Bhanu is probably the most famous Sanskrit poet that no one today has ever heard of. His "Bouquet of Rasa" and "River of Rasa," both composed in the early sixteenth century, probably under the patronage of the Nizam of Ahmadnagar in western India, attracted the attention of the most celebrated commentators in early modern India. Some of the greatest painters of Mewar and Basohli vied to turn his subtle poems into pictures. And his verses were prized by poets everywhere: Abu al-Fazl, the preeminent scholar at Akbar's court, translated them into Persian, and, Kshetrayya, the great Andhra poet of the next century, adapted them into Telugu. Many writers have described the types of heroines and heroes of Sanskrit literature (the subject of the "Bouquet of Rasa") or explained the nature of aesthetic emotion (that of the "River of Rasa"), but none did so in verse of such exquisite and subtle artistry.
Sheldon I. Pollock is the William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies and Chairman of the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the author of The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India and editor of Cosmopolitanism and Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia.
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