Post No. 11,263

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Quotations on Prakrit Poetry and language

Praise of Prakrit Poetry

In his introductory verses to Harshacarita, the poet Banabhatta praises Satavahana, also known as Salivahana and Hala,for his Gatha Sapta Sati (GSS) in these glowing terms

Satavahana made a treasury of fine sayings as of jewels;

(Avinasinam) immortal;indestructible refined;


Uddhyotanasuri, the author of Kuvalayamala, extols Hala in these words:

“What is the use of composing poetry after the passing away of Hala whose poetry was on the tongues of even farmers while ploughing their fields?”

“When the intoxicating effect of wine is no more, what is the use of meat?”



The charm of Sanskrit speech blooms in its Prakritic shadow while the (innate ) glory of the Prakrit is heightened when it touched up by its sanskritization


It is only in Prakrit that we can have in an abundant measure, ever fresh themes presented in a rich variety of styles, refreshingly cool and caressingly sweet. This will continue to be till the end of the world.


All languages merge in it (Prakrit ) and emerge from it. Waters pour into the sea and flow out of it.


A peculiar delight which dilates and closes the eyes, thrills the heart, rushing inwards and outwards

Gaudavaho v 65,v 92 v 93, v 94


Sanskrit compositions are harsh, while a composition in Prakrit sounds so soft. The difference between the two is as between the masculine and the feminine


In other words,

You may respect Sanskrit but you will fall in love with Prakrit

Karpuramanjari 1-7


Sanskrit speech is praiseworthy whereas Prakrit speech is naturally sweet.

Bala Ramayana 1-11


Prakrit is the source of Sanskrit; it dances in the tongues of ladies of lovely eyes; when one hears it the words of Sanskrit language grate upon one’s ears; it’s prose is easy, does not contain hard letters and has very few compounds; and it is the abode of the god of love.

Bala Ramayana 1-11


A commentator on Prakrit Prakasa

O,how marvellous! The Prakrit which is lovely like the moonlike face of the beloved is fascinating . It sparkles with Suktis (good sayings ) imbued with nectar like rasas .



Away with Sanskrit poetry and the poets who composed it. For Sanskrit, when read, sounds like tad tad tatta like a house of bamboos on fire 21

The Pandita who replies in Sanskrit, when Prakrit poetry is recited, pelts stones at the bed of flowers and destroys it .


Gatha Saptasati (GSS)

Prakrit literature is vast and varied. It is composed in different languages like Ardhamagadi, Maharashtri, Sauraseni, Paisaci and Apabrahma.

Hala’s Sattasai or Gaathaa sapta sati (second century to third century ) is the earliest known anthology of Prakrit. It has 700 verses in Maharashtri Prakrit. It’s popularity is attested by the large number of commentaries on it and scores of quotations from it in works on poetics and the use made of it by the Prakrit grammarians.

Eminent poets like Bana, Uddyotanasuri, Abhinanda and Siddhanathan bestow high praise on it. And if imitation is an index of popularity we have its imitation in Sanskrit in Govardhana’s Arya sapta sati which is certainly modelled on Hala’s GSS.

The work differs in many manuscripts. It is mostly erotic. Each Gatha presents a miniature picture complete in itself. These Gathas mainly depict village life and peasantry. The family life of lower strata of the society is portrayed in its various contexts, but the erotic aspect dominates

The anthology is rich in maxims and popular sayings and sheds light on customs and conventions prevalent in those times. There are allusions to divine beings like Siva Parvati Gauri , Ganapathi Vishnu Lakshmi etc.


Studies in Jain Literature, prof v m Kulkarni, Ahmedabad,2001


Tags- Quotations, Prakrit , Poetry,  language, Gatha Saptasati , Ajnatakavih, Rajasekhara, Vakpati ,Uddhyotanasuri, Bana Bhatta, Gaudavaho

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