Dramaturgy in the Venisamhara

by Debi Prasad Namasudra | 2016 | 70,412 words

This page relates ‘Modes of Addess in a Drama’ 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).

Bharata has prescribed set rules how a character should address another in a play. Bharata mentions the rules of popular modes of address or the manner in which persons of equal, superior or inferior status in a play are to be addressed by those of the superior, the medium or the inferior class.

As stated by Bharata[1] the great sages even adored by gods should be addressed as “Bhagavan” and their wives similarly “Bhagavati”. For example Kaṇva is addressed so by his disciple, and Mārīca by Duṣyanta in Śakuntalaṃ. Gods, persons wearing sectarian teacher’s dress and persons very learned should be addressed as “Ārya” and the king as “Mahārājā; the teacher as “Upādhyāya” and the old men as “tāta”.

The kind may be addressed either by name or “Rājā” by the Brāhmaṇa s and that is to be accepted, for the Brāhmaṇas are to be adored by the kings. The minister is to be addressed by Brāhmanas as “Amatya or Saciva” and by other persons inferior to them (i.e. Brāhmaṇas) always as “Ārya”. One is to accost one’s equals by the name with which they are styled. A superior person may, however, be addressed by name by inferior persons when the latter are privileged to do so. Men and women in their employment and artisans and artists are to be addressed as such (i.e. according to their status). A Marsa (a respected person) is to be addressed as “bhāva” and a person less so as “Marsaka”. Person of equal status as “Vayasya” and a low person as “Ham, ho, handa” or a low person is to be addressed as Ham, ho, handa by equally low person.

The chariot rider (Rathī) should always be addressed as Āyuṣmān by the charioteer. An ascetic or who has attained beatitude is t be addressed as “Sadho” the crown prince as “Svāmī” and other princes as “Bhartṛdāraka”. Inferior persons are to be addressed as “Somya” and “Bhadramukha” preceded by “He”.

Thus according to Bharata a person is to be addressed in a play by term appropriate to his vocation, art or learning practiced by him his or birth.

Thus a disciple or a son is to be addressed by the Guru or the father as “Vatsa, Putraka, tāta” or by name or clan name. The king is to be addressed by his servants as well as subjects as “Deva”, but when he is Sārvabhauma i.e. he is an overlord of other kings, then always “Bhaṭṭa” by his servants. The king is to be addressed by sages as “Rājan” or by patronymic name and “Vayasya” or “Rājan” by the Vidūṣaka. The queen and her maids are to be addressed by Vidūṣaka. The queen and her maids are to be addressed by Vidūṣaka as “Bhavatī”. The Vidūṣaka should be addressed by the king as “Vayasya” or by name. In Abhijñānaśakuntalam in Mālavikāgnimitra and in Ratnāvalī this rule is followed. The husband in youth should be addressed by all women as “Āryaputra”, otherwise “Ārya” and the king as “Mahārāja”. The elder brother should be addressed as “Arya” and the younger brother like one’s son. These are the modes of address to be used to male characters in a play. After it Bharata mentions the modes of addressing women. Female ascetics, goddesses are to be addressed as Bhagavatī, wives of respectable seniors and of king’s officers or respected women and a little old ones are to be addressed as “Bhavatī”.

In a play king’s wives are to be addressed by servants and attendants “Bhattini”, “Svamīni”, “Devi”.

The chief queen is to be addressed “devi” by the king or the attendants, Bhoginīs and the rest as “svamīni, unmarried princesses are to be addressed by their handmaids as “bhartrdārika”. An elder sister is to be addressed as “bhagīni” and the younger as “Vatsa”.

A Brāhmaṇī, a nun (liṅgastha) or a female ascetic is to be addressed as “Ārye”.

A wife is to be addressed as “Ārya” or by referring to her father's or son’s name. Women friends among their equals are to be accosted by one another with the word “hāla”.

A handmaid is to be accosted by a superior woman with the word “hanje” and the courtesan should be addressed as Ajjuka by the servants. The mother of the courtesan is to be addressed by the servants as “Atta”.

In Śṛṅgāra the wife may be addressed by the king or the others as “Priye”. The wives of priests and merchants are always to be addressed as “Atta”.

In Śṛṅgāra the wife may be addressed by the king or the others as “Priye”. The wives of priests and merchants are always to be addressed as “Ārye”.

Thus Bharata has provided rules for the modes of address to be used in plays in great details. These rules have been mostly followed in most of the Sanskṛt plays. Numerous examples may be given from the plays to support these rules.

Dhanañjaya states modes of address in brief and in most respects he agrees with Bharata. But in stating that “sutrin” is to be called “bhava” by his assistant and he i.e. his assistat is to be addressed “Marsa” by the Sūtradhāra, Dhanañjaya[2] deviates from Bharata. He bases this rule on the practice of the plays in their prologue part. While in the opinion of BharataMarsa” is to be spoken as “bhāva” and lesser to him as Marsaka. But these deviations are minor in Dhanañjaya. Bharata has stated all the modes of address to be applied in plays very clearly and in great details. Dhanañjaya has only abbreviated them for the sake of convenience and to avoid unnecessary details.

In addition to these, there are some more ways of presenting the matter. As also stated earlier, in the view of Dhanañjaya[3] this subject-matter can be divided into three, with regard to the dramatic rules. In this some matter is to be heard by all, some by certain persons and some is supposed not to be heard by any. Dhanañjaya has also stated that the matter to be heard by all is termed “Prakasam” (aloud) and the matter supposed not to be heard is termed “Savgatam” or “Ātmagatam”. The matter to be heard by certain persons is of two kinds–Janantikam and Apavaritam. Besides, there are other modes of speech like “Akasabhasitam”, in the ear and so on. We will view these terms in the light of views of Bharata, Abhinavagupta, Dhanañjaya and Dhanika.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Bharata, Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Ch. XVII, 65-94.

[2]:

Dhanañjaya, Daśarūpaka , B. II, 67-71. BHavonugena Sutri ca marstyetena sopi ca-,—Dhanika, Av., pp. 144, 145.

[3]:

Dhanañjaya, Daśarūpaka B.I., 63064.

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