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Mammata – Author Of Kavyaprakasha

Mammata, also known as Mammata Bhatta, is a Sanskrit rhetorician and author of Kavyaprakasa. Mammata belonged to Kashmir. He lived in the second half of the 11th century CE. There are 48 commentaries on Kavyaprakasa. According to one of them, Sudhasagara Mammata was the son of Jaiyata and had gone to Varanasi for higher studies. Kaiyata, the great commentator of Mahabhashya, and Uvvata, the commentator of Yajurveda, were his younger brothers. However, there are differences of opinion about Uvvata being his younger brother. Most of the commentators of Kavyaprakasa agree that Mammata was not the exclusive author of this text and that Allata, another scholar of Kashmir, was associated with him.

Kavyaprakasa has three divisions – karika, vritti and udaharana (illustrations). Karikas are written in poetry and vritti defines and explains the same in prose. For each item illustrations are given for better understanding. The illustrations are taken from several literary works in Sanskrit.

Kavyaprakasha is divided into ten parts called ullasas. In the first chapter, Mammata classifies poetry into types such as uttama (superior), madhyama (middle) and adhama (inferior). He also deals with the benefits of poetry and the qualifications of a poet. He conceives of poetry as consisting of sabdartha (word and thought), devoid of doshas (faults), possessed of gunas (merits) and decorated with alamkara (figures of speech).

One of the unsparing critics of the definition of the poetry of Mammata was Visvanatha (author of Sahityadarpana) who finds fault with him for omitting one of the vital elements of poetry, namely, rasa (emotion).

One of the most important aspects of poetry dealt with by Mammata is Kavyadosha (blemishes in poetry), and in this he does not spare masters like Kalidasa. It has been said that if he had a sharp eye for defects, he had a sharper eye for merits. His real contribution to Sanskrit criticism is his refinement of the concept of dhvani (suggestion) as an alamkara (ornament) of poetry.