Among the works on literary criticism from Kerala, the Kavyollasa an independent paraphrase of the Kavyaprakasa of Mammata stands foremost. Earlier treatises of Sanskrit rhetoricians were argumentative Nilakantha, the author has attempted to epitomize the principles of poetics in simple verses with suitable illustrations. Though mainly conceived as a redaction of the Kavyaprakasa for the benefit of the youngsters, the author has made it a critical and comparative evaluation of the whole field of poetics. This important work, produced in the first half of the sixteenth century A.D., remains unpublished and almost went out of vogue for the paucity of the manuscripts. The present attempt is to bring a critical edition with a study based on available material.
The Kavyollasa of Nilkantha (first half of 16th century) published now for the first time is an independent paraphrase or rather a redaction of the Kavyaprakasa of Mammata is composed with a view to introducing the important principles of poetics to youngsters. Written in simple Sanskrit verse and provided with example the work gives a comprehensive idea of the field of Alankarasastra before the advent of Jagannatha Pandita and Appayya Diksita. The work is divided into five sections called Unmesas, Historians of Kerala Sanskrit Literature have praised the attempt of the author in presenting the topics is a clear cut manner. For this the author has added his own illustrative verses.
Dr. C. Sukumaran deserves to be congratulated for editing this work for the first time from original palm leaf manuscripts. In this he has scrupulously followed the principles of text edition and textual criticism.
The Kavollasa of Tirumangalattu Nilakantha who flourished in Kerala in the first half of the sixteenth century A.D., is one of the foremost treatises on poetics composed by an author from this region. Though conceived mainly as a redaction of the Kavyaprakasa of Mammata, for the benefit of the youngsters, the author has made it a critical and comparative evaluation of the whole field of poetics before the advent of stalwarts like Jagannatha Pandita and Appayyadiksita. This important work remained unpublished and almost went out of vogue since manuscripts were not at all available. The present attempt is to bring a critical edition of the work with a critical study.
The present volume consists of two parts. Part one consists of a study of the work from various aspects. The matter is arranged under six chapters as follows: (1) The Author, his date and identity, (2) Works, (3) Kavyollasa – an analysis, (4) Method of treatment, (5) Nilakantha as a rhetorician and (6) The edition.
Part Two comprise the edition of the work based on two incomplete manuscripts and as such it has some limitations. There are only two manuscripts of the work available at present. One is a palm leaf manuscript preserved in the manuscripts library attached to the Government Sanskrit College, Trippunithura that extends from the beginning up to the end of the third Unmesa in the third edition. The other is a transcript preserved in the Madras Oriental Manuscripts Library and it extends from the beginning of the fourth Unmesa of the present edition up to the end of the fifth Unmesa. Some portion is obviously missing in between the third and fourth Unmesa as well as at the end. All efforts to procure further manuscripts failed in spite of the vigorous search, which lasted several years. The present author thought it fit to bring out the work in the present form, because of the intrinsic merit of the compendium despite its incompleteness.
Sanskrit notes given in smaller types following the text are supplied by the editor to trace the sources of the ideas of the author as well as the works from which the illustrative verses are quoted. It is hoped that this will enhance the merit of the dissertation.
It is my pleasant duty to thank the several authorities and institutions, which helped me to complete my research course. Dr. N.P. Unni, and Ex-Vice-Chancellor of Sanskrit University and Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit University of Kerala provided efficient guidance for my work in addition to writing a Foreword, to which I am thankful to him. Shri T.K. Ramachandra Iyer, Retired Principal, Government Sanskrit College, Trippunithura has helped me in clearing many doubts during my studies and to him I express my gratitude. Other members of the teaching and office staff of the Department also cooperated with me. The University Grants Commission and the University of Kerala gave me assistance to work as a research scholar under the Faculty Improvement Programme. The Principal, Government Sanskrit College, Trippunithura and the Curator, Madras Government Manuscripts Library supplied me the rare manuscript of the work for my study and deserve my gratitude. I thank all of the sincerely and submit this monograph craving for the indulgence of the elders in my limitations.
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