Kumaradasa (6th century A.D.), author of the Sanskrit epic Janakiharana (Abduction of Sita), was a king of Sri Lanka who came under the compelling influence of Kalidasa. Extraordinary compressed in some places, Janakiharan is almost an outline of the Ramayana story (except 'Uttarakanda'), as written by Valmiki. Perhaps on account of the thematic link and similarity of names, a legend has grown up connecting Kalidasa and Kumaradasa.
Kumaradasa is, however, quite original in presentation of theme, in descriptions of nature, and in the delineation of the mental and emotional states of his characters. His scholarship, free from pedantry, is evident in this epic of twenty cantos. Janakiharana is, indeed, a fitting complement to Kalidasa's Raghuvamsa. For a long time this 'Mahakavya' was known only in the Sinhalese translation, but the original poem has now been retrieved from South Indian manuscripts.
About the Author:
C.R. Swaminathan (b. 1927), author of this monograph, has a number of publications in English, Sanskrit and Malayalam to his credit. He is at present editing the Kavya Satapatha Brahmana and its English translation and the Jaiminiya Sama Veda Samhita, at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. In this monograph he has evaluated Kumaradasa's contribution to Indian literature.
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