CONCEPTUAL DISINTEGRATION OF WORDS USED IN DENOTATION OF SHANKARIAN THEATER.
Bhaona is a common word generally used by the people of Assam to signify the plays of Shankardeva. Bhaona, the word carries the same meaning of the English word pretence. It is crystal clear that pretenders are not actors and pretending is not summarily acting. Bhao – means pretend and ona means carry or an act of doing. So the literal meaning of Bhaona is pretension of men, animal or any character through verbal and physical gestures. Pretenders engaged themselves for pretending a character and actors engaged for establishment of the character in detail. So viewers get different effects from the said two systems of presentations of characters. Firstly the informative sketch of the character, if it is pretended and secondly the reality of the character as it is, if the character is acted. But in practical field it is deeply and broadly observed that, the characters of Shankarian Theater never pretend any character instead of acting. They try to exhibit their characters in realistic way as much as possible.
Bhaoria, the word is used in identification of the person who engaged in the act of Bhao. Bhaona is performed by Bhaorias. Though the word Bhaoria is used in place of the word or to carry the meaning of the word Actor but it does not carry the same meaning, because it is not a word of equal meaning of the word Actor. It is obvious to all that if Bhaona is an act of pretending then the word Bhaoria will mean the pretender not Actor. Because the pretence is possible through pretender. The use of the words Bhaona and Bhaoria is observed in the later period of Srimanta Shankardeva . These words were not used by Shankardeva , because his theater was not of comical category . Sense of hummer is created through pretending. But sense of hummer and sorrows can be created through the four phased acting - i,e Angik (Physical Gestures) Basik ( verbal) Swatik ( Emotion) and Aharjya (costumes). Pretenders do not have the said four phased acting, they follow the Angik [physical gesticulations] and Basik [verbal expression] suggestively without being followed Swatik [emotion] and Aharjya [costumes] with depth. Detailed costume of any character is not required for pretending a character. But in acting a self sufficient costume is essential for establishment of a character and as much as possible to make it real. No character can be developed through pretending a character, it brings only a glimpse of the character but in the theatrical art the establishment and development of character deserve utmost importance.
Therefore the word Bhaona is not appropriate in identification of Shankarian theater. It is not known when and why this unauthentic and unset word has come to use for denoting the theatrical performances of Shankardeva. Many scholars are in opinion that Bhaona means the act of play presentation and its surrounding atmosphere just like today's modern theaters. So they place some examples for their support, such as Ankia Nat Bhaona, Matrivasa Nat Bhaona means Ankia play presentation and Matrivasa play presentation etc. From the said elaboration it is clear that Bhaona means presentation and Nat Bhaona means play presentation. But the word Bhaona has never been used for any other kind of presentations except the Shankarian plays. Why? It means that the subject has not been getting the perfectness through analytical truth. Presumption can be made that in the later period when the new trend of Shankarian theater in Assamese language was started through omissions and additions of various subjects then a new character was introduced as bohuwa [buffoon]. The buffoon had nothing to do with the story of the play. He was quite separate from the story and actors of the play. His duty was to make witty scenes through pretending any living character for the sake of laughter. Only for the performances of buffoons, which deserved much attention of the villagers, may be the cause of using the word Bhaoria and Bhaona by mistake. But it must be well understood that because of the buffoonery [bohuwali] and witty performances whole presentation may not be named as Bhaona and the actors are as Bhaoria.
The same disintegration is seen when we use the word Ankia for denoting the plays of Shankardeva. This subject is very interesting as well as astonishing because in various writings and discussions it has been widely discussed that the use of the word Ankia is unscientific in case of Shankarian Theater, but still the word is used by everyone, from drastic villagers to esteemed scholars. An extraction from the writings of Dr. Maheswar Neog can be placed here for perfection of the subject. -- -- It is in the caritas that the term Ankia comes to be applied to dramas. It is not known who is responsible for such application of the word; but Daityyari, Ramanannda and Ramacarana alike use the word to describe Sankaras plays. In Sanskrit dramatics Anka or Utsristikanka Act or isolated Act is a single Act piece, with a legendary subject, sometimes developed through the dramatists skill , the first and last junctures only , a common hero , the pathetic sentiment , the lamentations of women and only verbal descriptions of fight . It is very likely that the Assamese dramas an one act piece came to be called Anka, in imitation of the Sanskrit terminology in spite of the fact that Sankara's or Madhaba's dramas do not conform to all the requirements of the above definition of Anka or Utsristikanka. --
However it is surprising enough that the word is still in use without being disturbed. Ankia , Anka , Bhaona and Bhaoria all these words are in disintegration with the Shankarian Theater. So a reformatory approach is highly essential for the sake of Shankarian theater as well as for the greater interest of Assamese art and culture. It is true that the users of these words show some reasons of using these words without going deep to the subject. As an example it can be said that the reason of using the word Anka is because of consisting one act. One act means one Anka therefore it is Ankia. A question arises here, if there is two or more acts, shall we say Dinkia (? )Trinkia (?) depending on its numbers of acts? On the other hand it is also clear that the resemblance of Shankardevas plays with the characteristics of modern one act plays is unjustified. We have many other plays written in Bajrabuli language following the same Shankarian theater technique and subject matter which consistS of two or more acts. A question can be put here too that in such cases what will be the genre of the plays?
In support of the word Bhaoria it is said that when a person show any Bhao then the person is named as Bhaoria. It is true , because when a person pretends something then he must be the pretender. It means that the person is presenting a character through Bhao [Bhao jura ] means pretending. We have no objection with this elaboration. But it must be stated here that Bhao-jura [pretending] is not acting and the players of Shankarian theater are not pretenders [Bhaoria], they act their characters and so they are actors. So it is felt that this subject should be clarified in no time otherwise the future generation will be confused by such unscientific use of words. On the other hand the performance of Shankarian theater may not be the so called Bhaona performance or performance of pretenders. It is absolutely Shankarian play presentation which can be said as Sankari Nat Uposthapan or Sankari Nat Pradarsan. Shankarian Theater should be the only name of the plays which were written in the format of Shankarian style in Bajrawali and Assamese languages. Shankarian theater , play written by Madhavdeva, Shankarian Theater , play written by Anirudhadeva [ Madhavdev likhita Sankari Nat, Anirudhadev likhita Sankari Nat. ] may be the verbal or literary expression of the said subject. It is expected that the contradictions or disintegrations of words such as Anka, Ankia, Bhaona and Bhaoria of Shankarian theater will be set through such approaches. Bhaorias are should be treated as an Actor [ Abhineta , Abhinetri. ] or they may be introduced as Shankarian theater actor [ Sankari Nator Abhineta ] but not as Bhaoria. Such word will mislead our offspring as the word Ankia does.
CONCEPTUAL DISINTEGRATION OF WORDS USED IN DENOTATION OF SHANKARIAN THEATER.