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Sadharanikarana - Generalization Or Universalization

Sadharanikarana is the process of generalization or universalization, as given in Sanskrit literary theory. A term evolved by Bhattanayaka in the 10th century CE which came to denote a doctrine in the theory of rasa. Sadharanikarana explains how and why the entire process of aesthetics, from the creation of a poem to the reception by the reader, is achieved.

Bhattanayaka attributes three powers to the word of poetic language – abhidha, bhavakatva and bhojakatva. Abhidha denotes a power which all words have in all contexts, but in poetic language abhidha functions conjointly with another special power called bhavakatva. Through this power sadharanikarana is achieved. That means it removes all personal relations and associations from the characters and their emotions. For example, the sorrow presented in the Ramayana is not to be taken as the personal sorrow of the character or the poet, but sorrow itself in its universalized form and identified by its criteria. The power of bhavakatva operates through poetic excellence, figures of speech, and other rhetorical devices. When a play is staged, the actors and theatrical devices contribute to this power.

In response, the reader is also able to transcend his narrow self. Through the power of bhojakatva, he relishes rasa objectified in trans-personalized mode. Thus, sadharanikarana means in the poem and the reader through the power of the word.

Later this doctrine was accepted and elaborated upon by a number of aestheticians like Abhinavagupta (10th century), Visvanatha (14th century), Panditraja Jagannatha (17th century) and Ramacandra Shukla (20th century).