Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Dhvani theory and the Kavyamimamsa’ 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 4 - Dhvani theory and the Kāvyamīmāṃsā

The word Dhvani is borrowing from the Vyākaraṇaśāstra (grammar) to Sanskrit poetics. Not only Ānandavardharna, Ācārya Mammaṭa also in his poetical work Kāvyaprakāśa frankly admitted dhvani as the gift of Vyākaraṇaśāstra for the Sanskrit poetics.

We see Mammaṭa says about this matter in his Kāvyaprakāśa as:

vudhaivaiyākaraṇaiḥ pradhānabhūtasphoṭarupavyaṅgayavyañjakasya śavdasya dhvaniriti vyavahāraḥ kṛtaḥ |
tatastanmatānusārabhiranyairapi nyagbhāvitavācyavyaṅgavyañjanakṣamasya śavdārtha yugalasya || ”

- Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammaṭa,: I/4 vṛtti

Means: The Vyākaraṇa (Grammar) rains, the designation ‘Dhvani’ is given to a (non-eternal, physical) word suggestive of the suggested sense in the form of sphoṭa (the eternal idea of word) which is the principle. The other also, who follow their theory to the pair of word and sense such as are capable of suggesting a sense that has subordinated the expressed sense. However, the concept of Dhvani was incepted from very ancient times but Ānandavardhana’s hands have to the greatness as the founder of doctrine of Dhvani theory. In the first kārika of Dhvanyāloka, he also clearly announced that the new doctrine of Dhvani in the field of literary criticism as the soul of poetry, which was established his previous rhetoricians.

Though some of the scholars do not think that Dhvani as the soul of poetry, than he says for those readers as:

kāvyasyātmā dhvaniriti vudhairyaḥ samāmnāta pūrvaḥ
  tasyābhāvaṃ jagadurapare bhāktamāhustamanye
ke cidvācāṃ sthitamaviṣaye tattvamūcustadīyaṃ
  tenabrūmaḥ sṛhadayamanaḥ prītaye tatsvarupam
|| ”

- Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana: Uddyog-I/1


“The learned critics have declared traditionally that ‘the soul of poetry id dhvani (suggestion)’ but others spoke of its non-existence, some regards it as ‘indicated’ and some others spoke of its ‘essence as lying beyond the range of words’. We are to expound therefore its nature to entertain the minds of appreciative critics.”

The anti-dhvani school before the Ānandavardhana’s times was deliberated into three parts i.e.

  1. Abhābavadī,
  2. Bhāktavadī and
  3. Alakṣmanīyatāvadī.

Abhābavadī thinks that, in the kāvya (poetry) there are no things without alaṃkāras, guṇas, rītis

and vṛttis etc. Bhāktavadī believes that, in the kāvya (poetry) there is no prominent place for dhvani, which is under the guṇa, vṛtti or lakṣmaṇa. However, the Alakṣmaniyatāvādī accepted the existence of dhvani but they are thinking that dhvani is ‘anirvacanīya’ or ‘alakṣamanīya’ (un indictable). Because, the theory is available but their sings is unavailable. It is only for sahṛdayasaṃbedya. Therefore Ācārya Ānandavardhana in a systematic way established the dhavani theory by the composing in his Dhvanyāloka and gives the prominent place to dhvani as the ‘Kāvyāsyātmā’ or soul of poetry.

The major important and novel contribution of dhvani doctrine is that it junction between the whole poetic theory with the entire poetic portion. It was first time to come into sight of Ānandavardhana and further it fully disclosed by the hand of Abhinavagupta. It will be seems that there are so many works are flourished on the anti-dhvani theory but the dhvani doctrine is reveal in his own glorious way.

Then Mammaṭa in his Kāvyaprakāśa realized that vyañjanā is depended on dhvani theory, without dhvani the power of vyañjanā is incomplete. Because Mammaṭa proves that vyañjanā is never absorb in the abhidā or lakṣmaṇa, there dhvani is essential for it. So it may be causes that he is call as ‘Dhvaniprotiṣṭhāpaka paramācārya’. Further kavirāja Viśvanātha and Panditarāja Jagannātha only bring up this theory in their works.

However Rājaśekhara in his Kāvyamīmāṃsā do not clearly mentioned the dhvani concepts but he gives the proper honour and notice the dhvani theory. In the first chapter, Śāstrasaṃgraha of Kāvyamīmāṃsā we found Rājaśekhara mentions the Ukti Prakaraṇa (poetic Expression), which was founded by Uktigarbha. There it may seem that Rājaśekhara possibly define his own views by this Ukti Prakaraṇa. There he does not clearly mentioned dhvani school but described the only deduction of dhvani.

In the fifth chapter of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, Rājaśekhara lay down the Ānandavardhana’s concepts about pratibhā and Vyutpatti by saying:

‘pratibhāvyutpattyoḥ pratibhā śreyasī’ ityānandaḥ |

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-V, Pp- 16


“In the pratibhā and vyutpatti, pratibhā is superior to vyutpatti.”

Because it helps to hide the lack of vyutpatti. Every eminent poet has similarities of poetic genius and temper and present identical thoughts. Thus to avoid such resemblances and gain new insights a poet should study the words of other poets also.

mahātmanāṃ hi saṃvādinyo vuddhaya ekamevārthamupasthāpayanti tatparityāgāya tānādriyeta iti ca ke cit |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-XII, Pp- 62

Though, in the matter of artha-haraṇa Rājaśekhara clearly do not agree with the Ānandavardhana’s views by the word ‘ke cit’ . Because Rājaśekhara think that on possessed of literary eye intuitively knows the division between the meaningful and meaningless. But Rajasekhara’s classification of poet is fully seems to the influenced by Ānandavardhana. In the classification of various type of kavi (poet) by Rājaśekhara ukti-kavi is superior or best among the others and their poetic descriptions is very much significant than other poets. Rajasekhara’s this concept also very much similar with Ānandavardhana’s view about various types of kavi (poet).

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