The term nayika or heroine is widely used in the world of fine arts and the concept finds application in films, dance, painting & sculpture and drama. The central female character around which the story revolves in any narration is termed as the heroine. Her various emotions are expressed as constructions crafted according to the thoughts, wishes and circumstances of the storyline. However, in the broader sense, the term nayika or heroine is not limited to only the central character of the plot but to any female character in the story. Because, to portray the various types or typology of the heroines, the main basis is the male character centered on which, the heroines emotions are formed which find expression as certain mental states. Essentially, longing, expectations, hopes and separations derived out of love are the basis of the typology of heroines. Therefore, at the same time if the central female character is portrayed as khandita, another may be shown in the role of the vasakasajjika nayika. Therefore the concept of heroine is rather broad. Looking back at the origin of this concept, it is found that Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra (NS) composed circa 2nd century BCE first typifies the heroines. The twentyfourth chapter of NS presents the eight classes of heroines, vasakasajjika, virahotkanthita, swadhinabhartrika, kalahantarita, khandita, vipralabdha, proshitabhartrika and abhisarika. According to most scholars, these eight heroines are the origin of the evolution of the concept of heroines. However, no definite fact regarding the true beginning of the concept of heroine has been unearthed so far. Therefore we will consider the eight nayikas of NS as the main pathway of evolution of the concept of heroines. The eight nayikas are mainly divided into two classes; one sambhoga, where the heroine is united with her paramour and the other bipralambha,the heroin is notunited with her paramour. Vasakasajjika, abhisarika and swadhinabhartrika are heroines of the first class while virahotkanthita, kalahantarita, bipralabdha, proshitabhartrika, and khandita belong to the second class. This classification was extended in course of time to include other types. For example, in the medieval period, the vakrotigarbita was added to the list. In addition, the entire typology is further divided into ordinary and special types based on the various bhava, rasa and fine mental states. As an example, swiya, mugdha, madhyama, pragalabha, parakiya, samanya are ordinary while dutibanchita, anutpanna sambhoga, nayakabanchita, sakhi banchita, darshan anutapita, pranaya kalahantarita, jyotsna abhisarika, dhira, adhira, dhiradhira etc. are special types. Again based on physical and mental analysis heroines have been divided into uttama, madhyama and adhama roles. Another four sub-types into which heroines are divided are hastini, chitrini, sankhini and padmini. An excellent analysis of the Shringara Manjari of Akbar Shah by great Sanskrit scholar Dr.V. Raghavan gives a detailed description of this classification. The aesthetic presentations of such typified heroines are found in various classical Indian dramas, mythology, folk and modern literature, and various branches of painting such as the ragmala etc. However this discussion is limited to the field of dance, especially Sattriya Dance and we shall limit the typology to as portrayed in this art.
It was mentioned in the foregoing that the various
mental states derived from love are the basis of nayika’s classification. In
other words, the recurring theme of nayikabheda is love or eroticism. As we know. bibhava, anubhava,
and the byabhichari bhavas are extension of sthayi bhava and are
hence subordinate to it. We also know that rasa is the resultant of all
these bhavas. The rasa and bhava are expressed in dance
through various angikabhinaya and sattikabhinayas. Angikabhinaya
is the movement of various limbs and body parts while sattikabhinaya is
the expression of both physical and mental entities. In the depiction of
nayikabheda, both these abhinayas are extensively applied. All the
classical dance forms of
Vasakasajjika: The woman who is dressed up and awaiting union with her paramour.
Virahotkanthita: A virahotkanthita nayika is one whose lover is away on other affairs and who is sad because of it.
Swadhinabhartrika: The woman whose beloved is constantly by her side or one who is able to keep him near her through various stratagems.
Kalahantarita: A kalahantarita nayika is one who is separated from her lover because of some quarrel, usually arising out of jealousy.
Khandita: A nayika who is saddened by the separation from her lover because of another woman.
Vipralabdha: A Woman who was to meet her paramour at some pre-arranged spot but the meeting did not occur and she receives the message through some messenger.
Proshitabhartrika: The nayika whose beloved has gone away on some important business or is exiled is a proshitabhartrika nayika
Abhisarika: The woman who, forsaking her modesty has come out to meet her beloved at some rendezvous is termed as abhisarika nayika
The Natya Shastra states that khandita, vipralabdha, kalahantarita and proshitabhartrika would express their emotions through acts of deep contemplation, sighs, lamentation, heartburn, talking with her friends, looking at one selves, holding back her tears, anger, shedding clothes and ornaments, unkemptness, sorrow and weeping while a swadhinabhartrika nayika would appear as glamorously dressed, bright eyed, happy, sparkling and glowing with beauty.
Let us now look at the nayika bheda as seen in Sattriya dance. A song from the Ankiya nat , the Vaishnava theater ‘Rukminiharana’ by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankaradeva depicts Rukmini as a vasakasajjika nayika who learning about the beauty and virtues of Krishna is eagerly waiting for his arrival.
Chandamukhi pakhite Madhai
Kanaka kinkini dhwani jhalake manjiba moni
Dule hridaye hemamala
(Chandamukhi –Rukmini,is waiting for Lord Krishna.She had adorned herself beautifully with waist belt, a necklace and many other decorative accessories.)
Through this song, Rukmini is expressing her longing
for her beloved. She has made up her mind to have
Uddhava bandhu madhupuri rahala muraru
Kahe naheri raha ab jivana
Ban bhayo bhavan hamaru
(Oh Uddhava, Lord Krishna is in
The last lines of this Borgeet – Gopinee prem parashi neer jhuraya…
(Tears rolled on from the eyes lovelorn gopies)
Another Borgeet –
Ki kahabo Uddhava ki kahabo prana
Gobinda bine bhayo Gokul usan
Shunya bhail angina Birindabipina
Noshobhe rajani jaise chanda bihina
(How shall we tell you Oh Uddhava, what our lives have become, without Govinda, Gokul seems deserted. The courtyards and jungles of Brindaban have become deserted, dark as the night without the moon.)
Both the Borgeets composed by Mahapurush Sankaradeva
depict the Gopis lamenting the separation from their beloved Sri Krishna and
their mental anguish as a result.
Karata vihara karata vihara muraru
Kaminika kamala amala muha lambi
Chumbe jagata adharu
Ghana Ghana nayana pankaj muha heri
Heri karata kanu keli
Alingi anga ananga ranga rasika
Ramanika bhuja meli
(Murari is playing a game of amour. The lord of the world is kissing the lotus face of the beloved. Now and again he gazes at the lotus like face and plays with her. He embraces her spreading his arms.)
This song portrays Sri Krishna joining Rukmini in festivities after the wedding ceremony is over. Rukmini is contented having her beloved by her side at last and has transformed into the swadhinabhartrika nayika. vipralabdha nayika is portrayed beautifully in Sattriya dance. In the following two Borgeets, vipralabdha nayika are portrayed -
Uddhava kaha pranere bandhava he prana
Pucchaye gopi prem akula bhave e nahi chetana gawe.
(Our bodies have lost consciousness, tell us oh
Uddhava, when will our
Uddhava bandhu madhupuri bahala muraru
Kahe naheri rahab ab jivan
Ban bhayo bhavan hamaru.
Keshavahe bujhalhu tuhu
Janaluho tuhu byavahar
Atawae chaturi chori chalahu bahuri hari e
Jaha priya ramani tohora
(Oh Keshava, now I have understood you. Now I know your conduct. So leave aside your flattery and go back to your loved woman.)
It is worth remembering here that separation is not
merely physical but also signifies mental differences. Thus even though the paramour
may be physically near, the heroine may feel separated from her lover. From
that viewpoint, even though
The role of abhisarika nayika in Sattriya is a debatable matter. The Sattriya society seems hesitant to associate Gopis with the roles of courtesans. However in a few lines and songs of the drama “Keli Gopal” orRaasa Kriya composed by Mahapurush Sankaradeva, we see certain features of abhisarika nayika. On the full moon night the Gopis have come out to meet Shri Krishna, leaving behind their family members and loved ones to indulge in love play with him. We see the same atmosphere in the following song –
Keshava karata keli gopini sange range Govinde karata keli
Kahaku heraya hasi akhi bhange loram.
Kahaku chumbaya banamali lagi mukh
Alingane gopika milata rati sukh
Uccha kucha karu kshata nakher parashi
Gopalaka keli Krishan kikkara kahasi
(Keshava is happily playing love games with the
gopis. He looks at some with arched eyes. Another he kisses on the faces. The
gopis are ecstatic at his embrace. Proud bosoms are scratched by nails. The
From this view point, the Gopis who have come out to
Krishanara charana chinti pawe parama gati
Chori parala gopi prana
(The Gopis who gave up life thinking of the feet
Those Gopis who could not go to Brindavana due to restrictions
put up by their family members , they gave up their life thinking about
From the above discussion we can observe that nayikas are very adequately portrayed in Sattriya dance through various sequences.
3.The Nayikas of Indian Classics,Their Genesis and Rise to glory,Sangeet Natak-number 75,January-March 1985:K.S.Srinivasan.
4.Sankaradevar Nat:Mohim Bora(Editted.).
5.Borgeet:Srimanta Sankaradeva and Sri Sri Madhavadeva.