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Setubandha – Famous Text In Prakrit Language

Setubandha is a long poem (mahakavya) written in the Prakrit language. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two epics which have wielded a great impact on the cultural life of India and have also inspired numerous literary works through the age; Setubandha, also known as Ravanavadha and Dasamukhavadha, is one of them.

Setubandha was written by Pravarasena, king of Kashmir (400 CE).

Setubandha, literally meaning ‘the construction of a bridge’, deals in fifteen cantos, called asvasas with the story of the Sundara and Yuddha kandas of the Ramayana, from Rama’s exile and journey to Lanka till his coronation in Ayodhya.

The seventh and the eighth asvasas or chapters describe the construction of the bridge from Bharata to Sri Lanka, which gives the name to the work.

Chapter nine of Setubandha describes the Suvela mountain and the chapter eleven is devoted to the portrayal of Ravana’s overtures to Mata Sita.

Pravarasena employs far-fetched similes, puns, alliterations, and long compounds, sometimes covering entire lines, which mar easy comprehension of the poem. It is to be noted that some Sanskrit mahakavyas, like the Shishupala Vadha and Naisadhacarita, were also written in similar pedantic styles, using various figures of speech like alliteration, pun, unusual similes, long compounds, etc., and sharing the literary drawbacks of Setu Bandha. In spite of all these artificialities in the work, the work exhibits in many places real poetic skill. It is one of the early Prakrit epics which have survived the calamity of time and has come down to us, enjoying some amount of popularity, through the centuries.