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Amaru Shataka – Love Poem

Amaru Shataka, also written as Amarusataka, is a poem consisting of a hundred love lyrics. It is a collection of hundred verses on the subject of love, composed by Amaru or Amaruka, about whom nothing definite is known. Since the great rhetorician Anandavardhana of the 9th century CE quotes profusely from his work, Amaru can be assigned to an earlier period. He has been greatly admired for his psychological insights, his astonishing ability to manipulate the classical meters, his felicitous diction, and his dexterity in painting lovely little portraits highly expressive of sentiment. Every stanza is considered complete in itself, being technically a muktaka (independent) in which th imagery and sentiments are integrated.

The benedictory verse addressed to the fire produced by Mahadeva Shiva to destroy the three cities (Tripura of the demons) is itself suggestive of the amorous nature of the work. The poet compares the fire to a lover caught red-handed in an act of betrayal of love; the entire poem speaks of how both the fire and the lover are at fault and are avoided by the women of the three cities.

In another piece, a young couple is described as spending the better part of the night in exchanging endearments in the privacy of their room. They are oblivious to the presence of a parrot kept in a cage in the room; the next morning the parrot remembers much of what was spoken and starts repeating them in the presence of the boy’s parents. With a rare presence of mind, the girl takes out the red ruby from her ear and place it before the loquacious bird which mistakes it for a seed and eats it. Its prattle ceases at once and a terribly embarrassing situation is averted.

There are verses about erring lovers and sorrowing women and loyal friends. The sentiment of love in all its aspects is dealt with in the most artistic manner, giving the work a high place in Sanskrit literature.

It is said that the verses in Amaru Shatak are good examples for Hindu poetic technique, especially in aesthetics. The verses bring out effectively, the contrast in the feelings of the lovers. Now and then, one comes across a gentle touch of humor. But the all-pervading spirit is that of tenderness. The poet seems to hold the view that love alone is worth pursuing and not any other source of happiness.