Vishnudharmottara Purana (Art and Architecture)

by Bhagyashree Sarma | 2021 | 59,457 words

This page relates ‘Elements of Drama (h): Sentiment (Rasa)’ of the study on the elements of Art and Architecture according to the Vishnudharmottara Purana: an ancient text whose third book deals with various artisan themes such as Architecture, Painting, Dance, Grammar, etc. Many chapters are devoted to Hindu Temple architecture and the iconography of Deities and their installation rites and ceremonies.

1.3. Elements of Drama (h): Sentiment (Rasa)

Rasa or Sentiment is a very important component in poetry. Through the delineation of different sentiments different way, the connoisseurs can relish the taste of a poetic piece.

vākyaṃ rasātmakamaṃ kāvyaṃ[1]

Establishes that:

Rasa i.e., sentiment is the soul of a kāvya or poetry.”

There are two broad divisions of kāvya in Sanskrit viz.,

  1. dṛśyakāvya and
  2. śravyakāvya.[2]

Drama belongs to dṛśyakāvya variety and for this reason it can be said that rasa i.e., sentiment is the soul of Drama too. The famous commentator Abhinavagupta also says that-no meaning comes forward without sentiment.[3] The primary meaning of rasa refers to taste or to savour or to relish, but metaphorically it means the emotional experience of beauty in poetry.[4] The sentiment is that which touches our heart and fills it with a great sensation, after reading or hearing a piece of poetry or viewing a performing art. But the point to be noted here is that only suggestive type of literary piece has the capacity to reflect the sentiment or rasa, as rasa itself is always suggestive.

Mammaṭabhaṭṭa, the author of the Kāvyaprakāśa accepts three kinds of kāvya viz.,

  1. dhvanikāvya,
  2. guṇībhūtavyaṅgakāvya and
  3. citrakāvya.

Among those the dhvanikāvya is regarded as the best type of poetry, where the suggestive sense stays as the predominant one.[5]

But in the Sāhityadarpaṇa, only two varieties of kāvya are accepted which are—

  1. dhvanikāvya and
  2. guṇībhūtavyaṅgakāvya.[6]

The third variety i.e., citrakāvya is not accepted in the Sāhityadarpaṇa.

Moreover, there are three kinds of meaning of words which are:

  1. vācyārtha,
  2. lakṣārtha and
  3. vyaṅgārtha.[7]

The vācyārtha is known by abhidhā, lakṣārtha is known by lakṣaṇā and vyaṅgārtha is recognized by vyañjanā.[8] Thus it can be said that Abhidhā denotes the primary meaning, where the dictionary meaning of the word is predominant.[9] Lakṣaṇā denotes the secondary meaning which is established after the failure of the primary sense though it is based on the primary meaning.[10] And vyañjanā denotes the suggestive sense of a word.

The suggestive sense or meaning is the main component of poetry and supporting it, Mammaṭa says—

idamiti kāvyaṃ budhairvaiyākaraṇaiḥ pradhānabhūtasphoṭarūpavyaṅgyavyañjakasya śabdasya dhvaniriti vyavahāraḥ kṛtaḥ.[11]

The suggestive sense is referred to as dhvani in Sanskrit poetics.

Ānandavardhana, the founder of Dhvani school of Sanskrit poetics and also the author of Dhvanyāloka speaks about two broad divisions of the suggestive meaning in the following way-

yo’rthaḥ sahṛdayaślāghyaḥ kāvyātmeti vyavasthitaḥ /
vācyapratīyamānākhyo tasya bhedāvubhau smṛtau //[12]

It establishes that the meaning that satisfies the soul of the connoisseur is the soul of poetry and it is divided into two varieties viz., vācyārtha and pratīyamānārtha. Vācyārtha is the primary meaning which is explicit in nature and pratīyamānārtha is the suggestive meaning.

The pratīyamānārtha is influenced by the vācyārtha and divided into three subvarieties. They are—

  1. vastumātra,
  2. alaṃkāramātra and
  3. rasamātra.[13]

These three varieties of pratīyamānārtha are accepted as the three varieties of Dhvani i.e., suggestive sense.[14] It is worth notifying that in the Locana commentary on the Dhvanyāloka by Abhinavagupta, it is clearly mentioned that the rasadhvani or rasa is mainly the soul of poetry and other two divisions are included in it.[15] So it can be said that Ānandavardhana also accepts the suggestive sense i.e., rasadhvani or rasa as the soul of poetry. In the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa also, rasa is said to be the core of Drama and without it Drama can not produce a theme.[16]

The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa accepts nine rasas or sentiments in Drama. These are—

  1. śṛṅgāra i.e., erotic,
  2. hāsya i.e., humour,
  3. karuṇa i.e., pathos,
  4. raudra i.e., furious,
  5. vīra i.e., heroic,
  6. bhayānaka i.e., terrible,
  7. adbhuta i.e., wonder,
  8. bībhatsa i.e., odious and
  9. śānta i.e., quietism.[17]

It is important to note that according to Bharata, śāntarasa was not included in the group of nāṭyarasas.[18] But the subsequent scholars have included śānta in the group of nine sentiments. On the basis of this academic confrontation, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa marks its existence by accepting the śāntarasa as an independent sentiment.[19] Moreover, it also says that śāntarasa is generated from vairāgya[20] i.e., absence of worldly desires or passions. Śāntarasa is quite impossible to establish in a Drama and it does not become interesting as Drama is all about movement. But the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa clearly asserts that there are nine sentiments in a Drama including śāntarasa.[21] Mammaṭa also gives his view point in the same spirit in his Kāvyaprakāśa and accepts nine sentiments.[22] Again the Sāhityadarpaṇa also mentions the eight sentiments together and states the existence of the śāntarasa separately.[23] The reason may be that-Drama is all about acting, performing and expressing. But in the delineation of śāntarasa it is impossible to express or perform something, because here nirveda is the sthāyībhāva. The durable psychological state of śāntarasa happens to be nirveda or vairāgya which goes against motion, emotion, action etc. It is clearly perceived by Mammaṭa and he expresses this situation in his work clearly.[24] So, the inclusion of śāntarasa in Drama by the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa provokes discussion and demands reason of establishment.

There can be a very effective discussion regarding the varieties of rasa found in the Nāṭyaśāstra and the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa.

1. Śṛṇgāra:

Śṛṇgāra or the sentiment of love is very important in kāvya specially in dramas. Because, Sanskrit poetics advices to portray either śṛṇgāra or vīra as the predominant sentiment in a Sanskrit drama.[25] It is the sentiment of love and desire where the manifestation of the activities of Kāmadeva i.e the god of love can be noticed.[26] Rati i.e erotic emotion is the sthāyībhāva or permanent feeling of śṛṇgāra.[27] Śyāma i.e dark blue is the colour of this sentiment[28] . Viṣṇu is the God of this sentiment.[29] It is of two kinds viz., saṃbhoga i.e., love in union and viraha i.e., love in separation.[30] The Nāṭyaśāstra also admits it in the same spirit.[31] In the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa both the terms viraha and vipralambha are used to denote the second variety of śṛṇgāra sentiment. But most of the Rhetoricians of Sanskrit poetics like Mammaṭa[32] and Viśvanāthakavirāja use the term vipralambha only.[33]

According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, there are ten kinds of vipralambha śṛṇgāra which are based on different kāmāvasthās i.e., stages of love or desire.[34] But in the Sāhityadarpaṇa four types of vipralambha śṛṇgāra are accepted viz., pūrvarāga, māna, pravāsa and karūṇa.[35] Again in the Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammaṭa, vipralambha śṛṇgāra is divided into five kinds viz., abhilāṣa, viraha, īrṣā, pravāsa and śāpahetuka.[36]

2. Hāsya:

The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa says that hāsyarasa is generated from some irrelevant or funny conversations or attires[37] which bring humour to the viewers’ mind and the viewers start laughing. The Nāṭyaśāstra speaks that, the comic sentiment is created through the determinants like deformed dress or ornaments, impudence, greediness, quarrel, use of irrelevant and inappropriate words etc.[38] According to the Sāhityadarpaṇa, deformed movements of hands and feet are also the cause of laughing.[39] Hāsa is the sthāyibhāva of this sentiment.[40] Sita i.e., white is the colour[41] and Pramatha is the God of this sentiment.[42] According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, it is of two kinds viz., ātmastha i.e., self laugh and parastha i.e other’s laugh.[43] This books places the grade of laughing in three standards viz., uttama, madhyama and adhama.[44] Uttama is the best form of smile where teeth are not visible; madhyama is the middle form where teeth are visible and adhama type of laughing is associated with tears and noise.[45]

3. Karuṇa:

Karuṇa i.e., pathos is the sentiment delineated in the circumstances of sorrow. The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa says that it is enacted through frightened limbs, crying in grief, pale and dry face.[46] This sentiment arises at the death of the beloved one or lovable friends or because of loss of wealth.[47] In this context the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa is seen to follow the Nāṭyaśāstra.[48] According to the Sāhityadarpaṇa, pathos arises in loss of desired things as well as in attainment of unwanted things.[49] Śoka is the sthāyibhāva of karuṇarasa.[50] Kapota i.e., the colour of pigeon is the colour of this sentiment.[51] Yama is the God of this sentiment.[52] In the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, it is said that to project the karuṇarasa, the acting is to be done by frightened limbs, sighs, crying in lamentation, pale face and drying up of mouth.[53]

4. Raudra:

Like the earlier treatises, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa relates that raudra is the sentiment that arises from anger.[54] Krodha is the sthāyibhāva of raudrarasa.[55] Rakta i.e., red is the colour[56] and Rudra is the God of this sentiment.[57] According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa anger is of four types. The first one is referred to as ripuja which means anger arising from enemy. The Sāhityadarpaṇa also admits it.[58] The second one is referred to as guruja which means anger arising from elderly persons. The third one is bhṛtyaja which means anger arising from servant and the last one is praṇayodbhava which means anger arising from love.[59] But anger is not classified in the Nāṭyaśāstra as well as in the Sāhityadarpaṇa. The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa again says that the facial expressions of anger viz., redness of eyes, cocked of eyebrows, face full of perspiration etc., should be used to project raudrarasa in performance.[60] In the Nāṭyaśāstra, it is said that raudrarasa is full of conflict of arms. So according to this treatise, when the raudrarasa is displayed in the stage, the movements and deeds of the actors should be terrible and fearful.[61] The Nāṭyaśāstra relates that this sentiment is projected by fights, striking, cutting, distortion, loud noise of battle etc.[62] According to the Nāṭyaśāstra, the raudrarasa is presented on the stage through some special acts like release of many missiles, beheading, cutting off trunk and arms.[63]

5. Vīra:

According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa gaura i.e., radish white is the colour of this sentiment.[64] Mahendra is the God of this sentiment.[65] The Nāṭyaśāstra states that the vīrarasa relates to the superior type of persons and has excitement as its basis.[66] Utsāha is the sthāyibhāva of vīrarasa.[67] This sentiment is enacted in stage through the consequents like firmness, heroism, sacrifice, diplomacy and the like.[68]

6. Bhayānaka:

According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa Bhayānaka is the sentiment of fear which arises from the commitment of a self committing offence.[69] In the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, bhayānakarasa is accepted as the result of bībhatsa.[70] In the Nāṭyaśāstra, Bharata gives numerous causes of fear viz., horrible noise, sight of ghosts, sound of jackal and owls, scene of dark forest, sight of death or imprisonment of dear ones etc.[71] Bhaya i.e., fear is the sthāyibhāva of bhayānakarasa.[72] Kṛṣṇa i.e black is the colour[73] and Kāladeva is the God of this sentiment.[74] According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, it is to be enacted on stage by the gestures of trembling hands, pale face, drying up of lips and throat etc.[75]

7. Adbhuta:

According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, Adbhuta is the sentiment that arises from wonder.[76] Vismaya is the sthāyibhāva of adbhutarasa.[77] Pīta i.e., yellow is the colour[78] and Brahma is the god of this sentiment.[79] The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa states that adbhutarasa arises from vīrarasa.[80] According to the Nāṭyaśāstra, this sentiment is projected through some determinates like the sight of heavenly beings, achievement of unexpected things or fulfillment of desires.[81] Moreover, some resultants are used to adopt for conveying this sentiment to the audience. These are-expanded eyes, bristling of hair, horripilation, perspiration and movement of fingers.[82]

8. Bībhatsa:

According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, the sentiment of bībhatsa arises from jugupsā i.e., disgusting[83] sight and it is showed by shaking of nose.[84] The Nāṭyaśāstra agrees on it and accepts jugupsā as the sthāyibhāva of bībhatsarasa.[85] According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, Nīla i.e., blue is the colour[86] and Mahākāla is the god of this sentiment.[87]

Bharata says that bībhatsarasa is to be represented through some activities such as stopping the movements of the limbs, narrowing down the mouth, vomiting, spitting, shaking of limbs in disgust etc.[88]

9. Śānta:

Śama is the sthāyibhāva of śāntarasa.[89] According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, the colour of śāntarasa is recognized as svabhāvavarṇa i.e., natural colour.[90] Paraḥ purūṣa is regarded as the god of this sentiment.[91] But according to the Sāhityadarpaṇa, Śrīnārāyaṇa is the god of this sentiment.[92]

Thus, from the discussion on the various elements of different sentiments as reflected in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa and the other sources, the following table can be generated.

Sentiments Sthāyībhāvas Gods Colours
Śṛṇgāra Rati Viṣṇu Śyāma i.e., Dark blue
Hāsya Hāsa Pramatha Sita i.e., White
Karuṇa Śoka Yamadeva Kapota i.e., The colour of pigeon
Raudra Krodha Rudra Rakta i.e., Red
Vīra Utsāha Mahendra Gaura i.e., Reddish white
Bhayānaka Bhaya Kāladeva Kṛṣṇa i.e., Black
Bibhatsa Jugupsā Mahākāla Nīla i.e., Blue
Adbhuta Vismaya Brahmadeva Pīta i.e., Yellow
Śānta Nirveda Paraḥpuruṣa Svabhāvavarṇa i.e., Natural colour

Footnotes and references:


Sāhityadarpaṇa, 1.p.24


dṛśyaśravyatvabhedena punaḥ kāvya dvidhā mataṃ/ Ibid., 6.1


na hi rasādṛte kvaścidapyarthaḥ pravartate/ Abhinavabhāratī, p.227


P.V. Kane, History of Sanskrit poetics, p. 356


idamuttamamatiśayini vyaṅgye vācyād dhvanirbudhaiḥ kathitaḥ/ Kāvyaprakāśa, 1.4


kāvyaṃ dvanirguṇībhūtavyaṅgyaṃ ceti dvidhā mataṃ/ Sāhityadarpaṇa, 4.1


artho vācyaśca lakṣyaśca vyaṅgyaśceti tridhā mataḥ/ Ibid., 2.2


vācyo'rtho’bhidhayā bodhyo lakṣyo lakṣaṇayā mataḥ/ vyaṅgyo vyañjanāyā tāḥ syustisraḥ śabdasya śaktayaḥ/ Ibid., 2.3


sa mukhyo’rthastatra mukhyo vyāpāro’syābhidhocyate/ Kāvyaprakāśa, 2.8


mukhyārthbādhe tadyoge ruḍhito’tha prayojanāt/ anyo’rtho lakṣate yatsā lakṣaṇāropitā kriyā// Ibid.,2.9


Ibid., p.6


Dhvanyāloka, 1.2


[...] Ibid., 1, p.37


evaṃ ‘pratīyamānaṃ punaranyadeva’ itīyatā dvanisvarūpaṃ vyākhyātaṃ/…….


tena rasa eva bastutaḥ ātmā, bastvalaṅkāradhvanī tu sarvathā rasaṃ prati paryavasyete iti vācyādutkṛṣṭau tāvityabhiprāyeṇa dhvaniḥ kāvyāsyātmeti sāmānyenoktaṃ/ Locana commentary, p.62


nāṭyasya mūlaṃ tu rasaḥ pradiṣṭo rasena hīnaṃ na hi vṛttamasti/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.28


Ibid., 3.30.1


śṛṅgārahāsyakaruṇā raudravīrabhayānakāḥ/ bībhatsādbhutasaṃjñau cetyaṣṭau nāṭye rasāḥ smṛtāḥ// Nāṭyaśāstra, 6.15


śānto rasaḥ svatantraḥ……./ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.2


śāntasya tu samutpattirnṛpa vairāgyataḥ smṛtā/ Ibid., 3.30.9


nava nāṭye rasāḥ smṛtāḥ/ Ibid., 3.30.1


[...] Kāvyaprakāśa, 1.1


[...] Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.182


[...] Kāvyaprakāśa, 4.44


[...] Sāhityadarpaṇa, 6.10


[...] Ibid.,3.183


[...] Nāṭyaśāstra, p.246


[...] Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.4


[...] Ibid., 3.30.6


[...] Ibid., 3.30.16


[...] Nāṭyaśāstra, 6. p.246


[...] Nāgeśvarīṭīkā, Kāvyaprakāśa, p.41


[...] Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.16


vipralambhe tu nirdiṣṭāḥ kāmāvasthāstathā daśa/ Ibid., 3.30.17


sa ca pūrvarāgamānapravāsakarūṇātmakaścaturdhā syāt/ Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.187


[...] Nāgeśvarīṭīkā, p.42


asambandhāttathā veśādbhavatīti viniścayaḥ/ Viṣṇudharmotstarapurāṇa, 3.30.12


[...] Nāṭyaśāstra, p.254


[...] Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.214


hāsyo nāma hāsasthāyibhāvātmakaḥ/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.254


sito hāsyaśca vijñeyaḥ/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.5


[...] Ibid.,3.30.6


[...] Ibid., 3.30.12-13


[...] Ibid., 3.30.13-15


alakṣitadvijaṃ caiva uttamānāṃ smitaṃ bhavet// tathā darśitadantantu madhyamānāṃ prakirtītaṃ/ sātraṃ tadadhamānāṃ syātsasvanaṃ ca mahībhujām// Ibid., 3.30.14-15


trastagātrādviniḥ śvāsaparidevitarodanaiḥ/ mukhavaivarṇya śoṣaiśca tasyehābhinayo bhavet// Ibid., 3.30.23


iṣṭabandhuviyogena dhananāśena pārthiva/ śoko bhavati tasya syādruditābhinayakriyā/ Ibid., 3.31.4


karuṇastu śāpakleśavinipataneṣṭjanaviṣayogavivhavanāśavadhabandhanasamutthonirapekṣabhāva/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.246


iṣṭanāśādaniṣṭāpteḥ karuṇākhyo raso bhavet/ Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.222


[...] Nāṭyaśāstra, p.258


kāpotaḥ karuṇaḥ ca eva/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa 3.30.6


karuṇo yamadaivataḥ/ Ibid., 3.30.7


mukhavaivarṇya śoṣaiśca tasyehābhinayo bhavet// Ibid., 3.30.23


krodhādbhavati raudrasya rasasya tu samudbhavaḥ/ Ibid., 3.30.24


raudro nāma krodhasthāyibhāvātmakaḥ/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.259


rakto raudraḥ prakīrtitaḥ/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa 3.30.4


raudro raudrādhidevaśca…../ Ibid., 3.30.7


raudraḥ…..ālambanamaristatra/ Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.227


ripujo gurūjaścaiva bhṛtyajaḥ praṇayodbhavaḥ/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.31.5


raktatvanetrabhrukuṭikrodhāmarṣaiḥ sasāhasaiḥ/ Ibid.,3.30.24


śastraprahārabhūyiṣṭa ugrakarmakriyātmaka/ Nāṭyaśāstra, 6.66


yudhaprahāraghātanavikṛtacchedanavidāraṇaiścaiva/ saṃgrāmasaṃbhramādyairebhiḥ saṃjāyate raudraḥ// Ibid., 6.64


nānāpraharaṇamokṣaiḥ śiraḥkabandhabhujakartanaiścaiva/ Ibid., 6.65


gauro vīrastu vijñeyaḥ/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.5


vīro mahendradevaḥ syāt/ Ibid., 3.30.8


vīro nāma…utsāhātmakaḥ/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.262


vīra utsāhasthāibhāvakaḥ/ Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.232


sthairyaśauryadhairyatyāgavaiśāradyādibhiranubhāvairabhinayaḥ prayoktavyaḥ/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.262


svāparādhasamudbhūtaṃ bhayaṃ nāmeha jāyate/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.31.9


utpattirbībhatsācca bhayānaka/ Ibid., 3.30.3


sa ca bikṛtaravasatvadarśanaśivolūkatrāsodvegaśūnyāgārāraṇya praveśasmaraṇasvajanabadhabandhadarśanaśrutikathādibhirvibhāvairutpadyate/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.264


bhayānako nāma bhayasthāyibhāvātmakaḥ/ Ibid., p.264


kṛṣṇaścaiva bhayānakaḥ/ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.5


kāladevo bhayānakaḥ/ Ibid., 3.30.7


trastagātrādviniḥ śvāsaparidevitarodanaiḥ/
mukhavaivarṇya śoṣaiśa tasyehābhinayo bhavet// Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa., 3.30.23


āścaryeṇa samutpattiradbhutaṃ tatprakīrtitaṃ/ Ibid., 3.30.25


adbhuto nāma vismayasthāyibhāvātmakaḥ/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.266


[...] Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.5


adbhuto brahmadaivata/ Ibid., 3.30.8


vīrāccaivādbhutotpatti/ Ibid., 3.30.3


adbhuto nāma vismayasthāyibhāvātmakaḥ/ sa ca divyadarśanepsitamanorathāvā…./ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.266


prasphuritākṣiromāñcairaṅgulībhramaṇādibhiḥ/ svedena cābhineyaḥ syādadbhutaḥstu tathā rasaḥ// Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.27


V.S Apte, The Student’s Sanskrit English Dictionary, p.222


jugupsayā ca bhavati bībhatsasya samudbhavaḥ/
nāsāvighūrṇanāttarasya codvegena tathaiva ca// Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.25-26


bībhatso nāma jugupsāsthāyibhāvātmakaḥ/ Nāṭyaśāstra, p.266


….nīlo bībhatsameva ca…./ Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.6


….. bībhatsasya mahākālaḥ…./ Ibid.,3.30.7


[...] Nāṭyaśāstra, p.266


[...] Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.245


[...] Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.30.4


[...] Ibid., 3.30.8


śāntaḥ………śrīnārāyaṇadaivataḥ/ Sāhityadarpaṇa, 3.246

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