A treasury of Sanskrit poetry: in English translation

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A treasury of Sanskrit poetry: in English translation

A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry I n English Translation Compiled by A.N.D. Haksar INDIAN

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A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry

A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry I n English Translation

Compiled by A.N.D. Haksar


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system. or transmitted in any form or by any


electronic. mechanical.

photocopying. r e c o rdin g or otherwise, without the prior written p er mi s si o n of the publisher and the c o py ri ght holder.

2004 Impression First Published in India in 2002

A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry © 2002 [eCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations), New Delhi Published by : SHIPRA PUBLICATIONS liS-A. Vikas Marg, Shakarpur, Delhi-I [0092 (India)



91- [ 1-22458662, 22500954 Fax: 91-11-22458662

Email: [email protected] www.shiprapublications.com


Typeset by '

Manas Enterprises

Delhi-I [0032

Printed at : Chaudhary Offset,



For Nikhil Narayml Axel Dhrup and Freya Nandini Karolina


rcmilld them


t he ir

of a


cultural h er itag e


With a continuing tradition of at least three millennia, the vast literature of Sanskrit forms an important part of India's cultural heritage . Translations from

Sanskrit classics like Shakuntala have figured among the earliest publi c at i ons of

the Indian Council for Cultural Relati on s. Some years ago the Council brought out

Glimpses (!lSanskril Literalure,


broad informative survey of this m agn ifi cent literature by respected scholars, attuned to general interest both in India and abroad. Included in it was a sampling of tran s l ations from celebrated Sanskrit works which could g iv e readers a flavour of the language ' s literary genius. The appreci ative response to that publication, in India as well as outside ,

encouraged the Counc il to follow up with the present volume. This is a c omprehensive anthology of Sanskrit poetry in the best English translation

available. The first ever of its kind, it br ings togethe r excerpts from a full r ange of original works translated by a galaxy of distinguished sch olars and writers Indian and foreign, incl udi ng famous names such as Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda, and Nobel Prize Poets Octavio Paz and William Butler Y cats.

Drawing from sacred and secular, classic and folk literature, this collection features a w ide variety of poetry in translation. It has been c om piled by former Indian Ambassador A.N.D. Haksar, himself a well known translator from Sanskrit into English, who had also edited the earlier volume for the Council.

Exp ress ing dee p grat itude for his efforts, the Counci l h as gre at ple asu re in placing its fruit before the public whose comments are welcome as always .

M.K. Lokesh Acting Director Genera l


The compiler and the publisher gratefully acknowledge permission from the following to reprint excerpts from works in copyright: Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi for excerpts from Chandra Raj an. The Complete Works ofKalidasa. Vol. I, and V. Raghavan "Kalividambana", Indian

L it erature. June 1970; Bennet Coleman Co. Ltd., New Delhi and Prof. P. Lal,

Kolkata, for P. Lal, "The Messenger", Femina. Bombay issue, 8-12 January 1985; Bennet Coleman & Co. Ltd., for excerpts from Pritish Nandy, "Amazing Amaru", 4 October 1990 and "Beguiling Bilhana", 14 November 1990, reproduced by arrangement with The Illustrated Weekly

of India; Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, for of God and Other Poems. 1977; Sanskrit Love Poetry. 1977, Columbia

excerpts from Swami Vivekananda, In Search Mr. J.M. Masson for excerpts from

University Press, New York copyright © by W.S. Merwin and J.M. Masson; Motilal Banarasidass Publishers, Delhi for excerpts of translations by Barbara Stoler Miller and David Gitomer in Barbara Stoler Miller ed. Theatre of Memory: The Plays ofKalidasa. 1999 reprint, first published 1984 by Columbia University

Press; Vedanta Press, Hollywood, California, for excerpts from "The Shattering of Illusion". in ,%ankara 's Crest-Jewel qf Discrimination by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, 1947; Y.K. Publishers, Agra, for verses from The

Indian Poetic Tradition by S.H. Vatsyayan, V.N. Misra and Leonard Nathan, 1993; Cassel & Co.. London for verses from "Pushan" by Romesh Outt and "Black Marigolds" by E. Powys Mathers in An Anthology of World Poetry. ed. Mark Van Doren. 1929; Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, Varanasi, for excerpts from Nvmns of the Ri� Veda (1889) tr. R.T.H. Griffith (reprint 1963) and Hymns of the Samaveda. tr. R.T.H. Griffith (1893); Mr. Jean Le Mee for excerpts from his Hymnsfi'om the Rig Veda. Jonathan Cape Ltd., London, 1973; Rupa & Co., New

Delhi for excerpts from

A.L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India. 1959,

(Evergreen Encyclopedia, Vol. E-148), Grove Press Inc., New York; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, for permission to reproduce excerpts from The Thirteen Principal Upanishad�. ed. R.E. Hume, and from Vinay Dharwadkar ed. The

Col/ected Essays ofA.K. Ramanujan (1999); Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi.

for all of the following: excerpts from The Buddha Charita or Acts of the Buddha. ed. E.H. Johnston (Lahore 1936), reprinted 1972, copyright © by Motilal Banarsidass; verses from Gita�ovjnda qfJayadeva. tr. Barbara Stoler Miller, 1984 (copyright © by Columbia University Press, 1977,

Love Songs of the Dark Lord);

Acknowledgements. ix

and verses from A.K. Warder, Indian Kavya Literature, Vols. 3,4,5 and 6, 1977,

1983, 1992 ; Penguin Books, UK, for verses from Poems from the Sanskrit, (Penguin Classics 1968), tr. John Brough, copyright © John Brough 1988; Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd .• for excerpts from The Hitopadda by Nariiyana, and Simhasana Dvatrim,fikii: Thirtytwo Tales olthe Throne ol Vikramaditya, both tr. A.N.D. Haksar; The Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai, for verse translations from A.K. Warder, The Science qlCrilicism in India (1978); Harper Coli ins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. for extracts from A.N.D. Haksar, Shuka Saptati, 2000; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry. for passages from

the following writings of Sri Aurobindo: The Translations and The Century 0/ Lile. and from Sri A urobindo, A Biogr aphy and a history, vo!. I, by K.R.S.

Iyengar; Jaico Publis hing House. Mumbai, for excerpts from Arthur W. Ryder, Panchatantra, 1949, ( publis hed by arrangement with the University of Chicago

Press), originally published in the USA in 1925; Ms. from Barbara

Stoler Miller, The

G we nn A. Miller for excerpts Thief; Columbia University

Hermit and the Love

Press, New York (1978); Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chcnnai, for exce rpts from Bhagavad Gita , tr. S wami Prabhavananda and C hris tophe r Isherwood; Ms.

Nayantara Sahgal , Dehradun, for exce rpts from R.S. Pandi t . Ritusamhara, National Information and Publications Ltd., Mumbai (1947); and Ravi Dayal Publishe rs ,

New Delhi, for excerpts from Arvind Kri sh na Mehrotra, The Ahsent Excerpts from "A T ale of Two (j ardens Col/eclcd Pocms

Traveller (1991).


1957-1987 by Octavio Paz, translated by Eliot Weinburger, reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp., copyright (�') 1986 by Octavio Paz

and Eliot Weinburger ; lines from 'Taittiriya" and "Chandogya" in The Tell Principal Upanishad� by W.B. Ycats and Shree Purohit Swami, re print ed with the

permission of A.P. Wall Ltd., London, on behalf of Michacl B. Yeats and Shri Purohit Swami; poem reprinted by permission of the publishers frolll Sal7skrit

Poctry ./fom

Vidl'akara 's



and tr.

by D aniel 11.11.

I n galls ,

Camb ridge , Mass.: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Pr ess . copyright ©

1965, 1968 by the President and Fellows of Harvard C()II\!g�, C ambridge, Mass.; poems reprinted by p ermission of the pub l isher from 711c Saundaryalahri

(Harvard Oriental Series 43), ed. and tr. by W. Norman Brown, copyright © 1958 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Excerpts of translations by Sheldoll Pollock are from Sheldon Pollock, "Public Poetry in Sanskrit", in Glimpses a/Sanskrit Literature, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi © 1995 leCR; translations by George Keyt are from Gita Govinda 1947, Kutub Publishers, Mumbai; of Kalidasa by A.W. Ryder are from Arthur W. Ryder, Kalidasa: Shakuntala and other Writings,

1912, E. P. Dutton and Co., New York; by Edwin Gerow and Peter Dent from The Elek Book of Oriental Verse, 1979, Paul Elek Ltd., London; and by Romesh

C. Dutt, from his The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Temple Classics 1899, E. P. Dutton, New York, reprint 1910. Other selections in this book are from Nalopakhyana, tr. Sir M. Monier Williams, Oxford Univ ersit y Press, 1879;

x •


Treasury o/Sanskrit Poetry

Indian Idylls, Ir. Sir Edwin Arnold, Trubner and Co., London, 1883; Song Celestial tr. Sir Edwin Arnold, Sacred Writings Vo!. 2, The Harvard Classics (New York, P.F. Collier and Co., 19 10); and Shakuntala tr. A. Hjalmer Edgren ( 1894), reproduced in Six Sanskrit Plays, ed. Henry W. Wells, Asia Publishing House, 1964 . Trans lations from Bhartrihari by A.N.D. Haksar are reprinted with his copyright permission. We are grateful to all whose works have been used to compile this book.

Acknowledgements. xi


Foreword Acknowledgements Introduction


ix xxiii



Ushas: The Dawn


2. 3.

Hymn of Creation


The Wind



3 3


The Dawn



The Sun

5 7 9




Aranyani: Forest Spirit


Push an



The Gambler





Siima Veda




Atharva Veda


Earth, the Mother





Yajur Veda


A Prayer




By Whom?


Katha Upanishad


The One Essential


Brihadiiranyaka Upanishad


Tree and Man



The Hymn of Sweetness


Contents. xiii

Chhiindogya 20.


You are That


Taittiriya Upanishad 21.

Learn and Teach

Munqaka 22.



Two Birds


VYASA Mahiibhiirata 23.

The Humiliation of Draupadi



Death of Abhimanyu



Oblation to Karna



The Mother to Her Son



The Bridal of Damayanti



Savitri and the God of Death


Bhagavadgitii 29.

The Sorrow of Arjuna



The Vision


VALMIKI RiimiiyafJa 31.

Rama and Sita



Sita's Vow



City in Mourning



The Sandals



Winter in Panchavati



The Season of Rain



The Asoka Garden


ASVAGHOSHA Buddhacharita 38.

The Great Departure



The Leave Taking



The Grief of Yasodhara



The Final Penance



The Army of Mara



The Enlightenment


OHASA Svapna Viisavadattii 44.

Flight of Cranes


Chiirudatta 45.


xiv. A Treasury �f Sanskrit Poetry


f;'rom Subhashita Ratnakosha of Vidyakara 46.

The Magic of Moonlight



End of the Rains


HALA Catha Sat/asai (Prakrit) 48.




Mricchaka�ika 49.

The Storm



On Being Poor



Panchatantra 51 .




The Penalty of Virtue






True Friendship



Fool and False









Meghadiita 58.

The Yaksha's City



The Yaksha's Message


Kumarasambhava 60.

The Bride's Adornment



Omens of War



Advent of Spring and Love


Raghuva�sa 63.

The Foresakcn City


Ritusamhara 64 .

The Pageant of the Seasons


Abh(jnanasakunla/a 65.

Remembrances of Shakuntala


Vikramorva.fiya 66. 67.

The Search for Urvasi


Signs of Urvasi





Contents. xv


Piidatiidilaka 69.

On Laughter



Vii.l'avadatta 70.




Kiratarjunfya 71 .

The Water Sport



Of Fools



In Praise of Good Words



.�isupalavadha 100


The Carousal


The Morning After



The Island City of Dvaraka



Satakatrayam 77.

Verses on Life



Verses on Love



Verses on Renunciation



From Suhha.l'hilu



To ask no favours


81 .




The Lonely Path



Mudriiraksha.l'a 109


Royal Power


The Good Man



Autumn Skies



Harshacharilu 86.

The Horse

1 10

From Subhashila Ratnakosha 87.

The Traveller at the Well



Forest Fire


xvi. A

Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry

D1VAKARA From Surngadhara Paddhati 89.

The Spread of Fame

1 12

AMARU Amarusataka 90.

Love Poems

1 13

DANDlN From Subhushila Ratnakosha 91.



KlJMARADAsA Jiinakiharana


The Quarrel

1 18

From Sub hiis h ila Ralnakosha 93.

As the Wind Blows

1 18

BHATT . . A NARA Y ANA . Ventsamhiira 94.

The Challenge

1 19


Ve nge ance

1 19

From Subhiishila Ralnakosha 96.

True Strenb>1h


SANKARA SaundQ/:valahari 97.

In Praise of the Goddess

1 20

Moha MlIilgara 98.

The Shat tering of Illusion


YASOVARMAN From SlIhhiishiliivali of Vallabhadeva 99.

The Intolerance of Fate

1 23

SARAIIA Dohiiko.�a (Apabhra�sa) 1 00. The Boatman

1 24

Contents. xvii

RAVIGUPTA From Subhiishitiivali 101. Wickedness


KOOHALA Lifiivai (Prakrit) 102. A Mistress of Arts


GOVINDA Svayambhuchanda (Apabhra�sa) 103. Cattle in the Moon Light


BHAVABHOTI Ut/ara Riima Char ita 104.

Deep in Love


105. Great Hearts


106. Mountain River


107. The Beloved




B i tter Grief

Miilati Miidhava 109.

Her Glances



Medley of Emotions


I I I. The Proud Poet


VIDYA From Subhiishita Ratnakosha 112. To the River Murala


113. To Her Friends


114. Jumna's Bank


From Saduktikarnamrita o/Sridharadiisa 115.

Love in the Countryside



1 16. The Harlot's Experience



A nar�hariighava I 17.

The Lord of Lanka



In Praise of ValmTki


119. The Courtier


120. The Moon Knows


xviii. A

Treasury a/Sanskrit Poetry

SILA BHATTARIKA From Subhiishita Ratnakosha 12 1. A Memory 122. The Messenger

137 137


Vardhamiinacharita 123. Pen Pictures


VIKATANITAMBA From Subhiishita Ratnakosha 124. Recollection


From Subhiishitiivali 125. The Advice


From Subhiishita Ratnakosha 126. River of Beauty


VALLANA From Subhiishita Ratnakosha 127. The Month of May 128. When he had taken off my clothes 129. Beauty

141 141 141

ABHINANDA Riimacharita 130. Hanuman

leaps over the Ocean

From Suhhiishita Ratnakosha 13 1. Country Scene 132. Friendshi p

142 142 143

NARAYANA Hitopadda 1 33. On Nobility

134. 135. 136. 137. 138.


On Transience


On Friends


On Governance


On Hunger




DAMODARAMISRA Hanumanniitaka 139. The Moon Disguised 140. The Arrows of Love

148 148

Contents. xix


Viddhasiilabhanjikii 14 1. The Dancer


142. Growing Up



Chandakausika 143. The Sacrificial Tree



Upamitibhavaprapancha Kathii 144. The Beggar Unmeritorious

15 1


From Siirngadhara Paddhati 145. The Poet's Fame



From Subhiishifiivali 146. Love Recal l ed



From Subhiishita Ratnakosha 147. Apparition on the River Bank


148. The Mango Grove



Mushikavam.�a 149. A March through Kerala



Kavikan�hiibharana 150. The Poet

1 56

I 51.




Kalhiisarilsiigara 152. The Merchant's Daughter

1 57


Chaurapancha.�ikii 153. Memories of Love

xx •


Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry



Surasundari (Prakrit) 154. When the Rain's Came


155. The Shipwreck



Gitagovinda 156. Song in the Melody Gurjari


157. Song in the Melody Ramakari


J 58. Song in the Melody Vasanta



From SlIbhiishitiivali J 59. The W i se and the Great



From SlIbhiishita Ratnakoshu 160. B irds



/{ummira Muhiikiivya 16 1. The Dancer on the Rampart

17 1


UiJvalunllumuni 162. The Cowherd's Daughter


163. In Love


JAGANNATHA Rasagangiidhara 164. The Retort


Bhiimini Viliisa 165. A Word of Warning



Kalividumbana 166. Satire on Physici ans



From SlIbhiishitiivali ol Vallahhadeva 167. Do not go


168. My Love


169. Love all you can


Content.I·. xxi

From Paddhati orc�iirngadhara 1 70. Gentle Deer


171. The Burglar


172. The Compliment




A Marvel

174. The Teacher




The InvitatiC'n

176. Rain in the Forest


177. A Come-hither Glance



c�lIka Saptati 178. Sp rin gt i m e

in the Forest (Prakrit)


Simhiisana Dvatrimsikii 179. Gnomic Verses



From Suhhiishita Ratnakosha of Vidyiikara 180. The Six Seasons



The Mandasor Epigraph (436 CE) 181. The Weavers of Lata


The Changu Narayan Pillar. Nepal (464 CE) 182. The Queen and the Prince


The Merhahu Rock Inscription. .lava (e. 7th Century) 183. The Spring


APPENDIX The Progress of Translation


The Poets


The Translators




xxii. A

Treasury afSanskrit Poetry


This anthology endeavours to bring together a representat i ve selection of Sanskrit verse i n th e b est Eng l ish translations available. Its objective is to make

some of the poet ic wealth of the ancient language acces sible in this way to a w ider circle of modern readers than has been the case so far



is also intended

to p rov ide them a broad perspective of this c omparatively less known aspect of Sansk rit literature: not thr ough learned discourse, but by letti ng the po etry s p e a k

for itself. Final ly, l i k e any anthology, it is m eant primarily for the re adi ng pleasu re of those who may peruse its pages. Translations from Sanskrit into E n gl i sh have a history of over two cen t uries. The fi rst to be published was that of the

Bha�avadgita, by the British

East I ndia Company scholar C harl es Wilkins, in 1784. The first I ndian to

translate from Sanskrit into English was Raja Ram Mohan Roy, whose rendition of the

J.\:a Upanishad appeared in

18 1 6. Two e a rly translations deserve note for

t heir s ub seque n t im pac t Sir Williams Jones' rendering in 1789 of K a l i dasa s .


famous play ,�akuntala was among the first works to stim ulate Western interest in San s krit studies. A major role i n setting their di rect i o n was later provided by

the fitly translated volumes of the Sacred Books

of the East (1875-1904) ed i ted

by Max Muller. Other translations a re n u m erous enou gh to till a considerable bi bl iograph y; many are of great merit but th ey have tended to conc en trate in p a rt ic u la r areas of academ ic interest. Modern Sanskrit studies, wh i c h g radual ly took shape from the 19th

centu ry onwards, foun d a sp ec i a l focus in history, linguistics, relig io n and p h i losophy . C o l on ial sch ol arsh i p s ou ght to learn about India's past thr ough its old langu age : about the orig i ns and the evolution of the Indic ci v i lizat io n the ,

development of i ts institutions and, increasingly, about its re l i g i ous and phi l os o ph i c al insi gh t s. Indian scholars versed in western te c hni ques made their

own contribution to the gro wth of what came to be know n as Indology. This di s c ipl i n e p a id close attention to Vedic studies and to the latcr texts of sch o larly r a ther tha n ma i n ly l i ter ar y interest. As a r es u lt in contrast to works ,

like the Upanishads and th e Bhagavadgitii, re lat i ve ly little of the p u rely

poetical literature of Sanskrit has been readily available i n E ng lish translations. In present popular p erception it is best known as the language of re l i g i o n and philosophy. While its s acred writ i n gs also include poetry of high quality the fu ll ,

Introduction. xxiii

beauty of the Sanskrit Muse still remains to be unveiled for other than specialist audiences. Appropriate translation is the best, if not the only, way of making the poetic riches of any language available to those who do not know it. The qualification has been added to distinguish between literal and literary translation. The first transmits information about ideas and the linguistic form in which they are presented: its main concern is fidelity to the original text, even if the readability of the rendition is thereby impaired. The second needs to convey also the flavour and the feel of the original, apart from being accurate and readable. It must qualify as literature in its own right. Poetry obviously requires translations of the second kind. Can poetry at all be translated from Sanskrit into as dissimilar a language as English? The trans-cultural difficulties involved are compounded by differences of linguistic construction and literary convention. Earlier scholars like Arthur Berriedale Keith contended that Sanskrit poetry was essentially untranslatable. "English efforts at verse translation," he asserted, "fall invariably below a tolerable mediocrity, their diffuse tepidity contrasting painfully with the brilliant t:ondcnsatlOn of style, the elegance of metres, and the adaptation of sound to sense of the originals.' I While this criticism related mainly to form, the savant Sri Aurobindo struck a similar note with respect to content. "To translate the Veda is to border upon an attempt at the impossible," he observed. "For while a literal English rendering of the hymns of the ancient Illuminates would be a falsification of their sense and spirit, a version which aimed at bringing out all � the real thought would be an interpretation rather than a translation." The comments of Keith and Aurobindo highlight what the American Sanskritist Arthur Ryder described as "the cruel inadequacy of poetical ) translation." Yet some of Aurobindo's and Ryder's own renderings of Sanskrit verse demonstrate that the obstacles to be overcome are not entirely insuperable. What is important is the end result. A translation of poetry must eventually stand on its own merit to please or move the reader. That several from Sanskrit into English have succeeded in doing so is evident from the testimony of reputable observers. The Mexican poet and critic Octavio Paz's insightful essay on the beauties of Sanskrit poetry was based in part on his readings of various translations. He wrote that he had "read excellent translations of Kalidasa in English, ..4 and quoted from others of Bilhana's love poems. The British Indologist A.L. Basham listed in his Sanskrit bibliography over a dozen works as "a few only of s the best literary translations in English." The Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang wrote about Romesh Dutt's 19th century verse renditions: "My love and true respect for India was born when I first read the Indian epics, the the


xxiv. A

Ramayana and

in the present translations" which were "two masterpieces."

TreasUlY ofSanskril Poetry


A century earlier, the great European poet J.W. von Goethe had expressed fulsome praise for

Siikuntala on reading it in a

German rendition of Sir William

Jones' translation. Goethe's well-known epigram remains perhaps the best comment on the translatability or otherwise of Sanskrit poetry: If you want the bloom of youth and fruit of later years, If you want what el,chants, fultills, and nourishes, If you want heaven and earth contained in one name­ .�akuntalii and all is spoken. 7

I say

Good literary translations of the

full range of Sanskrit poetry are

nevertheless not easy to come by, and more need to be encouraged to make its wealth and variety better known. The present anthology contains excerpts from translations by over forty writers. These include, apart from some distinguished scholars and poets, two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature and two figures whose national eminence extends beyond their literary accomplishment. If translations by some other writers have not been included, it is either because they were from texts without poetic content; or their source was untraceable; or other translations of the same passage had already been selected. Some translations may have been missed out by inadvertence or due to lack of information which the compiler can only regret. It is noteworthy that while a few poetical works, for example those of Kalidasa, have been translated by many hands, others have received much less attention, and many have not been translated at all. The last category includes, regrettably, most of the satiric and comic verse in Sanskrit, and much of the epigrammatic poetry collected in anthologies. It may be added that, of the several excellent and still available anthologies of Sanskrit verse compiled s between the 10th and the 16th centuries, only one has been fully translated into English so far. The poetry represented here stretches over a period of about 3000 years or more, depending on the dating of the Vedic texts, which is still uncertain. Including this

.I:ruti literature and the two famous epics, the translated excerpts in

this compilation are drawn from 63 separate works, five Sanskrit and Prakrit verse anthologies 9, and three inscriptions located respectively in India, Indonesia and Nepal. The collection teatures 59 named poets whose provenance, where known, ranges from Kerala to Kashmir, and from Gujarat to Bengal. Many others are anonymous, while the works of some are known only from anthologies. More recent poetical works from the 17th century onwards, for example those of authors like Venkatadhvarin, Paramananda and Ghanasyama, have gone unrepresented as they are still unavailable in translation. The selection of excerpts was made on three broad considerations: poetical content; availability of suitable translation; and the need for covering a wide

Introduction. xxv

enough time span. Some well know texts were excluded on one of the first two grounds. In considering the suitability of translations where they were available, literal and prose renderings were omitted in favour of those in verse form, except in a few cases which were i ncluded mainly to provide representation to otherwise neglected authors. The reader will find a rich variety of poetry in these translations. They include m.ture hymns and mystical utterances of profound speculation; epic narratives with evocative descriptions and d ialogues; songs and musings; lyrics on many aspects of love; heroic and tragic, erotic and satiric verses; devotional and philosophical poetry; sophisticated compos itions from the courts and simple poems of the countryside. The narrative and descriptive verses are presented in longer extracts to convey their sense more fully. A natural counterpoint is provided by the epigrammatic

subhiishita or "well said" single stanza, which

expresses a gamut of compressed emotion or thought, and is a characteristic of classical Sanskrit poetry. The anthology also includes excerpts from Prakrit and Apabhramsa. While the evolution and chronology of their relationship with Sanskrit continues to be a su bject of research, their interconnection is intimate and a part of the same poetic tradition. Sanskrit and Prakrit verses occur frequently in the same works and are quoted in the same classical commentaries on literature. The presence here of Prakrit and Apabhramsa poems in translation is in keeping wi th this tradition; but each has been identified as such in the table of contents. To enable them to be seen simply as poetry, the translations are presented here without further comment except some explanatory information in a few cases contained in the endnotes. The order follows generally accepted chronology. The source of the original has been indicated in each case, together with the translator's name. Ti tles provided by translators for the excerpts have been retained in most cases; where no titles were provided the compiler has devised them, mainly for purpose of reference. Sanskrit verse itself has no traditi on for such titles. Standard





in the



diacri tics


transli teration, except in some cases where better known spellings have been preferred or those used by individual translators retained. The letters

ri and sh

are used instead of � and �, for example the popular name is written as

Krishna, which i s also common usage, rather than as Kr:�fJa, which is jarring. Similarly ch is used instead of c, to write the number five as pancha, not panca. The lett�r fJ is shown simply as n where thi s is the current common usage. An appendix contains different translations of the same text to give some idea of how they have changed over time. Also included are separate lists giving brief detai ls of the translators, and of the poets who have been translated. Chronological and other details of the latter, it should be noted, are not known with any certainty in most cases.

xxvi . A

Treasury o.fSanskril Poetry

The compiler would like to thank the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for accepting his proposal for this proj ect, and the Council's Director General and officers for their support and assistance in its implementation, specially in securing pennission for use of copyright material. He is grateful to Shri H.K. Kaul and his colleagues at the India International Centre library, and to Smt. M. Vij ayalakshmi of the Sahitya Akademi library for their help in his researches; and in particular to Dr. Anthony K. Warder, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit, University of Toronto, for valuable references from his monumental work

Indian Kavya Literature.

Above all he thanks his wife Priti for her unfailing

support, encouragement, patience and always constructive criticism for which no words can be adequate. The preparation of this anthology has been largely a labour of love for the compiler, and if it can interest readers to explore further the treasure trove of Sanskrit poetry, in translation or the original, that will be h is greatest reward.

New Delhi, Republic Day



Introduction .



Rig Veda Ushas: The Dawn

Of al l the l ights the l ightest, this l i ght has come, This radi ance, conceived in a great dazzle of colour, Rushing ahead of the imminent rise of the sun; And N i ght has now gi ven over Her place to the Dawn. She comes up shi ni ng leadi ng a shining calf. The Dark One has g i ven over Her mansi ons to Dawn. For they are undy i ng kin and fol l ow each other­ N i ght and the Dawn, e xch a n g in g hue for hue. ,

They are s isters whose endless road i s the very same road, And they take i t as surely as if They were guided by Gods; No clashing there, no halting for N i g ht or Dawn, Un l ike, yet lovely, and i n Thei r thoughts as one. Her colors flash out as she leads Her exultant dance, She has opened her gates for us, and opened them w i de; Revealing the worl d, She shows us how rich we are. A l l of the li v i ng open the i r eyes to the Dawn. Men who were stretched on the ground, She l itis up to act; Some rise with the g ol den thou g ht of wealth as an end, Some, who see l i ttle, go on to gape at what's far. 1\1 1 of the l iv i ng open thei r eyes to the Dawn. You for conquest, and you for a name in this world, You arisen to ti nd some momentous good, You moving off toward a d i fferent way to l i ve. All of the liv i ng open their eyes to the Dawn. Chi l d of the ki ngdom of Light it's to us She comes; A faultl ess g i rl arrayed in Her l ustrous robes, Lady who oversees our earthly goods, o Dawn, 0 l ucid Portent, shine on us now. ,

I. 113

, ·.N. Misra. I.. Nalhan and S f'ulsyavan


Rig Veda . 1


Hymn of Creation

not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. W hat covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, un fathomed depth of water?

Then was

not then, nor was the re aught immortal : no s i gn was there, the day ' s and night s divid e r That o ne thi ng, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothi ng what s oev er Death was




there was : at tirst concealed i n darkness, was indiscri m inated chaos. All that existed then was void and forml ess: by the great power of warmth was born that unit. Darkness

this All

Thereatier rose desire

i n the be gi nn i ng Des i re, the primal seed and germ ,

of spirit.

Sages who searched with their heart ' s thought d i scovered the existent's

k i n s h ip i n the non-exi stent. Tr ans ver se ly was

their severing l i ne extended: what was above it then, and what below i t? There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free acti on here and energy up yonder.

knows and who can here declare i t, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? The gods are later than thi s world ' s production. Who knows, then whence i t lirst came i nto being? Who verily


He, the Ii rst

origi n of this creation, whether he formed it al l or did not

form it.

Whose eye controls this world i n h ighest heaven, he veri ly knows it, or perhaps he

knows not.

X. 129 lUll

* * ***


A Trea,I'w)'

olSanskrit Poetry


3 The Wind o the W i n d's char i ot, 0 i ts power and gl ory! Cras h i ng it goes and hath a voice of thunder. It makes the reg i ons red and touches heaven, and as it moves the d ust of earth is scattered. A l on g the traces of the Wind they h u rry, they com e to h i m as dames to an assembly. Borne on his car with these for h i s attendants, the god speeds fo rth, the un iverse's mo narch. Travelli n g on the paths of ai r s m i d-regi o n, '

no s ingl e day doth he take rest or s l u m ber. Holy and earl i est-born, friend of the waters, where d i d he spring and from what region came he? Germ of the wor l d , the d e i t i es' vital sp i rit


th i s god moves ever as h i s wi l l i ncl i nes h i m. His voi ce i s heard, h i s shape is ever viewl ess. Let us adore th i s Wi nd with our oblati on.

X.168 R. T H



4 Night The goddess Night has l ooked abroad with her eyes, everywhere d rawi ng near. She has put al l her gl ories on. The i m mortal goddess now has fil led w i de space, i ts depths and heights. Her radiance drives out the dark. A pproachi ng, the goddess has expelled her sister Dawn. Now darkness a l so d i sappears.

Rig Veda. 3

And so you have drawn near to us, who at your comi ng have come home, as birds to their nest upon the tree. The clans have now gone home to rest, home the beasts, and home the b i rds, home even the hawks who l ust for prey. Guard us from the she-wolf and the wolf, and guard us from the thief, 0 Night, and so be good for us to pass. For darkness, blotting out, has come near me, black and pa l pable. o Dawn, dispel it l i ke my debts. I have offered my hymn as a cow is offered, Daughter of '·Ieaven. 0 Night, accept it, as a victor praise.

X.I27 AL Basham


5 The Dawn

L i ke a youthful maiden, Dawn shi nes brightl y forth, Stirring to motion every l iv i ng creature. Di vine Fire was kindled for the use of men; Dawn created l i ght, driving away the dark. Send i ng out her beams, she rose up facing al l , I n bri l l i ant robes, resplendent, radi ating­ Golden-coloured and glorious to behol d, Mother of plenty, m istress of the days she shone. B l essed, bearing the sun, the eye of the gods, Lead i n g her white horse, magnificent to see, Dawn reveal s hersel f, arrayed i n beams of l i gh t, And w i th boundless glory she transforms the world. 4


Treasury o/Sanskrit Poetry

o fa i r one banish the enemy w i t h l i gh t ! ,

A n d prepare for us broad pastures free from fear! Ward off hatred, b ring us your priceless treasure !

o bountif u l , shower b less ings on the s i n ger ! II l umi ne us with your glorious splendour


o di v i ne Dawn! Enrich and lengthen our l i ves. o Goddess f u l l of grace! Grant us fu lti IIment A n d cows, horses, and chari ots in abundance!

o daughter of heaven, Dawn of noble birth


Whom the men of glory cel ebrate i n hym ns, Establis h in us wealth sublime and mighty !

o god s , protect us a l ways with your b lessings!

VII. 77 Jean Le AH:e


6 The Sun The beam s ascend toward the god Who h o l d s the knowl edge of al l l ives


So that a l l thi ngs beh o l d the Sun. Off l ike t h i eves, t he conste l lations Stea l th i l y retreat with the nights Before the all-beholding Sun. Now h i s beams are m ade apparent Radiant above the worl d of men Bl azing and l u m inous l i ke tires. Trave l l i n g on, i n view of al l. Creator of I i ght are you. 0 Sun, S h inin g through al l ethereal space. Now facing a l l the hosts of gods, Now facing al l men you arise, Now fac ing al l for al l to see. Rig Veda. 5

o Pu ri fi er with your eye ,

You see life q u ive ri ng

w ith i n The world of creatures, Supreme Lord. Cross i ng sky and obscure regions You measure out the day w i th n i ghts, o Sun who sees all ge n er ations ,



Seven m ares draw you, 0 Lord, In your chariot. Sun Divine, o Rad iant One with hair aflame. He has yoked t h e s plendi d Seven, The dau ght e rs of the Sun's chariot, And with this willing team, m o ve s on


Emergi n g up above the dark, Toward the higher li g ht we turn ; We h av e attai ned t he go d of gods. The Sun itself� the h igh est l ight. R i s i n g tod a y 0 Love's glory, ,

M oun ti n g to the highest heaven, Expel, great Sun my heart ' s disease, And drive the jaundice far away ! ,

To s pa r ro w s and to parakeet s o let us pass my jaund ice on !


Li kew i se unto the yel low birds, o let u s pass my j aun di c e o n The


Son of the I ntin ite has

Risen with all his s t ren gt h an d

Overcome evi l for my sake, And let me not be o v e rc o me!

m ight


1.50 .Jean Le MI!e


6. A

Ji"eu.I'lIry o{Sunskrit Poetry


Indra Let me proclaim the valiant deeds of lndra, the first he d id , the wielder of the thunder,

when he slew the dragon and let loose the waters, and p ie rce d the bellies of the mountains. He slew the dragon ly ing on the mountain, for Tvashtri made him a heavenly thunderbolt.

The waters suddenly, l ike bellowing cattle, descended and flowed on, down to the ocean.

In h is strength h e chose the soma­ from three cups he drank the essence. The Generous seized his thunderbolt,

and smote the tirstborn of drago ns. When, lndra, you slew the firstborn of d ra gons , and frustrated the arts of th e sorcerers, creating sun and heaven and dawn, you found no enemy to withstand you. lndra sl ew Vritra, and VyafT\sa, stronger than Vritra,

w ith his thunderbolt, w ith h is migh ty weapon. Like the branches of a tree felled by the axe the dragon lay strewn over the earth. Like an enraged coward he called a challenge to the great h ero , the strong ' s oppressor, charging. But he did not escape the force of his blows-

the foe of Indra crushed the clouds together [in fal ling]. Footless and handless, he still gave Indra battle, until the thunderbolt struck him hard on his back.

The bullock sough t to be match for the bull, But Vritra, lay, his members scattered afar. The waters, flowing for man's good, pass over h im , as he lies thus, broken like a reed.


Veda. 7

Beneath the waters which he had encompassed in his great might, Vritra, the serpent lay. The strength of the mother of V ritra was exhausted, and Indra bore away her weapon. The mother lay above, the son below. Danu lay l ike a cow beside her calf. Fallen i n the midst of water-courses, never pausi ng, never resting, floods overwhelm the hidden corpse of Vritra. In a long darkness lay the foe of l ndra. Lorded by Dasas and guarded by the dragon the waters l ay, pe nned in as cows by a Pa�i. When the opening of the waters was closed up the s layer of Vritra threw it open. o I n d ra you became a ,


re a th of vapour,

when he i mpa led you on his lance. A l one

you won the cows, hero, you won the soma, and you let l oos e the Seven Streams to flow. Thunder and lightning avai l ed him nothing, nor the mist he scattered abroad, nor hai l . When Indra and the d ragon fought h e conquered as he, the Generous, w i l l i n future conquer.


And what avenger of the dragon did you see, Indra, as fear entered your heart when you had ki l led h i m, when you crossed over nine and ninety streams, as a frightened hawk crosses the ski es? I ndra is king of al l that moves or rests, of tame and fierce, the wielder of the thunder. He is the king of mortals, whom he rules, encircling them as a wheel 's rim the spokes.

1 . 32 A . L. Basham




Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry

8 A rany ani : Forest Spirit

Lad y o f the Forest ! Lady of the Forest! who see m to vanish from sight i n the distance, why do you never come to the v i l l age? s u r ely you are not afrai d of men ! When the grasshopper repl i es to the d istant lowi ng of catt le, as t h o ug h to the sound of t i n k l i n g bells the Lady of the Forest m akes m erry . Somet i m es y o u c atc h a gl i m p s e of h e r and think i t i s catt l e g raz i n g or a hOLJse, far away , a n d at e ve n i n g you hear the L ad y of the Forest l i ke the d i stant sound of m o v i n g w a gon s .



I kr vo i ce is as the s o u nd

of a m an cal l i ng h i s cattl e, a s t h e c rash o f a fe l l ed tree. 1 1" you s t a y i n t h e forest in the eveni ng, you w i l l hear her l i ke a far voice c ry i ng. m

H ut t h e Lady o f t h e Forest w i l l no t

s l ay enemy d raws near. She eats the sweet wi I d fru i t s , and then she re st s w herever she w i 1 1 . u n l ess an

N o w I h a ve pra i sed t h e Lady o f t h e Porest, who is per fu m ed w i th bal m , and fr ag r a nt who i s wel l fed , a l though s h e ti l i s not. t h e m ot h e r of a l l thi ngs of the w i l d




1 46

,., I.. Hasham


Veda . 9

9 Pushan

Pushan, God of golden day, Shorten thou the shepherd ' s way, Vanquish every foe and stranger, Free our path from every danger; Cl oud-born Pushan, ever more, L e a d liS as YOll led before ! Sm ite the w i l d wolf, fi erce and v i le, Lurking i n the dark defi l e, Sm ite the robber and the thief, Stea l i ng forth to take our l i fe; C loud-born Pushan, ever more Lead us as you led before ! Thou dost p a th l e ss forests

know Thou canst quel l the secret foe, Tholl di dst lead our fathers right, Wonder-worker, orb of l i g h t; ,

G rant from t h y u n fa i l i ng store

Wea l t h and b l ess i ng e v e r more !

Th o u h as t treasures m a n i fol d


arms of gol d ; Fore m ost of t h e Sons of L i g h t Shepherd s ' god and leader bright. G ranl from thy un fa i l i n g store Wealth and b l e s s i ngs ever more !

G l i tter i n g weapons,




Romesh Dull * * * * *

1 0 . A ]i-('(I,\"III:I ' ofS'lIl1skril PoellY

10 The Gam bler

The dan gl i ng nuts, born where the wind blows the lofty tree, del i ght me with their rol l i ng on the board. The cheering vibhidaka has brought me joy, l i ke a draught of soma from Mount Muj avant. She did not scold me, or lose her temper. She was k i nd to my fri ends and me. But because of a throw too high by one I have rejected my loving wife. Her mother hates me; my wife repels me­ a man in trouble fi nds no one to pity h i m . They say, T ve n o more use for a gambler Than for a worn-out horse put up for sale. ' When the conquering die has got his possessions others embrace the gamester's wife. H i s father, his mother, his brothers say of h i m : ' We don ' t know him ! Take him a s a bondman ! ' I th i n k to myself: " won ' t go w ith the others ! I ' l l stop behind when my friends go to play ! ' B ut then the brown ones raise thei r voice�, and off I go, l i ke a m istress to her lover. The gambler goes to the hal l of assembly. ' Shal l I win?' he wonders. His body trembles. The dice run counter to his hopes, and give his opponent the l ucky throws. The dice are armed with hooks and pierci ng, they are deceptive, hot and burning. L i ke children they give and take again, they strike back at their conquerors. They are sweetened with honey through the magic they work on the gambler. Rig

Veda .


T h ey p l a y in a

troo p of three times fi fty. god Savitr, they are true to their laws. T h ey w i l l not bend to the wrath of the m i ghty, and even a king bows low be fo re them. L i k e th e

ro l l down, the dice l e a p u pw a rd s the man with arms. arc heaven l y co a l s strewn over the board, t h o ug h t hey are c oo l they burn up the heart.

The d i ce


unarmed they w i t hsta n d They



The forsaken w i fe of the gambler sorrows, and the m ot h er o f t he son who wanders afar. l i', debt, i n fear, i n need of m oney, he goes by n i g h t

to the house of others.

when he sees a w om a n anot her m an ' s w i fe, i n thei r p l e as a nt h o m e I n the m o rn i n g he yokes the chestnut horses I n t he e v e n i ng he fa l l s by the hearth, a beggar.

T h e gam b l e r g r i ev e s



So to the ge n era l of your great army,

the c h i e f of your h o s t out to him my ten fingers : risk m y al l ! I a m s pea k i ng the trut h ! '

to h i m who is k i ng,


I say, stre t c h i ng 'I

' Do n ' t play w i t h d i ce , but p lo u g h your furrow ! De l i g h t i n your property, prize it h i g h l y ! Look to your c a tt l e and l ook to your wife, You

gam bler! ' Thus noble Savitr tel ls me.

w i t h us, be k i n d to us! w i t h your fierce magi c ! M a y y o u r wrath a n d hatred n o w come t o [ . st ! M a y n o m a n fal l i n to the snares o f the brown ones !

So m a k e friends

Do n o t force us

X. 34 A . L. Basham

* * * * *

1 2 . A Treasury of Sanskrit PoetlJ!

1 1 Tho ughts Our t h o u g h t s wander in a l l d i rect i ons A nd m a ny a re t h e wa y s o f m en : The cartwri ght hopes for acc i d ents, The phys i c i a n for t h e c r i pp l e,

A nd the pri est for a ri ch patro n . F o r th e s a k e o f S p i r i t, 0 M i nd ,

L e t g o of al l these wander i n g t h o ug hts ! W i th h i s d ry grass and feather fan A n d a l l h i s too l s of fas h i oned stone, The b l ac k s m i t h seeks day afte r d ay The c u s t o m er endowed w i th go l d .

For t h e sake of S p i r i t, 0 M i nd, Let go of al l these wande r i n g t h oug h t s ! [ ' m a s i nger, father ' s a d octor, M other grinds fl our w i t h a m i l l stone . O u r t h o u ght s a l l turn upon profit

A n d cow l i ke w e al l p l od a l ong.

For t h e s a k e of S p i r i t 0 M i nd Let go of a l l these wand e r i n g t h oughts ! .

The horse wou l d d raw


s w i ft carriage.

T h e enterta i n e r a good l au g h .

The pen i s seeks a ha i ry s l ot A nd the frog s ee k s a stag n a n t p o n d . F o r the s a k e o f S p i r i t. 0 M i nd Let go of al l these wanderi ng tho u g h ts !

IX. 1 1 2 Jean Le Mee

* * * * *

Rig Veda .


Siima Veda 12 Soma

Hero, the Soma being shed, I pour the j u i ce for thee to dri nk: Sate thee and fi n i sh thy carouse ! Let not the fools, or those who mock, beguile thee when they seek thine aid : Love not the enemy o f prayer! Here l et them cheer thee wel l supplied w i th m i l k to great m un i ticence : Drink as the w i l d b u l l drinks the l ake ! Here is the Soma j uice expressed : 0 VasLl, drink ti l l thou art full: U ndaunted god, we give it to thee ! Washed by the men, pressed out w ith stones, strai ned through the tilter made of wool, 'Tis l ike a courser bathed i n streams. This juice have we m ade sweet for thee l ike barley, blend i ng it with m i lk. I ndra, I cal l thee to our feast. So. lord of affl uent g i fts, this j u ice hath been expressed for thee with

strength: : l ; i nk of it, thou who lovest song! I ncline thy body to the j uice which suits thy godlike nature wel l : Thee, Soma-lover! let i t cheer! o I ndra, let it enter both thy tlanks, enter thy head w i th prayer. With bounty, hero! both thine arm s ! Strong, mountain-born, t h e sta l k hath been pressed i n t h e streams for rapturous j oy: Hawk-l ike he settles i n h i s home. Fair is the j uice beloved of gods. washed in the waters, pressed by men: The m i lch-kine sweeten it with m i l k . Then, l i ke a steed, have they adorned the i nc iter for eternal l i fe, The heath ' s j uice at the festi val. As a good cow to him who m i lks, we cal l the doer of good deeds To our assistance day by day. Come thou to our l i bations, drink of Soma, Soma-drinker! Yea. The rich one ' s rapture gi veth kine. So may we be acq uai nted with thine i n nermost benevolence: N eglect us not, come hitherward ! 14 . A

TreaslIry (�fSanskrit Poetry

Pass by the wrathful offerer; speed the man who pours l i bations, drink The j uice which he presents to thee ! What is the word addressed to him, god great and excel lently wise? For thi s i s what exalteth h i m . H i s wealth, w h o hath no store of kine, hath ne' er found recited loud, Nor song of prai ses that is sung. W i th wealth to our l i bation come, be not thou angry with us, l i ke 11. i. i i i , iv an d I. iii. A great man with a youthful bride. R. r H


* * * * *

A tharva Veda 13 Earth, the M other

May that Earth, which holds on Her ample lap the ocean, The ri vers, the l akes; which bears the crop-yielding soi l , And is ground for a l l that breathes and stirs and l ives, M ay She also bear the fruits of what we have done. That Earth was born from vast waters, at fi rst was water. And anc i ents attended Her gro w th w ith their own creations. I l er heart is set on the real, high i n the heavens, A n d what i s undy i ng of Hers i s g u a rd e d by Truth. W hatever there i s at the core of Your bei ng, whatever There is in Your air. whatever the power that leaps From Your le n gth set us, Mother, among that wealth. Raise us up. Y our are my Mother. I am Your chi ld. ,

M other, g i ve me that fragra n ce You Yourself make, The perfume that comes from green gro w i n g thi n gs, fro m wa te rs The same that heavenly players and dancers desire. Annoint me with it, so none may wish me hurt. ,

Atharva Veda . 1 5

Your very same fragrance that fi l ls up the lotus pool, The perfume You had as gift at the marriage arranged For Dawn by the Gods, the very first perfume of al l : Anoint m e with it, s o none may wish m e hurt. You who uphold the men who, though mortal , Are singing and dancing together i n exultation, And uphold the men who, mortal, go out to k i l l With furious shouts and the wai l o f trumpets at war: o may You, Mother, drive my opponents away, And make me a man without a rival in al l the world. You Who nurture the five kinds of crops And are cause for their grains to swe l l out to ri peness. o Earth, Wife to the lavish cloud, It's to You, To Your open hand, that I bow. Though men cry out in many strange tongues, and profess A tl urry of faiths, You take them al l to Y oursel f. G ive us a thousand streams of Your wealth, G i ve, l i ke a cow whose udder is fu l l . Make u s the masters o f crowded highways And of narrower paths, that few, in a hurry, take, The ways of goodness as wel l as the ways of evi l . May these b e cleared of those who would hurt u s o r rob us. And may we receive what is good to recei ve. B i rds must come swinging round You when they take fl ight: The hawk, the swan, and everything that fl ies, And the w ind that, circl ing the sky, goes pl unging ahead To drive down the rai n, rock the trees, and flare up the tire. You are the One who i ssues the wind i ts force. Darkness and golden l i ght, the night and day Were conceived out of You together, 0 Earth Wrapped in the circling seasons, wound in time. Render us good in all our scattered homes.


V N. Misra. L. Nathan and S. Vatsyavan



A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry

14 Courage

As the sky even, and even the earth Do not falter and are not afrai d, So, my l i fe ' s breath, have no fear. As the day even, and even the ni ght Do not falter and are not afraid, So, my l i fe ' s breath, have no fear. As the sun even, and even the moon Do not fal ter and are not afraid, So, my l i fe ' s breath, have no fear. As spirit even, and even action Do not falter and are not afrai d, So, my l i fe ' s breath, have no fear. As the truth even, and even chaos Do not falter and are not afraid, So, my l ife ' s breath, have no fear. As the past even, and even the future Do not falter and are not afraid, So, m y l i fe ' s breath, have no fear.

I. 1 5

/ '. N Misra, L Nathan and S Vatsvayan * * * * *

Yajur Veda 15 A Prayer From the U nreal lead us to the Real. From darkness lead us unto L ight.

From death lead us to I mmortal ity. Reach us through and through our Sel f. And evermore protect us - Oh Thou Terrible ! From ignorance, by thy sweet compassionate Face.

X I V . 3 ( S . Br.)

Swami Vivekananda


Veda .



Kena Upanishad 16 By Whom?

By whom impe l l ed soars forth the m i nd proj ected? By whom enjoi ned goes forth the earl iest breath i ng? By whom i m pe l l ed this speech do peopl e utter? The eye, the ear-what god, pray, them enjoi neth?

That which is the hearing of the ear, The thought of the m i nd, The voice of speech, as also the breathi ng of the breath, And the sight of the eye ! Past these escapi ng, the wise, On departing from this world, become immortal . There the eye goes not; Speech goes not, nor the m i nd . We know not, we understand not How one would teach It. Other, i ndeed, is It than the known, And moreover above the unknown. Thus have we heard of the ancients Who to us have expl ai ned I t .

I . 1 -4 Nohrrl Ernesl lIume

* * * * *

Katha Upanishad 17 The One Essential

As the one air, entering into this world, Becomes the form of what it houses in, The one Essential, housed i n a l l things born, A l so takes that thing's external form. 1 8 . A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry

As the one sun, the si ngle eye of a l l , I s not darkened b y flaws i n things it sees, The one Essential, housed in al l things born, A nd past al l grief, is not darkened by grief. The only Lord, housed i n al l thi ngs born, He who makes from one a swarm of shapes, The wise who see H i m in themselves, His sel f: Thei r joy i s joy that lasts, no other joy . I t is t h i s the Absol ute Joy, they think, and can ' t b e said, ,

How i s it otherwi se known, if it shines or does not shine? In H i m no sun, no moon, not one star, N o l i ghting how much l ess these common fi res. B ut when He blazes up, then al l m ust show; Then everything flares up immense with him. ,

I l . 2 . 1 O- 1 S

/ ', N, Misra, L. Nalhan and S. Valsyavan * * * * *

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 18 Tree and Man

As a tree of the forest, J ust so, surely, is m an. H i s hair are leaves, H i s skin the outer bark. From his skin blood, Sap from the bark flows forth . From him when pierced there comes forth A stream, as from the tree when struck. H i s pieces of flesh are under-layers of wood. The fi bre is muscle-l i ke, strong. The bones are the wood within. The ma rrow i s made resemb l i ng pith. Brihadiiranyalw Upanishad . 19

tree, when it is fel led, grows up From the root, more new agai n; A mortal, when cut down by death­ From what root does he grow up? A

Say not ' from semen' For that is produced from the l i v i ng, As the tree, forsooth, spri nging from seed, Clearly arises without having died. [ f with its roots they should pull up The tree, it would not come into being again . A mortal, when c u t down b y deathFrom what root does he grow up?

Il l . 9 . 2 R

Roberl Ernesl lIume *****

19 The Hymn o f S weetness

The bl issful wlllds are sweet to us. The seas are showering bliss on us. May the corn i n our fields bring bl iss to us. May the plants and herbs bri ng bl iss to LIS. May the cattle give LIS bl iss. o Father i n Heaven be ThoLl blissful unto LIS! The very dust of the earth is ful l of bl iss. [ t is al l bliss - all bliss - all b l i ss.

VI. 16

Swam i / 'ivekananda

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20 . A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry

Chhiindogya Upanishad 20 You are That

Uddalaka asked his son to fetch a banyan fruit. ' Here it is, Lord ! ' said S vetaketu. ' Break it, ' said Uddalaka. ' I have broken it, Lord ! ' ' What d o you see there? ' L ittle seeds, Lord ! ' ' B reak one of them, my son ! ' ' I t i s broken, Lord ! ' ' What d o you s ee there?' 'Noth ing Lord ! ' said S vetaketu. Uddalaka said: ' My son ! This great bany an tree has sprung up from seed so smal l that you cannot see i t. Bel ieve i n what 1 say my son ! That b e i n g i s the seed; a l l e l se but H is expression. He i s truth. He i s Sel f. S vetaketu! You are that . ' '


V I . I 2 . 1 -3

Silrce 1'1Irohil S1l"(Jnl i and IV B rea/s * * * * *

Taittir�va Upanishad 21 Learn and Teach

Do your duty; learn and teach. Speak truth; learn and teach. M editate; learn and teach. Control sense; learn and teach. Control m i nd; l earn and teach. K i ndle fire: learn and teach. Feed fi re; learn and teach . ChhiindoK)'a Upanishad . 2 1

Be hospitable; learn and teach. Be hu m ane ; learn and teach. Serve the fa m i ly; learn and teach.

Procreate; l earn and teach. Educate your chi l dren; learn and teach.

I. 9

Shrce Purohit Swami and w. E. reats

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Mundaka Upanishad 22 Two B i rds Two birds. twin images in pl umage,

friends. ever inseperable, c l i ng to a tree.

One eats the fruit, eats of th e sweet a n d eats of the bi tter, while the other watches. watches w i thout eati ng. B uried in the bole of the self-same tree one suffers. engulfed in his impotence. Yet as he watches the watching bird, the adorable one, and sees the sweet bitter gl ory as H i s alone, He ri s e s free from grief. ,

111. 1 AK Ramanujan

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Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry



,J " _

The H um i l i ation o f Draupad i

l i m p id waters bri ghtly shine H ast i n a ' s w a l l s ! d u l y h onoure d l i v e s w i t h i n t he pa l ac e h a l l s,

G l assed on G an g a s '

Queen Dr a up ad i

But as s t ea l s a l o w l y j a cka l


in a lord l y l i o n ' s den, D u ry odh a n s humble menial came to p r o u d D ra upa di s ken '



q uoth the menial, roy a l Pand u ' s r i ghteou s son, Lost h i s game and l ost his reason, E m p res s thou art staked and won,

" Pardon, Em pres s , "



Prince Duryodhan claims thee, lady, and the victor bids me say, Thou shalt serve h i m as h i s vassal, as h i s slave in pal ace stay ! " "Have I

heard thee, menial, ri ght l y ?" q uestioned s h e i n a ngui s h keen, k i n g and husband stake h i s w i fe and lose his q ueen,

" Oath a c ro wn e d

Did m )' noble lord a nd m on a rc h se ns e a n d reason l ose at d i c e , Other stake he did not wa g e r wedded wife to sacrifi ce ! " ,

"Other stakes were d u l y wagered," s o h e s p ake w i t h bitter groan , " W e a l t h and

em p ire every ,

obj ect

which Y udhishthi r cal led his own,

Lost himself and a l l his brothers, bondsmen are those princes brave, Then he staked his wife and em p re ss thou art pri nce Duryodhan ' s s l ave ! " ,

Rose t h e q ueen i n queenly an ge r and w i th woman ' s pri de s h e spake : " H i e thee. m eni a l to thy master. Qu e e n D ra u p a d i 's answer ta k e, ,


If my lord. hi mself a bondsman, then hath Slaked his q ueen and w i fe, Fa l s e the stake, for owns a bondsman neither w e a l t h nor other ' s l i fe,

S lave can wager wife nor chi ldren, and such a c t i o n i s u n d o ne Take my word to pr i n c e Duryodhan, Qu een Drau p ad i is unwon ! " ,

W rathfu l was the proud Duryodhan when he heard the answer bold, To h i s younger, w i l d Duhsasan, th u s h i s a n gry m a n d a te t o ld :

Mahiihhiirata • 23

"Little-m i nded is the menial, and his heart i n terror fa i l s, For t he fear of wrathful Bhima, l o ! his coward-bosom q ua i ls, Thou Duhsasan, bid the princess as our humble slave appear, Pand u ' s sons are humble bondsmen, and thy heart it owns no fear! " Fierce Duhsasan h eard the mandate, blood-shot was his flaming eye, Forthwith to the inner chambers d i d w i th eager footsteps h ie, Proud ly sat the fair Draupadi , monarc h ' s daughter, monarch ' s w i fe, U nto her the ba se Duhsasan spake the message, i nsult-rife: Lo t u s eye d Panchala-pri ncess ! fairly staked and won at game, Come and meet thy lord Duryodhan, chase that mant l i ng bl ush of shame,



Serve u s as thy l ords and m asters, be our beauteous bright-eyed slave, Come lInto the Counci I C h ambe r wait upon the young and brave ! " ,

Proud Draupad i shakes w i t h tremor a t D uh s a s an ' s hatefu l s i ght, And she shades her eye and forehead, and her bloodless cheeks are white,

At h i s words h e r chaste heart s ickens, and with w i l d averted eye, U nto rooms where dwelt the women, Queen Draupad i seeks to ll y, Va i n l y sped the t rem b l i ng pri ncess in her fear and in her shame, By her streaming wavy tresses fi erce D u hsasan held the dame! Sacred l ocks ! w i th holy water dewed at rajasuya rite, A nd by mantra consecrated, fragrant, flowi ng, raven-bright, Base Duhsasan by those tresses held the fai nt and flying queen, Feared no more the sons of Pandu, nor their vengeance fi erce and keen, Dragged her in her s l ipping garments by her long and tra i l i ng hai r, A nd l i ke sapl i ng tem pest-shaken, wept and shook the t rembl ing fai r ! Stooping in h e r shame and anguish, pale w i t h wrath and woman 's fear, Tremb l i n g and in stifled accents, thus shc spake with strcam i ng tear: "Leave me, shameless prince Duhsasan ! elders, noble lords are here, Can a m odest wedded woman thus in l oose atti re appear?" 24 . A Treasury a/ Sanskrit Poetry

Va i n t h e words and soft entreaty which the weeping p ri n cess made, V a i n l y to the g o d s and mortals she in bitter an g u i s h p ra y e d , For w i t h cruel words of i n s u l t sti l l Duhsasan mocked h e r woe: Loo s e l y c l ad or vo i d of c l o t h i n g , to the c o un c i l ha l l you go,



S l a ve-wench fai rl) staked

and conq uered,


upon thy m a s t e rs brave, wi l l ing s l a v e !

L i ve among ou r house h o l d m e n i a l s , serve us as ou r


" Lllose-au i red, w it h t ra i l i ng

tresses, came Dra u p a di weak and fa i nt


S t ood w i t h i n the C o u nc i l C h a m ber, ten r i'u l made her p i teous p l a i n t :

"E l ders ! versed i n h o l y saslra, and i n every h o l y rite, Pardon if D m u p a d i cometh in t h i s sa d un s e e m l y p l i g h t Stay thy s i n fu l deed,


D u hs a s a n nameless wrongs and i ns u l ts spare, is a woman ' s ha i r ,

To u c h m e not w i th h a nd s un c l e a n l y sacred ,


H onoured e l d ers, r i gh teo us nobles, h a ve on me protection g i ven, Tre m b l e s i nner, seek n o mercy from t h e wrathfu l go d s in h e a ven ! H e re i n g l o ry , son o f D h a r m a s i ts my noble ,

S i n nor shame nor h u m a n fr a i l ty S i l ent a l l ' ) and w i l l


N o t a hand or vo i c e i s

c h i eftain

l i fte d

ri ghteo u s l o rd sta i n s Y u dh i s h t h i r ' s deed or word,


t o save a


woman ' s l i fe ,

to defend a v i rt uous w i fe')

Lost i s K u ru ' s ri ghteo u s g l o ry, l os t i s I3 h a ra t ' s a n c i e n t name, Lost i s K s hatra ' s k i n g l y p rowes s, w a r l i ke wort h and k n i g h t l y fam e , Wherefore e l s e


K u ru warri ors t a m e l y v i e w t h is i m p i ous sc e n e

W he r e fo r e g l e a m no t

r i ght e ou s


weapons to protect an o u t rage d q u e e n ?

13 h i s h m a , hath he lost h i s v i rtue, Drona, hath he lost h i s m i ght. Hllth the Illonarc h of the Kurus c e a s e d to bat t l e

for the r i ght,

ye Ill u te and voiceless, counc i l lors of m i gh ty fame, and palsied right arm watch t h i s deed of Kuru ' s shameT

W herefore a re Vacant eye

Mahiihhiirala •


III Spake Draupad i slender-waisted, and her words were stern and high, A nger flamed withi n her bosom and the tear was i n her eye, A nd her spark l i ng speaking glances fel l on Pandu's sons l i ke fire, S ti rr e d in them a m ighty passion and a t h i rst for vengeance d i re, Lost the i r empire wealth and fortune, l ittle recked they for the fal l , But Draupad i ' s plead i ng glances l i ke a poniard smote them al l ! Darkly frowned the ancient B h i shma, wrathfu l Drona bit h i s tongue, Pale Vidura m arked w ith anger i nsults on Draupadi fl ung,

Fulsome word nor fou l dishonour could thei r truthfu l utterance taint, A nd they cursed Duhsasan ' s acti on, when they heard Draupad i ' s plaint. But brave K arna, though a warrior,-Arj un ' s dead l y foe was he,­ 'Gai nst the humbled sons of Pandu spake h i s scorn in scornful glee: .. 'Tis no fault of thi ne, fai r pri ncess, fal len to this serv i l e state, W i fe and son ru l e not thei r actions, others rule their hapless fate, Thy Y udhishthir sold his birthri ght, sold thee at the i m pi ou s play,

And the w i fe fal ls w ith the husband, and her d uty - to obey ! L i ve thou i n this Kuru household, do the Kuru pri nces ' w i l l , Serve them a s thy lords and m asters, w i t h thy beauty please them sti l l , Fai r Onc! seek another husband who i n foo l i s h reckless game W i l l not stake a l oving woman, w i l l not cast her forth in shame ! For they censure not a woman, when she i s a menial slave, I f her

woman ' s fancy wanders to the young and to the brave,

For thy l o rd is not thy husband, as a s lave he hath no w i fe, Tholl art free w i th truer lover to enjoy a wedded l i fe, They w hom at the s wayamvara, thou had ' st chose, Panchala's bride,

They have l ost thee, sweet Draupad i, lost thei r empire and the i r pri d e ! "

26 . A Treas/lI:l' ojSal1.1'kril Poclry

Bhima heard, and quick and fi ercely heaved his bosom in his shame, And his red glance fel l on Karna l i ke a tongue of withering flame, Bound by elder's p l i ghted promise Bhima could not smite in i re, Looked the pai nted form of Anger flam i n g w i th an anguish d i re ! " K i ng and elder!" uttered Bhi m a and his words were few and brave, "Vain were wrath and ri ghteous passion in the sold and bounden slave, ,

Would that son of chariot-dri ver fl i ng on us this insult keen, H adst thou, noble k i ng and elder, staked nor freedom nor our q ueen?" Sad Yudhi shth i r heard in anguish, bent in shame his lowly head, Proud Duryodhan laughed in triumph, and in scornful accents said: "Speak Y udhishth i r, for thy brothers own their elder's righteous sway, Speak, for truth i n thee abideth, v i rtue ever marks thy way ,

Hast thou l ost thy new-bui lt empire and thy brothers proud and brave, H ast thou lost thy fai r D rau p adi is thy wedded wife our slave?" ,

L i p nor eye did move Yudhi shthir, hatefu l truth m i ght not deny, K arna l aughed but sai ntly Bhi shma wiped his old and manly eye. ,

M adness seized the proud Duryodhan, and i nfl amed by passion base, Sought the prince to s tain Draupad i with a deep and d i re disgrace ,

On the proud and peerless woman cast his wicked lustful eye, S o u g ht to hold the high born princess as his slave upon his knee ! Rhima penned his wrath no longer l i ghtn i ng- l i ke his g lance he fl ung, And the ancient hal l of Kurus with his thunder accents rllng: ,

"May I never reach those mansions where my fathers l i ve on high M ay I never meet ancestors in the bright and happy sky, If that knee by whic h thou sinnes