Enlightenment- Beyond The Ramayana and The Mahabharata

on Monday, September 5, 2011

उपमा कालीदासस्य भरवेः अर्थगौरवं
दण्डिनः पदलालित्यं माघे सन्ति त्रयो गुणाः 

From this Shloka (श्लोक) begins my much looked forward to journey in the resplendent world of Samskrit Literature. Aah! Pleasures galore.

Not since today, but since forever, I have wanted to more than take a peek into the stories- historical and mythical- written by the preeminent scholars of the most ancient among all languages spread over the SaptaSindhu- more commonly recognizable as the Aaryan India- संस्कृत. I did, to some extent, quench this desire by reading quite majestic English translations of the most common Samskrit epics- The Ramayana and the Mahabharata (and the Bhagavad Gita), along with the not so great translations of other exquisite pieces of Samskrit literature; but now, and for the past weeks, I am reading pieces of literary genius, in the language of the vidvaans themselves. And it is proving to be nothing short of an experience lending ecstasy at every bend and corner I encounter in this journey through the greatest of Samskrit works.

The above Shloka has been composed by an anonymous scholar, who, adhering to the most basic of poetic meters, has stated in succinct precision the most renowned of literary traits of four Samskrit poets of unparalleled accomplishments- कालीदास, भारवि, दण्डी, and माघ.
Kaalidasa- Upama Kaalidasasya
Hailed as the 'Kavikulguru', the above shloka points out to the mastery of Kaalidasa at weaving the most beautiful similes in his poems. His similes, the genius at comparing and contrasting and drawing parallels, lends a perspicacity to his poems, which makes the thoughts of the poet effortlessly enter the mind of his readers. Raghuvamsa and Kumarsambhavam are two easy testimonies to his glorious similes.

Bharavi- Bhaarave Arthgauravam
Bharavi has been accredited with writing few of the most poetically  beautifully verses, which are rich in both- beauty of language, and beauty of meaning. The above shloka specifically points out to the arthagaurav- his ability to express a plethora of meanings in the least possible words; in other words- the depth of words. While sifting through his Kiratarjuniyam, some of his verses virtually left me stunned, but this shall be the topic of one of my later writings.

Dandi- Dandinah Padlaalityam
I have not yet read any of Dandi's works so commenting this line would be difficult- but padlaalityam in basic terms implies the beauty as represented in the arrangement of words in his prose. Of his most famous creations in Dashkumarcharitam, which I happen to be reading at present.

Maagh- Maaghe santi trayo gunah
As remarked by certain scholars, Maagh was perhaps the most accomplished of all kavis, as far as the beauty of his compositions if concerned. This is concurred by the anonymous composer of the shloka under discussion, who grants the climax of his shloka to Maagh, stating that the Great kavi Maagh has all three of the discussed qualities- upama, arthgauravam, and padlaalityam.

Not much is available about these poets on the internet, but I guess it is a blessing in disguise for a seeker of literary treasures, like me. I was driven towards more authentic sources to aid my learning, and in my quest, I am being guided by the ablest of mentors available- my mother- one of the best Samskrit teachers in Delhi. Her zeal to teach makes me want to learn faster.

PS- The last piece of gyaan bestowed on me today is whether they write prose or poetry, the writers in Samskrit are addressed as 'Kavi'- गद्यकवि (Gadyakavi)  and पद्कवि (Padkavi)