By Bhaṭṭi
Translated by Oliver Fallon


To the dry bones of grammar Bhatti gave juicy flesh in his poem, telling the greatest Indian story in clear elegant Sanskrit. Composed in the seventh century CE, in South India, “Bhatti’s Poem: The Death of Rávana” is both a poetic retelling of Rama’s adventures, and a compendium of grammatical and rhetorical examples for students. Its finest passages stands comparison with the best of Sanskrit poetry.

This is the perfect companion to Pánini’s groundbreaking grammatical treatise, the “Eight Books” (Aṣṭādhyāyī), studied intensely for the millennium before Bhatti, just as it is today by linguisticians worldwide. Bhatti’s study aid to Pánini’s abstruse text gives examples disguised as the gripping, morally improving “Ramáyana” story. His systematic illustration of the canon of figures of speech is an important text in the history of Sanskrit poetics. One canto even gives a pleasant, accessible taster of the Prakrit language. In Bhatti’s own words: “This composition is a lamp to those whose eyes have language as their goal.”

The story goes that Bhatti’s outdoors grammar class was one day interrupted by an elephant ambling between him and his pupils. By Hindu law this intrusion cancelled class for a year. Lest vital study time be lost, Bhatti composed his poem to teach grammar without textbooks. Ever since, “Bhatti’s Poem: The Death of Rávana” has been one of the most popular poems in Sanskrit literature.

566 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-2778-2  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-2778-6  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator