Vasudevavijaya of Vasudeva (Study)

by Sajitha. A | 2018 | 50,171 words

This page relates ‘Introduction’ of the study on the Vasudevavijaya of Vasudeva from the 11th century A.D. The Vasudevavijayam is an educational poem belonging to the Shastra-Kavya category of technical Sanskrit literature. The Vasudevavijayam depicts in 657 verses the story of Lord Krishna while also elucidates the grammatical rules of the Ashtadhyayi of Panini (teaching the science of grammar). The subject-content of the poem was taken from the tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Introduction

The term Śāstrakāvya is vividly explained and defined by several scholars. The language Sanskrit is extremely rich with the various kinds of branches of knowledge systems like Science, Technology, Philosophy, Literature, Poetics etc. Such branches of knowledge are taught through various mediums. In fact the science in Sanskrit seems too difficult to the students to learn and practise. Though the śāstra text eliminates the disease of ignorance, the bitterly nature of it keeps it out from the readers. But at the same time poetry removes the ailment of ignorance like sweet nectar.

This idea is well explained by Kuntaka in his Vakroktijīvita.

kaṭukauṣadhavacchāstramavidyāvyādhināśanam |
āhlādyamṛtavatkāvyamavivekagadāpaham ||
[1]

Thus in order to spread the theories of scientific texts some scholars take the effort to convey them through the medium of poetry.

Bhāmaha in his Kāvyālaṅkāra states:—

svādukāvyarasonmiśraṃ śāstramapyupayuñjate |
prathamālīḍhamadhavaḥ pibanti kaṭu bheṣajam ||
[2]

In India, there exists a glorious tradition of studying sciences in Sanskrit through the medium of poetry. The poem which illustrates the principles of a śāstra is generally termed as Śāstrakāvyas. Some scholars used the term Udāharaṇakāvya to denote this kind of poems.

Amritananda Yogi of 14th Century mentions this term for the first time in his Alaṅkārasaṅgraha and he states:—

udāharaṇakāvyatvānna duṣṭaṃ śrutikaṭvapi |[3]

The famous commentator Mallinātha also employs this term in the commentary of Bhaṭṭikāvya to indicate the poems come under this category.

He says:-

rāmakathāmāśritya pāṇinīyasūtrāṇāmudāharaṇakāvyaṃ cikīrṣuḥ |[4]

Another reference for this term can be seen in the Kṛṣṇārpaṇa commentary of Dhātukāvya of Melputtūr Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭa.

anyodāharaṇakāvyeṣu kvacidapyadṛṣṭamidamihātiśayaṃ pratipādayati |[5]

According to Rajasekhara, the author of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, poets are of three kinds:-śāstrakavi, kāvyakavi and ubhayakavi. Amongst them, śāstrakavi is again divided into three.

He says:—

tatra tridhā śāstrakaviḥ, yaḥ śāstraṃ vidhatte, yaśca śāstre kāvyaṃ saṃvidhatte, yo'pi kāvye śāstrārthaṃ vidhatte[6]

The one who composes śāstra, the one who incorporates poetry in śāstra and the one who includes sastraic elements into the poetry are the three kinds of śāstrakavis. But there are differences in opinions among scholars on the name given to such poems. According to some scholars like Kshemendra, Bhoja etc. the poetry illustrating a śāstra is kāvyaśāstra.

Bhoja in his Śṛṅgāraprakāśa treated Mudrārākṣasa and Bhaṭṭikāvya as kāvyaśāstras and he mentioned Kāmandakīyanītisāra and Rativilāsa as examples for Śāstrakāvya.

yatrārthaḥ śāstrāṇāṃ kāvye niveśyate mahākavibhiḥ |
tadbhaṭṭikāvyamudrārākṣasavat kāvyaśāstraṃ syāt ||
śāstraṃ yatra kavīnāṃ rahasyamupakalpayantyanalpadhiyaḥ |
tadrativilāsakāmandakīyavacchāstrakāvyaṃ tu ||
[7]

Kshemendra in his Suvṛttatilaka says:—

śāstrakāvyaṃ caturvargaprāyaṃ sarvopadeśakṛt |
bhaṭṭibhaumakakāvyādi kāvyaśāstraṃ pracakṣate ||
[8]

But Dr.S. Venkata Subramonia Aiyer has stated in his booklet viz. The Śāstrakāvyas of Kerala, that it is desirable to call them Śāstrakāvyas.

He writes:—

The term Śāstrakāvya is used here in the popular sense. According to Kshemendra, however this is kāvyaśāstra. To him Śāstrakāvya is that which gives comprehensive instruction on the fourfold human aims.

However, the term Śāstrakāvya is used here for the kāvya-sillustrating śāstras.

It is already stated that in India there was a great tradition of Śāstrakāvya literature. The important Śāstrakāvyas from India are Bhaṭṭikāvya of Bhaṭṭi, Rāvaṇārjunīya of Bhaṭṭabhīma (Bhaṭṭabhauma), Kavirahasya of Halāyudha, Kumārapālacarita of Hemacandra, Lakṣaṇādarśa of Divākara, Nakṣatramālā of Śivarāma Tripāṭhi, Vibhaktivilāsa of Maṅgaleśa and so on.

The earliest full-fledged specimen of Śāstrakāvya is the well-known Bhaṭṭikāvya or Rāvaṇavadha of the 6th century AD.It contains 22 cantos and describes the story of Rāmāyaṇaupto Rama’s return from Laṅkā and there after coronation. It is composed to illustrate grammatical rules and figures of speech. It is arranged in four parts, prakīrṇa, prasanna, alaṅkāra and tiṅanta. In these four parts, Bhaṭṭikāvya illustrates the grammatical formations according to the rules of Pāṇini, figures of speech and other rhetorical devices.

The Śāstrakāvya tradition was well developed especially in Kerala and it was a peculiar branch of Knowledge in the field of study of Śāstras. Thus it is an undoubted fact that Kerala has contributed immensely to the Śāstrakāvya literature. Subhadrāharaṇa, Vāsudevavijaya[9], Dhātukāvya, Pāṇinīyasūtrodāharaṇakāvya, Śrīcihnakāvya, Rāmavarmamahārājacaritra, Surūparāghava, Sugalārthamālā etc. are prominent Śāstrakāvyas from Kerala, which were written to illustrate the grammatical rules.

The term Śāstrakāvya is not only used to mention the Vyākaraṇakāvyas, but other śāstras also. The śāstras like Nyāya, Chandaśśātra, Aṣṭakādhyāyavarga of Veda etc. were studied by this way. Gajendramokṣa of Vāsudeva, Nakṣatravṛttāvalī of Vayaskara Āryan Nārāyaṇan Moosat, Vṛttaratnāvalī of Ilattūr Rāmasvāmi śāstri, Sūktaśloka of Melputtūr Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭa, Hetvābhāsodāharaṇa of Koḍuṅṅallūr Vidvān Iḷaya tampurān, Rāsakrī∙ā of Rāmapāṇivāda, Haricarita of Payyūr Ṛṣiputra Parameśvara-I, Vākyāvalī of Payyūr Vāsudeva etc. were written to illustrate the prominent śāstras in Sanskrit.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The Vakroktijīvita of Kuntaka, Dr.K.Krishnamoorthy, Karnataka University, Dharwad, 1977, v.7, p.5

[2]:

Kāvyālaṅkāra of Bhāmaha, v.V.3

[3]:

Alaṅkārasaṅgraha of Amritananda Yogi, v.VI.82

[4]:

Sarvapathīnacommentary of Mallinātha on Bhaṭṭikāvya, v.I.1

[5]:

Dhātukāvya of Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭa, S. VenkatasubramoniaAiyer,v.I.1

[6]:

Kāvyamīmāṃsā, ch.V.

[7]:

Śṛṅgāraprakāśa, v.II,9.

[8]:

Suvṛttatilaka, v.III,4.

[9]:

Hereafter Vāsudevavijaya is given as Vāsudevavijaya

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