Vasudevavijaya of Vasudeva (Study)

by Sajitha. A | 2018 | 50,171 words

This page relates ‘Date and Authorship of the Vasudevavijaya’ of the study on the Vasudevavijaya of Vasudeva from the 11th century A.D. The Vasudevavijayam is an educational poem belonging to the Shastra-Kavya category of technical Sanskrit literature. The Vasudevavijayam depicts in 657 verses the story of Lord Krishna while also elucidates the grammatical rules of the Ashtadhyayi of Panini (teaching the science of grammar). The subject-content of the poem was taken from the tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Date and Authorship of the Vāsudevavijaya

Vāsudevavijaya is an important contribution of Kerala to the Śāstrakāvya tradition. The poem is generally ascribed to Vāsudevakavi who belonged to Peruvanam near Trichur. The work comprising altogether 657 verses in seven cantos. The author depicts the story of Lord Kṛṣṇa and at the same time it illustrates the grammatical rules of Pāṇini. The author illustrates almost all the sūtras of Aṣṭādhyāyī except the Svaraprakaraṇa. Padacandrikā is an auto commentary on this work.

The authorship of the Vāsudevavijaya is highly controversial. Some scholars have had the opinion that the author of this poem is identified with the author of Govindacarita, Saṃkṣepabhārata, Saṃkṣeparāmāyaṇa etc. It is assumed on the basis of the resemblances found in these works. Ullur.S. Paramesvara Aiyer and Vatakkumkur Rajarajavarma identify the author of Vāsudevavijaya with the author of the Yamakakāvya Yudhiṣṭhiravijaya, who too belonged to Peruvanam[1]. If this identity is correct, the date of the author cannot be later than the 11th century, which is the latest date that can be assigned to Kulaśekharavarman of Mahodayapura, the patron of the Yamaka poet.

Dr. K. KunjunniRaja however identifies the author with Vāsudeva, the protege of King Ravivarma of Veṭṭattunādu who authored the minor poems like Govindacarita, Saṃkṣepabhārata, Saṃkṣparāmāyaṇa etc.[2] According to Raja Vāsudeva belongs to the close of the 16th century and taken as an elder contemporary of MelputtūrNārāyaṇabhaṭṭa.

The verse:—

vighneśabhāratī vyāsaguruśābdikamūrtaye |
namo'stu patye bhūtānāṃ sadānandacidātmane ||

Forms an introductory to the auto commentary named Padacandrikā of Vāsudevavijaya This verse resembles very closely to the second verse of Govindacarita.

The verse in Govindacarita is as follows:—

śrīmadvighneśavāgdevīkārttikeyādimūrtaye |
namo'stu patye bhūtānāṃ sadānandacidātmane ||

Another verse,

kundasūnamanohāri mandahāsavirājitam |
nandagopakulottaṃsamindirāramaṇaṃ bhaje ||

Occurring in Govindacarita and Saṃkṣepabhārata is found also in the commentary of Vāsudevavijaya The simplicity of the style in the Govindacarita etc. may be due to the fact that they were primarily intended for the beginners of Sanskrit. A different style is found in the Vāsudevavijaya, because it is intended to illustrate the rules of Pāṇini.

It is believed that the work Vāsudevavijaya is left unfinished by Vāsudeva, and it is Nārayaṇabhaṭṭa who later completed it by composing Dhātukāvya. Though Vāsudeva completed his work in the illustration of Paniniyan rules, the story of Kṛṣṇa is incomplete.

Nārayaṇabhaṭṭa mentions the fact in the verse:—

udāhṛtaṃ pāṇinisūtramaṇḍalaṃ prāgvāsudevenatadūrdhvato'paraḥ |
udāharatyadya vṛkodaroditāndhātūṃkrameṇaiva hi mādhavāśrayāt ||

From the Kṛṣṇārpaṇa commentary of Dhātukāvya, it is known that Vāsudeva, the author of Vāsudevavijaya belonged to the village of Peruvanam.

vāsudevonāma keraleṣu puruvanagrāmajanmākaściddvijanmā |[7]

It is possible that Vāsudeva, a native of Peruvanam went to the court of the King Ravivarman of Veṭṭattunāḍu.

Hence according to Dr. K.Kunjunniraja the author of Vāsudevavijaya is identical with the author of Govindacarita.

According to Vatakkumkur Rajarajavarma, the authorship of Vāsudevavijaya and Govindacarita is not identical. He says the author of the Govindacarita and the contemporary of Nārayaṇabhaṭṭa, is a poet who writes poem for students. He does not possess the skill to compose a Śāstrakāvya like Vāsudevavijaya Only on the basis of the reference of Vāsudeva by Nārayaṇabhaṭṭa in his Dhātukāvya, it cannot be concluded that the author of Vāsudevavijaya and Melputtūr Nārayaṇabhaṭṭa were contemporary poets. In Dhātukāvya the word prāk is meant for long time ago. The author of Yudhiṣṭhiravijaya, the court poet of Kulaśekhara could be the author of Vāsudevavijaya Both the poems end with the word vijaya.

But these views are not accepted by Dr.K.Kunjunni Raja. He is of the opinion that same poet can create simple poems as well as scholarly works. The term prāk used by Nārayaṇabhaṭṭa is suggestive and the word tadūrdhvato’paraḥ means younger to him.

Dr. S. Venkata Subramonia Aiyer in the introductory part of Dhātukāvya says:—

It is quite possible that the author of Vāsudevavijaya is different from both the author of Yudhiṣṭhiravijaya and the author of the simple kāvyas.[8]

In the series of Kāvyamālā, the editors of this poem introduce the poet Vāsudeva as belonging to the Peruvanagrāma of Kerala and also as a great grammarian highly honored by the learned.

ayaṃ ca vāsudevakaviḥ keraladeśe puruvanagrāme prādurabhūditi dhātukāvyaprārambhakavyākhyātaḥ pratīyate | kālastunaniścitaḥ | etadgrantharacanenāsya mahāvaiyaikaraṇatvaṃ pratīyate, yataḥ sargatrayātmakenaiva sakalāṣṭādhyāyīkṛtārthīkṛtā ||[9]

There is a commentary on the Arjunarāvaṇīya by a Vāsudeva. Vatakkumkur Rajarajavarma identifies him with the author of Vāsudevavijaya He observes that the attempt at the commentary on a Vyākaraṇkāvya may be prompted him to compose a work on its model.

The Vāsudevīyaṭīkā is written for the cantos from 16 to 27. Prof.Vijayapal Sastri, the editor of Vāsudevavijaya mentioned in the preface of the work that the devotion of the author to Lord Kṛṣṇa, resemblances in the style of composition and similarity in name lead to conclude both the authors are same[10]. According to Dr. Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar, the period of Vāsudeva is supposed to have between the 15th and 16th century. He also opines that the author was the court poet of the Zamorins of Calicut.[11]

The Vāsudevīyaṭīkā of Arjunarāvaṇīya and the Padacandrikā commentary of Vāsudevavijaya have similarities in their style. While most of the commentaries of Arjunarāvaṇīya suggests only the literary merits of the poem, Vāsudevīyaṭīkā implements the grammatical peculiarities also. Padacandrikā of Vāsudevavijaya also has followed in explaining the grammatical aspects.

Both the commentaries quote many portions from Bhāgavatapurāṇa and this also supports the single authorship. The author provides the name Vāsudevīyaṭīkā for the commentary of Arjunarāvaṇīya because of two reasons. Primarily it is because of his own name and secondly his devotion to Lord Vāsudeva.

This is stated as:—

vāsudevaikamanasā vāsudevena nirmitām |
vāsudevīyaṭīkāṃ tāṃ vāsudevyanumodatām ||

Here it can be found that two among the above mentioned arguments are prominent. One is the author of Vāsudevavijaya is identical with the author of Yudhiṣṭhiravijaya. While the other is it may be the author of Govindacarita who composes Vāsudevavijaya The former argument is baseless. It is argued that the author of Yudhiṣṭhiravijaya is the court poet of Kulaśekharavarman of Mahodayapuram. Thus the date of the author may not be later than the 11th Centurury A.D. On the contrary, the author of Vāsudevavijaya has referred to in certain grammarians such as Jayāditya, Bhoja, Kṣīrasvāmin, Bopadeva etc. Amongst Kṣīrasvāmin belonged to the early 12th Century.[13] Simultaneously Bopadeva is a grammarian-philosopher and he had lived in the 13th Century.[14] Hence obviously the author of Yudhiṣṭhiravijaya of 11th Century is mismatched with the author of Vāsudevavijaya Besides, both poems are end with the word vijaya is not a sufficient factor to determine the authorship.

The above mentioned observations reinforced the second argument. The author of Govindacarita has to be identified with the author of Vāsudevavijaya This Vāsudeva is a native of Peruvanam and he belongs to the close of 16th Century. The resemblances in the verses used in both poems make provision for concluding the authorship of Vāsudevavijaya to the author of Govindacarita.

Footnotes and references:


Keraḷīyasaṃskṛtasāhityacaritraṃ, VatakkumkurRajarajavarma, vol.III,p.142-147.


The contribution of Kerala to Sanskrit literature, K.Kunjunni Raja, p.124,126


Vāsudevavijaya of Vāsudeva with Padacandrkā commentary, Prof. Vijayapal Sastri,v.1


Govindacarita, Vāsudeva, v. I.2




Dhātukāya of Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭa, (Ed.) S.VenkataSubramoniaAiyer, v. I.1.




ibid, Introduction, p.xiii


Kāvyamālā, Guccaka. X,p.52.


Prof. VijayapalSastri, op.cit.Preface,p.13.




VāsudevīyaṭīkāonArjunarāvaṇīya, v.XXVII.52


Kṣīrasvāmin is the author of Kṣīrataraṅgiṇīand he wrote a commentary on Amarakośa viz. Amarakośodghāṭana. He is supposed to belong to the early 12th century. (A History of Indian Literature, M.Winternitz,.). Vāsudeva mentions him twice in his commentary in order to justify the grammatical derivation of words.


Bopadeva is the author of Harilīlāvivaraṇa, Muktāphala etc. His Mugdhabodha is a grammatical work for the beginners. He was lived in Berar in the 13th century. Wide ref. The concise encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ramakrishnamatham, Banglore.;

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