Satirical works of Kshemendra (study)

by Arpana Devi | 2017 | 60,954 words

This page relates ‘Chandas or the metre’ part of the study on the Satirical works of Kshemendra: an 11th century poet from Kashmir, who composed three satirical works. Kshemendra himself says that in composing the satirical works his only motive is to reform the mindset of the people.—He exposes all the vices and follies prevailing in the society with the intention to reform it.

In Sanskrit literature, chandas or the metre occupies an important place. Chandas is an indispensable part of versified poetry. In the words of Daṇḍin, like a boat, prosody also helps one who is desirous of crossing over the ocean of poetry.[1] Chandas adds charm to poetry, hiding the un-appealing expressions. Chandas is a vidyā (Science). It is incorporated among the six Vedāṅgas.[2] First of all Yāska, the author of Nirukta (Nirukta), gives the derivative explanation of chandas as chandāṅsi chādanāt.[3] In the Aitareyāraṇyaka (Aaitareyāraṇyaka) it is stated that chandas is so called because it shields the human vices.[4] There are different derivative meanings of the word chandas, but in real sense it indicates some numerical arrangement of syllables. In Sanskrit literature, there are two types of chandas, one is Vedic and the other is Classical. The Vedic chandas and the Classical chandas are not the same. In the Vedic chandas, the number of syllables is counted in each pāda or foot and in the Classical Sanskrit, hrasva and dīrgha syllable in each pāda as well as the number is counted. Gāyatrī (24 syllables), Uṣṇik (28 syllables), Anuṣṭubh (32 syllables), Bṛhatī (36 sayllables), Paṅkti (40 syllables), Triṣṭubh (44 syallables) and Jagatī (48 syllables) are the seven Vedic chandas. On the other hand, in the Classical Sanskrit there are large numbers of metres. These metres are mainly divided into two groups viz. Vṛtta and Jāti. In a Vṛtta type of metre the number of syllables is counted. This type of metre is divided into three varieties, viz. the Samavṛtta, the Ardhasamavṛtta and the Viṣamavṛtta. In the Samavṛtta, all the pādas of a verse contain same triads, in the second one alternative pādas contain the same triads and in the Viṣamavṛtta all the pādas possess varied triads.

The other type of metre is Jāti, where a verse is measured by the syllabic instants or moras (mātrā). In this type called Jāti, a short vowel is counted as one unit and a long vowel is counted as two.

Kṣemendra is a prosodist of high calibre. Among the Sanskrit prosody, the Suvṛttatilaka of Kṣemendra finds significant place. In the Suvṛttatilaka, Kṣemendra rightly says that a work becomes graceful when metres are used in a proper place.[5] Kṣemendra shows his expertise in handling various metres in right context. For him, a poet, who applies a few types of metres, cannot be regarded as a poet of excellence. In all the satirical poems namely the Kalāvilāsa, the Deśopadeśa, the Narmamālā, Kṣemendra shows his mastery in employing varieties of metres. Kṣemendra proves his efficiency in composing verses with these two types of metres namely Vṛtta and Jāti. Here is a discussion on the metres employed in the satirical poems.



In this metre each pāda contains eight syllables. This metre is also known as śloka. There are different types of Anuṣṭubh metre. In Anuṣṭubh, the fifth syllable is laghu (short), the sixth syllable is guru (long) and the seventh syllable in the second and the fourth pāda is laghu and in the first and the third pāda is guru.[6] In the Deśopadeśa, the metre is found to be employed in the following verses–I. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16[7], 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; II. 1–35; III. 1–47; IV. 1–33; V. 1–27; VI. 1–44; VII. 1–30; VIII.1.

The Narmamālā contains the following verses as the example of this metre I. 1–148; II. 1–111 and again 113 to 145; III. 1–112. In the Narmamālā, the verses are mostly, found to be composed in the Anuṣṭubh or Śloka metre.

As for example, the following verse may be cited—

kramād grāmaniyogena nagare gaṇanāpateḥ/
dambhasambhāvitaḥ prāpa gṛhakṛtyaṃ vidhervaśāt

In the verse, in all the four pādas, the sixth syllable is found to be guru, the fifth syllable is laghu, the seventh syllable, in the second and the fourth pāda is laghu and others are guru.

In the Kalāvilāsa, the illustration of Anuṣṭubh metre is observed in a single verse only viz. X. 43[9].


The metre Indravajrā[10] consists of eleven syllables in each pādas and the gaṇas used in this metre are respectively ta, ta, ja, ga and ga. In the Deśopadeśa, only one verse is composed in this metre viz.I.3[11]

In the Kalāvilāsa and the Narmamālā, the example of this metre is not observed.


Vaṃśasthavila[12] is a samavṛtta metre containing twelve syllables in each pāda. The gaṇas therein are ja, ta, ja and ra respectively. This metre is also known as vaṃsaśtha and vaṃśastanita. In the Deśopadeśa, only one verse is composed in this metre viz. I.2.[13]

In the Kalāvilāsa and the Narmamālā, the employment of Vaṃśasthavila is not observed.


In the metre Vasantatilaka[14] each pāda contains fourteen syllables and the gaṇas therein are ta, bha, ja, ja, ga and ga respectively. In the Kalāvilāsa, only one verse is composed in this metre viz. X.42[15]

In the Deśopadeśa and the Narmamālā, the example of this metre is not observed.


In the metre Mālinī[16] each pāda contains fifteen syllables and the gaṇas therein are na, na, ma, ya and ya. In each upadeśa the last verse is composed in this metre. In the Deśopadeśa, the verses composed in this metre are as follows-I. 24, II. 36,[17] III. 48, IV. 34, V. 28, VI. 45, VII. 39.

The Narmamālā illustrates only one verse composed in this metre viz. III.113.

In the Kalāvilāsa, the employment of this metre is not observed.


Śārdūlavikrīḍita[18] is also a samavṛtta type of metre which contains nineteen syllables in each pāda and it has the gaṇas in the order of ma, sa, ja, sa, ta, ta and ga. In the Deśopadeśa, only one verse viz VIII. 52[19] is composed in this metre.

In the Narmamālā also only one verse is composed in this metre viz. II.112[20] In the Kalāvilāsa, the example of this metre is not observed.



When the first and the third pādas of a verse contains twelve mātrās i.e. syllabic instants, the second and the fourth pādas respectively eighteen and fifteen moras then the metre is called Āryā.[21] In Āryā, the four moras (mātrā) constitute one gaṇa. There are nine types of Āryā metre. In the Deśopadeśa, the following verses are the examples of this metre viz VIII. 2[22],3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49,50.

In the Kalāvilāsa, the verses found composed in Āryā are-I. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10[23], 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 52, 55, 59, 60, 61, 64, 65, 66, 67, 70, 74, 75, 76, 79, 80, 81, 84, 86, 87, 90, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96; II. 1, 3-14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 26-32, 34, 37, 39, 41-49, 51, 54, 57-60, 62-72, 74-78, 80, 86, 88, 89; III. 1, 2, 5, 6, 8-17, 19, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34-39, 42, 43, 44, 46-56, 59, 61, 64-67, 69-72, 74; IV. 1, 9, 12-17, 20-31, 33-40; V. 6-12, 17, 19-30, 32, 34-37, 40-46; VI. 1-8, 10-16, 19-21, 23, 24, 26-28, 33; VII. 1-3, 5-11, 13-19, 22, 24; VIII. 1-6, 814, 19, 22, 24, 27-29; IX. 1, 2, 5, 6, 8-15, 17-33, 38-42, 44, 46-56, 58-62, 64, 66-69, 71,72; X. 1-8, 10, 11, 23, 30, 31, 35, 39,

In the Narmamālā, there is no verse composed in Āryā.


When the second half of a verse is made similar to the first half of the Āryā, the metre is called Gīti.[24] Therefore, in the Gīti, first and third quarters contains twelve moras and in both the second and the fourth quarter contains eighteen moras. The pause falls before the first syllable of the sixth and the seventh gaṇa. In the Deśopadeśa, the verses found composed in this metre are VIII. 11, 16, 24, 37, 41[25].

In the Kalāvilāsa, the verses found composed in Gīti are-I. 4, 8, 11, 21, 27, 36, 44, 50, 53, 54, 62, 68, 69, 71, 78, 84; II. 2, 22, 24, 33, 35, 38, 40, 52, 56, 61, 73, 82, 85, 87; III. 4, 7, 18, 20-27, 33, 40, 45, 57, 58, 60, 63, 73, 75, 76; IV. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 19, 32; V. 1, 15, 18, 39; VI. 9, 18, 25[26], 29, 30, 31, 32; VII. 4, 12, 20, 21; VIII. 7, 16, 17, 25; IX. 16, 34; X. 9, 12, 14-17, 19, 25, 26, 40.

In the Narmamālā, there is no verse composed in Gīti.


The metre is called Upagīti when the second half of the Āryā is alike to the first half of a verse.[27] In the Āryā metre, the second half contains twelve syllabic instants in the third pāda and fifteen syllabic instants in the fourth pāda. Therefore, in the upagīti, first and second pāda comprise twelve and fifteen moras and the third and the fourth pāda also contain twelve and fifteen moras respectively. In the Deśopadeśa, the verses found composed in this metre are VIII. 10[28], 18, 19, 51.

In the Kalāvilāsa, this metre has been employed in–I. 25, 41, 42, 49, 51, 57, 58, 72, 83; II.15[29], 20, 36, 53, 55, 79, 84; III. 3, 62, 68; V. 3, 5, 33, 38; VI. 17, 22; VIII. 15, 18, 23, 26; IX.3, 36, 43, 45, 65, 70, 73; X. 34, 37, 38.

In the Narmamālā, illustration of this metre is not observed.


Udgīti is also a variety of Āryā metre, in which the second half corresponds to the first half. When the two halves of a Āryā exchange their places, it is called Udgīti[30]. In Udgīti, therefore, the first and the third pādas are of twelve syllabic instants and the second and the fourth pādas contain fifteen and eighteen syllabic instants respectively.

In the Kalāvilāsa, this metre has been employed in-I.77[31], 82; V. 2, 13, 31; IX. 7; X.18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 33.

In the Deśopadeśa and the Narmamālā, illustration of this metre is not observed.

From the above discussion on the metrical arrangement of the satirical poems, it is clear that the Kalāvilāsa is composed in Jāti metre, the Deśopadeśa is composed with both the varieties of metres namely Vṛtta and Jāti. The Narmamālā is largely composed in the Anuṣṭubh metre. In the Suvṛttatilaka, Kṣemendra himself suggests in respect of employment of the metre Anuṣṭubh. He states that Anuṣṭubh is best suitable in a work having moral instructions for the readers.[32] In the work, Kṣemendra informs that his main objective is to offer advice to the people to refrain themselves from immoralities. But, there is a few verses in which general features of Anuṣṭubh that the fifth syllable should be short (laghu) and the sixth syllable should be long (guru) is not observed. It may justified by saying that in the Suvṛttatilaka, the poet himself remarks that in the compositions of the great poets also, sometimes some exception may be noticed.[33]

Footnotes and references:


sā vidyā naustitīrṣūṇāṃ gambhīraṃ kāvyasāgaraṃ// ibid.,I.2


śikṣā kalpo vyākaraṇaṃ niruktaṃ chandasāṃ cayaḥ/
jyotiṣāmāyanañcaiva vedāṅgāni ṣaḍeva tu// Misra, Acharya Jagadischandra, Vaidic Vāṅmayasya Itihāsa, p.228


Nirukta ,VII.3


chādayati ha vā enam chandāṅsi pāpāt karmaṇaḥa/
Aaitareyāraṇyaka , II.16


suvarṇārhapravandheṣu yathāsthānaniveśināṃ ratnānāmiva vṛttanāṃ bhavatyabhyadhikā ruciḥ// Suvṛttatilaka ,III.37


śloke saṣṭham guru jñeyaṃ sarvatra laghu pañcamaṃ/
dvicatuṣpādayorhrasvaṃ saptamaṃ dīrghamanyayaḥ// Śrutabodha , p.5


khacitramapi māyāvī racayatyeva līlayā/
laghuśca mahatāṃ madhye tasmāt khala iti smṛtaḥ// Deśopadeśa ,I.16


Narmamālā I.32


kalāvilāsaḥ kṣemendrapratibhāmbhodhinirgataḥ/
śaśīva mānasānandaṃ karotu satataṃ satāṃ// Kalāvilāsa ,X.43


syadindravajrā yadi tau jagau gaḥ/
Candomañjarī ,p.63


ye dambhamāyāmayadoṣaleśaliptā na me tān prati ko’pi yatnaḥ/
kintveṣa hāsavyapadeśayuktyā deśopadeśaḥ kriyate mayādya// Deśopadeśa ,I.3


vadanti vaṃśasthavilaṃ jatau jarau/
Candomañjarī ,p.77


jayanti veśyā vyasanābhravidyuto jayanti kautilyakalānaṭā viṭāḥ/
jayatyajasraṃ janavṛkṣapātinī prakṛṣṭamāyātaṭinī ca kuṭṭanī// Deśopadeśa I.2


jñeyaṃ vasantatilakaṃ tabhajā jagau gaḥ/
Candomañjarī ,p.73


kelīmayaḥ smitavilāsakalābhirāmaḥ sarvāśrayāntarakalāprakaṭapradīpaḥ/
lokopadeśaviṣayaḥ sukathāvicitro bhūyāt satāṃ dayita eṣa kalāvilāsaḥ// Kalāvilāsa ,X.42


nanamayayayuteyaṃ mālinī bhogilokaiḥ/ Candomañjarī ,II. P.111


viramati matihīno lābhalobhena vittaṃ jarayati yatirūpaḥ saṃyamādindriyecchāṃ/
carati ca rativighnaṃ savyayatvād gṛhiṇyāḥ svadhananidhanarakṣācāryavaryaḥ kadaryaḥ// Deśopadeśa ,II.36


sūryyāśvairmasajastatāḥ saguravaḥ śārdūlavikrīditaṃ. Candomañjarī , II. P.14


ityuddeśanidarśanena vividhaṃ yat kiṃciduktaṃ mayā
tat sarvaṃ smitakāraṇaṃ sahṛdayāḥ śṛṇvantu santaḥ kṣṇaṃ/
kṣemendraḥ praṇatiṃ karoti na paṭurlokopahāseṣvalaṃ
kintveṣa vyapadeśataḥ pratipadaṃ deśopadeśaḥ kṛtaḥ// Deśopadeśa ,VIII.52


ākāreṇa gururguruśca vacasā kausīdyamaurkhyairguru-rmeḍḥeṇātigurustathāsyakuharaśmaśrūdarasphigguruḥ/
veśyākāminiyogivañcanaguruḥ sadvṛttaśūnyo guru- ścitraṃ sarvaguruḥ śivoditamahāśikṣāsu nityaṃ laghuḥ// Narmamālā ,II.112


yasyāḥ pāde prathamedvādaśamātrā tathā tṛtīyepi/
aṣṭādaśa dvitīye caturthake pañcadaśa sā āryā// Śb., 4


gurumapi lāghavahetuṃ bhavamiva bahuvibhramaṃ vande// Deśopadeśa ,VIII.2


nānādigdeśāgatadhūrtairupajīvyamānamativibhavaḥ// Kalāvilāsa ,I.10


āryāprathamārdhasamaṃ yasyāḥ aparārdhamāha tāṃ gītim/
Candomañjarī , VI. P.189


vidvānsādhuśabdovismṛtaliṅgo napuṃsakaprakṛtiḥ/
aviditasakalasamāso’satsu sadā dvandvameva jānāti// Deśopadeśa ,VIII.41


asṛajacca tadvadhāya pralambakālopamaṃ saturdaṣṭraṃ/
yojanasahasravipulaṃ kṛtyārūpaṃ kahāsuraṃ ghoraṃ// Kalāvilāsa ,VI.25


āryāparārdhatulye daladvaye prāhurupagītiṃ// Candomañjarī ,VI. P.191


kharatarapṛṣṭhakaṭītaṭamantharagamanā gṛhānetya/
pādāghātaiḥ patnī hanta patiṃ bhojanasya cirāt// Deśopadeśa ,VIII.10


viṣṭidine kimapi purā nyastaṃ kenāpi mitreṇa/
tūrṇaṃ punaśca śanakairnītaṃ kṣemeṇa kuśalena// Kalāvilāsa ,II.15


āryāśakaladvitaye viparīte punarihodgītiḥ/
Candomañjarī , P.192


nijajānusandhiśikhare jamadagnau magnavadane ca/
traste viśvāmitre valitagale gālave bhṛgau magne// Kalāvilāsa ,I.77


purāṇaprativimveṣu prasannopāyavartmaṣu/
upadeśapradhāneṣu kuryātsarves vanuṣṭubhaṃ// Suvṛttatilaka , III.9


anuṣṭupcandasāṃ bhede kaiścitsāmānyalakṣaṇaṃ/
yaduktaṃ pañcamaṃ kuryāllaghu ṣaṣṭham tathā guru//
tatrāpyaniyamo dṛṣṭaḥ pravandhe mahatamāpi/
tasmadvyabhicārena śravyataiva garīyasī// ibid., II.4-5

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