A modest attempt has been made to study the much discussed topics related to drama and aesthetics from ancient time to till date in a new perspective of genuine illumination. Both Indian and Greek aesthetics have a long tradition and spontaneous development with speculative similarities. But India has surpassed the contributions of Greek and other nations of the west by its independent and philosophical basis of original and new theories. Most of the western aesthetic theories have their genesis in the Greek and Roman sources. But Indian literary genres and aesthetic theories have an independent origin and development distinct from those of the west. Most of such theories were revelations of the intuitive self (pratibha), an inexhaustible source of ever new forms. In these theories one can perceive intellectural discriminations based on philosophical concepts derived from contemplation of precise work of art.
Intellectual awakening was similar to East and West during the period B.C, and the probe to assess the creative activity of the poets and the implication and relevance of literature to society. The basis of ancient literary criticism remains as a landmark, though much developments, deviations and novelty have effected in its field with the elapse of time. The topics discussed in the different chapters of this book are great landmarks in the development of drama and aesthetics. When Aristotle mainly leads the critics on tragic form of the West, Bharata leads the Indian dramatists and dramaturgists to the whole types of drama including the Anka (tragedy). Bharata and his followers have laid down independent aesthetic norms suited to all the ages. India's wonderful and profound contributions to the world of aesthetics are the Anukarana theory of Bharata and Sri Sankuka; the Dhvani theory of Anandavardhana, the Sadharal) Tkaral)a theory of Bhattanayaka and the theory of Reflection (Abhivyakti vada) of Abhinavagupta. However, the theories of Bhattanayaka, Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta have raised genuine curiosity and passion in the study of literature, particularly in Drama and Aesthetics. Bharata's RasasGtra the wonderful catchword that contains the mode of aesthetic experience of all kinds of fine arts, deserves special mention in this context. The RasasGtra and the interpretations on it at different periods, in the light of philosophical speculations have elevated Indian aesthetics to the level of spiritual delight. Bhasa is a new path finder in the field of drama against traditional conventions, belief and norms. His tragic concept has not been undergone serious study in its real sense and spirit. The topics discussed in the different chapters of this book are great land marks in the study of Drama and Aesthetics.
I wish to record my gratefulness to the Universtiy of Kerala, particularly to the Department of Sanskrit and its HOD for providing material assistance and access to the resources of the library for the completion of this book. I owe my greatest debt to my wife and two daughters and granddaughter for their encouragement and cheerfulness to make this work ready for publication.
The unique and precise doctrine of Dhvani has forced to accept it as a landmark in the history of Indian aesthetics and classify history of poetics into Pre-Dhvani, Dhvani and Post-Dhvani periods. The Pre-Dhvani period is the formative stage of Indian aesthetics. This period is important on several aspects of aesthetics. Almost all the constituents and their comparative importance in delight of poetry were studied during this period. Both word and sense were considered as the body of poetry. Alankara (external embellishment), guna (poetic excellence), riti (style of composition) and beauty as the most important element or soul of poetry were interpreted. Above all the maturity of poetry, viz., Paka was also noticed as the proficiency in words and sense in composition. The Draksa Paka was the desirable one above the Nalikerapaka. Alankaras and Gunas were classified into two based on words (sabda) and sense (artha) to get the Sabdalankaras, Arthalarikaras, the Sabdagunas and the Arthagunas respectively. Dandin treated alankaras as the external ornaments of poetry. But Gunas or excellences were the very life of marga contributing to the delight of poetry - Dandin laid down three types of Marga, of which the vaidarbhi enveloped all the ten Sabda and Artha gunas. Dandin was the first critic to introduce the idea of a life or essence to poetry. Vaidabhi consisting of all the excellences was considered as the most desirable means of composition (Marga) by Dandin to attain the end of poetry, to teach and to delight. Vamana was very conspicuous in his style (riti) of poetry, a modified version of Dandin's Marga.
The above sutras of Vamana altogether may mean that 'Poetic beauty is determined from the judicious arrangement of words of excellences, in a poem, which is treated as its soul'. Vamana stressed on two aspects of a poem, first selected words of excellences, second their judicious arrangement in poetry in such a way as to evolve charm. Such a perfect poetic style is the soul of poetry which determines poetic charm.
Vamana, the successor of Dandin introduced riti or style of composition for the first time in poetry and elevated it to the most important element or soul of poetry. He was the first critic to interpret Alankara to mean beauty or delight in poetry; or style is explained as the mode of arrangement of words charged with gunas (excellences) that evolve the beauty or aesthetic element of a poem. The interpretation of style by Vamana gave much clarity to the dictum of Marga of Dandin. Dandin and Vamana treated Gunas as the caterers of aesthetic element in poetry. Bhamaha, Dandin and Vamana had laid down a sound foundation to Indian aesthetics during the Pre-Dhvani period.
This foundation consisted of the definition of poetry, the important constituents like body (word and meaning), alankara, guna, riti and atman and their relevance in the delight of poetry. It was on this foundation that Anandavardhana had erected the lighthouse of his doctrine of Dhvani. During the Dhvani and Post-Dhvani periods, a kind of modification or extension or reduction of the constituents of poetry can be observed.
Anandavardhana, the propounder of Dhvani, first decorated the foundation laid down by his predecessors with the power of words (Sabdavyaparas) like Abhidha (the expressive power) Laksana (the denotative power) and Vyanjana (the suggestive power) and explained their relevance in poetry, in comparison with poetic beauty, the most important element desired from poetry. Abhidha and laksana were famous in literature and science and were accepted by everyone Whereas, Vyanjana leading to Dhvani was borrowed from the grammarians for support and validity to his new doctrine of suggestion. Ananda insisted that the essence of poetry lies in its suggestive sense.
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