Aurobindo on Indian Poetics

The vital law governing Hindu poetics is that it does not seek to represent life and character primarily or for their own sake; its aim is fundamentally aesthetic: by the delicate and harmonious rendering to awaken the aesthetic sense of the onlooker and gratify it by moving and subtly observed pictures of human feeling; it did not attempt to seize a man's spirit by the hair and drag it out into a storm of horror and pity and fear and return it to him drenched, beaten and shuddering.

Certainly poetry was regarded as a force for elevation as well as for charm, but as it reaches these objects through aesthetic beauty, aesthetic gratification must be the whole basis of dramatic composition, all other super-structural objects are secondary. The Hindu mind therefore shrank not only from violence, horror and physical tragedy, the Elizabethan stock-in-trade, but even from the tragic in moral problems which attracted the Greek mind; still less could it have consented to occupy itself with the problems of disease, neurosis and spiritual medicology generally which are the staple of modern drama and fiction.

An atmosphere of romantic beauty, a high urbanity and a gracious equipoise of the feelings, a perpetual confidence in the sunshine and the flowers are the essential spirit of a Hindu play; pity and terror are used to awaken the feelings, but not to lacerate them, and the drama must close on the note of joy and peace; the clouds are only admitted to make more beautiful the glad sunlight from which all came and into which all must melt away.

It is in an art like this that the soul finds the repose, the opportunity for being confirmed in gentleness and in kindly culture, the unmixed intellectual and aesthetic pleasure in quest of which it turned away from the crudeness and incoherence of life to the magic regions of Art.

- Aurobindo
Hindu Drama
Kalidasa- Essays and Translations


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