One must be familiar with the language of the song for which the choreography of abhinaya is done, at least to the extent that the different shades of meaning and the possible interpretations of the lyrics can be imagined. One must also be conscious of the meter (chandas) of the song and ensure that the metrical melody of the lyrics blends well with the rhythmic pattern of the tāla. For a creative elaboration of the sancāri-bhāvas (creative interpretations of the same line of the lyrics and spontaneous improvisations), an understanding of the alaṅkāras used in the lyrics is essential. For bringing about non-repetitive sancārīs, one needs expertise in nāṭya-dharmī as well as creative thinking.
Let us now examine how all this preparation can help in bringing out rasābhinaya in a composition. The following is a song that I’ve composed:
उदासीन इव यच्छसि यन्मयि
दयित ! सुखं तु तदेव।
यदि कुरुषे निर्भरं निधुवनं
तत्फलं सुखमहो कियदिति वा
विवृणोतु ममोहस्तु कथम्॥
The composition is set to an eight-beat cycle and can be sung in the caturaśra-gati. This can be set to the ādi-tāla. It can also be sung vitāla (i.e., without setting it to any tāla cycle).
The song is composed in such a way that there are not many complex words. Here is the split version of a few complex words that appear in the song – इयत्+आनन्द करं, मम+उज्जीवकं, and मम+ऊहः+तु This is the feeling voiced by a heroine to the hero. Śṛṅgāra is the rasa that the song can evoke. The half-minded love of the hero is giving great joy to the heroine. We get to know from the words of the heroine that the hero is shy but is deeply in love with the heroine. As she can voice her feeling without any bashfulness, she belongs to the category of prauḍhā. She does not seem to mind even if he has other lovers and is not jealous of them. This makes her fall into the category of uttama-nāyikā. She is brave, intelligent and courteous too.
It is quite evident that the heroine is not sādhāraṇā. We will need to examine if she is parakīyā or svīyā. If we work with the assumption the couple is matured and their love has ripened with time and that the heroine is trying to cajole the hero with gentle nudging, then the heroine can be said to be svīyā. Instead, if we assume that the hero is married but has an
affair with another woman and she observes that the hero is anxious and preoccupied when he is in her company. She might then start thinking how wholehearted his love for his wife could be and how blessed the wife is. In this context, she is a parakīyā nāyikā. If the heroine is haughty and possessive and utters the words of the song, she will be an ūḍhā (married) parakīyā nāyikā. If the nāyikā feels that the nāyaka has been kind to her, though he is preoccupied, she can express happiness filled with gratitude. There can be a tinge of sorrow because she has not been able to win him over completely. She has the satisfaction that she is in the company of the hero. There can be romānca (horripilation) and vaisvarya (change in voice) when she says this. The heroine might feel angry, irritated, sad, and jealous because his heart is captured by another woman. These and other associated feelings are the vyabhicāri-bhāvas in this situation. The vyabhicāri-bhāvas can lead to aśru (tears) or vaivarṇya (change of facial colour).
Such a heroine who is jealous and sad because of the hero will fall under the category of madhyā. Mature love can be portrayed only through a svīyā-nāyikā. Layers of emotion and the subtle nature of a woman’s heart can be brought about if the heroine is assumed to be a parakīyānāyikā. However, the song cannot lend itself well for a madhyānāyikā who is filled with jealousy, greed, and hatred. Yet, a talented dancer can interpret the song in any manner she wants and bring out the best abhinaya.
In this composition, it is difficult to say to which category of the aṣṭa-nāyikās the heroine belongs to. Her nature seems to be close to that of a svādhīnapatikā (a heroine who has her beloved under her control), though she does not seem to have him totally under control. The heroine can be depicted as though she is cajoling her beloved to turn towards her, with a tinge of humour that is mixed with pathos. Expounding the emotion of the heroine in such a context is certainly a difficult task and it is like walking on a sword’s edge.
Classical rāgas such as Ānanda-bhairavī, Khamāc, Kāmbhoji, and Pahāḍi might suit the emotions that are predominantly present in the song. Lālitya (charm/grace) can be brought out through Khamāc and Ānanda-bhairavī, while gāmbhīrya (profundity/majesty) can be brought out by a combination of Pahāḍi and Kāmbhoji. All the four can suggest the emotions of gratitude mixed with delight, light humour and pathos.
Let us move to the manner in which the situation can be enacted. Rāgālāpana must be done as a precursor to the rendering of the song. The nature of the hero and the heroine should be established during the rāgālāpana. The artist should also subtly suggest that the heroine has realised the half-hearted nature of the hero. Yet it should be depicted such that the preoccupied nature of the hero does not completely disappoint the heroine and she tries to cajole him with affection, hope, and gentleness. Several sancārīs (elaboration and interpretation of the emotion) can be brought out while performing the abhinaya for the line:
“udāsīna iva yacchasi yanmayi, dayita! sukhaṃ tu tadeva” (‘You are indifferent to me and that is sufficient to give me joy.’)
Sāttvika-bhāvas have to play a dominant role while performing abhinaya for the lines “iyad-ānandakaraṃ manoharaṃ, mamojjīvakaṃ madhuram” (‘It gives me so much of delight, enlivens me with a lot of sweetness.’)
The lines “yadi kuruṣe nirbharaṃ nidhuvanaṃ, mudā samarpitamanasā” (‘If you can display wholehearted love towards me….’) evoke a feeling that can be contrasted with the first two lines.
Sancārīs can be brought in here too. The artist can show how beautiful the śṛṅgāra would be if both the hero and the heroine were in love with total involvement.
For the line “vivṛṇotu mamohastu katham” (‘Tell me how it is going to be’) the artist may display the feelings of happiness mixed with sorrow in her eyes and then appear as though she is lost in thoughts imagining how the hero would be if only he was with her with full involvement.
The word “dayita!” (‘beloved!’) can be recited/sung and enacted in a myriad ways. The heroine can address her beloved with eagerness, helplessness or with delight.
The artist should display a lot of emotional involvement and intensity of love for the line “sukham-aho! kiyaditi vā” (‘the amount of happiness…’) and not elaborate it much. Rest of the emotion should be left to the imagination of the audience.
The composition does not have much scope for employing cārīs, nṛtta-hastas, or karaṇas. It has to be filled with sāttvikābhinaya based in loka-dharmī. Yet there is ample scope for a talented artist to apply a few movements of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Bhūmi-cārīs such as Baddhā, Utsyandita and Sthitāvarta can be employed. Nṛtta-hastas such as Ulbaṇa, Nitamba, Keśabandha, Sūcyāsya, Arālakhaṭakāmukha, Āviddhavaktra, Ardharecita and Viprakīrṇa can be creatively used. Karaṇas such as Mattallī, Lalita, Catura, Ghūrṇita, Parivṛtta, Saṃnata, Sūcīviddha, Nitamba, Skhalita, Madaskhalita, Janita and Avahittha can be employed as a part of the abhinaya. In addition to these, either entire karaṇas or karaṇāṃśas (a segment of the karaṇa) of Ancita and Talasaṅghaṭṭita might come in handy. It is hard to capture in words the manner in which these movements should be applied. The āhārya worn by the heroine should be simple and graceful.
The article has described all the requisites for rasābhinaya. Artists will need to put in a lot of effort to achieve success in rasābhinaya and to ensure that their communication is accurate and effective.
विविधमपि मनोभिर्भावयन्तोऽस्य भेदम्।
परिषदि परितोषं हन्त सन्तः प्रयान्तु ॥ -Śṛṅgāra-prakāśa
I’ve exhaustively described all the varieties of love.
May connoisseurs understand all these details and
enjoy them restfully with closed eyes in scholarly assemblies.