Author: Nagalakshmi P K, Mysuru
Published as a part of Śāstra Raṅga-2023 Internship ; offered by NoopuraBhramari- IKS Centre. Article series No – 14
These are the Terminologies of those actions performed behind the curtain without the gīta(bahirgīta) in Chapter 5 of Nāṭyaśāstra – Pūrvaraṅgavidhi.
पूर्वरङ्ग महाभागा गदतो मे निबोधत ।
पादभागाः कलाः चैव परिवर्ताः तथैवच ॥ ६ ॥
यस्माद् रङ्गे प्रयोगो अयं पूर्वमेव प्रयुज्यते ।
तस्माद् अयं पूर्वरङ्गो विज्ञेयो द्विजसत्तमाः ॥ ७ ॥
This term is well explained by Abhinava by saying “pūrvo raṅge yah pūrvaraṅgah” meaning as it is done foremost on the stage(raṇga) it is called so. It is said that gīta, tāla, vādya, nṛtta, pāṭhya and such, that are applied in whole and divided forms are part of the nāṭya and are the pūrvaraṅga. But it is apt to call it pūrvaraṅga as that which is applied foremost in the raṇga i.e., in the basic entity maṇḍapa, or in the nāṭya or in the design stage. This is because without the aṅgas pratyāhāra and such, the entities of singing and such cannot be completed in the nāṭya application. It is that the cloth cannot be made without the thread, weaver’s brush and loom. He also further explains that similar to the rule that food is to be eaten only by facing the east(pūrva) this is named similarly. He says that Śrī Harśa in his Vārtika, equates the word raṇga to the tauryatrika(gīta, vādya, nṛtta) ineffect saying that tauryatrika which is embedded in the nāṭya itself is pūrvaraṅga saying “pūrvah ca asau raṇgah”. He also quotes further from the Vārtika which says that, “When the śuddha forms of pādabhāgas of the stage that are seen in nāṭya, are done at the foremost it is the pūrvaraṅga.”. Abhinava refutes him that this is not a divided place of the maṅḍapa nor of the nāṭya nor is it the nature of imitation of the narration of the kāvya of emotional praising. Pūrvaraṅga is but like the śikṣā and such, indeed with eternal intentions existing as means of the applicational treasure, the pratyāhāra and such equal to food, etc. Nṛtta enters due to having the quality of diversity “, “Nṛtta enters the nāṭya form” thus is the ascending loaded imitation(abhinaya – comprising of aṇkura, śākhā, nṛtta) by the indicative sprout like nṛtta. As it is promising like the offerings, fragrance(dhūpa), anointing paste(vilepana) and such for the fruitful happiness of the devatas, the samasa of the word pūrvaraṅga is justified. Pūrvaraṅga is the initiation or conception of the nāṭya as per Abhidhāna Cintāmaṇi.
It is one of the aspects pertaining to the tāla in the Nāṭyaśāstra. It is usually a quarter of the full tāla or the composition. This is the base for the gīta, tāla, vādya, nṛtta and pāṭhya. This is similar to the pallavi, anupallavi, caraṇa divisions of today’s music.
Kalā is the time of 5 nimeśa(action of closing the eyelid) as per Nāṭyaśāstra. It is a division of time measure pertaining to the music mentioned in the Nāṭyaśāstra. Eka kalā(1 having 2 mātrās) is called as yathākśara. It is as attribute of tāla with dvi(2 having 4 mātrās), tri(3), catuṣ(4 having 8 mātrās), ṣaṭ(6), dvādaśa(12), aṣṭacatvāriṃśat(48) and ṣaṅṅavati(96) kalā varieties realising or portraying 7 types of tālas. Abhinava says that the mātrākāla of tāla is kalā.
कुतपस्य तु विन्यासः प्रत्याहार इति स्मृतः ।
Pratyāhāra means to subjugation or take control. In yoga it is the control of the senses whereas in pūrvaraṅga vidhi, it is the control of the stage. Here the kutapa or the instrumental ensemble are seated in a specific arrangement. This word is in respect to the nāṭya. Here the instrumentalists are the ones who take control of the entire nāṭya throughout onsetting the moods.
तथा अवतरणं प्रोक्तं गायिकानां निवेशनम् ॥ १७ ॥
Avataraṇa is the descending or entering or seating of the musicians. This is also with respect to the nāṭya. Here Abhinava explicitly says that the female singers are a must for a successful application of abhinaya which is entertaining. He also says that actually the pratyāhāra and avataraṇa both form a continuous part of the pūrvaraṅga. The trisāma is applied here in pratyāhāra until the end of the avataraṇa. At the end of avataraṇa, matching the chandas and akṣara, following the beautiful bahirgīta, the instrument is used to arouse curiosity in the ladies, children, fools and such. He also says that some take the meaning as not sitting of musicians but the placement of the position and svaras. Thus, avataraṇa is to beautifully comprehend the 7 svaras. Thus, the singing is to be done of pure svaras, with the pure 7 having the jāti and such 7 aṅgas. All this is said while explaining the ghana vādya tāla in the 31st Chapter.
परिगीतक्रियारम्भ आरम्भ इति कीर्तितः ।
It is the beginning or the effort and here is the rendering of the parigīta or the celebrated singing. Abhinava says that this is initiated by that called ālāpa with the svaras from the śārīra or the voice, to set the svaras in a particular way. Ālāpa is the prominent one among the 12 śārīra abhinayas mentioned in the Chapter Sāmānya Abhinaya.
आतोद्यरञ्जनार्थं तु भवेद् आश्रवणाविधिः ॥ १८ ॥
It means an audible proclamation in sanskrit. It is the ātodya or the intruments for entertainment. The svaras of the instruments are synchronised with the ālāpa. Abhinava has said that the effort made in search of a synchronisation, meaning the planning with a view of a measured accepted timeframe, in the sounds of all the instruments with prominence for tāla in a measured form is āśravaṇa. The vocal svaras are synchronised with the svaras of the instruments.
वाद्यवृत्तिविभागार्थ वक्त्रपाणिः विधीयते ।
This is where the divisions of the vṛttis of the vādya or instruments happen. To arrange the form of the reflectional entities of bamboo svaras and reach the vṛtti divisions of dakṣiṇa, citra, vārtika mārgas, is vaktrapāṇi. The linguistic meaning of the word is that the palms are moved here as the first action here. The svaras are unearthed as per the vṛtti by this.
तन्त्र्योजः करणार्थं तु भवेत् च परिघट्टना ॥ १९ ॥
The strengthening or tuning of the tantrī or string instruments is the parighaṭṭanā. The parighaṭṭanā is powered by the arrangement of śuṣka(the meaningless syllables) application that is in the vṛtti division. This is a strong movement as per the name. The fingers are moved with a force and the movement of the strings is also in fast pace.
तथा पाणिविभागार्थ भवेत् संघोटनाविधिः ।
This means to nicely tune into memory. This procedure is for the division of those using the palms. Due to the dependency on the veena instrument, by connecting the avanaddha using the samvādī svaras and such, which is done by the striking with the 5 fingers, it is the saṅghoṭanā. The ‘ghuṭa’ dhātu means to change. It is said in Puṣkarādhyāya that the svara is first created in the human body, then goes to the dāravī vīṇā, then it also follows the one’s created in the puṣkara, later to the ghana vādya.
तन्त्रीभाण्डसमायोगात् मार्गासारितम् इष्यते ॥ २० ॥
This is an application in unison with the string and metal instruments. Āsārita is a state that has arrived to the right point and mārga āsārita is the balancing of the path of the svaras coming from the vīṇā and the puṣkara vādyas. Abhinava says that in the mārga, is where there is the marching flow of the permanent or unaltered form of features of the prakṛti(a type of chandas or metre in poetry) and such of the puṣkara vādya from all directions.
कलापातविभागार्थ भवेत् आसारितक्रिया ।
This action is for the division of kalā and pāta. By analysing the form of the measurable standards, the suggestion for the type of tāla in the considered song, and the understanding of the kalās like āvāpa and such, and śamya and such pāta(tāla action) is āsārita. Basically, the count for the tāla of the song is done is āsārita. The 3 varieties done represent the length of the āsārita.
Bharata1, Sage. Nāṭyaśāstram. Ed. Dr. Pārasanātha Dvivedī. Trans. Commentary on Nāṭyaśāstra by Dr. Pārasanātha Dvivedī Hindi Translation ‘Manoramā’ of Abhinava Bharati. 2nd. Vol. 1. Varanasi: Dr. Padmakar Mishra, Director, Institute of Academic, Research & Publication, Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, 2015. 4 vols. Sanskrit and Hindi.
Hemacandrācārya, Śrī. Abhidhāna Cintāmaṇiḥ. Ed. Dr. Nemichandra Śāstrī. Trans. Śhrī Harigovinda Śāstrī. Reprint Edition. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Vidyabhawan, 2007. Sanskrit and Hindi.