Kavirahasya, “The Secret of Poets”: Rājaśekhara’s View on Poetry


  • Katarzyna Pażucha University of Chicago




Rājaśekhara, Kāvyamīmāṃsā, Kavirahasya, alaṅkāraśāstra, kāvya, Sanskrit poetics, Kauṭilya, Vatsyāyana, Arthaśāstra, Kāmasūtra, śāstra


In the tenth century AD, a Sanskrit poet Rājaśekhara composed a peculiar text, the Kāvyamīmāṃsā, “Investigation in Poetry”. In this work he proposed a new, fresh approach to literature: kāvya as a sphere of life rather than mere theory of figuration, alaṅkāraśāstra. This paper will concentrate on the Kavirahasya, the first chapter of the Kāvyamīmāṃsā, describing a poet and his place in the world of literature.


Primary Sources (both in Sanskrit and in translation)

The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana. With the locana of Abhinavagupta. Translated by Ingalls, Masson, and Patwardhan. 1990. Harvard University Press.

‘Kamasutra’ of Vatsyayana Mallanaga; with explanatory notes by the translators, W. Doniger and S. Kakar. 2002. Oxford–New York: Oxford University Press.

‘Kāmasūtram’ of Sri Vatsyayana Muni, with the Jayamangala Sanskrit Commentary of Sri Yashodhara. 1997. Varanasi: Krishnadar Academy.

Kāvyālaṅkāra of Bhāmaha. Edited and translated by P. V. Naganatha Sastry. 2001. Delhi–Varanasi–Patna: Motilal Banarsidass.

KM = Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara:

(1) ‘Kāvyamīmāṃsā’ of Rājaśekhara. Edited by Nārāyaṇa Śāstrī Khiste, Part I (Adhyayas I-V). 1983. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan.

(2) ‘Kāvyamīmāṃsā’ of Rājaśekhara. Edited by the late C.D. Dalal and Pandit R.A. Sastry, 1934. Oriental Institute Baroda: Gaekwad’s Oriental Series.

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Rājaśekharaviracitā Kāvyamīmāṃsā. Edited with his own commentary Madhusūdanīvivr̥ ti by Madhusūdanamiśra. 1934. Benares: Jai Krishna Das Gupta Vidya Vilas Press.

The ‘Kauṭilīya Arthaśāstra’; pt. I. A critical edition with a glossary. Edited R. P. Kangle. 1969. Bombay: University of Bombay.

Secondary Sources

Betai, R. S. 2001. Kaviśikṣā in the Kāvyamīmāṃsā of Rājaśekhara. In: S.V.U. Oriental Journal. Vol. XLIV: 42–51.

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How to Cite

Pażucha, Katarzyna. 2013. “Kavirahasya, ‘The Secret of Poets’: Rājaśekhara’s View on Poetry”. Cracow Indological Studies 15 (December):143-66. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.15.2013.15.09.