Sarasvafikanthabharanam is a work on Poetics. (Bhoja has another work on Grammar under the same name). This encyclopaedic compilation is a record of the wide range of human experience and knowledge that interested Bhoja. It discusses the usual topics of poetics in an unusual manner viz. Dosa, guna, Dosaguna, Alankara, Rasa, Drsya and Sravya Kavya. There are many earlier editions of this work, some alone has an English translation. The text has been exhaustively and incisively edited, without obscuring Bhoja's thought and intent.
Poetry cannot be fitted into rigid classes either of matter or of manner. Rightfully is Bhoja unfettered by the terms and definitions, armed with which writers try to study 'Great poetry'. Bjoja has a practical approach, and does not involve in the speculation on the soul of poetry. He holds rasa to be the crux of poetry. Srngara is the foremost which can gather into itself all the other rasas. Bhoja uses abhimana and ahamkara as synonymous with rasa. It is hence, inferred that the identification with the action and with the chief character, on the part of the reader, brings about this delight. The self-transcending state of aesthetic delight, spoken of by Abhinavagupta may be a more advanced stage of this joy.
Dr. Mrs. Sundari Siddhartha is at present serving in the Editorial Department of the Theosophical Society at Chennai.
She retired in 2003 as Senior Reader in Sanskrit, after forty three years of teaching in Indraprastha College for Women, at Delhi.
As a student she was awarded merit scholarship in B.A. (Hons.) and M.A. (Sanskrit). She got the UGC fellowship for doing her Ph.D. She has guided two Ph.D and two M.Phil students.
She has attended many national and international conferences, and has presented more than 50 papers in Sanskrit Indology, Philosophy Tamil and Theosophy.
Her published work is titled Post Mammata Sanskrit Poetics.
At present, she is associated with the Surabharati Samiti to home her skills in the speaking of Sanskrit, while also being engaged in the propagation of Sanskrit.
A number of editions of this work on Poetics Sarasvafikanthabharanam have come out so far. In one of the more recent of these, Biswanath Bhattacharya held out the promise that he will bring out the English translation of this work in another Volume. Since that translation did not come out for long, the work was entrusted to us by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Although undertaken with diffidence, this exercise led us to the discovery of a system in this 'encyclopaedic compilation' and the wide range of human experience and knowledge.
In preparing his edition Biswanath Bhattacharya had consulted four printed editions of this work, beginning with the earliest by Vireshvara Shastri Dravida (1836), and in addition, a few manuscripts. This edition was published in 1979 by Banaras Hindu University (BHU). The arrangement of the matter under suitable headings, especially in Chapter V, in this edition, was of immense help to us in approaching the subject. The two earlier editions that were consulted by us are (1) Anundoram Borooah (ARB) edition, published in 1880 and reprinted in 1969, and (2) Kavyamala (MK) edition by Kedaranatha Durgaprasada and Vasudeva Phanasikar, published in 1924 and reprinted in 1987. Another edition, with translation and commentary in Hindi, by Kameshwar Nath Mishra, published by the Chaukhambha Orientalia (CO) in two volumes in 1976 and 1992, was also consulted.
The (APB) contains only the text, with the karikas numbered and the examples without numbering. In the Notes at the end of the work, the Sanskrit chayas of many of the Prakrit verses have been furnished, and also the sources of many of the examples.
The KM edition includes Ratnesvara's commentary on the first three of the five chapters of the work, and the commentary by Jagaddhara on the fourth. The Introduction furnishes information on the earlier works and authors from whom Bhoja has drawn material, and his political and literary career. At the end of the work, pictorial representation of the different types of citrakavya described by Bhoja has been provided. An alphabetical index (based on Col. Jacob's 'Index to Quotations') of the illustrations along with the sources, has also been appended. This index contains a comparison with the original version.
The BHU edition of Biswanath Bhattacharya contains the text and the two commentaries noted above, for the same chapters. In the Introduction Bhattacharya describes the previous editions of this work, summarises the contents, and sketches the three sources of influence (1) the Northern or Kashmirian rhetoricians Bhamaha, Vamana, Udbhata, Rudrata, and Anandavardhana (2) the Southern authority Dandin, and (3) the Agnipurana, supplemented by the texts on dramaturgy, viz. the Natyasastra and Dasarupaka, and the treatise on the poet's equipment, the Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara. He draws attention towards Bhoja's original contribution to the subject, and gives a small information of a biographical nature. The Appendix consists of an Index of (1) the karika half-verses, (2) an illustration in Sanskrit, (3) another illustration in Prakrit, both with sources, (4) some verses from other sources, (6) some verses from the commentaries, preceded by (5) an illustration of Citrakavya.
The CO edition by Kameshwar Nath Mishra follows the Kavyamala edition for the first four chapters and includes an edition by Jeevananda Vidyasagara Bhattacharya along with his commentary, for the fifth. In his Introduction he explains Bhoja's purport, his predecessors, and occasionally citing popular verses on the subject. Further, he offers information about Bhoja's life and work, and explains citrakavya at length. A pictorial representation of the same has been presented in Chapter II, along with the verses describing and illustrating its varieties. A table of alankaras has been added to Volume One and an index of unnumbered quotations to Volume Two. An index of karikas and another of the illustrations have also been appended to both the volumes of this edition.
We have noticed that although Biswanath Bhattacharya has pointed out and rectified a few errors, both of words and punctuation, in the text, some still remain. For instance, in the enumeration of the alankaras in Chapter IV, all the editions consulted read 'ullekha', while the obvious reference is to 'lesa'. Fortunately, as the correct reading has been cited as a variant by Bhattacharya from the earliest edition by Viresvara Sastri Dravida, it could be restored to the text.
Occasionally, the only words or punctuation in the APB or KM edition have been also changed or corrected. And all the emendations have been put in square brackets.
Again, Bhattacharya has divested some of the defining verses which Bhoja had introduced with phrases such as 'yadahuh', of the status of karikas and has put them within apostrophes, without giving them numbers. And in a few places where the borrowing has not been admitted, he has himself supplied phrases such as yadahuh within brackets, and in one instance in Chapter V, without brackets. But as Bhoja had presented many verses from Dandin, and a few from Bhamaha in the form of karikas (we have not followed Bhattacharya in the latter practice). For example, in Chapter I, the APB and KM editions present the verses from Dandin describing desa, kala, agama and their virodha, and the verse on this virodha joining the ranks of merits in exceptional circumstances, all in the form of karikas. Bhattacharya presents the descriptive verses as borrowings and the exempting verse as a karika. The earlier editions have been followed by us in this matter.
In presenting the illustrations, very rarely, we have changed a reading presented by all the editions consulted, by referring to the original source. Several verses occur more than once in the work to illustrated different ideas, sometimes differing in reading. No unwarranted effort has been made to make the reading uniform. The numbering of illustrations presents another dilemma. Sometimes an illustration is followed by another verse, either to provide the context or in the nature of an explanation. While some of the explanatory verses are from kavya, some are of a general nature. Some have been numbered and some left unnumbered by Bhattacharya. For instance, in Chapter V, after example 74 illustrating Sneha, a verse is cited from Uttararamacaritam. It has not been numbered, as Bhoja had introduced it with 'yadittamahuh'. But an explanatory verse introduced in same manner in Chapter II, in the prose passage following example 76 (78 in the present edition), has been numbered 77. This inconsistency has been removed in the present edition. However, the verses which are not in the nature of a general explanation and have not been introduced with phrases like 'yadahuh', have been numbered.
The combinations of verse and prose described as varieties of gata in Chapter II, have been illustrated with two passages from Malatimadhavam. In one, the illustration ends with the prose part. This has not been taken into account, and in the BHU and KM editions the number symbol has been appended to the verse, obscuring Bhoja's intent. We shifted the number symbol to the end of the line after the prose passage, in this instance. For the sake of uniformity, and for keeping the illustrations clearly apart, we have kept all the example numbers, in the Translation at the end of the line rather than immediately after the full stop.
We have broken up the prose passages into small paragraphs to make reading and comprehension easier. The topics in each chapter have been presented under headings and subheadings. The main headings are not numbered, however sub-headings are numbered '(1)' etc., in that order, because of the immense size of this work, some errors of omission and commission might have remained. It is hoped that these will be rectified in the next edition.
In the present edition, the variant readings have been listed in a separate section after the text and translation. Occasionally variations in reading and more frequently, in punctuation, have not been recorded. The change in the order of words have not been noted if the sense is not affected. In the comment on ex. 36 in Chapter V, the word occurs earlier in the KM edition and has been placed later in the sentence in APB and BHU. Slight changes in the form of a word have been ignored. For instance, in the comment after ex. 38. APB, and BHU read while KM reads. Words which seem to have two accepted forms, e.g. and (V, ex. 40), slight differences as that between and (V, ex. 54 comment), compounded and uncompounded versions like and (introducing V, ex. 40) have not been noted sometimes.
Visual representation of some of the citrakavya examples have been included. In this task the KM edition has been followed, with one correction from the CO edition. The index of karika half-verses and that of the illustrative verses have been prepared. In the latter, the sources cited have been verified, but the changes in reading have not been followed strictly.
For this translation we are grateful to the Kameshwar Nath Mishra's Hindi rendering of the text, V. Raghavan's 'Bhoja's Srngara Prakasa', and Monirer-Williams' A Sanskrit-English Dictionary'. Previous texts and translations of earlier works on Poetics also made Bhoja's thought clearer to us. In addition to the woks mentioned by Bhattacharya (leaving out Agnipuranam), we consulted Srngaratilaka of Rudrabhatta as well as the Kavyalankara of Rudrata) to study the passage of concepts from the theory of drama into Poetics. For Rudrabhatta himself declares that whatever has been said by Bharata and others about natya, he will now apply to kavya. (Bhoja's treatment of vrtti, for instance, in the chapter on sabdalankaras, and once again in the chapter on rasa, taking up theme and expression under the former, and the action modes such as affectionate teasing under the latter, reflects a stage in this passage. This line of development is different from the one on which Udbhata, Anandavardhana and others develop the concept of vritti, connecting anuprasa with the feeling content of poetry through this link.)
As for the illustrations, often we had to take the assistance of the English translations of the works on Poetics as well as of the kavyas from which they had been selected, so that our translation - out of the context - would not completely misinterpret them and shroud Bhoja's aim in mystery. While this was the dominant purpose in rendering illustrations depicting situations and stories into English, in the case of alankaras, attention was paid to retain the pattern in the expression where possible.
Regarding the mode of translation, we have not rendered the illustrative slokas into poetical verses in the manner of K. Krishnamoorthy, or found equivalent names in English rhetoric for the alankaras. We have not strictly followed the mode of sentence construction in the text, for instance, keeping to the active voice or passive voice, singular or plural number. Some long sentences have been broken down into shorter ones to present the sense in a simpler manner. Some words from the original have been included within <> brackets, where the English equivalent may sound unrelated. Legitimate supplementary phrases have been kept in round brackets, and those which we supplied have been kept in square brackets. Occasionally parallel metaphors or words with the same range of associations could be found; some of the piled up descriptive phrases had to be dropped, or more words had to be used than the original displayed. But on the whole, correspondence has been sought to be maintained between the original and the translation, without making the latter unreadable. Still, we do not claim to have achieved complete clarity in understanding or presenting Bhoja's thought. For instance, phrases like sollekha and nirullekha employed in describing gunas blending in sankara in Chapter V, have not yielded their purport to us clearly and we have not been able to go back in time to understand the right sense of the words, the language conventions and the cultural ethos surrounding them.
The commentaries of either editions, and few unpublished ones like that of Bhattanrsimha, have been looked into when problems of interpretation arose. And we have consulted Bhoja's other work Srngaraprakasa, to understand the term tadbhavapatti, which he uses often. We have followed the scheme of this work to present the thrust of Bhoja's statements. We have tried to link his thought to available earlier sources, chiefly in Poetics. But we have not gone into secondary sources, many of which mention Bhoja's ideas on poetry. The magnificent scale in which ideas and the abundance of illustration have been presented by Bhoja, is awesome. We have tried to understand for ourselves the prescriptions of Panini and the supplementary observations in the varttikams, which Bhoja has cited. In all this we have set out on the ground prepared by V. Raghavan and Kameshwar Nath Mishra, However, believe that we have reached a step further in understanding Bhoja's mind.
As Bhattacharya has observed, Bhoja has a practical approach and does not involve himself in speculation on the soul of poetry and such other questions. He has been described as an encyclopaedic writer with no settled view of his own on the nature of poetry. We have however found that, certainly he has definite views on what good poetry is. He holds rasa to be the crux of poetry, and the avoidance of faults, the striving for quality, the polishing and embellishment of expression to a maximum of expressiveness - all these serve the aim of creating poetry replete with rasa. Bu rasa he means delight in general, and in particular, the relish of feeling, whether love or valour or any fleeting state, presented delectably in poetry. And of the rasas, Srngara is the foremost, which can gather into itself all the other rasas.
Regarding the enjoyment of rasa, although Bhoja does not go into any explanation, from his using the terms abhimana and ahamkara synonymously with rasa, one can conclude that it is the identification with the action and with the chief character, on the part of the reader, that brings about this delight. The self-transcending state of aesthetic delight spoken of by Abhinavagupta may be a more advanced stage of this joy.
Following Dandin and Vamana, Bhoja considers alankara as the beauty one looks for in poetry. From the point of view of the creation of poetry, alankara means adequation, or rendering conception and expression in poetry effective, and by extension, covers particular terms of expression or figures of speech. Riti, as also the several manners of expression detailed in Chapter II, such as jati, gati and chaya, would fall under the first notion of alankara. And the gunas which should be striven for in poetry become alankara when they become striking, conspicuous. The organization of the subject mater in the large works and the depiction of emotion which this organization serves, are also ultimately brought under this notion of alankara. Among the figures of speech, Bhoja names several under the class of ubhayalankara, trying to bring word and sense once more together in the study of poetry, but his initiative has not been followed up seriously.
Regarding the new 'power' of words in poetry, namely vyanjana, which the dhvani exponents uphold, Bhoja does not recognize the need for imputing this power to words. He is emphatic that apart from mukhya, gauni and laksana, there is no other mode of signification which words possess. Dhvanimatta or gambhiryam is the depth of allusion in some expressions, either to well known ideas or to those dealt with in sastra. (In his Srngaraprakasa he considers dhvani under the topic of vivaksa or purport, and compares dhvani in kavya with tatparya in ordinary speech), Among the various functions of the mukhya vrtti, Bhoja includes the superimoposition of characteristics from one object on another, which he calls tadbhavapatti. This takes the form of Samadhi guna and Samadhi alankara, quickening all phenomena with life.
Bhoja cites several aphorisms from Panini in demonstrating the manner in which some alankaras achieve their purpose. He does not apply the rules of grammar strictly to expression in poetry, but points out all the assistance provided by grammar for conveying attitudes, feelings out all the assistance provided by grammar for conveying attitudes, feelings and intentions. Of all the writers he has borrowed from, on all subjects, the only one he specifically mentions with reverence is Mahabhasyakara. The two other references - to Bana and Jaimini, are matter of fact.
Coming to Bhoja's exposition of the subject of Poetics, his definition spells out the bare minimum of an alankara or guna, and it is the illustration and his comment thereon that present the full picture. He splits most ideas threefold, for instance, sabda-artha-ubhaya, and either multiplies categories to reach the number six or its multiple, or clubs together categories which Rudrata considered separately, for this purpose. Often verses from Kalidasa or some other master poet seem to have tempted him to create categories to accommodate them as illustrations. Also a term inherited from tradition inspires him to bring in its complement, e.g. svavyaktivyatireka inspired by svajativyatireka, apihitam by pihitam. Bhoja not only amalgamates the concepts in dramaturgy with those peculiar to Poetics, but incorporates a wide range of human knowledge and activity, from mimamsa to the festivals which contributed to the cultural ethos of his time all under some category of alankara or rasa. His yearning for the simple life of people probably made him choose so many verses from the Gatha-saptasati, presenting charming pictures of common folk, but they all illustrate some turn of phrase or some situation of emotion. He employs his prodigious imagination to spin out fine ramifications of a notion, for instance, the twelve-fold vrtti-anuprasa-Karnati, Kauntali and so on - refuting the popular conception of vrtti-anuprasa handed down by Udbhata. In analyzing the depiction of emotion in poetry Bhoja goes into the minutest detail, not leaving even the shunning of all pleasant things by separated lovers unillustrated.
Contents of this Work:
The contents of this work have been summarized lucidly in the Table of Contents in the Kavyamala edition, and in his introduction in the BHU edition by Biswanath Bhattacharya. Chapter I treats of the faults to be avoided and the qualities to be sustained in poetry. The noteworthy feature in this chapter is the development of the idea of dosaguna. All the exceptions noted by earlier writers to what would normally be called faults, have been put under this category and meticulously illustrated. The faults of upama as well as these thwarting rasa have been dealt with in this chapter, the latter not as elaborately as in later works.
Chapter II describes and illustrates what can be roughly called embellishments of Word. In this chapter the various characteristics of expression in poetry, taking the shape of instruction, precept, description etc., and the various patterns of arrangement such as gumphana, and the various notions about the rightness of expression, such as paka and sayya in poetry, as well as the various topics from dramaturgy such as pathiti and abhineyam, have been dealt with, in addition to the usual set of verbal embellishments, yamakam etc.
Chapter III presents all the alankaras which Bhoja considers to be effective on account of the sense / idea / purport presented. The treatment of jati, in other words, the artless portrayal of typical behaviour and familiar scenes, is exhaustive and charming. What is remarkable here is that Bhoja does not identify jati with svabhavokti, but considers the latter as merely undersigned expression, which includes jati as well as pramanas or sources of knowledge to Philosophy as modes of experience and thought amenable to expression in poetry, has been accomplished in a convincing manner.
In Chapter IV Bhoja takes up all the themes along with their expression which contribute in their entirety to beauty in poetry. He includes upama and rupakam among them, as much thought has been given by all writers before him to the mode of expression in these figures. Many of the names in this chapter end in ukti, probably because Bhoja wants to draw attention to the expression aspect of these figures. The most interesting alankara in this chapter is the samuccaya, which has been inspired by the notion of conjunction in grammar. It has been developed on the lines of the four uses of ca, and the elision of this conjunction in compounds, and sometimes even in whole sentences, while retaining its sense. The analysis of poetry into word-sense, expression-import, verbal-ideal, external-intrinsic aspects, takes several forms in these three chapters, so that what we have is not a dichotomy but a continuum sound-word-expression-sense-import-purport.
Chapter V deals with rasa or the delectable depiction of emotion in poetry. Bhoja arranges his exposition of rasa in a slightly different scheme. He enumerates and defines all the topics he is going to touch upon under the twenty four heads he divides rasokti into, and then proceeds to supplement these with more detail and illustration. He analyses the various stages in the development of an emotion in poetry, right from its inception to its full development, thwarted by other emotions, merging with others, lingering, completely subsiding and so on. Although all the eight emotions handed down in tradition have been described and another four feelings given the status of rasa, it is the emotion of rati with its variant, priti, that has been accorded prime place and utmost attention. By stratifying the four kinds of vipralambha and the ensuing sambhoga, even through etymological analysis and explanation, Bhoja's conception of srngara has been presented elaborately. And the book concludes with the statement that he has said all that had to be said about Love.
Bhoja has presented the received thought on drsya and sravya kavya very comprehensively and discerningly, without going into polemics on the soul of poetry, as Bhattacharya puts it. Unlike earlier writers on Poetics, he relies heavily on available literature, both Samskrta and Prakrta, drawing from great works by Kalidasa, Magha, Bharavi etc. even for illustrating yamakam and citra verse. The envisagement of event which he calls sambhava, is seen to be a shade removed from the familiar utpreksa, illustrated as it is with four lovely verses from Meghadutam.
When we remember that the various courses of thought and nuances of expression in great poetry are merely approached by writers on poetry with the help of their terms and definitions, we can certainly appreciate Bhoja for taking us nearer poetry, even though many of his ideas were not adopted by later writers on Poetics. If we stop considering the precepts of Poetics as formulae or recipes for synthesizing poetry, and admit the truth that poetry cannot be fitted into rigid classes, either of matter or of manner, we can happily follow Bhoja along the byways, if not the highways, of criticism.
Bhoja's Sarasvatikanthabharanam, though not a magnum opus like his Srngaraprakasa is indeed a multi-dimensional work. Its critical edition, therefore, has been accommodated in three volumes.
In Volume I are included the first two chapters, in which are discussed Defects, Merits and the Figures of Speech of Word. Volume II has the third and forth chapters, which discuss the Arthalankaras and the Ubhayalankaras. Volume III contains the fifth chapter which presents Bhoja's conception of Srngara. This is followed by the bibliography and the indices.
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