A story for a verse - Nīlakaṇṭha-dīkṣita and his third wife

क्षुत्तृडाशा इति ख्याता भार्यास्तिस्रः प्रभो मम |

तास्विदं हि कनिष्टायाः प्रियाया नर्मचेष्टितम् ||

 

Nīlakaṇṭha-dīkṣita, the 17th century poet, is a perennial star of Sanskrit literature. He was the grandson of Appayya-dīkṣita’s brother. An expert in vakrokti (oblique expression), he was unmatched for his humor. As a devotee of Shiva, he authored the Nīlakaṇṭha-vijaya-campū, Śivalīlārṇava, Gaṅgāvataraṇa, and Naḻacaritam (a play). Kaliviḍambana, Anyāpadeśaśataka, Sabhārañjanaśataka, Vairāgyaśataka, Śāntivilāsa are other all-time favorites and are known for their inimitable quality.

He was once felicitated by Tirumala-nāyaka. A large feast followed the felicitation ceremony. As Nīlakaṇṭha-dīkṣita was heading out after having his meal, he noticed that tāmbūla (with betel leaves) was being given to the guests along with some money as a gift (dakṣiṇa). The Brahmins were in a rush to collect the dakṣiṇa. Nīlakaṇṭha-dīkṣita, too tired to find his way through this crowd, miss-stepped and fell. Seeing this, the king, in mock seriousness, asked what had caused such chaos.  In reply, Nīlakaṇṭha-dīkṣita, who was known for his wit, reeled off this verse extempore:

“Dear king! I have three wives - hunger, thirst and desire. This is the romantic sport of the youngest and the dearest among them (desire).”

The poet may never have composed such a tender verse had he not slipped and fallen! We should be grateful to his third wife for this verse.

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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