Sahitya-kaumudi by Baladeva Vidyabhushana

by Gaurapada Dāsa | 2015 | 234,703 words

Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s Sahitya-kaumudi covers all aspects of poetical theory except the topic of dramaturgy. All the definitions of poetical concepts are taken from Mammata’s Kavya-prakasha, the most authoritative work on Sanskrit poetical rhetoric. Baladeva Vidyabhushana added the eleventh chapter, where he expounds additional ornaments from Visv...

(5) [This is an example of sandigdha-prādhānya (a doubt about which meaning is more important):]

हे भद्र भाद्रपद-मास-चतुर्थिकेन्दो तुभ्यं नमो’स्तु न कदापि मयासि दृष्टः |
श्यामेन तेन कतमेन नवेन यूना साकं तथापि मम किं प्रथितः प्रवादः ||

he bhadra[1] bhādrapada-māsa-caturthikendo tubhyaṃ namo’stu na kadāpi mayāsi dṛṣṭaḥ |
śyāmena tena katamena navena yūnā sākaṃ tathāpi mama kiṃ prathitaḥ pravādaḥ ||

he—O; bhadra—auspicious one; bhādrapada—of Bhādra (August-September); māsa—in the month; caturthikā—on the fourth day; indo—O moon; tubhyam—to you; namaḥ—obeisances; astu—may there be; na kadā api—never; mayā—by me; asi dṛṣṭaḥ—you have been seen; śyāmena—a dark blue one; tena—with Him; katamena—exquisite; navena—fresh; yūnā sākam—with a youth; tathā api—nonetheless; mama—about me; kim—why; prathitaḥ—widespread; pravādaḥ—rumor.

O auspicious moon of the fourth day of Bhādra, obeisances to you! I have never seen you! Why then are there widespread rumors about my being with that dark blue exquisite fresh youth? (Alaṅkāra-kaustubha 4.10)

atra tvad-darśanāt pravāda ity anaikāntikam, kintu tādṛśādṛṣṭād eveti, kiṃvā nāyaṃ pravādaḥ, satyaiveyaṃ jana-śrutir yad vināpi tvad-darśanāj janair udghoṣyate iti sandigdhaṃ prādhānyam.

In this verse, there is a doubt about what is predominant. Is this predominant: “The rumor occurred although I did not see you, consequently there is no universal rule that a bad rumor originates by seeing you,” or is that predominant: “It is not a rumor. What people are gossiping about is true because people say that even though I did not see you”?


The moon on the fourth day of the bright half of the month of Bhādra is called Gaṇeśa caturthī, the day he took birth. Gaṇeśa cursed the moon that whoever would see it on that day would become an object of criticism. The details are as follows: “The Caturthī (4th day) of the bright lunar fortnight in the month of Siṃha is the birthday of Gaṇapati. It is a famous festival in North India. They make the images of Gaṇapati, every year, and make offerings to them on this particular day. It is believed that he who sees the moon on Vināyaka Caturthī will be subjected to dishonour and derision. This belief is based on the following story. Gaṇapati is very fond of sweetmeat, especially Kozhuk-kaṭṭa (globular solid sweetmeat, called Modaka). It is the custom in North India to worship Gaṇapati by offering these sweetmeats, even today, with all kinds of festivities. On one birthday Gaṇapati went from house to house, had a bellyful of modakas and returned home on his conveyance, the rat. On the way the rat saw a snake and began to tremble with fear. Due to the shivering of its legs Gaṇapati fell down. The belly of Gaṇapati was broken due to the fall and a large quantity of modakas came out. Ganapati gathered everything that fell out of his belly and stuffed them again in the stomach and joining the cut edges entwined the snake tightly round the stomach. Candra who was standing in the sky seeing all these things laughed with contempt. At this, Gaṇapati got wild and plucked his tusk and throwing it at the moon cursed him: “Let nobody look at you on the Gaṇapati-festival day.” (Brahmavaivarta Purāṇa). This story is slightly different according to Ganeśa Purāṇa. That story is, that Śrī Parameśvara gave a plum to his elder son Subrahmaṇya without the knowledge of his younger son Gaṇapati, on the 4th day of a bright lunar fortnight and the moon who smiled at it, was cursed.” (Puranic Encyclopedia, under the heading Vināyaka-caturthī)

Kavikarṇapūra interprets Mammaṭa’s theory differently. The above example only illustrates saṃśaya āspadatā saṅkara (“Is this dhvani occurring or is that dhvani occurring?”) (4.97) between two second-rate implied meanings. Mammaṭa says the subcategory called sandigdha-prādhānya consists of a doubt about whether the implied sense or the literal sense is predominant in terms of astonishment.

He gives this example:

haras tu kiñcit-parivṛtta-dhairyaś candrodayārambha ivāmbu-rāśiḥ |
umā-mukhe bimba-phalādharauṣṭhe vyāpārayāmāsa vilocanāni ||

Śiva’s gravity was slightly shaken, like the ocean at the outset of the rise of the full moon. He set in motion the functions of his three eyes toward Umā’s face, toward her lower lip and toward her upper lip, both of which are red like a ripe bimba fruit” (Kāvya-prakāśa, verse 129).

Mammaṭa elaborates:

atra paricumbitum aicchad iti kiṃ pratīyamānam, kiṃvā vilocana-vyāpāraṇaṃ vācyaṃ pradhānam iti sandehaḥ,

“In this verse the doubt is: “Is this implied sense predominant: “He wanted to kiss her,” or is the literal sense, the usage of the functions of his eyes, predominant?” (Kāvya-prakāśa, verse 129 vṛtti).

Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa comments:

na tu tulya-pradhānatā, pṛthag-viśramābhāvād iti bhāvaḥ,

“Both meanings are not equally important (tulya-pradhāna, illustrated next) because they do not exist completely separately” (Uddyota on Kāvya-prakāśa verse 129).

Footnotes and references:


The reading is the same in Alaṅkāra-kaustubha, yet it seems to be a corrupted reading of: he’bhadra (O inauspicious one), unless irony is implied.

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