The important topics dealt with by the Sanskrit phoneticians are the definition
and classification of poetry, drama, prose etc; the figures of speech (alamkaras),
the sentiments (rasas), literary merits (gu1J.OS) and defects (dosas, style (ritis),
purpose of poetry, equipments of the poet and such other matters related to literature.
The primary point of enquiry is what constitutes the essence of poetry and how to
achieve it? The results of such enquiries are varied and they form the different
schools of theory on poetry and drama, each school approaching the subject from
a different point of view. Modem scholars have listed eight major schools of poetics
and all the well-known writers on poetics can be included in one school or the
One of the most important schools namely the Rasa-School reveals the
role of rasa (sentiment). This school emphasizes that rasa is the most essential and
indispensable element in poetry. Bharata, the author of the Natyasastra, is the
most ancient and well recognized establisher of this school. A number of commentators such as Bhatta Lollata, Sri Sankuka, Bhatta Nayaka and Abhinava gupta have
contributed in enriching the aesthetic thought and made Bharata's Natyasastra a
prestigious work in the world's history on poetic ideas. Bhatta Lollata makes no
distinction between real emotion of life and emotion in art. Sri Sankuka tries to
explain rasa as an act of inference made enjoyable by the unique charm of art.
According to Bhatta Nayaka rasa is more of a mystic like ecstasy involving
universalization of all factors figuring in the aesthetic process. In the opinion of
Abhinava gupta rasa is the highest subjective-cum-spiritual bliss for human beings.
He seeks the support of Anandavardhana's theory of suggestion to explain the
process of rasa-realization. Vamana for the first time made enquiries into what
constitutes the soul of poetry. He arrived at the conclusion that literary style (riti)
is the soul of poetry and words and sense form the body of poetry.
The concepts of figure of speech (alamkara), gunas, and riti underwent significant
changes when Anandavardhana established suggestion (dhvani) as the soul of poetry.
Suggestion (dhvani) elaborated by Anandavardhana refers to a special meaning
that poetic language suggests. Suggestion arises from the unity of word and sense.
Anandavardhana's Dhvanyaloka is a master piece in the history of alamkara literature
because it showcases the suggestive potentiality of the language. Anandavardhana
formulated and Abhinava gupta elaborated and clarified the power of suggestion
(dhvani) which poetry acquires and which goes beyond all the logical, grammatical
and syntactical resources. Anandavardhana did not reject the earlier theories
established by his predecessors when he established suggestion (dhvani) as the
soul of poetry. He came out with a new scheme, where all the different elements of
poetry are systematically and harmoniously assigned their own places.
The creative period of Sanskrit poetics came to an end with the speculations
of Kuntaka. This period was followed by a period, where the earlier speculations
were summarized, systematized, elaborated, and expanded.
The main objective of this book is to give an account of the important
schools of Sanskrit poetics with special reference to their contribution to Indian
poetics. The principal concepts of Sanskrit poetics are introduced with suitable
illustrations from the works of renowned Sanskrit poets.
This book is intended to be a text book as well as a reference book for the
Post-Graduate students of comparative literature and Sanskrit literature in India
and abroad. The special feature of the book is that it will help the non-Sanskrit’s
reader to grasp and appreciate the contents readily. Thus, Sanskrit knowledge is
not a pre-condition to understand the main aspects of literary theories of renowned
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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