Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Classifications of Kavisamaya (poetic conventions)’ 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 7.3 - Classifications of Kavisamaya (poetic conventions)

In the Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara discusses about the different types of kavi-samaya (poetic convention) and gives plausible status in Sanskrit poetics.

He at first classifies the kavi-samaya (poetic convention) into three ways i.e.

  1. Svargīya (heavenly),
  2. Bhauma (earthly), and
  3. Pātālīya (infernal).


sa ca tridhā svargo bhaumaḥ pātālīyaśca [ iti ] ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-XIV, Pp- 78-79

Further he divides the earthly conventions in four grammatical divisions of:

  1. jāti,
  2. dravya,
  3. guṇa and
  4. kriyā.


sa ca caturddhā jātidravyaguṇaktiyārūpārthatayā |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-XIV, Pp- 79

However, most of the other rhetoricians of Sanskrit literature were quiet against this division of kavi-samaya. They argued that there are no such conventions which should be termed as Svargīya and Pātālīya[1]. Thus, they are thinking that all the poetic conventions under the Bhauma Kavi-samaya. Rājaśekhara’s most of successors had not accepted this divisions and thinks that these types of divisions are baseless in the strict sense.

There Rājaśekhara also admits the prominence and greater of Bhauma Kavi-samaya (poetic convention) among all kavi-samaya;


svargyapātālīyayobhaumaḥ pradhānaḥ|”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-XIV, Pp- 79

In generally poetic conventions are three types i.e.

  1. Asatonibandhana (Employment of non-existing matter),
  2. Satopyanibandhana (Non-employment of existing matter) and
  3. Niyamata (Restrictied matter).


te'pi pratyekaṃ tridhā asatonibandhanāt, satopyanibandhanāt, niyamataśca |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-XIV, Pp- 79

Kavisamaya (poetic convention)

(1) Asatonibandhana (employment of non-existing matters):

This Kavi-samaya (poetic convention) is that, every river is possessed of lotuses and every reservoir of water has swans in it, gold and gems on any mountain, darkness as capable of being held in a first or of being pierced with a needle, moonlight as capable of being carried in a pitcher, the separated Cakravāka-pair resorting to opposite banks of a river during night, Cakoras drinking in moonlight, whiteness of glory and smile, darkness of infamy and sin, redness of wrath and love, dwelling of a hare or a dear in the moon, the God of Love being bodiless or possessing a handsome form. These types of attribution of qualities are a good example of poetic convention on non-existing matter.

(2) Satopyanibandhana (non-employment of existing matters):

In poetry, certain things that really exist in a certain place or in a particular time are supposed to be described as non-existing matter of poetic conventions. Mālatī not blooming during spring, a sandal-tree not yielding flower and fruit, Aśoka tree not giving fruit, no moonlight in the dark-half of a month and no darkness in the bright-half of a month, no blooming of blue lotuses and no falling down of Śephālikā flowers during day, no red colour of Kunda-buds, no green colour of lotus-buds and no yellow colour of Priyāṅgu flowers.

(3) Niyamata—Niyamenanibandhana (restricted matters):

In poetic conventions the description of certain things are restricted to certain places. Even though sharks are found in rivers and oceans, pearls found at the bottom of the river Tāmraparṇī only, sandal growing on the mountain Himālāya only, the cooing of a cuckoo heard in the spring only and the dance of the peacocks described in the rainy season only.

These are the twelve types of Bhaumya (terrestrial) poetic conventions according to Rājaśekhara’s Kāvyamīmāṃsā Beside those there are described the celestial conventions by Rājaśekhara i.e. Oneness is attributed to moon born out of the eyes of Atri and of the Ocean. Oneness is described in the shark and the fish which are found in the banner of cupid. The crescent moon, on the head of Lord Śiva though born long ago, is ever green or youth. Cupid, the God of sex is both corporeal and non-corporeal. The identity is attributed to twelve suns and Nārāyaṇa and Mādhava are described as one. Dāmodara, Śeṣa and Kūrma, the different Avatāra (incarnations) of Lord Viṣṇu are described as one. Oneness is portrayed between Lakṣmī and Wealth. There are also described an example of Pātālīya (infernal) poetic conventions i.e. Description of oneness between Nāga and Sarpa. There the poets should also used to attribute the oneness to Daitya, Dānava and Asura. Now we can illustration the Rājaśekhara described three types of kavi-samaya (poetic conventions).

Footnotes and references:


V. M. Kulkarni, Studies in Sanskrit Sāhitya Śāstra, B.L, Institute of Indology, Patan, 1983, Pp- 26

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