Vyangyavyakhya: The Aesthetics of Dhvani in Teatre (Sanskrit Text with Transliteration and English Translation)

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Item Code: NAE964
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Author: K.G. Paulose
Language: Sanskrit Text with Transliteration and English Translation
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788124606995
Pages: 563 (40 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch X 7.0 inch
Weight 1.43 kg
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Book Description
Back of the Book

Dr Paulose by selecting Vyangyavyakhya now and Natankusam earlier for his elaborate critique has been able to project an extremely sensitive problem related to the know how of Indian histrionics. This especially is to be viewed as inevitable at a time when Indian theatre is facing a crisis of identity and groping in the dark to relate to its national character. Dr Paulose’s untiring efforts in creating awareness of our tradition and its immense potential deserve all encomium. His clarity of vision and liveliness in analysis are well mooted and well intentioned. I wish that his work o vyangyavyakha will be make a guide by all practitioner of performing arts especially the theatre people who nurture belief in the Indianess in Indian performing arts.


About the Book

The doctrine of dhvani, expounded by Anandavardhana (ninth century CE) in Kashmir though contested by his contemporaries at home received sound acclamation in Kerala. A royal dramatist kulasekhara of the same century applied dhavni to the theatre. His performance text is known as vyangyavyakhya (VV) meaning interpreting the implied. This was an epoch-making event in the history of Indian theatre. This innovation in per formative practices marked a deviation from Bharata’s national tradition and laid down the foundation for classical form like kutiattam, Krsnattam, Kathakali and Mohiniyattam. VV today continues to inspire contemporary directors to formulate new interpretative sub-texts for ancient plays. VV, which remained in manuscripts till now is published for the first time.

As icing on the cake four eminent scholars K.D. Tripathy, Radhavallabh Tripathi, N.P. Unni and Kavalam Narayana Panikkar delve deep into the aspects of VV as introduction to this book. This volume discusses in detail the Sanskrit theatre until tenth century CE, performance text of Dhananjayadhvani and samvarandadhvani and the development in the post Kulasekhara era.

VV should serve as guide to all practitioners of performing arts, and should entice students, teachers and lovers of Indian performing arts.


About the Author

Dr. K.G. Paulose (b. 1946) presently a fellow of the Indian institute of Advanced study shimla was the first vice chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam. He also held various key positions like registrar Sree sankaracharya University, Kalady; Chief editor publications, Arya vaiday sala, Kattakkal; chairman, chinmaya international sodha sansthan; and principal of government Sanskrit college, tripunithura. He specialize in comparative aesthetic, Natyasastra, Ancient theatre and Kutiyattam. He has authored twenty and edited over fifty book and published may research papers. He has authored twenty and editied over fifty books and published many research papers. He was the chef editor of three research journals- Purantrayi, Aryavaidya and Dhimahi. Two of his important publication are Natankus: A Critique of Dramturgya (1993) and Kutiyattam theatre: the earliest living tradition (2006). Dr paulose is an awardee of Kerala sahitya Akedemi and kerala sangeet Natak akedmi. Thirupati Sanskrit viswavidyalaya conferred on him the title of Vachaspati in 2009.



It had been long cherished dream to published Vyangyavyakhya (VV), after I came across Natankusa. It was in the late 1980s that efforts were stated to bring out Natankusa the unpublished critique of Kutiyattam. When I started do study the text seriously I could no more endorse the popular view that natankusa is the result of a personal acrimony between the author and a particular actor who humiliated him. The anonymous author of Natankusa emerged to me as great scholar with deep knowledge in almost all branches of learning especially in Natyasastra. He has great respect for kulasekhara and saktidbhadra. Above all his quarrel is not against any particular actor but to his/her deviations from the classical stream. It presupposes VV the work of another natyasastra scholar inheriting the same tradition.

A glimpse into the manuscripts of VV opened a new world before me. I could find in kulasekhara a genius with great insight into the potential of theatre. When it came to his notice that the dhavni theory propounded in the other end of the subcontinent opened a new world of imagination to the poets he immediately applied the same to rejuvenate the theatre. More than that he created a band of new artistes with their disciples to carry on the mission of invigorating theatre. It is sad that as in the case of all those endowed with greatness Kulasekhara too was ahead of his time and his followers failed to imbibe his vision. Yet he left deep imprints in our theatrical discourses.

Inspired I began to translate VV into English. The introductory parts were published in 1994 in two issues of Purnatrya I journal. But I could not proceed further due to the heavy administrative responsibilities that fell on my shoulder. It is now that I am able to fulfill the cherished dream. Meanwhile the new enthusiasm created by the discovery of kutiyattam in the latter half of the last century produced many work especially by western scholars on different aspects of that intangible heritage. One thing that worried me was that these learned authors do not get access to the original sources of the classical theatre of Kerala VV and Natankusa the former innovative and the latter critical. I feel relieved that I could offer natankusa to the scholarly world in 1993 and VV now after a lapse of several years. Actually these could have been done in the reverse order. My hope is that access to these two mutually complimentary yet contradictory original sources will enrich our theatre studies in future by clearing many of our misconceptions.

The royal dramatist Kulasekhara composed two dramas Subhadradhananjya and Tapatisamvarana. He invited an expert in Natyasastra (NS) to his chamber and revealed to him that these works are pregnant with suggestive meaning and hence he would like them to be performed in an unconventional way. He himself enacted the role of each character and demonstrated his innovative nation about performance. The scholar on the advice of the monarch noted down the details and handed them over to the coming generations under two head down the details and handed them over to the coming generations under tow heads dhananjayadhvani and samvaranadhvani, both together better known as VV interpreting the suggestive import. This is for the first time that a dramatist himself prescribes the acting manual. The text is in manuscripts and remains inaccessible to scholars. My attempt is to present both the performance texts of Dhananjayadhvani and samvaranadhvani in a manner intelligible to modern scholarship.

The present volume has four parts. The first part introduces VV in all its aspects. The second part the prologue gives a brief survey of Sanskrit theatre till the tenth century and prepares the ground for VV. The third part carries the performance texts of Dhananjayadhvani and samvaranadhvani. The last part epilogue deals with the development in theatre after kulasekhara. I have ear-marked three milestones in the long journey. The fountainhead of course is NS (Second century) VV (ninth century) an innovative improvisation from NS is distanced from it by over a thousand years. What follows is a revolt from the adherents of Kulasekhara on some of the practices adopted by the acting community in the form of Natankusa (fifteenth century). These three texts encapsulate the history of classical theatre in Kerala. The enquiry will not be complete without reference to the contemporary theatre.

The text prepares the connoisseurs for a mature assessment of the performance by locating the chronicles from Bharata to bhasa as a prerequisite for a heightened understanding of classical theatre. The first chapter in the second part present a rosy picture of the ninth century capital city of Mahodayapuram with cool breeze full blown white lotuses wandering traders proclaiming the prosperity and the passionate youth white lotuses wandering traders proclaiming the prosperity and the passionate youth and the passionate youth embracing the harlots. The festive atmosphere prevails everywhere. What follows is the description of the circumstances that led to the composition of VV. Chapter IV onwards it introduces the hero the clown and the heroine. The modest interlude in between the first and second acts is highly significant from the point of VV. The entry of the maid and her retrospective narration later are developed into Nannyarkutu the retrospection of the chamberlain blossomed into a full performance text. These two illustrate the concept of Kulasekharara that the dramatic text is only a seed and that the actor like a farmer has to grow a tree from that seed. A recent example of this kind of expansions in the newly designed recapitulation of Subhadra in the fifth Act. These three instance of Nannyarkuttu Kancukiyam and recapitulation of subhadra are the inheritors of the traditional kulasekhara mode of acting. The second part of the performance text carries samvaranadhvani with notes and translations. The epilogue as a post scripts analyses the impact of Kulasekhara in the evolution of the classical theatre of Kutiyattam Krsnanattam Kathakali and Mohiniyattam. The great name in the contemporary era is that of Bhasa. An attempt has been made to look at bhasa especially his Mahabharata plays from a different angle. Bhasa to look at bhasa especially his Mahabharata plays from a different angle Bahsa resonate in the present world the voice of the subalterns of those marginalized and of those who were condemned to hide in the bye ways the journey in search of the roots consummates in re-inventing Bharata through Kulasekhara.

I would take this opportunity to remember the support and blessing I received for this work. The scholars who would have been most delighted by the publication of VV is unfortunately no more with us. The late K. Ayyappa Panikkar had fully understood the theatrical significance of VV. When I published the preliminary chapter in 1994 he immediately got it translated into Malayalam and published it in his journal Keralakavitha. In his review on Natankusa and also in the preface to my Kutiyattam theatre: the earliest living tradition he persistently advised me to concentrate on VV.

Introductory studies by four eminent scholars enrich this text.

Prof. Kamaleshwar Dutt Tripathi is the master of Natyasastra of our age. Those who have listened to him know the depth of his erudition.

Radhavallabh tripathi is one among the leading NS Scholars of our time. Apart from his many work on NS the journal Natya that he edits is a resourceful treasure to the lovers of Sanskrit theatre. He has translated Natankusa into Hindi and then serialized in the journal.

N.P. Unni is the pioneer of Kulasekhara Studies. His guidance has helped me a lot. He has graciously allowed me to use his English translations of NS and other works.

Kavalam Narayana panikkar is a maestro in theatre. He is director playwright and lyricist in whose heart reverberates the rhythm of rural life. I identify his presentations as the powerful representations of NS/VV tradition.

Killimangalam vasudevan Namburitipad lovingly called suprant due to his long association with Kalamandalam as the office superintendent is a living legend of classical theatre. The manuscript of Natankusa was preserved in his house. He is a source of constant inspiration in all my intellectual pursuits.

I owe a lot to the kutiattam fraternity of artists and enthusiasts especially my colleagues K.P. achyutam M.R.S. Menon and other in the international centre for kutiyattam, Tripunithura who have always been a source of inspiration. Two names deserve special mention in his study margi madhu who produced the Kancukiyam and usha nannyar who retrieved the recapitulation of subhadra. Both of them along with many other are our hope for the survival of Kutiyattam in future. I would refer to venuji in this context not only as the director of Sakuntalam but also as one responsible for the exposure of Kutiyattam to the world theatre movement. The sangeet Natak Akedemi (SNA) new Delhi had been generous in promoting Kutiyattam even from the 1970s. the present chairperson Leela Samson herself a gifted artiste is especially fond of this art form. SNA Kutiyattam Kendra at Thiruvanathapuram under K.K. Gopalakrishnan director is a source of hope for the Kutiyattam community.

M.G.S. Narayanan stand foremost among our historians who gave us valuable information about the medieval history of Kerala. The findings of Kesavan Veluthat Rajan Gurikkal and M.R. Raghava varrier also helped me a lot in tracing the evolution of Kutiyattam in a historical setting.

Heike Moser whom we fondly call priya has done rewarding research in the field of Kutiyattam. Her study on Mantrankam and Nannyarkuttu are important. Virginie Johan is an enthusiastic student of Kutiyattam. She had been kind to provide me with a lot of material.

Acquaintance with the vast literature on theatre either through interactions or by careful reading has enriched my knowledge and has exalted my vision presented in this volume. The host of scholars and authors include kapila vatsyayan the late K.P. Narayana Pasharoti and L.S. Rajagopal Bruce M. Sullivan Farley P. Richmond C. Rajendran David shulman N.K. Geetha Chandradasan philoph B. Zarrilli Clifford R. Johans Diana Daugherty P. Venugopal Mundoli Naryanan Ramesh Varma, T.M. Abraham, P. Gangadharan P.K. Narayanan Nambiar and K.V. Vasudevan. The list just goes on.

Before concluding this not I express my gratitude to all those who have enriched our knowledge on ancient theatre. I have the humble satisfaction that I could present to the world of scholar the two original sources for understanding Kutiyattam.



Natya has been defined as the abhinaya of rasa and bhava etymologically the term abhinaya is derived from the root Ni to carry with the prefix abhi in the sense of toward. Hence abhinaya is the theatrical action or performance communicating bhavas and carrying them to the spectator. These bhavas are aroused in the hearts of a responsive audience and ultimately they are ideally transformed into rasas.

Sarngadeva therefore understands natya quite in consonance with the concept of bharata and abhinava primarily as rasa and secondarily as abhinaya.

According to the upanisads as interpreted by advaitism Ultimate reality which is consciousness or the self is pure knowledge (Jnana) it is static and without activity (nikriya)> it is also devoid of self-consciousness as there is no duality. The self does not have a notself to help define itself. According to the agamic tradition on the contrary consciousness (citi or samvit) as it is called is knowledge (jnana) and activity (Kriya) both in one for the same consciousness is Siva or the self who is again siva and sakti or jnana and kriya or again prakasa and vimarsa all in one siva is one by denotation and it is only by connotation that he is viewed as Siva and Sakti or consciousness is conceived as being dynamic and the very dynamism of siva is called sakti or kriya.

This dynamism of the self is reflected at three levels speech body and mind. It may be further ponted out that such a process of externalizations involves a journey form consciousness to activity through desire and knowledge our own becoming is reflected at three levels; the verbal the bodily and the mental activities.

This is the reason that the natyasastra (NS) speaks of three intrinsic channels of abhinaya namely vacika angika and sattvika and the vrttis (modes) of verbal corporeal and Psychic behavior in life and their expression in theatre. There are Bharati pertaining to speech sattvati pertaining to mind: and Kaisiki as well as Arabhati Pertaining to body Kaisiki refers to soft graceful and beautiful feminine body of bodily activity and Arabhati to a vigorous male one. In fact Kaisiki has a broader connotation signifying all graceful female activity and Arabhati all manly and energetic action Sanskrit drama has always been understood in terms of performance or (Prayoga) i.e. in terms of Kriya.

Thus whatever is extrinsically abhinaya is intrinsically rasa. Hence while expounding the fallowing padarthas (subject) dealt within he NS namely (1) rasa, (2) bahva, (3) abhinaya (4) dharma, (5) vrtti, (6) pravrtti, (7) siddhi, (8) svara, (9) atodya, (10) gana and (11) ranga. NS begins with exposition of rasa after having dealt with the questions of the origin of natya the nature of theatrical space dance as a part of theatre preliminaries or (Purvaranga) and the elaborate discussion about the nature and significance of purvaranga itself. Thusnatya is ultimately rasa. In order to make the sahrdaya experiences rasa through bhava the performer is required to delineate bhava through delineation of the vibhavas anubhavas and and sancarnis. This necessitates the exposition of bhavas after rasa.

Bhavas cannot be communicated without abinaya. This is the reason why after the exposition of rasa and bhavas there is the exposition of abhinaya in NS.

Since natya is primarily a visual form and needs body language hence angika comes first. A broad treatment has been given to angikabhinaya. The angika has several layers of contextual meaning inherent in the text. This contextual framework is an essential prerequisite for understanding the classification of the body into angas upangas (the main and subsidiary limbs of the body) and their viniyoga (uses, Usages, applicability the sign language based on their varied movements and postures. She goes deeper into body kinetics and relates it to the cosmogonic meanings inherent in the sacrificial altars in the Vedic Yajnas ans explains the forms in a wider conmoginic and philosophical terminology of Indian theatre. Finally related to the general notion of performance are anga-Karma or upanga-Karma the specific acts or the ways of using major and minor limbs for expressing dramatic meaning.

We next turn to the underlying principle of the angrikabhinaya which broadly governs the very use of body language.




  Preface VII
  Acknowledgement XI
  Key to Transliteration XII
  Per formative tradition of Sanskrit Plays: Significance of "Vyangyavyakhya" 1
  Natyasastra and its regional manifestations 2
  Introducing Vyangyavyakhya 22
  Indian Theatre: Crisis of Identity 27
  Part I: Prologue  
I Natyasastra and Vyangyavyakhya 35
II Natyasastra and Kutiyattam 44
III Textual Analysis 5
  Part II: Performance Text  
  I. Dhananjayadhvani  
IV The Beginnings 69
V Retrospective Narration 76
VI The Hero in Action 89
VII Entry of the Jester 103
VIII There Heroine on Stage 125
IX Traditional acting manual attaprakaram 151
X Performance text for contemporary stage 175
XI The interlude Recapitulation of Kalpalatika 189
XII Vyangyavyakhya in practice Nannyarkutu 192
XIII Entry of Chamberlain (interlude continued) 202
XIV Kancuiyam an innovative reconstruction 216
XV Hero in the Disguise of a mendicant 230
XVI Recapitulation of Subhadra in Act V 250
XVII Subhadradhananjayam Act II to V 258
  II. Samvaranadhvani  
XVIII Tapatisamvaranam dramatic text Act I 301
XIX Tapatisamvaranam dramatic text Act II 355
XX Tapatisamvaranam dramatic text Act III 414
XXI Tapatisamvaranam Act IV to VI 450
  Part III. Epilogue  
XXII Post Kulasekhara Reconstructions 477
XXIII From the Secular to the Sacred 488
XXIV Discovery of Bhasa 495
XXV Living traditions of Vyangyavyakhya 502
XXVI Sanskrit Plays on contemporary stage 510
XXVII Reinventing Bharata 524
  Bibliography 531
  Word index 537

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