The pithy Banocchistam Jagat Sarvam lauds that there is nothing on this earth that has not felt the touch of Bana'sfacile pen. He remains unrivalled for his prolific imagination and extensive experience leaving aside none untouched by the effulgence of his genius. There is no sentence, no phrase in his Harshacharita or Kadambari that doesn'tresound of poetic expression. Poetic expressions constitute the riti or saili that is the style, alankars (embellishments) and dhvani (suggestion), all tending to promote sthayi-bhava that is a dominant sentiment yielding aesthetic pleasure called rasa. The narrations in Harshacharita appeal to literary and aesthetic taste buds with the ?rasas? holding out a delectable m?lange of the heroic, the furious, the pathetic and the wonderful. This necessitated varied sources of his knowledge to reckon him a veritable polymath.
The protagonist is his contemporary benefactor-monarch. Bana as an epic bard performs adept akhyayika splicing history and hard facts with poetic fervour. The stilted language is exalted without an iota of comical tinge as his depiction of high life runs dry. Also, certain historical facts stand groggy of being literary platitude, customary of court poets. Bana does not fit as a modern-historian. He sloshes figment of mythopoeic imagination to be proven an epic panegyrist. The career of Harsha at every stage has been equated with some legendary exploit of gods, prevalent in our mythology. Harsha stands an insignia of all the ancient gods. This bardic tradition of eulogising the king was followed in the repertory of court bards that later got apellated as the Bhargava tradition. Bana uses hyperboles profusely to cast this effect??Beyond the ken of the omniscient, beyond the reach of the Goddess of speech, beyond the strength of the Goddess of eloquence, is Harsha.? The historical veracity has often to be skimmed from epigraphs. At times Bana plays down to evade a hard fact to praise his benefactor, Harsha.
In the projection and development of the various rasas, Bana remains astounding. His depiction of the sentiment of sringara (love) and portrayal of vira (heroism) and karuna (pathos) is potent. An analytic picture immerges out to enthuse its readers.
Raining affection on the land
With many a mate benign,
Season like do kings arise
As a people'sfortune sign.
Who isn'teager to assist the good
Or to meet the wealth Goddess?
Or to fly in the sky'svastness,
Or to listen to a hero'sdeeds?
Prabhakaravardhana was King Harsha'sfather. His tragic death is described by Bana in the most poignant way that, ?In the whole range of Sanskrit literature, such tender and delicate description of death is perhaps not to be found? says K Krishnamoorthy. It was not customary for poets and playwrights to dwell upon death straightaway. Bana goes on further to describe the sati of Yashomati, in keeping up the tradition of virapatni. K Krishnamoorthy says, ?Bana has broken new ground in the depiction of these tender and touching scenes. His diction too sheds its usual flamboyance here and runs like a murmuring brook with simple, but sweet rhythms. It is in such passages that the masterly genius of Bana captivates even the modern reader. Grief stricken, Harsha pleads her mother to refrain from committing sati. But in vain. Yashomati explicates to her son the sanctity of performing sati to uphold her own chastity and legacy. Again at this point Bana exudes his rhetorical prowess to acclaim this particular concourse as one of the finest one in classical Sanskrit. However, Bana himself repudiates sati in Kadambari calling the urge to attain the heaven to be dubious. However in Harshacharita, for the sake of history he relates sati in a glorifying way.
In one of the chapters Bana corroborates instances of twenty-eight kings who befell on account of treachery meted out by devious enemies. In the annals of Indian literature nowhere does such a comprehensive account is found berating the indiscretion and treason of enemies. Chapter four of the book carries an elaborate description of a wedding ceremony. This picture of a royal wedding bears a close semblance with the existent wedding in present India. Certain portion of Harshacharita remains identical with Subandhu'sVasavadatta perhaps hinting at plagiarism by Subandhu.
Harshacharita reflects the social history prevalent then. The bedrock of his epic effusion grew upon a contemporary society whose tapestry is resplendent throughout Harshacharita. A candid descript of people like their profession, habits and customs, dresses and ornaments, beliefs, ideals and superstitions, emotions and amusements emerge out. Courtly life in the city, the trooping in the army camp, the serene and placid life in the riparian hamlet and as well as hermitage all have a clairvoyant depiction in the Bana'sepic. The women took up education in music, dancing and several other arts and were accorded a commendable berth in the society. The people were virtuous, God-fearing and pious observing all religious festivals. There was peace and prosperity en core the society. The people were content with their simple vocations. Every trade and profession were given their due cognisance without any disparity. All the provinces of India remained in perfect entente proclaiming a single nation that beget from a common culture. The arts and sciences excelled with medicine and astronomy daunted upon its triumphs. A veritable Golden Age prevailed upon.
Bana set a precedence of raconteurs writing on historical patrons in the epic mode. In sync, Vakpatiraja and Bilhana eulogised their patron kings, Yashoverma and Vikramaditya the sixth. Later, authors like Varahamihira and Vishakhadatta took the cue from this Indian bardic tradition to herald the process. All critics are equivocal to maintain, ?the great merit of Harshacharita consists in the fact that it is a very early attempt at a historical romance.?
?To the vowed hero the earth is a courtyard pedestal, the ocean a dyke,
Hell is dry land and mount Meru an ant-hill!?
(The writer is a freelance journalist with varied interests, reachable at [email protected])