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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

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The Kriti is a composite Art form. A good Kriti is the sublime blend of the Mathu (Sahitya) and Dhathu, the Music and its rhythm. All the constituent elements (Angas) – the sentiment, the diction, the music and the  rhythm– that combine to form a Kriti, have to be in harmony, supporting each other; each helping the others to shine forth and to manifest in their best form. The Kriti is indeed a living, fluid, organic entity.

In the Karnataka Samgita, Mathu or Sahitya and the prosody (Kavya-lakshana) assume great importance. Raga, essentially, is a representation or an outpouring of the emotional content (Raga-bhava) of the Kriti, evoking a distinct feeling of happiness, sweetness (Madhurya) or poignancy (Karuna-rasa). But, Raga, by its very nature; is rather amorphous; and, truly having no physical or material existence. It does need a medium to articulate in a tangible form that draws the listener into the music; and to communicate with her/ him. It is only then there will be fulfillment (Dhanyata-bhava); and, music becomes a shared experience between the composer, performer and the listener.

And, even otherwise, the lyrics of a Kriti has its own importance. A composition is known and recognized by its Sahitya; particularly by it’s opening lines (Pallavi), than by the mere name of the Raga, which attires its lyrical appeal. There might be numerous Kritis in a particular Raga; but, it is its Sahitya that lends an identity to a given composition.

A well composed , expressive , lyrical beauty that blends amicably with melody and rhythm is a distinctly bright feature of the Karnataka Samgita. Perhaps no other system of music, anywhere in the world, can boast of such a wealth of exquisitely structured compositions set to music.

If an erudite composer also happens to be a gifted poet, endowed with innate poetic genius (Kavya-Prathibha), which is nurtured and developed through training Utpatti (detailed study of Grammar, the literary works and scriptures); and Abhyasa, Abhiyoga, Prayatna (constant practice) of composing poetry set to Music, then his Kriti will blossom into most delectable poetic presentation  adorned with enjoyable music and pulsating rhythm.

It creates an idyllic ambiance that is shared by the creator, the performer and the Rasika (enjoyer). It, somehow, touches the very core of our being. And, as Abhinavagupta says, it is a Chamatkara, which bestows on all an Alaukika Ananda, an out-of-the-world wondrous aesthetic joy. Thus, at the end, very little would separate the composer, the singer and the Sahrudaya, the well informed connoisseur.

In the traditional kritis, composing a Sahitya that conforms to the laws of the prosody (Kavya Agama) is very vital. All the renowned composers of the Karnataka Samgita were well learned in Vyakarana, Chhandas and other Prayogas of Padya Sahithya. Their Kritis show the remarkable mastery they had gained over the Alamkaras – literary embellishments—such as: Prasa, Yati, Yamaka, Gamaka, Svarakshara patterns and others.

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Prasa

Prasa is a type of Sabda-alamkara, a literary ornamentation.  The term Prasa refers to the sound or the phonetic sequence. In a composition; similar sounds (Prasa) could be employed either at the commencement of each Paada (line) of the composition (Adi or Adyakshara-prasa); or as ‘Anu-prasa’ , where similar letters or sounds  recur repeatedly in the same Paada; or in the second syllables of each Paada (Dvitiyakshara-prasa); or in the concluding line where the rhyming occurs towards the ending (Antyakshara-prasa).  

And, Adi or Adyakshara-prasa, mainly, involves rhyming, where each Paada (line) starts with the same Akshara; or, where the first letter is repeated between the Avartas.   

Anu prasa is where similar letters recur repeatedly in the same Paada.

Dvitiya-kshara-prasa is the repetition of the second letter (Jiva-akshara) of the first Avarta in the same position in the subsequent Avartas, as well. This is concerned only with consonants, not vowels.   Such a Prasa can be for a single letter and also for a group of letters.

Antya-prasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avartas. It differs from Prasa; because, while the Prasa is confined to consonants, here the vowels are also included.   For instance, a word like Netram can have Antyaprasa only with words like Gatram, Sutram, etc., and not with words like Satrum, Atrim etc.

The Muhana is the repetition of the first letter between the Avartas. The Antya-prasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avarta.

Muhana is a type of Sabdalankara, in which the same letter as in the beginning of an Avarta or any of its substitutes should occur in the beginning of the second Avarta. For example,‘ Dinakara Kula dipa / Dhrita divya sara chapa!’

The term Antar+ukti, literally means the ‘in-between utterance’. The method of Antarukti is by way of inserting one or more syllables between two words.  It is done mostly for the sake of maintaining the flow of the Taala.

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In his Kritis, many of which are technically classified as Telugu works, the essential and the prime body of the lyrics is in chaste, refined classical Sanskrit-based terms.

His Telugu words, though often are informal and colloquial expressions, are infused with emotion trying to express the natural feelings of tenderness, love and affection of a child reaching out to its Mother. Many of these songs are a sort of conversations, pleading with the Mother, questioning her why she is not paying attention to him, not responding to his desperate appeals and so on.

And, in such Kritis, though he has mostly employed the spoken form of Telugu language, either as verbs (Akhyata) – say like brovu, vinu, matladu etc. or for addressing (Sambhodana) the Mother Deity as Talli, Mayamma etc., the string of sweet-sounding names and eloquent, picturesque adjectives he uses for describing the beauty, splendour and the countless virtues of the Supreme Mother Goddess are all in delightful Sanskrit phrases.

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Further, the nature of the Telugu- Sahitya of his Kritis markedly differs from the Sahitya of the Svarajatis.

The Telugu-Sahitya of his Svarajatis, in contrast, is more poetic; orderly and, is often  interspersed with philosophical expressions.

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Sri Shyama Shastry has adopted the time-honored (Sampradaya-baddha) poetic traditions (Kavya-agama) followed in the ancient Prabandhas as also in the Kirtanas and   Kritis that came into being during the seventeenth and the eighteenth . Such essential poetic virtues (Kavya-guna) are found in the Kritis of the other Masters also.

Many of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are adorned with the metaphors of Kavya-Alamkara and Sabda-Alamkaras, such as Anuprasa and Antya-prasa. And, Muhana (the first letter repetition between the Avartas) and Prasa (the second letter repetition) are also used. But, more Kritis are found with the Prasa-Yati. Sri Shyama Shastri used the method of splitting up the words i.e. Antarukti for introducing Prasa- Yati

Smt. Sharadambal explains :   with regard to the occurrence of the Prasa-aksharas in the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, they can be divided into four categories,.

  1. Dhirgha (long) syllables preceding the Prasa-akshara in the Carana alone.
  2. Dhirgha (long) syllable proceeds in the all the three Angas.
  3. Hrasva (short) letter is found throughout the composition.
  4. 4. Dhirgha (long) syllable is found in Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, the Hrasva (short) syllable is used in the Carana.

This KritiDevi nee paada sarasamule’ (Khambhoji); and, Mayamma (Ahiri) are cited as instances, where both the long and the short syllable are used in the Kriti

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Sri Shyama Shastry used the Prasas like Adi-Prasa; Anu-prasa; Dvitiya-kshara-Prasa and Antya-Prasa.

For instance; the Sambhodana-vibhakthi, as an Adyakshara-prasa is used in Sri Shyama Shastry’s KritiEmani Migula’ (Todi).

Here, every Paada (line) of the second Carana commences with similar sounds, calling out to the Divine Mother:  O Janani Karuni….  Om Anina JanmaO Moha- vratulai O Rajadhi-rajendra.

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Examples of alliteration of the first letter

Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam)

Saroja dala-netri Himagiri-putri nipada-mbujamule

 Sada nammina-namma subhamimma Sri Minakshamma

Mariveregati (Anandabhairavi)

 Madhura-puri nilaya vani rama sevita pada kamala

Madhu kaitabha bhanjani katyani marala-gamana

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Sri Shyama Shastry has employed Anu-prasa (repetition of a vowel or consonant or both), in some of his Kritis. For instance; in the Kriti ‘Kanaka-shaila’ (Punnagavarali), the syllable ‘da’ is repeatedly used in the second Carana as follows:

Chanda-munda-kandana-panditesu;danda-kodanda-mandita-pani; pundarika  -nayana-archita-paade

In the Kriti Parvati Ninnu (Kalkada) the Anuprasa is seen in many places such as:

Anupallavi: Sangita-lole, Suguna-jale, and Jala- mele

Carana-1:Banda-daitya-Khandana-Khandala-vinuta-Mârthand-Neeraja-kshi Nikhila-sakshi

Carana(2):Indu-vadana-Kunda-radana-Sindura-gamana-makaranda-vâni,Nila megha-veni Girvani.

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In the First Carana of the Kriti O Jagadamba (Anandabhairavi), the Dvitiya-kshara Prasa for the sound ‘Inna’ occurs in all the four Avartas, till the last line:

Kanna-talli;- Kannada-salupaga ;- Ninnu-ne; –  Anni-bhuvana ; – Prasanna-murti; -Vinna-pambu; Vipanna-bhaya

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And , in the Kriti Meenalochana (Dhanyasi) the Dvitiya-kshara ’Na’ has been maintained in the Anupallavi and in  the First Carana as ; Meena; Gana; Kanna; Panna etc.

In the Anupallavi of the Kriti Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam), the letter ‘ra’ occurs as the second (Dvitiya) letter (Akshara) of its lines.

Paraku seyaka varadayaki nivale daivamu-lokamulo-galada

 Purani sukapani Madhukara veni Sadasivuniki rani

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Sri Shyama Shastry  used the device of Antarukti for splitting up the words, for introducing Prasa-yati, in some cases.

In the Kriti O Jagadamba (Anandabhairavi), the Antarukti is used to bring the Prasa Yati.

Pallavi:  O Jagadamba nannu (Na…..- Antarukti Vujavamuna) brovumu …..
Anupallavi: Rajamukhi ……. (Suguna –Antarukti Rajarajita) Kamakshi

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Antya-prasa is found in all the three Angas of Sri Shyama Shastry’s Kriti   Shankari Shamkaru (Saveri), where the Pallavi reads: ‘Akhilandeshwari–Vandite Gauri’.

That is followed by Anupallavi: Kalyani–Jagatjanani; and, First Carana: Jagadavanollasini—Kapaladarini sulini

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Another type of Antya-prasa used by him was to repeat the same word at the end of all the Caranas.

For instance; the word ‘birana’ is repeated at the end of the Pallavi and at the end of the last line of all the three Caranas of the Kriti Brovavamma (Manji).

Similar is the case with the word ‘Na-talli’ in Devi brova samayamide’ (Chintamani) ; and , the word  ‘Brochutaku’ in the Kriti Ninnu-vinaga (Purvikalyani)

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Yati

Yati is a generic term, having different connotations in Kavya, Taala (Mrdanga) and in Music. In regard to the Kritis in Karnataka samgita, Yati is a Dhatu-Mathu-Samyukta Alamkara. This Anga is meant to decorate the texture of the compositions. Yati could also control the arrangement of various tempos.  It is, thus, an ornamentation that enhances the beauty of the Sahitya and the flow of the Musical presentation of the Kriti.

If the Yati is taken to mean the arrangement of Sahitya phrases along with its Dhatu, there would be different types of Yatis in music. Here the Sahitya phrases would be ingeniously arranged to form varied patterns, such as: Sama Yati, Gopuchcha Yati, Srotovaha Yati, Damaru Yati, Mridanga Yati and Vishama Yati.

Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar, in particular was a Master in crafting such various patterns of Yatis. And, some Yati-prayogas are also seen in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja.  But, Sri Shyama Shastry did not seem to have attempted Yati-prasa to that extent; except perhaps the Sama Yati, which is an even flow of the Sahitya phrases; and, follows a uniform length of lines (Sama). If two letters of Yati and Prasa are of one and the same character and magnitude, it is called as Sama-yati -Prasa.

According to Prof. Sambamurthy, alliterating the initial syllables or their sequence in Avartas could be taken as Yati. The purpose of the Yati is to create a pleasant musical resonance.

In Sri Shyama Shastri Kritis, the Dhatu as well as its rhythm are arranged; for example; in the Kriti Palainchu-Kamakshi (Madhyamavathi),  the phrase ‘Paalinchu Kamakshi pavani …..Paapa-shamanee‘, the appearance of the second Pa is called Sama-yati-Prasa.

In the Kriti Mayamma (Ahiri), the Yatis that occur are of the same character and magnitude.

Sarasija

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Yamaka

This is a literary beauty, where in the same word, will be repeated but with different meaning and sense. For instance; In the Anupallavi of the Kriti Mayamma (Natakuranji), the word ‘Ananda‘ is applied in many ways so as to give different layers of meaning (True bliss -Happy one – Eternally blissful -Blissful):

Saty(A)nandA – SAnandA – Nity(A)nandA AnandA

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Gamaka

The term Gamaka derived from the root ’gam’ suggests movement (Gamana, Gamya). Gamakas are graces or ornamented flourishes of the Svaras which characterize the gait of a Raga (Raga-sanchara); and, establish the melodic nature of the Dhathu of a musical composition (Raga-svarupa). They are the varied musical effects (Alamkaras) that can transform a plain note into something that is attractive, charming and pleasant on the ears (Gamakau–srotra-sukhadai-lalithair-asthu).

Gamakas  are executed in varied forms, such as: graceful turn, curve or sliding touch given to a single note or a group of notes, which animates Svaras to bring out the melodic character and expression (bhava) of a Raga. Gamaka-rendering is a highly individualistic and a specialized skill. Gamakas are very vital factors of Karnataka Samgita. I am not sure if any other system of music has a worthy equivalent to Gamaka of Karnataka Samgita.

Sarangadeva (11th Century) in his Sangita-ratnakara , enumerates fifteen (pancha-dasha) varieties of Gamakas – Tiripa, Sphurita, Kampita, Leena, Andolita, Vali, Tribhinna, Kurula, Ahata, Ullasita, Humpita, Plavita, Mudrita, Namita and Misrita

And, while describing the   virtues and the desired qualities of a highly accomplished singer (Uttama Gayaka) who belongs to a good tradition (Su-sampradayo) , Sarangadeva says, such a one should have the intelligence to improvise the Gamakas in all their movements (Sarva-sthanao-ttha-Gamake-sarva-kaku-vishesha-vit,-aneka-sthai- sancharah); and, in all the three registers (Sthanas)

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The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are remarkable for their Gamaka Prayogas. His Kritis, set in leisurely Vilamba laya, excelling in Chowka kala, are ideal for illuminating and  elaborately bringing out the varied nuances of a Raga through the application of many improvised  Gamaka movements like Kampita, Jaru etc..

As a composer of great merit, Sri Shyama Shastry creatively transformed the traditional concept and application of the Gamakas. In his Prayogas, the Gamaka is not a mere ornamentation of a Svara; but, it is also a soulful means of expressing anguish, devotion, joy  and such other emotions. It lends a new color and a new dimension to both the Dhatu (Music) and the Mathu (Sahitya) of his Kritis. Sri Shyama Shastry was indeed a pioneer in delineating the Raga-bhava through Gamaka Prayoga.

Any number of instances could be cited in this regard. But, just to mention a few:

His different compositions in Anandabhairavi bring out diverse shades and aspects of the Raga. It could be either a simple delineation of the Raga as in his Kriti ‘Himaachala-tanaya’; or the Jaru Gamakas (glides) in the Madhyama-kala tempo in Rupaka Taala as in the Kriti ‘Pahi Sri’; or it could also be the Jaru Gamakas in Vilamba-kala set to Misra –Chapu-Taala as in the Kriti ‘Marivere’; and, finally, it could be an elaborate Raga portrayal in the Adi Taala , Madhyama gati,  in  the Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’.

The two varieties of Kampita -Gamaka are applied to the same phrase ‘Amba ni’ in the Kriti ‘Sari-evvaramma’ (Bhairavi) to express two different emotions. Similar features can be seen in his other Kritis also.

In the Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’ (Anandabhairavi), the opening exclamation ‘Oh’ is repeated thrice, with three different Gamakas. Initially, it is in a lower Svara, as an Etra-jaru (a glide from a lower Svara-sthana to a higher one). The second ‘Oh‘ is expressed through oscillations (Kampita) in higher notes, in a circling movement. And, the third ‘Oh’ is an Erakka-jaru (a slide from a higher Svara-sthana to a lower one).

In the Svarasahitya of the Kriti Kamakshi Bangaru (36-Varali, Misra Chapu), where the word ‘Mayamma’ starts with a Jaru (glide) from the Daivata; and, reaches Tara-shadja in the passage ‘Mayamma Vegame Karuna-judavamma’

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Many examples of Gamakas can also be found in Sri Shyama Shastry’s Svarajatis. His Todi-Svarajati ‘Raave’ begins with a Mandra-sthayi-Dheergha-Dhaivata, which is sung with Kampita Gamaka (oscillations).

His very famous Bhairavi Svarajati ‘Kamakshi’ has eight Caranas starting in the ascending order, the Arohana, as ‘Sa RI Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’. In the opening lines of the Pallavi, which are in Mandara Sthayi, in a contemplative mood, the Kampita (oscillation) and Jaru (glides) Gamakas follow in succession.

The Yadhukula-kambodhi Svarajati has many instances of Jaru Gamakas as well as the Pratyahata Gamaka (Sphurita in the descent, a Samabandha Gamaka produced from the higher note in a Janta svara prayoga), which is a characteristic of the Raga.

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Even in his Varnas, there are many Gamaka-prayogas.

For instance; the Varna in Anandabhairavi, ‘Sami ninne’ not only begins with a characteristic Jaru Gamaka (s/s-d-p-m-g-m); but , it also appears at many other parts of the composition.

[For a detailed discussion on the Gamakas, please do read the Chapter 5 – Concept of Gamaka in the compositions of Syamasastriof Dr.Manju Gopal’s research paper.]

 [** Svarajati, as the name suggests, is a combination of Svaras (notes) and Jati (rhythmical sol-fa passages). Sri Shyama Shastry revised the form of the Svarajatis by eliminating the Jatis; and, letting the Svaras to arrange themselves into Jati-patterns. The Svarajati composition commences with a Pallavi; and, is followed by Carana/s. While rendering the Carana, the Svaras are sung first; and, then its corresponding Sahitya is presented.

The beauty of the Svarajatis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry is in its natural flow of the Taala, Laya and Svaras. ]

Taala

 

Taala and Laya

Taala and Laya, over which Sri Shyama Shastry had gained mastery, and their dexterous combination with the Sahitya are among the outstanding features of his compositions.

He had experimented with altering the sequence of Matras in the Misra Chapu, transforming it into its reverse, the Viloma Chapau.

He had employed various Grahas or Eduppus (starting Points) in his Misra Chapu Kritis

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Sri Subbarama Dikshitar (on page 15 of the segment Vaggeyakara Caritam  included in his monumental work  Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini),  while writing a biographical note about Sri Shyama Shastry says;

Since his compositions are like ‘narikela-paka’ ”(as tough as breaking a coconut), with rich poetry, containing  Atita, Anagata Grahas , with beautiful words, some lazy musicians, who could neither comprehend nor had the mettle to sing them in the manner that pleased the audience, called them tough.

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Sri Shyama Shastry’s expertise in Taala and Laya is very evident from his treatment of the Misra Chapu Taala.

[In regard to the Taala; Graha or Eduppu denotes the point within the Āvartanam of a Taala, when a composition or stanza in a composition begins.  Graha (Eduppu) can be two ways. One is Sama; and, the other is Vishama.

When a song begins at the first beat of a Taala it is Sama. And, when song begins either before or after the stroke of Taala it is Vishama.

Vishama is classified into two, as: (a) Athitha Graha: When the song begins first; and, it is then followed by Taala beat; and, (b) Anagata Graha is when a Taala begins first; and, the song follows it later.]

The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry (like those of Sri Dikshitar) do not start on Athitha-Graha. But, this feature occurs within the body of the Kriti, perhaps to satisfy the requirements of prosody. Usually, the Pallavi and, at times, Anu Pallavi of his Kritis commence in Anagata-Graha; while the Anu-Pallavi and Carana begin with Sama-Graha.

For instance; the Kriti ‘Devi nee padasarasa ‘(Kambhoji) commences in Anagata Graha with ‘Pa’ as the Graha-Svara; while, its Carana begins in Sama Graha.

[ It is mentioned that in Patantara – the texts of the Kritis- that came into use after 1930, the construction of the musical elements; especially of the Eduppus changed much ; and the 4+3 format was not maintained throughout.

For instance; in the Kriti ‘Ninnu vina’, the Pallavi is framed as 2+2+3; the Anupallavi ‘Pannaga-bhushannudaina’ and the Carana ‘Parama-lobu-lanu’ are of the usual 2+7 Eduppu; not consistent with the 4+3 formation of the Pallavi.

For more on this issue, please see the extracts from the work of Smt. Sharadambal, given in later in this post]

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An excellent feature of his Kritis is that the Sahitya is arranged in concordance (Samanvaya) with the Taalajatis (beats of the rhythm cycles).

Sri Shyama Shastri has used the different combinations of Svara syllables as well as Sahitya syllables to weave new patterns, within the framework of the Taala.

In his compositions, we find many words constituting of five syllables corresponding to the tâd-in-gina-tom in a natural way.

In the compositions as well as in Svara-Sahithya we find words as ‘Anu-dina-mu, Tarunamidi, durusu-ganu, kamala.mukhi, samayamidi and so on.

His compositions have plenty of Sahitya syllables, which are in the same time-units as the Dirgha-svaras and Hrasva-Svarâs, forming different patterns within the Taala structure

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Another versatile feature in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastri, with regard to Taala, is that he has composed Kritis in Taalas and Gatis (sub-divisions of a beat in a composition) that are interchangeable.

He has composed a few Kritis suggestive of two rhythms. Here, one is the inherent rhythm (Sthapita-Taala); and, the other is the suggested rhythm (Suchita-Taala).

For instance; in the Kriti Shankari-Shamkuru (Saveri), Rupaka (1+1) is the Sthapita Taala; and Adi Taala (Tisra-gati, 3) would be the Suchita-Taala. The Pallavi and Anu-Pallavi, at the outset, are in Rupaka Taala; and, the Carana follows the Adi Taala (Tisra-gati).

And, similar is the case with another Kriti, Birana-varalichi’ (Kalyani) , which can be rendered in both Rupaka Taala (Chatursra- gati, 2+4) and also in Adi Taala (Tisra gati-3).

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Laya, Taala, Sruti and Kala are intricate concepts in Karnataka Samgita. They are as nebulous as one often flows into another.

Laya is commonly translated as tempo; which is inseparable from rhythm. And, rhythm is the ordered movement in time and space

 It is also said; Laya is the pulse of the rhythm, which has three major speeds: Vilamba (slow), Madhyama (medium or normal) and Dhruta (fast).

Thus, Laya is said to include both rhythm and tempo; which are measured by the uniform flow of the time-duration (Kala). With that, Laya is the ordered movement of rhythm in time.

Suffice it to say that Laya could be taken as rhythm.

And, rhythm in our music is two-dimensional; the one that is related to the pitch is termed Shruti-Laya; and, the other related to the time-units is called Taala-Laya.

[Dr S A K Durga explains ‘The Laya stands for the interval of time between the beats and movement in time. Thus the term “Laya” means both rhythm and tempo created by the even measured flow of the uniform duration of Kala (time).

Prof .P.S. Narayanaswami: Rhythm gives stability and form to music. It can be described as the tangible gait of any musical movement. In Carnatic music, this is referred to as Laya. The common fallacy is that rhythm or laya is confined to percussion instruments and the rhythmic patterns produced therein. But laya is not limited to just that. It is present not only in melodic compositions, which usually have a rhythmic metre in an apparent manner but also in the creative aspects, sometimes conspicuously (like in Neraval or Kalpana-svara) and subtly at others (Raga Alapana and Tanam)]

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Laya, for all its beauty, is abstract. You need a device, which measures and monitors this abstract time-flow. And, that function is performed by Taala.

If Laya is the rhythmical movement, Taala is that which measures the tempo of that movement. So, Laya implies movement; and, it can be perceived when there is a motion.

Taala (derived from the root tada or tadana) signifies a ‘beat’. The time-interval between the beats and its movement could also be taken as Laya, the rhythm.

Taala is the measurement of time-units in our music. And, the degree of speed with which the time-units, in each division of a Taala-cycle, follow each other is termed as Kala.

{But, Kala is also used to indicate Laya; say, as in: Madhyama Kala, Chowka Kala etc.]

The structural units of a Taala are called Angas.  Such Angas are of different kinds.

Here, Anu-Dhruta (One Aksharakala) consists only the beat with palm. Dhruta (2 Aksharakala) is a beat followed a waving of hand. Laghu-Dhruta (4+2 Aksharakala) consists beat and finger counts (Laghu+Dhruta). And, Guru-Dhruta (8+2 Aksharakala) is rendered in Dhruva-kala and Patita-(Guru+Dhruta) wave to left and right or circle with thumb-up + beat with palm + turn (wave).

Anudruta Drutha Sankeerna Laghu

Taala, in turn, is reckoned by the finger counts, beats and wave of the hand. This manner of counting and keeping time is termed as Kriya. And, Kriya is the action of fingers, palms, hands, in order to keep track of the Taala-units.

And, when it is done without making audible sounds, it is called Ni-shabda-Kriya. And, when the beats are counted and played on cymbals etc., it is Sa-shabda-Kriya.

In the execution of a Taala, between two successive Kriyas, there is a period of rest or pause; and, that has to be maintained consistently.

The action of Kriya (manifesting as Taala sequence) and the interval between two elements of Kriya are interrelated. Further, each Kriya is an extension of its previous one. Here, the duration of such time-lag between two Kriyas assumes importance; and, with its increase or decrease, the Laya becomes faster or slower.

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In Dhruta-Laya (fast), the Kriyas follow each other in quick succession, as the time-lag between them is very short. In Madhya- Laya or medium tempo, the Laya gets doubled; and, a further doubling of laya results in Vilambita laya.

This suggests; an increase in Laya results in decrease of the speed, i.e., the speed or tempo of a piece is inversely proportional to its laya.

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The tempo of the musical composition in Indian Music is not marked by the composers as Indian music is learnt through oral tradition; and, the composers did not write their compositions with notation, unlike the composers of Western music. In Indian music , the compositions are performed in the tempo according to the Rasa and Bhava of the Raga and Sahitya, besides the performer’s own decision according to her/his  concept of aesthetics,  in the presentation

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 Kala-pramana 

 Smt. Sharadambal observes  : regarding the tempo or Kala-pramana of the Compositions:

Though, most of the songs of Shyama Shastry are in slow medium tempo in Adi-Taala, there are some songs in fast and medium tempo.

The songs in Misra-Chapu and Triputa-Taalas also are mostly sung in slow medium tempo. The long drawn out rhythm with many pauses is seen in Chapu-Taala compositions with less number of words; and, with pauses here and there in these Kritis.

Some of his compositions in Adi-Taala have a tight knit relation between the Taala–Aksharas and the Sahitya letters. Almost all the Svara-letters have Sahitya-letters; and ,  Hrasva letters found in profusion.

For example; songs like’ Sarojadala-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga; and in ‘Devi Brova’ in Chintamani Raga, though are set in Adi-Taala, the tempo seems to be increased and gives the impression that the song is set in Madhyama-kala. We do not find extensive pauses in these songs. The pauses are limited; and, words are many; and, this makes it appear as though the tempo is increased.

The songs set in Adi, Rupaka and other Taalas are in fast medium tempo. ‘Parvati-ninnu’ in Kalkada, ‘BiranaVaralicci’ in Kalyani can be cited as examples. Thus we find three different tempos such as slow, slow medium and fast medium tempos among the compositions of Shyama Shastri.

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Pada-garbha / Arudi

Arudi or Pada-garbha is a pause that occurs in between the Taala- Avartas. Usually it occurs at the middle of the two Kalai Adi Taala or in the beginning of the next Avarta; or in the beginning of the third Avarta; or in Rupaka Taala or Chapu Taala.

The Kritis:  ‘Kanaka-shaila’ (Punnagavarali); ‘Mayamma’ (Ahiri), ‘Emani-migula’ (Todi), ‘Palinchu Kamakshi ‘ (Madhyamavathi); ‘Devi-ni-padasarasa’ (Kambhoji); ‘Devi-mina-netri’ (Shankarabharana );  ‘Devi brova’ (Chintamani ), in Adi Taala  two Kalai, all have the Pada-garbha exactly at the middle of the Avarta;  that is, on the first Druta.

Here, the pause occurs dividing the Avarta into two; and, after a pause for two or four or three Aksharas, the song proceeds further.

In the songs having two Avartas in the Pallavi, the Arudi occurs in both the Avartas. For instance; we find Pada-garghas in the two Avartas in the kriti ‘Mayamma’ (Natakuranji); one in the first Avarta; and, the second in the second Avarta.

Mayam | ma nannu | Brova vam || ma+ ma ha ma | ya …u | ma … ||

Similarly in the song ‘Saroja-dala-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga, we find two Pada-garbhas for the pallavi

Saroja dala netri Himagiripu | tri … ni | padam
Sada nammina namma subhamim | ma …O Sri 

In    Adi Taala, this pause occurs at the beginning of the next Avarta as in the song ‘Karuna judu’ in Sri Raga

Karuna judu ninnu | nammina | va-duga ||
da …in ta | parake | lanamma ||

The kriti ‘Karuna-judu’ as rendered in Misra Chapu Taala, in the 4 + 3 gait, has the Pada-garbham at the beginning of the fifth Avarta in the word ‘ga’ 

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The Kritis in Rupaka Taala and Chapu Taala have the Pada-garbham at the commencement of the third Avarta.

Ninne’ in Todi Raga and Chapu Taala’ has two lines of Sahitya; and; had pause for the two lines at the beginning of the third Avarta

Ninnenam || mi na ……… || nu ……… sa || da ……… ne ||
Vin na pa || mu vi ni || nan …… nu || bro ……vumu ||

The other examples are :Mina-locana’ in Dhanyasi Raga in Chapu-Taala and  ‘Nannu-brovu’ in Lalita Raga are in Chapu Taala; ‘Pahi Sri’ in Ânandabhairavi Raga  in Rupaka Taala;  ‘Karuna juda’ in Varali Raga in Chapu Taala; ‘Birana vara’ in Kalyani Raga in Rupaka Taala;  ‘Ninnuvina’ in Ritigaula Raga in Rupaka Taala

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Pauses found in different places

There are some kritis, in which pauses occur in different places i.e. at the end of the pallavi; or  at the end of the first Avarta and so on.

There are kritis which do not have pauses in between the Avartas; but, pause occurs only after finishing the Pallavi at the end of the second Avarta.

For example; in the kriti ‘Durusuga’ in Saveri Raga, we find pause only at the end of the Pallavi, whereas in the kriti ‘Marivere’ in Anandabhairavi Raga, we find a pause at the end of the first Avarta itself in both the lines as

Marive ……| ……………re | ga ti ye vva | ram … ma ||
Mahilo ……| …………….I. | mahilo ….. | brocu taku ||

Similarly in the kriti ‘Janani’ in Saveri Raga  we find a pause in the beginning, but after that words follow without any pause up to the end and the pause occurs after the words as :

Janani ………… Nata | jana pari | pa lini …
pahivambhava | ni ……….| …………

*

In some kritis, pauses occur in the beginning; at the end of the Avartas in some; and,  in many places in some kritis ; whereas there is no pause at all in some kritis.

The kritis in Chapu Taala are found with fewer words; with more pauses occurring in different places.

In the kriti ‘Talli-ninnu’ in Kalyani Raga in Chapu Taala, a pause occurs at the end of the second Avarta;  and,  it is continued in the beginning of the third Avarta.

Talli | Ninnu nera | …………… nammi | na nu vino | ve ..

In the kriti ‘Ninnu-vinaga’ in Purvikalyani Raga in Viloma Chapu Taala, we find karvai at the end of the first and third Avarta. The karvai is found in the second line also.

Ninnu vina …… | …… ga mari | dikk-evarun ……| na ……ru ||

In the kriti ‘Brôvavamma’ in Manji Raga ,in Chapu Taala, pauses occur in many ; and, not at specified places.

Brova vam ……|……ma …… ta … | masa me ……| le … ………………| ………….
bi ……..| ra …………na …… || ……
Devita ………|…… la le ………| ne …………bi | ra …… na ……

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Similar type of kriti is ‘Nilayata-kshi’ in Pharaz Raga. We can find pause here and there controlling the flow of the rhythm.

Ni …… la …… ya || ta ………kshi || ni …… ve …||
jagatsa ……kshi ||

**

In order to control the less number of words employed in an Avarta in the above mentioned kritis in Chapu Taala; Shyama Shastri might have used these pauses wherever necessary.

 

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Aspect of Laya

The advent of the Trinity with their compositions paved the way for a new era in the growth of Kriti. They gave importance not only to melody but also to the temporal aspect or laya.

Eduppu or Graha is the place where in the song starts in the Taala.  This plays an important role in the construction of a composition.

There are songs which start on Sama Eduppu; that is, the Taala as well as music start at the same time from the beginning of the Taala count.

There are some songs which start after the Taala begins. This is called Anagata Eduppu.

Some songs start before the Taala Avarta, that is in the previous Avarta itself; and, that is called Atitha Eduppu.

Usually in songs, the Eduppu will uniformly be the same in all the three Angas, either Sama or Anagata

We also find different Eduppus among the different sections within a song of Shyama Shastri.

There are some songs in which two Angas start on the same Eduppu; and, the other Anga has a different Eduppu. They are as follows:

1.Birana – Kalyani – Rupaka
2. Shankari – Saveri – Rupaka
3. Himadrisute – Kalyani – Rupaka
4. Devi-mina-netri – Shankarabharana – Adi
5. Devi-neepada – Khambhoji – Adi
6. Enneramum – Punnagavarali – Adi
7. Mayamma – Natakuranji – Adi
8. Karuna-juda – Varali – Chapu
9. Shankari – Kalyani – Ata

 

 The song ‘Birana Varâlicci’ in Kalyani Raga and the song `Himadrisute’ are with the same structure, but in Sanskrit, a special Eduppu is found in Rupaka Taala

The Pallavi and Anupallavi start after the first beat; that is, in the second beat or after four Akshra kaalas. The Carana of the song start after two Akshara Kaalas.

In this song, the Pada-garbham (Arudi) falls on the sixth beat; and, again the words start after a karvai of eight Aksharas.  This gives a grip to the song over the Taala.

Another song in which the Carana alone starts after two Aksharas, while the Pallavi and Anupallavi start on some Eduppu is ‘Shankari’ in Saveri Raga. These two Kritis belong to the group of Kritis prevailing since early thirties.

**

There are some Kritis, which figure only after 1930.

Among them, the two Kritis each in the Ragas Shankarabharana and Kambhoji alone figure in the notation of Shyama Shastri II; and, the rest figure in the books of others of the same period.

In the four Kritis in Adi Taala, mentioned above, either Sama or Anagata Eduppu is kept for one Anga; and, the other two Angas have different ones.

For example, in the song ‘Devi ni pada’ in Kambhoji, the pallavi starts after two Aksharas; while Anupallavi and Carana have Sama Eduppu.

In the kriti ‘Mayamma’ in Natakuranji Raga, this is reversed. Pallavi has Sama Eduppu; and the Anupallavi and Carana start after two Aksharas.

In the Kritis ‘Devi-mina-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga and ‘Ennçramum’ in Punnagavarali Raga, the Pallavi and Carana start after four Aksharas; while the Anupallavi start on Sama.

In the kriti ‘Karuna juda’ in Varali Raga, Chapu Taala, the Anupallavi alone starts after one Akshara; and, the other two Angas start on Sama

 In the kriti ‘Shankari’ in Kalyani raga, Chatushra Atta Taala, the Carana alone start after one Akshara and the others on Sama.

There are some songs set in Misra Chapu Taala in the Krama order as 3+4; but, the Eduppu gives the impression as if the songs are sung in Viloma Chapu.

 The songs start in the last beat of the Taala; and so the structure is formed as 2 + 3 + 2. The Kritis ‘Nannu-brovu’ in Lalita Raga and ‘Talli-ninnu’ in Kalyani Raga and ‘Mina-locana’ in Dhanyasi Raga can be cited as examples.

The song ‘Ninnu-vinaga’ in Purvikalyani Raga  is the only song set in regular Viloma Chapu , which starts in the place Taka-dimi and then taki-ta follows as in HW of Shyama Shastri II, says S.Rajah.

In the HW of Shyama Shastri II , all the songs are written only in the form 4+3; but, the Eduppu alone is denoted either as 4+3 or 3+4 or 2+3+2 by an asterisk mark.

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The Taalas handled by Sri Shyama Shastry

Sri Shyama Shastri has composed Kritis and other compositions in various types of Taalas;  such as:  Adi, Rupaka, Misra Chapu, Mathya, Triputa, Jhampa and Ata Taala. All the Taalas come under the Sapta- Taala group.

[In the Karnataka Samgita concerts, the four Taalas that are commonly used are – Adi, Rupaka, Misra-Chapu and Khanda-Chapu.  And, most number of songs is in Adi Taala.

Popular Taalas

Adi Taala has several compositions, each in a different tempo and gait. These could be effectively used to bring out contrast within the concert. Variety can also be brought out by singing compositions with different starting points. For example, a composition can start at the very first beat of the Taala. Or it can start at the next beat or after a few counts within the beats. The starting point is known as Eduppu or Graha. – Dr. P S. Narayanaswamy]

As regards the number of compositions in each type of Taala:

each type

 (Source: Dr. Manju Gopal)

Adi Taala

Of the thirty compositions set in Adi Taala, as many as twenty-seven are the Kritis. And the rest three are: a Gita (Santatam-Pharaju); a Varna (Dayanidhe –Begada); and, a Svarajati (Rave Himagiri –Todi).

All the Kritis are of the Eka Kala and Dvi Kala type.  The Laya is Vilambita in most cases. Sometimes the Madhya Laya is also used.

Of the thirty compositions in Adi Taala, as many as twenty-three start on Sama Graha; and , seven on Anagata Graha (half Eduppu).

 For the three Kritis: Karuna-nidhi-ilalo (Todi); Shankari Shamakuru (Saveri) and Parvathi ninnu ne (Kalgada), the Tisra Gati is employed.  In Tisra -Gati, each unit of the Taala will be counted as ‘ta-ki-ta’ (a unit of three Aksharas)

The variation in the Akshara-kala of each count of a Taala (Gati-bedha) is another feature here.

It is said; the compositions in Tisra Gati –Adi- Taala (with a total Akshara kala duration of 24) could also be rendered in Rupaka Taala (12  Akshara kala duration).

Following that; the Tisra Gati Kritis in Todi and Saveri Ragas are sometimes sung to Rupaka Taala.

And in the other way; the Rupaka-Taala-Kritis – Ninnu-vina (Ritigaula) ; Birana Varalichi (Kalyani) ; and , Himadrisute (Kalyani) can also be sung to Tisra-Gati-Adi -Taala.

**

Chapu Taala

It is a very common saying that among the Ragas, the Anandabhairavi; and, among the Taala, the Misra Chapu Taala are the favorites of Sri Shyama Shastry. He did, indeed, pay special attention to these two; and, transformed their modes of presentation.

The Chapu Taala is believed to have originated from the folk tradition; and, it was much used in the Bhagavatamela plays, which Sri Shastry as a youngster loved to watch while his family was Thiruvarur.

The beat (ghata) is the only kind of Kriya used in the Chapu Taala; and, there are no other Angas here such as Dhruta or Laghu etc. And, its Kriyas are not of uniform duration.

The Chapu Taala (which is said to be an abbreviated form of Tisra-Jati-Triputa-Taala) has four variations:  Tisra-Chapu (1+2=3) ; Khanda-Chapu (2+3=5); Misra Chapu (3+4=7) ; and, Sankirna-Chapu (4+5=9).

Of these variations, Sri Shyama Shastry adopted the Misra Chapu of seven Akshara kala duration  for many of his compositions.

As said; Misra Chapu has two parts. The first part (3) is three-fourths the duration of the second (4). In sum, it would be reckoned as having two beats (3 and 4). But, in practice, it is played in two beats. And, sometimes, instead of the first beat, the Taala would commence with a wave-motion (Visarjita).

Sri Shyama Shastry revised the mode of rendering the Chapu Taala ( 3+4) by reversing the  sequence of its beats and transforming it into Viloma Chapu Taala (4+3). And, this became a hallmark of his preferred Taala structures.

The following are the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry set to Misra Chapu and  to Viloma Chapu

Misra Chapu

Among the eleven compositions in Misra Chapu Taala, five compositions viz.,   the two Svarajatis; the two Kritis in Varali; and one Kriti in Anandabhairavi, all start with Sama Graha . And, the rest six, start in Anagata Graha.

Viloma Chapu

Of the seven Kritis in Viloma Chapu Taala, the two Kritis Trilokamata (Pharaju) and Ninnu-vinaga-mari (Purvikalyani) start on the Sama Graha. And, the other five Kritis start on Anagata Graha, on the second beat. [The Kriti Karuna-judu (Sri) is sung by some in Adi Taala.]

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Triputa Taala

There are nine compositions set in Triputa Taala; and, these include three Gitas.

Of these nine compositions: three Gitas – Kamakshi (Pharaju); Kamakshi (Madhyamavathi); and Sarasakshi (Saveri); as also the three Kritis – Paramukha-melanamma (Kalyani); Palayasumam (Arabhi) and Nilayatakshi (Pharaju) – all start Sama Graha (Eduppu).

The other three Kritis in this group: Nannubrova (Janaranjani); Adinamu-ninchi (Ananadabhairavi) ; and, Ennerum (Punnagavarali) – start on Anagata Graha (half Eduppu).

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Other Taalas

As regards the compositions in other Taalas

other Taalas

In the case of the Taalas of the twenty compositions, the Akshara value, in each case, amounts to 7 or to multiples of 7.

The Taalas that are involved here are: Tisra-Jati-Triputa (7 Aksharas); Misra Chapu (7 Aksharas); Khanda-Jati-Ata (14 Aksharas); and, Viloma Chapu (7 Aksharas).

Of such twenty compositions, 9 are in Tisra Triputa; 12 in Misra Chapu; 7 in Viloma Chapu; and 2 in Khanda Ata. (Source: Dr. Manju Gopal)

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Of the 72 known compositions of Sri Shyama Shastri, 47 start with Sama Eduppu; and , 25 compositions with Anagata Eduppu.

Examples of Sama Eduppu are: Emani migula (Todi, Adi Taala); Palayasumam (Arabhi, Triputa Taala); Sari evvaramma (Bhairavi, Khanda Jhampa Taala); and Shankari-Shankari (Kalyani, Khanda Ata Taala).

Examples of Anagata Eduppu are: Palimpavamma (Mukhari , Adi Taala , half Eduppu); Birana Varalichi (Kalyani,  Rupaka Taala,  Eduppu in the second beat); Nannubrova (Janaranjani, Triputa Taala, half Eduppu); Talli-ninnu (Kalyani, Viloma Chapu- Eduppu on the second beat)

*

Though there are no compositions among Sri Shyama Shastry’s creations, that explicitly commence with Atitha Eduppu, shades of this feature can be noticed in some of his verses. For example, in Mayamma (Ahiri, Adi Taala), the Carana of which reads:

Sarasija-bhava Hari-Hara-nuta sulaita nee/ Pada-pankaja-mula-sthira-mani Nammiti -Nammiti -Nammiti ni

Here, the portion from ‘pada pankaja’ is said to start with the last count of the previous Avarta. This could be taken as Atitha Eduppu.

*

A unique feature of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry is the modulation of the rhythm (bigu-sugu), which emphasizes certain notes and stretches them.

Another noticeable feature is the rhythmical improvisations (Laya, Taala) do not in any manner hamper the melody (Dhathu) and the consistency of the Sahitya.

In the Kritis and Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastri, the Sahitya phrases and the sequence of rhythmic patterns (Taala Jati) blend harmoniously.  The long Sahitya syllables are matched by long (Dheerga) Svaras; and the short ones are in tune with the short (Hrasva) Svaras.

 For instance; the sequence of the units of Akshara kala (of three different kinds- 5, 7 and 9) combines well, in each case, with the corresponding flow of the Sahitya.

In each case, the Sahitya segment is broken up into the number of units of its Taala.

 Aksharakala

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 We shall talk about the Languages of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry

as also about his other types of Compositions

Continued

In

The Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part Two

Continued from Part One

Let me digress here for a while

Before we get to the texts that are devoted to the discussion on the Theories (Lakshana) and practice (Lakshya) of Dance and its various forms, let us talk, in general on the issues related to Art, Art-form, Dance and Dance-forms.

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Art and Art-form

When we talk of a particular type of dance we call it a Dance form. And, when we talk of Dance, in general, we call it an Art form. What does this form mean? What is the relationship between Art and Dance? And, how is that formed?

Further, it appears there is a sort of genealogical relation that spans Art, Dance and Dance-form: Art ->Art form ->Dance ->Dance form.

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A form could be taken to mean as that which is formed. It suggests that something has gone through the process of formation; and, that has resulted in a distinctly cognizable ‘form’.

Mahidasa Aitareya (one among the earliest philosophers, revered as  a sage who showed the way to other thinkers that succeeded him), in his Aitareya Aranyakawhile elucidating his views on evolution of matter, explains that the evolution has a unity of its own; and , that unity implies identity and continuity, with change, of a common substratum. He says: matter (Pradanam) is that out of which a thing becomes; and, that matter is the ground of all plurality of forms, just as speech is the ground for all plurality of names.

And, a form is that which emerges out of a common substratum. A form (Murti) is that which is manifested. And, it is related to its principal or origin; just as a shoot (Tula) is to its root (Mula) – (AA.2.1.8.1 please check page 107).

Mahidasa did not look upon changes that take place from one stage of matter to another as unrelated or isolated events. It is a progression or a purposeful order, he said, where something that is nebulous and unstructured evolves into its next stage, which is more cognizable and better structured; developing its own individual features. According to Mahidasa, the more evolved an entity is, the more manifest or recognizable or better defined it becomes.

The same principle applies to Art and Art-forms.

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Origin

There are various references to Art in the ancient texts, at different levels.

Abhinavagupta (10th-11th century), says; the Art, indeed, has no beginning (Anadi). The origin of Art cannot, truly, be traced. Even when Shiva taught his disciples, he recollected and renewed the ancient art (Vijnana); and, passed it on. According to Abhinavagupta, what matters, therefore, is not the debate about the origin of Art at a certain point of time. But, our concern should be about its uninterrupted flow; and, its genius to create beauty of lasting value.

He explains the term Datta, as one who is inspired by his own creative brilliance; who independently creates verities of expressions of uncommon nature; and, gives (Datta) to this world a fresh perspective of beauty. The Datta, verily, is the creator, the artist, who is blessed with such clear perception, Vijnana.

Vijnana (a special type of knowledge) was the term that was used, in much a earlier period, to refer to what we call Art. Banabhatta in his Harshacharita regards painting and sculpture as branches of Vijnana. And, he calls those artists as Vijnani-s (viśva-karma-mandiram iti vijñānibhi).

And, such special knowledge (vijñānam) was admired as a gift of god. It said; Shiva taught the art of Dance to his disciple Tandu. And, Narayana , who was engaged in penance, created the art of painting (Chitram), for the welfare of the world; and, taught it to Visvakarma, to spread its knowledge in the world (Narayanena munina lokanam hita-kamyaya; kritva chitram lakshana samyuktamVishnudharmottara. 3.35.2-5)

The Mahabharata attributes all forms of arts to Vishnu (vijñānam etat sarva janārdanāt)

Yogo jñāna tathā sākhya vidyā śilpāni karma ca vedā  śāstrāi vijñānam  etat sarva janārdanāt – MBh. 13.135.139

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What is Art, kalaa –कला ..?

Since, Dance and Dance-forms are regarded as forms of Art, let’s start with the question: what does this concept of Art signify?

The most common term that is used to signify Art, is kalaa –कला. And, in the Indian traditions, it is said; Kala (Art) is that which delights (kam anandam lathi iti kalah). It stands for various modes of aesthetic expressions that enchant, gladden the hearts (hrudaya-ranjaka); and, that which requires some knowledge as also skill or felicity in expressing its creative impulse – kaushala.  Bharata, in his Natyashastra, according to some scholars, uses the term Kala to suggest fine (Charu) arts, as also the dexterity, skill in art-creation.  (Na sā vidyā na sā kalā NS. 1.116)

The Paramara king, Raja Bhoja of Dhara (1000–1055 AD), in his Samarangana –sutradhara, remarks that the best artists combine the knowledge of the theory of Art with proficiency in its practice (Bhudyante kepi shastranam kechid karmani kurvate: Samarangana-sutradhara -74)

Thus, Kala (Art) stands not only for what is ultimately expressed; but also for the process of expressing it.  The Art can, therefore, be understood in two ways. One: art is that which is expressed as an art-form (objective); and, two, the manner in which that is expressed – the process, the skill (subjective).

There was a belief that an object of art, say a painting, is basically subjective; and, it, usually, takes after the nature and merits of the artist; just as a literary work mirrors the intellect of the poet. (Yadrisas chitrakaras tadrisi chitra-karma-rupa-rekha; yadrisah kavis tadrisis kavya-bandha-chhaya iti– Viddhasalabhajika-1).

That is to say; the effort and the process of creating a poem or a painting, brings one face-to-face with one’s own personality with all its limitations as also its potentials.

**

As per Grammar, it is said, the basic meaning of Kalā (कला) is ‘a part’, especially ‘sixteenth part of the moon’- Chandra-kala (e.g. Bhadārayakopaniad 1.5.14). The moon waxes and wanes in periods of fifteen days; each day it gains or losses one kalā. The sixteenth kalā is the amtakalā, abiding digit, which never fades away, even at the dark of the moon (Bh.Up.1.5.17). Thus, kalā is the symbolic expression of number sixteen.

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But, there is also another interpretation, which is more significant.

It said; the etymological meaning of the term Kala (कला) is derived from its root Kal, meaning to count or compute. In the broader sense, it also suggests the meaning of:  to do; to make; or, to calculate. The term Kala, thus, covers larger set of factors, apart from sheer abstract notions.

Artists are makers or creators. Any artistic activity involves creative perception to visualize; and, the intellect to estimate and to compute, in order to articulate and give a form to ones vision and to ones inner experience.

This etymological meaning of the word Kala, led to further exposition and development of mathematical and quantitative standards for artistic practices in India, especially in creative and performing arts. Most of the Indian Schools of thought, right from the Samkhya, adopted the analytical method of Anveshiki to enumerate categories of existence and experiences. The texts on technical subjects like Nyaya, Ayurveda etc., also followed the Anveshiki method of listing, in order to bring clarity into the analytical investigation of issues.

The texts on performing arts also followed the similar method of enumeration.

*

There is an interesting argument which binds mathematics and art together. Both try to transport an abstract concept into the real world of structures and forms. And, both search for beauty and aesthetics, in the structural harmony of their creations.

Following that premise, the Art theoreticians of ancient India attempted to quantify artistic activities; and, also the process of manifesting or articulating creative experiences. They developed a complex system of measures and proportions, which defies rigid definitions. It is called Talamana paddathi, iconometry, included under Prathima-lakshanam, the discussion on the features and nature of images to be created.

In the field of painting and sculpture, elaborate and precise tables of aesthetic measurements and proportions (Taala and Maana) were drawn up for ensuring a harmonious creation, endowed with well proportioned physical features (lakshana) – for each class and each type of images. It was meant to achieve a meaningful correlation between the nature, the content and the form of the subject.

This systematic process of specifying measures and proportions became an essential tool in visual arts; such as, painting and image-making. And, such conceptual standards of aesthetics were followed by all the regional and religious Schools of Arts in India.

Such mathematical standards and regulations served as the medium, in the process to translate abstract concepts into postures, structures that are, at once, beautiful, illustrative and meaningful. They helped to bridge the artistic quantification and aesthetic presentation.

For instance; the Vishnudharmottara, while detailing how a painter should go about his task, mentions: “the painter should think of the proportionate size of the thing to be painted; and think of it as having been put on a wall. Then calculating its size in his mind, he should draw the outline marking the limbs. It should be bright in prominent places and dark in depressed places. It may be drawn in a single colour, where comparative distinction is required. If depressed places are required to be bright, jet black should be used. “

The Taala-Maana system was also extended to the field of Music, dance and theatre, where the units of measurement were interpreted in terms of the units of time (Taala, rhythmic cycles; and Laya, tempo). 

And, in Dance, the number of hand spans between feet in a particular posture (Karana); or the length of the step that should be taken, in harmony with the units of rhythmic cycles (Taala), is also regulated by a similar system of measures and proportions. In a way; the Taala could said to be the calculus of aesthetics, which allows the artist to explore the forms of beauty and their variations. This Grammar is followed by the artists, intrusively.

Prof. Vinod Viawans, in his very learned article Expressing with grey cells: Indian perspectives on new media arts, observes:

There is an important dimension of Art that has not been due consideration so far: ‘art as computation’. There appears to be tendency among the artists to treat Art as anti-analytical. They can learn from the Indian traditions, which have made some valuable advances in this direction. They have demonstrated that calculation and quantification can be an integral part of artistic practices. It is all the more relevant in the modern days. The artists, in the new age, need to be taught how abstract constructs and spaces could be created in virtual reality environment, with the use of mathematical values.

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Art expressions

At another level, art expressions are regarded as fundamental to human nature

According to Gargyayana, a sage–king who appears in the Kausitiki Upanishad (and, said to be one of the teachers of Uddalaka Aruni), Art (Chitram) is how the human mind, essentially, conceives and experiences the nature and the surrounding life (maanasi pratirupa chaksusi); how it expresses that experience in its own way; and, how it imposes its own forms and interpretations on nature.

Centuries later, the Buddha amplifying Gargyayana‘s view of art,  regarded Art as a product of human experience and imagination; a representation of ideas that take birth in human mind, in relation to diverse forms of life and human experiences – (caranam cittam citten eva cintitam – Samyukta Nikaya, 5.8 , quoted in the Atthasalini-204.)

Though there is no universally accepted definition of art,  it could, broadly, be understood as  an act of creating, expressing or making.   Art could said to be a means to present or represent ideas, thoughts, feelings and experiences by skillful, meaningful, and imaginative devises, through a chosen medium, employing its appropriate instruments.  It is both the means (Upaya) and the end (Upeya).

Artistic encounter arises from the ways and manners how the humans react to the world around them.  And, it is also a mode of sharing ones experience, feelings and thoughts with the society at large, through ones creative expressions.

The performing artist, endowed with creative imagination and the requisite skills, ingeniously creates an imaginary world, by use of artistic devises such as:  language adorned with poetic phrases or enchanting sounds (Vachica); beautiful hand gestures and body postures (Angica), and costumes (Aharya) etc.

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Idealistic view of life

The Indian theories of aesthetics (Alamkara) adopted the concepts and idioms of philosophical schools, like Samkhya and Vedanta. According to Prof. M. Hiriyanna (Art experience; 1954), the Samkhya takes a realistic view; while the Vedanta prefers an idealistic vision of the world which lies beyond the phenomenal one of appearance. Following the Samkhya way, one could say that the Art is the mode of representing the reality. And, the Vedanta way is one of deflection from the reality.

However, the Indian theories of aesthetics went along independently, synthesizing all shades of views and opinions. But, it agreed upon the universal character of Art; and, its purpose as that of providing a unique aesthetic experience (Rasa). And, it, generally, moved away from mere realistic presentation; and, positively leaned towards idealism in its representations.

According to such idealistic view of life, the ultimate objective of any artistic creation is to evoke Rasa; and, to transport the viewer or the listener to an imaginative ideal world (Aloukika).

The artist, in his endeavor, can use various devises of art, such as: words, sounds, rhythm, balance, aesthetic proportions, etc., to help to derive such out-of-the world, virtual experience. For instance; in the theater, as Abhinavagupta puts it, the audience witnessing a theatrical/dance performance reside in the physical space; and, they are aware of it. But, at the same time, they can leap into the simulated world. In a way of speaking, an engrossed spectator enjoys the best of the both the worlds. Abhinavagupta suggests that Art is not absence of life; but, it is an extension of life – every element of life appears in one or the other forms of Art. And, the aesthetic experience derived from Art is free from mundane passions and its limitations; it is indeed Wondrous, Chamatkara.

The art-creation in India has, therefore, been a process of life. The creation of the beauty of form, for the painter or the sculptor, was said to be a joyous rediscovery of the glory and beauty of the whole of creation. The Vishnudharmottara (a text of about the sixth century) states: The purpose of Art is to show one, the grace that underlies all of creation, to help one on the path towards reintegration with that which pervades the Universe

Further, the Vishnudharmottara asserts that the images which are made with the understanding of the harmony of life are immensely beneficial for the viewer. Thus, it states: Art is the greatest treasure of mankind, far more valuable than gold or jewels.

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Art creation

It is said; the artist employs matter and techniques to embody an idea, a vision. Such created art-object is not only a source of beauty; but, is also an invitation to explore and enjoy the meaning (Artha) of that beauty. Artha, in the context of Art, is, thus, not merely the objective property of art-work; but, it is also a deep subjective aesthetic experience.

In other words; Art-creation is about the experience of a person; and, his own interpretation of it. And, that calls for her/ his unique creative genius, imagination, enterprise and individuality as an artist. It is not about how the world appears to one and all, but how the artist experiences and visualizes it.

The Chitrasutra says; the concern of the artist should not be to just faithfully reproduce the forms around him. It suggests that the artist should try to look beyond the tangible world, the beauty of form that meets the eye. He should lift that veil and look within. The artist’s vision should reach beyond “the phenomenal world of separated beings and objects that blind the reality beyond”.

What is expressed need not be a replica of the day-to-day objects and experiences. It should be aesthetically beautiful, in its own way; and, it should be able to communicate with the receptive connoisseur. Abhinavagupta remarked that a creation in art 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.

This is particularly true in the case of Dance (Natya-dharmi- stylized movements and expressions) and painting (Bhava – techniques to draw out the inner world of the subject).

Even in the case of Drama, it is said, ‘Theater is a practice of artistic expression and communication’. Abhinavagupta makes a distinction between the world of drama (Nātyadharmī) and the real but ordinary life (Lokadharmī). The daily experiences are different from the aesthetic experiences. The relation between the actor and the audience during a performance is out of the ordinary.

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Art – forms

The Chitrasutra says, “Anything be it beautiful or ugly, dignified or despicable, dreadful or of a pleasing appearance, deep or deformed, object or non-object, whatever it be, could be transformed in to Rasa, by an artist’s imagination and skill”.

Such transformation of a concept or an idea into cognizable well structured forms could be called Art or Art-expression. The varied shapes it assumes, depending upon the medium that it employs, gives rise to different Art-forms. Following the principle stated by sage Mahidasa; the more evolved such a form is, the more manifest or recognizable or better defined it becomes. That is how, each Art-form branches out into well cultivated individualized sub-forms; each with its own characteristic modes of presentation, ethos and appeal.

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The Art and its concepts are, rather, amorphous (Amurta); not having a specified concrete form (Murti). It, therefore, needs a medium through which it can emerge.  It might assume different forms depending upon its medium of expression. For instance; sounds are the medium of songs and music; so are the lines and colours for painting. And, for the art of dancing, the body-movements, the gestures and facial expressions are the essential instruments. Such mediums of expressions also define the ways or ‘forms’ in which the artist’s emotions, imagination and excellence could be displayed. Had there been no variety in these mediums of expression, there would not have been varieties of Art-forms.

As said earlier, an artist in the Indian tradition is considered as the creator. He is regarded as an earthly representation of Vishvakarman; the deity of the creative power; the supreme artist who brought all things into existence.

vishvakarma

An artist, on earth, creates Art by transforming a given object of the world into a thing of beauty. The voice is given; and, melody is created. The language is given; and, poetry is created. The lines and colors are given; and, forms are created. And, so on. Thus, transformations are taking place, all the time, in the creation of newer modes of Art forms.

Thus, an artist is one who strives to express through her/his chosen form of art. The medium of expression that the artist chooses would also decide and regulate the skill or the faculty of expression that she/he would need to possess, develop and hone it to, almost, near-perfection. That would, consequently, enable the artist to possess the corresponding bodily efficiency, the knowledge and the proficiency to express his/her feelings and thoughts.

Sound

If the medium of expression is sound, the artist may use voice and express her/his art in the form of music. Such an artist is then called as a singer. Apart from learning the theoretical knowledge (Lakshana), imbibing the practical skill (Lakshya), the singer would also have to work on improving the voice-culture and the ways of presentation.

And, for the same medium of sound, another artist might, instead, use her/his palms and fingers. or breath or whatever, to play on a musical instrument. The artist is then known as an instrumentalist. The instrumentalist, according to the demands of the chosen instrument, needs to develop a certain level of competence and skill in playing it.

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Poetry

For any artist, either as a musician or a painter or poet, there is an inexhaustible richness and diversity in the world we live in. And, there is also abundant freedom to experience and to express in countless innovative ways. And, that freedom is not something  that is given  to him by someone else; it is his own inborn genius.

Every notion can be expressed in infinite number of forms. One has access to the largest possible number of variations. The virtue of freedom , here, lies  in  choosing and employing the most appropriate of them all. That again , calls for the mastery over ones medium of expression – be it language , sounds or lines and colors. 

As regards poetry; it is also considered as a distinct art expression – Kavya kala. Poetry is a unique form of knowledge (Vidya), an art or a skill. It combines in itself, the virtues of countless variations in the wonders of speech (ukti vaichitrya), delighting the heart of a responsive listener (sahrudaya- hrdaya ranjana), It also reveals the ceaseless mysteries of varieties of experiences (anubhuti) and thought processes (vichara vividyata).

Abhinavagupta muses: what is this ukti-vaichitryam (kimidam-uktivaicitryam?); and; responds by saying: it is the ever renewing (nava-navonvesha) wonder in speech that arises not only from the novelty of descriptions, but also, indeed, from the novelty of the object of utterance as well – uktirhi vācya-viśea-pratipādi vacanam / tad vaicitrye katha na vācya vaicitryam

Hemachandra Suri (late 11th century), a Jain scholar and author of Kavya-anushasana, a work on poetics, says: a poet endowed with the power of creative imagination (Pratibha), rearranges his world according to his wish. He has a vision. And, that vision is the power of unraveling, intuitively, both the reality and the idealism underlying the manifold material world and its aspects.

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Poetry and painting

The painter and the poet have much in common.  Conventionally the painter  deals with forms, moods and their representations in lines and colors . And, the poet is more immersed in the world of concepts, ideas, doubts and queries often tending to be philosophical. Both symbolize their emotions, sensations and ideas through concrete images and words;, each in his own manner.

Bhartrhari compares the communication through language (by use of sentences) to creation of a painting. Bhartrhari describes the painter as going through three stages when he paints a picture : “ when an artist wishes to paint a figure of a man, he first visualizes the object and its spirit as a composite unit  ; then , as of a figure having parts; and, thereafter, gradually, in a sequence , he paints it on the surface of a cloth or whatever”.

That is to say; a painter conceives a picture in his mind; and, thereafter gives its parts a substance on the canvass by using variety of strokes, different colors, varying shades etc. Which means; an artist paints the picture in parts though he visualizes it as a single image. The viewer of the painting, rightly, also takes in, absorbs the picture and its spirit as a whole, as an integral unit; and , he  does not look for individual strokes, shades etc or the permutation of such details that went into making the picture.  

The same could be said of a poem and its individual words.The poetry and painting have much in common.It is said; poetry is picture in words; and, painting is poetry with form.

But , at the same time , the two Art-forms have their individual characteristics. Painting is a static object in space in front of us, allowing our eyes to roam over it at our will, in any manner. The poem, on the other hand, is an ordered sequence. It unfolds progressively in time and space.  And, at the same time, the poem is also an illustration. The painting and poem are, thus, complementary; but, not in identical terms.

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Painting and sculpture

According to the Vishnudharmottara, the Shilpa (sculpture) and Chitra (painting) are closely related to Nritya (dance) They all  are based on a system of medians (sutras), measures (maanas), postures of symmetry (bhangas)   and asymmetry (abhanga, dvibhanga and tribhanga); and on the sthanas (positions of standing, sitting, and reclining). The concept of perfect symmetry is present in Shilpa and Chitra as in Nritya; and that is indicated by the term Sama, equipoise.

But, making a sculpture is infinitely harder than making a painting. That is because; painting as a two-dimensional form, can communicate;  and, can articulate space, distance, time and the more complex ideas in way that is easier than in sculpture.

The inconvenient realities of the three dimensional existence restrict the fluidity and eloquence of the sculpture. It is almost not possible to depict, directly,   in a sculptural panel the time of the day or night – darkness, evening, twilight or bright light etc.. That difficulty also applies to depiction of colors (color, in fact, is not a medium directly compatible with sculpting). And, it is also not easy to bring out the differences between a dead body and a sleeping person, particularly if the two are placed side by side.  The sculptor – artist (shilpi) will have to resort to some other clever suggestions to bring out the differences. That depends on the ingenuity of the artist. 

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Dance

When we come to Dance and its forms, the medium of expression is the dancer’s body. The precise movements of hands, face, eyes, feet and body positions; the gestures; and, aesthetic expressions that are put forth, are indeed, the modes its art-expression. There is a complete physical, mental harmony and emotional involvement with the dancer’s performance.

Thus, for a dancer, her/his body is the instrument. The knowledge and skill that the dancer gained through the long years of hard work, pursued with discipline and devotion, are manifested through the rhythmic body-movements, meaningful and expressive gestures.

As said earlier, Art (Kala) stands not only for what is ultimately expressed; but also for the way it is expressed.  The same is the case with dance also. What is presented through body-movements, gestures and expressions is called Dance. Similarly, the ‘processes’ and the ‘manners’ in which it is expressed are also called as Dance. The former meaning refers to a dance-item or a dance-production. However, it is the latter meaning that has gradually given birth to various dance-forms.

In other words; just as other Art forms, the Dance also has two aspects: what is expressed; and, the second, the way or the process it is expressed. The ‘outer’ form of art is the means to approach the beauty and purpose of its inner meaning. Accordingly, the various artistic processes by which dance-items are created by the artists; as also, the varied manners in which those dance-items are presented, has  , over a period, led to the birth of several dance-forms.

At a given level, a particular dance-form could be described as an entity, which has its own unique characteristics that are intrinsic to it. This is what distinguishes one Dance form from the other; and, lends its special appeal.

Such varieties of Dance-forms might have come about due to factors and influences, such as: historical, social and cultural etc. However, what, truly, makes a Dance-form exclusive, lending it a distinct character and charm; and, that which sets it apart from other forms,  is the dedication of the generations of artists – teachers and learners alike – who have striven to nurture its vitality, safeguard its purity and to enhance its creative  ingenuity .

And, once a well developed Dance-form establishes its identity, it acquires an eminent status within the art- community; and, also enjoys a long-lasting relationship with the society, at large.

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Convergence of Art-forms

In the Vishnudharmottara , the sage Markandeya explains to King Vajra, the interdependence of various art-forms ; and, takes him , step by step, from learning to make sculptures, the art of image-making ; to painting; to Dance; to instrumental music; to vocal music; composing, songs, poetry and prose; to literature , languages, grammar , logic, figures of speech; to aesthetic experience ; to theatrical arts etc.

That emphasized the convergence of all types of art-forms.  And, asserts that, Dance, music, painting, sculpture, linguistics, and grammar etc., are not isolated and mutually exclusive.

In any case, be it music, painting, poetry or dance, the person; her/his knowledge; and physical-artistic skills, in a way, all turn into the ‘instruments’ of expression of Art and an Art-form. But, while the Art or Art-form might be objective; the forms of its expressions are highly subjective.

That is to say; there are countless varieties and modes of expression, as each artist brings in to play her/his own ingenuity and creative genius. Hence, the expression of the same Art-form – both, in its process and in the manner of expressing it, as well as in its outcome – differs from artist to artist. That is how, for example, a song rendered by one singer might appeal differently than the same song sung by another singer. Similarly, the same theme, when it is choreographed and performed by different theater-artists, has differing degrees of success and appeal. In this way, this dynamic relation that binds the Art, the Art-form and the Artist together,  holds true in the case of  all Art-forms across the world and all artists across all times.

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Art experience

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 towards more subtle forms of expressions and experiences; we move from individualized experiences to general representations; and from multiplicity to unity.

Its object is to elicit an emotional response, the viewer’s experience. And, it finds its fulfillment in the heart of the viewer, who derives Ananda the joy of aesthetic experience, the Rasa.

A work of art  is not a mere inert object; but, it is so rich in meaning that  it is capable of evoking manifold emotions and transforming the aesthete. A true aesthetic object, Abhinavagupta declares, not merely stimulates the senses but also ignites the imagination of the viewer. It can communicate through suggestions; and, evoke layers of meanings and emotion. Such artistic pleasure must not, however, bind the viewer; but, must liberate him from his limited confines of place, time and ego (self). Thus, he says, art experience is not mundane; it is alaukika, beyond the ordinary.

Thus, an Art-experience is a dynamic process that bridges the art-object and the connoisseur.

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Art is One

The Natya of Natyashastra encompasses drama, dance and music. At the time the Natyashastra was compiled, the arts of poetry, dance, music and drama; and even painting, and sculpture were not viewed as separate and individualized streams of art forms.

For instance; the ‘Music’ that the Natyashastra talks about is, indeed, the Samgita. The term Samgita, here, is a composite art-form, comprising vocal (Gitam) and instrumental (Vadyam) music; as also Nrtyam the dance movements or dance (Gitam, Vadyam, tatha Nrtyam trayam Samgitam uccyate).  The last one, Nrtyam, the dance, is composed of all those three elements.

It was only later that each of these developed into specialized Art-forms. And, even the components of the Drama of the Natyashastra-times later evolved and grew apart, assuming independent identities, such as: Opera, Poetic-drama, realistic plays and so on.

Thus, the Natyashastra presents an integral vision of art, which blossomed in multiplicity. All art expressions were viewed as vehicles of beauty providing both pleasure and education, through refinement of senses and sense perceptions.

The Vishnudharmottara also observes: One who does not know the laws of painting (Chitra) can never understand the laws of image-making (Shilpa); and, it is difficult to understand the laws of painting (Chitra) without any knowledge of the technique of dancing (Nrtya); and, that, in turn, is difficult to understand Nrtya without a thorough knowledge of the laws of instrumental music (vadya); But, the laws of instrumental music cannot be learnt without a deep knowledge of the art of vocal music (gana).

That is to say; the arts of Music->Dance->painting->sculpture are inter related.

Thus, in these texts, Art, essentially, is One. It is the common substratum. As it evolved, grew rich in content; and, with the passage of time, the Art branched into numerous Art-forms. And, each of those Art-forms, in turn, developed into specialized streams of art-creations.

That underlines the fact that Art has a fundamental unity of its own; and, that unity implies continuity, with change, while retaining its essential identity. The developments that take place during the course of its evolution; and, the varied forms it acquires, in the process, are neither unrelated nor isolated events. They all spring from a common substratum.

The principle that is involved here is based in the dictum that diversity essentially pre-supposes an underlying unity (abedha-purvaka hi bhedah).  In other words, it says, where there is difference or division, there must be a fundamental identity underneath it; else, each cannot relate to the other; and, each object in the world would be independent of, or remain unconnected to every other thing in existence.

This concept provides the foundation for treating all forms of Art as emanating from a single source. The various forms and levels of art, from the most subtle to the tangible, are, therefore, treated as different facets of a unitary art-system.

The entire process of the evolution of Art  resembles the imagery of the ancient mythical inverted tree – which the earlier Indian texts refer to so often – hanging down, with its roots in the air and with its branches spread downward (urdhva mulam, adah shakham). Its roots are ancient; but, its growing shoots, leaves, buds, flowers and fruits are ever green, tender and fresh. The roots of our art are in the very distant past.  Though those roots are no longer visible to us, the branches and extensions of those roots in vivid forms that have come down to us, are very alive; and, its fruits are within our experience.

inverted tree

In other words; what we call as Art is essentially One. But, depending upon the mediums and instruments chosen for expression, this essential Art gets molded into various forms. These Art –forms, born from that single essence, are patterned into numerous distinct expressions, according to the artists who work with varying mediums and Art-forms.

Therefore, growth, change and adaptation are essential aspects of a living organism, called Art. It is distinguished by continuity with change; as also by its diversity and creativity. That is the genius of the Indian traditions.

Art forms

Lalita Kala and Upayogi kala

The earlier Indian texts, such as Kama Sutra, make a mention of sixty-four types of Kalas (Chatus-shasti Kala). These include:

: – arts such as singing (Gayakatvam), dancing (Nrtyam), painting (Chitra-kriya), drama (Natya), poetry (Kavya-kala) etc;

: – branches of knowledge such as:  Grammar (Vyakarana); meter (Chhandas); logic (Nyaya); metals (Dhatuvada) or skillful management of state affairs (Rajyabhara);

: – practical arts (bahya-kala) such as: personal makeup (Vishesha-Kacchedya), costumes (Aharya); applying cosmetics, perfumes (Gandhavaadam); cooking (Suuda-karma) etc;

: – secret arts (abhyantara-kala) like erotic devices and knowledge of sexual arts (Kama kala) ;

: – crafts such as : as pottery (Mrutt-kriya), carpentry (Daaru-kriya), weaving (Ambara-Kriya), jewelry-making (mani-karma), garland-making or flower-arrangement (Pushpastaran), and so on; and,

: – dexterous skills such as swordsmanship (Khadga-vidya), horse riding (Asva-Kausalam) , riding chariots (Ratha-vidya) or even thievery (chora karma)  etc.

All these and such other arts, crafts and skills are regarded as art expressions. But, these are classified under two broad heads: Lalita-kala or Charu-kala (fine arts); and, Upayogi kala (crafts and skills of utility).

Many of the art-forms are categorized as Upayogi, because they serve a purpose; fulfill a certain need; and, are of practical utility. Take for instance; the crafts such as carpentry, fashion-designing, flower-arrangement and such others, which serve the consumers’ needs and the demands of the society. And, the diversity of such works also generates consumption patterns. And, in many cases, these utilities are practical necessities in the day-to-day living of the common people. And, the producers of these articles depend on their art/craft, as a means of their livelihood. The Upayogi kala is thus a part of the dynamics of life and living.

Another dimension of the issue is the status-image of the consumers that these objects tend to project; and, define her/his relationship with the society. For instance, the wearer of a piece of jewelry or a designer-costume makes a certain statement about herself; her taste, her economic capability; her social status; and, how she desires to be looked upon by those around her. It is, in a way, a natural extension of her identity; or defining who she is.  And, that also helps the wearer to construct a certain relationship with the society.

Similarly, the tasteful furniture, elegant crockery and classy accessories etc., do project an impressive image of the user’s sense of aesthetics, social class and economic power.

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The Lalita-kala, on the other hand, has a more subtle relationship with the society. The term Lalita suggests something that is playful, delicate and graceful. Thus, Lalita-Kala is one that delights; and, ushers in a sense of beauty (Charu) and grace into life.

Lalita Kala is said to be distinct from the Upayogi kala, inasmuch as it is non-utilitarian, in a limited sense; and, it does not provide material objects or articles of daily necessities. It is, mostly, a matter of individual taste, choice, and attitude to life. It, therefore, enjoys a greater degree of the freedom of expression.

 Ideally, an artist should be under no obligation to please anyone, but himself. In a Utopian world, the artists who pursue these fine-art-forms need not be bound by the requirements, norms and demands of the society. In an ideal world, the acceptance or otherwise of her/his creation, could, plausibly, be left, with some disdain, to the whim of the onlookers. And, whatever be that, it should, normally, not greatly affect the artist.  But, that very rarely happens.

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Unlike Upayogi kala, the Lalita kala might not produce tangible, common place objects of day-to-day use.  But, the fine-arts do bring in its own unique adorable values that render life more meaningful and enjoyable.  For instance; the soulful music brings along a certain tranquil joy, beauty and loveliness into ones heart and mind. And, Dance, which reflects the charm, delight, rhythm and harmony in all this existence, does enliven one to the splendor that surrounds us.

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Apart from bringing joy, beauty and harmony to an individual’s life, the fine arts and performing arts also help in binding the society together in a common aesthetic experience.

Further, an Art-form forges relationships between the artists who create and develop it, and the common people of the society who, ultimately, receive it. This applies both to the Lalita-kala (fine arts) and to the Upayogi-kala (utilitarian) arts. Depending upon a particular art-form and the function it performs, its relation with the society also varies; and, such relation is categorized according to each ones’ perception of it.

Having said that; let me also mention that the line separating these two categories – Lalita and Upayogi – is rather very thin. And, these two, often, overlap. The differentiating Art from craft is rather recent; and, it is rather futile.

For instance; an artist who paints should necessarily have some knowledge of the use of brushes, colors, as also the skill to apply them. And, on the other side; a jewel-smith, who develops and uses tools that mold and give a variety of shapes to metals, should be gifted with refined artistic sensibility, to produce delicate, attractive and brilliant pieces of jewelry. He should be able to imagine various aesthetic designs; and, visualize the beauty solidified in the form of jewellery, say a necklace or a bangle etc.

Thus,  be it an art-form  or an artifact ; it , essentially, is an artistic invention , inspired  out of human ingenuity  and creative genius; and, is intimately related  to human nature , behavior and aspirations.

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Effects of Time and Technology

With the passage of time; and, with numerous artists exploring various dimensions of wide-ranging art-forms, these forms have grown and expanded into newer and more sophisticated art-creations.

In the present day, the individual artists have the liberty and privilege to choose their theoretical positions. They can twist, bend and wield their newly acquired medium of expression in any manner they love to do. They can carry forward their tradition; or innovate and leap on to modern or post-modern technology as a tool for their art expressions. They might even attempt to fuse the two together. Sometimes, their creations might have unpredictable impact on the viewers or listeners. 

 In the process, the content or the repertoire of each Art-form has grown in terms of quantity, quality, as well as in their elegance.  Consequently, they have become part of the ongoing tradition (parampara); and, gained acceptability both among the connoisseurs and the art-lovers, at large.  And, each well nurtured Art-form has become an intimate part of a society’s culture.

Further, each generation of Visual artists, musicians, writers and performers, in their creative pursuits, deem it their responsibility to preserve the integrity of the Art they inherited; and, hand it over to the next generation, in its purity.  Thus, the formation, growth and development of an Art-form is not an event or an incident; but, is a gradual process spread across generations of artists ; and , of enlightened teachers and ardent  students.

*

In the very ancient days, for the gentlemen of leisure, fine arts like music, dance painting and sculpture were the source of one’s own pleasure and amusement (vaiharika-silpa or vinodasthana). It is said; Nagarakas (city-dwellers), connoisseurs of art, accomplished courtesans, painters, and sculptors among others studied standard texts on painting. Such widespread studies naturally brought forth principles of art criticisms as in alankara-sastra

But, there were also several professionals who practiced these arts and art-forms as a craft, the main stay of their life. Kautilya deemed it a responsibility of the State to support all such art-masters, who spread knowledge among youngsters.

Another very telling effect of the passage of time; and, the effects it has brought upon some of the Art-forms is that those who purse arts as a leisure-activity are far less in number than those who have turned their art-pursuit  into professions. For instance; singing, dancing, painting, song-writing, acting or even sculpting etc., are now careers. And, those practicing such art-forms are known as professional- artists. With the change of times; and, with the growing social demands and economic pressures, a distinct class of such professional-artists has crystallized into recognizable groups, each with its own ethos and attitudes.

Whatever might be the past, one should recognize that these dedicated artists, in their own right, are well trained, qualified specialists in their discipline. And, they do constitute an important and a legitimate dimension of the cultural life of the society. There is absolutely no justification in taking a dim view on their professional tag; they indeed are Artists, in essence.

Their unique talents are utilized by various other trades and services (say, films, promotions, decorations of various sorts etc.) They render their expert service to the society; and, their professional achievements are recognized and appreciated by conferring awards and accolades.  The thin line separating Lalita-kala and Upayogi kala has almost completely faded out. And, that has to be accepted as one of the characteristics of the times we live in (yuga-dharma).

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Art and Technology

The relation between Art and technology has always been complex. And, at the same time, there is an affinity between the two.

Technology, broadly, is a human endeavor to shape, re-shape its physical environment to solve certain problems; or even to go beyond. And, Art is an act of beautifully making and shaping. At every stage in human life, available materials, tools and knowledge were put to use, to search for innovative applications. The degree of sophistication, in each age, went with the advancement in science and technology, at that stage.

The advent of technology and its innovations, it is needless to mention, has exerted a tremendous impact on all forms of art-expressions; and, have brought about transformation in the realm of fine-arts. Technology has also given rise to altogether new art-forms. In some cases, the association of technology with certain fine-art-forms has become highly essential; and is, in fact, inseparable.

One such art-form is photography, whose medium of expression is similar to that of the art of drawing and painting. Their concepts of form, shades and depth are alike. Here, the camera became the indispensable, principle medium of expression (in place of the brush), guided by the photographer’s intelligent understanding of the picture-composition; and, his creative skill in manipulating light, shades and focus.

In its initial stages, photography replaced portrait painting, which only the wealthy could afford. With the spread of the habit of taking photos, even the common people started going to the studios to get themselves photographed; or, hire photographers to take pictures of the auspicious and cultural events in their homes. In due course, photography came to be regarded as a credible Art-form, a pastime as also a craft. Thus, photography is at once a fine art as also a utility-based professional career.

The impact of technology on the visual media is awesome. With the advent of improved technologies, photography has taken astounding strides since its birth during the nineteenth century. In the recent times, the techno-artistic improvisations, in combination with the computer technology has elevated its art-craft and technique to an altogether different level.

Photography, in turn, has given rise to yet another art-form, which is Cinematography. It has brought along with it few more techno-artistic domains such as editing, art-direction, sound-engineering and so on. Further, the computer generated animation movies, in which images or objects are manipulated to appear as moving images, has emerged as the most astounding dynamic medium. It is the most amazing art-form, created with élan and superb artistry, which could not even be thought of in the earlier days.

 [There is also a flip side to this.  With the invasion of mobile phones, photo-video-graph is either for fun or for recording events; most of it being trivial. The persons who record these, as also the Selfies, for sharing on social networks, do not, basically, regard themselves as artists.  It is, at best, an upayogi tool.]

In a way of speaking, the movies* are the present-day equivalents of the Natya (Drama) of the Bharatha’s days; attempting to engage and entertain the audience as best as they can.  Various specialized domains of Art are converging into this media (just as it happened in era of Natyashastra).  Their theatrical performances combine, in themselves, all the elements of the Drama; and, even more. And, here too, as in the ancient days, its Sangita, indeed, is the skillful unison of drama, song, music and dance. It also signifies the Unit’s intense engagement with various forms of craft and art-forms, along with their related technologies in crafting and presenting . At the same time, the business of movie-making has the compulsion to pay serious attention to the commercial aspects of production and marketing.

 [*BTW, the term Films, itself, seems to have become redundant; since, in this digital age, the carbon films are no longer used for recording the actions or the stills.]

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Digital age

Now, with the arrival of the digital age, new vistas have opened up.

New media technology offers enormous scope, in terms of self-generating and self-modifying images, texts and sounds etc. Digital world is not bound by the limitations of the material world. You can get all the colors the human eye can see; you can change their vividness and brightness; you can mix and erase them without a trace.

Although digital art is not bound by the rules of traditional art, it often simulates the real; and, renders the whole process more intuitive.  It facilitates the artistic quest for a newer form of beauty and aesthetic experience. It transforms the abstract constructs into completely novel and beautiful reality. And, the entire process of developing the algorithms, by itself, is highly imaginative; and, that too is Art, as per the ancient sages of India.

Art has always been a presentation, representation or reflection of the contemporary ethos.  Artworks are objects of interpretation; and, they are also subjective. Today artists have many more options to give expression to their thoughts, feelings, fantasies, ambitions etc. With the arrival of new technology, Art might become more cerebral in its manifestation; yet, it cannot lose its sensitivity. At the end, it is, essentially, tied to human reaction towards it.

Thus, even in the digital age of new technologies, with all its possibilities of convergence, interactive flows etc., the Art, in essence, still retains its Universal character.

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As mentioned earlier, all such Art-forms are Lalita and Upayogi Kalas, at the same time. The fusion of art, craft and technology is so intimate and inseparable, complimenting one another, as to make it next to impossible to view each as distinct element in the composition of the final product. Perhaps, these could be called as ‘technology-based-art-forms’.

As you can see from the above, the world of Art is a highly complex entity, not only in terms of its multiplicity of forms and types; but, also in terms of its historical, cultural and technological roots. Yet; though the modes of presentation and the instruments of its execution, over the centuries, have varied greatly, the principle of Art – expression of ideas and emotions  that take birth in human mind; and , its effective communication – have remained the same.

All this again suggests that Art is essentially One; though it has countless forms. It is both the end and the means.

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In the next part let’s talk about Dance and, Dance-forms, before we come to the texts dealing with the theory and practice of Dance

Continued

In the

Next Part

Sources and References

 

1.A Brief History of Indian Painting

2. http://chitrolekha.com/art-forms-and-dance-forms/  by  Ojasi Sukhatankar

3.Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersections of Artby Melvin L. Alexenberg

4. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/art-definition.htm

5. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/60376/13/13_chapter%205.pdf

6. https://ausdance.org.au/articles/details/new-directions-in-Indian-dance

All images are from Internet 

 

 

 
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The Meaning of ‘MEANING’ – Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Sabda Brahman and the Power of Time (Kala shkathi)

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A. Sabda Brahman

The first four karikas in the First Khanda (Brahmakanda) of Vakyapadiya sum up Bhartrhari’s philosophy of language. It asserts the identification of Sabda-brahman with the Brahman, the Absolute.

1.1 anādinidhanaṃ Brahma śabdatattvaṃ yad akṣaram/ vivartate+arthabhāvena prakriyā jagato yataḥ

1.2 ekam eva yad āmnātaṃ bhinnaśaktivyapāśrayāt/ apṛthaktve+api śaktibhyaḥ pṛthaktveneva vartate

1.3 adhyāhitakalāṃ yasya kālaśaktim upāśritāḥ/ janmādayo vikārāḥ ṣaḍ bhāvabhedasya yonayaḥ

1.4 ekasya sarvabījasya yasya ceyam anekadhā/ bhoktṛbhoktavyarūpeṇa bhogarūpeṇa ca sthitiḥ

[The ultimate reality, Brahman, is the imperishable principle of language, without beginning and end, and the evolution of the entire world occurs from this language-reality in the form of its meaning .

 Though this language-reality is, ultimately, only one and indivisible, it seems as if it is differentiated through its manifold powers 

The indestructible powers of which functioning through the powers of Time become the six transformations, namely, birth and the rest — the sources of all (these) manifold objects,

 Through these powers, this single language reality becomes the seed for all multiplicity and exists in the form of the one who experiences, the experienced and the experience.

 – Translation of Dr. Madhav M. Deshpande]

The Opening stanza (Granta-aaramba or Grantha-mukha) of the Vakyapadiya declares the identity of the Sabda tattva (the Word principle) with the Absolute Reality, the Brahman which is without a beginning (Anadi), without an end (Nidana) and is imperishable (Aksharam), and, which transforms (Vivartate) itself into speech; as words, their meanings (Artha) and objects; and, from which proceeds all this existence (jagato yataha)

According to Bhartrhari, Sabda-tattva is anadi-nidana the One having no origin (upadana), no destruction (nasha). It is indestructible (akshara). That Brahman is the essence of Sabda from which the whole of existence is derived. It is through the transformation of the eternal syllable (aksharam) that the world precedes.

Bhartrhari conceives the ultimate Reality as One – without – a second (Ekam Eva). It is of the nature of the Word (Sabda eva tattvam) and from it are manifested all objects and the whole of existence. The world is only an appearance (vivarta) of the Sabda-tattva which is identical with the ultimate Reality, Brahman. Bhartrhari declares that Brahman is Absolute; and is the eternal essence of word and consciousness.  This is the central theme of Vakyapadia.

Bhartrhari asserts that the Sabda-tattva manifests itself as many, as distinct and manifold, each appearing to be independent as it were.  For Bhartrhari, Brahman as Sabda-tattva is an intrinsically dynamic reality. And, due to its infinite powers, “it manifests itself as many in the form of the one who experiences; the object of experience and the experience itself’. That is to say: the whole of existence is to be understood as the manifestation of Its Being; and, as a process of Its Becoming.

At another place Bhartrhari states that those who know (viduh)  the tradition (Agama) have declared that all this is the transformation (pariṇāma) of the word. It is from this Sabda that this universe (Visvam) first (prathamam) evolved (pravartate)

 śabdasya-pariṇāmo ‘yam ity āmnāyavido viduḥ / chandobhya eva prathamam etad viśvaṃ pravartate // VP: 1.124//

[Swami Vivekananda explains the concept of Sabda-advaita (word monism) as a theory which asserts that Brahman manifested itself as Sound and then as form. The creative power, the power of Time (kala-shathi) is the power through which the Lord manifests in the universe. Liberation is achieved when one attains unity with that ‘supreme word principle’. Within this theory, consciousness and thought are intertwined; and Grammar becomes a path to liberation. Sphota-vada is a monistic (Advaita) philosophy based in Sanskrit grammar.]

The Sabda, mentioned here is just not the pronounced or uttered word; it is indeed the Vac   the speech, language itself, existing before creation of the worlds. It is the speech that brings the   world into existence. Sabda- which  possesses three sorts of powers: avirbhava (manifestation), tirobhava (withdrawal) and sthithi (maintenance) –  according to Bhartrhari is not merely the creator and sustainer of the universe but is also the sum and substance of it.

Bhartrhari places the word-principle at the very core (Bija) of existence and as the one that gives form to the latent or un-manifest human thoughts and feelings. Sabda is the unexpressed idea at the inner being of the human; and, which gains form through speech. That un-spoken, potent, silent Sabda manifests, in stages, as pashyanti (visual thought), madhyama (intermediate)  and vaikhari (explicit) speech) – VP: 3.1.142

 *

The Sabda-tattva (Sabdasya tattvam or Sabda eva tattvam) of Bhartrhari is of the nature of the Absolute; and, there is no distinction between Sabda Brahman and Para Brahman the Supreme Principle (Para tattva).  Sabda-tattva is not a lesser Brahman or a mere Upaya (means); but, it is identical with Brahman itself.

That marks his departure from Vedanta, where the supreme consciousness, Para Brahman, is beyond language and thought; and, beyond senses such as sound, touch, smell, taste, form or attributes.

Bhartrhari and Sri Sankara (who came about four hundred years later) both inherited their references from a common source. And, the object of Bhartrhari’s Sabdabrahman was also the ultimate liberation (Apavarga).  Yet; Sri Sankara does not agree with Bhartrhari’s concept and approach. Instead, Sri Sankara prefers to go along with the Mimamsa theory of language. 

Further, the theistic traditions that came later also rejected the ultimate supremacy of Sabda Brahman, as put forward by Bhartrhari. They, instead, chose to idealize the qualified Brahman with most adorable attributes.

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Though the concept of Sabdabrahman is one of the highlights of the Vakyapadiya, the traces of Sabda-tattva can be noticed even in the ancient Vedic texts.   Equating language with Brahman was done even much earlier.

For instance: Asya-Vamiya Sukta (Rig Veda: 1.164), ascribed to Rishi Dirghatamas, states that the ultimate abode of language (Vak) is Brahman. Language is described as being at the apex of the Universe. Three quarters of the language remains hidden in the cave, while the fourth part is visible in the created world (Rig Veda: 1.164 – 10, 41, and 45).

catvāri vāk parimitā padāni tāni vidur brāhmaṇā ye manīṣiṇaḥ |  guhā trīṇi nihitā neṅgayanti turīyaṃ vāco manuṣyā vadanti ||RV_1,164.45||

As regards the Vedas, the tradition holds that Veda is One , though it is divided into many. Yet,  the reality they reveal is One Sabda Brahman.  Vedic language is at once the revealer and the sustainer of the world cycles. Here, language is believed to be divine origin (Daivi Vak) , as the spirit descending  , assuming various guises and disclosing its truth to the sensitive soul.

The Satapatha Brahmana (3.2.1.40; 10.2.4.6) also equated the sound of the Vedas with the Sabda-brahman – taddvyakṣaraṃ vai brahma .

In the fourth chapter of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the matchless Yajnavalkya speaking eloquently about the nature of word and its connection with consciousness, at one stage, equated speech with the Brahman (vāg vai brahmeti) .

Then he goes on to say: ” The speech that is referred to here is only a form of expression. It is made possible on account of the operation of the consciousness inside. If the consciousness is not there, there would be no speech. And it is not merely consciousness that is responsible; there is something intermediary between speech and consciousness. Consciousness does not directly act upon the principle of speech. There is a controlling medium which is referred to, here, as the cosmic ether. We do not exactly know what actually it is.” 

Later, in the Mandukya Upanishad (3.3), it was said that the sages (Rishis) envisioned the Vedas as one, as a whole, the eternity, Brahman, which represented by ‘AUM‘.Here, AUM is described as traversing the levels of waking, dreaming and deep sleep; and, also as reaching out to the Absolute.

ajāti brahmakārpaṇyaṃ vakṣyāmīti pratijñātam / tatsiddhyarthaṃ hetuṃ dṛṣṭāntaṃ ca vakṣyāmītyāha (MU.3.3)

Bhartrhari echoes this assertion in his Vakyapadiya (1.9) describing AUM as ‘the source of all scriptures that pure and true knowledge; and the common factor oll original cause, beyond all contradictions.

satyā visuddhis tatroktā vidyaiveka padā agamā / yuktā praṇava rūpeṇa sarvavādāvirodhinā // VP: 1.9 //

Further, the Mytrayani Upanishad (4.22) and the Brahma-bindu Upanishad (verse 17) also discussed about Sabda-Brahman. However, the connotation of Sabda-Brahman, in those texts, varied from that of Bhartrhari. Here also, the Sabda-Brahman referred to the words or sounds of the Vedas. And again, these texts made a distinction between Sabda-Brahman and Para Brahman, the ultimate Reality. Thus, the Vedas, in general, were distinguished from the Highest Brahman as the Absolute.

dve vidye veditaye tu sabdabrahma , parm ca yat I sabdabrahmani nisnatah param brahmadigacchathi – Amritabindu Upanishad -17

The distinction between the two would be dissolved once the idea that the words (Vac) which form the essence of the Vedas is none other than the Highest Principle.  Such an interpretation was provided by Bhartrhari who elevated Sabda-Brahman from lesser level to be one with the Highest Brahman.

It is only in the Vakyapadiya that a full and a scholarly discussion on the sublime concepts of Sabda-Brahman or Sabda-tattva was presented; and established as the fundamental principle of speech and of all things in existence.

 

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B. Power of Time – Kala shakthi

The question is: If Real is One, how does it manifest as many? Sri Sankara explained the One transforming as many through Maya. Bhartrhari had explained it earlier through the concept of Shakthi.

According to Sri Sankara, the One appearing as many (vivarta) is illusion (Maya) or a relative existence. But, according to Bhartrhari the transformation (Parinama) of One into many is a reality. For Bhartrhari, the ‘many’ is real; and , is not illusion. Bhartrhari explained such transformation (Parinama) through the power or the Shakthi of Sabda Brahman.  That Shakthi of the Brahman is expressed through real meaning-bearing- words. Therefore, the Sabda-vada (doctrine of Sabda) is taken as the realistic alternative to Maya-vada.

According to Bhartrhari, the entire universe could be understood as an aggregation of multiple powers (shakthi matra samuhasya VP: 3.72). The ultimate Reality is One; but, it manifests itself as many through its many powers. It does so without however losing its essential One-ness. It is not different from its powers; but, it appears to be different. Thus, Brahman, he declares, is not different from the power, Shakthi, inherent in Sabda-tattva.

The Shakthi, the power that Bhartrhari talks about is the power of Time, the Kala-shakthi, the creative power (karaka-shakthi) of the One unchanging Absolute (Sabda Brahman) manifesting itself as the dynamic diversity that is experienced as the created world (jagat).

Bhartrhari asserts Time, Kala, is not different from Sabda Brahman; but, it is it’s that aspect which allows it to manifest or to come into being, in sequence.  Through Time, things come to be and pass away. Time is the efficient cause by which Brahman controls the cycles of the Universe.

Bhartrhari devotes an entire chapter – Kālasamuddeśa (3.9) – in the Third Khanda of the Vakyapadiya, to analyze and to present his doctrine about the power of Time.

Bhartrhari discusses in detail the different doctrines of Time (kālasya darśanam). He says, some call it power (Shakthi) ; some call it soul ( Atman) ;and , some others call it a deity (Devata). Further, it is also said that Time is an independent power of Brahman (Vakyapadiya 3.9.62).

Śakthi-ātma-devatā-pakṣair bhinnaṃ kālasya darśanam / prathamaṃ tad avidyāyāṃ yad vidyāyāṃ na vidyate // VP. 3. 9.62 //

Bhartrhari treats the theory of Time at three levels:  Brahman; the power of time; and, the diversity of the phenomenal world. For Bhartrhari, the Brahman, the Absolute, without a sequence or diversity, is analogous to Sabda or language.

Bhartrhari takes up a profound discussion of Time in relation to the Absolute; not as a philosophical speculation, but in order to explain how the unitary Sabda Brahman manifests itself as diverse words and sentences that is called as language. As a Grammarian, Bhartrhari also attempts to provide a philosophical basis for experience of the tenses as past, present and future in language. And, it is the past and the future that has the veiling functions of keeping one apart from the present.

[ It should be remembered that Kālasamuddeśa is but a section or a chapter of Vakyapadiya which primarily deals with the language. All the concepts and metaphors presented here are in the context of Time and its relations with the behavior of the language. ]

Bhartrhari’s concept of Time emphasizes the driving (kalayati) power inherent in Sabda Brahman. Of the many powers (Shakthi) of Sabda Brahman, the Time (kala) is an important one. The power of Time is independent of all beings and objects. Time is different from every other element in the Universe.  But yet, it is inherent in every aspect and object of life, pushing them through successive of their existence. On it depend many kinds of changes (sad bhava vikara) causing diversity in Life.  As creative power, Time is responsible for birth, continuity and fading away of everything.

Thus, according to Bhartrhari, Time (Kaala) is not different from Sabda Brahman; but, it is that aspect of Sabda Brahman which allows manifested sequence to come into being (ekam eva yad āmnātaṃ bhinnaśaktivyapāśrayāt-VP. 1.2).

Bhartrhari says; the Time is the governing power of all activities and objects  in the universe . It is Time that pushes or drives objects into action; creating secondary relations of cause-effect, marking their instant of birth, span of existence and moment of decay or withdrawal.

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Time (Kala) is indeed One

The processes of production and destruction are regulated by the passage of time (kaala). But, Time itself, which is of the nature of Brahman is neither born nor destroyed; nor is it bound by any conditions. It is ‘purva-para-vivarjita’ free from relative existence of ‘before and after’.  And, Time, just as Brahman, is not bound by the divisions in space or directions; it is free from distinctions of fore or hind (purva-para-desha-vibhaga –rahita).

Bhartrhari points out (Vakyapadiya: 2.239) the common man makes the mistake of imposing the norms that are suitable to the limited things of the world on the Absolute, which is beyond the limitations of the relative existence. It is futile and misleading, he says.

anyathā pratipadyārthaṃ padagrahaṇapūrvakam / punar vākye tam evārtham anyathā pratipadyate // VP. 2.239 //

He concludes that the laws of identity and the laws of contradictions are not applicable to Time, the Absolute. In regard to changes that make distinctions possible, he says, it is the events that seem to change; but not , the Time itself. Thus, the Time, the true Absolute, transcends change.

Bhartrhari repeatedly declares that Time (Kala) is indeed One; and, is an independent power (svatantrya Shakthi) of Brahman. On it depend all the different kinds of changes (sad bhaba-vikarah) , which project multiplicity. But, due to imposition of each ones’ ideas and notions of division, Time appears as though it is segmented and limited (upadi). When it is associated with events it appears to have sequence. That is to say; kriyopādhi, such divisions or segmented units (past, present, seconds, minutes, hours, and days, weeks etc) are superimposed on Time (VP.3.9.37). We say the night is past; and , day has arisen. But, from the absolute point of view, the distinctions of what we name as ‘night or day’ just do not exist. Such labels do not affect the true nature of Time. Similarly, various other qualifications are also attributed to Time, when it has none. The notions of past, present and future are mere assumed notions of Time , which, verily, is One; and, is sequence-less. Time is continuous.

kriyopādhiś ca san bhūta- bhaviṣyad-vartamānatāḥ / ekādaśābhir ākārair vibhaktāḥ pratipadyate // VP.3.9.37 //

As a result of the activity of growth and decay, appearance and disappearance of objects, Time, which is one, is seemingly demarcated as past, present and future.

Helaraja, the commentator explains: ‘Time is the cause of birth, existence and decay of everything. We often say that some things are born in spring, while others in autumn etc. The same can be said of their existence and death. Time, though one, differentiates or sequences things through states of birth, existence and decay/death.’

Similarly, what is called as action is something which has a collection of parts (avayavai samūha) produced in a sequence (kramāt), mentally conceived as one – buddhyā prakalpitā-abheda (3.8.4).  The parts, which occur in a sequence , are partly existent and partly not. They are not directly perceived by the senses (say, the eyes), whose objects are always the existent (3.8.6). For instance; the action of ‘cooking’ involves a number of subordinate actions. One may, however, ask whether ‘cooking‘ consists of the entire sequence of parts of actions perceived as a whole or only the moment of transformation of raw rice into the cooked (soft) state. Bhartrhari seems to prefer to regard ‘cooking‘ as an entire sequence of parts of actions perceived as a whole.

According to Bhartrhari, time is sequence-less.

guṇabhūtair avayavaiḥ samūhaḥ kramajanmanām / buddhyā prakalpitābhedaḥ kriyeti vyapadiśyate  (3.8.4 )
kramāt sadasatāṃ teṣām ātmāno na samūhinām/ sadvastuviṣayair yānti saṃbandhaṃ cakṣurādibhiḥ (3.8.6)
*

Bhartrhari explains that when we speak of the past, present etc. we are marking our own existence.  When an action is being completed, he says, we call it present; when an action has been completed we call the Time as past; and, when an action is yet to be  completed we call the Time as future. They are devices employed to measure, in convenient units, what is really continuous.

But, truly , the Time is sequence-less. When that Time sequence appears as differentiated objects, it might seem to be different from Brahman; but, really it is not (Vakyapadiya 1.2). 

From the ultimate point of view, Time, Sabda Brahman or Brahman, is ever present; it is One.  It is not the Time that moves or changes or is affected. But, it is the objects and their conditions that might vary. Time is a ground or substratum for all objects and phenomenon.

In Time, the actions which are complete are given the name of ‘past’.  However, what we call as ‘past’ has no real existence. But then, how could something which no longer is here can be given a name? The answer is: objects produced by actions in time gone-by are preserved as present in memory (smriti); and, given the name ‘past’. The Past actions are remembered and expressed in appropriate words. Therefore, what are called as past, present and futures are evidence of Time’s existence, but are not the constituents of Time.

The fact that things are remembered is a proof of the existence of Time, Kaala (samkratanta-rupatve udbhavathi vyavaharat kaalasiddhih – VP: 3.2.55). Similarly, the fact that we can speculate and conceive of things that are yet to come (like reflections in a mirror) is also proof of Time’s existence

  bhāvināṃ caiva yad rūpaṃ tasya ca pratibimbakam / sunirmṛṣṭa ivādarśe kāla evopapadyate VP. 3, 9.40)

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The   assumed segments of the three powers of Time – past, present and future – are mutually contradicting; and yet, they function and bring about changes without causing disorder in the universe. They are like the three paths on which objects move about without any sort of confusion. The users of the path may vary, move up or down; but the path stays unaffected.

To sum up; Bhartrhari repeatedly asserts that the subjective notions of past, present and future – the divisions – and qualifications (slow , fast etc) – are merely attributed to Time – are mere assumed parts (Angas) of Time. These might be taken as signs of its existence; and act as its proof. But, Time verily is Angin (the whole). Bhartrhari works out a scheme, through the Anangi-bhava, the relation of the parts to the whole, the application of which to Time is one his unique contributions.

Here, Time is eternity; but, it is also seen as duration. The durations come and go; but, Time does not vanish. Time is like a road on which durations walk.

[Bhartrhari attempts to demonstrate how the notions of ‘existence’ and ’non-existence’ are mere logical categories. Bhartrhari states that notions of existence and non-existence are mutually dependent; and are relative. One cannot be without the other. They are not independent. Non-existence cannot become existence; or existence change into non-existence. Yet; Non-existence and existence are not totally unrelated.

Non-existence is nothing but a state of imperceptibility. An object is held to be non-existent when it is conditioned by the states of past and present. An object is believed to be existent when it is delimited by present time; and is recognized as such.(VP: 3.9.49)

ekasya śaktayas tisraḥ kālasya samavasthitāḥyatsaṃbandhena bhāvānāṃ darśanādarśane satām-VP: 3.9.49
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According to him, the two states are mere appearances; and, are not the true positions from the Absolute point of view. And,   the difference between existence and non-existence is mostly assumed. He says ‘That does not exist and yet exists; that is one yet many; that unites and yet separates; and, that changes yet is changeless- (VP.3.2.13)

tan nāsti vidyate tac ca tad ekaṃ tat pṛthak pṛthak / saṃsṛṣṭaṃ ca vibhaktaṃ ca vikṛtaṃ tat tad anyathā // VP. 3. 2.13]

Both the human existence and the duration are entrapped within that eternity. To illustrate such mutual confinement, Bhartrhari compares Time with the air, which surrounds and also fills the human body to keep it alive. Air, by itself, has no temporal sequence as ‘before’ or as ‘after’; but, once it enters the body, it becomes one with the body and performs all actions as done by the body. The air, thus, acquires a temporal sequence.

[While Bhartrhari visualizes Time as One and eternal; argues about its dynamic functions (Kala Shakthi); and, presents it as an ongoing experience,  the Buddhist doctrines , on the other hand, take an acute view severely based on the ever changing conditions. According to its theory of Time, there truly is no present time (vartamana-kala). By the time you utter’ present’ it is already past. 

The Sautrantika School of Buddhism which adopted the doctrine ’extreme momentariness’ argued that objects cannot be present at the time they are perceived. It is only a past thing that can be perceived. It explains; the viewing of an object involves a series of momentary images that travel right from the object up to the eye/mind of the viewer. Starting from the object, as it travels in space and time, each impression of the object gives place to its next. The previous member, however, before it disappears, leaves its impression on the percipient mind; and it is from this impression or idea (akara) that we infer the prior existence of the corresponding object. Accordingly, though what is apprehended in perception actually exists, it is not apprehended at the moment when it exists.

This explanation is similar to the one which modern science gives, for example, in the case of our seeing a star. Owing to the vastness of its distance from us, the rays proceeding from a star take a considerable time to reach us; and what we perceive, therefore, is not the star as it is at the moment of perception, but as it was at the moment when the rays left it.

Thus, the so-called perception really refers to the past; and, is in the nature of an inference. The star, for aught we know, may have disappeared in the interval. Analogous is all perception according to the Sautrantika. It is not the object which we directly know; but, rather its representation through which we indirectly come to know of it. In modern phraseology, the Sautrantika view of perception involves the doctrine of representative ideas.]

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Functions of Time

According to Bhartrhari, the functions of Time, basically, are two. These are the (i) ‘permission’ (abhyanujna) which allows things to be born and continue in existence; and, the other is, (ii) ‘prevention’ (pratibhandha), which obstructs the inherent capabilities of other objects   to surface. The notion of the Time, functioning by permitting and preventing activities and events to occur, appears in Vakyapadiya (3.9.4), and frequently even thereafter. 

Bhartrhari illustrates these powers of Time by offering many examples.

Bhartrhari compares Time to a ‘regulator’ (Sutradhara) of the world machine (loka-yantra). It regulates the world through prevention (pratibhandha) and permission (abhyanujna). As the Sutradhara of the Universe (loka-yantrasya sūtradhāra), Time allows some things to appear at a particular moment; and prevents (pratibandhā) certain others from appearing at that moment. The occurrence or non-occurrence of a certain thing or an event is because of the power of Time. Thus, the scheduling of the activities and the events is a crucial function of the Time; for, without such orderly sequencing everything would appear all at once and create confusion.

Tam asya lokayantrasya sūtradhāraṃ pracakṣate / pratibandhābhyanujñābhyāṃ tena viśvaṃ vibhajyate /VP. 3,9.4 //

Bhartrhari deals, on one hand, with the macro problems of creation, maintenance with continuity and dissolution of the universe; and, on the other speaks of the effects of Time on individuals.  The example he offers for the latter kind is that of the   Old age, the way in which the stages of life and sequence of seasons are ordered. When Time is functioning under its impulse of prevention (pratibhandha), the decay (jara) occurs. When decay is active, further growth is blocked.  But, the underlying substratum of all this activity is the driving impulse of Time.  Thus, Time remains eternal even while the actions of birth, grown and decay come and go.

In this way, the One transcendent reality – Time – is experienced, through the actions of the secondary causes which it releases or restrains, sequentially as past, present and future.

[Avarana Vikshepa

In the Vivarana School of the Advaita, it is said, Maya has two aspects: the obscuring covering or a veil – Avarana ; and, the projection Vikshepa. Maya , with these two powers, conceals the reality; and, projects the non reality.  In the later Advaita, the stress is more on Avarana that covers than on VikshepaHere, Maya conceals (Avarana) the truth of Brahman , to make it appear in another form as the world (jagat). The often quoted example is that of the rope (Rajju) and the snake (Sarpa). The reality of the rope is concealed by Avarana; and , the illusion of the snake is projected by Vikshepa.

But, for Bhartrhari , it is Vikshepa the  power of projection or the driving force of Time that has greater relevance.

For Advaita,  the projected world of Maya is neither real nor unreal; but, is inexplicable (anirvachaniya).

And for Bhartrhari, the projected world, though gross, is also a manifestation of the Brahman. For him, the relation between the material world and Brahman is continuous and real.]

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Bhartrhari explains the power of Time through a series of analogies

 Bhartrhari employs several analogies to illustrate the regulatory powers of Time.

(i) Bhartrhari (VP. 3.9.14) explains that just as the ever-pushing apparatus for  lifting up of water,  the waterwheel (jala- yantra ), so also the all-pervading Time drives or pushes (kalayati) the beings or objects, releasing them from their causes and making them move. That is why, the Time is given the appropriate name of Kaala (sa kalā kalayan sarvā kālākhyā labhate vibhu).

jalayantrabhramāveśa- sadṛśībhiḥ pravṛttibhiḥ / sa kalāḥ kalayan sarvāḥ kālākhyāṃ labhate vibhuḥ // VP.3.9.14 //

Time is thus the governing power of all activities and of all the objects. It is Time that pushes or drives objects into action to the point at which their own secondary cause-effect relations take hold. It is also the Time, as behind-the-scene operator, that controls the secondary actions of objects, along with their moment of decay or withdrawal.

(ii)  It is in this sense that Time, which exercises control over the secondary actions of objects, is called by Bhartrhari as the Sutradhara (the puppeteer or the operator the yantra-purusha) of the universe. But, these changing sequences do not represent the true nature of Time. These are but super-impositions. The Time in its own nature, as one with Sabda Brahman, is beyond change; and its cause.

[The expression Sutradhara refers to the ‘string puller ‘or behind- the scene – operator who controls the movements of puppets in a puppet-play. The Time, in the context of the creative process, is like a Sutradhara in a puppet play (sūtradhāra pracakate; VP. 3.9.4).  Just as a Sutradhara is in complete control of the movement of the puppets, so also Kaala, the Time has control over running the Universe. The ordinary cause-and–effect process cannot fully operate unless the power of Time (Kaala shakthi) infuses them with life-force (vitality).

tam asya lokayantrasya sūtradhāraṃ pracakṣate / pratibandhā abhyanujñābhyāṃ tena viśvaṃ vibhajyate – VP.3.9.4]
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(iii) This concept of exercising control through the means of a string is extended to the analogy of a hunter–bird catcher who uses a captive bird to allure other birds. Bhartrhari explains that the hunter ties a thin (rather invisible) string to the feet of a small bird and lets it fly as a bait to entice bigger birds flying freely in the air . The small bird has a limited scope and freedom. It flies over limited distance; and, cannot go beyond the distance that length of the string allows it. Bhartrhari says: just as the string controls the movement of birds, so also ‘the strings of Time’ control the objects in the world (VP. 3.9.15).

Here, Time is the bird-catcher; and, all human actions are like birds tied to it by an invisible string.

pratibhaddhāś ca yās tena citrā viśvasya vṛttayaḥ / tāḥ sa evānujānāti yathā tantuḥ śakuntikāḥ // VP.3,9.15 //

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(iv)  Again, Bhartrhari says, Time is like a swift flowing river which deposits some things on its bank, while at the same time it takes away some other things.  Similarly, the seasons change according to the changes in the motions of sun and stars.  Helaraja explains: ‘the seasons may be looked upon as the abode of Time, because it appears as seasons. The power called Svatantrya ( freedom ) of Brahman is really the Time ; and , it appears in diverse  seasons  such as spring etc. ‘ Thus , the appearance of the universe , which is truly without sequence , as something which follows a sequence is indeed the work of Time (Kalayati).

 tṛṇaparṇalatādīni yathā sroto ‘nukarṣati / pravartayati kālo ‘pi mātrā mātrāvatāṃ tathā // VP. 3.9.41 //

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(v) He also speaks of Time in the imagery of a water-fountain. He says, depending upon the width of their openings, the two (nozzles) would jet out water at different speeds. And, again, those speeds are also dependent on the force/speed of the main water-flow (supply). Similarly, in regard to Time, the durations, sequences and their transitory nature are caused by each ones’ perception.

yathā jalādibhir vyaktaṃ mukham evābhidhīyate / tathā dravyair abhivyaktā jātir evābhidhīyate // VP.3.1.29 //

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(vi)  In another analogy, the past, present and the future are said to be like three paths on which objects move without any confusion. Here, Bhartrhari connects his conception of Time with the Samkhya doctrine of the three Gunas. The mutual contradictions of the three Guns are also compared with the mutual contradictions of the three assumed segments of time. The notion that objects and mental states do not all occur simultaneously; yet they operate without causing confusion is discussed.

The Gunas – Satva, Rajas and Tamas – are said to be in constant motion on the three paths of being (adhvan).  The mechanism involved is that of inherent tendencies or memory-traces (samskara), which sprout like seeds when conditions created by the ever- changing Gunas are favorable. The object of this explanation is to show how the three apparently conflicting qualities can coexist without coming into conflict.

The past and future hide objects; and, therefore, they are like Tamas or darkness.  The present enables us to see objects; and, therefore, it is like bright light, the Sattva of the Samkhya. Rajas stand for the activity of the Time itself. For the Samkhya-yoga and the Grammarians the harmonious coexistence of objects on three paths of Time makes the ordered sequence of the world possible. Time, like an eternal road, is the substratum on which the objects of the world come and go. The road, like Time, is ever present, unaffected.

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To Sum Up

The essence of Bhartrhari’s viewpoint is that Time (Kaala) is not different from Sabda Brahman which is identical with Para Brahman. The power of Time is an independent power (svtantra shakthi) of Sabda Brahman which allows sequences to come into being. Through Time, durations are perceived; the things come to be and pass away. Yet, Time has no divisions. Time is the efficient cause by which Brahman controls the cycles of the Universe.

When that Time sequence appears as differentiated objects, then Time as a power seems to be different from Brahman; but, really it is not so (Vakyapadiya 1.2).

ekam eva yad āmnātaṃ bhinnaśaktivyapāśrayāt / apṛthaktve+api śaktibhyaḥ pṛthaktveneva vartate

Bhartrhari considers Sabdatattva or Sabda Brahman as the foundation of the Universe; and, it is eternal. Bhartrhari takes Sabda and Sphota are identical in nature.

 Let’s talk about Sphota in the next part.

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Continued in the Next Part 

References and Sources

  1. The Philosophy of the Grammarians, Volume 5 – edited by Harold G. Coward, Karl H. Potter, K. Kunjunni Raja
  2. Of Many Heroes: An Indian Essay in Literary Historiography by G. N. Devy
  3. Time in Hinduism by Harold Coward
  4. Bharthari, the Grammarian by Mulakaluri Srimannarayana Murti
  5. The Study of Vakyapadiya – Dr. K Raghavan Piliai Volume I (Motilal Banarsidas; 1971)
  6. Being and Meaning: Reality and Language in Bharthari and Heidegger by Sebastian Alackapally
  7. Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound by Guy L. Beck
  8. Bhartrhari (ca. 450-510) by Madhav Deshpande
  9. Bhartrihari by Stephanie Theodorou
  10. The Sphota Theory of Language: A Philosophical Analysis by Harold G. Coward
  11. Speech versus Writing” In Derrida and Bhartahari by Harold G. Coward
  12. Sequence from Patanjali to Post _modernity by  V. Ashok.
  13. The Vedic Conception of Sound in Four Features
  14. Sphota theory of Bhartrhari
  15. Word and Sentence, Two Perspectives: Bhartrhari and Wittgenstein edited by Sibajiban Bhattacharyya
  16. Hermeneutical Essays on Vedāntic Topics by John Geeverghese Arapura
  17. Culture and Consciousness: Literature Regained by William S. Haney
  18. The Advaita Vedānta of Brahma-siddhi by Allen Wright Thrasher
  19. Bhartr̥hari, Philosopher and Grammarian: Proceedings of the First … Edited by Saroja Bhate, Johannes Bronkhorst
  20. Bhartṛhari – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  21. Sri Venkateswara Univrsity Oriental Journal Volumes XXX-XXXi 1987 – 1988
  22. Studies in the Kāśikāvtti: The Section on Pratyāhāras : Critical Edition …edited by Pascale Haag, Vincenzo Vergiani
  23. Proceedings of the Lecture Series on Våkyapadiya and Indian Philosophy of Languages- (31.1.08 to 2.2.08)
 
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Posted by on January 1, 2017 in Artha-Meaning, Bhartrhari, Sanskrit

 

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