Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Sources of Kavyartha (poetic theme)’ 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 4.3 - Sources of Kāvyārtha (poetic theme)

In the eighth and ninth chapter Rājaśekhara discusses about the Kāvyārtha-yonya and Artha-vyāpti (sources and description of meaning of poetry). In a poetic composition a poet should always careful to select the theme of his poetry. This theme of poetry may be incorporated from various sources and his own imaginative power.

Ancient Ācārya says about the twelve types of sources of meaning in a kāvya (poetry) viz.

  1. Śruti,
  2. Smṛti,
  3. Itihāsa,
  4. Purāṇa,
  5. Pramāṇavidyā,
  6. Samayavidyā,
  7. a) Arthaśāstra,
  8. b) Nātyaśāstra,
  9. c) Kāmasūtra,
  10. Loka (experience of the poet),
  11. Viracanā (works of ancient poet) and
  12. Prakīrṇaka (sixty four arts and science).

There Rājaśekhara added another four with this and it as sixteen. Those are:

  1. Ucita-saṃyoga (juxtaposition for comparison),
  2. Yoktṛ-saṃyoga (extended simile),
  3. Utpādy-saṃyoga (double simile) and
  4. Saṃyoga-vikāra (modification produced by juxtapositioning).


ucitasaṃyogena, yotkṛsaṃyogena, utpādyasaṃyogena, saṃyogavikāre ṇa ca saha ṣoḍaśa” iti yāyāvarīyaḥ |

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 35

Then Rājaśekhara has illustrated all the ancient twelve sources of poetry with an examples from collect them. There he appropriate different examples from Vedas, Epics, Purāṇas and various works of great poets. The stringing together and composing the meanings from Vedas, Vedāṅgas, Itihāsas and Purāṇas etc. relating story depicted in them is the sole criterion, which are like a medicinal drug for a poetic composition.


śrutīnāṃ sāṅgaśākhānāmitihāsapurāṇayoḥ |
arthagranthaḥ kathābhyāsaḥ kavitvaisyakamauṣadham || ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 36

Good poets always uses the discriminative collieries to purify their Itihāsa-Purāṇa as like the eyes to see subtle and facts present in there.

itihāsapurāṇābhāyāṃ cakṣurbhyāmiva satkaviḥ |
vivekāñcanaśuddhābhyāṃ sūkṣmamapyarthamīkṣate || ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 36

vedārthasya nibandhana ślādhyante kavayo yathā |
smṛtīnāmitihāsasya purāṇasya tathā tathā || ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 36

The poets who follow the meanings available in sources of Vedic literature for composing poetry are to be appreciated. In the same the poets, who uses Dharmaśāstra, Itihāsa and Purāṇas for poetic composition are also be appreciated by people. In the Pramāṇavidyā, Rājaśekhara includes not only Mīmāṃsā, Sāṃkhyā and Nyāyaviṣeśika Vedic schools but also discusses the philosophy of Buddha, Jaina and Lokāyata.

The knowledge of Samayavidyā may be used in kāvya (poetry), which is beyond time and relates to Lord Śiva, who is found every-where bless and protect;

dhoradhoratarātītabrahmavidyākalātigaḥ |
parāparapadavyāpī pāyādvaḥ parameśvaraḥ || ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 38

The Rājasiddhāntatrayī i.e. Arthaśāstra, Nāṭyaśāstra and Kāmaśāstra and also the Laukika-artha are sources and inspiration of poetic composition. Therefore, when a poet can uses his own imaginative power and bring up with a story or uses free description thus it is know by the name Viracanā.


kavimanīṣānirmitaṃ kathātantramarthamātraṃ vā viracanā |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 39

Then the poets in addition to the above sources of meaning and uses another source of meaning is called Prakiraṇaka or miscellaneous sources.


abhihitebhyo yadanyattatprakīrṇakam |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VIII, Pp- 40

After discussing these twelve traditional sources of poetry Rājaśekhara says about his own another adding four sources of poetry with illustration. The Ucitasaṃyoga is appropriate context of things and in Yoktṛsaṃyoga the connection of a thing which already described as connected with others. The Utpādyasaṃyoga is related with the Upamāna and Upameya. And the last Saṃyogavikāra change of form due to union. Here it can be seems that before Rājaśekhara no anyone discusses about those matter and he may be try to gives the four methods of poetic description to the poets.

However, ācārya Bharatamuni in his Nāṭyaśāstra says about the kāvyāṅga as:

“The knowledge is no knowledge, sculpture is no sculpture, the learning is no learning, the art is no art, and the action is no action unless it is connected to Nātya.”


tannātra manyuḥ kartavyo bhavādbhiramarānprati |
saptadvīpānukaraṇaṃ nāṭ yametadbhaviṣyati || ”

- Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata: Ch-I/117

Then Bhāmaha in his Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) says that:

upoyuṣāmapi divaṃ sannibandhavidhāyinām |
āsta eva nirātaṅkaṃ kāntaṃ kāvyamayaṃ vapuḥ || ”

- Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha: Ch-1/6

Those that resort to kāvya (poetry) should regard the Grammar, Metre, the nature of words, meanings of words, the stories in Itihāsas, the way of the world, Logic and the arts.

Ācārya Vāmana in his Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti also considers Loka, Vidyā and Prakirṇaka as the sources of poetry and Rājaśekhara includes it as all the sources of poetry.


loko vidyā prakīrṇaṃ ca kāvyāṅgāni |”

- Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: Ch-I/3/1

There Rudraṭa’s view also similar with Bhāmaha and says:

“The science of metre, grammar, and dance, science of the world, the nouns and the dictionaries are the topic of study for the attainment of poetic faculty.”[1]

Footnotes and references:


Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Rudraṭa: 1/ 18

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