Kothapalli Ghanasyamala Prasada Rao, M.A., Ph.D. born in the year 1937 at Kaikalur, Krishna Dist, Andhra Pradesh, took his Post Graduate and Doctoral degrees in Samskrita Sahitya from Andhra University, Waltair. He has been working as Lecturer in Samskrita in S.K.B.R College, Amalapuram, East Godavari Dt. A.P. since 1965, presently he is the Head of the Dept. of Oriental Languages, S.K.B.R College, Amalapuram. He is Chairman, Board of Studies Samskrita (Pass degree) Andhra University and Member, Board of Studies Samskrita (P.G. courses) Andhra University. He is well versed in Ashtavadhanam and Netravadhanam and has given successful performances at many places in India. He has to his credit many paintings also. His versatality in various fine arts won the appreciation of many an artist. He is now All India Secretary of Samskara Bharati, a nationalist forum for fine arts.
He wrote in Samskrita, Telugu and English and translated into Telugu from Hindi and English. Some of his works are: Bharata Matru Stavam (Samskrita), Praja poratam (The people’s struggle during emergency in Telugu), Musunuri Nayakulu (A historical novel in Telugu), Panchajanyam (Telugu translation of ‘A Bunch of Thoughts’ by Shri Guruji) Hindu Vijaya Dundubhi (Telugu translation of Shri Ram Sathe’s Hindi work of the same name.)
Besides these he has presented many papers in various seminars and published poetry in Telugu and Samskrita. He has also broadcast Samskrita poetry, patriotic songs and Telugu plays on Air directed and acted on stage and in Air plays. His erudite and lucid discourses on Yogavidya, Ramayana and Mahabharata are very much appreciated by one and all.
Andhradesa under the rule of the Kakatiyas of the Ekasilanagara (Warangal) and the kings of Vijayanagara witnessed a marked development of Sanskrit literature in all its branches. Agastya Pandita who is praised as one of the greatest scholar-poets of his times by Gangadevi, the queen of Virakamparaya and the author of the Mathuravijaya, has enriched the Sanskrit literature with seventy four works. But only three works of this great writer, Bala Bharata, Krsnacarita and Nala Kirtikaumudi have come down to us; the last one only in fragments.
The Bala Bharata of about 1700 and odd verses, divided into 20 cantos, is like the Bharatamanjari of Ksemendra, an epitome of the great epic Mahabharata. It is this Mahakavya which has won a good name for Agastya Pandita as a Mahakavi. Dr. Ghanasyamala Prasada Rao in his voluminous work “Agastya Pandita’s Balabharata – A Critical Study” has made a successful attempt to bring out the greatness of this poem.
The Indian literary criticism has its own long tradition of evaluation of a literary work which is perhaps not found in any literature. There are many works of Alankara sastra laying the guidelines to produce and appreciate a literary work. A critic would write an exhaustive commentary on literary work of his coice and shows how it fulfils the conditions laid down by the Alankarikas to be called a good poem or a drama by containing Alankaras, Gunas, Ritis, Rasas and Sandhis etc; and by presenting proper heroes and heroines. Therefore it is not correct to say, as some of the modern critics are prone to think, that the Indian literary, criticism is deficient in its application, to the different poetical works. If the modern criticism is interested only in discussing about the poet, the plot construction in a poem and other aspects like characterization etc., the Indian critics are interested more in finding out the factors which make a literary work worthy of the name of a ‘Kavya’. It does not mean that our critics are unaware of the importance of the plot-construction and the working of the poet’s mind in producing a good poetical work. We find hints about the plot-construction (as in the Dhvanyaloka while trying to determine the main Rasa in the Ramayana and Mahabharata) and also elaborate discussions (as in Vakroktijivita while explaining Prakaranavakrata and Prabhandha-vakrata in the fourth chapter) both Anandavardhana and Kuntaka explain how the working of a poet’s mind reflects in the poem and makes it beautiful or otherwise:
Dr. Ghansyamala Prasada Rao has used, in the present work, both the methods of criticism. Following the modern method he discusses the author, his times and works in the first chapter and his skill in characterization in the third chapter. In the 2nd chapter in which he discusses about the dexterity of the poet in epitomisation of Mahabharata we find a beautiful blend of both the modern and the traditional methods. This discussion which is specially required only in a critical work of this type of a poem, is very carefully carried on by Dr. Prasada Rao. After making a significant statement-“Brevity in narration, clarity in expression, originality in setting, beauty in treatment are the four pillars on which firmly stands the edifice of epitomisation in any language”, he proceeds to explain with proper examples how all these qualities are found in Bala Bharata, making this as the best example for a fine work of epitomisation, looking like a Mahakavya with a newly conceived original theme.
Santarasa is declared as the leading sentiment in Mahabharata by Anandavardhana. Taking this clue, Kalhana, in his Rajatarangini which describes the rise and fall of the different dynasties and kings in Kashmir, maintains that Santa is the Angirasa in his work:
Perhaps we may apply the same principle to the Raghuvamsa also in determining Santa as the Angirasa. Now the author of the present work also had no difficulty in determining santa as the Angirasa in Bala Bharata. In addition to this he shows, in the fourth chapter, how Agastya Pandita has depicted all the other Rasas also (as Angarasas) in different places; sringara in the story of Santanu, Virarasa in the story of Drona and Drupada, Hasya in the story of Baka, Adbhutarasa in the Mayasabha-episode, Bhayanaka in the episode of Uttaragograhana, Bhayanaka and Bibhatsa in the 14th canto Raudra in Saindhava episode and Karuna in the 17th and 18th cantos.
Whatever may be the importance of Dhvani and other elements in a Kavya, the style (Riti) has its own importance, in the absence of which the whole poem would look devoid of charm and therefore Vamana, the author of the Kavyalankara sutra, is justified, to some extent, in declaring it as the very life of a Kavya. In the fifth chapter the author examines the style of Agastya Pandita and explains with examples that the poet is a pastmaster of the Vaidarbhi style. Vamana cites the verse (K.S.I.1) as the example for all the Gunas associated with the Vaidarbhiriti. On the same lines the author explains, by way of example how the very first verse contains many of the Gunas. He also explains how the poet uses different styles on different occasions with a sense of propriety. In the 6th chapter while examining the number of Alankaras employed in Bala Bharata; the author explains that Agastya Pandita has strictly followed the guidelines given by Anandavardhana in his Dhvanyaloka “that 1) Alankaras must be ancillary 2) they should not dominate 3) they should be curtailed or expanded in accordance with the main idea of the context 4) extra elaboration of Alankara must be avoided and in case of elaboration, they should clearly be made secondary to the Rasa”.
Mahabharata is rightly viewed by some as a Dharmasastra and it is natural therefore that its epitome should contain some of the essential aspects of the Dharma. As is cited earlier Kuntaka feels that the nature of the poet reflects in a poem. The same can be said in the case of a critical work also. Dr. Ghanasyamala Prasada Rao is a great lover, strict follower and sincere exponent of Indian culture and the high values of life cultivated through it. He, therefore, devotes one chapter to deal with the Indian Ethics in general and the ethics contained in Bala Bharata in particular. In the 8th chapter the author makes an assessment of the impact of Vyasa and Kalidasa on Agastya Pandita and Agastya Pandita’s impact on authors of Bharatacampu and Tikkanasomayaji, the author of Andhra Mahabharata. Dr. Ghanasyamala Prasada Rao has done a highly creditable service to the Samskrita literature by writing this monograph on an almost forgotten work, Bala Bharata in which he shows his critical acumen, clear understanding of the concepts of Alankarasastra and the interpretative boldness. But there are a few places where one may find it difficult to agree with views expressed by the learned author regarding the identity of Agastya Pandita with Vidyanatha.
Many scholars like Dr. V. Raghavan and Prof. T. Venkatbaracharya are in favour of accepting that Agastya Pandita was one of the court-poets of Prataparudra II (1292-1323). Viswanatha who flourished in the court of Prataparudra II mentions Agastya Pandita as his material uncle. Therefore Agastya Pandita may have to be accepted as the contemporary of Prataparudra II. The sentence in etc., (Prataparudriya II -60) conveys the sense that “I am after all Agastya” but not “I am like Agastya”. Therefore inspite of many arguments of scholars like Prof. Venkatacharya and the present author against the identity of Agastya Pandita and Vidyanatha, this question may be left as an open one. In the view of the above; the indebtedness of Tikkana to Agastya Pandita is doubtful. In fact the examples cited to show such influence appear to be not very convincing. All this is, ofcourse, my personal opinion which I am prepared to change if stronger evidence to the contrary is forthcoming. I am writing this to show how the work of Dr. Ghanasyamala Prasada Rao is thought-provoking and stimulates further research on this subject.
Though I happened to be the only son of an innocent and pious mother, who lost her husband at an early age, I was the recipient of Divine Affection through my grand parents. My maternal uncles were my source of Divine Guidance. In fact, it was they who shaped my aspirations, aims and ambitions. My commitment to ideological pursuits, like the study of Samskrita Language, serving Sanatana dharma and our society is also mainly due to them. I was doubly fortunate to have the veteran Dr. Kunhan Raja, Professor of Samskrita as my teacher during my post-graduate studies. My teacher Dr. P. Sriramamurthy drew my attention to the literary genius of Agastya Pandita and also encouraged me to take up this critical study of Bala Bharata as the topic for my doctoral thesis.
Kavita Bhusana, vidwat Kavi Sekhara, Kala Prapoorna, Brahma Sri Vemparala Suryanarayana Sastry was kind enough to spare time and guide me through my study of this Mahakavya. His help enabled me to dive deep and pick out the pearls of literary excellence from the Mahakavya.
During the course of my research I was helped and encouraged by a number of scholars, well-wishers and friends. It may be very difficult for me to mention the names of all of them. But I will be failing in my duty if I do not acknowledge the help of Wing Commander Mallampalli Sambhu Prasad, who has been a constant prop for me since my boyhood days, Sri Dantu Bhaskara Rao, ex M.L.A., who permitted me to make use of the Andhra Sahitya Parishant Library, Kakinada, Sri Varanasi Satyanarayana Murty (Vasa Murty) who has guided me through the intricacies of the English Language, Sri and Srimati Ganti Surya Narayana Murty (Prof. of Nuclear Chemistry – Andhra University) for their kind encouragement, and smt. Gottipati Satyavani, the silver-tongued orator and the propagator of Bharatiya culture who has given me the timely financial assistance towards the cost of the paper for Reverentially I acknowledge the valuable preface written by Dr. P. Sri Ramachandrudu and Dr. M. Sivakumara Swamy and Sri N. P. Unni who have blessed me with their enlightened opinions.
I am also indebted to my dear student Dr. G. Akkubhattu Sarma (Dept. of Sanskrit Andhra University) for his timely help in the submission of this thesis.
The Andhra University adjudged this work as the best thesis for the year 1984 and awarded me Sir Raghupati Venkata Ratnam Naidu Memorial Gold Medal. Sri V. Ramamohan Rao, Editor –Jagriti Weekly is mainly responsible for the nice printing. He is ably assisted by Sarva Sri Om Prakash Narayan, Nagaraj and Srinivasa Sekhar.
I must also acknowledge the immense help extended by my dearest friend Sri C. Trivikrama Rao, his wife and my sister Smt. Parvati and their children. Their daughter Kumari Srilata did a splendid job of proof reading.
I also deem it my pleasure to remind myself of the friendly advice and help constantly I received from T. Harihara Sarma, Principal, Vijayanagar College of Commerce, Hyderabad.
I pray to the Divine Mother to shower Her choicest blessings on all these people and others who are directly or indirectly responsible for this publication.
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