Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Rajashekhara’s views on Kavyahetu (causes of poetry)’ 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 3.2 - Rājaśekhara’s views on Kāvyahetu (causes of poetry)

In Sanskrit poetics there are define two types of purpose of poetry (kāvyahetu) i.e.

  1. Pratibhā-Kāraṇatā Vāda and
  2. Pratibhādi Tṛtaya Kāraṇatā Vāda.

There the theorist of Pratibhā-Kāraṇatā Vāda accepted only Pratibhā is the only causes of poetry (kāvya-hetu). But the theorist of Pratibhādi Tṛtaya Kāraṇatā Vādī accepts Pratibhā, Vyutpatti and Abhāyas (repeated exercise) all are the causes of poetry.

In the fourth chapter of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, Rājaśekhara at first refers to the views of Śyāmadeva and ācārya Maṅgala.

kāvyakarmaṇi kaveḥ samādhiḥ paraṃ vyāpriyate — iti śyāmadevaḥ |”
abhyāsaḥ iti maṅgalaḥ |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-IV, Pp- 11


Śyāmadeva think that, Samādhi (meditation) as the most essential factor for poetical composition.”

There Rājaśekhara represented him as laying a special stress on the doctrine of Samadhi. It is concentration to the mind (on a particular subject), because a concentrated mind can meditate on profound subjects.

manasa ekāgratā samādhiḥ |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-IV, Pp- 11

There the secret of poetical composition only relating to Sarasvatī isprofound and indescribable. It is within the power of the wise and the skilful only.

There is only one supreme path to strive after it and that is concentration of an informed mind or Samādhi.

sārasvataṃ kimapi tatsumahārahasyaṃ yadgocare ca viduṣāṃ nipuṇaikasevyam |
tatsiddhaye paramayaṃ paramo'bhyupāyo yaccetaso viditavedyavidheḥ samādhiḥ || ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-IV, Pp- 11

The view of Śyāmilaka, the author of the work ‘Pādatāditaka’ Bhāṇa seems to identify with Śyāmadeva on this matter as:

idamiha padaṃ mā bhūdevaṃ bhavatvidamanyathā kṛtamidamayaṃ granthenārtho mahānupapāditaḥ |
iti manasi yaḥ kāvyārambhe kaverbhavati śramaḥ sanayanajalo romodbhodaḥ satāṃ tamapohati || ”

- Śyāmilaka’s Padataditaka-III

Ācārya Vāmana also called it as the name ‘Abadhāna’- ‘citraikāgramavadhānam[1].

Abadhāna or concentration is the single pointedness of the mind. It comes through controlling the mind from all external things. Thus only when the mind is concentrated that it can see the meaning clearly.

But ācārya Maṅgala posits ‘Abhyāsa’ (repeated exercise) is most essential for poetical composition. Because, continue and uninterrupted practices can help the aspirant poet to composing poetry.

avicchedena śīlanamabhyāsaḥ |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-IV, Pp- 11

Ācārya Mammṭa, the author of Kāvyaprakāśa says that, repeated exercise lies in the composition and formation of poetry under the supervision of those, who know how to write and judge kāvya (poetry).

kāvyaṃ kartaṃु vicārayituṃ ca ye jānanti tadupadeśena
karaṇe yojane ca paunaḥpunyena pravṛttiriti trayaḥ samuditāḥ”

- Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammata: Ch-I, Vṛtti- 3

In this way ābhāyasa or repeated practices of various Śāstra’s an aspirant poet can composition and excellence of poetry.

Therefore, Yāyāvarīya Rājaśekhara think that the two faculties Samādhi and Abhāyāsa comprised in Śakti or Strengthen the literary power alone can create kāvya (poetry). To whom Samādhi is an inward endeavor and Abhyāsa is outward, they both Samādhi and Abhyāsa strengthen Kāvya-Śakti (literary power). This kāvya-śakti (literary power) as the chief of Kāvya-hetu (causes of poetical composition). So Rājaśekhara says:

samādhirāntaraḥ prayatno bāhyastvabhyāsaḥ |
tāvubhāvapi śaktimudbhāsayataḥ
sā ke valaṃ kāvye hetuḥ iti yāyāvarīyaḥ |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-IV, Pp- 11

In this view of Rājaśekhara accepted by the Mammaṭa, who says śakti (literary power) as:

śaktiḥ kavitvavījarūpaḥ saṃskāraviśeṣaḥ |
yāṃ vinā kāvyaṃ na prasare t prasṛtaṃ vopahasanīyaṃ syāt |”

- Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammata: Ch-I/ Vṛtti-3


Kāvya-śakti or poetic power is a peculiar latent impression, which forms the seed of poetry, failing which kāvya (poetry) would not spring up, or even if it were to spring up, it would be ridiculous.”

To Mammaṭa, this Śakti (poetical power) is another name of the Pratibhā (innate faculty). But Rājaśekhara doesn’t agree about it, to whom Śakti is the individual from Abhyāsa (practice) and Pratibhā (innate power). Both Samādhi and Vyutpatti are raises from the Śakti (poetic power). For one who is without pratibhā even perceptible objects appear non-presents while for one who possesses it, non-present objects are as directly perceived.

Ācārya Bhāmaha and Vāmana in his Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) and Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti says about pratibhā as:

kāvyaṃ tu jāyate jātu kasyacitpratibhāvataḥ || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha-Ch-I/5


kavitvabījaṃ pratibhānam || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: Ch-I/3/16


Pratibhā is the prime requisite in poetical compositions.”

Then Kāvyadarśakāra Daṇḍin also says about Pratibhā as:

naisargikī ca pratibhāśrutañca bahu nirmmalatam |
amandaścābhiyogo'syāḥ kāraṇaṃ kāvyasampadaḥ || ”

- Kāvyādarśa of Daṇḍin: Ch-I/103


“The cause of formation of kāvyasampada by the kavi (poet) is his natural genius, through the study of various arts and sciences and constant practices and the culture.”

Abhinavagupta in his commentary of Dhvanāloka says about the Śakti and Pratibhā as synonym thing.

śaktiḥ pratibhānam |”

- Dhvanyāloka-Locana of Abhinavagupta:

But Yāyāvarīya Rājaśekhara does not agree about those ancestor ālaṃkārikas concepts about Śakti. To whom, not pratibhā, śakti is the chief factor of poetical composition. There kāvya-śakti (poetical power) is posits as kartṛ-rupa and while vyutpatti and pratibhā are karma-rūpa. Pratibhā and Vyutpatti both are increasing the power of Śakti (poetical power), because if śakti (poetical power) is not proper for composing poetry so the composing work not to be good poetry.

This poetic power is different from pratibhā and vyutpatti, because they both are the effects of the same Śakti (poetical power). Here Rājaśekhara follows the concepts of Rudraṭa.


manasi sadā susamādhini visphu raṇamanekadhābhidheyasya |
akliṣṭāni padāni ca vibhālti yasyāmayau śaktiḥ || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Rudraṭa) of Rudraṭa: Ch- 1/15

Here if we can discuss with the sharp-view than we can seem that, though Rājaśekhara chiefly recognized the Śakti (poetical power) as the causes of poetical composition but he also indirectly accept the Pratibhā and Vyutpatti as the part of poetical composition.

Footnotes and references:


Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: I/ 3/ 17

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