Tuesday, March 29, 2022






“Vinayena vinā kā śrīḥ ; kā niśā śaśinā vinā / rahitā satkavitvena kīdṛśī vāgvidagdhatā

( Bhamaha )


(What is wealth without modesty?!

What is night without the bright and soothing moon ?

What use is of  mere clever eloquence,

without the capacity to compose a good poetry (Sat-kavita)?) 



About Bhamaha ,eminent scholar and historian , Dr Sunil Chandra Ray writes this :-


“The Karkota period produced some great writers on poetics). The eldest of them is Bhamaha, son of Rakrilagomin. Probably he lived in the beginning of the eighth century A. D. Bhamaha’s Kavyalankara ("The ornaments of poetry") is the earliest work of Poetics that  has 390 verses and is divided into six chapters which deal with such topics as Kavyasarira, Alankara, Dosa, Nyaya and Sabdasuddhi. Whether Bhamaha was a Buddhist has been a matter for much controversy among historians. The Kamadhenu and the Vrttaratna- -kara quote some verses from Bhamaha which are not found in the Kavyalahkara. Accordingly, he must have written a work on metrics also.”


Bhamaha , a Kashmiri Brahmin  is  one of the earliest writers on Poetics. He was an rhetorician aesthetician and grammarian as well . Dr. Buhler and Prof, Baladev Upadhyaya confirm his Kashmiri ancestry . It is believed that he flourished  during the rule of Candrapida Vajraditya (712-720  A D ) of the Karkota dynasty. Jayanta Bhatta's great-grandfather,  Saktisvāmin was one of the ministers in the court of  Candrapida Vajraditya . During the rule of Candrapida , Kashmir had extremely cordial relations with the Tang rulers of China.


He is mentioned with great respect by almost every one of the later writers of poetics. He finds mention in the works of  Abhinavagupta and Hemchandra. The Pratapa- ludriya also commences with a deep reverence to Bhamaha and other earlier writers. Ruyyaka, another Kashmirian writer on poetics, also mentions  him as a very ancient writer on Poetics.  It may be that A large number of Kashmirian writers on poetics pay him obeisance before they commence their treatises.  Bhahama is also believed to have composed a commentary on Vararuci’s  Prākṛtaprakāáa, a Prakrit grammar.


About his Buddhist links ,eminent scholar Dr. K. S. Nagarajan writes this :-


“ The internal evidence available in his work does not lend support to the view that he was a Buddhist. For, he criticises the of the Buddhists,  speaks of Vedic rites and ceremonies and refers to the Ramayana and many popular Hindu legends , There is, on the other hand, no reference to Buddhist legends in his work. As to the usage of Sarvajha in the invocatory verse it may be an epithet of Siva .”


Sreenivasa Rao ,well known scholar writes this :-


“ It could be said that the early history of Sanskrit poetics started with the theory of Alankara that was developed into a system by Bhamaha and later by Dandin. The merit of the contributions of Bhamaha and  Dandin rests in the fact that they began serious discussion on Poetics as an independent investigation into the virtues of the diction, the language and Alamkara (embellishments) of Kavya.”


Bhamaha, Udh-Bhata and  Rudrata belong to the Alankara School. Bhamaha's work on poetics is called ‘Kavyalankara’. The manuscript of ‘Kavyalankara’ has been located, translated  and printed. There are six chapters in it consisting of about 400 verses in all. According to the general scheme drawn up by him, the first chapter deals with the body of a poetic composition, the second and third deal with figures of speech, the fourth mentions the faults ( Dosa ), the fifth with logical sequence and the sixth with the purity of words. It is written in a simple but elegant style. The importance that is given to figures of speech in a poetic composition is clearly mentioned by Bhamaha.  


Another notable feature of this work is that there is a reference to a number of earlier writers whose names are Rajamilra, Ramasarma, Achyutoilara and Sakhjivardhana. But

unfortunately none of the works of these writers is available at present. It may thus be stated that Bhamaha pays a great attention to figures of speech in a poetic composition.


Bhamaha's name in Sanskrit poetics has assumed importance and gained popularity. I firmly believe that there does not appear to be any important work on poetics which does not refer to Bhamaha and his work. His name appears to be associated with the Science of Poetics practically from its infancy.


Bhamaha  gives prominence to Alankara, though he considered Rasa as an important element. According to him, all types of Kavya-s should have Vakrokti (oblique expressions) – as Samanya lakshana, Atishayokti (hyperbole) expressions transcending common usage of the of words (Svabhavokti) . It is only through these, he said, the ordinary is transformed to extraordinary.



 ( Avtar Mota )




(1) ‘Early History and Culture of Kashmir’ By Dr  Sunil Chandra Ray

(2) ‘Kashmir ka Sanskrit Sahitya ko Yogdaan’ by Dr Ved Kumari Ghai

(3)’ Indian Aesthetics Theory’ by Sreenivasa Rao


(4)  ‘A Concise History of Classical Sanskrit Literature’ by Gaurinath Shastri


(5) ‘ Panditraja Jagannatha ‘ by N N Sarma



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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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Saturday, March 26, 2022



      (Acharya Rudrata Bhatta painted by artist Ravi Dhar )



“Like a drama moving to its climax, aesthetic thought in Kashmir moves to its highest point in the writings of Acharya Abhinavagupta. Abhinavagupta was one of those very rare individuals who have earned as much reverence for the sublimity of their moral character as for the loftiness and magnitude of their intellectual achievements.’

(Dr. V. S. Narvane )


Patronised by Karkota,Utpala, Gupta Brahmin and Lohara Kings, Kashmiri Brahmins like Udbhata, Vaiaana, Rudiana, Ratnakara, Somendra, Prakasendra, Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta ,Mammata, Ruyyaka, Vamana, Rudrata Bhatta,Dandin,Lochana, Utpala, Visakhila, Sambhunatha, Mukula Bhatta , Mahima Bhatta ,Kuntala ,Bhatta Nayaka,Bhatta Tauta ,Kshemendra , Bilhana , Vidyadhara , Kayyata, Manakha ,Ksemaraja, Somananda ,Sivasvamin, Bhavabhuti, Damodargupta ,Gopendra, Induraja,Somadeva and many more defined the scope and gave a complete shape to the Science of Poetics, religious philosophy, aesthetics, music, art drama and story writing. The exponents of the Shabda and Dhvani theory in poetics (that was forcefully upheld by the scholarly exposition of Abhinavagupta) were also Kashmiris .

Rudrata Bhatta is the forgotten , poet , scholar, aesthetician and rhetorician from Kashmir . He was a representative of the Alankara School. Son of Vamuka, the well known Sanskrit scholar, Rudrata was a master at the interpretation of Samaveda . There is a reference to his name in in Acharya Abhinavgupta’s commentary on Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra .Rudrata was a court poet of King Avantivarman.


The Sangita- ratnakara of *Sharangdeva ( also from Kashmir ) mentions him as the master of music .Rudrata is quoted by many Sanskrit writers of Kashmir from the tenth century A. D. onwards. The name of his prominent work on poetics is “Kavyalankara” .It is an extensive work consisting of sixteen chapters in which the entire field of poetics is fully reviewed. The work commences with an invocation to Ganesa and Gauri and ends with a treatment of Rasa and the various kinds of poetic compositions.


According to him, all figures of speech should only go to enhance the sentiment or Rasa in any poetic composition. He writes that the words of poets which are full of Rasa or sentiment do not merely describe the story but create an opportunity for the reader to enjoy a rare pleasure.

Rudrata was, perhaps, the first to introduce a scientific and systematic classification of figures of speech based on certain definite principles .After him the Alankara School suffered a decline and later merged itself in the all-pervasive Dhvanl School . Rudrata writes :-


“ A good poetic composition must have spontaneity with which it is composed and the natural flow of words twisted together to convey an extraordinarily fascinating idea to amaze the readers. .When there is natural exquisiteness, there is no necessity of loading it with ornaments. These superfluities mask the natural beauty of a poetic composition .”


( Avtar Mota )



* Sharangdeva (1175–1247) was the Indian musicologist who authored Sangita Ratnakara – the classical Sanskrit text on music and drama. It is considered to be the authoritative treatise in Indian classical music by both the Hindustani music and the Carnatic music traditions. Sharṅgadeva was born in a Brahmin family of Kashmir. About Sharagdeva, Sanskrit scholar Dr S S Toshakhani adds this :-


While Rudrata is not that unknown in the country’s Sanskrit scholastic circles, Sharangadeva’s Sangitaratnakara is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and important exposition of Indian music. What is great is that Sharangadeva bore his Kashmiri identity with pride. Introducing himself in Verses 2 to 14 of his work, he traces his family to Kashmir adding the prefix “Shrimat” with the name of the place to express his great reverence for it: “Asti-svasti griham vamshah shrimat Kashmir sambhavah” (अस्तिस्वस्ति गृहं वंश: श्रीमद्काश्मीर संभव:”). "

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Thursday, March 17, 2022



Saw ‘Kashmir Files’ yesterday . It was 7.30 pm show at PVR (KC) ,Bakshi Nagar, Jammu. Want to say something about what I saw and what I feel . 
At outset , let me be very clear that this is not a film on Kashmir or what happened in Kashmir . It is a story of the hapless Kashmiri Pandit community that faced multi-edged sword of terrorism that was invited , encouraged and supported . The monster was let loose on Pandits with a nefarious design and purpose . In the movie under review , you will only see the pathetic story of what befell a peace loving community. If you have come to see something else in this film, you are boarding a wrong train. Better get down. It won't carry you to that desired destination.
More than 50% of the people who came to watch the movie were non-Kashmiris. The silence , the sobs, the sighs and the long breaths of many people watching the film didn't demonstrate anger. For me , it reflected human helplessness and a deep sense of anguish at the behaviour of those whom people trusted and who betrayed them. A failure of friends, neighbours and leaders at the critical turn of the history . A failure compounded by indifference, hate, and silent complicity.
I liked the cinematic brilliance in many shots of the film. Let may talk about the scene showing people huddled up on the backside of a truck speeding in moonlight towards an unknown destination. People moving towards a place that they don't know. Most certainly moving towards uncertainty. In the background ,one can hear Habba Khatoon ' song 'Tsolhama Roshe Roshe ' . It looks as if a helpless mother( Kashmir ) is weeping for her children who are fleeing to save their life and honour. Anupam Kher has given his best as Poshker Nath. He has not only understood the behaviour of an exile but dived deeper into the script to give his best. Being a Kashmiri himself , possibly he has been exceptionally sensitive to the subject. This sensitivity is reflected in his acting. Watch his dialogues , diction and speech as he speaks Hindi or Urdu. His pronunciation is typical of a Kashmiri in general . This role makes him taller and comparable to some of the greatest actors of the world cinema. Pallavi Joshi has done full justice to her role as Prof. Radhika Menon. Bhasha Sumbli as Sharda Pandit is brilliant and perfect . She touches your heart portraying the helplessness of the tormented and the sufferer .Bhasha is a graduate from NSD and I am sure she will be seen more and more in Hindi films . The role of Krishna Pandit played by Darshan Kumar is spectacular . Watch him addressing the students . Watch him as he makes Prof. Menon ( Pallavi Joshi ) move out from the crowd . Brilliant and Kudos . Mithun Da is once more superb and impressive .
I liked the long shot scenes wherein Krishna is shown moving in a boat in the lake that is frozen. The shot conveys too much and the unspoken .I could feel the hard work and involvement of Vivek Agnihotri in the project . He uses typical Kashmiri proverbs like ‘ Sheena Pyeto pyeto “ and "Ghar vandhahai ghar saasa" in his dialogues . He uses poetry of Habba Khatoon to convey the unspoken. The scene when Krishna Pandit comes back to Kashmir to sprinkle ashes of his grandfather in their ancestral dilapidated house and Mithun Da invokes Lord Shiva reciting :-
“ Khshantavyo Meparaadha . Shiv Shiv Shiv Bho , Shri Mahadev Shambho “ is sufficient to understand how deep and serious study was conducted by Vivek Agnihorti to know rituals and customs of Kashmiri Pandits . This Shloka is often recited by every Pandit while giving final bath to the dead body and preparing it for Anteshti or Final Samaskaara.
Possibly paucity of time could be the reason for the film makers for not presenting what befell this hapless community after 1990. I mean deaths due to heat stroke ( In June 1990, 11 persons died of heatstroke in three successive days ) , the struggle for educating their children ,non-transfer of their bank accounts from the valley, cramped tent life , bureaucratic apathy at every step , crumbling of the joint family structure , fight against ailments ( diabetes, hypertension, depression ,insomnia, Parkinson’s disease etc.) and many more issues .
' Doadh kyah zanane yus no banne' ( He who has not experienced pain himself , How does he know about the pain of others ?) , said Lala Ded. Only an exile knows the value of every tear drop that is being shed inside cinema halls by sufferers these days. Only an exile knows what home and homeland means to him. The shock of what every sufferer went through is deep and down somewhere inside the soul . It can't be removed by any material possession . It can't be compensated by any aid, assistance or financial support. Yes ,a sympathetic understanding may help the victims to come out of it .That shall be the first step towards building bridges .
There is nothing in the film against any religion or community . Those who say so have either not seen the movie or belong to the group that peddles the fallacious ‘Jagmohan Narrative’ about the tragedy of the Kashmiri Pandits . Jagmohan came only after Pandits were fully terrorized by waves of brutal killings unleashed upon them. Jagmohan arrived after Pandits had lived through the frightening night of 19th January 1990. May be this concocted narrative helps the tormentors to cover up their own guilt. A guilt that is deep in the conscience. A guilt that requires courage and conviction to admit. 
Jean Paul Sartre said, ' A liar is already in possession of the truth '. Truth can not be covered by baseless noise and lies. Truth and acceptance of other man's sorrow and suffering can alone act as a bridge. Those who created this Frankenstein ( terrorism ), will have to stand up,deal with it and finally destroy it . Believe not the noise created against a film that presents truth about what happened to Pandits . Go and watch the movie. That alone shall pave the way for understanding human pain, suffering and helplessness . The film is a call for introspection. And that introspection alone shall create a way forward for peace and mutual trust.
( Avtar Mota )


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Tuesday, March 8, 2022




Shesh Naga and Vasuki Naga are brothers born to Rishi Kashyapa and Kadru. While Shesh Naga is linked with Vishnu, Vasuki Naga is seen around Shiva's neck. Vasuki  serpent is famous for coiling around Lord  Shiva’s neck. Vasuki is a Serpent King in the Hindu and the Buddhist scriptures that also  finds mention in  Ramayana and Mahabharata . The most famous story in which Vasuki appears is the incident of churning the ocean of milk to obtain Amrita. Vasuki was used as the rope with which mount Meru was bound to churn the ocean. The strain caused him to exhale Alahala, the most potent venom in the universe. There was the danger that this poison could destroy all living beings, which was averted by  Lord Shiva who swallowed the poison, turning his throat blue and earning him the sobriquet - Nilakantha (blue-throated).

Vasuki Purana comprises of 500 Slokas .  And Vasuki Naga is the presiding deity of Bhaderwah region falling in Jammu division of  J&K .This Purana  also provides  some  details about the sacred places of  Bhadrashram or Bhadravkaash or   Bhaderwah.  Soma Deva, the author of this Purana mentions that he is talking about Bhadravkaash area which according to him is  like Kashmira.  Two scholars, Dr Ananat Ram Shastri and Dr Pritam Krishan firmly believe that the author of  Vasuki Purana is none other than Somadeva , the author of Kathasaritsagara or the court poet   of King Harsha of Kashmir.This being so , one can conclude that Vasuki Purana was written in the 11th century . The style and  approach of Vasuki Purana resembles Kathasaritsagara .It also bears influence of the Sanskrit  drama ‘Naganand’ written  during the rule of King Harsha of Kashmir. Vasuki Purana informs us about the various  abodes of Vasuki Naga . These places are :-

(1) Kalinga province
(2) Mount Kailasa 
(3) Chitrakoot
(4) Sangam of Vitasta and Sindhu ( Shadipora ) in Kashmir
(5) Bhadrashram ( Bhaderwah )

 Apart from Vasuki Naga , this Purana also mentions Garuda , Shiva ,Ganesha , Parvati, Vishnu , Lakshmi , Gandharvas , Vidhyadhar  and many other Devas and Devis. It has been written as a conversation between Shiva and Parvati. Vasuki  Purana also mentions the importance of  Daana ( charity ) Vrata ( fasting )  Pooja ,Shraada , Homa  and many other sacred duties .
Vasuki is repeatedly mentioned by Somadeva in his Kathasaritsagara . I quote :-

(a) Vāsuki ,  the king of the Nāgas (Nagraj) finds mention  in  the sixteenth story of the Vetālapancaviṃsati in the Kathsaritsagara Chapter 90.  Accordingly, as Mitrāvasu said to Jīmūtavāhana: “... when Vāsuki, the king of the snakes, saw that, he feared that his race would be annihilated at one fell swoop, so he supplicated Garuḍa, and made a compact with him, saying: ‘King of birds, I will send you one snake every day to this southern sea for your meal. But you must by no means enter Pātāla, for what advantage will you gain by destroying the snakes at one blow?’”

(b) Vāsuki  ,  the name of a king of the Nāgas,  finds mention in  the Kathāsaritsāgara chapter 6 . The son of his brother, Kīrtisena, married Srutartha through the Gandharva marriage after seeing her bathe.

(c) Vāsuki is the name of the eldest brother of Udayana, according to the Kathasaritsagara  chapter 11. Udayana is the King of Vatsa born to king Sahasrānīka and his wife Mṛgāvatī. Vāsuki is mentioned as having given, once upon a time, a melodious lute.

(d) The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentions Vāsuki in the   story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the Vidyadharas (celestial beings). 

( Avtar Mota )

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