Although few facts are known about his life, the Indian poet Bhartrihari leaps from the page as a remarkably recognizable individual. Amidst a career as a linguist, courtier, and hermit, he used poetry to explore themes of love, desire, impermanence, despair, anger, and fear. “A thousand emotions, ideas, words, and rhythmic syllables stormed through him,” writes translator Andrew Schelling in an evocative introduction. “In particular he shows himself torn between sexual desire and a hunger to be free of failed love affairs and turbulent karma.”
Despite the fact that collections of Bhartrihari’s poems are the most common non-religious manuscripts found in Sanskrit, Schelling’s translation represents a rare opportunity for English-language readers to become acquainted with this fascinating poet. Attuned to Bhartrihari’s unique poetic sensibility, Schelling has produced a compelling, personally curated set of translations. He includes a botanical index to familiarize readers with Bhartrihari’s many references to Indian trees, flowers, and herbs. Replete with love, sex, disappointment, Hindu gods, and Buddhist philosophical concepts, this appealing volume brings the world of ancient India to life through the extraordinary voice of one of its beloved poets.