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Mallinatha Suri – Ancient Hindu Commentator

Mallinatha Suri is a well known commentator on the epics in Hinduism and on the works of Kalidasa especially on Khandakavya. There was a good deal of creative literature in Sanskrit, which needed exegetical analysis. This work was done by a new band of writers, called tikakaras or bhashyakaras (commentators). The commentator could explain a particular text from various angles, including those of grammar, etymology, and rhetoric, in simple yet elegant prose. Among such writers of expository commentaries, Mallinatha Suri occupies an important place.

Mallinatha Suri lived between 1350 CE and 1450 CE. He was born in the village Kolacalam (or Kolamcerla) in ancient Andhra region. He had mastered many Shastras and was conferred the title Mahamahopadhyaya by the king, Singhabhupala of Racakonda. He had close contacts with King Praudha Devaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire.

The commentaries on the three poems of Kalidasa have got a common name – Sanjivani. His works are noted for poetic elegance, critical acumen, and profound knowledge.

The commentary on Kiratarjuniya is Ghantapatha while the commentary on Shishupalavadha is called Sarvankasha, on Naishadhiyacarita is Jivatu, and on Bhattikavya is called Sarvapathina.

Mallinatha Suri has written erudite commentary, Tarala,on an Alamkara work, Ekavali, written by Vidyadhara of Odisha.

Commentaries on Tarkikaraksha of Varadaraja a work on Nyaya and Siddhanjana on Tantra Vartika are also ascribed to him. While ascertaining the meanings of the words, he has quoted hundreds of lines from the lexicons like Amarakosha, Yadava, Halayudha and Medini. He has also cited lines from many Shastras to correlate the meanings of certain peculiar expressions in the text. He has quoted a large number of grammatical sutras from Ashtadhyayi of Panini to explain certain grammatical formations. While explaining the figures of speech, he has cited passages from standard rhetorical works like Kavyaprakasha, Alamkarasarvasva and Prataparudriya. His Tarala is an excellent digest of dhvani and alamkara speculations. In the treatment of rasa and the alamkaras, he has always given comparative views, pointing out the resemblances and the differences among the figures of speech. His discussion about adhyavasaya, tatparya, guna, uddesya-vidheya and paka is characterized with deep scholarly thoughts.

His epic Raghuviracarita contains seventeen cantos and displays all the important characteristics of Sanskrit epic poetry. Mallinatha has discussed various readings in the epic works and has shown a close acquaintance with the recognized principles of textual criticism. He has also criticized some interpretations of earlier commentators. The grace and movement of his prose works are remarkable.