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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

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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.

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  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.

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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.

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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. ]

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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Vithyanga

It is said; the term Vithi also stands for ‘pankthi of angas’, series of  elements or the sub-divisions. The chief purpose of  Vithi , is said, to provide effective speeches  or witty dialogues . 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:

  1. Abrupt Interpretation (udghātyaka);
  2. Transference (avalagita);
  3. Ominous Significance (avaspandita);
  4. Incoherent Chatter (asat-pralāpa);
  5. Compliment (prapañca);
  6. Enigma (nāli or nālikā);
  7. Repartee (vākkeli);
  8. Outvying (adhivala);
  9. Deception (chala);
  10. Declaration (vyāhāra);
  11. Crushing (mdava);
  12. Three Men’s Talk (trigata); and
  13. 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  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 just about to break into gentle laughter (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 fiancee 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.

traditional-art-phad-painting-vivek-joshi

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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Posted by on December 17, 2017 in Dasarupa, Natya

 

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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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Posted by on December 15, 2017 in Dasarupa, Natya

 

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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.

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

lotus-design

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).

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

ramasita

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 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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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya

BOOK TWO

David Cooper Photography 2008

The Second Chapter of the Dasarupa , in its 72 verses, classifies, sub-classifies and describes, in great detail, the types of characters in a play, especially the four types of Heroes (bhedais caturdha); three Kinds of Heroines (tadguna nayika tridha) with their twenty variations (strinam alamkaras tu virnsatih) according to their relations with the Hero; the opponent of the hero (Pratinayaka); the companions and those devoted to the hero; messengers of the Heroine and so on.

Hero

The term Nayaka (Hero) is derived from the root Ni, meaning to carry. The concept of Nayaka or Neta comprised not merely the hero but several other characters as well that appear in the play. Unlike Dhananjaya, Bharata did not regard Nayaka as the distinguishing element on the basis of which the ten forms of the Rupaka are classified. Bharata’s approach was broader as it covered a wide range of character-types of all classes.

Sri Rama

As per the  concept presented by Dhananjaya, the hero (Neta) the leading character of the Nātaka should be an ideal person, a worthy and exalted person of virtue; of noble lineage; resolute, young, endowed with intelligence, energy, memory, and wisdom; brave, firm, graceful, charming, sweet-tempered, soft-spoken, liberal, clever, affable, popular, upright, and eloquent. It is , basically, his story that forms the main theme of the Drama.

Prakhyāta-vamso rājarsih-divyo-vā yatra näyakah/ tat prakhyātam vidhātavyam vrttam-atra-adhikārikam//

The noble hero  has control over his senses; does not let emotions override his actions; maintains his composure even under dire circumstances; shelters the weak and threatened; always wishes and strives to do good to others; is also wise, well versed in Shastras and is skilled in arts;

netā vinīto madhuras tyāgī dakṣaḥ priyagvadaḥ / raktalokaḥ śucir vāṅmī rūḍha vaṃśaḥ sthiro yuvā // DhDaś_2.1 //

The eight qualities of an ideal hero are: nobility of character (sobha), liveliness (vilasa), sweet-temper (madhurya), poise (gambhirya), firmness (sthairya), sense of honour or brightness (tejas), grace (lalita), and magnanimity (audarya).

 Sobha vilaso madhuryam gambhiryam sthairya tejasi lalita udaryam ity astau sattvajah paurusa gunah// DhDaś_2.9 /

Dhananjaya mentions four kinds of heroes- bhedais caturdha lalita santo udatto -ddhatair ayam. :

(1) Dhira-lalita, the light-hearted hero, fond of arts, happy, gentle, free from stress – niscinto dhiralalitah kalasaktah sukhi mrduh;

(2) Dhira-shantha, the self-controlled and calm hero , possessed of generic merits of a hero – samanya-guna-yuktas tu dhirasanto dvijadikah;

(3) Dhirodatta, the self-controlled and exalted hero of great excellence , exceedingly earnest, forbearing, not boastful, resolute with self-assertion  suppressed, and firm of purpose-mahasattvo ‘tigambhirah ksamavan avikatthanah sthiro nigudhahamkaro dhirodatto drdhavratah; and,

(4) Dhiroddhata, the vehement hero, altogether dominated by pride and jealousy, wholly devoted to magic practices, and deceitful, self-assertive, fickle, irascible and boastful – darpa-matsarya-bhuyistho maya-chadma-parayanah dhiroddhatas tv ahamkarl calas cando vikatthanah..

In a play in which a Hero is endowed with noble qualities of the type known as self-control, and exalted (Dhirodatta) , glorious , eager for fame, of great energy , a preserver of three Vedas (Trayi) , a ruler of the world , of renowned linage , a royal seer or a god – in that , his characterization is to be made the principal subject (Adhikarana).

Sita Ram

 Heroine

Dhananjaya initially mentions and describes three kinds of Heroines (Nayika tridha) : the hero’s own (Sva) wife; another person’s (Anya) wife; and, the common-woman (Sadharana-stri). These , again , are classified as Mugdha ( modest , shy and inexperienced) ;Madhya (between adolescence and full womanhood, enthusiastic and enterprising); and, Pragalbha (mature and well conversant with the art)

svā anyā sādhāraṇastrīti  tadguṇā nāyikā tridhā / mugdhā madhyā pragalbh eti svīyā śīlārjavādiyuk // DhDaś_2.14 //

Bharata had presented a different classification: divya (celestial); nrpa patni (queen); kulastri (modest house-wife); and ganika (courtesan). And, each one of these four types is associated with a trait : Dhira (patient); Lalitha(delicate); Udatta (gallant) and Nibhrta ( fearless).

*

There is also an eight-fold classification of the Heroines (Ashta Nayika), depending upon their relations with the Hero:

One who loves to dominate her husband (svadhina- bhartrka or svadhina-patika);

svadhina-patikavasaka-sajja

One who loves to dress well and to adorn herself, as she joyfully waits for her lover (vasaka-sajja);

*

One who cannot tolerate her lover being away from her (viraha-utkanthita) and is disturbed (unmanas) when he delays meeting her;

viraha-utkanthita2Khandita_Nayika

One who gets very angry (khandita) when she discovers that her lover is having an affair with another woman;

*

One who after a quarrel with her lover moves out (kalaha-antarita), and later upset with herself in righteous anger and remorse ;

lover quarrelvipralabdha

One who feels deceived and is deeply hurt (vipralabdha) when her lover fails to show up on-time at the rendezvous agreed upon;

*

One who is lonely (prosita-priya) when her lover is in a distant land because of war or business;   

lover seperationAbhisarika nayika

 And, one who, deeply in love, sets out in great hurry and anxiety to meet her lover  (abhi-sarika).

praṇayā yogayorutkā pravāse proṣitapriyā / kalahānta riterṣyāyāṃ vipralavdhā ca khaṇḍitā // DhDaś_4.62 //

[Dhanika, further divides the eight into two classes; and, by permutation comes up with 128 varieties of heroines.]

*

Dhananjaya lists as many as twenty natural graces of women in the prime of youth. These are again made into three groups.

The first three are related to expressions or manifestation of love: emotions or feeling (bhava); bodily gestures (hava); and passion (hela).

 yauvane sattvajāḥ strīṇāmalaṅkārāstu viṃśatiḥ / bhāvo hāvaśca helā ca trayastatra śarīrajāḥ // DhDaś_2.28 //

The second group of seven components are related to the inherent characteristics of the heroine: graceful beauty (sobha); lustrous loveliness (kanthi); endearing sweetness (madhurya); poise and courage (pragalbhata); generosity (audarya); and steadfastness (dhairya).

śobhā kāntiśca dīptiśca mādhuryaṃ ca pragalbhatā / audāryaṃ dhairyamityete sapta bhāvā ayatnajāḥ // DhDaś_2.29 /

The third group of ten virtues relate to her attitude and dispositions: sportive attitude (Lila); charmingly delightful (vilasa); good-taste (vicchitti); a bit of confusion (vibhrama), easily excitable (kila-kinchita); very affectionate (mottayita); pretending to be angry , in jest (kuttamita); mock-indifference (bibboka); a bit laid-back or relaxed (lalita); and, bashful (vihrta).

līlā vilāso vicchittir vibhramaḥ kilakiñcitam / moṭṭāyitaṃ kuṭṭamitaṃ bibboko lalitaṃ tathā / vihṛtaṃ ceti vijñeyā daśa bhāvāḥ svabhāvajāḥ // DhDaś_2.30 //

 [These twenty qualities are again discussed, in detail, later in the text.)

Kalamkari

The Sanskrit Drama carefully classifies and sub-classifies the Heroine into as many as sixteen types.

 heroine b-w

Astanayika

Such fondness , bordering on obsession, for minute sub-division of almost every element of the Drama into as many theoretically possible numbers of types as possible   is a defect in the Sanskrit dramaturgy. Such stereotyped threadbare manipulation of characters, actions, styles is rather futile.  Apart from being of no practical use, they rob the playwright of his initiative and enterprise. Every aspect of Drama is typecast and pigeonholed. It is not therefore surprising that over a period, the Sanskrit Drama lost freshness ,  became too conventional and eventually losing their appeal.

jupiterfig5

[ Before proceeding further with the treatise of Dhananjaya , it would be worth reproducing ( in a summarized form) the views of Abhinavagupta  on the participation  played by the Hero , heroine and the spectators , as well.

According to Abhinavagupta, a true connoisseur of arts has to learn to detach the work of art from its surroundings and happenings; and view it independently.

He asserts, the “willful suspension of disbelief” is a pre-requisite for enjoying any art expression. The moment one starts questioning it or doubting it and looking at it objectively; the experience loses its aesthetic charm; and, it becomes same as a mundane object.

One enjoys a play only when one can identify the character as character from the drama and not as ones friend or associate. The spectator should also learn to disassociate the actor from the character he portrays.

The Hero and Heroine  in a play are just portraying the roles assigned  to them, as best as they can. In other words; they are trying to convey certain states of emotions and the sate of being of the character-roles they are playing . They are like a pot (patra) or receptacle, which carries the emotional state of primary (real) role to the spectator. The actor merely  serves as a vessel or  a receptacle or a means of serving relish (Asvadana) ; and, that is the reason, a role is called a Patra. The characters on the stage represent the role ; but , are not the real ones; and, they do not completely identify themselves with the original. Hence, the Vibhava is like a cause; but, not an exact cause. The performance, the acting by the hero, heroine and other characters in a play is Anubhava, one of the several ways of bringing out the emotional states of the characters they are playing out on the stageSuch Anubhava could be called as ensuing responses.

The hero or heroines in a play don’t become the lover and beloved in real life. They understand and accept here  , what their their roles are; and, try to show what might be the emotional experiences of the character , and its reactions to the given situation  . The actors  try to  resemble the character , for few hours of the play ; and, act on the stage accordingly, through which the spectators understand , grasp and enjoy  the emotional states in the play.

Abhinava makes a distinction between the world of drama  (Nātyadharmī) and the real but ordinary life (Lokadharmī). In the artistic process, where presentations are  made with the aid of various kinds of dramatic features such as Abhinayas and  synthetic creations  ,  we are moving from the gross  and un-stylized movements of  daily life to more subtle forms of expressions and experiences; we move from individualized experiences to general representations; and from multiplicity to unity.

He says that the feeling that might cause pain in real life is capable of providing pleasure in an art form. He explains, while viewing a performance on stage one might appreciate and enjoy the display of sorrow, separation, cruelty, violence and even the grotesque; and one may even relish it as aesthetic experience. But, in real life no one would  ever like to be associated with such experiences.

Abhinavagupta , therefore,  observes that the theatrical experience is quite unlike the experience in the mundane and the real world; it is Alaukika – out of the world.

In summary; he draws a theory that the artistic creation is the expression of a feeling that is freed from localized distinctions; it is the generalization (sadharanikarana)  of a particular feeling. It comes into being through the creative genius (prathibha) of the artist. It finally bears fruit in the spectator who derives Ananda, the joy of aesthetic experience. That, he says, is Rasa – the ultimate emotional experience created in the heart of the Sahrudaya. 

Abhinavgupta talks about Sadharanikarana, the generalization. He points out that while enjoying the aesthetic experience, the mind of the spectator is liberated from the obstacles caused by the ego and other disturbances. Thus transported from the limited to the realm of the general and universal, we are capable of experiencing Nirvada, or blissfulness. In such aesthetic process, we are transported to a trans-personal level. This is a process of de-individual or universalization – the Sadharanikarana.\

According to Abhinavagupta a real work of art, in addition to possessing emotive charge carries a strong sense of suggestion and the potential to produce various meanings. It can communicate through suggestions and evoke layers of meanings and emotions.

He illustrates his position through the analogy of a tree and its fruit. Here, the play is the tree; performance is the flower; and spectator’s experience .

Rasa, the relish (Asvada) by the spectator, is the ultimate product (phala) of a dramatic performance, as that of a fruit borne by a tree :  “the play is born in the heart of the poet; it flowers as it were in the actor; and, it bears fruit in the delight (ananda) experienced by the spectator.” .. ”And, if the artist or poet has inner force of creative intuition (prathibha)…that should elevate the spectator to blissful state of pure joy Ananda.”

At another place, Abhinava declares, a true aesthetic object,  not merely stimulates the senses but also ignites the imagination of the viewer. With that, the spectator is transported to a world of his own creation. That experience sets the individual free from the confines of place, time and ego (self); and elevates him to the level of universal experience.  It is liberating experience. Thus art is not mundane; it is Alaukika in its nature

According to Abhinavagupta, the object of the entire exercise is to provide pure  aesthetic  joy to the spectator. Without his participation , all art expressions are pointless.

Thus, he brought the spectator from the edge of the stage into the very heart of the dramatic  performance and its experience. ]

friends

Supporting characters

The section on Neta, apart from the Hero and the Heroine, includes the supporting characters, such as the companions of the hero; the  maids and messengers in service of the heroine ; and , the opponents of the Hero as well. Just mention about these briefly:

The companions of the Hero, i.e., those assisting and attending (pithamarda) and devoted to him are, usually, possessed of qualities similar to that of the Hero, though in a lesser degree. In addition, there would a fun and food loving, good-natured, but a rather incompetent jester (Vidushaka); and another, a sort of parasite (Vita).

The Heroine, usually, has in her service a set of maidens, who attend on her as maid-servant (dasi), and also serve as messengers (dutyo).  The Heroine might use any of those women, as also a foster-sister (dhatreyi), a woman skilled in crafts (silpini), a neighbour (prativesika), and a female ascetic (lingini) to pass on private messages to her lover. Some of these are also her friends (sakhi), confidants and advisors – (dutyo dasi sakhi karur dhatreyi prativesika lingini silpini svam ca netr mitra gunanvitah.)

The opponent of the hero (prati-nayaka), falling under the fourth type of the Hero (Dhiroddhata) is often depicted as avariciousness, vehement, stubborn, criminal and vicious (lubdho dhiroddhatah stabdhah papakrd vyasani ripuh)

queen and friends

 

Vrtti

Bharata had mentioned:  Vrttis or Styles are traditionally known as the constituent elements of all dramatic works (lit. poems).  It is said; the Vrttis have been so named because of the element or the action that is predominant in them.  the ten kinds of play are considered to have proceeded from these Vrittis.

sarveāmeva kāvyānā mātkā vttaya sm ābhyo vinista hyetad-daśarūpa prayogata 18.4

Another important element of the Drama that is discussed in Book  Two  of the Dasarupa is the concept of Vrtti  (which Bharata considered as the mother of all poetic works – kāvyānā mātkā vttaya sm), the ways of rendering a scene; or , the acting styles and the use of language , diction that different characters adopt in a play, depending upon the nature or the Bhava that relates to the character. Thus, the Vrttis get related to the four types of heroes and four kinds of representations. And, since Vrttis are also related with Rasas, they set the mood or ambiance on the stage by their distinct style of dramatic representation. In other words; the Vrttis call for the excellence of the mental, physical and vocal efforts of the actors portraying their characters.

Some other associations are also mentioned with regard to the Vrttis. For instance with : Angikam,Vacikam,Sathvikam and Aharyam. Further, Bharati with Rigveda; Sattavati with Yajurveda; Kaisiki with Samaveda; and, Arabhati with Atharva Veda.

Vrttis are said to be of four kinds (vrttis caturdha): Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati; and, Bharati.

The Kaisiki-vrtti (graceful style) which characterizes the tender Lasyanga associated with expressions of love, dance, song as also charming costumes and delicate actions portrayed with care, mostly by women,   is most suited to Srngara-rasa (tatra kaisiki gita-nrtya-vilasadyair mrduh srngara-cestitaih). Kaisiki has four varieties (Bhedas): Narma (good-natured small-talk); Narmaspinja (pleasure blooms at the first meeting of lovers); Narmasphota (the lovers delighting in each other company); and, Narma-garbha (covert pleasure; incognito). The prefix Narma indicates cheer or laughter.  Kaisiki is the most charming and delightful combination of Srngara and Hasya, playful expression one’s affection or longing for union with the lover.

Sattvati Vrtti (flamboyant style) is a rather gaudy style of expressing ones emotions with excessive body-movement; exuberant expressions of joy; and, underplaying mellow or sorrow moods. It is a way of expressing ones emotions through words (mano-vyapara).  It is associated with the Vira , Adbhuta and Rauidra Rasas (vire sattvaty) – arabhati punah rase raudre ca bibhatse vrttih sarvatra bharati. The Sattvati Vritti has four varieties: Uttpatha (raising up to the conflict); Sallapaka or Samlapaka ( heroic and passionate words or challenge); Sanghatya (breach of alliance or that which breaches alliance; and, Parivartaka ( when a character abruptly changes a course of his actions).

Arabhati-vrtti is a loud, rather noisy and energetic style. It is a powerful exhibition of one’s anger, valour, bordering on false-pride, by screaming, shouting, particularly, in tumultuous scenes with overwhelming tension, disturbance and violence.  It involves furious physical movements (kaya-vyapara). It is associated with Raudra (furious) and Bhibhatsa (odious) Rasas (arabhati punah rase raudre ca bibhatse). The Arabhati has four varieties: : Sanskipta (brief, elaboration , condensed representation of the plot); Avapata ( commotion, fear, jubilation , panic, fall, puzzled behaviour, quick entrance and exit of characters); Vastu Uttahapanam (elevation of the plot, combination of all other Vrttis); and , Sampheta (conflict, fights, combats, betrayal, excitement). Arabhati is also attended with feats of jugglery, conjunction and conflicting situations, where bodily actions are prominent.

And, Bharati-vrtti is mainly related to a scene where the speech or dialogue delivery is its prominent featureBut, generally, the Bharati-vrtti, related to eloquence, is of importance in all the situations (vrttih sarvatra bharati). It is devoid of Srngara, Karuna and Nirveda (dispassion).  The Bharati-Vrtti has four varieties: Parochana (introducing the play and playwright to the spectators); Amukha or Prastavana (where the Sutradhara strikes a conversation with the Nati or Vidushaka, as a prologue to the play); Vithi (sort of monologue the Sutradhara carries on before the play proper); and, Prahasana (hilarious conversations between minor actors). Abhinavagupta suggested the terms: Kathodghata (which consists in some characters catching up with the words or intent of the Sutradhara); Pravartakam (introducing the subject), Prayogatishaya (where the director mentions the entry of a character of the drama), in place of Parochana, Amukha and Vithi. All these take place, mostly, in the Purvanga, the preliminary to the play proper.

[There is much confusion about the terms Vithi and Prahasana. They are used in different contexts carrying different meanings. The Vithi and Prahasana mentioned by Bharata as the Bhedas of Bharati Vrtti refer to the Angas of Vithi and also the two kinds of dramas. 

And, similarly , Vritti which denotes diction or style   is also used in three other senses: (1) verbal-force (Shabda-shakti), like Abhidha, Lakshana and others; (2) Alliteration, Anuprasa Alamkara; and, (3) grammatical formatives like Samasa and Taddhita  ]

vrtti

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

Before concluding on the Vrttis, Dhananjaya mentions : the actions that take place in a play should be an authentic portrayal of the language, the gestures, the costumes and the characteristics (Desa-bhasa-kriya-vesa-laksanah) of the people of the region, to which the plot of the play belongs. The playwright should promptly adopt such suitable details (yatha-ucityam prayojayet), as are in practice – Pravrtti (pravrttayah) among the common people (lokad) of that region. It is a way of depicting the details of a particular character (viseha- vesa-vinyasa-krama) ; to render it authentic.

 Desa-bhasa-kriya-vesa-laksanah syuh pravrttayah lokad ava-vagamyaita yatha-ucityam prayojayet.

Here, Dhananjaya introduces another division among these four Vrttis. He creates two other sub-classes: Artha-vrtti and Sabda-vritti. According to Dhananjaya, the first three (Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati) which deal mainly with action fall under Artha-vrtti; while, Bharati, where language and the presentation of the speech is of importance, is brought under Sabda-vritti.

But, neither Bharata nor anyone else had made such a distinction.  Many scholars opine the sub-classification made by Dhananjaya was rather needless.

According to Bharata, of the ten forms of Drama, Nātakas and Prakaranās should contain all the four Vrttis; hence, they are called Pūrna-vrtti Rūpakas (NS.17.7). And, the other eight Rūpakas should be represented without giving prominence to Kaisiki-vrtti (NS.18.8-9).They may contain one of the other three Vrttis as the prominent one, and the three others to a lesser degree.

However, Abhinavagupta had pointed out:  it is not the number of Vrttis, alone, that is important. In certain types of plays one form of Vritti might be prominent or otherwise. The combination, the treatment and the variations of the Vrittis differs from one type of play to the other. Thus, the classification of the Rupakas is based on the treatment of the Vrttis, which might either be complete with all its Angas (elements) or be lacking in some of them. Thus, the mere number of Vrttis in a play, by itself, is not very significant.

[ The critics point out: though Bharata mentioned ten types of Drama, he discussed mainly about its two forms – Nataka and Prakarana, perhaps because these two alone fulfilled all those requirements that were necessary for Rupaka (Major type). Further, Bharata had also explained :  ‘as these two major forms alone depict varieties of situations , made up all the styles (Vrttis) and representations,  they lend  enough scope for display of Rasas (Rasapradhana or Rasabhinaya or vakya-artha-abhinaya); while the other eight forms are incomplete , as they are not presented in the graceful style, the kaisikivrtti’.

Thus, while Bharata and Abhinavagupta stressed Vrtti as the distinguishing character of a Drama; Dhananjaya and Dhanika held Vastu (subject-matter), Neta (Hero) and Rasa (sentiment) as the elements which distinguish one form of drama (Rupaka)  from its other forms  (vastu neta rasas tesam bhedako) .

For Dhananjaya, these three were pivotal points; and, he went about constructing his work, analyzing the whole of dramaturgy around these three parameters (pradhāna, netà and rasa). Therefore, while conducting a study of each class of the Drama, he does it with reference to : (1) their subject-matter or the plot (Vastu), the main theme (adhikarika), the episodes (angam) and the incidental events (prasangika);  (2) the types of characters they portray (Neta), such as the class of the hero, heroine and other supporting roles;  (3) the structural divisions of the play , the stages in their  corresponding with the elements of the plot (avastha), the actions essential for attaining the object of the play (Arthaprakrti) ,  the  sequence of  episodes (in the development of the play (Samdhi); and, (4) the Rasa , the  principal or the  dominant  sentiment of the play.]

rama sita

Dhananjaya concludes the Second Book of Dasarupa, which covered a number of essential ingredients of the Drama, with homage to Bharata and to Lord Shiva:

Who but Bharata or the crescent-crested god Shiva would have been able to enumerate , without omission, all the varieties of action (Vrttis) , the qualities (Guna) , the utterances (Vak) , and the involuntary States (sattvabhava) that are inseparable from (a-vibhinna) the ten (four types of heroes and six types of heroines) varieties of leading character (netara-dasa-vibhinnan) ?’

Cesta-guno-dahrti sattvabhavan / asesato netara-dasa-vibhinnan / ko vaktum Iso Bharato na yo va /  yo va na devah Sasi khandamaulih //

shiva

In the next Part, we shall talk about the ten forms of Drama which is the main theme of Dhananjaya’s work; and about Rasa as discussed in Book Three and Book Four of the Dasarupa.

Nayana4 crop

Continued

In

Part Four

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 5, 2017 in Dasarupa, Natya

 

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Concerning the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya – Part Two

Continued from Part One

Dance-Drama

As mentioned earlier, the Dasarupa of Dhananjaya is a compilation of the extracts taken from the Natyashastra of Bharata.

Dhananjaya’s work is , essentially, a collection of the rules, the terminologies, their definitions and the elements pertaining to Drama, as extracted from the Natyashastra; and, arranged under certain broad heads. The Dasarupa is a compact work, intended to serve as a manual for the use of those interested in the subject of Drama.

As its name suggests, the text is focused on the ten types or classes of Drama that were mentioned in the Natyashastra; and, on the presentation and analysis of their technical features, plot constructions along with their distinguishing characteristics.

[Let me mention, at the outset, what I have posted below is but a brief summary of the few of the selected topics described in the Dasarupa. I have tried to avoid going into various sub-classifications and too many details enumerated in the text. For the complete text, with its translation in English, please click here.]

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Before we discuss the main subjects covered by the Dasarupa, let’s briefly take a broad look at its structure and the arrangement of its theme and topics. .

The Dasarupa which commences with a prayer submitted to Lord Ganesha has four Prakashas or sections, containing, in all, about three hundred Karika (verses).

Namas tasmai Ganesaya yatkanthah puskarayate / mada-abhoga-ghana-dhvano nilakanthasya tandave //

Homage to that Ganesha whose throat, deeply resonant in his excessive frenzy (mada-abhoga), serves as a drum in the vibrant  dance of Shiva, just as the sound of the wildly expanding thundercloud at the dance of the peacock

ganesha puja

BOOK ONE

The First Book or the First Chapter consists of 68 verses.  After paying homage to Lord Vishnu who displayed ten incarnations (Dasa-Avatara); and, to Bharata who enunciated the ten forms of Drama (Dasarupa), Dhananjaya seeks the blessings of Sarasvathi the Goddess of wisdom, arts and all learning. He says : the goddess Sarasvati graciously provides themes for literary works to persons of intelligence; and , through those works culture is spread among others.

kasya cid eva kada cid dayaya visayam Sarasvati vidusah / ghatayati kam api tam anyo vrajati jano yena vaidagdhim.

He then states the objective of his work as to give concisely and directly the import of the rules pertaining to Drama, as set down in Natyashastra, in its own words (tasyarthas tatpadais tena samksipya kriyate anjasa)

Dhananjaya then goes on to list (pratipadam laksma) the definitions of some of the fundamental technical terms that appear in the Natyashastra – (pratipadam aparam laksma kah kartum iste)

He commences by stating that Drama is an imitation of situations in life (Avastha-anikrtir natyam); and, it is called a Rupa (form), because it is, basically, a visual presentation (rupam drsyatayocyate), made by actors who assume the forms of various characters that are assigned to them (rupakam tat samaropad), such as gods, kings, men or women of various sorts.  It is said; Rupa refers to delineation, giving a concrete form to an idea. Then, he just lists the names of the ten chief varieties of Drama that are based in different Rasas (dasadhaiva rasasrayam)

natakam ca prakaranam bhanah prahasanarn dimah vyayoga samavakarau vlthyankeha imrga iti

[The phrase Avastha-anikrtir natyam, as quoted by Dhananjaya might give an  impression as though the Drama is the art of reproduction by imitation (anukriti), But, Abhinavagupta had  earlier objected to such a banal view, saying that mere imitation of other’s movements would produce the ludicrous; and, the imitation of other’s feelings and emotions is impossible. He held the view that Drama is an artistic creation, where music, dance, acting as also the dress, colours, and the stage environment etc., all unite harmoniously in an effort to create a delightful dramatic performance. According to him, such a presentation becomes an art when its narration in the form of dialogues associated with suitable gestures, postures, movement, dance, dress and music etc., succeeds in giving expressions to sentiments and passions so as to rouse similar sentiments in the minds of the audience. Thus, Drama is an entirely a new art that aims to enliven the hearts and minds of the audience; generates in them an aesthetic joy; and, it is not an imitation in the ordinary sense of the term. ]

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 Marga- Desi

Dhananjaya mentions the broad categories of Dance-forms as: the Marga (the pure or pristine); and, the Desi (the regional or improvised) – adyam padartha-abhinayo Margo Desi tatha param.

As regards the particular Dance forms, Dhananjaya says: the Nrtya, which, principally, is display of various emotional states (bhava-asrayam nrtyam), is a representation of the traditional Marga class. While, Nrtta, with emphasis on limb-movements, in tune with rhythm and timing (nrttam tala-laya-asrayam), belongs to the popular Desi style.

Under each of these (Nrtya and Nrtta) there is again 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.)

[ Here, Dhananjaya markedly deviated from Bharata . To start with, Bharata had not  classified Tandava and Lasya  as either vigorous or gentle dances . In fact , the term Lasya does not appear in the Natyashastra. Bharata had merely mentioned of these two (Tandava and Sukumara) as the types of dances  that are performed in the Purvaranga, before the commencement of the play.

And , Dhanajaya’s attempt to classify Nrtta as Desi (regional) and Nrtya as Marga (pure and traditional) was criticized as  being illogical. It was pointed out that Nrtta was the dance that Shiva taught to his disciple Tandu ; and , it was pure and pristine. And, Nrtta is indeed of the Marga class.]

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After offering short definitions of these terms, which  are auxiliaries to Nataka and to the other varieties of Drama,  Dhananjaya moves on to the definition of such terms as are directly connected with the major theme of his work –  the Drama (Rupa).

He broadly follows Bharata , who had said : A Nātaka is having five Arthaprakrti; five kâryāvasthās; five Samdhis; four Vrittis;   sixty-four Sandhyaga; twenty-one Sandhyantārā, thirty-six Abhusanas; and, ninety music.. Yattu pancachatuh –sastiscatuh –pancaikavisatih / sattrinsatravtisca tat-Natakam

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Vastu -Neta -Rasa

The rest of the First Chapter is devoted to the discussion of Vastu, the subject-matter, in detail, about its sub-divisions; and, also of the structural components or the elements of the plot.

He states that the three essential elements , on which the  Dramas are based and  classified,  are : the Vastu (subject-matter) ; the Neta (the leading character- the Hero) ; and , the Rasa (the sentiment it portrays ) . It is on the basis of these three criteria that Dramas are categorized into different types – Vastu Neta Rasas tesam bhedako.

The plot should be simple; the incidents should be consistent; and, the progression of the events should spring direct from the story. It should make an interesting presentation on the stage; and, should provide entertainment to varied class of spectator. That is the basic purpose of the Drama. The ability to please the spectators, to capture their imagination and to make them visit the theatre more often is a major indicator of the success of the play.

The Subject-matter (vastu) can be of two-folds (Vastu ca dvidha) :  the main theme  known as the principal subject (adhikarika); and,  the subordinate (angam)  as the  incidental events (prasangika)

– Tatra adhikarikam mukhyam angam prasahgikam viduh.

The major theme (Vrttam) of a Drama would, usually, be about the intense desire or the objective (Adhikara) of the principal character of the play (i.e., the Hero, the Adhikarin); and, how he goes about to realize that goal. The sequence of incidents or actions that follow during the course of the Hero’s attempts, mainly, to achieve his objective or the desired result would be its principal subject (Adhikarika); and, the related minor ones would form the incidental the subject (prasangika).

[For instance; in Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita is Adhikarika. The stories of Sugriva and Vibhishana are Prasangika, supplementary to the main story.]

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

Arthaprakrti

The action of the play expands in manifold ways (vistary anekadha), just as a seed (Bija) very small at the beginning, grows, in stages, and expands into a tree.

The process of unfolding of the story could be marked by five stages or elements of action (Arthaprakrti or Karyalakshana):

:- (1) the beginning (Bija) or the cause (hetu) giving rise to various types of actions;

:- (2) the expansion (Bindu), which like the drop of oil in water, spreads and joins the broken ends, expands and maintains the continuity (accheda-karana), till the very end of the play, in all the Acts;

:- (3) the episodes of  considerable length (Pathaka), which  carry forward  and support the main cause of the  action ;

:- (4) the incidents within the episode (Prakari), of limited duration and of minor importance , yet, serving the principal plot; 

:- (5) and, finally, the conclusion (Karya), which also sums up the whole action, starting  from the beginning  and leading up  to the ultimate gainful result  (Phala).

Bija-bidu-patakakhya prakari-karya-laksanah arthaprakrtayah panca ta etah parikirtitah.

Following the analogy of the seed and the tree, it is explained, in Arthaprakrti also, the Bija, the germinal-idea, just like a seed, is the origin. And, it goes through several stages namely: appearance (Utpatti); opening up (Udgnatana); going forth or sprouting (Udbheda); and, coming out distinctly (Nirbedha). And, just as the seed develops gradually into a tree and bears fruit, here too the Bija develops, in stages, and finally concludes in Karya. And, thus, it succeeds in bringing the whole series of actions in the play to  a happy (mangala) desired finale  (Phala) .

Bīja bindu patākā ca prakarī kāryameva ca arthapraktaya pañca jñātvā yojyā yathāvidhi NS.19.21

 [The charge levelled against Dhananjaya and Dhanika is that they just state the Arthaprakrti and fail to discuss its importance in the play or its relation with the Avastha, another format of plot-construction.]

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Avastha

The plot could also be structured in another manner so as to depict the successive, ordered (Yathasamkhya) stages of action (Avastha) in the Hero’s (Neta) attempts to accomplish his purpose. The actions involved in the hero’s way to success are structured into five distinct segments or stages :

:- (1) beginning of the action (Arambha) with eagerness to attain the result;

:- (2) the efforts made by the hero to move resolutely, with great haste, towards his objective, despite the odds and resistance he has to contend with (Yatna or Prayathna);

:- (3) actions leading him nearer to the objective, with hope of success mixed with fear of failure (Prathi-sambhava);

:- (4) actions or incidents that ensure certainty of realizing his goal,  as by then the dangers and risks  would have been bypassed or  eliminated (Niyatapti) ; 

(5) and, finally, the crowning glory, the complete and satisfactory achievement of his desired objective (Phala-agama or Phala-prapti or Phala-yoga)

Avasthah panca karyasya prarabdhasya phalarthibhih ararnbha-yatna-praptyasa-niyatapti-phalagamah.

The Avastha, with its five stages, is a comprehensive model which begins with eagerness and zeal; resolutely passes through strenuous efforts, overcoming several obstacles, mixed with anxiety, hope and fear; and, finally ends happily  in the total acquisition of the desired object.  Its elements, taken together, portray the physical, mental and psychological states of the hero (Neta) throughout the action of the play. 

These five stages, in their successive order (Yathasamkhya), form the essential, classic features of any type of human endeavour; not merely Drama.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad calls upon:

‘You are what your deep, driving desire is; as your desire is, so is your will (sa yathā-kāmo bhavati tat-kratur-bhavati); as your will is, so is your deed (yat-kratur-bhavati tat-karma kurute) ; as your deed is, so is your destiny (yat-karma kurute tad-abhi-sapadyate”- (Brhu. Up. 4.4.5).

sa yathā-kāmo bhavati tatkratur bhavati | yatkratur bhavati tat karma kurute |  yat karma kurute tad abhi-saṃpadyate || BrhUp_4,4.5 ||

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Samdhi

Another way of structuring the plot (the body, the Sarira of the play) is by creating links, for connecting one scene with the other. These are the Samdhis, the segments of the plot (Artnavayavah), joined mutually or with the limbs (angaih) of the otherantaraika-artha-sambandhah samdhir ekanvaye sati. These Samdhis (junctures) are meant to knit together the various structural divisions of the Drama, consistent with the elements of the plot, and with the stages in the Hero’s struggle on his way to achieving his purpose, right from the beginning up to the successful conclusion.

The five stages of  the developments or the progressions in the action of the play in that regard are :  

:- (1) Mukha (lit. face) , the section where the action originates in a seed-form (Bija) giving rise to various purposes and sentiments (mukham bijasamutpattir nana-artha-rasa-sambhava );

:- (2) Prathimukha ,  the development of the seed – sometimes visible  and sometimes not ; but, there all the while and progressing (laksya-alaksya atayodbhedas tasya pratimukham bhavet);

:- (3) Garbha, the section of the play where the seed springs up and strives to grow despite the difficulties and challenges it is confronted with (garbhas tu drstanastasya bijasya-anvesanam muhuh);

:- (4) Vimarsa or Avamarsa, a crucial or rather testing time in the development of the seed which has now  grown into Garbha , facing troubles; and, when  one stops to reflect (avamrsed) because of getting embroiled in entanglements (aslesa), snared in temptations (vilobana), doubts, anger , or following a misleading clue, thus temporarily arresting its development (krodh en avamrsed yatra vyasanad va vilobhanat); 

(5) and, finally, the Nirvahana  or the Upasamhrti, when the scattered threads are harmonized and knit together;  when all the main incidents of the play are  meaningfully interwoven ; and , the play is brought to a successful conclusion – (bijavanto mukhadyartha viprakirna yathayatham aikarthyam uparuyante yatra nirvahanam hi tat).

Mukha-pratimukhe garbhah sa vamarsa upasarnhrtih.

 [For an exhaustive study of the Samdhis, please click here.[

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These three – Arthaprakrti, Avastha and Samdhi – could be treated as parallel methods of structuring the divisions of the play.  It is also said; they are not mutually exclusive. The five elements, that mark the stages of action, in each of these, correspond with the five elements of the other two, in an ordered sequence – Krama (yathasamkhyena jayante).

Arthaprakrtayah panca panca-avastha-samanvitah yathasamkhyena jayante mukhadyah panca samdhayah.

The structural divisions or sequence of events of the drama – Avastha; Arthaprakrti; and, Samdhi – each in its own manner,   corresponds with the elements of the plot and the actions associated with the progressive stages in the hero’s attempts to successfully realize his purpose or object.

:- Avastha are the stages of action in the progression of the events in the play

:- Arthaprakrtis are in effect, the means for attaining the desired result or success (Phala). These, again, are said to be sequenced in five stages of action (Avastha)

:- The Samdhis are junctures or the sequence of events in the development of the play; and, associated with the actions or the stages in the hero’s realization of his purpose (Phala-siddhi).

[It seems that Bharata had suggested just two parallel methods or principles of classification for projecting the development of the plot – Avastha and Samdhi – each having five steps. The Samdhi was again divided into 64 sub-sections –Samdhyangas. And, Bharata had not discussed or even suggested inter-relation between these two models.

The schemes of the Avastha (stages) and the Samdhi (junctures), both having five phases, are related to the structure of the play, the dramatic incidents, the development of the theme, and the movement of the plot. While Avastha attempts to delineate or mark the successive stages in the action of the play through various sub-divisions; the Samdhi, following the analogy of the seed and its growth, tries to combine the various types of action into meaningful whole.

When taken together, you find that the Avastha and Samdhi are closely related, with each stage of the Avastha corresponding with each juncture of the Samdhi. Both mark the divisions in the development of the plot, in five stages. Bharata had said: the Samdhis depend on the Avasthas (Samdhyo hi Avastha paratantrah)

Dr. Manjul Gupta explains: Looking at the position, we may finally say that Samdhis are the important parts of a plot. A plot is divided into five parts marking different phases of the main aim. These five Samdhis are related to each other, ‘to their limbs’. .. and, somehow or other, with the five Avasthas of the action.

Thus, the Arambha of Avastha corresponds with Mukha of Samdhi; and similarly, the Prayathna with the Prathimukha; the Prathisambhava with the Garbha; the Niyatapi with the Vimarsa; and, the Phalayoga with the Nirvahana.

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Dhananjaya goes further and inserts Arthaprakrti, the constituent elements in a plot, mentioned by Bharata (NS.19.21) as the third format (besides Avastha and Samdhi) for outlining the structure of the plot. And, he had said, they are found in the Itivrtta, just as the five Avasthas do.

bījaṃ binduḥ patākā ca prakarī kāryameva ca / arthaprakṛtayaḥ pañca jñātvā yojyā yathāvidhi // BhN_19.21 //

Dhananjaya suggested that the five elements of the Arthaprakrti (viz., Bija; Bimdu; Pathaka; Prakari; and Karya), corresponded with the five stages  of action as described under Avastha ; and , from these arise five junctures , the Samdhi , beginning with Mukha , the opening.

arthaprakrtayah panca panca-avastha-samanvitah yathasamkhyena jayante mukhadyah panca samdhayah // DR.1.21//

The difference between Avastha and Arthaprakrti seems to be that while the former (Avastha) pertains to the principal plot; the latter (Arthaprakrti) covers the subsidiary plots also. And, while the action of every play consists of five Avasthas, but, in the case of five Arthaprakrtis, it is not necessary that all should be present. The other difference appears to be that in the Avastha, its stages follow an ordered sequence. But, Arthaprakrti is not bound by such regulations; the sequence and the prominence of its elements might be altered to suit the needs of the plot. 

However, Bharata had not said anything about the inter-relations that might exist among the three formats of the play, viz., the Avastha, the Samdhi and the Arthaprakrti.

But the later writers (e.g. Katayavema and Dhundiraja) accepted the suggestion made by Dhananjaya for treating Avastha, Samdhi and Arthaprakrti as parallel ways of dividing or demarcating the structure of the Drama into successive ordered segments (yathasamkhyena jayante).

It could, therefore, be said that each element of Samdhi identifies; and, also leads to the corresponding elements of the Arthaprakrti and Avastha.

Arthaprakrti, Samdhi , Agama0004

It has been suggested that these three sets of five each, Pentad (panchayatam), could be taken as three ways of analyzing the structure of the plot of a Sanskrit Drama (Rupaka) from three different angles.

Summing up, Viswanatha in his Sâhitya-Darpana described Rupaka (Nataka) as the most logical and perfect theatrical composition. It progresses in a systematic manner and concludes successfully, bringing joy to all.  He says, according to the Dasarupa, the structure of the Rupaka consists: five elements of the plot (Arthaprakrti), matching with the five stages (Avastha) of the action, from which arise five structural divisions or sequence of events (Samdhi) of the drama, which correspond 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. ]

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[The Shakuntalam of Kalidasa is hailed as a classic play  that epitomizes all the virtues and characteristics of the hoary Sanskrit theatrical traditions.

We may take a look at the structure of the play in terms of the three modes of Samdhi , Arthapaprakrti and Avastha.

Kalidasa’s celebrated  play  Abhijnana Shakuntalam has seven Acts; and, the action is spread over six years. The plot is structured into series of actions , each leading to the next.

The progression of the plot of the Shakuntalam can be analyzed according to dramatic conventions set out in the Natyasastra. This may be done taking into account all the three axes : Arthaprakrti ; Avastha-s ( states of action); and, Sandhi-s (joints of action) .

Act I features the Mukha-Sandhi, in which the King Dushyanta comes upon the beautiful lass Shakuntala; it gives rise to cause (hetu) for the beginibg of action (Bija – Arthaprakrti), which is the King deeply falling in love with Shakuntala; and, that  opening sets the  stage for action in the play (Arambha-Avastha).

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Act II and Act III explore the expansion (ArthaprakrtiBindu), when the King makes effort (AvasthaYatna or Prayathna) to moves towards his objective ; and that develops into their wedding (Pratimukha-Sandhi),

But the King  and Shakuntala must urgently separate; and, they  are filled with hope of success mixed with fear of failure (Prathi-sambhava Avastha); and their love  strives to grow despite the difficulties and challenges it is confronted with (Garbha Sandhi). That gives reason to  carry forward  and support the main cause of the  action (Pathaka Arthaprakrti ) .

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Acts IV and V relate to the period of separation, wherein hope of reunion is affirmed , despite absence; and this section is a continuation of the Garbha-Sandhi. This occurs when Shakuntala leaves the hermitage and also when she and the king are separated, after his rejection of her;  serving the principal plot (Prakari Arthaprakrti).

This state of uncertainty also marks  Vimarsa or Avamarsa Sandhi , when the King actually does reject Shakuntala , a crucial or rather testing time in the development of the seed (Bija) which has now  grown into Garbha , facing troubles; and, when  the charecters  stops to reflect (avamrsed) because of getting embroiled in entanglements (aslesa), snared in temptations (vilobana), doubts, anger , or following a misleading clue, thus temporarily arresting its development.

Acts V and VI bring hope of realizing the  goal (Niyatapti-Avastha), when Indra calls upon Dushyanta to join him in heaven; and, the audience knows that the King will  eventually reunite with Shakuntala.  It is followed by actions or incidents that ensure certainty of realizing the Lovers’ goal,  as by then the dangers and risks  are likely to be  bypassed or  eliminated .

The final Act VII celebrates the reunion of Shakuntala and Dushyanta; it marks the Nirvahana  or the Upasamhrti Sandhi, when all the scattered threads are harmonized and knit together;and, all the main incidents of the play are  meaningfully interwoven ; and , when the play is brought to a successful conclusion.

This final Arthaprakrti (Karya) also sums up the whole action, starting  from the beginning  and leading up  to the ultimate gainful result  (Phala). This Avastha (Phala-agama or Phala-prapti or Phala-yoga) is indeed  the crowning glory, the complete and satisfactory achievement of the desired objective  of the hero and the Leading Lady  as they joyfully reunite with their son Bharata.]

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Itivrtta

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.

It is also said; whatever 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 sections; the divisions called junctures (Samdhi).

[Surprisingly, even in the case of historical narrations (akhyayika),  Anandavardhana (Ca. 850) counseled poets to alter any received historical account that conflicted with the emotional impact they sought to achieve. Thus, according to him, one can and should change fact to suit the dominant Rasa of the work.]

The purpose of such reshaping of the story and characters by the playwright is to achieve a harmony of theme and character in order to serve the ultimate purpose of the drama ,  the Rasa – the  enjoyment by the cultured spectators concept of

 Yat tatra-anucitam Kim cin nayakasya rasasya va viruddham tat parityajyam anyatha va prakalpayet.

[The best example of this is Kalidasa’s reworking of Abijnana-shakuntalam and Vikramorvasiya, the former from the Mahabharata and the latter from the Vedas, Epics, and Puranas.]

Dhanika the commentator mentions that the Vastu is initially classified as the principal (Adhikarana) and subsidiary (Prasangika); and, each of these two are again sub-divided in three ways (Prakhyatha, Uthpadya and Misra), keeping in view of the source of the story, the characters, the portrayal and the dramatic conventions.

[But, Bharata had divided the plot (Itivrtta) into only two classes – the principal and the subsidiary; and, had not attempted their further sub-divisions. 

tivṛttaṃ tu nāṭyasya śarīraṃ parikīrtitam / pañcabhiḥ sandhibhistasya vibhāgaḥ samprakalpitaḥ // BhN_19.1 /

itivtta dvidhā caiva budhastu parikalpayet ādhikarikameka syāt prāsagikam-athāparam 19. 2

The explanation provided is that Bharata did not attempt to divide the dramatic components into tight compartments, because:  he was more concerned with the successful production of a play.  He was focused on coming up with an interesting presentation that would provide wholesome entertainment to the spectators ; and , at the same time he had to pay attention to the  playwright , the actors and the very process of production.

But, the later commentators like Abhinavagupta and Dhananjaya were basically theoreticians who relished offering  scholarly interpretations of the vast variety of technical terms , principles and concepts etc., together with illustrations of their applications by citing passages from the  great plays that preceded their times (such as the plays of Bhasa, kalidasa, Bhavabuthi, Sriharsha and others). These scholars were, however, not much concerned with the nutty gritty or practical details of play-production or the structure and management of the playhouse.]

Dhananjaya says that the chosen subject could be arranged in six ways: showing what needs to be put forth; displaying emotion; the element of surprise; representations for sustaining interest in the story; and concealing what needs to be concealed,

The task of dramatization of the underlying story (Itivrtta) calls for selection, omission and meaningful arrangement of the incidents. Some types of actions should be presented on the stage; while certain other types that are unsuitable for display might either be indicated by words or not shown at all.

There might be incidents in the play which have happened either in the past or in the distant lands; and, there might also be certain types of actions which might neither be possible nor advisable to show on stage. All such matters have to be suggested or indicated by various other clever devices (Arthopaksepaka).

[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 to such conventions. For instance: in the Uttara-rama-charita of Bhavabhuthi, the events in the first  Act and the second Act are separated by as many as twelve years. Similarly, several years elapse between the last two Acts of the Abhijnana-shakuntalam . 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.

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.

But, in many cases, the unity of place is not strictly observed; and, travels are undertaken, often, by aerial routes, riding the celestial rathas]

In regard to the continuity of action taking place after a lapse of time , that is achieved through  suggestions or indications   made in  one oe more of the five ways  : (1) Vishkambha, an interlude; (2) Pravesaka confined to lesser characters, which use Prakrit; (3) Culika, suggestions from behind the curtain; (4) Ankamukha, anticipatory scene, at the close of an Act a character alludes to the subject of the following Act; and, (5) Ankavatara , the seed of the subject-matter of an Act in the previous Act before it has drawn to its close, so that the following is a continuation of the one preceding it. 

arthopakṣepakaiḥ sūcyaṃ pañcabhiḥ  pratipādayet / viṣkambha cūlikā aṅgāsy āṅkāvatāra praveśakaiḥ // DhDaś_1.52 //

It is only that part of the action which is fit to be exhibited is divided into Acts and presented on the stage in an ingenious and a highly interesting manner.

[Natyashastra prescribes that in the presentation of the play , one should avoid showing such events as: long travel; murder; war; violent overthrow; bloodshed; eating; taking bath; undressing; sex act etc.

Dura-dhavanam; vadham; yuddham; rajya-dessadiviplavan/ samrodham; bhojanam; snanam ; suratam; ca-anulepanam/ amvara-grahanadini pratyakshani na nirdiset na-adhikaraivadham kvapi tyajyam – avasyakam na ca // ]

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

[The classical Sanskrit Drama, in its presentation, followed a traditional format.

Plays were usually presented at the spring festival. The Srngara and Vira are the usual dominant Rasas of the play. The dialogues are interspersed with lyrical stanzas and songs; and, often with dance movements. Tragedy, in the Western sense of the term, was not there, for every drama must have a happy ending.

A drama always opened with Naandi, or benediction, submitted by the well accomplished Sutradhara, stage-manager or director, to Lord Shiva, praying for successful completion of the play , for the joy (nanda) and the prosperity of the audience. It is said; it is called Naandi , because it pleases (Nanda) the gods –Nandati devata asyam  iti  Naandi ; and, also because , it pleases the spectators and confers blessings on them. 

Right after the Naandi, the Sutradhara  , appears in a section , preliminary to the play, called  Prarochana ,  where he would praise the literary merit and scholarship of the playwright;   laud the high quality of his play that the audience is about to watch; and, compliment the audience for their wisdom in choosing to witness such an excellent play (unmukhī karaṇaṃ tatra praśaṃsātaḥ prarocanā) . The Prarochana would be followed by Prastavana, the prelude to  the play-proper, where the Sutradhara would strike a light-hearted conversation with a Nati , Vidusaka or a minor character regarding the play that is just about to be presented. All these take place in the Purvanga, the preliminary , before the commencement of the play .

sūtradhāro naṭīṃ brūte mārṣaṃ vātha vidūṣakam / svakāryaṃ prastutākṣepi citroktyā yat tadāmukham // DhDaś_3.7 // prastāvanā vā tatra syuḥ kathādghātaḥ pravṛttakam / prayogā tiśayaścātha vīthyaṅgāni trayodaśa // DhDaś_3.8 //

The initial scenes are always auspicious, spreading a happy–feeling (adi-mangala); and, as the story unfolds, unbearable miseries are unjustly mounted  on the virtuous hero , by the crafty villain. In the midst of all the troubles that the hero is facing, near about the mid-point of the story, something good happens to the hero (madhya-mangala).  Somewhere in the second-half of the story, amidst the trials and tribulations of the lovers,  a sort of relief  arrives  through the  clumsy attempts of the usually inept, food and fun loving sidekick, the vidushaka .  And, after a hard fought and suspenseful struggle (in which the gentle heroine, for no fault of her, is somehow drawn in), the anti-hero falls; eventually the Good, the Love and the Dharma triumphs; and, all ends well (antya-mangala).

The play concludes with a Bharatavakya, praying for the welfare of the king with good governance, the happiness of his subjects ; and, the peace and  prosperity of all beings in all the three worlds.]

lotus offering

Numerous subdivisions

The Dasarupa goes into lot of details, enumerating the subdivisions of the various elements of action (much of it not being quite significant). For instance:

  • 12 subdivisions of the opening scene (Mukha);
  • 13 subdivisions of the progression (Prathimukha);
  • 12 subdivisions of the development (Garbha); 
  • 13 subdivisions of the pause (avamarsa) ,
  • 5 kinds of intermediate scenes (arthopaksepaka) ;
  • 14 subdivisions of the conclusion ( Nirvahana )
  • 64 types of Samdhyangas (Divisions or Limbs of Samdhis)
  • 12 limbs of Garbha
  • 13 types of Avamarsa
  • 72 types of Sandnyantaras which act as inter-links
  • And so on

 **

The First Book of Dasarupa concludes with the advice:  after examining the entire body of divisions of the subject matter presented in these and the following sections, as well as in the works like the Ramayana and Brhatkatha, one should thereupon compose a story expanded with the appropriate selection of Hero (Neta) and sentiments (Rasa) , bound together with appropriate and pleasing words (ucita-caru-vacah).’

ityady asesam iha vastu-vibhedajatam / Ramayanadi ca vibhavya Brhatkatham ca / asutrayet tad anu netrra-sanugunyac / citram katham ucita-caru-vacah-prapancaih //DhDaś_1.61 //

***

In the next part we shall talk about the types of Heroes , Heroines and the supporting charecters ; and, also about the Vrttis , which Bharata regarded as the mother of all poetic works.

 

Nayana5 crop

 

Continued

In

Part Three

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

https://open.library.ubc.ca/media/download/pdf/831/1.0094658/2

All images are from Internet

 
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Kavya and Indian Poetics – Part Ten

Continued from Part Nine

[I could not arrange the topics in a sequential order (krama). You may take these as random collection of discussions; and, read it for whatever it is worth. Thank you.]

Kavyasya Atma – the Soul of Poetry

 

Another line of speculation that is unique to Indian Poetics is to muse about the soul (Atman) of Poetry. Every literary endeavour was regarded a relentless quest to grasp or realize the enigmatic essence that inhabits the Kavya body.

As Prof Vinayak Krishna Gokak explains in his An Integral View of Poetry: an India Perspective:  Poetry in its manifestation resembles the series of descending arches in a cave. It is dim lit, leaving behind the garish light of the day, as we walk into it. And as we begin to feel our way, we detect another passage, leading to yet another. But, we do know that there is light at the other end. And, when we have passed through the archways, we stand face-to-face with the ultimate mystery itself. This seems to the inner core, the essence and the fulfillment of poetry. It is the Darshana, perception, of Reality

Then he goes on to say:  When we say the poet is inspired, we mean that he had a glimpse of Reality, its luminous perception. It is this perception that elevated him into a state of creative excitement. Such vision is the intuitive perception. It reveals the many-splendored reality that is clouded by the apparent. It is the integral experience in which the intuitive and instinctive responses are in harmony.

But, this intuitive perception in poetry is rarely experienced in its pristine purity. It is colored, to an extent, by the attitudes, the experiences and the expressions of the poet. The attitude seeps into the structure of words, phrases, rhythms that give form to poetry. The attitude forms the general framework of the poetic experience.

The soul of the Kavya is truly the poet’s vision (Darshana) without which its other constituents cannot come together.

 

Thus, the inquiry into the appeal of the Poetry was meant to suggest a sort of a probe delving deep into the depths of Kavya to seize its essence. It was an exploration to reach into the innermost core of the Kavya.  The term used to denote that core or the fundamental element or the principle which defines the very essence of Kavya was Atma, the soul. In the context of Kavya, the concept of Atma, inspired by Indian Philosophy, was adopted to characterize it as the in-dweller (Antaryamin), its life-breath (Prana), its life (Jivita) , consciousness (Chetana) ; and to differentiate it from the  exterior or the body (Sarira) formed out of the words. That is to say; while structure provided by the words is the physical aspect of Kavya, at its heart is the aesthetic sensitivity that is very subtle and indeterminate.

In the Indian Poetics, the term Atma stands for that most elusive factor which is the highly essential, extensive factor illumining the internal beauty of Kavya. Though one can talk about it endlessly, one cannot precisely define it. One could even say, it is like a child trying to clasp the moonbeams with its little palms.   It is akin to consciousness that energizes all living beings (Chaitanya-atma). Its presence can be felt and experienced; but one cannot see its form; and, one cannot also define it in technical terms

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In the Kavya-shastra, generally, two types of texts are recognized: Lakhshya grantha and Lakshana grantha. The texts that describe the characteristics of good poetry and define the technical terms of Kavvya shastra are the Lakshana granthas. These outline and define the concepts ;and, illustrate them with the aid of citations from  recognized and time-honored works of poetry or drama, composed by  poets of great repute. Sometimes, the author of a Lakshana grantha would himself compose illustrative model pieces,  as examples.

Lakshya Grantha is  a creative work of  art , the Kavya , in the form of a poem or a drama , generally, following the prescriptions of the Lashana granthas.

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  Kavya (kavyasya Atma). While the authors like Bhamaha, Dandin, Udbhata and Rudrata focused on Alamkara; Vamana emphasized the concept of Riti. However, it was Anandavardhana who changed the entire course of discussion by introducing the concept of Dhvani.  But, , Dhananjaya the author of Dasharupaka and its commentator Dhanika , as also  Mahimabhatta the author of Vyaktiviveka , firmly opposed the concept of Dhvani.

Let’s see some of these in a summary form before we get into a discussion:

Author Lakshana Grantha Atma
Bharata Natyashastra Rasa
Bhamaha Kaavya-alamkara Alamkara
Dhandi Kaavya-adarsha Dasha (ten ) Gunas
Vamana Kaavya-alankara-sutra Reeti
Anandavardhana Dhvanya-loka Dhvani
Kshemendra Auchitya-vicharachara Auchitya 
Mammata Kavya-prakasha Dhvani
Kuntaka Vakrokti Jivitam Vakrokti

 

kavya lakshana

Traditionally, the Kavya was defined by Bhamaha as Sabda-Artha sahitau Kavyam (KA.1.15) – the combination or a complex of words and their meanings. His explanation also implied that word and sense in a Kavya must be free from blemishes (nirdosa) .  Bhamaha then extended his explanation to bring in the element of Alamkara; and, said: Kavya is the happy fusion of Sabda and Artha which expresses Alamkaras relating to them

Sabda-abhideya-alamkara-bhedadhistam dvayam tu nah I Sabda-Artha sahitau Kavyam (KA.1.15).

Dandin also said the body of Kavya is a group of sounds which indicates the desired effect or the desired import of the poet

Sariram tavad ista-artha vyvachinna padavali (KA 1.10b).

But, the later Schools pointed out that Bhamaha and Dandin seemed to be talking about the body of Kavya, but not about the Kavya itself. And, their   definition of Kavya is centred on the external element or the body of Kavya; but, it misses the spirit or the soul of the Kavya.  The basic idea of the critics, here, was that Kavya is much more than a collection of words; it is about the vision of the poet and the aesthetic delight it presents to the reader.

It was argued that if the structure of words (Pada-rachana or Padavali) could be taken as the body (Sarira) of the Kavya, then it is separate or different from its soul (Atma) which is its   inner–being. Further, Padavali – the group of words – by itself and not accompanied by sense is not of great merit.

Thus, a clear distinction was sought to be made between the body of the Kavya and the spirit or the soul which resides within it. And from here,  began a quest for the soul of Kavya (Kavyasya Atma).

As regards the meaning (Artha) conveyed by words in the Poetry, it was also examined in terms of its external and internal forms. It was said; the language and its structural form lead us to meaning in its dual forms. Thought in poetry manifests itself in two ways: as the outer and the inner meaning. The Outer meaning dominates poetry through its narration. Yet, it permits inner meaning to come into its own seeping through its narrative patterns or poetic excellence. The Outer meaning plays a somewhat semi transparent role in poetry.  It achieves its fulfillment when it becomes fully transparent revealing what lies beneath it.

The inner meaning of poetry is embodied in it’s suggestive, figurative or expressions evoking Visions.  It reveals the moods, the attitudes and the vision of the poet expressed with the aid of imagery and rhythm. Such vision is the intuitive perception. It reveals the many-splendored reality that is clouded by the apparent”.

^*^*^

It was perhaps Vamana the author of Kavyalankara-sutra-vritti  who initiated the speculation about the Atman or the soul of poetry. He declared – Ritir Atma kavyasya – // VKal_1,2.6 // (Riti is the soul of Poetry). Vamana’s pithy epithet soon became trendy ; and, ignited the imagination of the champions of other Schools of poetics. Each one re-coined Vamana’s phrase by inserting into it (in place of Riti) that Kavya-guna (poetic virtue) which in his view was the fundamental virtue or the soul of poetry.

For instance; Anandavardhana idealized Dhvani as the Atma of Kavya; Visvanatha said Rasa is the Atma of Kavya; while Kuntaka asserted that Vakrokti as the Jivita – the life of Kavya. Besides, Rajasekhara (9th century) who visualized literature, as a whole, in a symbolic human form (Kavya Purusha) treated Rasa as its soul (Atma).

**

Although Vamana was the first to use the term Atma explicitly, the notions of the spirit or the inner-being of Kavya were mentioned by the earlier scholars too, though rather vaguely. They generally talked in terms Prana (life-breath) or Chetana (consciousness) and such other vital factors in the absence of which the body ceases to function or ceases to live. But, such concepts were not crystallized. 

[Nevertheless, those epithets, somehow, seemed to suggest something that is essential, but not quite inevitable.]

For instance; Dandin had earlier used the term Prana (life-breath) of the body of poetry which he said was the Padavali (string of words or phrases) – Sariram tavad istartha vyavachhina padavali (KA-1.10). He also used Prana in the sense of vital force or vital factor (say for instance: iti vadarbhi –margasya pranah).

Udbhata who generally followed Dandin, in his Alamkara-samgraha, a synopsis of Alamkara, stated that Rasa was the essence or the soul of Kavya.

While Dandin and his followers focused on Sabda Alamkara, Vamana (Ca.8th century) raised questions about the true nature of Kavya; and said Ritiratma Kavyasya – the soul of the poetry abides in its style – excellence of diction.

Anandavardhana said: all good poetry has two modes of expression – one that is expressed by words embellished by Alamkara; and the other that is implied or concealed – what is inferred by the listener or the reader.  And , this implied one or the suggested sense, designated as Dhvani (resonance or tone or suggestion) , is indeed  the soul of Kavya: Kavyasya Atma Dhvanih.

A little later than Anandavardhana, Kuntaka (early tenth century) said that indirect or deflected speech (Vakrokti) – figurative speech depending upon wit, turns , twists and word-play is the soul of Kavya. He said that such poetry showcases the inventive genius of the poet at work (Kavi-karman).

[The complex web of words (Sabda) and meanings (Artha) capable of being transformed into aesthetic experience (Rasa) is said to have certain characteristic features. These are said to be Gunas and Alamkara-s. These – words and meanings; Alamkara; Gunas; and, Rasa – though seem separable are, in fact , fused into the structure of the poetry. The Poetics, thus,  accounts for the nature of these features and their inter-relations

All theories, one way or the other, are interrelated; and, illumine each other. The various aspects of Kavya starting from making of poetry (kavya-kriya-dharma) up to the critique of poetry (kavya-mimamsa)  and how human mind perceives and reacts to it, was the main concern for each theory. ]

^*^*^

Alamkara

Alamkara denotes an extraordinary turn given to an ordinary expression; which makes ordinary speech into poetic speech (Sabartha sahitya) ; and , which indicates the entire range of rhetorical ornaments as a means of poetic expression. In other words, Alamkara connotes the underlying principle of embellishment itself as also the means for embellishment.

According to Bhamaha, Dandin and Udbhata the essential element of Kavya was in Alamkara. The Alamkara School did not say explicitly that Alamkara is the soul of Poetry. Yet, they regarded Alamkara as the very important element of Kavya. They said just as the ornaments enhance the charm of a beautiful woman so do the Alamkaras to Kavya: shobha-karan dharman alamkaran prakshate (KA -2.1). The Alamkara School, in general, regarded all those elements that contribute towards or that enhance the beauty and brilliance of Kavya as Alamkaras. Accordingly, the merits of Guna, Rasa, and Dhvani as also the various figures of speech were all clubbed under the general principle of Alamkara.

Though Vamana advocates Riti, he also states that Alamkara (Soundarya-alamkara) enhances the beauty of Kavya. Vamana said Kavya is the union of sound and sense which is free from poetic flaws (Dosha) and is adorned with Gunas (excellence) and Alamkaras (ornamentation or figures of speech).

According to Mammata, Alamkara though is a very important aspect of Kavya , is not absolutely essential. He said; Kavya is that which is constructed by word and sentence which are (a) faultless (A-doshau) (b) possessed of excellence (Sugunau) , and, (c) in which rarely a distinct figure of speech  (Alamkriti) may be absent.

Riti

Vamana called the first section (Adhikarana) of his work as Sarira-adhikaranam – reflexions on the body of Kavya. After discussing the components of the Kavya-body, Vamana looks into those aspects that cannot be reduced to physical elements. For Vamana, that formless, indeterminate essence of Kavya is Riti.

Then, Vamana said; the essence of Kavya is Riti (Ritir Atma Kavyasya – VKal_1,2.6 ); just as every body has Atma, so does every Kavya has its Riti. And, Riti is the very mode or the act of being Kavya. Thus for Vamana, while Riti is the essence of Kavya, the Gunas are the essential elements of the Riti. The explanation offered by Vamana meant that the verbal structure having certain Gunas is the body of Kavya, while its essence (soul) is, Riti.

Riti represents for Vamana the particular structure of sounds (Vishista-pada-rachana Ritihi) combined with poetic excellence (Vishesho Gunatma) . According to Vamana, Riti is the going or the flowing together of the elements of a poem

Rinati gacchati asyam guna iti riyate ksaraty asyam vanmaddhu-dhareti va ritih (Vamana KSS). 

The language and its structural form lead us to the inner core of poetry. And, when that language becomes style (Riti), it absorbs into itself all the other constituent elements of poetry. It allows them, as also the poetic vision, to shine through it.

Vamana, therefore, accorded Riti a very high position by designating Riti as the Soul of Kavya – rītirnāmeyam ātmā kāvyasya / śarīrasyeveti vākyaśeṣaḥ  (I.2.6) – Riti is to the Kavya what Atman is to the Sarira (body). Here, it is explained that in his definition of Riti, Pada-rachana   represents the structure or the body while Riti is its inner essence. Through this medium of Visista Pada-rachana  (viśiṣṭā padaracanā rītiḥ viśeṣo guṇātmā – 1,2.7the Gunas become manifest and reveal the presence of Riti, the Atman.

Auchitya

Kshemendra – wrote a critical work Auchitya-alamkara or Auchitya-vichara-charcha (discussions or the critical research on proprieties in poetry), and a practical handbook for poets Kavi-katnta-abharana (ornamental necklace for poets) – calls Auchitya the appropriateness or that which makes right sense in the given context as the very life-breath of Rasa – Rasajivi-bhootasya.

He said Auchitya is the very life of Kavya (Kavyasya jivitam) that is endowed with Rasa (Aucityam rasa siddhasya sthiram kavyasya jivitam).

Abhinavagupta avers that the life principle (jivitatvam) of Kavya could said to be  the harmony that exists among the three : Rasa, Dhvani and Auchitya –  Uchita-sabdena  Rasa-vishaya-auchityam bhavatithi darshayan Rasa-Dhvane jivitatvam   suchayati.  Thus, Auchitya is entwined with Rasa and Dhvani

He asserts that Auchitya implies , presupposes and stands for ‘suggestion of Rasa’ – Rasa-dhvani – the principles of Rasa and Dhvani. 

The most essential element of Rasa , he said, is Auchitya.  The test of Auchitya is the harmony between the expressed sounds and the suggested Rasa. And , he described  Auchitya as that laudable virtue (Guna) which embalms the poetry with delight  (aucityaṃ stutyānāṃ guṇa rāgaś ca andanādi lepānām – 10.31)

According to Kshemendra, all components of Kavya perform their function ideally only when they are applied appropriately and treated properly. “When one thing befits another or matches perfectly, it is said to be appropriate, Auchitya”:

(Aucityam prahuracarya sadrasham kila; Aucitasya ka vo bhava stadaucityam pracaksate).

The concept of Auchitya could , perhaps, be understood as the sense of  proportion  between the whole (Angin) and the part (Anga) and harmony on one side; and, appropriateness and adaptation on the other.

It said; be it Alamkara or Guna, it will be beautiful and relishing if it is appropriate (Uchita) from the point of view of Rasa; and, they would be rejected if they are in- appropriate . And, what is normally considered a Dosha (flaw) might well turn into Guna (virtue) when it is appropriate to the Rasa

But, many are hesitant to accept Auchitya as the Atma of the Kavya. They point out that Auchitya by its very nature is something that attempts to bring refinement into to text; but, it is not an independent factor. And, it does not also form the essence of Kavya. Auchitya is also not a recognized School of Poetics.

[Please click here for a detailed discussion on Auchitya. Please also read the research paper : ‘A critical survey of the poetic concept Aucitya in theory and practice’ produced by Dr. Mahesh M Adkoli

Please also read Dr.V. Raghavan’s article: The History of Auchitya in Sanskrit Literature ]

maze

Vakrokti

Kuntaka defined Kavya on the basis of Vakrokti, a concept which he developed   over the idea earlier mentioned by Bhamaha and others.  According to him, Kavya is the union of sound, sense and arranged in a composition which consists Vakrokti (oblique expressions of the poet), delighting its sensible reader or listener –

(Sabda-Artha sahitau vakra Kavi vakya vyapara shalini I bandhe vyavasthitau Kavya tat ahlada karini:  VJ 1.7).

Kuntaka also said that  the word and sense, blended like two friends, pleasing  each other, make Kavya  delightful

Sama-sarva gunau santau sahhrudaveva sangathi I parasparasya shobhayai sabdartau bhavato thatha  II 1.18.II

Kuntaka, declared Vakrokti as jivitam or soul of poetry. By Vakrokti, he meant the artistic turn of speech (vaidagdhyam bhangi) or the deviated from or distinct from the common mode of speech.

abhāvetāv alaṅkāryau tayoḥ punar alaṅkṛtiḥ / vakroktir eva vaidagdhya bhaṅgī bhaṇitir ucyate – Vjiv_1.10

Vakratva is primarily used in the sense of poetic beauty. It is striking, and is marked by the peculiar turn imparted by the creative imagination of the poet. It stands for charming, attractive and suggestive utterances that characterize poetry. The notion of Vakrata (deviation) covers both the word (Sabda) and meaning (Artha). The ways of Vakrokti are, indeed, countless.

Vakrokti is the index of a poet’s virtuosity–kavi kaushala. Kuntaka describes the creativity of a poet as Vakra-kavi–vyapara or Kavi–vyapara–vakratva (art in the poetic process).  This according to Kuntaka , is the primary source of poetry; and, has the potential to create aesthetic elegance that brings joy to   the cultured reader with refined taste (Sahrudaya).

According to Kuntaka, Vakrokti is the essence of poetic speech (Kavyokti); the very life (Jivita) of poetry; the title of his work itself indicates this.

Rasa

Rasa (the poetic delight) though it is generally regarded as the object of Kavya providing joy to the reader rather than as the means or an element of Kavya , is treated  by some as the very essence of Kavya.

Yet; Indian Aesthetics considers that among the various poetic theories (Kavya-agama), Rasa is of prime importance in Kavya. And, very involved discussions go into ways and processes of   producing Rasa, the ultimate aesthetic experience that delights the Sahrudya, the connoisseurs of Kavya.

The Rasa was described as the state that arises out of the emotion evoked by a poem through suggestive means, through the depiction of appropriate characters and situations and through rhetorical devices. The production of Rasa or aesthetic delight was therefore regarded the highest mark of poetry.  It was said – The life breath (Prana) of Kavya is Rasa.

Further, Poetry itself came to be understood as an extraordinary kind of delightful experience called Rasa. It was exclaimed: Again, what is poetry if it does not produce Rasa or give the reader an experience of aesthetic delight?

Rasa is thus regarded as the cardinal principle of Indian aesthetics.  The theory of Rasa (Rasa Siddhanta) and its importance is discussed in almost all the works on Alamkara Shastra in one way or the other. The importance of the Rasa is highlighted by calling it the Atman (the soul), Angin (the principle element), Pradhana-Pratipadya (main substance to be conveyed), Svarupadhyaka (that which makes a Kavya), and Alamkara (ornamentation) etc.

Mammata carrying forward the argument that Rasa is the principle substance and the object of poetry, stated ‘vakyatha rasatmakarth kavyam’, establishing the correlation between Rasa and poetry.

Vishwanatha defined Kavya as Vakyam rasathmakam Kavyam – Kavya is sentences whose essence is Rasa.

Jagannatha Pandita defined Kavya as: Ramaniya-artha prathipadakah sabdam kavyam ; poetry is the  combination of words that provides delight (Rasa) . Here, Ramaniyata denotes not only poetic delight Rasa, pertaining to the main variety of Dhvani-kavya, but also to all the ingredients of Kavya like Vastu-Dhvani Kavya; Alamkara-Dhvani –Kavya, Guni-bhutha –vyangmaya-kavya; Riti; Guna, Alamkara, Vakrokti etc.

**

[While talking about Rasa, we may take a look at the discussions on Bhakthi Rasa.

Natyashastra mentions  four main and their four derivatives, thus in all eight Rasas (not nine). These Rasas were basically related to dramatic performance; and Bhakthi was not one of those. Thereafter, Udbhata (9th century) introduced Shantha Rasa. After prolonged debates spread over several texts across two centuries Shantha was accepted as an addition to the original eight.

But, it was Abhinavagupta (11th century) who established Shantha  as the Sthayi-bhava the basic and the abiding or the enduring Bhava form which all Rasas emerge and into which they all recede. His stand was: one cannot be perpetually angry or ferocious or sad or exited or erotic, at all the time. These eight other Rasas are the passing waves of emotions, the colors of life. But, Shantha, tranquility, is the essential nature of man; and it is its disturbance or its variations that give rise to shades of other emotions. And, when each of that passes over, it again subsides in the Shantha  that ever prevails.

During the times of by Abhinavagupta and Dhanajaya, Bhakthi and Priti were referred to as Bhavas (dispositions or attitudes); but, not as Rasas. Even the later scholars like Dandin, Bhanudatta and Jagannatha Pandita continued to treat Bhakthi as a Bhava.

[Later, each system of Philosophy or of Poetics (Kavya-shastra) applied its own norms to interpret the Rasa-doctrine (Rasa Siddantha) ; and in due course several Rasa theories came up. Many other sentiments, such as Sneha, Vatsalya; or states of mind (say even Karpanya – wretchedness) were reckoned as Rasa. With that, Rasas were as many as you one could identify or craft (not just nine).]

It was however the Gaudiya School of Vaishnavas that treated Bhakthi as a Rasa. Rupa Goswami in his Bhakthi-Rasa-amrita–Sindhu; and the Advatin Madhusudana Sarasvathi in his Bhagavad-Bhakthi Rasayana asserted that Bhakthi is indeed the very fundamental Rasa. Just as Abhinavagupta treated Shantha as the Sthayi Bhava, the Vaishnava Scholars treated Bhakthi as the Sthayi, the most important , enduring  or  the abiding Bhava  that  gives rise to Bhakthi Rasa.

Their texts described twelve forms of Bhakthi Rasas – nine of the original and three new ones. Instead of calling each Rasa by its original name, they inserted Bhakthi element into each, such as: Shantha-Bhakthi-Rasa, Vira-Bhakthi-Rasa, Karuna-Bhakthi-Rasa and so on. They tried to establish that Bhakthi was not one among the many Rasas; but, it was the fundamental Rasa, the other Rasa being only the varied forms of it. The devotee may assume any attitude of devotion like a child, mother, master, Guru or even an intimate fiend. It was said “Bhakthi encompasses all the Nava-rasas”.

Bhakthi, they said, is the Sthayi (abiding) Bhava; and it is the original form of Parama-Prema (highest form of Love) as described in Narada Bhakthi Sutra. What constitutes this Love is its essence of Maduhrya (sweetness) and Ujjvalata (radiance).

Although, an element of individualized love is involved in Bhakthi, it is not confined to worship of a chosen deity (ista Devatha). The Vedanta Schools treat Bhakthi as a companion of Jnana in pursuit of the Brahman. They hold that Bhakthi guides both the Nirguna and the Saguna traditions. Just as Ananda is the ultimate bliss transcending the subject-object limitation, Bhakthi in its pristine form is free from the limitations of ‘ego centric predicament’ of mind. And, both are not to be treated as mere Rasas.

Bhakthi is that total pure unconditional love, accepting everything in absolute faith (Prapatthi).

Now, all Schools generally agree that Bhakthi should not be confined to theistic pursuits alone; as it pervades and motivates all aspects human persuasions including studies, arts and literature. In the field of art, it would be better if the plethora of Rasa-theories is set aside; because, the purpose of Art, the practice of Bhakthi and the goal of Moksha are intertwined.

Therefore, it is said, it is not appropriate (an-auchitya) to narrow down Bhakthi to a mere Rasa which is only a partial aspect. Bhakthi is much larger; and it is prime mover of all meaningful pursuits in life.]

maze

Dhvani and Rasa-Dhvani

With the rise of the Dhvani School, the elements of Rasa and Dhvani gained prominence; and, superseded the earlier notions of poetry. And, all poetry was defined and classified in terms of these two elements.

Anandavardhana said: all good poetry has two modes of expression – one that is expressed by words embellished by Alamkara; and the other, that is implied or concealed – what is inferred by the listener or the reader.

The suggested or the implied   sense of the word designated as Dhvani (resonance or tone or suggestion) through its suggestive power brings forth proper Rasa. Abhinavagupta   qualified it by saying:   Dhvani is not any and every sort of suggestion, but only that sort which yields Rasa or the characteristic aesthetics delight.

For Anandavardhana, Dhvani (lit. The sounding-resonance) is the enigmatic alterity (otherness) of the Kavya-body- Sarirasye va Atma ….Kavyatmeti vyavasthitah (as the body has Atma, so does Dhvani resides as Atma in the Kavya)

yo ‘rthaḥ sahṛdaya-ślāghyaḥ kāvyātmeti vyavasthitaḥ / vācya-pratīyamānākhyau tasya bhedāv ubhau smṛtau –DhvK. 1.2

Anandavardhana regarded Dhvani – the suggestive power of the Kavya, as its highest virtue. The Alamkara, figurative ornamental language, according to him, came next. In both these types of Kavya-agama, there is a close association between the word and its sound, and between speech (vak) and meaning (artha). The word is that which , when articulated, gives out meaning; and,the  meaning is what a word gives us to understand. Therefore, in these two types of Kavya there is a unity or composition (sahitya) of word (sabda-lankara) and its meaning (artha-lankara).

Anandavardhana‘s definition of Kavya involves two statements: Sabda-Artha sariram tavath vakyam; and, Dhvanir Atma Kavyasa – the body of poetry is the combination of words and sounds; and; Dhavni, the suggestive power is the soul of the poetry. Here, Anandavardhana talks about poetry in terms of the body (Sabda–artha sariram tavath vakyam) and soul of the Kavya (Dhvanir atma Kavyasa). And he also refers to the internal beauty of a meaningful construction of words in the Kavya. And, he declares Dhvani as the Atma, the soul of poetry.

kāvyasyātmā dhvanir iti budhair yaḥ samāmnāta-pūrvas tasyābhāvaṃ jagadur apare bhāktam āhus tam anye / kecid vācām sthitam aviṣaye tattvam ūcus tadīyaṃ tena brūmaḥ sahṛdaya-manaḥ-prītaye tat-svarūpam // DhvK_1.1 //

The Dhvani theory introduced a new wave of thought into the Indian Poetics. According to this school, the Kavya that suggests Rasa is excellent. In Kavya, it said, neither Alamkara nor Rasa , but Dhvani which suggest Rasa, the poetic sentiment, is the essence, the soul (Kavyasya-atma sa  eva arthaa Dhv.1.5). He cites the instance of the  of the sorrow (Soka) separation (viyoga) of two birds  (krauñca-dvandva) that gave rise to poetry (Sloka) of great eminence.

kāvyasyātmā sa evārthas tathā cādikaveḥ purā / krauñca-dvandva-viyogotthaḥ śokaḥ ślokatvam āgataḥ  – DhvK_1.5

Anandavardhana maintained that experience of Rasa comes through the unravelling of the suggested sense (Dhvani). It is through Dhvani that Rasa arises (Rasa-dhavani).  The experience of the poetic beauty (Rasa) though elusive, by which the reader is delighted, comes through the understanding heart.

Then, Anandavardhana expanded on the object (phala) of poetry and on the means of its achievement  (vyapara). The Rasa which is the object of poetry, he said, is not made; but, it is revealed. And, that is why words and meanings must be transformed to suggestions of Rasa (Rasa Dhvani).

The Rasa Dhvani, the most important type of Dhvani, consists in suggesting Bhava, the feelings or sentiments. In Rasa Dhvani, emotion is conveyed through Vyanjaka, suggestion. Rasa is the subject of Vyanjaka, as differentiated from Abhidha and Lakshana.

Anandavardhana, in some instances, considers Rasa as the Angi (soul) of poetry. Its Anga-s (elements) such as Alamkara, Guna and Riti seem to be dependent on this Angi.

Thus, the principle of Rasa Dhvani is the most significant aspect of the Kavya dharma, understanding Kavya. And, the Rasa experience derived from its inner essence is the ultimate aim of Kavya. Hence, the epithet Kavyasya Atma Dhvani resonates with Kavyasya Atma Rasah.

Anandavardhana regarded Rasa-Dhvani as the principal or the ideal concept in appreciation of poetry. He said that such suggested sense is not apprehended (na vidyate) by mere knowledge of Grammar (Sabda-artha-shasana-jnana) and dictionary. It is apprehended only (Vidyate, kevalam) by those who know how to recognize the essence of poetic meaning (Kavya-artha-tattva-jnana) – Dhv.1.7

śabdārtha-śāsana-jñāna-mātreṇaiva na vedyate / vedyate sa tu kāvyārtha-tattvajñair eva kevalam – Dhv.1.7

The confusion and chaos that prevailed in the literary circles at that time prompted Mammata to write Kavyaprakasa , to defend and  to establish the Dhvani theory on a firm footing ; and, also to  refute the arguments of its  opponents.

Abhinavagupta accepted Rasa-Dhvani ; and expanded on the concept by adding an explanation to it.  He said, the pratīyamānā or implied sense which is two-fold:  one is Laukika or the one that we use in ordinary life; and the other is Kavya vyapara gocara  or one  which is used only in poetry – pratipādyasya ca viṣayasya liṅgitve tad-viṣayāṇāṃ vipratipattīnāṃ laukikair eva kriyamāṇānām abhāvaḥ prasajyeteti.

He also termed the latter type of Rasa-Dhvani as Aloukika, the out-of–the world experience. It is an experience that is shared by the poet and the reader (Sahrudaya). In that, the reader, somehow, touches the very core of his being. And, that Aloukika is subjective ultimate aesthetic experience (ananda); and, it is not a logical construct. As Abhinavagupta says, it is a wondrous flower; and, its mystery cannot really be unraveled.

As regards the Drama , Abhinavagupta and Dhananjaya  both agree that Rasa is always pleasurable (Ananadatmaka); and Bhattanayaka compares such Rasa – Anubhava (experience of Rasa) to Brahma-svada, the relish of the sublime Brahman.  

[However, the scholars , Ramachandra and Gunachandra , the authors of Natya Darpana (12th century), sharply disagreed and argued against such ‘impractical’ suppositions.  They pointed out that Rasa, in a drama,  is after-all  Laukika (worldly, day-to-day experience); it is  a mixture of pain and pleasure (sukha-dukka-atmaka); and , it is NOT always pleasurable (Ananadatmaka) . They argued, such every-day experience  cannot in any manner be Chamatkara or A-laukika (out of the world) ecstasy comparable to Brahmananda etc., But, their views did not find favor with the scholars of the Alamkara School ; and, it  was eventually, overshadowed  by the writings of the stalwarts like Abhinavagupta, Anandavardhana, Mammata, Hemachandra , Visvanatha and Jagannatha Pandita.]

In any case, one can hardly disagree with Abhinavagupta. The concept of Kavyasya-Atma, the soul of Poetry is indeed a sublime concept; and, one can take delight is exploring layers and layers of its variations. Yet, it seems, one can, at best, only become aware of its presence, amorphously; but, not pin point it. Kavyasya-Atma, is perhaps best enjoyed when it is left undefined.

Happiness is such a fragile thing!! Very thought of it disturbs it.

march_of_elephants_wj35

Continued 

in the

Next Part

Sources and References

 

An Integral View of Poetry: an India Perspective by Prof Vinayak Krishna Gokak

Glimpses of Indian Poetics by  Dr. Satya Deva Caudharī

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Kavya, Sanskrit

 

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Kavya and Indian Poetics – Part Nine

Continued from Part Eight

[I could not arrange the topics in a sequential order (krama). You may take these as random collection of discussions; and, read it for whatever it is worth. Thank you.]

Vakrokti

After the Riti School of Poetics  propagated by Vamana, we should have, in the chronological order, dealt with the Dhvani elaborated by Anandavardhana. Since we have already talked about Dhvani, Rasa and Rasa Dhvani in the earlier installments of the series (Part four) , let’s move on to Vakrokti.

 

Abstract

The concept of Vakrokti has been running like a thread  through the Indian Poetics right from its very early times (6th-7th centuries); but was vaguely discussed as one of the secondary aspects by all the Schools of Kavya Shastra. It was however developed into a full-fledged theory of Poetics by the great Scholar Rajanaka Kuntaka of Kashmir who is said to have lived during the period between the middle of the tenth century and the middle of the eleventh century. He definitely was later than Anandavardhana (820–890 A D) the author of Dhvanyaloka, a landmark work that establishes the doctrine of Dhvani, the aesthetic suggestion. Kuntaka was perhaps a younger contemporary of the great Abhinavagupta (Ca. 950 – 1020 AD) or a contemporary who perhaps was relatively unknown or one who was yet to be adequately recognized by the Poetic scholars. Although Abhinavagupta in his Lochana (or formally, Dhvanyālokalocana – Illustration of Dhvanyāloka) refers to various views related to Vakrokti (atha sa kavya-jivitatvena vivaksita etc), he does not mention Kuntaka or the Vakroktijivita-kara by name.

However, in the later periods, Kuntaka came to be honored as one of the original thinkers in the field of Indian Poetics; and, his Vakrokti-jivita is recognized as a brilliant work that brings critical insight into investigation of Poetic elements. He is lauded for his systematic analyses of the principles of Poetics and their implications.  His Vakrokti-jivita establishes the Vakrokti School which attempts to define Kavya in terms of its distinctive (vakra) expressions that are characteristic to poetry and to the essential principle of poetry itself (Alamkara – samanya –lakshana). His concept of Vakrokti brings within its comprehensive scope all known kinds of imaginative , innovative turns (ukti-vaichitrya)  and modes of suggestive indirect (vakra)  expressions (bhaniti-prakara)  that are unique to poetry (away from the banal words) created by the skill (vaidagdhya or kavi-kaushala) of a poet gifted with inborn genius (prathibha).

Kuntaka explains Vakrokti as the artistic turn of speech (vaidagdhya bhaṅgī bhaṇitiḥ) or the deviated or distinct from the common mode of speech. Vakratva is primarily used in the sense of poetic beauty. It is striking, and is marked by the peculiar turn imparted by the creative imagination of the poet. It stands for charming, attractive and suggestive utterances that characterize poetry. The notion of Vakrata (deviation) covers both the word (Sabda) and meaning (Artha). The ways of Vakrokti are, indeed, countless. Vakrokti is the index of a poet’s virtuosity–kavi kaushala. Kuntaka describes the creativity of a poet as Vakra-kavi–vyapara or Kavi–vyapara–vakratva (art in the poetic process).  This according to Kuntaka is the primary source of poetry; and, has the potential to create aesthetic elegance  that brings joy to   the cultured reader with refined taste (Sahrudaya).

While Anandavardhana emphasized the object and delight of poetry from readers’ point of view, Kuntaka brought a sense of balance into poetic appreciation by highlighting the poet’s own point of view.  He attempted to outline the poetic process (Kavi vyapara), the genius-at work (kavi – karma)  , and the mysterious process of how the Kavya takes shape in the poet’s mind and emerges as a thing of great beauty. .

Another important aspect of Kuntaka’s work is the holistic view it takes of the Kavya. According to Kuntaka, the words, their meanings, the poet and the reader are all integrated into a fabulously rewarding poetic experience; one cannot be artificially separated from the other.

The concept of Vakrokti, as elaborated by Kuntaka, is unique to Indian poetics. The western literary criticism has no notion that is either equivalent or that corresponds to it.

srivatsa enless knot

Vakra

The term Vakrokti is composed of Vakra + Ukti, where the latter (Ukti) derived from Vac-paribhashane can easily be taken to mean a poetic expression, a clever speech or a pithy statement. It is however the former component (Vakra) of the term Vakrokti, evoking diverse  shades of meanings and suggestions, that is widely discussed and interpreted in various manners.

In the classic Sanskrit poetry, the word Vakra has often been used in the sense of a ‘curvilinear nature’ (vakratva) of an object or an expression that suggests or evokes a sense of delicate beauty. For instance, the great poet Kalidasa in his Kumarasambhava (3.29) uses the term Balendu-vakrani  ( बालेन्दु- वक्राण्यविकाशभावाद् बभुः पलाशान्यतिलोहितानि Ku.3.29) to describe the palasa flower buds that are curved (vakrani) like the just emerging crescent moon (Balendu). Here, Vakra implies the loveliness of the curve that enhances the grace and elegance of the palasa buds and of the crescent moon.

palas1

[Interestingly, Kuntaka also employs the phrase Balendu-sundara –samsthana-yuktatvam, itaratra rudyadi vaichitram (2.35) – like the delicate beauty of crescent moon – to explain the terms that are commonly associated with Vakrata.]

There is also a term Vakra-smita which suggests the gentle mischievous smile that plays tantalizingly at the curve of the lips (Vakrosthika).

The curly hairs coiled into lovely rings hanging down a handsome forehead are compared to the gentle curves of a river flowing placidly (Urmimat) along the plains. The loveliness is not just  in the curve (vakratva) but it  is more in the images of grace and beauty it evokes.

Similarly, a poetic expression that is uncommon, indirect, evasive and deviant or curved (vakra) does not become attractive unless it brings forth a sense of delight and beauty that gladdens the heart of the reader (sahrudaya). It is only then an indirect expression could be termed as Vakrokti.

Elsewhere, Bana Bhatta in his Kadambari terms the Vakra or crooked way of speech as parihāsa- jalpitā, the good humored banter or leg-pulling

Otherwise, the Dictionary meaning of Vakrokti is variously: oblique, evasive, crooked, bent, curved, curling, indirect, roundabout, cruel, retrograde, dishonest etc

Nineplanets Navagraha 2

Vakrokti

 

In the Schools of Indian Poetics, Bhamaha (Ca.7th century) was perhaps the earliest to mention  Vakrokti, as a concept.   And, down the centuries discussions related to Vakrokti were carried out by Dandin, Vamana, Rudrata, Kuntaka, Abhinavagupta and Raja Bhoja among others. But, there is a marked divergence in their understanding of the concept, in their treatment and in their presentations as well.

For instance; the early scholars of Poetics – Bhamaha, Dandin and Vamana – treat Vakrokti to imply modes of expressions which evoke or reveal  the beauty that is inherent in the structure of words (Sabda-almkara).

Bhamaha regards Vakrokti not as an Alamkara, but as a characteristic mode of expression which underlies all Alamkaras; and, as that which is fundamental to Kavya.

Dandin distinguishes Vakrokti from Svabhavokti – the natural way of narration- and assigns priority to the latter.

Later , Rudrata treats Vakrokti as a mere play of words or pretended speech in which a word or a sentence meant by the poet in one sense is understood by the reader in quite another sense, either because it is uttered with a peculiar intonation (kaku) which changes the meaning , or because the words carry more than one meaning (slesha).

[ For more on Slesha , please read :Extreme Poetry , the South Asian movement of simultaneous narration by Yigal Bronner. It is  an excellent work , principally devoted to the study of Slesha]

Vamana differs from Rudrata and treats Vakrokti as an aspect of Artha-alamkara where the indicated sense (lakshana) is brought out or amplified by taking help of similarities (sadrushya). Thus, Vakrokti, in his view, is basically a metaphor (Sadrushya –laksnana- Vakroktihi).

Thus, while Bhamaha and Dandin use the term in an extended sense; Rudrata and Vamana limit its relevance to a particular figure of speech, be it Sabda-alamkara or Artha-alamkara.

It was Kuntaka who fully developed a unique theory of Poetics based upon Bhamaha’s explanation of Vakrokti as the distinguishing characteristic of all Alamkaras (Alamkara-samanya-lakshana). He expanded the concept to denote selection of words and phrases, as also turning of ideas that are peculiar to poetry. He tries to keep the matter-of-fact, day-to-day speech away from the language of poetry.

Likewise, Abhinavagupta explained Vakrata as a heightened form of expression, which is different from matter-of-fact speech ; and, which is a composite element of all figurative poetic expressions – Lokottarena rupena avasthanam .

To sum up : Bhamaha and Dandin  use the term Vakrokti  in an extended sense ; while , Vamana and Rudrata employ it to  designate a particular figure of speech, whether be it Sabda-alamkara or Artha-alamkara.

Bhamaha’s concept of Vakrokti was fully developed into a unique theory of poetics by Kuntaka in his Vakrokti-jivita. Here, Kuntaka elaborates on Vakrokti as the distinguishing characteristic of all poetic- figurative language  (Alamkara-Samanya-lakshana); and,  analyzes all poetic speech from the point of view of Vakrokti .

Let’s take a look at the views  of some of those scholars. in a little more detail.

Nineplanets Navagraha 2

Bhamaha

Bhamaha treats Rasa as an aspect of Alamkara, Rasavat * (lit. that which possesses Rasa). According to him, the suggested sense (vyangyartha), which is at the root of Rasa, is implicit in the vakrokti. However, Bhamaha did not elaborate on the concept of Vakrokti; he did not define Vakrokti; and, he did not also regard Vakrokti as Alamkara. He did not also consider Vakrokti as a synonym for Alamkara. He meant Vakrokti as an expression which is neither simple nor clear-cut; but, as one which is evasive or rather ambiguous (vakra) – vakroktir anayārtho vibhāvyate.  Vakrokti , according to him, is  a poetic device used to express something extraordinary and has the potential to provide the aesthetic experience of Rasa. Such Vakrokti, according to Bamaha, is desirable for the purpose of adorning poetic speech (bhūṣāyai parikalpyateVjiv_1.36)

[However, Kuntaka asserts that Rasavat* and its related Alankaras, as explained by Bhamaha and others are not Alamkaras at all; but, are Alamkaryasthat which are adorned. Rasavat, that which possess Rasa, according to Kuntaka, reveals its own nature. For instance; Srngara, a Rasa is adorned by an Alamkara in the form of Rupaka, which is called Rasavat. Here, in this instance, a Rasa (say, Srngara) is an Alankarya, that which is ornamented by Alahkaras; and thus, it cannot be both Alankarya and Alankara, at the same time – alankaryatam natikramati. Having said that let me also mention, it is rather difficult, at times, to decide when a certain Alankara is Rasavat; and, when it is Alankara proper.]

*

Bhamaha was the champion of the Alamkara School; and, regarded Alamkara as the most essential element of poetry. He implicitly argued that Alamkara exemplifies the nature of poetry, which is characterized by the composition of speech (Sabda) and its meaning (Artha) in an ‘oblique’ (vakra) manner.  It is not only what you say but also how you say it that matters.

Though Bhamaha did not explicitly define Vakrokti, he spoke  about it in connection with Atishayokti (hyperbole), a form of Alamkara which he explains as one that excels , that which is distinct from ordinary speech , and that which transcends common usage of the of words (Lokathi-krantha-gocharam vachah). It is only through these, he said, the ordinary is transformed to extraordinary.  This might be taken as his indirect way of explaining Vakrokti.

[Kuntaka appreciates Bhamaha’s views on Atishayokti one of the essential elements of Alamkara; and , he takes it as supporting his concept of Vakrokti ( Vakrokti-vaichitrya or Vichitra-marga). He says both the modes – Atishayokti and Vakrokti– represent departure from conventional usage (prasiddha-vyatirekitva). ]

Thus, Bhamaha’s Vakrokti is a striking expressive power (a quality of all Alamkaras), a capacity of language to suggest indirect meaning along with the literal meaning. It is the mode of expression that gives rise to Alamkara. He took Vakrokti as a fundamental principle of all modes of Alamkaras imparting beauty to their expressions (Vacham vakratha-sabdoktir-alamkaraya kalpate). He wonders and questions: What is poetic beauty – Alamkara- without Vakrokti (Ko alamkaraanya vina?)

Vakrokti  contrasts with Svabhavokti, the matter-of-fact statements, the common ways of speech. Bhamaha underplays the role Svabhavokti in poetry. He argues that it is the Vakrokti which articulates the distinction between the languages of poetry from the conventional forms of speech – (yuktam vakra-svbhavokthya sarvamevai tadishyate – Kayalamkara: 1, 30).

Bhamaha states that Vakrokti is an essential element of poetry. Bhamaha regards Vakrokti as the core of all poetic works, as also of the evaluation and appreciation of art in general. According to him, all types of Kavya-s should have Vakrokti as Samanya lakshana. It is through Vakrokti the meaning of the poetry flashes forth; and, therefore, Vakrokti must adorn all forms of poetry like epics, Drama etc.

Dr, De remarks : apparently , Bhamaha regards Vakrokti not as an Alamkara ; but, as a characteristic mode of expression , which underlies all Alamkaras; and, which forms an essential element of poetry , whose meaning can be manifested by Vakrokti alone. … Thus, Bhamaha takes Vakrokti as the fundamental principle of all poetic expressions; and, indirectly of poetry itself. 

saiṣa sarvaiva vakroktir anayārtho vibhāvyate / yatno ‘syāṃ kavinā kāryaḥ ko ‘laṅkāro ‘nayā vinā // Bh_2.85 //

It is often said; Kuntaka revived the old tradition of Alamkara, headed by Bhamaha. For Bhamaha, Vakrokti was the principle underlying all Alamkaras. And for Kuntaka, Vakroti is the very life of poetry and the only artistic way of expression, embellishing poetic word and sense.

Ubhiavetava alankaryau tayoh punar alankrtih / Vakrokti reva vaidagdhya bhangi bhaniti rucyate // (V.J. 1.10)

Kuntaka tried to project the concept of Alamkara as the distinguished quality of feeling brought about by the beauty of word and sense together. The function of an Alamkara is often described as adorning the thought and emotions with beauty. Even in this sense, Kuntaka treats every poetic concept in the light of Vakrokti, the life force (Jivita) of poetry; and, all other concepts being secondary.

Dr. S.K. De observes

“Alamkara system established by Bhamaha was given a new turn; or rather the implicit ideas were developed by Kuntaka to its logical consequences. In fact Vakrokti system of Kuntaka may properly be regarded as an offshoot of the older Alamkara system. In spite of the obviously extreme nature of his central theory and his somewhat quaint nomenclature his work is of great value as presenting a unique system or rather systematizing the Alamkara theory of earlier writers in a refreshing original way.

Kuntaka clarified and vindicated his position by pointing out that the correct term for the figure is not just Alamkara, the ornament, or figure of speech; but, it is Kavya-alamkara, the poetic figure. Therefore Vakratva Vaicitrya which is a peculiar turn of expression depending on the Kavi-vyapara differentiates a poetic figure. This is the significant original contribution of Kuntaka to Sanskrit Poetics.” (History of Sanskrit Poetics – Pp. 187-89).

Nineplanets Navagraha 2

 

Dandin

Both – Bhamaha and Dandin – agree on the central place accorded, in Kavya, to Alamkara  which lends beauty (Kavya-shobha-kara-dharma). Both hold that the mode of figurative expression (Alamkara), diction (Riti), grammatical correctness (Auchitya), and sweetness of the sounds (Madhurya) constitute poetry. Both deal extensively with Artha-alamkara that gives forth    amazingly rich meaningful expressions.

Dandin, however, differed from Bhamaha on certain issues. He gave far more space to the discussion on those figures of speech that are defined as phonetic features (Sabda-alamkara) e.g. rhyme (Yamaka) than does Bhamaha.

As compared to Bhamaha, Dandin uses the term Vakrokti in a rather limited sense ; modifying it and confining it to an element , which along with others,  suggests , in  general , ornate  poetic expression.

[This distinction is basic to all subsequent Alamkara related discussions. Their differences on this point do not lie chiefly in the kind or quality of Alamkara; but seems more to do with function of the organization and presentation of the materials.]

Dandin did not also agree with the idea that there is no Alamkara without Vakrokti. And he also did not agree with the statement that Savbhavokti, natural expressions, has no importance in Kavya.  He said, the Alamkara, the figurative expressions could be of two kinds – Svabhavokti and Vakrokti; and that the former takes the priority (Adya.Alamkrith).

In fact, Dandin divides Kavya into two speech patterns (dvidhā svabhāvoktir vakroktiś ceti vāṅmayam) Svabhavokti and all the rest (collectively called Vakrokti), thus restricting the significance of Vakrokti. He says Svabhavokti  cannot be ignored in a Kavya. Dandin defines and illustrates three types of Svabhavokti and argues that Svabhavokti could very well be treated as an Alamkara. He rejects the idea that Svabhavokti does not constitute Alamkara.

śleṣaḥ sarvāsu puṣṇāti prāyo vakroktiṣu śriyam/ bhinnaṃ dvidhā svabhāvoktir vakroktiś ceti vāṅmayam //iti saṃsṛṣtiḥ // DKd_2.363 //

Dandin  points out that the natural way of explaining – ‘telling as it is’ – Svabhavokti, is one of most essential modes of expression in all types of texts  including philosophical or scientific treatise. And, Svabhavokti is a very highly desirable (ipsita) virtue (guna) in the Kavya also; and could be employed effectively , depending on  the context.

nānāvasthaṃ padārthānāṃ rūpaṃ sākṣād vivṛṇvatī /svabhāvoktiś ca jātiś cetyādyā sālaṃkṛtir yathā // DKd_2.8 //

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Kuntaka

The Vakrokti-jivita is composed of Four Chapters (Unmesa).  Dr. Sushil Kumar De sums up its contents as under:

Vakrokti jivita contents

Kuntaka prefaces his work Vakrokti-ivita with a pithy statement of objective.

jagattritayavaicitryacitrakarmavidhāyinam / śivaṃ śaktiparispandamātropakaraṇaṃ numaḥ // VjivC_1.1 //

lokottara camatkāra kāri vaicitrya siddhaye / kāvyasyāyam alaṅkāraḥ ko ‘pyapūrvo vidhīyate // Vjiv_1.2 //

Here, he mentions that the purpose of his writing the book was to establish the idea of vaichitrya which has the potential to reveal  an  extraordinary, out-of-the-world (lokottara) charm inherent in poetry (lokottara–chamatkara-kari-vaichitra-siddhaye).  He agrees there  might be many commonly used words (Svabhavokti) that could possibly convey a certain sense. But, he argues,  it is only the  meaning-laden poetic expression alive and throbbing with charm (Alamkara), in its own peculiar (Vakra) style (Riti) that can suggest (Dhvani)   the true import of a poet gifted with genius (prathibha) and   bring  joy to the heart of a sensitive reader (Sahrudaya) . It is a delightful poetic experience   in which the poet and the reader are equal partners.  This, in a way, could be said to sum up the nature of Vakrokti in Kavya. And, these ideas form the core of Kuntaka’s theory of Poetics.

In his work, the phrases such as Vakratva, Vakra-bhava etc   become synonymous with Vaichtrya (striking or charming presentation). Kuntaka explains that Vakratva or Vaichtrya consist unusual expressions which are different from the commonly accepted mode of speech, such as the ones we find in Shastras and other texts. Vakratva is thus a deviation from the matter-of-fact manner of narration or from the one that is generally used in day-to-day transactions. Vakratva or Vakrokti is employed to achieve a remarkable, extraordinary (lokottara) effect that enhances the quality and attractiveness of a Kavya.

srivatsa enless knot

Kuntaka refers to the conventional definition of Kavya which states that the friendly coexistence of words and meaning is indeed Kavya (Sabda-artha sahitau Kavyam).  He quips , in literature, there is always a mutual tension between the word and the meaning (anyūnān-atirikt tatva-manohāriṇy-avasthitiḥ // Vjiv_1.17 //) ; But, he qualifies that statement by saying that the alliance of word and meaning must have some special, remarkable or outstanding qualities which he calls Vakratva or Vaichitrya. Kuntaka says: Poetry is composition where the  word and meaning are harmoniously organized into a structure by the operation of Vakrokti, providing delight to the reader. According to Kuntaka , Vakrokti is the essence of poetic speech (Kavyokti); the very life  (Jivita) of poetry; the title of his work itself indicates this.

Kuntaka describes Vakrokti as Vaidagdhya-bhangi-bhaniti suggesting  that Vakrokti is a ‘clever or knowing’ mode of expression (bhaniti) characterized by peculiar turn (bhangi or Vaichiti) brought forth by the skill of the poet (Vaidagdhya or Kavi-kaushala).

abhāvetāvalaṅkāryau tayoḥ punaralaṅkṛtiḥ / vakroktireva vaidagdhya bhaṅgī bhaṇitir ucyate // Vjiv_1.10 //

Thus , it seems that Kuntaka’s concept of Vakrokti is  something that brings within its comprehensive scope all known kinds of imaginative , innovative terns (ukti-vaichitrya)  and modes of suggestive indirect (vakra)  expressions (bhaniti-prakara)  that are unique to poetry (away from the banal words) created by the skill ( vaidagdhya or kavi-kaushala) of a poet gifted with genius (prathibha).

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Kuntaka also attempts to bring under the umbrella of Vakrokti the other elements of Poetics (Kavya-agama).

Kuntaka says that Vakrokti governs all the Alamkaras ; and he takes Alamkara to mean abhidana-prakara-visesha.  He asserts that Alamkaras cannot be externally or artificially added on to poetry; the poetic speech by itself is an Alamkara.  And, in fact, he describes, the Alamkaras as Vakya-vakratva. According to him, what are called as Alamkaras are nothing but different facets or aspects of Vakrokti.

Similarly, in regard to Rasa, he accepts the importance of Rasa; but, regards it as a particular way of realizing Vakratva in a Kavya.

In a like manner, Kuntaka accepts the concept of Dhvani, the power of suggestion; and, its importance, in a Kavya. But, he does not consider it as an independent element of Poetics (Kavya-agama). He does not also regard Dhvani as ‘the soul of the poetry’ (Kavyasya Atma).  Kuntaka treats Dhvani as a particular form of Vakrokti by naming it as Upachara-vakrata, the suggestion based upon indication.

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Kuntaka takes care to mention that Vakra or Vaichitra does not mean wild, eccentric or outlandish expressions that might disturb or annoy the reader. He asserts that the inventive expressions and phrases that a skillful poet creates out of his imagination should be pleasing, cultured and merited to delight the reader in a healthy way (tadvid-ahlada-kari).

śabdārthau sahitau vakra kavivyāpāra śālini /bandhe vyavasthitau kāvyaṃ tadvid āhlādakāriṇi // Vjiv_1.7 //

Kuntaka says it would be incorrect   to presume that all Kavyas are appreciated by all types of people for a single reason. Different types of Kavyas holds different types of appeal to different sorts of people for  whole sets of different reasons. Over generalization is indeed simplistic. As he puts it; there could be a hundred and one reasons for the appeal of different Kavya-s to readers of different tastes.

Kuntaka therefore does not totally reject the Svabhava or the common way describing emotions, events and objects. Kuntaka holds that vastu–svabhava has its own simple, natural beauty; and, Svabhavokti is ornamented (Alamkarya) in its own fashion.  He brings Svabhavokti under the scope of a special kind of Vakya-vakrata in which the svabhava (character) of the subject matter – whether be it sahaja (natural) or aharya (artificial or made-up) – could be described in an elegant way (sukumara –marga).

In the Sukumara-marga the poet’s natural eloquence finds abundant scope (Satisaya) to bring out the sweetness (Madhurya), clarity (Prasada), loveliness (Lavanya) and fluency or smoothness (Abhijata).

Kuntaka mentions two other two other styles: Vaichitrya and Madhyama. The Vaichitrya –marga dominated by peculiar types of Alamkaras is regarded a rather difficult style demanding more skill and maturity of treatment. The Madhyama –marga is the style that stands midway between the Vaichitrya and Sukumara Margas combining the good features of the other two styles (Ubhayatmaka).

srivatsa enless knot

In that context, Kuntaka emphasizes that what is essential in a Kavya is the genius of the poet to transform – through his skill, imagination and creativity- that which t is ordinary into something extraordinary; and, present it as a wonderful object of great beauty bringing  joy to the heart of the reader. He believed that the poet’s genius cannot be categorized (kimapi or kopi).  The true poetic genius is ever resourceful rejuvenating itself all the time (nava-navonmesha shalini prathibha).

Kuntaka illustrates the phenomenon of transforming the mundane into something out of the ordinary (lokottara) by comparing the task of the poet (kavi vyapara) in creating his poetry with that of the painter in the creation of his Art. Just as the poet works with words in their innumerable forms, so also the artist paints a picture using various materials, lines, colors, tones and shades etc (vākya-vakratā – 111.4).

Kuntaka extends the analogy by saying that none of the materials that a painter employs is an object of beauty per se. For instance; the canvass, chalk, paint etc are all commonplace, drab things. The painter uses all those different items; and none of that is elegant.  It is his genius that creates matchless beauty out of such ordinary things. Further, a painter conceives a picture in his mind and gives it a substance on the canvass by  use of variety of strokes, different colors, varying shades etc. Though he paints the picture stroke by stroke, part by part he visualizes the image in his entirety. The viewer too, rightly, takes in, absorbs the picture and its spirit as a whole, as an integral experience.

yathā citrasya kimapi phalakā dyupakaraṇa kalāpavyatireki / sakala prakṛta padārtha jīvitāyamānaṃ citrakara-kauśalaṃ pṛthakatvena mukhyatayodbhāsate, tathaiva vākyasya mārgādi prakṛta padārtha sārthavyatireki kavi kauśala lakṣaṇaṃ kimapi sahṛdaya hṛdayasaṃvedyaṃ sakala prastuta padārtha sphurita bhūtaṃ vakratva mujjṛmbate 

Similarly when we perceive a piece of cloth our cognition is of the cloth as whole; and it is quite distinct from the particular threads and colors involved.

The poetic process (Kavya karma) too is similar. The poet uses different means, rhetoric and other qualities of word and meaning, style (Riti); but, the beauty does not reside in any one of them singly. The real loveliness and beauty is created by the magic touch of the poet’s own genius. Art is what gives form and beauty to matter. Kuntaka’s approach to Poetics was that of an artist. Further, the Kavya, just as a painting, is much more than the sum of its parts.

Dr. K . Krishnamurthy explains this phenomenon in the  scholarly fashion  :Vakrokti is not just an out of the way expression or a poetic turn; it is the masterly art underlying every element of poetry and involving effortless and spontaneous transformation of prosaic raw materials into things of consummate beauty (New Bearings of Indian Literary Theory and Criticism).

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It is said that Kuntaka ‘s views on the poetic process and on the integral nature of Kavya  were inspired by the holistic theory of Bhartrhari (Ca.5th century) put forward in his remarkable work Vakyapadiya. In his doctrine of Sphota , Bhartrhari explaining the relations that exist between the word (pada) and the sentence (Vakya) argues that a sentence is an unbreakable whole , the meaning of which flashes forth only after it is completely uttered (Vakya-sphota). The words are but a part of the whole; and have no independent existence; and, are understood only in the context of a completed sentence. Thus, Bhartrhari asserted that the whole is real while parts are not, for they are constructs or abstracted bits. The natural home of a word is the sentence in which it occurs.

Kuntaka, at places, does refer to the arguments of Bhartrhari.  He believed that a poem is an all-comprising thing of beauty; an organic entity. One cannot truly separate the ornament (Alamkara) from that which is adorned (Alamkarya); the joy of creation from the enjoyment of poetry. Thus, the words, their meanings, the Alamkara (ornament), the Alamkarya (that which is ornamented), the poet and the reader are all integrated into a fabulously rewarding poetic experience. The beauty consists in their wholeness; endearingly delighting in each other’s elegance  –  sāhityamanayoḥ śobhāśālitāṃ prati kāpyasauVjiv_1.17 . One cannot artificially separate them. Kuntaka, therefore, is often described as a holist.

[ Kalidasa had earlier remarked that  the Sabda and Artha should both be equally beautiful ; and, the learned reader should find it hard to decide which enhances the other.

kaṇṭhasya tasyāḥ stanabandhurasya muktākalāpasya ca nistalasya / anyonya śobhā jananād babhūva sādhāraṇo bhūṣaṇabhūṣyabhāvaḥ // Ku.Sa_1.42 // ]

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Kuntaka was aware of the theory about the suggestive power of poetry (Dhvani) that was introduced by Ānandavardhana. But, Anandavardhana’s emphasis was on the enjoyment (Rasa) that a reader derives by unraveling the poet’s intention through its suggestive power (Dhvani).

One could argue that Anandavardhana’s doctrine is loaded rather heavily on one side. It is the reader who is suggestible. His theory does not seem to put premium on poetic genius and the mysterious process of creating poetic beauty.

Kuntaka seeks to take a perspective view of things. He does appreciate the the ‘reader’s-side’ of the picture; why and how they enjoy poetry; and the importance of their experience or enjoyment of poetry. He does recognize that the joy it brings to the hearts is indeed the object of poetry.

At the same time, Kuntaka intended to present a balanced or an alternate view of the picture.  He looked at poetry from the poet’s own point of view.  He attempted to outline the poetic process (Kavi vyapara) – how the Kavya takes shape in the poet’s imagination and emerges as a thing of beauty. He forcefully proposed: that instead of merely looking for poetic words and expressions that suggest meanings and evoke emotions of love, etc., in the readers, one can could very well, also, appreciate and take delight in the wonderful poetic-genius-at work (kavi – karma) which creates poetic expressions of matchless beauty suggesting evocative poetic meanings that lovingly bind into each other like ardent lovers. The beauty of poetry cannot be compartmentalized; it is integral to poetry; and, resides in the harmony of its wholeness.

design rangoli

According to Kuntaka, the Vakrata created by the Kavi-vyapara, operates at six levels: Varna-vinyasa-vakrata; Pada-purvardha-vakrata; Pada-parardha vakrata; Vakya-vakrata; Prakarana-vakrata; and, Prabandha-vakrata.

kavi-vyāpāra-vakratva-prakārā sabhavanti a / pratyeka bahavo bhedāsteā vicchitti-śobhina // Vjiv_1.18 /

Varavinyāsa vicchitti pada sadhāna sapadā / svalpayā bandha saundarya lāvayam abhidhīyate // Vjiv_1.32 //

Commencing from the arrangement of syllables (Varna), its coverage systematically extends from the former and the latter parts of a word (Pada-purvardha and Pada-parardha); to a sentence (Vakya); to a specific topic or episode (Prakarana); and, thereon to the composition as a whole (Prabandha).

The logic of this scheme appears to be that it moves progressively from the micro to the macro in the structure of a Kavya. The smallest unit in the language is the syllable (Varna) including the lexical stem and the grammatical suffix; next comes the words, which when woven together  constitute a sentence; and, a series of meaningful sentences help to construct an episode; and, the skilful arrangement of the episodes composes a Kavya.

 Here, apart from the fundamental smaller units,  Kuntaka takes into account the  larger units of the Kavya also –  such as, the  context , the Acts / Cantos, the varied innovative methods of presentation;  and, the  composition itself , as a whole . Thus, Kuntaka reviews the entire range of the poetic creation from the point of view of its artistic efficacy, which, among other things, involves deviation from the norm (Vakrata).

It is said; the Vakroktijivita is a treatise on the function of imagination and artistic skill in inventive poetry; and, Vakrokti is a linguistic manifestation of the basic obliquity of the poet’s creative process, infusing beauty and elegance to his work (saundarya lāvayam abhidhīyate).

Kuntaka’s classification of Vakrokti, to a large extent, is based on Anandavardhana’s concept of Dhvani; and, its elaboration.  Anandavardhana organizes Dhvani into Varna, Pada; pada-avayava; and so on. His categorization, principally, is in terms of the Vyanjaka.  The word which connotes the suggested sense (through the suggestive function (Vyanjana-vritti) is named as Vyanjaka. The relationship between the suggestive word and the suggested meaning (Vyanjana-artha) is described as vyangya-vyanjaka sambandha. It is this mutual relationship, which, virtually, is the lifeblood of Indian poetics.  In fact, this is what that distinguishes poetry from other forms of literature.

Following Anandavardhana, Kuntaka’s classification is based on the different devices of language, beginning from syllables, the very small ingredients; moving on further in scale, extending to the whole work. But, the entire gamut of such varied components of language has necessarily to spring from the innate creative genius of the poet, his Prathibha.

The six elements of Vakratva that Kuntaka enumerates  together cover the elegance of all Sabda and Artha Alamkaras; the precision of grammatical affixes, termination etc ; the diction of the Riti; Gunas – the desirable virtues and merits of poetry; the element of Rasa, the joy of reading poetry. According to Kuntaka, it is this six-fold Vakrata that distinguishes poetry from other types of narrations; and, in turn, these enhance the vital essence (Vakrokti-jivitam) of a Kavya.

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I. Varna-vinyasa-vakrata

The first is Varna-vinyasa-vakrata (oblique arrangement of consonants or syllables). It works at the level of phoneme, when similar or identical syllables or consonants are skilfully arranged or are repeated at varying intervals; or when new consonants or syllables are employed ; or , when stops are combined with their homorganic nasals, with a view to produce certain sound-effects. It also includes alliteration and chime. This Varna-vinyasavakrata itself is recognised as Anuprasa or alliteration.  The Varna-vinyasa-vakrata, according to Kuntaka, is wide enough to include varieties of beauties in the arrangement of syllables – Vara Vinyāsa Vakratā lakaa śabdā-alakāro apyatitarā ramaīyaḥ ; Varṇa Vinyāsa vicchittivihitā lāvaṇya lakṣaṇa guṇa saṃpadasty eva (VjivC_1.19)

Kuntaka, here, insists on maintaining harmony of the sound effect with the meaning of the words and their aptness to the context of theme and it’s Rasa.

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II. Pada-purvardha-vakrata

The second type of Vakrata is Pada-purvardha-vakrata (lexical obliquity).  It is said; the lexical aspects (शाब्द) of the language may contribute to the total effect of the poetry; as it would augment the possibilities of bringing to surface the latent poetic beauty (Dhvani) through the artistic use of Pratipadika and Dhatu, which form the base part of the nouns and the verbs, respectively. This type of Vakrata includes the peculiar use of synonyms, conventional words, attributive words, covert expressions and so on.

The Pada-purvardha-vakrata would, in turn, include several modes of Vakrata, obliquities, such as   :

(1) Rudhi-vaicitrya-vakrata: the words of common usage are employed even to elucidate complex ideas or to expand on unusual attributes or to denote the meaning of certain peculiar terms – yatra rūher asabhāvya dharmādhyā aropa garbhatā pratīyate (Vjiv_2.8). This is the art of beautifying the word-structure through conventional means

(2) Paryaya-vakrata: use of a synonym which approximates most to the meaning intended; and, contributes to the excellence of the presentation – paryāyastena vaicitrya parā paryāya vakratā (Vjiv_2.12)

(3) Upacara-vakrata: when two objects distinctly differ from each other (dūrāntare) , a common attribute, however slight (leśenāpi) , is metaphorically superimposed in order to bring out some sort of resemblance (sāmānyam upacaryate) – Vjiv_2.14

(4) Visesana-vakrata – use of appropriate epithets and adjectives to endow a novel or a fresh charm, even to the familiar Alamkaras; and, when such substitute- epithets have great poetic merit, they contribute to heighten the charm of verbs or nouns. This type of Vakrata is, therefore, regarded as the vital essence (jivita) of all good poetry. Kuntaka insists that such epithets should be purposefully utilized by the poet in order to infuse extraordinary charm into the three-fold poetic entity (vastu): Rasa, Svabhava and Alamkara

Viśeaasya māhātmyāt kriyāyā kārakasya vā / yatra ullasati lāvaya sā viśeaa vakratā // Vjiv_2.15 /

(5) Samvriti-vakrata: when the subject that is being described is deliberately concealed by the use of pronouns etc., (sarvanāmā-di bhi) sometimes, pronouns are used to conceal an object when its nature is uncertain. It is also said; certain exceedingly beautiful subjects shine most by their concealment; and hence, it is needless to go for elaborate descriptions in such cases.

Yatra savriyate vastu vaicitryasya  vivakayā  / sarvanāmādi bhi kaiścit soktā savti vakratā // Vjiv_2.16 /

(6) Vritti-vaicitrya-vakrata: peculiar use of Vrttis such as adverbial compounds (Avyaya),, verbal and nominal derivatives in order to provide an effective base for suggesting a sense of beauty (ramaīyatā), in a unique way;

Avyayībhāva mukhyānā vttīnā ramaīyatā / yatra ullasati sā jñeyā Vtti –vaicitrya-vakratā // Vjiv_2.19 //

(7) Bhava-vaicitrya-vakrata: wherein an activity that is yet to be accomplished is imaginatively described as if it has already been completed (siddhatvenā abhidhīyate), to produce a sense of surprise and delight – yatra bhāvo bhavedeṣā Bhava-Vaicitrya- vakratā (Vjiv_2.20)

(8) Linga-vaicitrya-vakrata: strange use of genders to signify one and the same object.Although other genders are equally possible (sāmānā adhikaraṇyataḥ),  a specific gender is preferred; or, the feminine gender is preferred  to designate an object, even though other genders of the word could possibly have been employed   (śobhābhyudetyeṣā Liṅga-vaicitrya-vakratā Vjiv_2.21); and,

(9) Kriya-vaicitryavakrata: artistic use of verb-roots, in varied manners, to produce a unique beauty of expression. It has five varieties; and, these five which add charm to the idea described are regarded as the five forms of beauty in action.

karmādisavti pañca prastuta aucitya cārava/ kriyā-vaicitrya-vakratva prakārāsta ime sm  // Vjiv_2.25 //

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III. Pada-parardha-vakrata

The third type of Vakrata is Pada-parardha-vakrata (grammatical obliquity relating to the terminal part of the word)- parārdhasya pratyaya-lakaasya vakratā. It consists in a peculiar use of tense, case, number, voice, person, affix and particles.

This type of Vakrata is again sub-divided into seven varieties:  Kala-vaicitrya-vakrata; Karaka-vakrata; Sankhya-vakrata; Purusha-vakrata; Upagraha-vakrata: Pratyaya-vakrata; and, Pada-vakrata.

(1) Kala-vaicitrya-vakrata: employing tenses appropriate (aucityāntarata samayo ramaīyatām) to the subject of description; (Vjiv_2.26)

(2) Karaka-vakrata: elevating a common supplementary action and treating it as if it is primary (kāraka-sāmānya prādhānyena-nibadhyate); and, reducing the status of the really pre-eminent one into that of an auxiliary (kārakāā viparyāsa; ( Vjiv_2.27). Here, even the inanimate objects are projected as if they are alivetattvā adhyāropaān mukhya gua bhāvā abhidhānata .

(3) Samkhya-vakrata: oblique use of singular or plural numbers (yatra sakhyā-viparyāsa sakhyā-vakratā vidu); where ‘we’ is used in place of “I’, or when two words of different numbers are brought together in a strange manner; (Vjiv_2.29)

(4) Purusha-vakrata: when third person (He) is employed in the place of first (I) or the second person (You) – – with a view to induce a dramatic effect;

Pratyaktā parabhāvaś ca viparyāsena yojayate / yatra vicchittaye saiā jñeyā Puruha vakratā  (Vjiv_2.30)

(5) Upagraha-vakrata: verb-affix- it is when two affixes are possible for a root; but when, one is preferred as against the other, for aesthetic reasons; – padayor ubhayor ekam aucityād viniyujyate (Vjiv_2.31)

(6) Pratyaya-vakrata: use of unusual affixes apart from and also in place of the usual affixes; and, – pratyayādanya pratyaya kamanīyatām (Vjiv_2.32)

(7) Pada-vakrata: the parts of speech , in Sanskrit, are classified into four groups viz., Nama (noun), Akhyata (verb), Upasarga (preposition) and Nipata (having no inflections). While the Nouns and verbs were discussed in the earlier classifications, Kuntaka covered under this section, the Nipata and Upasarga, the words that do not take case terminations.

The Upasargas and the Nipatas have the usual meaning assigned to them by grammarians; but, in poetry, they tend to acquire special meaning due to the ingenuity of the poet; and, they are rendered into the means of suggesting the desired Rasa

Rasādi-dyotana yasyām Upasarga Nipātayo / vākyaika jīvitatvena sāparā Pada vakratā (Vjiv_2.33)

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IV. Vakya-vakrata

Vakya-vakrata – the   deviation from the common mode of constructing a sentence, or its artistic improvisation – is the fourth type of Vakrata. It is an index of the poet’s skill; as it comprises all the three principal entities of poetry: Rasa; Svabhava; and, Alamkara.

Kuntaka compares the artistic composition of a Kavya to the creation of a painting.

According to Kuntaka: Just as the total appeal of a painting is distinct from the beauty of its individual elements, like: lines, the colour-shades etc., that go to fashion it; similarly, it is the over-all brilliance and beauty of a poetry that brings out the inherent ‘poetic-image’ to life, captivating and enthralling the persons of taste (Sahrudaya); and, it is not the mere external verbal usage.

Kuntaka says: out of the countless varieties of artistic beauty, even a single type is enough to contribute the extraordinary delight to the men of taste. And, when several such varieties of Vakrata harmoniously blend, enhancing the beauty of one another (parasparasya śobhāyai) , they bring extraordinary beauty to poetry , just as in the case of a  portrait  composed  of many pleasing colours-janayantyetā citra-cchāyā manoharām  (Vjiv_2.34)

Thus, in Vakya-vakrata, different constituent elements of poetry like words, meanings etc., contribute their own, beauty; but, the unique skill of the poet shines out distinctively through its overall composition and its subtle suggestive power.  The lucidity of the self-expression (Dhvani) of the sentence-form should be regarded as the essence of its beauty.

Both Bhartrhari and Mandana Misra employ a similar analogy to illustrate the relation that exists between a sentence and its words. They point out that when we view a picture, it is conceived as a whole, over and above its various parts. The composite image is quite distinct from the particular strokes, sketches, threads and colour-shades etc., that have gone into making of it. An artist paints the picture in parts though he visualizes it as a single image. The viewer of a  painting , rightly, also  takes in, absorbs the picture and its spirit as a whole, as an integral unit; and , he  does not look for individual strokes, shades etc or the permutation of such details that went into making the picture. Similar is the case, they say, with the construction of a sentence through use of many words. The listener grasps and understands those series of word- sounds as a single unit.

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Further, Kuntaka says that this Vakya-vakrata or the beauty of the content of the subject matter that is being described could be said to have two sub-verities: Sahaja-vakrata (natural) and Aharyavakrata (imposed); and, these do enhance the beauty of other kinds of Vakrokti as well – Sahajā-Ahārya-kavi-kauśala-śālinī, nirmiti nūtana ullekha lokāti-krānta-gocarā (Vjiv_3.2)

(a) The first type of this Vastu-vakrata is:  When the subject-matter is endowed with natural grace and beauty (sahaja-saundarya), its inherent beauty, by itself, is enough to capture the hearts of the refined readers. In these cases, the expressions are to be delicately adorned with subtle Alamkaras; taking care to avoid overdoing it. Kuntaka advices that in the case of Sahaja-vakrata, the poets must exercise adequate discretion while choosing words from out of the many charming expressions that the language offers. And, only that particular one which is most appropriate; and, that which conveys intended idea in the best possible manner should be selected.

(b) The other type of Vastu-vakrata, which makes abundant use of Alamkaras, is studded or superadded (Aharya) with skilful and ingenious expressions crafted by a poet gifted with originality and enterprise. Such unique creative Alamkaras do enhance the charm and brilliance of the narration.

Thus, the Vakya-vakrata combines in itself the three essential virtues of a good poetry: Svabhava (natural charm); Alamkara (ornamentation); and, Rasa (delightful poetic experience). And, therefore, the range of the Vakya-vakrata, which is mainly concerned with the pleasurable (tad vid āhlāda-dāyinīm) poetic content (Vastu); and, that which is relevant to his subject is indeed very vast:  Rasa- Rasa-Svabhāvā-Alakārāā sarveā kavi-kauśala-meva jīvitam (VjivC_3.16).

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 V. Prakarana-vakrata

The art of devising episodes or incidents in such a way that they heighten the total effect of the poetry is regarded as Prakarana-vakrata or the distinctive excellence in the arrangement of the episodes; and, the proper placement of each episode.

The Prakarana vakrata comprises all those factors which contribute to the effective presentation of the sequence of events in an episode. Apart from the contextual metaphorical figures of speech (Alamkaras), it brings together all the interesting strategies that are employed in composing the episodes or the narrative poetry.

Vakratāyā Prakārāām-Aucitya-Gua-śālinām/etad uttejanāyāla sva-spandam-ahatāmapi //VjivC_3.23// Rasa-Svabhāv- Alakārā- sasāram api  sthitā / anena navatā yānti tad vid āhlāda-dāyinīm // VjivC_3.24 //

The originality or ingenuity in plot-construction through innovations; organic unity among the episodes; the systematic unfolding of the series of events in the plot through a sequence of episodes ; the techniques like introducing a play within the play (garbhanka); maintaining suspense till the end; and, integration of various segments into a harmonious whole, come under the Prakarana-vakrata.

Again, the fifth type of the Vakrata, viz., the Prakarana-vakrata is sub-classified into eight modes of innovation.

(1)  Bhava-purna-sthiti-vakrata : Kuntaka suggests that, a poet should select only such themes, from the well-known source ,   as are capable of evoking Rasas, Bhavas, and of generating a sense of wonder (camatkāra-kāraaṃ. Utpāditā-adbhutām)

(2) Utapadya-lavanya-vakrata: When a poet is constructing a plot of his own, even though it might be based  on a wall-known source, if he succeeds in infusing even a small streak of originality; and modifies the original to enhance its effectiveness ,that would sparkle the narration. –  itivtta-prayukte api kathā vaicitrya vartmani / utpādya lāvayā danyā lasati vakratā (Vjiv_4.3)

(3)  Prakarana-upakarya-upkaraka bhava vakrata: The poet should try to achieve and to maintain an organic unity; to bind a consistent relationship between the various incidents described in the different parts of the episode as also of the work, as a whole – Upakārya-Upakarttva pari-spanda parisphuran (Vjiv_4.5)

 (4) Angirasa nisyandanikasa – vakrata : When the same theme or a similar event (say, like moon-rise, sun-rise etc.,) is repeatedly described at different places, it might tend to get rather tedious (eka evā abhidheyātmā badhyamāna puna puna). In such cases, the poet needs to exercise restrain while elaborating on descriptions of  such themes; and, should ensure that it is concise; appropriate to the plot; blends with the context  harmoniously; and, it is endowed with the suitable Alamkaras and Rasas.  It should also be invested with beauty; and presented in a strikingly new style crafted by the poet – (bheda-bhagīm-utpāditā-adbhutām –Vjiv_4.8)

Yatrā Agirasa niyandanikaa ko ‘pi lakyate / pūrvottarai rasapādyakāde kāpi vakratā // Vjiv_4.10 //

(5) Viśiṣṭā- prakarna-vakrata: All the incidents in a Drama or the Cantos of a Kavya cannot be equally important. The poet’s skill resides in making good use of even a small incident; and, transforming it, so that it makes a significant contribution to the plot, as a whole – pradhāna-vastu-nipattyai vastvantara-vicitratā (Vjiv_4.11)

(6)  A-pradhana prasanga –vakrata: Similarly, all the Acts of a Drama or Cantos (Sarga-Bandhā) in an epic may not be of equal importance. Usually, that particular Act or canto, where the dominant Rasa flourishes, would be made particularly beautiful.  Its artistic excellence cannot either be imitated or be repeated in other parts of the work. Yet; the poet should strive to maintain a balance among the prominent and the not-so-prominent (A-pradhana) Acts or Cantos – yad aga sargabandhāde saundaryāya nibadhyate (Vjiv_4.9

(7) Prakarana-antara vakrata or Garbhanka: The poet could ingeniously device to introduce a play within the play, where the main actors themselves are seen in the role of an audience witnessing a play performed by other actors- Kvacit prakaraasyā anta smta prakaraā antaram (Vjiv_4.13)

(8)  Sandhi-vinivesa-vakrata: It is essential that the preceding and succeeding episodes in a literary work are lucidly related. Therefore, the sequence of episodes in a play should flow naturally; each episode following the next   logically; and, the series of episodes are bound (viniveśanam) to each other through delightful junctures (Sandhi).

Mukhābhi-Sandhi-sahlādi savidhānaka -bandhuram / pūrvottarādi sagatyā adagānā Viniveśanam // Vjiv_4.14 //

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[Some scholars observe that Kuntaka’s Vakrokti-jivita is indeed a very useful manual or a guidebook to the aspiring poets and authors. At the same time, they point out, the tendency , bordering on obsession, to classify and sub-classify each concept; and, to pigeonhole those countless miniscule fragments, sadly, led to a sort of pedantic hair-splitting. It almost restricted and suffocated poetic-freedom; and, that eventually turned the Sanskrit Kavyas of the later periods into listless, unenterprising works lacking originality. Thus, though Sanskrit, in some form or other, lingered on, what is undeniable is that its vital signs had grown very weak. And, the past glory of its golden era was lost forever.]

VI. Prabandha vakrata

The outstanding eminence (visesata) of the composition, as a whole, is regarded as Prabandha-vakrata. It is marked by originality, resourcefulness and inventive genius of the poet (Prathibha).

The Prabandha Vakrata is, again, classified by Kuntaka into varieties having varied distinctive features of the Kavya; such as: Rasantara vakrata; Samapana-vakrata; katha-viccheda-vakrata; Anusangika –phala-vakrata; Namakarana vakrata; and, Tulya-katha-vakrata.

(1)Rasantara vakrata: When there is a departure from the dominant Rasa of the source or the original story; and, when the poet,  in his own modified version of the theme deliberately abandons the original Rasa;  and , substitute it with another Rasa , endowing  a fresh beauty to the whole narration  of his work till its conclusion (nirvahaa),  is regarded as Rasantara vakrataRasāntarea ramyea yatra nirvahaa bhavet (Vjiv_4.16)

(2) Samapana-vakrata:  The poet, in his wisdom, might opt to deviate from the way the original story ended. He might choose to conclude (Samapanam) his version of the same story with a different sort of Rasa, to delight the readers. It transforms a rather depressive ending of the original story into heart-warming ’happy-ending’. This is said to be one of the inventive ways (Vakrata) of beautifying the nature of the whole composition; and, bringing hope and cheer into one’s life –

itihāsaika-adeśena prabandhasya samāpanam.. kurvota yatra sukavi sā vicitrāsya vakratā (Vjiv_4.18-19)

(3) Katha-viccheda-vakrata :  Supposing , the even flow of the original story is been broken (viccheda) ; and, its Rasa (aesthetic import – vicchinna virasā kathā)  is impaired by the intrusion of an incident whose connection with the main story is not quite significant ; the poet might , then, in his modified version, give such an  incident a new turn so that it attains importance in maintaining unbroken course of events  ; and, it  eventually  becomes  a key factor  in  the  successful conclusion of the main story . Such a transformation of a stray incident into a substantive one; binding the poet’s own version into a cohesive narration; and investing the whole composition with novelty, is recognized as Katha-viccheda-vakrata. (Prabandhasyā anubadhnāti navā kāmapi vakratāmVjiv_4.21)

(4) Anusangika –phala-vakrata:  The Hero (Nayaka) of an Epic story or a classical Drama is, usually, focused on achieving his goal; and, marches towards it, despite several intrusions, with a single-minded devotion (yatraika phala sapatti samudyukto api Nāyaka). And, along his way, he might also accomplish some accidental or incidental (Anusangika) victories that eventually bear fruits (Phala); and, enhance his glory- sva māhātmya camatkārāt sā parāpyasya vakratā (Vjiv_4.23)

(6) Tulya-katha-vakrata: The poet could skilfully weave into the principal theme of his composition, the stories relating to the subsidiary characters; and, their stories   could run parallel (Tulya-katha) to the life-events of the Hero (Nayaka) , the main character – tat tulya pratipattiu (Vjiv_4.22)

(7) Namakarana vakrata: A poet can also display his artistic skill in assigning fresh and attractive titles (Namakarana) to the main work (pradhāna-savidhānā) as also to each of its Acts or Chapters (akanāmn). Such pithy and eye-catching titles could capture the essence and the nature of the events that are about to unfold there under – pradhāna-savidhānā-akanāmn āpi kurute kavi  (Vjiv_4.24)

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Imagination in Indian Poetics’ in ‘An Introduction to Indian Poetics’– Edited by Dr. Raghavan and Nagendra 

Kuntaka’s remarkable classic Vakroktijivita is a sustained attempt to define modes of Vakrokti as manifested in the works of great poets. But, while the Rasa theory and Dhvani theory of Indian poetics are relatively well known, the same cannot be said of Vakrokti, which has not received the attention it merits. But, actually, Vakrokti deserves closer scrutiny because of its consistent orientation towards poetic art; and, also because of its contemporary relevance as an effective tool in the interpretation of a work of art , in its own right.

 Kuntaka takes the stand that one has to analyze the obliquity manifested in the poetic language in order to fathom the creativity of the poet. The modern stylisticians also take a similar stand, defining style as a deviation from the norm; and, analyzing linguistic expressions to find out the nature and extent of the deviations literary language manifests.

 However, while the methods followed in modern stylistics are more or less mechanical, it is remarkable that Kuntaka does not for once forget the fact that it is the creative imagination of the poet which fashions the obliquity of the he poetic language. He also reiterates that obliquity is not an end in itself; it is aimed at creating aesthetic enjoyment in the discerning reader through the strikingness Vaicitrya .

Prof. T N Srikantaiah rightly points out that Kuntaka’s Vakroktijivita is nothing but a treatise on the function of imagination in poetry; and Vakrokti, is a linguistic manifestation of the basic obliquity of the poet’s creative process.

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The importance of Kuntaka’s work lies in that it brings a fresh perspective to the appreciation of Kavya. In several places he refuses to follow conventional explanations.  His style of writing is lucid, precise and yet vigorous.  It is marked by elegance and sensitivity. Whatever be the reactions to the rather strange sounding name he assigns to his theory of Poetics, one has to appreciate his brilliance, literary acumen and critical insight he brings into investigation of Poetic virtues. He systematically analyses the principles of Poetics and their implications. His concept of Vakrata is doubtless an important contribution to the body of Poetics (Kavya Shastra).

What Kuntaka did was to extend and systematize the Alamkara theories of Bhamaha and Udbhata, and provide it with fresh interpretations.  Though he respected the views of the Old Masters he did not take them in as a whole without questioning   . He brought his own priorities, judgments and interpretations. His Vakrokti lends a new but unexpected dimension to the theory of Alamkara. His theory Vakrokti is unique, as it attempts to bring under its fold all the essential principles of Poetics.

It is rather unfortunate that the later Sanskrit Poetic tradition did not accord Kuntaka and his doctrine the attention and importance they deserved. It was perhaps the emotional appeal of Dhvani and the overwhelming influence exerted by Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta that sidelined Kuntaka’s concept of Vakrokti and its implications. Kuntaka’s was a lone voice. His isolation could also be because by then the Poetics was taken over by philosophers who dealt with the philosophy of Grammar and Grammar of philosophy. The aspects of suggestive expressions, poetic genius and the process of creating poetry were not further developed by orthodox writers.

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 Continued in

Next Part

 

 

Sources and References

  1. Vakrokti Jivita of Rajanaka Kuntaka: Edited and commented by Prof. Susil Kumar De
  2. Sanskrit Poetics as a Study of Aesthetics by Prof. Susil Kumar De
  3. The Concept of Vakrokti in Sanskrit Poetics: a Reappraisal by Suryanarayana Hegde
  4. Vakrokti and Dhvani Controversies about Theory of Poetry in Indian Tradition by Bimal Krishna Matilal
  5. 5. A Comparative Study of the Indian Poetics and the Western Poetics by Mohit Kumar Ray
  6. https://sg.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/95696
  7. http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/5_poetry/1_alam/kunvjivu.htm
  8. https://www.academia.edu/12621139/Vakrokti_as_Poetic_Art_A_Study_in_Macbeth
 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Kavya, Sanskrit

 

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