The Kavyadarsah (the mirror of poetry) of Dandin is an important work in the field of Sanskrit poetics. It contains the main principles of poetics in an easy and lucid style. The present edition embodies a carefully edited text along with the commentary of jibandan Vidyasagar and an English translation prepared by V. V. Sastrulu. The introduction also gives summary of the text along with the biographical sketch of its author. The work will be very useful to the students of Indian Poetics.
The editor , Rabindra K. panda is an eminent Sanskrit scholar who has made significant contribution to the field of Indology. He is working as a Reader in the Dept. of Sanskrit, Pali & Prakrt, faculty of Arts, M. S. Universal of Baroda.
The author of Kavyadarsah, one of the earliest works on Alankara, is Acarya Dandin. From a verse of Rajasekhara in Sarangadhana Paddhati, we learn that Dandin was the author of three prabandhas. Attempts have been made by scholars to identify these three prabandhas. Disutsched thinks that Dasakumara-carita, Kavyadarsa and Mrcchakatika are the three books. Others substitute for Mrcchakatika, the poem, Dvisandhanakavya prescribed by Bhojadeva to Dandin. Others again consider that Chandovichiti and Kala paricched are the two other works of Dandin. These are referred to in Kavyadarsa; but it is not clear from the context that they are the names of books and not names of the sectional topics. Some modern researchers are of opinion that the two other works of Dandin are Dasakumaracariia and Avantisundari- katha.
Opinion is similarly very undecided as to the comparative dates of Bhamaha and Dandin. Mr. Fice's "Inscriptions from Sravana Belgola" contains a verse in praise of Srivarddha-deva which is attributed to Dandin. Mr. M. T. Narasimha Ayyangar in his pamphlet on "Bhamaha, the rhetorician" points out the references to Dandin. In Bhamaha's work and places Bhamaha after Dandin and in the latter half of the seventh century. Other scholars are of opinion that Dandin was later than Bhamaha and criticised Bhamaha's opinions.
From the introductory portion to Aoanti-sundori-kathii- siira, we find that Dandin was the great grandson of one Damodara whom Dandin refers to as Bharavi. This Bharavi is said to have been a friend to Prince Visnu Vardhana and the Palla va Sirnha-visnu. In all probability he became famous is Bharavi after the respectful ascription of that name by his descendant Dandin: in which case Dandin must have lived before the date of Aihole inscription (634 A. D.). In this view he would be earlier than Bhamaha, Dandin, according to Aimatisundari-katha-sara, lived at the Pallava court at Kanchipuram and when that city was invested by the armies of Chalukya Vikramaditya, he went about travelling all over India; and he returned only when peace was restored at Kanchipuram.
Kavyadarsa, occupies a prominent place among the Alankara Sastras, both on account of the clarity of exposition and on account of its own undoubted merits of style. The book was intended as a guide to aspirants to literary fame and not as an exhaustive thesis on literary criticism. That was the object of Acaraya Dandin is seen from the concluding verse of each Pariccheda. The intrinsic value of the book is attested by its being translated very early in the vernaculars. In this connection it may not be out of place to refer to what appears to be a contemporary appreciation of Kavyadarsa :
There have been several commentaries on the Kavyadarsah. The earliest appears to be Srutanupalini of Vadi Ghangala. Two other commentaries, one of Tarunavacaspati and another, (Hrdayangama) by an unknown author have been published in 1910 by Rao Bahadur Prof. M. Rangachariar, then Curator of the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras. A fourth commentary of Jibananda Vidyasagara has been adopted in this edition. Acarya Dandin belongs to the Daksinatya school of writers and was a lover of Vaidarbhi style; he brings out the distinction between the two extreme of the Vaidarbhi and the Gouda styles very clearly in this book.
Dandin belongs to the formative period of Sanskrit poetics when some of the doctrines were steadily advancing towards development; some of them were trying for winning recognition and style some others were making their first appearance in conscious or sub-conscious form. As one of the earliest exponents of the poetical doctrines, he richly deserves a prominent place in the history of Sanskrit Poetics. A study of his work on Poetics is imperative not only for having an enright into the beginning and early development of the poetical theories, but also for a correct appraised of the various doctrine which developed after him. Dandin has dealt with almost all the topics of the science of kavya, prevalent in his time and has given one of the most elaborate treatments to some of them.
The main contents or topics of the Kavyadarsa are as follows:
1. Benediction, and introductory remarks
2. Purposes and sources of poetry
3. Definition and classification of Kavya.
4. The Poetic dictions (margas) and their constituent excellences (guna)
5. Defects (dosa)
6. Poetic figures (i) Ideal figures (ii) Verbal figures and literary feats
7. Concluding remarks
Dandin makes a passing reference to the purpose of poetry. He casually mentions delight and fame as gains of poetry to the poet and describes mahakavya as a poetic composition which delights the world, implying thereby that the esthetic pleasure belongs to the reader also. Dandinalso refers to the attainment of the fruit of the four objects of life (caturvarga) when he describes a mahakavya as possessed of the goal of the four objects. Dandin also deals incidentally, with the sources of poetry or equipments of a poet, which, according to him, are (i) poetic imagination (pratibha), (ii) pure and vast learning (nirmala bahusruia) and (iii) assiduous application (ananda abhiyoga).
Dandin is perhaps the first known writer who gives us a definition of Kavya. He defines kavya, or rather metaphorically its body, as a series of words characterized by agreeable sense. In this definition, he apparently puts greater stress on the words which, when possessed of the intended sense, constitute the body of the kavya. Dandinclassifies kavya, on the basis of various factors, into numerous varieties of poetic composition. On the basis of form, he divides it into prose, verse and misra or a mixture of the two forms. The metrical variety has been divided into two classes, vrtta and jati, according as the metres employed are regulated by syllables or moras (matra) respectively, while structarally it is sub-divided into muktaka (a single verse), kulaka (a group of five verses), Kosa (unconnected verses) and samghata (short poem with a story). These forms are said to be included the main variety namely, the mahakavya.
The prose form has been normally divided into akhyayika and katha, though Dandin definitely knows Its other numerous species as well. Dandin however, does not admit the rigid distinction made between the two varieties which, according to him, form one class under two different designations. He emphatically rebutes the theory of distinction. The misa or mixed variety of kavya includes drama (nataka) etc. for the elaborate treatment of which Dandin refers his readers to other specialised works.
The medium of expression forms the basis of another classification which divides kavya into four sets, namely, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa and misra. Of Prakrit, Dandinnotices various forms, viz. Maharastri, Sauraseru, Gaudi, and Lati as also Paisa (referred to as bhutabhasa), the first of which is typified as the best. He divides the Prakrit vocables into tadbhava (loan-words assuming a different form), tatsama (those in identical form) and in (local word). By Apabhramsa, Dandin means the language of the Abhiras and others in kavya as distinguished from the scientific writings where it is the name given to all languages other than Sanskrit.
Dandin occupies a prominent place in the development of the marga theory. According to Dandin, the path of speech is multifold, since every poet possesses a distinct way of expressing a thing. It is difficult to draw a clear line of distinction between the various paths or dictions which differ from poet to poet, the mutual difference among them being too subtle to be defined. The two margas, viz, the Vaidarbha and the Gauda, are however clearly distinguishable, the points of difference in them being easily discernible.
Although Dandin considers the Gauda marga to be a diction of second degree, he accords it due recognition as a literary path. His predilection for the Vaidarbha diction is more than evident. He regards the marga as a standard diction which favours the classical and the refined manner of expression. The marga, according to him, insists on tenderness, compactness and force, in the arrangement of words and on evenness of diction, and with regard to sense, it demands limpidity and explicitness as also sublimitya and spontaneity of emotions and ornateness in expression, and above all, emphasises sweetness both of word and sense. The Gauda miirga, on the other hand, prefers fervidity and harshness and alliteration, and allows therefore laxity and unevenness of diction to creep in.
Dandin considers the gunas to be the basic elements of poetic diction. He accepts ten gunas viz., Slesa (compactness), Prasada (lucidity), Samata (evenness), Madhurya (sweetness), Sukumarald (softness), Arthavyakti, udarata, Ojas, Kanti and Samadhi.
Dandin does not define dosa perhaps due to its being too clear concept to explain. According to him, anything that is employed emproperly or indecently and, for that reason, perturbs the mind of a man of taste constitutes a defect. Dandin has dealt with the ten dosas viz., Apartha, Vyartha, Ekartha, Sarhsaya, Apakrama, sabdahina, yatibhrasta, Bhinnaorita, Visarhdhika, Desakalakalalokanyayagamavirodhi. Besides the traditional dosas which may be termed external ones, Dandin has indirectly referred to some dosas in the first chapter of his Kavyadarsa as negative forms of the gunas excepting udaratva, ojas and samadhi the opposites of which have not been alluded to by him. The dosas refered to are: Sithila (looseness), Vyutpanna, Visama, Gramua, Dipta or Nisihura, Neyatva, Atyukti. Besides the positive and negative dosas, Dandin refers to the flaws of simile which he regards as defects only it they perturb the mind of a reader. In case, however, they do not wound the cultivated sensibility, they cease to be dosas. Since Dandin a great advocate of the alamkara theory, considers the generic concept of alamkara to be the principal element of poetic embellishment, he defines it as the characteristic attributes which produces charm in poetry and encorporates, in its vast scope, besides the specific alarnkaras, the excellences, the various forms of dramatic joints and manners and the laksanas. A striking features of Dandin's conception of alamkaras is that he stamps the gunas as special alamkaras which constitute the essential elements of particular poetic dictions and form the basis of their classification, while the poetic figures are termed by him as the alamkaras which are common to all the dictions or, in other words, which characterise all poetic compositions.
Great credit goes to the writer for giving the concept a lucid and bright exposition by defining, as precisely as possible, the scope of various poetic figures along with their varieties, and his claim in this respect is justified to a considerable extent. The elaborate treatment he has given to the concept clearly implies that he regarded the alamkaras as the principal elements of poetry. He deals with the following alamkaras. Svabhavokti, Upamii, Rupaka, Dipika, Aksepa, Arthantaranyasa, Vyatireka, Vibhavana, Samasokti, Atisayokti, Utpreksa, Hetu, Suksma, Lesa, Yathasarhkhya, Preyas, Rasavat, Urjasvin, Samahiia, Paryayokta, Udiitta, Apahnuti, Slista, Visesokti, Tulyayogita, Virodha, Aprastutaprasamsa, Vyajastute, Nidarsanii, Sahokti Parivrtti, Asis, Bhavika, Yamaka, citrab and' has.
Dandin recognises the importance of rasa in poetry or in a mahakavya which, according to him, should be abounding in sentiments and emotions, He enumerates and illustrates the traditionally recognised eight rasas. Dandin implies the idea of propriety in various spheres of his concepts and gives a general form of the doctrine in the making. The principle of propriety is at work when he puts special stress on proper employment of words, and condemns a speech improperly formed. Thus we see that Dandin made a rich contribution to the study of poetics by giving scientific interpretation and analysis to the concepts that he inherited from earlier tradition making his own assessment of them and by presenting at places his own ideas, in a precise manners and in the most convincing way.
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