Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Conclusion’ 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)

In the prologue of the drama, Viśākhadatta claims that he is the author of the Mudrārākṣasa. However, he has not given much information about himself. He states only that he is the grandson of Vaṭeśvara and the son of Pṛthu. The scholars like M. R. Kale (1983, Mudrārākṣasa, Introduction, p.xiii) assign him to eighth or prior to the eighth century A.D.

The plot of the Mudrārākṣasa has a political background. The story has been taken from the historical source; however, some matters in the story are invented by the author, such as “Kaumudī festival” in the third actand the description of the “Jirṇodyāna” in the sixth act.

Viśākhadatta has followed almost all the rules prescribed by Bharata and Dhanañjaya, though he occasionally disregards the rules regarding sentiments (rasa), styles (vṛtti), gentle dance (lāsya) etc. He has not applied gentle dance (lāsya) in the drama of Mudrārākṣasa, because it is based on politics.

Viśākhadatta has employed more than twenty characters in the Mudrārākṣasa, but only few of them are historical characters like Chandragupta, Cāṇakyaand Rākṣasa and the rest of the characters are imaginary. The drama does not contain any leading female character. However, the lonely female character, i.e. Candanadāsa’s wife, has a brief role and enters in the seventh act. Bharata restricts that only four to five characters should be present in an act, however, Viśākhadatta has employed more than five characters in an act. As far as the classification of the drama is concerned, Viśākhadatta’s drama could be classified even as a Prakaraṇa, as its characters are both imaginary and historical. Further, the drama could be classified, as the Vyāyoga type since it also satisfies the requirement of the Vyāyoga that the plot should be historical and sentiment should be heroic. However, as a matter of fact, it should be noted that the drama Mudrārākṣasa cannot be a Prakaraṇa, as it involves the historyand other materials, which should not be present in a Prakaraṇa. It cannot be a Vyāyoga, as the same (Vyāyoga) should be characterized by a single act and the Mudrārākṣasa has seven acts in it.

According to the rule of the Nāṭyaśāstra, Nāṭaka should apply all types of styles. However, in the Mudrārākṣasa, Viśākhadatta has applied verbal, grand and violent styles but has not applied gay style (kaiśikīvṛtti). Since the plot of the Mudrārākṣasa is based on politics and there is no use for a leading female character, it could not apply gay style. The plot is full of violence, anger, altercation.

Since the plot of the Mudrārākṣasa is based on politics, it adheres to the heroic (vīra) sentiment as the main sentiment and to the furious (raudra), pathetic (karuṇa), terrible (bhayānaka) and marvellous (adbhuta) sentiments as subordinate sentiments. There is no use for erotic (śṛṅgāra) and laughter (hāsya) sentiments effectively. The cause may be that there is the absence of leading and other female characters.

Viśākhadatta’s Mudrārākṣasa has utilized all five types of junctures (sandhi) with the combination of five types of actions (avasthā) and five types of elements (arthaprakṛti) in its seven acts. From the beginning to the end, i.e. the attainment of the result and from the getting signet ring to the surrendering of Rākṣasa, the junctures are utilized perfectly.

Viśākhadatta has applied almost all the technical aspects that are required in the drama Mudrārākṣasa; however, he has not applied Viṣkambhaka or an interlude scene after the prologue, which is prescribed by both Bharata and Dhanañjaya as necessary in a Nāṭaka.

Viśākhadatta’s Mudrārākṣasa does not contain that much of the social reflaction. It has a different type of plot, based on politics; and therefore it does not deal with the social matters. However, its plot involves the ruling of the Mauryas; and therefore, it can be guessed that the society was orderly and people were living peacefully.

The drama of Mudrārākṣasa does not directly comment on the status of women in the society. However, some instances suggest that women were advanced and they were employed in various ways, even as the secret agent. However, from the character of Candanadāsa’s wife, it can be imagined that women were devoted to their husbands. They were either happy or sorrowful depending on the state of minds of their husbands.

In fine, it can be stated that the Mudrārākṣasa fulfills most of the characteristics of Nāṭaka stipulated by both Bharata and Dhanañjaya although it lacks some of the characteristics in some cases and thus constitutes a fine example of Nāṭaka.

[Table of Comparision:]

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