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


November 21, 2006

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

Rajasekhara (880 - 920 AD)
Rajasekhara was a poet, playwright and critic. Hailing from Vidarbha, he was the Guru to the kings of Kannauj. He led an itinerant life. His wife Avanthisundari was also a poetess. The four Natakas by him are Balaramayanam, Bala Bharatham, Vidhasala Bhanjika, and Karpoora Manjari (last in Prakrith). Kavya Meemamsa was his last book on poetics. He had given a new orientation to the study of poetics, and it came to be known as Kavi Siksha Sampradaya. The later poets and critics followed the Sampradaya enunciated by him.

Kavya Meemamsa
Origin of Kavya
His critique starts with an invocation to Siva, from whom Kavya is believed to have originated. He compares the various aspects of Kavya to the different organs of Sivaroopa. Sabda and artha constitute his body (trunk). Language (Samskrit) is his face, Prakrith his arms, Apabhramsa his waist, Pisachabhasha his feet. The mixed (Misra) languages are his chest. He is sweet, graceful, equanimous (sama), forceful (Ojas) as also liberal. His voice is noble. Rasa is his soul and Vritha his hair. His verbal quirks are dialogues (questions and repartees, riddles (Prahelikas) and Samasya (problems). He is decorated with alliterations and Upama (sabda, artha, alankaras). He is admired even by Sruthis, which indicate the meanings yet to occur.

He has four tusks, three legs, and seven hands. He is tied with three ropes, and is always vociferous.

The subject matter or theme for the composition of Kavya is derived from the following twelve sources. Veda, Smrithi, Ithihasa Purana, Rajasidhantha Thrayi (Arthasasthra, Natya Sasthra, Kamasasthra), Pramanavidya (Meemamsa, Darsana etc.) Loka (happenings in the common life around), Virachana (Kavyas by other poets), Prakeeranaka (art forms - 64 Ayurveda, Jyothisha, Vrishavijnana, Aswagandhi Lakshana). Adding four more, Rajasekhara had fixed the number as 16. He had fixed four characteristics for Kavya. 1) Appropriate construction 2)Yokthru Samyoga, Uthpadya Samyoga and Samyoga Vikara.

Siksha
Those who desire to gain experience in the art of writing poetry should in the first instance learn well all the important factors connected with it as also the subsidiary branches of learning concerned with poetry. The subjects are grammar, Sabdakosha, Chandass, and Alankaras. The subsidiary factors (Upavidya) are the sixty four art forms. Apart from these there are other subjects (Jeevanothsam).
1) A general knowledge of all great and noble branches of learning.
2) State of affairs within the country and abroad.
3) Sayings of great scholars.
4) World experience.
5) Assembly of scholars and deep contemplation (Manana).

The following eight conditions actually generate the poetical mood (mother of poetry).
1) Swasthya (peace of mind)
2) Prathibha (imaginative intelligence)
3) Endeavour (Abhyas)
4) Bhakthi (devotional approach)
5) Vidyut Katha (life story of scholars)
6) Bahusruthatha (deep learning)
7) Smrithidritatha (strong memory power)
8) Utsaha (enterprising nature).

Sabda means the combined form of Prakrthi and Prathyaya according to the rules of grammar.

The object which is signified by a particular word according to Niruktha, Nikhandu, Kosha, and usage is the Abhidheyartha of the word. The combination of Sabda and Artha is Pada. Vakya is the culmination of the combination of Artha derived through the Abhidhartha.

Kavya Lakshana
Kavya is Vakya blended with Guna and Alankara. A few hold the view that Alamkaras being untrue decorations should be eschewed in Kavya.

Kavyas may be direct or indirect in character. Some Kavyas are made with the eloquent imagination of the poet concerned. Certain others are concocted like the grandma tales. Some are based on Sasthras and certain others on poetical talents. Its flow is continuous. Unlike precious stones, the production of this gem does not take place in the depth of the sea or on the top of Mount Rohana.

A Kavya is not to be rejected though at times it is replete with exaggerations, i.e, description of untruth. Such verbosity and concepts would not make it inappropriate. Such meaningful descriptions occur in Vedas, Sasthras as in social dealings.

Kavya Hethu
Budhi has got three aspects, smrithi, mathi, and pragna. Smrithi is remembering the past experiences. Mathi is the ability to contemplate on the situations present. Pragna is the budhi for foresightedness, or far sightedness. The poet should possess all the three types of intellectual faculties.

Samadhi is a precondition to compose poetry. Concentration of the mind enables a person to contemplate vividly on any subject. Mind should be filled with knowledge. Constant effort (abhyasa) is an important factor. The inherent faculties reach the supreme heights with efforts. Samadhi, i.e, contemplation is the internal effort and Abhyasa (endeavour) the external effort of the mind.

Prathibha and Vyuthpathi
Sakthi (force) is different from Prathibha and Vyuthpathi (intelligence and knowledge). Force is the subject and intelligence and knowledge is the object achieved. Sakthiyuktha (man with force) acquires Prathibha and Vyuthpathi. The arrays of Sabda /Artha, Alankaras, graceful phrases, and other ingredients of poetry are made reflected in the mind by Prathibha.

Vyuthpathi is widespread knowledge. The words of the poet flow out in all directions. Knowledge on varied subjects is inevitable for a good poet. A balanced stand between propriety and impropriety is the sign of scholarliness, which is superior to intellectual talents. The lack of erudition is overshadowed by Prathibha (intellectual talents).

Prathibha
Prathibha has two aspects - Karayithri & Bhavayithri. Karayithri Prathibha renders immense help to the poet. It has got three subdivisions - Sahaja, Aharya, and Oupadesika. Sahaja is the inborn one, and that which is acquired through the study of Sasthras and Kavyas is Aharya. Prathibha that is attained through the blessings of Guru or divine sources is Oupadesika Karayithri.

Poets who are blessed with these three types of Karayithri Prathibha are again classified into three groups, namely Saraswatha, Abhyasika and Oupadesika. Saraswatha is that poet who is intelligent, gifted with original talents, and who is motivated by inborn poetical impulses. He who by virtue of his own intelligence has unfolded and developed the poetical talents is called Abhyasika. Those in whom these talents had developed with Manthropadesa and ritualistic practices are Oupadesika. Rajasekhara's summing up is that Saraswathikas are talented in making free-flowing poetry, the scope for Abhyasikas is limited, and Oupadesikas make poetry, though beautiful but not with much substance. It is very rare that intelligence, Vyuthpathi, divine blessings are combined in one.

Having explained the Karayithri Prathibha, he proceeds with the Bhavayithri Prathibha. This comes to the help of the spectator / listener. Actually this makes the efforts of the poet fruitful. Before the floodlight of this Prathibha, separate identities of the poet and Bhavaka are lost, both merged into one. But Kalidasa holds a different view. One (poet) concentrates on Sabdartha and the other (bhavaka) enjoys the Rasa.

Bhavaka Sameeksha Bheda
Bhavakas are of two types: Arochaki and Sathrinabhyavahari according to earlier Acharyas. Rajasekhara classifies them into four groups:-
1) Arochaki
2) Sathrinbhyavahari
3) Mathsari
4) Thathuabhinivesi.

Arochakis are not fully satisfied, no matter how good the compositions are. This too has two aspects:
1) Swabhaviki: They are so, by virtue of their very nature and there is no remedy for it.
2) Gnanayoni: If the dissatisfaction is based on discrimination, really graceful and profound composition would remove the discontentment.

The second type (Sathrinabhyavahari) are those who eulogise indiscriminately, without understanding the real values. They are mostly newcomers. They cannot help passing some comments. They are talented, but lacking adequate discriminatory faculty. They cannot differentiate good and the bad.

Mathsari types refuse to appreciate the good aspects.

Sameekshakas express their opinion, by words or movement of body organs.

Classification of poets
Poets are of three types.
1) Sasthrakavi
2) Kavyakavi and
3) Ubhayakavi.
Of these, Sasthra and Kavya ones are of mutually dependent types. Knowledge of Kavya principles helps Sasthra matters to be expressed in a clear and graceful manner.

Sasthra kavis are
1) Compilers of Sasthra principles,
2) Those who interlude poetics in Sasthra compilations,
3) In the reverse, those who mix up Sasthra and poetry.

The sub divisions of Kavyakavi
1) Rachanakavi: Style with embellished Sabda, with sparse meaning contents.
2) Sabda Kavi: a) Those who prefer to use nouns (subandhas) in abundance (namakavi) b) Those who use verbs (Thigantha) in large numbers are Akhyatha Kavi. c) Those who use nouns and verbs evenly are Namakhyatha Kavi.
3) Arthakavi: Words are used with the primary aim to produce profound Artha.
4) Alamkarakavi: Those who give importance to the use of Alankaras are Alamkarakavi. Of them, some are keen on the use of Sabdalankara and the others on Arthalankara.
5) Ukthi Kavi: Their usage of words and style of presentation would be graceful in the way special to them.
6) Rasa Kavi: They give more importance to Rasa content, and ensure that the Vakyas are impregnated with Rasa
7) Marga (Rithi) Kavi: Those who are strict in following the styles (Vaidarbhi etc) in the prescribed manner alone.
8) Sasthrartha Kavi: The poet uses appropriately in Kavya sense, the technical words in other Sasthras (say Yoga etc)

A poet who possesses two or three of the above mentioned qualities could be reckoned as a great poet. He who is endowed with at least five Gunas is Mahakavi.

Kavya status
A Kavi is included in one of the ten categories on the basis of his activities.
1. Kavya Vidya Snathaka: He is a snathaka, a student who resides in Gurukula for acquiring knowledge on different aspects of Kavya making, say Alamkara, Vritha etc.
2. Hridayakavi: A Hridayakavi is one who composes poetry for being kept secluded in his mind for fear of doshas that such verses might contain.
3. Annyapadesa Kavi: Fearing criticism from others, they attribute the authorship to some one else.
4. Sevitha: After continuing for some time, he who takes some old masters as ideal and follows his style is Sevitha.
5. Khatamana Kavi: A person who composes small poems on varied subjects and refrains from doing a pretty large composition.
6. Mahakavi: A poet who writes a complete Mahakavya.
7. Kaviraja: A poet who possesses talents to make Prabandhas in different languages and also proficient enough to handle different Rasas.
8. Avesika: A person who has acquired poetic talents through Manthra or other ritualistic process.
9. Avischedi: A poet who is capable of composing poetry on any subject at any time and also endowed with talents for free and torrential flow of poetry instantaneously on any subject.
10. Samkramayitha: One who is capable of making unmarried boy or girl spellbound by the force of Manthra and instill in them poetic impulse and make them compose poetry.

Kavya Paka
As a result of constant practice and continuous effort, the poet attains maturity in his Vakyas. What exactly is Paka or ripening? It is the transformation that takes place in him through Abhyasa. This Parinama (evolution) is the outflow of Sabda (nouns-subandha and verbs-Thigantha) pleasing to the ears (means the usage of graceful words). Meaning (artha) is the final result. That Parinama is the quality of fearlessness and unequivocal precision in the use of words.

The poet's mind remains immature till the time he is equivocal in the use of words. When he becomes firm and decides on the application of words, it can be assumed that he has attained maturity. Sabdapaka is that stage, when the word once used would not require replacement. The graceful arrangement of suitable words is Vakyapaka. The main life force of Kavya is Paka.

Paka Bheda - Kavi Siksha
There are nine Pakas for the poets who endeavour to gain experience in Kavya making. They are:-
1. Pichumanda (neem): The beginning and ending are distasteful.
2. Badara (gooseberry): Tasteless in the beginning and pleasing in the end.
3. Mridvika: Dull in the beginning and pleasing in the end.
4. Varthaka: Sweet in the beginning but towards the end totally sour.
5. Thinthidika (tamarind): Medium taste in the beginning and in the end.
6. Sahakar: Mildly pleasing in the beginning and tastier in the middle and end.
7. Kramuka (arecanut): Graceful in the beginning but dull and insipid towards the end.
8. Thrapusa (cucumber): Tasteful in the beginning and average in the end.
9. Narikela: Sweet from the beginning to the end.

Of these, Pichumanda, Varthaka, and Kramuka are to be rejected totally. Effort should be made to improve Badara, Thinthidika, and Thrapusa. Mridvika, Sahakara and Narikela are acceptable.

Kavyartha
There is no limit to the meaning conceived by the poet through his Prathibha. The process of attributing meanings also is without any end. Arthas and the totality of Arthas are both without limits. This concept of meanings can be applied in two ways.
1) Vicharitha Sustha (A meaning is established by the thinking process, and on Manana it becomes more clear)
2) Avicharitha Ramaneeyam (though not sustainable in the thinking process, it remains attractive and tasteful in the Kavya sense). Knowing fully well that the phenomena or semblance are not real objects, it is seen that in Kavya and Sasthra the objects are described in phenomenal sense, because the Avicharitha Ramaneeya effect is produced.

Varnana Rasavatha
The descriptions in Kavya (varnana) should not be excessive. Further it should not be opposed to the context and the related Rasa. The purpose of the efforts made by the poets in this respect is often found to be the tendency to exhibit his poetical talents. But care should be taken to ensure that it is gracefully poetical.

Kavyartha Bheda
The seven Kavyabhedas can be broadly classified into two.
1) Mukthaka Kavya Gatha.
2) Prabandha Kavya Gatha

Mukthakas are clear and free poems. Prabandha is Mahakavya. Mukthakas are of five types.
1) Sudha: where there is no story or Ithihasa.
2) When the Artha is elaborately described it is Chithra
3) Kathotham: The artha when it relates to old tales or Ithihasa is Kathotham.
4) Samvidhanakabhu: Incidents that are likely to occur, and
5) Akhyana: That with an Ithihasa concept.

Marga: Kavya making in different languages
In Prakrith and other languages also, the poet has to do the composition of Kavya in agreement with his own outlook as also on the lines of his taste and talents as is being done in Sanskrit. Care should be taken to apply the full mind in the profundity of the Vachya-Vachaka connection of Sabda and Artha.

When handling more than one language, the process of analytical stipulation of Artha has to be done with meticulous care, and the poetry that flows from such trained mind-set would tread on through any difficult road.


V S Bhaskara Panicker has been writing mainly in Malayalam language. Some of his literary expulsions have seen light and many are still left unpublished. He has offered his research paper on Bharatheeya Kavyasastra to narthaki.com