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Sanskrit love poetry at its peak

Amaru Shatakam is a collection of a hundred love lyrics. It is regarded as the greatest of such works in ancient Sanskrit.

Little is known of the poet Amaru, except that he could put the emotions of a whole poem into a single stanza. More than a thousand years old, each of these verses gives vivid glimpses of human love in quite a modern manner.

The love these lyrics picture, has physical, emotional as well as social aspects. Delightful or  painful, it is felt by women as well as men.

To give readers a feel of these sensitively drawn portraits of love, in separation and loss, in desire and fulfillment, here are a few samples of these Amaru lyrics.


A first look


Your gaze is languid, soft with love,

you shut your eyes repeatedly,

and open them for just a moment

to stare or shyly dart a glance

full of some inner feeling.

Say, young lady, who is he,

that lucky man you are looking at ?               (4)


A first query


‘You simple girl, do you intend

to be so naive all the time?

Compose yourself and mind your honour,

don’t be artless with your lover’.

Thus advised by friends, the maid

with a timorous look replies:

‘Hush! Softly! My lord may hear you,

he is here within my heart.                             (70)


Lover to beloved


‘Beautiful, give up your pride.

Look at me, I’m at your feet.

You’ve never been so cross before’.

By her loved one thus addressed,

she cast a glance from half-closed eyes,

she’d many tears, said not a word.                 (39)


A memory of love

When to the bed my lover came,

my skirt not opened by itself,

I held the string, but the dress slipped off

with just a bit left on my hips.

That is all I know, dear friend,

for when he took me in his arms,

who was he and I myself,

or what we both then did together,

I can’t at all remember.                                  (101)


Another memory#

Somehow, in a play of pique,

I told him to get out, and he

hard-hearted, just left the bed

and walked away abruptly.

His ardent feelings seem at an end,

but my shameless heart still yearns

for that callous spoiler of our love,

O good friend, what shall I do?                      (15)


Once again


They were on the same bed,

but lay back to back,

distressed,and they did not speak,

though conciliation with each other

was in the heart of both,

they preserved their dignity.

Than,gradually, the couple turned

heir eyes on one another:

their quarrel gone, and with a laugh,

they embraced each other.                              (23)



N.B. Numbers at each verse end refer to the book as a whole.

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