Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Summary of the Dasharupaka’ of the English study of the Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya: an important work on Hindu dramaturgy (Natya-shastra) from the tenth century dealing with the ten divisions of Sanskrit drama (nata), describing their technical aspects and essential dramaturgical principals. These ten types of drama are categorised based on the plot (vastu), hero (neta) and sentiment (rasa)

Summary of the Daśarūpaka

After Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, the second most important and the proper work on Hindu dramaturgy is the Daśarūpaka of Dhanañjaya, which stands as the landmark in the field of Sanskrit. The work has often been referred to and followed vigorously by the most of Indian and Western scholars because of its concise form. In the first chapter, Dhanañjaya has saluted Bharata and stated that he intends to compose a concise work called Daśarūpaka, taking the essence of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Then Dhanañjaya composed his Daśarūpaka beautifully. It is a unique creation, which became famous for its style and subject matters. It prescribes all the principles of dramaturgy in the original way. Dhanañjaya has not followed the Nāṭyaśāstra blindly. When it is necessary, he has refuted the opinions of his predecessors. Even he has examined thoroughly the opinions of Bharata, Udbhaṭa, Rudraṭa, Ānandavardhana and others. Dhanañjaya has covered all the matters in the Daśarūpakas very clearly, so that all could understand them. He has used more of Anuṣṭubh metre. The most important characteristics of the Daśarūpaka are the use of minimum words and clarity of his intention. That is why Daśarūpaka has taken a special place in the field of dramaturgy.

Dhanañjaya has mentioned very little about himself in the Daśarūpaka. He was the son of Viṣṇu. His patron was the king Muñja or Vākpatirāja II of Mālava, who ruled in the last quarter of the tenth century A.D. and during this period, Dhanañjaya composed the work of Daśarūpaka. Thus, scholars like A. B. Keith (The Sanskrit Drama, p.292), M. Krishnamachari (History of Classical Sanskrit literature, p.746), George C. O. Haas (A treatise on Hindu Dramaturgy, Introduction, p.xxi) supposed the date of Dhanañjaya that he must be of tenth century A.D. Dhanañjaya and his commentator Dhanika have not mentioned anything about Abhinavagupta, who has written a commentary on the Nāṭyaśāstra; so there was not much gap between Dhanañjaya and Abhinavagupta. The date of Kṣemendra, the pupil of Abhinavagupta is 990 A.D. (V. K. Lele, p.4), so the time of literary work of Abhinavagupta must be 980-1020 A.D. Thus, the time of Dhanañjaya must be 974-994 A.D. Dhanañjaya’s and Dhanika’s theory of sentiment (rasa) is influenced by Bhaṭṭanāyaka, whose date is 900-1000 A.D. (Krishna Kumar, p.111) and again Dhanañjaya has refuted the “vyañjanāśakti” of Ānandavardhana, whose date is last part of ninth century A.D. (Krishna Kumar, p.111). Thus, the date of Dhanañjaya must be after Bhaṭṭanāyaka, i.e. 974-994 A.D.

The most approved commentary of the Daśarūpaka is Dhanika’s “Daśarūpāvaloka”. In this commentary, he has also mentioned that he is the son of Viṣṇu and an officer of king Utpalarāja, who is none other than Muñja, the patron king of Dhanañjaya. Dhanika was probably the brother of Dhanañjaya, unless as some say Dhanañjaya and Dhanika are same. However, the authors of the Daśarūpaka and the Daśarūpakāvaloka are supposed to be different. Thus, Dhanika must be contemporary of Dhanañjaya.

The other commentators of the Daśarūpaka are Nṛsiṃha, the commentator of “Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa”, Bahurūpamiśra, Pāṇi or Devapāṇi, Kṣoṇidhara Miśra and Kurvirāma. However, the works of these commentators are less known, because of the importance of the Daśarūpakāvaloka of Dhanika.

In general, the Daśarūpaka is a work on dramaturgy, which deals with the matters of drama, i.e. ten types of Sanskrit dramas. It describes the theory of dramas, including its technical parts and the rules of various types of dramas. Dhanañjaya has elaborated only the essential dramaturgical principles such as Plot (vastu), Hero (netā) and Sentiment (rasa). According to these three characteristics of drama, he has divided the Daśarūpaka into four chapters. The brief notes on the chapters are given below:

Chapter I describes the natures of the pantomime (nṛtya), dancing (nṛtta), drama (nāṭya), gentle dance (lāsya), wild dance (tāṇḍava) and the description of plot (vastu). Then it establishes ten types of dramas, which are decided through the plot (vastu), hero (netā) and the sentiment (rasa). Again, it describes the basic classification of subject matter like, Principal (ādhikārika) and Incidental (prāsaṅgika), five kinds of elements (arthaprakṛti) such as germ (bīja), drop (bindu), episode (patākā), episodical incident (prakari) and denouement (kārya); five kinds of stages (avastha) such as beginning (ārambha), effort (prayatna), prospect of success (prāptyāśā), certainty of success (niyatāpti) and attainment of success (phalāgama). Further, it describes five types of junctures, such as Opening (mukha), Progression (pratimukha), Development (garbha), Pause (avamarśa), Conclusion (nirvahaṇa) and their sub-divisions; six-fold application of the subdivisions like arranging of the subject chosen (iṣṭārthasya racanā), concealing what is to be concealed (gopyagupti prakāśa), emotion (rāga), the element of surprise in the representation (prayogasyāścarya) and sustaining interest in the story (vṛttāntasyānupakṣaya). Again, it describes the subject matter as divided into two fold, i.e. intimated (sūcya) and seen and heard (dṛśyaśravyaśca), five kinds of intermediate scenes (arthopakṣepaka), such as explanatory scene (viṣkambhaka), introductory scene (praveśaka), intimation scene (cūlikā), anticipatory scene (aṅkāsya) and continuance scene (aṅkāvatāra). Further, at the end, it describes some technical aspects, such as aloud (prakāśa), aside (svagata or ātmagata), personal address (janāntika), conversation with imaginary person (ākāśabhāṣita), confidential statement (apavārita) and epilogue (bharatavākya).

Chapter II describes the hero like well-bred, charming, liberal, clever, affable, popular, upright, eloquent, of exalted lineage, resolute, young; also it describes the characteristics of hero like intelligence, energy, memory, wisdom, skill in the arts and pride, heroic, mighty, vigorous, familiar with the codes and knowledge of law. It also describes four types of heroes like self-controlled and light-hearted (dhīralalita), self-controlled and calm (dhīrapraśānta), self-controlled and exalted (dhīrodātta) and self-controlled and vehement (dhīroddhata). Again, it defines hero and his companions like attendants, parasite and jester; then it describes the opponent of the heroand his qualities like beauty of character (śobhā), energy (vilāsa), equanimity (mādhurya), poise (gāmbhīrya), firmness (sthairya), sense of honour (tejas), lightheartedness (lalita) and magnanimity (audārya). It also describes three types of heroines like own wife (sviyā), another’s wife (anyā) and common woman or courtesan (sādhāraṇā); then it describes the various types of heroines according to their relations like dressed to receive (vāsakasajjā), distressed (virahotkaṇṭhitā), enraged (khaṇḍitā), separated by a quarrel (kalahāntaritā), deceived (vipralabdhā), separated beloved (proṣitapriyā)and one that goes after (abhisārikā). Again, it describes the messengers of the heroine. It also describes twenty natural graces of the heroine like feeling (bhāva), emotion (hāva), passion (helā), beauty (śobhā), loveliness (kānti), radiance (dīpti), sweetness (mādhurya), courage (pragalbhatā), dignity (audārya), self-control (dhairya), sportiveness (līlā), delight (vilāsa), tastefulness (vicchiti), confusion (vibhrama), hysterical mood (kilakiñcita), manifestation of affection (moṭṭāyita), pretended anger (kuṭamita), affected indifference (bibboka), lolling (lalita) and bashfulness (vihṛta). Further, it describes the assistants of the king, group ranking of the characters, procedures according to the styles and their employment, local characteristics of a drama, languages of the charactersand modes of address.

Chapter III describes the ten types of dramas, beginning of drama through preliminaries, application of verbal styles (bhāratīvṛtti) and its divisions such as propitiation (prarocanā), preface (āmukha), garland (vīthī) and farce (prahasana). It also describes the adaptation of story, arrangement of the dramatic structure, characteristics of an act and contents of an act.

Chapter IV describes elaborately eight types of sentiments like erotic (śṛṅgāra), heroic (vīra), odious (bibhatsa), furious (raudra), comic (hāsya), marvelous (adbhuta), terrible (bhayānaka) and pathetic (karuṇa) and their production, determinants (vibhāva) and consequent states (anubhāva)and involuntary states (sāttvikabhāva). It also describes thirty-three transitory states (vyabhicāribhāva), permanent states (sthāyibhāva)and fourfold character of sentiments like erotic (śṛṅgāra), heroic (vīra), odious (bibhatsa) and furious (raudra). Here Dhanañjaya prohibits the tranquility (śama) as a permanent state of śānta. His opinion on the sentiment is different from that of his predecessors like Ānandavardhana and Abhinavagupta. He does not accept indicated-indicative state (vyaṅgya-vyañjaka) in the ascertainment of any sentiment. Even he does not refute the opinion of Ānandavardhana to use figurative expression (vyañjaka vyāpāra) in the sentiment and states that the sentiment should be decided through the establishment of imagination of the speakers (bhāvanāvādī). Thus, Dhanañjaya’s theory of sentiment is different from that of others.

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