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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part Three

Continued from Part Two 

 Nrtta, Natya and Nrtya

shiva_dancing_for_parvati

Intro.

As it has been said very often; the Natyashastra is the earliest available text of Indian Dancing traditions. It combines in itself the fundamentals of the principles, practices and techniques of Dance. it thus serves as the principal text of the Dance. And, therefore, the influence exerted by it on the growth and development of all Dance-forms, has been deep and vast.  The Natyashastra, an authoritative text to which the Masters and learners alike turn to, seeking instructions, guidance, and inspiration, is central to any discussion on classical Dance. And, therefore, no discussion on classical Dance is complete without referring to the concepts  of the  Natyashastra.

[Having said that; let me also mention that in the context of Dance , as it is practiced in the present day, besides Natyashastra , several other texts are followed. The Natyashastra provides the earliest theoretical framework; but, the practice of Dance  and the techniques of dancing were  molded and improved by many texts of the later periods. What we have today is the culmination of several textual traditions and their practices. We shall come to those aspects later in the series.]

Because of the position that Natyashastra occupies in the evolution of the Arts and its forms, it would help to try to understand the early concepts and their relationships to Dance. And, thereafter, we may follow the unfolding and transformation of those concepts acquiring different meanings and applications; as also the emergence of new terms and art-forms, during the later times.

In that context, we may, in particular, discuss the three terms; their derivation; their manifestation and transformation; as also the mutual relations among the three. In the process, we may also look at the related concepts; and their evolution over the centuries. The three terms that I am referring to are the Nrtta, Natya and Nrtya, which are fundamental to most of the Dance formats.

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As regards the  other texts that discuss the theories, practices and techniques of Dancing, there are no significant works between the period of Bharata and that of Abhinavagupta and Dhananjaya (eleventh century). Even if any were there, none has come down to us. But during this period, the dance and its concepts had changed significantly. And, the manuscript editions of the Natyashastra had also undergone alterations.

Over the different periods, the concepts of Natyashastra, along with that of its basic terms such as Nrtta, Natya etc., came to be interpreted in number of amazingly different ways, depending, largely, upon the attitudes and the approach of the authors coming from diverse backgrounds and following varied regional cultural practices. It is a labyrinth, a virtual maze, in which one can easily get lost.

It would, therefore, hopefully, make sense if we try to understand these terms in the context of each period that spans the course of the long history of Dancing in India, instead of trying to take an overall or summary view.

In the following pages, let us try to understand these terms and their applications in relation to the  concepts and the techniques of dancing, as it emerged in various stages, during the three phases of Indian Art history: the period of the  Natyashastra of Bharata; the theories and commentaries by the authors of the medieval period; and, dance as practiced in the present-day.

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Before we get into the specifics, let’s briefly talk about Dance in general, within the context of Natyashastra.

Bharata’s Natyashastra represents the first known stage of Indian Art-history where the diverse elements of arts, literature, music, dance, stage management and cosmetics etc., combined harmoniously, to fruitfully produce an enjoyable play. 

It is quite possible that the authors prior to the time of Bharata did speak of Dance; its forms and practices.  But, it was, primarily, Bharata who recognized the communicative power of Dance; and, laid down its concepts.

Bharata described what he considered to be the most cultivated dance styles, which formed the core of the dominant art-practice (prayoga) in his time, the Drama.

The framework within which Bharata describes Dance is, largely, related to Drama. And, his primary interest seemed to be to explore the ways to enhance the beauty of a dramatic presentation. Thus, Dance in association with music was treated as an ornamental overlay upon Drama.  As Nandikesvara said, the Dance should have songs (gitam). And, the song must be sung, displaying (pradarshayet) the meaning (Artha) and emotions (Bhavam) of the lyrics through the gestures of the hands (hastenatha); shown through the eyes (chakshuryo darshaved); and, in tune with rhythm and corresponding foot-work (padabhyam talam-achareth).

Asyena alambaved gitam, hastena artha pradarshayet/chakshuryo darshaved bhavam, padabhyam talam-achareth (Ab.Da.36)

Dance, at that stage, was an ancillary part (Anga) or one of the ingredients that lent elegance and grace to theatrical performance; and, it was not yet an independent art-form, by itself. Bharata , at that stage, is credited with  devising a more creative Dance-form , which was adorned with elegant, evocative and graceful body-movements; performed in unison with attractive rhythm and enthralling music; in order to effectively interpret and illustrate the lyrics of a song; and, also to depict the emotional content of a dramatic sequence.But, he had not assigned it a name.

It was only in the later times, when the concepts and descriptions provided by Bharata were adopted and improved upon, that Dance gained the status of a self-regulating, independent specialized form of art, as Nrtya.

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The scholars opine that in the evolution of Dance, first comes Nrtta; then Natya; and, later Nrtya appeared. Here, Nrtta is said to be pure dance; while Nrtya emerged when Abhinayas of four types (Angika; Vachika; Sattvika; and Aharya) were combined with Nrtta. And, Natya included both these (Nrtta and Nrtya), even while the speech and the songs remained prominent. Thus, Natya comprises all the three features – Dance, music and speech (song) – which are very essential for the production and enactment of Drama.

To put the entire series of developments, in the context of Natyashastra, in a summary form:

Nrtta, as described in Natyashastra, had been in practice even during the very ancient times. The Nrtta, according to Bharata, was a dance form created by Shiva; and, which, he taught to his disciple Tandu.  It seems to have been older than Natya

Natya too goes back to the very distant past. Even by the time of Bharata, say by   about the fourth to second century BCE, Natya was already a highly developed and accomplished Art. It was regarded as the best; and, also as the culmination of all Art forms. Though Nrtta was older, Natya was not derived from it. Both the Nrtta and the Natya had independent origins; and, developed independent of each other. And, later too, the two ran on parallel lines.

It was during Bharata’s time that Nrtta was integrated into Natya. Even though the two came together, they never merged into each other. And, up to the present-day they have retained their identity; and, run parallel in ways peculiar to them. (Even in a Bharatanatya performance the treatment and presentation of the Nrtta is different from that of the rest.)

 By combining Nrtta, the pure Dance, with the Abhinaya of Natya, a new form of Dance viz., the Nrtya came into being. Bharata is credited with this creative, innovative act of bringing together two of the most enjoyable Art forms (Bhartopajanaka). But, it developed to its full extant only after the time of Bharata.

But, at the time of Bharata, that resultant new-art was not assigned a separate name; nor was it then classified into Tandava and Lasya types.  In fact, the terms Nrtya and Lasya do not appear either in the Natyashastra or in its early commentaries. It was only during the later times that Nrtya gained an independent recognition as an expressive, eloquent representational Art, which projects human experiences, with amazing fluidity and grace.

Nrtya, a blend of two well studied, well developed and well codified Art forms – the dance of Nrtta and Abhinayas of Natya – over a period, advanced  vibrantly, imbibing on its way numerous novel features; and, soon became hugely popular among all classes of the society. It gained recognition as the most delightful Art-form; and in particular, as the most admired phrase or form of Dance.

With this general backdrop, let’s go further.

Hamsa 4

A. Nrtta in Natyasahastra

Nrtta

Initially, Bharata, in the fourth Chapter of the Natyashastra, titled Tandava Lakshanam, deals with the Dance. The term that he used to denote Dance was Nrtta (pure dancing or limb movements, not associated with any particular emotion, Bhava).

The Nrtta comprised two varieties of Dances (Nrtta-prayoga) : The Tandava and Sukumara. The Tandava was not necessarily aggressive; nor danced only by men. And, the gentler, graceful form of dance was Sukumara-prayoga

And, in the context of Drama, both of these were said to refer to the physical structure of dance movements. And, both were performed during the preliminaries before the commencement of the play – Purvaranga – while offering prayers to the deities, Deva-stuti   ; and, not in the drama per se.

Mayāpīdam smta ntta sandhyākāleu Ntttā nānā karaa sayuktai raga hārair vibhūitam 4.13

Pūrva-raga-vidhā avasmistvayā samyak prayojyatām vardhamāna kayogeu gītevāsāriteu ca 4.14

The Dance performed during the Purvaranga was accompanied by vocal and instrumental music. It is said; the songs that were sung during the Purvaranga were of the Marga class- sacred, somber and well regulated (Niyata). Such Marga songs were in praise of Shiva (Shiva-stuti). Bharata explains Marga or Gandharva as the Music dear to gods (atyartham iṣṭa devānā), giving great pleasure to Gandharvas; and, therefore it is called Gandharva.

Atyartham iṣṭa devānā tathā prīti-kara puna | gandharvāā ca yasmād dhi tasmād gāndharvam ucyate – NS Ch. 28, 9

shiva dance

Almost the entire Chapter Four of Natyashastra is devoted to Nrtta. That is because, the term that Bharata generally used to symbolize  Dance, was Nrtta.  And, the Nrtta, Bharata said, was created to give expression to beauty and grace – śobhā prajanayediti Ntta pravartitam (NS.4.264). The Nrtta is visual art. The term Nrtta, in the context of the Natyashastra, is explained by Abhinavagupta as (Angavikshepa), the graceful composition of the limbs – gatram vilasena kshepaha.

The Nrtta stands for pure, abstract and beautiful dance, performed in tune with the rhythm and tempo, to the accompaniment of vocal and instrumental music.

The Nrtta performed during the Purvaranga was not as an auxiliary to Natya. And, therefore, Nrtta was considered to be independent and complete by itself.

Nrtta is described in terms of the motion of the limbs; the beauty of its form; the balanced geometrical structure; creative use of space; and rhythm (time). It gives form to the formless.  Here, the body speaks its own language; an expression of the self. It delights the eye with its posture, rhythm and synchronized movements of the dancer’s body.

Nrtta is the spontaneous rhythmic movement of different parts of the body (Angas, Upangas and Pratyangas). Nrtta is also associated with the surrounding nature and its beauty. For instance; Shiva does his Nrtta in the evening, before sun set, (Sandhyayam nrtyaha Shamboh) surrounded by the salubrious shining snow peaks of the Himalayas, while he is in the company of Devi Parvathi and his Ganas.

It is said; the sense of Nrtta is ingrained in the nature. For instance; the peacocks burst into simple rhythmic movements at the sight of rain-bearing clouds; and, the waves in the sea swing in ebb and flow as the full moon rises up in a clear cloudless night.

Nrtta is a kind of architecture. It is an Art-form whose life is the beauty of its form. But, Nrtta was not meant for giving forth meaningful expressions. It did not look for a purpose; not even of narrating a theme.

Thus, Nrtta could be understood as a metaphor of Dance made of coordinated movement of hands and feet (Cari and Karana or dance units or postures), in a single graceful flow.  Nrtta is useful for its beautiful visual appeal; as that which pleases the eye (Shobha hetuvena).

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Tandava

shiva tandava

And, Tandava is said to be the Nrtta that Shiva taught to his disciple Tandu (Tando rayam Tandavah).  It was composed by combining the circular movement of a limb (Recaka) and the sequence of dance movements (KaranasAngaharas) . It is not clear  how these movements were utilized.

The term Tandava could also be understood as Bharata’s term for Nrtta , the Dance (Nrtta-prayoga) – Nrtta-prayoga sṛṣṭo ya sa Tāṇḍava iti smta. NS.4.261. And, Tandava is often used as a synonym for Nrtta.

[Abhinavagupta, in his typical style, provides a totally different sort of explanation to the term Tandava. According to him, the term ṇḍava is derived from the sounds like ‘Tando; tam-tam’, produced by the accompanying Damaru shaped drums. It follows the manner, in Grammar (vyākaraa), of naming an object, based on the sound it produces – śabda-anukti.  For instance; Yaska, in his Nirukta (318) had mentioned that a kaka (crow) is so called, because of the sound it makes – kāka, iti Śabda, anuktis, tad idam, śakunisu bahulam.

Abhinavagupta also mentions that the Bhaṇḍam (percussion instruments), which produce sounds like ‘Bhan, Than’ etc., are important for the performance of the Ntta.]

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And, in regard to the Drama, the Tandava,  a form of Nrtta, is performed before the commencement of the play, as a prayer-offering to gods (Deva stuti). It is a dance that creates beauty of form; and, is submitted to gods, just as one offers flowers (pushpanjali).

The Tandava, at this stage, did not necessarily mean a violent dance; nor was it performed only by men.

According to Bharata, the Tandava Nrtta, during Purvaranga, iperformed to accompaniment of appropriate songs and drums. And, it is composed of Recakas, Angaharas and the Pindibandhas; (NS. 4. 259-61).

Recakā Agahārāśca Piṇḍībandhā tasthaiva ca 4.259 sṛṣṭvā bhagavatā dattās Taṇḍave munaye tadā tenāpi hi tata samyag-gāna-bhāṇḍa-samanvita 4.260 Ntta-prayoga sṛṣṭo ya sa Tāṇḍava iti smta 4.261

[Please also check this link http://www.tarrdaniel.com/documents/Yoga-Yogacara/nata_yoga.html ]

Sukumara

devi lasya.

And , Sukumara Prayoga is the tender and graceful type of dance performed by the Devi Parvathi.

It is said; Shiva’s Tandava dance comprising Angaharas and Recakas inspired Devi Parvathi to perform her own type of dance, adorned with graceful and delicate movements (sukumara-prayoga) – (Sukumāra-prayogeṇa Nṛttam caiva Pārvatīm –NS.4.250). 

Recakair-agahāraiś ca Ntyanta vīkya Sakaram 249 Sukumāra-prayogea Ntyantī caiva Pārvatīm (NS. 4. 249-50)

Parvathi ‘s  dance was also adorned with graceful gestures – Recakas and Angaharas. But, her dance cannot be construed as s counterpart to Tandava. It was her own form of Dance.

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Abhinavagupta explains; the Angaharas of Parvathi’s Dance was rich in loveliness and subtle beauty (Lalitha Angahara); celebrating the erotic sentiment, Sṛṅgāra, the love that binds male and female – (Sukumāra-prayogaśca śṛṅgāra-rasa-sambhavaḥ – NS.4.269). Her Dance was bedecked with emotion; and, was full of meaning (Abhinaya prāptyartham arthānā tajjñair abhinaya kta NS.4. 261).

Yattu śṛṅgāra sabaddha gāna strī puruā aśrayam Devī ktair agahārair lalitais tat prayojayet NS.4. 312

Abhinavagupta says; the fruit (phala) of the gentle dance is that it pleases the Goddess (Devī); and that of ṇḍava is that it pleases Shiva who is with Soma. He also mentions that while performing the dance-gestures (abhinaya) for Puṣhpāñjali, the dancer’s looks must not be diverted towards the audience. That is because; that dance-offering is not addressed to the spectators. Therefore, it must be performed looking into one’s own soul.

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[ We need to remember that the Tandava and the Sukumara, the pure types of Dances, were discussed by Bharata in the context of the purvaranga, not in that of drama proper (yaścāya pūrva-ragastu tvayā śuddha prayojita – NS.4. 15). And, such a Purvaranga was called Chitra (Citro nāma bhaviyati); Chitra meant diagrams/formations. These dances , at that stage , were not associated with expression of emotions.

However, Abhinavagupta, in his commentary, at many places, interprets Natyashastra in the light of contemporary concepts and practices. He also introduces certain ideas and terms that were not present during the time of Bharata.

For instance; during the time of Bharata, there was no clear theoretical division of Dance into Tandava and Sukumara. And, the term Lasya, which in the later period meant gentle, delicate and graceful, does not also appear in Natyashastra. But, the concept of the element of grace and beauty did exist; and, was named as Sukumara-prayoga.

The Tandava as described in the Natyashastra was Nrtta (pure dance); and, it was not necessarily aggressive; though Abhinavagupta interpreted Tandava as Uddhata (vigorous). But, in the Natyashastra, Tandava does not convey the sense of Uddhata.

Similarly, though Tandava is mentioned as Nrtta; it, in no way, refers to, or is related to furious dance, which in the present-day goes by the name Tandava-nrtta

Abhinavagupta states that Lasya (which term he uses to substitute Sukumara-prayoga), the graceful dance with delicate, graceful movements , performed by Devi Parvathi was in contrast to Shiva’s forceful (Uddhata Angaharas) and fast paced Tandava Nrtta. But, nether term Lasya, nor such distinctions or contrasts are mentioned in the Natyashastra.

Both Tandava and Sukumara come under Nrtta – the pure Dance, devoid of meaning and emotion. But, Abhinavagupta describes the Sukumara of Devi as being ‘bedecked with emotion and full of meaning’.

Abhinavagupta also brings in the notion of relating Tandava and Sukumara to male (Purusha) and female (Stri) dances. But, such gender-based associations were not mentioned in the Natyashastra.]

NataYoga10-12

Recaka, Karana and Angahara

As mentioned earlier, according to Bharata, the Tandava Nrtta, performed to the accompaniment of appropriate songs and drum-beats, is composed of Recakas, Angaharas and the Pindibandhas – (Recakā Agahārāśca Piṇḍībandhā tasthaiva caNS. 4. 259-61). The Tandava, at this stage, as said earlier, did not necessarily mean a violent dance; nor was it performed only by men.

Recaka

Here, Recaka (derived from Recita, relating to limbs) is understood as the extending movements of the feet (pāda), waist (kai), hands (hasta) and neck (grīva or kanta):  pāda-recaka eka syat dvitīya kai-recaka kararecakas tritīyas tu caturta kaṇṭha-recakaḥ (NS.4. 248). The Recakas are said to be separate  movements; and, are not parts of Karanas or Cari.

Movement of the feet from one side to the other with faltering or unsteady gaits as also of other types of feet movement is called Pada-recaka. Rising up, stretching up and turning round the waist as well as drawing it back characterize the Kati-recaka. Throwing up,putting forward, throwing sideways, swinging round and drawing back of the hands are called Hasta-recaka. Raising up, lowering, and bending the neck sideways to left and right or such other movements form the Kanta-recaka.

In each of the four varieties of major joint movements, the limb is moved or turned from one position to another. These four basic oscillating movements, which lend grace and elegance to the postures, are regarded as fundamental to dancing.

It is said; on entering the stage, with flowers in her hands (pupāñjali-dharā bhūtvā praviśed raga-maṇtapam), the female dancer should be in vaisakha sthana (posture) ; and , perform all the four Recakas (those of feet, waist, hands and neck) – vaiśākha-sthāna-keneha sarva-recaka-cāriī ॥ 274॥

And, only then , she should go round the stage scattering flowers , in submission to gods. After bowing to gods, she should perform her Abhinaya .

pupāñjali visjyātha ragapīha parītya ca 275 praamya devatābhyaś ca tato abhinayam-ācaret 276

Somehow, there is not much discussion about Recaka in the major texts. Kallinātha, the commentator, merely states that Recakas form part of the Agahāras; and, is useful in adjusting the Taala (time units).

Hamsa 4

Karanas

According to the Natyashastra, the Nrtta is Angahara, which is made of Karanas – Nānā Karaa sayuktair Agahārair vibhūitam (NS.4.13)

And, Karana is defined by Bharata as the perfect combination of the hands and feet – Hasta-pada samyoga Nrttasya Karanam bhavet (NS.4.30). The Karanas are classified under Nrtta.

And, the Karanas are themselves made up of Sthanas (static postures), Caris and Nrtta-hastas (movement of the feet and the hands). It involves both the aspects: movement and position.

Thus, Karaa is not a mere pose, a stance or a posture that is isolated and frozen in time. Karaa is the stylized synthesis of Sthiti (a fixed position-static) and Gati (motion-dynamic). That is to say; a Karana made of Sthanas, Caris and Nrtttahastas is a dynamic process.  It is an aesthetically appealing, well coordinated movement of the hands and feet, capturing an image of beauty and grace .

A Karana functions as a fundamental unit of dance. It is a technical component, which helps to provide a structural framework, on which dance movements and formations are built and developed,

Bharata enumerates 108 types of Karanas in the Fourth Chapter of the Natyashastra. He devotes a two-line verse (Karika) to each of the Karanas, mentioning the associated hand gestures (hastas), foot movements (Caris), and body positions (Mandalas).

Abhinavagupta explains Karaa as action (Kriyā Karaam); and, as the very life (jivitam) of Ntta. It is a Kriya, an act which starts from a given place and terminates after reaching the proper one. It involves both the static and dynamic aspects: pose (Sthiti) and movement (Gati). And that is why, he says, Karaa is called as ‘Ntta Karaa’.

In the Karanas, the balance, equipoise, the ease, is the key. The movement of each limb must be in relation with that of the other, which is either following it in the same direction or is playing as the counterpart in the other direction. The flow must be fluid and harmonious. Every Karana is well thought out; and, is complete by itself.

Nrtta is the art that solely depends on the form. Its purpose is to achieve beauty in forms. That is the reason; Karana is defined as the perfect composition of the entire body. Unless each and every Karana is individually illustrated, it might not be possible to point out whether it is perfect; and whether all the elements that are required for that Karana are present.

karana (1)

Abhinavagupta explains; Karana is different from the actions of normal life (Lokadharmi). And, it is not a mere placement, replacement or displacement. Such throws (kepa) of the limbs must be guided by a sense of beauty and grace (vilasa-ksepasya). Hence, Karana is a free movement of limbs in a pleasing, unbroken flow (ekā kriyā). That is why, though the Karaa is defined ‘kriyā karaam’, Abhinavagupta says: a Karana has to be intellectually and spiritually satisfying. The word nttasya in Bharata’s definition is meant to emphasize this aspect of dance.

Pūrva-ketre sayoga-tyāgena samucita ketrāntara-prapti-paryantatayā ekā kriyā tattaranmityamartha

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As said earlier; Karaa was defined by Bharata as ‘hasta-pāda-sayoga nttasya karaa bhavet’ (BhN_4.30); meaning that the combination of hand and foot movements in dance (Ntta) are called Karaa.  

Abhinavagupta explains that ‘hasta’ and ‘pāda’, here, do not denote merely the hand and foot. But, hasta implies all actions pertaining to the upper part (Purva-kaya) of the body (Anga); and, it’s Shākhā-aga (branches, the various movements of the hands – Kara varhana), and Upāga (subsidiaries like the eyebrows, the nose, the lower lip, the cheeks and the chin etc).

Similarly, pāda stands for all actions of the lower limbs of the body (Apara-kaya); such as sides, waist, thighs, trunk and feet.

Thus, Karana involves the movement of the feet (pada karmani); shifting of a single foot (Cari) and postures of the legs (Sthana), along with hand gestures (hastas– single as also combined Nrtta gestures).

And, all the actions of the hands and feet must be suitably and coherently combined with those of the waist, sides, thighs, chest and back – Hasta, pada samyogaha  Nrtta Karanam bhavet.

That is to say; when the Anga moves, the Pratyanga and Upanga also move accordingly. The flow of the movement (gatravikshepa) should be such that the entire body is involved in the curves and bends.

hastau śiras-sannata ca gagāvataraa tviti / yāni sthānāni yāścāryo vyāyāme kathitāni tu // BhN_4.169 // ādapracārastveā tu karaānāmaya bhavet / ye cāpi ntta hastāstu gaditā nttakarmai // BhN_4.170 //

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There is an elaborate discussion on two important features of a Karana execution: (1) Sausthava (keeping different limbs in their proper position) – about which Bharata says that the whole beauty of Nrtta rests on the Sausthava , so the performer never shines unless he pays attention to this – Shobha sarvaiva nityam hi Sausthavam; and, (2) Chaturasrya (square composition of the body, mainly in relation to the chest) – about which Abhinavagupta remarks that the very vital principle (jivitam)  of the body, in dance, is based on  its square position (Chaturasrya-mulam Nrttena  angasya jivitam), and adds that the very object of Sausthava is to attain a perfect Chaturasrya ,

This again emphasizes that Nrtta rests on the notion of formal-beauty, which is achieved through the perfect composition of the whole body. This involves not merely the geometrical values, but also the balance and harmony among the body parts.

While commenting on the Karaas, Abhinavagupta says that such static elements within the dynamics of the Karaas are useful in dance, not only as factors that beautify the presentation , but also as mediums of expression for communicating the meaning of the lyrics through vākyā-arthā-abhinaya (actions interpreting the meanings of its sentences). According to him, the Karanas are not mere physical actions; they can give form to ideas and thoughts. He opines that Nrtta can produce Bhavas. And, Nrtta, in reality, is Art par excellence.

While commenting on the fifteenth Karaa (the Svastika), Abhinavagupta asserts that every Karaa is capable of conveying a certain idea (Artha) or a thought, at least in a very subtle way. (But, such notions of associating Karanas with representation are not found in the Natyashastra.)

Sarangadeva in his Sangitaratnakara (Chapter 7, Nrttakarana, verses 548-49) also defines the Nrtta Karana as a beautiful (vilasena) combination of the actions (kriya) of the hands (Kara), feet (pada) etc., appropriate to the Rasa it intends to evoke.

Nrttakarana

Thus, while many of the 108-karanas are primarily associated with stylized movements, some Ntta Karaas are used, also, to express various emotions; going beyond the conventional Nrtta format. And, the depiction of such Karanas is a dynamic process. There is scope for innovation and experimentation.

For instance; while explaining the 10th Karana – the Ardha-nikuttaka karana (placing one hand on the shoulder; striking it with outstretched fingers; and then striking the ground with one of the heels) – which employs ancita (curve) of the hands, Abhinavagupta mentions that Sankuka’s description was different from that of Bharata; and, cannot be accepted. Further, he says; this Karana can be performed in two or more different ways; and, therefore, concludes that the performer has some degree of freedom in interpreting a Karana.

He mentions that a Karana can be performed both in the sitting posture and by moving about on a stage by employing Nrtta-hastas (hand postures) and Drsti (glances) – Tatravastane karakayopayogi sthanakam. Gatau tu caryah; purvakaye to gatanau Nrtta-hasta Drstaya ca

And, again, along with his explanation of the 66th Karaa (Atikranta moving forward with each foot treading alternatively with a flourish and swing), he states that wherever the use of the Karaa is not specifically stated, it is left to the imagination of the performer.

[In the later times, Karanas came to be described as the means to convey a meaning (Artha) or a pattern, such as: svastikarcita or mandala-svastika. But, in the Natyashastra, the Nrtta or the Karanas are not associated with such representations.]

And, in the later times, the idioms and phrases (Karanas and Angahara) of these dances, as also the ways of expressing the intent and meaning (Abhinaya) of a situation or of a lyric, were adopted into the play-proper, as also into various Dance forms; thus , enhancing the quality of those art-forms.

It is said; even during the course of the play , one should adopt the physical movements – Uddhata Angaharas of Tandava, created by Shiva, while depicting action in fighting scenes. And, for rendering love-scenes, one should adopt the Sukumara Angaharas created by the Devi.

Since the Karanas epitomize the beauty of form; and, symbolize the concept of aesthetics, they served as models for the artist; and, inspired them to create sculptures of lasting beauty. The sculptors (Shilpis) regarded the Karanas as the vital breath (Prana) of their Art. The much admired Indian sculptures are, indeed, the frozen forms of Karanas. The linear measurements or the deviation from the vertical median (Brahma Sutra); the stances; and, iconometry of the Indian sculptures are all rooted in the Karanas of the Nrtta, the idiom of visual delight. These wondrous sculptures, poems in stone, continue to fascinate and do evoke admiration and pleasure (Rasa) in the hearts of the viewers.

[Please do not fail to read the Doctoral thesis on the Dance imagery in south Indian temples : study of the 108-karana sculptures, prepared by Dr. Bindu S. Shankar]

And, in the present-day dance curriculum, the Karanas are used as the phrases or the basic units of the dance structure.   Nrtta is taught as a combination of basic dance motions called Adavus for which there is a corresponding pattern of phonetic syllables. The Adavus of Bharatanatya are based in limb movements, postures, hand gestures and geometry as in the Karanas; though the Adavus might differ from Karanas, in their execution.

Adavus are regarded as the building blocks of Bharatanatya. Different combinations of Adavus create varieties of body movements.

[The Adavus (smallest units of dance patterns) are composed as dance-modulations (Nrtta), where all the movements relate to the vertical median (Brahma-sutra) on the one hand; and to the stable equipoise, fixed position of one-half of the dancer’s body, on the other. The Adavus are, thus, primary units of movements, where the position of the feet (Sthana), posture of our standing (Mandala), walking movements (Cari), gestures of the hands (Nrtta hasthas) and other limbs of the body together form a precise dance pattern. It is said; there are about ten or more basic types of Adavus (Dasha-vidha); and, more number of variations could be formed de pending on the School of Dancing (Bani).]

adavus2-16b3d

Agahāra

Nrtta in Natyashastra is of Angaharas, which are made of Karanas – Nānā Karaa sayuktair Agahārair vibhūitam (NS.4.13)

Abhinavagupta explains Agahāra as the process of sending the limbs of the body from a given position to the other proper one (Angavikshepa). It could also be taken to mean, twisting and bending of the limbs in a graceful manner.

And, such Angavikshepa is said to be a dominant feature of the Nrtta. And, as mentioned earlier, that term stands for graceful composition of limbs (gatram vilasena kshepaha). Thus, the Angaharas, basically, are Nrtta movements, the Angika-abhinaya, involving six Angas or segments of the body.

Abhinavagupta relates Angavikshepa to the Angaharas; and says, they could be taken, almost, as synonyms . But, they are not the same.

The Angaharas along with Recakas and Karanas constitute the essential aspects of the Nrtta; especially in the in the Purvaranga, and at times on the stage, as a part of the prelude (Naandi),  by female dancers dressed as goddesses – nikrāntāsu ca sarvāsu nartakīsu tata param 5. 156.  Bharata lists 32 Angaharas in verses 19 to 26 of Chapter Four.

[Towards the end of his comments on the 32 Angaharas, Abhinavagupta mentions that these could be produced in separate two sets of 16 each. One set of sixteen could be performed as a part of the Purvanga; and, the other set of sixteen after lifting the curtain, in full view of the spectators. While on the stage, four female dancers could perform four Angaharas each. Eight of them could be in Trisra Taala and the other eight in Chatursra Taala (Trysratalakah sodasa Esam; caturasra sryastav avantaratah).]

A Karana, as said earlier, is a basic unit of dance, constructed of well coordinated static postures and dynamic movements. The Nrtta technique consists in constructing a series of short compositions, by using the Karanas.

The Natyashastra mentions that a unit of two Karanas makes one Matrka; three Karanas makes one Kalapaka; four Karanas make a Sandaka; and, five Karanas make one Samghataka.  Thus, it says, The Angaharas consist of six, seven, eight or nine Karanas.

A meaningful combination of six to nine Karanas is said to constitute an Angahara, which could be called as a basic dance sequence (abhirvā saptabhirvāpi aṣṭabhir navabhis tathākaraairiha sayuktā agahārā prakīrtāḥ – NS.4.33).

It is said; the Angahara is like a garland where the selected Karanas (like flowers) are strung together, weaving a delightful pattern. It is basically a visual delight (prekshaniya).

Angahara is, thus, a dance sequence composed of uninterrupted series of Karanas. Such combination of Karanas cannot be done randomly; but, it should follow a method. That is because; the nature of an Angahāra is defined by the appropriate arrangement (yojana) or the order of the occurrence of its constituent Karaas. Out of the 108, say, six to nine suitable Karanas are, therefore, selected and strung together in various permutations to form a meaningful Angahara sequences or a Dance segment. Chapter Four (verses 31 to 55) of the Natyashastra describes 32 selected Angaharas, to choose from.

[Pundarika Vittala, the author of Nartana -nirnaya , mentions that by his time, the sixteenth century, the 108 Karanas had , in effect , been reduced to sixteen.] 

Abhinavagupta, while explaining the fourth Angahara (the Apaviddha) remarks that even the best of the theoreticians (Lakshnakaro) cannot rationally and adequately explain the sequence of Karanas that should occur in an Angahara. Hence, whatever sequence is given by authorities should not be taken as final. The performers should go by their experience and intuition. The choreographer / performer, therefore, enjoy a certain degree of freedom in composing an Angahara sequence.

Nahi susiksitopi lakshnakaro vakyanam pratipadam laksanam keutum saknoti / Asya pascadidam prayojyamiti jnapitena kincid atmaano yojana ca samhita karya / Niyeimanamagre vak ityuktam /

Though Angaharas and Karanas have much in common, the two are not said to be the same. The Angaharas are not mere the sum or totality of Karanas. Each possesses a distinctive character of its own. The Angaharas are distinct from Karanas. That is the reason Bharata says: Nana karaa sayuktān vyākhyāsyāmi sarecakān (NS.4.19)

The Angaharas, though mainly made up of Karanas, also need Recakas, which are the stylized movements of four limbs: neck (griva), hands (hasta), waist (kati) and feet (carana). The Recakas fulfill two purposes. One, it provides beauty and grace to the presentation; and, two, it ensures a smooth and seamless movement in such a way as to adjust the entire Angahara to the given Tala.

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Thus, in short, the Dance choreography of Nrtta is the series of body-movements, composed of Angaharas. The Angaharas in turn are made of appropriate Karanas. And, the Karanas are themselves made up of Caris, Nrtta-hastas and Sthanas. 

Nrtta, as articulated by Bharata, is of the Marga class. And, according to Abhinavagupta, it is capable of evoking Rasa, although it is non-representational.

padmakarana2

Which is the basic unit of Nrtta..?

Now, we have in sequence Caris; Nrttahastas; Sthanas; Karanas and Angaharas.

And, Abhinavagupta questions, which of these should be considered as the basic unit of Nrtta. He says the combination of two karanas, called Nrtta-matrka (Nrtta alphabet) is the basic unit of Nrtta; because, until the two Karanas are performed, you will not get the sense that you are dancing (Nrttyati).

But, that view was disputed by the later scholars. They counter questioned why only two Karanas; why not three or four or more.

They point out that the components of a Karana; like Caris; Nrtta-hastas; Sthanas, by themselves, individually cannot convey the sense of the Nrtta. They argued that Karana is, indeed, the factor, that characterizes Nrtta, which is built up by the clever arrangement of its patterns, just as in architecture. That form of beauty is achieved through the perfect geometrical qualities and harmonious composition of various body-parts. The sense of balance, ease and poise is the key. Therefore, a well thought out Karana, which is complete by itself, is regarded as the basic unit of Nrtta.

dance pose

Bharatanatya

Eventually, the Karanas, Angaharas and Nrtta, all, form part of Nrtya, the expressive dance. And, a Dance form like Bharatanatya is not complete without adaptation of the Nrtta techniques.

Bharatanatya is a composite Dance form, which brings together Nrtta, Nrtya and Natya formats. It draws its references (apart from Natyashastra) from various other texts of regional nature. Besides, it has developed its own specialized forms.

The Indian classical dance of today (Bharatanatya) has, over a period, evolved its own Grammar; and, has constructed its own devices. Its Nrtta element too has changed greatly from what it meant during the days of Bharata. Its structure and style is based in different units of movements, postures, and hand gestures such as Adavus etc., which are the combination of steps and gestures artistically woven into Nrtta sequences.

The basic Nrtta items in the Bharatanatya repertoire are the Alarippu (invocation); Jatiswaram (perhaps a successor of Yati Nrtta, where the Jati patterns are interspersed with appropriate Svara); and , Tillana (brisk, short rhythmic passages presented towards the close of the performance

Such Nrtta items in a Bharatanatya performance are dominated by the technique of the Angikabhinaya, which is defined as acting by means of body movements.

[ Alarippu

Alarippu is a dance invocation, which , at the same time, executes a series of pure Dance movements (Nrtta) following rhythmic patterns. It is an ideal introduction or prologue to a Dance performance. It commences with perfect repose, a well balanced poise (Sama-bhanga). Then, the individual movements of the neck, the shoulders, and the arms follow. And, next is the Ardha-mandali (the flexed position of the knees) and the full Mandali.  Thus, the Alarippu introduces the movements of the major limbs (Anga) and the minor limbs (Upanga) , in their simple formations. The dancer, thus, is able to check on her limb-movements; attaining positions of perfect  balance; and, the ease of her performance. The Alarippu sets the Dancer and the Dance performance to take off with eloquence and composure.

Jatisvaram

The Jatisvaram, which follows the Alarippu, is also a dance form of the Nrtta class. It properly introduces the music element into the dance. The Jatisvaram follows the rules of the Svara-jati , in its musical structure. And, it consists three movements: the Pallavi, the Anu-pallavi and the Charanam. The music of the Jatisvaram is distinguished from the musical composition called Gita (song) ; as also from the Varnam , which is a complex composition. In the Jatisvaram, the music is not composed of meaningful words. But, here, the series of sol-fa passages (Svaras) are very highly important. A Jatisvaram composition is set to five Jatis (time-units) of metrical – cyclic patterns (Taala) – say, of 3,4,5,7,9. The basic Taala cycle guides the dancer; and she weaves different types of rhythmic patterns, in terms of the primary units of the dance (the Adavus).

The execution of Jatisvaram is based on the principle of repetition of the musical notes (Svara) of the melody, set to a given Taala. Following that principle, the dancer weaves a variety of dance-patterns.

Thus, what is pure Svara in music becomes pure dance (Nrtta) modulation in the Jatisvaram. The dancer and the musician may begin together on the first note of the melody; and, synchronize to return to the first beat of the Taala cycle; or, the dancer may begin the dance-pattern on the third beat, and yet may synchronize at the end of the phrase of the melodic line. But, the variety of punctuations and combinations within the Jatisvaram format are truly countless. It is up to the ingenuity, the skill and imagination of the dancer to weave as many complex patterns as she is capable of.

Tillana

Tillana is a rhythmic dance that is generally performed towards the end of a concert. A Tillana uses Taala-like phrases in the Pallavi and Anupallavi, and lyrics in the Charanam. It  is predominantly a rhythmic composition.

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Varnam

The Varnam is a highly interesting and complex composition in the Karnataka Samgita. And, when adopted into Dance-form, Varnam is transformed into the richest composition in Bharatanatya. The Varnam, either in music or dance, is a finely crafted exquisite works of art; and, it gives full scope to the musician and also to the dancer to display ones knowledge, skill and expertise.

And , in Dance , its alternating passages of Sahitya (lyrics) and Svaras (notes of the melody) gives scope to the dancer to perform both the Nrtya (dance with Abhinaya) and Nrtta (pure dance movements) aspects. In its performance, a Varnam employs all the three tempos. The movement of a Varnam, which is crisp and tightly knit, is strictly controlled; and, it’s rendering demands discipline and skill. It also calls for complete understanding between the singer and the dancer; and also for the dancer’s ability to interpret not only the words (Sahitya) but also the musical notes (Svaras) as per the requisite time units (Taala). The dancer presents, in varied ways, through Angika-abhinaya the dance elements, which the singer brings forth through the rendering of the Svaras]

Hamsa 4

The Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeshvara is widely used by the teachers and learners of Bharatanatya. The text is concerned mainly with the descriptions and applications of Angikabhinaya in dance. These are body movements composed by combining the movements of body parts; such as: Angas (major limbs); Upangas (minor limbs), and Pratayangas (smaller parts like fingers, etc).

[The Abhinaya Darpana (Chapter 8, Angika Abhinaya Pages: 47 to71) lists, in great detail, the following kinds of body movements under Angika-abhinaya. And, these are followed by the students and the teachers of Bharatanatya.

Shirobheda (movements of the head); Dristibheda (movements of the eyes); Grivabheda (movements of the neck); Asamyukta-hasta (gestures of one hand); Samyukta-hasta (gestures by both hands together); Padabheda (standing postures with Hasta); Sthanaka (Simple standing posture); Utplavana (jumps); Chari-s (different ways of walking, or moving of feet/soles); and, Gati-s (different ways of walking)

In addition, there are other kinds of movements and activities of various parts of the body that are important to Nrtta.]

[The following well known verses said to be of the Abhinaya Darpana are very often quoted

Khantaanyat Lambayat Geetam; Hastena Artha Pradakshayat; Chakshubhyam Darshayat Bhavom; Padabhyam Tala Acherait

Keep your throat full of song; Let your hands bring out the meaning; May your glance be full of expression, While your feet maintain the rhythm

Yato Hasta tato Drushti; Yato Drushti tato Manaha; Yato Manaha tato Bhavaha; Yato Bhava tato Rasaha

Where the hand goes, there the eyes should follow; Where the eyes are, there the mind should follow; Where the mind is, there the expression should be brought out; Where there is  expression , there the Rasa will manifest.]

Hamsa 4

Pindlbandhas

Pindlbandhas (Pindi = cluster or lump) are basically group dances that constitute a distinct phase of the preliminaries (purvaranga) to a play. According to Bharata, the Pindlbandhas were patterned after the dance performed by Shiva along with his Ganas and disciples such as Nandi and Bhadramukha. The purpose of performing the Pindlbandhas, before the commencement of the play proper, was to please the gods; and, to invoke their blessings.

After the exit of the dancer who performed the Pushpanjali (flower offering to gods), The Pindis are danced , by another set of women, to the accompaniment of songs and instrumental music –  anyāścā anukrameātha piṇḍī badhnanti yā striyaḥ- ॥ 279॥

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While describing the physical structure and composition of the Pindibandhas; and the various types of clusters and patterns formed by its dancers, Bharata mentions four types of Pindibandhas that were performed during his time: Pindi (Gulma-lump-like formation); Latha (entwined creeper or net like formation, where dancers put their arms around each other); Srinkhalika (chain like formation by holding each other’s hands); and, Bhedyaka (where the dancers break away from the group and perform individual numbers).

piṇḍī śṛṅkhalikā caiva latābandho’tha bhedyaka piṇḍībandhastu piṇḍatvādgulma śṛṅkhalikā bhavet 288

In short; the Pindibandha is the technique of group formations; and, weaving patterns. Abhinavagupta describes it as ‘piṇḍī ādhāra agādi saghāta,’- a collection of all those basic elements which make a composite whole. It is called Pindibandha, because it draws in all other aspects; and, ties them together. He also states that Agahāras form the core of the Pindibandhas.

 It is said; each variation of a cluster-formation (Pindi) was dedicated to and named after a god or a goddess, who was denoted by the weapons, vehicles, insignia or emblems associated with that deity; and, her/his glory was celebrated through the formation created by the dancers.

Abhinavagupta also explains Pindibandha as the term which refers to the insignia or weapon etc; and, which reminds one of the divinity or concept associated with it.

Pindi adhara-angadi sanghatah; taya badhyate buddhau pravesyate tanu-bhavena sakalaya va vyoma-adaviti pindibandha akrti-visesah

(For instance: Īśvara piṇḍī for Īśvara; Sihavāhinī for Caṇḍikā; Śikhī piṇḍī for Kumar and so on).


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Abhinavagupta explains that in the Pindibandha, the  dancers coming together, can combine in two ways : as  Sajatiya , in which the two dancers would appear as two lotuses from a common stalk;  or as Vijatiya,  in which one dancer will remain in one pose like the swan and the other will be in a different pose to give the effect of lotus with stalk, held by the swan-lady. And, in the gulma-srnkhalika formation, three women would combine; and in the Latha, creeper like formation, four women would combine.

Bharata provides a list of such Pindis in verses 253-258 of Chapter Four. Bharata states that in order to be able to create such auspicious diagrams/formations (citra), in an appropriate manner, the dancers need to undergo systematic training (śikāyogas tathā caiva prayoktavya prayoktbhiḥ – NS.4.291)

The presentation of the preliminaries seemed to be quite an elaborate affair, with the participation of singers, drummers, and groups of dancers.

Tikuli art

The most celebrated type of the Pindibandha Nrtta is, of course, is the Rasalila that Sri Krishna performed with the Goips amidst the mango and Kadamba groves along the banks of the gentle flowing Yamuna under resplendent full moon of the Sharad-ritu.

Srimamad Bhagavatha sings the glory and joy of Rasa-Lila with love and divine ecstasy, in five Chapters from 29 to 33 of the Tenth Canto (Dashama-skanda) titled as ‘Rasa-panca-adhyayi’. (Harivamsa also describes this dance; but, calls it as Hallisaka)

“That night beautified by the autumnal moon (sharad indu), the almighty Lord having seen the night rendered delightful with the blooming of autumnal jasmines  sported with  the Gopis, while he played on his flute melodious tunes and songs captivating the hearts of the Gopis.

Then having stationed himself between every two of these damsels the Lord of all Yoga, commenced in that circle of the Gopis the festive dance known as Rasa-Lila. Then that ring of dancers was filled with the sounds of bracelets, bangles and the kinkinis of the damsels. While they sang sweet and melodious songs filled with love, the Gopis gesticulated with their hands to express various Bhavas of the Srngara-rasa.

With their measured steps, with the movements of their hands, with their smiles, with the graceful and amorous contraction of their eyebrows, with their dancing bodies, their moving locks of hair covering their foreheads with drops of perspiration trickling down tneir gentle cheeks  and with the knots of their hair loosened, Gopis began to sing. The music of their song filled the Universe.”

Rasa Lila – from Vishnu Purana

The Raasa Dance of today is the re-enactment of Krishna’s celestial Rasa-Lila. It is a Pindibandha type of  dance performed by a well coordinated group of eight, sixteen or thirty two men and women , alternatively positioned, holding each other’s hands; forming a circle (Mandala); going round in rhythmic steps  , singing songs of love made of soft and sweet sounding words; clapping each other’s hands rhythmically; and,  throwing gentle looks at each other (bhrubhanga vikasita). Laya and Taala in combination with vocal and instrumental music play an important role in the Rasa dance.

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The direct descendants of the Rasa-Lila Pindibandhas described in the Puranas  are the many types of folk and other types of group in many parts of India :  Raslīlā, Daṇḍaras, Kummi, Perani, Kolāṭṭam and similar other dances. The most famous of them all is the Maha-Rasa of Manipur, performed with the singing of the verses of Srimad Bhagavata.

manipur-ras-lila-

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[When you take an overview, you can see that during the time of Bharata, Nrtta meant a Marga class of dance. And, Tandava and Sukumara were also of the Nrtta type. Though the connotation of those terms has since changed vastly, their underlying principles are relevant even to this day.

In the textual tradition, the framework devised by Bharata continued to be followed by the later authors, in principle, for classification and descriptions of several of dance forms – (even though Nrtta and Nrtya were no longer confined to Drama –Natya). The norms laid down by Bharata were treated as the standard or the criterion (Marga, Nibaddha), in comparison with regional (Desi) other types of improvised (Anibaddha) dance forms, in their discussions. The regional dance-forms , despite their specialized formats,  were primarily based in the basic principles of Natyashastra.

This amazing continuity in the tradition of the Natyashastra is preserved in all the Indian classical Dance forms.]

lotus-flower-and-bud

In the next Part we will talk about Nrtta, Natya and Nritya as they were understood, interpreted and commented upon in the Post-Bharata period, i.e., the medieval times and in the present-day.

Continued

 In

Part Four

References and sources

All images are from the Internet

 
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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part One

 

Natya Sastra (1)

Lakshana-granthas – texts concerning the performing arts of India

Some time back – as a part of the series on the Music of India  – I had posted brief profiles of some of the well known texts on Samgita-shastra (Musicology), which established a sound theoretical basis (Lakshana) for the structural framework of the classical Music traditions; and, their practice (Lakshya). Those texts, produced over a long period of time, described, in precise terms, the concepts of   Music; its concerns; how it should be taught, learnt and performed; and, how it should be experienced and enjoyed.  It was an evolutionary process cascading towards greater sophistication.

Those Lakshana-granthas projected their vision of how the Music should develop and prosper in future, at the same time retaining the pristine purity of the time-honoured tradition. In the process, those texts, produced over the centuries, defined and protected the principles; as also, guided and regulated the performance of the chaste Music of India.

Some friends and readers inquired whether I could write, on similar lines, about the texts concerning the evolution of the principles and techniques of the performing arts of India; and, particularly , about Dance , which  is the most enchanting form of them all; rich in elegance and beauty ; comprehensive; and highly challenging.

Various thinkers and writers of the Lakshana granthas, over a long period, have put forward several theories based on their concept of the essential core, the heart or the soul of the art of Dance (Natyasya Atma).

In the series of articles that are to follow, I have attempted to trace the unfolding of the principles and practice of the performing arts of India, as discussed in various texts spread over several centuries.

In the present installment of the series, let’s take an overview of the texts of the Indian Dancing traditions. In the subsequent parts, we may discuss each of the selected texts, in fair detail.

This may also be treated as a sort of General Introduction to the theories of Indian Dancing.

design

The Natyashastra

It is customary to commence with Natyashastra, when it comes to any discussion related to the art-forms of India. To start with, we shall, briefly, talk about the text of the Natyashastra, in general; and, then move on to Natyashastra in the context of Dance.

The Natyashastra of Bharata is regarded as the seminal and the earliest text extant text, represents the first stage of Indian arts where the diverse elements of arts, literature, music, dance, stage management and cosmetics etc., combined harmoniously in order to produce an enjoyable play. It is the source book for all art forms of India. The yaśāstra, surely, is a work of great antiquity. Yet; the scholars opine that looking at the way the text has been compiled and structured; it appears to be based on earlier works.

It is said that the text which we know as Natya-Shastra was based on an earlier text that was much larger. That seems very likely; because, the Natyasastra, as we know, which has about 6,000  karikas (verses), is also known as Sat-sahasri. The later authors and commentators (Dhanika, Abhinavagupta and Sarada-tanaya) refer to the text as Sat-sahari; and, its author as Sat-sahasri-kara. But, the text having 6,000 verses is said to be a condensed version of an earlier and larger text having about 12,000 verses (dwadasha-sahasri). It is said; the larger version was known as Natya- agama and the shorter as Natya-shastra.

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And, again, According to Prof. KM Varma, there were three types of works which preceded the Natyashastra that we know: (1) Sutra – a work on Natya; (2) Bhashya – a commentary on it; and (3) Anuvamsya – a collection of verses , from which Bharata often quotes.

He also points out that Bharata mentions in the Samgraha (the table of contents to Natyashastra) that the subjects to be discussed in the text have reference to what is stated in the Sutra and the Bhashya. That leads to the conclusion that a comprehensive theory of Natya existed much before the time of Bharata; and that he incorporated some of that into his work – the Natyashastra.

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Further, Panini also suggests there were texts on Natya even much prior to Natyashastra.

Panini (Ca.500 BCE) the great Grammarian, in his Astadhyayi (4.3.110-11), mentions two ancient Schools  –  of  Krsava and Silalin – that were in existence during  his time –Parasarya Silalibhyam bhikshu nata-sutreyoh  (4.3.110); karmanda krushas shvadinihi  (4.3.111)It appears that Parasara, Silalin, karmanda and Krsava were the authors of Bhikshu Sutras and Nata Sutras. Of these, Silalin and Krsava were said to have prepared the Sutras (codes) for the Nata (actors or dancers). At times, Natyashastra refers to the performers (Nata) as Sailalaka -s. The assumption is that the Silalin-school, at one time, might have been a prominent theatrical tradition. Some scholars opine that the Nata-sutras of Silalin (coming under the Amnaya tradition) might have influenced the preliminary part (Purvanga) of the Natyashastra, with its elements of worship (Puja).

However, in the preface to his great work Natya-shastra of Bharatamuni (Volume I, Second Edition, 1956) Pundit M. Ramakrishna Kavi mentions that in the Natyavarga of Amara-kosha (2.8.1419-20) there is reference to three schools of Nata-sutra-kara: Silalin; Krasava; and, Bharata.

Śailālinas tu śailūā jāyājīvā kśāśvina bharatā   ityapi naāś cāraās tu kuśīlavā

It appears that in the later times,  the former two Schools (Silali and Krasava) , which flourished earlier to Bharata , went out of existence or merged with the School of Bharata; and, nothing much has come down to us  about these older Schools. And, it is also said, the Bharata himself was preceded by Adi-Bharata, the originator and Vriddha (senior) Bharata. And, all the actors, of whatever earlier Schools, later came to be known as Bharata-s.

All these suggest that there were texts on Natya even before the time of Bharata; and, by his time Natya was already a well established Art.

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The Natyasastra, that we know, is dated around about the second century BCE . The scholars surmise that the text was in circulation for a very long period of time, in its oral form; and, it was reduced to writing several centuries after it was articulated. Until then, the text was preserved and transmitted in oral form.

The written text facilitated its reach to different parts of the country; and, to the neighboring states as well. In the process, each region, where the text became popular, produced its own version of Natyasastra; in its own script. For instance, Natyasastra spread to Nepal, Almora to Ujjain, Darbhanga and also to the Southern states. The earliest known manuscripts which come from Nepal were in Newari script. The text also became available in many other scripts – Devanagari, Grantha, and several regional languages. It became rather difficult for the later-day scholars, to evolve criteria for determining the authenticity and purity of the text, particularly with grammatical mistakes and scribes errors that crept in during the protracted process of transliterations. Therefore, written texts as they have come down to us through manuscripts , merely represent the residual record or an approximation to the original; but, not the exact communication of the oral tradition that originated from Bharata.

It is the general contention that the text of the Natyashastra, as it is available today, was not written at one point of time. Its form, as it has come down to us, includes several additions and alterations. It is also said; many views presented in Natya-Shastra might possibly have been adopted from the works of other scholars. That seems quite likely; because, there are frequent references to other writers and other views; there are repetitions; there are contradictory passages; there are technical terms, which are not supported by the tradition.

And, in regard to Dance, in particular, the Chapter Four (Tandava-lakshanam) is the most important portion, as it details the dance-techniques. The editor of  ya Śāstra, Sri. Ramaswami Sastri, however remarks  that ‘this section of ya Śāstra dealing with Karaas, being of a highly technical nature, was less understood and was rendered more difficult by numerous errors committed by the scribes as well as by the omissions of large portions in the manuscripts’.

Though such additions, deletions and alterations have not been pinpointed precisely, some scholars, particularly Prof. KM Varma, surmise that the verses of a long portion of the Fourth Chapter beginning from Sloka number 274 and ending with the chapter seem to be interpolated.  These verses do not also fit into the context. Abhinavagupta also admits the possibility of their insertions.

Further, Prof. KM Varma also mentions that the portion from the Samanya-abhinaya chapter (Chapter 22) to the beginning of the chapter on Siddhi; as also the portions beginning after the chapter on Avanaddha to the end of the present text, are the later additions.

And, by about the tenth century, two recessions of the yaśāstra were in circulation. One was the longer version; and, the other the shorter. There have been long drawn out debates arguing which of the two is the authentic version. Abhinavagupta in his commentary of the yaśāstra used the shorter recession as the basis of his work; while some authors of the medieval period like Raja Bhoja used the longer version. However, Pandit Ramakrishna Kavi, who examined as many as about forty Manuscripts of the text, opined that the longer recession seemed to be ancient, although it contains some interpolation. But, in any case, now, both the versions are treated as ‘authentic’; and, are used depending upon the choice of the commentator.

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Natyashastra in the context of Dance

Natyashastra was mainly concerned with successful play-production. And, the role of Music and Dance, in conjunction with other components, was primarily to beautify and to heighten the dramatic effects of the acts and scenes in the play. These were treated as enchanting artistic devices that articulate the moods of various theatrical situations in the Drama. The Dance, at that stage, was an ancillary part (Anga) or one of the ingredients that lent elegance and grace to theatrical performance. That is to say; though Music and Dance were very essential to Drama, neither of the two, at that stage, was considered as an independent Art-form.

Further, for a considerable length of time, say up to the middle period, both music and dance were covered by a single term Samgita.  The term Samgita in the early Indian context meant a composite art-form comprising Gita (vocal singing), Vadya (instrumental accompaniments) and Nrtta the limb movement or dance (Gitam, Vadyam, Nrttam Samgita-mucchyate).  The third component of Samgita, viz., Nrtta, involved the use of other two components (Gita and Vadya).

Thus, the term Samgita combined in itself all the different phases of music, including dance. For Dance (Nrtta), just as in the case of vocal (Gita) and instrumental (Vadya) music, the rhythm (Laya) is very vital. The Dance too was regarded as a kind of music. This is analogous to human body where its different limbs function in harmony with the body’s rhythm.

It was said; all the three elements should, ideally, coordinate and perform harmoniously – supporting and strengthening each other with great relish. And, the three Kutapa-s, in combination should suggest a seamless movement like a circle of fire (Alaata chakra); and, should brighten (Ujjvalayati) the stage.

Thus, till about the middle periods, Dance was regarded as a supporting decorative factor; but, not an independent Art form.

Shiva dancing Halebidu

Coming back to Natyashastra, the Dance that it deals in fair detail is, indeed, Nrtta, the pure dance movements – with its Tandava and Sukumara variations – that carry no particular meaning.  The Nrtta was described as pure dancing or limb movements (agavikepa), not associated with any particular emotion, Bhava. And, it was performed during the preliminaries (Purvaranga), before the commencement of the play proper. The Nrtta was meant as a praise offering (Deva-stuti) to the gods.

And, later Bharata did try to combine the pure dance movements of Nrtta (involving poses, gestures, foot-work etc.) with Abhinaya (lit., to bring near, to present before the eyes), to create an expressive dance-form that was adorned with elegant, evocative and graceful body-movements, performed in unison with attractive rhythm and enthralling music, in order to effectively interpret and illustrate the lyrics of a song; and, also to depict the emotional content of a dramatic sequence.

But, for some reason, Bharata did not see the need to assign a name or a title to this newly created amalgam of Nrtta and Abhinaya. (This art-form in the later period came to be celebrated as Nrtya).

Even at this stage, Dance was not an independent art-form; and, it continued to be treated as one of the beautifying factors of the Drama.

Bharata had not discussed, in detail, about Dance; nor had he put forward any theories to explain his concepts about Dance. The reason for that might be, as the scholars explain, Bharata had left that task to his disciple Kohala; asking him to come up with a treatise on dancing, explaining whatever details he could not mention in the Natyashastra. In fact, Bharata, towards the end of his work says: ‘the rest will be done by Kohala through a supplementary treatise’ – śeam-uttara-tantrea kohalastu kariyati (NS.37.18.)

But, unfortunately, that work of Kohala did not survive for long. And, by the time of Abhinavagupta (10-11th century), it was totally lost.

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Texts concerning dance

When it comes to the texts concerning dance there are certain issues or limiting factors.

There is reason to believe that many works on dancing were written during the period following that of Bharata. But most of those works were lost.

For instance; the ancient writers such as Dattila or Dantila (perhaps belonging to the period just after that of Bharata) and Matanga or Matanga Muni (sixth or the seventh century) who wrote authoritatively on Music, it appears, had also commented on Dance. But again, the verses pertaining to Dance in their works, have not come down to us entirely. Some of those verses have survived as fragments quoted by the commentators of the later periods; say , for example, the references pertaining to Taala and Dance from the Brihaddeshi  of Matanga .

Similarly, between the time of Natyashastra (Ca. 200 BCE) and the Abhinavabharati of Abhinavagupta (10-11th century), several commentaries were said to have been produced on the subject of Drama, Music, Dance and related subjects. Some of such ancient authorities mentioned by Abhinavagupta are: Kohala, Nandi, Rahula, Dattila, Narada, Matanga, Shandilya, Kirtidhara, Matrigupta, Udbhata, Sri Sanuka, Lottata, Bhattanayaka and his Guru Bhatta Tauta and others. But, sadly the works of those Masters are lost to us; and, they survive in fragments as cited by the later authors.

Abhinavagupta, states that much of the older traditions had faded out of practice. And he says that one of the reasons, which prompted him to write his work, was to save the tradition from further erosion.

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Texts on Music etc., which also dealt with Dance

There are not many ancient texts that are particularly devoted to discussions on Dance, its theories and techniques.

Most of the texts and treatise which dealt with Music, primarily, also talked about dance, in comparatively briefly manner, towards the end. For instance:

[Here, in this portion, I have followed Dr. Mandakranta Bose, as in her very well researched paper ( The Evolution of Classical Indian Dance Literature: A Study of the Sanskritic Tradition )  . I gratefully acknowledge her help and guidance.]

(1) Visnudharmottara Purana (Ca. fifth or sixth century) a   text encyclopedic in nature.  Apart from painting, image-making, Dancing and dramaturgy, it also deals with varied subjects such as astronomy, astrology, politics, war strategies, treatment of diseases etc. The text, which is divided into three khandas (parts), has in all 570 Adhyayas (chapters). It deals with dance, in its third segment – chapters twenty to thirty-four.

The author follows the Natyasastra in describing the abstract dance form, Nrtta; and, in defining its function as one of beautifying a dramatic presentation. The focus of the text is on Nrtta, defining its vital elements such as Karanas, Cari etc., required in dancing. In addition, the author briefly touches upon the Pindibandhas or group dances mentioned by Bharata; and, goes on to describe VrttiPravrtti and Siddhi; that is – the style, the means of application and the nature of competence.

(2) The Abhinavabharati of   Abhinavagupta (11th century) though famed as a commentary on Bharata’s Natyasastra, is, for all purposes, an independent treatise on aesthetics in Indian dance, music, poetry, poetics (alakāra-śhāstra), art , Tantra, Pratyabhijnana School of Shaiva Siddanta etc.   Abhinavabharati is considered a landmark work; and is regarded important for the study of Natyasastra.

Abhinavabharati is the oldest commentary available on Natyasastra. All the other previous commentaries are now totally lost. The fact such commentaries once existed came to light only because Abhinavagupta referred to them in his work; and, discussed their views. Further, Abhinavagupta also brought to light and breathed life into ancient and forgotten scholarship of fine rhetoricians Bhamaha, Dandin and Rajashekhara.

Abhinavagupta also drew upon the later authors to explain the application of the rules and principles of Dance. As Prof. Mandakranta Bose observes : One of the most illuminating features of Abhinavagupta’s work is his practice of citing  and drawing upon the older authorities critically , presenting their views to elucidate Bharata’s views ; and , often rejecting their views , putting forth  his own observations to  provide evidence to the contrary.

Abhinavagupta, thus, not only expands on Bharata’s cryptic statements and concepts; but also interprets them in the light of his own experience and knowledge, in the context of the contemporary practices. And, therefore, the importance of Abhinavagupta’s work can hardly be overstated.

He also discusses, in detail, the Rasa-sutra of Bharata in the light of theories Dhvani (aesthetic suggestion) and Abhivyakti (expression). And, Dance is one of the subjects that Abhinavabharati deals with. As regards Dance, Abhinavabharati is particularly known for the explanations it offers on Angikabhinaya and Karanas. The later authors and commentators followed the lead given by Abhinavagupta.

(3) The Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya (10-11th century), is a work on dramaturgy; and, basically is a summary or compilation of rules concerning Drama (Rupaka), extracted from the Natyashastra of Bharata. As regards Dance, Dhananjaya, in Book One of his work, which provides lists of definitions, mentions the broad categories of Dance-forms as: the Marga (the pure or pristine); and, the Desi (the regional or improvised). And, under each class, he makes a two-fold division: Lasya, the graceful, gentle and fluid pleasing dance; and, Tandava, the vigorous, energetic and brisk invigorating movements (lasya-tandava-rupena natakad-dyupakarakam.). The rest of his work is devoted to discussion on ten forms of Drama (Dasarupaka)

(4) The Srngaraprakasa of Raja Bhoja (10-11th century) is again a work; spread over thirty-six chapters, which deal principally with poetics (Alamkara shastra) and dramaturgy. In so far as Dance is concerned, it is relevant for the discussion carried out in its Eleventh Chapter on minor types of plays (Uparupakas) or musical Dance-dramas.

(5) The Natya-darpana of Ramacandra and Gunacandra (twelfth century) is also a treatise, having four chapters, devoted mainly to dramaturgy; discussing characteristics of Drama. The text is useful to Dance, because in its third chapter while discussing Anigikabhinaya, it lists the names of the movements of the different parts of the body, as well as extended sequences and compositions.

(6) Another text of great interest from the twelfth century is the  Manasollasa (also called Abhjilashitarta Chintamani) ascribed to the Kalyana Chalukya King Someshwara III (1127-1139 AD). It  is an encyclopedic work, divided into one hundred chapters, clustered under  five sections, covering a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the means of acquiring a kingdom, methods of establishing it, to medicine, magic, veterinary science, valuation of precious stones, fortifications, painting , art, games ,  amusements , culinary art and so on . 

As regards Dance, the Manasollasa deals with the subject in the sixteenth chapter, having in 457 verses, titled Nrtya-vinoda, coming under the Fourth Section of the text – the Vinoda vimsathi- dealing with types of amusements.

Manasollasa is also the earliest extant work having a thorough and sustained discussion on dancing. It is also the earliest work, which laid emphasis on the Desi aspect for which later writers on this subject are indebted. Another important contribution of Nrtya Vinoda is that it serves as a source material for reconstruction of the dance styles that were prevalent in medieval India. For these and other reasons, the Nrtya Vinoda of Manasollasa, occupies a significant place in the body of dance literature. 

Someshwara introduces the subject of dancing by saying that dances should be performed at every festive occasion, to celebrate conquests, success in competitions and examinations as well as occasions of joy, passion, pleasure and renouncement. He names six varieties of dancing and six types of Nartakas. The term Nartaka, here, stands for performers in general; and, includes Nartaki (danseuse), Nata (actor), Nartaka (dancer), Vaitalika (bard), Carana (wandering performer) and kollatika (acrobat).

Manasollasa is also significant to the theory of Dance, because it classified the whole of dancing into two major classes:  the Marga (that which adheres to codified rules) and Desi (types of unregulated dance forms with their regional variations).  Manasollasa also introduced four-fold categories of dance forms: Nrtya, Lasya, Marga and Desi.

At another place, Someshwara uses the term Nartana to denote Dancing, in general, covering six types: Natya (dance), Lasya (delicate), Tandava (vigorous), Visama (acrobatic), Vikata (comical) and Laghu (light and graceful).

 The other authors, such as Sarangadeva, Pundarika Vittala and others followed the classifications given Manasollasa.

In regard to Dance-movements, Someshwara classifies them into  six Angas, eight Upangas and six Pratyangas. The last mentioned sub-division viz. Pratyanga is an introduction made by Someshwara into Natya terminology; the Natyashastra had not mentioned this minor sub-category.

The other important contribution of Someshwara is the introduction of eighteen Desi karanas, (dance poses) that were not mentioned in other texts.

 (7) A work from this period, but not dated with certainty, which deal with drama is the Nataka-laksana-ratna-kosa of Sagaranandin. The text, as the name suggests, discusses, in detail, the nature and characteristics of Nataka as well as other varieties of drama. This work is of interest to Dance insofar as it lists and describes ten types of Lasyanga that are used in the Lasya variety of dance.

(8) The Bhavaprakasana of Saradatanaya (1175 -1250 A.D.) containing ten Adhikaras or chapters, is a compendium of poetics and dramaturgy based on the critical works written right from the period of Natyashastra. Its relevance to dance is in its discussions on glances that express Bhavas, as given at the end of the fifth chapter. And, the tenth and final chapter explains the distinction between Nrtta and Nrtya; and, between Marga and Desi.

He contradicts Dhananjaya; and, asserts that   Nrtta, the pure dance, is rooted in Rasa (Nrttam rasa-ahrayam). Saradatanaya’s definition meant that Nrtta not only beautifies a presentation, but is also capable of generating Rasa. This, during his time, was, indeed, a novel view.

(9) The Sangita Samayasara of Parsvadeva (a Jain Acharya of 12th or early 13thcentury) is an important work, which is devoted to musicology. It is its seventh chapter that is of interest to Dance.  It is not until the Sangita Samayasara that we find any description of a complete dance.

The Sangita Samayasara, though it deals, mainly, with Music, is of great relevance to Dance. The Seventh Chapter is devoted entirely to Desi dance (referred to as Nrtta); its definition; and, the Angas or body movements (Angika), the features of Desi dances (Desiya-Angani).

This text not only describes specific Nrtta dance pieces (such as: Perana, Pekkhana, Gundali and Dandarasa), but also adds a number of new movements of the Cari, the Sthanas and the Karanas of the Desi variety, all of which involving complicated leaping movements. Here, Parsvadeva describes the utplatti-karanas, needed for the Desi dances; eleven Desi karanas with different Desi-sthanas; and, five Bhramaris.

Towards the end of the Seventh Chapter, Parsvadeva describes the requirements of a good dancer; her physical appearance; and, the way she should be dressed etc.

(10) By about the 13th century, dance had its own existence; and was no longer an ancillary to drama, as it was during the time of Natyashastra. The concept of Nrtta was still present; Nritya as a delightful art form was fully established; and, the two forms retained their individual identity. And, both were discussed along with Natya.  This is reflected in the appearance of numerous works on the art of Music, Dance and Drama, the most significant of which was the Samgita Ratnakara of Sarangadeva 

The Sarangadeva’s Sangita-ratnakara (first half of 13th century) is one of the most influential works on music and dance. The Sangita-ratnakara is a great compilation, not an original work, which ably brings together various strands of the past music traditions found in earlier works like Nāţyashastra, Dattilam, Bŗhaddēśī, and Sarasvatī-hŗdayālańkāra-hāra. It is greatly influenced by Abhinavagupta’s    Abhinavabharati. But for Samgita-ratnakara, it might have been more difficult to understand Natyasastra, Brhaddesi and other ancient texts. But, while dealing with Desi class of Dance, Sarangadeva follows Manasollasa of Someshwara.

The text of Sangita-ratnakara has 1678 verses spread over seven chapters (Saptaadhyayi) covering the aspects of GitaVadya and NrttaSvaragat-adhyaya; Ragavivek-adhyaya; Prakirnaka-adhyayaPrabandh-adhyayaTaala-adhyaya; Vadya-adhyaya and   Nartana-adhyaya. The first six chapters deal with various facets of music and music-instruments; and, the last chapter deals with Dance. Sangita-ratnakara’s contribution to dance is very significant.

Chapter Seven– Nartana: The seventh and the last chapter, is in two parts; the first one deals with Nartana.  Sarangadeva, following Someshwara, uses a common term Nartana to denote the arts of Nŗtta, Nŗtya and Nāţya.  In describing the Marga tradition of Dance, Sarangadeva follows Natyashastra. As regards the Desi class of Dance he improves upon the explanations offered in Manasollasa of King Someshwara and Sangita Samayasara of Parsvadeva.

According to Sarangadeva, the Nrtya covers rhythmic limb movements (Nrtta) as also eloquent gestures expressing emotions through Abhinaya. It is a harmonious combination of facial expressions, various glances, poses and meaningful movements of the hands, fingers and feet. Nrtyam, the dance, delightfully brings together and presents in a very highly expressive, attractive visual and auditory form, the import of the lyrics (sahitya), the nuances of its emotional content to the accompaniment of soulful music and rhythmic patterns (tala-laya).

Although he follows Bharata in describing the movements of the body, he differs from Bharata in dividing the limbs into three categories, Anga, Upanga and Pratyanga.

He also differs from Natyashastra which identifies Tandava as Shiva’s dance and Sukumara (Lasya) as Parvati’s. According to Sarangadeva, Tandava requires Uddhata (forceful) and Lasya requires Lalita (delicate) movements.

Sarangadeva’s description of Cari, Sthana, Karana and Angaharas of the Marga type are the same as in the Natyashastra. But the Desi Caris, Sthanas and Utputikaranas are according to Manasollasa of Someshwara.

Sarangadeva explains the importance of aesthetic beauty; and also lays down the rules of exercise. He also describes the qualities and faults of a performer (including a description of her make-up and costume); and, those of the teacher and the group of supporting performers. Then he describes the sequential process of a performance, including the musical accompaniment, in the pure mode or suddha-paddhati.

(11) The Sangita Upanishad Saroddhara  is a treatise on music and dance written in the fourteenth century (1350 A.D.) by the Jaina writer Sudhakalasa. The work is in six chapters, the first four of which are on Gita (vocal music), Vadya (musical instruments) and on Taala (rhythm). The fifth and the sixth chapters are related to dancing.

The term he uses for dance is Nrtya. His understanding of the terms Nrtta, Nrtya and Natya varied from that of his predecessors. According to him, Nrtta is danced by men, Nrtya by women, while Natya is Nataka, performed by both men and women. And, his treatment of the movements of the feet (pada-karmas) and the postures (Sthanas and Sthanakas) differs from that of other texts. According to him, Sthanas are postures meant for women; while, Sthanakas are postures meant for men. Karanas, according to Sudhakalasa, are components of Lasyangas and Nrtya. Obviously, he was recording the contemporary practice, without specific reference to the earlier texts and traditions.

(12) The Sangitacandra is a work containing 2168 verses by Suklapandita, also known as Vipradasa (Ca. fourteenth century). He explains the procedures of the Purvaranga; and classifies its dance Nrtta into three categories:  Visama (heavy), Vikata (deviated) and Laghu (light). Such classification of Nrtta and such terms to describe Nrtta had not been used earlier by any author.

He then, initially, divides Nrtya, the dance, into two classes: Marga-nrtya which expresses Rasa; and, Natya-nrtya, which expresses Bhava. And, then, brings in the third variety of Nrtya, the Desiya Nrtya, the regional types. Thereafter, he divides each of the three varieties of Nrtya into Tandava and Lasya.

Again, Vipradasa‘s understanding of the terms and concepts of Dance and their treatment; and, emphasis on the Desi dances, reflect the contemporary practices of the medieval period.

(13) A major work of the medieval period is the Sangita-damodara by Subhankara (ca. Fifteenth century).  Although the Sangita-damodara is principally a work on music and dance, it includes substantial discussions on drama as well. Of its Five Chapters, the Fourth one relates to Dance. Here, dancing is discussed under two broad heads:  Angahara (Angaviksepa, movements of the body) and Nrtya (the dance proper).

Under Angahara, the author includes Angikabhinaya, as related to Drama, because it means acting by using the movements of the limbs. As regards Nrtya, he treats it, mostly, as Desi Nrtya, the regional dances. Nrtya is divided into two types: Tandava, the Purusha-nrtya, danced by men; and, Lasya, the Stri-nrtya, danced by women.

Under Natya, Subhankara includes twenty-seven major type of Dramas (Rupaka) and minor types of Drama (Uparupaka). He classifies them under the heading Nrtye naksatramala, the garland of stars in Nrtya.

Thus, the concept of dance in its male and female forms had crept in. And, the Dance-drama, based in music, was treated as a form of Nrtya. The Nrtya was generally understood as Desi Nrtya.

(14) Another important work from this period is the Nrtyadhyaya of Asokamalla (Ca. fourteenth century). The Nrtyadhyaya consisting of 1611 verses follows the Desi tradition of dance, as in Sangita-ratnakara and the Nrtta-ratna-vali.

The text describes, in detail, the hand gestures followed by the movements of the major and minor limbs, that is, Anga, Upanga and Pratyanga.

It also describes Vicitra-abhinaya (various ways of acting), dividing it into elements of Bhava-abhinaya (expressions displaying emotions); and, Indriya-abhinaya (gestures through use of limbs), resembling the Samanya-abhinaya and Citra-abhinaya, as in Natyashastra. The author also describes one hundred and eight Karanas of Bharata. The text ends with descriptions of Kalasas, generally understood as dance movements with which a performance concludes.

(15) The Rasakaumudi of Srlkantha (a contemporary and student of Pundarika Vitthala – 16th-17th century) is again a work of general nature that deals with vocal music (Gana), instrumental music (Vadya), Dance (Natya) , Drama (Rupaka) and aesthetics (Rasa) etc. The text is of interest to Dance, mainly because of the contemporary scene of dancing it portrays.  It mentions ten divisions of Natya as: Natya, Nrtya, Nrtta, Tandava, Lasya, Visama, Vikata, Laghu, Perani and Gaundali. But, he calls only the first variety Natya as being authentic.

But, the main contribution of Rasakaumudi is the introduction of the concept of ‘Prana’ or the essential elements of the performance; the summation of what a dancer should aim at, while performing. The ten Pranas listed are : the line (Rekha); the steadiness (Sthirata); the swiftness (Vega); the pirouettes (Bhramari), the glance (Dristi); the desirous smile (Smita); the pleasing appearance (Priti); the intellect (Medha); the speech (Vachya); and , the song (Gitam) – RK. 5. 162.

(16) The Sangltadarpana of Chatura Damodara (a poet at Jahangir’s court, which places him in the seventeenth century) is, again, a work on music and dance. Its seventh, the final chapter, is related to dancing; and, it generally follows Nartananirnaya of Pundarika Vittala. It also adopts Nartana as the general name for dancing; and, mentions Nrtta, Nrtya, Natya, Tandava and Lasya as the types of Nartana. It then divides Nrtya into five sub-divisions: Visama, Vikata, Laghu, Perani and Gaundali, all of which are Desi forms.

There is greater emphasis on Desi forms, in its discussions. And, the authors of this period followed and adopted the views of the Nartananirnaya; and, there was a steady drift taking the discussions away from the concepts and terminologies of the Natyashastra.

(17) Sangitanarayana by Purusottama Misra, a poet at the court of Gajapati Narayanadeva of Orissa (seventeenth century), in its four chapters deals with music and dance. For a greater part, it reproduces the concepts and terms of dancing as in the other texts, particularly Nartananirnaya.  The new information it provides relates to the enumeration of the names of twelve varieties of Desi-Nrttas; five varieties of Prakara-Natya of the Desi type; eleven varieties of Marga Natyas and sixteen varieties of Desi Natyas – dramatic presentations ; and, names of thirty-two Kalasa-karanas

(18) The Sangita-makaranda of Vedasuri (early seventeenth century) follows Nartananirnaya of Pundarika Vitthala. The new information it provides is with regard to the Gatis. He treats each Gati like a dance sequence; and, describes each Gati with all its components of movements. For instance; while describing the Marga-gati, the author gives all the movements necessary for its presentation, such as the appropriate Karana, Sthanas, Cari, the hand-gestures, the head movements and glances.

He seems to have been interested mainly in the structure of dance compositions as combinations of smaller movements. He describes these movements step by step; and, includes with each movement the appropriate rhythm and tempo that it should go with.

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Texts dealing mainly with the theory and practice of Dance

There were also texts and treatise, which were wholly devoted to the discussions on the theory, practice and techniques of Dance. The numbers of such texts are not many; but, are relevant to the contemporary Dance training and learning. The following are the more significant ones, among them:

 (1) The date of the Abhimaya Darpana of Nandikeshvara is rather uncertain. The scholars tend to place it in or close to the medieval period; because, it divides dance into three branches: Natya, Nrtta and Nrtya. But, such distinctions did not come about until the time of Sangita-ratnakara (13th century). Also, the Abhinaya Darpana views Tandava and Lasya as forms of masculine and feminine dancing, which again was an approach adopted during the medieval times.

Abhinaya Darpana deals predominantly with the Angikabhinaya (body movements) of the Nrtta class; and, is a text that is used extensively by the Bharatanatya dancers. It describes Angikabhinaya, composed by the combination of the movements of Angas (major limbs- the head, neck, torso and the waist), Upangas (minor limbs – the eyes, the eyebrows, the nose, the lower lip, the cheeks and the chin), Pratayangas (neck, stomach, thighs, knees back and shoulders, etc) and the expressions on the countenance. When the Anga moves, Pratyanga and Upanga also move accordingly. The text also specifies how such movements and expressions should be put to use in a dance sequence.

According to the text, the perfect posture that is, Anga-sausthava, which helps in balancing the inter relationship between the body and the mind, is the central component for dance; and, is most important for ease in the execution and carriage. For instance; the Anga-sausthava awareness demands that the performer hold her head steady; look straight ahead with a level gaze; with shoulders pushed back (not raised artificially); and, to open out the chest so that back is erect. The arms are spread out parallel to the ground; and, the stomach with the pelvic bone is pushed in.

The techniques of dance, body movements, postures etc. described in this text, is a part of the curriculum of the present-day performing arts.

The emphasis on Angikabhinaya in Nrtta requires the dancer to be in a fit physical condition, in order to be able to execute all the dance movements with grace and agility, especially during the sparkling Nrtta items according to the Laya (tempo) and Taala (beat).

(2) Closely following upon the Sangita-ratnakara, the Nrtta-ratnavali by Jaya Senapati was written in the thirteenth century A.D. This is the only work of that period, which deals exclusively with dance, in such detail. Nrtta-ratnavali devotes all its eight chapters to dance; and, discusses vocal or instrumental music only in the context of dance.

The first four chapters of the text discuss the Marga tradition, following the Natyashastra; and, the other four discuss the Desi.

The Marga, according to Jaya Senapati, is that which is faithful to the tradition of Bharata; and, is precise and systematic. While dealing with the Marga, although he broadly follows the Bharata, Jaya Senapati provides specific details of the execution of the Karanas and Caris.  He also quotes the views of earlier writers, in order to trace the evolution of Dance and its forms.

The First Chapter describes the four modes of Abhinaya, i.e., Angika, Vachika, Aharya and Sattvika; as also the six forms of dancing – Nrtta, Nrtya, Marga, Desi, Tandava and Lasya.  The Chapter Two deals with Abhinaya, describing in detail the movements of the major and minor limbs: six Angas, six Pratyangas and six Upangas. The Third Chapter is on Caris (movements of one leg); Sthanas (postures); Nyaya (rules of performance); Vyayama (exercise); Sausthava (grace); more Sthanas and Mandalas (combinations of Caris). The Fourth Chapter describes Karanas (dance-units) and Angaharas (sequences of dance-units); and, ends with Recakas (extending movements of the neck, the hands, the waist and the feet) mainly following their descriptions as given in the Natyasastra.

The second half of the text is devoted to the Desi tradition.  The more significant contribution of Nrttaratnavali is in its detailed descriptions of the Desi Karanas, Angaharas and Desi Caris. And, of particular interest is its enumeration and description of Desi dance pieces.

The Fifth Chapter defines the term Desi; and, goes on to describe the Desi sthanas, Utpati-karanas (Desi karanas) and Bhramaris (spin and turns). The sixth chapter deals with movements of the feet, Desi Caris. Jaya Senapati then describes forty-six varieties of Desi Lasyangas, which include the Desi Angas, following the Sangita-samaya-sara. The Gatis or gaits are described next. The Seventh Chapter mainly deals with individual Desi dance pieces, Desi-nrtta. These include Perani, Pekkhana, Suda, Rasaka, Carcari, Natyarasaka, Sivapriya, Cintu, Kanduka, Bhandika, Ghatisani, Carana, Bahurupa, Kollata and Gaundali. The Eighth and Final Chapter , provides information regarding presentation in general, the recital, the appropriate time for its presentation, the arrival of the chief guest and the welcome accorded the king, other members of the audience, the qualities required in a dancer, her costume, the orchestra, the sitting arrangements, the entrance of a dancer,  the use of three curtains on the stage and their removal. The Chapter ends with advice on honoring the dancer, the musicians and the poet.

(3) The Nrtya-ratna-kosa of Maharana Kumbha (a scholar king of the fifteenth century), is part of a larger work, the Sangita-raja, which closely follows the Sangita-ratnakara of Sarangadeva. It is the Fourth Chapter of Sangita-raja; and, deals with Nrtya. The Nrtya-ratna-kosa is divided into four ullasas or parts; each consisting of four pariksanas or sections. It is mostly a compilation of the concepts, definitions, theories and practices concerning Dance – both Marga and Desi– culled out from earlier texts, particularly from Sangita-ratnakara. While describing various types of dance-movements, the emphasis is more on the Desi types.

The first section of the first part describes the origin of the theories of Natya (shastra); the rules of building the performance-hall; the qualifications of the person presiding; and, of the audience. It also offers definitions of certain fundamental terms.

Raja Kumbha defines the terms Nrtta, Nrtya and Natya. According to him, Nrtta is made up of combination of Karanas and Angaharas (Karanam angaharani caiva Nrttam); Nrtya is Rasa (Nrtya sabdena ca Rasam punaha); and, Natya is Abhinaya (Natyena abhinayam).

The Nrtya is classified as Marga; and, Nrtta as Desi. The Pindibandhas or group dances, performed by sixteen female dancers as part of the preliminaries are included under Nrtta.

The rest of the verses are devoted to Angikabhinaya or the movements of the body. The text discusses, in detail, about limb movements like Pratyangas, Upangas etc.; and, also about Aharya-bhinaya or costume, make-up and stage properties.

There are also descriptions of Marga and Desi Caris, Shanakas or postures, meant for men and women, for sitting and reclining. Similarly, the Karanas are classified as Shuddha karanas (pure) of the Marga class; and, as Desi Karanas.

That is followed description of four Vrttis or styles and six kalasas (dance movements with which a performance concludes), with its twenty-two sub-varieties.

Towards the end, it enumerates the qualities and faults of a performer.  It discusses make-up; different schools of performing artists; their qualities and faults; the Shuddha-paddhati or the pure way of presentation; and, states the ways of imparting instructions to performers.

(4) The Nartana-nirnaya of Pundarika Vitthala (16th-17th centuries) is a very significant work in the history of Indian Dancing. Till about the time of Raja Kumbha, the Dance was discussed mainly in terms of Marga and Desi. Pundarika Vitthala introduces a novel feature (hitherto not tried by anyone else), which is the principles of Bhaddha (structured) and Anibhaddha (neither bound nor structured) for stratifying the dance forms into two separate classes. Even though the later texts on dancing generally followed the Sangita-ratnakara, they did take into consideration Nartana-nirnaya’s classification of Bhaddha and Anibaddha, as a part of their conceptual framework. His classification of Dance forms into Baddha and Anibaddha was a significant theoretical development.

The Nartana-nirnaya was written in the sixteenth century, while Pundarika Vitthala  (or Pandari Vitthala) was in the service of the Mughal Court. It comes  about five hundred years after Sangitaratnakara. This period between these two texts was marked by several interesting and rather radical changes and transformations that were taking place in India , in the field of Arts.

The Nartananirnaya was composed in an altogether different ambiance.  The courts of Raja Man Singh, Raja Madhav Singh and Akbar provided the forum for interaction between the North and South Indian traditions on one hand; and between Indian and Persian practices on the other. This was an interesting period when diverse streams of Art came together.

Pundarika Vittala mentions that he wrote the Nartananirnaya, concerning music and dance, at the suggestion of Akbar, to cater to his taste – Akbara-nrupa rucyartham

The subject matter central to Nartana-nirnaya is dancing. The technical details of dance as detailed in the Nartananirnaya are an important source for reconstructing the history of Indian music and dance during the middle period. This was also the time when the old practices were fading out and new concepts were stepping in. For instance, by the time of Pundarika Vittala, the 108 Karanas were reduced to sixteen. At the same time , dance formats such as Jakkini, Raasa nrtya were finding place among traditional type of Dances.

In his work, Pundarika Vitthala does not confine only to the traditional dances of India and Persia; but, he also describes the various dance traditions of the different regions of India that were practiced during his time. The information he provides on regional dance forms is quite specific, in the sense that he points to the part/s of India from where the particular style originated, the language of the accompanying songs and the modes its presentation. The Nartana-nirnaya is, therefore, an invaluable treasure house on the state of regional dance forms as they existed in the sixteenth century IndiaThus, Nartana-nirnaya serves as a bridge between the older and present-day traditions of classical Indian dancing.

The chapter titled Nartana-prakarana, dealing with Nrtta and Nartana, is relevant to Dancing. The Nrtta deals with the abstract aesthetic movements and configuration of various body parts. And, Nartana is about the representational art of dancing, giving expression to emotions through Abhinaya. The Nartana employs the Nrtta as a communicative instrument to give a form to its expressions.

Another chapter, Nrttadhikarana is virtually about the Grammar of Dance. It describes the Nrtta element of Dancing with reference to the special configuration of the static and moving elements of the Dance, such as: Sthanaka, Karana, Angahara, Cari, Hasta, Angri, Recaka, Vartana etc.

Then the text goes on to enumerate the items of the dance recital: entry of the dancer (Mukhacali, including Pushpanjali); Nanadi Slokas invoking the blessings of the gods; the kinds of Urupa, Dhavada, Kvada, Laga and Bhramari. It also mentions the dance forms originating from various regions: Sabda, Svarabhinaya, Svaramantha, Gita, Cindu, Dharu, Dhruvapada, Jakkadi and Raasa.

Some of these are classified under Bandhanrtta, the group dances with complex configurations and formations. These are also of the Anibaddha type, the graceful, simple dances, not restricted by the regimen of the rules etc.

The Nartana-nirnaya is indeed a major work that throws light on the origins of some of the dance forms – particularly Kathak and Odissi – that are prevalent today

[We shall discuss many of the texts enumerated above, in fair detail, later in the series.]

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Overview

All the texts enumerated above deal with the subject of dance in some detail; exclusively or along with music, drama and poetics.

When you take an over view, you will notice that three texts stand out as landmarks, defining the nature and treatment of dance in the corresponding period. These three are: Natyashastra of Bharata (Ca. 200 BCE); Abhinavabharati of Abhinavagupta (10-11th century) and Sangita-ratnakara of Sarangadeva (13th century).

Natyashastra is, of course, the seminal text that not only enunciated the principles of Dancing, but also brought them into practice. Though the emphasis of Natyashastra was on the production and presentation of the play, it successfully brought together the arts of poetry, music, dance and other decorative elements, all of which contributed to the elegance of the theater.

The Dance that Bharata specifically refers to is Nrtta, pure dance, which was primarily performed before the commencement of the play proper (Purvaranga) as a prayer offered to gods. The elements of the Nrtta were also brought into Drama by fusing it with Abhinnaya. Though the resultant art-form was not assigned a name by Bharata, its essence was very much a part of the theatrical performance. And, this delightful art form came to be celebrated as Nrtya, during the later periods. And, in its early stages, Dance was not considered as an independent Art-form.

Several commentaries on the Natyashastra that were produced between the period of Bharata and Abhinavagupta are lost. And, the Abhinavabhatarati is the earliest available commentary on the Natyashastra; and, is, therefore, highly valuable. Abhinavagupta followed Bharata, in general; and, adhered to his terminologies. For instance, while discussing on Dance, Abhinava consistently uses the term Nrtta; and, avoids the term Nrtya (perhaps because it does not appear in Natyashastra). During his time, dance, music and dramatics were continued to be treated as integral to each other, as in the times of Natyashastra.

Yet; Abhinavagupta, brought in fresh perspective to the Natyashastra; and, interpreted it in the light of his own experience and knowledge. His commentary, therefore, presents the dynamic and evolving state of the art of his time, rather than a description of Dancing   as was frozen in Bharata’s time.  As it has often been said; Abhinavabharati is a bridge between the world of the ancient and forgotten wisdom and the scholarship of the succeeding generations.

Abhinavagupta’s influence has been profound and pervasive. Succeeding generations of writers on Natya were guided by his concepts and theories of Rasa, Bhava, aesthetics and dramaturgy. No writer or commentator of a later period could afford to ignore Abhinavagupta.

The commentaries written during the period following that of Abhinavagupta continued to employ the terminologies of the Natyashastra. But, the treatment of its basic terms such as, Nrtta, Natya, Tandava and Lasya was highly inconsistent. These terms were interpreted variously, in any number of ways, depending upon the understanding and disposition of the author; as also according to contemporary usage of those terms and the application of their concepts. Standardisation was conspicuous by its absence.

A significant development during this period was assigning greater importance to the regional types of Dances. Though based on the Natyashastra, these texts recognized and paid greater attention to the dance forms that were popular among the people of different geographic regions and of different cultural groups. In the process, the concepts of Marga, which signified the chaste, traditional form of Dance as per the rules of Natyashastra, came to be distinguished from the regional, popular, free flowing types of Dance, termed as Desi.

By about the 13th century, dance came into its own; and, was no longer an ancillary to drama, as was the case during the time of Natyashastra. Yet; the Dance, in this period, continued to be discussed along with the main subjects such as Music and Drama.

The concept of Nrtta continued to exist and Nritya was established; each with its own individual identity. The term Natya which signified the combination of Nrtta (pure dance) and Abhinaya (meaningful expressions) had come into wide use.

The Sangita-ratnakara of Sarangadeva marks the beginning of the period when Dance began to be discussed in its own right, rather than as an adjunct to Drama. It was during this period, the Desi types of Dance along with its individual forms were discussed in detail.  And, the other significant development was the fusing of the special techniques of Angikabhinayas of both the Nrtta and the Desi types into the graceful Natya form. And, new trends in Dance were recognized.

Though the ancient terms Nrtta, Tandava, Lasya and Natya continued to be interpreted in various ways, the term Nartana came to be accepted as the general class name of Dance, comprising its three sub-divisions: NatyaNrtya and Nrtta.

In the period beginning with the sixteenth century, Pundarika Vittala introduced the new concept of classifying dance forms into two separate classes, as the Bhaddha (structured) and Anibhaddha (neither bound nor structured). The later texts, while discussing Dance, apart from following Marga and Desi classification, also took into consideration Nartana-nirnaya’s classification of Bhaddha and Anibaddha, as a part of their conceptual framework.

It was during this period, the Persian influence, through the Mughal Court , entered into Indian dancing, giving rise to a new style of  Dance form, the Kathak.  This period was also marked by the emergence of the Dance forms that were not specifically mentioned in the Natyashastra – the Uparupakas. This genre of musical dance dramas not only came to be admitted into the mainstream of dancing, but eventually became the dominant type of performing art, giving rise dance forms such as Odissi, Kuchipudi etc.

The emphasis of the later texts shifted away from the Marga of the Natyashastra; but, leaned towards the newer forms of Desi Dances with their improvised techniques and structural principles. Apart from increase in the varieties of regional dance forms, a number of manuals in regional languages began to appear. These regional texts provide a glimpse of the state of Dance as was practiced in different regions.

Dr. Mandakranta Bose observes:

Bharata’s account represented only a small part of the total body of dance styles of the time. When new styles became prominent in the medieval period they had to be included in the descriptions of dancing. Such a widening of frontiers meant a great increment of technical description in the texts.

The distinction between the Natyashastra and the later texts is not merely one of detail. Of greater significance is the fact that unlike the Natyashastra, the later texts recognize different styles. These are distinct from the one described by Bharata, the main path or Marga tradition of dancing. The later texts concern themselves more and more with other styles, known, generically, as Desi, whose technique and structural principles are sufficiently different from the style described by Bharata..

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Further, the principle of Anibaddha allowed the dancer a considerable degree of freedom, encouraging her to search far and to create, through her ingenuity, novel aesthetic expressions. This was a major departure from the regimen that required the dancer to rigorously follow the prescriptions of the texts. The opportunities to come up with artistic innovations, within the framework of the tradition, helped to infuse enterprise and vitality into dance performances. The dance became more alive.

At the same time, the Natyashastra continues to be the authoritative source book, which lays down the basic principles of the performing arts; and, identifies the range of body movements that constitute dancing.

The Bharatanatya of today represents such a dynamic phase of the traditional Indian Dancing.  It does not, specifically, have a text of its own; its roots are in the principles, practices and techniques that are detailed in Natyashastra, Abhinava Darpana and such other ancient texts. Though it is basically ingrained in the principles of Natyashastra, it delightfully combines in itself the Angikabhinaya of the Nrtta; the four Abhinayas of the Natya (Angika, Vachika, Aharya and Sattvika); the interpretative musical narrative element of the Uparupakas, for enacting a theme; and the improved techniques of the later times.

Besides, the Bharatanatya developed its own Grammar through Dance idioms such as: Adavus (combination of postures – Sthana, foot movement – Chari, and hand gestures-Hasta); Jati (feet movement in tune with the Sollakattu syllables); Tirmanam (brilliant bursts of complicated dance rhythms towards the ‘end’ section of the dance). Besides, the Bharatanatya, in the context of its time, enriched its repertoire of the Nrtta by items such as Alaripu, Jatiswara and Tillana.

Thus, the evolution of Indian Dance system is a dynamic process that absorbed new elements and techniques without compromising its basic tenets. It, thus, demonstrates the time-honored Indian principle of growth: continuity along with change.

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Before we discuss Dance and its forms, let’s take a look at the Art and Art-forms, in general.

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Continued

In

Part Two

References and sources

1.Movements and Mimesis: The Idea of Dance in the Sanskritic Tradition  by Dr.Mandakranta Bose

2 . Literature used in Dance/ Dance Sahitva

3. Natyashastra

 

 
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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

Dasarupa of Dhananjaya

Book Four

Rasa and Bhava

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Introduction

The Book Four of the Dasarupa is devoted to the discussion on Rasa. Here, Dhananjaya broadly follows the concepts and definitions as provided in the Natyashastra, except in minor details such as where he creates additional divisions in the Srngara, Adbhuta and Bhibhatsa Rasas.

The Fourth Book on Rasa (Rasadhyaya), in its 87 verses, describes, in fair detail, the eight types of Rasas; the Bhavas along with their causes (Vibhāva), manifestations (Anubhāva), their transitory states (Vyabhicāri-bhāva) and the involuntary reactions (Sāttvika-bhāva),  all combining effectively to picturesquely  portray  and give expression to the intended dominant Bhava (Sthāyi-bhāva).  Dhananjaya accepts the eight Sthāyi-bhāvas and the eight Rasas described by Bharata; though he does not catalogue the Rasas.  Of the eight Rasas enumerated by Bharata, Dhananjaya discusses the Srngara Rasa and its subdivisions in much detail. The Hasya Rasa is described in two passages; while the rest are covered in one verse each.

Dhananjaya also discusses the definitions, the details, the divisions and sub-divisions of the various elements of each of the Bhavas that harmoniously unite in order to give expression to the principal emotion (Sthayin) that the performer is attempting to project. And, the resultant (Rasavant) delectable joy (Rasa) is experienced with relish by the cultured aesthete (Rasika).

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Dhananjaya commences his exposition by stating that Rasa, a pleasurable sensation, is produced by the combination of the various the elements of the Bhavas, when it’s dominant mood or sentiment (Sthayin) harmonizes within itself its cause (Vibhava), its consequents (Anubhava), the associated transitory states (Vyabhicharin) stirring up varied sorts of involuntary bodily reactions (Sattavika).

Vibhavair anubhavais ca sattvikair vyabhicaribhih aniyamanah svadyatvam sthayi bhavo rasah smrtah//

Then, Dhananjaya straightaway proceeds to define and explain various technical terms involved in the process of bringing about (Bhavitam) the Bhavas in order to convey (abhi-vyākhyātā) it’s Rasa.  It is said; these sections were meant to serve as a prelude or an introduction to the ensuing discussions elucidating the principles and practices that are related to the subject of Rasa. After this section, Dhananjaya moves on to the descriptions of Rasas and their subdivisions.

But, in this post let’s commence with Rasa and Bhava; and, then take a look at the subdivisions of each of the elements, as enumerated by Dhananjaya; and, at the end let’s come back to Rasa.

Let’s briefly go over the concepts related to Bhavas and Rasa, as described in the Natyashastra and as presented in the Dasarupa.

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Rasa

In the Sixth Chapter of Natyashastra , Bharata, introduces the subject of Rasa after discussing the five kinds of the Dhruva songs that are sung during the course of a play  i.e.,  while entering (praveśa), casual (ākepa), going out (niskrama), pleasing (prāsādika) and intermediate (āntara).

He then remarks, “No sense proceeds without Rasa – Na hi rasadrte kascid-arthah pravartate.” He was implying that the entire object of a well rendered Dramatic performances, poetry, music or art is to provide delight, which is enjoyed by the spectator (Rasika). And, without providing that experience of beauty, anything said or done is a futile exercise.  And, that gratification of pleasure or delight is called Rasa. Such a wonder (Camatkara) and rare delight (lokottara-ananda), which we love to enjoy, is indeed the essence and also the purpose of any work of art.

Bharata had introduced the concept of Rasa in the context of Drama. He meant Rasa as an aesthetic appreciation or joy that the spectator experiences.  As Bharata says, Rasa should be relished as an emotional or intellectual experience: na rasanāvyāpāra āsvādanam, api tu mānasa eva (NS.6.31) .The yashāstra states that the goal of any art form is to invoke such Rasa.

Bharata does not, however, put forward any theories about the Rasa concept. He does not also give a direct definition of Rasa or its essence. But, he straight away delves into explanations of how a well structured combination of certain objective factors produce subjective reactions in the spectators.

He comes up with the statement that Rasa is produced (rasa nispattih) by the combination (samyogād) of the VibhāvaAnubhāva and Sanchari (Vyabhicāri) Bhāvas. : Vibhāva anubhāva vyabbhicāri samyogāt rasa nispattih. This statement later, gained fame as the Rasa Sutra, the formula to invoke Rasa.

Here, briefly, the term Vibhāva represents the causes, while Anubhāva is the manifestation or the performance of its effect as communicated through the abhinaya, and the vyabbhicāri Bhava, the transitory states.

Then, while explaining the concept of Rasa, Bharata attempts to illustrate it through an analogy.  Bharata poses the question: What is an example, one may ask? In reply, he describes Rasa in terms of taste, with the analogy of cooking a tasty meal. He states, just as the taste emerges from the mixing of various seasonings, herbs and other components, so also does the Rasa emerges from a combination of the various Bhāvas. As the six tastes (shad-rasa) are produced by ingredients such as, raw sugar or spices or vegetables, so also the Sthāyibhāva, the dominant mood, combining in itself the other Bhavas, puts forth its characteristic Rasa. Bharata, eventually, says that which can be relished – like the taste of food – is Rasa –Rasyate anena iti rasaha (asvadayatva).  Thus, Rasa is an experience which is relished.

The Natyashastra does not directly equate Rasa to taste. It merely, employs the taste as analogy or a parallel to explain the process involved in the generation of Rasa, since it had no precise definitions for the essence of Rasa.That might be because, Rasa is a subjective experience; and , it can only be enjoyed experientially. It can , at best, only be obliquely suggested through explanations.

Tatra vibhāvā-anubhāva-vyabhicāri-sayogād-rasa-nipatti ko dṛṣṭānta atrāha – yathā hi, nānā-vyañjana-uadhi-dravya-sayogād-rasanipatti tathā, nānā-bhāvo-pagamād-rasa-nipatti yathā hi -guādi-bhirdravyair-vyañjanair-auadhibhiśca āavādayo rasā, nirvartyante, tathā nānā-bhāvopagatā api sthāyino bhāvā rasatvamā-apnuvantīti atrāha – rasa iti ka padārtha ucyate – āsvādyatvāt

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The next question that arises is, how is Rasa relished? The reply is — just as well-disposed persons, while eating food cooked with many kinds of spices , relish (āsvādayanti)  its tastes and derive pleasure, similarly the cultured spectators with refined outlook relish and derive pleasure from the Sthāyibhāva  expressed through various Bhavas aided by words, gestures and other pleasant feelings (Sattva) .

How is rasa produced?

The terms Samyoga and Nispatti, which occur in the Rasa Sutra, are at the centre of all discussions concerning Rasa. Bharata used the term Samyoga in his Rasa sutra (tatra vibhāvā-anubhāva vyabhicāri sayogād rasa nipatti), to point out the need to combine these Bhavas properly. It is explained; what is meant here is not the combination of the Bhavas among themselves; but, it is their alignment with the Sthayibhava, the dominant emotion at that juncture. It is only when the Vibhava (cause or Hetu), Anubhava (manifestation or expressionand Sancharibhava (transitory moods) as also the Sattvas (reflexes)   meaningfully unite with the Sthayibhava, that the right, pleasurable, Rasa is projected (Rasapurna). 

[Bharata omitted to mention Sthayin, the dominant Bhava, in his Rasa-sutra. But, he asserted that only the Sthayins attain the state of Rasa. He made a distinction between Rasa and Sthayin. And in the discussion on the Sthayins, Bharata elaborated how these durable mental states attain Rasatva. He discussed eight Rasas and eight Sthayins separately in his text.]

The Sthayi bhava and Sanchari bhava cannot be realized without a credible cause i.e., Vibhava, and its due representations i.e., Anubhava. The Vibhavas and Anubhavas as also the Sattva, on their own, have no relevance unless they are properly combined with the dominant Sthayibhava and the transient Sanchari bhava. The analogy that is given in this context is that spices, sugar etc., are not related to each other. But, when they are properly mixed and cooked with the main dish, they combine well and give forth a delicious flavour.

That is to say; undoubtedly the partaking or savouring of Rasa gives pleasure; but, such pleasure is not derived directly. It is only when the Sthayi bhava combines all the other related Bhavas  (Vibhavair anubhavais ca sattvikair vyabhicaribhih) and transforms them through natural Abhinaya that the Rasa is eventually produced, gladdening the hearts of the spectators.   Bharata uses the term Nispatthi (rendering) for realization of the Rasa in the heart and mind (manas) of the Sahardya.

Vibhavair anubhavais ca sattvikair vyabhicaribhih aniyamanah svadyatvam sthayi bhavo rasah smrtah//

Dhananjaya also defines Rasa in exactly the same words as Bharata did. And, in addition, he explains Rasa as the pleasure (svada) given forth (prakhyatam)  by the Sthayi Bhava, which is produced from a poem having elements (padartha) in the form of (svarupa) moonlight (indu) , disinterest (nirveda) , excitement (romacha) etc., which serve as  Vibhava (cause), Sanchari (transitory mood) and  Anubhava (consequent expression).

Padarthair indu-nirveda-romancadi-svarupakaih kavyad vibhava-sarmcary anubhava prakhyatam gataih bhavitah svadate sthayi rasah sa parikirtitah

Bharata envisages absolute continuity of the artistic process, beginning with the creative experience of the artist through his performance or his poetry, to the aesthetic experience of the spectator or the reader.Along with that, he also explains the relationship between Rasa and Bhava.

He illustrates this process with the seed-tree-flower-fruit analogy (Bija-shakthi). Just as a tree grows from a seed ;and, just as the tree puts forth  flowers and fruits, so also the emotional experiences (Rasa) are the source (root) of all the modes of expressions (bhava). The Bhavas, in turn, are transformed to Rasa.”(Natya-Shastra: 6-38)

yathā bījād-bhaved-vko vkāt-pupa phala yathā tathā mūla rasā sarvete bhyo bhāvā vyavasthitā 38

lotus-flower-and-bud

Bhava-s

As regards the Bhavas, Bharata explains they are called  Bhavas , because they effectively bring out the dominant sentiment of the play – that is the Sthāyibhāvā – with the aid of various supporting expressions , such as words (Vachika),  gestures (Angika), costumes (Aharya) and bodily reflexes (Sattva) – for the enjoyment of the good-hearted spectator (sumanasa prekakā) . Then it is called the Rasa of the scene (tasmān nāya rasā ity abhivyākhyātā).

It is also explained; they are called Bhavas because they happen (Bhavanti), they cause or bring about (Bhavitam); and, are felt (bhava-vanti). Bhava is the cause, the hetu; this and the other terms such as bhavitam, vasitam, krtam are synonyms. The term suggests the meaning of ‘to cause or to pervade’. The Bhavas help to bring about (Bhavayanti) the Rasas to the state of enjoyment. That is to say : the Bhavas manifest  or give expression  to the states of emotions – such as pain or pleasure- being experienced by the character – Sukha duhkha dikair bhavalr bhavas tad bhava bhavanam //4.5//

Thus, Bhava could be understood as a process through which the import or the inner idea of a dramatic situation is expressed and transformed, with the aid of four-fold Abhinaya,  into Natya-rasa for the delight of the discerning spectators.

Nānā bhāvā abhinaya vyañjitān vāg aga sattopetān / Sthāyibhāvān āsvādayanti sumanasa prekakā / harādīś cā adhigacchanti  tasmān nāya rasā ity abhivyākhyātā //6.31//

***

It is said; the eight Sthāyi-bhavās, thirty-three Vyabhicāri-bhāvās together with eight Sātvika-bhāvas, amount to forty-nine psychological states, excluding Vibhava   and Anubhava.

Within this format; and , in  the context of the Drama and Poetry, the terms Vibhava, Anubhava, Sanchari, Sattvika and Sthayi are explained thus:

Vibhava

Vibhava, Vibhavah, Nimittam, and Hetu all are synonyms; they provide a cause to manifest the intent (vibhava-yante); and, the term Vibhavitam also stands for Vijnatam – to know vividly. The Vibhavas are said to be of two kinds: Alambana, the primary cause (kaarana) or the stimulant for the dominant emotion; and, Uddipana that which inflames and enhances the emotion caused by that stimulant.

jnayamanataya tatra vibhavo bhavaposakrt alambana-uddipanatva prabhedena sa ca dvidha.

Anubhava

Anu’ is that which follows; and, Anubhava is the representation, manifestation or the effect giving expression (bhava-sam-suchanatmakah) to the internal state (vikara) caused by the Vibhava. It is Anubhava because it makes the spectators feel (anubhavyate) or experience the effect of the acting (Abhinaya) brought forth by means of words, gestures, representations and the Sattva. Thus, the psychological states (Bhavas) combined with Vibhavas (cause) and  Anubhavas  (portrayal or manifestations) have been stated – Anubhavo vikaras tu bhava sam-sucanat-makah

Dhanika, the commentator, explains these Anubhavas as follows-:

These Bhavas are expressed by the performer with the help of speech (Vachika); gestures and actions (Angika), and costumes etc., (Aharya). The Āngika-abhinaya (facial expressions, gestures/movement of the limbs) is of great importance, particularly in the dance. There are two types of basic Abhinayas:  Padārtha-abhinaya (when the artist delineates each word of the lyrics with gestures and expressions); and, the Vākyārtha-abhinaya (where the dancer acts out an entire stanza or sentence). In either case, though the hands (hastha) play an important part, the Āngika-abhinaya involves other body-parts, as well, to express meaning of the lyrics, in full.

Here, the body is divided into three major parts – the Anga, Pratyanga and Upānga

The six Angās -: Siras (head); Hasta (hand); Vakshas (chest); Pārshva (sides); Kati-tata (hips); and, Pāda (foot). Some consider Grivā (neck) to be the seventh

2) The six Pratyangās -: Skandha (shoulders);  Bāhu (arms);  Prusta  (back); Udara (stomach); Uru (thighs); Janghā (shanks).Some consider Manibandha   (wrist);  Kurpara (elbows) ; and, Jānu (knees) also as  Pratyanga

3) The twelve Upāngās or minor parts of the head or face which are important for facial expression.-: Druṣṭi (eyes) ; Bhrū (eye-brows);  Puta (pupil); Kapota (cheek); Nāsikā (nose); Adhara (lower-lip); Ostya (upper lip); Danta (teeth); Jihva (tongue) etc.

bhava

Source : Laws practice Sanskrit drama by Prof. S N Shastri

 

Vybhichari bhava 

Vybhichari-bhava or Sanchari-Bhavas are the complimentary or transitory psychological states. Bharata mentions as many as thirty-three transitory psychological states that accompany the Sthayi Bhava, the dominant Bhava, which causes Rasa.

Dhananjaya explains that the transitory states (vyabhicharin) are those that especially accompany the Permanent State (Sthayin) emerging from it and again receding back into it, like the waves in the ocean.

visesad abhimukhyena caranto vyabhicarinah sthayiny unmagna-nirmagnah kallola iva varidhau

The Sanchari-bhavas or Vybhichari-bhavas are enumerated as thirty in numbers; but, there is scope a few more. They are Nirveda (indifference); Glani (weakness or confusion); Shanka (apprehension or doubt) ; Asuya (envy or jealousy);  Mada  (haughtiness, pride); Shrama  (fatigue); Alasya (tiredness or indolence),  Dainya  (meek, submissive); Chinta (worry, anxiety); Moha (excessive attachment, delusion); Smriti (awareness, recollection); Dhrti (steadfast); Vrida (shame); Chapalata (Greed , inconsistency); Harsha (joy); Avega (thoughtless response, flurry); Garva (arrogance, haughtiness); Jadata (stupor, inaction); Vishada (sorrow, despair);  Autsuka   (longing); Nidra (sleepiness); Apsamra (Epilepsy); Supta (dreaming); Vibodh (awakening); Amasara (indignation); Avahitta(dissimulation);  Ugrata (ferocity); Mati (resolve); Vyadhi (sickness); Unmada (insanity); Marana (death); Trasa (terror); and, Vitarka (trepidation)

 **

Thus, Vibhāva indicates the cause, while Anubhāva is the performance of the bhāva as communicated through the Abhinaya. The more important Vibhāva and Anubhāva are those that invoke the Sthāyi bhāva, or the principle emotion at the moment. Thus, the Rasa-sutra states that the Vibhāva, Anubhāva, and Vyabhicāri bhāva together produce Rasa.

A complete understanding of the Vibhava (Hetu, cause) and Anubhava (karya, effect) can be had only experience of dealing (vyavahara-atah) with them – Hetu-karyat-manoh siddhis tayoh sam-vyavahara-atah

**

Sattvika Bhavas 

The Sattvika Bhavas are reflex actions or involuntary bodily reactions to strong feelings or agitations that take place in one’s mind. Sattvas are of eight kinds.

The Eight Sattivika-bhavas are; Stambhana (stunned into inaction);  Sveda (sweating);  Romancha (hair-standing on end in excitement); Svara-bheda (change of the voice or breaking of the voice); Vepathu (trembling); Vairarnya (change of colour, pallor); Ashru (shedding tears); and, Pralaya  (fainting) . These do help to enhance the effect of the intended expression or state of mind (Bhava). 

stambha svedo’tha romāñca svarabhedo’tha vepathu vaivaryam-aśru pralaya ityaṣṭau sātvikā sm 6.22

Dhananjaya explains the Sattvika Bhavas, the involuntary states (bhava sattvika = sattva- bhava) though they also are the effects, they are altogether separate from the other Bhavas, because they arise by themselves as the reflex actions or reactions to the emotional state of the person.

prthag bhava bhavanty anye anubhavatve api sattvikah sattvad eva samutpattes tac ca tadbhavabhavanam

**

Sthayi Bhavas

The Sthayi Bhavas, the dominant Bhavas, which are most commonly found in all humans, are said to be eight. Bharata lists these eight  Sthayibhavas  as:  Rati (love); Hasaa (mirth); Shoka (grief);  Krodha  (anger); Utsaha (enthusiasm or exuberance); Bhaya  (fear);  Jigupsa  (disgust)   ; and Vismaya (astonishment ).

rati-hāsaśca śokaśca krodho-utsāhau bhaya tathā jugupsā vismayaśceti sthāyibhāvā prakīrtitā  6. 17

Dhananjaya deviates from Bharata in defining Sthayibhava. In his view Sthayin (a permanent state), the source of delight, is one which is not interfered with by other psychological states whether consistent with it or inconsistent, but which brings the others into harmony with itself.

viruddhair aviruddhair va bhavair vicchidyate na yah atmabhavam nayaty anyan sa sthayi lavanakarah

Dhananjaya also lists Rati (Love); Uthsasa (exuberance); Jigupsa (disgust) ;Krodha (anger); Haasa (mirth); Vismaya (astonishment) ; Bhaya (fear) ; and, Shoka (sorrow) as the eight permanent states (Sthayi Bhavas)-Rati-utsaha-jugupsah-krodho-hasah-smayo-bhayam-sokah

And then he adds a line saying that some authorities include in this list Sama or Shanata (tranquillity); but, it cannot be developed in the Drama- Samam api ke cit prahuh pustir natyesu naitasya

Explaining the importance of Sthayi Bhava, Dhananjaya states that just as a  verb (Kriya)  when combined with a noun (Karaka)  is an essential part of a sentence, so also Sthayi Bhava, combined with other Bhavas, is indeed the essence of the play.

Vacya prakaranadibhyo buddhistha va yatha kriya vakyarthah karakair yukta sthSyi bhavas tathetaraih

The same idea is vividly expressed in the Natyashastra (7.8). Just as the king is superior to other mortals; and just as the Guru is superior to the students, so also the Sthayi, which is the shelter of others,  is superior to all other Bhavas in this world.

yatha naranatn nrpatih, sisyanam ca yaths guruh, evam hi sarvabhuvanam bhavah sthiyi mahan iha

Dhananjaya further explains: this very Sthayin becomes Rasa as the spectator (Rasika) views and absorbs it – rasah sa eva svadyatvad rasikasyaiva vartanat.

And, each of these Sthayibhavas gives rise to a RasaRati  to Srngara Rasa; Haasa – Hasya; ShokhaKaruna; KrodhaRaudra ; Utsaha – Vira; Bhaya– Bhayanaka; Jigupsa  – Bhibhatsa; and, Vismaya Adbhuta. Thus, the eight Sthāyi-bhāvas closely correspond to the eight Rasas.

śṛṅgāra-hāsya-karuṇā-raudra-vīra-bhayānakāḥ।bībhatsā-adbhuta saṃjñau cetyaṣṭau nāṭye rasāḥ smṛtāḥ ॥ 6.15

Dhananjaya remarks that responsive spectators, fired by enthusiasm and imagination, contribute to the success of the play in the manner of ‘children playing with clay elephants ‘. ” When children play with clay-elephants, etc., the source of their joy is their own utsaha (enthusiasm). The same is true of spectators watching and almost sharing the heroic deeds of characters, say like, Arjuna and other heroes on the stage.”

Kridatam mrnrnayair yadvad balanam dviradadibhih / svotsahah svadate tadvac chrotrnam Arjunadibhih.

The Sthayins are transformed into Rasa. And, it is called Rasa when their Vibhava, Anubhava and Vyabhicarins combine harmoniously with the Sthayin.  And, the Rasa is enjoyed by the spectators, who are cultured and aesthete. Such Rasa is not manufactured from concrete objects. But, it is the bliss of one’s own consciousness. In the enjoyment of the Rasa, both the subject (the spectator) and the object (Vibhava, Anubhava etc.,) are generalized (sadharanikarana). Our aesthetic identification (tanmayībhavana) with the character is a generalized experience (sadharanikarana), freed from the individual’s own identifications. And, in their universalised form, the Rasas evoked, are beyond the limitations of time and place disappear.

That is to say; while enjoying the aesthetic experience, the mind of the spectator is liberated from the obstacles caused by the ego and other disturbances. Thus transported from the limited to the realm of the general and universal, the spectators are capable of experiencing Nirvada, or blissfulness. In such aesthetic process, they are transported to a trans-personal level. This is a process of de-individual or universalization – the Sadharanikarana.

lotus-flower-and-bud

In regard to the Rasas, Bharata, initially, names four Rasas (Srngara, Raudra, Vira and Bhibhatsa) as primary; and, the other four as being dependent upon them. That is to say ; the primary Rasas, which represent the dominant mental states of humans, are the cause or the source for the production of the other four Rasas.

Bharata had explained that Hasya (mirth) arises from Srngara (delightful); Karuna (pathos) from Raudra (furious); Adbhuta (wonder or marvel) from the Vira (heroic); and, Bhayanaka (fearsome or terrible) from Bhibhatsa (odious).

śṛṅgārādhi bhaved hāsyo raudrā cca karuo rasa vīrā ccaivā adbhuto utpattir bībhatsā cca bhayānaka  6.39

Bharata , however, does not offer  theoretical explanations to say why he chose to highlight this particular set of eight Rasas. It likely that he was following a tradition that he inherited from his predecessors. Some scholars have , however, tried to explain Bhara’s scheme as representations of the basic instincts, tendencies  or genetic memories (Vasana) inherent in all human beings, as Sthayi-bhavas or Chitta vrttis

The other explanation is that Bharata’s scheme reflects the basic instinct in all living beings, which  is to seek pleasure and to move away from pain. The instincts of pleasure , in short, could be identified as the need for Love, laughter, enthusiasm, vigour  and amazement . And, one is , ordinarily, repelled by rather painful and tense emotions , such as anger, disgust, sorrow and fear.  These instincts and their related responses seem to be embedded in the consciousness of all beings.

And, when this reality of the inner working of the human experiences is organized systematically following a  design or a scheme of the Bhava -Rasas,  and presented through the medium of the technically perfect  Abhinaya of the stimuli (cause), responses ( effects) and the complimentary transitory states , the performance comes alive reaching forth to the minds and hearts of the spectators.

*

Dhananjaya, in his Dasarupa, followed the concepts and definitions provided by Bharata in the Natyashastra, with regard to the Bhavas, such as: the cause (Vibhava); consequents (Anubhava); and the transitory states (Vyabhicharibhava). He also agrees that the Rasa is produced through the integration of these Bhavas into the Sthayibhava.

Further, Dhananjaya accepts the four primary Rasas that Bharata identified i.e. śṛṅgāra (erotic); raudra (furious); vīra (heroic); and bibhatsa (odious). He also accepts the four other Rasas as being dependent on them. That is to say; the primary Rasas, which represent the dominant mental states of humans, are the cause or the source for the production of the other four Rasas.

According to Dhananjaya, as the Sthayin and other Bhavas pervade the mind of the spectator, the innate joy in him (atmananda) manifests as the Svada or the aesthetic enjoyment. And again, Dhananjaya says, the same kinds of charm (Svada) are also related to Hasya, Adbhuta, Bhayanaka and Karuna Rasas.

And therefore, Dhananjaya concludes that it could be said the four (Hasya, Adbhuta, Bhayanaka and Karuna) arise from the other four (Srngara, Vira, Bhibhatsa and Raudra) Rasas, respectively

Thus, Dhananjaya recognizes the eight forms of Rasas that Bharata had mentioned; but, he does not enumerate them again.  He merely sums up saying that the charm (Svada) in a poetic composition (Kavya), which one enjoys greatly (atmananda) is of four kinds (caturvidhah).  These give rise in the mind of the reader: Vikasa (cheerfulness); Vistara (exaltation); Kshoba (agitation); and, Vikshepa (perturbation). These four, in turn, are related to Srngara, Vira, Bhibhatsa and Raudra Rasas, respectively (kramat).

svadah kavyartha-sambhedad atmananda-samudbhavah vikasa-vistara-ksobha-viksepaih sa caturvidhah srhgara-vira-bibhatsa-raudresu manasah kramat – hasya-adbhuta-bhaya-utkarsa – karunanam ta eva hi atas tajjanyata tesam ata eva va adharanam.

krishnaradha-3

The Eight Rasas

As mentioned earlier, Dhananjaya discusses the Srngara rasa in fair detail;  and the rest in a comparatively brief manner.

Srngara rasa

Love (Rati) is essentially the delight marked by desire for lovely places, arts, occasions, garments, pleasures, and the like. That feeling on the part of two young persons, smitten with love, immersed in its sheer joy, when it is   manifested by tender gestures, constitutes the Srngara.

Ramya-desa-kala-kalavesa-bhogadi-sevanaih pramodatma ratih saiva yunor anyonya-raktayoh prahrsyamana srngaro madhura-anga-vicestitaih

However, the natures and functions of the Srngara Rasa are explained differently, by Bharata and Dhanañjaya. For instance; Bharata had said that the states like indolence (ālasya), cruelty (craurya) and disgust (jigupsā) are not applicable (bhāvaistu varjitā) to the erotic (śṛṅgāra) Rasa (NŚ.7.109).  But, Dhanañjaya mentions that though the states like indolence (ālasya), cruelty (ugrata), death (maraa) and disgust (jigupsā) are not independently applicable to the śṛṅgāra; yet, they are related to it indirectly, in one way or the other.

Referring to these tendencies of Alasya etc., Dhananjaya says that with skilful management of the eight Sattivika-bhavas, eight Sthayins and thirty-three Sancharins (a total of forty-nine states), these can be brought out in the Srangara rasa also.

Ye sattvajah sthayina eva castau triansat trayo ye vyabhicarinas ca, ekonapanc?§ad ami hi bhava yuktya nibaddhah pariposayanti alasyam augryam maranam jugupsa tasyasrayadvaitaviruddham istam.

Bharata had divided the Sṛṅgāra-rasa into two categories, i.e. Sambhoga (union) and vipralambha (separation). But, Dhanañjaya classifies the Srngara-rasa under three types, i.e. pain of separation before the union(Ayoga), separation after the union (Viprayoga) and union (Sambhoga)- Ayogo viprayogas ca sambhogas ceti sa tridha.

Of these three, Dhananjaya explains the Ayoga as the pain or the suffering that the lovers have to endure when they realize that there is hardly any prospect of being united, because of the intervention of others or by fate. 

tatrayogo ‘nurage ‘pi navayor ekacittayoh paratantryena daivad va viprakarsad asarrigamah

Viprayoga, is the forcible separation or asunder of the lovers, between whom a close intimacy has developed – Viprayogas tu visleso rudha-visram-ubhayor.

And, Sambhoga, the union, is that blissful state when the two playful lovers, in complete agreement come together, enjoy seeing each other, touching each other, and the like

anukulau nisevete yatranyonyam vilasinau darsanasparsanadini sa sambhogo mudanvitah

Under this section, Dhananjaya lists the subdivisions of the Ayoga, Viprayoga and Sambhoga.

: – The Ayoga, the separation, has ten stages. At first, there occurs in it longing (abhilasa); then anxiety (cintana); recollection (smrti); enumeration of the loved one’s merits (gunakatha); distress (udvega); raving (pralapa); insanity (unmada); fever (samjvara); stupor (jadata); and death (marana) .  These are its unfortunate stages, in due order. Then Dhananjaya gives the explanations for each of these ten stages of Ayoga.

: – The Viprayoga, the other kind of separation, is of two varieties: one brought about by resentment; and, the other by absence of the Lover.

The resentment between the two can take place because of fondness, when the lovers determine to be angry with each other. And, resentment can also take place because of jealousy, when the Lady Love is angry as she finds out that her lover is involved with another woman. Dhananjaya lists three possibilities for arousal of jealousy.

As regards the separation caused by the absence of the Lover, it could be because he is travelling (pravasa) on business; or because of misunderstanding or a curse. In such a case there is weeping, sighing, emaciation, letting the hair hang down, and the like.

: – The Sambhoga is the most delightful union of the lovers.It is said; although the two can create countless ways of enjoyment , those modes can be classified according to their degree. For instance ; (1) Sankshipta or brief: when the lovers meet at the end of purva-raga the mode of enjoyment is brief and tinged with initial reserve; (2) Sankirna or mixed: when they meet to reconcile their differences , it is an amalgam of sorrow, regret , great oy and immense  relief; (3) Sampurna or rich or full: when the lovers come together after being seperated for some time or being apart in distant places; and (4) Samruddha or exuberant : it is the joy when the come together after going through harrowing experiences or when when the lover returns safe and sound from a hard fought battle. All such pleasures are real (murta) as compared to the ones in dreams or in imagination (gauna-somboga).

Dhananjaya describes ten playful (Lila) and other actions of the Lady Love, according to her kindness, gentleness, and devotion to her lover.

Prabhas Milan

Vira Rasa

The Vira Rasa is induced by  power (pratapa), good conduct (vinaya), determination (dhyavasaya), courage, (sattva) infatuation (moha), cheerfulness (avisada), polity (naya), astonishment (vismaya), might (vikrama), and the like (as Vibhava, the cause), and is based on the Sthayi Bhava of  enthusiasm (Uthsaha).

Vira, the heroic Rasa is of three kinds, having benevolence, fighting, or liberality – Daya-ranad-anayogat tredha kilatra (as Anubhava). In it, there occur assurance, arrogance, contentment, and Joy (as Sanchari Bhava) – mati garva-dhrti-praharsah.

Virah pratapa-vinaya-dhyavasaya – sattva –moha-avisada-naya-vismaya-vikrama-dyaih  utsaha – bhuh sa ca daya –rana-danayogat tredha kilatra mati garva-dhrti-praharsah.

The Vira is broadly classified into four types : (1) Dana-vira ( generosity in giving away or bequeathing   gifts) ; (2) Daya -vira ( having boundless compassion to other beings); (3) Yuddha – vira (heroism or valour in the battle) ; and, (4) Dharma -vira (righteousness  and adherence to Dharma  and truthfulness (Satya)  , or  fulfilling ones word or promise , even while under great stress ).

But, this fourfold classification is considered rather arbitrary ; and, it can be extended to any number, to include Kshama ( forgiveness) , Prema (love ), Dhrti   ( courage) , Mati (reasoning ) and such other virtues.

**

Bibhatsa

The Bibhatsa Rasa, the odious, has the Sthayi Bhava of disgust (jugupsa) as its sole basis; it causes distress (udvega) chiefly by means of worms, stinking matter, and nausea. it causes horror by means of blood, entrails, bones, marrow, flesh, and the like. And, it causes unmixed aversion in the case of the hips, breasts, and so forth of women. It is accompanied by contraction of the nose, mouth, and so on as Anubhava. In it there occur agitation, sickness, apprehension, and the like (as Sanchari Bhava).

bibhatsah krmi-putigandhi-vamath-uprayair jugupsaikabhur udvega rudhira-antraki-kasavasa –mamsa-dibhih ksobhanah vairagyaj jaghana-stana-disu ghrna-suddho anubhavair vrto nasavaktra-vikunanadibhir ihavega -rtisank-adayah

According to Dhananjaya , Bibhatsa could be of three kinds : Kshobana (related to blood, intestines,marrow and such other ghastly substances); Udvegi (related to loathsome , repulsive scenes, putrid sights) ; and, Ghrna-suddha  (disgust, revulsion caused by anything ugly and horrific).

**

Raudra

The Sthayi Bhava of Anger (krodha) is caused by feelings such as: indignation and aversion to an enemy (as Vibhava); its Alambana is is the unforgivable wrong or treachery ; its Uddipana is the arrogance of the wrong-doer .  And , the resulting development of it is the Furious Raudra Rasa, a state of agitation accompanied by biting one’s lip, trembling, frowning, sweating, redness of the face, and also by drawing of weapons, holding the shoulders boastfully, striking the earth, vowing, and imprisonment (as Anubhava). In it , there occur the Sanchari Bhavas , such as: indignation, intoxication, recollection, inconstancy, envy, cruelty, agitation, and the like.

krodho matsara-  vairi-vaikrta-mayaih poso asya raudro anujah ksobhah svadharadamsa-kampa-bhrukuti-sveda-syarlgair yutah sastrollasa-  vikatthanamsadharanlghatapratijnagrahair atrama-rsamadau smrtis capala-tasuyaugrya-vegadayah   

   **

Hasya rasa

Mirth (haasa) is caused by one’s own  or another’s  strange actions, words, or attire; the development of this is said to be the Hasya rasa, which is of threefold origin.

vikrtakrtivagvesair atmano ‘tha parasya va hasah syat pariposo ‘sya hasyas triprakrtih smrtah

Mirth is of two kinds, since it may be provoked by some characteristic of the person amused (atmasta) or of another person (paratha) ; in either case , the mirthful individual may be one of the higher, middling, or lower characters in the play (hence the ‘threefold origin’ mentioned in the text). There are consequently six possible varieties of the Hasya Rasa.

The Sanchari Bhavas related to Hasya rasa are sleeping, indolence, weariness, weakness, and stupor –nidra –alasya-sramaglani-murchas ca sahacarinah.

In this connection, different kinds of smiles and laughter are described.

A gentle smile (smita) is opening the eyes wide; a smile (hasita) is showing the teeth to some extent; laughing (vihasita) is making a soft sound; laughter (upahasita) is the same, accompanied by shaking of the head; uproarious laughter (apahasita) is laughter accompanied by tears; and convulsive laughter (atlhasita—atihasita) is laughter with shaking of the body. Two of these varieties of laughter are characteristic of the higher; two of the middling; and, two of the lower characters, in the order named.

smitam iha vikasi-nayanam kirn cil laksya-dvijam tu hasitam syat madhura-svaram vihasitam sasirah-kampam idam upahasitam

apahasitarn sasraksarn vikasiptangam bhavaty atihasitam dve dve hasite caisam jyesthe madhye ‘dhame kraraasah.

**

Adbhuta

The Adbhuta rasa whose essence is the Sthayi Bhava of Vismaya (astonishment) is  the marvel , wonder and joy caused by supernatural things (as Vibhavas) ; it has as its result (karma) [i. e. As Anubhava] exclamations of surprise, weeping, trembling, sweating, and stammering; the Sanchari Bhavas , occurring in connection with it,  are generally joy, agitation, and contentment.

Atilokaih padarthaih syad vismayatma raso adbhutah karmasya sadhu-vad asru-vepathusveda-gadgadah harsa-avega-dhrtipraya bhavanti vyabhicarinah

**

Bhayanaka

The Bhayanaka, with fear, (bhaya) as its [Sthayi Bhava results  from change of voice, loss of courage, and the like (as Vibhava) ; it is characterized by trembling of all the limbs, sweating, being parched, and fainting [as Anubhava] ; its associated transitory states, the Sanchari Bhavas are:  depression, agitation, distraction, fright, and the like.

Vikrta-svara-sattvader bhaya-bhavo bhayanakah sarvanga-vepa-thus vedasosa-vaicittya-laksanah dainya –sambhrama-sammoha-trasadis tatsahodarah.

**

Karuna

The Karuna Rasa, the pathos, with the Sthayi Bhava of Sorrow (soka) as its essence, results from loss of something cherished ; or loss of a friend  or a dear one ; and when slapped with something undesired. In consequence of it there occur heaving of sighs, drawing of sighs, weeping, paralysis, lamentation, and the like (as Anubhava) ; the Sanchari Bhava , occurring in connection with it, are sleeping, epilepsy, depression, sickness, death, indolence, agitation, despair, stupor, insanity, anxiety, and so forth

istanliad anistapteh sokatma karuno anu tam nihsvas-ucchvasa-rudita- stambha     -pralapita-dayah sva-papa-smara-dainya-dhi-marana-alasya-sambhramah visada-jada-tonmada-cintadya -vyabhicarinah

Rasa according to Bharata

Shanta rasa

Bharata had not mentioned Shanta or Sama or Nirveda (tranquillity) as one among the eight Rasas. But, later, the commentators such as Abhinavagupta and Ānandavardhana have accepted the Shanta as a Rasa.

Dhananjaya also accepts the Sama as a Rasa (Sama-prakarsa, Shanta-rasa) , which arises from happiness and the like; and, it  is to be defined as a state having happiness (mudita) as its essential nature – samaprakarso nirvacyo muditades tadatmata. But, he does not discuss it in detail.

Dhanañjaya, however, remarks that though some have accepted the Sama (tranquillity) as an independent Rasa, it can be applied only in the poetry (Sravya kāvya); but, it cannot be developed in the drama (śamamapi kecitprāhu puṣṭir nāyeu na tasya –4.35).

In this respect, Dhananjaya differs from his predecessors like Ānandavardhana and Abhinavagupta. Jagannatha also believed that scenic art could inspire Shanta Rasa.

lotus-flower-and-bud

Conclusion

Dhananjaya concludes Book Four with a very well balanced comprehensive statement:

Whether one takes a subject that is delightful or disgusting; exalted or lowly; cruel or kindly; obscure  or adapted ; or whether one take a subject created by the imagination of a poet, there is no subject that cannot succeed in conveying the Rasa among mankind.

ramyam jugupsitam udaram athapi ntcam ugram prasadi gahanam vikrtam ca vastu yad va apya vastu kavi-bhavaka-bhavya-manam tan nasti yan na Rasabhavam upaiti loke

ashtalakshmi2 (1)

Sources and References

The Dasarupa a treatise on Hindu dramaturgy by George C. O. Haas, Columbia University press / 1912

 A Study of Abhinavabharati on Bharata’s Natyasastra and Avaloka on Dhananjaya’s Dasarupaka – by Manjul Gupta

Sahityadarpanah of Viswanathakavirajah

The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar

Sanskrit Dramaturgy

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/48454/21/21_chapter%2021.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/106901

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/122/18/09_chapter1.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/22886/6/06_chapter%202.pdf

http://www.jstor.org/stable/25220898?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/29228/11/11_chapter%202.pdf

All images are from Internet

 

                                                                                                                  

 

 
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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

Dasarupa of Dhananjaya

BOOK THREE – continued

Dima, Vyayoga, Samavakara , Ihamrga and Utsrstikanka

Battle-of-Kurukshetra-Manuscript-Illustration

In the earlier parts we have discussed about the two major forms of Rupakas – Nataka and Prakarana – which assimilated into their own features many elements taken from the other forms; and, emerged as genre of authentic works of theatrical art.

Following that, we also talked about three other forms of Rupaka, which perhaps belonged to pre-classical times, viz., Bhana, Vithi and Prahasana, depicted in the eloquent Bharati Vritti and the pleasing Kaisiki Vrtti; and , having shades of Srngara , Hasya and Vira Rasas. These are, generally, characterized by their gentler (Sukumara) mode of presentation, which is closer to the popular theatre.

The remaining categories are shorter and more narrowly focused.  The Samavakara and Ihamrga, for instance, use fewer than five Acts; and, are exclusively about divine characters.  Furthermore, in the Ihamrga type of plays, the overwhelming concern and contest is for, somehow, winning a woman’s love.

The Vyayoga and Utsrstikanka are one-Act plays, depicting only the events that take place within the course of a single day.  The Anka or Utsrstikanka is soaked in tears, sorrow and lamentation of women over their men slain in the battle.

All these five types of plays also seem to be related to one other, in some ways. Abhinavagupta says that Vyayoga is a sort of an extension of the Dima, since both have certain similar features.  And, Ihamrga follows Samavakara, because like the latter, the characters in it are also divine beings. The Rupakas that follow Ihamrga, all have, in the main, male celestial characters.

The Samavakara, the Dima, the Ihamrga and the Vyayoga are very similar to each other. Bharata refers to the other two while describing each of this. Further, he treats the Ihamrga as similar to the Vyayoga; and, the Vyayoga as similar to Samavakara.

 Further, while all those types of Rupakas depict conflict, battle and violence, the Anka vividly demonstrates the dismay and the disastrous consequences that war and cruelty brings upon women in particular and the society , in general.

17_02_2018-17del112-c-2

In the present post, we shall, mainly, look at four kinds of plays – Dima, Vyayoga, Samavakara and Ihamrga – involving aggressive and violent actions; and, therefore classified as Aviddha (aggressive) types. And, in the end , we shall also touch upon the Anka.

According to Bharata: ‘the plays which require energetic, aggressive (Sattava-viddha) gestures (Angahara) and vigorous dance movements (Tandava), do involve such violent representations as: challenging, cutting, piercing, wounding and smashing etc. At times, the elements of magic, sorcery etc may also be introduced to heighten the effects of mystery, supernatural and revulsion. In order to provide a suitable setting for such dark actions, the props, the background (pusta), the costumes and make-up (Aharya) may also be devised and modified, as required.

The plays of the Aviddha type which are built around themes depicting duels, combats, fights etc., are, naturally, dominated by male characters that portray heroic gods or kings and their foes. Both the rivals need to be haughty and strong, as also be endowed with courage and vitality.  The heroes (Nayaka), usually, are the gods or noble humans; and, the anti-heroes (Prathi-nayaka) are the Asuras, Danavas and Rakshasas.   And, there are very few female characters in such action-oriented plays. Further, women do not get involved in the fights; although, the fight, in most cases, is about ’who gets her’.  But, in end, it is the women who have to bear and suffer the consequences of such hostility and violence.

The battles that were fought were usually  between gods and demons. And, the battle scenes occupied most of the Aviddha type of plays.

Another notable feature of the Aviddha type of plays is their style of presentation and dialogue-delivery (Vrtti), which, it could be said, is the blend of Sattavati and Arabhatti.

The Sattvati Vrtti is described as a rather flamboyant style of expressing ones agitated emotions with excessive body-movement; exuberant expressions of joy; and, underplaying mellow or sorrow moods.  It is associated with the ViraAdbhuta and Rauidra Rasas (vire sattvaty), where the contestants rise up to the conflict with excitement (Uttpatha) passionately hurling torrent of abuses and challenge at each other (Samlapaka) with contempt.

And, the battle proper was fought in the Arabhati-vrtti, which is described as a loud, rather noisy and energetic spectacular style. It is a powerful exhibition of one’s anger, valour, bordering on false-pride, by screaming, shouting, particularly, in tumultuous scenes with overwhelming tension, disturbance and violence. It is associated with Raudra (furious) and Bhibhatsa (odious) Rasas (arabhati punah rase raudre ca bibhatse). The Arabhati is also attended with feats of jugglery, conjunction and conflicting situations, where bodily actions are prominent.

  DFRMOHEPIYA1

***

Now, from the general characteristics of the Aviddha performances, let’s move on to their  particular varieties. And, let’s commence with the Dima.

6 The Dima

Dime vastu prasiddham syad vrttayah kaisikim vina / netaro deva gandharva yaksa rakso mahoragah / bhuta preta pisacadyah sodasa-tyantam uddhatah /  rasair ahasya-srngaraih sadbhir diptaih samanvitah / rnaye indrajala sarngrama krodho-dbhrantadi cestitaih / candra suryo-paragais ca nyayye raudra rase angini / caturahkas catuhsa rndhir  nirvimarso dimah smrtah

Tripurasura samharam

The Dima along with Samavakara, Ihamrga and Vyayoga belongs to the variety of the vigorous style of plays (action-oriented), which are connected with themes of battles. The Dima too involves causing injury (samghata). It is related to battles and violent actions , where the hero inflicts injury on his foes. Bharata refers to the episode of the  Burning of the Tripura (Tripura Dahana) – where Shiva as Tripurantaka burns down three cities – as being a suitable subject for a  Dima kind of play (idam Tripura ; tatas  Tripura) . The Dima, perhaps, belonged to an earlier stage in the development of the Sanskrit Drama.

The theme of the Dima is based (kāvyayoni) on any mythological event or a celebrated historical person. The hero is well-known; and, is noble. The story is complex. There are sixteen heroes and subsidiary heroes; and, they are shown at different stages of the play. The heroic Nayaka is the leading character in the play. But, such types as gods, serpent kings, angels, Yaksha etc., also figure in the play.

Dhananjaya says: ‘In the Dima, the subject must be well-known (vastu prasiddham); all the Vrttis (styles) may be employed in it; but, not the Kaisiki Vrtti (graceful).  Its exalted (Udatta) Heroes who fight for justice (Dharma), six-teen in number, should be gods, Gandharvas, Yaksas, Raksasas, Mahoragas, Bhutas, Pretas, Pisacas, and the like. All of such are of the violent type known as Raudra.

The Dima contains the six exciting Rasas (sentiments); but, not the Hasya (comic) and the Srngara (erotic). The principal exciting (dīpta) Rasa of the Dima is Raudra (the furious).

Abhinavagupta says that the Dima has all elements that are in the Nataka; the difference being that in the Dima, the Samdhis and Rasas are incomplete, having neither the introduction nor the pause. A Dima cannot have graceful and pleasing Rasas like Srngara and Hasya (though there might be a possibility of Shanta at the end) … (Some texts mention of the presence of Dipta-rasa a combination of love and humour, in the Dima plays,)

The theme of the Dima would be about dissention (bheda) among the contestants, battles, angry conflicts and furious personal combats. There is much shouting, screaming and hurling curses (Arabhati and Sattavati vrttis) in great pride and anger.

The Dima abounds in such the elements as magic, sorcery, deceit, jugglery, wrath, excitement and the like. There may also be occurrences of the earthquakes, eclipses of the sun and moon. The Dima is structured in four Acts and four Samdhis (junctures); and, there would be no introductory scene (Pravesika), and no pause (Amavarsa) between the junctures.

Abhinavagupta treats the terms Dima, Dimba and Vidrava (intense agitation) as synonyms; because they all are related to conflict, combat and violence. He observes that the Dima type of plays which provide , in plenty, the excitement of furious action; passionately screaming and shouting; and, strong determination to vanquish the foe , are truly fascinating in their own manner. Many, particularly the young, would love watching such powerful, spectacular scenes of furious energetic activity.  Further, the Dima kind of plays lends ample scope for display of wide range of psychological states (Bhavas).

And yet, the ima did not seem to have been a popular type of drama, in ancient times or in medieval period.

Tripura Dahana by Vatsaraja is cited as a good example of the Dima. Further, Kṛṣṇavijaya and Manmathon-mathanam by Veṅkaṭavarada and Rāma are also cited as examples of the Dima.

For more on Dima, please click here.

***

  1. The Vyayoga

Khyateti-vrtto vyayogah khyato-uddhata-narairayah / hino garbha-vimarsabhyarn diptah syur dirnavad rasah / astri-nimitta-samgramo jamadagnyajaye yatha / ekaha-caritaika-anko vyayogo bahubhir naraih //

Madhyama Vyayogam”

This kind of drama is called Vyāyoga because many men disagree with one another (Vyayujyante); and, fight among themselves. The battle, personal combat, duel, challenge and angry conflict etc., form the theme of a Vyayoga.  The Vyayoga is a martial spectacle in which the hero is a well-known sage-like king, Rajarsi (but not a god), or army chiefs or ministers. And, they are not Udattas (exalted); but, are proud and haughty (uddhata) men fighting, wrestling, quarrelling, pushing and pulling to defeat the foe. The main part of the plot must relate to a battle or a duel or a challenge thrown by a warrior to another, to prove his excellence. And, the entire action should have taken place within the course of a day.

As in the case of the Victory of Parasurama (Jamadagnya) – an example for this category – the battle that is fought is neither for a woman, nor was it caused by a woman (astri-nimitta-samgramo). The Vyayoga features many men (as many as twelve); but, has very few women characters. The intervention of women in the battle is also ruled out.

Dhananjaya mentions that a Vyayoga should have a well-known subject (Khyateti-vrtto); and, its principal characters, taken from the epics, should be heroic men, well-known and vehement (khyato-uddhata-narairayah). Dhananjaya deviates from Bharata in mentioning its characters to be vehement.

A Vyayoga should be composed with a plot having exciting events exuding the combination (diptarasas) of the exciting heroic (Vira) and the furious (Raudra) sentiments. There is no place here for the tender and mirthful Rasas like Srngara and Hasya. And, in a similar manner, there is no scope here for the graceful Kaisiki Vrtti. The two Vrttis employed in the Vyayoga are the Sattvati Vrtti (flamboyant style) and the Arabhati-vrtti (loud, rather noisy and energetic style).

As regards the structure of a Vyayoga, the single incident of strife and struggle depicted in it should take place within the duration of only one day. It is a one-Act play. A Vyayoga is constructed with three Samdhis (junctures): the first two (Mukha-the opening; and Pratimukha- the progression) and the last one (Upasamhrti-the conclusion). It does not have the other two Samdhis: the Garbha (Development) and Avamarsa (pause).

The Madhyama-vyayoga by Bhasa is cited as the best example of a Vyayoga, along with Duta Ghatotkacha and Duta Vakyam.

 [For more on Vyayoga, please click here.]

***

  1. The Samavakara

karyam samavakare api amukham natakadivat / khyatam devasuram vastu nirvimarsas tu samdhayah / vrttayo mandakaisikyo netaro devadanavah / dvadasodattavikhyatah phalam tesam prthak prthak / bahuvirarasah sarve yadvad ambhodhimanthane/ankais tribhis trikapatas trisrngaras trividravah/dvisamdhif arikah prathamah karyo dvadasanalikah / caturdvinalikav antyau nalika ghatikadvayam / vastusvabhavadaivarikrtah syuh kapatas trayah / nagaroparodhayuddhe vatagnyadikavidravah / dharmarthakamaih srngaro natra bindupravesakau / vlthyangani yathalabham kuryat prahasane yatha //

deva asura

This kind of drama is called Samavakara because , various themes are scattered about (samavakiryante) in it. Abhinavagupta explains Samavakara (sam-ava-kra) as a play where the various themes are scattered and loosely connected (samavakīryante’-asminnarthā iti samavakāra). But, its Acts are not well interrelated to each other. It is a unique type of drama.

The theme of the Samavakara is concerned with the means of obtaining the desired objective, worthy of gods and Asuras. It portrays one famous (Prakhyata) and noble (Udatta) hero of the exalted (dhīrodātta) type amongst the twelve subsidiary heroes (Pathaka Nayaka), including gods, demons, and the like. The ends attained by these are separate and quite distinct; as, for example, in the episode of Churning of the Ocean (Samudra- manthana), Vishnu gets Lakshmi, while other gods get different things; and, the Asuras get, virtually, nothing. Bharata mentions Amrta-manthana, as an example of Samavakara.

The subject of Samavakara is partly derived from mythical lore, and partly created by the poet’s imagination (kalpita-vastu). The events that caused (Bija) discord and brewed distress between the clans of the Devas and Asuras, leading to their strives, quarrel and battles, form the part of the story. The Samavakara falls under the category of vigorous action-oriented plays (Aviddha prayoga), because it is a variety of supernatural Drama abounding in fights, combats , disturbances  and excitement etc., along with depiction of floods, storm, fire or siege of a city.

It is believed that the well-known tales narrating the battles among gods, demons and humans that might have taken place in the bygone Vedic era served as inspiration for Samavakara type of Dramas. The first Drama staged by Bharata and his sons depicting the battles between Devas and the Asuras bears a striking resemblance to the Samavakara type of play (NS.1.59). The next play of Bharata titled as Samudra-manthana was, in fact, specifically cited as a Samavakara. And, Bharata mentions that he preformed that Drama in the interest of attaining Dharma, Kama and Artha (NS.4.3)., the three  primary pursuits of human life – Trivarga. That suggests, this genre was among the earliest forms of Drama.

yo’ya samavakārastu dharma-kāmā-artha-sādhaka mayā prāggrathito vidvansa prayoga prayujyatām 4.3

The characters in a Samavakara are highly charged and are of haughty temperament. The dominant Rasa is the combination (dipta) of Vira and Raudra; although, at times, the shades of Srngara Rasa may be touched upon, as, for instance, Srngara of Dharma, of Artha and of Kama. The contestants fight bitterly with valour and hostility. Tempests, combats, and the storming of towns, are also represented; and, all the pride and pomp of war, horses, elephants, and chariots also add to the spectacle of Samavakara

The Samavakara, featuring a well-known story shows (apart from the exploits of gods and Asuras) the means to attain the three goals of life, namely Dharma (merit), Artha (material prosperity) and Kama (pleasure)-(trivarga-updya- pradartanat). It is constructed in three Acts; with four Samdhis (junctures) – Mukha, Pratimukha, Garbha and Nirvahana; but, does not have the pause (Amavarsa). It employs all the Vrittis (styles), but with just a passing shade of the gentle Kaisiki Vritti, because there is no scope here for songs, dances etc. The Samavakara do not have either the introductory scene ((Bija) or its expansion (Bindu). Therefore, one may employ the subdivisions of the Vithi type (street-play) in it, according to one’s requirements. As regards its Rasa, the heroic (Vira) and the furious (Raudra) are the dominant Rasas, with just a suggestion of Srngara. It is said; in the Samavakāra, the playwright should make proper use of metres (Chhandas) other than Uṣṇik and Gāyatrī etc., which are complex.

A significant feature of the Samavakara type is that its plot in the three Acts need not be a connected whole.  All three acts have specific order; but, are not strictly related to each other. The different Acts have different topics. They are, practically, three isolated parts of a whole. Each Act has its own theme; and, each could be an independent Drama. The Samavakara, in each of its three Acts, works at three different levels.

The Samavakara could also be viewed as a trilogy of one-Act plays united by being enacted one after another. But, the uniqueness of this multi-act Drama is that though its plot is divided into three distinct parts, as it evolves, it manages to retain unity of action throughout the play. Samavakara, is therefore, is explained as such a kind of a play where many scattered themes, finally, connects to each other (sagatair avakīraiśca arthai kriyate iti samavakāra). That appears to be the reason why the Samavakara is considered as a three-Act play.

The whole of Samavakara is structured in triads. It has three Acts. In its three Acts, it presents three kinds of deception, three kinds of love, and three kinds of excitement. Each of those three elements, in turn, gives rise to three sets of events, causes, and effects. The Samavakara also speaks of Trivarga, the three major concerns of human existence (Dharma, Artha and Kama). Perhaps, such triple composition of the Samavakara had some symbolism built into it. I am not sure.

Another interesting feature of the Samavakara is that the total duration of the play and each of its Acts is specified in Natyashastra. It is said; the three Acts of a Samavakara, played in succession, should take about 18 units of Nadikas. And, a Nadika is half of a Mahurta; and a Mahurta equates to a 48-minute-period. Thus, a Nadika would be 24 minutes long. And, the total duration of a Samavakara play would be 432 minutes or 7 hours and 20 minutes.

The Act One, which is the longest, with twelve Nadikas, takes about five hours. The Act two, with four, Nadikas, takes slightly over an hour and a half. And, that leaves less than an hour to the Act Three which has two Nadikas, to conclude the play. The Samavakara is, thus, structured to resemble a cow’s tail (Gau-puccha) growing narrower and pointed towards the end.

**

According to Natyashastra, the Samavakara shall be composed of the events which served as the seed (bija) of discontent between Devas and Asuras. It shall be glorious , sublime and devoid of sadness (prakhyatodattanka); and, shall comprise three parts for presenting three kinds of deception (Kapata), three kinds of agitation or excitements (Vidrava) and three kinds of Love (Srngara) .

Devā-asura-bījakta prakhyātodāttanāyaka-ścaiva tryakas-tathā tri-kapaas-trividrava syāt-tri-śṛṅgāra 18. 63

Further, the Natyashastra prescribes that the First Act of the Samavakāra shall contain three elements: Prahasana (laughter); Vidrava (excitement); and, Kapata (deception) or a Vīthi (the subdivisions of the Vithi type, according to one’s requirements, as in Prahasana).

Then follows the Second Act, containing the same elements as in the first; but, limited to four Nadikas.

And, the Third Act of two Nadikas, shall contain elements according to the requirements of the plot (Vastu)

It should be ensured that the topic of one Act shall differ from the topics of the other two Acts; but in some way be related (prati-sandhana) to the others.

ako’kastvanyārtha kartavya kāvyabandhamāsādya artha hi samavakāre hya pratisambandham-icchanti 18.69

Further, the Natyashastra says that the three elements-Kapata (deception); Vidrava (agitation or excitement); and Srngara (love) – shall each, in turn, consist three parts.

Thus, Vidrava, the disturbances, agitation or excitement may be caused by three types of circumstances due to : (1) battle and water (yuddha jala); (2) wind, fire and big elephant (vayavya-Agni-gajendra-sambhrama); or,(3) the siege of the city (nagaroparodha)  (NS. 18.70)

yuddhajalasambhavo vā vāyvagnigajendrasabhramakto vā nagaroparodhajo vā vijñeyo vidravastrividha 70

The Kapata (deceit) of three kinds may be due to:  (1) one’s own schemes or plans, bad-luck or accident; or (2) divine will (devavasa) ; or (3) stratagem of the enemy causing happiness or misery (NS.20,71)

Vastugata-krama-vihito devavaśādvā paraprayukto vā sukha-dukho utpatti-ktas-trividha kapao ‘tra vijñeya 71

As regards the third, the Srngara, the Love, it could also be of three kinds ,  as prescribed by the sages in three ways , shall have three kinds –  (1) that which is born by virtue , adhering to one’s duty,  desiring for  well-being of all  is  Dharma- Dharma samgraha; (2) indulging in various activities merely for love of  money or acquiring  objects is   ArthaArtha samgraha ; and,  (2) a loveless seduction of a maiden , having an affair with another woman  for mere satisfaction of passion or physical urge  is  KamaKama samgraha (NS.18.72)

trividhaścātra vidhijñai pthakpthakkāryavihitārtha śṛṅgāra kartavyo dharme cārthe ca kāme ca 72

To sum up:  The three kinds of deception could be those caused by (i) the nature of the subject; (ii) supernatural action; and by (iii) enemies;  the three kinds of excitement could be those resulting from  (i) the besieging of a city; (ii) a battle; and (iii) violent winds, fires, and the like ; and,   the three kinds of love could be triggered or motivated by (i) virtue or merit; (ii) greed or the love to gain money and objects; and  (iii)  unrestrained passion.

[Abhinavagupta adds one more dimension to the issue.  While interpreting the three kinds of Vidrava, he says, it could also be taken as tumult caused by the animate (humans, elephants etc); inanimate (wind, fire , water etc); and by both (siege of the city by elephants , chariots and humans) agencies.  He extends similar interpretations to the other two elements: Kapata and Srngara.]

It is explained; performing ones duty with diligence, observing vows and practicing austerities for the purpose of attaining the desired state of well-being is to be known as love in performing ones duty (Dharma-śṛṅgāra).

When one acts with a desire to secure financial benefit , or to gain some material gain or is simulated by  passion for merely seeking pleasure with a woman, it is to be known as ones  love for  possessing or acquiring  (Artha- Srngara).

And, when one seduces a woman or takes advantage of her or enjoys a woman stealthily with unbridled passion, without love or concern for her, it is to be known the desire to quench ones passionate impulses (Kama-Srngara).

**

The Samavakara appears to be an earlier form of Drama. But, over a period it lost its appeal; and, it no longer was popular. After the ancient Amrta-manthana, the play of Vatsarāja (Samudra-manthana) is the most well known Samavakara class of play. No other plays of such class seemed to have been composed in the later times.

Abhinavagupta does not seem to think very highly of the Samavakara. Before concluding his commentary on Samavakara, he says: persons of devout nature; and the devotees of gods get delight out of this type of production; while,   women, children and the ignorant get enraptured by the  exciting  spectacle of deception , tumult, fighting  etc.

Though the Samavakara is not rated as high as the Nataka and the Prakarana, it is still important, not only because it represents a significant phase in the history of the development of Sanskrit Drama ; but also, because of the technique that is involved in its construction.

{For more on Samavakara , please click here.]

***

  1. The Ihāmrga

Misram Ihamrge vrttam caturahkam trisamdhimat / Nara-divyav aniyaman nayaka-pratinayakau/ khyatau dhiroddhatav antyo viparyasad ayukta-krt / divya-striyam anicchantim apaharadin-ecchatah/ srngarabhasam apy asya kimcit pradarsayet samrambham param aniya yuddham vyajan nivarayet vadhapraptasya kurvita vadham naiva mahatmanah //

rukminiharanam

It is said; this kind of a play is called Ihamrga, because in it, the hero relentlessly pursues (Ihate) a woman who is as elusive as a swiftly flying gazelle (mrga); and, it is very difficult to get her.

The Ihāmrga is a play of intrigue in four Acts (caturahkam), having three junctures (trisamdhimat). Its story might partly be based on a well-known episode in mythology; and, partly be made up or created by the playwright (Itivrttam). Its hero (Nayaka) and subsidiary-hero (Prati-nayaka) could either be human (Nara) or Divine (Nara-divyav aniyaman nayaka-pratinayakau). Both should be of the outstanding, prominent (khyatau) vehement (uddhata) persons of the Dhiroddhata type. The adversary is as capable as the hero; but, commits improper acts by mistake or foolishness (viparyasad ayukta-krt).

The heroine is a celestial beauty (divya-stri). The principal male characters in the play fight bitterly over the woman. Either or both the rivals might attempt to secure her, against her will (anicchantim apaharadin-ecchatah), by abducting her or by some such means. Such hostile acts make the heroine get very angry. The verses in the play depict the anger (avega) of women.  The struggles (saphea) that ensues between the rivals gives rise to much confusion, commotion (sakobha) excitement (vidrava) and furious battle.

Though hostile wrath is provoked and there is intense hostility, which reaches up to the point of killing, the playwright should ensure that it does not lead to death of either of the great opponents. Even in case someone dies in the original story, based on which the plot of the play was created, the playwright should avoid showing incidence of  the impending battle and death in the play, on one pretext or the other- yuddham vyajan nivarayet vadhapraptasya kurvita vadham naiva mahatmanah.

Bharata instructs that the play should be constructed with a well-arranged and a convincing plot (Vipratyayakarahah).

Dhananjaya says: “All that are to be made available in the Vyāyoga—its male characters, styles and sentiments—should be brought in the Īhāmga also, except that the latter is to include only the divine female characters”.

The Ihamrga is to be structured in four Acts, with three junctures (Samdhi)- Mukha ( opening), Prathi-mukha ( expansion) and Nirvahana ( conclusion).

Its styles of presentation are the Sattavati and Arabhatti Vrttis, which are the characteristics of the aggressive Aviddha type of plays. The gentle Kaisiki Vrtti should strictly be avoided.

So far as its actions are concerned, the Vira, Raudra and Bhayanaka are prominent Rasas, though there are three other Rasas. And, in Dhananjaya’ s view , only a slight semblance of love  (Srngara) should be shown on the part of one who tries to obtain a woman against her will by carrying her off or some such means.

The Rukmini-haranam by Vatsyaraja is said to be a good example of the Ihamrga type of Rupaka.

 [For a detailed discussion on Ihamrga, please click here.]

***

  1. Utsrstikanka

utsrstikanke prakhyatam vrttam buddhya prapancayet rasas tu karunah sthayi netarah prakrta narah bhanavat samdhivrttyahgair yuktah striparidevitaih vaca yuddham vidhatavyam tatha jayaparajayau.

horrors-of-war

It is said; this type of Rupaka is called Utsrstikanka merely for the purpose of clearly distinguishing it from Anka (or an Act), which term denotes a division in a play.

The Utsrstikanka is a sort of an epilogue which follows the end of a battle. It is a pathetic depiction of the wailing widows and other women weeping over their husbands, lovers and sons who were slain in the battle. Its main theme is lamentation and despondent cries, shrieks and utterances (nirveditabhāṣitaḥ); and, the bewildered movements of the mourners, in shock and grief,   in the aftermath of a violent battle that just ended.

Abhinavagupta says the Utsrstikanka does, in fact, strongly brings home the disastrous consequences of violence and war. And, in that, it should serve as an object lesson for all those who believe that war alone is the means to resolve all disputes.

Abhinavagupta, therefore, says that the Utsṛṣṭikāka should follow, as a sequel to Samavakāra, Ihāmga, ima and Vyāyoga, which depict the horror and violence of battle scenes – (utkramaīyā sṛṣṭirjīvitam prāā yāsām tā utsṛṣṭikā śocantya striyast aābhir-akita iti tathoktā )

A well known (prakhyāta) episode from a mythological source or , as suggested by Dhananjaya, a story-line created (utpādya) by the playwright could be the plot of an Utsṛṣṭikāka type of play. Its principal character should be a male, human or someone other than a divine being (divya), because the Utsṛṣṭikāka it is full of pathos, the Karuna Rasa (karua-rasa-bāhulyā). Therefore, Karuna is the principal Rasa of the Utsṛṣṭikāka. And, according to Abhinavagupta, only in case it has elements of Raudra (furious), Bhibhatsa (odious) or Bhayanaka (fearsome) Rasas, it can have divine characters in the leading roles – (iha ca karua-rasa-bāhulyā-deva devair-viyoga raudra-bībhatsa-bhayānaka sabandho- divyayoge -na bhavatyapi tu karuay-oga ).

Dhananjaya, however, suggests that in the Utsṛṣṭikāka, could even the ordinary men could be the heroes.

The Utsṛṣṭikāka, which is constructed as a one-Act play (ekanka) with two junctures (Samdhi) – the opening (Mukha) and the conclusion (nirvahaa) – , does not depict actions such as battles etc. Its mode of narration is based almost entirely in speech; and, it follows the verbal style (Bhāratī-vtti). Dhanañjaya states that the events like fights, battles or victory or defeat etc., should merely be suggested by means of descriptive speeches.

The treatment of the subject in Utsṛṣṭikāka in natural and realistic (Loka-dharmī), just in the way the common people behave, ordinarily,   in their lives. The speech in the scenes depicting the anxiety, despair, stupor and lamentation of the sobbing women should convey the sense of deep sorrow, disgust and despair.  There is no place in the Utsṛṣṭikāka for the kind of speech such as the aggressive Arabhaī-vtti, the grand Sāttvatī-vtti or for the pleasing Kaiśikī-vtti.

The dominant Bhavas in the Utsṛṣṭikāka are said to be Shoka (sorrow) and Jigupsa (disgust), which, in turn, give rise to Rasas such as the Karuna (pathos) and Bhibhatsa (odium) .

It is explained; the death of valiant men is the main cause of action (Alambana Vibhava); the mourners falling on the ground, weeping, howling  and heaving is the manifestation of that sorrow and despair (Anubhava); the denunciation of fate, cursing the enemy, recalling with fondness the dead heroes etc., are the transitory expressions of their grief (Sanchari Bhava); and , falling sick , shedding tears, swooning, trembling,  going pale  etc., are the involuntary reactions to the misery, anguish and grief they are suffering (Sattvika Bhava).

The Bhibhatsa Rasa of horror or loathing is manifested in disgust; and, its associated states of agitation, sickness, apprehension, and the like.

The Ūrubhaga by Bhāsa, which followed almost all the rules of theyaśāstra, is said to be the best example of the Utsṛṣṭikāka type of Rupaka.

For a detailed study of Utsṛṣṭikāka, please click here

p1140060

Dhananjaya concludes the Third Book with the statement :  if a playwright, having gained the proper understanding or the essence of Natyashastra,  diligently applies to his work the series of definitions of the ten forms of drama (Dasarupa) as prescribed in the Natyashastra; and, if he also studies the works of great poets, he would undoubtedly be able to produce, without effort, a literary work of great merit that is adorned with rhetorical embellishments (Alamkara), sweetness (Madhurya), clarity (Prasada), loveliness (Lavanya) and eloquence (Abhijata) , composed in leisurely paced (Manda-kranta) metres.

Ittham vicintya dasarupaka-laksma-margam / alokya vastu paribhavya kavi-prabandhan / kuryad ayatnavad alamkrtibhih prabandham / vakyair udara madhuraih sphuta manda vrttaih //

***

In the next Part, we shall, at last, move on to the Fourth and the Final Book of the Dasarupa.

Cover_of_a_Shakta_Manuscript_with_Uma-Maheshvara_

Continued

In

The Next Part

Sources and References

The Dasarupa a treatise on Hindu dramaturgy by George C. O. Haas, Columbia University press / 1912

 A Study of Abhinavabharati on Bharata’s Natyasastra and Avaloka on Dhananjaya’s Dasarupaka – by Manjul Gupta

Sahityadarpanah of Viswanathakavirajah

The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar

Sanskrit Dramaturgy

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/48454/21/21_chapter%2021.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/106901

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/122/18/09_chapter1.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/22886/6/06_chapter%202.pdf

http://www.jstor.org/stable/25220898?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/127505/9/chapter%208.pdf

All images are from Internet

 
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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya

BOOK THREE – continued

 Bhana, Vithi and Prahasana

NKN-09

Of the ten forms of Sanskrit Drama (Rupakas), we have in the last two Parts, discussed about Nataka and Prakarana, the two major forms in the group of Dasarupa.

In this Part, let’s briefly talk about – Bhana, Vithi and Prahasana.

***

  1. The Bhana

Bhānavastu dhurta-Càritam sua-anubhutam parena vä/ yathâ-pa Varnayedeko nipunah pandito vitah//

Sambodhana-ukti-prayikti kuryat-ākaša-bhāSitäih/ Sucayet-vira-sringārau saurya-Saubhagya-samstävaih//

Bhuyasa bharati vrttir ekankam vastu kalpitam/ mukha-nirvahane sange lasyangani dasapi ca //

It is said; the term Bhana is derived from the root ‘Bhan‘, which means ‘to speak’. Abhinavagupta explains Bhana as:’Eka mukhenaiva bhahtante ukthi-manthah kriyante apravista api patriyavinesa yatra iti Banah ‘– It is Bhana (lit. speaking) because the characters that do not enter the stage are heard indirectly through the mouth of the actor who is out on the stage’.

ātmānubhūtaśasī parasaśrayavaranāviśeastu vividhāśrayo hi bhāo vijñeyastvekahāryaśca 108

paravacanamātmasastha prativacanairuttamottamagrathitai ākāśapuruakathitairagavikārairabhinayaiścaiva 109

 dhūrtaviasamprayojyo nānāvasthāntarātmakaścaiva ekāko bahuceṣṭa satata kāryo budhairbhāa 110

Bhana, for all purposes, is a single Act presentation (ekankam); though, technically, it has two junctures – the opening (Mukha) and the conclusion (Nirvaha), each preceded by songs of gentle graceful style (Lasya). And during the course of the Bhana, musical effects are provided from the background to enliven the show.

Bharata explains Bhana as a monologue narrated by a single actor; and, yet its theme is full of various characters and situations – vividhā-aśrayo hi bhāo vijñeya stva ekaharya-sca NS.18.108

Abhinavagupta also explained Bhana as a satirical performance put on by a single actor, talking to himself, making conversation with the imaginary persons, imitating the other characters and chastening the high-class by lampooning their licentious ways. He considers that Bhana has affinity (samana-yoga-kshema) with Prahasana

The Bhana type of Rupaka (bhanyate iti bhanah) is described as a monologue enacted by a single actor who plays the role of experienced, clever rouge (dhurta) or a sharp-witted amiable (dakshina) parasite , skilled  in amorous ways (nipunah pandito vitah) who goes on an errand to please a courtesan or the lady-love of his noble friend. He narrates, dramatically, his own roguish exploits or describes that of someone else (ātmā-anubhūtaśasī parasaśraya-varanā-viśeastu). He carries on conversation (Sambodhana-ukti-prayikti kuryat) with imaginary persons (akasha-bhasita), asking questions and replying them himself. He imitates other characters, their voice and their expressions. He acts and narrates employing ingenious techniques of Ekaharya abhinaya (abhinaya, without the aropana of the aharya, i.e., adopting or assuming the roles of various characters, without changing either the costume or the make-up).

Bharata says that the Vita, in a Bhana, need not be a ‘Hero’, as in the other types of Dramas, but as the only character that fills the stage. He says the Bhana, after all, is for the Vita; it is a Dhurta- vita –samprayojya. The Vita as a character is generally neglected in Sanskrit Drama. But, he makes his appearance in Mrcchakatika.

*

The Bhana is altogether different from the elegant Sanskrit court-plays.  It deals with the common place and the trivial. It ridicules and exposes the seamy side of urban life and of the court officials, in particular; and, debunks the hypocrites moving under the guise of the virtuous. The subjects such as love, betrayal, rivalry or battles, mischief, fraud, intrigue and nuisance form the meat of its theme.

In short, Bhana is akin to one-man-stand-up comedy shows, which have become a regular feature on most of the TV channels. In a way of speaking, Bhana which had almost faded away in the middle era, enjoyed a sort of resurrection in the twentieth century.  About Bhana, Sylvain Levi, in his The Theatre of India, writes: the monologue, the Bhana, is most remote from the Drama proper.  It is most popular today as it was in the past. Actors and writers love it. It abounds in descriptions and gives ample scope to poetical ingenuity, while its imaginary dialogues offer to the actor the opportunity to display his virtuosity.

 **

The theme in a Bhana is improvised (vastu kalpitam); and, is rendered in  Bharati Vrtti, the  eloquent style (bharati-vrtti Pradhana tvad bhanah).  

It is said; the Srngara and Vira are to be its dominant Rasas, depicted by fortune-in love (Saubhagya) and heroism.

[It is rather surprising that Hasya was not considered by the ancients as one among the appropriate Rasas for the Bhana, particularly since it is allied to Prahasana, a farce.  Abhinavagupta also speaks of its character, the Vita as – hasyochita.

Similarly, Bharata had specified the Bharati Vrtti as the suitable Vrtti for the Bhana ( Bhuyasa bharati vrttir ). And at the same time , he had ruled out  Kaisiki Vritti for Bhana.

But later, Visvanatha modified the ancient stipulations set by Bharata; and, said that Srngara and Hasya Rasas as also  the Kaisiki Vrtti could also be treated as suitable for Bhana. He argued that such modification is justified, since there is scope in the Bhana for display of ‘love, gallantry, coquetry, pleasantry (narman) and jesting, along with comic in speech, dress and movement’.

Thereafter, in the later periods, the Srngara-rasa (aesthetic pleasure of the erotic variety), Hasya rasa (of  humour)  and Kaisiki-vrtti (graceful style) which  characterized  the Lasyangas  became the standard parts of the Bhana. ]

**

Not many of the ancient Bhana scripts have survived. It is said that in the early years of the 20th century, the scholars Sri M Ramakrishna Kavi and Sri S K Ramanatha Shastri discovered the MSS, edited and published four Bhana plays: Ubhaya-abhisarika of Vararuchi; Padma-prabhrthaka of Sudraka; Dhurta-Vita-samvada of Isvaradatta; and Pada-taditaka of Syamalika. These were published together under the title Caturbhani, during 1922.

The Dhurta- vita-samvada presents an interesting picture of a seemingly clever, experienced, but worn-out Vita, who finding the rainy season too depressing, comes out seeking some amusement. He has no money either for a game of dice or for a drink – even his clothing is reduced to one garment.  He, then, winds his way towards the street where courtesans live, transacting with their clients of various kinds. He, sadly, cannot afford a courtesan, either.  At the end, dragging his feet, he reaches the house of the roguish couple Visvalaka and Sunanda, who were then busily engaged in a discussion on certain awkward problems of sex-act. The Vita gleefully joins the discussion.

rose-SG

 Prof. S. K. De in his article A Note on the Sanskrit Monologue-Play (Bhana), with Special Reference to the Caturbhani , pulished in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland ; No. 1 (Jan., 1926), pp. 63-90 , gives a detailed review of these four ancient works and  of a few other.

Prof.SK De in his review observes:

Indeed, one of the outstanding features of all the Bhanas is their want of variety; and, the monotonous on the erotic sentiment tends to become cloying. This, combined with their hopeless but vigorous vulgarity, must have been responsible, to some extent, for the comparative oblivion to which they have been confined.

There is no doubt that in the later times they became mere literary exercises and subsided into a conventional and life-less form of art.

There is a monotonous sameness of style and treatment, inevitably suggesting a sense of artificiality. We meet over and over again the same  theme, the same types of characters ,the same elaborate descriptions , the same tricks of expression , the same strings of nouns and adjectives, the same set of situations, the same group of conceits, and the same system of morals or want of morals.

The depressing atmosphere of ‘low’ characters, none of whom rise above the middle-class, is bound to be dull, unless diversified by comic effects or individual traits or variety of incidents and situations.

 It is not, therefore, surprising that the Bhana as literature, though always popular, never made a permanent appeal and was forgotten in the later times.

**

However, on the same subject of Chaturbhani, FW Thomson took a totally different view; and wrote:

It will , I think, it will be admitted that the Bhana compositions , in spite of the unedifying character of their general subject and even in spite of the occasional vulgarities, have real literary quality . They display a natural humour and polite, intensely Indian, irony with need not fear comparison with that of Ben Jonson or a Moliere. The language is veritable ambrosia of Sanskrit speech. – [Centenary Supplement of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, October 1924]

Comedy Choodamani

4.Vithi

vithi tu kaisikivrttau samdhyangankais tu bhanavat / rasah sucyas tu srngarah sprsed api rasantaram / yukta prastavanakhyatair ahgair udghatyakadibhih / evam vithi vidhatavya dvyekapatraprayojita  //

The Vīthi is reckoned among the earliest forms of Sanskrit Drama. The episodes culled out of mythologies and popular tales were narrated by use of clever and inventive witty dialogues. It is also said that Vithi which is chiefly of  conversational  style might have originated from the ancient Samvada Suktas of the Rig-veda. 

The term ‘Vithi’ generally stands for ‘marga’- path.  As its name suggests, it is likely that the Vithis were, initially, played at the street-corners. And, in the later times they came to be presented on the stage. The term Vithi is also interpreted as denoting a series,  string of sequences, Maala ( garland). 

It is said; Vithi had two varieties; the earlier one of which was closely related to Bhana where a single actor delivered a monologue. And, in the other, which came later, two actors engaged in varieties of dialogues, impersonating several characters – vīthī syādekākā tathai-ekahāryā dvihāryā vā . The heroine in a Vithi can be a chaste woman (kulapālikā) , a common woman (sāmānyā) or of the other type (parakīyā).

Rasair-bhavaisca sakalaih yukta Vithi prarikrita Ekaharya Dviharya va kartavya kavibhis sada //20.135//

According to Bharata, the Vithi is a single-Act play, to be enacted by one or two persons. It includes characters of the superior (Uttama), middling (Madhyamā) or inferior (Adhama) class. The Vithi is rich in all the Rasas; and consists of thirteen sub-divisions (angas) – Sarva-rasa-lakaā-ahyā yuktā hy agais trayodaśabhi.

Dhananjaya describes Vithi as a one-Act play, which resembles the Bhana, in that it includes frequent speeches in the air; and, has only two junctures (Samdhi) – the beginning (Mukha) and the conclusion (Nirvaha). It may have one or two actors. It has thirteen sub-divisions.

As regards its Vritti, the style of presentation, Bharata had earlier treated it as a class of play, which is akin to Bhana and Prahasana; and, which does not have the graceful Kaisiki Vrtti (kaiśikī-vtti-hīnāni). And, he had, earlier, indicated the Vithi as being related to the eloquent Bharati Vrtti. Abhinavagupta followed Bharata.

Vīthī caiva hi bhāaśca tathā prahasana puna kaiśikī-vtti-hīnāni kāryāi kavibhi sadā 19.48

That might be because the eloquent speech delivery is the major strength of the Vithi. The techniques of ingenious employment of different manners of dialogue delivery and styles of conversations are the characteristic features of the Vithi. Eventually, even after the Vithi type of Rupaka faded away, its style of witty exchange of dialogues walked into the prologue (Prasthavana) of the more evolved varieties of the Rupakas. 

Dhananjaya had initially accepted the Vithi as a part (anga) of the Bharathi Vrtti. But later, he classified it under Kaisiki Vrtti (Vithi tu kaisikivrttau). That was perhaps because; the Vithi, endowed with all the Rasas (Sarva-rasa-lakaāahyā yuktā), with its thirteen subdivisions (agais trayodaśabhi) has the beauty of the monologue (Ekaharya akasha-bhasita, speech in the void) as also the beauty of a amusing conversation (Dviharya).

Sarva-rasa-lakaā-ahyā yuktā hy agais trayodaśabhi Vīthī syādekākā tathai-ekahāryā dvihāryā vā   NS.18. 112

Apart from that, Dhananjaya followed Bharata in regard to other aspects of the Vithi.

As regards the Rasa (sentiment)the Nāṭyaśāstra states that Vīthī can use all the Rasas; and one may just touch the Srngara RasaHowever, the Daśarūpaka states that Vīthī should have erotic (Sṛṅgāra) Rasa  as the main; and,  the others as subordinates.

rose-SG

Vithyanga

It is said; the term Vithi also stands for ‘pankthi of angas’, series of  elements or the sub-divisions. The enumeration of the thirteen subdivisions of the Vithi, with their elements (Vithyanga), is one of the important features of the Vithi Rupaka. In that context, Dhananjaya had treated the Vithyangas as a division of the Bharathi Vrtti, while he was discussing the Amukha, prologue or introduction to the play.

[The Bharati-vrtti is mainly related to scenes where the speech or dialogue delivery is its prominent feature.  But, even otherwise, the Bharati vrtti, related to eloquence, is of much importance in all the situations (vrttih sarvatra bharati).  It is devoid of Srngara, Karuna and Nirveda   (dispassion).  

The Bharati-Vrtti has four varieties: Parochana (introducing the play and playwright to the spectators); Amukha or Prastavana (where the Sutradhara strikes a conversation with the Nati or Vidushaka, as a prologue to the play); Vithi (sort of monologue the Sutradhara carries on before the play proper); and, Prahasana (hilarious conversations between minor actors). All these take place, mostly, in the Purvanga, the preliminary to the play proper.]

Bharata enumerates the thirteen subdivisions of the Vithi (Vithyanga)  (Natyashastra -Chapter 18.113-114). According to Bharata, the Vithi should include characters of the superior, the middling or the inferior type (Adhamo-uttama-madhyābhir-yuktā); and, it may contain any of the thirteen types of speech.

The thirteen subdivisions of the Vithi are:

Abrupt Interpretation (udghātyaka); Transference (avalagita); Ominous Significance (avaspandita); Incoherent Chatter (asat-pralāpa); Compliment (prapañca); Enigma (nāli or nālikā); Repartee (vākkeli); Outvying (adhivala); Deception (chala); Declaration (vyāhāra); Crushing (mdava); Three Men’s Talk (trigata); and Undue Combination of Words (gaṇḍa).

Adhamo-uttama-madhyābhir-yuktā syātpraktibhistisbhi uddhātyakā avalagitā-avaspanditanālyasatpralāpāśca 113

 vākkelyatha prapañco mdavādhibale chala trigatam । vyāhāro -gaṇḍaśca trayodaśā-agānyudāhtā-nyasyā 114

Thereafter, Bharata says ‘Any of these thirteen types is always to be attached to the Vīthi. I shall now speak of their characteristics in due order’

Udghatyaka: – it is when a person uses obscure terms to explain a given word; and, that leads to a meaning that was not quite intended by the speaker.

Avalagita: – It is when a different purpose is achieved (inadvertently) along with the intended one.

Avaspandita: – It is when a misinterpretation of a word, which might either be auspicious or inauspicious (Subha-asubha), leads to the exactly opposite of the true meaning of the word.

Asat-Pralapa: – It is when a learned person advises a fool, asking him to do the right thing; but, the latter (the fool) chooses to ignore the good advise.

Asat-Pralapa also happens when an irrelevant question is followed by an equally irrelevant answer.

Prapañca: – it is a way of mocking, when two persons praise and complement each other by using false but funny sounding words

Nalika: – It is an enigmatical remark that gives rise to laughter.

Vākkeli: – It is a repartee or a counter speech. It is a series of questions followed by witty replies producing comic effect,.

Adhivala: – It is when, during the course of an argument, both the parties are forced to modify or revise their statements. Thus, each tries to outdo the other.

Chala: – It is a type of deceit, when, during the course of an argument, one party tries to mislead the opponent by  making worthless and nonsensical statements, in order to frustrate, ridicule and mock at him.

Vyāhāra: – it is a fearless declaration made in presence of the hero ; and , it is made to happen.

Mdava: – It is when one ridicules, dements and crushes the opponent by mocking at the opponent’s merits and make it look worthless and a blemish too.

Trigata: – It is a dignified discussion, with humour (Hasya) carried on by three characters. According to Dhanajaya, it is a discussion among three actors, as in the Purva-ranga (preliminary scene)

Ganda: – It is when in the heat of the situation; and due to excitement, confusion and agitation   , one bursts out with disjointed statements, wrong words and hurling abuses at the opponent.

Bharata remarks, if any or most of these thirteen divisions of Vithi, are employed, in a series, it would then result in a Vithi type of Rupaka.

Abhinavagupta explains that these thirteen Angas of the Vithi are quite different from the Lakshanas and Alamkaras (embellishments, figures of speech). The Vithi, according to him, is a series of eloquent and clever statements and counter statements (Vākkeli) made with wit and alacrity. The scope of Vithi is, thus, not limited to a single utterance or to an expression of beauty. It gives rise to series of diverse varieties of skilful, imaginative, innovative statements (ukti-vaichitrya) – (Vithiyantu bahuvidha vakrokthi visesa utpadayante).

Dhananjaya observes that if a playwright, having gained the proper understanding or the essence of Natyashastra,  diligently applies to his work the series of definitions of the ten forms of drama (Dasarupa) as prescribed in the Natyashastra; and, if he also studies the works of great poets, he would undoubtedly be able to produce, without effort, a literary work of great merit that is adorned with rhetorical embellishments (Alamkara), sweetness (Madhurya), clarity (Prasada), loveliness (Lavanya) and eloquence (Abhijata) , composed in leisurely paced (Manda-kranta) metres.

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Lasyanga

The description of the thirteen varieties of Vithyanga is followed by the descriptions of the ten Varieties of Lasyanga.

Bharata says, there is a form of entertainment called Lasya, which is closer to Bhana and Vithi. And, like in Bhana, it is done by one actor (Bhana iva eka-prayoga ni / Bhana-kritiva-Laasyam), displaying various aesthetic expressions (vividha-bhāvam) .

bhāṇā-kṛtiva-llāsyaṃ vijñeyaṃ tva-eka-pātra-hāryaṃ prakaraṇa-vadūhya kāryā-saṃsta-vayuktaṃ vividha-bhāvam ॥ 19.118॥

Bharata again says, the Lasya is related to Srngara rasa, portraying love and other softer, graceful aspects. And, Lasya is present in Vithi, which enters into Prahasana. And, Vithi and Prahasana also enter the first of the three parts of the Samavakara. Further, all of these together with Lasya and its Angas enter into Nataka (Anyāni ca Lasya vividha-angani tu Natake prayuktani).

The emotional theme in the Lasya is a product (utpadya-vastu) of the poet’s imagination, Uhya. In that respect, it is similar to the Prakarana, a play with a created story, uhya-karya (or kavya) – Utpadya-vastu Prakarana vad uhya-karyam.

The Natyashastra does not clearly define Lasya; but, it gives a list of ten Lasyangas, the subdivisions of Lasya (as below), soon after concluding the discussing on Bhana. It also says that the Lasyangas are to be presented by a single character as in the case of a Bhana; and, not by a group of characters.

Geya-pada: – It is a joyful song sung by the heroine, for the pleasure of the hero, while she is seated. She is surrounded with stringed instruments and drums; and, yet, she prefers to sing without accompaniment of any of these. It is a simple rendering of a song, based in melody.

Sthita-pathya: – it is a sad song in Prakrit (regional language) sung by the love-stricken heroine pining for her lover, while resting (sthitha) in her seat.

Asina-pathya: – The lonely, forlorn heroine who is separated from her lover sits (Asina) alone – depressed and pondering over her situation, throwing oblique glances. And, she is not even listening to any sort of music.

Pushp-agandika: – it is a song and dance, with music, performed by a woman who is in the guise of a man, for the pleasure of her female friends

Pracchedaka: – It is dance performed by a separated woman afflicted by moonlight and overcome with passion, clinging to her lover, even though he had been unfaithful to her.

Trimudhaka: – It is when the heroine dances, naturally, to a song composed with soft and sweet sounding words, set in easy, even metre.

Saindhavaka: – As the heroine anxiously awaits her for lover , who has failed to keep his tryst, she sings ,with grief, a song in Prakrit, and dances displaying various Karanas, to the music on Veena and other instruments.

Dvimudhaka:– In it a song of the Caturasra type (chaturasra-pada) set in four kaalas (rhythm, tempo); with a proper beginning (Mukha) and elaboration (Prathi-mukha); and full of emotive feelings and expressions of love , that is sung by the heroine. She dances gracefully, in circular movements, accompanied by melodious vocal and instrumental music.

Uttamottamaka: – It is a dance full of playful and joyous movements, accompanied by exciting songs (adorned with various kinds of Ślokas) and instrumental music .

Ukta-pratyukta: It is a dance performed, as a duet, to a lyric which is composed by weaving into it interesting speeches and counter-speeches (repartee) full of flirtation, dalliance and sarcasm. The song set to playful music, sometimes, contains words of censure and mock-anger.

**

[Bharata had specifically mentioned ten kinds (Dasa-vidha) of Lasyanga. For that reason, Abhinavagupta recognizes only the above ten forms of Lasyanga.  He did not accept the two other forms – Chitrapada and Bhavita – for, he thought that they might have been inserted into the text at a later time.

Citra-pada: It is a dance performed by lovelorn person who amuses herself / himself by looking at the portrait of her/his beloved.

Bhavika: It is a dance in which the heroine dreams about her lover and expresses diverse feelings in a rather pensive mood.]

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  1. The Prahasana

Pakhandi–vipra-prabhrti-cetaceti-vita-kulam cestitam vesa-bhasa-bhih suddham hasya vaco-nvitarn

Kamukadi vaco vesaih sandha kancuki tapasaih vikrtam, samkiram vithya samkirnam dhurta- samkulam

It is called Prahasana, because it generates lots of laughter (Hasa). Bharata considers that humour (Hāsya) is related to erotic (Sṛṅgāra) – (Sṛṅgārāddhi bhavedd-Hāsya).  He said amusement or humour (hāsya) as a Rasa is born out of the dominant mood (Sthayi-bhava) called mirth (hāsa) – (hāsyo nāma hāsa-sthāyi-bhāvātmaka). However, Abhinavagupta states that shades of humour can be brought in and experienced in any Rasa (etena sarve rasā hāsye antarhitā iti darśitam).

Prahasana is a farcical or comic satire, created (utpadya) by a playwright, with a view to provoke laughter. It is a burlesque, one or two-Act-skit, littered with caustic humour, flippantly deriding the so-called respectful figures in the society (who, in fact, are worthless people – Kapurusha); and, their corrupt practices.  The rumours that are in circulation among the common people (Loko-pacara-yakta-varta), about the deceitful contrivances of the roguish rich and influential are brought out on the stage, without hatred or rancour. Hasya, humour or laughter is its main Rasa.

Bharata had earlier divided the Prahasana it into two types: pure (Shuddha) and mixed (Samkirna). Dhananjaya made that into three subdivisions.

Dhananjaya mentions that Prahasana which is similar to Bhāa (tadvat) in plot (Vastu) , juncture (Samdhi), gentle dance (Lasya), and style (Vrtti) has three types: Shuddha (pure); Vikrta (modified); and, Samkirna (mixed) – tadvat prahasanam tredha; shuddha, vaikrta, samkaraih.

The Shuddha (the pure) Prahasana is that in which the leading characters are heretics, hypocrites (Pakhandi), Brahmins (Vipra), ascetics, (tapasaih) men (Dasa) and maid-servants (kancuki). It contains conversation of ascetics and gods provoking humour; but, it is devoid of obscenity and falsehood.  Its language and conduct are studied and learned (Adighata). The Shuddha Prahasana is performed with appropriate costumes and language; and, is full of (anvita) comic speeches (hasya vaco-nvitarn). It is also said; when the plot focuses on the personality of only one person, whose conduct is improper, only then he should be laughed at.

‘The second is the modified Prahasana (vikrta) where the characters are of vulgar type, such as:  eunuchs, prostitutes, rouges (Dhurta) and parasites (Vita). It deals essentially with the, hypocrisy, tricks, squabbling, and mean streak of every kind. The characters, their appearance and flashy costume, are uncouth, garish and loud.

The third, the mixed Prahasana (Samkirna) is similar to the Vikrta type; but, in addition, it is an admixture of elements taken from the street-play or the Vithi type of Rupaka; and, it is filled with rouges (Dhurta).

Apart from providing amusement, the hilarious Prahasana is useful, in the sense that it cautions the good folks to be on guard against the possible exploitation by the unscrupulous elements in the society.

Bharata said that Prahasana was the most popular form of Drama: sarva-loka-prahasanair abādhante hāsya-saśrayai NS.36.8). It is not surprising that Prahasana, which had its origin in the pains, disgust and laughter of the common people, was a much sought-after popular form of comic relief, in an otherwise dreary existence.

Dhananjaya names six types of laughter: smile (smita), smile (hasita), gentle laughter (vihasita), laughter of ridicule (upahasita), vulgar laughter (apahasita) and excessive laughter (atihasita).

Clever, slick, and captivating eloquence (Bharati-vritti) is the very lifeblood of Prahasana; and, it is essential that the actor ensures that there is never a dull movement in his presentation. He should start off briskly; and, ingeniously employ with alacrity every element of Amukha, the opening section: catch the attention of the audience (udghātyaka), introduce the theme quickly (kathodghāta), and develop it with imagination (avalagita), if need be, by resorting to exaggeration (prayogātiśaya) and other smart and entertaining means.

In its structure, the Prahasana has two Samdhis (junctures): Mukha, the opening; and, Nirvaha, the conclusion.  Its style is eloquent (Bharati Vritti); and, its predominant Rasa is Hasya (Mirth). Prahasana lends abundant scope for use of song and dance.

Sylvain Levi in the first volume of his work The Theatre of India writes: “The farce or the Prahasana, among all dramatic types, comes nearest to the popular theatre or, rather, to popular taste. In contrast to the Nataka and the Natika with their conventional setting, the Prahasana moves more freely in a natural atmosphere of joy and human imperfection.”

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Bhagavadajjukam of Bodhayana (6th -7th century AD) is one of the earliest Prahasanas; and, it is often clubbed with the Mattavilasa-prahasana of the Pallava King Mahendravarman (7th century). And, both these works are mentioned in the Mamandur inscription of the Pallava ruler.

The satirical comedy Bhagavadajjukam (The saint-courtesan) hilariously pictures the confusions and absurd situations that follow when the souls of a hermit and a courtesan get interchanged. The monk and his transformation as a courtesan by the exchange of souls give enough scope for amusement as also to ridicule the hypocrisy  and to  puncture the vanity that shrouds the ‘high society’. The work also exposes the practices of sham mendicants and lampoons the degeneration of the contemporary society.

Mattavilāsa-prahasana, a parody in one Act, is built around the confusion when the drunken antics of a Kapalika,  and the lives of his fiancée and  of  Buddhist monk get entangled in mess over a begging-bowl that went missing, of all the places, at the local liquor shop. Please click here for a detailed study of Mattavilāsa-prahasana.

In the Next Part , let us talk about the Dima, Vyayoga and Samavakara forms of the Rupakas.

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Continued

in

The Next Part

Sources and References

The Dasarupa a treatise on Hindu dramaturgy by George C. O. Haas, Columbia University press / 1912

 A Study of Abhinavabharati on Bharata’s Natyasastra and Avaloka on Dhananjaya’s Dasarupaka – by Manjul Gupta

Sahityadarpanah of Viswanathakavirajah

The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar

Sanskrit Dramaturgy

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/48454/21/21_chapter%2021.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/106901

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/122/18/09_chapter1.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/22886/6/06_chapter%202.pdf

http://www.jstor.org/stable/25220898?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

All images are from Internet

 
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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Five

Continued from Part Four

Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya

BOOK THREE – continued

 Nataka and Prakarana

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As mentioned earlier, Bharata in his Natyashastra enumerates, and discusses ten forms of plays or Natya or Rupakas:  aka, Prakarana, Anka (Utsṛṣṭikāka), Vyāyoga, BhāaSamavakāraVīthiPrahasanaima, and Īhāmga.

aka sa Prakaraam Ako Vyāyoga eva ca  Bhāa Samavakāraś ca Vīthī Prahasanaṃ Dima  20.2

Ihāmgaś ca vijñeyā daśeme nāya lakaeteā lakaamaha vyākhyāsyāmya anupūrvaśa  20.3

Dhananjaya lists the same set of plays as 

nāṭakaṃ sa prakaraṇaṃ bhāṇaḥ prahasanaṃ ḍimaḥ / vyāyoga samavakārau vīthyaṅkehā mṛgā iti // DhDaś_1.8 //

Bharata divided the ten types of plays into two broad categories. One; the class of plays like Nataka and Prakarana: having a range of characters; portraying all the four Vrittis (styles of presentation) – Purna-vrtti-rupakas – in five or more Acts; displaying their psychological states; and, exuding the Srngara and Vira Rasas.  And, the other eight which fall under the class which has less than five Acts; and, where all the Vrttis etc., are not present. Therefore, of the ten forms of Rupakas, the Nataka and the Prakarana are considered more complete.

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The Nataka

The Nataka is constructed as per the classic format, in accordance with all the rules prescribed and established by the tradition. The hero and the heroine are highly idealized, almost celestial, descending from a distinguished Royal lineage. Its story-line would usually be about a noble hero who resolutely overcomes many challenging obstacles; and, finally succeeds in achieving his desired objective. The message of a Nataka is that the good and the virtuous should never be defeated; and, eventually the love, truth and justice (Dharma) must triumph over untruth. And, harmony and peace should prevail over chaos and disturbance.

The Nataka is a powerful means for the moral upliftment of the society, holding out hope and faith in the goodness of life, with  illustrations of how the virtuous men and women of the past dealt with the sorrows, disappointments, trials and tribulations in their life ; how they  fought against the   confronting miseries that mounted upon them , with bravery and honesty ; and, how they eventually emerged out of the difficult situations with success , glory and dignity.

The other types of plays

The other types of plays, in contrast, tried to represent life in its varied colours, nearer to the real-life, portraying characters from lower order of the society. These types of plays depicted the good as also the not-so-good aspects of life, built around characters of varied nature: the virtuous, vagrant, weak, comic and so on. This was particularly true in the case of Dramatic forms such as Bhana, Vithi and Prahasana. The object of these other nine types was, mainly, to provide entertainment.  

Nataka – Prakarana

In short: The Nataka celebrates the accomplishments of the kings; and, how they find their fulfilment in establishing the Dharma (nāṭakān nāyako nṛpaḥ / prakhyāto dhīralalitaḥ śṛṅgāro’ṅgī salakṣaṇaḥ) . The Prakarana, as compared to Nataka, deals with the affairs of the social classes coming from a mixed milieu, such as a Brahmin, a minister, a soldier, a merchant or even a social parasite (Vita)- prakaraṇaṃ tredhā saṅkīrṇaṃ dhūrtasaṅkulam. A courtesan could also be the heroine of a Prakarana. Its story must be a fictitious one , invented by the poet. Prakarana tends to be realistic in its approach.  It attempts to depict the conditions in the society, as they are .

The Srngara, the love, and its victory, in true fashion, are the main sentiment in Prakarana. And Prakarana has in it, some elements from Bhana, Vithi and Prahasana.

While the idealism of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the resort of the Nataka, the social life depicted in the Brhatkatha is, generally, the source of the Prakarana.

Dr.Raghavan explains : The ideals that lie at the base of these two types, the Nataka and the Prakarana, are different; the two are distinct in a substantial manner; the aim of the poet in the Nataka is to present what has been conceived as the highest type of human personality, the sublime type, called the Dhirodatta; this is a heroic ideal. On the other hand, in the Prakarana, the poet is out to hold up the mirror to the world, to depict society as it is in its rank and file

Another important difference between Nataka and Prakarana is in regard to the extent of the Kaisiki-vrtti. In the Nataka, the Kaisiki-vrtti enjoys full scope, while in the Prakarana its scope is rather restricted.   The explanation provided for this is : too much display of Kaisiki would be out of place in the Prakarana, which is a realistic social play.

Other types

The Bhana which is a one-act monologue presented by a stand-up comedian, the  Vita , a depraved parasite,  ridiculing the so-called respectable figures in the society, and the Prahasana, the satirical comic skit, have affinity with Vithi . The Vithi is a one-act street-play, having a series of witty exchanges presented by one or two characters of mixed type. It has scope for all the Rasas; but, its distinguishing feature seems to be its resourcefulness and rich varieties of clever repartees. In fact , whenever clever repartees are found in other Rupakas, they are supposed to have been adopted from one or other of the thirteen Vithyangas, the diverse constituents of the Vithi.

The Vyayoga, Samavakara and Dima have their characters from varied class of gods, demi-gods, demons etc.; with some heroic characters taken from Mahabharata and other Puranas. The Utsṛṣṭikāka (Anka) is something like an epilogue to the heroic types of plays. It starts near about the end of action in a major play (say, depicting the consequences of a battle that just ended). The Ihamrga is all about the enticing and captivating a lovely damsel. At the end, the hero wins the lady-love; the villain loses out; but, no one dies.

These Rupakas differ from one another (rupaka bheda) according to the nature of the hero and other characters (Neta), the plot (Vastu) in both of its aspects: main (Mukhya) and subsidiary (Prasangika).There also differences in the number of Acts (Anka or Samdhi); and, in regard to sentiments (Rasa) that are displayed.

Though the lesser types of Rupakas were composed principally for providing pleasure, many of them do instruct and impart the norms of good conduct. They also reflect the contemporary social life, its pleasures and pains.  These different types of dramas provide an opportunity for the dramatists to choose their characters from among a wide range of men and women in the society.

[ We shall talk about these types of plays, in fair detail,  in the next part]

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Nataka and its evolution

In the previous Part we discussed about the Nataka. In the present post let’s talk about Prakarana type of plays.

Before we go into the specifics of each of the nine forms plays (other than Nataka), let’s take a general view , just to see if there is a rationale in identifying these ten as the major types of Drama (Rupaka) ; and, whether they are related to each other , one way or the other.

When we compare the constituents of the ten types of Rupaka, a question arises, naturally, whether these are interrelated. Whether the minor varieties were evolved or derived from the two major types; or, whether the major types were created by combining elements taken from the minor ones. Some scholars, notably Dr. Raghavan and Prof. D.R. Mankad, did attempt to address these questions.

It is said; when Bharata in his Natyashastra codified the Dramatic compositions of his time, the ten kinds of dramatic performances were already in existence. However, not all of them were or could be considered as fully mature. According to Bharata, the only two drama-types, out of the ten, included in the scheme of Dasarupaka, that could be considered as well-structured and complete were: Nataka and Prakarana.

As regards the question how a more complete form like Nataka was arrived at; and what was its relation with the nine other types, the common view taken in that regard , appears to be that the Nataka  is the culmination or the final result of the  process of  growth  and development  of various  Dramatic forms.

Prof. Mankad in his ’Types of Sanskrit Drama’ while tracing the evolution of the Rupakas and the Uparupakas said that these grew from their simple to complex forms by resorting to measures, such as: additions, replication, joining various threads etc. The simple one-Act plays, in stages, over a period, developed into plays with multiple Acts. Following such growth pattern, Bhana and Vtthi would be the earliest types. Then Prahasana would come, in two Acts. Then we might have Vyayoga in three Acts.  Further, the Ihamrga and Dima reached four Acts. Thereafter, came Nataka and Prakarana with more elaborate settings, requiring more number of Acts, reaching up to five or ten. Accordingly, Nataka combined in itself and sublimated the elements seen in Vyayoga, Anka, Dima, Ihamrga and Samavakara; and, in addition, it added on its own distinctiveness, with, Srngara or Vira as a predominant Rasa.  Thus, a common thread runs through all these types.  The Nataka and Prakarana have blossomed out from the earlier types.

[The hitch in this argument appears to be the position of the Samavakara, which, considered by some as the earliest form of Drama, is constructed in three Acts, with number of special features.]

**

Dr. V Raghavan in his article ‘A note on the name Dasarupa’ (Journal of Oriental Research, Vol. VII, part III, July-Sept.1933) expressed similar views. To summarize his position:

The tendency to depict men of society, their habits and absurdities, tendencies etc., began with small if imperfect types like Bhana and Vithi; it grew into Prahasana; and, later achieved perfection as Prakarana, a social Drama.

The Bhana is a type of Rupaka in which only one character appears and carries on an imaginary dialogue through Akahabhasita. It is a monologue, narrated by one actor, though its narration refers to various characters – vividhāśrayo hi bhāo vijñeyast vekahārya śca (NS.18.108). The monologue Bhana had erotic and comic elements, lampooning the so-called respectable persons in the King’s court and in the society. The Vithi – a street play, with a sprinkling of all the sentiments , reaching the masses directly – in its initial form, was done by one actor; and, then, it adopted a display by two actors — vīthī syādekākā tathaikahāryā dvihāryā vā  (NS.18.112) . The Bhana and Vithi were related in their styles of presentation and their subject-matter.  From the Vithi rose the Prahasana, a parody in one or two Acts, with many players, ridiculing the corrupt practices of the high-and-mighty in the society.

Though the main feature of Bhana also merged into the build of the Nataka and the Prakarana, it could live separately, just like the Prahasana. The Misra or the mixed variety of the Prahasana contained, in addition, the Vithi (NS. 20.111). And the Vithi and the Prahasana were made part of the first of the three acts of the Samavakara, with various themes scattered about (samavaklryante) in it; and, having as many as twelve actors of the middling class (NS.20. 70). The remaining type in the Dasarupaka is the Utsraritikanka or simply Anka, a sort of epilogue. And, Prakarana and Nataka, in the process of gaining their full stature, assimilated various features taken from the lesser forms.  The Prakarana was not much different from Nataka, except that its hero was not a king of puranic glory, Prakhyata. And, the Nataka, in turn, got such features as the Vidusaka, for comic relief.

It could, perhaps, be said that Bhana was the earliest form to evolve amongst the Rupakas; and, it seems to fit in well with the whole scheme.

Having said this, let me add, these issues are debatable.

**

Dr. Raghavan illustrates his opinions through examples:

 “The Vithi and the Anka certainly do not represent major varieties. The Vithi is the predecessor of the Prahasana. And, the Prahasana is an independent form of drama, even though its characters and features appear, to an extent, in the Nataka; and, amply in the Prakarana. The Vithi, of course, died early; and, none of the old specimens of the Vithi has survived. Bharata’s Natyashastra actually gives, at many places, the evidences for the disappearance of the Vithi into the body of the Prahasana, the Prakarana and the Nataka, both as part of the Prastavana and of the Drama, in general.

The Anka is, so to say, an epilogue or a sequel to a Samavakara, Ihamrga, Dima or Vyayoga. These four  types of plays depict fights among gods and other Prakhyata heroes; while the Anka depicts the result of those fights, i.e., opens with the close of the fights and the wailings of the wife or wives , and of the relatives of those killed in the battle. Thus, this one-act Karuna piece called Anka also goes with the heroic class or represents the heroic dramatic thread woven into the body of Dasarupaka.

 [But, during Bharata’s time, Anka was drifting away from its theme of the after-effects of war; and, was moving towards the more popular themes.]

The Samavakara, the Ihamrga, the Dima and the Vyayoga represent the Uddhata or Aviddha types of drama, which have heroic elements in their theme. They are the early specimens of dramatic performances depicting fights amongst Devas and Asuras. The Asura Vijaya (NS.3.1.59) and the Amrta-Manthana (NS.4.2.4), described as a Samavakara, were the first dramatic performances, when Brahma took Bharata’s troupe to Shiva’s abode; and, where the theme of Tripura-dahana described as a Dima was enacted (N.S.4.10). The Samavakara, the Dima, the Ihamrga and the Vyayoga are very similar to each other. Bharata refers to the other two while describing each of this. Further, he treats the Ihamrga as similar to the Vyayoga; and, the Vyayoga as similar to Samavakara.

Dr. Raghavan further says, “The Vyayoga is also described as a one-Act Samavakara, with its hero as an epic king and not as a God (NS.20.95-96). These, by the influence of the Mahakavyas and the growing mythological legends, gradually perfected themselves into the heroic type Nataka.

**

The importance of the Vrttis

Dr. Raghavan also brings in the role and relevance of Vrttis (styles of presentation) in the process of the growth and development of Dramatic forms. In that context, he says: “Just as the dance forms, on the basis of Lalitya and Auddhatya, are differentiated into Lasya and Tandava; similarly, the Rupakas numbering ten, get divided into Lalita (delicate, refined) and Uddhata (loud, vigorous) classes.

He explains; the Arabhati-vrtti, a loud, rather noisy and energetic style, fit for exhibition of one’s anger, valour, bordering on false-pride, by screaming, shouting etc., portrays the haughty Uddhata or the vigorous Tandava aspect. Such forceful (Uddhata or Aviddha) types are more dominant in the types of Rupakas, such as Ihamrga, Dima, Vyayoga and Samavakara, depicting fights amongst Devas and Asuras

And, the Kaisiki-vrtti (graceful-style) – characterizing the tender expressions of love with graceful dances, melodious songs as also charming costumes and delicate actions  – which  is most suited to Srngara-rasa , is a representation of the Lasya aspect. Such Lasyanga is a distinguishing attribute of the advanced types of plays such as: Nataka and Prakarana.

According to Dr. Raghavan, Bharata divides the Dasarupa, the ten forms of Dramas, into two broad groups, classified on the basis of the nature of the Vrittis they portray:  either Kaisiki or Arabhati. Such two types of dramas are also called Sukumara (subtle, gentle) and Uddhata or Aviddha (haughty, loud).

In short, Dr.Raghavan seems to opine: the logical, well structured and sophisticated forms of Drama (Nataka and Prakarana) were evolved through a process of refining or eliminating the rough and uncouth elements found in the other forms of Dramas. Thus, Nataka is the hallmark of the Sukumara class; while the rest is of the Aviddha type.

**

 In any case, the ten forms of Rupakas do pre-suppose the existence of simpler types of presentations (gramya dharma), such as mimicry and mirth during local festivals or amidst friends gathered, at night, around a campfire on a river-bank. Over a long period of time, such simpler plays by their assimilations and refinements might have evolved into Rupakas, as we know them. It is, perhaps, because of this reason that we find in the Natyashastra numerous overlapping in the case of certain types of Dramas.

[There is also a view which suggests that Rupakas might have evolved out of the dance forms, the Natya, when the playwrights transplanted their themes and modes of presentations into Dramatic forms.]

It is not clear on what basis or rationale these ten forms of Drama came to be grouped together under one common head, the Dasarupa. Even this process of weeding out other forms of Drama and arriving at a set of ten varied forms, each with its own well defined and recognizable features, might have been spread over a considerably long time. It is, perhaps, because of such reasons that some earlier dramaturgical traditions refer to more than ten types of Dramas. For instance; the Natyadarpana mentions twelve forms; the Bhavaprakasa  of Saradatanaya (a work on Rasa and dramaturgy) lists as many as thirty; and, the earlier versions of Natyashastra describe eleven forms of dramas (including Natika).

It is reasonable to assume that the genre of plays included under the Dasarupa, with their individual dominant styles, had evolved from out of the varied cultural and social environments; and, were nurtured by patrons according to their tastes and inclinations. Naturally, the choice and the mode of presentation of the three cardinal factors – Vastu, Neta and Rasa – differed from one type of play to another.

*

There is also another way of looking at the issue.

At different stages, a particular variety  of drama had come into being , developed and got absorbed into a more popular or a more mature form ; or , it disappeared altogether, because , by then, it had lost its appeal and/or the other varieties of plays had taken over. There was thus much overlapping, with the different varieties running into each other. In the process, the more mature forms like Nataka and Prakarana absorbed the interesting features of the other varieties of plays.

For instance; the Nataka and Prakarana adopted the one-man-show (ekaharya abhinaya) and soliloquies (Akasha-bhasha) from Bhana; the witty dialogues and quick repartee from Vithi; illogical and ludicrous comic scenes from Prahasana; vigorous action, fighting etc., from Dima, Vyayoga and Samavakara; and, similarly, they acquired patterns and techniques of conversation (Vithyanga)  like abrupt speech (udghatya), enigma (nalika), three-way discussion (trigata) and eloquent repartee (vakakeli) etc., from others. Similarly, ten or twelve varieties of Lasyanga  related to Srngara rasa, portraying love and other softer, graceful aspects, as in Vithi and Prahasana , all walked into Nataka

Thus, over a period, all such attractive techniques and embellishments were grafted and integrated into Nataka and Prakarana.These forms grew more stylized and systematic. 

The Nataka, in turn, though it retained the traditional framework of Vastu, Neta and Rasa, its modes and styles of presentation of either the delicate (Lasya) or the vigorous (Tandava) elements of the play were influenced  not only by the features it had borrowed from other sources, but also by the changing trends and tastes. Eventually, while the Nataka got richer, more inventive, and diverse; the lesser forms of drama gradually faded out. And, that led to production of more complex varieties of Natakas.

Thus the processes of evolution and absorption were both instrumental in the growth and development of the Nataka.

**

And at the end, it  can also be said that such theories tracing the growth and development  of drama and dramatic performances are no doubt fascinating; but, there is not much  historical evidence to support these hypotheses, bordering on speculation.

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Now, after having taken a broad look at the growth and the structure of the Dasarupas; lets us briefly talk about Prakarana and eight other forms of Drama.

We may start with Prakarana.

David Cooper Photography 2008

2.The Prakaraa

Atha prakarane vrttam utpadyam lokasamsrayam /amatya-vipra-vanijam ekarn kuryac ca nayakam /dhiraprasantam sapayam dharma-kama-artha tatparam/ sesam natakavat samdhi-pravesaka-rasadikam

The Prakarana is a play of the principal category, in five to ten Acts. It is similar to Nataka, in regard to the numbers of Acts and the Samdhis.  The Prakarana consists of five Sandhis: Mukha, Pratinukha, Garba, Vimarsa and Samhriti. Its principal sentiment is Srngara.  

But, it differs from Nataka in a couple of  other aspects, apart from those  mentioned earlier.  The main points of departure are with regard to the story-line (which is created); the hero (not a god or a king. but a person outside the royal palace environment); and, its objective, which is to provide enjoyment to the common people. In addition, Abhinavagupta listing out the differences between Nataka and Prakarana mentions: ‘there is a slave in lieu of Kancuki (chamber maid); Vita (rouge) in place of Vidusaka (jester); and, Sresthi (merchant) instead of Amatya (minister)’.  The rest of its features are as in NatakaSesam natakavat.

Prakarana is mainly based on the story created or concocted by the playwright (Prakurute). It can also be drawn from sources like Brhatkatha and similar works of earlier poets; but, not from the Puranas. Its theme concerns the middle-class characters. And, therefore, offers a larger variety of characters to choose from. The Hero (Nayaka) or the leading character may be a Brahmin, a minister, an officer of the court, leader of a caravan or a merchant. And, sometimes, a Vita is also added to this list of heroes. Generally, the hero would be a self-controlled, calm, Dhira-prashantha type, following dharma-kama-artha. The heroine (Nayika) may be a house wife (kulastri) or could even be a courtesan (ganika).

The Prakarana is classified in three ways (prakaranam tredha) depending upon the type of heroine: ShuddhaPrakarana (where the heroine is from a noble family); Misra or Vikrta Prakarana (where a courtesan is the heroine); and Sammishra Prakarana (where both the types of heroines are figured).

Nayika tu dvidha netuh kulastri ganika tatha / kva cid ekaiva kulaja vesya kvapi dvayarn kva cit / kulaja ‘bhyantara bahya vesya natikramo ‘nayoh/ abhih prakaranam tredha samkirnam dhurtasamkulam //

The stories take place outside of the palaces and the royal circles, in the lanes and houses of the town; and, are concerned with common interests such as acquisition of money, love, legal justice, and bourgeois honour and so on.  At the same time, purity of character and chastity are respected; and, held up as noble virtues. The Prakaranas affirm the identities of the middle-class heroes, and, pay due recognition to their position in sustaining a healthy social order. 

The narration, in a Prakarana, is rendered more interesting by introducing complications of mistaken identities, petty revenge, theft, and political intrigue etc. The Prakarana plays end on a happy note, with the victory of true Love. Srngara is the predominant Rasa.

The earliest extant specimen of Prakarana is Asvaghosa’s Sariputra Prakarana.  And, Shudraka’s Mrcchakatika (Little Clay Cart) and Malatimadhava by Bhavabhuti are the well-known examples of the Prakarana class.

We shall continue in the next Part ; and, talk about the Bhana, Vithi and the Prahasana varieties of the Drama.

wayang_wong_bharata_pandawa

Continued 

In 

The Next Part

Sources and References

The Dasarupa a treatise on Hindu dramaturgy by George C. O. Haas, Columbia University press / 1912

 A Study of Abhinavabharati on Bharata’s Natyasastra and Avaloka on Dhananjaya’s Dasarupaka – by Manjul Gupta

Sahityadarpanah of Viswanathakavirajah

The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar

Sanskrit Dramaturgy

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/48454/21/21_chapter%2021.pdf

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/106901

All images are from Internet

 
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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Four

Continued from Part Three

Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya

BOOK THREE

Shakuntala_201211_17 (1)

The Third Book or the Third Chapter of the Dasarupa, in its 72 verses, deals, mainly, with the ten (Dasa) varieties of Rupakas or plays. Dhananjaya’s work derives its title from the subject-matter of this Book. Obviously, Dhananjaya considered the discussion on the ten varieties of Dramas as the cream or the ultimate purpose of his work.  Of the 65 Sections in Book Three, as many as 43 Sections are devoted to Nataka, regarded as the best and the most complete form of Drama, exemplifying the rules prescribed for such class of dramatic compositions. The other nine varieties of Drama are briefly defined (in sections 44-64), mainly, by listing the points of their divergence from the Nataka. And, their other common features are simply clubbed under a single phrase – ‘the rest, as in the case of the Nataka’ (sesham natakavat).

When one looks at the structure of the text from this angle, one will appreciate that Book Three is the main purpose of the text (Dasarupa); and, within the Book Three, the Nataka, around which the entire body of discussions revolve, is the central or the pivotal point. The concepts, the definitions and the explanations of the technical terms that occupied Book One (68verses) and Book Two (72 verses) , or discussions concerning the Avastha, Samdhi, Arthaprakrti Vrttis, Vastu and Neta etc., all seem to serve as  the background material or  the preparatory work needed to arrive at the very heart or the soul of the text , the Nataka . Thus, one could say, the Nataka is the summum bonum, in which all the values of a Dramatic composition are included or from which they are derived.

*

The impetus for the Dasarupa comes mainly  from  : Chapter 20 (Dasarupa – the enumeration and descriptions of the ten kinds of play); Chapter  21 (Sandhi or segments of the plot- itivtta);  and, Chapter  22 (Vrtti or styles of presentation) of the Natyashastra .

The Chapter Twenty of Natyashastra commences with the passage:

I shall now describe the division of plays into ten classes with their names, functions and modes of production.

These ten forms of plays are known as aka, Prakaraa, Aka (Utsṛṣṭikāka), Vyāyoga, Bhāa, Samavakāra, Vīthi, Prahasana, ima, and Īhāmga. I shall describe their characteristics in detail.

aka sa prakaraam ako vyāyoga eva ca bhāa samavakāraś ca vīthī prahasana ima 2

Ihāmgaś ca vijñeyā daśeme nāya lakae eteā lakaamaha vyākhyāsyāmya anupūrvaśa 3

 I shall describe hereafter the different methods of constructing plays.

*

The Natyashastra identifies ten major types of plays: aka, Prakaraa, Aka (Utsṛṣṭikāka), Vyāyoga, Bhāa, Samavakāra, Vīthi, Prahasana, ima, and Īhāmga.

All these ten forms of Drama (Dasadhaiva) are traditionally associated with certain modes or styles (Vrtti) of representations, which are the constituent elements of all dramatic works.  Such Vrttis are said to be of four kinds (vrttis caturdha) : Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati; and, Bharati.  The Vrttis are the ways of rendering a scene; or, the acting styles and the use of language, diction that different characters adopt in a play, depending upon the nature or the Bhava that relates to the character.[ For more on Vrttis please Part Three in the series]

According to Bharata, the ten forms of Drama are classified based on the number and the types of Vrttis that are involved with it. Of the ten mentioned by him , only the two major forms – the aka and the Prakaraa – present all the variety of styles (Vrttis), for depicting different types of diverse situations. However, the other eight forms of Drama – the Bhāa, the Samavakāra, the Vīthi, the Īhāmga, the Utsṛṣṭikāka (Aka), the Vyāyoga, the ima, and the Prahasana – would not include kaiśikī-vttihī , the graceful Style.

Vīthī samavakāraśca tathehāmga eva ca utsṛṣṭikāko vyāyogo bhāa prahasana ima 8

Kaiśikīvttihīnāni rūpāyetāni kārayet ata ūrdhva pravakyāmi kāvyabandhavikalpanam 9

Bharata regards the Vrttis as the mother of all poetic works (kāvyānā mātkā vttaya), from which the ten kinds of compositions are evolved. He explains; just as the musical notes (Svara) constitute scales (Gramas) because of the Srutis coming together with their Jatis, so the varieties of plays come into existence due to combination of varied of styles (Vrttis). It is the number of Vrttis present in a play that assigns it a distinct class.

Sarveāmeva kāvyānā mātkā vttaya sm ābhyo vinista hyetaddaśarūpa prayogata

[Abhinavagupta took a dissenting view on this issue. He pointed out that though the Gramas (collection of Jaatis or melodic types), in music, might have common Svaras; yet, they differ from each other because of their internal order of arrangement (Aroha-Avaroha); the combination; and, the mutual relations of the Svaras. And, in a Jaati, within a Grama, a certain Svara might be prominent (amsa), or initial (graha) or final (nyasa), depending upon the type of the Jaati. It is because of such variations that each melodic-type gains its distinguishing character and flavour. Therefore, in all those cases, it is not the mere number of Svaras that truly matters.

In a similar manner, in a play, it is not the number of Vrttis, alone, that is significant. In certain types of plays one form of Vritti might be prominent or otherwise. The combination, the treatment and the variations of the Vrittis differs from one type of play to the other. Thus, the classification of the Rupakas is based on the treatment of the Vrttis, which might either be complete with all its angas (elements) or be lacking in some of them.]

While Bharata and Abhinavagupta laid stress on Vrtti, which, in their view, is the factor that defines the unique character of a Drama; Dhananjaya and Dhanika held Vastu (subject-matter), Neta (Hero) and Rasa (sentiment) as the elements which distinguish one form of drama from its other forms.

*

Though Bharata lists ten types of Dramas (Rupakas), which, apparently, is not exhaustive.  The other ancient writers talk about, in addition, certain minor types of dramatic works (Upa-rupaka). Perhaps, the earliest reference to Uparupaka occurs in the Kama-sutras of Vatsyayana who mentions plays Hallisaka, latyarasaka and Preksanaka of the Uparupaka type, watched by men and women of taste. Ahhinavagupta’s commentary on the Natyashastra occasionally mentions Upa-rupakas; but, without defining the class. Rajashekara calls his Prakrit play Sattaka as not being a Nataka, but resembling a Natika, excepting that pravesakas (preliminary scenes), viskambhakas (intermediary or connecting scenes) and ankas (Acts) do not occur.

[Though Natyashastra enumerates, and discusses Rupakas it does not mention minor forms like Uparupakas.  However, Abhinavagupta speaks of minor categories of drama, which he terms them as nrtta-kavya and raga-kavya; meaning, the type of  plays that  are rendered through dance and the  plays that are sung.  Yet, it was such  Uparupakas – minor  class of drama-   based in music and dance movements  that eventually gave rise to  the now living traditions such as Kuchipudi , Bhagavata Mela Natakas and Kuravanji dance-dramas. Such forms of Uparupakas are very attractive formats, with the elements  of the music and dance  being predominant. And, most of them are based in dances accompanied by soulful songs, interpreting  the emotional contents of the song through Abhinaya or gestures.

Natyashastra does not mention all the different types of dramas. Kohala, another ancient writer, whose material is said to have got mixed up with the present version of the Natyashastra, mentions a number of minor  varieties of dramas that are lyrical in their character; and,  in which music and dance predominate. Abhinavagupta names some drama-types under these varieties as: Dombika, Bhana, Prasthana, Sidgaka, Bhinika, Ramakrida, Hallisaka and Rasaka. But, nothing much is known about these musical varieties. ]

natya-shastra2

While Rupaka seemed to be the general term used for Sanskrit Dramas, the nomenclature Upa-rupaka indicated a minor type of dramatic composition (within the general class); technically, not satisfying all the classic, dramatic requirements, even when a full theme was handled. Vishvanatha in his Sahityadarpana lists as many as eighteen minor types (Upa-Rupaka), with examples. Among these, he regards the Natika (e.g., Sri Harsha’s Ratnavali, Priyadarsika) and Trotaka (e.g., Kalidasa’s Vikramorvasiya) as more important.

[In case, Natika is counted along with the other forms of Drama, then it would amount to eleven varieties. Bharata, however, explains that Natika is not an independent form; but, is a fusion, combining in itself (antarbhāvagatā) certain features of the Nataka and the Prakarana. And, therefore, the Rupas are only ten (ata eva daśaitāni rūpāī).

Antarbhāvagatā hyeā bhāvayorubhayoryata ata eva daśaitāni rūpāī tyuditāni vai ॥18. 61

Dhananjaya, following Bharata, also says that the pure forms of Rupas are indeed only ten (Dasadhaiva); as Natika is but a blend of two forms. Here, in Natika, the subject (vastu) is taken from the Prakarana type.  The types of principle characters are as in the Nataka (Natahavat). The hero (Nayaka), a prince, of the illustrious Dhiralalitah class, is taken from a well-known source or is newly created; and, the innocent, beautiful and exceedingly charming (mugdha divya ca ati – manohara) heroine (Nayika) is either a princess or a celestial nymph. And, the Rasa (mostly the Srngara-rasa) is also as that in the Nataka. The Natika containing an abundance of female characters is depicted in the graceful style, Kaisiki-vrtti; and, has four Acts (less than that in Nataka or Prakarana). Most of the action takes place within the Queen’s court or in the adjoining gardens – (DR.3. 46-52).

Tatra vastu prakaranan, natakan nayako nipah prakhyato dhiralalitah srngaro angi salaksanah– DR.3.47. ]

**

[According to the renowned scholar Dr. V Raghavan, the mere number of Rupaka – either ten or eleven – is not of much significance. In his view, the number ten is symbolic; indicating ten tendencies. He points out that all the ten varieties from Nataka to Ihamrga embody these ten tendencies in various degrees.]

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Of the ten, the Nataka is regarded as the best, most important and complete form of Rupa. Dhananjaya regards Nataka as the root (Prakrti) of other dramatic forms. Bharata, in his Natyashastra paid greater attention to Nataka and to Prakarana, than to the rest eight forms ; because, these two forms, according to him, lend abundant scope for presenting  all the four varieties of styles (Vrttis); in alluring Rasas; and, for  portraying  range of characters in diverse  types of situations.

Because of these reasons, the Nataka is spoken of  or discussed first (purvam natakam ucyate).

Prakrtitvad athanyesam bhuyo rasaparigrahat sampurna-laksanat vac ca purvam natakam ucyate   DR.3. 1

 Let’s, therefore, begin with Nataka.

texasshakuntala

  1. Nataka

[ Dr. Schroder, a German scholar, opines that Natya, also known as Rupaka is of ten types; of which, the Nataka is most important. He says: In Sanskrit literature Nataka is very ancient. Even in Vedic literature we can find descriptions about Nataka. There are also references in Ramayana and Mahabharata of actors, dancers, singers and anchors. And, therefore, many theories have been put up by the scholars while discussing the origin of drama.

Dr. Schroder thinks that Samvada-suktas that occur in the Rg-Veda are the origin of the Drama. He says that these Samvada-suktas used to be sung by a group of Udgatrus, in the Sama ; and,  enacted during specific Yajnas, to the accompaniment of  music.

Some German scholars like Oldenburg, Windish, and Pishel think that initially these Samvada-suktas were the mixture of poetry and prose.  Poetry remained because it was interesting and melodious; while the prose part slowly vanished because it was descriptive.

Drama exactly follows this form of ancient Samvada-suktas, as they are also a mixture of prose and poetry.

Bharata in the first chapter of the Natyashastra mentions that in order to alleviate the sorrow of common people, Brahma created a Veda for Dramatics  (Natya-Veda) by taking prose from  Rig-Veda; music from Samaveda; acting from Yajurveda; and , emotions from Atharvaveda.]

**

Bharata, in a passage of six verses (from 19.144 to149) virtually offers his definition of Nataka. He explains that in a Drama (ya), the wide-ranging shades of human nature (lokasya nānā-avasthā-antarātmaka) with its joys and sorrows (lokasya sukha-dukha-samudbhavā) are demonstrated through a variety of representations and actions (nānā-purua-sacārā).

Those who take part in the Drama try to present the past exploits of the gods, sages and human beings (devatānām –ṛṣīnā ca rājñāṃ), by assuming their roles. The actors enact (abhinayate) or interpret, the roles assigned to them through speech, expressions, actions, gestures and other representations. While so acting on the stage, the actors try to give up or suppress their own individual identities and nature (yasmāt-svabhāva saṃ-tyajya);and, systematically, diligently assume the nature, behaviour, gestures and the emotions of the character that they are portraying (gopāga-gati-kramaiḥ). Bharata then remarks, the art of emulating the psychological, mental and physical state of a character calls for an exceptional and a truly dedicated effort. One should realize this truth; and, strive to achieve near-perfection.

The varieties of dramatic actions; the ways to bringing to life the essence of a character; and, the modes of presentation of actions on the stage, in an attractive manner (rūpāi kartavyāni prayoktbhiḥ), are all indeed countless (aneka-śilpa-jātāni naika-karma-kriayāi ca).

It  is essential that all those involved either in writing, producing or presenting a Drama should observe and study the ways of the common people of the world (Lokasvabhāva saprekya narāāṃ ) – their nature, their modes of behaviour (kāryaṃ) , speech patterns and modes of dress ; their strengths and weaknesses (balābalam); and, their ways of enjoyment and reasoning (sabhoga caiva yuktiṃ).

Yo’ya svabhāvo lokasya nānā-avasthāntarātmaka so’gādy abhinayairyukto nāya mity-abhidhīyate 19.144

Yasmāt-svabhāva satyajya sāgopāga-gati-kramai prayujyate jñāyate ca tasmādvai nāaka smtam 19.146

Sarvabhāvai sarvarasai sarva-karma-pravttibhinānā-avasthā antaropetaaka savidhīyate 19.147

Anekaśilpajātāni naikakarmakriayāi ca tānyaśeāi rūpāi kartavyāni prayoktbhi ॥ 19.148

Lokasvabhāva saprekya narāā ca balābalam sabhoga caiva yukti ca tata kārya tu nāakam 19.149

*

At another place, Bharata, in a way, sums up the virtues and merits of Nataka , as a dramatic work, that captivates the hearts of the spectators and brings glory to its playwright , producer and the actors .

The work of art that satisfies all classes of spectators ; and is a happy and enjoyable composition, which is graceful on account of being  adorned with sweet and elegant words; free from obsolete and obscure meaningless verbose ; easily grasped and understood by the common people ; skilfully arranged ; interspersed with delightful songs and dances; and,  systematically  displaying varied types of sentiments  in its plot devised into Acts, scenes, junctures etc.

mdu-lalita-padārtha gūha-śabdārtha-hīna ;   budha jana sukha bhogya,  yuktiman – ntta-yogyam  bahu rasa kta mārga , sandhi-sandhāna-yukta  bhavati  jagati  yogya  nāaka  prekakāām  16.130

**

Bharata, after describing Lasyangas, the graceful, fluid and charming movements; lists the four characteristics of an ideal Nataka.

He says, the playwright (kavi kuryāttu) while attempting a well constructed (suprayoga) Nataka with aptly chosen happy sounding words  (sukhāśrayam mdu-śabdā ) should ensure that it is composed of five Samdhis (pañcasandhi); four Vrttis (caturvtti); sixty-four Angas, elements  (catuḥṣaṣṭya-agasayutam); and, thirty-six Lakshanas , characteristics  (atriṃ-śallakaopetaṃ)adorned with Gunas, Alamkaras (guā-alakāra-abhūitam), many Rasas (mahārasaṃ); as also with topics concerning noble persons of sublime virtues (mahāpurua-sacāraṃ), exalted speeches (udātta-vacanā-nvitam) providing inspiration and great enjoyment (mahābhogam). Apart from that, the Drama should also portray the lives of common people, their happiness and miseries (sukha-dukha-samudbhavā) arising out of their interactions with their fellow-beings and their multifarious deeds in the world (avasthā yā tu lokasya, nānā-purua-sacārā.) Please also see.

Pañcasandhi caturvtti catuḥṣaṣṭyagasayutam atriśallakaopeta guālakārabhūitam 139

Mahārasa mahābhogam-udāttavacanānvitam mahāpuruasacāra sādhvācārajanapriyam 140

Suśliṣṭa-sandhi-sayoga suprayoga sukhāśrayammduśabdābhidhāna ca kavi kuryāttu nāakam 141

Avasthā yā tu lokasya sukha-dukha-samudbhavā nānā-purua-sacārā nāake’sau vidhīyate 142

Viswanatha in his Sâhitya-Darpana also described Rupaka (Nataka) as the most logical and perfect theatrical composition. He says that it progresses in a systematic manner and concludes successfully, bringing joy to all.  He mentions that according to the Dasarupa, the structure of the Rupaka consists: five elements of the plot (Arthaprakrti), matching with the five stages of the action (KaryaAvastha), from which arise five structural divisions or sequence of events (Samdhi) of the drama, twenty-one subdivisions (Samdhyantara), having sixty-four Samdhyanga , adorned with thirty-six Abhushanas , ninety numbers of music, and four kinds of Vrttis – all of  which corresponding with the elements of the plot and the actions associated with the stages in the hero’s attempts to successfully realize his purpose or objects – Yattu pancachatuh–sastiscatuh–pancaikavisatih / sattrinsatravtisca tat-Natakam.

As Dr. Sunil Kothari observes in his research paperThe principle of the two modes (dharmi) of presentation, Natya (the stylized) or Loka (the realistic) the different types of Vrittis (style), namely Kaisiki (the graceful), Sattvati (the grand), Arabhati (the energetic) and Bharati (the verbal); the full play of the four types of Abhinaya (acting) namely : Angika (gestures or movement), Vacika (the spoken word), Aharya (costume, make-up, stage props etc.) and Sattvika (relating to state of emotion) are the broad principles which govern the structure of Indian drama and its  presentations.

It is these principles, along with other related ones such as the concept of Bahya (external) and Abhyantara (inner) acting, of Pravrtti (local usage), of Samanya-abhinaya (basic representation) and Citra-abhinaya (special representation), which also govern the technique of  Drama.

[To put it simply, In Sanskrit, Nataka is the most complete form of Drama. Its structure is logical. And, its construction is also quite detailed, being composed of five or more Acts, each of which comprising number of episodes depicting various scenes of action. It also employs intermediary scenes that connect its subdivisions. The Dramatic contents of a play find their expressions, through speech, gesture, songs, dance and other representations, in highly refined and attractive forms. In its modes of depictions, the Nataka employs varied types of embellishments, sentiments, psychological states and actions. And, in case there are such matters, as are not presentable on the stage, they are suggested, indirectly, through explanatory devices.

The heroes in Nataka are generally exalted, descending from noble lineage, known far and wide, for their bravery, generosity and other good qualities. But there may also be other kinds of heroes. The heroines are beautiful; loving; pure in heart; sweet and cheerful; cultured; and, gifted with aesthetic sensibilities. The action in the play ends on an auspicious note, with the good overcoming  the evil ; and , celebrating the victory of the virtuous.  The major aim of Sanskrit Drama is to provide an unsullied and wholesome enjoyment to the spectators. And, at the same time, it is conducive to Dharma. ]

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The three broad heads under which Dhanajaya discusses the subject of Drama are: Vastu (theme), Neta (the leading characters) and Rasa (the aesthetic sentiment it portrays).  Let’s briefly take a look at each form of Drama, with particular reference to these three criteria.

Vastu

As regards the story of a play, it could either be adopted (itivrttam) from the incidents that occur in the well-known (Prakhyatha) legends of the past; or, could be a story invented (Uthpadya) by the poet; or else, it could be a mixture (Misra) of the two.  The story could also be about gods (Divya), humans (Marthya) and the like (Divyadivya).

prakhyatam itihasader utpadyam ; kavi-kalpitam;  misram ca samkarat tabhyam divya-martyadi-bhedatah.

Whatever might be the original story, if it is not suitable for the hero or is inconsistent with the sentiment (Rasa) he represents, then the story can be modified or re-arranged in some other way. After determining the beginning and end of the play in this manner; and, after dividing it into five parts, the author should then break it up into small interrelated divisions (Samdhi).

Yat tatra-anucitam Kim cin nayakasya rasasya va viruddham tat parityajyam anyatha va prakalpayet.

The purpose of such reshaping of the story and characters by the playwright is to achieve a harmony between the theme and its main character, in order to serve the ultimate purpose of the drama , which is to provide a delightful theatrical experience (within the framework of the Dharma) for  the  enjoyment  to the cultured spectators –  the   Rasa .

There should be a sense of balance in the treatment of the subject.  Neither the subject-matter should be isolated by its excessive coverage; nor, should it be cluttered or swamped with unrelated matters and needless elaborations.  

The plot should be simple, the incidents should be  consistent; and, the progression of the events should spring directly  from the story.

*

The technical divisions of a drama and the development of the plot follow a set of carefully elaborated rules.

The Natyashastra mentions that there could be between five to ten Acts (Anka) in a Nataka. A regular Nataka will have five Acts. And, a Nataka with ten Acts is called Maha-nataka – (pancankam etad avaram dasankam natakam param). An interlude (Pravesaka) must always be made been the Acts.

[ Later, there were , however, some Natakas with more than five Acts , such as : Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa’s Venisamhara and Bhasa’s Avimaraka with six Acts; Rajasekhara’s Bala Ramayana and Mahadeva’s Adbhuta Darpana with ten Acts; and, Hanumant’s Maha-Nataka with fourteen Acts.]

An Act (Anka) is generally understood as a cohesive dramatization of events that occur within the course of a day.  However, the Natyashastra does not demand that these events run contiguously.  Normally, the action in a play depicts the events that occurred during the course of that day (or night). But, there are some noted exceptions where the events in the first the Act and the second Act are separated by long years. In such cases, an intermediate scene (Vishkambha) is introduced as a link and also to explain/narrate the occurrences that took place subsequent to the previous Act. (E.g. Uttararamacharita, Shakuntalam et al)

Further, there might be certain types of actions or objects that should not or cannot be presented on the stage. As per the conventions followed in the Sanskrit Drama, one should avoid showing such events as: long travel; murder; war; loss of kingdom; siege of a city; violent over throw; bloodshed; eating; taking bath; un-dressing; sex act etc.

Further, it is said; a chariot, an elephant or a horse should not be brought on the stage. Similar is the case with palaces, hills or lakes. Such animals and geographical features might be suggested or indicated through models made of cheap materials. And, in case an army has to be introduced on the stage, that should be symbolically represented by the movement (gati-vīcāra) of four to six persons dressed as soldiers.

*

In a Nataka, the number of characters that really matter to the main story should not be too many. Similarly, the supplementary or the supporting characters, such as the attainders   etc., should at most be four or five.

As the play gathers momentum, in stages, its focus of attention should, progressively, be confined to characters and actions that are directly related to the main purpose of the story.  The play is structured in such a manner that it steadily moves from the general or the diffused towards the purposeful and pointed.  Its initial Acts might, comparatively, be lengthy; but, as the action moves towards the finale the Acts should get brief and pithy. As Dhanajaya says, the Nataka, in its structure, should resemble the tip of a cow’s tail (gopuccha). All the exalted situations should be placed in the concluding segment (Nirvahana), awe-inspiring (Adbhuta), and radiating joy in celebration of Dharma – the victory of the Love over loveless; the triumph of  the good over the evil.

*

The concepts of tragic catharsis or tragedy are not present in the Sanskrit Drama. The Nataka, generally, starts on a happy note (Adi-mangala); and through the trials and tribulations of the hero, a happy incident occurs in the middle (Madhya-mangala); and, the play concludes on an auspicious note (Antya-mangala). And, the whole proceeding comes to an end with the Bharatavakya , praying for the welfare and happiness of the King (Raja), his subjects (Praja) and the State (Rajya) ; and , for the peace and prosperity  (Shanthi , Samruddhi) of all the beings in the  three worlds (Trilokye) . 

nirvahana

Neta

Rama

The hero (Nayaka) the leading character of the Nātaka should be an ideal person, a worthy and exalted (Udatta) icon of virtue; descending from the noble lineage of royal seers (rājarsih) . He should be  : resolute, young, endowed with intelligence, energy, memory, and wisdom; brave, firm, graceful, charming, sweet-tempered, soft-spoken, liberal, clever, affable, popular, upright, and eloquent.

Prakhyāta-vamso rājarsih-divyo-vā yatra näyakah/ tat prakhyātam vidhātavyam vrttam-atra-adhikārikam//

The Hero should be  one endowed with noble qualities of the type known as self-controlled, and exalted (Dhirodatta) , glorious , eager for fame, of great energy , a preserver of three Vedas (Trayi) , a ruler of the world , of renowned linage , a royal seer or a god . It is, basically, his story that forms the the principal subject (Adhikarana) of the Nataka.

mahasattvo ‘tigambhirah ksamavan avikatthanah sthiro nigudhahamkaro dhirodatto drdhavratah

The noble hero  has control over his senses; does not let emotions override his actions; maintains his composure even under dire circumstances; shelters the weak and those under threat ; always wishes and strives to do good for/to others; is also wise, well versed in Shastras and is skilled in arts.

The eight virtuous qualities of an ideal hero are: nobility of character (sobha), liveliness (vilasa), sweet-temper (madhurya), poise (gambhirya), firmness (sthairya), sense of honour or brightness (tejas), grace (lalita), and magnanimity (audarya).

 Sobha vilaso madhuryam gambhiryam sthairya tejasi lalita udaryam ity astau sattvajah paurusa gunah

sri Sita Ram

 

Nayika

sita

Dhananjaya initially mentions and describes three kinds of Heroines (Nayika tridha) : the hero’s own (Sva) wife; another person’s (Anya) wife; and, the common-woman (Sadharana-stri) – sva anya sadharanastri ‘ti tadguna nayika tridha.

However, Bharata had presented a different classification:  divya (celestial); nrpapatni (queen); kulastri (modest house-wife); and ganika (courtesan).

The Nayika of a Nataka is usually of the first type. She would the Hero’s wife (svaya) . And, she would be either be a princess of renowned royal-heritage or a celestial beauty – virtuous (mugdha), dignified (gambhira, manini), charming (manohara) of loving-nature and devoted to her husband. (Nayika tadrsi mugdha divya catimanohara)

devi tatra bhavej jyestha pragalbha nrpavamsaja/ gambhlra maninl krcchrat tadvasan netrsamgamah

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Rasa

As regards its style of narration and depiction, Nātaka should adopt either the graceful Kaušiki Vrtti associated with the Srngara Rasa (suited for display of expressions of love, dance, song as also charming costumes and delicate actions ) ; or, the  exuberant Sattvati Vrtti  associated with  heroic Vira Rasa .

Dhananjaya, in his Dasarupaka said : a Nataka should principally portray one Rasa – either the Srngara or the  Vira; and,  in the concluding part  the Adbhuta Rasa becomes prominent

Eko rasa – angi -kartavyo virah srngara eva va / angamanye rasah sarve kuryan nivahane –adbhutam

 [But, Abhinavagupta, preferred not to lay any such restrictions. Instead, he argued that a play could be a judicious mix of several Rasas, with a major Rasa that defining the tone and texture of the play. He cited Nagananda of Sri Harsha, which in its initial stages display Srngara; but , towards the end,  it is the Shantha Rasa that pervades atmosphere of  the play.  And, he explained though the play had to deal with the horrific killing of the hapless Nagas, it underplays scenes of violence; and, exemplifies the virtues of peaceful coexistence and compassion towards all beings. It is that aesthetic experience of Shanta – peace and compassion towards the fellow beings – which the spectator carries home]

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In the next part let’s talk about Prakarana and eight other forms of the Rupaka.

nayana6

Continued

In

Part Five

Sources and References

The Dasarupa a treatise on Hindu dramaturgy by George C. O. Haas, Columbia University press / 1912

 A Study of Abhinavabharati on Bharata’s Natyasastra and Avaloka on Dhananjaya’s Dasarupaka – by Manjul Gupta

Sahityadarpanah of Viswanathakavirajah

The Theory of the Samdhis and the Samdhyangas in Natya Shastra by T.G. Mainkar

Sanskrit Dramaturgy

All images are from Internet

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Dasarupa, Natya

 

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