Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World
Edited By Zoltan Somhegyi and Max Ryynänen
21 A Philosophico-Aesthetical Dilemma? Assessing Abhinavagupta’s Chapter-Invocatory Verses in His Commentary to Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra (S. Bhuvaneshwari)
AbstractAbhinavagupta’s attempt to synthesize the elaborate system of metaphysical principles (tattva) of Śaiva Tantrism with the theatrical-aesthetic content in his Abhinavabhāratī commentary to Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, a classical treatise on science and art of theatre, presents a challenging task to comprehend for a theatre-art practitioner. His approach as a “philosopher-aesthetician” is powerfully modeled in the invocatory verses in his commentary. The present paper examines some of his chapter-invocatory verses in order to understand the “textual-structure” of the Nāṭyaśāstra in terms of number, order and content-division of chapters of the text. Based on this analysis, this paper seeks to draw the attention of modern scholars and theatre-art practitioners to the importance and relevance of a “non-Abhinavan” edition of the Nāṭyaśāstra centered on “pure aesthetic” content in contrast to the “Abhinavan” edition constituting a “philosophico-aesthetic” approach. This paper seeks to accomplish this task by showing how Abhinavagupta extends the “philosophical dilemma” pertaining to the Śaiva system to the aesthetic-content of the Nāṭyaśāstra, in the very invocatory verses, thus causing an “aesthetical dilemma” in the practical comprehension of the theatrical aesthetic-value delineated by Bharata in his Nāṭyaśāstra. The “philosophical dilemma” here pertains to the issues concerning tattvas, especially in relation to the number and sequence of tattvas, in the Śaiva works and the “aesthetical dilemma” here indicates the issues related to the progression of presentation of the theatrical technicalities in the Nāṭyaśāstra that is to culminate in...
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