Art and Representation: Contributions to Contemporary Aesthetics

By Ananta Ch. Sukla | Go to book overview

14

Representation in Painting and Drama: Arguments from Indian Aesthetics

ANANTA CH. SUKLA


PREFACE

As early as the 4th century B.C. drama was conceived in India as the representation of actions of the three worlds—heaven, earth, and the underworld, that is, the actions of the gods, human beings, and demons. The Sanskrit words used for representation by Bharata, the father of Indian aesthetics in general and dramaturgy in particular, in his work entitled Nāṭyaśāstra, are anukṛti and anukaraṇa, which literally mean imitation, or doing after. But Bharata creates problems when, in his definition of drama, he also uses two other Sanskrit terms bhāvānukīrtana and anubhāvana, which mean re- (or/after) description of emotion and re-/after occurrence of emotion respectively. These two sets of terms allow a scope for the commentators of Bharata for interpreting the nature of representation in drama in different ways. But before coming to the commentators, it is necessary to understand Bharata’s own conception of drama as available in the information he provides about the origin and the nature of dramatic art taking both the artwork itself and its experience by the audience into consideration.


INTRODUCTION

Once, the gods appealed to Brahmā, the proto-creator of the universe, to present them a toy (kr̄iḍanīyaka) that should be both visible and audible. Such a toy would delightfully purify the creatures of Jambudvipa (the mythical name of India) who, being deviated from appropriate conduct being afflicted by passions (lust, jealousy, anger, and the like) Brahmā, the composer of the four Vedas, was

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