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Anandavardhana - 9th century Author From Kashmir

Anandavardhana is a formulator of the theory of dhvani (suggestion) in the Sanskrit poetics/literary theory/aesthetic theory. Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana is one of the most celebrated works in Sanskrit poetics. He elaborately enumerates the theory of dhvani, a technical term conveying ‘suggestion’, which according to him is the ‘soul of poetry’. Anandavardhana lived in the second half of the 9th century CE in Kashmir.

Dhvanyaloka, divided in four udyotas, consists of three constituents – karikas (aphorisms in verse, numbering 129, vritti (prose exposition of metrical karikas) and illustrations, mostly quoted from Sanskrit and Pali/Prakrit poets. Ananda Vardhana critically reviews all the theories and criticism by his predecessors like Bharata, Bhamaha, Dandin, Vamana and others, convincingly refutes or modifies most of them, and integrates them with the concept of rasa-dhvani, the principal and most essential element in an excellent poem. His analysis of the two epics in respect of the delineation of rasa in the main is a masterpiece as found in the fourth udyota. Locana (literally, eye) is a lucid and learned commentary on Dhvanyaloka by Abhinavagupta (990-1020 CE), an erudite scholar of great reputation in the domains of poetics, philosophy, tantra, music and mystic systems.

There is, however, a controversy about the authorship of Dhvanyaloka. According to some writers, headed by Abhinavagupta, the karikas were composed earlier by Sahrdaya, while Anandavardhana subsequently wrote vritti thereon and added illustrations. Mahimbhatta and others, on the other hand, attributed both karikas and vritti to Anandavardhana. Despite this, Anandavardhana has been rightly regarded as the founder of the Dhvani school, a dhvanikara par excellence. Besides Dhvanyaloka, Anandavardhana composed Tattvaloka, Arjuna-charita (an epic in Sanskrit), Vishamabanalila (a work in Prakrit), Devisataka (a hundred devotional verses) and Dharmottama, a commentary on Pramana-Viniscaya of Dharmakirti (a celebrated Buddhist philosopher and logician of 7th century CE). But Dhvanyaloka has been indisputably accepted as an epoch-making work in literary aesthetics.