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Bhaaravi (Poet)

Bhaaravi was probably from Southern India in 6th century AD. His poetry, characterized by its lofty expression and intricate style, may have influenced the 8th century poet Maagh. There are two interesting incident available in the life history of Bhaaravi.

(1) When he was a student he stood first in education and he was very wise. He was very famous among scholars. Everybody praised him. But his father was away from praising him. Bhaaravi was upset and decided to kill his father. One day he sat on the wooden beam, under which his father used to take food, with a big rock in his hands. While serving food his mother asked her husband about his view over their son. Then father replied that he was very much happy about the performance of their son and proud of him. Due to the interest of their son’s progress he was not praising. Listening that Bhairavi climbed down and accepted his mistake in front of his father and requested for apology.

(2) The second incident was that when he was searching for job, he was roaming here and there. One day he was sitting near a pool, he plucked some lotus leaves and wrote some of his compositions over those leaves. Then he left them there and went away. Afterwards a king came there for water on the way of his hunting. He was upset seeing the lotus leaves and became happy to read Shlok over them. One Shlok among them was the one whose meaning is given above. He was very much impressed with the gist, carved it in a golden plate and placed it in his bedroom. He ordered his soldiers to find the Poet who wrote it. At last they found Bhaaravi and he was made as the head of poet of the Royal Court.

Once the king, as usual, went for hunting and did not come back for many years since he lost his way in the forest. After a few years he returned in the midnight to the palace and wanted to meet his wife in the same condition. That time the queen was sleeping and beside her was a man sleeping. He was very upset and became angry. So he decided to kill her. He raised his sward and made a blow. But the sward hit somewhere else and made a huge noise. Everyone got up and also the queen. The queen was very much happy to see her husband back and told the person next to her "My dear son, look at your father, he has returned from hunting". Now the King realized his great mistake and noticed that the blow of sward had hit the golden plate on which that Shlok was written

Bhaaravi has composed this long poem in 18 cantos. It describes the story of Arjun acquiring the Pashupat Astra from Shiv. At the end of the penance Shiv in the disguise of a hunter (Kiraat) tests the strength and ability of Arjun in an encounter. This incident is narrated in Van Parv of Mahaabhaarat. Bhaaravii is transformed it in a beautiful Kaavya. The style of Bhairavaee is said ‘Bharaveh Arth Gauravam’. His date was somewhere in the 6th century AD. The 15th canto contains a number of stanzas illustrating all kinds of puns and alliterations. The descriptions of forest and mountains create brilliant images before our eyes. Bhaaravi's work begins with the word Shree (Fortune), and the last verse of every canto contains the synonym Lakshmee.

The most popular verse is the 37th Verse from the 8th canto, which describes nymphs bathing in a river, and is noted for its beauty. Another verse from the 5th canto (utphulla sthal nalinee...) is noted for its imagery, and has given Bhaaravi the sobriquet of "Chhatra Bhaaravi", as he describes the pollen of the lotus flowers being blown by the wind into a golden umbrella (Chhatra) in the sky. Thus, for having verses that are pleasing to lay people as well as clever verses appreciated by scholars, the work is considered to have 'harmony' or 'appropriateness' at all levels, and has been said to possess "Samast Lok Ranjakatwa (the quality of delighting all the people).

Only one Shlok from Kiraataarjuneeya is enough to describe the greatness of Bhaaravi, it says that "if someone does the work in hurry becomes fool and the wealth which follow good characters reach a person one who acts wise.". The Kiraataarjuneeya is the only known work of Bhaaravi. It "is regarded to be the most powerful poem in the Sanskrit language" More than 42 commentaries have been written on this book.

An Example of His Language
In Bhaaravi's at times, the narrative is secondary to the interlaced descriptions, elaborate metaphors and similes, and display of mastery in the Sanskrit language. Notably, its 15th canto contains Chitrakaavya, decorative composition, including the 15th verse with "elaborate rhythmic consonance" noted for consisting of just one consonant "Na".

The 25th verse from the same canto is an example of the form of verse that the Sanskrit aestheticians call Sarvatobhadra, "good from every direction": each line (Pad) of it is a palindrome, and the verse is unchanged when read vertically down or up as well

Since Bhaaravi's this work is an inspiration for Maagh's "Shishupaal Vadh".
--Bhaaravi uses 19 different types of meters while Maagh uses 23 types.
--Bhaaravi praise Shiv, while Maagh praises Vishnu, and
--Maagh also has his own instances of one-consonant (dādadoduddaduddādī…) and Sarvatobhadra palindrome verses.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 08/09/12