A few words of appreciation of Kavikarnapura II

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

JANUARY 15, 1935

It will be enough to say here that Rasa, which Kavikarnapura has meant and introduced into the definition of Kavya, is spiritual in character and unlike that of all other writers on poetics. This Rasa is best understood as Sringara which, in its different aspects, is the under-current of Gaudiya Vaishnava kavya and drama literature. Rudra Bhatta’s Sringara Tilaka and Bhojadeva's Sringara Prakasha are no doubt the earlier important works on Sringara. But Kavikarnapura vitally differs from them in the conception of the said Rasa. He divides it into three divisions each of which is essentially different from the others. For our present purpose we may take up its two main divisions Prakrita and Aprakrita Sringara in following lines,

Prakrita laukikah malatimadhavadinisthah Aprakritah Sri Krishna Radhadi nisthah
(Alamkara Kaustubha v.6.)

Kavikarnapura refers to Bhavabhuti's Malati Madhava Nataka in identifying Prakrita Sringara with the love of Madhava (Not Krishna Madhava). He identifies the latter kind with the love of Radha for Krishna. It is not possible for Aprakrita Sringara to exist except in relation of Radha and Krishna. He does not seem to approve of its application even to Narayana. He criticises Kalidasa for his describing Sringara Rasa of Siva Parbati with the argument,--

Uttamadevatanam parvatiparamesvaradinam
Sringara varnanam ca na karyam
Yatu Kritam Sri Kalidasadibhi staddustam tadvarnanam hi svapitroh sringara
varnanamiva" (Alamkara kaustubha x,42).

Sringara of Parvati and Siva ought not to be described as it is untastable because of their being mere gods who are regarded as parents to the people. Kalidasa has done wrong in so doing. Kavikarnapura reluctantly approves of some poets describing Narayana's Sringara provided Narayana is raised above the category of Devatas who are certainly subjected to the conventional morality of the world in which case their love should not be described to us, their sons and daughters. He justifies the description of Sringara of Radhakrishna in the following line,--

Radha madhavoyostu varnaniya meva sarvesvara tena devatatvabhavat (Alamkara kaustubha. X.42).

'Sringara of Radha Madhava is only to be described on account of their absolute Supremacy over all gods' ; in other words they are not subject to the rules that govern the gods and mankind alike and which stand in the way of the description of Sringara. He raises Radha-Madhava above the moral restriction of the world on account of their absoluteness. Kavikarnapura identifies the best Nayaka or Hero of Sringara with Krishna in the line.

Sarva Suddhva rasa vrinda kandalah sarva nayaka ghata kiritagah atyalaukikagunairalamkrito gokulendra tanayah sunayakah (Alamkara kaustubha X.27).

"The best and greatest Nayaka (Hero) is the son of the lord of Gokula, who is the seed of all purified Rasas, who is the crest-jewel of all Nayakas, who is endowed with all unworldly qualities".

Furthermore, Kavikarnapura differs from all other Kavya writers and theorists in their definition of Mahakavya that it should be written with any of the following four Vargas or ends in view--Dharma (Piety), Artha (wealth), Kama (fulfilment of desires) or Moksa or salvation. Of these Bhamaha prefers Artha. Many of them are in favour of fame. Dandin says the following to the effect, Catur Varga phalam petum (Kavyadarsa i,14-19.). Kavikarnapura criticises it as selfish and mean. So he gives his noble view on the point in the following lines,--"Fame and other objects that have been pointed out as the aim of the composition of Kavya are not the real fruit. The deep divine bliss, that wells up in the heart on account of application of mind in course of describing the most charming sportive qualities of Krishna, is the summum bonum, others are trivial. The readers of Kavya should also gain that celestial bliss (Alamkara kaustubha ii, 14.). As a Kavya writer and theorist, Kavikarnapura deserves a very high place in the literature of poetics because of having presented noble ideas and giving a new shape to old views on Kavya and making a perfect union of Dhvani with Rasa. So far as Rasa is concerned, Kavikarnapura and his immediate predecessor Rupa Gosvami categorically differ from all others who have written on the subject in treating it with its necessary doctrine of Nayaka and Nayikas in an exhaustively scientific and psychologically analytic way and from a different point of view.

Let us say a few words by way of appreciating Kavikarnapura's Caitanya Carit Mahakavya in conformity with the established canons of Mahakavya which are as follows :-( 1. It ought to be divided into Sargas and named after its hero and endowed with meters agreeable to the ears, which should changes themselves at the end of each Sarga, and it should be based on actual facts. 2. It ought to begin with namaskriya or obeisances and vastunirdesa or indication of the contents. It should be replete with the descriptions of towns, mountains, rivers, seas, seasons, and so on. Rasa or Bhava should underlie it. 3. Of the four Sargas the poet should describe at least one as being his aim. Dandin's Kavyadarsa, I 14-19.)

Kavikarnapura has described the noble deeds of our Lord Sri Chaitanya which are historical facts, in his Caitanya Carit Mahakavya which has been named after Him whom he describes as Dhirodatta Hero (vide xx.47), defined by him in his Alamkara Kaustubha (V.27.) as one who avoids self-importance and self-glorification, who is kind, generous, grave, calm in disposition, gentle in manner, sweet in speech, and so forth. Chaitanya Carit is divided into twenty Sargas and written in elegant Sanskrit. It evinces a marvellous display of meters which change themselves at the end of each Sarga to suggest its coming end. For example the Mandakranta chhanda in the thirty-eighth and the next sloka of the twentieth Sarga is suddenly succeeded by the Sikharini chhanda in the fortieth sloka which in its turn is followed by the Vasanta tilaka chhanda in the next four slokas. The said Sarga is ended with the Sarddula vikridita meter. Kavikarnapura opens his Mahakavya with obeisances to its Hero Lord Sri Caitanya and Vastunirddesa or indications of the contents which are the life and deeds of its Divine Hero. In this connection, the poet could not but express the deep pathos of hundreds of our Lord's weeping followers together with his own at His Ascension which took place about nine years before the composition of the Caitanya Carit Mahakavya when the sad feeling was still fresh.

As regards Alamkara of the book, it would be no exaggeration to say that our poet Kavikarnapura has few rivals and hardly any one excels him in this respect. His every word is pregnant with significance and suggestiveness and adorned with most shining ornaments which delightfully enhance the beauty of his Kavya. Figures of speech and of thought are perfect. His similes, metaphors, allegories and so on, are well-cut, clear, familiar and striking at the same time. His descriptions have a feminine grace and charm that transport his readers to the presence of the self-love in the agony of loving separation from Himself. Neither metaphysical hardness, nor didacticism, nor dry history, nor disagreeable asceticism, nor long continued story, has been given admission to the book to mar the beauty and purpose of Kavya. He maintains all through from first to last a perfect unity between melting pathos of loving sentiment and its self-same expression. The art of the poet manifests itself in the wonderful unity of the two. In his description the things of Nature are of no less significance than Paramananda Puri in ministering to our Lord's deep love-in-separation for Krisna on the way from Puri to Bengal. Our Lord embraces every tree taking them as friends, and comes up to them to be allowed to possess again the Lord of His heart by their favour. The hero of Kavikarnapura's Kavya has entered into fellowship with the soul of Nature which is seen by Him to feel equally their separation from Krishna The flowers and trees are given a heart to mingle with our Lord's love, and a voice to join His songs in chorus. The poet has given Nature a chord of faith in the deep harp of the bliss of separation of love which the Hero experiences with added poignancy in the woods by the banks of the Mahanadi and Godavari. Our author's poetical genius lies in the fact that his touch gives to Nature's art its expression of perfect harmony with the emotions of the Hero's soul. Persons mourn the absence of the Beloved in their flowers and in the songs of their birds. His revelations of these holy mysteries expand and exalt us. Our poet is very sensible of the sweep of the celestial stream which to him permeates the whole world. Kavikarnapura has painted Puri, Navadvipa and other towns in glowing colours and has luxuriously described Ratha-yatra, and Dola-yatra festivals, for deepening the mood of the Hero by their contrasts. Every line is suffused with Bhakti-Rasa. The Gaudiya vaishnava writers as a class wrote and developed all branches of devotional literature to teach the doctrine of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and popularise the career of our Lord Sri Chaitanya. It has a peculiar characteristic of its own which has differentiated the literature of our school from the rest of Indian literature. Kavikarnapura sings the glory of our Faith in and through the grace of Kavya and voice of drama. He exults equally in the "family happiness" as well as the asceticism of the Hero who knows no longer except Krishna. Both aspects of the Hero's life gain fresh accession of sweetness at the hand of our poet. Krishnadasa Kaviraja does not delineate our Lord's married life which was already treated in an adequate manner by Thakur Vrindavanadas. Kavikarnapura describes in glowing colours the attractive grace and charm of Sri Laksmi-priya's beauty and surrounds Her with the halo of a singularly chastening mellowness in her marriage and life. The story of our Lord's life is described in this Sanskrit Kavya with equal dramatic force and psychological penetration. Both are equally transparent. The book as a whole breathes the pure spiritual air. Unlike all other secular Kavya books which are written for Artha, which Bhamaha prefers or for, any of the four Vargas which all Alamkarikas emphasise, Kavikarnapura's book is free from such selfish motive, and is intended to destroy the threefold affliction (vide XX.48.) which torments mankind for cherishing such desires.

Kavikarnapura's purpose being mainly poetical, much that is of historical and geographical importance is omitted from this book. As a historian, indeed, Kavikarnapura, so far as this Caitanya Carita Mahakavya is concerned, is occasionally open to criticism. For instance, it says that Sri Caitanya did not meet Raya Ramananda in the first instance on His outward journey in the south. The poet makes Him meet with Raya on His way back from Setuvandha and again takes Him to the Godavari from Puri. He contradicts Himself in his Chaitanya Candrodaya Nataka which agrees with Krisnadasa Kaviraja in this respect. Again he says in his Chaitanya Carit that a few days after our Lord's sannyas at Katwa He sent Sri Nityananda Prabhu from the Rada country to give His mother and other devotees the news of His sannyas and take them from Navadvipa to Santipura where He would stay and meet them (XI. 63-64). But he says differently in his Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka (anka IV) that Nityananda Prabhu sent Candrasekhara Acarya to Navadvipa for the purpose, and that he himself led our God-intoxicated Lord to Santipura by a pious trick by giving out that he was taking Him to Vrindavana. Sri Caitanya Bhagavata by Sri Vrindavanadasa Thakura agrees with Kavikarnapura's Caitanya Carita in this respect. But Krisnadasa Kaviraja says the same as Kavikarnapura's Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka which is to the contrary. Kavikarnapura in his Mahakavya avoids the actual geographical name as far as possible. For instance, he possibly refers to Kulia by saying that it is a certain place on the Ganges to the west of Navadvipa without mentioning it by name (XX.26). But so far as the historical outline is concerned, it is quite right. This omission of accurate topographical names and a few historical inaccuracies ought to be overlooked on account of his tender age of about sixteen when it was composed and when he may not have the opportunity of accurately knowing the details. These faults are conspicuous by their absence in his latter work Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka. These are minor blemishes of a book which has many astounding qualities of its own. It is one of the best exquisite specimens of typical Kavya literature for which the name of young Kavikarnapura is worthy of being remembered. The admirable soft quality of its language together with its clear music and the dancing movements of its meters has the limpidity and brightness of a running stream.


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