DKK: The Bhanika

The sixth verse of DKK states the genre of play that will be performed by way of a pun.

avagaṇita-sandhi-bhūmā nāṭya-kaleyaṁ baliṣṭha-saptāṅgā |
parama-suvṛtti-yugāḍhyā vara-rājya-śrīr iva sphurati ||6||

The verse compares the play to a powerful kingdom that disregards the need for treaties (sandhi), which is empowered by seven great parts (which are svāmī (king), āmatya= (ministers), kośa (treasury), rāṣṭra (land), durga (fortresses), and bala (armies). The third characteristic of the powerful kingdom is that it is prosperous (āḍhyā) due to being highly just and righteous (parama-suvṛtti-yuk). The sutradhara will only make it clear in his next statement that the nāṭya-kalā he is here talking about is the bhāṇikā.

According to the Sāhitya-darpaṇa, there are 18 varieties of uparūpaka, or dṛśya-kāvya, that is to say a performance that is to be watched rather than to simply be read or heard (śrāvya-kāvya). In this he differs from the Bharata Nātya-śāstra, which only lists ten (18.2-3). The bhāṇikā is named in the list of 18, but not in the older list. As it turns out, though, it is particularly well suited to the subject matter of this particular play, as we shall see.

When the above verse is read with reference to the bhāṇikā, the descriptive characteristics are to be read as follows: (1) It disregards the rules for the nāṭaka, which require five sandhis, or plot junctures. In fact, as we shall see, the bhāṇikā requires only two of these. (2) Furthermore, the bhāṇikā has seven aṅgas or parts, which we shall also list below. (3) And last, of the four kinds of acting style or vṛtti, it requires only two.

Most of the translations and terms we will use in this discussion are borrowed from the Ballantyne/Mitra translation of Sāhitya-darpaṇa. Here is the definition of the bhāṇikā as given there:

bhāṇikā ślakṣṇa-nepathyā mukha-nirvahaṇānvitā |
kaiśikī-bhāratī-vṛtti-yuktaikāṅka-vinirmitā ||
udātta-nāyikā manda-nāyakātrāṅga-saptakam |
upanyāso'tha vinyāso virodhaḥ sādhvasaṁ tathā ||
samarpaṇaṁ nivṛttiś ca saṁhāra iti saptamaḥ |

In the bhāṇikā fascinating costumes are worn, it only has a plot consisting of the mukha and nirvahaṇa. Of the four acting styles, it adopts only the kaiśikī and bhāratī and is conducted in only one act. The heroine will be of good character and from a noble background, whereas the hero is unreliable. It has seven parts: upanyāsa, vinyāsa, virodha, sādhvasa, samarpaṇa, nivṛtti and saṁhāra.
The word bhāṇikā is the diminutive form of bhāṇa, which is one of the original ten varieties of rūpaka. The bhāṇa is predominantly bhāratī in style; its principal character is a rogue or dhūrta, who is mostly boasting of his conquests, whether erotic or heroic. This kind of performance is for all intents and purposes a monologue, a one-man show, also in one act and having only the two sandhis, mukha and nirvahaṇa. (See SD 6.312-314)

We will now look at each of these elements and explain them to the best of our ability, showing how they are applicable her. Keith writes that Rupa Goswami's DKK was "obviously written in accord with the text definitions" (A. Berriedale Keith, The Sanskrit Drama. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998 (1924). Whether that is true or not seems irrelevant, as all plays were written in conformity with the prescriptions of whatever genre they happened to be in. Whatever the case, this genre does indeed seem to fit the subject of DKK perfectly and requires no added artifice.

The two junctures

Since the junctures (sandhis) have a large number of subdivisions, we will simply list them here, and where appropriate in the course of the play itself, we will point out their application. A typical full Sanskrit play (nāṭaka) will have five such junctures: mukha, pratimukha, garbha, vimarśa and nirvahaṇa. To go into an exhaustive description and analysis of these would be far too demanding to give here. Those who are interested can look to the translations of the various books on Sanskrit drama to get an idea. Tamal Krishna Goswami and Kushakratha Das did a commendable job in the notes and appendices to Jagannatha Priya Natakam, a work that deserves a great deal of credit for the adaptation of ancient Sanskrit dramatic forms into English.

Of the five junctures, only two are used in the bhāṇikā, the mukha and the nirvahaṇa which are the introductory and concluding portions of a dramatic plot. The three middle sandhis are the opposing factors and various complications in the development of the drama.

The mukha-sandhi is defined as that part of the play in which the bīja or seed, i.e., "the germ or origin of any composition (as of a poem or the plot of a drama)" (MMW) first is planted and begins to sprout. It is the introductory development of the plot. This has twelve subdivisions, which are given below. All the great works on Sanskrit drama give examples from the classic plays. Rupa Goswami uses the Lalita-mādhava as his textual example. Where relevant, we will be looking for illustrations of these features in DKK.
  1. upakṣepa: The first suggestion or hint of the dramatic matter. This usually comes immediately at the beginning of the viṣkambhaka, when the minor characters introduce the events that will be described.
  2. parikara: bījasya bahulīkāraḥ; "The enlargement." The covert or indirect intimation of coming events in a plot or of the bīja.
  3. parinyāsa: (bīja-niṣpatti-kathanaṁ) "allusion to the completion of the plot, a clear mention of the final goal or settlement of the matter."
  4. vilobhana: (nāyakādi-guṇānāṁ varṇanaṁ) "allurement, declaration of the hero or heroine's virtues, i.e., their capacity to see the adventure through."
  5. yukti: (samyak prayojanānāṁ nirṇayaḥ) "determination of purpose, deliberation, deciding on the propriety or impropriety of the course of action; resolution."
  6. prāpti: (sukhasya samprāptiḥ) "the attainment of happiness on hearing the resolution to carry through on the purpose." Examples are when Draupadi's joy on hearing Bhima's determination to avenge the misdeeds of Duhshasan in Veṇī-saṁhāra. Krishna's joy on hearing Radha's anklebells in the first act of Lalita-mādhava, giving a premonition of the joy that will come at the end of the play when they are finally united.
  7. samādhāna: (bījasya punar ādhānaṁ) "A firm establishment or reiteration of the plot (in a wider setting, or by a major character)." Such as when Radha herself declares her nascent love for Krishna in LM's first act.
  8. vidhāna: (sukha-duḥkha-karaṁ) "conflict of feelings, bringing both pleasure and pain" such as when Radha feels desire for a brahmin (causing her suffering) until she realizes it is Krishna disguised as a brahmin (LM 2.12).
  9. paribhāvanā: (ślāghyair guṇaughaiś citta-camatkāraḥ, RSK, kutūhalottarā vācaḥ, SD) "words exciting curiosity, wonderment, inquiry into progress [of the plot]"
  10. udbheda: (bījasya udghātaḥ ) "disclosure, the sprouting of the bīja, vow of action"; such as when Bhima sets forth to battle in Veṇī-saṁhāra.
  11. bheda: (bījasyottejanaṁ ) "Division, the element that activates the bīja "; Daśa-rūpaka has "urging, excitement"; Rupa Goswami gives the example of Kundalata encouraging Radha's love for Krishna (LM 2.20).
  12. karaṇa: (prastutārtha-samārambhaṁ) "resumption, inauguration of actual theme, proper commencement of the main business of the play"
Nirvahaṇa is the culmination, when the various strands of the plot that have been scattered in various directions are brought back together into a grand conclusion (mahat prayojanam) or finale. It has 14 elements (sandhy-aṅgas).
  1. sandhi (bījopagamanaṁ); "Junction": noticing the germ, i.e., when the bīja is visible in its fully developed form and the main characters see the first attainment of the goal.
  2. vibodha; (kārya-mārgaṇam ); "search for the goal, seeking of the end or the consummation of the ultimate object, the final hurdle to be overcome."
  3. grathana; (sad-upekṣepaḥ); "hint, intimation of the end; the first satisfactions of achieving the goal"; such as when Bhima ties Draupadi's tresses after killing Duhshasana or Radha states her joy at seeing Krishna (LM 9.19).
  4. nirṇaya; ( anubhūtoktiḥ); "Certainty": "Declaration of a fact personally known; relating a past experience." T.K. Goswami translates as "narration." Rupa Goswami gives the example of Lalita-mādhava, 9.19, when Krishna in Dvaraka recalls to Radha their previous pastimes in Vrindavan. In SD, the example from Veṇī-saṁhāra indicates a lengthy narration in which Bhima summarizes his accomplishments in destroying the Kauravas.
  5. paribhāṣaṇam ; (mitho jalpaḥ parivādo vā ); either "mutual conversation" or "harsh words, censure." Rupa Goswami gives the conversation of Madhumangala with Sukanthi in LM 9; harsh words are found in the same place (9.21) when Madhumangala criticizes Sukanthi.
  6. prasādaḥ ; (śuśrūṣādy-upasampannā prasannatā ); "graciousness, appeasement by service; waiting upon or the like." Examples are again Bhima binding Draupadi's tresses in Veṇī-saṁhāra. LM simply gives Krishna's expression of contentment.
  7. ānandaḥ; ( abhīṣṭa-samprāptiḥ ); "bliss, attainment of the desired goal."
  8. samayaḥ ; (duḥkha-saṅkṣayaḥ ); "deliverance, the termination of all sufferings, the removal of all misery."
  9. kṛtiḥ ; (labdhārthasya sthairyam ); "consolation, the act which resolutely establishes the final achievement of desires."
  10. bhāṣaṇam; (mānādy-āptiḥ); "reception of honors"; In LM, Nanda Maharaj blesses Radha and Chandravali.
  11. upagūhanam ; ( adbhutārtha-pariprāptiḥ); "surprise, attainment of something unexpected or by unexpected means; the arrival or appearance of a wonder."
  12. pūrva-bhāvaḥ ; (mukhya-kāryasya saṁsargaḥ ); "anticipation" (This is pūrva-vākyam in SD. defined as yathoktārthopadarśanam or demonstration of how earlier statements or promises have been realized.
  13. upasaṁhāraḥ; (kṛtārthatā sarvābhīṣṭopalaksitaḥ ); "termination" kāvya-saṁhāraḥ in SD. This is the offering of a benediction that comes at the end of nearly all plays, "Now what else can I do for you?" And, according to Rupa Goswami, is followed by the expression of the prayer, as in LM 10.36.
  14. praśastiḥ; (samyak maṅgalāśaṁsanaṁ ); "a benediction, such as praying for peace etc., in the reign of a king."

The Seven Divisions of the bhāṇikā

These are listed and defined in SD 6.395-399:

upanyāsaḥ prasaṅgena bhavet kāryasya kīrtanam ||
nirveda-vākya-vyutpattir vinyāsa iti sa smṛtaḥ |
bhrānti-nāśo vibodhaḥ syān mithyākhyānaṁ tu sādhvasam ||
sopalambha-vacaḥ kopa-pīḍayeha samarpaṇam |
nidarśanasyopanyāso nivṛttir iti kathyate |
saṁhāra iti ca prāhur yat-kāryasya samāpanam ||

  1. Upanyāsa is the casual declaration of the end.
  2. Vinyāsa: An utterance of self-disparaging words.
  3. Vibodha: The removal of error.
  4. Sādhvasa: A false statement.
  5. Samarpaṇa: Reproachful words uttered under the agitation of grief.
  6. Nivṛtti: The mentioning of an example.
  7. Saṁhāra: The accomplishment of the object.
It is not clear to me at this point how these are different from the sandhis or their subsidiary junctures. Certainly the terms used here are unique to the bhāṇikā. We will have to keep our eyes open to see if the commentaries make reference to them or whether Rupa Goswami makes any obvious effort to follow the definition as given here.

The vṛttis.

There are four kinds of vṛtti or acting style: bhāratī, ārabhaṭī, sātvatī, and kaiśikī. Of these, only the first and last are suitable for the bhāṇikā. In the previous verse it was stated that narma-vivāda-goṣṭhī is the main subject of the play, and now from the definition of the bhāṇikā hinted at here, it becomes clear how this is the perfect genre for the subject.

Rupa Goswami in his own Nāṭaka-candrikā, as so often, follows Rasārṇava-sudhākara almost word for word in his description of these four vṛttis. Though the differences are minor, the DKK verse appears in fact to be following the Sāhitya-darpaṇadefinition more closely. But on the whole, the definitions of these four vṛttis is pretty consistent throughout the literature beginning with the Nāṭya-śāstra itself.

Ārabhaṭī (“the vigorous bearing”) and sātvatī (“noble bearing”) are more extroverted styles associated with the masculine heroic mood, i.e., the dhīroddhatta and dhīroddāta nāyakas. The first calls for much fighting, boasting and vigorous physical displays and is prescribed where the dominant rasas are the heroic, or karuṇa, bhayānaka, bībhatsa, etc. The latter is associated with śānta, adbhuta, vātsalya or vīra rasas.

śānta-vīrādbhuta-prīta-vatsaleṣu tu sātvatī |
preyaḥ śṛṅgāra-hāsyeṣu proktā vṛttis tu kaiśikī ||268||
bībhatse karuṇe cārabhaṭī vīre bhayānake |
prāyo raseṣu sarvatra bhāratī karuṇādiṣu ||269||
The kaiśikī is used in the erotic; the sāttvatī in the heroic, the ārabhaṭī in the furious and the action called the bhārati is always employed in the disgustful flavor.
As usual, this is somewhat oversimplification that is corrected or emended by others.

yā vāk-pradhānā puruṣa-prayojyā
strī-varjitā saṁskṛta-pāṭhya-yuktā |
sva-nāma-dheyair bharataiḥ prayuktā
sā bhāratī nāma bhavet tu vṛttiḥ || (NS 20.26)

eṣā vāṇī-pradhānatvād bhāratīti nigadyate ||244||
prastāvanopayogitvāt tatraiva parikīrtitā | (RSK 1.462)
strī-hīnā puruṣa-śreṣṭha-prayojyā vāk-pradhānikā ||245||
bhāratī saṁskṛtair yuktā vṛttiḥ syāc caturaṅgikā |

The bhāratī (“eloquent bearing”) is predominantly emphasizing the spoken word and the prologue or prastāvanā, which is where this very verse (6) is found in DKK, is its principal place of usage. It is generally the role of men and the language is Sanskrit, i.e., the uttama-pātra.

Kaiśikī vṛtti

Perhaps the clearest indicator of what we should expect from the bhāṇikā genre is given in the description of the kaiśikī:

yā ślakṣṇa-nepathya-viśeṣa-citrā
strī-saṅkulā puṣkala-nṛtya-gītā |
sā kaiśikī cāru-vilāsa-yuktā ||169|

…associated with charming vivacity and is particularly delightful from the fascinating costumes worn by the heroine and others, in which women abundantly take part, dancing and singing are fully indulged in, and the actings are founded on the enjoyments of love. (SD 6.169, Mitra 219)
Since playful spirit joined with laughter, etc. (BRS 4.8.7) So not surprisingly the combination in kaiśikī fits the mood of DKK perfectly. The many women indicates Radha and her sakhis, but also priya-narma-sakhāsplay an important role. In this play, the other rasas do not play a major role. The elements of the kaiśikī are thus four kinds of narma or joking. In SD (6.170-174):

narma ca narma-sphūrjo narma-sphoṭo'tha narma-garbhaś ca |
catvāry aṅgāny asyā vaidagdhya-krīḍitaṁ narma ||
iṣṭa-janāvarjana-kṛt tac cāpi trividhaṁ matam |
vihitaṁ śuddha-hāsyena sa-śṛṅgāra-mayena ca ||
narma-sphūrjaḥ sukhārambho bhayānto nava-saṅgamaḥ ||
narma-sphoṭo bhāva-leśaiḥ sūcitālpa-raso mataḥ ||
narma-garbho vyavahṛtir netuḥ pracchanna-vartinaḥ ||

  1. Narma. witty jest tending to charm the beloved. This is held to be threefold according to whether it is used in pure joke (śuddha-hāsyajaṁ), joke mixed with love (śṛṅgāra-hāsyajaṁ), or joke mixed with fear (bhaya-hāsyajam).
  2. Narma-sphañja (or –sphūrja, prefered by Vishwanath Kaviraj, but original to Nāṭya-śāstra and followed by Shinga Bhupal and Rupa Goswami) is the first union of two lovers in which there is joy in the beginning but fear in the end.
  3. Narma-sphoṭa “is held to be flavor (the Erotic) slighly suggested by glimpses of love.”
  4. Narma-garbha, i.e., “the action of the amorous hero in concealment”
Definition of narma: RSK (RSK 1.476-477, NC 258) adds agrāmya, "not vulgar". Singa Bhupala renames the subdivisions of the first narma and defines them as follows:
  1. sambhogecchā-prakaṭanāt: “from the lovers revealing their desire”
  2. anurāga-nivedanāt: “from the telling of one’s love”
  3. kṛtāparādhasya priyasya pratibhedanāt; “mocking the beloved who has committed an offense”
Rasa-sudhākāra then further expands the number of narma to 18 by multiplying each of the above six (the first narma’s three categories plus the other three) by three, according to whether the it is revealed by words, dress,or action.

It will take far too much space to go through all the examples, etc., given by the various authors on the subject and their commentators.

The Hero and Heroine

Nothing much is said about the hero and heroine other than the following: "The heroine will be of good character and from a noble background (udātta), whereas the hero is unreliable (manda)." Mitra translates as "heroine of a high family and a vulgar hero." (p. 264)

In actual fact, these two descriptions are not technical terms found in the usual descriptions of the nāyaka and nāyikā. In the bhāṇa, as well, the hero was depicted as a rogue (dhūrta).

In the dāna-līlā theme, Krishna is clearly a bit of a rogue. At the very best he fits the category of a dhīra-lalita nāyaka, which is fitting for the romantic comedy type of situation. As for Radha, though a cowherd in origin, in DKK she is always depicted as the queen of Vrindavan.

This article will be updated as we go through the translation and make revisions and expand the notes.


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