Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Routine and time of composing Kavya (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 5.6 - Routine and time of composing Kāvya (poetry)

In the Arthaśāstra, Kauṭilya (Cānakya) divided day and night into eight parts for king’s duties. There king should be engaged in his pre-schedule time-table[1]. Here Rājaśekhara also follows Kauṭily’s division of day and night for the purpose of a kavi (poet). The irregular writers hardly touch to success. Therefore, day and night should be divided into four yamas (3 hours= 1 yama), but Arthaśāstra instead it into eight parts. A kavi (poet) should wake-up early in the morning and worship the Sarasvatī (Goddess of Learning) after daily birth and dress. Then he should engage himself in the assiduous pursuit of acquiring the equipments and pre-requisites of making kāvya (poetry). He should sit comfortably on his seat for the study and go through the treatise and arts of kāvya (poetry) up to a yama or 3 hours. Because, constant practice is the best way to attainment of poetic talent. The second part of yama the kavi (poet) devoted to writing kāvya (poetry).

Thought, ācārya Vāmana think that the fourth yama of the night to be the best time for poetic creation.


rātriyāmasturīyaḥ kālaḥ |”

rātreryāmo rātriyāmaḥ praharaḥ turīyaścaturthaḥ kāla iti |
tadvaśādviṣayoparataṃ cittaṃ prasannamavadhatte

- Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana: Ch-I/3/20

At the noon should take light and substantial food and then kavi (poet) should attain the poet’s assembly in the third yama. There he should be solve poetic problems by the way of conversation or conferences; filling up missing letters, words and feet in a śloka (stanza) and making picture-formed poetry with special implication of words and senses. Those should be very useful for inspiring the poetic genius. The fourth yama he should engage to utilized for critical assessment of his poetic composition with close associates. During the time of creative process the poet’s mind will be filled with sentiments and hence he does not able to evaluate his own work. Thus, in this fourth part the poet should try to correct and recollect the forgotten in his work.

In the evening the kavi (poet) should perform the prayer and worship to the Sarasvatī (Goddess of Learning). From very beginning of the night he should rewrite the kāvya (poetry) that have been checked, corrected and transcribed in a day time. In the first quarter of night he should enjoy indulge in amorous sports with sweet-hearts till satisfaction. Then, the second and third quarters of night he should get peaceful deep sleep. Because, deep sleep is first and foremost essential for good health. In the fourth quarter of night he should get up invariably and in the early morning when every thing is reflected vividly on happy and free mind.[2]

Kavi (poets) are divided to the grade into four ways according to their habit and characteristics i.e.

  1. Asūryampaśyan,
  2. Niṣaṇṇa,
  3. Dattāvasara and
  4. Prāyojanika.

The Asūryampaśyan or whom the sun scarcely sees devotes himself in composite works solemnly either in a cave or in a room of a house, there is no time limit for him. The Niṣaṇṇa or the seated one, who is absorbed in composing poetical, works by all means. The third one Dattāvasara or the leisurely, who writes poetry when he get suitable time for composing literary works and the last one, Prāyajanika or utilitarian, who writes kāvya (poetry) to serve some purpose and finds time as it is needed.[3]

Here we can seem the some rational thoughts of Rājaśekhara regarding poetic composition. There he says ladies many also be gifted poet like men. In the ancient time of India, women were saws and treated as a second-class citizens but RS’s opinion is much praiseworthy. To him poetic talent does not depend on sex, it acquired on the basis of culture of the poetic creator. There are so many princess, lady-ministers, mistresses, courtesans and wives of actors were famous poets and scientists in this time. Avantīsundarī, the wife of Rājaśekhara was herself a renowned poetess and critic. A poet should be prepare several manuscripts of his writing, otherwise it can be destroyed for many reasons i.e. misplacement of the work somewhere, selling of the work, giving away the work as gift, migration to some other places, shortage of life and destruction due to fire or water.

Footnotes and references:


Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya: I/ XIV/ 16-19


Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-X, Pp- 52


Ibid, Ch-X, Pp- 53

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