A few words of appreciation of Kavikarnapura

By Sambidananda Das M.A.
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj

JANUARY 1, 1935

Paramananda Kavikarnapura is one of the best of the voluminous writers of Gaudiya vaishnava literature. Dr. D.C. Sen has assigned his birth to 1528. A.C. (Chaitanya and his companion. P.117). But when he was only seven years of age he came with his father Sivananda Sena to Puri and met our Lord Sri Chaitanya. From the Chaitanya Charitamrita text by Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja (Anta, XVI. 75.) it seems that his meeting with Lord Sri Chaitanya took place in the year of the Latter's disappearance from the world which took place in 1534 A.C. So he must have been born at least in 1526 A.C. if not earlier; and consequently Dr. Sen's date seems wrong. When the boy was still in his mother's womb Sivananda Sena came to Puri during the Car festival which takes place in the rainy season. Lord Sri Chaitanya proposed 'Puridasa' (abridged form of Paramananda dasa) as the name of the future boy. The boy was born after Sivananda's return from Puri. (B.C.C. Anta. XII. 50). 'Sivananda used to remain at Puri with a view to observing the four-month vow (Caturmasya) which ends in the third week of November. So it will not be unreasonable to assume that Kavikarnapura might have been born in the winter of 1526 A.C. He refers to himself as a child in his Chaitanya Charitamrita Mahakavya (XX. 42.) which is dated as having been completed in Saka 1464 (1542 A.C.). This reference to his early age is quite justifiable because he was then only sixteen, and a boy author of that age might be so called. The late Raja Rajendralal Mitra has given 1524. A.C. as the date of his birth, in his preface to his edition of Kavikarnapura's Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka. If he were born in Mitra's date he would have been eighteen years of age in 1542 A.C. when his book 'Caitanya Caritamrita Mahakavya' was composed. Both his reference to himself as Sisu or child would go to suggest that he was rather sixteen as we have assumed than eighteen at which age one would hardly call himself Sisu. Dr.D.C. Sen seems wrong in dating the composition of the Caitanya Carita Mahakavya in 1572 A.C. (V.L.M.B. P.73.) which is evidently the date of Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka (ibid last verse). Some would identify Kavikarnapura, son of Sivananda Sena with the father of Kavi Candra who says of himself in the colophon of his book Kavya Candrika,

"Thus the sixteenth Prakasa of Kavya Candrika was composed by Kavicandra, born of the Dutta family, an inhabitant of Dirghankagrama, son of Vidyavisarada and Kausalya."

This apparent identification, only on account of identity of name, is impossible, not only for chronological but also for social reasons. Kavi Candar's verses have been inserted in the Padyavali (Verse No 160 of the India Office Manuscript. 823a ), an anthology of Sanskrit poems which Sri Rupa Gosvami edited and quoted in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu which was written in 1541. A.C. when Kavikarnapura, Son of Sivananda Sena, was a child of fifteen years of age; so he could not have been the father of Kavi Candra who seems senior in age to our Kavikarnapura. Kavi Candra says that he was an inhabitant of Dirghankagrama, and born of the Datta family. But Sivananda Sena's son Kavikarnapura belonged to Kancrapada in 24 parganas and came of the Sena family. This difference between their respective families decidedly suggests that Kavi Candra's father Kavi-Karna-Pura was a different person from and other than Sivananda's son Kavikarnapura. Kavi Candra Datta, author of Kavya Candrika, seems identical with Kavidatta whom Kavikarnapura mentions in his Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (verse 207.) and who was certainly not his son.

During his infancy, when he could hardly walk, he was taken to Puri by his father and placed before Lord Sri Caitanya for consecration and blessing. This is the first time that he was blessed by our Lord. Next he met Him in his seventh year when our Lord gave him Namamantra and commanded him to utter Him, but the child remained silent as if seriously brooding over the same. Sivananda tried his best to make him say the Mantra; but his attempts were of no avail. At this our Lord remarked, "I caused even the inanimate world to utter the Name of God, should I not make him say 'Krsna'?" Finding the boy absorbed, Svarupa Damodara said, "You imparted to Him the Mantra. Having received Him, he does not like to express Him before others. What I infer is that he seems not to recite but repeat Him inwardly" (B.C.C. Anta XVI. 68-72.). Another day our Lord commanded him saying, 'Read, Puridasa'. The seven-year-old genius instantly recited the following Sanskrit verse of his own composition,

Sravasoh kuvalayah aksnoh anjanam
urasah mahendra mani dama
Vrindavana Harih jayati (C.C. Anta XVI.74.).

Glory to Hari who is the lotus ornament of the ear, the collyrium paint to the eyes, ornament of the damsels of Vrindavana and the great Mahendra diamond of the breast;!

His recitation of the verse filled all present there with wonder. This is the first verse of the young poet, who opened his poetic mouth for the first time at an early age under the happy omens of our Lord Sri Caitanya's divine presence and inspiration. His definition of Kavi 'Savijohi Kavijneyah as sarvagama kovidah sarasa pratibha Sali yadi syaduttamastada' refers to his own inborn poetic genius. By "Sovijohi" he means 'Praktana Samskara' or poetic impressions of the previous births. The definition means that the best poetry comes from one who succeeds in combining genius for describing in a lively manner the ever-new things with impressions from his preceding birth (Alamkara kaustubha. 1.9.). Kavikarnapura had in himself all poetic elements with which, according to him, a true poet should be endowed. Had he not been a born poet he could not have composed a beautiful verse in his seventh year and produced Caitanya Carit, a master piece of Kavya literature, at his early age of sixteen. Besides, he was an erudite and voluminous writer on poetics in all its branches. His Kavyalanker, Rasa and Drama go in perfect harmony with the canons which he himself set forth in his Alamkara Kaustubha. Let us say a few words on his conception on Kavya.

In Kavyalamkara ( I, 16.) Bhamaha defines Kavya as 'Savdarthau sahitau Kavyam or union of word or sense.' The next writers Dandin and Vamana more or less re-echo the same thing. The latter, in his Kavyalamkara Vritti, makes it clear by stating that "Kavyam grahyam alamkarat": Kavya is accepted on account of its ornament. In other words, he merely endows the 'union of word and sense' with alamkaras. Dhvanikara says in his Dhvanyaloka that 'word and sense' are to be combined so as to please the mind of the world.' Rudrata also follows the old theory of Bhamaha. Mammatta in his Kavyaprakasa (i, 4.) seems to make an optional application of Alamkara to the hackneyed theory 'Savdarthau sahitau kavyam'. Vagbhata in his Vagbhata Alamkara (i,2) has added some new points to the constituents of Kavya in his following definition. "The pleasing words and senses are to be adorned with Gunas and Alamkaras distinct Ritis and Rasas. The poet should compose it for fame." It is obvious that these additions of Ritis and Rasas are mere qualifications of the long established theory of the word and sense. Visvanatha in his Sahitya Darpana. (i, 3) defines Kavya as 'Rasatma vakyam' and etc. In his opinion its excellence lies in its Gunas, Ritis and Alamkaras. The above definitions fall short of the standard of Kavikarnapura's Kavya which he defines in the following lines of his Alamkara Kaustubha (i, 4),

Sariram savdarthau dhvani rasava atmakila raso guna madhurya dya upamiti mukho alamkriti ganah. "Words and senses are the body of Kavya, Dhvani (sound) is her life, Rasa soul, sweetness, quality, metaphor, similes and so on are ornaments, Riti or diction is the perfection of body". Though Dhvanikara had already given rise to the Dhvani theory, Kavikarnapura has given its novel origin from Vrahmanada and combined it with Rasa which had so long its place primarily in drama in the hands of the ancient theorist. Though Vagbhata and Visvanatha already introduced Rasa in Kavya, it meant no more than mere poetic sentiment and qualification of the old theory 'Savdarthau.' Kavikarnapura has made Rasa the very soul of Kavya and built up almost a different system of poetics on the basis of Rasa which forms the absorbing theme and main current underlying our Gaudiya Vaishnava literature. This Rasa doctrine of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas seems to have nothing to do with physical or mental, or so-called personal or impersonal, pleasures in which sense all other writers on Rasa except Gaudiyas have used it. Kavikarnapura adopted the following definition of Rasa given by his predecessor Rupa Gosvami in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (Dasin, V. 79)

Vyatitya bhavanavartma
yascamatkara bharabhuh.
Hridi sattvojjvale vadham
svadate sa rasa matah.

"That dominant sentiment, which is tasted in the bright heart when absolutely purged of all worldliness by Suddha sattva, which is the fountain-head of strikingly varied charming sweetness, which is beyond the path of thought, is Rasa." This conception of Rasa is higher than Abhinava Gupta's Laukika and Alaukika Rasa. Suddha sattva is employed to destroy Sattva Raja and Tama gunas which give rise to selfishness either gross or subtle. Prema Rasa springs up only on anartha nivriti or elimination of worldliness. Rati which develops itself in Rasa is not to be so called if found connected with worldly enjoyment (Vubhuksha) and even with salvation (Bh. R.S.Purva, iii.). The author of the Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu says that an ordinary man may be attracted to this alloyed sentiment but the man of wisdom calls it no more than Abhasa or false glitter if Rasa is found connected with any physical and mental enjoyment in which sense all theorists, except the Gaudiya Vaishnava writers, used Rasa.


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