Monday, March 28, 2022



( Acharya Vamana painted by artist Ravi Dhar ) 

ACHARYA VAMANA (750-800 A. D.) 

 Born in a Brahmin family of Kashmir , Acharya Vamana is one amongst the galaxy of original writers from Kashmir . He was an aesthetician, philosopher , Sanskrit poet and grammarian in the court of King Jayapida of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir. His contribution to the Poetics and Literary Criticism in India has been unique and of lasting value. The rule of Karkota kings (c. 625 − 855 CE) in Kashmir can be termed as a period of political spreading out, economic prosperity and emergence of Kashmir as a centre of culture and learning.

 Acharya Vamana was a contemporary of Udh-Bhatta . From his writings , it appears that he was favourably inclined towards Buddhism and Jainism . Kalhana informs us that the King had granted him the status of a minister . He wrote a magnificent work on the Science of poetics known as “Kavyalankarasutra’. 

“Kavyalankarasutra’ is written in the Sutra style. This work has five Adhikaranas. Each Adhikarna has two or three chapters. There are in all twelve chapters and 319 Sutras in his work.Through this work, he defines altogether 33 figures of speech omitting a few of those mentioned by the earlier writers . This work seems to have been very popular as he calls it Kavipriya. The main theme of his work is the place of diction or style in poetry which he says is “the soul of poetry while word and sense constitute the body." 

The concept of Riti is Vamana’s greatest contribution to literary theory. He coined the term Riti to denote the soul of a Kavya. His preference for the term Riti to its apparent synonym Gati is significant. Gati indicates a movement which can be perceived, analysed and explained. Riti, on the contrary, defies all analysis and lends itself to nothing but direct experience. Poetry is acceptable to him only if there is charm or beauty in it, Riti and Guna coming in as ' sinc-quo-non.

He was the first to make a distinction between the natural beauty and artificial beauty of a Kavya, and to trace the two forms of beauty to distinctly different causes. Again it was he that suggested for the first time that a Kavya had two bodies–the gross and the subtle–the Sabda Sarira and the Artha Sarira. Vamana’s theory gained support from many of the later Sanskrit writers such as Rajasekhara ,Hemachandra and Jayaraiha.. Other important work of Vamana is Vidya- dharakavya .

Some well known commentators of Vamana’s work on poetics could be listed as Bhattagopsila, Mahesvara ,Sahdeva and Gopendra The name of the commentary of Gopendra is Kamadhenu which is considered to give a lucid exposition of the text of Vamana .The commentary of Mahesvara is called Sahityasarvasva. 

Our  sincere gratitude and thanks to Madras Government Library, Chennai and Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune for preserving, transcribing, digitalising and translating these precious ancient manuscripts from Kashmir. 

( Avtar Mota )

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