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


December 30, 2006

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

Kunthaka (925 - 1020 AD)
Along with Dhwany Kunthaka's Vakrokthi Siddhantha is another landmark in the study of Kavyasasthra. Kunthaka hailed from Kashmir. Vakrokthi Jeevitham is the only book by him traced so far. It is also written in the style Karika, Vrithi and Udaharana (drishtantha). The book is divided into four Unmeshas.

Kunthaka was an Abhidhavadi. He admits Lakshya, Vyangya etc. but treats them along with Vachya.

Vakrokthi Jeevitham
Kavya Lakshana
Kavya is the graceful combination of Alankara, Sabda, and Artha. These three factors are inseparable. But for the proper evaluation of the wholesome poetic beauty, it is necessary to review them separately. This analytical approach enables the critic to detect false Alankaras Sabda and Artha. But the fact that Kavya is Alankara Roopa Sabdartha remains undisputed.

To say that Alankara combination has got poetic aspects is a vague proposition as to the essence of Kavya. What exactly is the factor that could be described as Kavya? Kavya can safely be defined as follows;-

That poetically graceful - vakra - construction of word and meaning, which offers pleasure to the learned (kavya matters) is Kavya.

Sabdarthou Kavya means that Kavya is the combination of word (sabda) and meaning (Artha) i.e Vachaka (what is spoken) and Vachya (what is spoken about). It appears strange that the two entities combine to create a third one. It is therefore held by some that Kavya is Sabda made graceful with poetical talents. A few others hold the view that Kavya is Artha (meaning) made graceful through beautiful construction. Anyhow Kavyathua is inherent in both, word and its contents.

A poet poor in Prathibha may indulge in verbosity. He may have no message to convey, nor graceful Artha to offer. The mere rhetorics look stale. In the same sense, mere statements of facts, however profound it might be, devoid of Chamathkara is anything short of Kavya. A material object (ghata) kept in darkness is not perceived. It becomes illumined when the sun shines. In the same manner, a statement, when illumined by proper Sabdartha and Alamkaras would become graceful.

What is Sahithya? It has been established that the mutual assimilation of Artha and Sabda is Kavya. In such combinations there should be present a mutual Sahabhava, that they should have a mutual adaptability. In Kavya, this Sahabhava (Sahithya) is of a special type. How? The beauty contents of Guna and Alamkara made profound through Vakrathua are engaged in a mutual conflict. This is the special aspect. Thus in Kavya we observe a friendly co-existence of Sabda and Artha which are fully rich in Guna. This Sahithya is Kavya. This Vakra is different from the generally accepted principle of interconnection between Sabda and Artha. But this process followed by the poet is "Thadvidahlada" (it makes kavya enjoyable). He proceeds to explain Vakratha and its sub divisions.

Swaroopa of Sabdartha
Though in the ordinary sense, Vachya is Artha and Vachaka, Sabda, in the Kavya sense it has to be taken as "that which has become Vachaka. Artha is that which becomes (or will become) Vachya.

Sabda may also be Dyothaka or Vyanjaka (indicative or suggestive) in the Vachaka aspect. Further, these two carry Vachyathua aspect also. Thus Vachakathua and Vachyathua are indicative of Sabda and Artha respectively (in loka). But in Kavya sense it is different.

From among the Paryayas, there would be one Sabda which creates an impression about a particular meaning. That is the sabda in the Kavya sense. The meaning that is impressed upon by this particular Sabda, and which makes the Sahridaya happy by its vibration is the meaning in the Kavya sense. That is the Sabda for the intended meaning. That is the one word without a second.

This absolute Vachyartha would be so graceful that it would make the Sahridaya throb with enjoyment.

It has to be understood that in the statement ‘Sabdarthou sahithou Kavya' the qualified meaning of the words Sabda and Artha as explained heretofore are to be taken. One advantage of this is that the Doshas, like Neyartha and Apartha are completely eliminated as Sabda and Artha are used in the Kavya sense and in the general sense.

Swaroopa of Sahithya
Sahithya is that beautiful set up produced by the mutually complimentary use of Sabda and Artha well balanced. The co-existence of Sabda and Artha is Sahithya. It is that style of composition which provides pleasure to the Sahridaya through the Sabdartha medium. This balanced combination (without being excess or short) would touch the heart and be graceful, both being mutually pervasive. This is Sahithya. This interaction may also occur in such sabda and artha affected by Doshas. Even in such circumstances they remain beautiful if the principles of co-existence (Sahithi) are fully satisfied, notwithstanding the Doshas. There is also no harm if several words or meanings which possess this quality of co-existence (sahithi) flow as Vakya, which is the consummation of Kavya process. There can also be coordination (sahithi) between two words as also between two meanings. But the full contents of such word combinations and meaning combinations should also possess such graceful coordination. Such Vakyas alone are worthy to be termed as Sahithya.

Sahithya also means -
  • That which is beautiful (vakra) due to the suitability of style (rithi)
  • The propriety followed in keeping the vrithi helps in the proper coordination between Sabda and Artha to develop Rasa in the suitable manner.
  • That which is in consonance with the principles which offer pleasure to the Kavyamarma and that which is in full agreement with the rules of grammar and prosody.
The application of the rules of grammar, the principles of Kavya, Nyaya, Sahithya etc is being done in each Vakya. Firstly it contains the grammar aspects, secondly the structural (meemamsa) aspects which deals with dependence of Vakyartha on the prescribed form of arrangement of the Pada. Next is Nyaya, the process of assertion citing the authority. Lastly, the Sahithya aspect in Vakya by virtue of which, the Vakya in the normal process become graceful and potential enough to offer pleasure to the Sahridaya. The earlier aspects, say grammar etc are important, but Sahithya is the poetical enterprise and life force for the entire Vagmaya is the most important one.

Even before striving to comprehend the meaning, the Sahithya aspect firstly with the beauty of construction offers Ananda, like a musical note. After understanding the meaning, that one which is not the explicit one of the Pada and the Vakya offers a rare Ananda in the inner core of the mindset like a sweet drink (vyangyartha).

Purpose of Kavya
Kavya is intended for the benefit of 1) kings, princes, and others of noble birth and 2) the common man.

The first category of people lead an easy life. They are generally of average intelligence. Most of them often assume administrative control of their domains. In the absence of proper tutoring they are prone to indulge in activities causing havoc in social life. Primarily, being pleasure seekers they would relish Kavya, which offers pleasure. Clothed in pleasing style, language, the profound contents inculcate the principles of Dharma, and make them refined. Their pre-occupation, otherwise, and the lack of faculty of comprehension preclude them from learning the principles of virtuous life from the Sathras. Initially they take it as a doll in their hands, but in the long run they would gain knowledge in the Purusharthas by the study of Kavyas.

For the common man immersed in worldly life, Kavya offers appropriate knowledge in virtuous life activities through the medium of Kavya-soundarya. Worldly life means, conventions and life activities with their throbbing. Kavya-soundarya offers serenity coupled with suitable directions to make life purposeful. The beauty of life is assimilated and enjoyed through Kavya by them.

It may take a long time to achieve this goal. Once achieved, the refinement of life caused by this beauty sense would remain more effective. It is attainment of Purushartha in other sense.

Alankara and Alankarya
Alankara is that with which decoration is done. Alankarya is that which is decorated. Alankara is Vachaka Sabda and Alankaraneeya is Vachya. Sabda and Artha constitute Alankarya and its decoration is Alankara. In Kavya, actually there is no relevance for these three factors. Their Samashti (combination) is Kavya.

When it is said "with Alamkara" (Alankara Sahitha) it does not mean that Alankara is added to the Alankaritha (Vakya - that which is decorated). The graceful blending of the two is poetics or poetical endeavour.

Sabda andArtha are Alamkarya. The Alamkara to both is Vakrokthi, with which it is effectively and efficiently expressed.

Denial of Swabhavokthi
Swabhavokthi is considered as an Alankara. Swabhavokthi is a statement describing an object in the normal sense. How can it be called an Alankara? In the true sense it is only Alankarya. Further, Swabhavokthi is the description of Swabhava. If it is termed as Alankara, then what would its Alamkarya be?

That being the case, how can Vakrokthi be considered as Alamkara?

Vakrokthi stands on a different footing. It is applied to sounds, syllables, words, combination of words, as also to Vakya pada arrangements. This is a mode of expression. It indicates the difference between the Alamkara and Alamkarya, no matter the difference is real. But the difference is not indicated in Swabha-vokthi. If it is taken as an Alamkara there should be something else as Alamkarya, which does not exist in the case of Vakrokthi. Swa+Bhava = Swabhava. Bhava is that with which Artha is expressed and made known. Swabhavokthi does the very same function and nothing else. Vakrokthi is entirely different in its structure and application.

Along with Swabhavokthi, if other Alamkara like Upama are brought in, how is it possible to differentiate them? If it is not explicit it would lead to Sandeha (alamkara) and if made clear it would become Samsrishti (alankara)

Vakrokthi
Vakrokthi is the only Alamkara for Sabda and Artha. Vakrokthi is artistic style of description in contrast to the normal manner of expression. Proficiency on this depends upon inherent graceful poetical talents. Its beauty is its style and grace. Description or expression impregnated with it is an extraordinary poetical style.

Poetical endeavour
Vakrokthi in poetical endeavour are of six types;-
1. Varna Vinnyasa Vakratha: This is arrangement of Varnas (syllables) in a particular style, different from the normal one.
2. Pada Poorvartha Vakratha: Pada are either Subandha (noun) or Thigantha (verb). The first part of Subandha would be the object to be indicated and that of the Thigantha, the verb. The Vakratha that is the arrangement in it is Pada Poorvartha Vakratha. It has got varied forms:
  • For commonly used words (roodhi) another word well known for its attributes is superimposed.
  • A Roodhi word is used, to express another well known attribute.
  • A particular Paryaya (synonym) is used to express a particular intention - Paryaya Vakra.
  • A non-material object expressed by a word representing a material object is Upachara Vakra.
  • Viseshana Vakratha: Graceful Vakratha is created by the use of profound adjectives.
  • Samvrithi Vakratha: In agreement with the context omit to mention the correct word and use another word to make the meaning ambiguous.
  • Vrithi Vaichithrya Vakratha: Vrithi means connections with other words. From the usual combinations the poet postulates another sense of connection.
  • Linga Vaichithrya: Interchange of words denoting gender.
  • Kriya Vaichithrya Vakratha: Beautiful usage of verb roots on account of their variations.
3. Prathyasithwa Vakratha
This is the third one of the main divisions. Here the basis of Vakratha is Prathyayas (that which is added to nouns to indicate their connection with other words). These are also of different types. 1) Samkhya Vaichiryakritha: Vakra usage is done in the number aspect. 2) Karakavaichithrya: Super imposing sentient aspect on insentient objects, and with a view to develop Rasa, the latter described alluding sentient activities on them. 3) Purusha Vaichithrakritha: The ‘first person' aspect is bestowed on ‘second' and ‘third person' aspects.


Vakrathua is also employed in Vakya formation. These are manifold, and all Alankaras are involved in it.

Vakrathua of Vakya is different from that of Padas. Vakya is a collection of words denoting verb (verb Akhyata) along with Avyaya, Karaka, Visheshana etc. Vakya (sloka), Vakrata is a gracefully cumulative process of description. In Prakarana (prabandha), the beauty of the descriptive (aharya) aspect naturally achieved is Prakarana Vakrathua. Here naturally means, the normal flow and Aharya means that which is attained with Vyutpathi (proficiency). This is termed as Sahaja, Saukumarya, Manohara.


V S Bhaskara Panicker has been writing mainly in Malayalam language. He has offered his research paper on Bharatheeya Kavyasastra to narthaki.com