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Three Hundred Verses (Musings on Life, Love and Renunciation)

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Item Code: NAO898
Author: Bhartrihari - Translated by A. N. D. Haskar
Publisher: Penguin Random House India Pvt Ltd
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9780670090068
Pages: 348
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.0 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 370 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

Young doe –eyed maidens beguile lovelorn men, Timeless wisdom is despensed through brief, colourful vignettes, the hounty of the earth is celebrated even as the seasons bear witness to the amorous play of lovers.

In Three Hundred Verses, Bhartrihari, one of the greatest Sanskrit poets of all time, brilliantly expounds on our most enduring concerns and dilemmas: living, loving and leaving. Although composed centuries ago, the full force of his genius is abundantlyevident in these poems, bursting with lush imagery and brimming with deep philosphical musings, Covering a wide range of themes –from the first stirrings of young love to the challenges of accepting life's trasience –these verses are sure to resonate with contemporary readers.

By Turns Playful and wise. A.N.D Haskar's gorgeous and accessible translation captures the verve, acuity and erotic charge of Bhartihari's most significant work.

About The Author

Bhartrihari is regulated as one of the foremost poets in Sanskrit. His poetry is frequently quoted in ancient anthologies and lauded in old commentaries, Although very little is known about his life and origins, scholarly consensus places him rougly around 450- 500 ce. The best known collection of his verse is the Shataka Trayam, published in Penguin Classics as Three Hundred Versus: Musings on Life,Lose and Renunciation.

Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel Haksar is a well –known translator of Sanskrit classics. A long- time career diploment, he served as the Indian high commissioner in Kenya and the Seychelles, minister in the United States and ambassador in Portuguel and Yugoslawia. His translations from the Sanskrit include Hitopadesa, Simhasana Dvatrimsika, Subhashitavali, Kama Sutra, The courtesan's Keeper, the Seduction of Shiva, Suleiman Charitra and Raghuvansam, all published in Penguin Classics.


The Shataka Trayam or Trishati of Bhartrihari is among the best known and most quoted works of Sanskrit literature. The pernnial interest it has attracted in India is evident from its many old manuscript scattered across this country. The famous scholar D.D Kosambi, who compiled its present critical edition, put their number as 3000, at a very conservative estimate'. The many commentaries in Sanskrit and translations in other languages that have become available over time are testimony to the enduring popularity of the work. To quote its most recent scholarly translator; 'after the Bhagvad Gita, it is probably the most translated of Sanskrit texts'. This new translation into contemporary English, here presented, is the latest in a list that goes back almost a century and a half in time.

The work's ususal Sanskrit name, as given above, literally means 'three centuries', and indicates the number in its three components, each consisting of a hundred verses.

All are Subbashita or 'well said' people epigrams. While the mood and thought of each lyrical, gnomic and mnemonic stanza is complete in itself, thus making an independent impact, their overall themes form a triad, and the whole is presented in three seperate shatakas, each with its own title.

The key words in these titles are Niti, Shringara and Vairagya respectively. They broadly reflect the politic, erotic and philosophic modes of thought and, in turn, focus on worldly life, pleasures in beauty, and in turn, focus on worldly life, pleasure in beauty, and a total abjurtation of both. Some academics have also identified these elements with dharma, artha, kama and moksha –the four goals of human life in Indian thought. In the present translation they have been rendered in breif as Life, Love and Renunciation.

This work was described by its learned eighteenth –centuary Sanskrit commentator Ramachandra Budhendra as vidyavilasam or an 'elegant revel in knowledge'; the description underlines its poetic aspects. The quality of Bhartrihari's poetry has also been lauded by respected scholars of the present times. According to A.B. Keith, this work offers 'Brilliant poems in miniature, on which it would be hard to improve, and thier 'effect on the mind is that of a perfect whole in which the parts coalesce by inner necessity. To D.D Kosambi, the crisp and polished stanzas reveal a great poet few can exceed the force of his epigrams and the finality with which a sentiments is rounded.

Many modern scholars have noted that this poetry manifests an inner tention and contradtion. The well- known Austrian Sanskritist M. Winternitz described this is an 'oscillation' of the Indian mind between senuosness and renunication, The American translator of these verses, Barbera Stoler Miller, remarked that they 'echo' a tone of irony, skepticism and discontent', and reveal a lurking attachment to the world as well as a revulsion against its sordidness; there is an undercurrent of turnmoil and disenchantment. A more recent translator from Australia, Greg Bailey, while pointing to the 'tension between affirmation and rejection, added that the poet was not a cynic, but one who felt alienated from all social institutions, making his message very modern According to H.G. Coward, the academic from Canada who has also considered its psychological aspect, Bhartrihari's poetry includes 'both the sensuousness and sense- renouncing aspects of Indian consiciousness.

These tensions have also been explained in social and ideological tems. Bhartrihari's modern compiles, Kosambi, was both an eminent scholar and an ideologue who dedicated his critical edition of these poems to the memory of Marx, Engels and Lenin. He saw them as ' physiognomy of a whole class' and noted their acute observation of human nature, and distress experienced by a man of letters without some means of livehood'. It is a poetry of frustration, he wrote, which provides at most as escape, but no solution, and the poet is unmistakably the Indian intellectural of his period, limited by caste and tradtion in fields of activity, representing a cross section of indian intelligentsia of an age that has not yet passed away.

Kosambi's viw received an appropriate comments from his erstwhile colleague at Harved, Sanskrittist D.H.H. Ingalls. In his review of the former's critical edition, Ingalls, wrote that the perception in it explains the mood but does not explain the expression. Beethoven too was a hanger –on at rich men's houses, and singularly frustrated, he added that the poetry of Bhartihari remains beautiful and sometimes trutly great. As for the timeless human tensions it reflects these would be clear to any reader of the present translation, though their underlying causes may be varied.

From the poetry one must now turn to the post. As with many incident writers in Sanskrit, ther e is little definite information about Bhartrihari. His dates, times and personal details still fall in hte realm of speculation. Kosambi outlined four theories on the subject, delivered from different traditions about the name. According to one, he was an eminent Buddhist grammarian, also mentioned by the chinese pilgrim I- Tsing, who alternated between ascetic and sensual life, and died about 650CE. In another, he was ruler of the Malwa region, citied by the seventeenth –centuary poet –saint Kabir. In this theory, as well as in the fourth –which describes him as the elder half –brother and processor of the legandary King Vikramaditya of Ujjain – he renounce the throne after discovering that his beloved wife was unfaithful to him.


Introduction xi
Prologue 1
I. Niti Shataka  
A Century of Verses on Life 13
On Fools 15
The Knowledgeable 25
Honour and Valour 35
On Wealth 45
The Wicked 55
The Good 65
Helping Others 75
Character and Fortitude 85
On Fate 95
On Action 105
II. Shringara Shataka  
A Century of Verses on Love 115
In Praise of Beauty 117
Beautiful Women 127
Making Love 137
Some Other Thoughts 147
Love in Springs and Summer 157
In the Rains and Winter 166
Blaming Love 177
Some Warnings 187
Turning Away 197
But It Is Not Easy 207
III. Vairagya Shataka  
A century of Verses on Renunication 217
The Curse of Cravings Dilemmes of Detachment 219
Dilemmas of Detachment 229
The Pity of Penury 239
Transience of Pleasure 249
Force of Time 259
Ascetic and King 269
Addressing the Mind 279
Forever and Momentary 289
In Search of the Good 299
The Renunciant 309
Epilogue: A Miscellany 319
Notes 331
Biblography 337

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