Alamkaras mentioned by Vamana

by Pratim Bhattacharya | 2016 | 65,462 words

This page relates ‘Alamkara-shastra according to Kuntaka (10th century)’ 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”)

9: Alaṃkāra-śāstra according to Kuntaka (10th century)

Kuntaka (c. 10th cen.–11th cen. A.D.), who is famous for his work Vakroktijīvita, is also known to be the greatest propounder of vakrokti-theory.

He opines that ‘vakrokti’ or a certain charming mode of poetic expression which is totally different or excellent from the matter of fact or the common expression (svabhāvokti) in the essence of poetry.

He asserts that embellished words senses are the primary constituents of poetry–

sālaṃkārasya kāvyatā/
  —Vakrokti-jīvita (of Kuntaka) unmeṣa-I

This embellishment solely consists of vakrokti

alaṃkṛtiḥ vakroktireva vaidagdhyabhaṅgībhaṇitirucyate/
  —Vakrokti-jīvita (of Kuntaka) unmeṣa-I

Kuntaka has clearly followed the footsteps of Bhāmaha by recognizing vakrokti as the essence or ‘jīvita’ of poetry. He rejects ‘svabhāvokti’ or the common expression or the matter of fact expression as an alaṃkāra or embellishment to poetry. Kuntaka asserts that embellished word and sense (‘sālaṃkṛta śabda and artha’) constitute poetry. This embellishment is created by a striking or charming mode of expression which is nothing else than vakrokti. Poetic figures or alaṃkāras which are traditionally regarded as embellishments for poetry are included in the comprehensive scope of vakrokti by Kuntaka.

Kuntaka mentions six different types of ‘vakrotā’—varṇa, padapūrvārdha, padaparārdha, vākya, prakaraṇa and prabandha. He defines, classifies and illustrates these varieties to a great extent and even includes in them the popular theories of dhvani and rasa. The dhvani theorists have regarded alaṃkāras as mere ‘vāgvikalpas’ or heighteners of the charm of the unexpressed element, but Kuntaka lays importance to such alaṃkāras in poetry and considers them as charming regardless of their connection with the unexpressed element. Again Kuntaka opines that an alaṃkāra can only be regarded as ‘kāvyālaṃkāra’ or poetic figure eligible to be used in poetry only when it consists of ‘vaicitrya’ or a peculiar imagination of the poet (‘kavivyāpāra’). Therefore, Kuntaka has provided a new criterion for the recognition of a poetic figure in poetry.

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