Vasudevavijaya of Vasudeva (Study)

by Sajitha. A | 2018 | 50,171 words

This page relates ‘Vrittaratnavali of Ilattur Ramasvamishastri’ 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.

Vṛttaratnāvalī of Ilattūr Rāmasvāmiśāstri

[Full title: Other Śāstrakāvyas (3): Vṛttaratnāvalī of Ilattūr Rāmasvāmiśāstri]

Vṛttaratnāvalī is a great composition under this category. The work is composed by Gomatīdāsa Ilattur Ramasvāmi āastri who is a well known scholar poet of Kerala. He was born in November 1823 in the western Agrahāraṃ of Ilattūr in Shenkotta, now in Tamilnadu. His father was Śaṅkaranārāyaṇa Śāstri, also known as Āṇḍi Śāstrikaḷ. They belonged to the Hārītagotra. After his studies under Lakṣminārāyaṇa Śāstri, Ramaswami went to the court of the Pantalam Rāja for higher studies and in a few years mastered grammar and logic. The poet passed away in 1887 A.D.

Ramasvāmiśāstri was an ardent devotee of Goddess Pārvatī, enshrined in Sankaranainar Temple as Gomatī, his family deity and he qualified himself as Gomatīdāsa. He had a large number of disciples. Pre-eminent among them was Keraḷavarma Valiakoyil Tampurān. Āṭṭukāl Śaṅkara Pillai, author of Malayalam Devībhāgavataṃ and Sundararājakavi were some of the scholars who were disciples of Śāstri.

Rāmasvāmiśāstri was a voluminous writer who has written several works. He wrote on rhetorics, metrics, grammar and works including poetry, drama, stotra, kathakali play, commentaries etc. The three important scientific works of Rāmasvāmiśāstri are Vṛttaratnāvalī, Rāmodaya and Kṣetratattvadīpikā. Among these, Vṛttaratnāvalī has great importance in the field of Sanskrit metrics.

Vṛttaratnāvalī is a monumental and exhaustive treatise on Sanskrit metrics. The illustrations constitute the narration of the story of Rāmāyaṇa. The work was completed in 1872 and along with a supplementary work Rāmastutiratnam got published in 1878 in old Malayalam script. This is the only work which was brought to light during the author’s lifetime.

Vṛttaratnāvalī begins with four invocatory verses and then the main text starts with;

mātrānaxdyāṃ yatiślāghyaṃ varṇinaṃ chandasi sthitam |
gaṇāśritapadaṃ vande puṇyaślokaṃ vināyakaṃ ||
[1]

The work is divided into two parts; Pūrvahārāvalī and Uttarahārāvalī based on its contents. The first part consists of the Varṇavṛttas and the second part describes the Mātrāvṛttas.

The first fifteen stanzas of the Pūrvahārāvalī constitute the general principles of metrics.

The author has shown his indebtedness to Vṛttaratnākara and it can be seen in the fourth stanza of the Pūrvahārāvalī. i.e,

vṛttaratnākaronnītairvarṇamātrā gaṇātmakaiḥ |
grathyate chāndasairvṛttairvṛttaratnāvalī mayā ||
[2]

The eighth stanza defines the eight gaṇas of metre as—

triguṇarmmo mukhaloyo ro madhyalasso'ntago'ntalaḥ |
to madhyagurjo mukhagurbhastrilono gaṇāṣṭakam ||
[3]

After this, the author states the rules regarding Gurus and Laghus. Then the names of the metres illustrated in the Pūrvahārāvalī is mentioned in a verse in an abridged form.

uktātyuktā madhyā tiṣṭhā prāt suprataśca gāyatrī |
uṣṇiganuṣṭubbṛhatī paṅktistriṣṭubjagatyasau sātiḥ ||
śakvaryatiśakvaryāvaṣṭyatyaṣṭī dhṛtistathātidhṛtiḥ |
kṛtirapi kṛtayaḥ prāvisamabhyut pūrvaḥ kramāt saṃjñāḥ ||
[4]

From the stanza 16 to 228, the definitions and illustrations of 26 metres starting from uktā to utkṛti and its subdivisions are given. Up to 73rd stanza invocations to various deities are included and thereafter the story of Rāmāyaṇa is briefly narrated. The story of the birth of Subraḥmaṇia is described in brief in the verses 208 to 217. Up to the stanza 278, after the discussion of the Chandovṛttas, Gadya, Gāthā,Daṇḍaka, Ardhasamavṛtta, and Viṣamavṛtta are being discussed with definitions and illustrations.

In Uttarahārāvalī, discussions of 30 Mātrāvṛttas, measures of metrics such as Saṃkhyājñāna, Pratyaya etc. are included. Up to 32nd verse the continuation of the story of Rāma is dealt along with the discussion of Mātrāvṛttas. The next 66 stanzas are devoted to present the measurements of the concerned vṛttas. As an appendix 13 stanzas are given to explain the Yatisthāna of the concerned metres.

The author adopted the calculation method from Līlāvati of Bhāskarācārya and it is mentioned in the 53rd stanza of Uttarahārāvalī.

vṛttanāmardhatulyānāṃ viṣamāṇāṃ mitirbhavet |
ayaṃ līlāvatīkāra proktaḥ panthā pradarśitaḥ ||
[5]

One of the peculiarities of the work is that the illustrated verse includes the name of the concerned metre also.

For example the following verse is an example for the metre Yaśodā, which is a subdivision of the metre Madhyā.

yaśodākumāraṃ bhaje śrīsahāyam |[6]

In this hemistich, the name of the metre i.e. yaśodā is also included.

When illustrates the metre Śālinī, which is the variety of the metre Triṣṭub, the author use the word Śālinī.

mātuṃ tuṅgaṃ gauravaṃ yasya nālaṃ sarvajño'pi prītimānacyuto'yam |
devānūce pūrvamāśāṃ vitanvan sāndrajyotsnāśālinīṃ mandahāsaiḥ ||
[7]

Though the name of the concerned metre is uniformly mentioned in each stanza, metres like Āpīḍaḥ, Upasthitapracupitaṃ and Khañjā are omitted informing that it is impossible to incorporate such terms in the verse.

Another noteworthy characteristic of the work is the incorporation of definitions in the illustrated verses. The first few letters of the verse denote the Gaṇas or Varṇas included in the respective metre.

For example Vaṃśastha is a subdivision of the metre Jagatī and the order of gaṇa is like ja, ta, ja, ra.

The example for the Vaṃśastha metre given by the author is thus:—

jitā'jaraughoragasiddhacāraṇaṃ vidhātṛvaṃśasthakalaṅkakāraṇam |
prapañcapadmākaramattavāraṇaṃ vidhūtasādhvīkulavṛttadhāraṇam ||
[8]

Here in this example, the author uses the letters bearing the name of the Gaṇa included in this metre and also kept its order.

Another example for proving this is:—

taṃ bhūjajairgaganacāribhirarcyamānaṃ śāntaṃ prasannahṛdayaṃ tapasāṃ nidhānam |
dūrājjavādabhiyayau janalocanālī cūtaṃ vasantatilakam bhramarāvalīva ||
[9]

The above mentioned verse is an example for the metre Vasantatilaka and the Gaṇas included in it areta, bha, two jagaṇas and two Gurus. So the author uses the letters denoting thoseGaṇas in this verse.

The following verse is an example for the Ardhasamavṛtta.

sulagandharaṇīsutayā tayā bhāgurusundarakomalagātryā |
raghuvīrasutassa dadau rathe vyomanibhāmbhapaderupacitrām ||
[10]

In this verse the first and the third lines have same characteristics and there use three Sagaṇas, one Laghu, and one Guru. This is clear from the word sulagan. And also the second and the fourth lines which are of similar nature include threeBhagaṇas and two Gurus. The word bhāgu denotes Bhagaṇa and Guru. These types of metres are called Ardhasamavṛttas.

In Viṣamavṛtta, the characteristics of each line differ from one another.

ayodhyāmaviśadrājā
sa sadārasuto balīmahābhikhyām |
padacaturūrdhvātulyāṃ samadhikacaturvarṇā
masamapadamanojñāṃ maṅgalatūryaghoṣamukharitāśām ||
[11]

This verse is an example for the Viṣamavṛtta called Padacaturūrdhvā. In this type of metre, the first line comprises eight letters and four letters will increase in each line consecutively.

The section Uttarahārāvalī is dedicated to Mātrāvṛttas. The following verse is an example for the metre Atirucirā, which is aMātrāvṛtta.

atha hatakharamukharajanicaratatiravaniduhitṛhara daśaśiraso
  hananakṛtamatiranusṛtakapipatirabhihatasurapatitanayakapiḥ |
hanumaduditajanakaduhitṛgatirudadhikṛtasṛtiritaripunagaro
  hatadaśamukhamukharipuralabhata janakaduhitaramayamatirucirām ||
[12]

Here in each pāda, there are 27 Laghus and the last Varṇa is Guru. This type of metre is called Atirucirā.

Though the Varṇavṛttas and Mātrāvṛttas were treated in separate sections, the Mātrā and Varṇa of the metre Anuṣṭub are included in the section Pūrvahārāvalī. Here it is to be noted that the texts like Vṛttaratnākara etc. treat the Varṇa and Mātrā varieties of Anuṣṭub in different sections.

The total number of the metres can be derived from each Chandas from Uktā to Utkṛti and they are mentioned accordingly. Again the total number of metres of each Chandas is given in eight stanzas of Śārdūlavikrīḍitaṃ and one stanza of Sragdharā metre at the end of Uttarahārāvalī. And the numbers of metres are indicated according to Bhūtasaṅkhyā method.

As a follow up to the main content, a Khaṇḍakāvya entitled Rāmastutiratna is also included in the work. It contains 162 verses and these verses illustrate 162 different metres starting from Bṛhatī to Utkṛti. In the first stanza Vighneśvara is invoked and the remaining stanzas in each metres are devoted to Śrīrāma. All these metres are uncommon and not probably in usage, but very pleasing to the ears.

Delighted by going through this work, Dr. A.C. Burnell in his letter to Viśākhaṃ Tirunāḷ Mahārāja commented as follows:—

Nobody would believe that Vṛttaratnāvalī is the work of a modern poet. The learned author deserves much credit. Indian metrics are desperately hard to foreigners, but this becomes a complete introduction to the difficult subject.

Ullur. S. Paramesvara aiyer opines that Vṛttaratnāvalī is much more helpful to the students of metrics than Vṛttaratnākara and Chandassūtra of Piṅgala.

To sum up, this work is a treasury to the students on Sanskrit metrics. The work illustrates different metres and describes the story of Rāmāyaṇa at the same time. Thus comprises all aspects of a Śāstrakāvya. The whole content of the work reflect the sense of scientific precision, poetic skill and perfection of the author. The author has given brief commentary notes in Sanskrit for all verses and it is really helpful to the readers. Another notable part of the work is the exhaustive summary of the Vṛttalakṣaṇasaṃkhyā-saṅgraha in a tabular form. It is a great contribution to the Sanskrit learning in general and the sphere of metrical study in particular. Hence this unique and monumental Keralite work must be preserved for further studies and researches in the realm of Sanskrit metrics.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Vṛttaratnāvalī, Ilattūr Rāmasvāmiśāstri,v.I,1

[2]:

ibid,v.I, 4.

[3]:

ibid,v.I,8.

[4]:

Ibid,v.I.14-15.

[5]:

ibid, II, 53.

[6]:

ibid, I,21.

[7]:

ibid, v.I,96.

[8]:

ibid,v. I,112.

[9]:

ibid,v. I.155.

[10]:

ibid, v.I.252.

[11]:

ibid,v.I.266.

[12]:

ibid,v.II,31.

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