The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana

"Dive into the profound world of Indian aesthetics with 'The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta' book. Explore the concept of dhvani and its impact on emotion, art, and imagination. A timeless masterpiece for scholars and enthusiasts alike."
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“The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta” is a seminal work in Indian literary and aesthetic theory. Composed by two luminaries of Indian poetics, Ānandavardhana and Abhinavagupta, this book delves into the concept of dhvani, the power of suggestion in poetry, and its profound impact on the reader’s emotions and imagination. This masterpiece is a cornerstone of the Indian aesthetic tradition, inspiring generations of scholars, poets, and artists to explore the depths of literary expression.

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The book comprises two main sections: the Dhvanyāloka by Ānandavardhana and the Locana by Abhinavagupta. In the Dhvanyāloka, Ānandavardhana introduces the concept of dhvani, which refers to the “suggestion” or “resonance” invoked by words and their arrangements in poetry. He argues that this suggestion transcends the mere literal meaning of words, evoking emotional, aesthetic, and imaginative responses in the reader. This concept revolutionized literary analysis by shifting focus from word meanings to the emotional impact of poetic expression.

Abhinavagupta’s Locana is a detailed commentary on Ānandavardhana’s work. He expands upon the concept of dhvani, delving into its psychological and metaphysical dimensions. Abhinavagupta emphasizes that dhvani is not limited to poetry but is a universal principle governing all forms of art and communication. He also introduces the idea of rasa, the aesthetic essence or emotion evoked by art, closely tied to the concept of dhvani.


Critics and scholars worldwide have praised “The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta” for its profound insights into aesthetics and literary theory. Renowned scholar Wendy Doniger notes, “This book is a cornerstone of Indian aesthetics, providing a deep understanding of how language and emotion intertwine in art.”

Indian literary critic A.K. Ramanujan writes, “The collaboration of Ānandavardhana and Abhinavagupta in this book illuminates the delicate nuances of poetic expression, offering readers an intellectual and emotional journey.”


“Words in poetry are not mere carriers of information; they are vehicles of emotion and suggestion.” – Ānandavardhana
“Dhvani is the hidden power that makes poetry a medium of profound emotional and aesthetic experience.” – Abhinavagupta
“The reader’s imagination, fueled by dhvani, creates a dance of meanings that transcends the words on the page.” – Ānandavardhana
“In the canvas of artistic expression, dhvani is the brushstroke that evokes the colors of rasa.” – Abhinavagupta


Q : What is the significance of dhvani in poetry?
A : Dhvani, as explained by Ānandavardhana and Abhinavagupta, goes beyond the literal meaning of words. It is the suggestive power of words that evokes emotions, images, and thoughts in the reader’s mind. This concept elevates poetry from mere communication to a realm of artistic and emotional experience.

Q : How does Abhinavagupta expand upon Ānandavardhana’s ideas?
A : Abhinavagupta’s Locana offers a comprehensive commentary on the Dhvanyāloka. He delves into the psychological and metaphysical aspects of dhvani, connecting it to the concept of rasa. Abhinavagupta emphasizes that dhvani is not limited to poetry but extends to all forms of art, making his contribution an integral part of the book’s legacy.

“The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta” stands as a timeless masterpiece that transcends cultural and temporal boundaries. Its exploration of dhvani, suggestive power, and rasa has enriched the world’s understanding of art’s emotional and aesthetic dimensions. The collaboration between these two profound thinkers continues to illuminate the path for scholars, artists, and enthusiasts seeking to fathom the depths of artistic expression.