The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Examination of language from literary perspectives” 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 7 - Examination of language from literary perspectives

The examination of language from literary perspectives as well as determining the speciality of language and knowledge of vocabulary of the poet are also some of the important issues, to be taken care of. Maṅkhaka was a poet of the age of learning. He wrote his epic Śrīkaṇṭhacarita in the middle of the 12th century A.D. His poem contains almost all the characteristics of a classical ornate poetry. As a poet of that period of time, when there was given much importance upon form over matter, Maṅkhaka seems to compose his poem, keeping in mind the requirements of a mahākāvya which might have been inferred from previous poets. The pioneers in this respect are Bhāravi, Māgha etc. and Maṅkhaka is of no exception as observed by the critics. It might be mentioned here that the taste and expectation of the readers of that time was a little bit different. Thus, to satisfy a particular group of readers, the poets tend to take recourse to a somehow complex and artificial language, which were marked by the employment of double entendre, verbal jugglery, use of hard lexicographic words, use of uncommon and archaic words, play upon words, exhibiting knowledge of grammar by using rare grammatical forms, excessive use of vakratā, use of some colloquial terminology etc. Again, they resorted to give too much importance on presenting ancillary descriptions such as political conventions, seasons, water-sports, erotic descriptions of females, daily functions of a king etc. All these have a great impact on the language of the poets. Thus, to catch the eye rather than to touch the heart was the then tendancy in the air and this way, the literary productions were more pleasing to the brain than to the heart. Therefore, the language of the poet under discussion also became complicated, sometimes incomprehensible, if one doesnot take the assistance of a lexicon.

The reason for such unintelligibility on Maṅkhaka’s part is due to the use of obsolete and lexicographic words and other literary tactics employed. Far ago, the writer of the Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha) condemned this tendancy by stating that there should be a line of demarcation between a poem and a scripture. If a kāvya is to be comprehended like a śāstra with the aid of a vyākhyā (commentary), then it is a delight to the learned only, whereas the common readers are undone.[1] However, this comment of Bhāmaha failed to give pathway direction to the intellectuals, hence, they greeted such poems with much excitement as guaranteed by the words of Bhaṭṭi, viz. vidvatpriyatayā mayā. S.K. De gives his remark here.[2] The campū literature is seen to have influenced the Sanskrit poets in general. Again, the vakrokti school also excercised tremendous influence on the language of Maṅkhaka as well as Śrīharṣa.

Maṅkhaka, being the writer of a lexicon named Maṅkhakośa or Anekārthakośa, such language is not at all unexpected. He is quite familiar to the lexicographic literature and rare as well as obsolete words which peeped very often through his language. Some of the difficult and obsolete words and their meaning, found in the language of Maṅkhaka’s Śrīkaṇṭhacarita are—

abhika XI. 39. [masculine] A lover
ācantī XII. 38. [feminine] Sipping water before religious ceremonies
agniśikhā V. 31. [neuter] Saffron; Maṅkhakośa., verse 101, page 8
akṣa XX. 1. [masculine] Parts of a chariot, a die; Maṅkhakośa verse 967-968, page 70 cf. rathāṅśekṣo
akūpāra XVI. 16. [masculine] Sea; Maṅkhakośa., verse 774-775, page 56
animiṣa IX. 36. A deity; Maṅkhakośa., verse 915, page 66
anukarṣa XX. 6. Axle; Maṅkhakośa., verse 915-916, page 66
anutarṣa XVI. 14; XVIII. 1. A drinking vessel cf. Maṅkhakośa., verse 916, page 66
avaśyāya X. 46. [masculine] Frost, dew
baḍiśa XI. 2. [neuter] A fish-hook
bandhurara X. 14, XV. 23. [adjective] Pleasing, beautiful, lovely
bhrami XVIII. 2. [feminine] Whirling, circular motion
bhrāṣṭra X. 61. Fire-place
bisara XVIII. 56. Spreading
cakravāla XXIV. 32. [neuter] Circle
cañcu XI. 28. [adjective] Clever, celebrated
cīnasicaya XI. 38. [masculine] China cloth
cūrṇālaka VIII. 7. XI. 36 [masculine] [neuter] A lock of hair, a curl
cyavamāna XIV. 40. [adjective] Wet
dadhittha II. 48. [masculine] Wood apple
ḍambara XIX. 63, XX. 2 [masculine] Multitude or hurry
dantāvala XVI. 54. [masculine] An elephant
dīrṇa XVIII. 9. [adjective] Orn, rent
dṛbdha XIX. 59. Created, issued
galvakra XVII. 1. [masculine] A crystal
gandhasāra X. 36. [masculine] Sandal
gandhasindura XIII. 4. [masculine] The scent-elephant
ghusṛṇa XXII. 14, 16. [neuter] Saffron
gulaka XI. 52. [masculine] A ball
haripada IV. 54. [neuter] The sky
hālā XIV. 28. [feminine] Spirituous liquor
helā XXI. 49; XXIV. 34. [feminine] Disrespect, carelessness
heti IX. 23; XX. 36. [masculine] [feminine] A missile weapon, weapon in general
hevāka XVI. 24. [masculine] Ardent desire
indīrabindu XII. 72. [masculine] A drop of frost
itthaṃkāraṃ XXIII. 48. indeclinable In this manner
jatira XXI. 45. [masculine] A conqueror
jambāla II. 10; III. 18. [masculine] Mud
kāpiśāyana XIV. 13, 17. [neuter] Liquor
karpaṭa XV. 15. [masculine] [neuter] A piece of cloth
lulāya XXI. 42. [masculine] A buffalo
luṇṭhaka V. 35. [masculine] A robber
masāra XV. 16. [masculine] An emerald
mṛdha XVIII. 26. [neuter] War
nadīṣṇa XVIII. 55. [masculine] Clever
nyāda XX. 28. [masculine] Eating, feeding
ploṣa XXIII. 50. [masculine] Burning
puṭaka XVI. 22. [neuter] A lotus leaf
raṅku I. 47. [masculine] An antelope
rohat XVI. 53. [adjective] Growing
saṃdhā XXI. 43. [feminine] A vow
śvayathu X. 10. [masculine] Swelling
tanutra XII. 1; 12. [neuter] An armour
timyat XVIII. 20. Becoming wet
upaśalya XVII. 12. [neuter] In the vicinity
upaskṛti II. 56. [feminine] Transferring quality
valakṣa I. 21; XXII. 24. [adjective] White
vīthī XVI. 22. [feminine] A road
jhañjhā XVIII. 47. [feminine] The noise of the wind or of falling rain
jhaṃkṛta XVIII. 31. [neuter] A low murmuring sound, like that of bees.

Again, the language of Maṅkhaka was characterized by double entendre. As for example, in the verse, yaḥ prollaṅghayati sma[3] ……, there is the use of this feature as the term svarvāhinī has been used to denote at one hand, the army of the gods and on the other hand, it means the celestial river Gaṅgā. Similar instace of use of double entendre in the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita—pādairmahadbhirākrānta[4]…….. Instances of play upon words by the poet have been noticed in the terms raraṅga niṣaṅga in the verse, so’strapuṣpanivahairbhṛtagarbhaḥ[5] ….. and also in bhujaṅgaḥ kuraṅgaḥ in the verse, gaganamahīruhasitakusumaṃ[6] ……. Not only these, Maṅkhaka uses some technical terminology, which no doubt improve upon his language and thereby establish him as an erudite scholar. Some of the technical terms applied by him are puruṣāyita[7], bhinnaṣaḍja[8], aritra[9] etc.

Moreover, Maṅkhaka makes use of some colloquial expressions, which are still to be found in many Indian languages. As for example, aṅgulibhaṅgapātraṃ[10], satṛṇābhyavahāri[11], viśvaṃ dārumayena jetumasinā jṛmbhate[12], tṛṇāya mene[13], dharmahastamamutaḥ kilāgrahit[14], katareṇa jeṣyasi[15], khalu pathātha tadvratāni[16], antare kṛtvā[17] etc. Among these, tṛṇāya mene, katareṇa jeṣyasi are commonly used in Gujrāṭī language now-a-days also. Besides, some words, picked up from popular languages also enrich his diction and ultimately contributed towards the development of Sanskrit vocabulary as a whole.

Exmples are—preṅkholan[18], dhoraṇī[19], ṭhakena[20], gharaṭṭa[21], āndolitānāṃ[22] etc. Again, Maṅkhaka’s profound knowledge on grammar has been well reflected through the use of some rare words such as raraṅga[23], ucculumpyatāṃ[24] etc.

This way, Maṅkhaka’s literary genius comes to the fore-front though the examination of his language and diction.

Footnotes and references:


kāvyānyapi yadīmāni vyākhyāgamyāni śāstravat utsavaḥ sudhiyameva hanta durmedaso hatāḥ/
Kāvyālaṃkāra (of Bhāmaha)., II. 10


“The poets of period suggest facility rather than inspiration, subtlety rather than judgement, immense and varied learning rather than vigour and versatility of spontaneous power.” De, S.K., History of Sanskrit Literature., vol. I, page 304


yaḥ prollaṅghayati sma tārakabhuvaṃ svarvāhinīnirgama-proccaṇḍena nirargalena ca raṇollāsena śaktyekabhūḥ/
ārūḍhaḥ sa bhujaṅgavairiṇamayaṃ tvaddvāri pāriplavaḥ sevāvāptidhiyā sthitiṃ vivṛṇute skando mukundo yathā// Śrīkaṇṭhacarita., XVI. 35


Ibid., IV. 6


so’strapuṣpanivahairbhṛtagarbhaḥ pṛṣṭhavartmani raraṅga niṣaṅga/
yatra saurabhahṛtabhramaraughe majjati sma śithilaḥ kacabhāraḥ// Ibid., XII. 6


gaganamahīruhasitakusumaṃ jayati sa rajanibhujaṅgaḥ/
madhukaranikaravilāsamayaṃ prathayati yasya kuraṅgaḥ//
Ibid., XII. 74


Ibid., XIII. 20; XV. 35, 38, 39


Ibid., XVI. 1


Ibid., XXV. 125


Ibid., II. 26


Ibid., II. 28


Ibid., II. 46


Ibid., VI. 41


Ibid., X. 7


Ibid., XII. 20


Ibid., XVII. 51


Ibid., XIX. 16


Ibid., I. 47; In Jonarāja’s words-teṣu preṅkholatirlaukikaḥ/
mahākavibhiḥ prayuktatvāt/
page 12


Ibid., III. 26; XII. 50, 95; XIV. 2; XVIII. 30


Ibid., VI. 33; also Jonarāja mentions in the fn, page 81 -ṭhaga iti deśabhāṣā prasiddhena vañcakaviśeṣeṇa/


Ibid., VI. 63; The Gujrāṭī term for gharaṭṭa is ghaṇṭī.


Ibid., XII. 52; Jonarāja comments-āndolidhāturlaukikaḥ/
page 172


Ibid., XII. 6


Ibid., XII. 35; XVII. 55; The word ucculumpyatāṃ has been derived from √culump, also used by Bhavabhūti in his Uttararāmacarita., V. 8

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