Naisadhacarita of Sriharsa (An old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAE751
Author: K.K. Handiqui
Publisher: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute
Language: Sanskrit Text With English Translation
Edition: 1965
Pages: 709
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch x 6.5 inch
Weight 840 gm
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Book Description
Preface for Second Edition

The Translation has been revised and additions made to the Notes, Appendices and the Vocabulary.

Soon after the publication of the first edition Dr. A. K. Coomaraswamy informed me that the Nala-Damayanti series of drawings of the Kangra School closely followed the text of Sriharsa's Naisadhacarita. A copy of his magnificent Catalogue of Rajput paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was sent to me for examination; and in a note pub- lished in The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, 1936, I pointed out some of the episodes in the Naisadhacarita on which the paintings were based. Dr. Coomaraswamy seems to have read the Translation with care and made some sug- gestions which I have adopted in the present revision.

I owe an apology to the learned public for the unusual delay in publication of the work mentioned in the Introduc- tion. Other studies and responsibilities have been the main factors in retarding the progress of this undertaking of my younger days. But I hope that the work will be completed and published before long at least in a modified form.

The ungrudging help of my friend Dr. P. K. Gode of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, which I gratefully acknowledged in the Preface to the first edition, has been generously repeated after the lapse of so many years; and he has taken the trouble of preparingIt is a happy augury that the compilation of a comprehensive Dictionary of the Sanskrit language on critical and historical principles about which I expressed a vague hope in the Preface to the first edition has been undertaken by the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute.

I thank the authorities of the Institute for including the Translation in their Monograph Series and specially for their kind acceptance of the present edition as a gift to be utilized in furtherance of the work on the Dictionary project


Preface To The First Edition

Sriharsa's Naisadhiyacarita, or Naisadhacarita, is one of the five traditional Mahakavyas or later Sanskrit epics, the others being Kalidasa's Raghuvamsa and Kumara- sambhava, and the two poems of Bharavi and Magha. The Naisadhacarita deals with a part of the well-known story of Nala and Damayanti, and it is principally remarkable for its treatment of the character of Nala in Canto IX, which I have also considered in the preliminary Note to the Synopsis (p. xxvi). There is here a conflict of emotions, a clash of love and duty, rare in Sanskrit poetry, but which is not without its appeal to the imagination of the modern reader. This is perhaps the most universal element in Sriharsa's treatment of the Nala story, and furnishes evidence of the poet's power to handle tense moments of emotion and pathos. The Naisadhacarita, like other Kavyas, has its full share of epigrams and ethical reflections, the most remarkable of which are perhaps those glorifying the individual conscience as the criterion of right and wrong, e.g., "With the good, the purity of their motives has their own conscience for witness" (9. 129); "The good are far more ashamed of themselves than of others" (6. 22). There are, likewise, quite notable observations on benevo- lence, charity, manly virtue, jealousy and similar topics, which show the poet to have been alive to the problems of life and conduct. Description of Nature, the forte of Sanskrit poets, is not prominent in our poem, but there are elaborate pictures of sunrise and the rising moon in Cantos XIX and XXII. The poem abounds in animated dialogues, enlivened by wit and repartee; while the description of Damayanti's Svayarnvara with its splendour and gaiety, occupying no less than five Cantos (X-XIV), is the most comprehensive narrative of its kind in Sanskrit literature. The merits of the poem need not blind us to its defects and shortcomings, many of which are peculiar to the age or decline in which it was written. But in spite of the abundance of artificial fancies and conceits, and the fond- ness for word-play and obscure learning, the poem main- tains a high level of style, and the ornate verse of the Naisadha has been for ages a rare intellectual treat to students in India.

Poetic merits apart, the chief interest of the Naisadha lies . in the fact that it is in many ways a repository of traditional learning, and contains literary, lexicographical and socio-religious data, important for the study of the cultural history of medieval India. No apology is needed for translating a lengthy Mahakavya, which is in some res- pects the most difficult of the later Sanskrit epics.

The present Translation is based on the fourth Nirnaya- sagar edition of the Naisadhacarita published in 1912, and generally follows the commentary of Narayana. The Translation, however inadequate, will, I hope, facilitate the study of the poem and make its contents more widely known; I have spared no pains to make my version faithful if not elegant. No translation of the Naisadha can, how- ever, serve any scholarly purpose unless it is accompanied by a critical examination of the many obscure allusions and words which occur in the poem. ' An attempt has been made to deal with these in the Appendices, and the Vocabulary. Philosophical doctrines like the Vaisesika theory of dark- ness and the Nyaya conception of salvation, and allusions such as those to Radha and the Buddhist goddess Tara have been discussed in the Appendices; while the Vocabulary includes all rare and difficult words which either are not found, or are inadequately dealt with in the existing lexicons. Certain words have been included owing to their scarcity in Kavya literature. The Vocabulary has been prepared with some care, and I shall consider my labours amply rewarded, if it is found useful when the time comes for compiling an up-to-date lexicon of the Sanskrit lan~uage on critical and historical principles.

The inadequacy of the commentary of Narayana was brought home to me while translating the poem. But after the completion of the translation, I had the good fortune to obtain access to several unpublished commentaries, some of which are earlier than Mallinatha and Narayana, and re- present the earliest exegetical attempts to elucidate the Naisadha, besides providing valuable readings which often differ from those found in the current Text. I have taken this opportunity to give a number of extracts from these commentaries in the Notes, and have also reproduced the material portion of the learned commentary of Candu- pandita composed in the thirteenth century. Candiipandita, it may be mentioned, was also the author of a commentary on the Rgveda, and an interesting specimen of this pre- SayaI).a commentary will be found in the Notes. Full details about the commentaries have been given in the Introduction.

It was my intention to discuss in detail the contents of the poem as a whole, its date and authorship in a separate section of the Introduction, and there are in fact a few references to it in the footnotes to the Translation. I have been compelled, however, to reserve the discussion under this head for a later publication. If everything goes well, the above discussion may be expected to appear as part of a general survey of the Mahakavya literature now in preparation.

In conclusion, I have to acknowledge the help which I have received from various quarters in the preparation of the present volume. My sincere gratitude is due to the authorities of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona for lending and allowing me to retain rare and valuable manuscripts for a protracted period. I am parti- cularly indebted to Mr. P. K. Gode, M.A., Curator of the Manuscript Department of the Institute, for his unfailing courtesy and promptness in replying to my queries and providing all the help I required. To my friend Rev. T. Sefton, Chaplain at Clewer, Windsor, I owe a debt of grati- tude for not only correcting some of the proofs, but for many valuable suggestions which, I doubt not, have improv- ed the tone and quality of the Translation. Last but not least, I must offer my thanks to my friends Prof. S. K. Bhuyan and Prof. B. K. Kakati of Cotton College, Gauhati, and Mr. Girishchandra Borooah of Golaghat for help in various matters connected with the publication of this work.



Srihar.;;a's Naisadhacarita has for its subject the story of Nala :l Damayanti, but carries the narrative only as far as their mar- ge and the advent of Kali in Nala's capital, followed by certain scriptions which do not in any way contribute to the progress of ~ story. A brief outline of the contents of the poem will be ind in the Synopsis.

The Naisadha is the longest Mahakavya of the classical period the exception of Ratnakara's Haravijaya and Abhinanda's imacarita. It has been assigned to the twelfth century, and is ~ last great poem of Sanskrit literature. Sriharsa's poem is nous for the lyric flow of its diction, but it is also a learned kivya, being the work of a poet who wrote the abstruse Vedantic -atise Khandanakhandakhadya. We shall discuss the poem, its te and place in Kavya literature in a separate volume, and here nfine ourselves to the commentaries, mostly unpublished, which have been quoted in the Notes.

The extracts from Candupandita given in the Notes are taken from the following manuscripts of his commentary preserved in Bhandarkar Institute.

(1) Ms. A (No. 16 of 1874-75) is well-written and fairly correct, and contains the commentary on Cantos I-X, XII, XVIII- XII, and about a dozen verses of Canto XI. The manuscript was Litten at different times, and is obviously a composite work. At e end of Canto II the date is given as Samvat 1476 (A.D. 1420), while Samvat 1473 (A.D. 1417) is the date given at the end of mto XXII. The portion of the Commentary on Cantos X and VIII-XX is written on leaves of much smaller dimensions, and seems to have been incorporated from a different manuscript.

(2) Ms. C (No. 89 of 1919-24) is beautifully written and fairly correct, the date of writing being Samvat 1679 (A.D. 1623), stated at the end. This manuscript contains both Text and commentary, but gives only an abridged version of the latter. The commentary of Candupandita is not thus preserved in full in .the manuscripts referred to here, Candupandita gives the date of his commentary as Samvat 1353 (A.D. 1297) at the end of Canto XXII.1 His date has already been mentioned by Pandit :Sivadatta in his Introduction to the N. S. edition of Naisadhacarita, and by Pandit Lakshman sastrr in his Introduction to the Benares edition of Khandana-khanda- khadya. Dr. Buhler, however, in his Report of 1874-75, wrongly states that the date of the commentary is A.D. 1456-7, and his mistake is copied by Aufrecht in his well-known Catalogue. Buhler's mistake has been corrected by Mr. P. K. Gode of the Bhandarkar Institute in a Note published in the Journal of the Mythic Society (April, 1928).

Candupandita gives a good deal of information about himself in the colophons to his commentary at the end of each Canto. He was a Nagara Brahmin and a native of Dhavalakkaka or Dholka (near Ahmedabad), which rose to prominence during the thir- teenth century at the expense of Anahilapattana which had long been the capital of Guzarat.f Candupandita states that his commentary was completed when Sanga was the king and Madhava the prime minister.f This Sanga is obviously the same as Sarangadeva, the Vaghela king of Guzarat, who ascended the throne in 1277 A.D. and reigned for twenty years," that is, till 1297, the year in which Candupandita's commentary was written. Karnadeva, the successor of Sarangadeva, ascended the throne in the same year; but as Candiipandita states in his gloss on Naisadha 8. 59,5 the minister Madhavadeva proceeded to make one Udayaraja the king, and as a result of the prevailing insecurity there was universal pillage and theft in Guzarat. Karna, however, ruled for seven years," and was the last king of the Vaghela dynasty, after whose downfall the sovereignty of Guzarat passed into the hands of the Muhammadans. The incursions of the latter have left their mark on Candupandita's commentary, for it is stated at the end of the first Canto that the commentary was burnt during 'the devastation caused by the Mlecchas', but was restored by Candu’s learned brother Tahlana.

Candupandita's father was Aligapandita, and Gauridevi was his mother. Vaidyanatha was his teacher, but he studied the Naisadha under Munideva," and the Mahabharata under Narasirhhapandita. He studied the Kasika with the Nyasa,? and the different philosophical systems. But the commentary itself furnishes adequate evidence of the range of his studies and his wide acquaintance with the various branches of learning.

Candupandita is described in some of the colophons as the author of a commentary on the Rgveda. A specimen of this commentary is found in his gloss on Naisadha 9. 75, in the course of which an entire hymn of the Rgveda (10. 51) is quoted and explained.? Cfu:19.U is earlier than Sayana by more than half a century, and it is all the more regrettable that his commentary should have been lost, probably during the Muhammadan invasion of Guzarat. He was a master of the Vedic sacrificial system, and is probably the only Kavya commentator who quotes chapter and verse from the Srautasutras. He performed a number of important Vedic sacrifices, such as the seven varieties of the Soma sacrifice, the Dvadasaha and the Agnicayana. He assumed the proud title of Samrat by performing the Vajapeya sacrifice, and became a Sthapati by performing the Brhaspatisava. The religious activities of Candupandita show that comprehensive Vedic sacrifices were still undertaken in Guzarat in the thirteenth century.




  Preface to the Second Edition ix
  Preface to the First Edition xi
  Introduction xvii
  Subject-matter of Naisadhacarita  
  Commentaries on Naisadhacarita ,Candupandita, Vidyadhara, Isanadeva, Narahari, Visvesvara, Jinaraja, Mallinatha,  
  Narayana. General Estimate of the Commentaries, The Commentaries and the Text of Naisadhacarita  
  Synopsis xliii
  Preliminary Note on the conflict of duty and love, in Naisadhacarita  
  Description of Prince Nala 1
II. Nala and the swan. Description of the city of Kundina 18
III. Damayanti and the swan 31
IV. Damayanti's address to the moon and Cupid 47
V. Indra and Narada, Nala and the gods 62
VI. Nala in the inner apartments of the royal palace at Kundina 76
VII Description of Damayanti 90
VIII. Nala delivers the message of the gods 105
IX. Nala urges Damayanti to choose one of the gods as her consort 118
X Damayanti's Svayarhvara 139
XI. Svayarhvara (continued) 157
XII. Svayarhvara (continued) 177
XIII. Svayarnvara (continued)  
XIV. End of the Svayarnvara. Damayanti chooses Nalaas her husband 195
XV. Adornment of Damayanti and Nala 217
XVI. The marriage rites. The wedding feast 229
XVII Kali and the gods. Heretic attacks on the Orthodox Religion 246
XVIII. Description of Nala's palace. The joys of Nala and Damayanti 268
XIX. Description of the rising sun and the morning scenery. 283
XX Jesting and teasing 294
XXI. Worship of Visnu 308
XXII. Description of the rising moon 332
  Notes and Extracts from the Commentaries  
  Philosophical Allusions 509
i Nyaya-V aisesika doctrines  
ii Mimarnsa doctrines  
iii Sarnkhya and Yoga doctrines  
iv Vedanta doctrines  
v Buddhist doctrines  
vi Jaina doctrines  
vii Carvaka doctrines  
II Minor Allusions 537
  Trivikrama and others  
  The Twelve "Idols of Visnu  
  The Buddhist Goddess Tara  
  Vocabulary with illustrative Extracts 553

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