Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya
The Third Book or the Third Chapter of the Dasarupa, in its 72 verses, deals, mainly, with the ten (Dasa) varieties of Rupakas or plays. Dhananjaya’s work derives its title from the subject-matter of this Book. Obviously, Dhananjaya considered the discussion on the ten varieties of Dramas as the cream or the ultimate purpose of his work. Of the 65 Sections in Book Three, as many as 43 Sections are devoted to Nataka, regarded as the best and the most complete form of Drama, exemplifying the rules prescribed for such class of dramatic compositions. The other nine varieties of Drama are briefly defined (in sections 44-64), mainly, by listing the points of their divergence from the Nataka. And, their other common features are simply clubbed under a single phrase – ‘the rest, as in the case of the Nataka’ (sesham natakavat).
When one looks at the structure of the text from this angle, one will appreciate that Book Three is the main purpose of the text (Dasarupa); and, within the Book Three, the Nataka, around which the entire body of discussions revolve, is the central or the pivotal point. The concepts, the definitions and the explanations of the technical terms that occupied Book One (68verses) and Book Two (72 verses) , or discussions concerning the Avastha, Samdhi, Arthaprakrti Vrttis, Vastu and Neta etc., all seem to serve as the background material or the preparatory work needed to arrive at the very heart or the soul of the text , the Nataka . Thus, one could say, the Nataka is the summum bonum, in which all the values of a Dramatic composition are included or from which they are derived.
The impetus for the Dasarupa comes mainly from : Chapter 20 (Dasarupa – the enumeration and descriptions of the ten kinds of play); Chapter 21 (Sandhi or segments of the plot- itivṛtta); and, Chapter 22 (Vrtti or styles of presentation) of the Natyashastra .
The Chapter Twenty of Natyashastra commences with the passage:
I shall now describe the division of plays into ten classes with their names, functions and modes of production.
These ten forms of plays are known as Nāṭaka, Prakaraṇa, Aṅka (Utsṛṣṭikāṅka), Vyāyoga, Bhāṇa, Samavakāra, Vīthi, Prahasana, Ḍima, and Īhāmṛga. I shall describe their characteristics in detail.
Nāṭakaṃ sa prakaraṇam aṅko vyāyoga eva ca । bhāṇaḥ samavakāraś ca vīthī prahasanaṃ ḍimaḥ ॥ 2॥
Ihāmṛgaś ca vijñeyā daśeme nāṭya lakṣaṇe । eteṣāṃ lakṣaṇamahaṃ vyākhyāsyāmya anupūrvaśaḥ ॥ 3॥
I shall describe hereafter the different methods of constructing plays.
The Natyashastra identifies ten major types of plays: Nāṭaka, Prakaraṇa, Aṅka (Utsṛṣṭikāṅka), Vyāyoga, Bhāṇa, Samavakāra, Vīthi, Prahasana, Ḍima, and Īhāmṛga.
All these ten forms of Drama (Dasadhaiva) are traditionally associated with certain modes or styles (Vrtti) of representations, which are the constituent elements of all dramatic works. Such Vrttis are said to be of four kinds (vrttis caturdha) : Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati; and, Bharati. The Vrttis are 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.[ For more on Vrttis please Part Three in the series]
According to Bharata, the ten forms of Drama are classified based on the number and the types of Vrttis that are involved with it. Of the ten mentioned by him , only the two major forms – the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa – present all the variety of styles (Vrttis), for depicting different types of diverse situations. However, the other eight forms of Drama – the Bhāṇa, the Samavakāra, the Vīthi, the Īhāmṛga, the Utsṛṣṭikāṅka (Aṅka), the Vyāyoga, the Ḍima, and the Prahasana – would not include kaiśikī-vṛttihī , the graceful Style.
Vīthī samavakāraśca tathehāmṛga eva ca । utsṛṣṭikāṅko vyāyogo bhāṇaḥ prahasanaṃ ḍimaḥ ॥ 8॥
Kaiśikīvṛttihīnāni rūpāṇyetāni kārayet । ata ūrdhvaṃ pravakṣyāmi kāvyabandhavikalpanam ॥ 9॥
Bharata regards the Vrttis as the mother of all poetic works (kāvyānāṃ mātṛkā vṛttayaḥ), from which the ten kinds of compositions are evolved. He explains; just as the musical notes (Svara) constitute scales (Gramas) because of the Srutis coming together with their Jatis, so the varieties of plays come into existence due to combination of varied of styles (Vrttis). It is the number of Vrttis present in a play that assigns it a distinct class.
Sarveṣāmeva kāvyānāṃ mātṛkā vṛttayaḥ smṛtāḥ । ābhyo vinisṛtaṃ hyetaddaśarūpaṃ prayogataḥ ॥
[Abhinavagupta took a dissenting view on this issue. He pointed out that though the Gramas (collection of Jaatis or melodic types), in music, might have common Svaras; yet, they differ from each other because of their internal order of arrangement (Aroha-Avaroha); the combination; and, the mutual relations of the Svaras. And, in a Jaati, within a Grama, a certain Svara might be prominent (amsa), or initial (graha) or final (nyasa), depending upon the type of the Jaati. It is because of such variations that each melodic-type gains its distinguishing character and flavour. Therefore, in all those cases, it is not the mere number of Svaras that truly matters.
In a similar manner, in a play, it is not the number of Vrttis, alone, that is significant. 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.]
While Bharata and Abhinavagupta laid stress on Vrtti, which, in their view, is the factor that defines the unique 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 from its other forms.
Though Bharata lists ten types of Dramas (Rupakas), which, apparently, is not exhaustive, the other ancient writers talk about, in addition, certain minor types of dramatic works (Upa-rupaka).
Perhaps, the earliest reference to Uparupaka occurs in the Kama-sutras of Vatsyayana who mentions plays such as Hallisaka, latyarasaka and Preksanaka of the Uparupaka type, watched by men and women of taste. Ahhinavagupta’s commentary on the Natyashastra occasionally mentions Upa-rupakas; but, without defining the class. Rajashekara calls his Prakrit play Sattaka as not being a Nataka, but resembling a Natika, excepting that pravesakas (preliminary scenes), viskambhakas (intermediary or connecting scenes) and ankas (Acts) do not occur.
[Though Natyashastra enumerates, and discusses Rupakas it does not mention minor forms like Uparupakas. However, Abhinavagupta speaks of minor categories of drama, which he terms them as Nrtta-kavya and Raga-kavya; meaning, the type of plays that are rendered through dance and the plays that are sung. Yet, it was such Uparupakas – minor class of drama- based in music and dance movements that eventually gave rise to the now living traditions such as Kuchipudi , Bhagavata Mela Natakas and Kuravanji dance-dramas. Such forms of Uparupakas are very attractive formats, with the elements of the music and dance being predominant. And, most of them are based in dances accompanied by soulful songs, interpreting the emotional contents of the song through Abhinaya or gestures.
Natyashastra does not mention all the different types of dramas. Kohala, another ancient writer, whose material is said to have got mixed up with the present version of the Natyashastra, mentions a number of minor varieties of dramas that are lyrical in their character; and, in which music and dance predominate. Abhinavagupta names some drama-types under these varieties as: Dombika, Bhana, Prasthana, Sidgaka, Bhinika, Ramakrida, Hallisaka and Rasaka. But, nothing much is known about these musical varieties. ]
While Rupaka seemed to be the general term used for Sanskrit Dramas, the nomenclature Upa-rupaka indicated a minor type of dramatic composition (within the general class); technically, not satisfying all the classic, dramatic requirements, even when a full theme was handled. Vishvanatha in his Sahityadarpana lists as many as eighteen minor types (Upa-Rupaka), with examples. Among these, he regards the Natika (e.g., Sri Harsha’s Ratnavali, Priyadarsika) and Trotaka (e.g., Kalidasa’s Vikramorvasiya) as more important.
[ As its name suggests; Natika is a diminutive form of Nataka. In case, Natika is counted along with the other forms of Drama, then it would amount to eleven varieties. Bharata, however, explains that Natika is not an independent form; but, is a fusion, combining in itself (antarbhāvagatā) certain features of the Nataka and the Prakarana. And, therefore, the Rupas are only ten (ata eva daśaitāni rūpāṇī).
Antarbhāvagatā hyeṣā bhāvayorubhayoryataḥ । ata eva daśaitāni rūpāṇī tyuditāni vai ॥18. 61॥
Dhananjaya, following Bharata, also says that the pure forms of Rupas are indeed only ten (Dasadhaiva); as Natika is but a blend of two forms. Here, in Natika, the subject (vastu) is taken from the Prakarana type. The types of principle characters are as in the Nataka (Natahavat). The hero (Nayaka), a prince, of the illustrious Dhiralalitah class, is taken from a well-known source or is newly created; and, the innocent, beautiful and exceedingly charming (mugdha divya ca ati – manohara) heroine (Nayika) is either a princess or a celestial nymph. And, the Rasa (mostly the Srngara-rasa) is also as that in the Nataka. The Natika containing an abundance of female characters is depicted in the graceful style, Kaisiki-vrtti; and, has four Acts (less than that in Nataka or Prakarana). Most of the action takes place within the Queen’s court or in the adjoining gardens – (DR.3. 46-52).
Tatra vastu prakaranan, natakan nayako nipah prakhyato dhiralalitah srngaro angi salaksanah– DR.3.47. ]
[According to the renowned scholar Dr. V Raghavan, the mere number of Rupaka – either ten or eleven – is not of much significance. In his view, the number ten is symbolic; indicating ten tendencies. He points out that all the ten varieties from Nataka to Ihamrga embody these ten tendencies in various degrees.]
Of the ten, the Nataka is regarded as the best, most important and complete form of Rupa. Dhananjaya regards Nataka as the root (Prakrti) of other dramatic forms. Bharata, in his Natyashastra paid greater attention to Nataka and to Prakarana, than to the rest eight forms ; because, these two forms, according to him, lend abundant scope for presenting all the four varieties of styles (Vrttis); in alluring Rasas; and, for portraying range of characters in diverse types of situations.
Because of these reasons, the Nataka is spoken of or discussed first (purvam natakam ucyate).
Prakrtitvad athanyesam bhuyo rasaparigrahat sampurna-laksanat vac ca purvam natakam ucyate ॥ DR.3. 1॥
Let’s, therefore, begin with Nataka.
[ Dr. Schroder, a German scholar, opines that Natya, also known as Rupaka is of ten types; of which, the Nataka is most important. He says: In Sanskrit literature Nataka is very ancient. Even in Vedic literature we can find descriptions about Nataka. There are also references in Ramayana and Mahabharata of actors, dancers, singers and anchors. And, therefore, many theories have been put up by the scholars while discussing the origin of drama.
Dr. Schroder thinks that Samvada-suktas that occur in the Rg-Veda are the origin of the Drama.
There are about fifteen Samvada-Suktas in the Rig Veda, which were written in the form of dialogues. For instance; the Pururava-Urvasi Sukta (RV.10.95); Yama-Yami Sukta (RV.10.10); Sarama-Pani Sukta (RV.10.108); Indrani-Indra-Vrsakapisukta (RV.10.86); Agastya-Lopamudra Samvadasukta (RV.1.170) etc. are some instances .
Some German scholars like Oldenburg, Windish, and Pishel think that initially these Samvada-suktas were the mixture of poetry and prose. Poetry remained because it was interesting and melodious; while the prose part slowly vanished because it was descriptive.
It is also said; that these Samvada-suktas used to be sung by a group of Udgatrus, in the Saman ; and, enacted during specific Yajnas, to the accompaniment of music.
Drama exactly follows this form of ancient Samvada-suktas, as they are also a mixture of prose and poetry.
Bharata in the first chapter of the Natyashastra mentions that in order to alleviate the sorrow of common people, Brahma created a Veda for Dramatics (Natya-Veda) by taking prose from Rig-Veda; music from Samaveda; acting from Yajurveda; and , emotions from Atharvaveda.]
Bharata, in a passage of six verses (from 19.144 to149) virtually offers his definition of Nataka. He explains that in a Drama (nāṭya), the wide-ranging shades of human nature (lokasya nānā-avasthā-antarātmakaḥ) with its joys and sorrows (lokasya sukha-duḥkha-samudbhavā) are demonstrated through a variety of representations and actions (nānā-puruṣa-saṃcārā).
Those who take part in the Drama try to present the past exploits of the gods, sages and human beings (devatānām –ṛṣīnāṃ ca rājñāṃ), by assuming their roles. The actors enact (abhinayate) or interpret, the roles assigned to them through speech, expressions, actions, gestures and other representations. While so acting on the stage, the actors try to give up or suppress their own individual identities and nature (yasmāt-svabhāvaṃ saṃ-tyajya);and, systematically, diligently assume the nature, behaviour, gestures and the emotions of the character that they are portraying (sāṅgopāṅga-gati-kramaiḥ).
Bharata then remarks, the art of emulating the psychological, mental and physical state of a character calls for an exceptional and a truly dedicated effort. One should realize this truth; and, strive to achieve near-perfection.
The varieties of dramatic actions; the ways to bringing to life the essence of a character; and, the modes of presentation of actions on the stage, in an attractive manner (rūpāṇi kartavyāni prayoktṛbhiḥ), are all indeed countless (aneka-śilpa-jātāni naika-karma-kriayāṇi ca).
It is essential that all those involved either in writing, producing or presenting a Drama should observe and study the ways of the common people of the world (Lokasvabhāvaṃ saṃprekṣya narāṇāṃ ) – their nature, their modes of behaviour (kāryaṃ) , speech patterns and modes of dress ; their strengths and weaknesses (balābalam); and, their ways of enjoyment and reasoning (saṃbhogaṃ caiva yuktiṃ).
Yo’yaṃ svabhāvo lokasya nānā-avasthāntarātmakaḥ । so’ṅgādy abhinayairyukto nāṭya mity-abhidhīyate ॥ 19.144॥
Yasmāt-svabhāvaṃ saṃtyajya sāṅgopāṅga-gati-kramaiḥ । prayujyate jñāyate ca tasmādvai nāṭakaṃ smṛtam। ॥19.146॥
Sarvabhāvaiḥ sarvarasaiḥ sarva-karma-pravṛttibhiḥ। nānā-avasthā antaropetaṃ nāṭakaṃ saṃvidhīyate ॥ 19.147॥
Anekaśilpajātāni naikakarmakriayāṇi ca । tānyaśeṣāṇi rūpāṇi kartavyāni prayoktṛbhiḥ ॥ 19.148॥
Lokasvabhāvaṃ saṃprekṣya narāṇāṃ ca balābalam । saṃbhogaṃ caiva yuktiṃ ca tataḥ kāryaṃ tu nāṭakam ॥ 19.149॥
At another place, Bharata, in a way, sums up the virtues and merits of Nataka , as a dramatic work, that captivates the hearts of the spectators and brings glory to its playwright , producer and the actors .
The work of art that satisfies all classes of spectators ; and is a happy and enjoyable composition, which is graceful on account of being adorned with sweet and elegant words; free from obsolete and obscure meaningless verbose ; easily grasped and understood by the common people ; skillfully arranged ; interspersed with delightful songs and dances; and, systematically displaying varied types of sentiments in its plot devised into Acts, scenes, junctures etc.
mṛdu-lalita-padārthaṃ gūḍha-śabdārtha-hīnaṃ ; budha jana sukha bhogyaṃ, yuktiman – nṛtta-yogyam । bahu rasa kṛta mārgaṃ , sandhi-sandhāna-yuktaṃ bhavati jagati yogyaṃ nāṭakaṃ prekṣakāṇām ॥ 16.130॥
Bharata, after describing Lasyangas, the graceful, fluid and charming movements; lists the four characteristics of an ideal Nataka.
He says, the playwright (kaviḥ kuryāttu) while attempting a well constructed (suprayogaṃ) Nataka with aptly chosen happy sounding words (sukhāśrayam mṛdu-śabdā ) should ensure that it is composed of five Samdhis (pañcasandhi); four Vrttis (caturvṛtti); sixty-four Angas, elements (catuḥṣaṣṭya-aṅgasaṃyutam); and, thirty-six Lakshanas , characteristics (ṣaṭtriṃ-śallakṣaṇopetaṃ) – adorned with Gunas, Alamkaras (guṇā-alaṅkāra-abhūṣitam), many Rasas (mahārasaṃ); as also with topics concerning noble persons of sublime virtues (mahāpuruṣa-saṃcāraṃ), exalted speeches (udātta-vacanā-nvitam) providing inspiration and great enjoyment (mahābhogam).
Apart from that, the Drama should also portray the lives of common people, their happiness and miseries (sukha-duḥkha-samudbhavā) arising out of their interactions with their fellow-beings and their multifarious deeds in the world (avasthā yā tu lokasya, nānā-puruṣa-saṃcārā.) Please also see.
Pañcasandhi caturvṛtti catuḥṣaṣṭyaṅgasaṃyutam । ṣaṭtriṃśallakṣaṇopetaṃ guṇālaṅkārabhūṣitam ॥ 139॥
Mahārasaṃ mahābhogam-udāttavacanānvitam । mahāpuruṣasaṃcāraṃ sādhvācārajanapriyam ॥140॥
Suśliṣṭa-sandhi-saṃyogaṃ suprayogaṃ sukhāśrayam।mṛduśabdābhidhānaṃ ca kaviḥ kuryāttu nāṭakam ॥141॥
Avasthā yā tu lokasya sukha-duḥkha-samudbhavā । nānā-puruṣa-saṃcārā nāṭake’sau vidhīyate ॥ 142॥
Viswanatha in his Sâhitya-Darpana also described Rupaka (Nataka) as the most logical and perfect theatrical composition. He says that it progresses in a systematic manner and concludes successfully, bringing joy to all. He mentions that according to the Dasarupa, the structure of the Rupaka consists: five elements of the plot (Arthaprakrti), matching with the five stages of the action (Karya–Avastha), from which arise five structural divisions or sequence of events (Samdhi) of the drama, twenty-one subdivisions (Samdhyantara), having sixty-four Samdhyanga , adorned with thirty-six Abhushanas , ninety numbers of music, and four kinds of Vrttis – all of which corresponding with the elements of the plot and the actions associated with the stages in the hero’s attempts to successfully realize his purpose or objects – Yattu pancachatuh–sastiscatuh–pancaikavisatih / sattrinsatravtisca tat-Natakam.
As Dr. Sunil Kothari observes in his research paper: The principle of the two modes (dharmi) of presentation, Natya (the stylized) or Loka (the realistic) the different types of Vrittis (style), namely Kaisiki (the graceful), Sattvati (the grand), Arabhati (the energetic) and Bharati (the verbal); the full play of the four types of Abhinaya (acting) namely : Angika (gestures or movement), Vacika (the spoken word), Aharya (costume, make-up, stage props etc.) and Sattvika (relating to state of emotion) are the broad principles which govern the structure of Indian drama and its presentations.
It is these principles, along with other related ones such as the concept of Bahya (external) and Abhyantara (inner) acting, of Pravrtti (local usage), of Samanya-abhinaya (basic representation) and Citra-abhinaya (special representation), which also govern the technique of Drama.
[To put it simply, In Sanskrit, Nataka is the most complete form of Drama. Its structure is logical. And, its construction is also quite detailed, being composed of five or more Acts, each of which comprising number of episodes depicting various scenes of action. It also employs intermediary scenes that connect its subdivisions. The Dramatic contents of a play find their expressions, through speech, gesture, songs, dance and other representations, in highly refined and attractive forms. In its modes of depictions, the Nataka employs varied types of embellishments, sentiments, psychological states and actions. And, in case there are such matters, as are not presentable on the stage, they are suggested, indirectly, through explanatory devices.
The heroes in Nataka are generally exalted, descending from noble lineage, known far and wide, for their bravery, generosity and other good qualities. But there may also be other kinds of heroes. The heroines are beautiful; loving; pure in heart; sweet and cheerful; cultured; and, gifted with aesthetic sensibilities. The action in the play ends on an auspicious note, with the good overcoming the evil ; and , celebrating the victory of the virtuous. The major aim of Sanskrit Drama is to provide an unsullied and wholesome enjoyment to the spectators. And, at the same time, it is conducive to Dharma. ]
The three broad heads under which Dhanajaya discusses the subject of Drama are: Vastu (theme), Neta (the leading characters) and Rasa (the aesthetic sentiment it portrays). Let’s briefly take a look at each form of Drama, with particular reference to these three criteria.
As regards the story of a play, it could either be adopted (itivrttam) from the incidents that occur in the well-known (Prakhyatha) legends of the past; or, could be a story invented (Uthpadya) by the poet; or else, it could be a mixture (Misra) of the two. The story could also be about gods (Divya), humans (Marthya) and the like (Divyadivya).
prakhyatam itihasader utpadyam ; kavi-kalpitam; misram ca samkarat tabhyam divya-martyadi-bhedatah.
Whatever might be the original story, if it is not suitable for the hero or is inconsistent with the sentiment (Rasa) he represents, then the story can be modified or re-arranged in some other way. After determining the beginning and end of the play in this manner; and, after dividing it into five parts, the author should then break it up into small interrelated divisions (Samdhi).
Yat tatra-anucitam Kim cin nayakasya rasasya va viruddham tat parityajyam anyatha va prakalpayet.
The purpose of such reshaping of the story and characters by the playwright is to achieve a harmony between the theme and its main character, in order to serve the ultimate purpose of the drama , which is to provide a delightful theatrical experience (within the framework of the Dharma) for the enjoyment to the cultured spectators – the Rasa .
There should be a sense of balance in the treatment of the subject. The subject-matter should neither be isolated by its excessive coverage; nor, should it be cluttered or swamped with unrelated matters and needless elaborations.
The plot should be simple, the incidents should be consistent; and, the progression of the events should spring directly from the story.
The technical divisions of a drama and the development of the plot follow a set of carefully elaborated rules.
The Natyashastra mentions that there could be between five to ten Acts (Anka) in a Nataka. A regular Nataka will have five Acts. And, a Nataka with ten Acts is called Maha-nataka – (pancankam etad avaram dasankam natakam param). An interlude (Pravesaka) must always be made been the Acts.
[ Later, there were , however, some Natakas with more than five Acts , such as : Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa’s Venisamhara and Bhasa’s Avimaraka with six Acts; Rajasekhara’s Bala Ramayana and Mahadeva’s Adbhuta Darpana with ten Acts; and, Hanumant’s Maha-Nataka with fourteen Acts.]
An Act (Anka) is generally understood as a cohesive dramatization of events that occur within the course of a day. However, the Natyashastra does not demand that these events run contiguously. Normally, the action in a play depicts the events that occurred during the course of that day (or night). But, there are some noted exceptions where the events in the first the Act and the second Act are separated by long years. In such cases, an intermediate scene (Vishkambha) is introduced as a link and also to explain/narrate the occurrences that took place subsequent to the previous Act. (E.g. Uttararamacharita, Shakuntalam et al)
Further, there might be certain types of actions or objects that should not or cannot be presented on the stage. As per the conventions followed in the Sanskrit Drama, one should avoid showing such events as: long travel; murder; war; loss of kingdom; siege of a city; violent over throw; bloodshed; eating; taking bath; un-dressing; sex act etc.
Further, it is said; a chariot, an elephant or a horse should not be brought on the stage. Similar is the case with palaces, hills or lakes. Such animals and geographical features might be suggested or indicated through models made of cheap materials. And, in case an army has to be introduced on the stage, that should be symbolically represented by the movement (gati-vīcāra) of four to six persons dressed as soldiers.
In a Nataka, the number of characters that really matter to the main story should not be too many. Similarly, the supplementary or the supporting characters, such as the attenders etc., should at most be four or five.
As the play gathers momentum, in stages, its focus of attention should, progressively, be confined to characters and actions that are directly related to the main purpose of the story. The play is structured in such a manner that it steadily moves from the general or the diffused towards the purposeful and pointed. Its initial Acts might, comparatively, be lengthy; but, as the action moves towards the finale the Acts should get brief and pithy. As Dhanajaya says, the Nataka, in its structure, should resemble the tip of a cow’s tail (gopuccha).
All the exalted situations should be placed in the concluding segment (Nirvahana), awe-inspiring (Adbhuta), and radiating joy in celebration of Dharma – the victory of the Love over loveless; the triumph of the good over the evil.
The concepts of tragic catharsis or tragedy are not present in the Sanskrit Drama. The Nataka, generally, starts on a happy note (Adi-mangala); and through the trials and tribulations of the hero, a happy incident occurs in the middle (Madhya-mangala); and, the play concludes on an auspicious note (Antya-mangala). And, the whole proceeding comes to an end with the Bharatavakya , praying for the welfare and happiness of the King (Raja), his subjects (Praja) and the State (Rajya) ; and , for the peace and prosperity (Shanthi , Samruddhi) of all the beings in the three worlds (Trilokye) .
The hero (Nayaka) the leading character of the Nātaka should be an ideal person, a worthy and exalted (Udatta) icon of virtue; descending from the noble lineage of royal seers (rājarsih) . He should be : resolute, young, endowed with intelligence, energy, memory, and wisdom; brave, firm, graceful, charming, sweet-tempered, soft-spoken, liberal, clever, affable, popular, upright, and eloquent.
Prakhyāta-vamso rājarsih-divyo-vā yatra näyakah/ tat prakhyātam vidhātavyam vrttam-atra-adhikārikam//
The Hero should be one endowed with noble qualities of the type known as self-controlled, 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 . It is, basically, his story that forms the the principal subject (Adhikarana) of the Nataka.
mahasattvo ‘tigambhirah ksamavan avikatthanah sthiro nigudhahamkaro dhirodatto drdhavratah
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 those under threat ; always wishes and strives to do good for/to others; is also wise, well versed in Shastras and is skilled in arts.
The eight virtuous 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
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) – sva anya sadharanastri ‘ti tadguna nayika tridha.
However, Bharata had presented a different classification: divya (celestial); nrpapatni (queen); kulastri (modest house-wife); and ganika (courtesan).
The Nayika of a Nataka is usually of the first type. She would the Hero’s wife (svaya) . And, she would be either be a princess of renowned royal-heritage or a celestial beauty – virtuous (mugdha), dignified (gambhira, manini), charming (manohara) of loving-nature and devoted to her husband. (Nayika tadrsi mugdha divya catimanohara)
devi tatra bhavej jyestha pragalbha nrpavamsaja/ gambhlra maninl krcchrat tadvasan netrsamgamah
As regards its style of narration and depiction, Nātaka should adopt either the graceful Kaušiki Vrtti associated with the Srngara Rasa (suited for display of expressions of love, dance, song as also charming costumes and delicate actions ) ; or, the exuberant Sattvati Vrtti associated with heroic Vira Rasa .
Dhananjaya, in his Dasarupaka said : a Nataka should principally portray one Rasa – either the Srngara or the Vira; and, in the concluding part the Adbhuta Rasa becomes prominent
Eko rasa – angi -kartavyo virah srngara eva va / angamanye rasah sarve kuryan nivahane –adbhutam
[But, Abhinavagupta, preferred not to lay any such restrictions. Instead, he argued that a play could be a judicious mix of several Rasas, with a major Rasa defining the tone and texture of the play. He cited Nagananda of Sri Harsha, which in its initial stages display Srngara; but , towards the end, it is the Shantha Rasa that pervades atmosphere of the play. And, he explained though the play had to deal with the horrific killing of the hapless Nagas, it underplays scenes of violence; and, exemplifies the virtues of peaceful coexistence and compassion towards all beings. It is that aesthetic experience of Shanta – peace and compassion towards the fellow beings – which the spectator carries home]
In the next part let’s talk about Prakarana and eight other forms of the Rupaka.
Sources and References
The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar
All images are from Internet