Yuddha-kāṇḍa - Part 8 - Rāvaṇa is slain by Rāma and Vibhīṣaṇa is coronated as the King of Laṅkā

As the army of the rākṣasas was routed in the war, the wives of the rākṣasas, who were now widowed were grief-stricken. They huddled together and spoke to each other, “How did the ugly-looking, pot-bellied Śūrpaṇakhā even think of making advances towards Rāma? Though he looks soft, he is immensely powerful. He possesses the best of virtues and is handsome; on the contrary, this rākṣasī is hideous and possesses no good quality at all. She is fit to be killed by the world. Because of the advances made by this grey-haired being towards Rāma, Khara, Dūṣaṇa, and all other rākṣasas have been killed. It was on her account that Rāvaṇa harbours grave animosity towards Rāma. When Rāvaṇa heard that Rāma single-handedly vanquished Virādha in the forest, it should have been ample warning; moreover, he got to know that the brothers killed fourteen thousand rākṣasas in Janasthāna, but Rāvaṇa still did not learn his lesson. Kabandha, whose arms were as long as a yojana was killed as well; Vālī, Indra’s son was slain by Rāma –  that too should have been sufficient warning for Rāvaṇa. Only if the lord of rākṣasas had acted as per the advice of his younger brother Vibhīṣaṇa, Laṅkā would not have been reduced to a cremation ground. Rāvaṇa still does not understand even after having known that his brother Kumbhakarṇa and son Indrajit have been slain. We hear the cries and screams of women throughout the kingdom. ‘My son has been killed! My brother is slain! I lost my husband!’ – such are the cries. When Brahmā granted that the dānavas will roam the three worlds, constantly beset by danger, Indra and the devas requested Śiva for help; Śiva then declared that a woman would be born who would bring the destruction of the rākṣasas! Sītā will destroy us all along with Rāvaṇa! Our sorrow is a result of the misdeeds of Rāvaṇa! We can’t see anyone who can offer us refuge!”

Rāvaṇa heard the piteous lamentation of women in family after family, throughout Laṅkā. Then seized with a towering rage, he asked his men to assemble all remaining troops. He declared, “Through the slaughter of my foes, I will wipe the tears of these women who have lost their husbands, brothers, and sons. The earth will be strewn with dead monkeys and their blood, and its surface will go invisible.” His commanders-in-chief got his chariot ready with eight horses.

As Rāvaṇa headed towards Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa,  there were bad omens all around. The sun suddenly grew dim and it rained blood. Rāvaṇa’s left eye throbbed and his left arm trembled. His face grew pale and his voice choked. These omens foretold his death. But paying no heed to such terrible portents, Rāvaṇa marched forth into the battlefield, as if to seek his own destruction. The ten-headed rākṣasas wrought his slaughter on the vānaras and headed towards Rāghava.

Sugrīva valorously fought Virūpākṣa, one of the commanders of the rākṣasa army and slew him in no time. As the battle raged, the number of warriors on both sides diminished, just like lakes in the scorching heat of summer. Sugrīva killed Mahodara and Aṅgada vanquished Mahāpārśva. Rāvaṇa had no aides left. He declared that he would chop off the tree called Rāma, which has Sītā as its blossom, and Sugrīva, Jāmbavān, and others as branches.

As Rāvaṇa rushed towards Rāma, the hero of the Raghus was delighted. He twanged his bow and the sound seemed to shatter the entire earth. Lakṣmaṇa first faced Rāvaṇa and shot arrows at him. But the mighty rākṣasa intercepted Lakṣmaṇa’s arrows with his own. Rāma and Rāvaṇa showered innumerable arrows upon each other. Both were skilled in the use of weapons and were equipped with powerful arrows. Rāma shot an arrow chanting the mantra of Rudra and Rāvaṇa shot the most dreadful of the missiles belonging to the asuras. The heads of some of Rāvaṇa’s arrows were like those of lions, tigers, storks, crows, vultures, kites, wolves, and serpents. Lakṣmaṇa shot seven arrows at a time and shredded Rāvaṇa’s emblem that bore the image of a human head. With a single arrow, Lakṣmaṇa beheaded Rāvaṇa’s charioteer. With five more arrows, he cut into pieces the foe’s bow. Vibhīṣaṇa leapt forward and slew Rāvaṇa’s splendid horses by smashing them with his mace. Enraged with his younger brother, Rāvaṇa brandished the śaktyāyudha and prepared to hurl it at Vibhīṣaṇa. Seeing that he was now in mortal danger, Lakṣmaṇa jumped to his rescue; the younger brother of Rāma showered Rāvaṇa with innumerable arrows and saved Vibhīṣaṇa.

Seeing that Lakṣmaṇa had ensured Vibhīṣaṇa’s safety, Rāvaṇa, in a towering rage hurled the śaktyāyudha at Lakṣmaṇa. When Rāma saw the weapon hurtling towards his brother, he prayed to it saying, “May Lakṣmaṇa be spared! And may your energy be thwarted!” Nevertheless, the immensely powerful weapon, which was created by Maya, raced through the air, flashing like the flickering tongue of a serpent king. It pierced Lakṣmaṇa’s chest with tremendous force and the hero fell to the ground, drenched in blood. Rāma’s heart sank seeing his brother in this condition. In the rage of the battle, Rāma with both his hands pulled out the śaktyāyudha, which had gotten embedded in the earth after transfixing Saumitri. Wrenching it out, Rāma broke it into two. Even as Rāma was pulling out the weapon, Rāvaṇa let loose a hailstorm of arrows on him. Heedless of those arrows, Rāma made up his mind to slay the rākṣasa right there. He instructed Hanūmān, Sugrīva, and other vānaras to take care of the wounded Lakṣmaṇa and started striking Rāvaṇa with his arrows.

After shooing away Rāvaṇa for a bit, Rāma lamented for the fallen Lakṣmaṇa. He said, “Looking at this hero, my beloved brother, dearer to me than my life, my mind is in such great turmoil that I wonder what power I have left to fight. If my brother is going to breathe his last soon, I wonder what is the use of pleasure, or even of life itself. My valour itself seems to hang its head in shame. My vision is blurred with tears; dreadful thoughts fill my mind and I wish only to die. Now that Lakṣmaṇa has fallen, I find no use for the battle, for my life and even for Sītā!” Then, Suṣeṇa the physician among the vānaras observed that Lakṣmaṇa’s chest still displayed rhythmic movement and the hero had other signs of life. He assured Rāma that his brother was not dead. He asked him to fetch the herbs sauvarṇakaraṇī, sañjīvanī, and sandhānakaraṇī. Māruti immediately rushed to the mountain that contained healing herbs. Unable to identify them, he transported the entire mountain to the battlefield. Suṣeṇa went to the top of the mountain and gathered the healing herbs. As soon as Lakṣmaṇa inhaled the aroma of the plan, he was freed of the pain that the rākṣasa’s weapon had caused. He leapt up from the ground and the warriors were delighted. Rāma, with his eyes full of tears, embraced his younger brother. Lakṣmaṇa motivated Rāma to slay Rāvaṇa that very day as per his vow.


Rāma and Rāvaṇa started firing arrows at each other once again. The devas, gandharvas, and dānavas who were amazed by the battle exclaimed, “It is not fair that Rāma combats standing on the ground, while the rākṣasa shoots arrows mounted on his chariot!” Even as they were saying so, the majestic and splendid chariot of Devendra descended onto the earth. Ornamented with hundreds of bells, its body studded with gold, and yoked with powerful horses, the chariot drew close to Kākustha. Mātali, the charioteer of Indra, spoke to Rāma with his hands joined in reverence, “Indra, the lord of the devas, has sent this chariot as well as his great bow, armour, arrows, and the śaktyāyudha, in order to aid your victory against the evil rākṣasa.” Thus addressed, Rāma went in a pradakṣiṇa around the chariot after reverentially saluting Mātali. He then mounted the chariot, illuminating the worlds with his splendour.

Rāvaṇa fired the sarpāstra at Rāma and Rāma countered it with the garuḍāstra. Rāvaṇa struck down Indra’s horses with his arrows. Knitting his brows in anger and his eyes red with fury, Rāma planted innumerable arrows on Rāvaṇa’s body. As the rākṣasa fired arrows in his towering rage, Rāma slowed them with arrows of his own. Rāma spoke these words of anger at Rāvaṇa, “You considered yourself a great hero by committing contemptible acts against a defenceless woman. You shameless wretch! I would have slain you right there, had you touched Sītā in my presence. This very day, flesh-eating animals will drag off your head, along with its glittering earrings. Vultures will feast on your flesh as you sprawl on the ground; they will quench their thirst by drinking blood from the wounds caused on your body through my arrows. Carnivorous birds will drag your intestines while you lie dead on the battlefield.” With these words, Rāma pelted his foe with hails of arrows. As he was eager to slay his enemy, Rāma’s valour redoubled and so did the power of his divine weapons. Rāvaṇa’s heart began to falter and he could no longer respond with arrows or words. Looking at his master’s state, his charioteer slowly drove away the chariot from the battlefield.

Realising what had just happened, Rāvaṇa insisted his charioteer to turn back the chariot into the battlefield. As the two men clashed, an untimely twilight enveloped Laṅkā in the middle of the day. Divine beings and sages gathered to watch the duel on the chariots. Huge meteors flew past emitting thunderous sounds and causing violent gusts of winds. Jackals howled angrily spewing flames from their mouths. Innumerable sārikās swooped down upon Rāvaṇa’s chariot. His horses emitted sparks from their hind-parts and they shed water and fire from their eyes. The omens suggested Rāvaṇa’s destruction and Rāma’s victory. The vānaras and rākṣasas stood rivetted and motionless as they watched the duel between the mānava and the rākṣasa. Their charioteers used their skill in driving their chariots in various formations.

Rāma shot an arrow that was like a venomous serpent and chopped off Rāvaṇa’s head; but a new head that looked exactly like the previous one emerged on Rāvaṇa’s neck. Rāma chopped this second head with his arrow as well, but another appeared in its place. He cut off this one too, but yet another emerged. Rāma thus cut off a hundred heads of Rāvaṇa, but the rākṣasa did not appear to die at all. The battle went on for days and nights without a break.

Mātali then reminded Rāma that he should use the arrow that was given to him by Brahmā. Accordingly, Rāma took up a blazing arrow which was presented to him by the sage Agastya, a gift of Brahmā. Pavana, the deity of wind resided in its feathers. Agni and Sūrya were in its arrowhead; its body was expansive like the sky and its weight was like that of the mountains Meru and Mandara. It looked like the fire of universal destruction and glistened like a venomous snake. Rāma mounted the arrow on his bow and chanted mantras prescribed by the Vedas. The arrow, which was as powerful as Indra’s vajrāyudha struck Rāvaṇa’s chest and penetrated his evil heart. It swiftly entered the earth carrying Rāvaṇa’s life breaths with it. With its task completed, the arrow dutifully returned to its quiver still wet with blood.

The vānaras cheered Rāghava with their roars and drove away the remaining rākṣasas. The rākṣasas fled in fear to Laṅkā, their faces drenched with tears over the death of their lord. The auspicious sound of dundubhis played by the devas resonated in the sky; a pleasant breeze blew spreading divine fragrance. A delightful shower of blossoms fell from the sky to the earth covering Rāma’s chariot. Rāghava’s closest allies – Sugrīva, Vibhīṣaṇa, and others – as well as his beloved brother Lakṣmaṇa gathered around him and celebrated his victory.


Upon hearing that their lord was dead the rākṣasa women rushed forth from their antaḥpura, overwhelmed with grief. They rolled in the dust of the earth, their hair flying loose. They rushed to their husband’s corpse, they fell upon his limbs like creepers chopped off in the forest. One clung to his neck while another clasped his feet. Seeing the face of her dead husband another fainted; yet another rākṣasa woman placed his head on her lap and wept, causing his face to be bathed with tears. They lamented saying, “You had defeated Yama, Indra, and Kubera in the past, but now lie slain by a mere human. You constantly refused to heed the words of your well-wishers, and thus, you ended up destroying the rākṣasas, us, and yourself. You did so by holding on to Sītā against everyone’s advice. Well, probably everything wasn’t a result of your free-will. Daiva – fate sets all things in motion and decides everyone’s destiny!”

As the other women thus lamented, Mandodarī said with tears in her eyes, “Indra himself feared to stand before you in the past, my lord, and now you have been killed by a human. I do not believe that Rāma killed you; instead, it was your own sensual appetites that vanquished you; they probably recalled your hostility towards them when you subjugated them long ago before you conquered the three worlds. Or perhaps, Indra himself came in the form of Rāma in order to destroy you. You behaved inappropriately with Sītā, who is worthy of all reverence and is superior even to Arundhatī and Rohiṇī. But this Maithilī is in no way superior to me nor is she my equal in her beauty, talent, or origin. In your infatuation, you did not realise my value. You have met your end because of your treatment of Maithilī; she will reunite with Rāma and enjoy herself with him, while I am drowned in an ocean of sorrow. I used to roam the peaks of Kailāsa, Mandara, and Meru in your company and we enjoyed the gardens of the devas; we travelled from one place to the other in the vimāna. I am now robbed of all pleasures. Why don’t you look at me or answer me, my lord!”

At this juncture, Rāma asked Vibhīṣaṇa to perform saṃskāra for his dead brother and to send back the women. Vibhīṣaṇa, who knew dharma, heard these words and said, “I cannot perform saṃskāra – funerary rites for someone who abandoned dharma and lived a life of cruelty. Always intent on harming creatures, this heartless man was an enemy in the form of a brother. Though I should revere him as an elder, he does not merit any respect. People might call me heartless, but they will say that I acted properly when they hear about the qualities of Rāvaṇa!”

Rāma was greatly pleased and said to Vibhīṣaṇa, “I really ought to let you do what you please, because it was because of your support that we won the battle. While it is true that the lord of the rākṣasas was dishonest and adhārmic, he was powerful and valorous in battle. We have never heard of anyone defeating him. All forms of animosity end upon the death of a person; we have accomplished our task. You may now perform saṃskāra to your brother, for as he was to you, so he is to me. He deserves a quick and thorough saṃskāra at your hands. You will gain great glory.”

Heeding Rāma’s words, Vibhīṣaṇa performed saṃskāra to Rāvaṇa such that it was befitting his stature. He consoled the women of Laṅkā again and again with soothing words. Once the women went back to their city, Vibhīṣaṇa stood next to Rāma in all humility.


Rāma, who was grateful for Indra’s help in the battle, reverentially sent back his chariot and the able charioteer, Mātali. He then instructed Lakṣmaṇa to perform paṭṭābhiṣeka to Vibhīṣaṇa as the new king of Laṅkā. He said, “Vibhīṣaṇa has been loyal and devoted to me and has provided me with unparalleled assistance. It is my most cherished desire to see Vibhīṣaṇa consecrated as the king of Laṅkā.” Lakṣmaṇa executed his elder brother’s instructions in no time. Amidst an assembly of Vibhīṣaṇa’s ministers and rākṣasas who supported him, Lakṣmaṇa performed his paṭṭābhiṣeka. Once he had received the great kingdom, Vibhīṣaṇa comforted his citizens and returned to Rāma. He offered innumerable gifts to Rāma, which the latter accepted not out of a desire for material wealth, but only to please Vibhīṣaṇa.

Rāma then instructed Hanūmān, “Dear friend, seek permission from Vibhīṣaṇa to enter Rāvaṇa’s palace. Humbly approach Vaidehī and inform her of our well-being. Tell her that I have slain Rāvaṇa. Receive her message and come back here!”

Hanūmān sought Vibhīṣaṇa’s permission, entered the city of Laṅkā, and met Sītā. He conveyed Rāma’s message to her and said, “You no longer have to fear because Laṅkā is now under Vibhīṣaṇa’s rule. You can be as comfortable as living in your own house now. Moreover, Rāma is eager to see you!” Thus addressed by Hanūmān, Sītā was speechless for a moment. She then said, “I don’t know how to express my joy, O great vānara! I possess nothing with which I can reward you!” Hanūmān replied, “Your affectionate and meaningful words are more precious to me than a heap of all kinds of jewels or even the kingship of devas; I have truly attained the highest state in that I see Rāma, who has vanquished the evil-doers. However, if you permit me, I will slaughter these rākṣasīs, who have tormented you for long!” Sītā, the noble-hearted woman, said, “Who, in their right minds, would be angry with servant women, O vānara! They have acted only upon the orders of the others. It is because of my own fate and perhaps, the misdeeds of the past that I suffered all this. I had to endure all these pains at the hands of these dāsīs of Rāvaṇa. A noble person must be compassionate irrespective of the others being wicked or virtuous.”

Upon listening to her words, Hanūmān declared, “You are a fitting, illustrious, and righteous wife of Rāma. Please tell me your message and I will convey it to Rāghava.”

To this, Sītā simply said, “Best of vānaras, I would like to see my husband.”

Delighted, Hanūmān returned to Rāma with Sītā’s message in his heart.


To be continued...
[The critically constituted text and the critical edition published by the Oriental Institute, Vadodara is the primary source. In addition, the Kannada rendering of the epic by Mahāmahopādhyāya Sri. N. Ranganatha Sharma and the English translation by Sri. N. Raghunathan have been referred.]




Visionary sage and the author of the fifth Veda, the Rāmāyaṇa



Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

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சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
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உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
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ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...