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...

किं गेयं भगवन्-नाम किं पेयं तत्-कथामृतम् ।
किं हेयं गुरु-वैमुख्यं किं ध्येयं तत्-पदाम्बुजम् ॥

kiṃ geyaṃ bhagavan-nāma kiṃ peyaṃ tat-kathāmṛtam |
kiṃ heyaṃ guru-vaimukhyaṃ kiṃ dhyeyaṃ tat-padāmbujam ||

What should be sung? The Lord’s names. What is to be drunk? The nectar of a discourse about Him. What should be avoided? The guru’s adverseness. What should be meditated upon? His lotus feet.

na ceyaṃ sapraśna-parisaṅkhyā, anya-vyāvṛttau tātparyābhāvāt.

This is not the variety of parisaṅkhyā where the question is stated, because there is no purport that culminates in the exclusion of other things.


Except the third question, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s verse illustrates parisaṅkhyā because the answers to the first, second, and fourth questions are well-known and can be proven by scriptural texts, consequently there is an implied exclusion of other possible answers. Some of Mammaṭa’s and Jagannātha’s examples of parisaṅkhyā are confusing for the opposite reason.

This is Mammaṭa’s example of uttara,

kā viṣamā daiva-gatiḥ kiṃ durlabhaṃ yaj jano guṇa-grāhī |
kiṃ saukhyaṃ sukalatraṃ duḥkhaṃ yat khalo lokaḥ || (Sanskrit rendering)

“What is uneven? The ways of destiny. What is difficult to find? A person who sees the qualities of others. What is happiness? A good wife. What is unhappiness? The presence of wicked people” (Kāvya-prakāśa verse 529).

In some other treatises on poetics, the scope of the uttara ornament is much wider. Rudraṭa invented the name uttara. Daṇḍī used the term prahelikā (riddle). Pīyūṣa-varṣa Jayadeva uses the term praśnottara (question and answer). Rudraṭa’s praśnottara is separate: He defines it as a question whose answer is hidden in the question as a double meaning (Kāvyālaṅkāra 5.31-32). Appaya Dīkṣita and Paṇḍita-rāja Jagannātha subsume all those varieties into uttara. In this ornament as well, śleṣa greatly increases the literary charm.

This is an example by Vāgbhaṭa:

kva vasanti śriyo nityaṃ bhūbhṛtāṃ vada kovida |
asāv atiśayaḥ ko’pi yad uktam api nohyate ||

“O intelligent person, tell me: Where does the resplendence of a king abide? That is a particular eminence because although it is stated it is not understood” (Vāgbhaṭālaṅkāra 4.145).

The pronoun asau (that) is also the locative case of asi (in the sword). Thus here the answer is hidden in the text. Jagannātha gives a similar example: kiṃ kurvate daridrāḥ kā sāravatī dharā manojñatarā ko’pāvanas tri-lokyām, “What do poor people do (kiṃ kurvate)? (They do bad things: kiṃ-kurvate.)[1] Which land has the essence (sāra-vatī) and is very charming? (A land that has a pond: kāsāra-vatī.) In the three worlds, which person is impure (ko’pāvana)? (Someone who stays angry: ko’pāvana = kopāvana = kopa-avana)” (Rasa-gaṅgādhara, KM p. 522).

According to Rudraṭa (Kāvyālaṅkāra 7.95), uttara takes place also when there is one question and many answers. Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa concurs.[2] He modified Rudraṭa’s verse as follows:

kiṃ svargād adhika-sukhaṃ bandhu-suhṛt-paṇḍitaiḥ samaṃ goṣṭhī |
saurājyaṃ śuddha-vṛtti sat-kāvya-rasāmṛtaṃ svādu ||

“What gives more happiness than heaven? Conversations with relatives, friends, and scholars; a good government; and the relishable nectar of good poetry” (Uddyota on Kāvya-prakāśa verse 530).

Furthermore, P.V. Kāṇe writes:

“Jagannātha remarks that when either the question or the answer or both the question and the answer are significant, it is not necessary that there should be a number of them. ‘praśnottarayor ākūta-garbhatve tāvataiva camatkārān nāsakṛd upādānapekṣā’ R.G p. 522.”[3]

For instance:

vally api caṅkramamāṇā hitvāntika-gaṃ dhavaṃ sudūra-stham |
samitā kṛṣṇa-tamālaṃ vibhāti kā kathaya campakalateyam ||

“[Kṛṣṇa speaks:] Who, though she is a creeper (vallī = latā), leaves her nearby husband (or a nearby dhava tree) far behind by proceeding in a crooked way (caṅkramamāṇā),[4] unites with a blackish tamāla tree (or with the tamāla tree named Kṛṣṇa) and becomes resplendent? Tell Me. [Rādhā said:] “She is Campaka-latā”” (Govindalīlāmṛta 13.107).

The verse illustrates prahelikā (riddle).

Footnotes and references:


In the sense of a rebuke, the word kim is compounded with a verb (Kāśikā 8.1.44).


praśnasya sakṛd upādāna uttarasyānekatve’py ayam (Uddyota).


Kane, P.V. (1995), The Sāhitya-darpaṇa, p. 279.


Here the present participle caṅkramamāṇā (while proceeding in a crooked way), a carkarīta form of the verbal root kram[u] pāda-vikṣepe (to walk), is a mirror effect of the word campaka (in reference to Campaka-latā),made from the verbal root cap[i] gatyām (to go).

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