Kavyalankara (Bharatheeya Kavyasastra: Part V)
- V S Bhaskara Panicker
C/o e-mail: jayraj@darpana.com

August 24, 2006

(This is the fifth part of the research paper that Mr. V S Bhaskara Panicker would like to share with narthaki readers)

Udbhata (750 - 810 AD)

After Bhamaha, it was Udbhata who had made valuable contribution to Alankara Sampradaya. His name appears in Rajatharangini. He was a scholar in the Durbar of Jayadithya, King of Kashmir. He has written a commentary on Bhamaha's Kavyalankara, but this is not traceable. The Kavya Kumarasambhava written by him has also not been found so far. The third one is Kavyalankara Samgraha. It is also believed that he has written a commentary on Natyasasthra, which book is also not available.

Kavyalankara Samgraha

    1. Preyaswath Kavya: Kavyas interlaced with Anubhavas which merely indicate the Sthayeebhavas are Preyaswath Kavyas.

    2. Rasavath Kavya: Kavyas in which the Rasa contents are fully blown up with Swasabda, Sancharibhava, Vibhava, Anubhava (Abhinaya) are Rasavad Kavya. In Natya Kavya the following nine Rasas are dealt with: Sringara, Hasya, Karuna, Roudra, Veera, Bhayanaka, Beebhathsa, Adbhutha and Santha.

    3. Oorjaswi Kavya: The Kavyas in which the Rasas and Bhavas produced by Kama and Krodha are over-emphasized are Oorjaswi.

    4. Samahitha Kavya: Where Rasa and its exposure, Bhava and its projection are described and satiated, the Anubhavas are totally rejected, such Kavyas are Samahitha.
Guna and Alankara

Guna and Alankara add to the beauty in the same measure. The difference is only in the aspects in which these are made use of. Guna is attributed to the composition or Rithi and Alankaras are based on sabdartha. In man, Guna like courage etc are intrinsic, decorations like garlands etc are extrinsic.

In a relative sense though these two appear different, in kavya gunas like ojas and alankara like alliteration assume their position due to the respectively internal and external aspects. The difference is the result of traditional assumption only.

Relation between Rithi and Guna

According to Acharyas like Bhattodbhada, Guna is the quality of the composition.

CLASSIFICATION: is based on Rasa. In Bhama Viharina, Bhattodbhada says, "Words like Sandal looks graceful when used in Sringara context and abhorring in Beebhathsa"; Hence the classification is rasa-based.

ABHIDHA VYAPARA: Bhattodbhada says, "The abhidhana of Sabda (usage in the same meaning) is called Abhidha Vyapara. This itself is Abhidha and Guna (main and secondary)."

ALANKARA: In certain situations Alankaras like Roopaka are Vachya (what is spoken about). Acharyas like Bhattodbhada have on certain occasions expressed them as Vyangya (Prathiyamana).

Vamana (770 - 840 AD)

After Udbhada, Vamana was the next famous Acharya in Alankara Sasthra, He was also a Kashmiri like Udbhada and was a minister in Jayadithya's court.

He was a protagonist of the Rithi Sampradaya. His Sidhantha Rithirathma Kavyasya is a landmark in literary studies. Vrithi was called by him as ‘Kavipriya.' No other compilation by him has so far been traced.

Kavyalankara Suthravrithi

KAVYA IS ALANKARA: Kavya becomes established only when combined with Alankara. That alone is adored; it should be made refined with Guna and Alankara. In the Lakshanic sense, the word Kavya denotes Sabda/Artha combination.

WHAT IS ALANKARA: Alankara is the principle of beauty in Kavya. Alankrithi is Alankara. In practical use, Alankara means Upama and such other aspects. Kavya becomes graceful with the elimination of Doshas, along with the combination of Gunas and Alankaras. The poet should endeavour to achieve this.

PURPOSE OF KAVYA: A good Kavya makes the poet and the reader happy. It brings to the poet long standing fame even after his death. It offers worldly as well as unworldly benefits.

KAVYA - ADHIKARIS: The poets are of two types, Arochaki (intelligently discriminative) and Sathribebhyavahari (just the opposite of Aviveki). The first category being intelligent deserves to receive advices. The other type does not deserve it. Mere reading of a book or two does not make anybody intelligent. Sasthras are intended for the intelligent only.

KAVYA BHEDA: Kavyas are of two kinds - prose and poetry (Gadya and Padya). Gadya is dealt with in the first instance, because its special aspects are obtruse and its construction difficult. Gadya is the touchstone of the intellectual faculty of the poet.

GADYA BHEDA: Gadya are of three types - Vrithagandhi, Choorna and Uthkalikapraya.

Vrithagandhi: It is called so because it gives a touch of Vritha or a flow akin to it, intermittently.

Choorna: Prose without any long combination of words or even without it and simple in construction is Choorna. The words selected for use should be simple.

Uthkalikapraya: The style opposed to Choorna is Uthkalikapraya.

PADYA BHEDA: Padya are of different types - Sama, Arthasama, Vishama etc.

GADYA PADYA BHEDA: These may either be Anibadha (not interconnected) or Nibadha (connected). Mukthakas, single slokas etc are Anibadha. Mahakavyas and Khandakavyas are Nibadha. In Prabandhakavya, the ten types of Roopaka are of the highest standard because like a good painting it covers all aspects of Kavya. In a sense Katha, Akhyayika and Mahakavya are derivations of Dasaroopa.

KAVYA RITHI: Style (Rithi) is the soul of Kavya. Rithi is superb word formation and construction, Guna is its nature. Rithi are of three types - Vaidarbhi, Goudhi and Panchali.

Vaidarbhi: is the style having all the ten Arthaguna (content-value) and Sabda Guna (graceful form). It is devoid of Dosha and is as sweet as the sound of Veena. It is therefore called so. Control over words and meanings would not render good poetry. It is the style that makes it graceful. That style is Vaidarbhi.

Goudhi: is that which possesses two Gunas, namely Ojas and Kanthi. The absence of Mathurya and Soukumarya coupled with Samasa (combination of words) and the use of high sounding words are the main features of this style.

Panchali: is the style with Mathurya and Soukumarya as Gunas. The word combinations are less hard and the words mild sounding. The absence of Ojas and Kanthi makes it colourless. It is sweet and graceful.

The styles are compared to the varied lines in a picture used appropriately to the context to render the wholesome magnificent effect. Vaidarbhi with all the ten Gunas is considered to be the foremost. The styles are personal to the poet.

Vaidarbhi without compound word is called Suddha Vaidarbhi.


The prerequisites in the art of Kavya-making are:
a) Loka (world) b) Vidya (knowledge) and c) Prakeerna (endeavour).

LOKA: The first material to be selected for Kavya is Loka, meaning life-activities. The world around and the objects (both sentient and insentient), in other words Lokavrithi.

VIDYA: All branches of learning (12 or 18 in number), grammar Vritha, arts (64 Kalas and 18 Upakalas) Kamasuthra, Artha Sasthra, Sabdakosa comprise Vidya. Of these grammar is the most important one, as it offers purity to the language. It renders a lot of help to the poet in the selection of words. By reference to Sabdakosa, the correct meaning of the word selected is fixed. This does not mean that the Kosa should be used to select rare and uncommon words. The poet should be well versed in Vrithasasthra. By experience, mastery over vritha is attained, but in regard to gracefulness doubt may sometimes arise. He should also be well versed in the Sasthras relating to arts. There may arise a need for describing the art forms, and it would not be possible to do it without knowing the rules governing them. Similarly Kamasasthra should also be studied. In Kavya, occasions may arise when activities connected with Kama are to be described. In the same manner knowledge of administrative matters would be of much use in Kavyas where the activities of the hero and villain are portrayed, and the poet should be aware of what is permitted by practice. The importance of Koutillya's Arthasasthra is felt here.

PRAKEERNA: Prakeerna includes Lakshyagnathua, Abhiyoga, Avekshana, Vriddaseva, Prathibhana and Avadhana. Lakshyagnathua is close study and acquaintance with the work of other poets. Sincere effort in the composition of Kavya is Abhiyoga. Devotional service to the teachers who have taught lessons in this art is Vridhaseva. Avekshana is the selection or rejection of words appropriate to the context. In the process of writing Kavya occasions may be frequent when words are substituted till the final form is made up. This is called Sabdaparipakam. This requires Prathibha (imaginative intelligence). This is mostly an inborn quality accrued as a result of some rare cultural heritage. Mere cooking up would remain a mockery. Concentration of the mind is Avadhana. It means withdrawal from other activities. Unblemished truth can be perceived only through concentration of mind. It is subjected to time and space (desa and kala) - solitary environment is a pre-requisite for concentration - pre dawn hours are the best suitable time. It is the fourth Yama of night, when mind will be free from tension. Pure mind become concentrated in the natural course.

Rudrata (800 - 850 AD)

After Vamana the pioneer in the field of Kavyasasthra was Rudrata. Sadananda was his other name. He hailed from Kashmir. Rudrata had tried to classify Alankara on a systematic basis.


STRUCTURE AND PURPOSE: The adorations in Kavya of gods and goddesses bring about Ananda and also help to achieve what is desired for through their blessings. Avoiding the difficult courses of Sasthras, Purusharthas are achieved in the most simple and normal manner.

KAVYA HETHU: For composing Kavyas eschewing Doshas and adopting Alankaras, three faculties are needed. These are Sakthi (inner power), learning and perseverance. Sakthi means talents by virtue of which Vakyas of varied contents constantly sprout forth in the mind, simultaneously with apt words to convey the meanings. Scholars like Dandi had given the name Prathibha to this Sakthi. Prathibha has got two variations, Sahaja and Uthpadya. Sahaja is inherent and more forceful. Utpadya is what is achieved through effort.

Vyuthpathi is the proper comprehension of Vritha, grammar, art, world, word and meanings. When wide spread it is the state of Sarvajna (all knowing). All Vakyas in common use could be included in Kavya according to contexts.

Classification of Alankaras
Alankaras can broadly be classified into four viz. Vasthava, Oupamya, Athisaya and Slesha. All Alankaras like Roopaka etc. are only the qualitative forms of these.
    1. Vasthava: The process of describing the actual shape or appearance of an object is Vasthava. It portrays all the essentially positive aspects removing all the negative ones.

    2. Oupamya: When another object is described to bring home the shape (swaroopa) of a particular object, it is Oupamya.

    3. Athisaya: When the meaning or quality (dharma) appears to be limited, it is exaggerated through uncommon means by Athisaya Alankara.

    4. Slesha: Where words carrying different meanings are used to create varied shades of meaning, it is Slesha.
VASTHAVA BHEDA: Sahokthi, Samuchaya, Jathi, Yathasamkhya Bhava, Paryaya, Vishama, Anumana, Deepaka, Parikara, Parivirthi, Parisamkhya, Hethu, Karnamala, Vyathireka, Annyonnya, Uthar, Sara, Sookshma, Avasara, Meelitha, Ekavalli (23)

OUPAMYA BHEDA: Upama, Uthpreksha, Roopaka, Apahnuthi, Samasya, Samasokthi, Matha, Uthara, Annyokthi, Pratheepa, Arthantharanyasa, Ubhayanyasa, Bhranthiman, Akshepa, Prathyaneeka, Drishtantha, Poorva, Sahokthi, Samya, Samuchaya, Smarana (21)

ATHISAYA BHEDA: Poorva, Visesha, Uthpreksha, Vibhavana, Thadguna, Adhika, Virodha, Vishama, Asangathi, Pihitha, Vyaghyatha, Anethu (12)

SLESHA BHEDA: Avisesha, Virodha, Adhika, Vakra, Vyaj, Ukthi, Asambhava, Avayava, Thathua, Virodhabhasa (8).

V S Bhaskara Panicker has been an ardent writer since childhood, writing mainly in Malayalam language. Some of his literary expulsions have seen light and many are still left unpublished. He is 77 years old and still continuing his passion. In June/July 2004, when he visited his son in Gujarat, he typed out his research paper on Bharatheeya Kavyasastra.