Sharing is Caring

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print

Thereafter, the Agni Purana has many chapters on literature and grammar. It describes the different types of chhanda (metres) that are used in poetry.

Next it discusses the alphabet. There are sixty-four letters (varna) in the alphabet, of which twenty-one are vowels (svara varna). There are three tones (svara) in which the letters of the alphabet may be uttered. Their names are udatta, anudatta and svarita. There are eight places from which the letters may be pronounced. These are the chest, the throat, the head, the back of the tongue, the teeth, the nose, the lips and the palate. Pronunciations should be clear and audible. They should not be nasal and mumbled.

The Agni Purana then discusses the alamkaras (rhetoric) that are used in poetry and plays. Poetry is entirely different from the shastras (sacred texts) and itihasa (history). The sacred texts are full of words and historical texts are full of narrations of incidents that took place. But that does not constitute poetry. Real men are difficult to find on this earth. Amongst these real men, it is difficult to find men who are learned. Amongst the learned men, it is not easy to find some who have a poetic sense. And amongst those who have poetic sense, it is difficult to find a few who can compose poetry. Poetry is impossible without a knowledge of the rules of poetry and even more important, without a sense of feeling.

Sanskrit is the language of the gods. The language of humans is Prakrita. Poetry can be either in Sanskrit or in Prakrita. There are three types of poetry. These are gadya (prose), padya (poetry) or mishra (a mixture of the two). Genuine poetry is, however, only padya Gadya can be of three types-churnaka, utkalika and vrittagandhi. Churnaka prose is easy on the ears, it has very few compouond words. Utkalika prose is hard on the ears, it is full of compound words. Vrittagandhi prose is some where between churnaka and utkalika.

An epic must always be split up into sections (sarga). It has to be written in Sanskrit, although some mixture of Sanskrit words with Prakrita ones is permissible. The theme of an epic must always be good and historical elements may be introduced if the author so desires.

Literature is useless without the flavour of sentiments (rasa). There are nine sentiments that are used. The first is hasya (humour). The second is karuna rasa (pathos). The third is roudra rasa (that which is wrathful and awe-inspiring). The fourth is vira rasa (heroic themes). The fifth is bhayanaka rasa (horror). The sixth is bibhatsa rasa (vulgar and obscene themes). The seventh is adbhuta rasa (that which is strange). The eighth is shanta rasa (placidity). And the ninth is Sringara rasa (amorous themes).

But the sentiments must be used with feeling. Without feeling, all literature becomes mediocre. Particularly in  a play,  sentiments  can  be supplemented with  skills  (kalal). These skills  are normally associated with women and there are sixty-four of them. The more important ones are singing, playing musical instruments, dancing, acting, drawing, making garlands, sewing, hairdressing and using magic.

Grammatical rules of sandhi and samasa (rules for forming compound words) are next described. The difference between the two is that in sandhi, the two words that are being joined retain their original senses in the compound word. The case of samasa is different. Sandhi occurs when two varnas (letters) met. Samasa is a condensation or conversion of two or more words into one. Sandhi does not create any new word. Samasa leads to the formation of a third word which refers to something related to but distinct from either or any of the words combined. Pita (yellow) and ambara (cloth) combined by way of sandhi are pronounced pitambara and mean cloth that is yellow. The same two words combined by way of samasa result in the third word pitambara which means “the one dressed in yellow”, that is, Krishna.


There are several possible declensions of words, depending on the vachana and the vibhakti. The vachana refers to the number. Eka-vachana is when there is only one (phalam, a fruit) dvi- vachana when there are two (phale, two fruits) and vahu-vachana when there are more than two (phalani, more than two fruits). There are three genders, pumlinga (masculine), strilinga (feminine) and klivalinga (neuter). Deva, asura, Vishnu are, for example, masculine in gender. Devi, Kalika or maya are feminine. Pushpa (flower) or phala (fruit) are neuter.

There are six karakas (cases) and seven vibhaktis (case-endings). The agent who performs the action indicated by the kriya (verb), is the kartri or doer. To the kartri karaka or nominative case, the prathama vibhakti or first case-ending is attached. The object of the action is karma and to the karma karaka or objective case, the second (dvitiya) case-ending is attached. The means or instruments by which the action is performed takes on the karana karaka or instrumental cases and the third (tritiya) case-ending. When a gift is given irrevocably, the recipient takes on the sampradana karaka or dative case and the case-ending in question is the fourth (chaturthi). That which is the source of something takes on the apadana karaka or ablative case and the fifth (panchami) case-ending. When there is a relation of possessions, the possessor takes on the shashthi vibhakti (sixth case-ending). There is no counterpart of the possessive case of English grammar  because  the  relation  of  possession  is  not  directly related  to  the  verb  (kriya)  and therefore to the doer (karaka). In case of the location in which the action takes place, the karaka is adhikarana (locative case) and the case-ending the seventh (saptami).