Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Rajashekhara’s Earlier Work’s on Kavi-shiksha’ of the English study on the Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara: a poetical encyclopedia from the 9th century dealing with the ancient Indian science of poetics and rhetoric (also know as alankara-shastra). The Kavya-mimamsa is written in eighteen chapters representing an educational framework for the poet (kavi) and instructs him in the science of applied poetics for the sake of making literature and poetry (kavya).

Part 19 - Rājaśekhara’s Earlier Work’s on Kavi-śikṣā

In the matter of kavi-śikṣā of Sanskrit poetics, Bharatamuni was the earliest writer to deal in it. In the twenty seventh chapters of his Nāṭyaśāstra exclusively deals with instructions to the poets for the success of dramatic action and speech. Bharata elaborately discusses in this work instructions for the success of every type of action like vācika, āṅgika and āhārya. According to him, the success of dramatic performance largely depends on the involvement of the dramatist, actors and the audience. He also dives advises to the writers to take meticulous care for the avoidance of errors that may occur in their compositions. A few instructions scattered in this dramatic work that are very much useful for budding poets and dramatists.

Ācārya Bhāmaha in his Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) though discusses about the alaṃkāras but there also sees numerous instructions to the aspirant writers. These instructions are seen scattered whole of this work. Not is being a poet will not lead to evil or demerit, disease or punishment.

But being a bad poet is death itself. C.f.

nākavitvamadharmāya vyadhaye daṇḍanāya vā |
ku kavitvaṃ punaḥ sākṣānmṛtimāhurma nīṣiṇaḥ || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha: I/ 12

Therefore he also says that, a poet should take great care with regard to the selection of words proper to each situation:

etadgrāhyaṃ surabhiku sumaṃ grāmyametannidheyaṃ dhatte śobhāṃ viracitamidaṃ sthānamaisyatadasya |
mālākāro racayati yathā sādhu viñjāya mālāṃ yojyaṃ kāvyeṣvavahitadhiyā tadvadevābhidhānam || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha: I/ 59


“Just a man one should be careful in composing words in poetry just like a garland maker who makes the garland after scrutiny, making pronouncements like this: ‘this fragrant flower is acceptable, this plain one is not good, this one would look pretty if included; this is the proper place one for this.”

In the second paricchad Bhāmaha tries to convince the poets that there is not a single poetic figure, devoid of witty-speech (vakrokti) and poets should be assiduous in cultivating it.

saiṣā sarvaiva vakroktiranayārtho vibhāvyate |
yanno'syāṃ kavinā kāryaḥ ko'laṅkāro'nayā vinā || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha: II/ 85

Bhāmaha advices to the poets to be aware of the flaws like apātha etc. and ask them to get rid of such flaws{GL_NOTE::}, to be well versed in science of grammar, logic and arts etc.[1]

In the Kāvyādarśa, ācārya Daṇḍin also gives advices to the poets to be cautious of even minor flaws. He says that, poets should never use a word which is faulty because a single wrong word makes whole poetry ridiculous[2]. Therefore he also says, a bad work of a poet can brings forth ill-fame as like as a bad son[3].

Ācārya Vāmana in the fifth adhikaraṇa or Prāyogikādikaraṇa of his Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti exclusively deals with Kavi-śikṣā topic some elaborately. In the third chapter of the first adhikaraṇa, Vāmana deals with the topic of the sources of poetic material and consider Loka, Vidyā and Prakirna as kāvyangas[4]. He advises the poets to be wellacquainted and who aspires to be a poet should be well-versed in all such topics.

The fifth adhikaraṇa is discusses about the description of conventions, techniques and appropriation of words in poetry. Then he advises the poets to be cautious against grammatical inaccuracies and linguistic flaws that may occur in words, sentences, language and the whole text[5].

Though Dhvanyāloka is written exclusively for the propagation of Dhvani theory, it also says a number of instructions to aspiring poets, which come under the topic of Kavi-śikṣā. All efforts on the part of the poet in choosing proper words, figures of speech and metres etc. He further advises poets not to indulge in the usage of figures like yamaka while delineating the sentiment of love in a suggestive way. In the study of poetry Ānandavardhana says that though the principle of suggestion in poetry is enunciated here, portrait like poetry can be used as aid to the budding poets. Ānandavardhana says, the poets should be careful of the employment of alaṃkāras and a poet should be endowed with imagination, knowledge and practice which are the pre-requisites for poetic faculty. Among these three qualities he stresses the place of poetic imagination, saying that the flaws in poetic creation caused out of the poet’s lack of knowledge can be overcome through the power of poetic imagination.

If the poets adopts a traditionally well-known story as his plot there should not be any kind of transgression in depicting it. He says that, even the themes dealt with in ancient works seem to be a new through skillful adoption of sentiments, just like the trees in the spring season become fresh and beautiful with new blossoms[6].

Footnotes and references:


Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha: IV/ 1-2


Ibid: V/ 4


Kāvyādarśa of Dandin: I/ 7


Ibid: I/ 11


Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: I/3/ 1


Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: V/ 2


Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana: IV/ 5


Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: