Feat of Clay

The Clay Sanskrit Library - all volumes that are available - is now on Scholars. Created by John Clay "to introduce Classical Sanskrit literature to a wide international readership", the CSL has made available an incredible range of titles of classical Indian literature that represents several millennia of cultural development.

Readers in India and elswehere have only limited access to Sanskrit literature. Where Clay scores over other efforts is that the translated texts have both the Sanskrit in Roman transliteration along with the translations in English.


"Forty-four leading scholars from ten countries are cooperating to produce fresh new translations that combine readability and accuracy. The first fifteen titles appeared in 2005, co-published by NYU Press and the JJC Foundation, followed by nine volumes in 2006 and eight volumes in 2007. They will be followed by three volumes in April 2008 and six more in August 2008. The selection will focus on drama, poetry and novels, together with the famous epics."

Check out the available CSL titles on our site, in the Indian Literature in Translation section. Each title is Rs 1060.

A full list of them all will appear on this post in a few days. Meanwhile, here are a few (the earliest set of translations) to give you an idea of what is on offer...

  • The Birth of Kumára by Kālidāsa, translated by David Smith. This greatest of court epics describes events leading up to but not including the birth of Kumára (also known as Skanda or Karttikéya), the war god destined to defeat the demon Táraka.
  • The Emperor of the Sorcerers (volume one) by Budhasvāmin, translated by Sir James Mallinson. Budha·svamin tells the astonishing epic tale of the youthful exploits of prince Nara·váhana·datta. It is indeed a great story, as its Sanskrit title declares. Epic in scope and scale, it has everything that a great story should: adventure, romance, suspense, intrigue, tragedy and more.
  • The Emperor of the Sorcerers (volume two) by Budhasvāmin, translated by Sir James Mallinson. Volume two of Budha·svamin’s “The Emperor of the Sorcerers” begins with the merchant Sanu·dasa telling the story, an epic in itself, of how he acquired Gandhárva·datta, his daughter whose hand Nara·váhana·datta, the hero of the book, has just won in a lute contest.
  • The Epitome of Queen Lilávati (volume one) by Jinaratna, translated by R.C.C. Fynes. The Epitome of Queen Lilávati tells the stories of the lives of a group of souls as they pass through a series of embodiments on their way to final liberation from the continual cycle of death and rebirth.
  • Heavenly Exploits (Buddhist Biographies from the Dívyavadána), translated by Joel Tatelman. The Dívyavadána, or “Heavenly Exploits,” is a collection of thirty-eight Buddhist biographical stories. The genre of narratives of an individual’s religiously significant deeds is as old as Buddhism, and its manifestations are as widely spread across Buddhist Asia, in classical and vernacular languages, down to the present day.
  • Love Lyrics by Amaru, Bhartṛhari & Bilhaṇa, translated by Greg Bailey & Richard Gombrich. Ámaru’s sophisticated seventh-century CE “Hundred Poems” are as much about the social aspects of courting, betrayal, feminine indignance and masculine self-pity as about sensuality. Bhartri·hari’s anthology “Love, Politics, Disenchantment” is the oldest of the three, from the fourth century.
  • Maha·bhárata III: The Forest (volume four of four), translated by William J. Johnson. Book Three of the great Indian epic the “Maha·bhárata,” ‘The Forest’ covers the twelve years of the Pándavas’ exile in the forest, a penalty imposed upon them by the Káuravas because they have lost a rigged dicing match.
  • Maha·bhárata IX: Shalya (volume one of two), translated by Justin Meiland. “The Book of Shalya” is the ninth book of the Maha·bhárata. It portrays, in grand epic style, the last day of the great battle between the Káuravas and the Pándavas, recounting in gory detail the final destruction of King Duryódhana and his army.
  • Much Ado About Religion by Bhaṭṭa Jayanta, translated by Csaba Dezső. The play satirizes various religions in Kashmir and their place in the politics of King Shánkara·varman (883-902). Jayánta’s strategy is to take a characteristic figure of the target religion and show that he is a rogue, using reasoning or some fundamental ideas connected with the doctrines of that very religion.
  • Rákshasa’s Ring by Viśākhadatta, translated by Michael Coulson, Foreword by Romila Thapar. The final, benedictory stanza of this political drama may refer to Emperor Chandra Gupta II (r. c.376-415 CE).
  • Ramáyana I: Boyhood by Vālmīki, translated by Robert P. Goldman, Foreword by Amartya Sen. Rama, the crown prince of the city of Ayódhya, is a model son and warrior. He is sent by his father the king to rescue a sage from persecution by demons, but must first kill a fearsome ogress.
  • Ramáyana II: Ayódhya, by Vālmīki, translated by Sheldon I. Pollock. In the great city of Ayódhya, the king decides to abdicate in favor of his beloved son Rama; but just as the celebrations reach their climax, a court intrigue involving one of the king’s junior wives and a maidservant results in Rama being forced into a fourteen-year banishment.
  • Ramáyana IV: Kishkíndha by Vālmīki, translated by Rosalind Lefeber. After losing first his kingship and then his wife, Rama goes to the monkey capital of Kishkíndha to seek help in finding Sita, and meets Hánuman, the greatest of the monkey heroes.
  • Three Satires by Nīlakaṇṭha, Kṣemendra, and Bhallaṭa, translated by Somadeva Vasudeva, Foreword by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Written over a period of nearly a thousand years, these works show three very different approaches to satire.Nila·kantha gets straight to the point: swindlers prey on stupidity.
  • What Ten Young Men Did by Daṇḍin, translated by Isabelle Onians. The crown prince becomes separated from his nine friends. Each of the ten young men has several adventures on his quest to be reunited with the others, culminating in their conquest of all competitor kingdoms.