A Story for a Verse - Sriharsha

गोविन्द-नन्दनतया च वपुःश्रिया च
मास्मिन्नृपे कुरुत कामधियं तरुण्यः ।
अस्त्री-करोति जगतां विषये स्मर स्त्रीः
अस्त्रीजनः पुनरनेन विधीयते स्त्रीः ॥

Sriharsha, the great exponent of Sanskrit poetry in 12th century C.E., was erudition and creativity personified. Srihira and Mamalladevi were his parents. His Naishadhiya-charitam is one among the pancha maha-kavyas (five epic-poems).

A Story for a Verse - Vikatanitamba

तात बाहट मा रोदीरेषा वै कर्मणो गतिः ।
दुषि धातोरिवास्माकं गुणो दोषाय क्ल्प्यते ॥

The central character of this story is Vikatanitamba, who lives on to this day through her muktakas (stray, independent verses). No work of this fine poet has come down to us in full; they have been swept away in the flood of time.

O Great Life!

Sukanta Bhattacharya (1926-1947) is counted as one of the great Bengali poets along with Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das, and Kazi Nazrul. For someone who died at twenty, that is quite something. Many of his poems have sociopolitical undertones but are romantic at the core.

No Fear

Subramanya 'Bharathi' (1882-1921) or 'Mahakavi Bharathiar' was among the foremost of modern Tamil poets. He was not only a poet but also a journalist, social activist, and freedom fighter. His poems covered a wide variety of topics and many of them are even sung as classical compositions.

The first poem of Bharathiar that I learnt was one that he wrote during the freedom struggle. It is a stirring poem that exhorts his compatriots to fearlessly face the British. The poem in Tamil goes:

A Story for a Verse - Vikatanitamba

काले माषं सस्ये मासं वदति शकासं यस्य सकाशम् |
उष्ट्रे लुम्पति षं वा रं वा तस्मै दत्ता विकटनितम्बा ॥

kaale maasham sasye maasam vadati shakaasam yasya sakaasham |
ushtre lumpati sham vaa ram vaa tasmai dattaa vikatanitambaa ||


Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (1904-1948) was a renowned Hindi poet and freedom fighter. Her pièce de résistance is her epic poem on the Queen of Jhansi, Lakshmibai. While she was known for her poems in the vira rasa (the aesthetic experience of courage; one of the nine rasas), this is a beautiful poem about childhood in the karuna rasa (the aesthetic experience of compassion, pathos, and empathy).

A Story for a Verse – Vijjika

नीलोत्पल-दल-श्यामां विज्जिकां मामजानता ।
वृथैव दण्डिना प्रोक्ता सर्वशुक्ला सरस्वती ॥

nilotpala-dala-shyamam vijjikam mam ajanata |
vrthaiva dandina prokta sarvashukla sarasvati ||

Immadi Pulakeshi, the valiant ruler of the Chalukya dynasty, is the pride of all Kannadigas. Under his regime, the kingdom crossed many frontiers and extended its influence till the banks of Narmada. He was hailed as दक्षिणापथपरमेश्वर – the invincible emperor of the Southern land. He even defeated the mighty king Sriharsha.

A Story for a Verse – Banabhatta

शुष्को वृक्षस्तिष्ठत्यग्रे
तदुपरि कश्चित्सर्पोऽप्यस्ति ।
नीरसतरुरिह विलसति निकटे
तदुपरि मणिमयकुटिलभुजङ्गः ॥

shushko vrkshastishthatyagre
tadupari kashchitsarpopyasti |
nirasataruriha vilasati nikate
tadupari manimayakutilabhujangah ||