In his epic, Amukta Malyada, Sri Krishnadeva Raya refers to five of his Sanskrit kritis - Madalasa Charitra, Satyabhama Parinayam, Sakala Katha Sarasangraha, Jnana Chintamani and Rasamanjari. The recently discovered work Jambavati Parinayam is similar to the above works in its title, content and language. This is generally believed to be the work of Sri Krishnadeva Raya.
Jambavati Parinayam is a Sanskrit playlet written by Krishnadeva Raya as per the advice of Lord Virupaksheswara in his dream and was staged regularly during the annual spring festival, Vasantothsawam, celebrated in Vijayanagara. The story is based on the well known ‘Samantakamani’ episode from the Bhagavatam. As per the original story, pleased with the penance of Sathrajit, Lord Surya grants him the gift of ‘Samanthakamani,’ a magical gem that could produce gold every day. On coming to know of this, Krishna seeks the gem from Sathrajit with a view to use it for welfare of the people. Sathrajit gets annoyed with Krishna over this and gives the gem to his brother Prasena for safe custody. However, Prasena is killed by a lion and the gem is taken away by it. Jambavanta fights and kills the lion to take possession of the gem which he gifts to his daughter Jambavati, still a child in the cradle. Not knowing the fate of Prasena, Sathrajit suspects that Krishna had taken away the gem and to quash this suspicion, Krishna traces it to Jambavati and duly returns it to Sathrajit. Krishna also falls in love with Jambavati when she grows up and marries her.
Krishnadeva Raya keeps the theme in tact but makes a few innovative changes. Narada, the central character in this drama is depicted as a clever Vishnu bhakta who takes care of Krishna, which shows Sri Raya’s Vaishnava leanings. The drama begins with Krishna’s hunting expedition in a forest where he gets infatuated on seeing Jambavati. The Raya presents Jambavati as a young maiden, and not a child as in the original, to be more credible to the mutual affection between her and Krishna. He also makes small variation in Prasena’s episode. He shows Prasena falling down unconscious when attacked by the lion. He doesn’t die, as one wearing the auspicious gem (Samanthkamani) would not face apamruthyu, unnatural death.
An interesting scene in this playlet is the monologue by Krishna, who has been asked by his brother Balarama not to leave the capital city till he returns from his errand. Krishna finds this a severe restriction on his freedom and feels insecure due to this. This indirectly suggests the insecure feeling the Raya himself felt in his life when his Chief Minister Timmarasu advised him against having a personal army for his protection. Tradition has it that the ruler, annoyed at this and without informing anyone, goes away to the outskirts of the capital and rests in a temple. The Chief Minister and other courtiers had to locate and persuade him to return to his royal responsibilities. This part has been very naturally depicted in the playlet. The dialogues are simple and well written with a royal flourish.
The description of Jambavati can be compared to that of Goda Devi in Amukta Malyada. The depiction of nature and the similes used are almost similar to that epic. The playlet is absorbing for its sequences of events and natural dialogues.
This work was found in the Orissa region and is available in Tangivaro Manuscript Library. Sri B Rama Raju garu, well known Telugu poet, has published this book with a nice preface. In the last stanza of the ‘Prasthavana,’ the preface, in the work, there is a reference to Krishnadeva Raya, which establishes his authorship:
Sesha kshmadhara nayakarsya krupayo
Saplarna vee madhyagam
Rakshan gaamiha krsihnaraya nrupathee
Jeeyaot saharran samah.
Sakala Kathasara Sangraham?
Recently a part of another Sanskrit work, identified to have been written by Sri Raya, was found in the Orient Library. However, only the ‘preface’ is available. Name of the author and the book itself are not very clear. But the style of the poetry has the stamp of Sri Raya’s authorship. Scholars believe this could be “Sakala Kathasara Sangraham.” Further the writer mentions that it was compiled by him as per his Guru Sri Vyasaraya’s advice. Even through there is no mention of Vyasaraya anywhere in Raya’s books, in Madhva’s books it is mentioned that Vyasaraya was the guru of Sri Raya.
Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra Kavi was one of the eight ‘Ashtadiggaja’ poets of Raya’s court. Part of his Telugu book, with the same title of Sakala Kathasara Sangraham, is available in Archives Dept. of the Govt of AP. It appears that it was dedicated to Sri Krishnadeva Raya. This strange situation of Raya’s Sanskrit Sakala Kathasara Sangraham and his court poet’s book, perhaps the Telugu translation of the original, leads us to believe that the copy of Sanskrit work found at Tanjore is indeed the work of Sri Raya. It is of interest to note here that Sri Raya’s Satyabhama Parinayam has the same literary connection with Nandi Thimmana, another Ashtadiggajah.
A sloka from the above book:
Sa bukkamambam parineeya tasya
Mondarya gambheerya viveka souryailri
Dakshinya karunya nayaischa yuktam
Lebhe thanujam narasakshiteesam.