Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha

by Krishna Kanta Handiqui | 1956 | 159,632 words

This page relates Introduction to Ishanadeva’s commentary 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 Īśānadeva’s commentary

The next commentary on the Naiṣadha was written by Īśānadeva in Benares. A few notable extracts from his commentary have been included in the Notes and the Vocabulary, and are taken from the following manuscript preserved in the Bhandarkar Institute.

No. 183 of 1870-80 is a fairly well-written and correct manuscript written in Saṃwat 1473 or 1417 a.d., as stated at the end. The manuscript contains the commentary on all the Cantos except the fourteenth, but a few leaves are mutilated. The manuscript frequently quotes Cāṇḍūpaṇḍita’s commentary, the citations being usually placed in a supplementary section at the end of the gloss on each verse,[1] and sometimes followed by the remark “ityanyataḥ”.[2] Under 7.65 the scribe remarks that the gloss on the verse in question is not found in the manuscript of Īśānadeva’s commentary (īśānadevabhāṣyaprati) and so has been incorporated from another commentary (ityanyabhāṣyato nyastam). examination the gloss turns out to be that of Cāṇḍūpaṇḍita, and as a matter of fact, helps us to supply an omission in the manuscripts of the latter.[3] Again, at the end of Canto XIX the scribe remarks that a folio is missing in the manuscript of Īśānadeva’s commentary, and so the gloss on the last six verses of the Canto (19. 61-66) has been written by himself[4] with the help of Vyāsa Kālidāsa, who was his teacher, as we learn from the colophon at the end of our manuscript.

The date of Īśānadeva’s commentary appears on the last leaf of the above manuscript. A portion of the leaf is unfortunately mutilated, but the date is clear enough, being Saṃvat 1378 or 1322 A.D.[5] The commentary was thus written within twenty-five years of the composition of Cāṇḍūpaṇḍita’s work. Īśānadeva was a Śaiva ascetic and practised the Mādhūkarī method of begging. He asks the connoisseurs of poetry not to laugh at his attempt, and is profuse in the acknowledgement of his literary obligations to his teacher Vāmarāśi.[6]

Īśānadeva makes an appreciative reference to the commentary of Vidyādhara in the beginning of his work,[7] and his commentary is, in fact, based on that of Vidyādhara, whom he generally follows both in the readings and the interpretation of the verses. It may be noted that his work is sometimes useful in checking the readings found in the manuscripts of Vidyādhara.

Īśānadeva quotes very few authors. A quotation from Halāyudha in the gloss on 22. 4 is found in Aufrecht’s edition of Abhidhānaratnamālā (2.13), while a Vyavahārasāra is quoted under 15.42.[8] A rule from the Cāndra grammar is cited under 7.6.[9]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Under 3.73: 2.61; 6.54: 6.66; 6.109 etc.

[2]:

Under 6.2: 7.80; 7.107 etc.

[3]:

See Notes (Extracts) 7. 65.

[4]:

“dākṣīputretyādi tathā āgacchannityantaṃ ślokaṣaṭkasya vyākhyāsthāne bhāṣyapratipustake pūṭhikā muktā'sti | ato mayā... vyāsaśrīkālidāsopadiṣṭavyākhyārītyā vicārya śudvamaśuddhaṃ vā kimapi likhitamasti | mudhībhiḥ śodhyam | tathā yadīśānadevabhāṣyasyāparā prati ghaṭate tadā tatratyaṃ viśeṣavyākhyānaṃ patrikāyāṃ likhitvā atra prakṣepyam | tāvadidaṃ vilokyam |”

[5]:

.......trayodaśaśataṃ yadvikramādbhūpateḥ, saptatyā sahitaṃ tato'pi vasubhistvasmānmayā śrīmatā | śrīkāśyāṃ vasatā......, śaivācāryatapasvinā viracitaṃ śakraiḥ sahasrairmitam ||

[6]:

mādhūkarīṃ samāśritya vṛttimetadehārjitam | mayā tapasvinā tasmādalaṃ kāvyavidāṃ hasaiḥ || sarvo'pi kāvyamupajīvya karoti śāstraṃ[?], vyākhyā gurorapi mayā'nukṛtā tadeyam | vidvān sa yāti narakaṃ khalu yaḥ prasiddhyai, svīyāṃ vadan parakṛtiṃ pratibhāti loke ||

[7]:

The verses occur in the beginning of the commentary.

ye'laṃkāravivecane kutukinaḥ śrīharṣasaṃkīrtine
kāvye'smin svayameva te vidadhatu prajñāvilāsaṃ [v?]udhāḥ |
ṭīkāṃ vā bahuto vicārajaṭilāṃ paśyantu vidyādharīṃ
tadvācyā na vayaṃ hi tasya karaṇe prāyo na jānodyamāḥ ||

[8]:

See Notes.

[9]:

“anaṅgadarśane iti sūtraṃ cāndram”

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