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  • Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute

    THE CONCEPT OF STHYIBHVA IN INDIAN POETICS (A Psychological Scrutiny)Author(s): D. D. VadekarSource: Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 24, No. 3/4 (1943), pp. 207-214Published by: Bhandarkar Oriental Research InstituteStable URL: .Accessed: 26/03/2014 11:32

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    ( A Psychological Scrutiny ) BY

    D. D Vadekar

    The classical doctrines of Indian poetics have, most of them, their origins in the work of Bharata, the Ntyastra. Among such doctrines is the famous Rasa Doctrine of poetical apprecia- tion, in connection with which Bharata lays down the following cryptic aphorism :

    An expositor has explicated it as follows : " wmm m: i n

    Its purport has thus been rendered : " when the vibhvas , anu- bhavas and the vyabhicribhvas combine to awaken the sthayi - bhva , the awakened sthyibhva finally develops into Rasa . "

    Bharata has said again : " ^reter ar ( ) 1


    ( Ntyasstra, p. 71 ). This means : " The sthyibhva, when acted on ( stimulated )

    by vibhavas, anubhvas and vyabhicribhvas , obtains the title of Rasa . "

    It is obvious that the sthyibhva is here presumed to be some fact or phenomenon connected with the mental life of the Rasika , or the appreciator of a work of ai t.

    The passages cited above are the locus classicus of Bharata' s famous Rasa doctrine, which became afterwards the central text for the development of the various theories and explanations in the hands of the Sanskrit Shityakras or literary critics. It is obvious that the whole Rasa doctrine hinges upon the central concept of sthyibhva , which is the core of that doctrine. It is this sthyibhva ( whatever its nature ), which, when acted on or appealed to by certain factors called the vibhvast anubhvas and

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  • 20$ Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute

    vyabhicribhvas, is said to develop into Rasa ( poetical apprecia- tion or aesthetic enjoyment ) of a work of art. A sound under- standing of the Rasa doctrine, therefore, depends in the first instance upon a clarification of this central concept of sthyibhva in that doctrine.

    A reference to recognised writers on this subject reveals a remarkable lack of any consensus of opinion regarding the exact psychological nature of the sthyibhva . Here are a few representative views ?

    Dr. S. K. De ( Studies in the History of Sanskrit Poetics , Vol. II ) has used a variety of expressions to render sthyibhva into English : " the principal or permanent mood , " ( p. 27 ) ;

    " more or less permanent mental states , u ( p. 28 ) ;

    44 permanent mood or senti- ment," (p. 168, footnote 168 ) ;

    44 dominant emotion," (p. 326); 44 dominant feeling , " ( p. 343 ) ; etc.

    Pandit P. P. Sastri ( The Philosophy of Aesthetic Pleasure ) uses these phrases : " potential conditions of mind , 19 (p. 18, foot note) ; " a permanent mental condition, " ( p. 39, p. 171 ) ; etc.

    Prof. P. S. Naidu ( The Rasa Doctrine and the Concept of Suggestion in Hindu Aesthetics , in the Journal of the Annamalai University, Vol. X, TSTo. 1, September, 1940, p. 8 ) opines :

    " The sthyibhvas are the propensities of Western psychology. "

    Dr. K. N. Watave ( The Psychology of the Rasa Theory , in the Silver Jubilee Number of the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. XXIII, 1942, p. 670) writes s "The sthyibhva is the 1 Sentiment* . Oar Sanskrit sthyibhva is neither an instinct, nor an emotion, nor a mood ; although it has got an instinctive base and is a primary emotion in character.


    It is obvious that these scholars have sought to identify the concept of sthyibhva in Indian poetics with some ( correspond- ing ) concept in Western psychology, as e. g. mood, mental state or condition , emotion , feeling , sentiment , primary emotion , propensity , etc. Now, if a concept of some mental fact or phenomenon as described by the Sanskrit literary critics is to be identified with the corresponding concept of some allied fact or phenomenon described by modern psychology, then this can be done in any decisive sense only after a direct and close, comparative scrutiny of the descriptions of both the concepts given by competent and

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  • The Concept of Sthyibhva in Indian Poetics 209

    relevant witnesses, with a view to bringing out whatever essential similarities ( and differences ) there might exist between them. Similarities, then, if substantial, will make for their identity ( and differences, if any, will have to be satisfactorily explained ). The writers quoted above, apart from the thought- provoking suggestions that they have made, cannot be said to have done this, at least in a way that would satisfactorily decide the question regarding the exact; psychological nature of sthyi- bhva. It is accordingly proposed, in this paper, to re-examine criti- cally the descriptions of the sthyibhva in the Sanskrit works on literary criticism, with a view comparatively to ascertaining more definitely what fact or phenomenon as described in our modern psychology it approaches most in its essential nature.


    Dr. K. N. Watave ( Rasa-Vimarsa , Doctorate Thesis in Marathi, published by New Kitabkhana, Poona, pp. 136-138 ) has very usefully brought together the principal representative passages in the various Sanskrit treatises, which are meant to describe, though not to define always and strictly, the nature of the sthyibhva. On a close scrutiny of these, it appears that they can be classified under five or six main heads, emerging out of that scrutiny, of the dominant characters of the essential nature of the sthyibhva , as it was envisaged by these writers. Below are given these heads and the passages that would appear to fall under them :

    ( 1 ) Innate Inclination or Disposition :

    ( i ) * 3TTH if ^ 3: qfi I ' or ' ip-

    Sfpjfl I ' or '

    i ' ( 3T*R?Rrcj of 'irions ) ( ii)

    ' hiht^ii cuhhi^i %rcr: wrt i'

    ( o ) ( iii )

    ' wrfrtf w. i' ( of ) ( iv )

    4 3^lr?w srffs'pFii?!:

    ( of )

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  • 210 Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute

    ( 2 ) Prevailing Predominance : ( i )

    ' Ft T#: ^ wi g*: I ^ | TT*J Il

    ' ( TRSJSTTSf of )

    (ii) ' *Rifrsrc f ^rpf *rrc: of hr^i)

    (iii) ' W' *PT*T ^TRt l^ I '

    ( of *ti#% ) ( iv )

    * *r: ti^ *tr i ' (rr^rig^t of ffanpro)

    ( 3 ) Capacity not to be eclipsed by other factors *

    ( i ) ' N4UM3Hr h *r: I 5: ' ( of )

    ( ii ) ' d qyrererw^ TTRT*r*n='n' mifor sii wft wra: I

    ' ( *ERrcfifft of )

    ( iii ) ' fwT snt^r v frti*smr. I aren *rra: rfwrs ii

    ' ( wfl3T?m 0f R*rai*i )

    TI^* 1&TM Il ' ( WPTfW of )

    ( v) ' *f?TCT*frH *TI*n a ' ( ^ )

    ( 4 ) Capacity to attract, subdue or assimilate other factors :

    ( i ) ' sr TRirn^; ( snf*ro: ) ^orhtt sttsht^h i '

    ( SflBRH* of *r^ )

    ( ii ) ' aTTwra" *r: wtf li


    ( of )

    ( i ) ' $ ( ar^Hil: ) ) !pf "T^; i '

    ( flrt^Wtei ) ( iv )

    ' 3T^RC m ^lH i g: Tra Il '

    ( wilgrTg^ of jili ) ( 5 ) Endurance-Stability-Permeation ;

    ( i ) 'rzi HriSlid'H I

    ^ st%5t: wftRls* %ii ' ( m&fwsmv* of )

    ( ii ) TraHrawfaiHarnRFJ I ... ... Ii ' ( *mt?*r?rni ta )

    ( iii ) ' fsr arm* fororofot i


    ( wtsto* of ^ ^rw )

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  • The Concept of Sthyibhva in Indian Poetics 2 1 1

    ( iv ) ' ... 3THT%sm^rwT: TOIPptft: 1 '

    ( tpi of ) ( 6 ) Enjoyability-Delectability

    ( i ) ' wf ^ ?wr ^oTTTTr^ 1 ' ( 3TFR^iK?fi of )

    ( ii ) *rre: **n?ft?r *rra: 1 '

    ( of f*rci*r ) The following appears to be the braad upshot of the passages

    quoted above : The sthyibhvas are the innate , predominant or prevailing, uneclipsable, assimilative, enduring zn permeating, enjoyable, conative-dispositional factors in human nature. In brief, the sthyibhva are the prevailing, innate, conative-dispositional factors in human nature.


    If this upshot extracted from a scrutiny of the descriptions of the sthyibhvas in the works of the Sanskrit Shityakras is representative and correct ( as it is hoped it is ), then it directly suggests ( and invites ) a prima facie*comparison of the sthyi - bhvas with the Instincts or Propensities of western psychology to the students of that science. Below are accordingly given a few representative passages from the works of McDougall and Drever, the well-known British psychologists, who have done so much in recent times to secure a proper recognition for Instincts or Propensities, as the prime, innate factors or the original basic constituents of human nature

    ( 1 ) McDougall defines Instinct as follows : "We may, then, define instinct as an inherited or innate

    psycho-physical disposition , which determines its possessor to percMve , and pay attention to, objects of a certain class, to experienoe an emotional excitement of a particular quality upon perceiving such an object, and to act in regard to it in a particular manner, or, at least, to experience an impulse to such an action. "

    ( An Introduction to Social Psychology , 23rd Edition, p. 23. ) ( McDougall has also defined Instinct almost in similar terms

    in his later work, An Outline of Psychology , 4th Edition, p. 110. And he has defended the same general position in regard to Instinct in his The Energies of Men> 3rd Edition, pp. vi, 26, 64

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  • 212 Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute

    and 118; but he has used in this book the term propensity, instead of instinct, to avoid certain controversial difficulties. )

    ( 2 ) McDougail describes the significance of Instinct in human life as follows

    " We ma y say, then, that directly or indirectly the instincts are the prime mover of all human activity ; by the comitive or impulsive force of some instinct ( or of some habit derived from some instinct ), every train of thought , however cold and passion- less it may seem, is borne along towards its end, and every bodily activity is initiated and sustained. The instinctive im- pulses determine the ends of all activities and supply the driving power by which all mental activities are sustained; and all the complex intellectual apparatus of the most highly developed mind is but a means towards these ends, is but the instrument by which these impulses seek their satisfactions , while plensure and pain do but serve to guide them in their choice of the means. " ( Op. cit., p. 38. )

    ( 3 ) McDougail also describes the relations of Instinct and Emotion,- especially how emotions inevitably appear in the wake of the operation of the instinctive impulses as the affective reflection of them, - as follows :

    " Emotion is regarded as a mode of experience which accompa- nies the working within us of instinctive impulses . It is assumed that human nature ( our inherited inborn constitution ) comprises instincts ; that the operation of each instinct, no matter how brought into play, is accompanied by its own peculiar quality of experience which may be called a primary emotion ? and that, when two or more instincts are simultaneously at work in us, we experience a confused emotional excitement [ secondary or blended emotion ], in which we can detect something of the qualities of the corresponding primary emotions. The human emotions are then regarded as clues to the instinctive impulses , or indications of the motives at work within us. " ( An Outline of Psychology , pp. 127-128. )

    ( 4 ) A passage from Drever, quoted below, focusses most of the points in the passages quoted from McDougail above *

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  • The Concept oj Sthytbhva in Indian Poetics 213

    14 When we seek the motives for the man's acts, we find that, they reduce themselves on analysis to certain motives more or less characteristic of human nature in general Moreover, these motives are innate The human being comes into the world with certain active tendencies . These active tendencies may be designated instincts These instincts are experienced as impulses, each accompanied by a feeling or interest, evoked by certain particular objects, situations, or other experiences, and manifesting themselves in more or less definite kinds of behaviour. " ( The Psychology of Everyday Life , 6th Edition, p. 20. )

    The following appears to be the main upshot ol these passages from McDougall and Drever: Instincts are the innate prime movers , the dominant conative-dispositional factors in human nature. These are the enduring motive forces behind all activities of m&n-bodily and mental , intellectual , emotional and volitional . They are stimulated by some concrete thing, aspect of environ- ment or experience ; and out of this their stimulation come into play all tha emotions and feelings of men. All thought, activity or feeling arises only in connection with and is subordinate to one purpose, - the satisfaction or fulfilment in some way or sense of these native dispositions of man's nature, which is the grand ultimate value , the mo&t delectable, of our human existence, in relation to which alone everything derives its value and enjoyability.


    If we now carefully compare the main trend of the descrip- tions of the 1 sthyibhva 9 in the Sanskrit works on poetics, of which we have given a broad upshot towards the end of Section II of this paper with that of the definitions and descriptions of Instinot in the works of McDougall and Drever, of which also we have extracted the main upshot towards the end of the last S3Ction, it will be seen, I hope, that the two concepts, the sthyi bhva and Instinct, seem to offer surprising similarities of their essential natures, so that we may almost recognise them as essentially, though broadly, identical concepts i...


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