Sunday, July 12, 2009

Introduction to Sanskrit Drama

Sanskrit poetry can be classified into two:
1) Drishya - that which can be seen or enacted
2) Shravya - that which can be heard ('shlokas' and musical compositions)

So, all dramas fall under 'Drishya'. In Sanskrit, drama is called 'rupaka' and one-act plays are known as 'upa rupakas'.

The 3 Elements of 'Rupakas' are:
  1. 'Vastu' or the plot.
  2. 'Rasa' or the sentiment.
  3. 'Neta' or the hero.
The Plot may be divided into the principal plot ('adhikarik') and the sub-plot or the accessory plot ('prasangik').
The sub-plot or the 'prasangik' constitutes of the 'pataka' and the 'prakara'. The 'pataka' is an episode which may or may not stretch till the end of the play, but it determines the actions of the play till the end.
The principal plot has 'Bija', 'Bindu', and the 'Karya'. Literally, 'bija' means 'the seed', 'bindu' means 'the drop' and 'karya' refers to the climax or the final issue.
The 'Bija', 'Bindu', 'Karya', 'Pataka' and 'Prakara' are called the 'Arthaprakritis'.

There could be three possible sources of the story in a Sanskrit drama:
1. The source of the story could be from history or tradition.
2. The source of the story could be from fiction.
3. A third source could be a blend of fiction and tradition.

There are 5 'avasthas' or stages of development of the plot:
1. 'Aarambh' or the beginning.
2. 'Yatna' or the effort (to bring out the 'rasa').
3. 'Prapthyasha' or the aspect of success.
4. 'Niyatapti' or the removal of obstacles.
5. 'Phalagam' which refers to obtaining the desired result.
These 5 'avasthas' have to be united by 'samdhis' or junctures.
There are 5 'samdhis':
1. 'Mukh'
or the Protasis (Introduction)
2. 'Pratimukh' or the Epistasis - an effort or the 'yatna' for the progress of the play's plot.
3. 'Garba' or the Catastatis - attainment or non-attainment of the end ('Patakas' may end).
4. 'Avamarsh' or Peripeteia - it goes along with the 'niyatapti' and it is a conscious effort to postpone the end.
5. 'Nirvahan' or 'Upasanhar' - catastrophe or the final fall of events.

The Arthakritis, the 5 'avasthas' and the 5 'samdhis' make up the structure of Sanskrit play.

The 'Rasa' or the 'sentiment' is the base of all Sanskrit plays. The natural 'bhavas' are called 'satvika' and there are 8 'satvika' in all. From the 8 'bhavas', there are 8 'rasas'. The permanent sentiment that is present throughout the play is called the 'sthai bhava' . In actuality, there are 9 'rasas' or 'bhavas' but the 'shantha' 'bhava' cannot be enacted on stage.
The 8 'bhavas' are:
  1. Shringar (erotic)
  2. Hasya (humour)
  3. Karuna (pity)
  4. Veer (courage)
  5. Adhbhudh (wonder)
  6. Bhayanak (fearful)
  7. bhibatsya (disgust)
  8. Raudr (anger)
'Bhavas' are what we feel and 'anubhavas' are the feelings we show.
In 'Abhigyana Shakuntalam', 'shringar' is the 'sthai bhava'. There are 2 ways in which 'Shringar' is evoked:
1. Love in union (sambhog)
2. Love in separation (chipralamb).

There are 4 types of 'Neta' in Sanskrit drama:
  1. Dhirodaatta - the ideal 'neta' with all the 8 manly characteristics (Dushyant - in 'Abhigyana Shakuntalam').
  2. Dhirolalitha - soft-spoken and good-looking but he is not 'gambhirya'.
  3. Dhiroshantha - peace-loving.
  4. Dhirodatta - Lacks one of the 8 manly characteristics (Ravana, Karan).
The 8 characteristics are:
  • 'Shobha' or the handsome.
  • 'Vilaas' or the one broad in outlook and open in thought.
  • 'Maadhurya' or sweet in behaviour.
  • 'Gambhirya'.
  • 'Dhairya' or courageous.
  • 'Tejas' or quick-witted.
  • 'Laalitsya' or humorous,fun and good-looking.
  • 'Audharya' or magnanimous.
The 'nayika' has to exist in relation to the 'neta'. She cannot exist on her own. The 'Vidhushaka' is the court jest/clown.

Every drama opens with a prelude or a prolouge call known as ' Nandi'. It is given either by the 'Sutradhar' (the play writer) , 'Stupaka' (manager) or the one of the main characters.


Down points of a Sanskrit drama are:

1. It is very patronising and favouring males in nature.
2. The use of Sanskrit for the men of high caste and Prakrit for women and other lower caste people is very caste and gender discriminating.
3. There is no presence of violence, tragedy or comedy.
4. It is very fatalistic in nature (this is what I(Shruti) think....correct me if I'm wrong)

2 comments:

|)!Vy@ said...

Hey :)
I added the stuff which you missed out but I don't have anything on the 'prakaras'. Can you please add that?

Shru Rao said...

There is nothing on 'prakaras' i even checked FEP notes

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