Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha

by Krishna Kanta Handiqui | 1956 | 159,632 words

This page relates Introduction to Shriharsha’s Naishadhacarita of the English translation of the Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha, dealing with the famous story of Nala (king of Nishadha) and Damayanti (daughter of Bhima, king of Vidarbha), which also occurs in the Mahabharata. The Naishadhacharita is considered as one of the five major epic poems (mahakavya) in Sanskrit literature.

Introduction to Śrīharṣa’s Naiṣadhacarita

Śrīharṣa’s Naiṣadhacarita has for its subject the story of Nala and Damayantī, but carries the narrative only as far as their marriage and the advent of Kali in Nala’s capital, followed by certain descriptions which do not in any way contribute to the progress of the story. A brief outline of the contents of the poem will be found in the Synopsis.

The Naiṣadha is the longest Mahākāvya of the classical period with the exception of Ratnākara’s Haravijaya and Abhinanda’s Rāmacarita. It has been assigned to the twelfth century, and is the last great poem of Sanskrit literature. Śrīharṣa’s poem is famous for the lyric flow of its diction, but it is also a learned Kāvya, being the work of a poet who wrote the abstruse Vedāntic treatise Khaṇḍanakhaṇḍakhādya. We shall discuss the poem, its date and place in Kāvya literature in a separate volume, and here confine ourselves to the commentaries, mostly unpublished, which have been quoted in the Notes.

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