Alamkaras mentioned by Vamana

by Pratim Bhattacharya | 2016 | 65,462 words

This page relates ‘Definition of Vyajastuti Alamkara’ 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”)

23: Definition of Vyājastuti Alaṃkāra

Vyājastuti is accepted as a figure of sense by the majority of Sanskrit rhetoricians.

Bhāmaha defines it as—

dūrādhikaguṇastotravyapadeśena tulyatām/
kiṃcidvidhitsoryānindāvyājastutirasau yathā//

  —Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) 3.31.

—In vyājastuti, with the object of asserting some similarity, an apparent condemnation is made by describing very great or unattainable qualities.

Daṇḍin defines the figure as—

yadi nindanniva stauti vyājastutirasau smṛtā/
doṣābhāsāguṇāeva labhante hyatra sannidhim//

  —Kāvyādarśa (of Daṇḍin) 2.343.

—In vyājastuti praise is made in the form of criticism and the virtues are found in the form of vices in this figure.

Udbhaṭa puts forth a similar definition to that of Daṇḍin—

śabdaśaktisvabhāvena yatra nindeva gamyate/
vastutastu stutiḥ śresṭhāvyājastutirasau matā//

  —Kāvyālaṃkārasārasaṃgraha (of Udbhaṭā) 5.9.

—Where the natural tendency of words expresses a settled meaning of censure but where great praise is really desired to be understood, the figure is called vyājastuti.

Vāmana’s definition of the figure complies with those of his predecessors—

  —Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti (of Vāmana) 4.3.24.

—In vyājastuti, a deliberate condemnation is made for the purpose of praising a person. This deprecation must be based upon his inability to do something that has been done previously by a very superior person and which is capable of being done by the person sought to be praised.

In his vṛtti Vāmana further states that the aim of vyājastuti is to imply the similarity of the person who is condemned with the very superior person mentioned.

This process actually gives rise to a praise based on similarity—

atyantaguṇādhiko viśiṣṭasya ca karma viśiṣṭakarma, tasya sambhāvyasya
kartuṃ śakyasyākaraṇanindāviśiṣṭasāmyasampādanena stotrārthāvyājastutiḥ/

  —Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti (of Vāmana) 4.3.24. vṛtti.

The Kāmadhenu commentator has also furnished a lucid explanation of this definition[1] .

Vāmana puts forth the following verse as an example of the figure vyājastuti

babandha sindhuṃ giricakravālairbibheda saptaikaśareṇatālān/
evaṃvidhaṃ karma tatāna rāmastvayākṛtaṃ tanna mudhaiva garvaḥ//

  —Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti (of Vāmana) 4.3.24. vṛtti.

Rāma bridged up the ocean with hills, pierced seven palm trees with a single arrow; you have not done these yet. So, your pride is futile.

Here a certain person has been criticized for being unable to do great things like Rāma but this condemnation implies that on all the other qualities and actions except the two mentioned the person condemned is equal to Rāma.

The Kāmadhenu commentator also asserts this implication—

tvaṃ rāma evāsīti tātparyam/
  —Kāmadhenu, Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti (of Vāmana) 4.3.24.

Later rhetoricians have considered two-fold aspects of the figure vyājastuti. In the first type of vyājastuti, the censure is apparent and the praise is implied. In the second type, the praise is apparent and the censure is implied.

Mammaṭa and Ruyyaka have given a two -fold derivation of the word vyājastuti (vyājarūpa vyājena vāstutiḥ) to suit their two varieties.

Rudraṭa is probably the first rhetorician who develops this two-fold concept of the figure. He defines the figure as—

yasmin nindāstutito nindāyāvāstutiḥ pratīyeta/
anyāvivakṣitāyāvyājaśleṣaḥ sa vijñeyaḥ//

  —Kāvyalaṃkāra (of Rudraṭā) 10.11.

Rudraṭa admits that the figure requires a certain involvement of śleṣa in it and thus calls it vyājaśleṣa. It is to be mentioned that Daṇḍin has also admitted varieties of vyājastuti involving śleṣa[2] . Ruyyaka[3] , Mammaṭa[4] , Hemacandra[5] , Vidyādhara[6] , Vidyānātha[7] , Viśvanātha[8] , Jagannātha[9] etc. have dealt with the figure vyājastuti in a similar manner.

From the different opinion regarding the nature of the figure vyājastuti furnished by the Sanskrit rhetoricians we can sum up the basic traits of the figure—

i) Vyājastuti is formed when from an apparent praise or blame, blame or praise is comprehended respectively in the end.

ii) Vyājastuti is of two varieties—the first one is an apparent criticism from which praise is comprehended. In the second type praise is apparent and criticism is implied.

iii) All rhetoricians except Bhāmaha, Daṇḍin, Udbhaṭa and Vāmana have admitted these two varieties of the figure.

iv) The figure is based on similarity as there is always a comparison involved in it.

Vāmana has only admitted the first type of vyājastuti in which the praise is ultimately intended and the criticism is set aside. He also mentions that the comparison of the person who is criticized has to be made with a very superior person. By comparing the person condemned with the very superior person, the actual intension of the poet should be to imply the similarity between them except the area of condemnation. This gives rise to praise and the criticism is eventually set aside.

Footnotes and references:


viśiṣṭo rāmādirupamānabhūtastasya karma setubandhanādi / tasya kartuṃ śakyasya karmaṇo'karaṇādvarṇanīyasya nindā rāmādisāmyāpādānāt stutiparyavasāyinīvyājastutiḥ /
  —Kāmadhenu. Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti (of Vāmana) 4.3.24.


iti śleṣānuviddhānāmanyeṣāñcopalakṣyatām/
vyājastutiprakārāṇāmaparyantastu vistaraḥ//

  —Kāvya-prakāśa (of Mammaṭa) 2.347.


stutinindābhyāṃ nindāstutyorgamyatve vyājastutiḥ/
  —Alaṃkārasarvasva (of Ruyyaka) p-112.


vyājastutirmukhe nindāstutirvārūḍhiranyathā/
  —Kāvya-prakāśa (of Mammaṭa) 10.169.


  —Kāvyānuśāsana (of Hemacandra) 6.16.


yatra prakrāntāyāṃ stutau kathaṃcit pratīyate nindā/
nindāyāṃ stutirthavāseyaṃ vyājastutirdvividhā//

  —Ekāvalī (of Vidyādhara) 8.30.


nindayāvācyayāyatra stutirevāvagamyate/
stutyāvāgamyate nindāvyājastutirasau matā//

  —Pratāparudrayaśobhūṣaṇa (of Vidyānātha) Chapter-VIII, p-443.


uktāvyājastutiḥ punaḥ/ nindāstutibhyāṃ vācyābhyāṃ gamyate stutinindayoḥ//
  —Sāhitya-darpaṇa (of Viśvanātha) 10.59.


āmukhapratītābhyāṃ nindāstutibhyāṃ stutinindayoḥ krameṇa paryavasānaṃ vyājastutiḥ/
  —Rasa-gaṅgādhara (of Jagannātha) Chapter-II. p-416.

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