Author: Yashila Prashadh, Chennai
Published as a part of Śāstra Raṅga-2023 Internship ; offered by NoopuraBhramari- IKS Centre. Article series No – 20
Itivŗtta means incidence, events, or occurrence. Splitting the word into two – iti means “in this way” and if Vŗttis to be taken from the root word vŗt, it means “to be” or “to exist”. The term can also mean as “chronicles”.
Chapter 19 of the Nātyaśāstra is entirely dedicated to the concept of Itivŗtta. Bharata has used the term Itivŗtta in Nātyaśāstra to depict a “plot” and keeping in mind all the above-mentioned definitions, we can understand the term to be used as “a story or a chronicle used to narrate something that has happened”, a written story describing events or incidents that has happened in a specific manner to be able to use it in Nātya.
The term itivrtta is seen is the 1st shloka of Chapter 19, which is –
Itivŗttam tu nāṭyasya śarīram parikīrtitam|
Paňcabhihi sandhibhistasya vibhāgah samprakalpitah||
The above sloka means that a plot is said to be the body of a drama and it consists of 5 Sandhis or junctures.
Bīja means “seed”. Bharata uses the word very aptly to describe the 1st element out of the 5 elements of a plot explained in the 21st shloka of the chapter saṅdhinirūpaṇam.
The sloka is as follows –
Alpamātram samutsŗśtam bahudhā yadvisarpati|
Phalāvasānam yaccaiva bījam tat parikīrtitam||
A seed is just a small substance which when sowed and looked after the right way becomes a huge tree and bears fruits, just as how a small idea that generates in the mind, when well written in the story format as a plot and enacted can give rise to rasaniśpattih in sahŗdayas where they get to enjoy the fruits of the Bīja sowed. That initial thought or concept is the Bīja.
Bindu can mean drop, dot, small particle, or point. In the Nātyaśāstra, Bharata uses this term to explain the 2nd element of a plot development explained in the 22nd shloka after Bīja.
Prayojanānām vicchede yadavicchedakāraṇam|
Yāvat samāptirbandhasya sa binduh parikīrtitah||
Bindu is that point, as a part of the plot which sustains and prolongs the plot until the end of it.
The term Bindu is also used as one of the 33 alaṅkāras of songs mentioned in the stringed instruments chapter. This is an embellishment where a note is sung in low pitch which comes back after touching the high pitch. It is also used as one of the types in vyaňjana dhātu which is a detailed explanation playing different strokes on a stringed instrument.
This term can be taken from the root word “pat” which means “to fly” and suffix from the root “ak” which means “to move tortuously” which is with full of twists, turns and curls. This term means a banner or a flag which flies with twirls and curls. In the Nātyaśāstra, Bharata uses this term to explain an episode, an episode introduced in the interest on the Principal Plot forms the 3rd element of a plot.
Sloka 23 of Itivŗtta chapter explains about the term Patāka –
Yadvŗttam tu parārtham syāt pradhānasyopakārakam|
Pradhānavacca kalpyeta sa patāketi kīrtitā||
Patāka term is also mentioned in Chapter 9 hastābhinaya which used to depict one of the single-handed gestures (asamyutha hastas) as a part of āṅgika abhinaya. Here it is used to suggest a flag, etc.
Sloka 24 of Itivŗtta chapter mentions as follows-
Phalam prakalpyate yasyāh parārthāyaiva kevalam|
Anubandhavihīnatvāt prakarīm tām vinirdiśet||
The 4th element mentioned in the above sloka following Patāka is Prakarī. It is an interlude or an event whose result is presented for the purpose of another plot but has no continuation to the theme.
This term can also be found in the chapter that describes about Dhruva songs. Prakarī is one of the 10 types of Dhruva songs.
Yadādhikārikam vastu samyak prājňaih prayujyate|
Yadarthaśca samārambhastat kāryam parikīrtitam||
The above sloka is the 25th sloka of Itivŗtta chapter. This term has several meanings – action, deed, act, work, function, etc. In Nātyaśāstra, Bharata uses this term to indicate the 5th element of the plot. It is the actions taken or deeds performed for the fruition of the main plot.
This term is mentioned in the 19th Chapter Itivŗtta in shloka 8 –
Autsukyamātrabandhastu yadvījasya nibadhyate|
Mahatah phalayogasya so’tra prārambha işyate||
Prārambha means beginning or commencement. In this chapter, the term Prārambha is used to depict the first stage of the 5 stages of action that practitioners have to take in order to achieve the result or the goal of the play. In this stage the hero’ eagerness to attain the result is established in the form of Bīja (explained above), so this is where the hero beings to take some action. This is the initial motivation and eagerness that is maintained and carried on until the final result is achieved.
Apaśyatah phalaprāptimh vyāpāro yah phalam prati|
Param cautsukyagamanam sa prayatnah parikīrtitamh||
This is the 9th sloka of the Itivŗtta chapter that explains the term Prayatna. Prayatna means attempt or effort. In Nātyaśāstra it is used with the same meaning to depict the second stage of action continuing Prārambha as discussed above. The second stage of action would be the effort which is translated from the eagerness that the hero takes towards reaching the goal. So, the enthusiasm shown by the hero will end in fulfilment only when the necessary action is taken and that action or effort is the Prayatna.
This term has 2 words in it, that is, Prāpti which means to get, acquisition, gain or obtaining and sambhava means probability. This term is mentioned in the 10th sloka of Itivŗtta chapter.
īşatprāptiśca yā kācit phalasya parikalpyate|
Bhāvamātrena tam prāhurvidhijňāh prāptisambhavam||
This sloka mentions Prāptisambhava as the 3rd action. It means the probability of attainment of the goal. Once the hero feels the eagerness and acts towards it, then the probability of attainment of the goal increases leading the play closer to fruition.
This term is a conjoint of two terms – phala and yoga. Phala means fruit. Just like how the ultimate goal of a tree would be to yield fruits, similarly the ultimate aim of a play is to reach its goal or the end in fruition, hence the term phala is used. Yoga means to attainment, addition, accession, or union.
This term is mentioned in the Itivŗtta chapter in the Nātyaśāstra which is used to depict the fifth stage of the stages of action in a play. The term phala has been used very frequently in this chapter as the goal of a play is always to lead to fruition but the term phalayoga is specifically mentioned in the 12th sloka of the chapter, that is,
Abhipretam samagram ca pratirūpam kriyāphalam|
Itivŗtte bhavedyasmin phalayogah sa kīrtitah||
The above sloka explains that when all the effort that is put culminates into fruition that stage is known as phalayoga which means the attainment of phala or the fruit.