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Alankara-kaustubha :: 5 - Rasa :: Kavi Karnapura

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Alankara-kaustubha :: 5 - Rasa
Alankara-kaustubha :: 5 - Rasa :: Kavi Karnapura

See Chapter 1 for source text information.

This chapter has all the karikas, Karnapura's own commentary or vritti, and illustrative verses or udaharanas. The two commentaries are not complete, however.

Shivaprasad's and Lokanath's commentaries are nicely complementary. Lokanath mostly explains the exemplary verses; Shivaprasad has a grasp of the historical context of Karnapur's text and is occasionally critical of the Gaudiya Vaishnava position, particularly taking issue with the statement "prAkRte raso nAsti." I hope to be able to complete both these valuable commentaries eventually. The sections that have been completed, in particular at the beginning of the chapter, cover the most important material from the theoretical standpoint.

This chapter has a lot of what we used to call "nectar."

(Jagat 2006-05-07)
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Entry added: May 8th 2006
Entry updated: May 22nd 2019
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The number of rasas · Posted by Jagat on May 8th 2006 - 01:20 +0200
Karnapura has made a bit of a confusing enumeration of the rasas. There is a longstanding argument in Kavya-shastra about the number of rasas, starting with eight in Bharata, sringara, hasya, adbhuta, karuna, vira, bibhatsa, bhayanaka and krodha. To this, shanta is the first that is added, but vatsalya and preyas are also popular contenders for rasa status. However, though bhakti is suggested in certain medieval texts (post-Bhagavatam) like Muktaphala and Namakaumudi, it never becomes accepted in the mainstream of kavya literature. Please see chapter three of Bhakti-rasa-vivecanam, recently posted on this site.

Karnapura starts by accepting the eight rasas of Bharata, accepting the poetic tradition, but he goes on to add shanta, vatsalyam, bhakti (which more or less corresponds to dasya) and prema (which is distinct from sringara, but applies to Radha and Krishna). Not only that, but he claims supreme status for both adbhuta rasa (wonder) and prema-rasa. This is in part why, despite Karnapura's undoubted poetic skill, his theoretical position is not as coherent as Rupa's, who states that there is only one rasa--bhakti, which manifests in various other forms.

From Shivaprasad Bhattacharya's introduction · Posted by Jagat on May 8th 2006 - 01:10 +0200
Introduction by Shivaprasada Bhattacharya, pp. 10-12.

The fifth kirana of the Kaustubha is very important inasmuch as it deals with the problem of aesthetic relish or rasa, its nature and variants. The author, being a Vaishnava of hard core, establishes here the supremacy of bhakti rasa. In addition to the already accepted eight rasas, he adds another, prema rasa, which is the outcome of the divine love of Lord Sri Krishna and Radha (see verse 5.11). Prema rasa is the most important of all, for all the rasas submerge in it (prema-rase sarve eva rasA antarbhavantIty atra mahIyAn eva prapaJcaH). God is the source of all the rasas, of which love is the most important. God became incarnate as Lord Sri Krishna and relished the love of Radha. Lord Sri Krishna represents the pleasure of love and Radha the eternal source of delight. Thus all rasas are a part of it and prema rasa is predominant and gives exquisite pleasure to the devotees.

Regarding the general concept of rasa, Kavi Karnapur says that the dominant emotion, sthayi bhava, becomes a sentiment (rasa) when it is brought into a relishable condition through the comingling of excitants (vibhavas), the ensuants (anubhavas), and the accessories (sancharis). The enjoyer of rasa is the audience on whose capacity of enjoyment the dominant feelings (sthayi bhava) becomes rasa when it is so enjoyed. The experience of rasa subjective; it is a mental state of the reader in which enjoyment is essential and in which the enjoyer and the object of enjoyment become identical. The locus of rasa according to Kavi Karnapur, as held by Abhinava Gupta and his followers, is not the represented hero, nor the actor who acts the deeds of the hero, nor is it the poem itself. It is the samajika who relishes it. What are cause, effect and accessory in the empirical plane technically become vibhava, anubhava and sanchari in the realm of poetry.

Kavi Karnapur, being a Vaishnava poet, eulogizes rati bhava, which makes the mind melt and purges it of its impurities and hardness. It is that state of mind where pure consciousness becomes predominant and rajas and tamas qualities are relegated to the subordinate position. In the experience of rati, the mind is totally engrossed in supreme pleasure. Rati gradually attains perfection in maharaga, just as the juice of sugarcane, passing from its raw stage (äma), to gur, and from gur to sharkara, and ultimately attains its perfection in crystal sugar.

Rati, in accordance with the change of condition, assumes various forms, namely (1) priti, (2) maitri, (3) sauharda, and (4) bhava.

Kavi Karnapur believes that rasa is really only one because it consists of nothing else but pure consciousness and bliss. But due to the different superimposed conditions in the form of the different sthayi bhavas and their accessories, it assumes many forms—hasya, vira, bibhatsa, etc. The author, probably under the influence of Narayan, the great-grandfather of Vishwanath (author of Sahitya-darpana), regards wonder (camatkara) as the most prevalent feeling in the relish of all rasas. Be it a love between Sri Krishna and Radha, or a fight between Rama and Ravana, in the aesthetic experience of all the rasas, it is the feeling of wonder which pervades and sustains throughout. Says he—

rase sAraz camatkAro yaM vinA na raso rasaH |
tac camatkAra-sAratve sarvatraivAdbhutaà rasaH ||

The essence in rasa is wonder. Without it, mere tasting or experiencing cannot be called rasa. Since rasa has wonder as its essence, rasa is everywhere experienced as wonder.
Why does adbhuta predominate? The author gives the following answer In the enjoyment of rasa, one relishes one's vAsanA, which causes the mind to expand. The expansion of mind brings the feeling of wonder.Thus it is wonder that is present whenever rasa is relished.

Contrary to the tradition, the author takes the heroic sentiment for discussion first and love (sringara) in the end. He treats all the eight rasas laid down by Bharata, illustrating their vibhavas, anubhavas, and sancharis. He also accepts shanta rasa and admits nirveda as its sthayi bhava. The author advances the following argument for the acceptance of shanta as a rasa: in the experience of shanta, the expansion of mind in the form of extinction of trishna is felt at the highest degree in comparison with the other rasas.

Kavi Karnapur further classifies rasa into two new categories—prakrita and aprakrita. The dominant feelings like love, pathos, etc., when experienced by original characters and the connaisseur is prakrita rasa, and it is aprakrita rasa when experience by divine characters like Sri Krishna. This view of the author that the dominant feeling experienced by original characters is prakrita rasa goes against even the best belief of the author. The author here gives contradictory statements.

In the end, Kavi Karnapur enters into details regarding the nature, equipment and varieties of different rasas, especially sringara rasa, which is treated with its varying emotional moods and situations. According to rank, character, circumstances, mood, etc., all conceivable types of hero and heroine and their adjuncts are discussed. Sringara is first divided into sambhoga (love in union) and vipralambha (love in separation). Then the four types of hero, the assistants of the hero, his eight special excellences and so on are mentioned. The heroine is also classified into many divisions and subdivisions with reference to her relation with the hero as wife (sviya) or “belonging to another” (parakiya), and common to all (vezyä). The sviya heroine is further divided according to her maturity in age and love into mugdha, madhya and so on. The heroine is further classified in accordance with her situation or condition in relation to her lover, such as having absolute control over her him (svadhina-patika), or deceived by him (vipralabdha) and so on. Gestures, moods, and different shades of emotion are also discussed by our author on the pattern indicated by earlier medieval writers like Dhananjaya, Vishwanath, etc.