Authority and Auspiciousness in Gaurana’s Lakṣaṇadīpikā

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Jamal Jones



Moving beyond poetry’s affective and semantic powers, south Indian rubrics of poetic analysis often examined poetry’s metaphysical dimensions. The poeticians of the Telugu country developed an especially rich body of work in this field, elaborating an analysis of auspiciousness in poetry and classifying minor genres of praise poetry called cāṭuprabandha wherein auspiciousness was particularly important. This article focuses on one witness to that tradition, the Lakṣaṇadīpikā of Gaurana (fl . ca . 1375–1445 CE) . Previous scholars have cited the Lakṣaṇadīpikā as exemplifying this particular strand of thinking in poetics in Andhra and contiguous regions . This paper concentrates on the metaphysical evaluation of poetry offered in the Lakṣaṇadīpikā as a way of detailing its sources and its place in the history of Sanskrit poetics more generally. Gaurana’s work is shown here to constitute an attempt at revising and reinforcing this analytical method by linking it to wider Sanskritic traditions of scholarship and ritual, specifically tantra and astrology . Ultimately, the paper argues that Gaurana’s project was meant to support a larger social argument for brahmanical prerogatives in the domain of poetic work.

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