The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Historical data (found in the 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 11 - Historical data (found in the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita)

Kashmir was known as Satisaras earlier.[1] Pravarapura was its well known city.[2] Maṅkhaka refers to Harṣa, the powerful ruler of Kashmir, who was vanquished by king Sussala.[3] Sussala defeated many enemies.[4] Sussala appointed Śṛṅgāra and Alaṃkāra (both Maṅkhaka’s elder brothers) respectively as vṛhattantrapati[5] i.e. a magistrate and minister for war and peace.[6] Before the appointment of Alaṃkāra in the said post, there were danger from the antagonistists, so the doors of the temples were covered with thick clay, however, afterwards the situation improved, as and when Alaṃkāra took charge and the temple doors were kept open. Jayasiṃha, the successor of king Sussala appointed Maṅkhaka as prajāpālanakāryapuruṣa or a dharmādhikārin i.e. an officer in the affairs of protection of subjects.[7] Maṅkhaka has given picturesque description of the parting of soldiers from their beloveds.[8] From this, it can be assumed that Maṅkhaka was an eye-witness of such parting scene, as during that time, there took place so many wars and struggles.

From the 25th canto of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita, it is known that there was a literary assembly held in the court of Alaṃkāra, the elder brother of the poet. As regards the canto XXV of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita, De writes in his History of Sanskrit Literature.[9]

The names of actually thirty-two scholars have been mentioned, who were present in the literary assembly of Alaṃkāra. Maṅkhaka presented before them his Śrīkaṇṭhacarita and they spoke highly about the poem. A brief account of the scholars found in the canto XXV of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita, along with the concerned verses may be given here.

1.Ānanda, a Naiyāyika (83-84)

2. Another Ānanda, the son of the poet Sambhu, a Vaidya (96-97)

3. Bhuḍḍa, a poet (81-82),

4. Dāmodara, an official (67-68),

5. Devadhara, an architect (57-59)

6. Garga, a poet (55-56),

7. Govinda, a poet (76-77),

8. Jalhaṇa, a poet and minister of Rājāpurī (73-75),

9. Janakarāja, a Vaidika and a grammarian (92-93),

10. Jinduka, a Mīmāṃsaka (71-72),

11. Jogarāja, an expert teacher (106-107),

12. Kalyāṇa, a pupil of Alakadatta and a poet, whose style resembled that of the author of the Vik. and the Caurapañcāśikā i.e. Bilhaṇa (78-80),

13. Lakṣmīdeva, a Vaidika and well versed scholar in the Śāstas (89-91),

14. Loṣṭadeva, a poet, conversant in as many as six languages (34-36),

15. Maṇḍana, son of Śrīgarbha and a friend of Maṅkhaka, a poet learned in all the Śāstras (51-53),

16. Nāga, a grammarian and a great poetician (62-64),

17. Nandana, well versed in the Śāstras and a great Vedānta philosopher (22-25),

18. Padmarāja, a poet, who wrote poetry, in the Vaidarbhī style (85-86),

19. Paṭu, a poet (129-131),

20. Prakaṭa, a Śaiva philosopher, excelling Abhinavagupta in Āgama (9495),

21. Ramyadeva, a Vaidika, follower of the Kaṭha branch of the Vedānta, expounder of the Iṣṭasiddhi, a treatise on the Vedānta (31-33),

22. Ruyyaka, preceptor of Maṅkhaka, learned and interpreter of the Śāstras (26-30,135-141),

23. Saṣṭha, a great scholar (69-70),

24. Śrīgarbha, a poet, writer in the vakramārga, a Mīmāṃsaka (48-50),

25. Śrīgunna, a Mīmāṃsaka, expounder of the Vṛhatī, a treatise on the Mīmaṃsā, by Prabhākara Miśra (87-88),

26. Śrīkaṇṭha, brother of Maṇḍana and son of Śrīgarbha, a scholor (54),

27. Śrīvatsa, a fellow student of Bhuḍḍa, a scholar and poet (81-82),

28. Suhala, younger brother of Ānanda and son of the poet, Sambhu, a physician (98-99),

29. Another Suhala (ambassador of king Govindacandra, the king of Kanauj), well versed in Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī and a Śaiva philosopher (100-103,105),

30. Trailokya, a great poet and a Mīmāṃsaka too, like Kumārila (65-66),

31. Tejakaṇṭha, an ambassador of Aparāditya, king of Koṅkaṇa, a famous logician (108-111),

32. Vāgīśvara, a poet (127-128)

These poets approved and highly appreciated the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita of Maṅkhaka. Bühler, as well as De, writes, regarding the importance and uniqueness of the 25th canto of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita [see notes below].

Thus, it has been noticed that generally the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita and especially the canto XXV of the poem provides some important historical information, that would be helpful in reconstructing the history of medieval India.

Notes on the 25th canto of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita:

Bühler’s Kashmir report, (extra number of) JBRAS, Bombay, 1877, pages 51-52;—

“This canto has a double value. It gives a faithful picture of a sabhā, one of the chief modes of social intercourse among the learned in India …..Besides, it contains some valuable historical notes. Firstly, it enables us to fix the time of Alaṃkārasarvasva, whose author Ruyyaka can be nobody else but Maṅkhaka’s guru, who instructed the poet in the Kāvya and Alaṃkāraśāstras. There are secondly, the two ambassadors, Suhala, sent by Govindracandra, the Rathor of Kanoj, who reigned, according to his inscriptions, between AD 1120-1144 and Tejakaṇṭha, sent by Aparāditya, the lord of the Koṅkana, whose inscriptions are dated AD 1185-1186.

The mention of the latter, which shows that a political connection existed between Aparāditya and Kāśmīr, during the period A.D. 1135-1145, is of great interest. For it proves that the reign of Aparāditya must have been of long duration and reduces the gap in the history of the Śīlaharas after Śrī Mamvani’s inscription dated Śaka 982, A.D. 1060, very considerably. It also explains how the commentary of Aparāditya on the Yājñavalkyasmṛti came to Kāśmīr and why it is now almost the only law-book used by the Paṇḍits. Thirdly, the incidental mention of Rājaśekhara (V. 74) and son of Bilhaṇa (V. 80) as poets of established reputation is a valuable contribution to the history of Sanskrit literature”.

Again, De, states—

“It would not be unjustifiable, therefore to place Murāri at the end of the 9th or the beginning of the 10th century. This date accords well with a passage of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita (XXV. 74), in which Maṅkhaka mentions and apparently makes him a predecessor of Rājaśekhara”.

History of Sanskrit Literature., Classical Period, vol I, page 449

Footnotes and references:


Ibid., III.1


Ibid., III. 21


Ibid., III. 47


Ibid., III. 49


Ibid., III. 50


Ibid., III. 62


Ibid., III. 66


Ibid., XXI. 20-29


‘In the last canto….. we have an account of some historical and literary interest, written in the simpler and easier Śloka metre, of an assembly of learned men, held under the patronage of the poet’s brother Alaṃkāra, a minister of Jayasiṃha of Kashmir (A.D. 1127-1150), on the occasion of the completion and reading of the poem. It includes thirty names of scholars, poets and officials stating their capacities and their tastes’. De, S. K., History of Sanskrit Literature., vol. I. page 323

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