• Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    Dramatic poetry is said to have been invented by the sage Bharata, who lived at a very remote period of Indian history, and was the author of a system of music. The drama of these early times was probably nothing more than the Indian Nách-dance (Nautch) of the present day. It was a species of rude pantomime, in which dancing and movements of the body were accompanied by mute gestures of the hands and face, or by singing and music. Subsequently, dialogue was added, and the art of theatrical representation was brought to great perfection. Elaborate treatises were written which laid down minute regulations for the construction and conduct of plays, and subjected dramatic composition to highly artificial rules of poetical and rhetorical style. For example, the Sáhitya-darpana divides Sanskrit plays into two great classes, the Rúpaka or principal dramas, and the Uparúpaka or minor dramas. At the head of the ten species of Rúpaka stands the Nátaka, of which the '[S']akoontalá' is an example. It should consist of from five to ten Acts; it should have a celebrated story for its plot; it should represent heroic or godlike characters and good deeds; it should be written in an elaborate style, and be full of noble sentiments. Moreover, it should be composed like the end of a cow's tail; so that each of the Acts be gradually shorter.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    In India, as in Greece, scenic entertainments took place at religious festivals, and on solemn public occasions. Kalidása's '[S']akoontalá' seems to have been acted at the commencement of the summer season—a period peculiarly sacred to Káma-deva, the Indian god of love.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    Every Sanskrit play opens with a prologue, or, to speak more correctly, an introduction, designed to prepare the way for the entrance of the dramatis personæ. The prologue commences with a benediction or prayer (pronounced by a Bráhman, or if the stage-manager happened to be of the Bráhmanical caste, by the manager himself), in which the poet invokes the favour of the national deity in behalf of the audience. The blessing is generally followed by a dialogue between the manager and one or two of the actors, in which an account is given of the author of the drama, a complimentary tribute is paid to the critical acumen of the spectators, and such a reference is made to past occurrences or present circumstances as may be necessary for the elucidation of the plot. At the conclusion of the prologue, the manager, by some abrupt exclamation, adroitly introduces one of the dramatic personages, and the real performance commences.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    The play, being thus opened, is carried forward in scenes and Acts; each scene being marked by the entrance of one character and the exit of another, as in the French drama. The dramatis personæ were divided into three classes—the inferior characters (nicha), who were said to speak Prákrit in a monotonous accentless tone of voice (anudáttoktyá); the middling (madhyama), and the superior (pradhána), who were said to speak Sanskrit with accent, emphasis, and expression (udáttoktyá). In general, the stage is never left vacant till the end of an Act, nor does any change of locality take place until then. The commencement of a new Act is often marked, like the commencement of the piece, by an introductory monologue or dialogue spoken by one or more of the dramatis personæ, and called Vishkambha or Prave[S']aka. In this scene allusion is frequently made to events supposed to have occurred in the interval of the Acts, and the audience is the better prepared to take up the thread of the story, which is then skilfully carried on to the concluding scene. The piece closes, as it began, with a prayer for national plenty and prosperity, addressed to the favourite deity, and spoken by one of the principal personages of the drama.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    The feelings of the audience are wrought up to a pitch of great intensity; and whatever emotions of terror, grief, or pity may have been excited, are properly tranquillized by the happy termination of the story.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    Í[S']a preserve you [1]! he who is revealed
    In these eight forms[2] by man perceptible—
    Water, of all creation's works the first;
    The Fire that bears on high the sacrifice
    Presented with solemnity to heaven;
    The Priest, the holy offerer of gifts;
    The Sun and Moon, those two majestic orbs,
    Eternal marshallers of day and night;
    The subtle Ether, vehicle of sound,
    Diffused throughout the boundless universe;
    The Earth, by sages called 'The place of birth
    Of all material essences and things';
    And Air, which giveth life to all that breathe.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    Indeed, if a calamitous conclusion be necessary to constitute a tragedy, the Hindú dramas are never tragedies. They are mixed compositions, in which joy and sorrow, happiness and misery, are woven in a mingled web—tragi-comic representations, in which good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, are allowed to blend in confusion during the first Acts of the drama. But, in the last Act, harmony is always restored, order succeeds to disorder, tranquillity to agitation; and the mind of the spectator, no longer perplexed by the apparent ascendency of evil, is soothed, and purified, and made to acquiesce in the moral lesson deducible from the plot.
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    Dushyanta, the hero of the drama, according to Indian legends, was one of the descendants of the Moon, or in other words, belonged to the Lunar dynasty of Indian princes; and, if any dependence may be placed on Hindú chronology, he must have lived in the twenty-first or twenty-second generation after the Flood. Puru, his most celebrated ancestor, was the sixth in descent from the Moon's son Budha, who married a daughter of the good King Satya-vrata, preserved by Vishnu in the Ark at the time of the Deluge. The son of Dushyanta, by [S']akoontalá, was Bharata, from whom India is still called by the natives Bhárata-varsha. After him came Samvarana, Kuru, Sántanu, Bhíshma, and Vyasa. The latter was the father of Dhritaráshtra and Pándu, the quarrels of whose sons form the subject of the great Sanskrit epic poem called Mahá-bhárata,
  • Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
    Indeed the whole story of [S']akoontalá is told in the Mahá-bhárata. The pedigree of [S']akoontalá, the heroine of the drama, was no less interesting, and calculated to awaken the religious sympathies of Indian spectators. She was the daughter of the celebrated Vi[s']wámitra, a name associated with many remarkable circumstances in Hindú mythology and history. His genealogy and the principal events of his life are narrated in the Rámáyana, the first of the two epic poems which were to the Hindús what the Iliad and the Odyssey were to the Greeks. He was originally of the regal caste; and, having raised himself to the rank of a Bráhman by the length and rigour of his penance, he became the preceptor of Rámachandra, who was the hero of the Rámáyana, and one of the incarnations of the god Vishnu.
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