s - aka pamper the male ego
From Bharata's Natyasastra to the
later texts on dramaturgy and poetics, Nayika has always been a topic of
interest. It is not surprising that the later texts identified many more.
In spite of so many classifications,
it is a fact that Nayika is a purely male point of view. May it be the
Natyasastra-s or the Kavyasastra-s, we see the classification to suit the
male sex. It goes without saying that all these sastra-s were written by
males. Thus the Nayika Bheda-s more or less try to emphasize that a female
is always the weaker sex. The Nayika Bheda-s are the proof highlighting
their low status in the society.
The following illustrations will
make the point clear -
more shocking is the fact that in some of the Kavya sastra-s the author
has made a separate category of "Prohibitive women" or "Varjya," where
the author cautions that men should not indulge in such women. Alas! Such
a caution was not given to women.
|1) Promiscuity seems to be a Nayaka's
birth right that does not apply to the Nayika. There is a separate category
for a nayika who has an extra marital affair, who has been termed as the
"Parakiya" (literally meaning somebody else's). Here she is only granted
the permission to indulge in one man besides her husband. If she is promiscuous,
she has been termed as "Kulta." The same criteria has not been applied
while judging the Nayaka. In fact his extra marital relations have been
glorified in "Shatha," "Dhrshtha" or "Dakshina" . Though the titles "Satha"
and "Dhrshtha" do have negative connotations, they don't appear as blasphemous
as the title of "Kulta" given to a Nayika. The bias seems to be very evident.
2) Interesting is the politics to
define a "Jyestha" and a "Kanistha." A "Dakshina" nayaka is the one who
is courteous to both his wives/women. Interestingly, the "Jyestha" or the
elder wife has been defined as the one who is the favourite of the Nayaka
and the "Kanistha" is the one who plays second fiddle. Thus "age" does
not seem to be the criteria but it is the bias of the Nayaka, which decides
the Nayika as "Jyestha" and "Kanista."
3) Even a Nayika in her teens becomes
an object of beauty and lust. Vivid examples of her in the "Agnyat Youvana"
(one who is not aware of her youth) have been written. The same does not
apply to the Nayaka. In fact, the Rasamanjari says that an Anabhijnya (who
is unaware of his youth and feelings of love - teenage) Nayaka will lead
4) Incredible is the criteria to
judge a nayika as "Uttama," "Madhyama" and "Adhama." If a Nayika criticizes
a Nayaka openly for being unfaithful to him, she either becomes a person
of "Madhyama" / middling, or "Adhama" /inferior Prakriti (nature). It is
only when she criticizes in a subtle manner and accepts the Nayaka-s infidelities,
she becomes the "Uttama" or superior Nayika.
5) Similar is the classification
of "Kalahantarita." Generally she has been defined as the one who is separated
due to a conflict with her Nayaka. Most of the examples dealing with this
Nayika show her repenting about the manner in which she misbehaved with
the Nayaka for his misdoings.
Being a Bharatanatyam dancer there
are innumerable questions ringing in my mind.
For how many years more are the female
classical dancers going to take pride in performing compositions of this
content? Or as usual, I am going to witness the very typical clichéd
answer that the Nayika is the ĎAtma' and the Nayaka is the "Paramatma,"
which can cleverly avoid the larger question of "Gender Bias."
I am waiting for a day when the 21st
century female classical dancer rewrites her version of Nayika Bheda-s.Anybody
Illustrations taken from Rudrata
pranita "Kavyalankara" translated by Dr. Satyadev Choudhary (Hindi).
Parimal Phadke is a Bharatanatyam
dancer, choreographer and teacher from
Pune. His remarkable contribution is the interpretation of the concept
of Nayaka in the Bharatanatyam Margam.
More info on him at http://parimal.xp.com