Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Creation of Kavi (Poet) in 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 2.2 - Creation of Kavi (Poet) in the Kāvyamīmāṃsā

In the description of Kāvyapuruṣautpatti (birth of poetry) with his metrical composition, it is seems that the Kāvya-puruṣa is the Ādikavi. Then Sarasvatī, the mother of Kāvya-puruṣa went to take a dip in the river Ākāśa-gaṅgā after placing the infant Kāvya-puruṣa on a slab of stone under a tree. In this time the greet sage Uśanas, on his routine walk to collect faggots (grass and wood for fuel) witnessed the sad plight of the baby due to the heat of the rising sun. When he not seeing anyone around the baby, the sage Uśanas took pity on the child than he picked up the infant and brought him to his āśrama (hermitage). Sometimes later, the infant baby inspired in metrical utterance to the astonishment of the seer Uśanas.

He referred to the Sarasvatī as the milch cow of fine expression; the one who is forever constantly being milked by poets, her store of milk shows forever fresh and no sign of decline. C. f.

dugdhā'pi na dugdheva kavidogdhṛbhiranvaham |
hṛdi naḥ sannidhattāṃ sā sūktidhenuḥ sarasvatī || ” iti

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-III, Pp- 6

As the great seer Uśanas was proclaimed the metrical composition, so he was also renowned as a kavi (poet) in this world. There after all the composer were called by kavi (poet)

Here it is to seem that, after the first metrical composition of Kāvya-puruṣa, greet seer Uśanas was composed a metrical verse. So Uśanas is places as the second Kavi (poet) in this world. In this time of the story Rājaśekhara also silently gives the etymological meaning of kavi (poet) with the uses of secondary capacity of the words ‘lakṣaṇā’ and ‘gauṇī’ by saying:

tadupacārācca kavayaḥ kavaya iti lokayātrā |
kaviśabdaśca kabṛ varṇa ityasya dhātoḥ kāvyakarmaṇo rūpam |
kāvyaikarūpatvācca sārasvateye'pi kāvyapurūṣa iti bhaktyā prayuñjate’ |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-III, Pp- 6-7


“Then the all composer were called by Kavi (poet). The word kavi comes from the root kavi-varṇe. Being steeped in Kāvyaśāstra (poetics), the son of Sarasvatī known as the name Kāvya-puruṣa.”

However, the Vaiyākaraṇa Pāniṇī uses the word ‘varṇa’ as a represent of colour and derives words such as karbura’, ‘kabarī’ etc. from the root ‘kaba’. The word ‘kavi’ is generally derived by them from the root ‘kuṅ śavde’ and ‘i-kāra’ being added in accordance with the grammatical rule of Unādiaca iḥ’. But Ujjvaladatta in his work ‘Unādisūtravṛtti’ says that the word ‘kavi’ derives from the roots ‘ku varṇe’ or ‘ku śavde’,[1] there Paniṇīya Dhātupātha reads these two roots ‘kuṅ’ and ‘ku’ only and uses the word (śavda) for their meaning (artha ).

Here it is seems that, Rājaśekhara’s derive the word ‘kavi’ from the root ‘kabṛ varṇe’ is quite difficult or may be impossible in the guideline of ‘ac iḥUnādi rule of Vyākaraṇaśāstra. However, we can follow the derivation system of Ujjvaladatta’s Unādisūtra, there also be faces a problem of word ‘kabṛ’. But if it can change to read as ‘kuṅ’, so it can be possible to derive the word ‘kavi’ as ‘kuṅ varṇe’.

Then Rājaśekhara talk about the secondary capacity of word by the ‘bhaktyā’ means as ‘lakṣaṇā’ and ‘gauṇī’. In a ‘kāvya’ the primary capacity is ‘śakti’ and the Kāvya-puruṣa through the ‘lakṣaṇā’ (secondary capacity) is personification the kāvya (poetry).

After that, return from bath, the Sarasvatī (Goddess of Learning) not find her son (Kāvya-puruṣa) anywhere and be disconsolate. At this moment the sage Vālmīki pass that way and sympathizing about the matter of Sarasvatī (Goddess of Learning) and took her to Uśana’s āśrama (hermitage). There see the infant baby Kāvya-puruṣa in the āśrama (hermitage) the mother Sarasvatī, with the milk overflowing in her breasts, picked up and kissed him on the forehead. Thereafter, she (Sarasvatī) gratitude blessed Vālmīki with the power to create verse. Then Vālmīki return to his own āśrama (hermitage) from Uśana’s āśrama (hermitage) in the road hearing the pathetic cries of a male heron at his couple’s death by a Niṣāda’s arrow.

Then Vālmīki grief-stricken heart has broken out in a verse as:

niṣādaḥ pratiṣṭhāṃ tvamagamaḥ śāśvatīḥ samāḥ |
yatkrauñcamithunādekamavadhīḥ kāmamohitam || ” [ iti ]

- Śrimad Rāmāyaṇa of Valmiki: Bāla Kāṇḍa
- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-III, Pp- 7


Niṣāda! Your fame will not be eternal; you are who killed one Krauñca (heron) of the two in union blissful.”

From in this part we can seems that the difference picture from the Rāmāyaṇa. Because the story of Rāmāyaṇa says that, the male Krauñca (heron) was killed by Niṣāda’s arrow and female Krauñca (heron) was cries for male Krauñca (heron).


tasyābhyāśe tu mithunaṃ carantamanapāyinam|
dadarśa bhagavāṃstatra krauñcayoścāruniḥ khanam ||
tasmāttu mithunādekaṃ pumāṃsaṃ pāpaniścayaḥ|
jaghāna vairanilayo niṣādastasya paśyataḥ ||
taṃ śoṇitaparītāṃgaṃ veṣṭamānaṃ mahītale |
bhāryā tu nihataṃ dṛṣṭ vā rurāva karuṇāṃ giram || ”

- Śrimad Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: Kānda-I/2, 9-11

But the story of Rājaśekhara’s Kāvyamīmāṃsā gives the opposite description, there female Krauñca (heron) was killed by Niṣāda and male Krauñca (heron) was cries for her.

There Rājaśekhara’s description is similar with the Ānandavardhana’s Dhvanyāloka

In the Dhvanyāloka, Ānandavardhana says:

saṃnihi (ha) tasahacarīvirahakātarakrauñcākrandajanitaḥ śoka eva ślokatayā pariṇataḥ |”

- Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana,: Ch-I/ 5

Here we can think that, this passage of Ānandavardhana may be at the back if Rājaśekhara’s view because the word saṃnihita’ or ‘saṃnihata’ construed by the word sahacarī’ gives us a different meaning in this passage ‘niṣādanihatasahacarīkam’.

Then, Abhinavagupta in his Locana, subsequently got over the discrepancy by mending this part of Dhvanyāloka as:

saṃnihatasahacarīvirahakātarakrauñcena ākrandena ca janitaḥ śokaḥ |”

- Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana,: Ch-I/ 8

Therefore, by Rājaśekhara introducing the Ādiśloka (verse) of Rāmāyaṇa, we can remain a similar narrative found in the beginning part of Rāmāyaṇa. There Prajāpati Brahmā induced Sarasvatī (Goddess of learning) to bless Vālmīki with poetical skill and after obtaining her blessing Vālmīki aspirated to his composition and then this śloka (verse) ‘mā niṣādaḥ pratiṣṭhāṃ’ etc. was his first metrical composition.

macchandādeva te brahman prṛvatteyaṃ sarasvatī |
rāmasya caritaṃ kṛtsraṃ ku ru tvamṛṣisattam || ”

- Śrimad Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: I/ 2/ 31

If Rājaśekhara wanted to trace the ancient history of metrical composition in the Kāvyapuruṣotpatti named third chapter of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, so it should be natural that the composition of Vālmīki after that of Kāvya-puruṣa and Uśanas.

However, Rājaśekhara posits that, the homage of first metrical composition is in the hand of Kāvya-puruṣa, then the second position given to great sage Uśanas, who brought up Kāvya-puruṣa in his āśrama (hermitage) and composed a metrical composition. The third position gets Vālmīki, who led Sarasvatī (Goddess of Learning) to the place of her son and blessing from her to composing kāvya (poetry). In this way the fourth-poet is Vedavāṣyakāra, who studies of this śloka and later composed the Mahābhārata on one lacs śloka.

Footnotes and references:


Unādisūtravṛtti’ of Ujjvaladatta–4/ 138

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