OF KASHMIR TO INDIAN LITERATURE
Excerpts: 'KASHMIRI PANDITS: A CULTURAL
HERITAGE' Edited by Prof. S. Bhatt
beautiful valley of Kashmir has always been a cynosure of all eyes for its
peculiar climatic conditions and abundant bounties of nature. Kashmir deserves
to be given the highest position in Indian Republic not merely because of its
natural resources, and sensitive political boundaries, but chiefly due to the
remarkable contributions made by the people of Kashmir to the Indian culture.
The high mountainous barriers around the valley, the
peculiar climatic conditions, the natural wealth and the cheap resources of
living, afforded a Kashmirian, a pleasant calm and quiet atmosphere to ponder
over the problems of life and to strive for higher, intellectual pursuits.
Kashmiris have played an important role in the development of intellectual,
moral, religious, spiritual and social life of Indians. They had made
contributions in the field of various sciences, literature, fine arts and
philosophy, and in short, accelerated march of culture.
I. Historical Literature
A peculiar characteristic of the Indian mind as
described by Western writers is that Indians lacked historical sense. There are,
in fact, no works, to be called truly historical except Kalhana's Rajatarangini.
This deficiency cannot be overlooked when we find Indian history shrouded in
mystery and wrapped in darkness, in spite of the critical researches and hard
labours of Oriental scholars. Only Kashmirians possessed a developed historical
sense from very early times. Even before Kalhana many historians had written
extensive works which formed the basis of Raja-tarangini. The assiduity,
faithfulness and accuracy of narrating the events in Kashmir's history as found
in Raja-tarangini make the work comparable to any of the historical works
written by Western Scholars. The so-called historical works in India can never
be compared with this work. Puranas are more mythological than historical.
Bana's Harsa-Charita is more a novel than a history. Kumarapala-carita
of Hemachandra (1088-1172) is more a work on grammar than on history. All other
historical works are written by Kashmirians; Kashmir thus occupies a unique
position in the historical literature of India.
The predecessors of Kalhana are many, as he himself
tells us that he consulted eleven works of former scholars as well as still
existent Nilamata- purana. Nothing definite is known about the author and
date of this ancient historical work, but this is a rich source of history of
Kashmir in the earlier times.
Kalhana mentions Ksemendra, the author of Nripavali
but at the same time censures it for carelessness. Padmamihira Pasupata,
Helaraja, Chavaillakara and Suvrata were other historians who preceded Kalhana,
but their works are not available.
Bilhana, the son of Jyasthakalasa, a veteran scholar of
grammar, was a Vedic scholar, had mastered Mahabhasya and poetics. He left his
home, and as a wandering Pandita, travelled from country to country till he
established himself at the court of King Vikramaditya VI, the Calukya king of
Kalyana (1076-1127) where he was received and honoured as Vidyapati. He wrote Vikramankadeva-carita
which is regarded as an important contribution to history. This work begins with
the origin of Calukya family and eulogises the king. It contains eighteen cantos
and in the last he gives an account of his own family and a short account of the
kings of Kashmir. Keith dates his work before 1088 A.D. 'Vikramaditya',
the famous play of Hindi Poet Udayasankra Bhatta is based on the same work.
Bilhana's poetry is of no mean order. He is a model of simplicity and clarity
which are essential requisites of a historical work.
Kalhana, born about 1100 A.D. was the son of Campaka, a
minister of King Harsa of Kashmir (1089-1101) and was a resident of Parihasapura
modern Paraspore, a village near Srinagar. King Harsa was assassinated through
conspiracy and Kalhana's family had to leave the royal court.He was a follower
of Saivism but did not believe in Tantras. He retained his great love for
Kalhana inspected inscriptions of temples, memorials,
records of land grants, eulogies (prasastis), coins, manuscripts of literary
works, and consulted all his predecessors in the historical field. He even
corrected the mistakes of earlier historians. Thus, as an antiquarian and a
historian with true historical judgement and faculty, he wrote the chronicle of
events in Kashmir's history. Though the earlier part is confused and does not
tally with the dates confirmed by our present historians, yet it is most
accurate from 596 to 1151 A.D. Some of the outstanding features of his work are:
(i) "His accuracy in genealogical information is
conspicuous, and his topography most favourably distinguishes him from such a
historian as Livy, who apparently never looked at one of the battlefields he
described", remarks Keith.
Jalhana, another historian was a member of the court of
King Alankara of Kashmir. He gives an account of King Somapala, king of Rajapuri,
conqucred to King Sussala. His work is titled Somapala-vilasa. Sambhu
wrote a panegyric of Harsadeva titled Rajendra Karnapura. He flourished in the
11th century. Jonaraja (who died in 1659 A.D.) and his pupil Srivara continued
the Raja-taranaini of Kalhana upto the time of King Zain-ul-Abdin. Srivara's
pupil Suka carried the story down to the annexation of Kashmir by Akbar.
Prajabhatta wrote Rajavali-Pataka.
(ii) He was free from prejudice and partiality. He did
not spare even the then ruling King Harsa. He fearlessly exposes his
treacherous conduct and narrates distress under his rule. His description of
Kashmirians as 'fair, false and fickle' testifies the same thing. He condemned
the activities of the priests as well as the courtiers with whom fidelity was
unknown. The city populace is presented as idle, pleasure lousily ancl utterly
callous, acclaiming a king today and welcoming another tomorrow.
(iii) Like a modern historian he gives the source of his
information which he finds unsatisfactory. He admits his own limitations and
states that he simply records contradictory statements which he cannot
(iv) He was a man of intellect and gives his definite
contribution to the art of administration. He places his own contribution to
the art of governing Kashmir in the mouth of Lalitaditya.
(v) His style is poetic and simple. It is possessed of
easy flow. The use of dialogues lends variety and dramatic power. He is fond
(vi) It is no wonder if due to the geographical
isolation of Kashmir he suffered from certain limitations. He had no
relationship with the outside world. But this has to be attributed to the
geographical location, and not to the historian's inability to open to the
outside world. In short, Kalhana is the first and the foremost historian of
A number of ancient historians appearing on Kashmir's
stage is a sufficient proof of a highly developed historical sense among the
Kashmiris. A greater testimony of this fact is that each and every Kashmiri
inherits even upto the present day this faculty, while he records and remembers
faithfully the past events, ancedotes, legends and also preserves the documents.
Even the present generation include some good historians as Mohammed-ud-Din Faq,
A. Kaul, Gwash Lal and many others. The latest in the field are P. N. Kaul's
works: Tasvir-e-Kashmir, Kashmir Speaks and Kashmir-darsana which
give the factual narration of the history of modern Kashmir even to this date
and also Buddhism in Kashmir and Ladakh written by J. N. Ganhar.
The origin of Indian medicine can be traced back to
Atharvaveda. In Carka, the writer of Carakasamhita, we find a definite
and masterly contribution to this science. In fact history of the development of
Indian medicine begins from this physician.
There was much controversy about the birth-place of
Caraka. But the Buddhist literature discovered by Professor Sylavan Levi in
China showed that Caraka was the court poet of Kaniska (1st century A.D.) and
his birth-place was Kashmir. With Charaka begins the dawn of Indian medicine and
surgery, as all the later works are either based on Caraka or are mere
extensions of the same work.
Caraka-samhita has not come to us in the
original form. It has been revised and improved by Drdhabala who was son of
Kapilaba (9th century A.D.) and was born in village Pantsinor the confluence of
rivers Jhelum and Sindhu. This conclusion about his birth place has been arrived
at by Hoernle in his 'Authorship of Caraka-samhita'. Udbhata wrote a
commentary on Sushruta Samhita in the 12th century A.D.
The abundance of forests containing various kinds of
herbs gave Kashmirians the favourable position to be conversant with the science
of herbs. Surgery was, however, not cultivated in Kashmir. Carak and his
followers thus place Kashmir as the chief contributor to Indian medicine.
Mention may also be made of Rati-rahasya of Koka
(before 1200 A.D.) son of Tejoka and grandson of Paribhadra. This book gives a
scientific and elaborate description of sex with its biological and
psychological phases, and is considered to be an authoritative work on the
subject. After Kama-sutra of Vatsayana, this is the first and the
foremost work on this subject.
III. Grammar and Philology
(a) Paninian School:
Panini's Astadhyayi consisting of 3,965 short sutras
and embodying the whole science of grammar and language is already known to us.
This work was commented upon and supplemented by Kartayana, in his Vartikas. It
is due to the great Kashmirian Patanjali that the Vartikas are preserved, as he
wrote his Mahabhasya an elaborate commentary on Vartikas. There has been
controversy over Patanjali's place of birth. But these are numerous proofs to
show that his birth-place was Gudra, a village in Kashmir. Kashmiri tradition
upholds it. Some of the sounds which are found only in Kashmiri language have
influenced his treatment of the subject. Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali are
called the munitraya 'the three architects' of Sanskrit grammar.
The significance of Mahabhasya lies in the
philosophical analysis of the sentence. What is the relation between word and
meaning? This and such other questions he has solved in a charming and
interesting manner. His method of discussion is conversational, and in the whole
range of Sanskrit literature there is none parallel to him except Sankaracarya.
One of the foremost commentaries on Panini is Kasika-Vritti
jointly written by the Kashmiri grammarians Jayaditya (perhaps king Jayapida)
and Vamana. The former wrote first five chapters and latter the last three
chapters. The Chinese traveller Itsing mentions this work, and so it can safely
be dated not later than the 7th century A.D. This work was popular in the whole
length and breadth of India. There is an edict eulogising King Indravarma of
Camba (911 A.D.) which mentions that one of the qualities of the king was that
he had mastered grammar with Kasika-vritti.
Kaiyata, son of Jaiyata and brother of famous critic
Manimata, flourished between 11th and 12th century, and wrote Mahabhasya-pradipa,
a running commentary on Patanjali's Mahabhasya. He presents this work in the
light of different schools that preceded him.
The Dhatupatha of Panini was commented upon by
Kshirasvamin. All the above four Kashmiri grammarians made a significant
contribution to the Paninian School of grammar, but there were other schools of
(b) Candra School:
The second important school after Panini was Candra
school. Candragemin, the founder of Candra school of grammar flourished during
the reign of king Abhmanyu (400 A.D.) His work Candravyakarana consisting of
eight chapters (the last two being lost) enjoyed great circulation and
reputation during the Buddhist period as warranted by the discovery of this work
in the Tibetan and Ceylonese languages.
(c) Katantra School:
Another school known as Katantra school and established
outside Kashmir flourished after 12th century in Kashmir. Two authors
of this system born in Kashmir were Bhatta Jagaddhara who wrote Bala-bodhini,
and the second Chiku Bhatta who wrote Laghu-vrtti.
The development of the science of poetics in India is
unparallelled in the history of world literature.The science of poetics in India
was known for its inductive faculty, subtle and analytical mind and a definitely
scientific outlook. A remarkable contribution has been made by Kashmirians, who
not only developed some of the earlier schools of poetics that flourished in
India, but, also established some of the new schools. This was perhaps one of
the chief subjects of study and research in Kashmir as all the major works on
the subject (excluding of course, the works of Bhamaha, Dandin, Visvanatha and
Rajasekhara) have been written by Kashmiris. According to Professor Sushil Kumar
in South India, no doubt, this study was kept alive by a succession of
brilliant, if not very original writers, but these contributions of the later
times though greater in bulk and sometimes superior in a certain acuteness never
superseded the volume of origina work done in Kashmir which may fittingly be
regarded as the homeland, if not birthplace of Alankara Sastra'.
Kashmiris have always been considered as the authorities on this subject. I give
below in chronological order a brief account of the various schools of poetics
with special reference to Kashmirian contributions:
(a) Rasa School:
This school it as founded by Bharata, the author of Natya
Sastra. The central point of this system is Rasa or the dominant mood of
human mind. Poetry according to this system appeals to human emotions and
sentiments. This Rasa belongs to both the reader or spectator as well the hero
of the work. Lolluta, contemporary of King Jayapida (779-813) treats Rasa as
belonging to the hero only and not as a matter of spectator's feeling.
Sankuka Clown to Kalhana also, lived under Ajitpada
(816 A.D.) He improves upon Lolluta's theory by calling Rasa not only in
relation to spectators but also as a matter of inference.
Bhattanayaka explains Rasa in a third different way by
calling it, in its final state, as communion with the highest spirit (Paramatma)
while Abhinavagupta the exponent of Dhvani theory explains Rasa as manifestation
(b) Alankara School:
The adherents of this school, Bhamaha, Dandin, Udbhata
and Rudrata considered poetic embellishments or figures of speech (Alankaras)
the most important part of the poetry, the Rasa being subordinate, to it.
Bhamaha was the first to propound this theory in his Kavyalankara-sutra.
But soon the Kashmirians elaborated this system and wrote commentaries.
Udbhata, a courtier of King Jayapida (779-813) wrote
Kavyalankara-vrtti which is now lost, and also Alankara-sangraha which defines
forty one Alankaras with illustrations from his own work Kumara-sengraha
while he adds a number of Alankaras to Bhamaha's work, and thus supersedes the
latte. He exercised profound influence over the Alankara Sastra.
Rudrata who flourished during the reign of king
Sankaravarman (900 A.D.) is the author of Kavyalankara, an extensive work
divided into sixteen Adhyayas, reviewing the whole field of politics. He makes
Rasa and Riti subordinate to Alankara. This work has been commented upon by a
host of eminent writers such as Vallabhadeva, Asadhara, etc.
(c) Riti School:
Vamana of Kashmir and Dandin are the chief
representatives of this school. This school maintains that Riti or the special
arrangement or combination of words with constituent excellence is the soul of
It was Vamana, a minister of King Jayapida of Kashmir
(779-813) and contemporary of Udbhata who boldly asserted in his work Kavyalankarasutra
that Riti is the soul of poetry (ritir alma kavyasya). His work is divided into
three Adhyayas comprising of 319 Sutras, each Sutra followed by the author's own
Vrtti and examples. He is the first to distinguish between Gunas and Alankara,
and his work is an improvement upon Dandin.
(d) Dhvani School:
After Alankara School, Rasa School and Riti School, the
Dhvani School of poetics came into existence. According to this school Rasa
theory is important as it is inapplicable to single stanzas. The charm of
poetry, therefore, lies in suggestion (vyangya). This theory is in a way an
extension of Rasa theory. It was for the first time expounded in Kashmir and
also perpetuated by later Kashmirian critics till Abhinavagupta and Mammata to
such an extent that it became a settled doctrine at the time of Panditaraja
Jagannatha. Again, it is Kashmirians who deserve credit here in discovering this
new theory, so popular even upto this day. The first propounder of this school
was Anandavaradhana, a Kashmirian. Later writers followed implicitly all the
propositions laid down by him in his Dhvanyaloka. His theory, no doubt, came
under fierce criticism at the hands of Patiharenduraja, Kuntala, Bhattanayaka
and Mahimobhatta. The essence of Anandvardhana's theory is 'dhvanir atma
kavyasya' i.e. Dhvani is the soul of poetry. So Dhvani-kavya,
Gunibbutavyangya and Citra-kavya are the three varieties of poetry in respect of
merit. The Ritis are contained in Gunas.
Anandavardhana, the author of Dhvanyaloka was a
contemporary of king Avantivarman of Kashmir (857-884 A.D.) He is quoted by
Rajasekhara, commented upon by Abbinavagupta, and quotes Udbhata. He dates,
therefore, definitely in the middle of the 9th century A.D. Besides Dhvanyaloka,
he has written Kavyas as Arjunacaritra and Visamavana-Lila and also Devi-sataka
which is gnomic poetry. He has also commented upon Pramana-vin scaya of
It appears from his Dhvanyaloka that this theory of
Dhvani was already started by some scholars, but he was the first to incorporate
all the ideas in a regular book form. The book is divided into four parts called
Udyotas. The first part expresses views about Dhvani and its nature. The
second part gives sub-divisions of Dhvani.The third part deals with divisions of
poetry on the basis of Dhvani, and the fourth part explains aims and objects and
the ideals of charming poetry. Kane in his Introduction to
Sahitya-darpana says, the Dhanyaloka is an epochmaking work in the history of
Alankara literature. It occupies the same position in poetics as Panini's
Astadhyayi in grammar, and Sankaracarya's Saririka-mimamsa in Vedanta.
The work shows great erudition and critical insight. It is written in lucid and
forcible style and bears the stamp of originality. Bhattatanta was the author of
Kavyakautuka. He was the preceptor of Abhinavagupta, as acclaimed by the
latter in his work Locana. He has also been quoted by the prolific writer
One of his doctrines was that Santa Rasa was the head
of all Rasas and it led to salvation. He flourished between 960 and 990 A.D.
Bhattenduraja was also the follower of Dhvani school of
poetics. He deserves credit for imparting his knowledge to his disciple
Abhinavagupta who later on expounded this theory on his lines.
Abbinavagupta, the famous poet, critic, philosopher and
saint of Kashmir is the author of numerous brilliant works. His Abhinavabharati
is the best commentary on Natya-sastra of Bharata. His Tantraloka is the
famous work on Kashmiri Saivism. His Paramarthasara, a poem of 100 Arya verses,
is again a philosophical treatise. IsvarapratyabhijnaKarika is a
commentary on Pratyabhijna sastra of Somananda. He commented upon The
Bhagavadgita and he wrote a commentary upon Anandvardhan's Dhvanyaloka entitled,
Dhvanyaloka-locana or Locana in its abbreviated form. His Locana is an
exhaustive commentary incorporating in it the author's original views regarding
the sentiments (rasas) and Sadharikarna and Dhvani. The Dhvani School received
greater impetus in his hands than in the hands of the originator. He further
transmitted this system to his disciple Mammatacarya, the famous author of Kavyaprakasa.
He was not only a profound philosopher, but also an acute critic and successful
poet. He lived in the later part of the 10th century A.D. He wrote more than
Candraka, who belonged to the same family as of
Abhinavagupta also wrote a commentary on Dhoanyaloka. It is a minor work
on the subject and stands no comparison with Locana.
Acarya Rajanka Mammata is know to the whole Sanskrit
world through his world famous work on poetics, viz. Kavya-prakasa.
Mammata was a Kashmirian Brahamana who lived in the beginning of the 11th
century A.D. He belonged to a family of scholars, as is apparent from
Bhimasena's Sudhasagara-tika, according to which he was elder brother of
Kaiyata, the author of Mahavhasyapradipa, and of Uvata the commentator of
Rkpratisakhya, the son of Jaiyata, and also the maternal uncle of famous
Sanskrit poet Srinarsa, the author of Naisadha-carita. His birth place
was Balahom village near Pampore.
His Kavya-prakasa, comprising ten chapters, is
an all comprehensive work on poetics, which holds such a unique position in the
field of poetics that it is studied as a text book in almost all the
postgraduate courses in Sanskrit literature in the Indian Universities. About
seventy commentaries on the same work by ancient and modern scholars is again a
proof of its popularity. The merit of the book won for the author the title 'avatara'
of goddess Sarsvati. The author deals with all the topics except dramaturgy. He
quotes profusely from other poets. He possesses independent judgement and is
mostly original in his thoughts. In South India, Narayana Bhattatir has written
a famous stotra work Narayaniyam. God Vishnu came to him in disguise and
asked him to correct the work on the basis of the principles of rhetorics as
given by Mammata in Kavya Prakasha.
Allata was another Kashmirian, to whom credit goes in
continuing the tenth chapter of Mammata's Kavya-prakasa-alankara which
had remained incomplete on account of the author's death. He also wrote
commentary on Harvijaya-Kavya of Ratnkara who was a Kashmirian
poet during the reign of Avantivarman according to Kalhana. He is said to be the
son of Rajanaka Jayanaka.
Manikyacandra was another Kashmirian, who wrote the
first, and the most reliable commentary on Kavya-prakasa. He lived in the
later part of the 12th century A.D. and his work dates 1159 A.D.
Rajanka Ruyyaka belonged to the same Rajanka family of
Kashmiri Pandits. His Alankara-sarvasva is a standard work on Dhvani-vad. His
work briefly summarises the views of his predecessors Bhamaha, Udbhata, Rudrata,
Vamana and Anandavardhana. Ruyyaka was son of Rajanka Tilaka. He quotes Bilhana
and Mammata, and is quoted by Manikyacandra, and therefore,dates in the second
half fo the 12th century A.D.
The fifth School of Sansklit poetics is the Vakrokti
school. Vakrokti is a striking mode of speech based on Slesh and differing from
the plain matter of fact, and an ordinary mode of speech. Kuntaka (or Kuntali,)
was the originator of his school. He probable flourished in the later part of
the 10th century. Later, Rajanaka Mahimabhatta, the author of Vyaleti Viveka (belonging
to the second half of 11th century), continued this school. He is commented upon
by Ryyaka in his Vyakti-VivekaVichar.' Ruyyaka demolished the theory of Dhvani
by his strong arguments and logical criticism. Kane calls it fine of the
master-pieces of Sanskrit poetics.
Kshemendra, the polyhistor of Kashmir, son of
Prakashendra, disciple of the famous critic Abhinavagupta, and a courtier of
king Anantaraja of Kashmir (1028-1080 A.D.) is the author of a score of literary
works on different subjects such as poetry, epics, history, morals, philosophy,
religion, sociology, Prosody, besides two important works on rhetorics, namely Auchitya
Vichara and Kavi-Kanthabhasna. The other works of Kshemendra are
Dashavatara-Charita, Padya-Kadambari, BharataManjari, Ramayana-Manjari,
Brihatkatha-Manjari, Avadana-Kalpalata, Nripavali, Darpa-Dalana,
Charucharya-Shalaka, Sevya-Sevaka-Upadesha, Chaturvarga-Sangraha, Kala-Vilasa,
Utpaladeva, Rajanaka Ratnakantha, Khira and Jayaratha
are other Kashmirian critics worth mentioning.
It is thus obvious that the whole literature of
Sanskrit poetics has been made rich and abundant by Kashmirian critics, who have
contributed the major portion through their original discoveries in the field.
V. Metrics and Prosody
The originator of the the science of metrics was
Pingala, the author of Pingala Sutra, who was most probably a Kashmirian,
as proved by Ramaprapanna Shastri, the editor of Vritta-Ratnakara of
Kedarabhatta Ramachandra Banddha, a resident of Bijbihara (Kashmir), who later
became chief minister of King Mauryaparakramabahu of Ceylon has written a
commentary upon Vrittaratnakara.
Mankha of Mankhaka, the disciple of Ryyaka, has written
besides some poetical works a lexicon entitled Anekarthn Kasha which
deals with homonyms, and makes a good improvement on the works of his
predecessors Amarasimha, Shashvata, Halayadha and Dhanvantari.
Sarangadena, the author of Sangita-Rahlakara, belonging
to the 13th century was probably a Kashmirian. His erudition in music, medicine
and philosophy, all in combination is revealed in this work.
Poetry has been a special theme with the Kashmiri
Pandits. Kashmir has produced a host of master poets whose celebrated works in
Sanskrit, Prakrit, Kashmiri, Persian and Urdu have remained unparallelled. The
natural bounty of Kashmir elevated their souls and turned them into poets,
scholars and saints.
Bhartrimentha, a contemporary of King Matrigupta of
Kashmir (430 A.D.) wrote an epic entitled Hayagrivavadha of which only
quotations are traceable. Bhatta Bhanmaka, a courtier of king Sridharsena II of
Vallabhi (600 A.D.) wrote Ravanarjuniya on the model of Bhatti-Kavya, in
27 cantos, narrating the strife between Arjuna Kartavirya and Ravana as found in
the Ramayana. Shri Harsha, the author of Naishadha-charita was himself
not a Kashmirian, but his mother belonged to Kashmir, and the celebrated critic
Mammatacharya (the author of world famous work Kavya Prakasha) was his maternal
Rajanaka Vagishvara Ratnakara, son of Amritabhanu, who
flourished under King Jayapida (832-844 A.D.) and King Avantivarman (855-884),
has written a stupendous work of 50 cantos and 4321 verses entitled Hara-Vijaya,
relating the story of Shiva, slaying by Shiva of the demon Andhaka. The epic was
commented upon by Alaka. Poet Kshemendra has praised this work for command of
Sivasvamin, son of Arkasvyamin, during the reign of
king Avantivaraman, and a contemporary of poet Ratnakara has written in 20
cantos an epic entitled Kapphinabhyudaya, relating the Avadana story of
King Kapphina of Daksinapatha, who invaded the territory of King Prasenajit of
Sravasti, but becomes a Buddhist miraculously. The story is based on a tale on
Avadana-sataka. The poet imitates Bharavi and Magha. Kalkhana mentions him as a
contemporary of Rathakara and Anandavardhana. He dedicates his poem to Siva, but
at the same time glorifies Buddha. This should not look odd to a modern reader,
for he should bear in mind that Kashmir was a great Buddhist centre with a
composite culture of Buddhism and Saivism. In fact Buddhism was so incorporated,
that Ksemendra included Buddha among the ten Hindu Avataras in his Dasavatar-carita.
Abhinanda, son of Jayantabhatta, the logician, who
flourished in the 19th century A.D. wrote Kadambari-katha-sara, an epitome of
Bana's Kadambari in epic form. He has been quoted by Abhinavagupta, Ksemendra
Mankha, son of Visvavarta, a minister of King Jayasimha
of Kashmir (1127-1150 A.D.), wrote the famous epic Srikantha-carita. He
was a pupil of the critic Ruyyaka, and his three brothers Srinagar, Bhanga and
Alankara were all scholars and state officials. He is the same lexicographer who
wrote Anekartha-kosa. The epic in 25 cantos narrates the story of
overthrow of the demon Tripura by Siva. The author gives an account of himself
and his family. He was a contemporary of historian Kalhana, who mentions him as
a minister (sandhivigrahika) of King Jayasinha.
Mankha also mentions Kalhana's elegant style and names
him as Kalyana. Srikantha-carita, is an epic in elegant style, and is a faithful
example of the rules of poetics regarding the composition of a phenomena of
nature (e.g. sunset, moonrise and morning) reminding the reader of the rich
scenery of Kashmir. This work has been commented upon by Jonaraja, the
Rajanaka Jayartha, who flourished in the 13th century
A.D. under King Rajdeva of Kashmir, has composed an extensive poem Hara-carita-cintamani
based on Saiva myths and practices. This work describes some of the
pilgrimages of Kashmir connected with Saivism. It can well be called an abridged
Ksemendra, the polymath, whose account has been given
earlier, has written a number of epics, viz Dasavatara-carita, Bharatamanjari,
Ramayana manjari, Brhatkatha-manjari, and Padya-kadambari. Dasa-vatara-carita
glorifies ten incarnations of Visnu, including Gautama Buddha as one of the
incarnations. The incarnations are Matsya, Kurma Varaha, Narsimha, Vamana,
Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki. It was composed in 1066 A.D.
Unlike other Sanskrit epic writers, Ksemendra's style
is simple and flowing. He has not endeavoured to bring in artificialities and
intricacies of style. He made a good blending of morals and poetry.
Mention has already been made of Vikramakadeva-carita
of Bilhana, as a historical work. This work has as much poetical merit as it has
historical significance. It is not out of place to summarise the poetical
significance of this historical Mahakavya. Having been educated thoroughly in
his native village Khonamukha (near Rampur town in Kashmir) by his father who
was himself a learned scholar, and also outside Kashmir at Mathura, Kanyakubja,
Prayaga and Varanasi which he visited as a wandering scholar, he had
accomplished himself as a perfect poet with mastery over Vaidarbha style of
Sanskrit poetry. 'His style is not easy, but elegant and normally attractive; it
is doubtless studied, but not overdone with subtleness of thought and
expression; it is fully embellished, but reasonable, clear and effective in its
verbal and metrical skill The epic has got eighteen cantos and the description
of the death of Ahavamalla in canto IV is his masterpiece.
As says Keith, he is more of a poet than a historian.
He could not be an authentic historian since he was under royal patronage which
influenced his objectivity and writing a faithful Mahakavya, for which he had to
blend a love theme with history, he had to digress from mere historical
Kalidasa, the Shakespeare of India, the master-mind and
admittedly the greatest poet of Sanskrit, is believed to be a Kashmirian by some
Sanskrit scholars. The rich knowledge that the poet possessed about flora and
fauna of mountain regions, his knowledge of saffron (which is a product of
Kashmir) his personal philosophy relating to Saivism of Kashmir, the
suggestiveness of the title abhijnana (in Sakuntalam) with
Pratbhijna Sastra of Kashmir, and such suggestive facts
may lead us to conjecture that he was a Kashmirian. This point is, however, not
conclusive and requires active research and investigation in comparison with
other historical evidences. But in case the above theory comes true, Kashmir
wins the trophy. In that case his two epics, Kumara-Sambhava and Raghu-Vanmsa,
and his three dramas, Malavkagnimitra, Vikrama Lorvashiya, Abhijana-sakuntala,
and his two lyrics Meghaduta and Ritu-samhara are the best
contributions of Kashmir. Dr. Lakshmi Dhar former Head of Sanskrit Deptt., Delhi
University, has proved Kalidasa as a Kashmirian
IX. Shorter Poems (Khanda Kavyas)
Besides Mahakavyas, we find a number of short
poems-narrative or lyrical-written by Kashmirians.
Bilhana, has written a beautiful erotic poem Caurapanchsika
in fifty stanzas, depicting secret love of a robber chief and a princess, in
Vasantalata metre, each stanza beginning with the phrase 'adyapi tam'.
Each star is a masterpiece, depicting vividly and minutely the past scenes of
"If I could see once again towards evening, that
beloved with fawn-like eyes and milk-white rounded pitcher like breasts, gladly
would I forego the pleasure of kingdom, paradise and salvation".
The intense feelings and deep emotions aroused here are
definitely the proof of his master-skill. The poem has got two recensions viz.
South India recision and Kashmiri recension The latter is more authentic.
Matrgupta, the illustrious King of Kashmir who
patronised poet Bhartmentha, was himself a poet, though none of his works is
extant. He is said to have written a commentary on the Natya-sastra of Bharata
of which quotations remain. He has been sometimes confused with Kalidasa.
Silhana, another Kashmirian poet wrote Santisataka.
He probably dates 12th century A.D. This work reveals profound influence of
Buddhism upon him. His poetry resembles that of Bhartrihari in his
Sambu another Kashmirian who flourished during the
reign of King Harsa of Kashmir (1089-1101) wrote a poem of 108 verses titled Anyoktimuktalata-sataka,
Rajendra-karnapura has been mentioned earlier as a historical, narrative and
panegyric, eulogising King Harsa. Jonaraja, the historian, has commented upon
Prthviraja-vijaya, a work of an unknown Kashmirian author. Hiracanda Ojha and
Belevelkar conjecture its author to be Jayanka. Its composition may date between
1178 and 1193 A.D.
Sankuka who flourished in the reign of Ajitpida of
Kashmir (8th century A.D.) has been referred to by Kalhana to have written
Bhuvanabhudaya in which he had described a fierce battle between Mammata and
Utpala. The work is lost. Anthologies also ascribe some verses to Sankuka.
X. Gnomic and Didactic Poetry
A lot of poetical works written by Kashmirians falls
under the head of didactic poetry, due to the peculiar nature and theme of the
poems. Ksemendra, the polymath is acclaimed to be the greatest moralist in
Sanskrit poetical literature.
His Samaya-matrka is a poem of eight
chapters in Sloka metre, narrating the story of a young courtesan Kalavti
introduced by a barber to an old expert lady Kankali for detailed instruction in
her profession. There is an exact picture of wandering singers, beggars, beggar
women, shop-girls, holy saints, thieves and such classes of people, with a lofty
satire. It is inspite of its obvious coarseness, an interesting specimen of an
approach to satirical writing, which is so rarely cultivated in Sanskrit His Kala-vilasa
depicts, in ten chapters, various occupations and follies of the people of the
time. In this poem a fraudulent Muladev instructs his young disciple Candragupta
in the art of roguery practiced by doctors, harlots, traders, goldsmiths,
actors, astrologers, beggars, singers and saints. His Darpa-Dalana condemns
pride which usually springs from seven sources, namely birth, wealth, knowledge,
beauty, courage, generosity and asceticism. His Sevya-sevakopadesa discusses the
relation between servants and their masters. His Carucarya-sataka lays down
rules of good conduct, illustrated by myths and legends. His Caturvarga-sangraha
deals with four objects of human life, namely, virtue, wealth, love and
salvation. In his Desopadesa, he describes all types of people living in
Kashmir during his days, namely the cheat, the miser, the prostitute, old men,
the degraded Saiva teacher, the false ascetic, crafty merchant and the like, Narmamala
also contains similar series of pen-pictures. Ksemendra is perfect in his
humorous and satirical style. Throughout his works, there is, nevertheless, a
moral aim. In satire and painting of pen-pictures, he reigns supreme in Sanskrit
Bhallata, who flourished under King Sankaravarman
(883-902) of Kashmir, has written Beellata-sataka in 108 stanzas, dealing
with morality and conduct. The work is cited by Abhinavagupta, Ksemendra,
Kuntala and Mammata.
Jalhana, similarly has written Mugdopadesa in 65
verses dealing with deception of courtesans
Damodaragupta, minister of Jayapida of Kashmir
(779-813) wrote Kuttani-mata dealing with advice of a courtesan
XI. Devotional Poetry
A good number of devotional songs or stories have been
inspired by the deep religious tendencies among Kashmirians. Often weighted with
theological and philosophical ideas, their literary merit is beyond question. A
long tradition of chanting devotional songs continues even upto the present day
in Hindu homes and temples. Some of the songs are very popular and have been
uttered by the Kashmirian devout minds from generations. Majority of the songs
are Saivite poems, which is natural in a land where Saivism flourished. The
Buddhist hymns will be discussed elsewhere under 'Buddhist Literature'. The
hymns based on Hinduism are mentioned below.
Ratnakara, the writer of Hara-Vijaya, has
written Vakrokti-pancasika dealing with love of Siva and Parvati in fifty
stanzas, and illustrating side by side clever use of punning ambiguities. Anandavardhana,
the founder of Dhvani of poetics, has composed Devi-sataka in hundred
verses eulogising and glorifying the goddess Parvati. It reveals more of
ornamentation than devotion. But it has, no doubt, inspired his successors in
writing similar stotras Utpaladeva the great Saivite, who was son of Udayakara
and pupil of Somananda (the founder of Pratyabhijna school of Saivism) has
written Paramesa-stotravali of Pratyabbijna which enlogises Siva in
twenty devotional songs. Avatara has composed Israra-sataka, which is similar
Puspadanta's Siva-mahimnah-stotra has received
high popularity among the Kashmirians Jayantabhatta mentions it in his Nyaya-manjari,
and therefore, it belongs to not later than the 9th century A.D. and, hence, it
has inspired other writers to write mahimnah stotras in praise of other
Jagaddharabhatta has composed Stuti-kusumanjuli
and Kalhana, the historian, composed a short poem of eighteen stanzas, titled 'Ardhanarisavara-stotra'.
An unknown Kashmirian author composed Sambapancasika, an eulogy in praise
of the sun God, in fifty verses in Mandakranta metre. It has Saiva background,
even though it is in praise of the sun. It has been commented upon by Ksemaraja
in 13th century A.D Sambha son of Krsna, whom it has referred to is a mythical
XII. Anthologies (Subhasitavali)
Preparation of anthologies among the Kashmiris was
quite common. Vallabhadeva' (11th century A.D.) compiled Subhasitavali containing
3527 verses in 101 sections quoting about 360 authors. The topics included are
varied e.g. love, nature, conduct, wordly wisdom and witty sayings.
Jalhana, the author of Somapala-vilasa and Mugdhopadesa,
composed Sakti-Muktavali or Subhashita Muktavali containing 2790
verses,in 133 sections on the model of Vallabhadeva's work. One of its sections
is very valuable from the point of view of literary history, as it contains
traditional verses on Sanskrit poets.
Srivaras the historian, pupil of Jonaraja who continued
Rajatarangini has compiled Subhasitavali quoting 380 poets. It dates
about 1480 A D.
XIII. Popular Tales
An enormous literature on folk-tales of India was
compiled by a South Indian writer named Gunadhya in the form of Brhat-kata Unfortunately
this work which worked as a store house of popular tales to be drawn upon freely
by later writers for poetical composition was lost, and it exist only in the
form of the three abridged versions, two of which have come from Kashmir viz.
Brhatkatha-manjari of Ksemendra and Kathasarit-sagara of Somadeva and
the third version from Nepal viz Brhatkatha-slokasangraha of Buddhasvamin,
which is not so important as it contains only a fragment of the original and
only a fragment of the work is available. It again differs from the two
Kashmirian versions, in matter and spirit.
Ksemendra's Brhatkatha-manjari written in
1063-66 A.D. is a faithful summary of the original Brhatkatha which appears to
have been written in Paisaci Rose. It contains 7500 stanzas. The author has been
a mere condenser, but has interpolated elegant description in frequent
occasions, which has made the narrative truly charming. The work is divided into
18 chapters called Nambhakas with subdivisions called Gucchas.
Somadeva, son of Rama wrote Kathasarit-sagara,
containing 21388 stanzas in 18 books (Lambhakas) and 124 chapters (Tarangas) in
the years 1063-81 A.D. The writer's aim was to divert the mind of unhappy
Suryamati, a princess of Jalandhara, wife of King Ananta and mother of Kalasa.
It bears close resemblance with Ksemendra's work.
In comparison with Brhatkatha-manjari its style is
simple and it has maintained rapid flow of a simple narrative. Some stories have
a Buddhist influence. Again it reflects the life of the people of Kashmir of his
Ksemendra wrote a number of plays. These are lost and
are known only from his citations in his works on rhetorics. Citra-bharata
and Kanaka-janaki appear to be his two prominent plays based on the
Mahabharata and the Ramayana. His Lalitaratnamala is another play mentioned by
Bilhana has written Karna-sundari dealing with
marriage of Karndeva Trailokymalla of Anhilvad (1064-94 A.D).) with a Princess
Miyanalla Devi of Karnataka,
The famous dramatist Visakhadatta, writer of
Mudraraksasa might have been a Kashmirian if his reference to King Avantivarman
in his Bharatavakya is cofirmed by authentic text and other evidences.
Similar confirmation is needed about Kalidasa as a Kashmirian.
XV. Buddhist Literature
That Kashmir has been an important centre for the
development and spread of Buddhism, has been discovered and confirmed by recent
researches. It convoyed high reputation for Buddhist learning, and carried the
Buddhist doctrine from India to Tibet, China and Central Asia. A host of
Kashmirian Buddhist scholars translated Sanskrit and Prakrit works into foreign
languages, wrote commentaries on older works, and travelled to distant countries
in order to propagate the faith. A brief account of some known Buddhist poets
and philosophers is given below.
A Kashmirian Matrcata has written two devotional poems;
Satpancasatka-stotra and Catus-satakastotra, which have recently
been discovered in Central Asia. The most important Buddhist devotional poem is
Sarvajnamitra's Sragdharastotra, written in praise of Buddhist goddess
Tara, the female counterpart of Avalokitesvata. The poem containing 37 verses is
written in Sragdhara metre. He flourished during the time of King Lalitaditya.
Kalhana mentions him, and praises him to the extent of comparing him with Buddha
himself. The author has written several other stotras.
It was Kumarajiva, probably a Kashmirian monk, who was
invited by the Emperor of China in 401 A.D. to his capital, where he wrote and
translated into Chinese a number of Buddhist works, including Tattvasidhi of
Harivarman, a Kashmiri scholar. Other Kashmirians who contributed to Buddhism
and spread it in China in the 5th century A.D. are: Buddhayana, Gunavarma, and
The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who visited Kashmir in
the 7th century A.D. and stayed there for two years has mentioned a number of
Kashmiri scholars, viz. Skandila, the writer of Vibhasaprakarana-pada-Sastra,
Purna, the commentator on the above work, Bodhila, the writer of Tattvasancaya-sastra;
Visuddhasimha, Jinabandhu, Sagalamitra, Vasumitra, Jinatara, Suryadeva and
There is a reference of Ratna-cinta a Kashmirian
Buddhist who worked in China front 693 to 706 A.D. and translated Ekaksara-dharani
and many other texts. Amoghavajra, Prajnabala, Tabuta and Ganuta were other
Kashmirians who visited China. Ananta worked similarly in Tibet in the middle of
the 8th century A.D. Jinamitra, Dhanshila, and Santigarbha also revised Buddhist
works. A great Kashmiri scholar, who worked in Tibet, and who is even now
remembered by Tibetans is Subhati Sri Santi. Mention must be made of another
Kashmirian Buddhist scholar Smrtyakara Siddha, who was one of the eight great
Panditas in Vikramasila University in the middle of the 11th century A.D. and
also of Ratnavajra another honoured Pandit of the University, and lastly of
Sakya Sri Bhadra who was the Chancellor of the University at the close of the
12th Century A.D. who later on went to Tibet when Baktiar Khilli destroyed the
Kashmir has, thus, made no less contribution to
Buddhism. The whole period from 273 B.C. to 600 A.D. in Kashmir's history is
Buddhist period. Ashoka brought in Kashmir Buddhism in 273 B.C. Buddhism was a
mature religion when it entered Kashmir. It had introduced systematized
education, taught equality of all, and given full status to women. Kashmir
welcomed this religion. Later Emperor Kaniska held his fourth Buddhist Council
in Kashmir, wherein 100,000 stanzas of commentaries on each of the three classes
of canonical literature, viz. Sutra, Vinaya and Abhidharma were composed. A huge
number of Viharas and monasteries were established in every nook and corner of
the valley, the remains of which are existent even now. Buddhism in Kashmir
incidentally gave impetus to Gandhara or the IndoGreek art. During Ashoka's rule
Kashmir and Gandhara came close together. In recent time, a good number of
Buddhist sculptures have been found in Kashmir which represent Gandhara art.
Buddhism again had profound influence upon the life and
culture of Kashmirians, and this influence still continues even after its decay
upto the present day. The Buddhist Tantric rites are retained in Saivism. But
more important than this from the cultural point of view, is the leading part
that Kashmir took in spreading it to the neighbouring countries e.g. China and
Tibet. 'Kashmir' says P. C. Bagchi, 'takes the leading part in transmission of
Buddhist traditions directly to China'. The number of Buddhist scholars who went
to China from Kashmir is larger than that of those who went from other parts of
India. Kashmir was the most flourishing centre of Buddhist learning in India in
this period. It was the centre of the most powerful Buddhist sect of Northern
India, the Sarvastivada.
XVI. Kashmirian Saivism
The greatest contribution of Kashmir to Indian culture
is the development of a new philosophy, more rational than other philosophies of
India, and a definite improvement upon Vedanta philosophy. Unlike Vedanta which
regards the physical world a trap and delusion (Maya) and creates a tendency of
withdrawing from the wordly life, Kashmiri Saivism accepts the reality of the
phenomenal world as a manifestation of the Universal mind. It is synthesis of
the realism of the West and idealism of the East, welding the science (of the
material world) and religion in a devotional monotheism. A Kashmirian could not
afford to shut his eyes from the enchanting beauty of nature revealed in his
homeland, and call it unreal. But instead he calls it manifestation of the
divinity, or the divine energy (Sakti) which is the source of the whole movement
of the universe, and Siva-Universal mind. It is this divine energy that acts as
central fire, stirring each and every atom (Anu) with its sparks.
Jiva is nothing but the atom with the divine spark.
Siva, Sakti and Anu are thus the three fundamental principles of Saivism. It is,
therefore, named as Trika philosophy. It gave Kashmir a revelation of life as
real dynamic endowed with creative possibilities, and not as a deception or
illusion. It retorted that maya of Sankara had a defeatist tone, symptomatic of
disillusionment and loss to the individual and the nation.
Vasugupta (825 A.D.) the author of Siva-sutra
was the first to discover and explain the Agamic teaching of Saivism in a
systematic form. It is said that this knowledge was revealed to him in the
Harvan Valley. He explained these sutras in the form of Spanda-Karika. Bhatta
Kallata, a pupil of Vasugupta, gave publicity to his master's work and wrote Spanda-sarvasva.
Somananda (850 A.D.) who was a younger contemporary of
Vasugupta, made a little departure from Vasugupta, and founded the Pratyabhijna
school of Saivism as opposed to the Spanda school of Vasugupta. Both these
branches developed side by side, but the latter received more popularity.
Somananda says that the Ultimate can be realized through recognition (Pratyabhinjana)
of it by the individual in himself in practical life. This principal of
recognition is absent in Spanda. Somananda's work is entitled Sivadrsti.
The Spanda branch received further exposition at the
hands of Utpala, the pupil of Bhatta Kallata who wrote Spanda-pradipika
(a commentary) and of Ksemaraja who wrote Spanda-nirnaya in the 11th
The Pratyabbijna system was further elaborately
discussed by Utpalacarya, a pupil of Somananda who wrote Isvarapratyabhijna-karika
and Israrasiddhi with his own Vrtti, in about 930 A.D.
Abbinavagupta, grand pupil of Utpalacarya, is an
authority on Pratyabhijna system. Isvarapratyabhijua-karika and his own tika
are two commentaries on Utpalacarya's work. Besides, he wrote a number of such
works, out of which
Paramarthasara, Tantriloka, Tantrasara,
Sivadretilocana deserve special mention. Abhinavagupta related the monastic
Saivism to the recognized Sivagamas, the Indian aesthetic theory on the basis of
Ksemaraja (1040 A.D.) summarised the system in the form
Yogaraja (1060 A.D.) wrote a commentary of Paramarthasara.
Jayaratha (1180 A.D.) commented upon Tantraloka.
Bhaskaranatha (18th century A.D.) commented upon
Isvara-pratyabhijna-vimarsini, Varadaraja wrote Siva-sutra-vartika.
A host of other writers developed upon this system.
Pradyumna Bhatta, Mahadeva Bhatta and Jayaratha deserves special mention. The
last Saiva writer was Sivopadbyaya during 9th century A.D.
Saivism remained, thus, a living and active faith of
the Kashmirians from the 9th century onwards. The rite of Saivism was
responsible for the progress in all the sciences and arts. It helped them to
cultivate a scientific and rational attitude of life. It is this philosophy that
helped them to bear the brunt of foreign invasions and fierce onslaughts of the
Muslims from thirteenth century onwards. It became the basis of the Tantric
religion which was the practical and the ritual side of this system.
It is not out of place to mention here that, although
Saivism was the dominating philosophy, other philosophies also were being
studied keenly. Jayantabhatta wrote Nyaya-manjari in about 910 A.D. This
work is an independent treatise on the Nyaya system and at the same time a
commentary on a number of Nyaya-sutras.
Tradition says that Mandana-misra, the famous Mimmsaka,
who had philosophical discussion with Sankara, belonged to Kashmir. It is yet to
be proved on the basis of other evidences. He wrote three important works on
Vedanta viz. Brahma-siddhi, Sphota-siddhi and Vibhrama-viveka. His
three works on Mimamsa are Vidhi-viveka, Bhavana-viveka, and Mumamsanukramanika.