Subhāshitāvali: An Anthology of Comic, Erotic and Other Verse (Penguin Classics)
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The subhashita verse is a popular feature of Sanskrit literature. Composed in isolation or as part of a larger work, it is essentially a miniature poem which encapsulates a complete thought, mood or image in a single stanza. These verse epigrams have a wide range of themes. This selection from the Subhashitavali, a celebrated verse anthology compiled by Vallabhadeva in c. fifteenth-century Kashmir, offers a rich variety of erotic poetry and a wealth of lyrical and gnomic verse. One section is given to earthy humour and cynical satire seldom available in English renditions. Also included are invocations and allegories, panegyrics and pen-pictures, sage observations and stark musings. The sweep of these verses is matched by the eclectic array of contributors from illustrious poets like Vyasa and Valmiki, Kalidasa and Bana to others now mostly forgotten. These verses of jollity and wit, ribaldry and bawdiness, snide sarcasm and wry comment showcase the fact that Sanskrit literature, generally perceived as staid and serious, can also be flippant and fun.
embrace: you simpleton, you have been let down by your own ineptness. 1173 RATNAMITRA 192 What did you get by being so fickle and self-willed? He came to your house, fell at your feet so lovingly, and you ignored him! Now you’ll never be happy and weep lifelong reaping the fruit of anger. 1176 AMARUKA 193 True, today is Tuesday, not suitable for you; even so, messenger, go, a sufferer cannot wait. 1179 194 Good times are as waves on water, youth is but a moment’s span, life is
embracing his own spouse, one faithful and amenable. Is it love? It’s not, alas, just the tiresome married state. 2398 413 Its friction makes the girls cry out, young women emit squeals of joy; the more mature, this rod ambrosial, makes their deepest griefs forget; it churns the oceanic depths of old vaginas, like Mandara; long live this tusk of Indra’s elephant, this mighty club, this prick of yours. 2401 414 ‘Monk, your cloak is rather loose.’ ‘It is a net for catching fish.’ ‘You
statement by the lover and the rest a repartee by his inamorata. In tradition Bilhana loved a princess, and though the verse is ascribed to both, it is not found in the poets work. Nalachampu, 7.31. A, 71. A well-known verse. S, 10. 28. S, 7.61. RaghuvamŚa, 16.65 of Kālidāsa. Nāgānanda, III. 35. Kāvyālamkāra, 7. 71. K, 9.50. Almost the same as A, 23. Bhaṭṭikāvya (Rāvaṇavadha), 9.21 318 A, 101. S. 11. Viddhaśālabhanjika, I. 12. Almost the same as A, 16. Āruka is identified in
1.210. H, P. 30. M, Śānti. 140.24. H, P. 17. M, Adi. 140.82. H, 4.12. M, Sānti. 8.19. H, 1.124. Manusmriti, 4.119. P, 4.10. M, Udyoga. 35.56-57. M, Udyoga. 36.30 478 P, 4.28. Prabodhachandrodaya, II.1 of Krishna Miśra. M, Śānti. 181.16. M, Śānti. 331.41 B, Nīti. 84, with slight change. B, Vairāgya. 97. B, Nīti. 82. H, 2.83. P, 5.65. Also quoted in Rājataringini of Kalhaṇa as from this author. In Rāmāyana the hero Ramas wife was abducted while he had gone hunting for the golden
Vallabhadeva, who is described in some texts as a kāshmīraka, a person from Kashmir. 5 Little else is known about him but the anthology’s Kashmiri connection is also evident from a number of authors and verses that feature in it. The former are noted in the appended list of poets and some of the verses, such as vv. 118, 243, 332 and 452, are included in the present selection. The subject of one (v. 425) is clearly Sultan Zainu’l Abidin (1420–1470), 6 a famous ruler of Kashmir who is known to have