Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Dhananjaya on the hero and other characters’ 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 on the hero and other characters

Dhanañjaya has distinguished the hero or nāyaka as a separate element and in a specific sense. His hero or nāyaka is not only the hero but also represents all types of characters. It is because Dhanañjaya always wants to present thing differently.

Like Bharata, Dhanañjaya too does not divide human nature in to three types, i.e.

  1. high (uttama),
  2. middle (madhyama) and
  3. low (adhama).

And their application into the heroes like:

  1. dhīrodātta,
  2. dhīroddhata,
  3. dhīralalita and
  4. dhīrapraśānta.

He accepts only Bharata’s four types of divisions of hero, i.e. dhīralalita, dhīrodātta and others.

However, Dhanañjaya again divides all four types of heroes, such as dhīrodātta etc. into four types each, i.e.

  1. deceitful (śaṭha),
  2. shameless (dhṛṣṭa),
  3. courteous (dakṣiṇa) and
  4. faithful (anukūla),

Which are described by Bharata as the terms used by women at the time of anger towards the men or heroes.

Thus, according to Dhanañjaya, the heroes are of sixteen types (four types of dhīrodātta etc. heroes are multiplied by four types of śaṭha etc.), whereas according to Bharata, the heroes are eight types, because he has not accepted low (adhama) type of nature in the dhīrodātta types of heroes etc. He divides the heroes only as higher (uttama) and middle (madhyama) types of nature to dhīrodātta etc. (four types of dhīrodātta etc. multiplied by uttama and four types of dhīrodātta etc. are multiplied by madhyama). Again, Dhanañjaya defines the terms like brilliance (śobhā), graceful disposition (vilāsa), sweetness (mādhurya), steadiness (sthairya), profundity (gāmbhīrya), sportiveness (lalita), nobility (audārya) and spirit (tejas) and accepts them as eight types of natural qualities (sāttvikaguṇa) of men (Daśarūpaka.II.10). However, he does not accept them as the temperaments (sattva) of men, as advocated by Bharata (Nāṭyaśāstra.XXII.31).

Bharata divides the heroines into just four categories (Nāṭyaśāstra.XXIV.7), i.e.

  1. divine (divyā),
  2. wife of a king (nṛpapatnī),
  3. woman of good family (kulastrī) and
  4. courtesan (gaṇikā);

Whereas Dhanañjaya views the heroines as important as heroes in the drama, because they possess the same qualities as the heroes.

Dhanañjaya’s divisions of heroines are vastly different from those of Bharata; he divides first them in to three kinds according to their common characteristics, i.e.

  1. one’s own wife (svīyā),
  2. belonging to the other (anyā) and
  3. common woman (sādhāraṇastrī).

1) Svīyā:

Again, svīyā is divided into three types according to the situation, i.e.

  1. inexperienced (mugdhā),
  2. partly experienced (madhyā) and
  3. experienced (pragalbhā).

Further, both madhyā and pragalbhā are divided into three types each, i.e.

  1. self-controlled (dhīrā),
  2. partly self-controlled (madhyā) and
  3. lacking in self-control (adhīrā).

Again, according to the attitude of anger, dhīrā, madhyā and adhīrā are divided into two kinds each as:

  1. older (jyeṣṭhā) and
  2. younger (kaniṣṭhā).

2) Anyā:

Anyā is of two kinds, i.e.

  1. married (anyoḍhā) and
  2. unmarried (kanyā).

3) Sādhāraṇastrī:

However, Dhanañjaya has taken sādhāraṇastrī as courtesan. In this way, Dhanañjaya divides heroines into eighteen kinds (Daśarūpaka.II.15-21).

Further, Dhanañjaya states that the heroines have eight stages (Daśarūpaka.II.23). They are:

  1. one having her husband in subjection (svādhīnabhartṛkā),
  2. one dressed up for union (vāsakasajjā),
  3. one distressed by separation (virahotkaṇṭhitā),
  4. one enraged with her lover (khaṇḍitā),
  5. one separated from her lover by a quarrel (kalahāntaritā),
  6. one deceived by her lover (vipralabdhā),
  7. one whose beloved is away (proṣitapriyā) and
  8. one who moves to her lover (abhisārikā).

However, Bharata considers them as eight types of heroines (Nāṭyaśāstra.XXII.204).

Unlike Bharata, Dhanañjaya is not interested in defining the characteristics of the heroines which are similar to those of the heroes, i.e.

  1. self-controlled (dhīrā),
  2. elegant (lalitā),
  3. exalted (udāttā) and
  4. quiet (nibhṛtā).

Dhanañjaya has just stated that heroine has the same qualities as those of the heroes (tadguṇā nāyikā–Daśarūpaka.II.15). Thus, “tadguṇā” indicates the qualities of dhīrapraśānta, dhīralalita, dhīrodātta and dhīroddhata respectively. Again, Dhanañjaya describes that in addition to the main hero, there is a supporting hero, who is also called episode hero (patākānāyaka) and he assists the main hero in the drama. Dhanañjaya recognizes the episode hero as “Pīṭhamarda”, which means one who removes the pain or distress (of main hero). He is intelligent, devoted to the main hero, but he possesses the qualities in a less degree than that of the main hero. Dhanañjaya has also recognized the Vidūṣaka or Jester, as the second assistant of the hero. However, unlike Bharata, Dhanañjaya has not stated anything about the other assistants of the hero and heroine.

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