Philosophical Reflections in the Naisadhacarita (An Old Book)

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Item Code: NAH107
Author: Harekrishna Meher
Language: English
Edition: 1989
ISBN: 8185094217
Pages: 360
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 480 gm
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Book Description

About The Author


Dr. Hare Krishna Meher, born in 1956 at Sinapali in Kalahandi district of Orissa, was an awardee of Merit Scholarships, National Merit Scholarship and U.G.C. Research Fellowship, having brilliant first class academic record starting from his school career.


Studying in Ravenshaw College Cuttack, he got First class First B.A. (Sanskrit Honours) with Distinction from Utkal University in 1975. He took First M.A.(Sanskrit) with B.H.U. Medal, Sri Krishnanand Pandey of Saharanpur Gold Medol, 'Kashiraj Medol & Prize from Banaras Hindu University in 1977, also brilliant First class 'Diploma in German' in 1979. For his thesis, he was awarded 'Doctor of Philosophy' by Banaras Hindu University in 1981.


In Orissa Educational Service, he has been working as a lecturer in Sanskrit in different govt. Colleges since 1981 presently he teaches at Fakir Mohan College, Balasore.


Dr. Meher writes in , translates from and into Sanskrit, English, Hindi and Oriya. Hailing from a poet's family, he is keenly devoted to language and literature.




The Naisadhacarita of poet Sriharsa is a glorious literary epic in Classical Sanskrit literature. It is also known as Naisadhiyacarita, Naisadhiya or Naisadha, with own epical features, it is much appreciated by various eminent scholars of both eastern and western countries of the world. This monumental composition forms a splendid blend of literature and philosophy, since allusions to different doctrines of Indian Philosophy have found. their way into it.


Although a few books have been written on Sriharsa and his Naisadhiyacarita, a detailed and systematic study of the philosophical concepts reflected in this epic was a desideratum for long. Such philosophical study is the fruition of my research work accomplished with the assistance of U.G.C. Research Fellowship. And the present volume embodies my thesis entitled "PHILOSOPHICAL IDEAS AS REFLECTED IN THE NAISADHACARITA" approved for the award of the degree of "Doctor of Philosophy" by Banaras Hindu University in 1981. In this book form, minor changes have been made especially in Introduction and son e captions of the chapters, Further, Verse-Index and General Index have been appended for convenient reference.


Sriharsa, though primarily a poet, is philosopher of Advaita vedanta. His Khandana-Khanda-Khadya is a remarkable philosophical treatise. In the Naisadhacarita also, he has exhibited mastery, both literary and philosophical. All the topics propounded by all the systems of Indian Philosophy have not been alluded to in epic. But the poet has proficiently profiled diverse major philosophical concepts and they, without any sequence, are traced in different cantos. After thorough observations, extracting the philosophical portions, it has been endeavoured in this book to identify, analyse and present them properly in accompaniment of convention and background of the philosophical schools.


The philosophical concepts are bassed on both atheistic and theistic tenets. In keeping with the concepts, at first the issue raised by a particular school of thought has been touched upon. Then the ideas reflected in the epic have been elaborated. In almost all the cases, original sources have been consulted. Several source-books and philosophical treatises of the writers prior to and contemporary with poet Sriharsa have been referred to. In some cases, writers posterior to Sriharsa have also been consulted; for the philosophical theories either in prior case or in posterior are mostly tantamount and compromising. Attempts have been made to chronologically discuss the different philosophical notions along with the original viewpoints of the poet. Various commentaries on the epic have been consulted for critical appreciation of the concerned philosophical points. Besides Introduction in Chapter I and Conclusion in Chapter X, the philosophical doctrines of Carvaka, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Bauddha, Jaina, Nyaya-Vaisesika and Vedanta systems have been elucidated in the remaining eight chapters.


Sanskrit verses of the Naisadhacarita mainly dealt with in the present volume have been taken from the Naisadhiyacarita published by Nirnaya Sagar Press, Bombay in 1952. I acknowledge my high indebtedness to all writers whose works I have consulted in connection with my research. I am much indebted to Prof. Krishna Kanta Handiqui whose work I have often utilised regarding some commentaries on the epic. All the English renderings of Sanskrit verses and lines in the present volume are mine.


I express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr. Krishna Nath Chatterjee, Presently Professor of Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta, my beloved teacher and learned Supervisor of my doctoral thesis in Banaras. Without his generous guidance and affectionate help, the thesis would not have seen the light of the day. I am grateful to Dr. Biswanath Bhattacharya, Professor of Sanskrit, Dr. Virendra Kumar Varma, Professor of Sanskrit and Dr. Satya Swarup Misra, 'Professor of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University for their helping encouragement in my work.


I am also obliged to Prof. Dr. Rama Ranjan Mukherjee, Former Vice-Chancellor of Burdwan University and Prof. Dr. T. G. Mainkar, Director of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, for their precious remarks of inspirations.


Hearty thanks are due to my friends Dr. Jaikrishna Godiyal, Prof. Bharat Chandra Nath, Dr. Vindhyeshwari Prasad Mishra, Dr. Taradatt and my revered colleague Prof. Mayaram Bhatt for their encouraging co-operations in the present work. Of my adorable parents, Poet Sri Narayan Bharasa Meher and Srimati Sumati Devi, affectionate inspirations that I have been getting in my research and literary activities are immense and unforgettable. To them, no words from my side can suffice for gratitude.


I extend my gratefulness to all my teachers and well-wishers of different institutions, who have lightened me in the path of literature and philosophy. Finally I am thankful to Sri S. K. Bhattacharya, Proprietor, Punthi Pustak, Calcutta, who has heartily highlighted this thesis in his popular publication. My efforts will be fructified, if this book will prove useful for scholars and lovers of Sanskrit.




Naisadhacarita of Sriharsa enjoys a prominent position among the five great epics of Sanskrit Literature. This epic contains twenty-two cantos completed with 2827 verses. Its main theme is the story of the between Nala, the King of Nisadha and Damayanti, the princess of Vidarbha. The Story of Nala and Damyanti is mainly founded in Mahabharata of Vyasa and the Kathasaritsatar of Samveda. The episode of the epic has been taken from the Mahabharata. Poet Sriharsa has remodelled the story and has added the sentiment of love to it.


The sole desire of the poet, as expressed by himself", is to compose an epic narrating the tale highly dominated by Eros, the first nine sentiments of literature. Therefore, he has chosen a specific plot of the Nala-Damayanti-story and has completed the enjoyable happy wedding ceremony of the royal couple. Though a contextual temporary appearance of Kali is seen in the epic the poet has debarred the rest of the story such as Nala's e game of dice, the tragic separation of King Nala from by the conspiracy of the notorious Kali, reunion of the Royal and others. From this view-point, the epic of Sriharasa is undoubtedly a complete and full-fledged one furnished with all the essential of a Mahakavya, Literary works of the age, Sriharsa flourished in, are often marked with scholasticism. The present epic is no exception thereto. It has earned a place of pride and recongnition as a peerless piece of literary art.


Sriharsa as the Author of the Naisadhacarita


Scholars differ in respect of the life-history of poet Sriharsa. There are different persons who go by the name Sriharsa. Harsavardhana who was the king of Kanyakubja is also well known as Harsadeva and Sriharsa. He was the patron of poets like Dhavaka" who composed various Sanskrit works such as Ratnavali, Nagananda and Priyadarsika, in the name of the said King. Mahakavi Bana wrote the great prose-epic Harsacarita after this King. The regime of this King is placed in the first half of the seventh century A.D. The renowned Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Chuang had visited India during the reign of this King.


Another Sriharsa was the King of Kasmir. He has been referred to in the Rajatarangini of Kalhana. King Sriharsa, as Kalhana remarks, is assigned to the eleventh century A.D. As regards this King, Kalhana has depicted that Sriharsa was an eminent scholar and a poet with the proficiency in several languages, whose fame had spread all over India and abroad.


The author of the Naisadhacarita cannot be identified with any of these two persons going by the name Sriharsa, For the poet himself has obviously portrayed that he has gained the honour of betel and seat from the King of Kanyakubja. So Sriharsa who was the King of Kanyakubja and patron of poets like Bana, Dhavaka etc., must not be respected by another King of Kanyakubja. Further, two kings, Sriharsa by name, cannot adorn the throne in one and the same land at the same time. Therefore, it may be contended that Sriharsa, who was the King of Kanyakubja, must not be the author of the Naisadhacarita. Sriharsa, the King of Kasmir also cannot be identified with the author of the Naisadhacarita, For, the Rajatarangini that speaks of the King of Kasmir does not mention him as the author of the said epic.


A Poet named Sriharsa is found as the author of Vartika on Barata's Natyasastra. In this connection, Dr. Candika Prasad Sukla refer to Dr. Sankaran who has established the view that this commentor Sriharsa is the same Sriharsa, i.e. Harsavardhana, the king of Kanyakubja, but Dr. P. V. Kane maintains this view as dubious. However, this Sriharsa also cannot be the author of the Naisadhacarita; for Sriharsa, the author of this epic, has nowhere mentioned the name of the said Vartika as his own composition, though he has perspicuously spoken of his other treatises.


So it may be asserted that Sriharsa, the author of the Naisadhacarita cannot be identified either with the King of Kanyakubja or with the king of Kasmir or with the commentator on the Natyasastra, Sriharsa the author of the epic, has his unique position as a distinct personality.


Identity, Date and Place of Sriharsa


In the concluding verses of each canto of the epic, poet Sriharsa has laid bare his identifiction. Sriharsa was his father and Mamalla devi his mother As the tradition tells, Sriharsa's maternal uncle was Mamalla, the reputed rhetorician and writer of the Knvya prakasa.


The correct name of the poet is Sriharsa and not Harsa, for he himself explicit mentions his name in the identification verse of both Naisadhacarita and the Khandana-Khanda-Khndya. However, he is also pularly known as Harsa. Rajasekhara in his Prabandha has written 'Harsakavi-Prabandha' regarding Harsa, the author of Naisadhacarita. Pandit Sivadatta Sarma, in his introduction to the Naisadhacarita has elaborately discussed the life history of the poet.


Sriharsa himself speaks of his own tribute of getting two pieces of betel and a seat from the King of Kanyakubja. However, the name of the king is not stated by the poet. From Rajasekhara's story and discussion of Pandit Sivadatta, it is maintained that Sriharsa was the honourable court-poet in the reign of King Vijayacandra and his son Jayantacandra of Kanyakubja, Historically, this Jayantacandra is known as Jayacandra who is associated with Prthviraja and Samyukts, So from this evidence, poet Sriharsa is assigned to the latter half of the twelfth century A.D. In the regime of the said king, though Kanyakubja was the head- quarters, yet Varanasi was the main capital. Therefore, poet's ardent attraction and high homage for this holy place are found lively in his marvellous description.


Different views are found with regard to the native land of poet Sriharsa. The poet has clearly indicated about his honour as the court-poet of the king of Kanyakubja. But he has succintly not mentioned the name of his own birth place. Several scholars have tried to prove the poet as a native of Bengal or Kasmir or Orissa or Banaras from different points of views. Prof. Nilakamala Bhattacarya and Sri Nalininatha Dasgupta have endeavoured much to prove Bengal as the home of Sriharsa. Some others also take Orissa as the birth-place of the poet with the identical arguments of claim of Bengal, especially in view of the description of "Mahajyaisthi" (Ablution-Festival) of Lord Jagannath of Puri mentioned in the epic (15/89). Refuting the views of Prof. Bhattacarya, Dr. S. K. De remarks: "The attempt to demonstrate that Sriharsa belonged to' Bengal' is wholly unconvincing" Dr. A. N. Jani "provisionally" accepts Bengal as Sriharsa's home, in spite of the dubious arguments of the scholars. Other claims seem weak in their points and unsuccessful.


Dr. Candika Prasad Sukla refers to diverse opinions of scholars and comprehensively assesses this controversial issue. He vehemently repudiates the views, particularly the claims of Bengal and conclusively establishes his points with internal and external evidences in support of poet's origin in Kanyakubja area. His statements look convincing and worthy of authenticity. So Sriharsa happens to have hailed from Kanyakubja (Kanauja) or from a certain place adjacent to this city. Above all, it may suffice to say that Sriharsa is an, Indian a poet of India and a glory of India while placed in the Literature.




Chapter I Introduction


Chapter II Carvaka Philosophy


Chapter III Sankhya Philosophy


Chapter IV Yoga Philosophy


Chapter IV Mimamsa Philosophy


Chapter VI Bauddha Philosophy


Chapter VII Jaina Philosophy


Chapter VIII Nyaya-Vaisesika Philosophy


Chapter IX Vedanta Philosophy


Chapter X






Verse Index


General Index



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