The Concept of Vakrokti in Sanskrit Poetics – A Reappraisal
In the whole range of Sanskrit poetics, the term Vakrokti took altogether a new significance and the highest position as the all pervading poetic concept in Kuntaka’s Vakroktijivita. He revived the concept from more verbal poetic figure to the lessons of poetry. He not only explains but also explore the multi – dimensional aspects of Vakrokti. But unfortunately, no comprehensive study of Vakrokti has been done in a systematic way. This book is an effort in this direction.
Presenting the major schools of Sanskrit poetics, the book gives general definition of Vakrokti and its multi dimensional implications. Further taking a close look a the views of different theorists on Vakrokti, it exposes in detail kuntaka’s theory of Vakrokti and makes its critical analysis in relation to various literary concepts – alankara, svabhavokti, rasavadalankar, marga and rasa. Finally, it deals with the striking similarities between dhvani and Vakrokti, and brings out the fundamental aspect of practical criticism as shown by kuntaka.
Suryanarayan Hegde is a devoted young scholar in the field of Sanskrit Poetics and Literature. He was awarded Ph. D. degree by Karnatak University, Dharwad. He has proved his ability and industriousness by getting the First Rank with Gold Medals in M.A. Sanskrit and the 8TH rank to University at the UG level.
Dr. Hegde is, at present, Teaching Assistant in Sanskrit at Karnatak College, Dharwad. He wields his pen in Sanskrit, English and Kannada with equal facility. He has presented his research papers in various national seminars.
When Dr. Suryanarayana Hegde approached me to write a foreword to his new venture, “Concept of Vakrokti in Sanskrit Poetics – A Reappraisal” I was a bit confused because of opposite feelings. The foremost felling was of affection and pride. For, Dr. Surya happens to be my past student and more than that he is a young scholar having commendable literary taste, sharp analytical skill, training in Epigraphy and Textual Criticism – qualities rarely found in present day students of Sanskrit. This feeling forced me to write this foreword. And the feeling that dragged me back was a kind of hesitation owing to my own limitations of not coming out with any new ideas. May be because much has been said on the Alankarasastra in particular and much more has been said on poetics and literary criticism in general, and my effort, therefore, will be nothing more than a Siddhasadhana! Still there may be some neglected corners yet unexplored. My attempt is to search such corners, if there are any!
For thousands of years our ancients were fascinated by the magic played by ‘Vagartha.’ Attempts were made to explore almost all the nuances of language. Our approach towards language was mystics on the one side and analytical on the other. But aesthetic element was bound to be there in both the approaches. Therefore, one can find abundant instances of poetry even in our works on scientific literature like Charakasamhita, Lilavati etc. Similarly the creative works in literature, as in ornate poetry, also were brimmed with scientific details. The only convincing answer to this fact that readily strikes to one’s mind can be found in the great concept called ‘Synthesis’.
In India synthesis was not in knowledge but in person. It was, therefore, a fact that a grammarian was found as a Rasika and a Naiyayika had an element of poetic creativity. Inclusiveness was (and is) a pan – Indian phenomenon. It was therefore accepted that an Adhikarin (a qualified student) was the one who was well informed in other branches of knowledge and a beginner in a particular system.
Vakrokti is an off –shoot of such an Indian mind that it can refer to any ‘deviated expression’. What makes a man a man? Vakrokti can become an answer. The cross-road from which man deviated from animal instincts was definitely Vakrokti. Finding of such a deviated expression necessarily pre-requires a vision that is basically aesthetic. Thus, we arrive at a stage where aesthetic aptitude was aroused in man, which was later named as ‘Rasa’, The happy co-operation of Rasa and Vakrokti culminates in a creative work of art.
In this background Dr. Surya,s work is a welcome effort for many reasons. First of all it is a store – house of hundreds of rare references. One can well understand the meticulous search for sources the author has sought for and looked into. And again, this work exemplifies his wide an in depth acquaintance with even unpopular works on the Alankarasastra. As far as I know, such a study on the concept of Vakrokti was not done so comprehensively as by this promising scholar. There are numerous instances to cite in support of Dr. Surya’s innovative study. To mention one or two: He finds the origin of Vakrokti in Bharata’s ideas on Laksana. Similarly relating Vakrokti to Vamana’s definition of Riti seems to be a new finding.
The original contribution of Dr. Surya lies in his discussion on Kashmir Saivism at great length. Many of Kuntaka’s findings were rooted in this philosophical system. This idea was discussed in general in many critical works on the Alankarasastra. But probably it is this scholar who specifically relates Kuntaka’s ideas to corresponding details in Kashmir Saivism. It may be a matter of controversy that Kuntaka appears to be nearer to his philosophy than abhinavagupta. The boldness in arriving at such a conclusion is commendable but needs to reflected upon on much more substantial grounds.
Again the difference between Kuntakas Alankarya and Anandavardhana’s Dhvani (in the sense of Kavyartha), Kuntaka’s Sahitya and Anandavardhana’s Auchitya needs to be shed more light upon. Mahimabhatta’s terse remarks on Kuntaka and on his Vakroktijivita would also have been with. Equating Vakrokti with poet’s Pratibha itself seems to be a concept worship.
Despite these limitations, so to say, this work exemplifies Dr. Surya’s praiseworthy qualities, which I have already referred to at the out – set, and they have worked as an under current through out this study.
A close study of Kuntaka’s Vakroktijivita led me to take up a detailed study of the concept of Vakrokti in Sanskrit poetics. The concept of Vakrokti took altogether new significance and supreme position as all – pervading poetic concept in Kuntaka. His concept of Vakrokti emerges as a viable theory of poetic language parexcellence. In order to comprehend Kuntaka’s theory, it is necessary to trace the ideas on the concept in earlier and later Sanskrit poetics. A remarkable divergence of conception is noticeable in the same theory of Vakrokti as treated by Bhamaha, Dandin, Vamana, Rudrata and so on. In fact, it is interesting to note that the very concept was taken up for a detailed discussion by Kuntaka, Bhoja and Abhinavagupa who belonged to the same age. Thus, in Sanskrit literary context, Vakrokti theory shows remarkable divergence of conception and treatment from writer to writer.
A critical study of the Vakroktijivita and the isolated concepts of Kuntaka like sahitya, marga- guna, svabhavokti, rasavadalankara, etc, has been made by modern scholars in detail. However, the comprehensive study of Vakrokti, through the ages, has not been done in a systematic way. On the other hand, there is a need of unified study of the concept. “None of the concepts can be studied in isolation, tearing them apart either from each other or from rasa which is the overall end and aim of all literature. This need for an integrated approach was fully realized by masterly writers like Mammata, Visvanatha and Jagannatha in their works. What is most needed today in our Alankara studies is a similar integrated perspective.” These words of Dr. K. Krishnamoorthy inspired me to take up this concept and to study in the said perspective.
Thus, the main object of this research work is to present the comprehensive study of the concept of Vakrokti with an integrated approach. The important original works concerning the concept of Vakrokti have been taken for the study. And, all the available sources related to the field, both primary and secondary, have been utilized as far as possible.
The views of respective theorists on various aspects have been treated after a careful and critical observation. We have entered into the details of all difficult problems and have left no point worth notice.
The method adopted in the study is critical- cum- comparative, historical and objective. In studying the history of Vakrokti, much emphasis is put on the ideas behind the concept, not only to the term. Hence, the inter – related concepts are also discussed occasionally. While dealing with Kuntaka’s views on various literary concepts, the views of different theorists too are discussed. Also, Kuntaka’s influence on his successors is highlighted throughout the work. The value of Vakrokti theory to modern critical thought is indicated as well. Thus, an attempt is made to present the critical exposition of the concept of Vakrokti with an integrated perspective.
It is a pleasant duty for me to acknowledge the help extended by various persons in preparing this research work. The task of completing such a research work was made by the generous guidance of my revered teacher Dr. K. B. Archak, Reader, Department of Sanskrit, Karnatak University, Dharwad. I feel myself proud to extend my deep sense of gratitude to him.
In fact, words fail to express my deep sense of gratitude to my beloved Guru, Dr. Mahesh Adkoli, who initiated me in studying Sanskrit poetics. He is kind enough to go through the manuscript, rectify the errors and make valuable suggestions. He had always been a source of inspiration to me through out my academic career. He in the midst of his busy schedules is also kind enough to contribute scholarly and insightful foreword to this work.
I am profoundly indebted to Dr. Shrinivas Ritti, formerly Professor of Ancient Indian History and Epigraphy, Karnatak University, Dharwad. The discussions with him regarding research in general were highly informative and constructive.
I place on record my reverence to Dr. D.N. Shanbhag, Professor (Retd.) of Sanskrit, Karnatak University, Dharwad for his constant encouragement.
I am extremely thankful to Dr. C.S. Naikar, Professor, Department of Sanskrit, and various authorities of Karnatak University for their co – operation and timely help.
I offer my heart – felt regards and sincere obligation to my parents and brothers for their help and encouragement throughout my career.
It is my pleasant duty to record my thankfulness to Readworthy Publications, New Delhi for having published this work in a splendid manner.
Last but not the least, I express my indebtedness to Mr. R.k. Hegde and his associates for type –setting with all patience and care.
All opinions, observations, and comments of readers will be received with full of sportive spirit.
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