Kshemendra (IAST: Kṣemendra; c. 990 – c. 1070 CE) was an 11th-century Sanskrit polymath-poet, satirist, philosopher, historian,[1] dramatist, translator[2] and art-critic[3] from Kashmir in India.[4]


Kshemendra was born into an old, cultured, and affluent family.[5] His father was Prakashendra, a descendant of Narendra who was the minister to Jayapida.[6] Both his education and literary output were broad and varied. He studied literature under "the foremost teacher of his time, the celebrated Shaiva philosopher and literary exponent Abhinavagupta".[5] Kshemendra was born a Shaiva, but later became a Vaishnava.[6] He studied and wrote about both Vaishnavism and Buddhism.[7] His son, Somendra, provides details about his father in his introduction to the Avadana Kalpalata and other works. Kshemendra refers to himself in his works as Vyasadasa (IAST: Vyāsadāsa; Slave of Vyasa), a title which was perhaps won or adopted after the completion of his Bhāratamañjari.[6]

Kshemendra was in great demand as a skilled abridger of long texts.[6] His literary career extended from at least 1037 (his earliest dated work, Brihatkathāmanjari, a verse summary of the lost "Northwestern" Bṛhatkathā; itself a recension of Gunadhya's lost Bṛhatkathā — "Great Story") to 1066 (his latest dated work, Daśavataracharita, "an account of the ten incarnations of the god Viṣnu").[8]

Extant worksEdit

Around eighteen of Kshemendra's works are still extant while fourteen more are known only through references in other literature.[6] In addition to the genres listed below, he also composed plays, descriptive poems, a satirical novel, a history, and possibly a commentary on the Kāma Sūtra.[9]



  • Auchitya Vichāra Charchā
  • Kavikanthābharaṇa
  • Suvrittatilaka


  • Kalāvilasā — "A Dalliance with Deceptions"
  • Samaya Mātrikā — "The Courtesan's Keeper" (Sanskrit)
  • Narmamālā — "A Garland of Mirth"
  • Deśopadeśa — "Advice from the Countryside"

Didactic worksEdit

  • Nitikalpataru
  • Darpadalana
  • Chaturvargasaṃgraha
  • Chārucharya
  • Sevyasevakopadeśa
  • Lokaprakāśa
  • Stūpāvadāna — See Saratchandra Das (ed.), 'Stupavadana', Journal and Text of the Buddhist Society of India, vol.11, pt.1, p. 15.

Devotional worksEdit

  • Avadānakalpalatā — Former lives and good deeds of Buddha (English)
  • Daśavataracharita — Ten incarnations of Vishnu (Sanskrit)

Historical WorkEdit


  1. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (29 August 2014). "Kshemendra, Kṣemendra, Kshema-indra: 10 definitions". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  2. ^ Choudhuri, Indra Nath. "Towards an Indian Theory of Translation". Indian Literature. 54 (5): 113–123. JSTOR 23348221.
  3. ^ "Kshemendra's Views on Aptness in Art". University of Hyderabad Herald. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Kshemendra". Penguin Random House India. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b Haksar 2011, p. xv.
  6. ^ a b c d e Warder 1992, p. 365.
  7. ^ Haksar 2011, pp. xv–xvi.
  8. ^ Haksar 2011, pp. xvii–xviii.
  9. ^ Haksar 2011, pp. xvii, 153–154.
  10. ^ Nagarajan, k s (1970). Contribution Of Kashmir To Sanskrit Literature. p. 540.