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Mankha – 12th Century Kashmiri Poet

Mankha, also known as Mankhaka, was a 12th century poet from Kashmir. He lived during the period of Jayasimha(1127-1149 AD). Jayasimha was a great patron of poets and Mankha presented his poems to court poets seated in a circle. Among the poets of the court were Nandana, the philosopher, Sri Ruyyaka, and the rhetoricians Ramyadeva, Prabhakara, Srigarbha, Mandana, Garga, Devdhara, Naga, Tutatia, Kumarlila, Trailokya Damodara and Jinduka.

Mankha not only list the names of the poets but also recounts the way they approached the court, their tastes, and their abilities. This presentation of a kavya to an appreciative audience in a court gives an idea to how kavyas were released in those days.

Srikanthacharita of Mankha was first recited in the court of Jayasimha. Shiva buring the three flying cities of demons forms the theme of Srikanthacharita. The first canto is invocatory, the second defines good and bad people and the third canto gives family details of the author.

Mankha, or Mankhaka, was the son of Visvanatha and grandson of Manmatha. Lankaka was his brother.

Five verses of Srikanthacharita are quoted in Alankarasarvasa without references to the source.

In Srikanthacharita, the description of Mount Kailasa starts in canto four but is interrupted by the description of spring, water sports, evening twilight, moon-sport, day break and the like which take a full eleven cantos.

In the 17th canto the gods meet Shiva; the description of war is given in the next six cantos. The 24th canto describes the burning of the three cities. It ends with the presentation of the poem to the assembly of scholars in the last and 25th canto, which suggests that it must be a later addition.

A lexicon known as Mankha Kosha is listed in the catalogues probably written by Mankha.

Kalahana’s Rajatarangini mentions Mankha as the minister of Peace and War in the cabinet of Jayasimha. Jonaraja, who continued Rajatarangini in the 15th century AD wrote a commentary of Srikanthacharita.