A story for a verse - Rāmabhadrāmba

कलारत्नं गीतं गगनतलरत्नं दिनमणिः

सभारत्नं विद्वान् श्रवणपुटरत्नं हरिकथा |

निशारत्नं चन्द्रः शयनतलरत्नं शशिमुखी

महीरत्नं श्रीमान् जयति रघुनाथो नृपवरः ||

 

Rāmabhadrāmba, the wife of Raghunātha-nāyaka, king of Tanjavur, was an expert in writing poems, just like her husband. Her companion Madhuravāṇi composed the ‘Rāmāyaṇa-tilaka’, an epic-poem in Sanskrit, based on her husband Raghunātha-nāyaka’s Telugu work ‘Rāmābhyudaya’. However, like Gaṅgādevi of the Vijayanagar empire, Rāmabhadrāmba made her husband Raghunātha-nāyaka the hero of her epic-poem ‘Raghunāthābhyudaya’. She was a student of the Telugu poet Kāḻayya and has written poems in Telugu too. Rāmabhadrāmba was a poetess in eight languages,  a śatāvadhānini and  excelled in the genre of poetry called the ‘citra-garbha-bandha-āśu’ (also called ‘mṛdu-lalita-vistara-āśu’). The uniqueness of her poetry lies in that it revolves around her husband’s activities of a particular day.

Once, in court, she was faced with the challenge of composing a verse uber-extempore. The verse had to be set to the ‘śikariṇī’ meter, the word ‘ratna’ (gem) had to be used seven times in the verse and each line was constrained to have four pauses. Even before the person who asked the question finished speaking, Rāmabhadrāmba recited this verse:

“Music is the gem among all arts. The Sun is the gem of the sky. A scholar is like a gem in a court. The story of Hari is a gem to the ears. The moon is the gem of the night. A beautiful girl is a gem in bed. Raghunātha-nāyaka is a gem on the earth”

It is not at all surprising that Rāmabhadrāmba, who could compose such verses so skillfully, could compose a hundred verses within just twenty-four minutes!

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

Author(s)

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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