Alamkaras mentioned by Vamana

by Pratim Bhattacharya | 2016 | 65,462 words

This page relates ‘Definitions and characteristics of figures’ 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”)

The definitions and characteristics of figures have varied in course of time in Sanskrit Poetics. But the basic characteristics of the majority of figures have more or less remained unchanged. Yamaka and anuprāsa can be regarded as the core figures of word whereas upamā holds the crown of supremacy among arthālaṃkāras. Punaruktavadābhāsa seems to be the only prominent member of the miśrālaṃkāra section.

A detailed and comparative discussion on definitions and characteristics of the figures mentioned by Vāmana has been carried out in the previous two chapters of this work. Vāmana treats yamaka and anuprāsa—the two most prominent figures of words. He furnishes a detailed discourse on the mother figure upamā. He follows the common or traditional notion on the characteristics of some figures like ananvaya, nidarśanā, sahokti, parivṛtti, upameyopamā etc. The treatment of some of the figures like arthāntaranyāsa, aprastutapraśaṃsā, samāsokti, prativastu, sasandeha, vyājokti etc. by him seems to indicate the primary developing stage of the individual figures. Again, the treatment of some individual figures like ākṣepa, vakrokti, karma, tulyayogitā, viśeṣokti etc. by him is distinctive in the history of Sanskrit Poetics. It is probably his rigidness to stick to the principle of similarity in defining individual figures which has made his doctrine different from others.

It is also worth mentioning that the particular definitions of most of the individual figures put forth by Vāmana are very much unique from his predecessors as well as his followers. This could be because of the fact that Vāmana has formulated his work on the ‘sūtra-vṛtti’ format of the Grammarians. The chief characteristic feature of a sūtra is its terseness and compactness. So, Vāmana’s definitions of individual figures which are in the form of sūtras are also very terse and compact in nature.

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