Krishna's hallIsaka dance

Roland Steiner steiner at MAILER.UNI-MARBURG.DE
Thu Aug 19 12:09:35 UTC 1999

Dear Mr Ganesan,
As I already wrote to you in an earlier private message, I
consider it possible that Skt. hallii"saka as a technical designation
of an uparuupaka (``secondary play") might finally be of
Dravidian origin. Nevertheless, you have to take notice of the
fact that the term hallii"saka does not occur in the
Naa.tya"saastra but has been merely mentioned only by
Abhinavagupta in his commentary to the Naa.tya"saastra (Vol.
1, 2nd ed. Baroda 1956, p. 181 [1st ed. 1926, p. 183]).
Moreover, the reference to Da.n.din´s Kaavyaadar"sa is
somewhat misleading since it is not Da.n.din who uses the term,
but only a modern commentator on his work (Premacandra
Tarkavaagii"sa, 1863 A.D.).
Apart from one or two Hariva.msa passages (only in the
appendix of the critical edition) and ``Bhaasa´s" Baalacarita
(which I would date not earlier than the 7th century), a relatively
old record of the word halliisaka in Skt. is Kaamasuutra 2.10 (p.
181, 2nd ed. Nir.naya Saagara Press 1900) where it designates
a kind of circular dance, and not an uparuupaka (this is also true
for the Baalacarita).

In short: hallii"sa(ka) or halliisaka has been used by some critics
as a technical designation for a special kind of uparuupaka (with
Abhinavagupta being the earliest and, by the way, NOT by
Dhanika in his commentary to the Da"saruupaka); cf., e.g.,
Vaagbha.ta´s Kaavyaanu"saasana (K. M. 43, p. 18), Bhoja´s
"S.r"ngaaraprakaa"sa (ch. 11); Vi"svanaatha´s
6.307. Saagaranandin (pobably not earlier than the 13th century)
is comparatively exhaustive when he says: A hallii"saka has
``seven, eight or nine female characters. The style is principally
kai"sikii. There is much rhythmical music. It is in one act. One
male character predominates. The language is not elevated. For
example, Keliraivataka" ("sa 3154 ff.).
Thus, the term hallii(")saka neither plays an early nor an
important role within the dramaturgical tradition (As is well
known, the two leading types of a play proper are the naa.taka
and Therefore, to see in hallii(")saka a linguistic
indication pointing to the conclusion that the drama was a
product of a non-Aryan culture of India, is obviously going a bit
too far, I think.

>  Similarly, are "ranga" (dance stage) and tamil 'arangu' (dance
> stage, small island between rivers) related?
In my book ``Untersuchungen zu Har.sadeva´s Naagaananda
und zum indischen Schauspiel"  [``Investigations into
Har.sadeva´s Naagaananda and Indian Drama"] (Swisttal-
Odendorf 1997, p. 114 f.) I have made another proposal,
connecting the word ra"nga with the root ra(~n)j meaning ``to be
delighted". I think, to put it briefly, that ra"nga originally means
``entertainment, delight" and ra"ngapii.tha (attested already in the
Naa.tya"saastra, where it is the technical term for ``stage")
accordingly means a ``platform for an entertaining performance,
stage"; thus puurvara"nga would literally mean:
``PREperformance, PREplay" (and not ``PREstage"). Then, with
time, the word ra"nga as an abbreviation for ra"ngapii.tha came
to mean ``stage".

With regards,
Roland Steiner

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