The narrative story on King Bhoja of Dhara is one of those great compositions that have been
widely read for the last four centuries ever after its debut into the field of Sanskrit
literature during the period of the Mughals. Bhojaraja is always associated with Kalidasa in
popular imagination and there are innumerable legends connecting the two. The same poet in
also being held out as the court poet of the great Vikramaditya about whose identity there
are divergent views. Kalidasa could not have, in any case, lived after the 4th century A.D.
and there are many scholars who ascribe an earlier date to the great poet acclaimed as the
crest jewel of the poetic world. There has been more than one ruler bearing the name of
Bhoja during the post-Harsa period of Indian history but, the one with his capital in the
city of Dhara could not have flourished before the 11th century A.D. As such, he could not
have been a contemporary of Kalidasa under any circumstance. Still, the scholarly poet who
also could not have been oblivious of these facts revels in bringing the most famous figures
of the poetic world separated by centuries into the court of King Bhoja.
It will be quite clear that intellectual entertainment and moral instruction are the
dual objectives of the author of Bhojaprabanda. This composition of exquisite merit coming
from the pen of Ballala Deva, a poet who is believed to have been a scholar in other fields
also has been bequeathed to posterity more in the form of solitary verses appearing in
compilations or recited by scholars of Sanskrit lovers from generation to generation. Many
of the old editions with translations in English or Hindi are going out of circulation and
it is a sad fact that one does not come across this Campu Kavya in most of the Sanskrit
libraries these days.
From this point of view, the effort made by our Chancellor, Dr. K.P.A. Menon to
bring out an authentic edition of the Prabandha could not have been more timely and we
warmly welcomed it and decided to benefit from it.
This edition has prefixed to it an Introduction extending to twenty three pages. It
not only gives an able exposition of the matter and manner of Bhoja Prabandha but also
touches upon more than one point of historical importance. Broadly speaking, it consists of
three sections, the first section very precisely but meticulously determines the place of
Bhoja Prabandha amongst the celebraties of Sanskrit Prabandha writing, the second section
provides an illuminating material on 'King Bhoja of Dhara' and the third section delineates
upon the narrative of Bhoja. It also touches upon some points of biographical interest.
Dr. Menon has been one of the most prolific writers in the field of Sanskrit in
recent years and he can also claim to have broken some new grounds through his translations
of Sanskrit kavyas in the earlier centuries by persons like Sir William Jones and Arthur
Ryder, such translations had somehow gone out of fashion. It was left to Dr. Menon to revive
this tradition by translating the complete works, all the 13 plays, of Bhasa and
subsequently with other compositions like the Narayaniyam of the saint poet Narayana
Bhattatiri and the Adhyatma Ramayanam. He ahs rightly taken the view that a prose
translation, while conveying the ideas contained in a poetic composition cannot give a
correct idea about its poetic merit. The point made out by him his been amply demonstrated
in all his translations including the present one.
Dr. Menon has indeed rendered yeoman services in doing the translation with great
devotion. His success in rendering the slokas into metrical composition is at once a tribute
to the versatility of Sanskrit and the lucidity of the original writing. The method of his
translation is marked by two considerations. He has sought to find close equivalent keeping
in view its formal and dynamic aspects. It may be safely asserted that the dynamic
translation aims at complete naturalness of expression and tries to relate the reader to the
modes of the behaviour within the context of her or his own culture.
After analysing the possible historical backdrop of Bhoja Prabandha an avid reader
will share the view of Dr. Menon without fear of contradiction, that the 'narrative story of
Bhoja' is to be taken as a romantic account with an ideal ruler as its central character. It
is not to be treated even as an embellished account of the history of King Bhoja.' The
translator puts forth with much conviction the view that Ballala was not giving an account
of the life story of King Bhoja with any pretentions to historical accuracy.' But he
(Ballala) had strong reasons to ruminate over the past and thus 'decided to build a charming
legend around a great monarch who had been eulogized all the time as a great patron of
learning and generous bestower of gifts.
I feel prompted to quote the following words of caution vented in the views of the
translator from the introductory part :
"True wisdom is not the same thing as cleverness. It is bound with moral qualities
like courage, integrity, justice and moderation." "When people become dejected about the
present and apprehensive of the future it sometimes happens that they reminisce about the
glory that is gone". The Prabandha has got a good collection of Nitislokas relating to the
code of conduct of human beings, more particularly of an ideal ruler.
I have reasons to believe that the present publication will fulfill a long felt need
and will fill up the gap 'not to some extent' as very modestly said by the translator 'but
to a great extent.'
Our Vidyapeetha has already added more than one old and important work to the
printed literature relating to Indian thoughts; and it is to be heartily congratulated now
on making another valuable addition to it and that too penned by its Kuladhipati Dr. L.P.A.
I also congratulate the proprietor M/s Amar Printing Press for the splendid job they
have nicely executed for the Vidyapeetha.
From the Jacket
Bhojaprabandha, as the title indicates, is a narrative on Bhoja. The central
character of the narrative story is a famous ruler of the Malava kingdom with capital in the
city of Dhara but, the great poet Kalidasa gets the pride of place right from the point of
time when he makes his first entry into the royal court. Though King Bhoja of Dhara is a
well known figure of Indian history, this composition should not be taken as a historical
romance. Kalidasa who is being counted as one of the nine jewels of the court of a king with
the title of Vikramaditya appears as a prominent character of the narrative composed in the
Champ style with a mixture of prose and verse. At the same time, it is being made clear that
King Bhoja is distinct from the famous Vikramaditya. Poets like Bhavabhuti, Magha and Harsa
separated by centuries are all brought in as the court poets of King Bhoja who is being
eulogized as a patron of scholars and a poet of great merit. Facts and fiction might have
been mixed indiscriminately and yet, the Prabandha coming from the pen of Ballala Deva makes
About the Author
Panditaratnam Dr. K.P.A. Menon, B.Sc, M.A., LL.B, Ph. D. Chancellor of the
Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi is an eminent scholar,
scientist and administrator who has held many important assignments in the government
including the post of Defence Secretary to the Govt. of India. Epic poetry and dramas have
been his special field of interest and he is also trying to unearth the vast treasures
contained in Sanskrit literature in diverse fields like agriculture, science and technology,
polity etc. Recipient of a large number of national and international awards including the
Honorary Fellowship of the Biographical Academy of the Commonwealth & International
Biographical Centre, Cambridge, Distinguished Leadership Award of the American Biographical
Institute, Albert Einstein Memorial Medal as well as the Sahityanikasa and the Kalidasa
Awards for his Sanskrit writings and the Visva Tulsi Samman during the world Conference on
Tulsidas (1999) at Miami, USA.
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