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Damodaragupta – Author Of Kuttanimata

Very little biographical information is available regarding Damodaragupta, the author of Kuttanimata. Stray references in contemporary and later literature speak only of his literary attainments and not the person. The most authentic, though brief reference is to be found in Rajatarangini of Kalhana, King Jayapida ( 751 – 82 CE), himself a scholar and grammarian, assembled a number of gifted scholars in his court.

The poet, Damodar Gupta, exaggerates to say that other courts became devoid of scholarship as Jayapida monopolized all the scholars. Among this galaxy, the chief councilor was Damodaragupta, the kavi. Kavi here obviously denotes not only a poet, but also a learned man.

The colophon of Kuttanimata confirms his position by stating that he was a minister in the court of Jayapida. There were other stalwarts in the court of King Jayapida such as Khirapandita, the grammarian; Bhatodbhat, an authority on poetics; Kohala, a musician and a dramatist amongst others.

The fame of Damodragupta rests on his work on erotics, Kuttanimata. The stage is set in Kashi. The streets of Kashi were adorned with beautiful courtesans, and the poet likens the shining golden ornaments on their heads to the moon on the head of Shiva and the swarms of lustful admirers that followed them to the serpents coiling around the body of Shiva.