Friday, August 13, 2010

Sanskrit Drama- Introduction

Introduction to Sanskrit Drama
Sanskrit poetry can be generally classified into:
1) Drishya - which can be seen or enacted

2) Shravya - which can be heard (shloka)

So, all dramas are Drishya. 

In Sanskrit, drama is called rupaka and one-act plays are known as upa rupakas.

The 3 Elements of Rupakas are:

  • Vastu or the plot of the play.
  • Rasa or the 
  • Neta or the hero.
The Plot may be divided into
The principal plot (adhikarik): It refers to the main characters and pervades throughout the story.

The sub-plot or the accessory plot (prasangik): It is an added information to the main plot. All except the hero are the characters of the sub-plot.
Subplot is again divided into 2 parts i.e. Prakara and Pataka. 

These are episodes written to hinder and develop the normal flow of the story. Pataka may be of considerable length extending till the end of the play where as Prakara is an incident of limited duration and no major characters are involved in it. Eg. In Shakuntala, Durvasa cursing Shakuntala is the Pataka and Shakuntala losing her ring is the Pataka.

The principal plot has Bija, Bindu, and the Karya. Literally, bija means the seed or the plot, bindu means the drop or the fall, and karya refers to the climax or the final issue.
The Bija, Bindu, Karya, Pataka and Prakara together are called the Arthaprakritis.

The source or derivation of the plot may be from the history or mythology, it may be fictious or the mixture of both. Shakuntala is of the third kind, a mixture of mythology and fiction.

There are 5 avasthas or stages of development of a dramatic plot:

  • Aarambh or the beginning.

  • Yatna or the effort (to bring out the rasa).

  • Prapthyasha or the prospect.

  • Niyatapti or the removal of obstacles.

  • Phalagam which refers to obtaining the desired result.

These 5 avasthas have to be united by samdhis or junctures.

There are 5 samdhis:

Mukh or the Protasis (Introduction)

  • Pratimukh or the Epistasis - an effort or the yatna for the progress of the play's plot.

  • Garba or the Catastatis - attainment or non-attainment of the end (Patakas   may end).
  • Avamarsh or Peripeteia - it goes along with the niyatapti and it is a conscious effort to postpone the end.

  • Nirvahan or Upasanha - catastrophe or the final fall of events.

There are 4 types of Neta in Sanskrit drama:

  •       Dhirodaatta - the ideal neta, with all the 8 manly characteristics (Dushyant - in Abhigyana Shakuntalam).
  •       Dhirolalitha - soft-spoken and good-looking but he is not very serious.
  •       Dhiroshantha - peace-loving and patient.
  •       Dhirodatta - Lacks one of the 8 manly characteristics (Ravana, Karan).

The 8 characteristics are:

  •         Shobha or the handsome.
  •        Bilaas or with a broad outlook and open thought.
  •        Maadhurya or sweet in behaviour.
  •        Gambhirya or combination of pride and strength
  •        Dhairya or courageous.
  •        Tejas or charismatic.
  •        Laalitsya or humorous,fun and adorable.
  •        Audharya or generous and magnanimous.

Then the plot has Pithmards, assistants to the characters. They should have inferior qualities than the hero. Nayika or the heroine should come in relation with the hero. Then there is the Vidushak who gives comic relief to the play.

The Rasa or the sentiment is the base of all Sanskrit plays. It arises theThe natural bhavas are called satvika and there are 8 satvika in all. From the 8 bhavas, there are 8 rasas. The permanent sentiment that is present throughout the play is called the sthai bhava. In actuality, there are 9 rasas or bhavas but the shantha bhava cannot be enacted on stage.
The 8 bhavas are:
         1 . Shringar (erotic)
         2. Hasya (humour)
         3. Karuna (pity)
         4. Veer (courage)
         5. Adhbhudh (wonder)
         6. Bhayanak (fearful)
         7. bhibatsya (disgust)
         8. Raudra (anger)

Alambana: This is the base of rasa, reference to person or things, to whom or which a sentiment arises.

Uddipana: what excites or enhances
Anubhava: outward manifestation of the internal feelings

Sattvika: natural bhavas

Every drama opens with a prelude or a prolouge call known as ' Nandi'. It is given either by the 'Sutradhar' (the play writer) , 'Stupaka' (manager) or the one of the main characters. 

Down points of a Sanskrit drama are:

1. It is very patronising and favouring males in nature.

2. The use of Sanskrit for the men of high caste and Prakrit for women and other lower caste people is very caste and gender discriminating.

3. There is no presence of violence, tragedy or comedy.


  1. hey megha, what are these white patches??:)

  2. Give me some time..I am trying to fix it.