Metaphysics in Natya History & Culture

The five-act play called Universe

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The drama unfolds and the curtain falls, rhythmic to the beats of an Eternal dance

AUM when re-arranged becomes UMA. The universal generative, operative and disintegrating power represented as cosmic resonance changes its order with the second syllable replacing the first, giving the name of the Goddess. This is because she plays that role to the hilt, sustaining the entire universe. The other two forces are attributed to her too, she being the power of energy, but they seem to diminish in importance. We all know that it is not difficult to create something new with existing resources, when compared to maintaining whatever is created or consolidating the same. At the same time, it is easy to destroy anything created and consolidated!

UMA, the eternal Mother, assumes the role of the first ACHARYA, admits this principle of life-saving process as primary and teaches us the significance of her worship — for the worldly (Dharma, Artha, Kama) and the other-worldly (Moksha) accomplishments. In dance, while Tandava or pure dance portrays the creative and the destructive spirit with rhythmic components, it is the Lasya dance that occupies a central position with the emotional components, building upon the dramatic story in order to operate on aesthetic relish.

When Bharata speaks about the plot and its segments in drama, the five-fold functions in which UMA indulges, like creation, sustenance, destruction, veiling or ignorance and then emancipation, are simultaneously but discreetly accomplished. AUM and UMA are constantly interchanging, One being the supreme reality and the other the supreme dancer. The first step towards dramatisation is the choice of a theme. If Rasa is the soul of drama, plot is its body, says Bharata. A dramatist fixes a goal of achievement and he designs a plot or theme for this purpose.

The plot is of two kinds — the principal (Adhikarika) and subsidiary (Prasangika). The principal plot involves the actions for attainment while the subsidiary plot comprises actions, which indirectly lead to making the drama a composite one. The dramatist has to divide the plot into acts, independent but appearing as a whole. The five elements of the plot are the germinating seed (Bija), the prominent point (Bindu), the episode (Pataka), the episodical incident (Prakari) and the enactment (Karya).

The aspect of creation broadly is related to Beeja-Bindu introduction, thereafter which is the sustenance, occupying the maximum time on stage, unfolding all the histrionics. That which is scattered in a small measure, expands itself in multifarious ways and ends in fruition, is called the seed or Beeja of the plot. That which sustains the continuity till the end of the play is called the vital drop or Bindu. The event, which is introduced in the interest of the plot, is called an episode or Pataka. Prakari or Episodical Incident is when the result of such an event is presented for the purpose of the principal plot with no continuation. The efforts made for the purpose of the principal plot is called the Action or Karya.

The above five elements of the plot have five means of attaining objects called ‘Artha Prakriti.’ The five stages are — Beginning (Prarambha), Effort (Prayatna), Possibility of Attainment (Prapti Sambhava), Certainty of Attainment (Niyata Prapti) and Attainment of the Object (Phala Prapti). Awakening curiosity about the theme with reference to the Bija is called the ‘Beginning or Prarambha.’ The actor’s striving towards the attainment of the object is called ‘Effort or Prayatna.’ When attainment is indicated by the psychological states, it is known as the Possibility of Attainment or ‘Prapti Sambhava’ and a sure attainment of the object when suggested, is called Certainty of Attainment or ‘Niyata Prapti.’

Finally, when the suitable result appears, it is called ‘Attainment of the Object or ‘Phala Prapti.’ In between the acts, there would be a few ‘Kshana Kshana Pralayas’ or brief moments in dissolution. At the end of the drama, when the Yavanika or curtains come down, the entire act comes to an end and that too, in a fraction of a few seconds. It’s time for ‘Rest or Mahapralaya.’

Broadly, a play representing the world drama, has an Opening (Mukha), a Progression (Pratimukha), the Development (Garbha), the Pause (Vimarsha) and the Conclusion (Nirvahana). These metaphysically correspond to the Panchakritya or the five-fold actions of Srishti, Stithi, Samhara, Tirodhana and Anugraha which are carried on by UMA, the active, and SADASIVA, the quiescent.

The author is a Bharatanatyam exponent and researcher

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 6:23:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/the-five-act-play-called-universe/article30105624.ece

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