Subhäshitävali: An Anthology of Comic, Erotic and Other Verse
Selected and translated: A N D Haksar
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Imprint: Black Classics
Price: Rs 200
A tapestry of miniature verses from classical Sanskrit.
The subhāshita verse is a popular feature of Sanskrit literature. Composed in isolation or as part of a larger work, it is essentially a miniature poem which encapsulates a complete thought, mood or image in a single stanza. These verse epigrams have a wide range of themes.
This selection from the Subhāshitāvali, a celebrated verse anthology compiled by Vallabhadeva in circa fifteenth-century Kashmir, offers a rich variety of erotic poetry and a wealth of lyrical and gnomic verse.
One section is given to earthy humour and cynical satire seldom available in English renditions. Also included are invocations and allegories, panegyrics and pen-pictures, sage observations and stark musings. The sweep of these verses is matched by the eclectic array of contributors—from illustrious poets like Vyasa and Valmiki, Kalidasa and Bana to others now mostly forgotten.
These verses of jollity and wit, ribaldry and bawdiness, snide sarcasm and wry comment showcase the fact that Sanskrit literature, generally perceived as staid and serious, can also be flippant and fun.