Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Status of Women in the Mattavilasa’ 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 13 - Status of Women in the Mattavilāsa

Though Mattavilāsa has not elaborated on the status of women of that time and the same needs to be obtained only from the history. However, we can understand the status of woman in general from the two characters, i.e. Naṭī, the actress or the wife of the stage-manager and Devasomā, the fiancee of Kāpālika. In general, women were free in this period. There were no restrictions placed on them. The beautiful intoxicated women could dance near the sacrificial ground.

Their dance used to be in abandon and hence upper garments used to slip down and they were trying to put them back to their place:

ucchritaikahastā………mattavilāsanṛttāni
  –Mattavilāsa, Unni, p.41.

The female ascetics also used to drink heavily:

mattāmiva mattāmiva mām bhaṇasi
  –Mattavilāsa, Unni, p.38.

Although female ascetics drank wine, they were afraid of destruction of their penance:

mā mā mama kāraṇād vratabhaṅgena tapaḥ khaṇḍayitum
  –Mattavilāsa, Unni, p.39.

The women believed in the offerings (vrata)and penance (tapa), which led to extra ordinary merits.

According to Kapālī, Devasomā got her beauty due to the offerings:

tapasā kāmarūpatā prāpyata iti
  –Mattavilāsa, Unni, p.38.

They obeyed and gave respect to their partners and were dedicated to them.

The wife was allowed to go out with husband, even she could watch drama and musical performance with her husband:

ārya! kim cirasya kālasya yauvanaguṇabharamattavilāsaprahasanam darśayitumāgato’si
  –Mattavilāsa, Unni, p.35.

Those days, men could marry many women even older than themselves and the stage manager had two wives:

samāsāditaḥ khalu mayā yavīyasīm bhāryām………vyalīkāyām jyeṣṭhāyām
  –Mattavilāsa, Unni, p.35.

C. Minakshi (1938, Administration and Social Life under the Pallavas) states that there a few evidences are available about the status of women during the Pallava dynasty. The queens of the Pallavas were cultured and pious and vied with their lords in religious charity and in the construction of the monuments for their favorite deities, which even today stand as works of art and beauty. Even ordinary women were pious minded and made endowments to temples; and the Brahmin women donated paddy for lamps and worship. The women were allowed to have their own property (strīdhana and aṅgamaṇi)”,

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