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The Life and Times of King Bhoj or Bhoj Prabandh

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Item Code: IDF981
Publisher: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan
Author: Vijay Narain
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8170843228
Pages: 121
Other Details 8.7" X 5.6"
Weight 330 gm
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Book Description

We live in a world where several mysteries lie before us resolved in bare state. Scientific revolution and advancements in communication technology have brought about a new way of our looking at the world. It is not always pleasant and when we look over the shoulder it is with an awe and pleasure as to how we knew it all anyway but our world was more composite. The past has always been enchanting and it still gladdens the heart and uplifts consciousness to have a look at the firmament we were so familiar and free with so far.

The editor of the present series welcome the reader into the pleasure of a participative stroll into some major works of Sanskrit literature that are a heritage of Indian lore. Books Panchtantra or Gems of Indian Thought, Hitopadesh or The Benevolent Sayings, Vikramaditya- Veital Tides or The Tales of Riddles, Jatakmala or The Pearls of Indian Wisdom, The Life & Times of king Bhoj or Bhoj Prabandh and Fairy Dolls & Vikramadityaa’s legendary Throne are entertaining, informing and illustrative of universal and eternal values. I am sure g the reader would find these an enriching experience. Simple language and clear narration, I am sure, will be welcomed by readers of all ages.


The underlying theme of the text of °Bhoj Prabandh° is Raja Bhoj drawing similis to describe the changing shapes, colors and forms of the environment as also the changing nature of the manifest world in order that the intelligent may, by knowing them, get some consolation of being familiar with the world they live in and not feel so alienated. King Bhoj is the protagonist against whom the most learned in aspects of nature and the ground rules governing social interactions throw their wit. Simulation of love, sex, piety, mercy, philanthropy are aroused again and again to make the sensitive people feel human, sane and pleasant in an environment that is otherwise hostile, hazardous and unthinkably cruel. Kalidas thus defines the evening’s descent, a picturesque if grim scenario:

Just as the knowledge 0f a materialist and the shine 0fthe lotus is depleting like pundits in foreign land, seers are attaining to poverty; like a wicked king darkness is painful for the world. Like the wealth 0fa miser; the eyes are becoming useless.

Often, and very often, poets, pundits and Veda expert’s eulogies Raja Bhoj to declare him to be the most excellent king and patron of arts and learning the Earth has ever seen! Evidently, per se, the hyperbola is driven by the desire for a sense of grandeur and larger than life scene and an evidently unearthly worldview. A keen desire to escape the grimness that characterises life’s dilemmas. The pundits do it, yet, perhaps to home in the ground reality of the sordidness of existence and do it as delicately as possible and to gain oneness with the less fortunate. But King Bhoj also responds to their basic needs driven by his underlying understanding of the more crude reality. The composer of the text, patron king Ballal himself and the readers, know this, but not the logic behind the use of such inflated tone that is the chief aspect of 'Bhoj Prabandh.’ We cannot quarrel with the idioms, the proverbs, the similis, the fund of information, description of the soreness of poverty of the kindly, the passions, the rationalities, the interactions, the display of attitudes, the upholding of values, the subtle shrug of greatness by the more practical in order to stay grounded that is revealed in the stanzas and inter- communications between the characters representing the major poets of Sanskrit literature. The s/0/eas of the main body themselves have nothing to do with literature per re, nor are they original works of the poets.

But, then, what is the rationale behind ‘Bhoj Prabandh? The stanzas collated and constructed by Ballal poet, a contemporary of King Bhoj do not form part of any known or popular work and in main the chief poets of Sanskrit literature are merely represented. The underlying meaning behind inflated descriptions is for the intelligent to have an insight into the unknown. There are also bland statements as those from ‘Panchatantra’ that speak of abiding truths taken from classical literature. All that is there, the main subject matter of the book, however, is a first text and, in fine, gives no reference points to any other literary notations or historical events nor does it narrate a fictional account of any individual poet or pundit, using the known names only as types. In this respect, it is one of few original masterpieces. Even the epics Ramayana or Mahabharata trace their origin to distant antiquity—kings of yore, events of past replaying their karmic roles, facing themselves to reach higher realms or to fall nether wards. ‘Bhoj Prabandh’ assumes no such grandiose scheme, proposes no reaching for the stars. It is a star. It is a catering to the present, to the now, to pleasure pure and perfect and Existence unhindered and to enjoying the bliss of all good past karmas through the unfolding of good karma: in the form of pleasant scenarios and ideas suggested by the poets, the pundits and the learned in order to start a fresh karmic account with all good natured, sensitive people. They all regale themselves with poetic hyperboles. For example, a pundit reads:

Three things fell upon appearance of Raja Bhoj: the weapons Of enemies, troubles 0f poets and the knots of lovely ladies’ saris.

Anything other than pleasant, except passing references to grinding poverty of some Brahmins who cannot donate to poor, has been excised from the text: the thief who successfully packs up all of King Bhoj’s jewels while the King slept and who is about to escape suddenly develops an instant renunciation at seeing so much wealth at his command just then the just-awakened King composes three stanzas of a quatrain but fumbles for the fourth. The thief supplies the last of the quatrain. He is not only condoned for his crime by the King, the King, in fact, gives him the most precious jewel ‘Veej Kankarh’ for supplying him the last fitting stanza which had so satisfied his itch and solved a riddle, since the first three stanzas were so bright, or so the King thought. That the last stanza complemented the first three became the most important thing in the world at the moment for the King. This is the world of ‘Bhoj Prabandh’, the grand climax to the sexual ecstasy of poetry. That is the poetry sense of the pundit, the poet or even the ordinary but intelligent weaver or potter. The sense, the passion bearing the sense, the face behind the passion that drives that sense – Raja Bhoj is seeking that one out with all the force of the driven.

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