Alamkaras mentioned by Vamana

by Pratim Bhattacharya | 2016 | 65,462 words

This page relates ‘Alamkara-shastra according to Jagannatha (17th 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”)

26: Alaṃkāra-śāstra according to Jagannātha (17th Century)

Jagannātha, the last renowned rhetorician of Sanskrit Poetics, flourished in the middle of the 17th century. He received patronage from the famous Mughal rulers Jahangir and Sahjahan. This south Indian rhetorician has written two (02) works on Sanskrit Poetics—the ‘Rasagaṅgādhara’ and the ‘Citramīmāṃsākhaṇḍana’. The first one is a detailed treatise on Sanskrit Poetics and the last one is a criticism of Appayya Dīkṣīta’s ‘Citramīmāṃsā ’. Both these works have been obtained incomplete.

The Rasagaṅgādhara apparently contained five (05) ānanas or chapters but only a small part of the work can be traced. In the 1st ānana, Jagannātha has criticised the definition of poetry furnished by Mammaṭāand Viśvanātha.

He then puts forth his own definition of poetry—

ramaṇīyārthapratipādakaḥ śabdaḥ kāvyam/
Rasa-gaṅgādhara (of Jagannātha) Chapter-I, p-4.

Defining poetry as a word or composition which yields charming sense follows the path of Daṇḍin’s definition of poetry. But Jagannātha further elaborates the idea of charmingness and describes it as the causal factor of unworldly pleasure or strikingness. In the broader concept of ‘ramaṇīyatā’ advocated by Jagannātha all beautifying elements of poetry have been generally included. In the 2nd chapter of Rasagaṅgādhara, Jagannātha defines poetic figures as the source of ‘ramaṇīyatā’.

It is essential for the principal suggested sense of poetry—

prāgabhihitalakṣaṇasya kāvyātmāno vyaṅgyasya ramaṇīyatāprayojakā alaṃkārāḥ/
  —Rasa-gaṅgādhara (of Jagannātha) Chapter-II, p-156.

The poetic figure involves ‘camatkāra’ or aesthetic pleasure duly imparted by the intuition of the poet. Jagannātha has been influenced a great deal by his predecessors Ruyyaka and Kuntaka in this matter. He accepts ‘pratibhā’ as the sole source of poetry[1] and thus alaṃkāra, being a poetic expression, has to be produced by poetic imagination. The ‘vichittiviśeṣa’ or the special charm generated by the poetic figure is the basis of the distinction between various figures of speech. So, the variety of the imagination of the poet results in the various poetic figures producing varied poetic charm. This ‘vichitti’ or charm can be imparted by the poet’s own internal experience (anubhava) or by relying upon established usage (sampradāya). Jagannātha has defined, illustrated and classified a large number of poetic figures (about 70). Unfortunately his work is traced incomplete and it breaks off in the middle of the discussion involving the figure of speech ‘uttara’. But Jagannātha’s treatment is one of the most minute and acute on this subject.

Footnotes and references:


tasya ca kāraṇaṃ kavigatākevalāpratibhā/
  — Rasa-gaṅgādhara (of Jagannātha) Chapter-I, p-8.

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