Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Rajashekhara’s Discussion on Daily Routine’ 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 5 - Rājaśekhara’s Discussion on Daily Routine

[Full title: Rājaśekhara’s Discussion on daily routine and duties of a poet and a king (Introduction)]

Yāyāvarīya Rājaśekhara elaborately discusses about the matter of Kavi-caryā and Rāja-caryā (Deliberation and duties of a poet and a king) in the tenth chapter of his Kāvyamīmāṃsā In this portion he basically followed the instruction of Vātsyāyaṇa’s Kāmasūtra and Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra. Rājaśekhara seems the first ālaṃkārika who has to introduce the topic of Kavi-caryā and Rāja-caryā (daily routine and duties of a poet and a king) in the connection of Sanskrit poetics. In this part of Rājaśekhara’s Kāvyamīmāṃsā, we have also seen the reflection and influences of Vātsyāyana’s Kāmasūtra and Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra.

By the study of Rājaśekhara’s poetical works Kāvyamīmāṃsā; we can be imagining some of the matter of ancient Indian history, basically in this time when he was lived. In this period, the whole country was under the rule of different royal dynasties and the kavi (poets) and shṛdhya (literary critics) had to depend on their patronage king. Some of the cases kavi (poets) were demonstrated by king to write their kāvya (poetry) with highlighting elucidating or eulogizing the valour and virtue of their patronage kings. However, Rājaśekhara also think that, a kavi (poet) should be always free in his thought, imagination and activities, though kavi (poet) is somehow or other bound all purposes with their patronage king’s. Because, a kavi (poet) who avail all the facilities in this world and get honour in a royal court, thus he may be inclined to write their works for the pleasing to his patronage king. We are also the witness in the Indian tradition of this kinds of literary work, where many of the works are gives the description of patronage kings i.e. Harṣacarita of Bāṇabhatta.

About the matter of personality of a kavi (poet) given by Rājaśekhara , which may be derived from the description of Nāgarika’s daily routine and duties which is found in the Kāmasūtra of Vātsyāyana and the personality of kings which is elucidate in the Kauṭilya’s Artaśāstra.

There Rājaśekhara says that, an aspirant poet or students of poetics should be always well-equipped and study the Vidyās (important branches of knowledge) and Upa-vidyās (subsidiary branches of knowledge) should devote energy for the art of poetic composition.


‘gṛhītavidyopavidyaḥ kāvyakriyāyai prayateta| nāmadhātupārāyaṇe, abhidhānakośaḥ,
chandovicitiḥ, alaṅkāratantraṃ ca kāvyavidyāḥ| kalāstu catuḥṣaṣṭirupavidyāḥ|’

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-X, Pp- 49

Rājaśekhara’s this type of concepts similar with the instruction of a person in the Vatsayana’s Kāmasūtra. Where Vātsyāyana says, a person be well-versed in all types of knowledge, after getting married, he should enter into the family life.[1] To Rājaśekhara, vidyā means, the study of ‘nāmadhātu’. (Grammar), ‘abhidhānakośa’ (lexicon), ‘chandoviciti’ (prosody) and ‘alaṅkāratantra’ (poetics) etc. There he also included the sixty-four branches of fine arts of interest to the kavi (poet). [see notes below] In this matter mentioned in ancient ālaṃkārikas, while they are describing the different aspects of Vyutpatti. Sixty-four kalā’s (arts) are mention Vātsyāyana in his Kāmasūtra uses here as the Upa-vidyā (subsidiary branches of knowledge)[2]. However, ācārya Vāmana define kalā’s (arts) among the principal vidyās.

In the ‘Kāmadhenu’ commentary of Vāmana’s Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti, Pandit Gopendratippabhupāla incorporated another set of sixty-four kalā’s (art) and one hundred-four Upa-kalās (subsidiary-arts).


‘kalāḥ nṛtyagītādayaścatuḥṣaṣṭiḥ| upakalāścatuḥśatam |
kalānāmuddeśaḥ kṛto bhāmahena — nṛtyaṃ gītaṃ tathā vādyamālekhyaṃ maṇibhūmikāḥ|’

- Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmanas (Kāmadhenu commentary): Ch -I/3/7

In addition to these well-acquaintance with poet who is patronized by good men (deśa-vartta), knowledge of geographical regions (vidagdha-vāda), social incidents, social and economical condition of country, assemblies of scholars, works of ancient writers (purātan kavi nibandha) and popular local beliefs (loka-yātrā) are the another subsequence aids to making poetry.


‘sujanopajīvyakavisannidhiḥ, deśavārtā, vidagdhavādo,
lokayātrā, vidvadgoṣṭh yaśca kāvyamātaraḥ purātanakavinibandhāśca |’

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-X, Pp- 49

Therefore, Rājaśekhara also says about the eight ‘kāvyamātara’ (mother of poesy). This is:

‘svāsthyaṃ pratibhā'bhyāso bhaktirvidvatkathā bahuśrutatā |
smṛtidārḍh yamanirvedaśca mātaro'ṣṭau kavitvasya || ’

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-X, Pp- 49


“Good health, pratibhā (poetic genius), abhyāsa (practice), bhakti (devotion), vidvād (advice of scholar), commerce with the learned knowledge of various subjects, retentive memory and enthusiasm is the ‘kāvyamātara’ (eight mother of poesy).”

It is Rājaśekhara’s deep pratibhā (poetic genius) insight for the creative poet.

After giving those types of necessities for the kavi (poet), Rājaśekhara passes on his concentration to the daily routine and duties of a kavi (poet). Here we are notice that, Rājaśekhara’s in this description also based on the description of the concepts Nagarakavṛtta and Rājavṛtta, which have been described in the Kāmasūtra of Vātsāyana[_1_] and Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya[_2_] respectively.

There first of all the kavi (poet) must be maintain three types of purity.


api ca nityaṃ śuciḥ syāt| tridhā ca śaucaṃ vākśaucaṃ manaḥśaucaṃ, kāyaśaucaṃ ca |’

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-X, Pp- 49

This purity of three types:—

  1. vāk-śauca or purity of speech,
  2. mana-śauca or purity of mind and
  3. kāya-śauca or purity of body.

The first two types of purities can be acquired through learning of the various Śāstras. The another purity of body can be gain through neatly dressed and good bearing of clipped-nailed hands and feet, betel-red lips, paste-painted and perfumed body, fine dress and adorning head with the garlands of sweet flowers. In one sentences, a pure body and holy character are the magic of the Goddess of learning. In a kāvya (poetry) always highlighting to the character and behavior of its creator, kavi’s (poets). As like as an artist, who creates things, what who is like. It is really depend on his maximum of likeness. Talking with smile, witty and weighty speech, deep sense of humor and observation, indifference to accuse other’s works and due appreciation of good works are always is the secret of his achievements.

Here it is notable that, these types of concepts presented by Rājaśekhara has great relevance in the newly developed branch of Sanskrit literary criticism. It gives us an idea that the kāvya (poetry) or the creation of the kavi (poet) is not only influenced by his social circumstance but it also depended on his behavior, character and inner faculty.

Notes regarding the sixty-four arts:

The sixty-four kalās (arts) are:

  1. Gīta (music),
  2. Vādya (instrumental music),
  3. Nṛtya (dance),
  4. Nāṭya (histrionics),
  5. Citra (painting),
  6. Ācccuṇirmānṇa (making of types),
  7. Puṣpanirmāṇa (flowergardening),
  8. Pūmetta-racanā (artistic flower lying),
  9. Dehālaṃkaraṇa (dressing),
  10. Gṛhālaṃkaraṇa (furnishing of houses),
  11. Śayyānirmāṇa (making of beds),
  12. Jalataraṅga (music with water),
  13. Jalavādya (music on water),
  14. Vividha veṣadhāraṇa (wearing different kinds of dresses),
  15. Mālānirmāṇa (making of flower garland),
  16. Keśālaṃkāra (hair-dressing),
  17. Vastradhāraṇa (wearing of dress),
  18. Karṇābhūṣaṇa nirmāṇa (making of ear-ornaments),
  19. Sugandha puṣpasañcayana (collection of sweet smelling flowers),
  20. Alaṃkṛtahāra (decorating food articles),
  21. Indrajāla (magic),
  22. Bhaṅgikaraṇa (beautification),
  23. Karaśucīkaraṇa (cleaning of the hands),
  24. Modakanirmāṇa (making of sweet-meats),
  25. Pānīya nirmāṇa (making of drinks),
  26. Tellaring,
  27. Jālanirmāṇa (making of nest),
  28. Riddle,
  29. Akṣaraśloka (competition in recting of poems with rules),
  30. Arthaviṣādīkaraṇa (clarification of meaning),
  31. Granthapārāyaṇa (reading of books),
  32. Nāṭakadarśana (enseting of plays),
  33. Samasyāpurāṇa (part of verse),
  34. Nirmāṇa (making of cost of cane),
  35. Carpentry,
  36. Logic,
  37. Vāstuvidyā (science of building homes),
  38. Svarṇaratna pariśodhana (connoisseurship of gold and dimonds),
  39. Dhātusaṃskaraṇa (purification of metals),
  40. Skill in distinguishing the colour of diamonds,
  41. Khaniparīkṣaṇa (finding out of mines),
  42. Vṛkṣāyurvedayoga (understanding trees and their values),
  43. Cockfight,
  44. Understanding of languages,
  45. Massaging,
  46. Keśaprakṣālaṇa,
  47. Akṣaramuṣṭikathana,
  48. Videśabhāṣāpāṭhana (learning of foregine languages),
  49. Deśabhāṣā-āna (knowledge of language of ones own country),
  50. Bhāvikalpapravacana (fortune telling),
  51. Yantranirmāṇa (making of machines),
  52. Smaraṇaśaktipoṣaṇa (incressing memory power),
  53. Śravaṇapāṭha (studying by hearing),
  54. Nimiṣakavana (instant poetry-making),
  55. Kriyāviklpa,
  56. Kapaṭabhāva (false poses),
  57. Chandojñāna (knowledge of the different matres),
  58. Vastragopana,
  59. Game of dice,
  60. Gambling game,
  61. Bālalīlā (children times entertainment),
  62. Vinayācārakrama (atiquette),
  63. Vaitālikavaidyāujñāna (panegyrice) and
  64. Kārya-grahaṇa (comprehension of facts).

Cf. Vettam Mani, Purāṇic Encyclopaedia, Pp- 367

Footnotes and references:


Kāmasūtra of Vātsyāyana: I/ 4/1


Kāmasūtra of Vātsyāyana: I/3/16

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