Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Dhananjaya on the ten types of drama’ 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 ten types of drama

Dhanañjaya like Bharata divides dramas into ten types; but he describes them as daśarūpakas, whereas Bharata describes them as daśarūpas. As regards the sequence of the dramas both Bharata and Dhanañjaya differ from each other.

The sequence of Bharata is:

  1. Nāṭaka,
  2. Prakaraṇa,
  3. Samavakāra,
  4. Īhāmṛga,
  5. Ḍima,
  6. Vyāyoga,
  7. Aṅka,
  8. Prahasana,
  9. Bhāṇa, and
  10. Vīthī;

Whereas the sequence of Dhanañjaya is:

  1. Nāṭaka,
  2. Prakaraṇa,
  3. Bhāṇa,
  4. Prahasana,
  5. Ḍima,
  6. Vyāyoga,
  7. Samavakāra,
  8. Vīthī,
  9. Aṅka and
  10. Īhāmṛga.

The Daśarūpaka of Dhanañjaya is the concise form of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra. In some cases, it differs from Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra. However, the Daśarūpaka is unique; and prescribes ten types of drama in its own way.


According to Dhanañjaya, Nāṭaka is a full-fledged drama, with all types of sentiments and other characteristics, which are not found in other types of dramas except Prakaraṇa. Therefore, he believes that Nāṭaka is the root (prakṛti) of all other forms of dramas (Daśarūpaka.III.1). In the beginning of the Nāṭaka, Sūtradhāra should perform the preliminaries and after the preliminaries, when Sūtradhāra exists; another actor (sthāpaka) enters and introduces the plot, the seed, the opening and one of the characters. Dhanañjaya states that Nāṭaka should have a well-known, self-controlled and exalted hero with attractive qualities, glories, eager for fame. He should possess great energy and should be the protector of the three Vedas, ruler of the world, of renowned ancestry, a royal seer or god. It should be noted here that Dhanañjaya clarifies that if there is something odd in the plot, which is going against the character of the hero or the sentiment, then the same should be omitted from the plot or should be changed (Daśarūpaka.III.24-5).

Dhanañjaya prescribes that the main plot of Nāṭaka should be divided into five parts, which are called Juncturesand again these five parts should be sub-divided, so that the principal plot of Nāṭaka will have sixty-four sub-divisions. Dhanañjaya again states, in addition to Junctures, some internal incidents like Episode (patākā), which comes in between two junctures and runs for long periodand Episodical incident (prakarī), which comes without juncture and runs for short period. Further, Dhanañjaya states that in the beginning of the drama, just after the prologue, if the plot is without sentiment, then one should use interlude scene (Viṣkambhaka). However, if the plot consists of sentiment from the beginning, then one can start the act directly indicating the entry of the actor through the prologue. Again, Dhanañjaya states that one should not make excessive use of the sentiment, which may disturb the main plot, nor should make the total disappearance of the sentiment, by using subdivisions of the plot, figures of the speech or its embellishment, which may disturb the plot.

Dhanañjaya prescribes that one can use erotic or heroic sentiment as the main sentiment and others as subordinate sentiments in Nāṭaka. Again, one should use marvelous sentiment in the concluding juncture. Further, one should avoid the scenes like long travelling, killing, fighting, revolt of a kingdom or province, siege, eating, bathing, intercourse, anointing the bodyand putting on dresses in the main act. It means that these scenes should be represented in the interlude scenes, but not in the main act. However, the death of the hero should not be presented, either in the main act or in the interlude scenes. It should be noted that some necessary things should not be avoided such as offerings (śrāddha) in honour to the dead relatives etc. Further, in an act, there should be the presence of the three or four characters along with the hero and all the characters should exist at the end of the scene. Again, any act should be the incident of one day and consist of a single purpose. An act should also contain Episodicalindications (patākāsthānaka)and at the end of an act, the drop (bindu) should come just like the Seed (bīja). Lastly, Dhanañjaya states that a Nāṭaka should be constructed with five to ten acts.


Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata who prescribes that Prakaraṇa should have a hero of self-controlled and calm type, such as Brahmin, Merchant or Minister. The plot of Prakaraṇa is the invention of the poet and it should involve the life of common people. The most important aspect, according to Dhanañjaya, in a Prakaraṇa, is that the hero undergoes misfortune and has virtue, pleasureand wealth as his accompaniments. Further, Dhanañjaya repeats Bharata’s statement that Prakaraṇa should consist of Junctures, Sentiments, Praveśaka, Viṣkambhaka and other technical aspects as in Nāṭaka. Again, he also agrees with Bharata that Prakaraṇa should have two kinds of heroines, i.e. noble (ābhyantarā) and courtesans (bāhyā). The noble type of heroine is from a good family and stays in-doors, however, courtesan type of heroine stays outside of the home and both heroines should not meet each other. On the basis of the heroines, Dhanañjaya, unlike Bharata, divides Prakaraṇa into three kinds, i.e. pure (śuddha), modified (vikṛta) and mixed (saṃkīrṇa). Dhanañjaya states that pure type of Prakaraṇa consists of noble type of heroine, the modified type of Prakaraṇa consists of courtesan type of heroine; however, the mixed type of Prakaraṇa consists of both noble and courtesan type of heroinesand some other characters like dhūrta, viṭaand śakāra. It can be observed now that Dhanañjaya’s rules are clearer and at the same time concise than those of Bharata.


Dhanañjaya states that Bhāṇa is conducted by a single character, i.e. Viṭa, who is cleaver and shrewd. He narrates that the plot of Bhāṇa should have an imaginary story. Dhanañjaya does not agree with Bharata that one can use either parasite (viṭa) or rogue (dhūrta) as the hero of Bhāṇa. The conversation runs with an imaginary person through the question and answer and address. Again, Viṭa indicates the heroic and erotic sentiments by means of descriptions of prowess and of beauty. Further, Dhanañjaya states that Bhāṇa is a one-act drama, with opening and concluding junctures. It resorts to verbal style as the main style and also uses ten types of gentle dance. It seems that Dhanañjaya is more authentic than Bharata with respect to the description of Bhāṇa. Bharata does not mention as to what sentiment Bhāṇa should consist of; however, Dhanañjaya clearly states that Bhāṇa should have heroic and erotic as sentiments. Prahasana – Dhanañjaya begins his description of Prahasana by saying that Prahasana is of three kinds, i.e. pure, modified and mixedand he does not agree with Bharata who states that Prahasana is of two types, i.e. pure and mixed. The pure type of Prahasana consists of the characters like Bauddha and Jain mendicants, parasites, male and female servantsand Brahmins. It should be noted here that Bharata includes the characters like ascetics in the pure type of Prahasana. Dhanañjaya, like Bharata, clarifies that the pure type of Prahasana should use appropriate language and costume and also should be full of humour. Again, the modified type of Prahasana consists of the characters like eunuchs, chamberlains and ascetics. However, Dhanañjaya rules that the characters of the modified type of Prahasana should imitate the language and costume of lovers. Further, Dhanañjaya states that the mixed type of Prahasana is the admixture of the ancillaries of vīthī and there should be the characters like rogue (dhūrta). However, it should be noted that all types of Prahasana should abundantly apply six kinds of laughter, such as smita, hasita, vihasita, upahasita, apahasita and atihasita, as the same laughter constitutes the very nature of Prahasana.


Now as regards Ḍima, Bharata states that it consists of some exalted type of heroes; however, Dhanañjaya states that it should have some vehement type of heroes such as god, demons, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Bhūta, Preta, Piśāca etc. Thus, Dhanañjaya differs from Bharata. However, Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata that the plot of Ḍima should be well-known. Again, it should avoid the sentiments like erotic and laughter. Ḍima is full of incidents like magic, illusion, war, anger; that is why it is based on six types of excited sentiments. The furious sentiment is used as the main sentiment in Ḍima, because it contains some vehement type of heroes. Dhanañjaya also stipulates that there should be the scenes of lunar and solar eclipse. However, Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata that Ḍima should have four acts, but without pause juncture.

Further, Dhanañjaya is very clear when defining the styles. He states that Ḍima consists of three styles, except the gay style. That is to say that Ḍima consists of the grand style, the verbal style and the violent style. However, it should be noted that according to Bharata, there is no gay style in Ḍima and it (Ḍima) should contain only two styles, i.e. the grand and violent styles. He has not mentioned the name of the verbal style.


According to Dhanañjaya, Vyāyoga has a well-known plot and a wellknown and vehement type of hero. Again, he states that it is without the development and pause junctures. Dhanañjaya also states that Vyāyoga contains the six types of sentiments and the incidents like war, wrestling, altercation etc. Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata that Vyāyoga contains more male characters, but he does not state that there should be less female characters. Again, Dhanañjaya states that the fighting, which happens in Vyāyoga, is not because of women. He gives the victory of Paraśurāma (Jāmadagnya) as the example. Dhanañjaya has also mentioned that Vyāyoga consists of one act and the incidents of a single day.


Dhanañjaya differs from Bharata and states that Samavakāra begins with a prologue (āmukha) like Nāṭaka and Prakaraṇa. However, he agrees with Bharata and states that Samavakāra should have a well-known plot and twelve exalted heroes such as gods and demons; though these need not strive and attain separate objectives or results. He also states that Samavakāra contains four junctures, such as the opening, the progression, the development and the conclusion, but without the pause juncture. It should be noted that Bharata gives liberty to the poets to use the styles, but at the beginning, he prohibits gay style in Samavakāra. However, Dhanañjaya states that a poet can use all styles, but gay style should be used less. Again, Dhanañjaya differs from Bharata in the case of sentiments. Bharata states that Samavakāra should use different types of sentiments as it needs; whereas Dhanañjaya states that Samavakāra should use heroic sentiment as the main sentiment and all the other sentiments only as the subordinates. Here Dhanañjaya has given “Samudramanthana” as an example of Samavakāra type of drama. Like Bharata, Dhanañjaya too prescribes the use of three types of love (śṛṅgāra), three types of deception (kapaṭa) and three types of excitement (vidrava), in every act. It should be noted that the first act should contain twelve stalks (nāḍikas)and two junctures and other two acts, that is second and third acts should contain four and two stalks respectively.

Further, Dhanañjaya has not given details about the nature of the deceptions (kapaṭa), excitements (vidrava)and loves (śṛṅgāra). He has just said that kapaṭa is of three types, which is caused by the nature of the subject, supernatural action and enemiesand vidrava is of three types which is caused by war, besieging the cityand violent windsand fires and śṛṅgāra is of three types which is caused by virtue, love of gain and passion. Again, he differs from Bharata, by stating that Samavakāra does not contain drop (bindu), the element of the plot and interlude scene (praveśaka). However, Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata in the sense that he allows the use of ancillaries of vīthī, according to the necessity; though in Samavakāra, one should use the metres such as Uṣṇik and Gāyatrī.


Bharata, at the beginning of the chapter (Nāṭyaśāstra.XX) states that Vīthī is without gay style. However, Dhanañjaya states that Vīthī should be composed with the gay style (kaiśikīvṛtti). Again, Dhanañjaya does not agree with Bharata that the characters of Vīthī should be noble, middle or low type. However, he agrees with Bharata that Vīthī is like Bhāṇa and contains two junctures, i.e. opening and conclusion and one act. Bharata states that Vīthī should have all the sentiments and and thirteen types of ancillaries of vīthī. Dhanañjaya agrees that it should have all the thirteen types of ancillaries of vīthī and all the sentiments, but he does not agree that there should be thirty-six types of definitions of drama. Again, Dhanañjaya states that Vīthī should primarily have the erotic sentiment and other sentiments should be used as the subordinate sentiments. Unlike Dhanañjaya, Bharata has not stated that the prologue of Vīthī should contain abrupt dialogue (udghātyaka) etc. all thirteen types of ancillaries of vīthī. However, Dhanañjaya agrees that in Vīthī, one can use one or two characters. Utsṛṣṭikāṅka – Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata that the plot of Utsṛṣṭikāṅka should be well known. However, it can be conceived by means of the imagination. Unlike Bharata, he avoids discussion on the use of divine characters in Utsṛṣṭikāṅka. He just states that the heroes should be ordinary men. Like Bhāṇa, it is a single act dramaand has two junctures, i.e. opening and conclusion; it also makes use of the verbal style and its subdivisions like preface, propitiation, farce and ancillaries of vīthī. Dhanañjaya agrees with Bharata that Utsṛṣṭikāṅka contains oral fighting and accordingly there will be loss and victory due to speech. It also contains lamentation of women.


Bharata states that the plot of an Īhāmṛga should be well-knit. However, Dhanañjaya states that the plot of Īhāmṛga should be of mixed type (partly well known and partly imaginary). It has four acts and three junctures, i.e. opening, progression and conclusion. Bharata does not state that the heroes and the opponents could be either human or divine. Bharata only states that there should be some haughty characters. However, Dhanañjaya insists that heroes and opponents should be well known, selfcontrolled and vehement and the opponents should commit improper acts by mistake. Dhanañjaya does not agree with Bharata that in Īhāmṛga should have a plot of love, because, it needs abundant of erotic sentiment. Thus, he states that Īhāmṛga should consist of the reflection of the erotic sentiment (śṛṅgārābhāsa), in the case of the opponent, because he tries to obtain the divine woman against her will by kidnapping. The war between the hero and the opponent should be avoided by an artificeand the possible killing of the hero should be prevented. Dhanañjaya unlike Bharata, has not stated what sentimentand what characterand what style should Īhāmṛga consist of.

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