A Story for a Verse - Mallinatha

देवदुन्दुभिसमानमध्यमे ।
रामवैरिभगिनीव राजसे ॥

Mallinatha was a great commentator. His felicity in capturing the crux of a poem and explaining its finer aspects is extraordinary. He wrote glosses on Magha’s Shishupalavadha and Kalidasa’s Meghadutam Sarvankasha and Sanjivini respectively – and exclaimed माघे मेघे गतं वयः (I’ve read Shishupalavadha and Meghadutam. What else do I need in life? )

He used to wax eloquent about beautiful women pictured in kavyas and describe mythological women with gusto in his commentaries. Lost in such literary activities, he had little time for his wife. This made her unhappy. She was also sad that he never acknowledged her beauty.  She asked him about this once: “You always describe women in poetry. Am I invisible to you?” Mallinatha instantly came out with this comical verse:

You have eyes resembling a tamarind’s peel
Your waist is just like a gigantic drum
Your chest reminds me of an unripe, dried arka fruit
 Your glory is very much like Shurpanakha.

 We do not know of his fate after he composed this verse.

Translated from Kannada by Shashi Kiran B. N.
(The original article is from the anthology Kavitegondu Kathe.)



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.