TO SANSKRIT LITERATURE
Sunil Chandra Ray
DR. S. C. RAY'S History of Kashmir is an outstanding
piece of research on a very important region of India. From at least the third
century B. C. Kashmir played a very important part in Indian historical
developments. Situated on the borders of Central Asia and always in close
contact with the steppe civilisations of Turkestan, it became early in its
history, the organised base from which Indian civilisation penetrated into the
vast territories lying between China and the Caspian. Notably in the great work
of spreading Buddhism, and Sanskrit literature on which Mahayann Buddhism was
based, the part played by Kashmir was decisive. The conversion of intermediate
kingdom of Kuchi seems to have been the work of Kashmirian scholars. We know
from the life of Kumarajiva that it was customary for youngmen of Kuchi to be
sent to Kashmir for higher learning. Through Kuchi and Khotan the influence of
Kashmirian scholars spread to China and in the list of learned monks from India
preserved in the records of China, those from Kashmir hold a high place.
Walled off by high mountains and endowed with
unequalled natural beauty, Kashmir remained an inviolate sanctuary of
Indian Culture, till at least the 14th century. Buddhism, Saivism and Sanskrit
learning flourished in the valley and produced a remarkably rich culture till
the Muslim conquest overturned the social structure of Kashmir. The integration
of Kashmir life was so complete that one of his most remarkable books
that Kshemendra, who was himself a Saivaite, produced was on the Avadanas of the
Buddha, a classic in later Buddhist literature.
So far as Sanskrit literature is concerned, apart
from alankara sastra in which Kashmirians seem to have excelled, the names of
Somadeva, Kshemendra, Damodaragupta, Bilhana and Kalhana stand out as a
brilliant galaxy of genius adding lustre to the history of Sanskrit literature.
Somadeva's Kathasaritsagara, one of the undisputed masterpieces of the world may
well be claimed to be the epic of the middle classes, a unique work which almost
compensates us for the loss of Gunadhya's original. Of the later poets of
Sanskrit the only one who could be compared with him is Hemachandra Suri.
Kshemendra was perhaps the most comprehensive mind of his time, who wandered
into every field including satire, with distinction. Of Kalhana's Rajatarangini
it is unnecessary to say anything as the present Volume bears ample witness to
his merit as a historical document. Thus at least till the Muslim conquest of
the valley, Kashmir could claim to have been in the vanguard of Indian culture,
with notable contributions to every aspect of Indian life
- K. M. Panikkar
THE EARLIEST SANSKRIT compositions of Kashmir, not a single has survived which
may be dated with certainty to a period prior to the 6th century A.D. But the
highly developed literary style found in the works of the eighth century and
onwards must have been the product of a long period of culture. In fact, the Rajatarangini
speaks of many of these poets who flourished long before and who thought and
wrote with ability on different branches of literature. One of them, Vasunanda,
a ruler of the valley, is said to have composed a well-known work on erotics (smarashastra).
No work of Vasunanda is, however, extant. Another Kashmirian named Candaka
is said to have been a great poet, though no specific work is attributed to him.
It is not unlikely that he is the same Candaka to whom some verses are ascribed
in Ballabhadeva's Subhasitavali. Perhaps, he may be also identical with
the writer Candra, mentioned by the Chinese traveller It-sing.
Kalhana's Rajatarangini deals at some length
with the career and activities of one Matrgupta who ruled Kashmir for a while.
He was a poet and a contemporary of Pravarasena II (c. A.D. 580) of Kashmir and
Vikarmaditya Harsha of Ujjayini (c. 6th century A.D.). Some scholars have
endeavoured to prove his identity with the great Kalidasa. The arguments put
forward by them may be summed up in the following points:
(1) 'Matr' is same as 'Kali' and 'Gupta' is same as 'Dasa'.
(2) Tradition says that Vikramaditya bestowed half of
his kingdom on Kalidasa. This agrees very well with the fact narrated by Kalhana
that king Vikramaditya of Ujjain made a gift of Kashmir to Matrgupta.
(3) The Rajatarangini of Kalhana speaks of a
large number of poets, some of whom like
Vakpatiraja and Bhavabhuti lived beyond the borders of
Kashmir, but it never makes any reference to Kalidasa, who was undoubtedly the
most famous of all.
(4) The illustrations of Kalidasa are chiefly derived
from the natural beauty of Kashmir; we may presume that he was an inhabitant of
(5) Like Kalidasa, who made a faithful potrayal of his
sorrowful feelings of separation from his beloved in the Meghaduta,
Matrgupta is also known to have lived away from his wife and home.
(6) The verse No. 252 in Book III of the Rajatarangini,
the composition of which is ascribed by Kalhana to Matrgupta, runs as follows:
Nakaramudvahasi naiva vikatthase tvain:
ditsam na sucayasi muncasi satphalani /
The verse is very similar to verse No. 113 of the Meghaduta
and conveys the same meaning.
nih sabdavarsana bhivambudharasya rajan:
samlaksyate phalata eve tava prasadah //
(7) According to tradition, Kalidasa wrote a poem
called Setukavya in Prakrt at the request of Pravarasena. Tradition also says
that Pravarasena II of Kashmir constructed a bridge of boats across the Vitasta.
It is possible that Matrgupta wrote the poem at the request of the Kashmirian
king Pravarasena II who occupied the throne of Kashmir, when Matrgupta retired
(8) By astronomical calculations, some writers have
tried to prove that Kalidasa lived in the middle of the 6th century A.D. This is
in conformity with the date of Matrgupta who, being a contemporary of
Vikarmaditya Harsa of Malwa and Pravarasena II of Kashmir, must be assigned to
the end of the 6th century.
The reasons in favour of the identification of
Matrgupta with Kalidasa, however, are not convincing. It is inexplicable why the
Rajatarangini should' refer to Kalidasa by the pseudonym Matrgupta.
Anandavardhana and several other Kashmirian writers quote verses from Kalidasa,
but never identify him with Matrgupta. In none of the works of Kalidasa there is
any mention of Matrgupta. Secondly, Kalhana refers only to such poets as had
some connection with the affairs of Kashmir Bhavabhuti and Vakpati are
mentioned, as they were court poets of an antagonist of a Kashmirian king. On
the other hand, such great poets as Valmiki and Vedavyasa have not been
mentioned in the Rajatarangini. Probably, Kalidasa had never anything to
do with the kings of Kashmir and this may be the reason of Kalhana's silence
over him. The subject matter of Meghaduta does not invariably indicate that its
author lived in separation from his wife. It is not always safe to attribute the
events of the life of the hero to the life of the author. The mere similarity in
the subject matter of two verses also cannot indicate the identity of their
authors. Kalidasa might have written a poem entitled Setuvandhakavya at
the request of Pravarsena, but this Pravarsena might be the Vakataka king of
that name and that would make Kalidasa a contemporary of Vikramaditya
Candragupta II. Lastly, the method of reaching at a specified date of history by
means of astronomical calculations has not been generally successful. Even if it
be a fact that Kalidasa flourished in the middle of the 6th century A.D., that
is no sure reason for identifying him with Matrgupta. Matrgupta, however,
appears to have been a historical character, who lived in Kashmir, if not at the
end of the 6th century A.D., at least in an earlier period. His commentary on
Bharata's Natyasastra is referred to in Sundaramisra's Natyapradipa.
Ksemendra quotes the opinions of Matrgupta in one of his works. Some of the
verses have also found place in Vallabhadeva's anthology.
In the Rajatarangini, Kalhana tells his readers
that king Matrgupta honoured the poet Mentha, for composing the poem Hayagrivavadha,
by presenting a golden dish to be placed below it, lest its flavour might
escape. Honoured by such an appreciation Bhartrmentha thought richer rewards
needless. The poem Hayagrivavdha is lost. The date of Mentha is also not known
for certain. But Mentha or Bhartrmentha seems to have been a person of fame. He
receives the honour of being placed second in the spiritual lineage of Valmiki.
The Kashmirian writer Mankha places him with Subandhu, Bharavi and Bana. The
first verse of his great poem Hayagrivavadha which runs as
asiddaityo hayagrivah suhrdvesmasu yasya tah /
is quoted by Rajasekhara in his Kavyamimamsa and by
Ksemendra in his Suvrttatilaka. Some verses are extracted under Mentha or
Hastipaka's name in Vallabhadeva's Subhasitavali and other anthologies.
Dr. Bhau Daji finds one of his verses occuring in Raghava's commentary of Sakuntala.
prathayanti valam vahyoh sitacchatramitah sriyah //
Some verses are attributed to Gonanda, Gopaditya and
Ranaditya in the Kavindravacanasamuccaya and in Vallabhadeva's Subhasitavali.
Are they to be identified with the Kashmirian kings of their names mentioned in
Kalhana's Rajatarangini ? Unfortunately, we have nothing against which we can
check the evidence and prove or reject such a theory.
Candragomin, the founder of the Candra school of
Sanskrit grammar, probably lived in Kashmir. According to Kalhana's evidence,
Candracarya revived the study of the Mahabhasya and composed his own
grammar during the reign of king Abhimanyu. Bhartrhari mentions Baiji, Sauva and
Haryaksa, who lived before Candracarya and who by their uncritical methods did
much to push the Mahabhasya to the background. A later Tibetan work
records the censure of Patanjali's work by Candragomin. It is thus quite likely
that Candracarya and Candragomin are identical persons.
Kalhana's testimony does not give any clue regarding
the date of Candragomin. But it is clear from his statement that the grammarian
flourished long before the advent of the Karkotas. His Buddhistic title 'gamin'
and the Mangalasloka of his vrtti in which he pays reverence to
Sarvajna, tend to prove that Candragomin was a follower of Buddha. This
literature recasts the work of Panini and reduces the master's eight chapters
into six of four sections each. He often rearranges and simplifies Panini. But
excepting thirty-five new sutras, there is nothing much original in his
Kalhana says that while writing the Rajatarangini,
he received considerable informations regarding the earlier periods from a work
entitled the Nilamatapurana. The date of the Nilamatapurana is
uncertain. But Kalhana's reference to it as a work of high antiquity may suggest
a date earlier than the accession of the Karkotas. The mention of Buddha in the
work as an incarnation of Visnu has led some scholars to assign the book not
much earlier than the 7th century A.D.
The Nilamatapurana describes at great length how
Kashmir was created out of water and left to the care of the Nagas of whom Nila
was the chief. Kashmir, according to this work, was Sati transformed into land.
At Vasuki's request, Visnu agreed to apportion the great lake of the land of
Sati as a dwelling place for the Nagas, where they would be safe from Garuda.
Visnu further ordered Garuda to make Nila, the chief of all Nagas.
At that time, a water demon named Jalodbhava was
causing great trouble by killing the inhabitants of Darvabhisa, Gandhara,
Jalamdhara and other neighbouring regions. Nila went to his father Kasyapa and
asked him to devise means by which the wicked demon could be got rid of. At the
request of Kasyapa, the gods came down to Kashmir to fight the water demon and
Visnu ultimately slew him.
Next the Nilamatapurana relates how Kashmir came
to be inhabited by human beings. After the valley was recovered, people could at
first live for only six months and during the rest of the year, the country was
occupied by the Pisacas under their king Nikumbha. Nikumbha left the valley with
the whole of his army at the beginning of spring to fight the goblins of the
ocean of sands. Then the men came to Kashmir, lived during the summer and after
gathering their harvest left the valley before the advent of the winter when the
Pisaca king returned and when no human being could live in the valley due to
excessive cold. This continued for four yugas. Then a Brahmana, Candradeva by
name, did not leave the valley during the winter and spent the season in the
sub-terranean palace of Nila, the king of the Nagas. Candradeva prayed before
Nila that in future people should be allowed to live in Kashmir during the
winter also, to which the Naga king agreed. Nila furthermore declared to the
Brahmana the rites which were to be observed by the future inhabitants.
Henceforth, there was no more any excessive snow-fall or trouble from the
Pisacas and slowly men came to live in the valley throughout the year.
The rites proclaimed by Nila are very similar to the
socio-religious ceremonies and festivals observed in the plains of India. There
can be little doubt that the Nilamatapurana is a handbook of rites and
ceremonies which were observed by the people of ancient Kashmir. But besides
being a handbook of rites and ceremonies, it is also 'a real mine of information
regarding the sacred places of Kashmir and their legends which are required in
order to explain the Rajatarangini and that it shows how Kalhana used his
sources' and it is here that the greatest importance of the work lies.
In addition to the Nilamatapurana, there are
other texts of a somewhat similar pattern, known as mahatmyas, which also
are useful for the interpretation of various legends connected with the sacred
sites of Kashmir. The exact date of composition of the numerous Sthanamahatmyas
that put forward the false claim that they were extracted from the Puranas
cannot be determined with certainty. But though they use many old materials, in
their present form they seem to belong to a comparatively later period. At least
there is nothing to prove that this bulk of literary works were composed in the
Kalhana's very frequent references to numerous
Kashmirian authors and their works enable us to follow the history of Sanskrit
literature of Kashmir with tolerable accuracy from the 8th century onwards. The
works of many of the writers themselves have also survived and some of these
contain valuable informations about other foregoing and contemporary writers and
their compositions. Vallabhadeva's (15th century A.D.) Subhasitavali
which is an anthology of verses compiled from the writings of various poets of
ancient India and particularly of Kashmir, is also a very valuable work which
helps a lot to trace the early literary history of the valley.
Of the poets of the Karkota period, Kalhana mentions
Damodaragupta, Manoratha, Sankhadatta, Cataka and Samdhimat who flourished in
the court of king Jayapida. Damodaragupta is said to have written a book called Kuttanimata
Kavya. This work has survived. It is a practical treatise on erotica. Full of
interesting stories, the book incidentally throws a flood of light on the
contemporary social life. Several verses of Manoratha seem to occur in
Vallabhadeva's Subhasitavali. About the other three poets Sankhadatta,
Cataka and Samdhimat, nothing is known. In the reign of the Karkota king
Ajitapida, there lived a poet named Sankuka who composed a poem called Bhuvanabhyudaya.
The theme of the book was centred round the conflict between the regents Mamma
and Utpalaka. The work has not come down but quotations from it are presented in
Vallabhadeva's Subhasitavali. Sankuka's verse has also been quoted in Sarngadharapaddhati
and Suktimaktavali, and there his father's name has been given as Mayura.
Further, the name of Sankuka has been referred to in the fourth chapter of the Kavynprakasa
and his opinion on a point of poetics is considered authoritative.
It is quite likely that some of the Karkota kings
themselves cultivated the art of poetry; fragments of poems written by Muktapida
and Jayapida are presentedin Subhnsitavali.
The early Kashmirians were as distinguished in the
field of poetics as in poetry and the Karkota period produced some great writers
on the subject. The oldest of them is Bhamaha, son of Rakrilagomin. Probably he
lived in the beginning of the 8th century. Bhamaha's Kavyalamkara is the
earliest work of poetics which has come down to us. It contains 398 verses and
is divided into six chapters which deal with such topics as kavyasarira,
alamkara, dosa, nyaya and sabdasuddhi.
Whether Bhamaha was a Buddhist or not, has been a
matter of much controversy among historians. The Kamadhenu and the Vrttaratnakarn
quote some verses from Bhamaha which are not found in the Kavyalamkara.
Some of these verses indicate that Bhamaha wrote a book on metrics also.
Bhamaha's views and writings have been quoted by Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta,
Mammata, and Vamana. Udbhata, the court poet of Jayapida appears to have written
a gloss on his Kavyalamkara-samgraha named Bhamahavivarna, but the
work is not extant.
Udbhata was a reputed writer on alamkara.
Besides Bhamahavivarna, he wrote an independent treatise, the Alamkarasamgraha.
In six chapters and in seventy nine karikas, it defines forty-one types
of figures of speech. Udbhata wrote a poem too, entitled the Kumarasambhava. The
work has not survived, but some verses from it are found in his Alamkarasamgraha.
Udbhata's contemporary was Vamana, another writer on
poetics, who also adorned the court of Jayapida. His Kavyalamkarasutra is
divided into five chapters and deals with the whole sphere of alamkara-sastra.
According to Vamana, the soul of the poetry is the style (riti).
Lollata, who according to the evidence of Abhinavagupta,
controverted the view of Udbhata, might have lived in the beginning of the 9th
century. He seems to have championed the theory of rasa. None of his
works has come down, but he is credited by Abhinavagupta and other later writers
with the authorship of a commentary on Bharata. Some of his verses are quoted by
Mammata and Hemacandra. From quotations preserved by Abhinavagupta it appears
that Sankuka criticized his theories on rasa. It is not clear whether
this Sankuka is the author who wrote Bhuvanabhyndaya composed during the
reign of Ajitapida.
The Karkota rule was supplanted by that of the Utpalas.
Among the poets of this age, Kalhana mentions Muktakana, Sivasvamin,
Anandavardhana and Ratnakara who obtained fame during the reign of Avantivarman
(A.D. 855/ 56-883).
Sivasvamin, also known as Bhatta Sivasvamin, was an
ardent follower of Buddha. He wrote a poem named Kapphinabhyudaya,
describing the expedition of Kapphina, king of Daksinapatha against Prasenajit
of Sravasti. At the end of the war, which resulted in his victory, Kapphina
accepted Buddhism and renounced his worldly attachments. Some of the verses of
Sivasvamin are quoted in Ksemendra's Kavikanthabharana and Vallabhadeva's
Subhasitavali. Otherwise, Muktakana is known only from quotations
preserved in Ksemendra's Kavikanthabharana and Suvrttatilaka.
Ratnakara has been identified with the author of the great Kavya named Haravijaya,
an enormous epic in fifty cantos which describes the defeat of demon Andhaka in
the hands of Siva. From the colophon of the work, it seems that Ratnakara whose
full name is given as Rajanaka Ratnakara Vagisvara composed the poem during the
reign of king Brhaspati Cippata Jayapida, who, according to Kalhana, died forty
years before the accession of Avantivarman. It is possible that Ratnakara
started his career under Cippata Jayapida but was patronised also by
Avantivarman. Besides the Haravijaya Kavya, Ratnakara is credited with
the composition of two smaller poems, Vakroktipancasika and Dhavnigatha
pancika. Some of his verses have found place in Ksemendra's Suvrttatilaka,
in Vallabhadeva's Subhasitavali and in the Sarngadharapaddhati.
The fame of Ratnakara seems to have spread outside and the poet Rajasekhara
praises him for his vast learning and wealth of imagery.
The fame of Anandavardhana rests principally on his
treatise on the science of poetics. His great work Dhvanyaloka, Kavyaloka
or Sahrdayaloka is a commentary in four chapters on certain verses
treating dhvani as the soul of poetry. Abbinavagupta's elucidation on it,
the Locana, has given the work a wide reputation. Besides Dhvanyaloka,
Anandavardhna composed several poems in Sanskrit and in Prakrt. His Devisataka
is a lyric written in praise of Parvati. The other poetical compositions are Arjunacaritamahakavya
(Sanskrit), Visamavanalila, Harivijaya (both Prakrt) and Matapariksa.
In the same period as Anandavardhna, seem to have lived
three other reputed rhetoricians of Kashmir, Rudrata, Mukula and Induraja.
Rudrata, also called Satananda was the son of Vamana.
His Kavyalamkara in 16 chapters deals with the figures of speech
depending on sound and sense. He represents the alamkara school and is
opposed to the theory of Vamana that riti is the soul of poetry.
According to Jacobi, Rudrata lived during
Avantivarman's reign and the example of Vakrokti given by Rudrata (II, 15) was
prompted by Ratnakara in his Vakroktipancasika. Rudrata was not the
author of the Srngaratilaka as some scholars have presumed; the book was
written by Rudrabhatta.
Mukula was the son of the famous Saiva philosopher
Bhatta Kallata who lived in the time of Avantivarman (A.D. 855/56-883). His Abhidhavrttimatrka
deals with the theory of various rhetoricians on abhidha, the
'appellative power' residing in words.
Induraja, also known as Pratiharenduraja, was a pupil
of Mukula. He was born in Konkan, but afterwards migrated to Kashmir. Only one
work, written by him, has come to us. It is a commentary on Udbhata's Kavyalamkara
and is entitled the Kavyalamkarasaralaghuvrtti.
We learn from Kalhana that a poet named Bhallata lived
in the reign of Samkaravarman. An extant work named Bhallatasataka
evidently belongs to him. Verses from this work have been quoted by
Abhinavagupta, Ksemendra and Mammata. Some passages from this work also occur in
the Sarngadharapaddhati and in the Subhasitavali.
Another contemporary litteratuer of Samkaravarman was
Jayanta Bhatta. Three books of Jayanta Bhatta have so far been recovered. They
are the Nyayamanjari, the Nyayakalika and the Agamadambara.
All of them are standard works on nyayasastra. In the Nyayamanjari
and Agamadambara, Jayanta Bhatta mentions the name of king Samkaravarman.
So he can not be placed earlier than that monarch (A.D. 88.3-902). Then, the
author of the Kadambari, Abhinanda, who was Jayanta's son, says that
Jayanta's great grandfather was a minister of Lalitaditya. Lalitaditya reigned
about the middle of the 8th century A.D. Jayanta, being four generations removed
from Lalitaditya, could not possibly have lived much later than the last quarter
of the 9th century A.D.
It is not unlikely that king Samkaravarman himself also
composed several poems. In the chapters on coinage it has been noted that
another name of Samkaravarman was Yasovarman. A lost drama entitled Ramabhyndaya,
written by one Yasovarman, which is cited by Anandavardhana in his Dhvanyaloka,
perhaps belongs to him. Some verses, written by a poet called Yasovarman are
also preserved in the Kavindravacanasamuccaya and Subhasitavali.
Possibly they were written by Samkaravarman alias Yasovarman.
The poet who comes next is Abhinanda, son of Jayanta
Bhatta, whose Kadambari-kathasara isa metrical summary of Bana's prose
romance. Abhinanda traces his ancestry from Sakti, who was originally an
inhabitant of the Gauda country but afterwards migrated from his native province
and settled in Kashmir. From Abhinavagupta's mention of poet Abhinanda, son of
Jayanta at the end of the 10th century and from the fact that Abhinanda's father
Jayanta was a contemporary of Samkaravarman (A.D. 883-902), it may be inferred
that Abhinanda lived in the first part of the 10th century. Although Abhinanda
mentions one of his ancestors as an inhabitant of Gauda, it is not clear whether
he is the same as Gauda-Abhinanda, whose verses are quoted in the Sarngadharapaddhati.
Some of the anthologies such as Sarngadharapaddhati,
Kavindravacanasamuccaya, Saduktikarnamrta and Suktimuktavali quote verses
written by an Abhinanda and not Gauda-Abhinanda. The Kavindravacanasamuccaya
which refers to him can not be assigned to a period later than the 10th century.
So Abhinanda of the anthologies could not have been much removed from the author
of the Kathasara. But it is not known whether this Abhinanda of the
anthologies is identical with Gauda Abhinanda or with Abhinanda, son of Jayanta.
The author of the Kathasara, however, must be distinguished from another
Abhinanda, the son of Satananda and the writer of an epic called Ramacarita. The
name of Abhinanda has been mentioned and his poem Kadambari-kathasara has
been held in high esteem by some later Kashmirian writers.
As already noted in the chapter on religion, Kashmir
was a land par excellence of the Saiva faith and it had developed a particular
system of Sivaite philosophy based on the principle of idealistic monism (advaita).
The earliest writers, who propounded and expanded this doctrine, belonged to
the Utpala period. The exact date of Vasugupta, the founder of the Kashmir
Saivism is not known for certain. But as his disciple Kallata lived at the end
of the 9th century A.D., he also may be placed near about the same period. Most
of his works are now lost. His Spandamrta has probably been incorporated
in the Spandakarikas and his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
called the Vasavi-Tika may perhaps be traced in the first six chapters of
another Tika on the Bhagavad Gita called Lasaki, by
Rajanaka Lasakaka. About the personality and lineage of Vasugupta, all that we
learn from his pupils is that he lived in his retirement as a holy sage in the
According to Kalhana's evidence, Bhatta Kallata
'descended to the earth for the benefit of the people' at the time of
Avantivarman (A.D. 855/56-883). He was a pupil of Vasugupta and wrote a
commentary called Spandasarvasva, on his teacher's Spandamrta. It
is still extant. He was also the author of the Spandakarikas, an
exposition on the work of Vasugupta. His two other books, the Tatvartha-Cintamani
and the Madhuvahini, are now lost. Both of them were commentaries on the
The next author on Saiva philosophy was Somananda. He
wrote Sivadrsti and a Vrtti on it in which he marshalled
philosophical reasonings in support of Vasugupta's teachings. Abhinavagupta, who
lived towards the end of the 10th and the first part of the 11th century, was
fourth in succession from Somananda in a line of spiritual tutelage. Somananda,
therefore, might have flourished towards the end of the 9th century. Somananda
was most probably a pupil of Vasugupta.
Somananda's disciple Utpala was the author of as many
as six works. These were Pratyabhijuakarikas, Vrtti on it, Tika on
it (lost), Isvara-siddhi, Ajadapramatr-siddhi and Stotravali. He
possibly flourished in the first quarter of the 10th century.
Utpalacarya's pupil Ramakantha (c. A.D. 925) wrote a
work entitled the Spandavivrti. He is also credited with the composition
of two commentaries, one on the Matanga Tantra and the other on the Bhagavad
Gita. None of the commentaries, however, has come down to us.
In the later part of the 10th century, comes
Mahamahesvara Abhinavagupta. A prolific writer, he obtained as great a
reputation in the field of poetics as in Saivadarsana. From a study of
the concluding portions of his two works, Tantraloka and Paratrimsikavivarana,
we learn that he was born in a reputed Brahmana family. His grandfather was
Varahagupta, his father was Narasimhagupta alias Cukhala, and his younger
brother was Manorathagupta. In quest of learning, he travelled over various
parts of Kashmir and also visited many places outside the valley. Among his
teachers were Bhattenduraja, Laksmanagupta and Bhatta Tauta.
Abhinavagupta wrote as many as forty one books, some of
which exist, while several are known only by name. His Locana is an
extremely profound and difficult commentary on Anandavardhana's Dhranyaloka.
His Natyalocana and Abhinavabharati are commentaries on Bharata's Natyasastra.
Among works other than those of Saiva philosophy, he composed Bhairavastotra,
Mohopadesavimsati, Kramastotra and Ghatakarparavivrti. His more important
works on Saiva philosophy include Para-Trimsikavivarana, Siva-Drstyalocana,
Pratyabhijnavimarsini, Pratyabhijnavivrti Vimarsini, Tantraloka, Tantrasara,
Paramarthasara and Malinivijayavaritika.
Abhinava's literary career extended over a quarter of a
century from the year 4066 (the date of composition of Kramastotra) to
the year 4090 (the date of composition of the Brhat Pratyabhijnavimarsini) of
the Laukika era, i.e. A.D. 990-1014. In view of the fact that his literary
career started in a fairly mature age, his date of birth may be placed sometime
between A.D. 950 and 960.
Not long after Abhinavagupta, came Mahimabhatta, the
rhetorician. In his Vyakitiviveka, he controverted the Dhvani theory of
Abhinavagupta. He was a champion of the Anumana theory of Rasa and
according to him all that pass by the name of Dhvani are really cases of
inference. Mahimabhatta's attempt to kill the theory of Dhvani, however,
seems to have apparently failed as it could not convince the later writers who
often quote him but only to refute his theory.
Mahimabhatta quotes Abhinavagupta who lived at least
upto A.D. 1014. His own works have been reviewed by Mammata, whose approximate
date is the middle of the 11th century. Mahima thus flourished between the two.
Mahimabhatta's preceptor Syamala has been referred to by Ksemendra, who lived
between 1014 and 1066. This also agrees well with the view that Mahimabhatta
lived in the first half of the 11th century.
Mahimabhatta wrote another book, the Tattvoktikosa,
in which he discussed the nature of Pratibha.
Ksemendra, the next great litterateur 'was not a man to
hide his light under a bushel, and he has taken care to let us know a good deal
about himself and his time'. He was born in a well-to-do family. His father's
name was Prakasendra and grandfather's name Sindhu. By birth he was a Saiva but
laterly, under the teachings of Somacarya Bhagavata, he became Vaisnava.
His course of studies seems to have comprised all the
sciences and arts then known in Kashmir. He had a thorough knowledge of
mathematics, astrology, medicine, surgery, politics, erotica, and Buddhist
philosophy. Ksemendra says that he left the company of dry logicians and
grammarians but studied all the lexicons of his time. He was particularly fond
of songs, gathas, novels and interesting conceits of poetry.
Ksemendra is silent about the date of his birth. But he
says in his Bharata-Manjari that he studied literature with Abhinavagupta,
author of the Vidyavivrti of the Pratyabhijna- Vrhativimarsini. As
Abhinavagupta composed his famous commentary on Pratayabhijna philosophy
in A.D. 1014 it is apparent that Ksemendra was born much earlier. His Dasavataracarita
was composed in the Laukika year 4141 or A.D. 1066. Probably he lived a
Ksemendra was a versatile genius. He wrote poems,
narratives, didactic and satiric sketches and treatises on rhetoric and prosody.
His Bharatamanjari, Ramayanamanjari, Brhathathamanjari, Padyakadambari
(lost) and Avadanakalpalata are, respectively, the abstracts of the two
great epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, Gunadhya Brhatkatha,
Bana's Kadambari and the Buddhist Avadanas. All these were written in
verse. Among his other works, known only by name, are Sasivamsamahakavya,
Amrtarangakavya, Avasarasara, Muktavali Vatsyayana-sutra-sara, Lalitaratnamale,
Kanakajanaki, Nrpavali, Lavanyavati and Pavanapancasika. His known
and printed works include Nitikalpataru, Carucarya, Desopadesa, Narmamala,
Nitilata, Vinayavalli. Darpadalana, Sevyasevakopadesa, Munimatamimamsa,
Caturvarga-Samgraha Aucityavicaracarca Kavikanthabharana and Dasavataracarita.
In Samayamatrka, one of his most original poems,
he describes the arts and trickeries of the harlot. The merit of the work lies
in its vivid description of droll life painted with great sharpness of phrasing
and characterisation. His Sevyasevakopadesa contains shrewd reflection on
the relation between master and servant. The Carucarya, a century of
moral aphorisms, gives a pleasing picture of virtue's ways of pleasantness in
contemporary Kashmir. The Caturvargasamgraha deals with the four objects
of human life, dharma, arthal, kama and moksa. The Darpadalana
is a denunciatory harrangue against human pride which is said to have sprung
from birth, wealth, learning, beauty, velour, charity and asceticism. They are
dealt separately in each chapter with illustrations on each type of boaster. The
Kalavilasa is a satirical poem of ten cantos in which Muladeva, the
legendary master of trickery instructs his young disciple in the arts of
roguery. Ksemendra's Desopadesa and Narmamala, like Kalavilasa,
also represent his satirical proclivity of mind. In the former, he dilates upon
the daily life of different depraved sections of people inhabiting the valley
such as cheat, miser, prostitute, bawd, ostentatious voluptuary students of
Gauda, old man marrying young wives, degraded Saiva Guru, the ignorant
grammarians etc. The Narmamala is a sharp satire on the misrule and
oppression of the Kayasthas, before the time of Ananta. In his Aucityavicaracarca,
Ksemendra tries to propound that propriety or aucitya is the soul of
poetry and the figures of speech, if they overstep their proper limits, hurt the
rasa. In the Kavikanthabharana he discuses with the subjects of kavitvaprapti,
siksa, camatkrti, gunadosabodha and paricayaprapti. Ksemendra's Dasavataracarita
gives in regular Kavya style, an account of the ten incarnations of Visnu,
viz., Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrsimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krsna, Buddha
and Karkya, which is nothing but an abstraction of the Puranic stories.
Mammatabhatta, the rhetorician, seems to have been a
later contemporary of Ksemendra. He refers to Abhinavagupta, Mahimabhatta and
king Bhoja and as such must have lived in or about A.D. 1050. Though a native of
Kashmir, he took his early education at Benaras. He was a Saiva by faith and was
also a staunch supporter of the grammarian school. His Kavyaprakasa, a
superb work of compilation is divided into ten sections (ullasa). It
covers the whole ground of rhetoric, deals with the merits and demerits of
poetry, the junctions of different words and their sources and the figures of
speech. But Mammata was not only a compiler, he was a critic too. He champions
the theory of dhvani and attacks the views of Bhamaha, Bhattodbhata,
Vamana, Rudrata, Mahimabhatta and others.
Ruyyaka, in his Samketa commentary says that
Mammata could not finish his work, and it was completed by somebody else. This
view receives support from other commentators as well and Rajanaka Ananda, in
his commentary, says that Mammata wrote up to parikara alamkara and the
remaining portion was written by Allata. The Kavyaprakasa has two parts karikas
and vrtti. According to some authorities, the karikas were
written by Bharata and the vrtti by Mammata. Mammata wrote another book
entitled the Savdavyaparacarca, on the derivation and functions of words.
Somadeva, the author of the Kathasaritsagara,
was another later contemporary of Ksemendra. He composed his work for the
amusement of Suryamati, the mother of king Kalasa and grandmother of Harsa.
Evidently, it was written sometime between A.D. 1063 and 1089 when Kalasa was on
the throne and Suryamati was still alive. The main theme of Somadeva's work,
like Ksemendra's Brhatkathmanjari, seems to be the adventures of
Naravahanadatta, son of Udayana and his final attainment of Madanamanjarika as
his wife and the land of the Vidyadharas as his kingdom. A large number of
tales, legends and witty stories is dovetailed into the principal narrative,
which indeed make the collection an ocean of the streams of stories. It consists
of 18 books of 124 chapters and more than 21,000 verses. Somadeva's Kathasaritsagara
is generally said to have been adopted from Gunadhya's Brhatkatha written
in Paisaci dialect. But the Kashmirian Brhatkatha, from which both
Ksemendra and Somadeva drew their inspiration, was most probably not the Brhatkatha
of Gunadhya. It seems to have been an old Kashmirian version of the same, which
had undergone many changes. This is apparent from the comparative evidence of
the contents of the two Kashmirian versions, and from their divergency with the
Nepal edition of the Brhatkatha, the Brhatkathaslokasamgraha of
About the same period as Ksemendra, also lived
Ksemaraja, the writer on Shaiva philosophy. Both of them were pupils of
Abhinavagupta and as such Ksemaraja seems to have flourished about the beginning
of the 11th century. Continuing the labours of his master, Ksemaraja wrote a
number of works on Kashmir Shaivism. The chief extant works of his are Pratyabhijna-Hrdaya,
Spanda Sandaha, Spanda Nirnaya, Svacchandoddyota, Netradyota,
Vijnana-Bhairavaddvota, Siva-Sutra-Vrtti, Siva-Sutra Vimarsini,
Stava-Cintamanitika, Utpalastotravalitika, Para-Pravesika and Tattva
Another Shaivaite writer, Bhaskara, who was five
generations removed from Kallata in a direct line of spiritual descent, was
probably a contemporary of Ksemaraja. He embodied in his Shiva Sutra-Varttika
the teachings of Vasugupta. Ksemendra's pupil Yogaraja may be assigned to the
second half of the 11th century. He started his studies with Abhinavagupta and
wrote a commentary on his Paramarthasara.
The poet who followed next was Bilhana. From the last
canto of his Vikramankadevacarita we learn that he was born at Khonamusa,
near Pravarapura, of a pious and learned Madbyadesi Brahmana family. His father
was Jyesthakalasa and mother was Nagadevi. Bilhana received his early education
at Kashmir and obtained proficiency in grammar and poetics. At the time of the
nominal accession of Kalasa, when Ananta was still alive, he left Kashmir and
set out on his wanderings in quest of fame and fortune. The places which he
visited were Mathura, Kanyakabja, Prayaga, and Varanasi. At the court of Krsna
of Dahala, he stayed for sometime and probably w rote a poem in honour of Rama.
On leaving Dahala the poet visited Western India, attracted by the fame of the
courts of Dhara and Anhilwad and the sanctity of Somnath Pathan. For some reason
not stated, he did not go to Bhoja of Dhara. After spending sometime at Anhilwad,
Bilhana embarked from there for southern India and visited Ramesvara. On his way
back, he reached the court of Kalyana, where the Calukya king Vikramaditya VI
Tribhuvanamalla (A.D. 1076-1127) admired him and made him his Vidyapati. From
the last verses of the Vikramankadevacarita, it appears that latterly he
fell into disfavour with Vikramaditya VI and had to leave his kingdom. Does it
account for the incomplete narrative of Bilhana which stops with Vikramadiya's
Chola war and never refers to his activities beyond the Narmada in 1088?
The ViEramankadevsacarita is a poem of 18 cantos
which glorifies king Vikramaditya Tribhuvanamalla of Kalyana. It opens with an
eulogistic account of the Calukya dynasty. Then the exploits of king
Vikramaditya's father are described at some length. At the end the poet comes to
Vikramaditya VI and depicts with usual amplifications 'the conquests of
Vikramaditya before his accession to the throne, his dethronement of his elder
brother Somesvara II, his defeat and capture of his younger brother and his
numerous wars with the faithless Cholas.' Though Bilhana has taken a historical
theme for his subject matter, his work, in all its essentials, is a kavya
and not a history.
His Karnasundari was written as a compliment to
the Calukya Karnadeva of Anhilwad whose marriage with a princess it delineates,
under the guise of a romantic tale.
Another poem, Cauri or Cauru-Surata-Pancasika,
which is of unknown date and authorship is generally ascribed to Bilhana. The
poem consists of fifty amatory verses, sung in the first person, on the topic of
secret love. In one of the South Indian versions, a text called Bilhana Kavya
is attached to the poem, which says that Bilhana repeated these verses when,
caught in a secret intrigue with the daughter of a king, he was going to be
executed. These glowing verses uttered by the poet moved the king who ordered
his release and gave his daughter in marriage with him. But the story differs
widely in different versions. Similar tales are told about other poets and the
place of occurrence of the alleged incident also varies. Under these
circumstances, it seems that the Caura Kavi was not identical with
Bilhana. The stanzas of Caurapancasika were probably some floating verses
of unknown authorship which were ascribed to' different writers in different
Not long after Bilhana, came the poet Sambhu,, who
lived in the court of king Harsa. His Rajendra Karnapura is a high
flown panegyric eulogising his patron and his Anyokti-maktalata is a
collection of, verses on various topics indicating indirect meaning.
The First Lohara dynasty came to an end with the death
of Harsa and the second year of the 12th century marked the accession of the
Second Lohara dynasty on Kashmir throne. Among the litterateurs who received
patronage of this court, were the celebrated poets Jalhana, Mankha and Kalhana.
Jalhana was a contemporary of Uccala. We learn from
Mankha that when Sussala acceded to the throne after Uccala's death, he left the
valley and went to the court of Rajapuri. There he wrote a poem called Somapalavilasa
on the history of the king Somapala. His Mugdhopadesa is a poem
ethical in character.
Mankha or Mankhaka wrote his poem Srikanthacarita
between the years A.D. 1135 and A.D. 1145. The theme of the work is the Puranic
legend of Shiva's overthrow of Tripura. But besides the story of Tripura's
defeat, several cantos are employed in describing the usual accessories allowed
in kavyas, the seasons, the sunsets, the sunrises, court scenes,
amusements etc. In the third canto the author gives an account of his family
from which we learn that his grandfather's name was Manmatha and his father was
Visvavrata. He had three other brothers Srngara, Bhanga and Alamkara, all
employed as state officials. Mankha himself held high office under Jayasimha but
it is unknown what his designation was. The twenty-fifth or last canto of the Srikanthacarita
is particularly interesting as it gives the names of thirty contemporary
scholars, poets and officials who assembled at the house of Alamkara on the
occasion of the completion and public reading of the poem. Though as a pupil of
the famous rhetorician Ruyyaka, Mankha shows some cleverness in the rhetorical
ornaments, it must be admitted that his work lacks lucidity of expression,
freshness and variety.
A dictionary called Mankhakosa is current in
Kashmir. It is not known whether the writer of the Srikanthacarita is
also the author of this lexicon.
As already noted, Mankha mentions some of his
contemporary poets in the last canto of his book. They are Ananda (XXV, 84),
Kalyana (XXV, 80), Garga (XXV, 50), Govinda (XXV, 77), Jalhana (XXV, 75), Patu (XXV,
131), Padmaraja (XXV, 86), Bhudda (XXV, 82), Losthadeva (XXV, 36), Vagisvara (XXV,
127), Srigarbha (XXV, 50) and Srivatsa (XXV, 82). Jalhana has been already
referred to. About the rest, nothing else is known from any other source.
Kalhana, the celebrated poet-historian of Kashmir was
the son of a high functionary of the State. His father Canpaka was the 'dvarapati'
or 'Commandant of the frontier passes' during the reign of king Harsa (A.D.
1089-1101). Kalhana's ambition of life was to write a chronicle of the kings of
Kashmir. When Jayasimha became king after the death of Sussala (A.D. 1127),
Kalhana became his court-poet. He composed his Rajatarangini between the
According to tradition. Kalhana wrote another poem Jayasimhabhyudaya,
probably an eulogy of his patron, king Jayasimha of Kashmir. The book has not
yet been discovered but a verse from this poem has been quoted in Ratnakathasarasamuccaya
Though Kalhana does not say anything about his own
caste, he seems to be a Brahmana. His vast learning as expressed in the Rajatarangini
accords well with the reputation generally enjoyed by the Brahmin pandits
of Kashmir. Kalhana's sympathy towards the Brahmanas, as revealed in the pages
of the Rajatarangini, also tends to show that he was probably a Brahmana.
Every doubt in this regard is dispelled by Jonaraja, the writer of the Dvitiya
Rajatarangini, who calls Kalhana clearly as 'dvija'. Kalhana was a
Shaiva in his religious belief. In the Rajatarangini, he pays his
devotion in the opening verse of each taranga to the Lord Shiva and his
The Rajatarangini consists of eight books or tarangas.
The first book deals with the Gonanda dynasty, several local rulers, Ashoka and
his successors, the Turuskas i.e. the Kusanas and the Hunas. Book II treats of a
line of Kashmir rulers, unconnected with Gonanda's dynasty. The third book
begins with the restoration of the Gonanda dynasty and mentions several rulers
among whom Pravarasena and perhaps Toramana may be recognized as historical
figures. Book IV starts with the accession of the Karkota dynasty. Some of the
kings belonging to this dynasty, are also known from other sources. The Karkota
dynasty was overthrown by the Utpalas. The history of the Utpala dynasty
occupies the fifth book of Kalhana. The sixth taranga of the Rajatarangini
describes Kashmir under the descendants of Viradeva and Abhinava. The seventh
book opens with the accession of Samgramaraja of the Lohara kingdom to the
throne of Kashmir and ends with the dethronement and death of Harsa. The dynasty
to which these rulers belonged is regarded as the First Lohara dynasty. The
eighth book starts with the accession of the second Lohara dynasty and gives a
long account of the reigns of Uccala, Sussala and Sussala's son Jayasimha, the
reigning sovereign of Kalhana's time. Though the Rajatarangini is a
literary production of high merit, it will not be doing justice to Kalhana, if
we regard his poem simply as a mahakavya. It is an admirable collection
of historical facts presented in an illuminating garb of poetry and soars in the
region of fine art. History takes wings from the inimitable pen of Kalhana.
Kalhana generally indicates the materials which he used
for his narrative. He mentions several previous writers on the history of
Kashmir. Among these were Suvrata 'whose work', he says, 'was made difficult by
misplaced learning; Ksemendra who drew up a list of kings, Nrpavali, of
which however, no part was free from mistakes; Nilamuni, who wrote the Nilamatapurana;
Helaraja, who composed a list of kings, in twelve thousand verses; and Srimihira
or Padmamihira, and the author Sri Chavillakara'. His own work was based
on eleven collections of Rajakathas or stories about kings and on the
works of Nilamuni. He further tells us that he took the help of many
inscriptions, grants and manuscripts to write his book.
Some of the sources mentioned above, which Kalhana used
for his narrative, were themselves of uncertain historical character. Hence the
early part of his work, especially the first-three books of the Rajatarangini
have become a conglomeration of history and vague legends. The poet-historian,
however, shows more precision from the fourth book onwards for which he had
probably at his disposal, materials of a truly historical character, presumably
coins and inscriptions, as well as other indigenous sources. The seventh and
eighth books of the Rajatarangini are graphic and full of facts. The
reason is not far to seek, Kalhana was a contemporary of the monarchs of the
eighth book and for the history of Harsha and other immediately preceding
rulers, he has most probably informations from his father and other older
Inspite of the lack of historical materials in the
early portions of his work, Kalhana's splendour of imagination, depth and range
of thought and above all the power of centralizing many talents to a single
purpose, had given his Rajatarangini a literary immortality. Among the
special merits of Kalhana as a historian, Stein mentions his impartiality and
independence, individuality of his characters, accuracy of geneological
statements, high sense of historical truthfulness in later parts of the
Chronicle and exactness of topographical details. To these may be added his rare
sense of appreciation of the philosophy of history, a quality rare among the
writers of the past. Kalhana's account is not written to enforce an particular
lesson. He lets his tale tell itself in the deeds and words of those who act it
out. This of course does not mean that he confines himself to a mere report.
Beside the narrator stands the thinker, explaining the facts by causes and
reasons, exposing the principles which underlie them. But he does not use the
facts to illustrate his thesis, much less does he manipulate them to fit a
doctrine of his own; his philosophy waits upon the facts and does not govern
We realise the qualities of Kalhana more fully as we
pass from him to his continuator, Jonaraja. Jonaraja's account also is clear and
authentic, but in it, one misses, the mind of a great historian.
The rhetorician Ruyyaka seems to have been a
contemporary of Kalhana. He quotes from Mankha's Srikanthacarita which is
said to have been composed between A.D. 1135 and 1145. On the other hand the Kavyaprakasasamketa
of Manikyacandra written between A.D. 1159-60 refers to Ruyyaka's Alamkarasarvasva.
It is thus evident that Ruyyaka flourished between A.D. 1135 and 1160. His
Alamkarasarvasva isa standard work on figures of speech. His other works
include Sahrdayalila, 'a short prose-poetic discourse on the qualities of
a fashionable gentleman, a charming formula in four chapters', and Alamkaranusarini,
a commentary on Jalhana's Somapalavilasa.
Among the minor works which were composed during the
last days of the Hindu rule, mention may be made of Haracaritacintamani
of Jayadratha. It was probably written in the 12th or 13th century. In a simple kavya
style, the book relates in 32 cantos many legends connected with Shiva and his
incarnations. Some of these legends are placed in famous Kashmirian tirthas
and afford the author a chance to describe the sacred sites of Kashmir.
Another writer, Jayaratha composed a commentary on the Tantraloka.
He appears to have lived in the 12th century.
If Jonaraja is to be believed, during the reign of
Samgramadeva (A.D. 1235-52), a poet named Shaka lived in his court and made the
king the hero of his compositions. Unfortunately nothing more is known of this
poet and his writings.