Aesthetics of Dhvani in Theatre – Part II

The writer, who edited the work Vyangyavyakhya, explains the circumstances that led to the scholar from Prameswaramangalam to reach Mahodayapuram at the invitation of the king, and how he began to write the acting manual by watching the drama enacted by the king

Arrival of a messenger of the king

One morning, as usual, I got up in the morning and went up to the river Choorni to perform the morning rites. I paid homage to Vishnu, the supreme deity, at the Parameswaramangalam Temple. Returning home I washed my hands and legs and warmed myself before the blazing fire. While I was in meditation, a messenger from the King of Kerala appeared before me.

I received him with due respect and offered him a seat with welcoming words. I enquired the purpose of his visit and he informed me, “The king wishes to see you.” I followed him to the city of Mahodayapuram through the river Choornika in a canoe which had a cot, bed and other comforts.

Description of King Kulasekhara

I met the King seated on a throne. His natural lustre seemed to have increased owing to the radiance of the rich stones adorning his crown. His elevated forehead, a prominent nose, lofty shoulders and long eyes contributed to his majestic appearance. The red-tinged forearms and feet suggested royalty since they possessed the auspicious marks of a lotus, wheel, conch-shell etc. His face glittered in the brilliance of the rich stones of his earrings. His neck surpassed the conch-shell in sound and shape. His chest was anointed with gold, saffron, camphor and sandal paste. The blue silken garment worn by him attracted the attention of onlookers. He was engaged in conversation, the topic being Vishnu, the supreme spirit. The lotus held in his left hand was being closed by the other, with the fingernails resting on his lap. He was loved and admired by one and all.

The king shows the mode of presentation

With humility, I entered the assembly hall. The king received me with sweet words. Hardly had I stood there for a moment when the king sought the permission of the assembly and retired to his private chamber along with me with a smile. Conversing humorously we entered the council hall inaccessible to others. Once I was seated comfortably, the king pleasantly spoke to me.

I have brought you here, oh scholar! since you are a master in the art of histrionics. I wish to assign a job to you. I have composed two dramas – Samvarana and Dhananjaya. Suggestive poetry has found acceptance at the hands of scholars. Hence in composing these dramas, I have often used suggestive words. You are proficient in the art of histrionics. Go through them, judge their merit and tell me whether they are good or not. If they are any good, be a spectator; I shall myself present before you each character in the proper way. Then I shall have them staged by professional actors.

Thus he showed me the mode of presentation. I am elaborating on the sentiment, mode of enactment and the entry of characters in his drama, Subhadradhananjaya.

Read Part 1

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