Wednesday 9 January 2013

The classic that was written in 19 days

It is among his best works and it was written in a very short span of time. The work, a classic in Dwaitha literature, came to be written in exactly 19 days and even four hundreds years later, it is considered to be one of the classics of Sanskrit literature.
The date and even the place of this work is known, thanks to the history of its composition and the incidents surrounding it. This is the Rukminisavajaya, a beautiful book on Krishna, the Krishna leela, his pranks and his childhood by Vadiraja Theertha, the seer of Sode.
Declared as one of the Mahakavyas of Sanskrit, Rukminisavijaya was written with the sole intention of  making people aware of the greatness of Krishna and the reason behind his many actions.
There is a beautiful story about how this work came to be composed. Vadiraja had won several debates in Vijayanagar and he decided to go to Punyapuri (Pune in Maharashtra). When he came there, he saw that the people had applauded a work in Sanskrit called Shishupala Vadha.
A gathering of poets and writers in Punyapuri had decided to label the Vadha as the greatest Sanskrit Mahakavya. The Vadha was written by Magha, a well-known poet who flourished in the 8th century A. D., and whose only recorded work was Shishupala Vadha or the Slaying of  Shishupala.
The Vadha is a classical epic that consists of short cantos containing intricate syntax, luscious descriptions and compound sentences  that, depending on how they are split, give different meanings.
The gathering at Punyapuri had unanimously considered Shishupala Vadha as one of the six model mahakavyas.
The Vada is based on an episode in the Mahabharata in which King Shishupala insults Krishna, who then beheads him in the ensuing duel.
Comprising 20 cantos, the Shishupala Vadha has a rich vocabulary that allegedly includes every known word in Sanskrit language. The 19th canto, which is noted for its complexity, contains a stanza that is identical to the previous stanza if read backwards.
Vadiraja had read the Vadha and though he appreciated the language and skill of the composer, he did not agree with the views and the topic chosen as he felt that it unnecessarily glorified a villain.
Vadiraja had come to Punyapuri to observe Chaturmasa. There he learnt about the decision of the Vidwath Sabha to glorify the Vadha and take it out in a procession.  
Anguished by what he perceived to be a hasty decision, Vadiraja sent word to the reigning Peshwa of Punyapuri that he had already written a Mahakavya in Sanksrit that he wanted to present before the gathering. He said the victor should be announced only after his book was read out.
The Peshwa agreed and asked Vadiraja to present his Mahakavya. This put Vadiraja in a fix as he had so far not written any Mahakavya. He informed the Peshwa that the book was in Udupi and he sought three weeks’ time to produce it. The Peshwa readily agreed and  the function to honor the Vadha was put off.
Vadiraja then set about writing Rukminisavijaya. Since the Vadha dealt with Krishna,  he too decided to choose Krishna and his childhood as his theme.
Vadiraja then began composing Rukminisavijaya-a canto everyday for 20 days. He wanted to complete the work in 20 cantos as the Vadha too had a similar number.
Vadiraja managed to complete the work by the 19th day and on the 20th day, he presented it before the sabha. The sabha then unanimously declared Rukminisavijaya the winner and honored the Sode seer for his Mahakavya.  That the gathering declared Vadiraja to be the winner shows the depth and richness of his work.
Earlier top Rukminisavijaya,  Magha and his work had the reputation of  being,
"upama kalidasasya, bharaver arthagauravam,
dandinah padalalityam- maghe santi trayo gunah”
meaning, “The similes of Kalidasa,  depth of meaning of Bharavi and wordplay of Dandi are all in Magha and his work”.
This fact was disproved and Rukminisavijaya was then placed on a decorated elephant and it was taken out in a procession through the streets of Punyapuri.
The Rukminisavijaya not only gives the story of Krishna but also takes us to some of the philosophical thoughts and Tatwa.

No comments:

Post a Comment