The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"


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Bhatta Nayaka, Jayanta Bhatta, Sriharsha, Kshemendra, Somadeva, Mammata, Kuntaka, Rudrata, Ruyyaka, Bilhana, Kshemaraja, Kalhana, Jonaraja, Kallata, Kayyata, Mahima Bhatta, Vasugupta, Amaru(?), Damodaragupta, Vamana, Udbhata, Utpala, …
[Many more names to fill here.]

Some have even sought to assign Kalidasa to Kashmir, on no grounds stronger than that he was good at what he did!

Not for nothing is शारदा देवी called काश्मीर-पुरवासिनी.

Written by S

Wed, 2012-03-21 at 22:27:45

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Here’s another name from Kashmir that ‘very few people know about’, to quote Sheldon Pollock.
    Bhatta Nayaka. Watch this interview of Sheldon Pollock for more information. (seek to 21:25)


    Thu, 2012-03-22 at 18:18:22

    • Ah yes, added to the list (plus a few more). :-) Nearly all the big names in poetics / literary criticism (called alaṅkāra śāstra for historical reasons) are from Kashmir!

      (Aside: a lot of “Bhatta”s from Kashmir, and the surname is still retained even by Muslims from the region, e.g. “Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front” founder Maqbool Bhat and the now-banned Pakistani cricketer Salman Butt.)


      Fri, 2012-03-23 at 10:25:07

  2. How many of them do you think were monks? Or were most of them royal scribes, royal poets and the like?

    Also, could this be because Buddhism or Jainism never really kicked Hinduism out of the valley?

    Pavan Srinath

    Thu, 2012-03-22 at 23:17:42

    • AFAIK, not many were monks; they were just common people (supported directly or indirectly through royal patronage). E.g. Kshemendra was born in a reasonably wealthy family; he says his father was a minister at a king’s court but he must have been a minor one as he’s not mentioned in other historical records. He was a student of Abhinavagupta, had children and students of his own, etc. Actually, Kashmiri authors tend to reveal a little more about themselves than the usual nothing, so it is possible to know more about the social setting… I just happen not to know. :-)

      I am sceptical of the claim that Buddhism or Jainism kicked Hinduism out anywhere in India… there does not seem to have been an awareness of a Hinduism as distinct from Buddhism or Jainism; instead there were just a matrix of possible beliefs that co-existed. (BTW, see page 44 onwards here.) To return to the example of the polymath Kshemendra, he wrote works on all of the Shaiva, Vaishnava and Bauddha traditions, always respectful of all of them — so I don’t even think the opposition between Buddhism and the other schools was as marked then as at other times.


      Sat, 2012-03-24 at 17:39:47

  3. Outstanding. I have even seen Panini placed in Kashmir, or at least a stone’s throw from it.

    I wonder why it is that so many Sanskrit texts come from that region. Is it simply that it was stable and wealthy enough to pay scribes and patronize Sanskrit literature? Could it have been a positive feedback mechanism, whereby Kashmir had a reputation and aspiring authors flocked there to make a name for themselves? Maybe it was the weather, just as people who go to Silicon Valley never want to leave that California sun.

    But maybe I’m focusing too much on production and not enough on preservation. Perhaps manuscripts in other parts of the subcontinent couldn’t endure the local climate. Or it could be the case that the “vernacular revolution” that Sheldon Pollock has described elsewhere was stronger or more politicized in regions historically associated with non-IE languages. I’m well aware of instances of textual violence in other parts of the world, but I’m curious to find out if they ever occurred in India as well.

    All the more reason to sit down and finish The Language of the Gods in the World of Men.

    Still, what a fascinating time it must have been, living there among the greatest minds to ever write in Sanskrit. (But at least the south will always have the genius of Vedanta Deshika.)


    Sat, 2012-03-24 at 00:08:48

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