Dhvani theory by Anandavardhana: A note

Dhvani theory by Anandavardhana: A note

The Dhvani theory is a milestone in the history of Indian literary criticism. It is Anandavardhana who outlined this theory in his most famous work Dhvanyaloka. Anandavardhana is a prominent figure in Indian literary criticism and a renowned Kashmiri scholar of the 8th or 9th century. He proposed the concept of ‘dhvani’ or ‘aesthetic suggestion’ as the soul of poetry in his Dhvanyaloka. This concept sparked a long-lasting debate in Indian aesthetics. It heavily influenced literary criticism for centuries.
Dhvani theory emphasizes the emotional resonance created by a poem. According to this concept, in a poem the deeper meaning is suggested rather than directly stated. Dhvani refers to the suggestive or implied meaning in a poem. According to this concept the suggested meaning is often evoked through figures of speech. This meaning is more powerful than the literal meaning of the words. This concept is recognized for elevating the role of the reader's experience in interpreting poetry, acknowledging the suggestive power of language.
In this concept Anandavardhana has proposed three levels of meaning in a poem:
(i) Vachya: Vachya means the literal or direct meaning of the words.
(ii) Vyanjana: Vyanjana means the suggested or implied meaning. This Vyanjana is the most powerful element in creating a poem's lasting impact.
(iii) Rasa: Rasa is the aesthetic experience or emotional response evoked in the reader by the dhvani. This could be love, joy, sorrow, etc.
On the basis of these elements, Anandavardhana has categorized poetry into three classes:
(i) Dhvani Kavya: Dhvani Kavya is the highest form of poetry. Here the suggested meaning (dhvani) is primary. It overshadows the literal meaning. This creates a multi-layered experience for the reader.
(ii) Rasa Dhvani: Here, the literal meaning supports and evokes the dhvani and the resulting rasa.
(iii) Vibhavana Kavya: In this category, the literal meaning dominates. The suggested meaning is minimal or absent. According to Anandavardhana this form of poetry is considered the least significant form of poetry.
The role of the 'Sahridaya' is an important aspect of the Dhvani theory. 'Sahridaya' means the discerning reader. This reader is not a passive recipient only but an active participant in the meaning-making process of the poem. The imagination and the sensitivity of this reader are significant to receive the suggested meaning and rasa.
Though the Dhvani theory belongs to Sanskrit poetics but its principles have resonated with literary scholars across various cultures. This concept shifted the focus from ornamentation and technical aspects of poetry to the emotional experience it evokes. It is credited with elevating poetry to a higher level of importance within Indian culture. The real beauty of this concept lies in the emphasis on the evocative nature of language. This theory highlights the ability of poetry to convey more than what's explicitly stated. Through this theory Anandavardhana has offered a nuanced framework for understanding and appreciating the power of suggestion in literature.


Popular Posts

National Education- Mahatma Gandhi by M.K. Gandhi: Multiple Choice Questions with Answers

The Bangle Sellers by Sarojini Naidu: Multiple Choice Questions with Answers

The Axe by R.K. Narayan: Multiple Choice Questions with Answers