Alamkaras mentioned by Vamana

by Pratim Bhattacharya | 2016 | 65,462 words

This page relates ‘The Kavyalamkarasutra-vritti: A hand-book of Sanskrit Poetics’ of the study on Alamkaras (‘figure of speech’) mentioned by Vamana in his Kavyalankara-sutra Vritti, a treatise dealing with the ancient Indian science of Rhetoric and Poetic elements. Vamana flourished in the 8th century and defined thirty-one varieties of Alamkara (lit. “anything which beautifies a Kavya or poetic composition”)

1: The Kāvyālaṃkārasūtra-vṛtti: A hand-book of Sanskrit Poetics

Alaṃkāraśāstra in Sanskrit literature deals with the external and internal elements of the ‘kavikarmas’ or poet’s creation. It is closely related to the Western conception of Rhetoric and Aesthetics.

A systematic treatment of the rhetorical issues of Sanskrit literature is not available in the age of Vedic literature. Though we can trace the word ‘upamā’ in the Ṛkveda and in the Brāhmaṇas and earlier Upaniṣadas but they were used from the point of view of the general notion of similitude. The Nighanṭu and the Nirukta books throw light upon the frequent usage of simile in the Vedic literature. But these instances do not indicate to the presence of a systematic treatise on rhetoric in Vedic times.

The first systematic treatment on Sanskrit Rhetoric can be found in the Nātyaśāstra of Bharata. The discipline of Sanskrit Rhetoric was successively nourished and nurtured by the doctrines of rhetoricians like Bhāmaha, Daṇḍin, Vāmana, Udbhaṭa, Rudraṭa, Ruyyaka and so on.

Sanskrit rhetoric is broadly divided into two categories according to their direction of treatment and presentation of central subject-matter. These categories are—

(a) Dramaturgy (Nāṭyaśāstra) or works based on the structure, origin and development of Sanskrit dramas.

(b) Poetics (Kāvyaśāstra) or works based on the structure, origin and development of Sanskrit poetry.

The Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti of Vāmana can be promptly categorised as a treatise on Sanskrit Poetics or Kāvyaśāstra. It deals with the various aspects of a ‘kāvya’ such as the necessity of poetry, the soul of poetry, the constituents of poetry, the idea of rīti, alaṃkāra, doṣa, guṇa etc and their broad divisions. It also throws light upon some of the practical methods of composing good poetry. Thus the work of Vāmana can be regarded as a hand-book of Sanskrit Poetics in a wider sense.

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