Article Index

Kerala made, two daring deviations, in the 10th century, in the performance tradition of Natyasastra. The royal dramatist Kulasekhara wrote two dramas. He called his friends, scholars and actors and enacted himself the roles to show how he intended to present his dramas in a different way. He made two important improvisations–first, he introduced the device of dhwani which was accepted the soul of poetry, in theatre and developed sub-texts out of the dramatic texts-dhvanipadha from grandhapadha. The stage script thus prepared is known as Vyangyavyakhya.

The character in Subhadradhananjaya enters asking for alms. Bhiksham datta. The feminine gender in Bhiksha suggests a woman-a prayer to give Subhadra to Arjuna. Actors present this inner meaning with eyes alone (netrabhinaya).

Interestingly, Kulasekhara recognizes two levels among the audience-the learned and the layman-prekshaka and nanaloka. Suggested sense is for the former; nanaloka being satisfied with the outer meaning.

The other innovation of Kulasekhara was the introduction of Purvasambhanda-linking the past to the present. The stage direction in Sanskrit dramas for the entry of a character is-tatah pravisati (after that he enters). The spectators have a right to know the past events, for which the story till the moment has to be narrated. Being a solo-performance the actor will have to transform to several roles in course of his narration. Also, the actor will have to indulge in imaginative acting. These two-pakarnnattam and manodharmabhinaya are the two major contributions of Kerala to Sanskrit theatre.