Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ancient Indian Writers and Poets

Kalidasa was India’s greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist who lived during the fifth century.  He possibly born in 4th century CE and died in possibly 5th Century CE. He married to a princes, her name was Vidyotma.
Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works
Translations of Shakuntala 
His most famous works are “Abhijñānaśākuntalam” , “Mālavikāgnimitram” , “Abhijñānaśākuntalam” , “Vikramōrvaśīyam” , “Raghuvaṃśa” , “Kumārasambhava” , “Ṛtusaṃhāra” , “Meghadūta”.
According to legend, Kalidasa was so handsome that he caught the attention of a princess who married him. Kalidasa had grown up without much education, and the princess was ashamed of his ignorance and coarseness. A devoted worshipper of the goddess Kali – his name means literally Kali’s Slave – Kalidasa is said to have called upon his godess for help and was and was rewarded with a sudden and extraordinary gift of wit. He is then said to have become the most brilliant of the ‘nine gems’ at the court of the fabulous king Vikramadithya of Ujjain.

Bhavabuthi was an 8th century scholar of india noted for his plays and poetry, written in Sanskrit. He is best known as the author of three plays. His plays are considered equivalent to the works of Kalidasa. Bhavbhuti was born in a Deshastha Brahmin family of Padmapura, Vidarbha, central India, in Gondia district, on Maharashtra and MP border. His real name was Srikantha Nilakantha, and he was the son of Nilakantha and Jatukarni. He received his education at 'Padmapawaya', a place some 42 km South-West of Gwalior. Paramhans Dnyananidhi is known to be his guru. He composed his historical plays at 'Kalpi', a place on banks of river Yamuna. Three Sanskrit Plays (Penguin Classics)
  • Mahaviracharita (The story of highly courageous), depicting the early life of Rama
  • Malatimadhava a play based on the romance of Malati and Madhava
  • Uttararamacharita (The story of Rama's later life), depicts Rama's coronation, the abandonment of Sita, and their reunion

Vishnu Sharma
Stories From The Panchatantra (Amar Chitra Katha) 5 in 1
Stories of Panchatantra
You must be familiar with the Panchatantra fables, but did you know that they were written around 200 BC by a great Hindu scholar called Vishnu Sharma?  Vishnu Sharma is one of the most widely translated secular authors in history. The Panchatantra was translated into Pahlavi in 570 CE by Borzūya and into Arabic in 750 CE by Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa as Kalīlah wa Dimnah.In Baghdad, the translation commissioned by Al-Mansur, the second Abbasid Caliph, is claimed to have become "second only to the Qu'ran in popularity.As early as the eleventh century this work reached Europe, and before 1600 it existed in Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, English, Old Slavonic, Czech, and perhaps other Slavonic languages. Its range has extended from Java to Iceland. In France, "at least eleven Panchatantra tales are included in the work of La Fontaine."
He was asked by Amarasakti, the ruler of a south Indian kingdom to teach his three sons politics and diplomacy. But unfortunately the princes were not interested in learning at all! Vishnu Sharma quickly realized that it would not be easy to teach them through conventional methods. He had to find a more creative way of teaching them, he hit upon the idea of writing short stories that contained a lesson. This collection of stories is the Panchatantra.
The Panchatantra is the oldest collection of Indian fables. The word ‘Panchtantra’ means ‘The Five Books’. This collection is also known as a ‘Nitishastra’ which means book of wise conduct in life. The moral and philosophical themes of these stories of Vishnu Sharma have stood the test of time and hold true even in the modern age.

Chanakya, also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, was a teacher of political science at the takshashila university and later the prime minister of the emperor Chandragupta Maurya. He is regarded as one of the earliest known political thinkers, economists, and king makers. His vision was to create a Indian Empire by uniting the numerous kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent so that they could fight together against Alexander the Great. His foresight and wide knowledge, coupled with his shrewd politics helped to found mighty Mauryan Empire in India. He compiled his political ideas into the ‘Arthashastra’, one of the world’s earliest treatises on political thought and social order. His ideas remain popular to this day in india.
Kautilya's Arthashastra/The Way of Fianancial Management and Economic Governance
Kautilya's Arthashastra/
The Way of Fianancial Management
Economic Governance
Chanakya as a great Indian because his cultural significance has reached far and wide, and his words are just as internalised in other parts of South Asia. Chanakya has been considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science. In the Western world, he has been referred to as The Indian Machiavelli, although Chanakya's works predate Machiavelli's by about 1,800 years.His works were lost near the end of the Gupta dynasty and not rediscovered until 1915.
Chanakya (c.350 - c.275 BC), also known as Anshul or Anshu or Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta was born in a family of Brahmin as the son of Acharya Chanak in Pataliputra, Magadh (Modern day Patna, Bihar, India. In the modern day it has been found that social, political and professional life of Brahmins reflects Chanakya Neeti. A South Indian group of Brahmins, Chozhiyas, claim that Chanakya was one of them. Though this may sound very improbable considering the vast distance between present day Tamil Nadu in the south and Magadha in Bihar, it finds curious echos in Parishista-parvan, where Hemachandra claims that Chankya was a Dramila (Dramila, being a very common variant of Dravida). Chanakya enjoyed the best education of the time, in 'Takshashila' (also known in its corrupted form as Taxila).Takshasilâ had established itself as a place of learning. The school had by that time existed for at least five centuries and attracted students from all over the ancient world of Southeast Asia. The Kingdom of Magadha maintained contact with Takshasilâ. Chanakya's life was connected to these two cities, Pataliputra and Takshasilâ. According to Jaina accounts Chānakya was born in the village of Caṇaka in the Golla district to Caṇin and Caṇeśvarī, a Maga Brahmin couple.
Thomas R. Trautmann  lists the following elements as common to different forms of the Chanakya legend:

The First Great Political Realist: Kautilya and His Arthashastra

  • Chanakya was born with a complete set of teeth, a sign that he would become king, which is inappropriate for a Brahmin like Chanakya. Chāṇakya's teeth were therefore broken and it was prophesied that he will rule through another.
  • The Nanda King throws Chānakya out of his court, prompting Chānakya to swear revenge.
  • Chānakya searches for one worthy for him to rule through. Chānakya encounters a young Chandragupta Maurya who is a born leader even as a child. Chanakya established monarchial system in ancient historical times in India. He may be main architect to groom a child, but his means to reach power were manipulative and secretive.
  • Chānakya's initial attempt to overthrow Nanda fails, whereupon he comes across a mother scolding her child for burning himself by eating from the middle of a bun or bowl of porridge rather than the cooler edge. Chāṇakya realizes his initial strategic error and, instead of attacking the heart of Nanda territory, slowly chips away at its edges.
  • Chānakya changed his alliance with the mountain king Parvata due to his obstinacy and non-adherence to the principles of the treaty as agreed.
  • Chānakya enlists the services of a fanatical weaver to rid the kingdom of rebels.
  • Chānakya adds poison to the food eaten by Chandragupta Maurya, now king, in order to make him immune.Unaware, Chandragupta feeds some of his food to his queen, who is in her ninth month of pregnancy. In order to save the heir to the throne, Chānakya cuts the queen open and extracts the foetus, who is named Bindusara because he was touched by a drop (bindu) of blood having poison.
  • Chānakya's political rivalry with Subandhu leads to his death.
  • According to the Jain texts, Chanakya lived to a ripe old age and died around 275 BC and was cremated by his disciple Radhagupta who succeeded Rakshasa Katyayan (great-grand son of Prabuddha Katyayan, who attained Nirvana during the same period as Gautam Budhha) as Prime Minister of the Maurya Empire and was instrumental in backing Ashoka to the throne.

Ramayana. English
Ramayana. English
Valmiki (400 BC) is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e. first verse, which set the base and defined the form to Sanskrit poetry.
The Rāmāyaṇa, originally written by Valmiki, consists of 24,000 verses in seven cantos (some say six i.e. excluding the Uttara Ramayana) (kāṇḍas). The Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon (Rākshasa) king of Lanka, Rāvana. The Valmiki Ramayana is dated variously from 500 BC to 100 BC, or about co-eval with early versions of the Mahabhārata. As with many traditional epics, it has gone through a long process of interpolations and redactions, making it impossible to date accurately.

Veda Vyasa
Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse
The Epic of Ancient India
The ‘Mahabharata’ is one of the marvels in the literature of the world. Veda Vysa was the sage who gave the world this storehouse of realism, wisdom and compassion. His is also known as Krishna Dvaipayana (referring to his complexion and birthplace). Vyasa is sometimes conflated by some Vaishnavas with Badarayana, the author of the Vedanta Sutras. Vyāsa is also considered to be one of the seven Chiranjivins (long lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to general Hindu belief.
The latest portions of the Mahābhārata are estimated to date from roughly the 4th century BC, the time of the introduction of writing to India. There is some evidence however that writing may have been known earlier based on archeological findings of styli in the Painted Grey Ware culture, dated between 1100 BC and 700 BC.and archeological evidence of the Brahmi script being used from at least 600 BC.

The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary
The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali:
Translation, and Commentary
Patañjali (150 BCEor 2nd BCE) is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas (short comments) on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine (āyurveda). In recent decades the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of Raja Yoga and its philosophical basis. "Yoga" in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a system of meditation practice and ethics.
The Yoga Sūtras codifies the royal or best (rāja) yoga practices, presenting these as a eight-limbed system (ashtānga). The philosophic tradition is related to the Sankhya school.

The Brahma Sutra is attributed to Badarayana — which makes him the proponent of the crest-jewel school of Hindu philosophy, i.e., Vedanta.
The Brahma sūtras , also known as Vedānta Sūtras, are one of the three canonical texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. A thorough study of Vedānta requires a close examination of these three texts, known in Sanskrit as the Prasthanatrayi, or the three starting points.
Brahma Sutras
Brahma Sutras
The Brahma sūtra is the exposition of the philosophy of the Upanishads. It is an attempt to systematise the various strands of the Upanishads which form the background of the orthodox systems of thought. It is also called Uttara-Mimāṃsā or the investigation of the later part of the Vedas, as distinguished from the Mimāṃsā of the earlier part of the Vedas and the Brahmanas which deal with ritual or karma-kānda. It is intended to be a summary of the teaching of the Upanishads.
The Brahma Sūtras consist of 555 aphorisms or sūtras, in four chapters (adhyāya), each chapter being divided into four quarters (pāda). Each quarter consists of several groups of sūtras called Adhikaraņas or topical sections. An Adhikaraņa usually consists of several sūtras, but some have only one sūtra.

  • First chapter (Samanvaya: harmony): explains that all the Vedānta texts talk of Brahman, the ultimate reality, which is the goal of life. The very first sūtra offers an indication into the nature of the subject matter. VS 1.1.1 athāto brahma jijñāsā - Now: therefore the inquiry (into the real nature) of Brahman.
  • Second chapter (Avirodha: non-conflict): discusses and refutes the possible objections to Vedānta philosophy.
  • Third chapter (Sādhana: the means): describes the process by which ultimate emancipation can be achieved.
  • Fourth chapter (Phala: the fruit): talks of the state that is achieved in final emancipation.

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