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Tragedy In Sanskrit Literature
Tragedy In Sanskrit Literature
Description
Foreword

It has been believed by all scholars until now that tra2gedy is a western concept, and therefore there are no tragedies in Sanskrit literature. However, many poets and dramatists have immortalized Karuna rasa—be ginning with the great poet V1miki himself. It is necessary to conduct research into this question to find out if there are indeed tragedies in Sanskrit literature. Professor Bijoya Goswami deserves our thanks, for she has tried to throw light on this less discussed but most curious aspect of the Sanskrit literature. Subsistence and nature of tragedy in our ancient literature have been drawn by Professor Goswami keeping a sharp attention to the Western concept of tragedy. The book is comparatively small in volume but not in thematic treatment, and so to the Indologist, its value will be immense.

Introduction

For many years, it has been the contention of scholars that there is no tragedy in Sanskrit literature. G. K. Bhat has said : “Tragedy is particularly a western concept.” (Uttara-rãma-carita ‘eko rasah karuna’ , P 105). This, he feels is not only because the death of hero is forbidden in Sanskrit dramaturgy, but because tragic endings are not acceptable is the Hindu view of life, which refuses to acknowledge death is an end. But this is not necessarily on acceptable tenet. After all, in saying that there is no tragedy in Sanskrit literature we actually mean that there are no dramas in Sanskrit that conform is the western concept of tragedy. The question is, why should this be a criterion ? The Indian concept of literature do not necessarily conform to the western concepts, and there is no reason why they should. Secondly, by the ‘western’ concept of tragedy, we generally refer to Aristotle’s concept, and later tragedy has changed radically from what this master specified. This does not mean that these later works are not tragedies. As Arthur Miller says : “It is now many centuries since Aristotle lived Things do change, and even a genius is limited by his time and the nature of his society.” (Death of a Salesman : a modern tragedy ? — Modern theories of drama).

From the works of Bharata and others, it becomes amply clear that the tragic emotion — Karuna rasa — is one the of the major emotions in both poetry and drama. There is the mention of a major genre of drama called utsrstikäñka where karuna is the clominent emotion. One way argue that no play belonging to this genre is found — but that doesn’t mean that it did not exist. Bhãsa’s dramas were unearthed only in the last century. Who knows how many literary works never came to light? There is enough evidence to prove that such dramas were written. There is also evidence to show that deaths onstage took place, although deaths in drama were not approved by all scholars.

This again brings us to a pertinent question : can we always identify death with tragedy ? Death does not necessarily mean tragedy, nor does tragedy always end in death. If we fix on the basic principle of tragedy — sufferings brought on by one’s own actions — Sanskrit literature has many much instances. Bhavabhüti has modified the ending of his Uittararãmacarita to show Rãma and Sitã being united at the end. But there is the “knife in the water” — an invisible line dividing the couple forever, and through their own actions. In Mudrãrãkasa (a play I have not discussed here), Raksasa is trapped into an impossible situation by his own actions — and although he is honoured at the end of the play, this honour cannot be but gall to him, for in accepting the post of Canadragupta’s Prime Minister, he is betraying his dead master, and that very loyalty that has been the principle of his life.

In this way, tragedy is very much a part of Sanskrit literature. This I have attempted to show in my work. Also, and were importantly, I have tried to analyse the western and Indian concepts on the actual enjoyment of tragedy. There, I feel, no one has said the final word. If anyone can find it with any help from my work, I would feel my endeavour amply rewarded.

In conclusion I would like to express my gratitude to those who have helped me in this project my friend and colleague Prof. Sukanta Choudhury who supplied me with a reading list; Prof. Sukumari Bhattacharji, my mentor, Dr. D. K. Lahiri Choudhury, my cousin and Sri Indranath Guha, also my teacher, who supplied me with almost all the westerrn literature I needed; Prof. Manabendu Baneijee, Co-ordinator, DSA, without whose encouragement I could not have completed this work; Sri Anjan Banik who typed my project; Sri Debashis Bhattacharya of Sanskrit Pustak Bhander. To all others whose help I have received, I am eternally grateful.

Contents

Chapter-I
The concept of tragedy in Sanskrit Literature 1
Chapter—II
The concept of Tragedy in Western Classical Literature10
Chapter—III
The enjoyment of Tragedy-Indian and Western ideas23
Chapter—IV
Tragedies in Sanskrit Literature37

Tragedy In Sanskrit Literature

Item Code:
NAD858
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2004
Publisher:
Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar
Size:
9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Pages:
65
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 174 gms
Price:
$12.50   Shipping Free
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Foreword

It has been believed by all scholars until now that tra2gedy is a western concept, and therefore there are no tragedies in Sanskrit literature. However, many poets and dramatists have immortalized Karuna rasa—be ginning with the great poet V1miki himself. It is necessary to conduct research into this question to find out if there are indeed tragedies in Sanskrit literature. Professor Bijoya Goswami deserves our thanks, for she has tried to throw light on this less discussed but most curious aspect of the Sanskrit literature. Subsistence and nature of tragedy in our ancient literature have been drawn by Professor Goswami keeping a sharp attention to the Western concept of tragedy. The book is comparatively small in volume but not in thematic treatment, and so to the Indologist, its value will be immense.

Introduction

For many years, it has been the contention of scholars that there is no tragedy in Sanskrit literature. G. K. Bhat has said : “Tragedy is particularly a western concept.” (Uttara-rãma-carita ‘eko rasah karuna’ , P 105). This, he feels is not only because the death of hero is forbidden in Sanskrit dramaturgy, but because tragic endings are not acceptable is the Hindu view of life, which refuses to acknowledge death is an end. But this is not necessarily on acceptable tenet. After all, in saying that there is no tragedy in Sanskrit literature we actually mean that there are no dramas in Sanskrit that conform is the western concept of tragedy. The question is, why should this be a criterion ? The Indian concept of literature do not necessarily conform to the western concepts, and there is no reason why they should. Secondly, by the ‘western’ concept of tragedy, we generally refer to Aristotle’s concept, and later tragedy has changed radically from what this master specified. This does not mean that these later works are not tragedies. As Arthur Miller says : “It is now many centuries since Aristotle lived Things do change, and even a genius is limited by his time and the nature of his society.” (Death of a Salesman : a modern tragedy ? — Modern theories of drama).

From the works of Bharata and others, it becomes amply clear that the tragic emotion — Karuna rasa — is one the of the major emotions in both poetry and drama. There is the mention of a major genre of drama called utsrstikäñka where karuna is the clominent emotion. One way argue that no play belonging to this genre is found — but that doesn’t mean that it did not exist. Bhãsa’s dramas were unearthed only in the last century. Who knows how many literary works never came to light? There is enough evidence to prove that such dramas were written. There is also evidence to show that deaths onstage took place, although deaths in drama were not approved by all scholars.

This again brings us to a pertinent question : can we always identify death with tragedy ? Death does not necessarily mean tragedy, nor does tragedy always end in death. If we fix on the basic principle of tragedy — sufferings brought on by one’s own actions — Sanskrit literature has many much instances. Bhavabhüti has modified the ending of his Uittararãmacarita to show Rãma and Sitã being united at the end. But there is the “knife in the water” — an invisible line dividing the couple forever, and through their own actions. In Mudrãrãkasa (a play I have not discussed here), Raksasa is trapped into an impossible situation by his own actions — and although he is honoured at the end of the play, this honour cannot be but gall to him, for in accepting the post of Canadragupta’s Prime Minister, he is betraying his dead master, and that very loyalty that has been the principle of his life.

In this way, tragedy is very much a part of Sanskrit literature. This I have attempted to show in my work. Also, and were importantly, I have tried to analyse the western and Indian concepts on the actual enjoyment of tragedy. There, I feel, no one has said the final word. If anyone can find it with any help from my work, I would feel my endeavour amply rewarded.

In conclusion I would like to express my gratitude to those who have helped me in this project my friend and colleague Prof. Sukanta Choudhury who supplied me with a reading list; Prof. Sukumari Bhattacharji, my mentor, Dr. D. K. Lahiri Choudhury, my cousin and Sri Indranath Guha, also my teacher, who supplied me with almost all the westerrn literature I needed; Prof. Manabendu Baneijee, Co-ordinator, DSA, without whose encouragement I could not have completed this work; Sri Anjan Banik who typed my project; Sri Debashis Bhattacharya of Sanskrit Pustak Bhander. To all others whose help I have received, I am eternally grateful.

Contents

Chapter-I
The concept of tragedy in Sanskrit Literature 1
Chapter—II
The concept of Tragedy in Western Classical Literature10
Chapter—III
The enjoyment of Tragedy-Indian and Western ideas23
Chapter—IV
Tragedies in Sanskrit Literature37
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