Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara: A General Introduction’ 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 22 - The Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: A General Introduction

Rājaśekhara’s ambitious project The Kāvyamīmāṃsā is written in sūtra style i.e. Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra and Vātśāyana’s Kāmasūstra and is a kind of practical handbook for budding poet. But its interest lies much deeper than it’s just being a work on the education of the poet or a practical manual on the writing poetry. This work is divided into eighteen adhikaraṇas but in present, only the first adhikaraṇas (Kavi-rahasya) is available. In the commencement of this work the author summarize the description of poetry. The first adhikaraṇa (Kavi-rahasya) comprises into eighteen chapters.

1) Śāstrasaṃgraha (Science of Poetics)

Śāstrasaṃgraha (Science of Poetics) in the first chapter discuss detailed account of the content of this text and how instruction in the Kāvyamīmāṃsā was impacted by Lord Śiva to Brahmā and others sixty-four and how from Brahmā through a successions of teachers and pupils.

2) Śāstranirdeśa (Nature and division of poetics)

Śāstranirdeśa (Nature and division of poetics) in the second chapter, gives by dividing literature (vāṅmaya) into Śāstra (both human and revealed) on one hand, and kāvya, on the other. It enumerates the different Śāstras and defines their nature and form, including under the revealed Śāstras the Vedas, the Upaniṣadas and the six aṅgas (the Yāyāvarīya school taking Alaṃkāraśāstra as the seventh.), and comprehending under human Śāstra the Purāṇas, Itihāsas, Anvikṣīki, the two Mīmāṃsās and the Smṛtis. It then mentions fourteen (or eighteen) vidyā-sthanas, bringing under it several technical and philosophical disciplines. The meaning of the terms sūtra, vṛtti, vhasya, samīkṣā, tikā, panjikā, kārikā and varttika, which are the different forms or styles of the Śāstra, are then explained, incidentally giving an etymological definition of sāhitya-vidyā.

3) Kāvyapuruṣautpatti (Origin of Kāvya)

[The story of kāvya-puruṣa by Rājaśekhara]

4) Pada-vākya-viveka (Language, Word and Sentence)

Pada-vākya-viveka (Language, Word and Sentence) in the chapter fourth deals with the different kinds of pupil to whom a knowledge of the science can be imparted, i.e. buddhimān and durbuddhi and discusses in this connection the force of śakti (genius), pratibhā (poetic imagination), vyutpatti (culture) and abhāsya (practice). The Yāyāvarīya think that śakti is the only source of poetry and it gives rise to pratibhā and vyutpatti; but others hold that the aid of concentration (Samadhi) and practice (abhyāsa) is also required. The pratibhā may be twofold aspects, according it is creative (kārayitrī) or discriminative (bhāvayitrī). The creative faculty may be natural (sahajā), adventitious (āhārya) or acquired by instruction (aupadeśika). There also gives an account of the prerequisites for becoming a good poet and the poets are accordingly classified as sārasvata, abhāyasika and aupadeśika. The discriminative faculty (bhāvakatva) is distinguished from the poetic (kavitva). The bhāvaka may be the discontented (ārocakinaḥ), those feeding on grass (satṛnabhyavaharinaḥ), the envious (matsarinaḥ) and lastly, the really discerning (tattvabhinivesinaḥ) who are rare.

5) Vyutpatti and Kāvya-pāka (Vutpatti and Maturity in Poetic Expression)

Vyutpatti and Kāvya-pāka (Vutpatti and Maturity in Poetic Expression) in the chapter five being with a definition of vyutpatti. Rājaśekhara state that the ability to ‘discriminate between desirable and undesirable’ is vyutpatti. There we have elaborate classifications of the poet from different points of view. Poets may be grouped generally into three classes, the śāstra kavi, the kāvya-kavi and the ubhaya-kavi. The sastra-kavi may either compose the Śāstra, or produce kāvya-effect in the Śāstra or Śāstra-effect in the kāvya. The kāvya-kavi is classified in to eight groups, viz. rachaṇā-kavi, śabda-kavi, artha-kavi, alaṃkāra-kavi, ukti-kavi, rasa-kavi, mārga-kavi and śāstrartha-kavi. Then we have an enumeration of ten grades of apprenticeship through which a poet has to pass until he becomes a kavi-rāja, which is indeed not the highest distinction but which, according to Rājaśekhara who was himself so designated, indicates a status even higher than that of a mahākavi.

6) Pada-vākya-viveka (Definition and Kinds of Sentence)

Pada-vākya-viveka (Definition and Kinds of Sentence) the chapter six defines the word and the sentence, and their functions. In this connation Rājaśekhara state that a sentence possessing the literary excellences (guṇas) and embellished by poetic figures (alaṃkāras) constitutes poetry.

7) Vākya-bheda (Mode of Sentences and Intonation)

Vākya-bheda (Mode of Sentences and Intonation) named in chapter seventh analyses modes of speech on a novel basis, having reference to the promulgation of different religious doctrines, into Brāhma, Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava with their sectarian sub-divisions. Then he goes on to define kāku (intonation) as the quality of recitation (pāthadharmah) and gives the various divisions of kāku with illustrations drawn from various sources. He also mentions the languages used effectively or otherwise in different geographical regions.

8) Kāvyārthayonaya (Sources of Meaning in Poetry)

Kāvyārthayonaya (Sources of Meaning in Poetry) in the Chapter eight enumerates the sources or auxiliaries of the subject matter of kāvya (poetry) are twelve and he adds four of his own to make sixteen sources of meaning such as the scriptures, the law books, the epic and the purāṇas etc. giving a long list of arts and science as well as philosophical systems, which contribute to the content of poetry.

9) Arthavyāpti (Description of sources and Meaning)

Arthavyāpti (Description of sources and Meaning) in the chapter nine is concerned with the possible themes of poetry with the subject of description in meanings which may be divya, divyamanuṣa, manuṣa, pātālīya, mṛtya-pātālīya, divya-pātālīya and divya-mṛtya-pātālīya. Rājaśekhara also gives us the different between poetical reality (perception) and scientific reality and says that whatever the location may be the subject must be rasavat. The subject of description may be a muktaka (isolated verse) or a prabhandha (literary-composition), each of which is of five kinds.

10) Kavicarchā and Rājacaryā (Daily routine and duties of a Poet and a king)

Kavicarchā and Rājacaryā (Daily routine and duties of a Poet and a king) chapter ten gives the vidyās (important branch of knowledge) and upavidyās (the sixty-four accessory branches of knowledge) as essential knowledge for poet. The poet should be pure in body, speech and thought. The house of a poet, materials needed for writing, division of the day into eight parts and divisions of poets based on the time of poetic-composition are other points of consideration. Rājaśekhara, also invokes his learned wife, poetess, critic, Avantīsundarī and comes out strongly in favors of women poets by saying ‘women can be good poets as men’ and there need be ‘no discrimination between men and women’. There are also instructions to kings on the assembly halls to be constructed, the evaluative discourses and assemblies to be held and eminent poets to be honored.

11) Śabdaharaṇa (Appropriation of words)

Śabdaharaṇa (Appropriation of words) in chapter eleventh delineates to the use of words and ideas from the works of another called appropriation. It is two-fold first one that which should be avoided and second is that which should be adopted. Those two kind of appropriation (one of word and another is ideas) that of words alone is five-fold arising from (a) pada, (b) a pāda, (c) ardha, (d) vṛtta, and (e) prabandha. Here Rājaśekhara says that borrowing a word which has two meaning is certainly not a fault.

12) Arthaharaṇa (Appropriation of Meaning)

Arthaharaṇa (Appropriation of Meaning) in the chapter twelve continues with the same subject but now considers the ideas or meanings used by ancient poets and the way in which they can be adopted and adopted by moderns. There are again a number of divisions and sub-division, each one illustrated with examples. Rājaśekhara says that Artha (idea or matter) is three-fold. The first is anyayonī, second is nihynutyonī and the third is ayonī. Further ayonī artha is of two kinds–(i) tulyadehitulya and (ii) parapūrapravesapratima.

13) Arthaharaṇeṣvālekhyāprakhyadibheda (Different kinds of Appropriation)

Arthaharaṇeṣvālekhyāprakhyadibheda (Different kinds of Appropriation) the chapter thirteenth gives thirty two different modes by which plagiarism or literary borrowing may be skillfully turned to advantage, all the points in these interesting chapters being profusely illustrated by examples drawn from the works of various poets.

14) Kavi-samaya (Convention of a Poet)

Kavi-samaya (Convention of a Poet) named the chapter fourteen deals with poetic-conventions which according to Rājaśekhara are beneficial for a poet and should be followed meticulously. The division of poetic compositions and there subdivisions are given with special reference to bhauma (terrestrial) kavi-samaya.

15) Kavi-samaya (Convention of a Poet)

Guṇa-Samaya-Sthāpanā (Poetic-Convention) in the chapter fifteen continues with the conventions to be followed by poets relating to qualities as for instance white laughter and black sin. White, blue and yellow colors in kavi-samaya depict the manifestation of incorporeal qualities.

16) Svargya-pātālīya kavi-rahasya sthāpanā

Svargya-pātālīya kavi-rahasya sthāpanā (Poetic-Convention relating to Celestial and Nether Worlds) the chapter sixteen is just poetic convention relating to the terrestrial world where described in chapter fourteen, this chapter follows a description of conventions relating to celestial and nether-worldly time. Each kind is illustrated with examples. The term which are used for certain ethnic groups are dānavas, daityas and asuras. These imply groups of people who shared a racial affinity with Indian Aryans but did not subscribe to the same culture.

17) Deśa-vibhāga (Geographical Regions and its divisions)

Deśa-Vibhāga (Geographical Regions and its divisions) called the chapter seventeen refers to the division of geographical regions followed by the space and time. Kāla-Vibhāga (Division based on time) in the last chapter eighteenth the author of the Kāvyamīmāṃsā enumeration of the various unit into which time is divided: nimesas, kāṣṭhas, kalās, mūhurtas, day and night, pakṣas (fifteen days), months, seasons, ayanas (half-year) and years. After this very formal introduction, Rājaśekhara describes the various winds which blow during the different seasons. Then he develops at length the topic of the four stages of the seasons, ending with a classification of fruits and the duration of their ripening. There seem to be various different opinions about most of these winds, which Rājaśekhara duly enumerates, adding his own opinion here and there. It will be easily seen that Hemchandra has borrowed about one fourth of the present work in his Kāvyānuśāsana (of Hemacandra).

The importance of the chapter which deals with the seasons is made clear in the last verses:

iti kālavibhāgasya darśitāृvattirīdṛśī |
kaveriha mahānmoha iha siddho mahākasaviḥ || ”

- K.M of Rājaśekhara: Ch-XVIII, Pp- 112

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