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Of the three Śatakas or centuries of couplets ascribed to Bhartřihari, the Nîti and Vairâgya Śatakas alone are included in the following pages. The Šringâra Śataka contains so many stanzas requiring modification, so many more wholly untranslatable into English, that on due consideration I have decided to omit this collection of stanzas from the volume now published. It only remains for me to convey my thanks to the friends who, in various ways, have so kindly and willingly contributed their aid in helping me to carry out this work.
B. H. W.
THE ŚATAKAS OF BHARTRIHARI.
Who was Bhartrihari ? what was his date? where did he live ? did he, in fact, ever really exist at all? These are questions to which no satisfactory answer has as yet been given. It has been alleged that he was of regal descent, and the brother of Vikramâditya; that not only did he belong to a reigning family, but that he was next in succession to the crown, and that, disgusted with the world, he resigned in favour of his brother Vikrama.
He is the reputed author of three Satakas or centuries of couplets :
1. Śringâra Śataka, a purely amatory poem; 2. Nîti Sataka, on polity and ethics;
3. Vairâgya Sataka, on religious austerity. Besides these, tradition assigns to him a grammar called Vâkyapadîya, and a poem called Bhațţikavya.
But beyond tradition there is no evidence whatever as to the authorship of these Šatakas. The theory already referred to, that Bhartřihari was a prince who quitted the world in disgust, is founded upon the somewhat vague allusions in the second sloka of the Nîti Śataka. This has been supposed to refer to the discovery of a domestic intrigue in his own household, which so shook Bhartrihari's faith in worldly matters, that he decided to abdicate his royal position, and to retire into the forest as an ascetic.