By Harṣa
Translated by Wendy Doniger
Foreword by Anita Desai (To be published in the second edition)


King Harsha, who reigned over the kingdom of Kanauj from 606 to 647 CE, composed two Sanskrit plays about the mythical figures of King Údayana, his queen, Vásava·datta, and two of his co-wives. The plays abound in mistaken identities, both political and erotic. The characters masquerade as one another and, occasionally, as themselves, and each play refers simultaneously to itself and to the other.

I swore deceptive oaths, and spoke endearing words, and did whatever she fancied,
and paraded my great shame, and fell at her feet;
and her women friends spoke to her again and again.
But none of that brought the queen back to herself
as much as she did, herself, when she wept and dispelled her anger
as if washing it away with the water of her own tears.
(“The Lady of the Jeweled Necklace” 4.1)

(sighing with longing) Now that I’ve appeased the queen, all that bothers me is my concern for my beloved Ságarika. . .

514 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-1996-1  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-1996-1  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Wendy Doniger is Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago.

About the Foreword Writer

Anita Desai is a Booker-nominated novelist of many works, including Fire on the Mountain and The Village by the Sea.