Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Dhananjaya’s methodology of discussion’ 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)

Dhanañjaya’s methodology of discussion

Dhanañjaya’s Etymology of Definitions

Dhanañjaya explains most of the definitions etymologically. For example, he explains “ādhikārika”, as the possessor of desired result that contains an incident connected with him “adhikāriṇā nirvṛttambhivyāpi vṛttam ādhikārikam”. Here the term “abhivyāpi” explains the etymology of ādhikārika. In the same way, he states that “prāsaṅgika” is that wherein one’s own purpose is incidentally achieved “prāsaṅgikam parārthasya svārtho yasya prasaṅgataḥ”. Here the term “prasaṅgataḥ” explains the term prāsaṅgika etymologically.

Dhanañjaya’s word and language

Dhanañjaya has applied very simple and effective words and language. He has used very few compound-words in the compositions. His explanations of terms are not difficult to understand like those of Bharata. Dhanañjaya’s compositions are very brief and concise. He conveys many ideas in few words and because of this method; many scholars have appreciated his style. Dhanañjaya has avoided formulaic and introductory type of compositions and he has also avoided stock phrases to fill incomplete lines. Often, he has used single words to explain technical terms.

Dhanañjaya maintains proper order

Dhanañjaya discusses matters in proper order. He describes drama giving an overall view of development of drama in India. He begins the description of Nāṭya from its primary stage such as nāṭya, rūpa, rūpaka, nṛtya, nṛtta, which makes it easy to understand the concept of drama. Thus, Dhanañjaya’s style is praiseworthy. He gives information about only unique and essential things in his composition. He divides drama into three essential parts, i.e. vastu, netā and rasa. However, the Daśarūpaka is divided into four parts giving information of vastu, netā, rasaand the rules of ten types of drama, i.e. Nāṭaka, Prakaraṇa Bhāṇa, Vīthī, Ḍima, Īhāmṛga, Samavakāra, Vyāyoga, Aṅka and Prahasana and a vṛtti called Bhāratīvṛtti.

Dhanañjaya discussed fixed topics in a chapter —

Dhanañjaya describes vastu in relation to Nāṭya. In his opinion, naṭa should imitate the situations like dhīrodātta, dhīroddhata, dhīralalita and dhīrapraśānta from the world and perform them on the stage through four types of representations, i.e. āṅgika, vācika, sāttvika and āhārya and that imitation is called nāṭya, which is visible. Furthermore, from the representations sentiment or rasas are originated through consequent (anubhāva) etc. Again, when a past character is imposed on naṭa, audience feels his representation as the real characterand it is called assumption or āropa by Dhanañjaya. Further, Dhanañjaya, in his description of the plot or vastu, differentiated nāṭya, rūpa and rūpaka, which is really praiseworthy. Even the distinctions between nṛtya and nṛttaand also between nṛtya and nāṭya are excellent.

In the Nāṭyaśāstra, Bharata describes the dramatic representations or actions in fourteen separate chapters (8th to 21st). However, Dhanañjaya describes them in just two chapters, viz. first and second chapters when discussing plot and characters. First, he divides plot into two types, i.e. ādhikārika and prāsaṅgika and again, he divides subject matter of the plot into three types through the dramatic rule, i.e. to be heard by all (sarvaśrāvya), not to be heard by all (aśrāvya) and to be heard only by some (niyataśrāvya).

They are represented as:

  1. svagata,
  2. prakāśa,
  3. apavārita,
  4. janāntika and
  5. ākāśabhāṣita.

Further, he has applied all the four types of representations on the characters such as hero, heroine and their assistants. In the second chapter, he discusses the use of two languages, i.e. Sanskrit and Prakrit, for the proper characters. For instance, according to him, Sanskrit is spoken by the higher-level male characters and Prakrit is spoken by the lower level women and low characters. At the end of the second chapter, Dhanañjaya describes the modes of address, for different characters; he stipulates the bhagavanta mode for learned men, divine sages and ascetics; and he stipulates the āryā mode for Brahmins, Ministers and elder brothers.

Bharata describes the vṛttis like kaiśikī, sāttvatī and ārabhaṭī in a separate chapter, whereas Dhanañjaya describes the vṛttis in the second chapter along with the description of characters. However, he describes the Bhāratīvṛtti in the third chapter along with the ten types of dramas. Dhanañjaya has followed a certain methodology. For instance, in the second chapter, he describes the hero, heroineand other characters and vṛttis like kaiśikī, sāttvatī and ārabhaṭī, which are related to them. He has discussed those vṛttis in the second chapter because they are important as far as the behavior of the characters, is concerned. Even they (vṛttis) help to develop the characters of the hero and heroine. They are also the causes, which manifest love, valour and physical strength and conducts of the hero and heroine. It should be noted that Kaiśikīvṛtti helps to manifest love related matters, Sāttvatīvṛtti helps to manifest strength, devotion, pity and straightness and Ārabhaṭīvṛtti helps to manifest war, anger, magic, illusion and cheating. In view of these characteristics, these three vṛttis are associated with the erotic, laughter, heroic, marvellous, furious, pathetic, odious and terrible sentiments. Further, it is important that these vṛttis facilitate the character like hero. Thus, it is justified that the vṛttis are described along with the characters. Again, Dhanañjaya has briefly mentioned about the languages of the characters and the techniques of addressing.

Clarity of matters:

It should be noted that Dhanañjaya always wants clarity of matters. He does not want any confusion about any matter. Unlike Bharata, he is not confusing in any case. For instance, according to him, an act should describe the incidents of a single day and it should have a single purpose. Again, it should be considered as a single scene (Daśarūpaka.III.36); whereas according to Bharata, an act should present the incidents of single day and it should have many purposes (Nāṭyaśāstra.XVIII.24-5).

In the case of the elements (arthaprakṛti) and actions (avasthā), Dhanañjaya does not follow the sequence prescribed by Bharata. Instead of treating five types of actions, first he prefers to treat the five types of elements first. He has given more importance to the elements than to the actions. The reason is that the elements are the means to take the story up to its logical goal or end and actions are the objects, by which, the conduct of the characters are developed.

Further, Dhanañjaya’s episode indication (patākāsthānaka) is intended to differentiate between episode (patākā) and episode indication (patākāsthānaka). Again, Dhanañjaya divides episode indication (patākāsthānaka), into two types, as he believes that episode indication indicates two types of extraneous matter, i.e. that which has already begun or that which is about to begin. However, Bharata’s definition of episode indication (patākāsthānaka) is very broad and he has divided episode indication (patākāsthānaka) into four types.

Further, in the case of junctures (sandhi), Dhanañjaya is more systematic. He defines the purpose of the juncture. From Dhanika, we come to know that unlike Bharata, Dhanañjaya wants to propose the theory of combination, that is to say, junctures are created by the combination of elements and actions. However, like Bharata, Dhanañjaya too has not disapproved of the use of junctures in the plot. According to Bharata, a plot should be divided in to five junctures and the plot may either have all the junctures or lack some of them. However, he applies the omission rule in the case of only main plot, but not in the case of subsidiary plot. It is surprising that after following the combination rule, Dhanañjaya is silent about the combination of the denouement (kārya) and the attainment of the result (phalāgama), which should be in the concluding juncture (nirvahaṇasandhi). The reason might be that he did not want to mention the combination of the denouement (kārya) and the attainment of the result (phalāgama) in the plays.

Dhanañjaya is very clear when discussing the intermediate scenes (arthopakṣepakas), i.e. interlude scene (viṣkambhaka), introductory scene (praveśaka), intimation scene (cūlikā), anticipatory scene (aṅkāsya) and continuation scene (aṅkāvatāra). He agrees with Bharata about interlude scene and introductory scene; however, he has not specified characters as to who should introduce the intimation scene and also anticipatory scene. It should be noted that Dhanañjaya’s aṅkāsya is Bharata’s aṅkamukha.

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