Dramaturgy in the Venisamhara

by Debi Prasad Namasudra | 2016 | 70,412 words

This page relates ‘Sandhi (the combination of different phases)’ 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).

Sandhi (the combination of different phases)

A Sandhi is the combination of different phases of the main action with its subsidiaries[1]. Thus is said to mark the component divisions of the dramatic action. With regard to the constitution of these Sandhis there are two schools of option one holding that the formation of dramatic Junctures depends upon the combination of the different stages of action (avasthā) with the respective Sources of the plot (Prakṛti; the other demarcating them in view of the different phases of the dramatic germ sprouting from its initial appearance to its fruition at the end.

According to the first school there are five Sandhis in a drama which respectively copulate each stage of action to its corresponding substratum of the plot. Thus where the germ (bīja) is associated with the commencement of action, it present the first Juncture known as opening or Mukha-sandhi, which may on the analogy of the Greek Drama, be termed conveniently as the Protasis of the play. In course of Mukha-sandhi the main theme is introduced, the seed of the action is shown[2].After the commencement of the action, it is usual that the main subject is digressed by the under-current of events which intervenes the course of development of the principal action. For such reason, there starts the stage of Endeavour which is gradually associated with Bindu or the sudden drop of such events as resume the main theme. Thus the meeting point of the stage of Endeavour with the element of Drop starts the Pratimukha Sandhi or the Expansion of the dramatic action[3] The third stage of action, namely, the hope of geeting the objects is often associated with the episode which helps in removing impediments that stand in the way of the principal character. In this way the conjunction of Prāptayāsā with Patākā the third Juncture known as the Development of action, the Garbha-sandhi or Catastasis in a drama[4] The prospect of success is further put a premium to by the actions of certain minors helpers whose efforts of shorter duration known as incidents ensure the Certainly of success. Thus the stage of Niyatāpti blended with the element of Prakarī brings in the Juncture of Vimarṣa-sandhi[5] or the Pause, which may be termed as the Epitasis in a drama.[6] The surety of success thus anticipated, results in the fruition of the objects, and the phalagama combines with the denouement (kārya) of the play towards its end. It presents the fifth juncture called the Nirvāhaṇa or Upasaṃhāra Sandhi, the Consummation or the Apodosis in a drama.[7]

The view that the Junctures are meant for catenating the five stages of action with corresponding five elements of plot is held prominently by Dhanañjaya, Siṅga Bhūpāla and Sāradātanaya,[8] who seem to base their opinion more on the strength of the Nāṭyaveda than that of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra.

Their theory, which may be distinctively called as the Coambulation theory of junctures, can be clearly stated in the Following form:

Serial stage of No. Action Element of Plot Juncture
I. Ārambha + Bīja (Germ) = Mukha-saṅdhi
II. Prayatna + Bindu (Drop) = Pratimukha-saṅdhi
III. Prāptyasa + Patākā(Episode) = Garbha-saṅdhi
IV. Niyatāpti + Prakarī (Incident) = Vimarśa-saṅdhi
V. Phalāgama + Kārya (Denouement) = Nirvahana-saṅdhi

Dhanañjaya defines them in the following language: He calls Mukhasaṅdhi to be so, as it has the combination of Bīja and Ārambha.[9] It is called pratimukha-sandhi because it has the union of Biṇḍu and Prayatna.[10] In Course of Garbha-sandhi according to Dhanañjaya, there is a regular search for the germ with becomes sometimes visible and at other missing. It is further supposed that there is conjunction of prāptyāsa and Patākā in this juncture. Here it may be noted that he is not very definite in his opinion about the necessity of Patākā, as he says, “there may or may not be the element of Patākā”.[11] After the statement he is perhaps reminded of his previous opinion in regard to the principle of co-ambulation as well as of the fact that Patākā is often used by classical playwrights, he adds a clause that there is a greater probability of Patākā becoming available (Syat prapti-saṃbhavah).[12] The fourth juncture of Vimarṣa shows that the germ is greater bloom as compared to what it appeared in the previous Sandhi, though it is not free from Impediments largely due to anger, curse or other calamity.[13] Lastly, the Nirvāhaṇa-sandhi is Dhanañjaya as a juncture in course of which all such matters that contained the germ and occurred in the Opening and the subsequent Sandhis and were diffused here and there are brought together to one end.[14]

According to the Dṛṣta theory there are only five junctures which are defined in the following terms:

1. Mukha sandhi:

It is juncture which discloses the origination of the germ and introduces a variety of matters and of sentiments. It also puts the principal characters to some action in furtherance of the main motif of the play. To illustrate, the first Act of the Vikramorvaśi be referred to, as it contains the germ of love between pururavas and Urvaśī, display divers events, manifests different feelings of terror and comic, and the sentiment of pūrva-rāga, and also opens the stage of the Commencement of action.[15]

2. Pratimukha Sandhi:

That juncture is designated as the one of progressions in course of which the germ that gained ground in Protasis is sprouted, but is visible only partly. Here the germ is in its very delicate existence as it appears only sprouted and then seem as though it has subsided.[16] For instance, in the second Act of the Vikramorvaśi where the heroine’s approach of her own accord to her fiancé displays the sprouting of the germ of love, the progression of which is soon hampered on account of her sudden departure for India’s count where her attendance was urgently required at the performance of the Lakṣmī-svayaṃvara.

3. Garbha Sandhi

Garbha Sandhi or Catastasis is that Juncture where the germ which formerly attained the stage of a sprout is further developed, but its growth is attended by frequent hindrance and is anxiously nursed by search and other attempts to juvenate it.[17] The their Act of the instance, brings the heroine to the mortal world under malediction and unites the couple, but actual union is obstructed by the presence of the Queen and takes place only after the departure of Citralekhā.

4. Vimarṣa Sandhi

Vimarṣa Sandhi or Epitasis is that juncture during which the germ, which has had some development in the past, gets open to greater chances of decay and fears of consequent loss due to some calamity like the one of curse or of seduction.[18] It, however, closes invariably with possibilities of reunion. For example, the curse brings in the calamity in the IV Act of the Śakuntalā, and is a self-imposed separation in the fourth Act of the Vikramorvaśi which creates the whole trouble on account of the transformation of the heroine into a creeper due to her entrance into a forbidden grove of penance.

5. Nirvāhaṇa (Upasaṃhāra Sandhi)

Nirvāhaṇa or upasaṃhāra Sandhi known as consummation or apodosis is that portion of a play wherein the germ is fully developed and ripens to a stage of fruition. It is a link which demonstrates that the seed with all its good and bad phases is brought up well, and its roots are concentrated so as to yield the fruit of the long longed for achievement by the principal character,[19] the fifth Act of the Vikramorvaśi is a suitable specimen where for the comfort of pururavas, the heroof the play, the life long union is granted by Indra who is the custodian of the heroine.

Sandhyāṅgas or Sub-divisions of junctures:

According to Bharata each one of these junctures has a number of subdivisions which are spread throughout its duration.[20] whereas among various schools of dramatic theorists there has been some difference of opinion in regard to the formation of junctures; necessarily there is a casual difference in the definitions of the various sub-divisions as well.

From the above discussion it reveals that Veṇīsaṃhāra covers all the five Sandhis as well as Sandhyāngas.He also skillfully applied all the techniques of dramaturgy as mentioned in Veṇīsaṃhāra.

Footnotes and references:


Rasārṇava-sudhākara III-26; Mālatī-Mādhava p. 61-I. 20; P. R. p. 104, L. 5.; Sāhityadarpaṇa VI-65a.; Bhāva Prakaśa p. 207, LI. 5 8; N. R. p. 77-LI. 14–17; Nāṭya-Darpaṇa 54-6.


e.g. In Act. I, Sak.; the hero is attracted of the charms of the young damsel and has a feeling which is gently responded to by the heroine.


Vide Sak. Act. It.


S”ak. latter half of III Act.


Also spelt as “Avamar’sa Sandhi”.


For Example. Obs. The oddities in S”ak. Acts IV-VI.


S”ak. Act VII. In the greek dramas as there is a tragic end more in vogue, the last stage may be rightly termed as Gats-trophe, but as the Sanskrit dramas are hardly aware of tragic conclusion, the title “Consummation”would be more significant.


Daśarūpaka I -22-23; Rasārṇava-sudhākara III-26”. Bhāva Prakaśa p. 207, Li. 9 10


Daśarūpaka I-30


Daśarūpaka Ibid.


Ibid. I -36.


Prāpti-sambhava means there is a probability of finding Patākāin a play. Dr. Haas has a translation of his own of this passage, which says, “(In it) there should be an Episode (Patākā), or (else) there should not be prospect of Success. (Prapti-sambhava=Prāptayāsā)”.—According to Dr Haas, Patākāis essential, the existence of which is so much emphasized over that without it there can be no hope of success. Will it, then mean an utter failure of the dramatic action in case in certain plays there be no Patākāand consequently no hope of success? Dhanika, the author of the Avaloka, on the country, explains the text by sub-dividing the line at: (i) “Patākāsyat na va” and (ii) “syat prapti-sambhavah”. Thus according to him Patākāis optional (autsargika), which may or may not be found in a drama.—All the same, despite its absence he interprets that prapti-sambhava will, of course, be there.


Incidentally it may be mentioned here that a similarly dubious situation is left by Dhanañjaya in case of the fourth Juncture as well, where, queerly enough, he adds Prakarī to be optional like the Patākā, nor declares that the Vimarsa–saṅdhi is a combination of Niyatapti and Prakarī as he has been stating such combination noticed a bove. The silence does not exactly determine the essential position or otherwise of the prakarī. It may only lead to the conclusion that its use is optional. Should it be so, which factors is to occupy that duration is a point not elucidated even by singa Bhupala. Logically, however, it appears that the absence of Prakarī may well fit in the dramatic development in case of minor shows of Vyayoga, Bhana, Ihamrga and others, but in a full-fledged plot of a drama or a Prakaraṇa, the cause can ill afford to remain devoid of the assistance of either or both of these element, universally recognized by all the dramaturgists.


The phrase “Ekartham upaniyante” is interpreted by some scholars, to mean the recollection of all important episodes right from the opening of the drama upto the point. The existence of such recollection culminating in the fruition of the object determines the Nirvahana sandhi. It may be noted here that this view may have some reality in rare cases as the one in the Satya hariscandra but, on the whole, it is likely to be conspicuous more in its breach that in its observance.


Nāṭyaśāstra XIX -39 followed by Mālatī-Mādhava 61, line 63; Rasārṇava-sudhākara III-30; Sāhityadarpaṇa VI 76 it may be noted here that some scholars desire that both Bīja and Bindu should be brought in course of Protasis, but a majority of opinion is in favour of using them successively. Obs. Nāṭaka-lakṣaṇa-Ratnakośa 547


Nāṭyaśāstra XIX-40.


Ibid. XIX 41.


Ibid. XIX -41.


Nāṭyaśāstra XIX-43.


Irrespective of further sub-divisions, Matrgupta also divides a dramatic action into five junctures, bearing the same popular tiles as the mukha-saṅdhi and others, but prefers to define them as dealing respectivelywith the doer (sadhaka), the means (sadhana), the object (sadhya), success (siddhi), and consummation (sambhga),. According to him each junctur5e is a combination of three factors, I. e. there is an element of enthusiasm associated nwith contemplation of causes and effects and also with the object of acquisition in the mukha-sandhi; in the pratimukha there is availability of acquisition, then the extension of act going (prasara), and then application of those means in furtherance of the achievement; the removal of obstruction (udbheda), prospect of achievement, and the assistance of friend are the distinctive features of the Garbha-sandhi; fresh rise of impediments, a further cloud, and yet full chances of success due to the reinforcement of action become visible in the vimarsa-sandhi and the fulfillment of desires, the acquisition of object and the culmination of actions are the three ingredients of the Nirvahana-sandhi. Thus Matrgupta follows, in other words the Co-ambulation Theory of junctures. The illustrations, however as incorporated by Sagaranandin to mark these different Junctures shown by Matrgupta, are both inapt and untheoritical, for which reason perhaps his view becomes acceptable only on a broad principle of the division of dramatic action. Nāṭaka-lakṣaṇa-Ratnakośa L.I. 530534: e.g. In the Bhīma -vijaya, an unpublished drama, Bhīma is shown to be the agent (Sadhaka), a mace given by Vāsudeva is the means (sadhana), the ruin of Duryadhaṇa is the object (sadhya) and the gain of kingdom for Yudhiṣṭhira is the success (siddhi) and finally the amorous enjoyment of Draupadī by Bhīma is the last stage of action (sambhoga). Here it may be pointed out that the con-summation (sambhoga) being interpreted as morous enjoyment is altogether out of place, and seems hardly to bear the view-point of the general application of these rules to other dramatic works N.I.R.LI.460-530

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