The Haravijaya of Ratnakara is an epic poem (mahakavya) belonging to the era of artificial poetry.
The mahakavya is not oral poetry; it is artificial and learned; it lays more importance on description than narration. Its only claim to the term epic lies in its breadth of content.
A great kavya takes its plot from myth or from history; it must further the four ends of man; it must contain descriptions of cities, seas, mountains, moonrise, and sunrise. A great kavya should also be ornamented with accounts of merrymaking in gardens, of bathing parties, drinking bouts, and love-making. It should tell of the sorrow of separated lovers and should describe a wedding and the birth of a son. Finally, it should describe a king's council, an embassy, the marching forth of an army, a battle, and the victory of a hero. These are not random suggestions but specific requirements.
Every complete mahakavya that has come down to us from the time of Kalidasa contains the whole list, which, if one considers it carefully, will be seen to contain the basic repertory of Sanskrit poetry. Contained in it are the essential elements of nature, love, society, and war which a poet should be able to describe.
The Haravijaya of Ratnakara is preceded by the mahakavyas Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi, and Sisupalavadha of Magha.
The Haravijaya exceeds the two preceding mahakavyas in its richness of fancy. The poet shows wonderful skill in presenting one thing in various and novel ways and is able to give his poetry an artistic and decadent touch.
- Information on kavya's excerpted from Sanskrit Poetry by Daniel H. H. Ingalls