Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya
The Second Chapter of the Dasarupa , in its 72 verses, classifies, sub-classifies and describes, in great detail, the types of characters in a play, especially the four types of Heroes (bhedais caturdha); three Kinds of Heroines (tadguna nayika tridha) with their twenty variations (strinam alamkaras tu virnsatih) according to their relations with the Hero; the opponent of the hero (Pratinayaka); the companions and those devoted to the hero; messengers of the Heroine and so on.
The term Nayaka (Hero) is derived from the root Ni, meaning to carry. The concept of Nayaka or Neta comprised not merely the hero but several other characters as well that appear in the play. Unlike Dhananjaya, Bharata did not regard Nayaka as the distinguishing element on the basis of which the ten forms of the Rupaka are classified. Bharata’s approach was broader as it covered a wide range of character-types of all classes.
As per the concept presented by Dhananjaya, the hero (Neta) the leading character of the Nātaka should be an ideal person, a worthy and exalted person of virtue; of noble lineage; resolute, young, endowed with intelligence, energy, memory, and wisdom; brave, firm, graceful, charming, sweet-tempered, soft-spoken, liberal, clever, affable, popular, upright, and eloquent. It is , basically, his story that forms the main theme of the Drama.
Prakhyāta-vamso rājarsih-divyo-vā yatra näyakah/ tat prakhyātam vidhātavyam vrttam-atra-adhikārikam//
The noble hero has control over his senses; does not let emotions override his actions; maintains his composure even under dire circumstances; shelters the weak and threatened; always wishes and strives to do good to others; is also wise, well versed in Shastras and is skilled in arts;
netā vinīto madhuras tyāgī dakṣaḥ priyagvadaḥ / raktalokaḥ śucir vāṅmī rūḍha vaṃśaḥ sthiro yuvā // DhDaś_2.1 //
The eight qualities of an ideal hero are: nobility of character (sobha), liveliness (vilasa), sweet-temper (madhurya), poise (gambhirya), firmness (sthairya), sense of honour or brightness (tejas), grace (lalita), and magnanimity (audarya).
Sobha vilaso madhuryam gambhiryam sthairya tejasi lalita udaryam ity astau sattvajah paurusa gunah// DhDaś_2.9 /
Dhananjaya mentions four kinds of heroes- bhedais caturdha lalita santo udatto -ddhatair ayam. :
(1) Dhira-lalita, the light-hearted hero, fond of arts, happy, gentle, free from stress – niscinto dhiralalitah kalasaktah sukhi mrduh;
(2) Dhira-shantha, the self-controlled and calm hero , possessed of generic merits of a hero – samanya-guna-yuktas tu dhirasanto dvijadikah;
(3) Dhirodatta, the self-controlled and exalted hero of great excellence , exceedingly earnest, forbearing, not boastful, resolute with self-assertion suppressed, and firm of purpose-mahasattvo ‘tigambhirah ksamavan avikatthanah sthiro nigudhahamkaro dhirodatto drdhavratah; and,
(4) Dhiroddhata, the vehement hero, altogether dominated by pride and jealousy, wholly devoted to magic practices, and deceitful, self-assertive, fickle, irascible and boastful – darpa-matsarya-bhuyistho maya-chadma-parayanah dhiroddhatas tv ahamkarl calas cando vikatthanah..
In a play in which a Hero is endowed with noble qualities of the type known as self-control, and exalted (Dhirodatta) , glorious , eager for fame, of great energy , a preserver of three Vedas (Trayi) , a ruler of the world , of renowned linage , a royal seer or a god – in that , his characterization is to be made the principal subject (Adhikarana).
Dhananjaya initially mentions and describes three kinds of Heroines (Nayika tridha) : the hero’s own (Sva) wife; another person’s (Anya) wife; and, the common-woman (Sadharana-stri). These , again , are classified as Mugdha (modest , shy and inexperienced) ;Madhya (between adolescence and full womanhood, enthusiastic and enterprising); and, Pragalbha (mature and well conversant with the art)
svā anyā sādhāraṇastrīti tadguṇā nāyikā tridhā / mugdhā madhyā pragalbh eti svīyā śīlārjavādiyuk // DhDaś_2.14 //
Bharata had presented a different classification: divya (celestial); nrpa patni (queen); kulastri (modest house-wife); and ganika (courtesan). And, each one of these four types is associated with a trait : Dhira (patient); Lalitha (delicate) ; Udatta (gallant) and Nibhrta ( fearless).
One who loves to dominate her husband (svadhina- bhartrka or svadhina-patika);
One who loves to dress well and to adorn herself, as she joyfully waits for her lover (vasaka-sajja);
One who cannot tolerate her lover being away from her (viraha-utkanthita) and is disturbed (unmanas) when he delays meeting her;
One who gets very angry (khandita) when she discovers that her lover is having an affair with another woman;
One who after a quarrel with her lover moves out (kalaha-antarita), and later upset with herself in righteous anger and remorse ;
One who feels deceived and is deeply hurt (vipralabdha) when her lover fails to show up on-time at the rendezvous agreed upon;
One who is lonely (prosita-priya) when her lover is in a distant land because of war or business;
And, one who, deeply in love, sets out in great hurry and anxiety to meet her lover (abhi-sarika).
[Dhanika, further divides the eight into two classes; and, by permutation comes up with 128 varieties of heroines.]
Dhananjaya lists as many as twenty natural graces of women in the prime of youth. These are again made into three groups.
The first three are related to expressions or manifestation of love: emotions or feeling (bhava); bodily gestures (hava); and passion (hela).
yauvane sattvajāḥ strīṇāmalaṅkārāstu viṃśatiḥ / bhāvo hāvaśca helā ca trayastatra śarīrajāḥ // DhDaś_2.28 //
The second group of seven components are related to the inherent characteristics of the heroine: graceful beauty (sobha); lustrous loveliness (kanthi); endearing sweetness (madhurya); poise and courage (pragalbhata); generosity (audarya); and steadfastness (dhairya).
śobhā kāntiśca dīptiśca mādhuryaṃ ca pragalbhatā / audāryaṃ dhairyamityete sapta bhāvā ayatnajāḥ // DhDaś_2.29 /
The third group of ten virtues relate to her attitude and dispositions: sportive attitude (Lila); charmingly delightful (vilasa); good-taste (vicchitti); a bit of confusion (vibhrama), easily excitable (kila-kinchita); very affectionate (mottayita); pretending to be angry , in jest (kuttamita); mock-indifference (bibboka); a bit laid-back or relaxed (lalita); and, bashful (vihrta).
līlā vilāso vicchittir vibhramaḥ kilakiñcitam / moṭṭāyitaṃ kuṭṭamitaṃ bibboko lalitaṃ tathā / vihṛtaṃ ceti vijñeyā daśa bhāvāḥ svabhāvajāḥ // DhDaś_2.30 //
[These twenty qualities are again discussed, in detail, later in the text.)
The Sanskrit Drama carefully classifies and sub-classifies the Heroine into as many as sixteen types.
Such fondness , bordering on obsession, for minute sub-division of almost every element of the Drama into as many theoretically possible numbers of types as possible is a defect in the Sanskrit dramaturgy. Such stereotyped threadbare manipulation of characters, actions, styles is rather futile. Apart from being of no practical use, they rob the playwright of his initiative and enterprise. Every aspect of Drama is typecast and pigeonholed. It is not therefore surprising that over a period, the Sanskrit Drama lost freshness , became too conventional and eventually losing their appeal.
[ Before proceeding further with the treatise of Dhananjaya , it would be worth reproducing ( in a summarized form) the views of Abhinavagupta on the participation played by the Hero , heroine and the spectators , as well.
According to Abhinavagupta, a true connoisseur of arts has to learn to detach the work of art from its surroundings and happenings; and view it independently.
He asserts, the “willful suspension of disbelief” is a pre-requisite for enjoying any art expression. The moment one starts questioning it or doubting it and looking at it objectively; the experience loses its aesthetic charm; and, it becomes same as a mundane object.
One enjoys a play only when one can identify the character as character from the drama and not as ones friend or associate. The spectator should also learn to disassociate the actor from the character he portrays.
The Hero and Heroine in a play are just portraying the roles assigned to them, as best as they can. In other words; they are trying to convey certain states of emotions and the sate of being of the character-roles they are playing . They are like a pot (patra) or receptacle, which carries the emotional state of primary (real) role to the spectator. The actor merely serves as a vessel or a receptacle or a means of serving relish (Asvadana) ; and, that is the reason, a role is called a Patra. The characters on the stage represent the role ; but , are not the real ones; and, they do not completely identify themselves with the original. Hence, the Vibhava is like a cause; but, not an exact cause. The performance, the acting by the hero, heroine and other characters in a play is Anubhava, one of the several ways of bringing out the emotional states of the characters they are playing out on the stage. Such Anubhava could be called as ensuing responses.
The hero or heroines in a play don’t become the lover and beloved in real life. They understand and accept here , what their their roles are; and, try to show what might be the emotional experiences of the character , and its reactions to the given situation . The actors try to resemble the character , for few hours of the play ; and, act on the stage accordingly, through which the spectators understand , grasp and enjoy the emotional states in the play.
Abhinava makes a distinction between the world of drama (Nātyadharmī) and the real but ordinary life (Lokadharmī). In the artistic process, where presentations are made with the aid of various kinds of dramatic features such as Abhinayas and synthetic creations , we are moving from the gross and un-stylized movements of daily life to more subtle forms of expressions and experiences; we move from individualized experiences to general representations; and from multiplicity to unity.
He says that the feeling that might cause pain in real life is capable of providing pleasure in an art form. He explains, while viewing a performance on stage one might appreciate and enjoy the display of sorrow, separation, cruelty, violence and even the grotesque; and one may even relish it as aesthetic experience. But, in real life no one would ever like to be associated with such experiences.
Abhinavagupta , therefore, observes that the theatrical experience is quite unlike the experience in the mundane and the real world; it is Alaukika – out of the world.
In summary; he draws a theory that the artistic creation is the expression of a feeling that is freed from localized distinctions; it is the generalization (sadharanikarana) of a particular feeling. It comes into being through the creative genius (prathibha) of the artist. It finally bears fruit in the spectator who derives Ananda, the joy of aesthetic experience. That, he says, is Rasa – the ultimate emotional experience created in the heart of the Sahrudaya.
Abhinavgupta talks about Sadharanikarana, the generalization. He points out that while enjoying the aesthetic experience, the mind of the spectator is liberated from the obstacles caused by the ego and other disturbances. Thus transported from the limited to the realm of the general and universal, we are capable of experiencing Nirvada, or blissfulness. In such aesthetic process, we are transported to a trans-personal level. This is a process of de-individual or universalization – the Sadharanikarana.\
According to Abhinavagupta a real work of art, in addition to possessing emotive charge carries a strong sense of suggestion and the potential to produce various meanings. It can communicate through suggestions and evoke layers of meanings and emotions.
He illustrates his position through the analogy of a tree and its fruit. Here, the play is the tree; performance is the flower; and spectator’s experience .
Rasa, the relish (Asvada) by the spectator, is the ultimate product (phala) of a dramatic performance, as that of a fruit borne by a tree : “the play is born in the heart of the poet; it flowers as it were in the actor; and, it bears fruit in the delight (ananda) experienced by the spectator.” .. ”And, if the artist or poet has inner force of creative intuition (prathibha)…that should elevate the spectator to blissful state of pure joy Ananda.”
At another place, Abhinava declares, a true aesthetic object, not merely stimulates the senses but also ignites the imagination of the viewer. With that, the spectator is transported to a world of his own creation. That experience sets the individual free from the confines of place, time and ego (self); and elevates him to the level of universal experience. It is liberating experience. Thus art is not mundane; it is Alaukika in its nature
According to Abhinavagupta, the object of the entire exercise is to provide pure aesthetic joy to the spectator. Without his participation , all art expressions are pointless.
Thus, he brought the spectator from the edge of the stage into the very heart of the dramatic performance and its experience. ]
The section on Neta, apart from the Hero and the Heroine, includes the supporting characters, such as the companions of the hero; the maids and messengers in service of the heroine ; and , the opponents of the Hero as well. Just mention about these briefly:
The companions of the Hero, i.e., those assisting and attending (pithamarda) and devoted to him are, usually, possessed of qualities similar to that of the Hero, though in a lesser degree. In addition, there would a fun and food loving, good-natured, but a rather incompetent jester (Vidushaka); and another, a sort of parasite (Vita).
The Heroine, usually, has in her service a set of maidens, who attend on her as maid-servant (dasi), and also serve as messengers (dutyo). The Heroine might use any of those women, as also a foster-sister (dhatreyi), a woman skilled in crafts (silpini), a neighbour (prativesika), and a female ascetic (lingini) to pass on private messages to her lover. Some of these are also her friends (sakhi), confidants and advisors – (dutyo dasi sakhi karur dhatreyi prativesika lingini silpini svam ca netr mitra gunanvitah.)
The opponent of the hero (prati-nayaka), falling under the fourth type of the Hero (Dhiroddhata) is often depicted as avariciousness, vehement, stubborn, criminal and vicious (lubdho dhiroddhatah stabdhah papakrd vyasani ripuh)
Bharata had mentioned: Vrttis or Styles are traditionally known as the constituent elements of all dramatic works (lit. poems). It is said; the Vrttis have been so named because of the element or the action that is predominant in them. the ten kinds of play are considered to have proceeded from these Vrittis.
sarveṣāmeva kāvyānāṃ mātṛkā vṛttayaḥ smṛtāḥ । ābhyo vinisṛtaṃ hyetad-daśarūpaṃ prayogataḥ ॥ 18.4॥
Another important element of the Drama that is discussed in Book Two of the Dasarupa is the concept of Vrtti (which Bharata considered as the mother of all poetic works – kāvyānāṃ mātṛkā vṛttayaḥ smṛtāḥ ), the ways of rendering a scene; or , the acting styles and the use of language , diction that different characters adopt in a play, depending upon the nature or the Bhava that relates to the character. Thus, the Vrttis get related to the four types of heroes and four kinds of representations. And, since Vrttis are also related with Rasas, they set the mood or ambiance on the stage by their distinct style of dramatic representation. In other words; the Vrttis call for the excellence of the mental, physical and vocal efforts of the actors portraying their characters.
Some other associations are also mentioned with regard to the Vrttis. For instance with : Angikam,Vacikam,Sathvikam and Aharyam. Further, Bharati with Rigveda; Sattavati with Yajurveda; Kaisiki with Samaveda; and, Arabhati with Atharva Veda.
Vrttis are said to be of four kinds (vrttis caturdha): Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati; and, Bharati.
The Kaisiki-vrtti (graceful style) which characterizes the tender Lasyanga associated with expressions of love, dance, song as also charming costumes and delicate actions portrayed with care, mostly by women, is most suited to Srngara-rasa (tatra kaisiki gita-nrtya-vilasadyair mrduh srngara-cestitaih). Kaisiki has four varieties (Bhedas): Narma (good-natured small-talk); Narmaspinja (pleasure blooms at the first meeting of lovers); Narmasphota (the lovers delighting in each other company); and, Narma-garbha (covert pleasure; incognito). The prefix Narma indicates cheer or laughter. Kaisiki is the most charming and delightful combination of Srngara and Hasya, playful expression one’s affection or longing for union with the lover.
Sattvati Vrtti (flamboyant style) is a rather gaudy style of expressing ones emotions with excessive body-movement; exuberant expressions of joy; and, underplaying mellow or sorrow moods. It is a way of expressing ones emotions through words (mano-vyapara). It is associated with the Vira , Adbhuta and Rauidra Rasas (vire sattvaty) – arabhati punah rase raudre ca bibhatse vrttih sarvatra bharati. The Sattvati Vritti has four varieties: Uttpatha (raising up to the conflict); Sallapaka or Samlapaka ( heroic and passionate words or challenge); Sanghatya (breach of alliance or that which breaches alliance; and, Parivartaka ( when a character abruptly changes a course of his actions).
Arabhati-vrtti is a loud, rather noisy and energetic style. It is a powerful exhibition of one’s anger, valour, bordering on false-pride, by screaming, shouting, particularly, in tumultuous scenes with overwhelming tension, disturbance and violence. It involves furious physical movements (kaya-vyapara). It is associated with Raudra (furious) and Bhibhatsa (odious) Rasas (arabhati punah rase raudre ca bibhatse). The Arabhati has four varieties: : Sanskipta (brief, elaboration , condensed representation of the plot); Avapata ( commotion, fear, jubilation , panic, fall, puzzled behaviour, quick entrance and exit of characters); Vastu Uttahapanam (elevation of the plot, combination of all other Vrttis); and , Sampheta (conflict, fights, combats, betrayal, excitement). Arabhati is also attended with feats of jugglery, conjunction and conflicting situations, where bodily actions are prominent.
And, Bharati-vrtti is mainly related to a scene where the speech or dialogue delivery is its prominent feature. But, generally, the Bharati-vrtti, related to eloquence, is of importance in all the situations (vrttih sarvatra bharati). It is devoid of Srngara, Karuna and Nirveda (dispassion). The Bharati-Vrtti has four varieties: Parochana (introducing the play and playwright to the spectators); Amukha or Prastavana (where the Sutradhara strikes a conversation with the Nati or Vidushaka, as a prologue to the play); Vithi (sort of monologue the Sutradhara carries on before the play proper); and, Prahasana (hilarious conversations between minor actors). Abhinavagupta suggested the terms: Kathodghata (which consists in some characters catching up with the words or intent of the Sutradhara); Pravartakam (introducing the subject), Prayogatishaya (where the director mentions the entry of a character of the drama), in place of Parochana, Amukha and Vithi. All these take place, mostly, in the Purvanga, the preliminary to the play proper.
[There is much confusion about the terms Vithi and Prahasana. They are used in different contexts carrying different meanings. The Vithi and Prahasana mentioned by Bharata as the Bhedas of Bharati Vrtti refer to the Angas of Vithi and also the two kinds of dramas.
And, similarly , Vritti which denotes diction or style is also used in three other senses: (1) verbal-force (Shabda-shakti), like Abhidha, Lakshana and others; (2) Alliteration, Anuprasa Alamkara; and, (3) grammatical formatives like Samasa and Taddhita ]
Source : Laws practice Sanskrit drama by Prof. S N Shastri
Before concluding on the Vrttis, Dhananjaya mentions : the actions that take place in a play should be an authentic portrayal of the language, the gestures, the costumes and the characteristics (Desa-bhasa-kriya-vesa-laksanah) of the people of the region, to which the plot of the play belongs. The playwright should promptly adopt such suitable details (yatha-ucityam prayojayet), as are in practice – Pravrtti (pravrttayah) among the common people (lokad) of that region. It is a way of depicting the details of a particular character (viseha- vesa-vinyasa-krama) ; to render it authentic.
Desa-bhasa-kriya-vesa-laksanah syuh pravrttayah lokad ava-vagamyaita yatha-ucityam prayojayet.
Here, Dhananjaya introduces another division among these four Vrttis. He creates two other sub-classes: Artha-vrtti and Sabda-vritti. According to Dhananjaya, the first three (Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati) which deal mainly with action fall under Artha-vrtti; while, Bharati, where language and the presentation of the speech is of importance, is brought under Sabda-vritti.
But, neither Bharata nor anyone else had made such a distinction. Many scholars opine the sub-classification made by Dhananjaya was rather needless.
According to Bharata, of the ten forms of Drama, Nātakas and Prakaranās should contain all the four Vrttis; hence, they are called Pūrna-vrtti Rūpakas (NS.17.7). And, the other eight Rūpakas should be represented without giving prominence to Kaisiki-vrtti (NS.18.8-9).They may contain one of the other three Vrttis as the prominent one, and the three others to a lesser degree.
However, Abhinavagupta had pointed out: it is not the number of Vrttis, alone, that is important. In certain types of plays one form of Vritti might be prominent or otherwise. The combination, the treatment and the variations of the Vrittis differs from one type of play to the other. Thus, the classification of the Rupakas is based on the treatment of the Vrttis, which might either be complete with all its Angas (elements) or be lacking in some of them. Thus, the mere number of Vrttis in a play, by itself, is not very significant.
[ The critics point out: though Bharata mentioned ten types of Drama, he discussed mainly about its two forms – Nataka and Prakarana, perhaps because these two alone fulfilled all those requirements that were necessary for Rupaka (Major type). Further, Bharata had also explained : ‘as these two major forms alone depict varieties of situations , made up all the styles (Vrttis) and representations, they lend enough scope for display of Rasas (Rasapradhana or Rasabhinaya or vakya-artha-abhinaya); while the other eight forms are incomplete , as they are not presented in the graceful style, the kaisikivrtti’.
Thus, while Bharata and Abhinavagupta stressed Vrtti as the distinguishing character of a Drama; Dhananjaya and Dhanika held Vastu (subject-matter), Neta (Hero) and Rasa (sentiment) as the elements which distinguish one form of drama (Rupaka) from its other forms (vastu neta rasas tesam bhedako) .
For Dhananjaya, these three were pivotal points; and, he went about constructing his work, analyzing the whole of dramaturgy around these three parameters (pradhāna, netà and rasa). Therefore, while conducting a study of each class of the Drama, he does it with reference to : (1) their subject-matter or the plot (Vastu), the main theme (adhikarika), the episodes (angam) and the incidental events (prasangika); (2) the types of characters they portray (Neta), such as the class of the hero, heroine and other supporting roles; (3) the structural divisions of the play , the stages in their corresponding with the elements of the plot (avastha), the actions essential for attaining the object of the play (Arthaprakrti) , the sequence of episodes (in the development of the play (Samdhi); and, (4) the Rasa , the principal or the dominant sentiment of the play.]
Dhananjaya concludes the Second Book of Dasarupa, which covered a number of essential ingredients of the Drama, with homage to Bharata and to Lord Shiva:
Who but Bharata or the crescent-crested god Shiva would have been able to enumerate , without omission, all the varieties of action (Vrttis) , the qualities (Guna) , the utterances (Vak) , and the involuntary States (sattvabhava) that are inseparable from (a-vibhinna) the ten (four types of heroes and six types of heroines) varieties of leading character (netara-dasa-vibhinnan) ?’
Cesta-guno-dahrti sattvabhavan / asesato netara-dasa-vibhinnan / ko vaktum Iso Bharato na yo va / yo va na devah Sasi khandamaulih //
In the next Part, we shall talk about the ten forms of Drama which is the main theme of Dhananjaya’s work; and about Rasa as discussed in Book Three and Book Four of the Dasarupa.
Sources and References
The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar
All images are from Internet