A story for a verse - Ambikādatta and Vāsiṣṭhagaṇapati-muni

सत्वरकवितासविता कश्चिद्गौडोSहमम्बिकादत्तः |

गणपतिरिति कविकुलपतिरितिदक्षो दाक्षिणात्योsहम् ||

Kāvyakaṇṭha Vāsiṣṭhagaṇapati-muni was good at composing poems even at a very young age. He excelled at composing poetry at an unimaginable pace. In his early years, he travelled to Navadveepa in Bengal to participate in poetry competitions. Navadveepa, which was full of people belonging to the Navīna-nyāya school of thought, hosted a poetry competition in the year 1823 ACE. (on the jyeṣṭha aṣṭami).

As he was entering the assembly, Ambikādatta, a senior scholar, introduced himself with the first two lines of the above verse, composed in the āryā-metre:

‘I am Ambikādatta, a Bengali. I am like the Sun in the art of rapid versification.’

The first part of the verse was full of alliterations and Gaṇapati-muni completed the verse by introducing himself in the next two lines: ‘I am Gaṇapati, chief among poets and a very capable man hailing from the south.’

It is interesting to note that Ambikādatta refers to himself as ‘some’ Bengali (कश्चिद्गौड:), but Gaṇapati-muni asserts himself as a capable southerner!

Gaṇapati-muni’s brilliance did not end there. He even added – “भवान् अम्बिकादत्तः, अहमम्बायाः औरसपुत्रः” - You are an adopted son of Ambikā, Ambikādatta. I am her true  son - Gaṇapati.  (In Indian mythology, Gaṇapati is the son of Ambikā, who is popularly known as Pārvatī). The poetry competition, which started in this manner, involved several challenging samasyās.  It is here that Gaṇapati-muni earned the honorific title of ‘Kāvyakaṇṭha’ in recognition of his achievements.

Adapted from Kannada by Arjun Bharadwaj
(The original article is from the anthology Kavitegondu Kathe)

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About:

Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.

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