Author: ಸಂಪಾದಕರು, ಮತ್ತು Arjun Bharadwaj, Contributing Editor – Prekshaa Pratishtana
ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಮತ್ತು ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸಾಂಪ್ರದಾಯಿಕ ನೃತ್ಯನಿಷ್ಠವಾದ ರಂಗಕಲೆಗಳ ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಯಾದ ಭರತನೃತ್ಯ ಸಮಾಹಾರದ ಅಧ್ಯಯನನಿಷ್ಠ ಏಕವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಪ್ರಯೋಗವಿದು. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದಲೇ ಇದನ್ನು ಯಕ್ಷಭಾಣಿಕಾ ಎಂದು ಕರೆಯಲಾಗಿದೆ. ರಂಗಭೂಮಿ ಮತ್ತು ಭರತನೃತ್ಯದೊಳದ್ದಿದ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನೀಯ ರೂಪಕಶೈಲಿ. ಇದರ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯಾದದ್ದು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಅಕಾಡೆಮಿ ಮತ್ತು ನೂಪುರ ಭ್ರಮರಿ (ರಿ.) ಸಂಸ್ಥೆಗಳ ಸಹಭಾಗಿತ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆದ -ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸಾಂಪ್ರದಾಯಿಕ ರಂಗಭೂಮಿ- ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ, ಭರತನೃತ್ಯ ಸಂಬಂಧ ಸಮನ್ವಯದ ಕುರಿತಾದ ಒಂದು ದಿನದ ರಾಜ್ಯಮಟ್ಟದ ವಿದ್ವತ್ ಪೂರ್ಣ ವಿಚಾರಸಂಕಿರಣದಲ್ಲಿ. ಡಿಸೆಂಬರ್ 15, 2020 ರಂದು ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನ ಜಯರಾಮ ಸೇವಾ ಮಂಡಳಿ. ಜಯನಗರ.
ಭಾಣವೆಂಬುದು ಭರತನ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವು ಹೇಳುವ ದಶರೂಪಕಗಳಲ್ಲೊಂದು ಬಗೆ. ಒಂದೇ ಪಾತ್ರ, ಒಂದೇ ಅಂಕ. ಅನೇಕ ಅವಸ್ಥೆಗಳ ಅನುಭವಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಿಸಿದ್ದು. ಅಂತೆಯೇ ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ಚಲನವಲನವುಳ್ಳದ್ದು. ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬರ ಮಾತನ್ನು, ಅಸ್ತಿತ್ವವನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸಿ ಆ ಪಾತ್ರಧಾರಿಯೇ ಸಂಭಾಷಿಸುವ ಆಕಾಶಭಾಷಿತ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಪ್ರಧಾನ ಅಂಶ. ಭಾಣ ಎಂಬ ಪದಕ್ಕೆ ಕ ಪ್ರತ್ಯಯ ಸೇರಿದಾಗ -ಆಪ್ತ, ಪರಿಚಯ, ಸಂಗ್ರಹಕ್ಕೆ ಬಳಕೆಯಾಗಿ ಭಾಣಿಕ ಎಂದರೆ- ಭಾಣ ರೂಪಕದ ಸಂಗ್ರಹ, ಸಂಕ್ಷಿಪ್ತ ಆತ್ಮೀಯ ರೂಪ ಎಂಬ ಆಕಾರವನ್ನು ತಾಳುತ್ತದೆ. ಈ ಮೊದಲು ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಂತೆಯೇ ಭರತನೃತ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಣಿಕಾ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಗಳು ನಡೆದಿವೆ. ಆದರೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಮಾಧ್ಯಮ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಮತ್ತು ಭರತನೃತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸೇರಿಸಿದ ಸಂಯೋಜನೆ.
ಪ್ರಯೋಗ ಮೊದಲು, ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ ಅದನ್ನಾಧರಿಸಿ ಬೆಳೆಯುವಂಥದ್ದು. ಯಕ್ಷಭಾಣಿಕಾವೂ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ. ಪ್ರಕೃತ- ಕಲಾವಿದೆ, ಕಲಾವಿದೆಯ ತಂದೆ ಬಿ.ಜಿ.ನಾರಾಯಣ ಭಟ್ ರವರು ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಹೀಗೆಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುವ ಮುಂಚೆಯೇ ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ ಚಿಂತನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾವೋಜ್ವಲ ಶೈಲಿಯಾಗಿ ಕಲಾವಿದೆಯ ಎಳವೆಯಿಂದಲೂ ಏಕಪಾತ್ರಾಭಿನಯ ರೂಪಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊಂದುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು ಬಂದದ್ದಕ್ಕೆ ಸುಧಾರಿತ ರೂಪವನ್ನು ನೀಡಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಮಡಿಕೇರಿಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಪುರೋಹಿತಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠ ಕೀರ್ತಿಶೇಷ ನಾರಾಯಣ ಭಟ್ಟರು ಏಕಪಾತ್ರಾಭಿನಯವನ್ನೇ ಸುಷಿರವಾದ್ಯ, ರಿದಂ ಪ್ಯಾಡ್ನ ಬಳಕೆಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಕಲಾವಿದೆ ಗೆಜ್ಜೆ ಧರಿಸಿ, ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಪದ್ಯ ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳಗಳ ಸಾಂಗತ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ವಾಚಿಕಾಭಿನಯವನ್ನು ಅಭಿನಯದ ಆಡುಂಬೊಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಪರಿಣಾಮಕಾರಿಯಾಗಿ ರಂಗಧರ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುಯೋಜ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಪಾತ್ರೌಚಿತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿ ವಿಸ್ತರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು, ಭರತನಾಟ್ಯದ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಗಾರಿಕೆ ಬಳಸಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಕೆಲವು ಪಾತ್ರಾಭಿನಯವನ್ನು ವಾಚಿಕ ಸಹಿತ ವಿನ್ಯಾಸ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದರು.. ಹಾಗೆಂದು ಇದು ಏಕಪಾತ್ರಾಭಿನಯದ ಮಾರ್ಗದಂತಲ್ಲ. ಎಲ್ಲಾ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಬೇರೊಂದು ಪಾತ್ರವನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಮಾಡುವ ಏಕಾಹಾರ್ಯ. ಕಥೆ/ಇತಿವೃತ್ತಾದಿಗಳನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡು ಸಾತ್ತ್ವತೀ, ಆರಭಟೀ, ಭಾರತೀವೃತ್ತಿಯನ್ನಾಶ್ರಯಿಸಿ ಪುರುಷಾಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯ ಮೂಲಕ ಸಾಧಿಸುವಂತೆ ಯಕ್ಷಭಾಣಿಕಾ ರೂಪುಗೊಂಡಿದೆ.
ಕಲಾವಿದೆ ಸ್ತ್ರೀ; ಆದರೆ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಸುವ ಆಕಾರ ಪುರುಷನದ್ದು. ಈವರೆಗಿನ ಭಾಣಿಕಾ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆಗಿಂತ ಕೊಂಚ ವಿಭಿನ್ನ. ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿ ಮಾಡುವ ಕಲಾವಿದೆಗೂ ಪುರುಷಾಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಜನ್ಮತಃ ಆಪ್ಯಾಯಮಾನವಾಗಿರುವುದರಿಂದ ಉದ್ಧತವೇ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಮಾರ್ಗ. ಹೇಗೆ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನವೆಂಬ ಪರಿಪೂರ್ಣ ನಾಟ್ಯ ರಂಗಭೂಮಿ, ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ, ಅದರ ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳ ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸಾಂಪ್ರದಾಯಿಕ ರಂಗಭೂಮಿಯ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಬಗೆಯ ಶೈಲಿ, ಸಾಧ್ಯತೆಗಳನ್ನೂ ತನ್ನೊಳಗೆ ಅರಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಲ್ಲುದು ಎಂಬುದರ ಒಂದು ಪ್ರಾತಿನಿಧಿಕ ಮಾರ್ಗವಾಗಿ ಕಾಣಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಹಾಗೆಂದು ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ತಾಳಮದ್ದಳೆಯಲ್ಲಿರುವಂತೆಯೋ ಅಥವಾ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನದಲ್ಲಿರುವಂತೆಯೋ ಭಾರತೀವೃತ್ತಿಯನ್ನೇ ಆಧರಿಸಿಯೇ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ನೃತ್ತನಡೆ ವಿನ್ಯಾಸವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ. ಭರತನೃತ್ಯದ ಸಾಂಗತ್ಯವು ಭಾಣಿಕಾದ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯಾನುಸಂಧಾನ ಮತ್ತು ನೃತ್ಯನಡೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಒದಗಿಬಂದಿದೆ. ನಾಟ್ಯೋಚಿತವಾದ ಹಸ್ತಾಭಿನಯ, ಚಾರಿ, ಕರಣಾದಿಗಳ ಬಳಕೆಯನ್ನು ಯಥಾಸಾಧ್ಯ ಗಮನಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳವು ಚಿಮ್ಮಿಸುವ ರಸಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂವಾದಿಯಾಗಿ ಆಶುವಾಗಿಯೇ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಪಡಿಸಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಭಾವನಿರ್ಮಾಣಕ್ಕೆಂದು ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನದ ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಸುಷಿರವಾದ್ಯದ ಸಾಂಗತ್ಯವನ್ನೂ ಜೊತೆಯಾಗಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಒಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನೃತ್ಯಮಾಧ್ಯಮದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಷ್ಟಾಗಿ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಗೊಳ್ಳದ, ಯಕ್ಷಚಿಂತನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಬಾಹುಳ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಸಲ ಇಂಬಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮಾಭಿನಯ ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ಲ್ಯಾಶ್ಬ್ಯಾಕ್ ನಂತಹ ರಂಗಭೂಮಿಯ ಸಾಧ್ಯತೆಗಳನ್ನು ಪುರುಷಪಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಸ್ಪರ್ಶಿಸದ ಸಂಗತಿಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಲಕ್ಷಿಸಿ ಏಕವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯ ರೂಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಪಾತ್ರವಿನ್ಯಾಸ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಹಾಗೆಂದೇ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಕ್ತಾಯ-ಬಿಡ್ತಿಗೆ-ಪ್ರವೇಶಧ್ರುವಾಗಳಿಲ್ಲ. ವಾಚಿಕಾಭಿನಯವೂ/ಮಾತುಗಾರಿಕೆ ಪದ್ಯದ ನಂತರ ಅದೇ ಪದ್ಯದ ಸಾಲುಗಳಿಗೆ ಅರ್ಥ ಹೇಳುವ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನದ ಎಂದಿನ ಕ್ರಮದಂತೆ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಬದಲಾಗಿ ಪರಸ್ಪರ ಸಂವಾದಿಯಾಗಿದೆ. ಪ್ರಸಾಧನ- ವೇಷಕಲ್ಪನೆಯೂ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಲಿಸಿದರೆ ನಾಟಕೀಯವಾಗಿ ರೂಪಕನಿಷ್ಠವಾಗಿ ಮೈದಾಳಿದೆ. ಹಾಗೆಂದು ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಧಾರಣೆಯ ಅಂಶಗಳನ್ನು ಕಾಲೋಚಿತವಾಗಿ ಮೈಗೂಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದಾಗಿದೆ.
ಇದೇ ಯಕ್ಷಭಾಣಿಕಾವು ಭರತನೃತ್ಯದ ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳದಲ್ಲಿ ಅರಳಿದರೆ ಭಿನ್ನವಾದ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಬಗೆಯ ಅಭಿನಯನಿರೂಪಣೆಯನ್ನೇ ನೀಡುತ್ತದೆಯೆನ್ನುವುದು ಕಲಾವಿದೆಯ ಇಂಗಿತ. ಈ ಯಕ್ಷಭಾಣಿಕಾಕ್ಕೆ ಆರಿಸಿರುವ ಕಥಾವಸ್ತು ಮಹಾಭಾರತದ ಸುಯೋಧನನ ಅಂತಿಮ ಜೀವನವೃತ್ತಾಂತ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನಾಯಕನೂ ಸುಯೋಧನ, ಪ್ರತಿನಾಯಕನೂ ಸುಯೋಧನ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಿಸಲಾದ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ವಿಭಿನ್ನವಾದ ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಪಠ್ಯ-ಪ್ರಸಂಗಗಳಿಂದ ಹೆಣೆಯಲ್ಪಟ್ಟಿದೆ.
ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯಾನುಸಂಧಾನ : ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಪ್ರಸಂಗಗಳು- ಗದಾಯುದ್ಧ-ರಕ್ತರಾತ್ರಿ, ದುರ್ಯೋಧನ ವಧೆ, ಶ್ರೀಕೃಷ್ಣಸಂಧಾನ, ರನ್ನನ ಗದಾಯುದ್ಧ, ಕುಮಾರವ್ಯಾಸಭಾರತ, ಜೈಮಿನಿ ಮಹಾಭಾರತ, ಶೇಣಿಭಾರತ.
ಪರ್ವ, ವ್ಯಾಸಭಾರತ, ಯುದ್ಧಭಾರತ, ವಚನಭಾರತ(ಆಂಶಿಕ)
ರಂಗಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅಧ್ಯಯನ : ಡಾ.ಮನೋರಮಾ ಬಿ.ಎನ್
ಪಾತ್ರಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ : ಕೀರ್ತಿಶೇಷ ಬಿ.ಜಿ.ನಾರಾಯಣ ಭಟ್
ಸಲಹೆ ಮತ್ತು ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಪೋಷಣೆ : ಶತಾವಧಾನಿ ಡಾ. ಆರ್. ಗಣೇಶ್
ಪದ್ಯ ಆಯ್ಕೆ -ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳ ನಿರ್ದೇಶನ : ಉಜಿರೆ ಅಶೋಕ ಭಟ್
ಭರತನೃತ್ಯ ಮತ್ತು ರಂಗಭೂಮಿ ಸಹಕಾರ : ವಿದ್ವಾನ್ ಕೊರ್ಗಿ ಶಂಕರನಾರಾಯಣ ಉಪಾಧ್ಯಾಯ, ಡಾ.ಶೋಭಾ ಶಶಿಕುಮಾರ್
ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳ : ಕಾವ್ಯಶ್ರೀ ಅಜೇರು(ಭಾಗವತಿಕೆ),
ಪ್ರಸನ್ನ ಕುಮಾರ್ (ರಿದಂಪ್ಯಾಡ್)
The connoisseurs of dance and theatre in Bangalore experienced a production, the first of its kind, on 15th December 2019. The production belonged a sub-genre called the ‘Yakṣa-bhāṇika’, a research-based production, which was an aesthetic blend of the grammar of deśī form – Yakṣagāna of Karnataka and the uparūpaka ‘Bhāṇika’ with Bharatanṛtya as its undercurrent. The artist, Dr. Manorama B.N. is a researcher of Indian art and aesthetics, the editor of the Noopurabhramari journal and is trained in Yakṣagāna of the costal Karnataka and also in the traditional Sadir-dasiattam, popularly called Bharatanatyam today. Her experience in performing in theatrical productions spans over two decades and and she has also had training in the movement vocabulary of the Nāṭyaśāstra under the able guidance of Dr. Shobha Shashikumar (as reconstructed by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam). She has active interest in classical literature of Sanskrit and Kannada and has also been trained in vocal music. These multi-faceted aspects came together in elevating the production to a great height.
Among the several classical theatre forms present in India, Yakṣagāna that has its presence in the South Indian states is amongst the oldest surviving forms. Karnataka has a few regional sub-varieties of the Yakṣagāna and each, in its own right, is a complete theatrical form. In other words, each of these forms has all the four components of caturvidhābhinaya in the right proportions. In the words of Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh, Yakṣagāna, just like the Sanātana-dharma, is a dynamic system with multitudinous capabilities and great potential for creative expression. The Bhāṇa, one of the ten forms of rūpakas, as defined by Bhatara in the Nāṭyaśāstra is to be presented by a single actor, who is playing the role of a single character from beginning to end. The word ‘Bhāṇa’ is derived from the root – “Bhaṇ’”, which means to speak or to narrate, i.e., has vācikābhinaya as the primary mode of expression interspersed with communication through the āṅgika as and when required to further enhance the vācika. The Bhāṇika can be of two kinds (or a communion of two different aspects), namely – recounting one’s own feelings and thoughts (prajñā-pravāha / bhāva-pravāha – an equivalent, in a sense, of the stream of consciousness in literature) and describing someone else’s acts. Here, it is interesting to note that, the actor will need to don the role of a single character and through this particular character’s perspective, all other characters will need to be established, which is certainly a challenging thing. The artist should give up all inclination in putting through his/ her opinions about the different characters and instead look at the world, its people and events only from the eyes of the character he/she has chosen to be. This, in fact, to some extent as challenging as kavinibaddha-prauḍhokti, where the poet will need to see the world from the eyes of all the characters he has created. Being sure of what falls within the framework of pātraucitya is of utmost importance for a person who performs the Bhāṇa. To bring in imaginary characters, the actor will need to employ ‘ākāśa-bhāṣita’, a stage technique where the audience gets the illusion that the actor is speaking to a character not directly visible on stage. Bhāṇika is a sub-variety of the Bhāṇa, essentially performed by a female artist. The ‘ka’ pratyaya is added to the word Bhāṇa to suggest brevity and intimacy. Also, a Bhāṇika can have regional varieties of prākṛt as the medium of communication.
Kṛṣṇāya Tubhyam Namaḥ, first presented by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam back in the 1960s was a revival of this long-lost tradition of the Nāṭyaśāstra. The solo Yakṣagāna presentations of Sri Mantapa Prabhakara Upadhyaya as conceived by Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh can also be largely categorized under the Bhāṇa/Bhāṇika category. Similar formats of presentation have been employed by Dr. Shobha Shashikumar and Smt. Nirupama Rajendra in the past. These, in Dr. Ganesh’s words fall under the category of ekāhārya presentation, i.e., the actor in a specific character costume remains constant and goes through different avasthā-s (mental/ physical states).
The current presentation of the Yakṣa-bhāṇika titled ‘Suyodhana’ had Dr. Manorama BN donning the role of Duryodhana from the greatest Indian Epic, the Mahabharata. The production had the Bhārati, Ārabhatī and Sāttvatī-vṛttis as the dominant flavours and an exuberant Uddhata reigned through out the presentation. While the movement vocabulary of Cārīs, Nṛtta-hastas and Karaṇas were inspired by the Nāṭyaśāstra, the lyrics, music ensemble (himmeḻa) and several theatrical aspects were adapted from the traditional Yakṣagāna of Karṇataka. As per the requirement of a Bhāṇika, the language of the entire performance was Kannada. Ujire Ashok Bhat, the tutor and long-time mentor of Dr. Manorama played a pivotal role in putting together lyrics from different sources and in arranging the himmeḻa. Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh provided guidance from the perspective of the śāstras and also several creative inputs for optimal staging. Korgi Shankaranarayana Upadhyaya, a scholar who has vast experience in theatre presentations variously guided Dr. Manorama and also assisted in providing the voice-over and narration. Dr. Shobha Shashikumar, a practitioner of Bharatanṛtyam guided the artist in the movement vocabulary of the Nāṭyaśāstra and provided creative and moral support. The format of the Yakṣa-bhāṇika was conceived independently by Late Sri B.G. Narayana Bhat, the artist’s father (There have been several other similar conceptions of Yakṣa-bhāṇika in the past too). He had sowed the seeds for thought in Dr. Manorama with his keen sense for aesthetics and his life-time commitment to sanātana-dharma, its art and philosophy. The lyrics were taken from various prasaṅgas of traditional Yakṣagāna, namely Gadhāyuddha, Rakta-rātri, Duryodhana-vadhā and Śrī-kṛṣṇa-sandhāna and also from classical Kannada literature such as the Gadhāyuddha of Ranna, Kumāravyāsa-bhārata and Jaimini-bhārata. Inspiration for some emotional sequences were derived from Parva of SL Bhyrappa and Vacana-bhārata of AR Kṛishna Sastri
The research that went behind the production, the number of people involved and the kind of parameters that dictated the staging itself stand as testimony to the composite nature of the art form. A theatrical production will indeed need to derive help from several different ends.
Portraying a character like Duryodhana being true to the original author Vyāsa’s vision is a challenge in itself. Today, there is a trend among writers and artists to provide ‘social justice’ through their medium of expression. This is especially true in the case of characters which they think have met with ‘injustice’ in the works of visionary poets such as Vyāsa and Vālmīki. By doing so, there is misinterpretation and misrepresentation on a large-scale, which leads to a misunderstanding in the younger generation and a collapse of aesthetics for an honest connoisseur. More importantly, the value system is compromised. The essence of the sanātanic world-view of the seer poets is thus lost. The portrayal of a villain or an anti-hero, while being sincere to the original text is like walking on a double-edged sword – taking too many creative liberties has the danger of disrupting the vision of the author. Moreover, portraying the character in all its ghastly realities will hardly make it a work of art. The artist will need to balance between the two extremes, which Dr. Manorama successfully did. This brings to mind yet another Eka-vyakti Tālamaddale presentation by Sri Diwakar Hegde which was hosted by the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs in Bangalore in August 2019. The artist played the role of Karṇa, a tricky character to deal with and brought in great profundity while being true to Rasa and to the vision of the author, Vyāsa.
The chosen plot is from the circumstances that prevailed near the end of the Kurukshetra war. Most heroes on the Kaurava side are dead and so are some on the side of the Pāṇḍavas. Duryodhana, in all his pride enters the battle-field that is devoid of all warriors and is shocked to see the large-scale death. His confidence is shattered bit by bit as he sees the dead bodies, hears the cries of women and children and the howls of wolves and vultures, smells the rotten corpses and feels the fire of the battle-field. The artist employs the karanāṃśas of madaskhalitam at the entry. Duryodhana reflects upon the manner in which he was aided by the eleven akṣauhiṇīs on the first day of the war, which was alive and invigorated and now, he is the only living human being amidst a confusion of dead bodies and scavenging birds and animals. His long soliloquy begins – firstly, he questions the very purpose of the war was and is dejected. He is unsure if the war should continue further at this juncture and in a sense, betrays fear for his own life. Duryodhana makes a very touching statement, where he recalls that they belong to the lineage of the Moon, i.e., to the Candra-vaṃśa, but looking at the destruction that the war has caused, he thinks that the moon is in its kṛṣṇa-pakṣa, i.e., the waning phase of the moon. The artist does a pun on the word here – it is the phase of the moon in which its brightness decreases from day to day and similarly is the brightness of his share of the Kuru-lineage, i .e; all the Kauravas (and their supporters) are meeting their end. In addition, it also suggests that Kṛṣṇa is the person behind the scenes pulling the thread, and thus, Kṛṣṇa’s pakṣa is winning over the Chandra-vaṃśa. Even as he says this, he is oblivious to the fact that it is the other branch of the Chandra-vaṃśa which is indeed shining under the able guidance of the dhārmic visionary, Kṛṣṇa. The very statement made by Duryodhana shows how his perspective is biased. He seems to consider only the children of Dhṛtarāṣṭra as the true heirs to the throne of Hastināpura and considers Kṛṣṇa as a treacherous character aimed at the destruction of the Chandra-vaṃśa. Duryodhana’s myopic vision does not let him understand the magnanimity and the universal perspective that Kṛṣṇa possessed. After all, Kṛṣṇa aimed at upholding the Candra-vaṃśa and reinstating its dhārmic branch on the throne of an undivided Bhārata.
Duryodhana then consoles himself by thinking that it is his prestige that has gone up and he shines by contrast because he has got quite a capable anti-hero in Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas. If not for them, he would not have even got the opportunity to display his valour, he thinks.
Duryodhana then walks along the river of blood, as though suggesting that his life itself was about the superiority of the purity of blood and that very blood is lost here in the battlefield. Duryodhana exclaims that some of the blood flowing there is still hot, suggesting that they were freshly dead! He is all alone, bereft of supporters – all his kinsmen are dead and so are his aides! He first encounters a dead Droṇa and is taken aback – he recalls how the teacher lived under the shadow of the Kuru kings and how he was good at both theory and practise – śāstra and śastra. It does not seem like Duryodhana was touched by the death of Droṇa, probably because he had used his own teacher as a pawn in his game of thrones. He, however, knows in theory that Droṇa was the best example of brāhma-kṣātra-samāhāra but Duryodhana himself does not seem to have inculcated any of those values. He goes into a phase of recollection, where all the lessons in archery, gadhāyuddha and horse riding were taught by the teacher. It is ironical that the lessons taught by the teacher to these cousins ended up as means to for their mutual destruction. What’s more, here on the battlefield, Duryodhana finds Droṇa’s dead body first – the teacher who taught them weaponry was killed by the same weapons by his own students. The artist employed powerful vācika which had an undercurrent of sorrow, while the ego of Duryodhana was not compromised. He goes to the extent of brushing aside all the assistance provided by Droṇa by saying that he did all that, after all, to fulfil the ‘rāja-ṛṇa’.
Duryodhana goes ahead further and finds the dead body of Abhimanyu. The artist Dr. Manorama BN subtly showed that when Duryodhana sees the corpse of the youngest son of the Pāṇḍavas, though he sheds a couple of tears, he envies Arjuna – he is disappointed and jealous that while Arjuna begot a brave and valorous son, he did not beget such a talented son. It is subtly shown that even amidst sorrow, Duryodhana’s ‘sthāyī’ of jealousy, greed and hatred are not given away. He goes ahead to find his dead son, Lakṣaṇa-kumāra. His sorrow intensifies and knows not how to face his wife Bhānumatī. He, who was supposed to occupy the throne of Hastināpura is now no more. Duryodhana, in reality, probably had a thought crossing his mind – the sole inheritor of all his wealth, for which Duryodhana combated all his life is now gone – so, what was the use of all the accumulated wealth, after all! He offers his tears a tilodaka to his dead son! A teary (and a bloody farewell, indeed!) While Lakṣaṇa is someone born out of his blood, the person who he finds next is one who shared his blood at birth, Duśśāsana. He was someone who was born right after him and was like an embodied heart of Duryodhana in all its crookedness! The older brother laments saying that the younger one was so sharp in grasping his intentions that he would swallow the arm if a finger was pointed at. Duryodhana imagines how Bhīma must have killed his brother – the artist successfully blended karuṇa-rasa with raudra and bībhatsā in this sequence. We can see that as Duryodhana walks next to the stream of hot blood, the intensity of his sorrow keeps increasing and it reaches its culmination when he sees Karṇa. He cries out saying that it was probably easy for Karṇa to die for the sake of another. The dead men he had seen so far were one way or the other related by blood or by deed to the Kuru family. But, Karṇa was a person who was totally unconnected with the lineage. He too had to give up his life for the sake of the others. Duryodhana is depicted as lamenting for having lost his own shadow – a very subtle and ironical statement. He even expresses his languish by saying that the earth for which he fought (and so did Karṇa) did not co-operate with him and gave way at a crucial moment. At this juncture, Duryodhana recalls how Kṛṣṇa must have played his ‘crooked’ games to achieve his end! The employment of āṅgika by the artist is also interesting here – Duryodhana shows how the flute which is meant to produce melodious music was turned into a snake-charmer’s blowing pipe (puṅgi in Kannada) by Kṛṣṇa to tame a two-tongued snake!
The rendering of the background music and the lyrics were also so accurate to the emotion that, when the phrase ‘oḻa-saridanu’ (went inside, both literally and metaphorically) occurred, the artist used lower octaves to show the depression of the mood and the possible inward mental and physical journey of Duryodhana. The artist adopted very beautiful movements to show Duryodhana’s slipping into the lake of water and the lake of his disturbed thoughts. The movement was suggestive – the artist showed how the tall stature of Duryodhana is reduced at every step until he almost becomes a Lilliput – this also indicates the moral collapse of Duryodhana. It is interesting to note that even when Duryodhana tries to be a philosopher and defines ‘vidhi’, he says it is something where the ‘kārya’ (result/ effect) is seen and the ‘kāraṇa’ (reason/ cause) is not seen. He thinks it is ‘vidhi’ which has reduced his people to dead bodies. However, it is only ironical that he does not realise that he caused the destruction of his own lineage and it was his arrogance, greed and lust combined with the illusion of ‘superiority by blood’ which led to so much of bloodshed. Duryodhana also interestingly remarks – “I was the eye’s delight to that blind king” What a paradoxical statement, indeed! He also said that he wanted to get a co-wife for Bhānumatī, called the rājya-lakṣmī and it turns out later that she is only going to end up as a widow! Later, Sañjaya who was given the divine sight by Vyāsa comes in person to the battle-field to examine the scene.
Duryodhana stealthily goes into the lake and the artist used the ūrūdvṛtta movement for indicating his backward movement. He does so to give the impression that he has actually walked out, instead of walking in. He is then instigated by the Pāṇḍavas in the company of Kṛṣṇa to come out and fight them. The voice over by Sri Shankaranarayana Upadhyaya who spoke Bhīma’s dialogues at this instance was impactful and filled with alliterations. Bhīma’s words prick Duryodhana’s ego and he comes out. He pokes fun at Kṛṣṇa even at this instance and shows how he was a thief in Vrindavan stealing women’s clothes as they went to bathe in the rivers. He indirectly mocks at Kṛṣṇa’s statement “mama prāṇā hi pāṇḍavāḥ” and questions its truthfulness, as Kṛṣṇa is known to have deceived people in the past! Duryodhana calls Kṛṣṇa “kapaṭa-nāṭaka-raṅga” (“stage for a play of deceit”/ “director of a fake play”; the phrase has multiple meanings). The actor again creatively brings in Kṛṣṇa’s flute and turns it into a snake-charmer’s pipe suggesting that Kṛṣṇa is double-tongued and is not a genuine person.
While Yudhiṣṭhira quite unreasonably and without forethought offers Duryodhana the chance to choose to fight any one of the Pāṇḍavas using a weapon of his choice, it is again Duryodhana’s ego that comes into play when he tries to choose his opponent. The twins Nakula and Sahadeva are like babies to him, still fit to be put in cradle! He finds Yudhiṣṭhira and Arjuna powerless and wants to have a fight ‘among equals’ only. He chooses Bhīma and gadhā – mace as his weapon. The Karaṇas Ālīḍa, Pratyālīḍa, Ūrūdvṛtta, Ūrdhvajānu, Daṇḍapāda and several others were very effectively employed in depicting the combat between Bhīma and Duryodhana.
The artist effectively depicted Duryodhana fallen down with a broken thigh and shoes away foxes, dogs and vultures from eating him, mistaking him to be a dead body. He instructs Aśvatthāma, Kṛpa and Kṛtavarma to avenge for the loss of the Kaurava army and the heroes. Though Aśvatthāma proudly brings him the ‘heads of the dead Pāṇḍavas’, Duryodhana immediately recognises that they are not the heads only belong to the Upa-pāṇḍavas. It comes as a dhvani at this stage that Duryodhana who had so much of animosity for the five brothers that he could easily tell their identity even from dead faces, while his other supporters could not do so! The story depiction ends with the death of Duryodhana, which in fact, brings peace to the world. (It is to be noted that Bharata recommends that stage productions should end on a peaceful note and śānta-rasa should reign at the end of a presentation).
The music ensemble consisted of talented artists who intensely felt the situation and provided music accordingly. Contextual usage of sounds as per the requirements of loka-dharmī by Sri Prasanna on the rhythm pads was a rare privilege to watch. Similarly, the flute rendered by Sri. HS Venugoal and the Maddale played by Sri Kṛṣṇa Prakasha Ulitthaya added to the aesthetic beauty of the music. In particular, Sri Ulitthaya knew where to assist the enrichment of the emotion by appropriate rhythmic pattern and closely followed the psychology of the character. Ms. Kavyashri Ajeru who provided the vocal support could easily traverse four octaves and effortlessly switched from one rāga to another and expanded the spectrum of rāgas used in the Yakṣagāna theatre.
As a whole, the performance of Dr. Manorama was an aesthetic blend of the best aspects of Yakṣagāna, Tāḻamaddale and Bharatanṛtya, supported by her intense study of the literary works and the choicest of the verses chosen for enactment.
The performance concluded with a padārthābhinaya performed by the artist for the famous padya composed by Sri Kumāravyāsa – “Veda-pārāyaṇada phala”.