Lost texts are common in the history of ancient Indian literature. Many must have perished altogether—even from memory—victim to neglect and hostile insects; a great number survive only as fragments or brief quotations embedded in other works, and sometimes only as titles. One of these lost works is Bṛhatkathā (“The Great Romance”). Legend tells us that the poet Guṇāḍhya composed it in Paiśācī, an obscure dialect of Prakrit. Now it exists only as a title; but once, to some commentators, it was a famous and important work. Witness Govardhānācāry's high esteem, for example—”We pay homage to the poets of the Śrī Rāmāyaṇa, the Bhārata, and the Bṛhatkathā,” or his remark, “Who would not say Guṇāḍhya is this very same man [Vyāsa] reborn?” Yet, to most scholiasts Guṇāḍhya and his illustrious work are but a memory and a faint one at that. How fortunate it is then that the work has survived, testament to its once great popularity, in several ver¬sions: three in Sanskrit, one in Prakrit, and one in Old Tamil.

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