Life

Dandin (DAHN-deen) was a Sanskrit writer, probably of south Indian origin. He authored Kāvyādarśa (sixth or seventh century c.e.; Kavyadarsa of Dandin, 1924), considered a valuable contribution to Sanskrit poetry, and a gadya (prose) romance titled Daśakumāracarita (sixth or seventh century c.e.; The Adventures of the Ten Princes, 1927), which is written in elegant, polished, and involved Sanskrit. Dandin uses verbal tricks and grammatical devices to show his mastery of the language. To illustrate, he relates an episode in which a lover is bitten on the lip and must speak without the use of labials, which he is unable to pronounce.

Influence

Dandin’s novel, The Adventures of the Ten Princes, is long and rambling and full of wonder and magic, like adventures of medieval princes in Western fairy tales. It provides a glimpse of the luxury and depravity of the age. Love is portrayed at its most sordid level, wholly of the senses, of violent and unrestrained lusts that arise and demand immediate fulfillment, regardless of the obstacles. Indian and European critics have censured Dandin for his vulgar puns, suggestive innuendos, graphic details of seduction, and general departure from good taste.

Additional Resources

Chandrasekharan, K., and B. H. S. Sastri. Sanskrit Literature. Bombay, India: International Book House, 1951.

Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra, Achut Dattatraya Pusalkar, and Asoke Majumdar. The Vedic Age. Bombay, India: Bharatiya Vidya Bhaban, 1951.

Tripathi, Jayasankara. Dandin. New Delhi, India: Sahitya Akademi, 1996.

Walker, Benjamin. Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1968.