These efforts of Dr. V Raghavan, Fructified into highly critical articles on several aspects of Sanskrit theatre as also other basic forms of Drama in other languages. The present publication – Sanskrit Drama-its aesthetics and production, is a collection of all these articles by Dr. V. Raghavan, brought out in various research journals in Indian and outside during the last four decades.
On the practical side, there are papers on Music in Ancient Drama and Producing Sanskrit plays. The architecture of the theatre in ancient Indian forms the subject matter of a paper.
A few other papers are on Dasarupaka, Uparupakas and Nrtyaprabandhas and allied topics.
Four other important and interesting papers are on Kudiyattam, which preserves the presentation of Sanskrit plays on the stage, the Kathakali, the Yakshagana and the Bhagavata Mela Nataka. These forms of dance-drama, though the languages differ, still maintain the basic features of ancient Sanskrit stage.
This book which is published by the family of the author, has articles of immense values and will be of use to all lovers of Sanskrit in general and particular to scholars interested in Sanskrit stage, the Ancient Indian theatre and in the other forms of dance-drama in regional languages too.
Kavi Kokila, Sakala Kala Kalapa, Padma Bhushan Dr. V Raghavan, (1908-1979), formerly Head of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras, was a blend of several facets of the rich treasures of Sanskrit Literature. His devotion to the languages was unbounded. His critical acumen produced over 100 books and 1100 papers which were deep in content.
In the field of Sanskrit drama, he took great pains for developing both the theoretical and practical sides. The established of the Samskrita Ranga in 1958 in Madras was an important landmark in the History of Sanskrit Stage. This institution nurtured by him bloosomed into a model organisation for the growth of authentic Sanskrit Drama. Not only in the south, but also in North India, the presentation of the Sanskrit plays by the Samskrita Ranga were greatly appreciated.
Dr. Raghavan, was interested in the activities of drama, as well as music and dance; he spared no pains to try to analyse the growth of theatre form early days. He pioneered in rhetorical and theatrical studies and with his thorough knowledge of the Natyasastra of Bharata and the commentary of Abhinavagupta on it, he gathered much critical information from the texts on dramaturgy and poetics and also from classical writers.
It is a privilege to be associated with this evenings programme organised by the Samskrita Ranga with a three-fold aim: remembering with love and gratitude the late Dr. V. Raghavan, as part of the Satabhishekam celebrations; releasing a collection of his Critical Essays and Papers on 'Sanskrit Drama : Its Aesthetics and Production'; and witnessing the production of his Sanskrit rendering of Rabindranath Tagore's play, Valmiki-pratibha, by the Samskrita Ranga. Dr. Raghavan was not merely the founder of the Samskrita Ranga and its sustaining power and personality for a length of years; he was also a wide-ranging critic of Sanskrit Drama, a producer of Sanskrit plays long and short, especially on the Radio; and an author of several Sanskrit plays on his own, one of which Anarkali in ten Acts - received the Kalidas Puraskar Award given by the Uttar Pradesh Government.
Raghavan was almost my exact contemporary, only four months younger; and in our nonage in the early nineteen thirties, we lived in Triplicane, and chance often brought us together. Years later, in September 1953, while reviewing my book, Indo-Anglian Literature, for K.S. Venkataramani's Tamil journal, Bharata Mani, Raghavan recalled our Triplicane association of a decade earlier. This association was renewed in 1954, at the P.E.N. All India Writers' Conference at Annamalai University, hosted by its Vice-Chancellor, C.P. Ramaswami Ayyar. Among the participants at the Conference were Balasubramania Ayyar and K. Chandrasekharan, as also Radhakrishnan, Nehru and Kalki. Raghavan and I later used to meet in Andhra University whenever he came to attend the Sanskrit Board of Studies chaired by Prof. Kunhan Raja. Once Raghavan and I travelled from Waltair to Madras in a crowded compartment, and our talk was continuous and all-comprehensive.
It was in 1957 that Sahitya Akademi's prestigious volume, Contemporary Indian Literature, carried Dr. Raghavan's 50-page survey of Sanskrit writing in recent times. Clearly the antiquity of Sanskrit was matched by its continuity and continued vitality. A decade later when I was elected Vice- President of Sahitya Akademi, Raghavan and I came closer still and the Guru Nanak and Sri Aurobindo seminars and the International Seminar on the Ramayana Tradition in Asia, found us Collaborating in the service of the Akademi.
Years passed, and I was in Australia in 1979 when I heard that Dr. Raghavan was elected Fellow of Sahitya Akademi. But not long after came the shattering news of his sudden passing.
It was Sri Rama Navami, and Raghavan's on-the-eve speech had been his swan song and I could only recall Sita's words : amrtam visasamsprstam. A few months later, it became my duty to speak about Raghavan at the Woodlands on 12 January 1980 at the time of the posthumous presentation of the Fellow- ship casket. I was also asked to write a Foreword to Dr. Raghavan's monograph on Tyagaraja in the 'Makers of Indian Letters' Series; and more recently Dr. Janaki persuaded me to write a Foreword to his book, The Concept of the Beautiful in Sanskrit Literature, published two years ago.
Here I am again, recalling the personality and attainments of my friend of long years, Dr. Raghavan. It is difficult to speak about him because he was several persons in one; tireless student, and seasoned scholar and researcher; highly sensitive rasika; historian and critic of Sanskrit literature; writer of distinction in Sanskrit, Tamil and English; poet, dramatist and short story writer; messianic lover of music, and member of Sahitya and Sangeet Natak Akademies; traveller in the worlds of literature and the Arts; editor of Samskrita Pratibha, Journal of Oriental Research, and Journal of the Madras Music Academy; all this, as also indefatigable organisation-man who helped the Prof. Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Samskrita Ranga and' the Music Academy to attain significant heights of efficiency. He was a master too of the spoken word in three languages, a man of dedication, of deep life-loyalties, and endowed with vast reserves of humour and ancedotage. And in brief - Raghavan was himself, for he laid his own standards and attained them too. Writing of him in 1974, Dr .V.K. Chari described Raghavan as "a major luminary in the field of Sanskrit Studies and the most authoritative exponent of Sanskrit poetics today" and as one who combined "the dual advantages of tradition and modernity".
I must confess here that our fields of specialisation being far apart I cannot claim any intimate knowledge of Dr. Raghavan's phenomenal research output. His weighty trilogy in Sanskrit Poetics Bhoja's Srngara-Prakasa, The Number of Rasas and Some Concepts of Alankara Sastra is clearly an awe-inspiring achievement. I am more at ease with an illuminating work like The Spiritual Heritage of Tyagaraja or his volume on The Ramayana in Greater India. I recall with pleasure his Tamil short stories in Varalakshmi Vratam, which he presented to my daughter on the occasion of her marriage in 1958. I also remember with gratitude his abridgement of the Mahabharata, which G.A. Natesan published long ago, priced about one rupee. And I cannot fail to remember how the popular booklets he dis- tributed at the time of the marriage of his sons handy booklets like Siva Mahimna Stotra and The Two Brothers: Rama and Lakshmana - were successful attempts at the dissemination of our ageless Sanskritic heritage. Raghavan was thus the one-man Ministry of Indian Culture stationed in Madras.
Dr. V. Raghavan's multi-faceted brilliance and achievements in various fields of Indology are well known to scholars and students in India and abroad. Still dramaturgy and literary criticism remained his favourite subjects of study and research. His Magnum Opus is the encyclopaedic work on Bhoja's Srngara-prakasa; his critical edition of Bhoja's text being published in the Harvard Series is awaiting release. Two volumes of his research papers in the field, Some Concepts of Alainkara Sastra and The Number of Rasas, were published by the Adyar Library and Research Centre in the 'forties' and their later editions are even now sought after by students regularly. There are several other important papers published in various journals which have not yet been collected in book-form. The present collection of some of his important papers on Sanskrit drama dealing with their aesthetics and production will be welcomed by all lovers of the Indian Theatre, especially the serious scholars.
When Dr. Raghavan takes up a topic for study, his investigation is thorough and exhaustive, both synchronic and diachronic, using historical and comparative methods; as a result of this thoroughness, anybody who wants to work on the topic further, has necessarily to study his papers. One may expand his views; or go a few steps forward in the light of new material, or rarely one may even differ from him; but one cannot ignore him. That is the hallmark of a good research paper. Prof. Kuppuswami Sastri has praised his efficient search-light, reaching backwards and forwards in the long course of development of literary criticism in Sanskrit.
perhaps a Dravidian art form, which has no connection with Bharata's Natyasastra. Even poet Vallathol was claiming a unique position for Kathakali as an indigenous Kerala art form. Now-nobody takes such views seriously.
Special mention has to be made to Dr. Raghavan's yeoman service in bringing to light the kutiyattam of Kerala, the only surviving form of staging Sanskrit drama mainly on the sasis of Bharata's Natyasastra and focussing its importance and relevance. With the co-operation of Dr. Clifford Jones and Dr. Bryski, he was able to induce the Cakyars to perform even outside the temples; Mani Madhavan Cakyar and his troupe, came to Madras and gave performances of'Kutiyattam' under the auspices of the Samskrita Ranga. At the suggestion of Dr. Raghavan, I prepared a detailed article on this art; it was published in Samskrita RangaAnnual volume Il, and was later reprinted as a monograph by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi, at the time when Madhava Cakyar was invited to give his performances there. A penetrating paper on 'Ku tiyattam' by Dr. Raghavan was presented at a seminar. at Kerala Kala Mandalam, which is included in the present volume.
Some of his early papers like 'Natyadharmi' and 'Lokadharmi' and 'Vrttis' remain authoritative in the field. Many papers are on producing Sanskrit plays; they are based not only on his wide and deep scholarship, bu t also his experience in producing Sanskrit dramas, mainly under the auspices of the Samskrita Ranga founded by him. Some papers were orginally written for the Samskrita Ranga Annual. Some papers like 'Music in Ancient Indian Drama' reign supreme in their respective fields.
Dr. Raghavan always went to the original texts and studied them carefully. Regarding interpretation of ambiguous and vague texts, he says: "When texts are vague, meagre and bewildering, we have got to use our imagination." Imagination does not mean guess work; it is the vision one gets in interpetation through the hermenuetic approach of entering into the situational context, in a holistic manner. Palmer calls it the hermeneutical circle: (p 25 Hermeneutics, 1969.)
"For the interpreted to 'perform' the text, he must 'understand' it; he must understand the subject and the situation before he can enter the horizon of the meaning.
Only when he can step into the magic Circle of Its horizon, can the interpreter understand its meaning. This is that "mysterious hermeneutical circle" without which the meaning of the text cannot emerge."
Dr. Raghavan rejects the identification of Rangasirsa with Rangapitha; Apatiksepa is explained as _Yavani kapasarana, a toss of the curtain; He Identifies Mattavarinis as two squares on either side of the Rangapitha. He rejects the Bhavaprakasa view that the ten lasyangas pertain to the Bhana, Last year the Samskrta Ranga published Dr.Raghavan's lectures on the' comic element in Sanskrit literature. This year on the occasion of his satabhiseka, this collection of his papers on Sanskrit Drama is being released. On behalf of scholars and students, I have great pleasure, in receiving this excellent volume.
It has been a great ambition of Smt. Sarada Raghavan, my mother and all of us in the family of Sakalakalakalapa Dr. V. Raghavan, to publish his remaining works covering various fields of studies in Sanskrit, Indian Thought and Culture, Music, Dance and Drama. His writings as well-known to the world of scholars have always been comprehensive, precise and authentic. From among these, with the aim of presenting to the large community of scholars, students and ad- mirers of Dr. Raghavan, a treasure-house of informative writings of his on Sanskrit Drama, has been compiled in this present volume, a collection that was readily kept available by Dr. Raghavan himself.
A great pleasurable responsibility has been bestowed upon myself, . as the eldest son of Dr. Raghavan, to bring out this eagerly awaited project, along with the co-operation of my younger brother Charudattan and sisters Priyamvada and Nandini.
The book was appropriately released on the Valedictory function of Dr. Raghavan's 81st Birthday Celebrations, con- ducted by the Samskrita Ranga, Madras, an organisation founded by Dr. Raghavan himself in 1958, to promote Sanskrit Drama activities.
I cannot adquately thank Prof. KR. Srinivasa Iyengar, (Former Vice - Chancellor, Andhra University; Former Vice- President and Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi), the seniormost critic-poet and versatile scholar and a contemporary and close friend of my father, for having agreed to release this publication. My thanks are also due to Prof. K.K. Raja (Hony. Director, Adyar Library and Resarch Centre, Madras), for receiving the first copy of the same.
In my endeavour to bring out this publication, I have had the kind co-operation and team work of Dr. S.S.Janaki, Dr.Kameswari and other staff members of the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Madras-4. Dr.C.S.Sundaram, Reader (Retd.) , Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras, has taken care of the Index. 1 acknowledge gratefully, the services rendered by all of them.
Sri N. Kalyanasundharam, Partner, Paprinpack (printers), Madras-34. is to be thanked for preparing the volume in a worthy manner.
I sincerely hope that this publication would give the readers, the benefit and satisfaction of having a collection of authentic material on the various aspects of Sanskrit Drama, its production and allied forms of Sanskrit Drama of other regions as well.
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