The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Source of the poem [Shrikanthacarita]” as it appears in the case study regarding the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa. The Shrikanthacarita was composed by Mankhaka, sometimes during A.D. 1136-1142. The Mankhakosa or the Anekarthakosa is a kosa text of homonymous words, composed by the same author.

Part 2 - Source of the poem [Śrīkaṇṭhacarita]

The main theme of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita has been taken from the legend of burning of Tripuras by Lord Śiva. This is a very famous legend of India and this Tripura episode finds important place in Sanskrit literature. From the time immemorial, seers, poets as well as dramatists have been fascinated by the story of tripuradahana and often draw upon it. This story is found in its under-developed form in the Vedic Saṃhitās like the Kāthaka (XXVI. 10) and the Taittirīya (VI. ii. 3) as well as in the Brāhmaṇas like the Śatapatha (III. 4.4.4) and the Aitareya (I. 25). However, it emerges in its full fledged form in the Mahābhārata, Karṇaparvan (Karṇaparvan, chapter 24), Droṇaparvan, (chapter 173. 52-58) and also occurs in the following Purāṇas viz. Śivapurāṇa (Śivapurāṇa, II. 5. 1-10), Jñāna Saṃhitā XIX, XXIV), Matsyapurāṇa (Matsyapurāṇa., chapter 129-130; 135-140; 187. 8, 14-16; 188. 910), Padmapurāṇa (Padmapurāṇa., Svargakhaṇḍa), Bhāgavatapurāṇa (Bhāgavatapurāṇa, IV. 17. 13; V. 24. 28; VII. 10. 54, 63; VIII. 6. 31; XI. 16. 20), Skandapurāṇa (Skandapurāṇa, Āvantyakhaṇḍa-Revākhaṇḍa XXVI-XXVIII; Vaiṣṇavakhaṇḍa XXXV), Liṅgapurāṇa (Liṅgapurāṇa, LXXI-LXXII), Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa (Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa), Vāyupurāṇa (Vā P) etc.

Several rūpakas and dramas also have been originated from this legend e.g. Tripuradahana, a poem of Rāmavarman (1858-1926), Tripuradahana of Vāsudeva (9th century A.D.), Tripuravadha of Rudraṭa, Tripuravijaya, a campū of Atirātrayajvan, Tripuravijaya of Bhoganātha, Tripuravijaya, a drama of Nārāyaṇa Śāstrin, Tripuravijayacampū of Nṛsiṃha, Tripuravijayacampū of Śrīśaila, Tripuravijayavyāyoga of Padmanābha, also Tripuramardana, the uparūpaka, Tripuradāha[1], the ḍima, Tripuradāha, a play, Tripuradahanacampū, Tripuramahimastava, Tripuramardana, a play etc. of some anonymous writers.

The story of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita bears some striking resemblance with the story of the Karṇaparvan of the Mahābhārata, Śivapurāṇa also conforms to some extent with the Liṅgapurāṇa, Bhāgavatapurāṇa and Matsyapurāṇa. Ofcourse, there are some differences also, between the story of the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas. However, Maṅkhaka keeps close to the Karṇaparvan of the Mahābhārata and the Śivapurāṇa As for example, some things are common in the story found both in the Karṇaparvan of the Mahābhārata, Śp as well as in the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita -the name of the three demons, their practice of austere penance to persuade Brahmā, Brahmā’s compliance to give them boon, their wish for immortality, Brahmā’s repudiation and advice for choosing some other boon etc. Again, there are some features which are in agreement with the Mahābhārata, but to some extent differ from the Śivapurāṇa and vice-versa e.g. Indra, Varuṇa, Kuvera and Yama were the horses of Śiva’s chariot as in Śrīkaṇṭhacarita XX. 19, also in the Mahābhārata XXXIV. 32. While in the Śivapurāṇa, the four Vedas were the horses of the chariot of Lord Śiva.

Regarding the source of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita, B.N. Bhatt is of the opinion that

“…..Maṅkha seems to follow generally the account as given in the Karṇaparvan of the Mahābhārata A similar account is found in the Śivapurāṇa…”.[2]

B.C. Mandal although differing in some points from Bhatt also remarks that

“….the Mahābhārata (Karṇaparvan) and Śivapurāṇa were the main sources of the Sc. and other Purāṇas were secondary ones.”[3]

Thus, from the internal and external evidences also, it becomes visible that the Mahābhārata and the Śivapurāṇa are the primary source of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita. Yet Maṅkhaka might have probably peeped into other Purāṇas also.

Footnotes and references:


Krishnamachariar, M., ‘History of Classical Sanskrit Literature’., page 547


Bhatt, B.N., Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., page 10


Mandal, B.C., Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., page 103

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