Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Introduction to Kavyashastra and Alamkarashastra’ 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).

Introduction to Kāvyaśāstra and Alaṃkāraśāstra

In present times on which Śāstra’s we known as the name of Kāvyaśāstra or Sāhityaśāstra, which is used in the ancient times by various names i.e. Kṛyākalpa[1] and Kāvyalakṣaṇa[2] etc. Kṛyākalpa and Kāvyalakṣaṇa are the two ancient definitions in which the first one defines the rules of kāvyasṛṣṭi (poetic creation) and the second one is explained the kāvyasṛṣṭi svarūpa (nature of poetic creation). The beginning period of kāvyaśāstra that was used as the name of Kāvyalaṃkāra. The poetical work of Bhāmaha is known as Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) and also the Ācārya Vāmaṇa has renowned his works as Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti, followed by the Bhāmaha. Then the ālaṃkārika Udbhaṭa named his poetical work as Kāvyālaṃkārasārasaṃgraha. Same as Rudraṭa name his poetical work as Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Rudraṭa). However, except the Daṇḍin’s Kāvyādarśa, all the renowned poets who have been discussed before everyone has named their works as Kāvyālaṃkāra.

Then, in the second developmental age of Sanskrit Poetics, Kāvyaśāstra has known as the name of Alaṃkāraśāstra. So the various scholars of Sanskrit poetics called those as Alaṃkāraśāstra and they are also known as Ālaṃkārikas. The last prominent scholar of ancient Sanskrit poetics Paṇḍitarāja Jagannātha also called Dhvanikāra Ānandavardhana as ‘ālaṅkārikasaraṇi[3] or constructor of Ālaṃkārikas.

Ācārya Vāmaṇa in his work Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti admits that alaṃkāras as the beauty of poetry by the saying:

saundaryamalaṅkāraḥ sūtra’.[4]

In this same way Daṇḍin in his Kāvyādarśa lay down that alaṃkāras as the beauty of poetry.

kāvyaśobhākarān dharmān alaṅkārān pracakṣate |”

- Kāvyādarśa of Daṇḍin: 2/1


“The attributes or merits or excellences that go wholly to adorn or embellish Kāvya (poetry) are called Alaṃkāra (figure of speech).”

In the notes of Protāparudriya for the establishment of Alaṃkāraśāstra by the dependent on ‘chatrinyāya’ wrote that:

yadyapi rasālaṃkārādyanekaviṣayamidaṃ śāstraṃ tathāpi chatrinyāyena alaṃkāraśāstramucyate |”

- Pratāparudriyata Tīkā: Pp- 3


“However in this śāstra discusses the subjects of rasa, guṇa, doṣa, alaṃkāra etc. but by the ‘chatrinyāya’ it is called as Alaṃkāraśāstra.”

In this way Sanskrit poetics has faces the third developmental age, where this Alaṃkāraśāstra popularly known as kāvyaśāstra. The previous rhetoricians of this age Bhamāha, Vāmaṇa, Rudraṭa admit that kāvya (poetry) is build by the combination of sound and senses, but they are not uses the word ‘Sāhitya’ anywhere in their works. In the third developmental age of Sanskrit poetics Yāyāvarīya Rājaśekhara was the first Ālaṃkārika who used the word ‘Sāhitya’ in proper way in his poetical work Kāvyamīmāṃsā.[5]

Then the follower rhetoricians of Rājaśekhara, Ācārya Rūjjyaka and kavirāja Viśvanātha also used the word Sāhitya in their poetical work and wrote their work’s name as Sāhityamīmāṃsā and Sāhityadarpaṇa

Footnotes and references:


In the content of sixty four kalās of Vātsāyana’s KSV described in this śāstras as the name of kriyākalpa. Śrimadrāmāyaṇa of Vālmikī refers the name ‘kriyā-kalpa-vid’ in the Uttarakāṇḍa: 94/5-9. Which is says Daṇḍin in his Kāvyādarśa: 1/9/10.


Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha: 6/ 64 and Kāvyādarśa of Daṇḍin: 1/2.


Rasagaṅgādhara of Jagannātha: ‘dhvanikṛtālaṅkārasaraṇavyavasthāpakatvāt’


Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: 1/12.


Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-II, Pp- 4, “pañcamī sāhityavidyā’ iti yāyāvarīyaḥ |”

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