Differences Between English Poetics and Sanskrit Poetics This article was originally meant to be included as an appendix in my book Versified History of Sanskrit Poetics: The Soul is Rasa (Vrindavan: 2016). Charles A. Filion 2020 Table of Contents Respective Origins 3 The Twenty Main Figures of Speech in English, with Sanskrit equivalents 5 One Hundred More Prominent Figures of Speech in English, with Sanskrit equivalents 12 Differences Between English Poetics and Sanskrit Poetics 32
Differences Between English Poetics and Sanskrit Poetics Respective Origins In English poetics, figures of speech originate from the ancient Greeks’ classical rhetoric, whereas in Sanskrit poetics the figures originate from dramaturgy. Classical rhetoric, one of the seven liberal arts, is the art of persuasion. In Rhetoric, Aristotle mentioned three modes of persuasion: It is achieved by ethos, the speaker’s personal character; by logos, logical reasoning; and by pathos, the stirring of emotions in the hearers. Pathos corresponds to rasa.In a political speech, literary devices are important. In Rhetoric, Aristotle (384–322 BCE) said: “It is metaphor above all else that gives clearness, charm, and distinction to the style.”1Aristotle also wrote Poetics.The seven liberal arts are the trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Philosophy unites all seven. The tradition of first learning those three subjects was established in ancient Greece whereas the quadrivium was added in the Middle Ages. Poetics was studied as an offshoot of rhetoric: In Aristotle’s time, rhetoric and poetics were two aspects of performance on stage.2Aristotle wrotePolitics and many other works.3He taught Plato and was also the tutor of Alexander the Great, who made an incursion in India in 326 BCE. In Sanskrit culture, political science and economics are based on Kauṭilya’s Artha-śāstra (c. 300 BCE). To succeed, politicians and poets must be crooked in their manner of expression. In India, the status of Nāṭya-śāstra is akin to that of Aristotle’s Poetics in the West. There are obvious differences but also noteworthy similarities: Bharata expounds the detailed physical movements and gestures of the actors, a topic ignored by Aristotle. […] Moreover, both Aristotle and Bharata contend that the aim in drama is to convey certain emotions to the audience. However, Aristotle confines his discussion of the arousal of emotion by tragedy to a few remarks (for example, his contention that tragedy should arouse pity and fear for the purpose of catharsis and his claim that even hearing the basic plot outline should arouse these emotions). Bharata, on the other hand, develops a detailed taxonomy of emotion and emotional expression4Aristotle’s Poetics consisted of two parts: Only the first part—that which focuses on tragedy—survives. The lost second part addressed comedy. Bharata Muni’s discourse on rasa is more elaborate than pity, fear, and humor. In addition, Bharata expounded meters, types of heroines, varieties of emotions, and music. In both works, a play more or less culminates in a moral.