Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Conclusion’ 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)

Vararuci’s Ubhayābhisārikā is one of the best Bhāṇas produced ever. However, he has not given much information about himself. The Ubhayābhisārikā does not mention anything about the author. The other sources say that he was a poet in the court of Kumāragupta, the son of Candragupta II.

The plot of the Ubhayābhisārikā is very small, but is well set. It is an erotic story about two young lovers, who were separated from each other because of some misunderstanding. However, at the end, without bearing the separation, both unite with each other. The plot is ideal for Bhāṇa type of drama. The title also is meaningful as Ubhayābhisārikā means both eager to love and both make to go to meet each other “ubhayor abhisaraṇam”.

However, Vararuci does not follow fully the rules prescribed by Bharata and Dhanañjaya. Sometimes he chooses the rule stated by Bharataand sometimes the rule stated by Dhanañjaya and sometimes the rules by both. For instance, he has chosen Viṭa as the main character, which is stated by both Bharata and Dhanañjaya. However, he has not chosen Dhūrta, as the main lead as stated by Bharata. Again, Vararuci opts for both Bhāratīvṛtti and Kaiśikīvṛtti, preferred by Dhanañjaya, neglecting Bharata’s restriction to apply only verbal style (bhāratīvṛtti) in Bhāṇa. Bharata is silent about the sentiment; however, his insistence for the verbal style (bhāratīvṛtti) is confusing. However, Dhanañjaya states that poet can choose either heroic sentiment or erotic sentiment as the main sentiment of Bhāṇa. Vararuci opts for erotic sentiment as the main sentiment in his Ubhayābhisārikā, because the story is of two young lovers.

Bhāṇa should ideally have only one character on stage. According to Bharata, he should be either Viṭa or Dhūrta, however, Dhanañjaya states that Viṭa is the only character. Viṭa or Dhūrta works like a hero, comedian or supporting character all in one.

However, the story of drama needs many characters; but in Bhāṇa these characters remain behind the curtain. Vararuci presents Viṭa on the stage, but more than twenty characters who have important roles in the plot, remain behind the curtain. In the plot, Nārāyaṇadattā is the heroine and Kuberadatta is the hero, but on the stage, Viṭa Vaiśikācala is the only person who speaks with some imaginary persons. Vararuci’s Viṭa is expert in various arts. He is sharp, polished, cultured and a perfect man of the world. Vararuci has used many harlots, because without them Bhāṇa is incomplete. All the characters Vararuci has used are appropriate.

Primarily Bhāṇa contains verbal style (bhāratīvṛtti), because it is mainly based on verbal representation. That is why Bharata is against the gay style (kaiśikīvṛtti); however, Dhanañjaya states that Bhāṇa can have gay style as well. Bhāṇa uses harlots, because they support the erotic sentiment and the erotic sentiment originates from the gay style. Thus, Dhanañjaya asserts that generally (bhūyasā) Bhāṇa contains verbal style; however, it can also have other styles. Vararuci’s Ubhayābhisārikā is based on erotic (śṛṅgāra) sentimentand therefore, along with verbal style (bhāratīvṛtti), it has also used gay style.

There is a difference of opinion between Bharata and Dhanañjaya regarding the sentiments in a Bhāṇa. Bharata seems to be in favour of heroic (vīra) as the only main sentiment, whereas Dhanañjaya favours both heroic (vīra) and erotic (śṛṅgāra) as the sentiments. However, the erotic is the only sentiment that Vararuci applied to the Ubhayābhisārikā primarily.

Both Bharata and Dhanañjaya prescribe gentle (lāsya) in the Bhāṇa. However, we do not witness it anywhere in the present drama.

In the Ubhayābhisārikā, Vararuci has applied both opening (mukha) and concluding (nirvahaṇa) junctures. Vararuci has also applied the combination of elements like seed (bīja) and denouement (kārya); and actions like beginning (ārambha) and attainment of success (phalāgama).

Vararuci’s Ubhayābhisārikā does not make use of many technical aspects, because the play is conducted by a single person. Since there are no movements of other actors on the stage, it does not use the technical things like aside (svagata), aloud (prakāśa), personal address (janāntika)and confidential (apavārita). Bhāṇa is mainly based on imaginary conversationand therefore, Vararuci has applied the technical things such as the conversation with imaginary person (ākāśabhāṣita), which requires intimation scene (nepatya or cūlikā). (It needs, because Viṭa talks frequently to people, who are behind the curtain.) Again, like in other dramas, it is necessary to use benedictory verse (nāndī), prologue (prastāvanā or sthāpanā) and epilogue (bharatavākya) for the preliminaries and auspicious ending of the drama. However, Vararuci has followed Bhāsa and started the drama with the prologue, “nāndyante tataḥ praviśati sūtradhāraḥ” without a benedictory verse.

Vararuci has not provided any information about himself. However, he has provided important information about the society of that period. If we accept that he was the poet in the court of Kumāragupta, then it could be said that Kumāragupta’s period was a golden age in the Indian literary history. He has given beautiful picture of the Kusumapura, known as Pāṭaliputra. It describes the market, palaces, houses, lanes and the common people. People were living peacefullyand enjoying their life helping each other.

From Vararuci’s Ubhayābhisārikā it is known that the women were free and that they were allowed to undertake the work they liked. They were studying aṅgavidyās, looking after domestic mattersand worshipping gods. These things indicate that society was highly cultured and liberal.

It should be noted here that Vararuci was the predecessor to Dhanañjaya; and hence the Daśarūpaka was unknown to him. Therefore, it is not possible that Vararuci follows the rules prescribed by Dhanañjaya. However, since Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra was well known to Vararuci, he could have followed the rules prescribed by Bharata. Nevertheless, it must be observed that principles of Bhāṇa have been prescribed differently by both Bharata and Dhanañjaya. So, it can be observed that neither the principles of Bhāṇa are uniform, nor they have been followed in the drama completely.

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