Harshacharita (socio-cultural Study)

by Mrs. Nandita Sarmah | 2014 | 67,792 words

This page relates ‘Description of Utensils’ of the English study on the Harshacharita: A Sanskrit (poetical work) which can be studied as a Historical book of Indian society during the 7th century. It was originally written by Banabhatta who based his Harsacarita on the life of the Gupta emperor Harshavardhana. This study researches the religion, philosophy, flora and fauna and society of ancient India as reflected in the Harsha-Charita.

19. Description of Utensils

Bāṇa has used the word bhāṇḍai[1] to indicate utensils. At that time of giving description of the emperor Harṣavardhana’s army expedition,[2] he mentions that all the essential things had been carried by the king’s servants. They also carried the king’s essential accessories (i.e., upakaraṇa),[3] such as-spittoon, golden footstool, betel-box, water-pot etc.

In that situation, we find the names of various utensils, such as—

  1. Kumbha: Normally, it is made with soil. But at that time it was made of gold[4] or silver.
  2. Tāpaka (oven,p.113),
  3. tāpikā (pan,p.113), katāha (a frying pan,p.123),
  4. hāstaka (spit,p. 23),
  5. tāmracaruka (a copper vessel,p.123),
  6. kumbha (jars,p.123),
  7. karkarī (water-jar,p.123),
  8. kāncanācamanaka (a golden spitting vessel,p.72),
  9. ulūkhala (morter,p.68), etc.

The writer mentions an essential accessory of the ascetics known as kamaṇḍalu[5] (i.e., water-vessel). Goddess Sarasvatī[6] had carried a crystal water-vessel in her left hand. It refers that sometimes it was used as weapons[7] of the ascetics.

From the above discussion it concludes that the writer Bāṇa has vividly describes the pictures of Indian society of the 7th century in which he lived. The city life was better than the village life. The cities possessed adequate big roads, buildings, shops, proper provisions of water, music-school (saṅgītagṛha) etc. We have not only found the four varṇas but other sub-castes; he vividly describes not only the high class peoples such as the kings, ministers, sages etc, describes the ordinary persons also in the Harṣacarita.

Therefore, it is rightly mentioned by Neeta Sharma

“Besides these, the picture of Dadhīca, Bhairavachārya, Kumāragupta, Mādhavagupta and Siṅhanāda, in the Harṣacarita, are marked with vivacity. Bhaṇḍi, the eight year old boy, is well described. ………These pictures testify to Bāṇa’s wonderful power of depicting any type of man with full vividness. Not only is he interested in delineating kings, great sages and other stately personages, he has also a liking for describing ordinary persons. The description of Śavara youth, Mātaṅga, coming just after hunting, is marked with reality.”[8]

Footnotes and references:




daṇḍayātrā, Ibid.,VII.p.112-115


….gṛhītasuvarṇapādapīṭhīparyaṅkakaraṅkakalaśapatadgrahāvagrāhaiḥ pratyāsannapārthivopakaraṇagrahaṇa…. jagāma, Ibid.,VII.p.113


… kaladhautaiḥ śātakumbhaiśca kumbhaiḥ …, Ibid.,VII.p.108


Ibid.,III,p.21, 46


sphatikakamaṇḍaluṃ kareṇa kalayantī, Ibid.,I.p.3


…kamaṇḍalavena vāriṇā…śāpajalaṃ jagrah, Ibid.


Bāṇabhaṭṭa-A Literary Study, p.181

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