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Indian Poetics - Eight Schools

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A General Study
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  The srcin of Indian culture and philosophy marks the beginning of literary criticism in India. Indian poetic theory bears evidence to the impact of rich, cultural, philosophical and religious heritage on Sanskrit literature. The theory of beauty is not only confined to literary forms of Poetry, Literature and Drama but is also applicable to other arts like music, dance, painting, and sculpture. Eminent Indologists and art critics like A K Coomaraswamy vouchsafe that the theory is capable of considerable extension even to the other Indian arts like painting. He points out, It is true that this theory is mainly developed in connection with poetry, drama, dancing and music, but it is immediately applicable to art of all kinds, much its terminology employs the concept of colour and we have evidence that the theory also in fact applied to painting. (Coomaraswamy 1956: 46) The ancient Indian critical texts had concentrated more on theory; and philosophy was not dissociated from literary criticism. The Vedas are the earliest pieces of recorded literature. As these required painstaking efforts to study in detail, the Sudras or ordinary men normally had no access to them and a fifth Veda (Panchama Veda) –  Natyaveda was created for their enjoyment with elements taken from Rigveda, songs from Samaveda, acting from Yajurveda and rasa from Atharvaveda. Indian Poetics broadly developed into eight schools –   Rasa, Alamkara, Riti, Guna/Dosa, Vakrokti, Svabhavokti, Aucitya and Dhvani   –  corresponding roughly to western theory of Pleasure, Rhetoric/Figures of speech, Theory of Form, Oblique poetry, Statement poetry, Propriety and Suggestion. The central tradition of Indian aesthetics srcinating in Bharata, the first and the oldest known exponent of the dramaturgic school of rasa, enriched by Anandavardhana, an exponent of dhvani theory, Bhamaha, an exponent of alamkara system, Kuntaka, the main proponent of Vakrokti, Vamana, the most notable exponent of aucitya codified by Mammata, Viswanatha and Jaganatha is a veritable treasure house of insights into problems related to creation, analysis and evaluation of works of literature. The earliest distinct speculations on the nature of art and its purpose are clearly set forth by Bharata in the Natyasastra in connection with art and dance. Bharata, the oldest known exponent of the dramaturgic Rasa accorded supreme importance to rasa in the 2nd century B.C. He synthesized the concept of poetry and the concept of drama by combining theology, philosophy and criticism. To many revivalistic Indian critics  during the last two hundred years, Bharata had been the maker of the rasa theory. According to Mohit K Ray, The theory of rasa constitutes one of the most difficult theories in the entire arena of aesthetics, and since rasa is regarded as the centre of gravity of poetic art, no one can avoid examining the merits and demerits of different theories trying to explain the process of aesthetic realization . (Ray 2008: 168) It is at this point that we come to the essentially Indian approach to poetry and art. The ancient Indian critics defined the essence of poetry as rasa and by that word they meant a concentrated taste, a spiritual essence of emotion, an essential aesthesis, the soul’s pleasu re in the pure and perfect sources of feeling. According to Sri Aurobindo, More generally speaking aesthetics is the theory of rasa, of response of mind, the vital feeling and the sense to a certain taste in things or their essence. Passing through mind or sense rasa awakes a vital enjoyment of taste, bhoga in poet’s consciousness. The memory of the soul takes in broods over and transmutes the mind’s thought, feeling and experience in a larger  part of process which comes by this aesthesis but it is not quite the whole thing; it is rather only common way by which we get at something that stand behind the spiritual being in us which has the secret of universal delight and eternal beauty of existence. The memory of poet’s soul takes in this enjoyment –  the thought, the feeling and experience and turns it into ananda. (Seturaman 1992: 3) The literature on poetics and dramaturgy is conspicuously rich in Classical Sanskrit. Many able thinkers have written important works both on poetics and dramaturgy, and it is also a fact that one and the same author has written on both these subjects of kindred nature. Bharata's Natyasastra is the earliest known treatise on poetics and dramaturgy. The date of this monumental composition has been variously assigned by scholars to the period between the second century B.C. and third century A.D. The Natyasastra shows unmistakable proofs of a systematic tradition which has preceded it by at least a century. Bharata has been held in high esteem by all later writers on poetics and his work has continued to be a source of inspiration to them.  Four schools of poetics  With the progress of years there arose  four main schools of poetics which maintain different views with regard to the essential characteristics of poetry. Thus from time to time, Alankara (Figure), Riti (Style), Rasa (Aesthetic pleasure) and Dhvani (Suggestion) have been declared to be the essential factors of poetry. The Dhvani School, however, has grown to be the most important of all other schools of Alankara literature. Anandavardhana, the author of the Dhvanyaloka is known to be the pioneer of this school and it has been for his commentator Abhinavagupta to bring out the importance of the doctrine of Dhvani through his lasting contributions. 1   (i)    Alankara school Bhamaha: Kavyalankara  Bhamaha is one of the earliest rhetoricians to take up a systematic discussion of poetic embellishments (beautifications) after Bharata's treatment of figures. Bhamaha flourished in all probability in the seventh century A.D. His only work, the Kavyalankara, contains six chapters. In his definition of poetry Bhamaha has accorded equal status to 'word' and 'import', though he has devoted more attention to the former. Udbhata: Alankara-samgraha Udbhata wrote his  Alankarasamgraha in the latter half of the eighth century A.D. The work is a collection of verses defining  forty-one figures  and contains six   chapters. In his treatment of figures Udbhata has followed in the line of Bhamaha. 2  Rudrata: Kavyalankara  Rudrata wrote his Kavyalankara in the first quarter of the ninth century A.D. The work which is in sixteen chapters, deals mainly with figures of poetry. In his treatment of figures Rudrata seems to have been 1   According to modern scholars, a comparatively late work on Indian poetics is the  Agnipurana where in as many as eleven chapters, a comprehensive and authoritative information about the various schools of poetics known to the author is available. 2   Though Udbhata belongs to the Alankara School, his well-known commentator Pratiharenduraja, a pupil of Mukulabhatta, is a follower of the Rasa School. Pratiharenduraja is assigned to the first half of the tenth century A.D.  the follower of a tradition different from that of Bhamaha and Udbhata. Of the three commentators of Rudrata, Namisadhu appears to be the most important. (ii)   Riti school  Dandin: Kavyadarsa  Dandin, the author of the Kavyadarsa , is the precursor to the Riti School which was developed by Vamana. Though Dandin is usually assigned to the seventh century A.D., still the mutual priority of Bhamaha and Dandin is a disputed point in the history of Sanskrit poetics. Dandin appears to have been greatly influenced by the Alankara School. His most outstanding contribution to poetics is the concept of Guna. In his definition of poetry Dandin gives more importance to the word-element than to the sense-element. The most authoritative commentator of the Kavyadarsa is Tarunavacaspati. Vamana: Kavyalankarasutra Vamana who flourished in the latter half of the eighth century A.D., wrote his Kavyalankarasutra in  five chapters and twelve sections in which he boldly asserted that Riti is the soul of poetry. The ten Gunas are important in so far as they constitute Riti. The Kamadhenu, a late work by Gopendra Tippa Bhupala, is a lucid commentary on the Kavyalankarasutra.   (iii)   Rasa school  Lollata The Rasa School srcinated from the interpretations by different commentators of Bharata's aphorism on Rasa. Lollata who is known to be the earliest interpreter, flourished in the eighth century A.D. The work of Lollata is unfortunately lost to us, though a review of his opinion is found in the  Abhinavabharati of Abhinavagupta and the Kavyaprakasa of Mammata. Sri-Sankuka  Another interpreter is Sri-Sankuka who has criticized the views of Lollata. The work of Sri-Sarikuka also is lost to us. He is believed to be a junior contemporary of Lollata. Bhattanayaka: Hrdayadarpana

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