Abhinava Bharathi (Bharatheeya Kavyasastra: Part VII)
- V S Bhaskara Panicker
C/o e-mail: jayraj@darpana.com


October 20, 2006
(This is the seventh part of the research paper that Mr. V S Bhaskara Panicker would like to share with narthaki readers)

Abhinava Gupta (950 - 1025 AD)
Abhinava Gupta was a great scholar from Kashmir who had written a Tika (Lochana) for Dhwanyaloka and commentary Abhinava Bharathi for the Natyasasthra. His ancestors hailed from Kannauj. The Raja of Kannauj was defeated by the King of Kashmir. Athri Gupta, a scholar, was taken to Kashmir by the king (Lalithadithya). A village was allotted to Athri Gupta and he was allowed to settle in Kashmir. In this family, Abhinava Gupta was born after a lapse of 200 years. Nrisimha Gupta was his father.

On the whole he had written as many as 41 books. He still remains as an undisputed authority in Kavyasastra.

Abhinava Bharathi
Rasa is generated (Rasanishpathi) with the combination of Vibhava, Anubhava and Vyabhicharibhava.

Commentary by Lollada Bhatta
Bhatta Lollada has interpreted this Suthra in this manner. Vibhava is the cause (karana) for the creation of the mind-set called Sthayeebhava. Anubhavas like 'look' cannot be reckoned as cause as these are the effect of (kavya) rasa. These follow the Bhava. Vibhava projects the conditions of the mind and as such these cannot co-exist with Sthayeebhava, though they contain its essence.

Commentary by Sankuka
He is opposed to the conception that Sthayeebhava are rasa. Sthayeebhavas like Rathi are of varying degrees according to contexts. If Sthayeebhavas are rasa, such variations should not occur, in Rasa.

The actor on the stage imitates the Sthayeebhava of the character. His performance is purely artificial, but through effective practice, he is able to transfer what he feels to the audience. He employs Vibhavas, the cause of Rasa and Anubhava its effect. His mental activities (Vyabhichari) through effective expression enable him to expose and convey the rasa in Vibhava to be received by Sahridaya.

Commentary by Bhattanayaka
Bhattanayaka repudiates Rasa Sidhantha in toto. Rasa is not what is suggested, made or exhibited. Rasa is to be created in Samajika. In the process of representation of scenes of Karuna, he should become sad. The actual Vibhava, Sitha (vibhava) is not on the stage, nor does he thinks of her as his own wife. Devas and heroes like Hanuman are superhuman (this impression already exists in the mind) and as such their imitation on the stage cannot generate Rasa in the mind of the Prekshaka.

Samajika has his own concept about the character. The endeavour on the stage to attribute different Rasa aspects on Rama may not be in agreement with his own pre-conceptions. Naturally there would not have any rasa effect on him. The argument that through word or Vyangya this can be created is also not acceptable, because such impressions would not be as graceful as the subjective perception. Leaving Rama, a character of the common world also cannot create Rasa, because the Rathi between hero and heroine on the stage would be abhorring.

Abhivyakthi is also refuted here. Abhivyakthi means the effect of a subtle or indirect cause. The cause vibhava is present, but it is of varying nature. In such circumstances, rasa would also not be consistent, which is opposed to the very concept of rasa. Rasa is indivisible, unitary and Athmasworoopa. It is also apt to consider how the Samajika gets this Abhivyakthi (direct or indirect perception). It is self-created or got transferred from a third source (paragatha). If Paragatha it would be objective in character, but experience is that enjoyment is always a subjective process.

Then how is Kaavya/Nataka enjoyed? In Kavya through Guna and Alankara and in Nataka through the four types of Abhinaya, the ignorance in the mind of Samajika is wiped out. The Vibhavas etc. make the process simplified. Then the interplay of Bhava (may be the essence of Artha) takes place (Bhavakathua vyapara). At this stage Rasa, experience and memory are generalised. This makes the Triguna complex inside enlarged. The light that the Sathuaguna emits, transfers the perception to the inner silence of Ananda, and thus the Bhojakthua Vyapara (enjoyment) takes place.

Abhinava Gupta
Sankuka holds the view that Sthayeebhava is Rasa. The Samajika who sees the performance gets the inspiration of Rasa. But the ordinary man (non Sahridaya-Samajika) does not get this inspiration. It has therefore to be concluded that the semblance of Sthayeebhava is only a conjecture (Anumithi) and not a wholesome factual experience in life. It is not Rasa. It is transformed into Rasa in the Samajika who is proficient enough to imbibe it.

The food prepared by mixing different condiments, water, and other ingredients in totality gives pleasure. The ingredients are Vibhava, Anubhava, and their interaction in Vyabhichari. It is prepared by an expert cook. But it becomes relishing to the eater only when he eats it with mind fully applied to the eating process. In the same manner the spectator can enjoy the rasa of Kavya/Nataka only when he involves himself mentally with concentration.

Kavya is Nataka
Kavya also offers Rasa like Nataka. Kavya with the force of imagination (Bhavana) creates direct perception of the reality, and generate Rasa. With the help of profound and elaborate style of description, using Alambana, Uddeepana and Vibhava, beautiful gardens, beloved ones, moon, etc. are presented to be inferred as if they really exist. By the graceful admixure of Guna and Alankara, the pleasure of chewing the Rasa is offered.

I hold the view that Kavya is primarily Dasaroopa. Dasaroopa helps Rasa to reach its consummation through appropriate language-style, treatment of the theme, mode of pronunciation, and decorative dress. In Sargabandha it is noticed that the conversation of women characters as also a few others is depicted in Sanskrit, instead of being done in Prakrith. This is not proper. The reason may be perhaps the inability of the poet to do otherwise. The impropriety stands despite the argument that it looks more august.

Vamana has also opined that the ten types of Dasaroopakas are the most suitable from rasa-angle. All these from Sargabandha to Mukthaka and Roopakas, omitting the portions relating to construction like Sandhi etc. are truly Kavyas. But these assume varied forms according to the quality or otherwise of the inspiration of those who hear and understand them.

The Sahridaya whose heart is naturally pure as a mirror would not get agitated with anger, anxiety etc. on seeing or hearing etc. By merely hearing such Dasaroopa (even without seeing it), they experience aesthetic pleasure. It is mainly for the benefit of the common folk, that Bharatha had introduced Nata with the prescribed code of action exhibiting the emotional aspects. To satiate the emotional upsurge as anger, sorrow etc and to silence the throbbing of the heart, Bharatha introduced ingredients like music, dance etc. It is therefore evident that even the common folk are also capable of enjoying Rasa. There is rasa in Natya and not in similar actions of life. (Nobody will enjoy Rathi seen in the open). Kavya is Natya without Sandhi. Rasa is derived from Kavya as well.

Natya Rasa
There is no rasa in Nata. Rasa is not subjected to the limitations of time, space, and authority. Nata is only a means for its enjoyment. He is therefore called "Pathra." The vessel does not enjoy the wine. Through this medium (pathra) Rasa is enjoyed by the Sahridaya.

Chithra (painting) Silpa (sculpture) etc. constitute the essence of Natya. The root for Silpa is Pustha.

There is a school of thinking that Rasa, say soka, (Karuna rasa) etc produced in Natya creates corresponding impact in the audience, but an undefined force connected with Vibhava etc. transmutes this impact into Ananda. This is not correct. The soka (karuna) etc is of suggestive nature (Pratheeyamana) and this would not create a corresponding impression in Sahridaya.

What actually takes place is the enjoyment of Athmabhava which is Ananda. This enjoyment is termed as Rasa. The interaction of the Sthayeebhava, say, Soka, Rathi etc. is a prerequisite for it. What actually takes place in Natya is this interaction. Bhavas are called so, because they create Rasa (bhavanthi-ithi-bhava)

Santha Rasa Vichara
Acharyas hold varied opinions on classifying Santha as Rasa.
  1. Sama is its Sthayeebhava, penance and contact with Yogis are Vibhavas. Dhrithi, Mathi, etc are Vyabhicharibhavas.
  2. Those who hold the view that Santha is not a rasa at all, advance the following arguments. Sama and Santha carry the same meaning. Bharatha has fixed the number of Bhavas as 49. If Sama is also reckoned as a Bhava the total number would be 50. Normally the Vibhava should precede the rasa, whereas the Vibhava for Santha, say penance and contemplation occur after expression of Rasa in the case of Santha or Sama. These Vibhavas cannot therefore be considered as cause (karana) for Santha. Absence of Kama cannot be admitted as Anubhava, because for Veera also, Kama is absent.
  3. Santha rasa cannot be represented through Abhinaya. It is a state of inaction. Abhinaya is not possible without movements. An idle person is inactive. He would not engage himself in philosophical pursuits (vibhava) which lead to Sama. Further it is also seen that a Gnani is not prone to remain idle. He would get himself involved in the welfare of others. In such circumstances it has to be concluded that there is no rasa as Santha.


Abhinava's Siddanta
In the mundane world (loka) three Purusharthas are accepted. It is well known that the Sasthras, Smrithis, and Ithihasas affirm that it is possible to attain the fourth Purushartha namely Moksha, pursuing the prescribed means. How can it be denied that Rasathua is achieved by the Samajika possessing a responsive mind set, imbibing the spirit of emotions of the mind, like Rathi etc. pointed out through the appropriate Sabdas by poets and Abhinaya by the Natas and in the same manner the Rasathua, say, Sama which leads to the fourth Purushartha, Moksha, is attained through the same process of Sabda and Abhinaya.

What exactly is the appropriate name to be attributed to the Sthayeebhava leading to Rasa Santha? After repudiating the argument that Nirveda is the Sthayeebhava for Santha, the Acharya postulates Thathwa Gnana (philosophical knowledge) as the correct Sthayeebhava. In a sense, Thathwa Gnana and Athma Gnana are synonymous. Athmajnana is the consciousness of Athma with the sense (indriya) aspects totally removed, and this itself is the Sthayeebhava for Santha.

All Sthayeebhava except that pertaining to Santha hoodwink the self (Athma). In Kavya/Natya, all these Bhavas are interlaced like the pearls or gems in a garland. The glittering of the Athmabhava once overshadows all sensuous propensities take the inner being to the other-world stage of Ananda.


V S Bhaskara Panicker has been writing mainly in Malayalam language. Some of his literary expulsions have seen light and many are still left unpublished. He has offered his research paper on Bharatheeya Kavyasastra to narthaki.com