--> Skip to main content

Purvaranga Vidhi And Yagnyakar – Prologue In Sanskrit Drama

Purvaranag Vidhi and Yagnyakar literally means what is done prior to the staging of a drama – the prologue. The Sanskrit word for the stage is ranga, and the preliminaries are collectively called purvaranga. The very purpose of the preliminaries is to propitiate deities and ward off evils, lest there should be any impediment to the completion of the play. Natyashastra of Sage Bharata, which is the easiest available treatise on dramaturgy, gives a vivid description of the purvaranga in its fifth chapter. Music, both vocal and instrumental, and recitation are an integral part of the purvaranga.

As many as nineteen items are involved in the performance of it. Of these, the first nine are to be done behind the curtain and the rest after the curtain is raised. The pratyahara is the arrangement of the instruments, while the avatarana is the seating of the musicians: The drum-players take the last row on the stage, while the players on the lute and the flute take the left side.

The vocal musicians occupy the right side of the stage. The arambha is the commencement of vocal practice, while that of the instrument is called asravana. The vaktrapari and parighatana involve playing of various styles in the instruments, particularly the stringed variety.

Samghotana indicates the time-beat with hands, and the margasarita is a blend of the stringed and drum varieties. The asavita involves the long, medium and short beats of tala.

After these nine items behind the curtain, the remaining ten are performed after the curtain is raised. The gitavidhi, utthapana and parivartana consist o the sutradhara (stage manager), who is the first one to appear on the stage invariably, saluting the deities in all the four directions. The most important factor in purvaranga is the nandi, after the recitation of which the stage-manager appears. The nandi is an invocation to a deity or a king, seeking their blessing to the actors as well as the spectators. Then there is the conversation between the stage-manager and his wife, or the vidushaka, an attendant dressed as a jester, or a pariparsvaka, an assistan. What follows this is the pravocana, thorugh which the stage-manager informs the audience of the title of the play, its author and the occasion on which it is staged.

The purvaranga, the prologue, is a must for every drama. It is benedictory and informative, besides preparing the base on which the play is gradually developed.