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Ksemendra Studies of Dr. Suryakanta (Text with English Translation)

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Item Code: NAF784
Publisher: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan
Author: R.K. Panda
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788180902536
Pages: 272
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 6.0 inch
Weight 460 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

In the present work an attempt has been made to deal with several aspects of Ksemendra’s life and works, his language and style, his contribution to Sanskrit literature, and his eminence as a critic of the theory and practice of poetry. In his Kavikanthabharana (which may be rightly called kavisiksa) besides discussing possibilities of becoming a poet, of borrowing and adopting from asters of poetic art the poetic charm and its illustration in its ten aspects, merits and demerits with regard to sense, sound and sentiment, Ksemendra gives a hundred pieces of sound advice to the budding poets.

About The Author

Dr. R. K. Panda, the author of the present work is now working as the Head of the Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit in the Faculty of Arts, the M. S. University of Baroda. He has written and edited twenty five works. He is an eminent poet and creative international and national awards. Recently he received Akhila Bharatiya Kalidasa Award given by Kalidasa Sanskrit Akademi, Ujjain, for his story collection Chinnachaya.


We have hereby great pleasure to present Dr. Suryakanta's Ksemendra Studies, as volume 91 of the Poona Oriental Series. This work provides for the first time in the English language, together with a translation, a study of Ksemendra' s works in general and, in particular, a detailed study of his three manuals on Literature and Criticism, viz. Kavikanthdbharana, Aucityavicaracarca and Suvrttatilaka.

Ksemendra, the Kashmirian poymath of the eleventh century A.D., holds a distinct place in the galaxy of Sanskrit poets. Most of his works are available in print, some are still in manuscript and some more have to be unearthed. Critical editions, even of published works, are yet a desideratum. Ksernendra is widely known but his works are not as widely studied. They deal with diverse subjects, and provide rich material for study from the sociological, as well as literary, point of view.

A word may be said with regard to the mauals under reference. The Kavikanthdbharana deals with the making of the poet, the Suvrttatilaka with the proper use of metres and the Aucityavicaracarca seeks to establish propriety as the soul of poetry. It is true that propriety (aucitya) did not hold ground and was indeed swept away by the overwhelming flood of suggestion (dhvani). The Dhvani doctrine of Anandavardhana was the topic of the day as it were. Mahimabhatta criticised it; but the great Acarya Abhinavagupta upheld it. Ksemendra, Abhinavagupta's own pupil, however, ventured to put some new thought into the whole problem and enunciate propriety (aucitya) as a distinct concept constituting the soul of poetry. Perhpas it was little too much. Aucitya, at all events, is a potent factor with which poetry- or anything for the matter of that-must be judged. But is lacks the all-absorbing appeal of dhvani which marks the ineffable lavanya or charm of the Muse of Poetry. The attempt, however, the analyse and dissect the delicate yet exquisite beauty and peculiar appeal of dhvani was not wise, though correct in theory. The numerous divisions and sub-divisions have made dhavni too ponderous to conceive and too lybyrinthine to negotiate. It were nice if the sastra was there to stimulte and help critical appreciation but not throttle genius by means of hair-splitting rules and injunctions. The growing dialectic about rasa and alankdra sharpened the faculty to reason rather than inspire the faculty to create. It is natural therefore that the less abstract and less equivocal principle of propriety would attract the eye of the longing critic. Though not a big work, the Discourse on Propriety is provoking enough. The numerous examples are illuminating. Nowadays when the knowledge of literary criticism is enriched by contributions from other literature, it is hoped that Ksemendra will prove a welcome thinker in the field for many an enthusiastic scholar to emulate.

Dr. Stiryakanta, Mayurbhanj Professor of Sanskrit, Banaras Hindu University, deserves the gratitude of scholars for having made this important contribution for the advancement of Learning.


The present volume is composed, with a few additions and alterations, of the series of lectures I read at the Lahore University in 1943-44. Though produced under such a learned auspices, It can make no claims to learning. It contains the expressions of an ordinary reader concerning the great Kasmiran poet, who might furnish matter enough for study during one's life-time. I am no specialist in the study of Ksemendra, nor a scholar of the bewildering variety of subjects he chose to treat III his works. I can report no facts and propose no hypotheses about him which are not at hand in his own informative works; and perhaps it is his intellectual vision of the world that the poet himself in particular wishes to hand down to us, and not the shabby incidents that preceded that vision in his own person. My excuse for writing about him, notwithstanding, is, therefore, merely the common excuse for writing about the spring or the moon or a maiden. Ksemendra has attracted me; he has moved me to reflection; he has revealed to me certain aspects of Indian life, literature and philosophy, which I am prompted to express, together with recording a few contributions of fact and opinion that are likely to throw light on the many facest of his complex personality, his works, his enviroment, his faith, his fancy that fed on the study of real things and the vision into which he poured his faculties. What I am offering to the benevolent reader is, thus, a piece of literary criticis, illustrated with an English translation of three of his works; and I hope that even this, necessarily brief, attempt will attract attention of scholars to the intensive study of one, who represents the Kasmirian spirit in its best form, and is the one versatile author in Whom poetry and wisdom were intimately fused; for Ksemendra' s poetry and prose, in their infinite variety, blended with the meditation and a virile practical intelligence by which he sought to penetrate Into the springs of life. In him creative emotion and reasoned thought were locked together to a degree rearely attained In India; and It is this human synthesis, coupled with the alert awareness of the activities of his day, that has appealed to me so much that It seemed to be permissible to signalize Ksemendra's achievements and supplement them with a few such observations as seemed relevant. In. view of some tendency towards a 'general opinion a new objectively elaborated interpretation has a colam to careful consideration; and I hope this little work, may be Instrumental In linking anew the Indian mind with Kasmira that has contributed so infinitely and so vitally to our culture and literature, but whoe original spirit and tradition are now seriously menaced by exotic contaminations. I, as a member of the Panjab Legislature, think no task more important than to ensure that the bonds of Indo-Kasmirian Scholarship remain firm.

I owe thanks to Dr. H '. L. HARIY APPA for help generously given. It was at his suggestion that I gave this work to Dr. R. N. SARDESAI, the proprietor of the meritorious Poona Orient! series for publication; and I also owe a great debt to him and to my old pupil Mr. Jnan Cand for their acute scrutiny of my manuscript and its proofs. For such errors and omissions as remain, I alone am responsible.


KASHMIR, the ancient land of learning produced in the eleventh century of the Christian era a writer of great eminence, the polymath Ksemendra. He is a writer of indomitable zeal and inexhaustible resources. His writings cover a very wide range of subjects. He is a versatile genius; his works include treatises on poetics and prosody. He wrote Kavyas and Mahakavyas, a drama, many didactic poems, poetical epitomes of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and of Gunadhya' s Brhatkatha, a chroinicle of Kings of Kashmir and a lexicon. Most of his works, numbering about thirty-two, have been published while some are yet in their manuscript form. In the whole range of Sanskrit literature few indeed have tried their hand on such a variety of subjects and with such success. Ksemendra's comprehensive style, his clarity of expression, his power to use satire to the best advantage and his critical insight into literature have earned for him a place among the masters of Indian literary tradition.

In the present work an attempt has been made to deal with several aspects of Ksernendra's life and works, his language and style, his contribution to Sanskrit literature, and his eminence as a critic of the theory and practice of poetry.

In his Kavikanthabharana (which may be rightly called kavisiksa) besides discussing possibilities of becoming a poet, of borrowing and adopting from masters of poetic art the poetic charm and its illustration in its ten aspects, merits and demerits with regard to sense, sound and sentiment, Ksemendra gives a hundred pieces of sound advice to the budding poets. Eminent writers on Sanskrit poetics like Dandin, Rudrata, Vamana, Vagbhata, Rajasekhara, Bhoja and Hemacandra have developed this subject in their treatises, but Ksernendra appears to be quite original in his treatment.

A study of Ksernendra' s works reveals that they were written in accordance with the doctrines propounded in his Kavikanthabharana. For instance, his didactic poems, the Samayamatrka, the Kalavilasa, the Darpadalana, the Sevyasevakopadesa, and the Carucaryasataka illustrate his lokacaraparijiuina (Kavi. II 6) i.e., 'familiarity with the ways of the world', and upadesavisesokti (Kavi II 16) i.e., 'special didacitc skill'. His epitomes of the Epics and the Nrpavali bear testimony to the fact that he was pursuing the principle of itihdsanusaranam (Kavi II 6) i.e., 'accordance with history'. In his Dasavataracarita he illustrates his samyam sarvasurastutau (Kavi II 19) i.e., 'impartiality in the priase of all deities'; in the Padyakadambari his viviktakhyaykdrasa (Kavi II 6) i.e., 'sparkling interest in romances'; in the Citrabharatanataka his niuakabhinayapreksa (Kavi II 15) i.e., 'fondness for dramatic performances', and in his works on poetics kavyangavidyadhigama (kavi II 3) i.e., 'a knowledge of ancillary disciplines' . Since all his works are complete, one might say that he follows faithfully prarabdhakavyanirvaha (Kavi II 22) i.e., 'seeing a poem to its finish'. In fact all the one hundred instructions to the poet are amply illustrated in his works, and it may be concluded that the Kavikanthabharana was a product of his mature genius.

In his Aucityavicaracarca, Ksemendra has developed the theme of PROPRIETY as essentail to poetry. He has illustrated under twenty-eight headings how propriety can either be displayed or violated. His forceful arguments and discussions and his clear enuncitation of principles in defence of what he believes to be poetry, point to his remarkable conception of poetic art and its practice. His Aucityavicaracarca, like his Kavikanthabharana is a mine of quotations from his contemporaries as well 'as predecessors and fully illustrates his contention vyutpattyai sarvasisyatd (Kavi II 14) i.e., 'readiness to become other's disciple for poetic culture'; paronmesajigisd (Kavi II 14) i.e., 'eagerness to emulate or excel others' poetic genius'; mahakavyarthacarvanam (Kavi II 14)_i.e., 'ruminating upon the contents of great poems’; sahavasah (kavivaraih Kavi Il 14) i.e., 'contactor association With eminent poets’; and pathah parakrtasya (Kavi II 3)i.e., ‘study of others’ compositions’.

Ksemendra, to some, might appear in his Aucityvicaracarca a better critic than a poet. But this is a matter of opinion. At any rate, he is to be counted among the great literary critics like Dandin, vamana and Anandavardhana.

The well-known doctrines of Rasa, Alankara and Dhvani, held the ground when Ksemendra propounded his theory of Aucitya. One might say that the concept of propriety had been felt by the elders but it was given to Ksmendra to develop it into a system and declare that Aucitya is the Soul of poetry. Long ago Anandavardhana realised that nothing spoils Rasa as Anaucitya or Impropriety. On the other hand, a composition based on the well-known (prasiddha) and the proper (ucita), constitutes the very secret of Rasa.

Aucitya is Harmony, Adaption, Proportion, Appropriateness, or Propriety. It presupposes Rasa and Dhvani. Professor S. Kuppuswami SASTRI has given a very interesting karika on the position of Aucitya among these concepts, viz.Ksemendra has reproduced faithfully the original epics in his Bharata and Ramayana Majnjaris. His fondness for Vyasa is clear since he added the appellation Vyasadasa (a follower of Vyasa) to his name; for Vyasa, according to him, is bhuvanopajivya 'world-sustainer' . The lost Brhatkatha of Gunadhya finds an echo in his Brhatkatha manjari. His abridgement of the KATHA may be considered to be quite faithful as it easily bears comparison with other extant abridgement.

In his reflections on the world and its vanities, there is sharpenss tones up with good humour and realism. His redicule of the bards and singers, goldsmiths, quacks, astrologers and vendors of patent medicines is frequent and poignant. His Darpadalana is intended to show the folly of pride, while the Sevyasevakopadesa aims at issuing instructions for servants and their masters. The Caturvargasangraha describes the four ends of life, and the Carucarydsataka prescribes the rules of conduct. Almost all his works are interspersed with moral maxims and didactic sayings.

Ksemendra' s treatment of Prosody is remarkable in more than one respect. Being an exponent of the Aucitya school he had said at the end of his Aucityavicarcarca that innumerable facets of Aucitya could be discerned and elaborated besides the twenty-seven discussed by him. Eventually in his Suvrttatilaka he seems to have taken up vrttaucitya i.e. 'propriety of metre' .

Illustrations of different metres are from his own pen. He aims at originality with a vengeance as it were. Excellences and blemished of metres are brought out prominently. Further, there is a discussion on the characteristics of certain metres which makes them luminous and forceful. The appropriateness of certain metres to certain subjects, moods and situations is very instructive. Poets should employ a variety of metres. The favourite metres of Abhinanda, Panini, Kalidasa, Bharavi and Bhavabhiiti are remembered. Ksemendra appears to be the only writer on Prosody who has dealt with this latter aspect of the subject.

A word on the text of the three treatises translated here: These are published in the Kavyamala series No.1, 2 and 4, and also in the Haridasa Samskrta Granthamala No. 24, 25, 26 also known as the Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series. The latter edition, though giving all the three at one place, is unfortunately defective.

With regard to the translation of the Kavikanthabharana, the Aucityavicaracarca and the Suvrttatilaka, I may add that to render them into English has been by no means an easy task. Every translator has his limitations depending on the nature of the work he translates. As a matter of fact no translation can adequately reflect the original author's mind. Translation is at best a .'shadow'. Rhythm word order, figures of speech, compactness or diffuseness of expression, these cannot be reproduced from one language into another . A miniature Sanskrit poem is like a little picture drawn by a master hand, complete alike in its nature and in its art, coloured with all the richness which a copious and flexible language like Sanskrit could impart.

Kesemendra’s works on poetics abound in vivid pictures in the fewest possible words; they defy translation. The ideas may be reproduced, but not their original excellence regarding situation, rhyme or rhythm. The difficulty f the task is aggravated by the highly technical nature of the subject and the complicated and critical prose of the author. Absence of any commentary on these treatises is perhaps another handicap.

While translation, however, the well-known dictum of Malinatha has been trictly followed: neither make an unfounded statement nor say anything unwanted.

Ksemendrda is, undoubtedly, a great luminary in the firmament of poetry. He is truly an inspirer like Valmiki and Vyasa who were his own mentors. His was’a vow to perpetuate learning ‘ in a selfless spirit, viz., Vrtam sarasvto yagah (Kavi II 2). All praise be to him. He was ‘The poet like the sun with his rays of poetry reaching every region reveals in fresh colours the sentiments, feelings and emotions of all beings.’

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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