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Noh Theatre Art

Rita Rani Paliwal

By and Hiranand Vatsyayan Agyeya
Sachidanand Vatsyayan Agency , 1967, reprinted by Vagdevi Prakashan
, 2010, pp.68, Rs. 20.00


Uttar Priyadarshi is a poetic play by Sachchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan derives its theme from the historical event of;Emperor Ashokas turning to Buddhism after the Kalinga victory. The reasons for this transformation have neither been recorded nor thought about and discussed by historians till today. His seemingly sudden and absolute change of the perspective must have been an outcome of a forcible impulse. Agyeya has tried to find a psychological logic in the historical event which was a turning point in Ashokas life. Like most of Agneyas work Uttar Priyadarshi is also an experimentthis time in drama. The structure of the play has been derived from the Japanese Noh drama devised in a manner appropriate to communicate to Indian reader/spectator. Agyeya visited Japan in 1957and was exposed to the aesthetic uniqueness of Noh theatre and its appeal to contemporary western writers, dramatists, and directors. Being an Indian, well versed in the history and culture of India in the scholarly guidance of his archaeologist father Pandit Hiranand Shastri, Agyeya found the Buddhist element in Noh drama very much suitable to contemporary society. Usually the Noh play presents some warrior, king or a woman in love who has been deceived or who has committed some error during his/her past life, the agony of which is being faced by him or her even after the end of life. The ghost or supernatural beings, birds or other beings come as participants in the play and with the help of some monk or divine being the suffering soul is relived of the agony.;The play is based on the verge of life and death. The unlived part of the life is being lived through the flashback device and the suffering person is relieved of the agony. The turmoil is within the heart of the main charactercalled shite in Japanese and is released through excited dance on the tunes of the singer of the poetic narration. Agyeya has utilized the devices of the presence of the monk, ghosts, singers and music. But here the agony is not of a persons sufferings or unfilfilment of desires or misdeeds done by him/her in the past life. Rather it is the outcome of Ashokas extreme egotism. When Ashoka makes the commitment that whoever enters the inferno would be tortured by Yama, even the emperor would not be an exception, he never thought that some day he ...

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