Kuntaka’s evaluation of Sanskrit literature

by Nikitha. M | 2018 | 72,578 words

This page relates ‘Origin and development of Sanskrit poetics’ of the study on the evaluation of Sanskrit literature with special reference to Kuntaka and his Vakroktijivitam from the 10th century CE. This study reveals the relevance of Sanskrit poetics in the present time and also affirms that English poetry bears striking features like six figurativeness taught by Kuntaka in his Vakroktijivita, in which he propounds the vakrokti school of Sanskrit literary criticism.

Origin and development of Sanskrit poetics

In Sanskrit literature scattered information about poetics is first availed from some Purāṇas like Agnipurāṇa and Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. But the history of poetics starts from Bharata the renowned author of Nāṭyaśāstra[1] and almost ends with Jagannātha Paṇḍita’s Rasagaṅgādhara.[2] Nāṭyaśāstra is an encyclopedic manual of theatre arts dealing with almost all the aspects of drama and dramaturgy. Bharata’s main contribution to Sanskrit poetics is his rasasūtra. It explains the genesis of rasa and it is accepted as a formula for explaining the aesthetic experience of arts. It is notable that no concept in western poetics is as much important as rasa in Indian poetics. Some other poetic texts that evolved after Nāṭyaśāstra are Kāvyālaṅkāra of Bhāmaha[3] and Rudraṭa,[4] Kāvyādarśa of Daṇḍin,[5] Kāvyālaṅkārasūtravṛtti of Vāmana,[6] Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammaṭa[7] and Sāhityadarpaṇa of Viśvanātha.[8] In Kāvyālaṅkāra, Bhāmaha establishes poetic figure or alaṅkāra as major element in poetry. Rudraṭa, author of Kāvyālaṅkāra is the final representative of alaṅkāra School. According to Daṇḍin, all the attributes adding beauty to poetry are alaṅkāra. Vāmana, the protagonist of rīti school gives a systematic theory of poetics in his text Kāvyālaṅkārasūtravṛtti. He was the first rhetorician who had great urge to search for the soul of poetry. Mammaṭa, Viśvanātha and Jagannātha Paṇḍita are the ardent followers of dhvani theory of Ānandhavardhana.

Poetics texts deal with the topics like purpose of poetry, definition of poetry, figures of speech etc. Apart from the topics mentioned above, some other topics are also discussed in poetic texts. Bhoja’s Śṛṅgāraprakāśa[9] discusses about grammar. The texts like Alaṅkārasarvasva[10] and Kuvalayānanada[11] discuss only figures of speech. The poetic text named Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara[12] deals with topics like instruction to the poets, poetic conventions etc. Some other prominent poetic texts in Sanskrit are Dhvanyāloka of Ānandhavardhana,[13] Vyaktiviveka of Mahimabhaṭṭa,[14] Vakroktijīvita of Kuntaka[15] and Rasagaṅgādhara of Jagannātha Paṇḍita.[16] Dhvanyāloka with the commentary of Locana of Abhinavagupta is a widely discussed poetic text in Sanskrit literature in Indian tradition. Vāmana talks about arrangement of word as soul of poetry. Taking a step further Ānandhavardhana establishes the deeper essence of meaning as the soul of poetry. Vyaktiviveka written in 11th Century C.E. postulates a new theory named anumitivāda. Mahimabhaṭṭa establishes that dhvani is the same as the logical process of inference. Abhinavabhāratī of Abhinavagupta, a commentary on Nāṭyaśāstra is yet another notable poetic text of Sanskrit literature. Abhinavagupta was a man of acute intellect and encyclopedic scholarship. Abhinavabhāratī discusses all the matters discussed in Nāṭyaśāstra. Vakroktijīvita adorns a prominent position among the rhetoric works of post-dhvani period as it paved an independent and original path for itself in Sanskrit poetics.

Footnotes and references:


R.S.Nagar (Ed.). Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni, vol-1-4, Parimal Publications, Delhi, 1983.


Pt.Badarinath Jha and Pt. Madan Mohan Jha (Ed.). Rasagangadhara of Paṇḍitarāja Jagannāta, Chowkhamba Vidyabhawan, Varanasi.


Naganatha Sastry. P.V. Kāvyālaṅkāra of Bhāmaha, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, Second edition-1970.


Pandit Rāmadeva Sukla. Kāvyālaṅkāra of Rudrata, Chowkhamba Vidyabhavan, Varanasi.


Yogeawaradatt Sharma, Ācārya Daṇḍhi-Kāvyādarśa, Nag Publishers, Delhi,1999.


Haragovinda Shastri. Kāvyālaṅkārasūtra of Ācārya Vāmana, Chowkhamba Surabhārati Prakashan, Varanasi.


Sri Harisankara Sarma. Kāvyaprakāśaḥ, Chowkhamba Prakasan, varanasi


Acharya Shesharaja Sharma Regmi, Sāhityadarpaṇa, Chowkhamba Krishnadas academy, Varanasi.


M.M. Rewāprasād Dwivedi. Śṛṅgāraprakāśa by Bhojarāja. Vol.I and Vol.II, Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts, New Delhi and Kālidāsasaṃsthāna, Varanasi, 2007.


R.C.Dwivedi. Alaṅkārasarvasva-Sañjīvinī, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1965.


D. Bhalashankar Vyas, Kuvalayānanda of Appayadīkṣita, Chowkhamba Vidyabhavan, Varanasi.


Ganga Sagar Rai (Ed.). Kāvyamīmāṃsa of Rajaśekhara, Chowkhamba Vidyabhavan, Varanasi.


Acharya Jagannath Pathak. Dhvanyaloka of Sri Anandavardhanacharya, Chowkhamba Vidyabhavan, Varanasi.


Brahmananda Tripathi. (Ed.). Vyaktiviveka of Rājānaka Mahimabhatta, The Chaukhamba Surabharati Prakashan, Varanasi, 2005.


K.Krishnamoorthy. The Vakrokti-jīvita of Kuntaka, Critically edited with variants, Introduction and English translation, Karnatak University, Dharwad, 1977.


Badainath Jha and Madan Mohan Jha(Ed.). Rasagaṅgādara of Paṇḍitarāja Jagannātha, Chowkhamba Vidyabhawan, Varanasi, Second Edition-2012.

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