Dramaturgy in the Venisamhara

by Debi Prasad Namasudra | 2016 | 70,412 words

This page relates ‘Vira Rasa (emotion of zeal)’ 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).

Vīra Rasa (emotion of zeal)

The predominant emotion of zeal or utsāha develops into Vīra-rasa when manifested by means of the suggestive factors in a dramatic composition. The ancients have observed that such a zeal appears running in four channels of human mind and thus presents four patterns when viewed objectively.

The zeal may be in respect of giving gifts (dāna), in showing compassion (dayā), in combating the enemy (yuddha), and in observance of duty (dharma). Thus the varied heroine may produce four types of heroes and accordingly four types of the heroic sentiment as well. In other words, the hero may have the munificent zeal, the sympathetic zeal, the bellicose heroism or the dutiful one. Their suite of suggestive factors also varies accordingly.

(i) Munificent heroism (Dāna-vīra): Here the mendicant or suppliant is the ālambaṇa. His counter-part or the other ālambaṇa is the donor. The supplications expressing the need and indigence of the beggar are the excitants (uddīpaṇa). Courtous behaviour, pitiful specch, an expression of donor’s regardlessness for the object to be parted with in gift are some of the ensuants of the munificent heart. Pride (garva), reminiscences of the past glory (smṛti) joy (harsha) are the feelings that help the zeal. Horripilation is the Sāttvikabhāva.

(ii) Sympathetic Heroism (Dayā-vīra): The oppressed person either human or non-human, who is bitterly suggering is the one ālambaṇa, and the other is the person in whose heart sympathy for him has arisen. The piteous cries of the sufferer, his pangs, his bewailing shrieks, moaning sighs and sad plight are the causes which awaken it. Running for help, removing the sufferer from the perilous situation, consoling words and readiness for self-sacrifice and such other actions are the anubhāvas. Perspiration, horripilation and sometimes stupefaction present the Sāttvika bhāvas.[1]

(iii) Bellicose Heroism (uddha-vīra): It is the arduous zeal to fight the opponent that turns into belliocose heroism. The one into bellicose heroism. The one ālambaṇa is the fighting her and his counterpart (prati-nāyaka) is the second one, who offers him fight, picks quarrel with him and opposes his interest. It is awakened by the blows of trumpet in the field of battle or the sound of the bugel that accosts the warrior to fight. The insolent speech of the adversary, his combatant attitude and rough behaviour also act as excitants. Encountering speeches, preparation for fight, flourish of arms, waving of banners, resonding trumpets and nearer approach are its ensuants. Extreme pride, anger, emulation (asūya) are some of the auxiliary feelings to enhace the emotion. Change of voice and stupefaction are the resultant states.[2]

(iv) Righteous Heroism (Dharma-vīra): An ardent zeal for doing, at all events and costs, what one ought to do, and for refraining from what one ought not to do is a heroism which is of righteous character. In this case one ālambana is the hero, and the other is the Duty itself. Listening to the contents of the religious texts, study of the scriptural injunctions or the precepts preached over by the preceptors, sages and seers are the excitants that awaken the zeal. An attempt to sacrifice one-self, to forsake one’s dearest object or otherwise to stake one’s own best interests, the declaration of vows and intolerance of impious deeds are some of the consequences (anubhāvas) of the prevalence of such a zeal. Fortitude (dhairya), reasoning (mati), pride or selfassertion (garva) are the subserving feelings. The Sāttvika-bhāvas are as usual.

The classification of the Vīra-rasa into four-fold type is thus discussed in accordance with the view of the ancients. But really speaking, Vīra-rasa can admit of as much diversity in respect of its types as are found in Śṛṅgāra-rasa. For instance, a hero may have the zeal to keep his word of honour; and for the maintenance of his truthfulness he may be prepared to make a capital stake. Thus the ardent zeal for truthfulness can develop into a Satya-vīra. If Satyavīra were to be included into the class of Dharma-vīra, it would not be a valid argument, firstly, for the reason that the notion of “Dharma” is an omnibus feature and truthfulness being one species of it, the relish of the emotional expression with a specific characteristic cannot be enjoyed in general terms. Secondly, if Dharma-vīra were to include one of its patterns, namely, Satya, then Dāna and Dayā are also as much features of Dharma as Satya is; and therefore the classification of Dāna-vīra as independent of Dharma-vīra has no justification. Panditarāja Jagannātha very aptly observes that such a fourfold classification is an arbitrary tradition.[3] He further enunciates that Kṣamā-vīra can also be manifested in a piece of composition. It becomes quite evident that any of the ten types of Dharma as dictated by Many[4] can be the ālambaṇa or sub-stratum of Vīra -rasa, provided it is manifested by means of its suggestive factors.

Apart from the varieties presented by the generic class of Dharma, there are certain other phases of human life in which one’s arduous zeal with all factors, latent and patent, can be expressed with as much standard of relish as any other type of Vīra -rasa could be assigned to. Hence any particular type of righteous zeal circumscribed by regular factors of development can assume the form of the Vīra -rasa, e. g. a great scholar who has zeal for learning and has attained a standard of matchless authenticity may be prepared to countenance even the great Guru, Bṛhaspati in a literary assemblage to offer a stake of his long-established reputation as a Pundit. In such a case Bṛhaspati is his ālambaṇa, the assemblage of men of letters and the high reputation of the other scholars are the exiting (uddīpaṇa) factors slight and challenging all other scholars is the anubhāva; pride (garva), courage (dhṛti) and reasoning (mati) are the auxiliaries inter alia. With the presentation of these factors, the manifestation of Pānditya-vīra cannot but be accepted. Similarly, a clever diplomat may have the ardent zeal to face another statesman and to subdue him by means of rendering all his opponent’s schemes futile and to prove him an inferior intelligence which may as much develop into a Buddhi-vīra as any other type of Vīra -rasa does. Then again, a wrestler may have the zeal to give a duel fight, and to assert his strength over every body else, which may rightly develop into a Bala-vīra.

It cannot be correctly stated that in all these cases, it is only a particular type of pride (garva) that is evinced and hence it is only the suggestion of the ancillary feeling; for, were it so, even in case of dāṇa, dayā, yuddha and dharma vīra -rasa, it is only a particular type of pride to offer a gift or to render some service in sympathy or to fight for glory and so on, which is manifested; and so even in accepted types of Vīra -rasa, it can be analogously stated that there is Bhāva-Dhvani and not the Rasa-dhvani. In fine, it may be stated that if there can be Rasa-dhvani in matters of Dāna, Dayā and other types of predominating zeal (utsāha), then an aesthetician cannot help the appreciation of the Buddhi-vīra and other types of the Vīra -rasa of which the four-fold division done by the ancients is only illustrative.

Footnotes and references:


Here it should be made clear that when the hero is prepared to sacrificed himself or his best interests to give something in gift in order to relieve the oppressed from his miseries, his personal sacrifice or gift will not make him a munificent hero, since it is not a gift to beggar: for the person to whom something is given is not the supplicant, nor are there the receiver’s supplifications to move the hero, but the receiver is the oppressor in this case from whom relief is being sought for the oppressor in this case from whom relief is being sought for the oppressed in exchange for the ransom proposed and the gift is conditional with an ulterior motive behind it. Hence, in such a case it will be a specimen of sympathetic or compassionate zeal and not of the munificent nature.


It may, likewise, be noted here that an attempt to offer a fight for relieving the oppressed or ancilliary to performance of a pious deed will not make the hero a Yuddha-vīra. He would, all the same, be a compassionate hero or the righteous one, but not the bellicose. What, in fact, is necessary to the prevalence of the Yuddha-vīra is that the fighting zeal should be independent and should not subserve any other emotion, otherwise the fighting attitude becomes only an amarsha, an ancilliary feeling.


Rasagaṅgādhara p. 49 LI. 14 et seq. (Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Edn.–1939.)


M. S. Chap. VI-92.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: