Sanskritization of Regional History: A Study in the Historiography of Atula’s Mūṣikavaṃśa




Sanskritization, regional history, Mūṣikavaṃśa, historical mahākāvyas, Atula, King Śrīkaṇṭha, Rājataraṅginī, Kalhaṇa, Kolattunādu kingdom of North Kerala


Mūṣikavaṃśa (also known as Mūṣakavaṃśa) is a historical mahākāvya written by Atula, who was a court poet of King Śrīkaṇṭha, alias Rājadharma, who lived in the 11th century AD. The work antedates even Rājataraṅginī of Kalhaṇa, which is regarded as one of the earliest historical mahākāvyas in Sanskrit. The work deals with the history of the Mūṣika dynasty, which ruled the Kolattunādu kingdom of North Kerala. The earlier parts of the mahākāvya deal with legendary matters, such as the mythical origin of the lineage; but as the work progresses, it deals with many historical data including details of the kings, geographical features, temples and other centres of culture, various religious sects, art, literature and architecture, commerce and shipping. This work, one of the pioneer efforts to represent provincial history in classical garb, using the literary conventions of the mahākāvya genre, as well as a virtual storehouse of knowledge regarding the history of Northern Kerala, is an interesting amalgam of myths and facts. An analysis of the work will yield rich insights into ancient Indian historiography. The present paper is an attempt to investigate the manner in which poet Atula makes use of facts of regional history to fit into the structure of a Sanskrit mahākāvya.

PlumX Metrics of this article


Balakrishnan Nair, Cirakkal T. 1971. Musikavamsakavyam-Kolattunattile cila nadikal. In: Vijnanakairali. Vols. 9 & 11. Trivandrum: 789-790.

Gundert, H. (ed.). 1843. Keralotpatti. Mangalore.

Kunjunni Raja, K. 1958. Contribution of Kerala to Sanskrit Literature. Madras: University of Madras.

Narayanan, M. G. S. 1970. Musikavamsa as a source of Kerala’s History. In: Pratibhanam. Trivandrum: 189–191.

Pollock, S. 2006. The Language of the Gods in the World of Men. Berkely: University of California Press.

Raghavan Pillai, K. (ed.). 1977. Mūṣikavaṃśa of Atula. Trivandrum: Trivandrum Sanskrit Series. University of Kerala.

Sastri, K. (ed.). 1938. Udayavarmacarita. Trivandrum: Trivandrum Sanskrit Series.

Sreedharan, E. 2005. A Textbook of Historiography. New Delhi: New Delhi Orient Longman.

Sreedhara Menon, A. 2007. A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam: DC Books.

Unni, N. P. 1980. A History of Mushikavamsa. Trivandrum: Kerala Historical Society.

Warder, A. K. 1992. Indian Kavya Literature. Vol. VI. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.




How to Cite

Chettiarthodi, Rajendran. 2013. “Sanskritization of Regional History: A Study in the Historiography of Atula’s Mūṣikavaṃśa”. Cracow Indological Studies 15 (December):67-80.