Sahridayata: The sadharanikaran model of communication

Sahridayata in communication
– Nirmala Mani Adhikary
Kathmandu University, Nepal

In the print version, this article is published as:
Adhikary, N. M. (2010c). Sahridayata in communication. Bodhi: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 4(1), 150-160.

This article describes sahridayata, which has been introduced in the communication discipline and is the core concept in the sadharanikaran model of communication (SMC).

Here, the discussion will be focused primarily on two issues – sahridayata as a ‘concept’ firstly, and as a ‘construct’ secondly.

It is to note that the article is written as a part of the series of works on the SMC. In broader context, it not only continues the Hinducentric study of communication, but also makes contribution to what is sometimes referred as the Asiacentric School of communication theories (Chen, 2006; Dissanayake, 2009; Edmondson, 2009; Miike, 2008, 2010).

The concept

The concept sahridayata comes from the word sahridaya. Whereas the former refers to a quality, characteristic, or state of being or becoming, the latter names a person of that faculty. Thus, a sahridaya is one who has attained sahridayata.

According to Vidya Niwas Misra (2008, p. 97), the word sahridaya has two components: saman (same, equal, harmony, being) and hridaya (heart, becoming). He draws on the following Rigvedic sutra to clarify its meaning: “Samani va aakutih saman hrydayanivah saman mastu somano yatha vah susahasatih,” that is, “let our minds be in harmony, our hearts be in harmony, let our thinking be in harmony, our thought processes be in harmony so that we can live for a meaningful living of all-together” (ibid.).

Misra (2008) draws on “Samanjasya Sukta” (Atharvaveda 6.64):
Live in harmony, in accord with each other, understanding each other, suffused with each other, with your hearts mingling as the Gods did, in the earlier times with an understanding of their interrelationship. That the Gods also desire that the mantras of the humans be the same. Similarly their meetings and interaction and being are same comprehending all their vows their consciousness pervading them is the same. Men invoke the Gods, with the same voice and vision, we invoke you, and supplicate you, let the same consciousness flows through us that our thoughts are the same, our hearts are the same and our minds are the same, so there can be greater accord between you and us. (qtd. in p. 72)

Misra emphasizes the need to understand the role of vak in the Hindu context of emotion in order to understand the Hindu poetic experience and the concept of sahridaya (p. 69). He has also drawn on two other concepts – sakhya, participatory communion, and samvad, a sounding together – while delineating the meaning of sahridayata.

Vedic teaching “Be humane and humanize others” (Rigveda –10.53.6) is significant for understanding sahridayata. As Saraswati (2001, pp. 35-36) observes, Vedas instruct humans “that all people should be mutually bound with each other; each one affectionately attracting the other, the way a cow showers her love and affection for her new-born calf” (Atharvaveda –3.30.1). And, everyone should look upon each other with a friend’s eye (Yajurveda –36.18).

Sahridayas have “common sympathetic heart” (Yadava, 1998, p. 188). In other words, a sahridaya is a “person in state of emotional intensity, i.e. a quality of emotional dimension coequal to that of the sender of the message of communicator” (Kundra, n.d., p. 200). In such background, sahridayata can be considered as “social preparedness” that “entails living amongst people, sharing their joys and sorrows but encompassing the entire humanity within, becoming a citizen of a world” (2008, p. 93). With such preparedness, universalization of bhava is possible and rasa experience is successful.
Aspects of sahridayata have been one of the major concerns of Sanskrit literary criticism. Kalidasa, Abhinava, Bhavabhuti, and Kuntaka, including others, have discussed about sahridaya and sahridayata, and emphasized on combination of both ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ in this regard.
Joshi (2001) has drawn on Abhinavagupta, who portrays the poet and the reader as components of one universe:
The poet, poetic activity and sahridaya form the three aspects of one universe, the world of artistic creation (Kavya-samsara). Abhinavagupta describes the poet and the sahridaya as the twin aspects of the goddess of learning. At one end of creative activity is the poet and at the other is the appreciator. The poet creates the world of poetry and the sahridaya enjoys it. (p. 101)

Whereas the poet is concerned with ‘creation’ of message and the appreciator is concerned with its appreciation. In fact, ‘creation’ and ‘appreciation’ are interrelated. It is sahridayata that keeps the poet (sender) and the reader (receiver) in the ‘universe’ and they become able to share the poem (message).

For Kalidasa, as Misra (2008) observes, sahridayata is to become paryutsuk, that is,
to be quickened to the ebb and flow of life. It is neither to give visual pleasure, nor to feast to the tune of pleasurable sound, it is an angst, an agitation which dislocates through its pain, the person comfortably ensconced in his genial environment, through, quickening him for a moment to the call and the pull from afar, as empathy is inevitable. (p. 94)
In this situation, “there is always a possibility of the mite of individual existence being driven away to merge with the universal desire” (ibid.).

For Bhavabhuti, sahridayata is the consciousness (chaitanya) given to the heart to experience joys and sorrows (p. 95). For Kuntaka, a sahridaya not only “can hear all the pulses, all the heartbeats that the outer world offers,” but also “can conjoin the two impulses together of the excessive attachment of lover and the excessive detachment of the yogi” (pp. 101-102). Ideally, “Whoever is sahridaya has an intense concentrated memory, meditative dhyan-yoga, intellect, intense luminosity of creative and receptive faculty and the universe dissolves into this light to open anew” (Misra, 2008, p. 92).

In sum, sahridayata should be understood as
a poetic expression used for being or having common orientation. Sahridaya is not coterminous with predisposition in favor or against. It is much more than personality characteristics. It means identification of the ‘communicator’ with ‘receiver’ of communication. …
The postulate is that the greater the identification the greater is the success of communication. (Yadava, 1998, p. 188)

It is culture that provides the basis for sahridayata. “This notion of sahridaya is not an elitist notion as even an illiterate or a rustic person can imbibe the quality” (Misra, 2008, p. 16). Thus, it is not something exclusive. However, it is not that anyone in any condition can become a sahridaya. The role of culture is crucial in the attainment of sahridayata and becoming of sahridaya (p. 101-102, 114).

Treating sahridayata as a state of being and becoming, which is within the reach of commons, seems in consonance with the Hindu worldview. It is not as exclusive faculty; however, it certainly has prerequisites. Culture sets the foundation of sahridayata on which an individual has to undergo a natural course of evolution.

The construct

The concept of sahridayata, along with the concept of rasa, should not be limited in the domain of drama, poetry and aesthetics only. These concepts can be, and, in fact, have been, interpreted in the domain of modern communication discipline (Adhikary, 2003a, 2003b, 2004, 2007a, 2007b, 2008b, 2009a, 2009b, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2010d, 2010e, 2010f, 2010g, 2010h, 2010i, 2011a, 2011b). [Also see: Acharya, 2011; Adhikary, 2008a, 2009c; Annapurna Shiksha, 2010; Jha, 2010a, 2010b; Khanal, 2008, pp. 21-22; Pant, 2009a, pp. 84-86, 2009b, p. 4, 2010, pp. 85-89.] In this course, the concept of sahridayata has been redefined and reinterpreted in order to designate the term for particular purpose in theorizing communication from Hindu perspective and presenting a model (the SMC). Thus, sahridayata is treated as a ‘construct’ – a combination of concepts, but with contextual import – thereby relating its exact meaning only to the context in which it is defined (Kerlinger, 2004; Wimmer and Dominick, 2003).

Hindu society is made up of complex relationships consisting of various – sometimes even conflcting – factors such as hierarchies of castes, social status, languages, cultures, and religious practices. In this background, asymmetrical relationships between communicating parties are prevalent in most of the cases. However, Hindus of different castes, social status, languages, cultures and religious cults are capable enjoying the very process of communication. Hindus have been able to receive and understand diverse, even contradictory, perceptions. Moreover, the ethics as conceived in Hinduism also envisions communionship between communicating parties.

It implies that there exists something that is binding the people and facilitating communication. Any model of communication, which claims to be of Hindu perspective or worldview, should be capable of identifying and incorporating that factor. In the SMC, the term sahridayata has been used to represent that factor, which binds the people as the communicating parties and facilitates the process of communication.

The introduction of the term sahridayata into communication is essentially due to its qualification in this regard. What had been said regarding sahridaya and sahridayata in the context of poetry is clearly sufficient for generalization to any form of communication. As it is done in other scientific disciplines also, there involves reinterpreting and/or redefining of the concept(s) and developing construct(s).
Whereas the concept(s) of sahridayata discussed and delineated in various Sanskrit texts envision an ideal state of being and becoming, the term as a ‘technical term’ in the SMC has been used in broader sense, and “refers to people with a capacity to send and receive messages” (Adhikary, 2009b, p. 74). Though ideally (as concept as discussed earlier) sahridaya is a person not only engaged in communication but also having attained a special state (sahridayata) it is not the only case in the framework of the SMC. Here, any parties engaged in communication and capable of identifying each other as sender and receiver of the process are also considered the sahridayas. It is to emphasize here that the SMC incorporates both the ideal (former) and general (latter) meanings of sahridayata.

In brief, sahridayata, as a ‘technical term’ or the ‘construct’, represents and wide range of relationship between communication parties. In the broadest sense, sahridayas are any such people who have capacity to send and receive messages. However, ideally, sahridayata is the state of common orientation, commonality or oneness, and sahridayas are those who have attained this state.

In the SMC, sahridayata provides explanation on how different communicating parties become able to pervade the unequal relationship prevailed in the society and the process of communication is facilitated. In other words, the term is meant to embody the sum of all those factors due to which the asymmetrical relationship between communicating parties does not hinder the two-way communication and hence mutual understanding.

Concluding remarks

As the construct, sahridayata is crucil in the SMC for ensuring the model being inherited with the Hindu ideal of communication for communion. Since its entitlement is as the construct its exact meaning relates to the context in which it is defined. However, its root is firmly established in earlier concept(s) from where it is drawn on. Thus, the term sahridayata has been used for designating all concepts and practices that are considered significant in ensuring communication for communion in Hindu society.


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In the print version, this article is published as:
Adhikary, N. M. (2010c). Sahridayata in communication. Bodhi: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 4(1), 150-160.

4 Responses to “Sahridayata: The sadharanikaran model of communication”

  1. कुमार आदित्‍य Says:

    सर प्रणाम,

  2. Prof.(Dr.)N.K.Trikha Says:

    I have immensely liked this paper, You appear to have done an in-depth study of the subject. As I had said at the International Conference you and I had attended in Bhopal in December, 2011, there is a need to develop a theory of communication based on the time-tested tradition which we in this part of the world share due to our common cultural past. I am sure that you can contribute a lot towards it.

    Best wishes, and regards.

    Prof.(Dr) N.K.Trikha, Senior Professor of Journalism,
    B-5,Press Enclave, Saket. New Delhi 110019 INDIA

  3. claude Says:

    Interesting read and I must admit involving an area i am not familiar with.


  4. Shrinivas Tilak Says:

    Adhikaryji namaskar:

    (1) I was looking for a corresponding/equivalent term in Sanskrit for Aristotle’s ‘pathos’ and I thought sahridayata might be one of them. Google search brought me to this article by you. I found enough material in it to connect with ‘pathos.’ With an appeal to pathos, the reader is encouraged to identify with the writer – to feel and experience what the writer feels. This is akin to being a sahridaya.

    (2) In this article you write–“It is culture that provides the basis for sahridayata. “This notion of sahridaya is not an elitist notion as even an illiterate or a rustic person can imbibe the quality” (Misra, 2008, p. 16). Thus, it is not something exclusive. However, it is not that anyone in any condition can become a sahridaya. The role of culture is crucial in the attainment of sahridayata and becoming of sahridaya (p. 101-102, 114).” On the basis of this statement, can it be said that sanskriti (culture) is a close equivalent term in Sanskrit for Aristotle’s ‘ethos’ ?

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