Sanskrit Poets of India
Asvaghosa, the First Sanskrit Dramatist
Aavaghosa is a great Sanskrit Dramatist and a philospher-poet. He is believed to have been the first Sanskrit dramatist, and is considered the greatest Indian poet after Kālidāsa.
Born in a Brahman family, Asvaghosa was a noted poet and is considered to be instrumental in the spread of Buddhism. He was born in Central India and was a noted philosopher and poet. He was considered as great as Kalidasa. Though a written biography of Asvaghosa does not exist, legends say that he was a strict opponent of Buddhism. Then one day he lost a heated debate to the noted Buddhist scholar. It is said that this incident triggered him to accept Buddhism and he became one of the most noted disciples of Buddhism. The term Ashwaghosa Bodhisattva has an interesting story behind it.
Asvaghosa was once teaching and singing the principles of Dharma to a crowd in the royal city, when the king deliberately fed seven hungry horses to test their reaction to Asvaghosa's teaching. The horses were distressed due to hunger, but they did not touch the food to be relieved of their distress. Instead they understood Asvaghosha's sermon and were relieved. That is how the name Ashwaghosa bodhisattva came into being. It literally means "horses that listen to Bodhisattva".
Asvaghosa was a great orator and spoke in great details about the Buddhist doctrine and its principles. He could easily explain complex concepts of Mahayana Buddhism. His famous works include Mahayana-sraddhotpada-sastra, which means Awakening of faith in Mahayana, Buddhacharita or Life of Buddha and Mahalankara or the Book of Glory. He also wrote a poem called Saundarananakavya. It was about the conversion of Nanda (Buddha's half brother) to Buddhism in order to attain salvation.