Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (Study)

by Debabrata Barai | 2014 | 105,667 words

This page relates ‘Major findings and Concluding observations’ of the 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).

Chapter 6 - Major findings and Concluding observations

The present chapter is devoted to bring out the major findings of the study, which is carried out in the previous chapters. We have made a throw analysis of the works of Rājaśekhara especially in his Kāvyamīmāṃsā Here his life; works and his special contribution in the field of Sanskrit Poetics have been analyzed. And in depth study through the process of adopting qualitative interpretation some significant facts have been emerged and those facts are stated as the major findings of the study in the following pages. The Kāvyamīmāṃsā is a wonderful creation in the world of Sanskrit Poetics. To compose this poetical work Rājaśekhara might be influenced by the term Brahmamīmāṃsā and Dharmamīmāṃsā in the selecting his voluminous magnum opus Kāvyamīmāṃsā however Rājaśekhara does not propounded any new doctrine in the domain of Sanskrit Poetics but he complies the views of his predecessor ālaṃkārikas and critically analyses those and further expresses and established his own theory. In this work Rājaśekhara had to used the various prominent Śāstric texts i.e. Vedas, Upaniṣadas, Purāṇas, Epics, Arthaśāstra, Kāmaśāstra, Vyākara-śāstra, Dramas etc. There he also cited the views of different intellectual persons i.e. Āparājiti, Drauhini, Vāmaha, Udbhaṭa, Rudraṭa, Kālidāsa, Vākpatirāja, Avantīsundarī, Ānandavardhana, Bhāravi, Bhavabhūtī, Māgha and Kumārdāsa etc.

Life, works, ancestry, poetical scholarship of Rājaśekhara have been discussed in the first chapter of the thesis. It appears from the writings of Rājaśekhara that he was born in Brahmin family speciall in the Saiva sects and he was born immediately after Ānandavardhana. His father name was Durduka or Duhika and mother name was Śilāvatī and also great-grandson of Mahārāṣṭracūrāmani Akālajalada in the Maharastra. But he spends the last part of his life in the Kāśī (modern Varanasi). He was the adorable court-poet and guru of the kings Mahendrapāla and his son and successor Mahipāla. His wife Avantīsundarī was a learned person in poetics, daughter of Cauhana family. Therefore it is believe that Rājaśekhara composes six dramas and one monumental poetical works Kāvyamīmāṃsā, but at present time only four dramas and the first section (kavi-rahasya) out of eighteen section of Kāvyamīmāṃsā in present in our hand.

The study reveals that, most of the ālaṃkārikas from Bharata to Ānandavadhana concentrated their mind about the major theme of kāvya (poetry), but they are ignored the matter of kavi, the creator of kāvya (poetry). However, willingly or unwillingly they are lay down two or three stanza for the poet in their works. Their main ambition was to find out the main factor of poetry and thus they are says their own views and established the different school based on major element of poetry. Though, in the Agni-Purāṇa says something about the poet and given the equal position of kavi (poet) with the Brahmā, the supreme creator in the world of poetry.[1] But Rājaśekhara is the only one in Sanskrit Poetics who first time touches and elaborately discusses the absolute matters of kavi-śikṣā (creation or education of a poet). There he also has given the some guidelines and limitations in scientific way. Thus his theory get very much popularity in the further rhetoricians and know as the founder of Kaviśikṣā School.

It appears that, Rājaśekhara has not only given the position of Sāhitya-vidyā or alaṃkāraśāstra as the fifth disciplines but it is also soul of other four disciplines.[2] And it is also the fourteen branches of knowledge. In this way Rājaśekhara given very high status to Sāhitya-vidyā with the others thirteen sources of knowledge i.e. four Vedas, six Vedāṅgas, three Śāstras. There his advice for the poets as they must acquire knowledge of Śāstras and purify their mind then they goes to composes kāvya (poetry). He also says Sāhitya-vidyā as the seventh Vedāṅga, because without their proper knowledge one cannot able to understand the meaning of Vedas, thus alaṃkāraśāstra is another important one. Because without proper knowledge of Sāhitya-vidyā one can’t able to recite the Vedas and it also help to study the Śāstras. Therefore, here found the Rājaśekhara’s Vedic wisdom when he interoperates one Vedic ślokadvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā samānṛṃvakṣaṃ” in poetical purpose.

It also reveals that although, before the time of Rājaśekhara five poetical schools were developed but his treatment goes all the schools in Sanskrit Poetics. Only the Aucitya School is propounded after his time, there he also has given some concepts about this.

Rājaśekhara is the first ālaṃkārika who says about the soul of poetry as rasa and given the essentiality of alaṃkāras and guṇas in whole literature as define his concepts of kāvya as:

guṇavadalaṅkṛtañca vākyameva kāvyam |”

-Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-VI, Pp- 24

Therefore, he also says about the alaṃkāras with their profounder names, which is not given any alaṃkārika before and after him. To the concepts of rīti, Rājaśekhara dedicated complete one adhikaraṇa and posits Suvarnanābha as the founder of rīti, but in this time it is not available to us. He also given the classification of kavi from the concepts of Dhvanyāloka, but he does not say more things about Dhvani. Because when he flourished those times Dhvani theory was very much criticized by the anti-dhvani theorist. There Rājaśekhara’s concepts of Vakrokti is much elaborated than Kuntaka’s theory. However Kuntaka known as the founder of of Vakrokti School but his theory is limited only kāvya, but Rājaśekhara’s concepts of Vakrokti goes to beyond the kāvya and touches the matter of Lokas and Śāstras. The last major theory of Sanskrit Poetics is Aucitya. Though, Rājaśekhara directly not given any concepts about it but in the interpretations of Vyutpatti of Rājaśekhara we can seems his knowledge on it.

Rājaśekhara’s Kāvyamīmāṃsā may be considered as an ambitious work like is the epic in the domain of Sanskrit Poetics. So far its sections and volumes are concerns. There the Kāvyamīmāṃsā also projected by Rājaśekhara into long eighteen sections to describe the absolute thing of Sanskrit Poetics. However it is our bad luck that, there only first section (adhikaraṇa) is found, which is also divided into eighteen chapters. Thus Rājaśekhara also posits as the name Vyāsadeva of Sanskrit Poetics. Rājaśekhara divided all the major treatise of Sanskrit Poetics i.e. kavi-śikṣā, Ukti, Rīti, Anuprāśa, Yamaka and Citra-kāvya, Śabda-ślesa, Vastava or Svabhāvokti, Upamālaṃkāra, Atiśayokti, Artha-ślesa, Ubhaya-alaṃkāra, Vinodas, Nātyaśāstra, Rasa, Doṣa, Guṇa, Aupniśadika etc. and projected to write individual eighteen section for each one. But it very much destroyed matter to us that the only first section named kavi-rahasya is available at present times.

Whatever, to keep this acute pain in our mind for the missing parts (sections) of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, we can find and observe some of the aspects to study the first section of Kāvyamīmāṃsā as:

The kavi-rahasya adhikaraṇa of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, Rājaśekhara has made help of the dignified famous works i.e. Kāmasūtra, Arthaśāstra, Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) of Bhāmaha, Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Rudraṭa) of Rudraṭa, Vāyupurāna, Dhvanyāloka and Vākyapadiya etc. in this part Rājaśekhara cited various opinions of different known and unknown ālaṃkārikas in many context and lastly he gives his own views. There he also adopted sūtrabhāṣya style to write this work but there he does not subscribing himself to any particular school of Sanskrit Poetics.

Then Rājaśekhara the idea of description of genesis of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ is incorporated from the Vāyu-purānas. Here we can see that:

In this description, Rājaśekhara challenging to the ancient tradition of believes, which is posits Vālmīki as the ādi-kavi. But Rājaśekhara here established Kāvya -puruṣaḥ as the composer of first metrical speech, the great sage Uśana is the second and the Vālmīki is placed in third position. Therefore the ślokayadetadvāṅmayaṃ viśvamarthamūrttyā vivarttate |” is places as the first specimen of poetic art in the place of Vālmīki’sniṣādaḥ pratiṣṭhāṃ tvamagamaḥ śāśvatīḥ samāḥ |”

* The concept of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ is certainly developed to the concepts of Veda-puruṣaḥ[3], which is represented in the Vedas and its treatises on the philosophy of Vyākaraṇa-śāstra[4].

* The concepts of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ is an improvement on the ancient concept of Veda-puruṣaḥ by imagining and establishes poetry as a human being and shows that the order to constitute an appealing poetry a clear got to be struck in human note.

* The description of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ expresses a vital debate and serious controversy its own self. Because the logical and the rational confessors mind is always reluctant to established the nature of poetry as like as a human being. But the clarified reader or an observer enters the realm of poetry than their rational intellect ceases to function like inspire the aesthetic sensibility and consequently the unreal is also being relished.

* The concepts of constitutes of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ, is seems to fully a metaphorical expression. Because the infant is introduced by his mother and she has blesses it to the expression. The expressed as it’s body, the language of Sanskrit as its face, the Prākṛt dialects as its limbs (arms), the Apabhraṃśa speech as its legs (thigh), the Paiśāca as its feet and the mixture of different languages as its breast (bosom). His speech is elevated, the delectable state of rasa is soul and the metrical composition is the pores (hair). The jugglery of words questions and quizzes is discourse and the poetic figures of alliteration (anuprāśa), simile (upamā) employed to embellishment[5]. This is the attributing the qualities of one to another.

* In this description Rājaśekhara adopts a comprehensive view of poetry and highlight the charm is to be infused in a specimen of poetic art not only a polishing chiseled views and poetic figure but it is a admixture of different languages i.e. Sanskrit, Prākṛt, Paiśāci, Miśra and Apabhraṃśa etc. which have a special charm. Those languages are consequently incapable being translated to another without any resultant loss of charm.

* In the description of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ emphasizes the importance of metaphor in poetical works, which have impresses the poet and the refined reader to necessary of proper adjustment between thought and emotions and also recognizes the necessity of presenting the charm of poetry.

* In this description of Kāvya-puruṣaḥ, Rājaśekhara refer a śloka which is the first creator of a śloka:

yadetadvāṅmayaṃ viśvamarthamūrttyā vivarttate |
so'smi kāvyapumānamba pādau vandeya tāvakau || ” [ iti ]

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-III, Pp- 6

But it is opposite of ancient believes of tradition in Indian Literature, where Vālmīki is the first creator of a stanza and his poetry is known as Ādi-kāvya .

* Therefore in description of Kāvya-purusaḥ, when Sarasvatī (Godess of Learning) went to the Gaṅgā after placing the infant on a slab of stone and seen by the sage Uśanas took the infant to his hermitage. There the infant broken out in metrical speech to the astonishment of the great sage. This type astonishment experienced of sage is common to all refined readers and appreciators whose mind is filled. Thus we can think that wonder by the diction and experience of poetry. This type astonishment is generated by poetic creation is the prime important and it has the capacity to excite their wonder that lies at the root of all such elements, which are essential in poetic composition.

Therefore, in the description of both Kārayitrī (geniou for creative poet) and Bhāvayitrī (genious for appreciative reader) pratibhā Rājaśekhara’s discussion is very logical. However they are different in nature but sometimes they also places together.

kalyāṇī te matirubhayathā vismayaṃ nastanoti |”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-IV, Pp- 14

Then the concepts on Kārayitrī (geniou for creative poet) and Bhāvayitrī (genius for appreciative reader) pratibhā of Rājaśekhara seems to very much perfect. Because Ānandvardhana, Abhinavagupta, Viśvanātha, Jagannātha and as well as Rājaśekhara all the ālaṃkārikas are the example on this matter. They all are not only poet but also a well known critic. Beside this, in the Bengali literature world famous poet Rabindranātha Tagore, Vankimcandra etc. also have both types of Kārayitrī and Bhāvayitrī pratibhā. These two types pratibhā is connected to each others.

Ānadvardhana and Kuntaka also recognize these two types of pratibhā. Because, the Kārayitrī pratibhā creates aesthetic production and another Bhāvayitrī pratibhā makes its reproduction of critical thoughts. There the Kārayitrī pratibhā is a genius and Bhāvayitrī pratibhā is judge the poetic genius. Thus the Kārayitrī pratibhā denotes kavi (poet) and Bhāvayitrī pratibhā denotes shṛdaya (critic or reader). The ideal reader always able to read to the mind of kavi (poet) in properly. In this type of ideas in alaṃkāraśāstra, Rājaśekhara was the first ālaṃkārika who introduces it in the Indian literary criticism.

The other important features is that, Rājaśekhara is the only ālaṃkārika who discusses the theory of Pāka in great details and cited the different views of Maṅgala and Avantīsundarī, whose are otherwise unknown. Here his discussion throws a good deal on the most important aspects of Pāka and perfection of both meaning and expression. Ānandavardhana also says it by the term of Aucitya or propriety. In this type of Pāka, the values of literary composition are to be realized. Where the meaning reposes in the tissue of words and each word finds a perfect embedding in the integral tissue.

There Rājaśekhara’s warning is very much important to the aspirant poets that they always be a good poet through practicing those pāka. Never would be bad poet, because to compose a bad poetry as like as death.

samyagabhyasyataḥ kāvyaṃ navadhā paripacyate |
hānopādānasūtreṇa vibhajettaddhi vuddhimān || ”

- Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-V, Pp- 21

Therefore, in the portion of Kāvyartho, Rājaśekhara adopts his discussion based on Vyākaraṇa-śāstra (science of grammar). There we can seems the grammatical intellection of Rājaśekhara, when he analyzing the different characteristics and varieties Kāku. There he discusses the art of reading with its importance and best type of reading. The art of proper reading can be acquired through steady practice and it is the result of experiences in earlier birth. His advice about correct and proper reciting is the first time seems in the Sanskrit Poetics. In Sanskrit Poetics there no any ālaṃkārikas has given any theory on it before or after Rājaśekhara. His described earnests, sweetness, accomplishment of high and low pitches, elegance in the harmonization of compound words are remembered to be the qualities of good reading.

The treatment of artha-vyāptiḥ is simply on appearance and it does not exhibit the actual facts uncolored by the feeling of poets. There the appearance is certainly no identical with real nature of a thing.

Rājaśekhara’s description on poetic assemblies and their activities is very much helpful for the budding poet of creative genius. Here the aspirant poet able to collect the ideas and expression in better way. To refer the poetic tradition i.e. prohibitation of cerebrals and conjunct consonants in the court of a king is very much interesting. Because in this description of daily routine and duties of a poet makes one to think own self his life dedicated for creative purposes. It is also gives the idea that the poets were got high status in those times in society. However in this present time this position is something decreases and it lost their position.

Then the next concept of Rājaśekhara is Haraṇa (appropriation or Plagiarism) seems to be presented in a new garb of varied striking expression. This concepts is something similar with a protagonist in a drama, who appearance changes altogether his new dresses in a new character. Here Rājaśekhara’s treatment made tremendous advance over his reputed ancestor critic Ānandavardhana in the history of Sanskrit Poetics. There he is the only ālaṃkārika who gives an elaborate and through-going expression of the entire subject matter there his idea may be the aspirant poet who should be aware of the power of words and always able to chose correct words in proper place. Here it is also be notice that, in his inordinate love of thirty-two division and sub-division he is quietly overlapping in classification. Therefore, in the present time Rājaśekhara’s idea of Haraṇa or appropriation reveals his help and to being to light on the genuineness of poetic concepts or ideas. It would be very much helpful and interesting if anyone tries to examine it with the modern concepts of originality.

Kavisamaya or Poetic Convention related to a jāti (genus), dravya (substance) and kriyā (action) and to attribute guṇas and to objects in the celestial and nether worlds as on the earth is another unique concepts of Rājaśekhara. However ancient ālaṃkārikas does not recognizes the alaukika type descriptions in kāvya (poetry), but Rājaśekhara also accepted such type of description if they are case of beautifying factors of poetry. In the Prāyogikādhikaraṇa of Kāvyālaṃkārasūṭra-vṛtti of Vāmana also cautioned to the aspirant poet that, the vigilant of the errors that may occur due to ignorance of grammar and prosody. There Rājaśekhara gives detail discussion about it and gives suitable example from the works of various authors. Therefore, Rājaśekhara’s Svargiya and Pātālīya Kavisamaya or Poetic Conventions are like Bhauma Kavisamaya. There he cited only few sweet examples from here and there in different works. These types of idea of Poetic Conventions are very much helpful to the budding poets and given the guidelines to Poetic Composition to write a good poetry.

However it is vague of journey and very much difficult to find out the genesis of different types of Kavisamaya. There Rājaśekhara try to find out a new path in this description, because most of the ancient poets and poeticians are very close to the nature. Thus most of them are described about nature in their poetry and their observation endowed about nature in their poetic imagination gave rise to many newly concepts in poetic composition. This is the full credit goes to Rājaśekhara in Sanskrit Literature that he fully and systematically deals with this matter, where no other school of poetics does not deals with this aspects.

There both of the concepts of Haraṇa (appropriation) and Kavisamaya (Poetic Conventions) of Rājaśekhara are take the role as advisor or rector and given guidelines for the budding poets to write good poetry.

In the last part of Kāvyamīmāṃsā is interestingly related to the knowledge of Geographical regions and different types of seasons, which are helpful for the poetic composition. There Rājaśekhara says about the concepts of the world and especially in the Bhāratavarṣa (undivided India) for the proper description of different region of countries, mountains, rivers, trees etc. in poetry. Because if any poet have not sufficient knowledge about the geography of different places thus he does not able to describe about it and his poetic composition goes to lack of poor descriptions. There Rājaśekhara’s description of different region of Bhāratavarṣa is a store house and his treatment on this matter is like an encyclopedia to write a good poetry. Though, Rājaśekhara is not the first who at first deal about this matter, there Patañjali and Manu also given the same treatment on panchronic perception of religious and cultural aspects of different regions. Therefore, Rājaśekhara is the first ālaṃkārika who is elaborately given details about this matter in the history of Sanskrit Poetics. Here Rājaśekhara’s view is significantly different from the views of Patañjali nad Manu.

In this part Rājaśekhara described to appreciates Sanskrit as the Gauḍas, Apabhraṃśa of Punjab, Prākṛta as the Lātas and the recitation of the poets of Saurāṣṭra. Those all regions are impure, fallen and mixed region in the concepts of ancient Dharmaśāstra. In this part Rājaśekhara describes all the region of Bhāratavarṣa in the glory of the land and the cultural geography in Rājaśekhara is much evenhanded and generous to the concepts of Patanjali and Manu. In this way Rājaśekhara’s description of cultural geography is very much significant for its approaches and it’s newly content. However, Rājaśekhara flourished in the premodern times but his treatment is compared with Risley, the well known modern anthropologist. Beside those, in any historical reconstruction of culture, anthropological and linguistic history of Bhāratavarṣa thus this Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara would be very much useful tool to helping this work.

In the description on rtu or seasons in the Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara the whole world of ideas and images connected with human life and activities. There Rājaśekhara deals not only poetically but scientifically also. The descriptions of kāla or seasons with their six varieties and characteristics are commenced with a narration of the computation of time in ancient India. Here Rājaśekhara is very much influenced by the ancient work Vyāyupurāna and Kālidāsa’s Ṛtu Saṃhāra. It is also connected to the Sanskrit poetics in the kavi-śikṣā, because if any aspirant poet is unable to know on which times or seasons which types of activities are described in poetry thus his poetical work may be under the lack of charming and causing for ignorance. Thus poets are always to be aware about these types of concepts.

In this way, the whole concepts of the Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara are very much informative for the budding poets in its content. There we found the name of various little known ālaṃkārikas in Sanskrit Poetics i.e. Āparajita, Drauhini, Maṅgala and Syāmadeva etc. there Rājaśekhara also cited the names of kings i.e. Vāsudeva, Sātavāhana, Sūdraka and Sahasāṅka etc. all are the patrons of learning, who are encouraged the experts in kāvya (poetry) and Śāstra (science).

To sum up about the Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara, it is remarkable that this work must be very much helpful for the aspirant poet in the matter of unfamiliar concepts in applied Poetics. This work certainly a great manual for the both poet and appreciative reader to understand and test the charm of poetry. This magnum-opus Kāvyamīmāṃsā posits in the high place in the history of Sanskrit Poetics. Therefore, we can hope and wait for those times when the whole adhikaraṇas can be discover then creates a revolution in the Sanskrit Poetic world.

Footnotes and references:


Agni-Purāṇa: Ch- 339/ 9

apāre kāvyasaṃsāre kavire ka prajājatiḥ |
yathāsmairocate viśvaṃ tathedaṃ parivartate || ”


Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-II, Pp- 4, “pañcamī sāhityavidyā’ iti yāyāvarīyaḥ |


Ṛg Veda- 4.58.3

catvāri śṛṅgāstra (tra) yo'sya pādā dve śīrṣe saptahastāso'sya |
tridhā vaddho vṛṣabho roravīti maho devo martyamā(rtyāṃ ā)viveśa || ”


Nirukta–13. 18


Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara: Ch-III

śavdārthau te śarīraṃ, saṃskṛtaṃ mukhaṃ, prākṛtaṃ bāhu jaghanamapabhraṃśaḥ, paiśācaṃ pādau, uro miśram | samaḥ prasanno madhura udāra ojasvī cāsi | ukticaṇaṃ ca te vaco, rasa ātmā, romāṇi chandsi, praśnottarapravalhikādikaṃ ca vākke liḥ, anuprāsopamādayaśca tvāmalaṅaku rvanti |

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