The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Alamkara or the figures of speech” 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.

Part 5 - Alaṃkāra or the figures of speech

The word alaṃkāra stands for a thing of beauty.[1] The rhetoricians deal with the alaṃkāras in detail and the poets use them profusely in their works. Alaṃkāra has an ancient origin.[2] Vāmana is of the opinion that poetry should be accepted from the perspective of alaṃkāra.[3] Daṇḍin also uses the word in a broader meaning. Mammaṭa[4] defines alaṃkāra briefly as strikingness. When this strikingness relates to sound only, it is called śabdālaṃkara, when it relates to sense only, it is termed as arthālaṃkāra and when it relates partly to sound and partly to sense, and it is then called the ubhayālaṃkāra. Again, according to Viśvanātha Kavirāja[5], alaṃkāra increases the impressiveness of a poem, as like the ornaments such as bracelets, anklets, ear-rings etc. enhance the beauty of an individual. Viśvanātha mentions that the alaṃkāra benefits rasa or sentiment. The alaṃkāras are the transitory attributes of a word and its sense and they are like the parts of human body. They are said to be the cause of excellence of rasa.[6] According to Bharata, four alaṃkāras are there in literature viz. Upama, Dīpaka, Rūpaka and Yamaka.[7]

According to Maṅkhaka, the success of employment of a figure of speech primarily depends on their success of enhancing the charm of the sentiment.[8] He opines that a figure of speech is of no use, if it does not add elegance to the rasa. Maṅkhaka appears to abide by his view, while practically dealing with the alaṃkāras. Again, Maṅkhaka’s alaṃkāras are not just add-ons, but they are very much crucial and most importantly suggestive. His alaṃkāras help in understanding his ideas. They add strikingness to both word and meaning and thereby increase the beauty of the rasa. Maṅkhaka’s figures are spontaneous and unique, hence appealing. He refrains from mere play on words i.e. Maṅkhaka abstains from employing the citra-bandhas. Another remarkable feature of Maṅkhaka’s figures is that he applies a diverse range of upamānas (standard of comparison) viz. environment, royal conduct, nature, purāṇic legends, philosophical and pedagogic ideas depicted in different scriptures etc.

Maṅkhaka employs almost all the important alaṃkāras, efficiently in his work. The Śrīkaṇṭhacarita contains various embellishments i.e. figures of speech. The poets of the age of learning resorted to artificiality to a certain extent in exhibiting their showmanship;their works come to betray skilful handling of chosen words, which resulted in the abundant use of the śabdālaṃkāras. However, Maṅkhaka does not make a conscious effort to bring the śabdālaṃkāras, but if they come inadvertently, he appears to have welcomed them. The Śrīkaṇṭhacarita shows proliferated use of long compounded words and thus characterized by literary mannerism. Therefore, both the varieties of figures viz. śabdālaṃkāra and arthālaṃkāra are used in the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita. The employment of various figures of speech has increased the literary edifice of the poem as well as asserts the genius of the poet.

The alaṃkāras used in the poem are as follows:—

[1. Anuprāsa or alliteration]

Footnotes and references:


Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti., I. I. 2


kāte astyarṃkṛtiḥ sūktaiḥ kadā nūnaṃ te maghavan dāśena/ Ṛgveda., VII. 29. 3


kāvyaṃ grāyamalaṃkārāt / Kāvyālaṃkārasūtravṛtti., I. I. 1


upakurvanti taṃ santaṃ je’ṅgadvāreṇa jātucit/
hārādivadālaṃkārāste’nuprāsopamādayaḥ// Kāvyaprakāśa., VIII. 67


śabdārthayorasthirā ye dharmāḥ śobhātiśāyinaḥ/
rasādīnupakurvanto’laṃkārāste’ṅgadādivat// Sāhityadarpaṇa., X. 1


utkarṣahetavaḥ proktā guṇālaṃkārarītayaḥ/ Ibid., I. 3


upamā dīpakaṃ caiva rūpakaṃ yamakaṃ tathā/
kāvyasyaite hyalaṃkārāscatvaraḥ parikīrtitāḥ// Nāṭyaśāstra., XVII. 43


taistairalaṃkṛtiśatairavataṃsito’pi rūḍho mahatyapi pade dhṛtasausthavo’pi/
nūnaṃ vina ghanarasaprasarābhiṣekaṃ kāvyādhirājapadamarhati na prabandhaḥ// Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., II. 32; also II. 42, 49

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