From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Bhartṛhari is a well-known name in the classical Sanskrit literature. However, we come across two of them.

The Grammarian[edit]

The first was a grammarian who lived probably in the 5th century A. D. He has been classed among the famous trinity of grammarians, the other two being Pāṇini (400 B. C.) and Nāgeśa or Nāgoji Bhaṭta (18th cent. A. D.). These grammarians developed the Sphoṭavāda, the theory that the meaning of a word or a sentence reveals itself in a flash as soon as its utterance is completed. He is said to have been a Buddhist. Mahābhāsyadipikā and Vākyapadiya are the two works attributed to him. The former is a commentary on the Mahābhāsya of Patañjali on the sutras of Pāṇini. The latter is a grammatico-philosophical work in three kāṇḍas or sections dealing with Brahman, the Supreme, as Sabda or Logos.


The second Bhartṛhari, whose period has been placed somewhere between 100 A. C. and A. D. 500, was the author of the three well-known Śatakas (one hundred verses) viz., the Srñgāraśataka, the Nītiśataka and the Vairāgyaśataka. The first deals with erotics, the second with general ethics and the last with renunciation. Though very little is known of him, tradition describes him as a king ruling in Ujjayinī who later abdicated his throne in favor of his younger brother Vikramāditya, the originator of the Saiṅvat era, since he was disgusted with the infidelity of his queen.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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