Saturday, September 19, 2020

Indian Aesthetics Theory : Dhavni, Rasa


Indian Aesthetics

Indian aesthetics has provided a huge range of human experiences, thoughts, lasting values, beliefs, and pleasures. The tradition of Indian aesthetics is the oldest and vastest of any, with commentaries emanating from the far north in Kashmir to the deep south in Tamil Nadu. Over time, Indian aesthetic theories have crossed the disciplines and have become useful to almost all researchers and scholars of the different arts and of literature. Of primary importance, it is considered the prototype of Sanskrit, which in due course made it relevant not only to literature and the humanities but also to the performing arts, comparative studies, and social sciences.

Indian aesthetics is a vast and diverse subject that warrants a keen interest from practitioners of aesthetics.

Indian Aesthetics The aim of this book is to present key scholarly works, thereby creating greater general interest, and relate this to the various fields of Indian aesthetics. This book is based on various sources, including Bharata-Muni’s Nāyaśāstra, Ānandavardhana’s Dhvanyāloka, Abhinavagupta’s Abhinavabhāratī and Locana, and other relevant texts. It sets out to address issues related to Indian aesthetics and Indian poetics from both technical and philosophical perspectives and aims systematically to examine key problems in Indian aesthetics. Indian Aesthetics It assimilates and documents the different manuscripts, texts, commentaries, and sources available in Sanskrit, Hindi, English, and Gujarati, gathering these materials into a single book. Indian Aesthetics The book’s appendices include prestigious scholars’ thoughts on the subject to widen readers’ understanding of the available perspectives. Finally, many Sanskrit words are explained in English in the text itself to support the flow of the thought, and a comprehensive glossary is given at the end of the book to help non-readers of Sanskrit.

Indian Aesthetics Of particular concern to Indian drama and literature are the term 'bhAva' or the state of mind and rasa (Sanskrit lit. 'juice' or 'essence') referring generally to the emotional flavors/essence crafted into the work by the writer and relished by a 'sensitive spectator' or sahdaya or one with positive taste and mind. Rasas are created by bhavas. They are described by Bharata Muni in the Nātyasāstra, an ancient work of dramatic theory.

Although the concept of rasa is fundamental to many forms of Indian art including dance, music, musical theatre, cinema and literature, the treatment, interpretation, usage and actual performance of a particular rasa differs greatly between different styles and schools of abhinaya, and the huge regional differences even within one style. Experience of rasa (rasAnubhava) A rasa is the developed relishable state of a permanent mood, which is called sthAyI bhAva. This development towards a relishable state results by the interplay on it of attendant emotional conditions which are called Vibhavas, anubhAvas and sancharI/ vyAbhichArI bhavas. Indian Aesthetics The production of aesthetic rasa from bhAvas is analogous to the production of tastes/juices of kinds from food with condiments, curries, pastes and spices. This is explained by the quote below: Vibhavas means karana or cause.

Indian Aesthetics It is of two kinds: Alambana, the personal or human object and substratum, and Uddipana, the excitants. Anubhava, as the name signifies, means the ensuants or effects following the rise of the emotion. vyAbhichArI bhavas are described later. Vedic concept The Rishi Praskanva insists that the sources of knowledge some of which are open and some hidden they are to be sought and found by the seekers after Truth, these sources are not available everywhere, anywhere and at all times.

In this context Rishi Agastyastating thus reminds the ardent seekers about the six kinds of Rasa or taste which food has but which all tastes cannot be found in one place or item, for these tastes are variously distributed throughout space. Indian Aesthetics Food, in this context, means matter or objects or thoughts, which are all produced effects, effects that are produced owing to various causes. The Rasas are the unique qualities which bring about variety in things created whose source is one and one only.

It has been said that the Upaniads tried to find the philosophical conceptions of religions and gods through deep speculations and the sheer idea of consciousness. But, as is articulated by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, in general the Upaniads were too preoccupied with deeper speculations to exhibit a conscious art, or to discuss why the art of their times lacked “explicit aesthetics.”

On that given freedom, neither free thought nor free sense could have been developed. Coomaraswamy is right to deny the existence of “explicit aesthetics” in the Upaniadic period. However, he was only considering aesthetics in the context of art; indeed, in his thought the non-exhibition of art accompanied the nonexistence of aesthetics as a whole. In terms of their intrinsic nature, Indian philosophical schools can be divided into two broad categories, āstika (orthodox schools) and nāstika (heterodox schools); the first believes in the authority of the Vedas (as a whole), Indian Aesthetics the second does not accept the authority of the Vedas—in this category are Jainism, Buddhism, and Lokāyata (although the categories overlap). The division has also been understood as a division between the Indian non-atheist school (āstika) and the atheist school (nāstika)—here, mainly Lokāyata.


anscendental, which in India was Brāhman or ultimate reality. The origin of drama is closely connected with the Hindu religious trinity: (i) Brahma, (ii) Viṣṇu, and (iii) Mahesvara. Emerging from consciousness, artistic representation may be traced back to Vedantic and pre-Vedantic philosophy where “thoughts” preceded “form.” From the abstract to the figurative, and from the figurative to the abstract, the core of Indian aesthetics developed in highly structured and original fashion in the Nāyaśāstra. Indian Aesthetics The Indian conception of nāya is considered one of the best ways to understand the Indian conception of art and aesthetics due to its inter-genre artistic and aesthetic characteristics.

At its simplest, nāya as a part of the Indian poetical tradition is considered as visible poetry with prayoga (practice) and praised as the best among all poetry due to its effectiveness and wider approaches and significance. In other traditional performances it is līlā or attam (Kṛṣṇalīlā, Rāmlīlā, Kuddiattam, Mohiniattam, etc.)—the term also stands for “play.” Indian Aesthetics Moreover, since in these performances, the performer is at the centre—or one can say that traditional Indian performances are performer-centric—from this perspective whatever is performed (presented) by nata (performer) is nāya (performance). From the viewpoint of presentation, it is an imitation of that world in which we live (lokavritinukarnam nāyametanmayakrita) or the representation of the states of three worlds (trailokashyashay sharvashya nāyam bhāvanukirtanam). Indian Aesthetics In the words of Brahma, “I have devised this nāya as the mimicry of the ways of the world, endowed with various emotions and consisting of various situations.” Therefore, it is very clear that, although it is an imitation, it is not the imitation of the real but the ways of the real that is in fact very suggestive (based on nāyadahrmi), rather than realistic acting based on lokadharmi.


Indian Aesthetics NĀTYAŚĀSTRA

Indian Aesthetics Drama or nāya is considered the most beautiful part of Indo-Sanskrit literature. The earliest forms of dramatic literature in India are represented by samvāda—Suktas (hymns that contain dialogues) of the Rigveda. Bharata-Muni is the founder of the science of music and dramaturgy. His Nāyaśāstra, with its encyclopaedic character, is the earliest known book on Sanskrit dramaturgy. The first chapter of the Nāyaśāstra relates to the origin of drama. The gods, under the leadership of Indra, expressed their desire for something that was drishya (enjoyable to the eye), shravya (delightful to the ear), and krīanaka (entertainment to fulfil desire). Indian Aesthetics Brahma created a fifth Veda—the Nāyaveda, taking elements from four other Vedas—pāthya (dialogue or text) from the Rigveda, gīta (music) from the Sāmaveda, abhināya (acting) from the Yajurveda, and rasa (emotions) from the Atharvaveda. Amritamanthan and Tripurdaha were the first two plays, which were staged on the occasion of the flag ceremony of Indra.



Indian Aesthetics Anandavardhana (who influenced Abhinavagupta and many others) propagated the theory of dhvani. Dhvani theory is seen as an extension of Rasa theory. It entrenched the theory of rasa in the field of poetry. Indian Aesthetics Anandavardhana states in his famous work Dhvanyaloka that words can convey apart from its conventional meaning, a suggested meaning. In a composition, when the suggested sense prevails it is called dhvani. That is, a suggestive poetry is called dhvani. Anandavardhana tried to show that rasa can be best conveyed through dhvani.


Theory of Rasa

Indian Aesthetics The concept of Rasa is the corner stone of Indian Aesthetics and performative art in particular. Though the origin of the concept is debated, it is generally believed that the sage Bharata Muni’s Bharata Natya is the primary source of the theory.

Indian Aesthetics Natya Sastra: believed to be written between 200 BCE and 200 CE.

Rasa refers to the reader’s/audience’ aesthetic experience of a work of art. By means of Sadharanikarana (Abinavagupta’s term-book Abhinavabharati) which de-individualises the experience of a work of art thereby universalizing the same, Rasa transports the readers/audience to a transpersonal level and renders them receptive to Nirvana, the experience of a higher realm of aesthetic pleasure.