Dramaturgy in the Venisamhara

by Debi Prasad Namasudra | 2016 | 70,412 words

This page relates ‘Sthayi-bhavas (Lasting Emotions)’ of the study dealing with the Venisamhara of Bhatta Narayana and its practical application of Sanskrit Dramaturgy. The Veni-Samhara is an extraordinary drama in Sanskrit literature which revolves around the great war of Mahabharata within six Acts. This study deals with the author, background and the technical aspects, reflecting the ancient Indian tradition of dramaturgy (Natya-Shastra).

Sthāyī-bhāvas (Lasting Emotions)

A close analysis of the nature of the different mental states noted above, makes it evident that they are incapable of developing themselves to such an extent as may enable them to hold sway over a character for a certain length of time. For, their effect is generally of very short duration. To illustrate, suppose there is a rise of anger (amarṣa). It is provoked by the sight of the wrong-doer. As a consequence, a person affected with amarṣa, scolds the wrong-doer, vapulates him or otherwise punishes him. After its expression in any of these ways, it cannot, after all, last long; it must subside and give room to another attitude. It cannot even afford to recure often and thus hold ground for good for want of frequency and continuance. Moreover such a state cannot be conclusive in itself so as it could be the be-all and end-all of all the activities of a character. All that it can be, is only in a provocative form, always leading to a further query as to why does it after all arise and, in fact, what it is essentially due to.[1] Once its root-cause is thus out, it becomes evident that it is a passing attitude, and is only subservient to some thing more enduring which has, in fact, gained a strong hold latently over the character of the individual. Thus the latent moods are ruling states of mind which are promoted by a variety of transitory states.

The distinction becomes quite clear, for it divides the mental attitudes into transitory and permanent ones. The transitory one can subserve any of the permanent emotions and help in its manifestation. Hence the former are called only bhavas or vyābhīcārībhāva and the latter one as the Sthāyī-bhāvas. Briefly they may be better distinguished by calling them feelings and emotions respectively. In this sense, feelings are not deemed competent to abide by the continuous interest of a character which is evinced only by the lasting emotions that are more powerful and strong enough to retain themselves till they transfer into a relishable state of rasa or sentiment. While drawing a line of demarcation between the two subtleties of mind, no hard and fast rule can be easily and successfully enunciated, yet the convection evolved by a large number of canonists has admitted eight mental states to the category of lasting emotions (sthāyīns) deemed capable of maturing into a relishable state (asvadyata). They are:

1. Love (rati):

It is an emotion of amor prevailing in the mind of a man by reference to a woman, or in the mind of a woman by reference to a man. It becomes a permanent state only if it subsists between persons of opposite sex, and is a desire to achieve conjugal pleasures. It has many forms and stages which deserve a detailed analysis here.

When the feeling of rati is conceived in its abstract form as distinguished from its operative part, it is called rāga. By reference to some tangible object it means interest and begins with a very fundamental state of liking of one for the other. This primitive liking gradually develops into a sense of partinality or identity of purpose which creates a feeling of being kindred (ātmīyatā). The latter notion give place to rāga or interst. When the rāga in the heart of one is responded to with a similar interest by the other, it becomes “anurāga; for, it becomes a continuous flow of bilateral rāga. This mutual interest in its lasting form[2] becomes the subject-matter of dramatic delineation. No sooner it arises that its progress can be perceptibly marked and it takes it sown course. For, when the mutual interest gains some ground it becomes Prema, and there is no break in it in spite of reasons to the contrary. Just as the rising Sun melts a lump of butter similarly the rise of prema melts the heart. In its molten form it then becomes sneha, and it pervades all the activities. When sneha has gained strength, it has its own anticipations and it hold sway over its object. This complete mastery scares away the sense of fearful submissiveness and replaces asseriveness. Sneha in its assertive form is what the sensible call mana or strong affection. It should be noted that only in this stage and further beyond, sense f indignation can find room, for there is no wrath without intense love. This love-bedaubed wrath plays an important role in the amatory career of a lover. Mana develops into praṇaya which is unflinching affection.[3] Its nature is described by the psychologists as an affection not shaken even by a thousand faults.[4] Beyond the stage of praṇaya, affection becomes the real rāga purified by numerous ordeal and proved true by a thousand tests. The continuous rāga, which, in spite of its long enjoyments gives fresh fervour in every contact with its object, is an ever-growing rāga or anurāga. The adage, “Love is never stale” really pertains to the stage of Anurāga.[5] The concern–or affection making one in unison with the other, with the effect that the life of lovers becomes ever jobial even in the midst of all odds and evens.[6]

The course of love is thus conspicuous by its different stages each of which has its own types and characteristics worthy of brief mention here:

i. Prema:

It is that of interest which is not lost in spite of apprehended reasons for the same. It could be again an ordinary prema, a middling one, or a developed one. The ordinary one sometimes suffers from casual forgetfulness or indifference on either side. The middling one always needs mutual expression, or otherwise it stands the risk of sinking. The developed one makes one wistful for the company of the other.

ii. Sneha:

It awakens the consciousness of prema which is in itself in fully developed form. It melts the heart and hence it justifies its name. It marks that stage of interest which never brings in a point of stiety. No amount of association can cause a surfeit of satisfaction. It emerges not only from closer contacts, but even a distant glance, mere narration or the reminiscence of the object of interest makes the heart brimful of love. When high density of affection is attained by the molten sneha owing to a cool demeanour of mutual regard (ādara) and its sweetness is relished in the midst of divergent feelings, it is said to have a butraceous (ghṛta-sama) character on the analogy of heated butter which becomes gradually dense when it comes in contact with cold temperature and is relished only in combination with other associated like sugar and jelly. When sneha develops into a notion of extreme identity and creates a feeling of total affinity, it is said to belong to the melleous character. Just as honey can be tasted by itself and contains different flavours, and is both warm and intoxicant; similarly when the sweet charm of sneha is palpable in itself and is warm and cordial in nature, and maddening or infatuation in effect, it is madhusama and belongs to the melleous type.

iii. Māna:

when a fesh piqueacy is relished in course of the advanced stage of affection on account of naively perverseness it is known as the assertive affection (māna). It is again either gallant (udatta) or gay (lalita). The butyraceous affection (ghṛta-sama sneha) develops into the gallant type of mana which is interspersed with an occasional submissiveness (dākṣinatā). The melleous affection (madhu-sneha) develops into lalita mana and smacks of crookedness and independence of mind. It is generally seen among those ladies who hold their sway over lovers (svādhīna-patīka).

iv. Praṇaya:

When mana results in gaining a certain amount of confidence, it becomes praṇaya, because it cannot be shaken at any cost. In its modest form it is known of a friendly (maitra) type, but when it becomes free from all sorts of hesitation and awe, it turns into a commanding intimacy (sākhya).

v. Rāga:

When on account of the exuberance of praṇaya, even some misery or affilication appeals to the loving heart as a pleasure it is rāga or attachment. It is felt more conspicuously in the state of separation. Etymologically, rāga means a colour; and that love, which can dye even unpleasant situations with a lipid colour, is called rāga. This dye (rāga) is again analogically called blue (nīlimā), or crimson (raktima). This division is based upon the nature of fastness and brilliance of colour. The blue one is again of two shades: one is nīli [nīlī] or of indigo colour, and the other is śyama[7] or the mazarine.

The nīli-rāga [nīlī-rāga] is that which has no danger of abatement. It is firm and unswerving attachment, but is not gaudy in appearance. It is generally hidden in the mess of different feelings. Such is the hue of the butyraceous affection. The śyama rāga differs from the former only in this respect that it is slightly vivid and brilliant, sicne it is associated with such other elements as timidity, jeaoousy and dissimulation (avahitthā).

The attachment even in its crimson colour is of two kinds: kausumbha and mañjiṣṭha. The former is of saffronic colour, it is quick and bears a sprightly hue, all the same it is susceptible to any other. Just as the colour of saffor is feeble, so also the attachment is fickle. It, however, shines in its own way. It is generally available in the case of sly lovers. The second in this type is the mañjiṣṭha rāga or an attachment of madder colour. It is a deep red colour and a very fast one; and unlike the śyama one it does not require any other element to support it. It deepens with constant use and brightens of its own accord. It assumes luster even with subsequent washes. Such an attachment is always fresh and fast as the madder colour.[8]

Some canonists believe in a third pattern, which they call the lakṣarāga or an attachment of the lac colour. It is bright and gaudy as compared to the madder colour and is brought out with prominent presence of womanly embellishements.

vi-vii. Futher two stages of attachment, viz., anurāga or the verdurous attachment which is ever fresh; and bhāva, the transcendent emotion of love are so unfathomable in their essential characteristics that they do not admit of any further classification.

This presents the entire scope of the lasting emotion of amore (rati) capable of being experienced in its varied stages like the sweetness of sugarcane which can be relished in various forms by its juice, treackle, jugerry, sugarcandy and sachrine.

2. Greif (Śoka):

It is a particular emotion in the form of afflictin caused by the death of some dear kinsman or due to some serious loss.

3. Wrath (Krodha):

It is an emotion of hot indignation, caused by some serious offence or a wrong done by another, like the one in killing a child, the Guru or any other dear relative, or by means of some gross insult.

4. Fortitude (Utsāha):

It is a mental attitude in the form of energetic elevation of spirit which arises from recollection of the other persons charity, valour or similar imitable virtues. This state of mind belongs only to sublime characters.

5. Terror (Bhaya):

It is a mental condition in the form of the apprehension of consequences. It arises in the mind of a person who is exposed to some grave risk. Unless there be some great danger from which the apprehension proceeds bhaya does not become an emotion, for in ordinary cases of fear, it is only a subservient feeling known as alarm (trāsa).

6. Humour (Hāsa):

It is a state of gay cheerfulness arising from ludicrous scenes, as deformity or another person, his sudden slip or any other untoward situation.

7. Disgust (Jugupsā):

It is a spirit of hesitation caused by horrid and ghastly scenes.

8. Surprise (Viṣmaya):

It is a state of astonishment created by the sight of extraordinary things or by an unanticipated experience.

Footnotes and references:


An illustration will make the position clear. For instance, when Duṣyanta craves to visit the hermitage a second time in the Sakuntala and asks his friend to find out means for doing so, it clearly beings out his mental attitude in the form of eagerness (autsukya). After the manifestation of this autsukya, the query starts as to why Duṣyanta is loath to return home and craves to be there. What in fact is this autsukya for? The reply is that the eagerness is for the sake of catching a glimpse of Sakuntala, which at once expresses his rati for her. Duṣyanta is found in a mood of anxiety (cinta) in the second Act and has lost interest in all other pursuits in life. The state of Cinta is very vividly known by the reader, but the suggestion of Cinta does not stop by itself. It further leads one to infer as to why this Cinta at all is. The reply would be that it stands for finding out expedients to meet Sakuntala. After a long lapse of time let Duṣyanta be approached, and in the sixth Act he is one again found in the state of disinterest (glani), when one hears that he has prohibited the holding of the vernal festivities. It becomes subsequently associated with despair (nirveda) when he express that his ancestors receive libation s from him with a lukewarm interest. Both the states verily become evident, but they donot rule long, since no sooner they become manifest, than they loudly ring the bell to ask what is this glani or nirveda in the mind of Duṣyata due to, and the answer is: that it is for reasons of his separation from Sakuntala or hopelessness in the matter of regaining her. This hint does srrike the not; and the tune is of Duṣuyanta’s reati for Sakunta. Even in a picture of Sakuntala drawn by Duṣyanta, he finds a bee attacking Sakuntala’s ace and he goes to threaten him with the words, “In case you would thus offend, I would cause you to be arrested within the petals of the lotus-flower.” This ejaculation not only brings out the existence of wrath (amarsha) in the mind of Duṣyanta, but immediately hints a sense of jealousy (irṣya) against the rival bee. Almost in the next moment, when his friends remind him that after all it was only a picture, the mental state of frenzy (unmada) becomes evident to every reader. But then what happens, asuya has disappeared, there is no more threat, that amarsha has evaporated and unmada also seems to lose its effect. All the same, the inquisition is there as to why this amarsha and asuya are there, and due to what there is this unmada. A moment’s thought gives a flash that there is the existence of the emotion of rati in the mind of Duṣayanta for Sakuntala, which has, at every step manifested itself, whether it may be through anger or anxiety, which prove to be the states evanescent in nature, rising and subsiding. Yet there remains a constant current of some mental state which pervades throughout all the activities and mental attitudes of the character. This pervading state of mind is more effective; it holds away for long duration, develops itself in process of time, and despite several transitory under currents, it seems to flow like Tennyson’s Brook which is conspicuous in its mode, “Men amy come and men may go, but I go on for ever.”


The interest which wanes and ultimately sinks or tends to deal a fatal blow to the sentimental rise and proves only a flinching interest has no locus standi in the forum of the dramatic art.


Cf. Bhavabhūti: “Premardrah pranyasprsah.”–Ma. Ma. V-7.


Ref. Balabodhini on the Kāvyaprakasa p. 100 Line 10 (BSS.).


The word, anurāga is used as a stage above rāga in two context: One in the earlier paragraph which notes the rāga and anurāga as the component parts of rati in which case the prefix “anu” means “paseat” so as the rāga of one and anurāga of the other compose the sthayi-bhava of rati in which case the prefix “anu” means “anusyuta” marking continous rati.


Cf. Bhavabhūti’s standard in: Advitam sukha-dukhayar-anugunam sarvasvavasthasu yat, Visrame hrdayasya yatra jarasa pyasminnaharyo rasah/ Kalenavaranatyayat parinate yat sneha-sare sthitam, Bhadram prema sumanuṣasya kathamapyekam hi tat prapyate// U. R. II-5.


Nili and Syama are the two varieties of an Indigo plant, the fruit of the former gives a light azure brinjal-like colour, wheras of the fruit of the other, the colour is dark-blue like that of a watery cloud.


Viśvanātha observes this variety of colours belonging to attachment (rāga) only in case of the Purva-rāga. Whereas the accomplished loave may as well display these different colours during its subsequent satges of separation, the view of Viśvanātha is rather too limited. (Vide Sāhityadarpaṇa III-195).

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