The composer of this holy hymn, the Psalm of lord Siva, is known as Puspadanta, a Gandharva by a race. The traditional story runs that Puspadanta was a staunch devotee of Siva. He had gained the capacity to become invisible at will, by grace of the Lord. He used to pluck flowers from the garden of a King, using his power of invisibility. The king was very much surprised at the vigilance of the guards. He, too, was a profound devotee of Siva. In order to catch the thief of the flowers, he scattered Siva- nirmalya (the flowers taken off from the idol of the Lord) in the garden, in the hope that the thief would lose his capacity to disappear by trading on these flowers. Puspadanta trod on the flowers unknowingly, and lost his power of invisibility. In order to regain that lost power the composed this hymns to please the Lord. The story of Puspadanta occurs in Kathasaritsagara and Brihatkathamanjari.
The story in Kathasaritsagara runs thus: Once, in order to please Parvati Lord Siva was telling her different types of interesting and new stories. Nandi, Siva's bull, was watching at the door to prohibit others to enter. Puspadanta was very dear to the Lord, he entered the door by the power of yoga, heard all the stories and narrated them to his wife Jaya. She told all the stories to Parvati. Parvati complained to Lord Siva, of telling stories already known to Jaya, stating them to be new. Lord Siva, through meditation, knew and revealed the mischievous behaviour of Puspadanta to his consort. Parvati became angry and cursed Puspadanta and Malyavana, an accomplice, to take birth as human beings on earth, at the request of Jaya she gave a boon that whenever they would meet at the Yaksa Supratika on Vindhyacala, Puspadanta would be free from the curse and Malyavana would also get rid of it. They would become Vararuci and Gunadhya respectively in future births. The seventh place named Agratara on the bank of river Ganga. There lived a Brahmana Govindatta, and his wife Agnidatta. A Son, Devadtta was born to them. The daughter of the king of Pratisthanapura was flowers from her teeth. He did not understand her suggestion, but when he entered the gana of Lord Siva, he became Puspadanta and Jaya became his wife.
References to Puspadanta are available in Mahabharata, Skandapurana, Lingapurana, Bhagavata Mahapurana, Mastyapurana and Amarakosa. All these references prove that the story of Puspadanta is very old, but his name is not mentioned anywhere in the history of stotra literature. Critics assert that the composer of this poem assumed this name in order to give importance to his creation.
A famous scholar, W. Norman Brown, has tried to emphasis that the composer of this hymn was a books. He indicates that in some manuscripts the name of the poet in mentioned as Grahila or Kumarilabhatta. The time of Kumarilabhatta was at the Ameresvara temple at Mandhata in the district of Nimada on the north bank of the river Narmada. The second digit of the year mentioned in that inscription being damaged and erased, the year is not clear. N. P. Chakravarty gives the period at between Samvat 1120 or 1220 A.D., and works out the possible date as either November 21, 1062 or October 27, 1163. This reference itself indicates that the date of the hymn is much before that date. One of the stanzas, i.e. Rathahksoni etc. appears in Somadeva's Yasastilaka (Kavyamala edition, part I, p.55), where he name of the composer has been said to be Grahila. The date of his work is A.D. 959, a determined by D. C. Bhattacharya. Another stanza occurs in Kavyamimansa of Rajshekhara (8/16). Its date has been ascertained to be the end of 9th or beginning of 10th century (880- 920 A.D.). The poem cited is Kimihah kimkayah etc. The learned scholar has also referred to the information given to him by Prof. V. Raghavana that the above-cited stanza also occurs in the commentary of Narayanakantha on Mrigendragana and the poet has been honoured by the title Siddhacudamani. The author belongs to the 10th century.
Brahma Sutras (79)
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