We have hitherto discussed about āhārya, āṅgika, and vācika. The next aspect to discuss is sāttvikābhinaya – the most difficult aspect to teach and to express in words. In another sense, it is also easy to speak about sāttvikābhinaya because every form of expression finally culminates in sāttvika. It is only through sāttvika that śānta comes as the backdrop for all bhāvas and elevates them to the level of Rasa. And yet, how can we point to an exclusive thing called space?
We used the traditional accompaniments of Yakṣagāna, namely caṇḍè and maddalè. To enhance the melody, however, we included flute and violin as accompaniments. From the early days, I felt the need to include a svara-vādya to add to the melody of the Yakṣagāna himmeḻa. I have even spoken about this on various platforms. Shivaram Karanth, Padmacharan, Mahabala Hegade, and others were of the same opinion. Shivaram Karanth has used violin and saxophone for accompaniments. It is worth mentioning here that when I shared my thoughts with Prof.
Now, moving on to bhāgavatikè. As mentioned earlier, vācikābhinaya of Yakṣagāna is of three kinds and that rendered by the bhāgavata is a major component.
It was a common scenario for conservative-minded audience of traditional Yakṣagāna to brush aside our presentations as falling into the Bharatanāṭya genre. They did so without even watching it. In fact, even some of those who witnessed our shows reacted the same way as well. People who made such comments probably did not even have an exposure to Sadir or Dāsiyāṭṭam and they had no knowledge of Tāphā. Yet, there does not seem to be an end to their comments. The two main reasons behind this are –
There were quite a few questions and uncertainties that bothered Mantap. Who do we converse with, when there are no puruṣa-veṣas on the stage? There is no other female character either. How is it possible to present certain sequences without the presence of a bench or a chair that can work as ratha? How will an ekavyakti-strī-veṣa be received if it lacks even the prose conversations that are typical to the art form?
Traditional forms of dance that have their roots in the upa-rūpakas are today called śāstrīya-nṛtya. There are several regional forms of śāstrīya-nṛtya (classical dance) such as Sadir, Tāphā, Keḻikè, Oḍissi, Mohiniyāṭṭam, Kūcipūḍi, Kathak, Maṇipuri, Gauḍīyā and Sattrīya. In fact, several of these dance forms are by-products of the original theatrical traditions.
It is natural for artistes to try their hand at bringing novelty to their art. It is rather common to see new experiments and novel presentations being tried out in every form of art. Sanātana-dharma considers the world to be the poetry of the divine. Art is, after all, a part of this Deva-kāvya and we have added beauty to our life-poetry - jīva-kāvya - by innovating from time to time. Bhaṭṭa-nāyaka, one of the prominent commentators on the Nāṭyaśāstra writes the following benedictory verse:
An interesting feature of Yakṣagāna is that movements are adapted as per the bhūmikā, i.e., character. The hèjjès, sthānakas, and hastas are a function of the nature, age, and characteristic features of the character-type to be portrayed.
The āṅgikābhinaya of Yakṣagāna can be sub-divided into that of nāṭya and of nṛtya, which are nibaddha and anibaddha, respectively. We will limit our discussion to the aspect of nṛtta. Āṅgikābhinaya that caters for nāṭya is performed through the mode of loka-dharmī and it should have sāttvikābhinaya as its undercurrent.
The word abhinaya means to take things closer. The word can also mean good character and making things one’s own. Abhinaya can be divided into four kinds, namely āṅgika, āhārya, vācika, and sāttvika. As the very name suggests, āṅgikābhinaya is to do with the movement of the major and minor parts of the body including hands, legs, waist, neck and head.