Religions of South Asia, Vol 5, No 1/5.2 (2011)

Poetic Pasts: Patrons, Poets and Lesser Mortals in Bāṇa’s ‘Biography’

Kumkum Roy
Issued Date: 23 May 2012


The paper sets out to explore the ways in which genealogies, and other literary devices, are used to constitute the identity of Harṣavardhana in the Harṣacarita authored by Bāṇabhaṭṭa. I argue that it is important not only to focus on the avowed subject of the text, but also to examine the ways in which the author represents himself—given that both poet and patron may not have had strong claims to the positions they occupied, this intertwining is possibly significant. Finally, I turn to the ways in which other men (and women) are represented in order to contextualize the depiction of the poet and his patron. I suggest that while viewing the text solely as an instrument of legitimation may seem somewhat reductionist, the ways in which the author deploys a range of aesthetic and other resources (including explicit and implicit parallels and connections with deities and legendary figures) indicate that such texts were integral to complex political and cultural processes.

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DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v5i1/2.303


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