Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Society in the Mudrarakshasa’ of the English study of the Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya: an important work on Hindu dramaturgy (Natya-shastra) from the tenth century dealing with the ten divisions of Sanskrit drama (nata), describing their technical aspects and essential dramaturgical principals. These ten types of drama are categorised based on the plot (vastu), hero (neta) and sentiment (rasa)

Part 14 - Society in the Mudrārākṣasa

The Mudrārākṣasa, which covers the period of the Maurya has not given any importance to the society. However, it reflects the society of that era known from the Arthaśāstra. The history says that the Maurya king Candragupta was ruling in 320 B.C. In this period, Candragupta’s main advisor was Cāṇakya. The social structure was controlled by his order. The king rules his state through his strong councilors. It was so systematic that the criminal would think twice before committing any type of crime. The caste system of the society was divided into four groups, or Varṇas, i.e. Brāhmin, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śudra. The duties of Brāhmin were teaching, studying, worshipping, sacrificing for others, donating and receiving donation. The duties of Kṣatriya were studying, performing sacrifice, donating, becoming soldier and saving life of others. The duties of Vaiśya were studying, making sacrifice, donating, cultivatingand taking care of animals and business. Lastly, the duties of Śūdra were serving all upper castes, i.e. Brāhmin, Kṣatriya and Vaiśyaand also cultivating, making handicrafts, taking care of animals, businessand acting.

However, cultivation was the main occupation of the people:

cīyate bāliśasyāpi satkṣetrapatitā kṛṣiḥ -I, 3.

Viśākhadatta’s Mudrārākṣasa has followed Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra, for the maintenance of the detective systems. Since Kautilya operated, through a strong detective employment, he could advise and counsel the king Candragupta successful by accessing information about criminals.

The detectives were experts in various languages, dress codes of other countries, manners and modes of dealing with strangers etc.

prayuktāśca svapakṣaparapakṣayoḥ……nānāvyañjanāḥ praṇidhayaḥ
  –Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.70.

In the Mudrārākṣasa, Cāṇakya uses detectives to know all the activities of Rākṣasa. He uses Nipuṇaka, Jīvasiddhi, Siddārthaka, Samiddhārthaka and Śreṣṭhīn as detectives in various ways. He used poison-maid (viṣakanyā) to kill Parvataka and to separate Malayaketu from Rākṣasa, who was the right hand of Rākṣasa. He wanted to weaken Rākṣasa from every side, so that Rākṣasa could come to his side. Candanadāsa gets imprisonment and death punishment for sheltering the family of Rākṣasa. Cāṇakya’s politics, his policy was also crooked. So, everyone was fearing him. This fact becomes clear from the sixth act of the Mudrārākṣasa, during the conversation between Siddhārthaka and Samiddhārthaka, who were appointed to hang Candanadāsa.

Samiddhārthaka asks Siddhārthaka as to why does his honour Cāṇakya find no other hangman that he appoints us to such exceedingly cruel tasks.

kimāryacāṇakyasya ghātakajano’nyo nāsti yena vayamīdṛśeṣu niyojitā atinṛśaṃseṣu niyogeṣu
  –Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.270-71

Then Siddhārthaka replies, that no one in this world of mortals, who desires to live, can oppose the order of his honor Cāṇakya

vayasya, ko jīvaloke jīvitukāma āryacāṇakyasyājñaptim pratikalayati
Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.271.

It should be noted that he has used some words directly from the Arthaśāstra. For instance, in the fourth act, Bhāgurāyaṇa says,

vijigīṣumātmaguṇa-saṃparṇam priyahitadvāreṇāśrayaṇīyamāśrayediti
  –Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.195.

The same word is actually borrowed from the Arthaśāstra that:

lokayātrāvit rājānamātmadravyaprakṛti sampanna priyahita dvāreṇāśrayeta (5/4).”

The people of all classes used to do their jobs perfectly due to the fear of law. It is known from the Mudrārākṣasa that in the Maurya period, the social system was very much restricted by the systematic laws.

However, people used to follow laws and enjoy their life by celebrating festivals and making various types of cakes (rice made).

vahati jalamiyam pinaṣṭigandhān……kalena humkṛtena–I, 4.

In the festivals, Brahmins used to be invited for the refreshment:

tatrabhavatām brāhmaṇānāmupanimantraṇena
  –Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.58.

People used to enjoy by performing dance, drama and music.

They used to watch drama etc. with their family members in the leisure time:

gṛhajanena saha saṅgītakamanutiṣṭhāmi
–Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.55.

People believed in astrology and abstained from performing auspicious duties on evil days like solar eclipse and lunar eclipse.

kṛtaśramo’smi catuḥṣaṣṭhyaṅge jyotiḥśāstre……candroparāgam prati tu kenāpi vipralabdhāsi
  –Mudrārākṣasa, Telang, p.59.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: