A Biblical and Koranic story in medieval Persian reaches Kashmir and is transformed there into a Sanskrit epic poem, with India's. mythic overtones-an attestation to the country's rich syncretic and multicultural post.
In this tale, the beautiful princess Zuleikha has nightly visions of Yusuf, a handsome young stranger. Captivated by his beauty, her waking hours are filled with heartaches, each to the anxiety of her near ones. But Zuleikha is resolved to be united with Yusuf. Her dreams also reveal the obstacles to be surmounted. What ensues is a captivating account of longing and love-a parable of the soul's journey in its search for the divine.
Magnificent in its simple elegance, A Tale of Wonder is beautifully translated by A.N.D. Haksar, with on introduction shedding light on the remarkable provenance of this timeless story.
Translated from the Sanskrit by A.N.D. Haksar
Srivara was a significant Sanskrit scholar and poet who was active in Kashmir in the fifteenth century. His best-known work is the third Rajatarangini, a sequel to the famous history of Kashmir which was commenced with the same name by Kalhana 300 years earlier and continued by Jonaraja. His present work had, however, become obscure and its manuscript was found there only in the nineteenth century. It is inspired by a celebrated poem in Persian, and in it he has also mentioned his proficiency in that language.
Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel Haksar is a well-known translator of Sanskrit classics. For many years a career diplomat, he served at the United Nations and as the Indian high commissioner and ambassador in various countries. His translations from the Sanskrit include those of several great works by ancient poets like Bhasa and Kalidasa, Bhartrihari and Dandin, Kshemendra and Kalyana Malla, all published as Penguin Classics. He has also compiled A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry, which was recently translated into Arabic in the UAE.
Here presented is a translation of the little-known Sanskrit verse epic Kathakautukam, written by the poet-scholar Srivara in fifteenth-century Kashmir. In modern times, its text was located there during the late nineteenth century and then edited and published in Bombay in 1901 But apart from brief subsequent references in some academic histories of Sanskrit literature, and possibly some unpublished research, it has remained unnoticed and perhaps never been translated so far. The present work is intended to fill the gap and bring out this fascinating poem from past oblivion for general readership today.
This epic poetry from Kashmir, here titled A Tale of Wonder, deserves more exposure in the present times. Apart from its literary quality, and the need to make such forgotten works available in the mainstream of modern reading, there are also some other worthwhile considerations. These include a background of historical change and cultural intermingling reflected in its composition and theme, comparatively unusual in Sanskrit literature, and the manner of its presentation. These aspects are also reminders of a little-remembered chapter of national history. As such, some words on them may be a suitable prelude to this introduction.
To begin with, this poetic account provides a fine example of the cultural confluence not often noticed in Sanskrit literature.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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