Kuntaka’s evaluation of Sanskrit literature

by Nikitha. M | 2018 | 72,578 words

This page relates ‘(c): Grammatical figurativeness or pratyaya-vakrata’ 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.

3.8 (c): Grammatical figurativeness or pratyaya-vakratā

[Full title: A brief sketch of the contents of Vakroktijīvita, (8): Six divisions of Vakratā, (c): Grammatical figurativeness or pratyaya-vakratā]

Grammatical figurativeness creates vakratā through the peculiar use of affixes, which are mainly divided into six varieties as tense (kāla), case (kāraka), number (saṅkhyā), person (puruṣa), voice (upagraha) and pratyaya.

In the vakratā where time has got its extreme beauty because of the utmost presence of propriety is known as kālavakratā. For example:-

samaviṣamanirviśeṣā samantato mandamandasaṃjārāḥ/
acirādbhaviṣyanti panthāno manorathānāmapi durlaṅghyāḥ//

Here a young separated lover, who is already tormented by the pangs of separation, thinks about the depth of the pangs of separation in the upcoming rainy season. Here the lover is anxious about his future and the word bhaviṣyanti denoting the future tense creates a special charm, which is known as kālavaicitryavakratā.

Interchange of kārakas based on their importance and unimportance is known as kārakavakratā. An example for this is a last line from one of the verse of Mahānāṭaka, which is as follows:-

yācñām dainyaparigrahapraṇayinīm nekṣvākavaḥ śikṣitāḥ sevāsamvalitaḥ kadā raghukule maulau nibaddhoñjaliḥ /
sarvam tadvihitaṃ tadāpyudadhinā naivoparodhaḥ kṛtaḥ pāṇiḥ samprati me haṭhāt kimaparaṃ spraṣṭuṃ dhanurdhāvati//

“The Ikṣvākus have never been trained in anything like beggary which delights in humiliating oneself. Has anyone ever known an instance of scion of Raghus raising his folded hands in abject supplication? Yet all this has been done (by me i.e Rāma). But the ocean shows no consideration at all. There is no other go left now. Hence my hand rushes all of a sudden to wield the bow.”[3]

Here instead of saying that he would like to take the arrows with his hands, the poet says that his hand rushes to wield the bow. Here the poet considers the subject as hand which creates a special charm to this particular context.

When the poet deliberately interchanges the numbers for creating vaicitrya is known as saṅkhyāvakratā. Here the poet uses singular or dual number in the place, where actually other number is essential. He may use two different numbers in a same sentence for creating this type of vakratā.

As an example to this, Kuntaka quotes the last line from one of the famous verses from Abhijñānaśākuntala of Kālidāsa, which is:-

vayam tattvānveṣānmadhukara hatāstvam khalu kṛtī/[4]

Here the poet uses the word vayam instead of saying aham, which means the poet use plural ‘we’ instead of the singular ‘I’ for indicating that Duṣyanta is really a stranger to Śakuntalā and also shows that there is no deep relation between them at that moment.

In certain situations the poet deliberately uses the third person in the place of first and second person for attaining extra charm to the particular context is known as oblique beauty of person or puruṣavakratā. Moreover the use of noun in the place of pronoun is also a division of this vakratā. Kuntaka quotes a verse from Tāpasavatsarāja as an example to oblique beauty of person. Here for the sake of the Kingdom, king Udayana was forced to marry Padmāvatī but the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa feels it difficult to convey this directly to the queen Vāsavadattā, then he says that ‘jānātu devī svayam’.[5] Here instead of saying ‘you’ the madhyamapuruṣa sarvanāma the poet used prathamapuruṣa for enhancing the poetic charm.

Sometimes in particular situations when both the ātmanepada and parasmaipada affixes are suitable, the poet chooses the most suitable one among them for creating an extraordinary aesthetic delight and it is known as upagrahavakratā. For eg:-

tasyāpareṣvapi mṛgeṣu śarān mumukṣoḥ karṇāntametya bibhide nibiḍopimuṣṭiḥ/
trāsātimātracaṭulaiḥ smarayatsunetraiḥ prauḍhapriyānayanavibhramaceṣṭitāni//

“About to discharge arrows on the other deer also as he was, the tightened grip of his fist (on the bowstring) beside the ear loosened of its own accord. For, then their eyes exceedingly tremulous in fright reminded him of the sweet glances of his beloved expert in love”[7]

Here the poet intent to say that the king Daśaratha withdraws his arrows from some deer’s in the forest because their eyes resemble the eyes of his beloved. But instead of saying in such a manner the brilliant poet says that seeing such resemblance the bowstring of Daśaratha loosened itself without taking any deliberate attempt from him. For denoting ātmanepada the poet used the word ‘bibhide’ in the verse mentioned above.

Where a new suffix is added to a usual suffix to create striking beauty is known as pratyayavakratā. For eg:-

līnam vastuni yena sūkṣmasubagam tattvam girā kṛṣyate nirmātum prabavenmanoharamidam vācaiva yo vā bahiḥ/
vande dvāvapi tāvaham kavivarau vandetarām tam punar-yo vijñātapariśramo

This is an unknown verse from an unknown poet. Here the poet says that:-

“Worthy is the poet who can draw the subtle essence of beauty hidden in nature. Worthy is the master of speech who can create things of beauty by his own words. Both are poets great and he salutes them indeed. But his best salutation goes to a third one who can know their labour and relieve them of their burden.”[9]

For showing the extreme salutation to the poet, the author of this verse used the word vandetarām, which create a striking beauty to this context.

These are some important varieties of pratyayavakratā. Kuntaka also says that padavakratā is an another variety of pratyayavakratā, here the upasargas (prepositions) and nipātas (indeclinables) suggest that rasas are the one and only essence of a sentence or a poem

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