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navratanas of vikramaditya

HISTORY OF NAVARATHNAS OF RAJA VIKRAMADITHYA:

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Eminent historians have not only questioned the Historicity of King Vikramaditya but also rejected the contemporaneity of Navaratnas because their distorted chronological framework has no room for Vikramāditya.


Moreover, they ridiculously date Kālidāsa before Varāhamihira though Kālidāsa himself refers to Varāhamihira as his senior contemporary in his treatise Jyotirvidābharaṇam.


It is relevant here to discuss the date of Navaratnas because the Historicity of King Vikramaditya is also linked with the contemporaneity of Navaratnas in the 1st century BCE.


According to Kālidāsa and the traditional legends, King Vikramāditya had nine gems in his court, namely,


1)Varāhamihira,

2)Kālidāsa,

3)Vararuchi,

4)Dhanvantari,

5)Kśapaṇaka,

6)Ghatakharpara,

7)Śaṅku,

8)Amarasimha and

9)Vetālabhaṭṭa.


1)Varāhamihira (146-74 BCE)

Varahamihira was the eldest among the Navaratnas of Vikramāditya as indicated by Kālidāsa. Varāhamihira, the son of Ādityadāsa and the most celebrated astronomer of Avanti (Ujjain), was born in Kāmpilyaka or Kāpitthaka. He was the author of Pañcasiddhāntikā, Bṛhajjātakam and Bṛhat Saṁhitā.


Varāhamihira used the expressions “Śakendra-kāla”, “Śaka-bhūpa-kāla”, “Śaka-kāla”, etc., which unambiguously refer to the Śaka era (583 BCE) and not to the Śakānta era (78 CE). He indicated Śaka 427 current (157 BCE) as Karaṇābda for calculation of Ahargaṇa (counting of days).


2)Kālidāsa (105-25 BCE)

The most celebrated Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa was one of the Navaratnas of King Vikramāditya and the author of three Kāvyas (“Ritusaṁhāram”, “Kumārasaṁbhavam”, “Raghuvaṁśam) and four Nāṭakas (“Abhijñānaśākuntalam”, “Mālavikāgnimitram”, “Vikramorvaśīyam”, “Kuntaleśvaradautyam”). Kālidāsa also authored an astronomical work named “Jyotirvidābharaṇam” in Kaliyuga 3068 (34-33 BCE).


3)Vararuchi (100-20 BCE)

Vararuchi was also in the court of Vikramāditya. He himself records that he authored “Patrakaumudī” by the directions of Vikramāditya.


Vararuchi also authored “Liṅgaviśeṣavidhi” and “Vidyāsundaraprasaṅga-kāvyam” (Vararuchināmā sa kaviḥ śrutvā vākyam nṛpendrasya । Vidyāsundara-charitam ślokasamuhaistadārebhe ॥).


4)Dhanvantari (1st century BCE)

Dhanvantari, the author of Nighanṭu and Dravyāvalī was one of the nine gems of King Vikramaditya. Probably, he was a royal physician. Unfortunately, we have no further information of Dhanvantari of the 1st century BCE.


5)Kśapaṇaka (1st century BCE)

There were two Sanskrit poets named Ksapaṇaka and Mahā-Kśapaṇaka. Kśapaṇaka was a great grammarian who wrote a treatise titled “Mahānyāsa”.


His treatise was known as “Kśapaṇaka-Vyākaraṇa”. Mahākśapaṇaka was the author of “Anekārtha-Dhvani-Mañjarī” (also known as “Nānārtha-Dhvani-Mañjarī”).


Seemingly, he belonged to Kashmir as recorded at the end of two chapters of Anekārtha-Dhvani-Mañjarī (Kashmirānvaye Mahā-Kśapaṇaka-kavi-viracitānekārtha- Dhvani-Mañjaryām slokādhikāraḥ). There is only one śloka available in Sanskrit literature, which is attributed to Kśapaṇaka. Evidently, there was a grammarian and poet named Kśapaṇaka indeed existed.


6)Amarasimha (85-0 BCE)

Amarasimha was the famous author of “Amarakośa” also known as “Nāmaliṅgānuśāsanam”. Most probably, he was a Buddhist.


An inscription found at Bodh Gaya mentions Amarasimha, a gem of the court of King Vikramaditya.


Most probably, Amarasimha was younger than Vararuchi and Dhanvantari. According to Kśīraswāmi and Sarvananda, the commentators of Amarakośa, the treatises like Vyādi’s Utpalini, Kātyāyana’s Kātya-kośa, Vachaspati’s Śabdārṇava, Bhāguri’s Trikānḍakośa, Vikramāditya’s Saṁsārāvarta, Dhanvantari’s Nighanṭu, Amaradatta’s Amaramālā and Vararuchi’s Liṅgaviśeṣavidhi were written before Amarasimha’s Nāmaliṅgānuśāsanam.

7)Śaṅku (1st century BCE)

Sanku was also one of the Navaratnas of King Vikramaditya. Unfortunately, we have no information about this great scholar. Some scholars have mistakenly identified the Kashmiri poet Śaṅkuka to be one of the Navaratnas of King Vikramāditya.


Kalhaṇa tells us that Śaṅkuka was the author of “Bhuvanābhyudayam”. He was a contemporary of Kashmir King Ajitāpīda and a younger contemporary of Bhaṭṭa Lollaṭa.


8)Vetāla Bhaṭṭa (1st century BCE)

It is believed that Vetala Bhaṭṭa was the author of “Vetālapañcavimśatikā” but the original source of this text is Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā.


Presently, the versions of Vetālapañcavimśatikā edited by Jambhalabhaṭṭa, Vallabhadāsa and Śivadāsa are available. Vetala Bhaṭṭa was also the author of Nītipradīpa Kāvya.


A fragmentary manuscript of Nītipradīpa Kāvya is available which contains only 16 verses. This manuscript clearly mentions Vetāla Bhaṭṭa as the author (Iti Śri-Mahākavi-Vetālabhaṭṭa-viracitam Nītipradīpakāvyam samāptam). Evidently, Vetāla Bhatta, a great poet, was one of the Navaratnas of King Vikramaditya.


9)Ghaṭakharpara (1st century BCE)

Ghaṭakharpara was the author of Nītisāra and Ghaṭakharpara-Kāvyam. There are eight commentaries on Ghaṭakharpara-Kāvyam. Abhinavagupta wrote a commentary named “Kulaka-Vṛtti” on Ghaṭakharpara-Kāvyam.


Seemingly, Ghaṭakharpara was his nickname but we have no information about his original name. In fact, he posed a challenge that if any poet defeats him in “Yamaka”, he will fill water for him with a Ghaṭa-Kharpara, i.e., a broken pot. This is how he came to be known as “Ghaṭakharpara”.


The above article is an exact extract from the book Chronology of India: From Mahabharata to Medieval Era by Vedveer Arya.

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