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Creative process in art.

See this world--a poem of the Lord Underlying and decaying.

(Rigveda-X, and Atharvaveda, X.8.32)

On the basis of this world view as unfolded in the famous Asvamiyasukta in the X Mangala of Rigveda, and in Atharvaveda also, Aitareya Mahidasa, spelt out the first concept of art--creativity in his Aitareya Brahmana around 1000 BC. Art and crafts are of two types, he said--daiva (divine) and manusa (human). Daiva silpa is the world created by the God, and the man creates his own world of art by recreating (anukarana) of the divine art. (1) This Vedic world view is deeply percolated in the discussions on art in the tradition of Indian aesthetics, which makes a very systematic beginning with the Natyasastra of Bharatamuni.

The Natyasastra of Bharatamuni is the most voluminous and the oldest compendium on Arts and aesthetics in our literary tradition. Bharatamuni presented an objective view of aesthetics in his concept of structure of drama and fundamental elements of its presentation on the stage. He had also pointed out that the element of sport (kriya) is inherent in theatre or performing arts. Art is a kriyaniyaka--sport to be played. The concept of lila carne to be introduced subsequently. It embraces both sensuous and mundane on the one hand and the transcendental on the other. The world is viewed as the play of the Almighty. In the same way art and literature are created by the artist as sports. God enjoys his own creation through his lila, so does the artist. Creation produces a sense of wonder and delight as well.

In the myth of origin of theatre (natya) as narrated by Bharatamuni, it is said that the gods desired a kriyaniyaka--a universal sport for humanity to save it from sins, sorrows, vulgarity and mundane infatuations--which must be audio-visual. (2) They then approached Lord Brahma with a request to create a fifth Veda as the four existing Vedas were not to be used by the common men, women or the under-privileged classes. They say that this fifth Veda termed as Natyaveda, should be sarvavarnika, i.e., to be relished by people of all classes. Brahma then resolves to create the fifth Veda and is emersed in Yoga. (3)

The term yoga which Bharata has used here in the context of creation of Natyaveda has been explained in the Saivagamas as the contemplation of a pure and wholesome consciousness. (4) Latter theorists have used the term samadhi for it, and have regarded it as essential for any kind of creativity, especially related to belless lettress.

It is said in Paramarthasarva, that the Unlimited Self becomes the limited self being confined by Maya. This limitation occurs because of His relation with the five attributes of kala (time), kala (limited creativity), nitayi (destiny), raga (attachment) and avidya, (igonrance). (5) The limited self, functioning within these five kancukas (shells) aspires to be at par with Paramasiva or the Unlimited Self through art-creativity.

It is Siva who is reflected in all. He is Consciousness. Prakasa and vimarsa are two aspects of this Consciousness. The former leads to illumination and enlightenment, the latter to creativity. The whole creation is His spanda. Spatula is vibrating consciousness. It leads to expansion as well as contraction. The cosmos evolves through the unlimited creativity of the Supreme Being or Paramasiva. The same Paramasiva enshrined within the limited self is called Pratibha, and this Pratibha leads to art-creativity through the above five attributes. They delimit the omniscience, omni-potence, trancendence, independence and capability for all actions of the Supreme Being or Paramasiva.

In Saiva Philosophy Pratibha is the consciousness of the Supreme Being and it is imbued with Prakasa and Vimarsai. Pratibha is treated at par with Sakti and a form of Mahesvara--the supreme Being. Svatantrya or freedom is a mark of this Sakti. The creative faculty of an artist is also called Pratibha or Sakti. Pratibha of a poet or an artist is also characterized with freedom. Anandavardhana says--the poet alone is creator of poetic world. He transforms the world according to his fancy.

The world view that the cosmos is just a reflection of the Supreme Being is envisaged in the treatment of the creative process for art in Indian tradition as envisaged by Bharata, Abhinavagupta and others. The Siva is reflected in each and every atom of this world. Therefore the world is not an illusion. In the same, way, the art created by an artist also bears unmistakable truth, it is neither a semblance nor illusion, it is simply Rasa which is the essence and the ultimate truth. There is invariable urge within an artist, as Siva in him creates a world of prakasa, vimarsa and spanda.

Vedic seers talk of spontaneity in poetic creation. They say these hymns have rained out from heart as the torrents of water gush out of sky. (6) But then they also suggest the labour and skill required in crafting the hymns. We have chiseled out these hymns as a carpenter would carve the wood, or as a weaver would weave the cloth--they say. (7) The words get filtered through mind just as the floor of perched grains is filtered and purified through the strainer. (8) The creative process in fact involves various levels of vision, perception and efforts.

The later theorists therefore rightly evolved a combined cause of art creativity as a blend of Pratibha, Vyutpatti (knowledge) and Abhyasa (practice). (9) The art created out of the first vibrations of Pratibha is like unchiseled jewel, which has to be fashioned and designed through vyutpatti and abhyasa.

Pratibha transcends all sense-perceptions, and it is imbued with freedom and bliss (Ananda). Pratibha is a meta-concept encompassing the vision, the inner psyche and creative faculty of the artist as well his equipment instincts, vision, perception and imagination--they all form parts of Pratibha. Therefore a person equipped with Pratibha is equated to a seer. Bhattatauta who was teacher of Abhinavagupta says that there is no poet who is not a seer, so he is so called because of his capability to see. He can see the inner nature of things. (10)

Pratibha is an all-encompassing faculty. Nothing happens in this world without Pratibha. Abhinavagupta says that no creature is without Pratibha. Even the insects, birds and animals evince various tendencies and reactions because of it. (11) Pratibha resides as a dormant life-force within all the animals and human beings, it in a creative artist that it manifests as an urge to create. When Pratibha operates in art-creativity, the mind is in samadhi and the words and meaning gush forth in abundance without any effort. (12) Pratibha reveals the inner nature of things and the outer reality as well. Therefore there is no end to time creativity when Pratbha functions. Anandavardhana rightly says that if a poet is equipped with Pratibha the process of creation never ceases. (13)

Kuntaka has explained the function of Pratibha by the analogy of a seed ready to sprout. (Nutanankuranyaya). By extending this analogy we can say that Pratibha is the seed, whereas the other equipments of the artists--his knowledge of various arts, crafts and sciences and his repeated inclination to continue the practice and indulgence in creating the art-form are like soil and water. Through them the tree of art blossoms. Pratibha nourishes Vyutpatti and Abhyasa and by these two it further develops. These three form one single cause for art-creation. They nourish each other, and they work in interaction with each other. Pratibha inspires for observation and study of nature and world, for acquisition of learning, and by observation and learning it is enriched. Practice supplements it. Kuntaka also says that it is because of Pratibha that a literary piece is invested with extra-ordinary nature, it transcends the mundane. (14)

In the theory of Alamkara the process of art creativity combining the manifestations of Pratibha, vyutpatti and abhyasa is linked to bhusana (ornamentation), varana (negation or elimination) and paryapti (sufficiency). (15) They imbibe selection, choice, elimination and unfolding of poetic vision; and also relate to surface structure, deep structure and deeper structures in an art form. They are not isolated. The process of beautification incorporates the activity of elimination or exclusion for its culmination in fulfillment (paryapti). This paryapti involves holistic view, and sufficiency at structural level too. This triple process of bhusana, varana and paryapti tends to make an artistic creation extraordinary and this extraordinary nature of art is alaukaa.

In this completeness, each and every category in an art piece would compete with the other ones in an ascending order for creating excellence, encompassing the three levels of human existence, i.e., adhibhautika (empirical), adhidaivika (psychic) and adhyatmika (spiritual). The fusion of these three levels of existence or their synthesis in literature is an outcome of holistic approach to life. It brings perfection in art, known as alambhava (the state of sufficiency or fulfillment) in our tradition. Poetry and art are sometimes called alaukika (unearthly) to point out the fact that this state of fulfillment is not reached in worldly endeavors.

Because Pratibha or power to create art is a reflection of the Supreme Consciousness, it has the capacity to organize and express. The expressions of Pratibha therefore are always marked with the organic quality. Bharatamuni had used the term kavyabandha to denote the compactness and unity of organisation in poetry. (16) Abhinavagupta in his commentary on Bharata's Natyasastra has equated bandha or kavyabandha to poetic process. (17) Kuntaka explained the inner nature of bandha by correlating it with poetic process. There is an urge within the creator to systematize and put into form what is lying dormant within him. This is spanda. As we have seen above, the whole cosmos is said to be an outcome of spanda. Kuntaka rightly designates spanda (vibration) as svabhava (natural endowment) in a poet, and vakrata (extraordinariness) as the manifestation of this svabhava. The contents of poetry are svaspandasundara, i.e., beautiful because of the natural endowment of artist.

The term alamkara not only denotes the process of beautification in art, it also includes beauty in poetry or art. To Vamana, the complete beauty of a poem is alamkara, the process of beautification is also alamkara and factors, figures of speech which are employed as means in this process are also called alamkaras. Alamkara or beauty is enshrined in the structure of a literary piece.

Bharata had envisaged ten gunas (excellences) in simultaneous relation to the form and content (words and meanings). They are--Slesa (coalescence of words), Prasada (clarity of meaning), Samata (evenness), Samadhi (novelty), Madhurya (sweetness), Ojas (vigour), Saukunarya (softness), Arthavyakti (explicitness), Udarata (sublime), Kanti (charm). (18)

Vamana however separated the twofold functioning of these, thus enlarging their number to twenty, ten each for word and meaning. Vamana has not only expanded the concept of poetic excellences, he has also established their functioning in relation to the structure in literary art as well as art creativity. He therefore used the word bandha to explain the functioning of the gunas. The bandha can be loose, scattered, compact, integrated, appearing to descend or ascend. The compactness of bandha is Ojas, whereas its looseness is Prasada. Mesa in Vamana is not just the coalescence of words, it becomes refinement or polish, Samata is also not just evenness it is for maintaining a proper style throughout. Vamana's interpretation of Samadhi is equally genuine. Samadhi is formed by the order of ascend and descend of words matching the content. Madhurya in words also consists of their beauty in independence. The dashing nature of words culminates into Udarata. Kanti is brightness of the words.

In relation to content or meaning, these excellences, bearing the same nomenclatures assume greater significance from the view point of poetic process. Maturity of meaning is Ojas, is of five types. Clarity of meaning is Prasada. Slesa has been explained as sequence (Ghatana) and this sequence is built in a literay discourse by order (krama), turn of events (Kautilya), evenness (Anulbanatva) and logic (Upapatti). Samata is removing incongruous. Samadhi is new perception of the meaning. Madhuya is attractiveness due to variety. Saukumarya is grace inculcated by removing roughness, and Udarata is sublimity brought in by doing away with whatever is rustic or lumpish. (19)

A bandha is infused with life and is resultant of poetic process, or spanda. This spanda chooses to manifest in various paths (margas). Dandin, Vamana and Kuntaka prefer the word marga to riti (style) because margas always lead ahead. There can be innumerable margas or way's of poetic creativity, but they can be grouped into three as kavisvabhava or pratibha proceeds through three channels. Accordingly, margas can also be divided into three categories--Sukumara (the elegant), Vicitra (the brilliant) and Madhyama (the blend of both, the middling). The margas comprise four qualities--Madhurya (sweetness), Prasada (perspicuity), Lavanya (grace) and Abhijatya (classicism).

In Madhurya (sweetness) the poet, endowed with softness of temperament, tends to enrich his expressions with loveliness in content and usage of uncompounded words. Prasada (perspicuity) would materialize when the poet expresses his intent vividly and can communicate theta with clarity. The charm of syntax and use of alliterations, onomatopoeia etc. would invest the poem with Lavanya (grace). The very nature of the poet inculcates the poem with polish and refinement. This is abhijatya (classicism). (20)

The special nature of words, their arrangements in a structure which is called lokottara by Anandavardhana and Kuntaka as well, does not mean that the artist employs words or equipments in a piece of art which do not belong to our world or empirical reality. In fact poets use the same words which are used in the common language of day to day life, it is in their structure, special arrangement that beauty reveals itself. As Nilakntha Diksita, a versatile Sanskrit poet of 17th century AD, says:
 The words that we speak
 The words that we write, by those very words
 through their magnanimous arrangement
 The poets bewitch the world. (21)


(1). See my article on Aesthetic Philosophy of Aitareya Mahidasa in Natyam qly. No. 52.

(2). Kridaniyakam ichchamo drasyam sravyam ca yad bhavet, Natyasastra, I.11

(3.) Evam sanklpya bhagavan. Ibid, I. 16 Nasau yogo na tat karma natyeasmin yanna drsyate. Ibid. I. 116

(4.) Paripurnasuddhasamvitsvatantryavamarsanam yogah, Baljin Natha Pundit, Svatantryavimarsah, pp. 124

(5.) Mayaparigrahavasat bodho malino puman pasur bhavati. kalakalaniyativas at ragavidyavasena sambaddhah. Paramarthsara, 16

(6.) Iyam vamasya manmana abhrad vyktir ivajani, Rigveda, VII. 94.1

(7.) Ratham na dhirah svapakan, vastrena bhadra sukkta vasuyu, Ibid, V.19.15

(8.) Saktum iva titauna punanto yatra dhira manasa vacam akkta. Ibid X.

(9.) Kavyaprakasa of mammata, I. 3

(10.) Nanrtihityukya rtisca kila darsnat, Bhattatauta, q. by Abhinavagupta and Hemacandra

(11.) Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta, XIII.89

(12.) Rudrata. Kavyalankara, I.15-16

(13.) Na kavyarthaviramo' sti yadi syat pratibha gunah, Dhvanyaloko

(14.) Vakroktijivita, I.28.

(15.) For an interpretation of the theory of alamkara. Abhinavakavyakankarasitram, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University. Varanasi, 2006 by the present author may be referred.

(16.) Kavyabandhas tu karvyah tat trimsal laktananvitah, Natyasastra, XV.227.

(17.) Abhinavabharati of Abhinavagupta on above.

(18.) Natyasastra, XVI.96

(19.) Kavyalnkkarasutravytti of Vamana, III, 1,5-25m. III,2,2-14

(20.) Vakroktijivita of Kuntaka, I.30-43

(21.) Sivalilarnavamahakavya of Nilakantha Diksita, I.13






Dr. H.S.Gour University, Sagar
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Author:Tripathi, Radhavallabh
Publication:Creative Forum
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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