According to Pundit Rahul Sankritiyayan, the evidences of oldest form of written Hindi literatures are available in the Sarah’s Angika poetries of 800 A.D.The first poet of Hindi literature, Saraha, was also the first poet of the Angika language and literature. Saraha belongs to the 8th century, and is the first poet whose poetry is available in written form.
Saraha (Hindi: सरह), Sarahapa (Hindi: सरहपा), or Sarahapāda (Hindi: सरहपाद) (circa 8th century CE), originally known as Rāhula or Rāhulbhadra , was the first sahajiya and one of the Mahasiddhas, and is considered to be one of the founders of Buddhist Vajrayana, and particularly of the Mahamudra tradition. His dohas (couplets) are compiled in Dohakośa, the ‘Treasury of Rhyming Couplets’. Padas (verses) 22, 32, 38 and 39 of Caryagītikośa (or Charyapada) are assigned to him. The script used in the dohas shows close resemblance with the present Kaithi or Ang Lipi, scripts which imply that Sarahapa has compiled his literature in the earlier language which has similarity with Angika language .
In the opinion of Rahul Sankrityayan, Sarahapada was the earliest Siddha or Siddhācārya and the first poet of Angika and Hindi literature . According to him, Sarahapāda was a student of Haribhadra, who was in turn a disciple of Shantarakshita, the noted Buddhist scholar who
traveled to Tibet. As Śāntarakṣita is known to have lived in the mid-8th century from Tibetan historical sources and Haribhadra was a contemporary of Pāla king Dharmapala (770 – 815 CE), Sarahapāda must have lived in the late 8th century or early 9th century CE. From the
colophon of a manuscript of Saraha’s Dohakośa, copied in Nepali Samvat 221 (1101 CE) and found from Royal Durbar Library in Nepal (most probably the earliest manuscript of Dohakośa), by Pt. Haraprasad Shastri in 1907, we know that many doha-s of Saraha were extant by that
time, and thanks to the efforts of a scholar named Divakar Chanda, some of them preserved. published first by the Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd in 1916 along with the Dohakosh of Sarahapa in Bangla font, the Sanskrit notes of the dohas of Sarahapa also in the Bangla font, the
Dakarnab adage-poems, the dohas of Kanhapa or Krishnacharyapa or Kanifnath and the Mekhla notes. The mouthpiece was by Haraprasad Shastri who had found the manuscript at the Royal Durbar Library of the Nepal kingdom in 1907.
A scroll painting of Saraha, surrounded by other Mahāsiddhas, probably 18th century and now in the British Museum. He was born in Eastern India to a Brahmin family and studied at the Buddhist monastic university Nalanda According to Sankrityayan and Dvijram Yadav, Saraha was born in Raggyee village of ancient Bhagalpur, the then Capital of Anga Desh.
Saraha is normally shown seated and holding an arrow . Luipa was a pupil of Saraha.
Songs and poetry
The following song and poem of Saraha was cited in Jackson, et al. (2004: p. 59) for which the original Apabhramsa or Aangi or Modern Angika (the language Saraha most often wrote in) is no longer extant but we have the Tibetan translation:
Tibetan in Wylie transcription:
la la nam mkha’i khams la rtog par snang
gzhan yang stong nyid ldan par byed pa de
phal cher mi mthun phyogs la zhugs pa yin
English translation by Jackson:
Some think it’s
in the realm of space,
others connect it
mostly, they dwell
Jackson, et al. (2004: p. 59) goes to provide the following salience in parsing the import of the verse:
“space: In Indian thought, especially Buddhist, a common metaphor for the objective nature of reality as empty or unlimited, and the subjective quality of the mind that experiences that emptiness…Space also is one of the five elements recognized in most Indian cosmologies, along
with earth, water, fire, and air. In certain contexts… “sky” is a more appropriate translation for the Apabhramsa or Tibetan original. emptiness: According to most Mahayana Buddhist schools, the ultimate nature of all entities and concepts in the cosmos, realization of which is required for
attaining liberation. Emptiness (Skt. śūnyatā) may be regarded negatively as the absence, anywhere, of anything resembling a permanent, independent substance or nature…more positively, it is regarded as the mind’s natural luminosity, which is “empty” of the defilements
that temporarily obscure…The critical remarks directed here at those who think “it” (i.e., reality) is connected with emptiness presumably are meant to correct a one-sided obsession with negation, which is one of Saraha’s major targets.”
The point of Saraha in this poem is clearly to ensure that the aspirant on way to becoming adept, does not get trapped by the metaphor and soteriological lexicon. This was a recurrent motif in Saraha’s teachings and is key for why he is depicted in Tibetan iconography with an ‘arrow’ or ‘dadar’ (Tibetan: mda’ dar). Further to this, the comment of Simmer-Brown (2001: p. 359) as follows is sage:
The word for arrow is mda’, which is identical in pronunciation to the word for symbol, brda’.
Works Attributed to Saraha in the Tibetan Tengyur :
There are a number of songs of realization attributed to the Indian Buddhist yogi Saraha in the Tengyur of the Tibetan Buddhist canon:
rgyud vol Ra.
104b–150a To. 1652: Śrī Buddhakapālatantrapañjikā jñāna vatī nāma (trans: Gayadhara, Jo Zla ba’i ‘od zer)
225b–229b To. 1655: Śrī Buddhakapālasādhana nāma (trans: Gayadhara, Gyi jo Zla ba’i ‘od zer)
229b–230b To. 1656: Sarvabhūtabalividhi (trans: Gayadhara, Gyi jo Zla ba’i ‘od zer)
230b–243b To. 1657: Śrī Buddhakapālamaṇḍalavidhikrama pradyotana nāma (trans: Gayadhara, Gyi ja Zla ba’i ‘od zer)
rgyud vol Wi.
70b–77a To. 2224: Dohakoṣagīti – do ha mdzod kyi glu – “People Doha” (trans: ?)
colophon: rnal ‘byor gyi dbang phyug chen po dpal sa ra ha chen po’i zhal snga nam mdzad pa do ha mdzod ces bya ba de kho na nyid rnal du mtshon pa don dam pa’i yi ge rdzogs so/rgyud vol Zhi (Ui: Shi)
26b–28b To. 2263: Dohakoṣa nāma caryāgīti – do ha mdzod ces bya ba spyod pa’i glu – “King Doha”, “Royal Song” (trans: ?)
colophon: rnal ‘byor gyi dbang phyug chen po dpal sa ra ha’i zhal snga nas mdzad pa/ do ha mdzod ces bya ba spyod pa’i glu rdzogs so/
28b–33b To. 2264: Dohakoṣopadeśagīti nāma – mi zad pa’i gter mdzod man ngag gi glu zhes bya ba – “Queen Doha” (trans: Vajrapāṇi rev: Asu)
colophon: rnal ‘byor gyi dbang phyug dpal sa ra ha pas mdzad pa rdzogs so// //rgya gar gyi mkhan po badzra pāṇi dang/ bla ma a sus zhus//
55b–57b To. 2266: Kakhasyadoha nāma (Ui gives “Kakhadoha nama”) (trans: Śrīvairocanavajra)
57b–65b To. 2267: Kakhadohaṭippaṇa (trans: Śrīvairocanavajra)
106b–113a To. 2269: Kāyakoṣāmṛtavajragīti (trans: ?)
113a–115b To. 2270: Vākkoṣarucirasvaravajragīti (trans: Nag po pa)
115b–117a To. 2271: Cittakoṣājavajragīti (trans: Nag po pa)
117a–122a To. 2272: Kāyavākcittāmanasikāra nāma (trans: Nag po pa)
122a–124a To. 2273: Dohakoṣa nāma mahāmudropadeśa (trans: Śrīvairocanarakṣita)
124a–125a To. 2274: Dvādaśopadeśagāthā (trans: ?)
125a–126a To. 2275: Svādhiṣṭhānakrama (trans: Śāntabhadra, rma ban chos ‘bar)
126b–127b To. 2276: Tattvopadeśaśikharadohagīti nāma (trans: Kṛṣṇa Paṇḍit)
rgyud vol Zi
3a–4a To. 2345: Bhāvanādṛṣṭicaryāphaladohagītikā nāma (trans: ?)
5b–5b To. 2351: Vasantatilakadohakoṣagītikā nāma (trans: ?)
55b–62a To. 2440: Mahāmudropadeśavajraguhyagīti (trans: Kamalaśīla, ston pa seng ge rgyal po)
rgyud vol. Phu
182b–183a To. 3164: Trailokavaśaṃkaralokeśvarasādana (trans: Abhaya, tshul khrims rgyal mtshan)
183a–184a To. 3165: Trailokavaśaṃkaralokeśvarasādana (trans: Ratnākara, Tshul rgyal)
rgud vol. Mu
46b–47a To. 3371: Trailokavaśaṃkaralokiteśvarasādana (trans: Don yod rdo rje, Ba ri)
88a–88b To. 3427: Trailokavaśaṃkaralokeśvarasādana (trans: Grags pa rgyal mtshan)