Setubandham ( also called Ravanavadhah ) is an epic composed in Maharashtri, one of the Prakrit languages, by King Pravarasena. This epic whose subject matter is the story of yuddhakanda of Ramayana finds a mention in Kavyadarsa of Dandin, in Harshacharita of Bana and in Auchityavicharacharcha of Kshemendra, making it evident that Pravarasena lived earlier to these three renowned authors. There appear to be four kings by the name Pravarasena, the earliest of whom lived in the first century AD and the second one lived in the second century AD. Two of the four find a mention in Rajatarangini of Kalhana. It is not clear who among the four was the author of this epic. However scholars agree that his time could not be later than 5th century AD.
Ramadasa Bhupati has written a commentary “Ramasetupradipa” in Sanskrit on this epic. Based on this commentary, which has been published by Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, Varanasi, I propose to give a prose rendering in English along with Prakrit original and its shadow (छाया) in Sanskrit as a serial blog. My rendering in English is circumscribed by the Sanskrit commentary as I do not have any knowledge of Maharashtri.
प्रथमः आश्वासः (First canto)
The poet starts with an invocation to Vishnu, the slayer of Madhu:
णमह अवड्ढिअतुङ्गं अवसारिअवित्थअं अणोणागहिरम् ।
अप्पलहुअपरिसह्णं अणाअपरमत्थपाअडं महुमहणम् ॥ १ ॥
[ नमतावर्धिततुङ्गम् अप्रसारितविस्तृतम् अनवनतगभीरम् ।
अप्रलघुकपरिश्लक्ष्णम् अज्ञातपरमार्थप्रकटम् मधुमथनम् ॥]
All of you bow to Vishnu, who destroyed the demon Madhu, who is tall yet never nurtured, who is broad yet never expanded, who is deep yet was never bent, who is subtle yet large and who is open yet whose real meaning is unknown.
Note: The poet juxtaposes apparently contradictory qualities of Vishnu, whom the poet considers as Brahman.
The poet refers to the slaying of the demon Hiranyakashipu by Narasimha:
दणुएन्दरुहिरलग्गे जस्स फुरन्ते णहप्पहाविच्छड्डे ।
गुप्पन्ती विवलाआ गलिअ व्व थणंसुए महासुरलच्छी ॥ २ ॥
[दनुजेन्द्ररुधिरलग्ने यस्य स्फुरति नखप्रभाविच्छर्दे ।
व्याकुला विपलायिता गलित इव स्तनांशुके महासुरलक्ष्मीः ॥]
As the nails (of Vishnu) smeared with the blood of Hiranyakashipu sparkled, it looked like the upper garment of Goddess of prosperity of the great demon (Hiranyakashipu) slipping away while she ran away in distress. [ White nails of Vishnu which were partly smeared with the blood of Hiranyakashipu looked like the upper garment of the goddess of prosperity of the demon slipping away from the body as she ran away in distress. This is in continuation of the first stanza and acts as an adjectival clause for Madhumathana(Vishnu). It is a poetic description of the luster of Hiranyakashipu fading away as Vishnu stuck his nails into his body.]
He refers to the exploit of Krishna killing a demon in the form of a bull.
पीणत्तणदुग्गेज्झां जस्स भुआअन्तणिट्ठुरपरिग्गहिअम् ।
रिट्ठस्स विसमवलिअं कण्ठं दुःखेण जीविअं बोलीणम् ॥ ३ ॥
[ पीनत्वदुर्ग्राह्यं यस्य भुजान्तनिष्ठुरपरिगृहीतम् ।
अरिष्टस्य विषमवलितं कण्ठं दुःखेन जीवितं व्यतिक्रान्तम् ॥]
The life of the demon in the form of a bull whose neck, which could be held with great difficulty because of its girth, was harshly held between the shoulders of (Krishna) ebbed away with considerable pain. [ This verse also acts as an adjectival clause qualifying Madhumathana in verse 1.]
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