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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. Sringâra Śataka, a purely amatory poem; 2. Niti Sataka, on polity and ethics;
3. Vairâgya Śataka, on religious austerity. Besides these, tradition assigns to him a grammar called Vâkyapadiya, and a poem called Bhattikavya.
But beyond tradition there is no evidence whatever as to the authorship of these Šatakas. The theory already referred to, that Bhartrihari was a prince who quitted the world in disgust, is founded upon the somewhat vague allusions in the second sloka of the Nîti Sataka. 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.
These conclusions seem, however, too much to deduce from a remark in itself somewhat obscure. But whoever the author may have been, there seems a continuity and a uniformity in each of these separate Satakas, as well as a similarity in character between them, which forbid us to accept the theory that they are merely a compilation of well-known sayings. The unbroken tradition, moreover, that they are the authorship of one man (whatever his name may be) should not go for nothing.
The question of date is almost as difficult to decide as that of authorship, and this can only be arrived at approximately on internal evidence. The doctrines enunciated in the Vairagya Śataka are relied on as supplying us with some of the proofs that are required. Many of the Slokas in this Sataka speak in the language of the Vedantic philosophy. The rooting out of Karma or action, absorption into the Supreme Spirit, the driving out of Moha or illusion by Jnâna, or the true knowledgethese ideas occurring very frequently in the Vairâgya Śataka, all point to Vedantic influence. The eighth or ninth century A.D. haş, on these grounds, been assigned as the date of these Śatakas. Not that this date can be held as conclusive; for though Sankarâcharya, the great exponent and formulator of the Vedantic philosophy flourished and taught at that date, it is not, therefore, proved that the Vedantic doctrines did not exist before his time, and it necessarily follows, therefore, that neither similarity of idea nor of phraseology can warrant us in making Bhartrihari's Satakas cotemporary with Sankaracharya.
The argument as to their date from the mention of the Purâņas in the Vairagya Sataka seems to be equally unconvincing. Some of the Purâņas may be even comparatively modern productions, as late as the fourteenth or fifteenth century; but some are much earlier, dating back to the fifth or sixth century A.D. Further, the contents of these Purâņas may be carried back to an even
earlier date, and are spoken of under the title of Purâņas by Amara Sinha in the first century B.C. Therefore, to derive any satisfactory conclusion as to dates from the mention of the Purâņas in the Vairâgya Śataka, we should require to know what Purâņas are referred to in the particular passages—whether the works known to us as Purâņas or those known under that name to Amara Sinha 1
Telang, in the preface to his editions of the Nîti and Vairâgya Śatakas, is in favour of assigning the close of the first or beginning of the second century to the author of these philosophical poems, in opposition to some authorities, who would place his date at 56 A.D. He grounds his view on the following considerations. Tradition informs us that the author of the Satakas was Bhartřihari, the brother of King Vikrama, and that he also composed a grammatical work called the Vâkyapadîya. This work shows us that its author lived at least one generation after Patanjali's commentary on Panini's Grammar, called Mahâbhâshya, had come into general use. The date of Patanjali varies according to different authorities from 200 B.C. to 25 A.D. Bhartrihari, in the Vâkyapadiya, notices the fact that the Mahâbhâshya had gone through changes and rearrangements of text; possibly interpolations and additions. The period between 144 B.C. (which Telang considers the probable date of Patanjali) and 56 B.C. would have been hardly long enough to account for alterations and interpolations in the text of the Mahâbhâshya, and therefore 56 B.C., as the date of Bhartřihari, must be abandoned. We have, however, seen that Vikramâditya was said to be the brother of Bhartrihari. Now there appears to be a general consensus of opinion that this Vikramâditya was the founder of the Saka era, and that he lived about 78 A.D.
This date allows an interval of more than two centuries between Patanjali and Bhartsihari, a period of sufficient
Some, however, have placed Amara Sinha in the middle of the third century A.D., or even later.
length to account for the alterations and interpolations which existed in the text of the Mâhabhâshya referred to in the Vâkyapâdiya. On these grounds, then, such as they are, the authorship of these Šatakas has been assigned to the end of the first or to the beginning of the second century A.D.
Some attempt has been made to fix Bhartņihari's date by comparison with that of Kalidâsa. But the date of Kalidâsa himself is not sufficiently well ascertained to arrive at any certain conclusion by that method.
Much, therefore, as to the date and authorship of these poems must be left to probability and conjecture.
Note.—The text from which the following translation has been made is that edited by Kâshinâth Trimbak Telang, Bombay, 1874.
THE SATAKAS OF BHARTRIHARI.
Concerning Morality. 1. SALUTATION to the deity who is not definable in time or space : infinite-pure intelligence in incarnate form: who is peace and glory: whose sole essence is self-knowledge.
2. That woman is attracted by another man whom I supposed to be always devoted to me: to her another man is attached : while a certain other woman takes pleasure in my doings. Fie on her and on him, on the god of love, on that woman, and on myself.
3. The man who is entirely ignorant is easily guided : the wise man is still more easily led: but even the Supreme Being himself cannot influence the smatterer.
4. A man may forcibly get back a jewel from the teeth of a crocodile: he may cross over the raging waves of the
may wear an angry serpent on his head as if it were a garland of flowers: but he cannot win over the mind of one who is foolish and obstinate.
5. A man may get oil from sand by violent pressure : he may drink water from a mirage when oppressed by thirst: he may get possession of the horn of a hare: but he cannot win over the mind of one who is foolish and obstinate.