Friday, March 27, 2009

The Courtesan's Keeper - A.N.D Haksar

This is the new English translation of a 11th century master piece of Kshemendra, called Samaya Matrika. Unlike the usual religious, spiritual or the divine stories, here is a social satire from one of the eminent writers of that time. Spread across 8 chapters, Kshemendra, brings out the fragmented Kashmir social life and its moral degradation through this interesting book.

A young courtesan Kalavati is upset and is dampened spirit over her unsuccessful life as a courtesan. Her friend and agent, the barber suggests , that she need a keeper to support her to guide her and to enrich her with wisdom and the tricks of the trade. Old Kankali, about whose life and adventure he narrates in detail, would be the ideal guide for her in this endeavor. The keeper Kankali, takes charge and teaches Kalavati the ways of the world in a courtesan's life and guide her through the events until she seduces a wealthy son of a merchant, and taking away his processions.
The book is spread across eight chapters, describing the life of Kankali , Kankali's advice to Kalavati on ways of passion and the way to identify your pray and the way to discard him after you have gained the wealth of that person. Through the life of Kankali and the young courtesan, the writer exposes the fragile social order and the moral, political and social corruption of values during that time in Kashmir.

A.N.D Bhaskar is a well-known scholar in Sanskrit, and have contributed significantly to the Sanskrit Literature with various translations. The book has been translated superbly, to the audience of this time. One must also understand the difference in style and the use of language during 11th Century and the complicated Sanskit words and phrases; considering that, I found this book with good translation, supported with the introduction and insight to the original writer Kshemendra and his times both in socially and in literature.

The Courtesan's Keeper: A Satire From Ancient KashmirKshemendra ( Samaya Matrika ) translated by A.N.D.Haksar
Rupa Publications
80 Pages
Furhter read: A Cashmirian Sanscritist

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