By Śyāmilaka, Vararuci, Śūdraka & Īśvaradatta
Translated by Csaba Dezső & Somadeva Vasudeva


“The Quartet of Causeries” date to the Gupta era, the time of Kali·dasa, but nothing certain is known about their four authors. Though stylistically divergent, they share a common plot: the hero is an inept, bungling procurer, who mismanages his client’s love-affairs to an unexpectedly successful completion. A wide and comic spectrum of India’s urban society is scandalized. The verse below illustrates the popular Sanskrit style of punning, that is the deliberate fusion of two senses in one phrase. Such single phrases demand two parallel translations:

Whoever sees me,

hangs around flees elsewhere
entertains polite chitchat shuts up
even if in hurry even if there is no hurry.

Even in a congestion if there is a danger of injury

happily their hair standing on end
gives way tramples onwards.
Nobody detains me for long Within no time someone
harasses me,
fearing that they may obstruct my affairs no matter
how rudely.
Widely travelled men Those who are familiar with its


the fame of this best of cities to be alleged fame of this
worst of cities
well-deserved a mystery.
508 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-1978-7  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-1978-3  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Csaba Dezső is Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit in the Department of Indo-European Linguistics at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. He has also translated Much Ado About Religion for the CSL.
Somadeva Vasudeva is Assistant Professor in Sanskrit at Columbia University, New York. His translations for the CSL include Three Satires and The Recognition of Shakúntala.