(Last Updated on : 20/05/2011)
Subandhu is mentioned by Banabhatta in the introduction to the Harsha Charita and in Kadambari. His name appears with those of Bhasa, Kalidasa and Harichandra in Vakpatiraja's Gaudavaha. He is ranked with Mentha. Tradition makes him a contemporary of the legendary Vikramaditya and a nephew of Vararuchi.
He knew Upanishads, the Nyaya and Mimamsa schools of philosophy and Buddhism well. Historical evidences suggest that he belonged to the second quarter of the seventh century and he was a contemporary of Bana. There are variant opinions among the experts about the exact dating of Subandhu who is known for his elaborate style. It can be considered that he probably flourished in the late 6th and early 7th century AD.
Subandhu is known for Vasavadatta. This magnum opus of Sanskrit prose literature is probably the first work in the language that has referred to Chess or similar game. He is found of playing with words particularly with double entendre. Long puns are used.
Style of Vasavadatta
Subandhu has skillfully described the mountains, river, stream, the valour of the prince, the beauty of the heroine and the conflict of the contending armies. There is a pun in every syllable which is carried out in prose with occasional verses that is intermingled with an introduction in verse. One also finds long rolling compounds, a lulling music in the alliterations and compactness in the paronomasias. He ideally employed the Garuda style as he used enormous compounds, its love of derivation, its deliberate embellishment, its love of harsh sounds, its fondness for alliteration, its attempt to match sense closely with and cases of apparent absurdity.
However a vast variety of clever double entendres, moderation and judgement are lacking throughout in Subandhu's composition. A vast sentence rests on a single verb accompanied by a series of epithets, each composed of a long compound. Within limits puns are attractive. Sound effects at times are creative. He varied his long compounds by occasional short words in order to permit the reader to breathe. Occasionally short dialogue passages have been employed. Vasavadatta's style has been illustrated as "developed, elaborate, ornate and pedantic" that has influenced later prose writers.