Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 58 (Vol # 7) Dated 29 Oct 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 58 (Vol # 7) Dated 29 Oct 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from the page No 467 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at   http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated continually)

பண்பாடு CULTURE
ART OF DRAMA – THEN AND NOW
1.            God's and Man's Creations.  The whole world is a drama and God, those who know say is the string puller of a great drama of delusion.  Shakespeare is a world famous dramatist.  He says in his drama named, 'As You Like It' that, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."  In the huge drama that God is conducting, man has also created an art form known as Drama. From the eerie times of the past, this has been an important form of literature.  In the Vedas here and there the mantras are to be found in the form of conversations between Siva and Pãrvathy or between someone as the Guru and Sishya.  Researchers say that this is the very origin of the dramatic form of art.  In Tamil we say 'Iyal, Isai and Nãdakam'; whereas in Sanskrit it is 'गद्यं पद्यं व नाटकं', for Prose, Poetry and Drama respectively.  In fact the real word for it in Tamil is 'koothu' – 'கூத்து'.  In Sanskrit there have been great dramatists whom we can lift on our shoulders and dance around celebrating the fact that, they are world's greatest, such as Kãlidãsa and Bhava Boothi, both of whom were greater as dramatists than simply poets.  In addition there have been Bãsa and Visãka Dutta, of some really good and worthwhile standard. 

The Special Quality of Drama
2.            Drama as a medium has a special quality.  You hear a lecture or narration of a story.  To some extent it registers in the mind.  When a talk is also accompanied by music, it adds to the receptivity of the audience.  Still the scene described is only imagined by our minds.  In a cinema, however much we get carried away, it is still shadow play.  But in a drama on the stage in front of you, there are real people enacting the scene.  It becomes that much more interesting and gets deep into our minds. 

3.            Great poets use many types of decorative devices to convey their ideas in an interesting way such as iteration, rhyme and other figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, personification, or antithesis in which words are used in other than literal sense, or in other than their ordinary locations like a student talking like a teacher; for some special effect.  In Sanskrit Dandi has systematised all such tricks in his book 'Dandi Alankãra' – 'दण्डि अलङ्कार'.  There is also a book in Tamil of the same name as 'தண்டியலங்காரம்'. This 'Alankãra' is only a cosmetic make believe and not real.  All decorations are like that only.  So, in classic literature that is known as 'Kãvya', whatever the decorative devices, the basic message is the inner meaning.  What gives life to literature, is the real meanings and feelings evoked.  That is known in Sanskrit as 'Rasam' that is the meaningful inner essence.  Description of nature, depiction of individual characters with their idiosyncrasies, feelings, emotions and responses depending upon the imagination and capacity for expression, makes novels enjoyable for reading and hearing known as 'Sravya Kãvyam' – 'श्रव्य काव्यं'.  The same thing if written as can be enacted on the stage with quotes of what each character is supposed to have spoken in sequence, with stage directions, divided into a number of scenes; becomes the 'drushya kãvyam' – 'दृश्य काव्यं', that is Drama.

4.            Instead of physical scenes before our eyes with actors coming before us on stage, enacting various scenes and expressing various scenes, some people may love to enjoy all this more by way of their own imagination. So a good writer of Dramas or what is known as 'Sãhitya Karta' may let the reader imagine the nuances by the power of suggestion, innuendoes, indirect implications and allusions known in Sanskrit for example as 'dhvani and vyangya' – 'ध्वनि व व्यङ्ग्य'.  The Director of the Drama or Cinema makes use of further tricks up his sleeve such as, background sound effects, asides and stage-whisper.  In the dramas of Kãlidãsa use of such 'indirect suggestions' are to be found aplenty.  Just because it is drama does not mean that everything was all on the shop-window! For example if we read his dramas such as 'Shakuntalam' and or 'Maha Vira Charitam', like you read any paper-back novels, you will be astounded and simply flabbergasted by the clever tricks played by the author, that it may even be better in front of your mind's eyes, than seeing it being enacted on the stage!  Of course, this depends on individual abilities to imagine and preferences to exercise one's mind!  Generally people do not prefer to exercise their minds by reading poetry and let one's imagination visualise the scene, but rather opt for the easier way of going to a drama which they attend in big crowds.  So, more than a book of poetry or a novel drama seems to be a more powerful medium for conveying the message.

Drama & Feelings
5.            You take any drama and you will find all sorts of feelings being displayed in it.  Only when there is a mix of feelings and sensations it will be interesting.  If the drama is too full of any one type of feelings, it will prove to be a boring affair.  At the same time if the sensations are equally shared also, at the end one will wonder as to what was the message!  So in each drama, there will be one predominant thrust and depiction of other feelings will be complimentary to it, like the symphony in an orchestra.  Like if you take the 'VeNi Samharam' by Butta Narayana for example, the dominant thrust is about courage and bravery, while some bit of humour and sadness will also be touched. 

6.            Bhava Bhuti has written two dramas named 'Maha Vira Charitam' and 'Uttara Rama Charitam'.  True to its name, this 'Maha Vira Charitam' has bravery as the dominant character quality of Sri Rama is depicted in a big way.  Normally if the name of 'Maha Vira' is taken, one tends to think of the founder of the Jain Religion and North Indians will think of 'Hanuman'.  But Bhava Bhuti has depicted Sri Rama as bravest of the braves in this drama.  The same Bhava Bhuti in 'Uttara Rama Charitam', after Sri Rama Pattãbhishekam, when he tells Sita to go to the forest, he makes us all cry with inconsolable sadness.  As the critics say about Kãlidãsa that he is too good in the Alankãra of Upama, the quotation being 'upama Kãlidãsasya' – 'उपमा कालिदासस्य', Bhava Bhuti has a reputation for depicting agony and anguish that the quotation in his case is 'kãruNyam Bhava Bhutireva' – 'कारुण्यं भवभूतिरेव'!  Normally this Sanskrit word KãruNyam has mainly been understood as 'kindness'.  But amongst Navarasa, the word 'KaruNa' is supposed to mean sadness mainly.  We use it mainly to mean benevolence and affection.  For this Rasa of KaruNa from Bhava Bhuti, let me give you an example.

7.             Instead of crying out loud, beating oneself out of sheer disgust, when someone cursing oneself speaks derogatively about his ill-luck it touches deeper the core of our hearts.  Bhava Bhuti makes Sri Rama talk like that in 'Uttara Rama Charitram'.  There is a man Sambooka: who contrary to his status in life, undertakes to do a very fierce tapasya despite being advised not to do so.  As that would have a derogatory effect on social order, Sri Rama has pulled out his sword to kill him.  But his hand hesitates from moving on its downward swing.  It is then with the hand with the sword held high, Sri Rama tells himself the following lines, the meaning of which is given later.  
हे हस्त ....रामस्य बाहुरसि निर्भरगर्भखिन्न
he hasta….ramasya bhaahurasi nirbharakhinna  
सिताविवासनपटो: करुणा कुतस्ते?
Sita vivaasanapato: KaruNa kutaste?  Sri Rama is telling his hand, "Hey hand, you are Sri Rama's hand.  When Sita full with her pregnancy, was heartlessly directed by you to proceed to the forest, isn't it?  Now, how is that you are suddenly overcome with sadness and emotion?"  Though Sambooka was breaking social customs and norms, what he was doing was a noble act of Tapasya. Rama who was an epitome of righteousness in all his thoughts, speech and actions naturally hesitates in executing Sambooka.  So thus as Sri Rama is shown talking to himself deprecatingly, the writer of the drama is able to bring out extreme sense of anguish and sadness while also bringing out how deeply he loved Sita and abandoned her only to maintain his Kingly virtue of Raja Dharma!  Through self-criticism the author is able to bring out the nobility of the character, while also teaching us what is right and what is wrong.

Hero
8.            Though in a drama there were many different types of characters like the jokers, villains and side-kicks and some extras, one important part was highlighted in whom the audience was made to get interested, through whom it was aimed to bring home some morality points of good behaviour for the benefit of the society.  So generally the hero was always brave, calm, cool and collected, keen on peaceful and gentlemanly methods ever cheerful and so on.  The aim was to get the audience involved in such socially acceptable ways of behaviour.

9.            The world of drama in Sanskrit being as vast as the world outside, had a sort of an unmentioned rule based on the common man's belief that the good will prevail over evil eventually.  The dramatists had to abide with this unspoken agreement and so make the end always on a cheerful note.  Even in a so called tragedy such as Uttara Rama Charitam well known for pathos, though Sita after living in the forest and begetting Lava and Kusa is supposed to merge in the earth, as Sri Devi merging in Bhu Devi, the author has made a twist in the story that Sita comes back to Sri Rama, so that the drama may have a happy ending acceptable to the common man.  On the one hand the aim is to get the audience more interested in morally righteous attitudes and methods, for which the ending has to be pleasant and cheerful.  The other side of the coin is that people go to such entertainment to forget the problems of day to day existence.  Then what is the use of making the audience go back home with their heads hanging down in sorrow?  So it was as though there was a rule, which all writers and authors had to abide by, that in the old Sanskrit Dramas, there were no 'Tragedy' as they were all only 'Comedy'! 

(To be continued.)
Sambhomahadeva



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