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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