Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/391

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There are also some modern anthologies of Sanskrit gnomic poetry. One of these is Çrīdharadāsa's Sadukti-karṇāmṛita, or "Ear-nectar of Good Maxims," containing quotations from 446 poets, mostly of Bengal, and compiled in 1205 A.D. The Çārngadhara-paddhati, or "Anthology of Çārngadhara," dating from the fourteenth century, comprises about 6000 stanzas culled from 264 authors. The Subhāshitāvalī, or "Series of Fine Sayings," compiled by Vallabhadeva, contains some 3500 stanzas taken from about 350 poets. All that is best in Sanskrit sententious poetry has been collected by Dr. Böhtlingk, the Nestor of Indianists, in his Indische Sprüche. This work contains the text, critically edited and accompanied by a prose German translation, of nearly 8000 stanzas, which are culled from the whole field of classical Sanskrit literature and arranged according to the alphabetical order of the initial word.

Though composed in Pāli, the Dhammapada may perhaps be mentioned here. It is a collection of aphorisms representing the most beautiful, profound, and poetical thoughts in Buddhist literature.

The keynote prevailing in all this poetry is the doctrine of the vanity of human life, which was developed before the rise of Buddhism in the sixth century B.C., and has dominated Indian thought ever since. There is no true happiness, we are here taught, but in the abandonment of desire and retirement from the world. The poet sees the luxuriant beauties of nature spread before his eyes, and feels their charm; but he turns from them sad and disappointed to seek mental calm and lasting happiness in the solitude of the forest. Hence the picture of a pious anchorite living in contemplation is often painted with enthusiasm. Free from all desires, he is as happy