The word ‘Kathā-sarit-sāgara’ literally means an ocean that is formed as a result of the confluence of many rivers of stories. Though the name of the work is famous and is largely in vogue today, a question naturally arises – did the author name the work so or did it get the name in the recent years. The word ‘Kathā-sarit-sāgara ’ occurs in the closing verse of the work. The verse, however, is quite different from the others in its structure and is present at the end of the work.
Previously we observed scholarly spats at the level of individuals. What happened when these debates were escalated to royal courts? Let us see.
Rāja-śekhara-sūri’s Prabandha-kośa records an episode of repartee between Hari-hara and Madana, the court-poets of Vīra-dhavala, the emperor of Gujarat:
‘Kavi-rāja’ (the best among poets) was Hari-hara’s honorific title. Wanting to trifle it, Madana said:
हरिहर परिहर गर्वं कविराजगजाङ्कुशोऽस्म्यहं मदनः।
देवीं सहृदयानन्दशब्दमूर्तिं सरस्वतीं॥
त्रिस्रोता इव सरसा सरस्वती स्फुरति यैर्भिन्ना॥
Kirīṭa-pati Veṅkaṭācārya (18th–19th cen. CE) was a great scholar of several śāstras and was a champion of Viśiṣṭādvaita philosophy. He lived in Sura-pura, a province in Karnataka. It is said that he wore Viśiṣṭādvaita as a crown and was hence called ‘Kirīṭa-pati.’ Dvaita and Advaita were his sandals, it seems! As he walked through the streets, attendants would fan him from either side.
ಕುಮಾರವ್ಯಾಸನ ಯುದ್ಧವರ್ಣನೆಯಲ್ಲಿನ ಕಲ್ಪನಾಶಕ್ತಿ ಹಾಗೂ ಯುದ್ಧದ ಬಗೆಗೆ ಅವನ ಅಭಿಮತ
Lolla Lakṣmī-dhara (15th–16th cen. CE) was a scholar-poet in the court of Kṛṣṇa-deva-rāya. He is well-known as the author of Lakṣmī-dharā, arguably the best available commentary on Saundarya-laharī. The tenets of Śrī-vidyā are said to be extremely esoteric. They are to be learned through a Guru alone. Lakṣmī-dhara took a bold stand in his work by proclaiming, “I hereby declare myself as the Guru of all honest seekers of present and future!”
Naiṣadhīya-carita is considered the touchstone of scholarly poetry. Śrī-harṣa (12th cen. CE), its author, takes delight in proclaiming that he composed this work to ward off lesser mortals:
ग्रन्थग्रन्थिरिह क्वचित्क्वचिदपि न्यासि प्रयत्नान्मया
प्राज्ञम्मन्यमना हठेन पठिती मास्मिन् खलः खेलतु।
Footprints of Scholarly Temerity
ಆ ರಥದ ಸ್ವರೂಪದ ವಿವರಣೆಯನ್ನು ಓದಿದ ಮೇಲೆ ರಥ ಎಂದರೆ ಹೇಗಿರಬಹುದೆಂಬ ಬೃಹತ್ ಕಲ್ಪನೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮುಂದೆ ಸುಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ.
ಅರಸ ಕೇಳೈಹತ್ತು ಸಾವಿರ-
ತುರಗನಿಕರದ ಲಳಿಯ ದಿವ್ಯಾಂ-
ಬರದ ಸಿಂಧದ ಸಾಲ ಸತ್ತಿಗೆಗಳ ಪತಾಕೆಗಳ |
ಖರರುಚಿಯ ಮಾರಾಂಕವೋ ಸುರ-
ಗಿರಿಯ ಸೋದರವೋ ಮೃಗಾಂಕನ
ಮರುದಲೆಯೊ ಮೇಣೆನಲು ರಥ ಹೊಳೆದುದಂಬರದಿ || (ಅರಣ್ಯ ಪರ್ವ 7.12)