. K¡mantaka learns from the spy. She wakes up terrified and is consoled by Nala. Nala’s wicked relative and Indra. to gather information on any supernatural being.

according to the advice of B»haspati. how the gods. how the gods. how Indra heard the divine voice of Śiva urging him to stay incognito. how the beast crushed the wreath beneath its feet. how the angry sage cursed Indra that he would lose his glory. along with B»haspati approached Brahma’s Satyaloka. how Indra disrespectfully placed it on his elephant’s head. how B»haspati informed them after several thousand years that their troubles would soon end. the Asuras. how B»haspati made friends with Śukr¡c¡rya. the gods left for the Mandara mountain. how they spent their days meditating there.46 gifted a wreath of flowers to Indra. how when lifting the mountain proved to be an . the preceptor of Asuras. how the gods and demons came together to lift the mountain Mandara. how. how Brahma asked them to approach Vi½³u for succor. their preceptor. now weakened by the effect of the curse were defeated in battle by their enemies. how Vi½³u asked them to first make friends with the Asuras and then churn the milky ocean with the Mandara mountain for a churning rod and the serpent V¡suki for a rope so that they could obtain ambrosia and become immortals by drinking it.

how as the churning continued. how the two parties flung it in to the ocean. the horse Ucci¦¾ravas. how Śiva’s throat turned blue as a consequence. its tail. how Śiva consumed the poison. how the Asuras fetched the serpent V¡suki to tie it around the mountain.47 arduous task. B»haspati created a whirlwind to uproot it. how when B»haspati was trying to make a truce with the Asuras. a beautiful damsel appeared before them. how P¡rvat§ held his neck to prevent her husband from swallowing it. the five wish-yielding trees. the gods and Asuras prayed to ¾iva to protect them from it. how the shaky mountain was steadied on the back of the primeval tortoise. how the Asuras caught hold of the snake’s mouth and the Devas. how she agreed to distribute a . how the gods praised Śiva for protecting the world from the fearful venom. how the king of the milky ocean appeared along with Dhanvantari who held the pitcher of ambrosia in his hands. the moon’s crescent. several gems including the elephant Air¡vata. the Apasarases and the goddess Śr§ appeared. how when the poison H¡l¡hala emerged from the thousand mouths of V¡suki. the cow K¡madhenu. how the Asuras snatched the pitcher away.

how she cut the neck of R¡hu and Ketu. the god dismissed V¡suki after praising him. how she was put down the empty pitcher after distributing ambrosia to the gods alone. how she was praised by the gods who now regained their strength. how they hailed lord Śiva and how they again crowned Indra the king of heaven. two Asuras who strayed in to the line of Devas. how the Asuras who were defeated made the nether world their abode and how at the end of their churning mission. The poet’s mastery over prose and poetry alike The poet has exhibited his wide range of literary talents in delineating the story and describing various episodes with a touch of humor here and there. how the Asuras opened their eyes only to learn that they had been cheated by Vi½³u who had appeared in the form of a damsel.48 small portion of the ambrosia to the gods before giving a larger share to the Asuras. how Vi½³u ordered the gods to drive away the Asuras by their might. His command over . how she told them to sit in two separate lines with their eyes closed.

It is the place where gods live. emerge from the ocean. It is the abode of Lord Indra whose lotus feet are worshipped by gods and demons alike.49 prose comes out superbly in this work which has been divided in to 5 chapters called Ā¾v¡sas When they saw the gem Kaustubha and the damsels. (Verse 1. And then there appeared a God who. It is home to many a wonder. Let us praise him alone. It is a mine of gems and the very pinnacle of sensual pleasure. are heaven’s burden to say the least. the gods argued with each other about possessing them. When a frightening poison emerged. What more can we say? Even words cannot grasp it. Apsarases. These petty gods. with these words – “Don’t panic” – took the lead. the gods ran hither and thither and the universe came to a halt.2) The following is a partial translation of a prose passage that describes Amar¡vat§. heaven’s capital – There is a certain city called Amar¡vat§. and they are plenty of them. Since it is situated in the sky which has no support whatsoever and since it has doors .

there is no need to raise a foundation. Furthermore. they have built a wall around it. fear. freed their minds of desire. And within it is a palace called Vaijayanta which has neither a storey nor a staircase.2) The short woks of N§laka³¿had§k½ita Satirical and didactic poems Kalivi¢a¯bana . That’s all. anger and envy and who had no inclination for objects of sense.50 everywhere. so as to not abandon a tradition. And where can you see them . Here one can see all those sages who while they lived on earth. no need to build a doorstep. no need to construct a dome and no need to dig a moat but still.with Apsarases of course. one needn’t sell or buy anything there and therefore the market places are just names. (Prose 1. It is peopled by those who can move about anywhere at will and have no reason to grow any food because the ambrosia which they drink fills their stomachs. had tortured their bodies by performing severe penances. since trees like the Mand¡ra can provide them with whatever jewels and clothes they aspire for.

In this work. money-lenders. Some of these verses are translated below – There are five ways by which one could win a debate in the court – not being panicky. relatives. the poet makes debaters. letting go of shame. along with his other work. this century of verses. teachers. which explores the evil effects of the present epoch. Keep studying and things will become clearer in the future” – To those that teach their students in this manner. hypocrites. the butt of sarcasm. aptly suited for making witty comments. wherefore pain? (8) If we are so dumb-witted that nothing at all can stimulate our minds. (2) “It’s already time. are ample proof of the fact that N§laka³¿had§k½ita is a satirist par excellence. we shall try these .51 Literally translated as “A farce on the age of kali”. backbiters. All the 102 verses in this poem employ the simple Śloka or Anu½¿ubh meter. physicians. astrologers. Kaliyuga. misers and even poets. Sabh¡ra²jana¾ataka. laughing loudly and praising the king. humor and irony. rich men. ignoring the opponent.

Those who die will not come back to argue. (51) All that one needs to be able to give lectures on every subject. (24) Those that employ their gift of poesy to the service of men with no merits are like those fools who even after procuring the wishfulfilling cow of heaven use it for pulling a plough (38) Even death waits for one’s life-span to end but the money-lender follows no rule as regards time. the astrologer must always say that he will live a long life. Those who actually manage to live long will praise him. (16) The physician should neither calm not frighten his patient excessively. In the former case. an absence of worry and in the latter case. becoming yogis or renouncing the world.52 options – practicing witchcraft. an absence of hope. (10) If someone wants to know how long he would live. not care a bit for the learned and forget one’s past are a few pennies in the pocket (68) . will make him not pay for the consultation.

courage. virtue. (75) A guest who wants to stay long in the house of his host must get ready to leave every day but when just about to leave. morality. their ears in others’ talks and their speech in others’ secrets.53 The miser likes these the most – Among religious observances. he must return back and narrate the different bad omens he encountered on his way (81) The creator has placed the hearts of wicked men in others’ defects. liberality. polity. poesy. The poet begins by describing how an ideal assembly of scholars should be. peace. a complete fast. forgiveness. (98) Sabh¡ra²jana¾ataka Unlike the preceding work which is dominated by satire. “Entertaining the court”. richness. this poem. sweet talk. postponement of a meal and among ways of worshipping god. family life and . He then proceeds to praise (and in some cases make fun of) knowledge. is partly satirical and partly didactic. all composed again in the Śloka meter. It has 105 verses in total. chanting. fate. among treatment methods.

dumb without poets and deaf without singers. (66) . (21) The strong befriends the strong but suppresses the week.54 kinghood. (61) Though always on the move. (45) If fate is not on your side. A gale kindles the forest-fire but puts off the candle. appears to be stagnant but it can turn the world topsy-turvy in a moment. (18) Seen through the eyes of a poet. over and over. you will learn the scriptures. like a whirlwind. such a place means nothing to us. understand them and renounce the world. (2) A king’s court is blind without scholars. but still not attain final liberation. time. even the squint-eyed become lotus-eyed. Like a world without the sun. misers become the wish-fulfilling trees of heaven and cowards become super heroes. Some of these verses are translated below – There is this place where there are all kinds of people but no scholar whomsoever.

you know you have attained liberation. (101) Poems on renunciation Vair¡gya¾ataka This poem is a collection of 100 verses on the merits of renunciation. (98) Even able ministers cannot save a kingdom that has no king. whose every word is ‘rich’ in meaning. a soldier in the battlefield and a minister in helping one acquire wealth – that’s what Dharma is. the utter .55 A best friend in matters of love. (81) How can the scriptures. forbid the acquisition of wealth? (88) If you add a bit here and a bit there to the joy of an alert and wise householder then that’s what is the joy of heaven and if that’s enduring. the impermanence of life. a teacher in imparting the knowledge of truth. the transitory nature of materialistic pleasures. the shallowness of relationships. Strong winds cannot bring back to life a body bereft of its vital breath. the importance of attaining peace. the unconditional love of realized souls.

tranquility for its treasury and the three worlds for its provinces. . desires for its enemies. the poet plays around the idea that the wise. Some are translated below – The kingdom of renunciation has wisdom for its minister. But then. All the verses are composed in the Āry¡ meter. How strange! (14) In the above verse. the wise renounce everything. having attained liberation. the illusiveness of heaven. would no longer be born again. steadfastness for its army. one would actually expect them to be attached all the more to their near and dear ones. Therefore.56 foolishness of hankering after wealth. the joy of liberation and the indispensability of Śiva’s grace for securing salvation. the havoc created by desires. if they did attach themselves. they would neither qualify as wise nor attain liberation. this being their last birth. But instead of loving them all the more for this. (2) These are their last parents. women as obstacles in the path of realization. this is their last wife and these are their last sons.

57 The ignorant are like playful children. But stand still and the noose will eventually loosen (72) People keep asking how this city is how that city is but none wants to know how the city of Death is? (75) . the sinful man has committed sins all his life and when he is just about to die. (18) For its sake. But the wise. like loving parents. If you eat more. the selfish family asks him thus – “Now who will take care of us?” (13) If you hoard excess wealth. can you see what’s there by opening the mouth? (69) The more you move the tighter will the knot become. attend to them with patience. won’t you end up with vomiting or loose motions? (37) What use of actions when ignorance envelops knowledge? When darkness blinds the eye. a king or thief will surely take it away. unpredictably adamant and unpredictably pleased.

But my god is not even complete. Śiva himself and left half. the poet has expressed his desire for liberation from the cycle of birth and death through the grace of ardhanar§¾vara. let me have half a mother and half a father. Lucky are those men who worship many gods and therefore have no dearth of them. (84) This verse again plays on the Ardhan¡r§¾vara aspect of Śiva that makes him incomplete. But when I sought protection from them. But if I still must. female.58 Enough of all those mothers and fathers I have had. And Śiva and P¡rvat§ are also the world’s parents. whose right half is male. his beloved P¡rvat§. (83) In the above verse. . an aspect of ¾iva. all written in the 17-syllable Mand¡kr¡nt¡ meter. “Let us never quarrel” – Thus decided Śiva and Parvat§ before merging in to a single form. each wanted to protect me first and a quarrel ensued! (95) Ś¡ntivil¡sa This is a short didactic poem in 51 verses.

of the powerfulness of time. of how scholars are forced to serve those in position for their daily needs. is in perfect rest as in Su½upti. we feel we have entered a holy grove. By Ś¡nti is meant a state where the mind. we feel we have realized the Supreme Self and if we die working for the king. The poem speaks of how even scholars. though conscious.59 that address the importance of Ś¡nti or tranquility of mind. of how desires refuse to leave us. have utterly failed to mature internally in spite of the myriad opportunities which life presented to them. (6) . of the limits one must stick to while enjoying sensual pleasures. Some of the poem’s verses are translated below If we know the king’s servants. of the impermanence of heavenly pleasures and the importance of securing Lord Śiva’s grace to overcome the wheel of existence. If we reach the palace-gates. If we manage to see the king. we feel we have obtained a learned master. deep sleep. of how the relationships which we hold close to over hearts are but mirages. of the urgent need to realize the self. including the poet himself. we feel that is liberation.

even now. The vital airs. night after night. (22) I do not crave for the moon’s kingdom. (10) “What has happened has happened and what has been lost has been lost. turn away from sense-objects.60 All that skill which we acquired by serving the master since our childhood. due either to childishness or fickle-mindedness. what to speak of wanting to reach other worlds? If each of us starts desiring for the other’s . some men leave their homes only to return back the very next moment to console their crying babies. Indra’s position or Brahma’s supremacy. I must leave right away” – thus deciding firmly in their minds. I can also feel the noose tightening each moment around my neck. has been reduced. Now that I have decided I must not stay in this house even for a second. are bidding me farewell. never once losing interest in the Vedantic texts. to an entertainment that is aimed at making kings go to sleep amidst story-telling sessions. each wanting to leave the body first. But the mind does not. (8) I can hear the conversation of Death’s messengers.

Every verse. (1) . a hymn in praise of goddess M§n¡k½§. the second half. but precious moments. has 108 verses of exquisite lyrical beauty. is composed in the 14-syllable Vasantatilaka meter. when I could pour out my heart to her. While the first half of this poem is rich in devotional and philosophical content. and that I couldn’t manage to earn those few. except the last one which is in the Ārya meter. describes the physical beauty of the goddess. the presiding deity of Madurai in Tamilnadu. Some of these verses are given below in translation – Discouraged by the fact that I was so far removed from my Mother. But then the waves of her side-glances were aroused by the gentle breeze of genuine kindness and I still cannot stop thinking of them. O Śiva. from the 53rd verse onwards. (49) Hymns addressed to gods Ānandas¡garastava This work. where would those whom we want to displace end up? Therefore.61 position. I gave up trying. I request you to grant me nothing else but my own pure joy.

I cannot be blamed. Therefore even if I err in my actions. but I shall go around announcing that I am your servant and conquer the worlds with these words alone.62 You can accept me or reject me. please protect me. (12) To the ears of those that cannot bear the pangs of Sa¯s¡ra even for a moment. And they shall also suffice to break the headgears of Death’s messengers. O daughter of the Himalayas. It is like asking someone who is overcome by severe hunger to eat after counting the grains of sand on the banks of Ga³g¡. is the fallacy of mutual dependence. This. (21) I seek your guidance even to blink my eyes or take in a breath. The child eats what the mother provides it. Why worry about the rights and wrongs which I have . So how can you hold it responsible for overeating? (38) If you feel that I am a candidate for protection. (6) He that understands the supreme truth can obtain your grace and he that obtains your grace can understand the supreme truth. the paths laid out by S¡¯khy¡ and other such philosophies never appeal.

63 done? When you are free to create and destroy the universe. But in the victory over Yama. That they are also red. What has Śiva contributed to it? (56) One must recollect here the Ardhan¡r§¾vara motif of Śiva. her prodigal son. an idea which N§laka³¿had§k½ita often turns to. the god of death. Śiva and P¡rvat§. I surmise. is because you have placed them on the stony hard Vedas. We have no contention even if Śiva usurps all that fame. it was the left leg. (54) The victory over K¡ma was brought to effect by the eye in the forehead that belongs to both of you. The Goddess’s pearl necklace seems like a line formed by drops of milk oozing from her breasts when she looked at me. (72) . that was the cause. which belongs to you. why cheat me by saying that you follow the dictates of karma? (42) Your feet are as soft as the butter that was churned out from the ocean of ambrosia. with affection beyond measure.

64 O Mother! This line of mascara drawn across your eyes looks like a line of mossy weed all along the ever flowing stream of kindness. (92) Śivotkar½ama²jar§ This is a short poem in 52 verses. It is in praise of Śiva and as can be made out from the title itself. He is my master and Lord and I shall not address anyone else other than him even by his name. The fourth line of every verse ends similarly with the words ‘sa sv¡m§ mama daivata¯ taditaro n¡mn¡pi n¡mn¡yat£’ that translates to ‘He is my master and Lord and I shall not address anyone else other than him even by his name”. who proceeded to hit him with those very flowers. was reduced to ashes. all set to the 19-syllable Ś¡rdÀlavikr§¢ita meter. aims at establishing his supremacy. one is instantly liberated but K¡ma. One of these verses is given below in translation – When one worships him by offering flowers. He is interested in his devotee’s feelings alone and not on things superficial. (2) Gnomic verses - .

by catching them in between its beaks. To give an example. a wildfire broke out in the forest. The present work has 101 verses. wet the earth with their waters. And at last. all in the 19-syllable Ś¡rdÀlavikr§¢ita meter. without expecting any help in return and without waiting to be solicited. one at a time. (5) When clouds.65 Any¡pade¾a¾atakam Verses that are written using the literary device of Any¡pade¾a are quite popular in Sanskrit and form a genre by themselves. a verse that speaks of sandalwood trees as harboring snakes could actually be about kings who offer shelter to the wicked. It then brought twigs. These are verses that are apparently addressed to someone at hand but are meant for somebody else altogether. when it had just then completed building a nest on the tree and was about to sit on it. The translations of some of these verses are given below – A crow flew across the directions and searched every forest before zeroing on this place. But what pierces my heart is that this astrologer keeps bragging . all beings get a fresh lease of life.

Since you are free. We meditate on Bhairava but drive away dogs. We praise Śiva but exorcise ghosts. (48) Miscellaneous works of N§laka³¿had§kh¾ita . That’s all. you. none dare tell you what is your season. What makeover do you need? . dear crow. On the contrary. what sound you must make or what you must eat. One’s virtues cannot hide another’s vices. my dear friend! Why do you waste your time roaming around in this manner? Become a swan and freely savor lotus-stalks in any pond you like. The cuckoo will then eat them and sing the Pa²cama note. (12) We worship Ga³e¾a but continue to kill rats.Just a bit of whiteness. (26) The winter must end and the mangoes must put forth their shoots.66 about how he had predicted the rain and walks around as if he has purchased the world. If people will argue about you not being a swan. (7) Crow. you can refer them to me and I will take your brunt. are not like the cuckoo.

a Mah¡k¡vya on the life and exploits of K»½³a.67 Mukundavil¡sa – This work. Ca³¢§rahasya – . The imprisonment of Devak§ and Vasudeva by Ka¯sa after he hears an oracle that the eighth child of Devak§ would kill him. unfortunately stops at the 15th verse of the 4th Sarga. The third and fourth Sargas describe the birth of K»½³a and his childhood pranks. The first Sarga describes the pitiable plight of Mother Earth who approaches Brahma for help and is then accosted by him to Vi½³u. The Lord promises to incarnate for her sake. the seventh child who transforms in to Yogam¡y¡ when flung by Ka¯sa informing him that his killer was already born elsewhere form the remaining subject-matter of this canto. the killing of the first six children by Ka¯sa. The second Sarga starts with a description of the city of Mathur¡. Śivatattvarahasya – This work comments on the 108 names of Śiva as enumerated in a section of the Skandapur¡³a called the Śankarasa¯hit¡.

which is available only in parts. . Raghuv§rastava – Composed in the Vasantatilaka meter. Mah¡bh¡½ya. G§rv¡³endrasarasvat§ in 28 verses of which the first 27 verses allude to the 27 asterisms. this work. this short poem of 33 verses praises R¡ma by alluding to various episodes in his life. of Pata²jali. Saubh¡gyacandr¡tapa – This is a work that deals with the Ś¡kta doctrine and tries to establish the superiority of Śakti. this short poem in 36 verses describes the various exploits of Ca³¢§ and also contains a description of the goddess’s physical beauty.68 Written in the 14-syllable Vasantatilaka meter. N§laka³¿had§k½ita has praised his guru. is a commentary on Kaiyya¿a’s gloss to the grammatical work. Gurutattvam¡lik¡ In this work. Kaiyya¿avy¡khy¡na – Also called Prak¡¾a.

Does even a king have worries such as this? .26) A poet need neither restrain his breath nor fix his gaze. Writing poetry for him is the easiest form of yoga to fix his heart on Śiva. 2) kv¡rth¡¦ kva ¾abd¡¦ kva ras¡¦ kva bh¡v¡¦ kva vya±gyabhed¡¦ kva ca v¡kyar§ti¦ | kiyatsu d»½¿i¦ kavin¡ na dey¡ kimasti r¡j²¡miyat§ha cint¡ || (Śival§l¡r³ava. 1.30) Sense. style and many more must a poet keep his eye on while composing poetry. sound.69 A few memorable quotes from N§laka³¿had§k½ita 1) an¡yatapr¡³amasa¯yat¡k½amabrahma cary¡na¾an¡dikhedam | citta¯ mahe¾e nibh»ta¯ vidh¡tu¯ siddha¦ kav§n¡¯ kavitaiva yoga¦ || (Śival§l¡r³ava. sentiments. 1. He need neither practice celibacy nor suffer the consequences of fasting and the like. suggestion.

13) Though she is soft. 1. when the illness of verbal jugglery has you in its grip and the untimely death in the form of the bad poet is not far behind.70 3) bh¡rat§½u kav§ndr¡³¡¯ y¡vat§ sukum¡rat¡ | t¡vat§ k¡vyamarmaj²asammardaikasahi¾¦³ut ¡ || (Ga±g¡vatarana. O Sarasvat§. 5) sphuli±g¡ iva sa¯sk¡r¡scint¡k½obhaistanÀk»t¡¦ | udbµdhyam¡n¡ yatnena nodbudhyante katha²cana || (Nalacaritra. proves that you are adamantine.30) That you still breathe. the poet’s muse will still not yield to the critic’s squeeze 4) ¡maye yamake j¡gratyapam»tyau ca du½kavau | v¡³i pr¡³i½I tanmanye vajre³aiv¡si nirmit¡ || (Ga±g¡vatarana.41) Impressions from the past that fade due mental agitation are like dying . 1. 1.

4) The foolish man neither contemplates on how capable he is nor examines the profoundness of a job at hand. Try as you may to kindle them. 98) The creator has placed the hearts of wicked men in others’ defects.71 sparks. 6) an¡locya nij¡¯ ¾aktimad»½¿v¡ k¡ryag¡dhat¡m | autsuky¡davag¡hante mand¡ majjanti c¡talam || (N§laka³¿havijayacampÀ. their ears in others’ talks and their speech in others’ secrets. they simply will not be kindled. 7) paracchidre½u h»daya¯ parav¡rt¡su ca ¾rava¦ | paramarmasu v¡ca¯ ca khal¡namas»jadvidhi¦ || (Kalivi ¢ambana. He jumps in to it with excitement and drowns completely. 3. .

If you eat more. 20) Kings may possess horses. a king or thief will surely take it away. 9) arth¡n¡madhik¡n¡m r¡j²¡ core³a v¡ dhruvo n¡½a¦ | anne khalvatibhukte vamana¯ v¡ sy¡dvireko v¡ || (Vair¡gya¾ataka. 27) If you hoard excess wealth. they will gain no fame. elephants or soldiers in thousands but if there is no poet.72 8) santva¾v¡¦ santu m¡ta±g¡¦ santu yodh¡¦ sahasra¾ah | narendr¡³¡¯ vi¾e½e³a na vin¡ kavin¡ ya¾ah || (Sabh¡ra²jana¾ataka. won’t you end up with vomiting or loose motions? 10) n¡ha¯ y¡ce padamu ¢upatern¡dhik¡ra¯ maghonµ n¡pi br¡hm§¯ bhuvanagurut¡¯ k¡ kath¡nyaprapa²ce | anyasy¡nya¦ ¾riyamabhila½annastu kastasya loko .

P. (Ed) (1916). (Ed. D. (1997). I request you to grant me nothing else but my own pure joy. what to speak of wanting to reach other worlds? If each of us starts desiring for the other’s position. Nilakantha Diksita. Unni.73 mahya¯ ¾ambhµ di¾a mas»³ita¯ m¡mak¡nandam£va || (Ś¡ntivil¡sa. Bombay: Kavyamala . New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi Upadhayay. Neelakanta Deekshitana Shatakatraya. (1995). Bibliography Ganesh. Śival§l¡r³ava of Śr§ N§laka³¿ha D§k½ita. Bangalore: Abhijnana. N. O Śiva. R.) (2001). Indra’s position or Brahma’s supremacy. The Ga±g¡vatara³a of N§laka³¿ha D§k½it. where would those whom we want to displace end up? Therefore. Varanasi: Sampurnanand Sanskrit University Sastri. 49) I do not crave for the moon’s kingdom. K.

Madras: Sanskrit Education Society. (Commentary) (1999). R.74 Sastri. (Ed) (1972). Nagaraja. Bombay: Kavyamala N§laka³¿had§k½ita. (1890). (Ed) (1987). Sastri. Santivilasa. Nalcharitram of Neel Kantha Diksit. Rao. S.V. S. Anandasagarastava. (1890). Anyapadesasataka. Bombay: Kavyamala . N§laka³¿had§k½ita. Nilakanthavijaya Campu. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan. H. Mysore: Sudharma Prakashana.

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