The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Riti or the style” as it appears in the case study regarding the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa. The Shrikanthacarita was composed by Mankhaka, sometimes during A.D. 1136-1142. The Mankhakosa or the Anekarthakosa is a kosa text of homonymous words, composed by the same author.

Rīti or the style is one of the important measuring rods for the poets. This is an indispensable characteristic feature of a poem. Viśvanātha Kavirāja opines that the arrangement of words or syllables, which render help in heightening the excellence of rasa or the sentiment, is regarded as rīti[1]. Rīti, is as if, the adjustment of body parts of an individual. In his Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti, Vāmana, the rhetorician states that the particular style of arrangement of words is known by the term rīti.[2] It is the very essence or ātmā of poetry.[4]

This rīti is of different types. Regarding the variety of rīti, the poeticians are of divergent opinions. Bharata refers to five types[5] of rīti. The Agnipurāṇa (adhyāya 340) speaks of four kinds of rīti. Bhāmaha[6] mentions about Vaidarbhī and Gauḍī and puts more importance upon Gauḍī. Daṇḍin[3] accepts only two varieties of rīti viz. Vaidarbhī and Gauḍī and favours Vaidarbhī. Again, Vāmana[7] as well as Rājaśekhara[8] mentions three kinds of rīti viz. Vaidarbhī, Gauḍī or Gauḍīyā and Pāñcālī. Moreover, Rudraṭa, in his Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Rudraṭa), Viśvanātha Kavirāja[9] also, mentions four kinds of rīti, referring to Lāṭī or Lāṭikā to be the fourth one. Bhoja, in Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa says about six types of rīti, adding two more viz. Āvantikā and Māgadhī.[10] It may be mentioned here that according to Mammaṭa[11] and Ānandavardhana[12] the term, rīti and vṛtti are synonymous. Regarding the characteristics of the above four styles, some opine that the Gauḍī is a grand composition, the Vaidarbhī is sweet, the Pāñcālī is mixed, while, the Lāṭī is composed of simple words.[13]

Now Maṅkhaka, in his Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., himself suggests that his poem is set in the Vaidarbhī rīti.[14] Though Maṅkhaka’s literary style is Vaidarbhī, however in some places, the characteristics of Gauḍī comes out, as laid down by Viśvanātha Kavirāja[15] and Puruṣottama.[16] This is marked by artificiality and figures of speech, full of compounds, such as in cantos XVIII-XXII. Herein, the harsh consonants are found in exuberance, which is however, in the fitness of the things described and as per the demand of the situation. Excepting that, the lion’s share of the poem exhibits the style Vaidarbhī.

The style Vaidarbhī is said to exist in a poetic composition, exhibiting letters of softer articulation causing thereby gracefulness to it. Herein, the Vaidarbhī type of composition, the words are slightly compounded, or not at all compounded. Vaidarbhī, in the opinion of Vāmana[17] exists in all the three Guṇas viz. Mādhurya, Ojaḥ and Prasāda. According to Rudraṭa[18], Vaidarbhī consists of no compound or a few ones and it is associated with the guṇas having second letter of each series, in the alphabet viz. kha, cha, ṭha, pha as well as, it contains letters pronounced with little effort and easy in construction. The ten guṇas such as Śleṣa and the rest are also enumerated. Viśvanātha[19] opines that Vaidarbhī is a composition, with letters manifesting sweetness, having a few or no compound and it is used to evoke the guṇa called Mādhurya with the help of words of softer sounds.

Now, Maṅkhaka uses Vaidarbhī style of a different kind, from that of Kālidāsa. His style is vigorous and it can be very well distinguished from the graceful style of the diction of Kālidāsa. His style is rather more akin to that of Śrīharṣa, the author of the Naiṣadhacarita According to the scholars like B.N. Bhatt, B.C. Mandal, as the poet Maṅkhaka belongs to the age of learning; hence his style differs from that of Kālidāsa. The display of erudition of the kavi-paṇḍita, have great influence upon his style of composition. As a result, Maṅkhaka’s style lacks the grace of Kālidāsa’s style, however in some instances, it worthily competes with that of Kālidāsa.[20] Again, though Maṅkhaka is a poet of that period, when the poets resorted to artificiality, showing off of learning, even then, Maṅkhaka’s style is relatively simple. He does not generally tread on the path of complex style, with occasional examples of exception, in most of the places; Maṅkhaka exhibits a kind of harmony and balance between erudition and literary genius, which becomes a special trait of his style.

This balance is noticeable in his diction regarding the choice of words also. Generally, Maṅkhaka uses short compounds, but long compounds are also to be found on rare occasions in his poem.[21] He displays his interest regarding repetition of some words e.g. lipi[22], sāmarasya.[23] Major portion of his poem is set in Vaidarbhī style; however some stanzas share the features of Gauḍī as well.[24]

An important characteristic feature of Maṅkhaka’s style is his use of double entendre i.e. some of his verses produce two meanings. This becomes possible for his profound knowledge of grammar and language as well as good stock of words. There are numerous examples of such verses, wherein Maṅkhaka uses pun (Śleṣa).[25] In some places, suggestion (Vyañjanā) is also found.

Another notable peculiarity of Maṅkhaka’s style is his use of various synonymous words. As for example, in the very first canto, he uses twelve synonyms, in twelve verses, with reference to Śiva. Those are as follows—

Again, the employment of suggestive words is noticed as a feature of Maṅkhaka’s style e.g. Khaṭṭāṅgin (I. 1), Śulin (1. 2), Dhanapati (IV. 1), Anaṅgadāhin (IV. 44), Vāhadviṭ (XX. 20), Apāṃpatiḥ (XX. 22), Pinākin (XXI. 3). The use of onomatopoeic words (the combination of sounds in a word that imitates or suggests, what the word refers to) is also noticed e.g. jhañjhā (XVIII. 47), ṭasatkāra (XXIV. 18) etc.

There is another noteworthy salient feature of the poet’s style is the occasional use of technical words of rituals, grammar, rhetorics and dramaturgy and philosophy. As for example,

i) The words ababhṛtha (III. 1), parisamūhana (V. 6), yajvan, abhicāra, carubhāṇḍa (VI. 71) etc. speaks of Maṅkhaka’s acquaintance with the rituals;

ii) The reference of the words divādigaṇa (XVII. 5), gaṇa, dhātu, kriyā (XX1. 32) shows his familiarity with grammar;

iii) The words proṣitabhartṛkā (IV. 46), paunaruktyaṃ (IV. 64); sandhi, ārabhaṭī (V. 48), kilakiñcit (XIV. 44) etc. are indicative of Maṅkhaka’s knowledge on rhetorics and dramaturgy;

iv) The terms yama, niyama (XVII. 48), parikarma (XX. 37) shows his familiarity with Yoga;

v) The reference of the terms prāgabhāva (I. 38), pakṣa, hetu, māna (IV. 16) etc. testifies his acquaintance with the Nyāya

The use of these technical words, scattered in different branches of Śāstras actually exhibit the genius on the part of the poet.

The poet’s familiarity with difficult as well as obsolete words has been noticed in his poem, occasionally. He uses some uncommon words and common words with unusual meanings. The examples of use of uncommon words are as follows- unmālaka (I. 3), hantakāra (II. 26), salāṭu (II. 48), pāthas (V. 6), caṣaka (VIII. 6), pratiphāla (IX. 12), abhika (XI. 39), pāri (XIV. 5), toka (XVI. 47), asnutarṣa (XVIII. 1), anukarṣa (XX. 6), nāsīra (XXI. 44), vighasa (XXIII. 11), apaghana (XXIV. 23) and so on. Again, example of use of common words with unusual meanings are as follows- vṛṣa = dharma (II. 33), candra = svarṇa (XII. 58), kaṃkaṇa = jalakaṇā (XII. 43), prasannā = madya (XIV. 14), kamala = mṛga (XVI. 7), vāri = gajavandhanastambha (XVIII. 49) etc.

Maṅkhaka’s style is marked by frequent use of passive aorist forms e.g. XII. 7, 49; XIII. 8, 49; XIV. 16, 40;XV. 24; XVII. 25 etc. Moreover, the use of impersonal construction i.e. bhāve prayoga (VII. 17; VIII. 2; XVIII. 40), passive construction is found in profuse numbers (VIII. 1; XIII. 13, 22, 49; XIV. 16). The use of kāku is also noticed (III. 68; VI. 3; XI. 67; XII. 96; XIV. 8; XV. 41, 43 etc.).

It is not that Maṅkhaka’s style always lacks grace, rather at times, his style is lucid and easy too, while delineating speeches (XIX) as well as narrating things (IV, XXIV etc.). He is successful in giving superb word pictures (III. 40-44; IV. 37- 42; VIII. 55;XVI. 59; XIX. 47 etc.).

Vakratā is observed as a special characteristic feature of his style. It adds strikingness to Maṅkhaka’s poetic composition. His vakratā is generally graceful, suggestive as well as effective (I. 3, 4; XII. 87-92; XIX. 33-38). Maṅkhaka is of the view that vakratā, in literary style of a poet, bestows grace to a composition (II. 11, 47) and it is very much true to Maṅkhaka’s Śrīkaṇṭhacarita.

Maṅkhaka refrains from using citrabandhas or artificial word-figures. The citrabandha or tourse de force has been referred to (I. 24) by him, which according to him, is a useless feature, if used alone. He appreciates the skill of a poet, who can mix it with Prasāda guṇa in a poem. This wise abstinence from using citrabandhas provides proof for the poet’s good sense of taste.

There are some instances of Maṅkhaka’s simple play on words, in rare occasions e.g. IV. 6, 8, 9; V. 13, 47; VI. 38; VIII. 25, 29; X. 10; XII. 70, 71; XIX. 20; XX. 30, 47; XXI. 45 etc.

The use of alliterations and rhymes constitute one of the main characteristics of Maṅkhaka’s style. Some examples of alliteration are as follows II. 46; III. 31, 42; IV. 59; VI. 73;VII. 66; X. 1; XIII. 1, 49; XXIII. 43; XXV. 25. Examples of use of figure rhyme is as follows-XII. 75-86; XIX. 16; XXIII. 43; XXIV. 43.

The apt use of different figures of speech is another important feature of Maṅkhaka’s style of composition. He frequently employs the figure Paryāyokta or circumlocution. During Maṅkhaka’s time, people liked the ideas expressed in a round about manner. The figure Utprekṣā occupied an important position among the figures employed by the poet in the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita, Maṅkhaka has employed grand and majestic fancy in his poem, hence he can be termed as a poet of Utprekṣa.[26]

Other important figures used by Maṅkhaka are as follows—Upamā, Rūpaka, Atiśayokti, Arthāntaranyāsa, Apahnuti, Samāsokti, Pariṇāma, Bhrāntimāna, Asaṅgati, Nidarśanā, Sandeha, Arthāpatti, Mīlita, Sāmānya, Vyatireka, Viṣama, Vyāghāta, Virodhābhāsa, Vibhāvanā, Samatā, Pratiprasava, Ananvaya, Dṛṣṭānta, Kāvyaliṅga, Tulyayogitā, Svabhāvokti, Sahokti, Udbheda, Anuprāsa, Yamaka, Śleṣa etc.

The guṇas Mādhurya, Ojaḥ and Prasāda are available in the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita and this is one of the characteristics of the style of the poet.

Thus, the poem, with this afore-mentioned style of composition, makes Maṅkhaka a truly literary genius.

Footnotes and references:


padasaṅghaṭanā rītiraṅgasaṃsthāviśeṣavat upakartrī rasādīnāṃ// Sāhityadarpaṇa., IX. I


viśiṣṭā padaracanā rītiḥ / Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti., II.7


astyaneko girāṃ mārgaḥ sukṣmabhedaḥ parasparaṃ/
tatra vaidarbhagauḍīyau varṇyete parasphutāntarau // Kāvyādarśa., II. 9


rītirātmā kāvyasya /Ibid., II. 6


avantī dakṣinātya ca tathācaivadra māgadhī/
pāñcālī madhyamā caiva jñeyā nāṭya pravṛttayaḥ/
or’ṅtayaḥ pañca kīrtitaḥ//
     Nāṭyaśāstra., VI. 25, 26


alaṃkāravadagrāmyamarthyaṃ nyāyyamanākulaṃ/
gauḍīyamapi sādhīyo vaidarbhamiti nānyathā//
     Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha)., I. 35


sā tridhā vaidarbhī gauḍīyā pāñcālī ceti/
Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti., II. 9


rītayastu tisraḥ/
Kāvyamīmāṃsā., page 10


sā punaḥ syāccaturvidhāḥ/
vaidarbhī cātha gauḍī ca pāñcālī lāṭikā tathā // Sāhityadarpaṇa., IX. 1-2


vaidarbhadikṛtaḥ panthā kāvye mārga iti smṛtaḥ rīng gataviti dhātoḥ sā vyutpattyā rītirucyate/
vaidarbhī sātha pāñcālī gauḍīyavantikā tathā lāṭīyā māgadhī ceti ṣoḍharītirnigadyate// Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa., V. 37


keṣāṃcidetā vaidarbhīpramukhā rītayo matāḥ/
etāstisro vṛttayaḥ vāmanādīnāṃ mate vaidarbhī gauḍī pāñcālakhyā rītayo matāḥ//
Kāvyaprakāśa., IX. 111


asphuṭasphuritaṃ kāvyatatvametadyathoditaṃ aśaknuvadbhirvyākartuṃ rītayaḥ sampravartitāḥ/
śabdatatvāśrayaḥ kāścidarthatatvayujo’parāḥ vṛttayo’pi prakāśante jñātesmin kāvyalakṣane// Dhvanyāloka., III. 46-47


gauḍī dambarabaddhā syādvaidarbhī lalitakramā /
pāñcālī miśrabhāvena lāṭī tu mṛdubhiḥ padaiḥ// Sāhityadarpaṇa., IX


yā vaidarbhapathādhvanīnabhaṇitipratyagrasūtrāntara-protaprītikṛdartharatnaghaṭitaḥ kaṇṭhe guṇo dhīmatāṃ/
vāgdevīnayanāñcalāñcanacamatkāraṃ vinodeti kiṃ sā vāṇī masṛṇīkṛtā niravadhi vyutpattiśāṇāśmani //
Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., II. 41, page 24


ojaḥprakāśakairvarṇairvandha āḍambaraḥ punaḥ/
samāsabahulā gauḍī //
Gauḍī contains long compounds with harsh sounds and helps to express the guṇa called Ojaḥ. Sāhityadarpaṇa., IX. 3-4


bahutarasamāsayuktā sumahāprāṇākṣarā ca gauḍīyā/
rītiranuprāsamahimaparatantrā stokavākyā ca//

—A style comprising numerous compounds and consisting of letters pronounced with vigorous effort is termed as Gauḍī, as also a composition of languid sentences dependent upon a profusion of alliteration. Sāhityadarpaṇa., IX, page 758


samagraguṇopetā vaidarbhī/
     Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti., II. 12


asamastaikasamastā yuktā daśabhirguṇaiśca vaidarbhī/
vargadvitīyabahulā svalpaprāṇākṣarā ca suvidheyā// Sāhityadarpaṇa., IX


mādhuryavyañjakairvarṇairracanā lalitātmikā/
avṛttiralpavṛttirvā vaidarbhī rītiriṣyate // Ibid., IX. 2


cf. Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., II. 1; III. 21, 40-44, 46, 77; IV. 13, 37-42; V. 1; XVI. 59


Ibid., cf. V. 50; VI. 73; X. 44; XII. 57; XIX. 54 etc.


Ibid., IX. 13, X. 49; XII. 25, 64 etc.


Ibid., cf. VIII. 52; XII. 48; XIV. 28, 53, 57 etc.


cf., Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., IV. 56; V. 10; VI. 7 3; X. 44, 60; XII. 57, 64; XVIII. 38, 56;XIX. 54, 59; XX. 59.61, 65 etc.


cf., Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., II. 6; III. 23, 31, 68; IV. 6, 8, 9; XVI. 34, 35; XXIII. 25, 28


Bhatt, B.N., Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., page 110; cf. “….the title ‘utprekṣākavi’ can be safely conferred upon Maṅkha.”

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