Vrittis mean to ‘behave’ or the ‘wielding’ of various emotions and sentiments, as discussed in chapter twenty two of the classical text “Natya Shastra”. Hence, essentially Vrittis are modes of expression.
In the context of drama, the use of a specific type of vritti includes different styles of theatrical presentation, the perfect execution of actions, glances and looks, dialogue delivery, displaying appropriate physical reactions and conveying many kinds of mental states, effectively to the audience. Vrittis signify the expressive mode of the body, mind and speech. Hence, they are not just used simply for literary and theatrical purposes. They are derived from the entire human experience which then forms the basis of dramatic presentations and literature.
According to Bharata, Vrittis can be of four types:
1.BHARATI VRITTI: It has been taken from the Rig Veda. This is a style wherein prominence is given to speech and is employed by only male actors who announce their own names. It is done in the form of dialogue delivery.
It further has four subdivisions:
a.Prarochanaa: It is that part of poorvaanga where success, victory, good luck and destruction of sin are described or prayed for. For example, first there is the description/ praise of the poet and his works in front of people to gather their attention. E.g., if we are talking of Tulsidas, we will explain he was a Vaishnav bhakti, a saint, praise him and convince the audience to listen his works to wash off their sins. In a nutshell, we impress people with the poet’s identity before talking about his body of work.
b.Amuka: Also called prastaavanana by some, it is that part of the beginning where the nati or female associate of sutradhara and vidusaka (jester) or Paaripaarsvaka (actor-friend) carry on a dialogue with the sutradhara regarding some relevant topic , using interesting words.
The introductory dialogue starts the commentary. This person starts telling what the story is all about. This person is not in link with the characters. He gives a summary of the upcoming presentation. He is a third person, like the sutradhar.
c.Veedhi: It explains the whole situation. It maybe done by the Sutradhar. It is called kaatyakaaram in tamil. He sets the scene, gives a background of the scene, tells the situation about the characters and who is coming. Then he exits. After that, the character enters.
d.Prahaasana: It means satire. It is a satirical way of making fun of someone in a comic way at the same time insulting them as well. Today, it is usually done for the politicians. In those days, the sattire was aimed at the Rishis and munis in a more comical way.
2.SATVATI VRITTI: Derived from the Yajur Veda, it is endowed with the quality of vigour or sattva and where there is nyay and good behaviour, exuberance of joy and absence of shoka (sorrow). In this, there is abhinaya of speech, gestures and episodes described in vigorous words and the final result is powerful. It has predominance of vira (heroic), Adbhuta (wonder) and raudra (terror) rasas and karuna (pathos) and sringara (erotic) rasas in lesser degrees.
It is of four varieties:
a. Utthapaka: It emerges from a spirit of rivalry or a challenge.
b. Parivataka: Avoids the relevance of a challenge, taking to some other course made necessary with reason. It is a change of action, a situation that changes the course of action.
c. Sampalaka/ Santhapaka: Irrelevant criticism of something arising out of challenge or otherwise. It is harsh discourse, insulting or abusing someone, full quarrel.
d. Sanghataka: Breaking an alliance for reasons of a friend’s clever talk or of fate of one’s own shortcomings. It is a break of alliance and joining an enemy’s enemy as a friend.
3. KAISIKI VRITTI: Derived from the Sam Veda, this vritti is the one where the artists are mostly graceful women, wearing charming colourful costumes and where there is plenty of dancing and music and the story is of love and its enjoyment. It is primarily used in a love scene or sringara rasa.
It is of four types:
a. Narma (playful jest): It mostly abounds in humour and is of three kinds: based on love, that on pure love and the last on sentiments other than heroic. This kind of jest maybe mixed with words of jealousy, anger, self-rebuke and deception by others. E.g., like the swadinapatika, it shows love in union. It always has soft movements.
b. Narma Sphurja (nervous enjoyment): In this, the lovers meet for the first time, on one hand words and dress excite them and on the other hand, there is fear (of detection). They do not know each other’s feelings but like each other. This is also a time where the nayika might take off her payal/anklet so as not to attract attention. There might be a sense of loss of lover as well since they are unsure of the other’s feelings.
c. Narma– Garbha (love in masquerade): In this the hero, out of necessity not only acts incognito but does it with intelligence and affection. E.g., nayak meets nayika in a proper disguise. No one comes to know. It applies mainly to the nayaka, pertains to intelligent, handsome, wealthy man.
d. Narma – spota (incomplete enjoyment): In this, the sentiment of love is not completely enjoyed as various other emotions contribute to it , each a little. It involves dreaming about a person/lover. Always dreaming of union with lover. It has graceful movements as it always involves loving memories of the person you love.
4. ARABHATI VRITTI: Derived from the Atharva Veda, here one finds daring (of a wrong kind) of deceit, fraud, falsehood, bragging, garrulousness etc. In this there would be falling, jumping, crossing and many kinds of magic and conjury.
It is of four kinds:
a. Sanksiptaka (one with symbols): In this there should be many models – of articles, animals, dress etc relevant to the plot. It employs full use of props like trees, creepers, fire etc.
b. Avapata (commotion): In this there are occasions of fear and joy, flight, flurry, garrulousness and quick entries and exits. E.g., a scene in which too much is happening , lot of commotion, commentaries going on , people dying, it has emotions of fear, joy, victory , defeats etc all going on almost at the same time .
c. Vastutthapana (emphasized event): Includes a stage event in which all rasas are mixed or which gives shelter to someone in fear or otherwise. Here, everything is happening in the same scene. All emotions are visible. A wedding scene is the best example: there is sringara, there is excitement and joy, there might have been a loss in the family so some people must be in shoka, there would be hasya and laughter, karuna rasa, etc.
d. Sampheta (conflict): This includes excitement, many fights, personal fights, fraud, betrayal and plenty of wielding of weapons. This mostly pertains to what villains do. In fact it portrays villains lesser and more of anti – hero. For example, Ravan is an anti-hero. So is Duryodhana or Karna, but Dusshasana is a villain.
In short, Arabhati Vritti displays the vigorous mode which suits a heroic play with strong action accompanied with physical and mental clashes. Kaisiki Vritti is symbolic of delicate, elegant, graceful mode, more suited to female characters who emote tender emotions along with song and dance sequences. Bharati Vritti is delivery of speeches through the verbal mode specifically written in magnificent diction employing articulate phrasing. Sattvati Vritti is the perfect harmony of body and mind without which effective expression of emotions won’t be possible. The actor has to identify with the emotion in order to display it realistically and effectively in front of an audience.
If we take up the example of Ramayana, the meeting of Sita and Ram and their romantic scenes would preferably be in Kaisiki Vritti. The scene of Bharat Milaap would include the Sattvati vritti and Bharati Vritti. The battle of Ram and Ravan would be appropriately displayed through Arabhati Vritti.
Every play is dominated by a particular action or emotion. This is where the relevance of the doctrine of Vritti comes into play. The director of the play has to decide which vritti is to be used in the presentation of a play and as the different scenes play out, to vary it, if necessary.
1. Rangacharya Adya, 2003, ‘The Natya Shastra’, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
2. Shah Champaklal Mahesh, Paper 1- Detail Study of Natyashastra, Specially Dance Related Chapters and Sangita Ratnakar, MHRD project under its National Mission on Education through ICT (NME-ICT), e Pathshala.
The Natya Sastra of Bharatmuni, Raga Nrtya series No.2, Sri Satguru Publications, Indian Books Centre, Delhi.