Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Summary of the Urubhanga’ 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 2 - Summary of the Ūrubhaṅga

Bhāsa has written the plays for the sake of people, in which he has depicted the sentiments and characters of the people very naturally. The Ūrubhaṅga is one of his works, which is an Utsṛṣṭikāṅka type of drama. It has followed almost all the rules of the Nāṭyaśāstra. The summary of the Ūrubhaṅga has been given below.

The story of the drama is the smashing of the thighs of Duryodhana in the club fight. Three warriors enter the stage after the stage-manager finishes his preliminaries and they, between themselves, give a detailed description of the battlefield on the eighteenth day of the great Kuru-Pāṇḍava war. According to them, whole battleground was full of corpses, jackals and vultures gathered to eat flesh from the dead bodies. In the mean time, some noise is heard behind the curtain which is identified later on as that produced by the terrible mace-fight between Bhīma and Duryodhana. The warriors turn their faces to the place where the club fight was going on in the presence of Vyāsa, Vidura, Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa. They then describe the fight very realistically. In the opinion of the second warrior, Bhīma was physically stronger while Duryodhana was more adept in the club fight. In the fight, later on Bhīma gets a terrible blow on his head and falls down which plunges the Pāṇḍava supporters into anxieties and gladdens Balarāma at the victory of his disciple. Duryodhana then taunts Bhīma, by telling him not to be afraid as he was not going to kill him, though his life was at his (Duryodhana’s) mercy. Seeing this, Kṛṣṇa makes a secret sign to Bhīma by striking on his own thighs. This infuses a new spirit in Bhīma and he rises up energetically quite fresh for fighting again after a loud thundering shout. After fighting for some time, Bhīma hurls his mace with both hands on the thighs of Duryodhana violating the rules of club-fight assuggested by Kṛṣṇa. Duryodhana’s thighs are broken and bleed profusely and he falls to the ground. At his fall, Vyāsa sets out to fly to the heaven and Balarāma becomes enraged at the unjust treatment accorded to Duryodhana but on Vyāsa’s advice, Bhīma is led elsewhere by the Pāṇḍavas with the help of Kṛṣṇa. Balarāma opens the next scene, shouting loudly that he is going to kill Bhīmaand asking Duryodhana to hold on a little longer. Hearing this, Duryodhana crawled with great effort, as his thighs are brokenand tries to pacify Balarāma by saying, “Let who offer of funeral oblations live and let strife and enmities end.”

However, instead Balarāma becomes even more enraged and talks of killing all the Pāṇḍavas. Duryodhana, however, shows saintly resignation saying that it was no use fighting in the then circumstances and that it was not Bhīma but the great lord Kṛṣṇa who had entered, as it were, Bhīma’s mace and made present of his (Duryodhana’s) life to the god of death.

Then enter Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Gāndhārī, the queens of Duryodhana and his son Durjaya, all bewailing his sad end and searching for him on the battlefield. All this pains Duryodhana to the most, more poignant than his physical injuries. The sight of his queens crying aloud, walking on bare foot and bare-headed, without their usual veils, strikes a serious blow to Duryodhana.

More is yet to come. At the approach of his parents and at the express desire of his father to salute him, Duryodhana tries to get up to fall at the feet of his father but falls down again.

The scene between Duryodhana and Durjaya is the most patheticand the most touching, in the whole range of Sanskrit literature and no apology is needed to quote the whole scene extensively owing to its bringing out the inner traits of Duryodhana, which is really heart-rending. His inability to offer his lap as a resting place for his beloved son is the unkindest cut of all to Duryodhana. The sorry plight of Duryodhana reminds Dhṛtarāṣṭra of the deaths of his hundred sonsand the old man falls down unconscious. Duryodhana requests him to console his mother by telling her that her son died in the war without showing his back and that he is dying in the same dignity in which he was born. His love for his mother is brilliantly shown by his prayer to be her son in all his future lives if there were any slight merit to his credit.

His message to his queens also is not to lament for him as he is meeting with the hero’s death, having performed in all earnest his duties of the kingly office and he is dying heroically. His parting advice to his son also is worthy of the great hero; he preaches reconciliations, his enmity with the Pāṇḍavas constitutes a sort of representation and purification of the soul; also Aśvatthāmā then enters the stage, making a big sound with his bow, all wrathful at the news of the condition of Duryodhana. To his query, Duryodhana replies that his condition is due to his discontent but Aśvatthāmā declares his intention of slaying the Pāṇḍavas and Kṛṣṇaand Duryodhana tries to dissuade him saying that it is now of no use after the loss of his brothers, Karṇa and others, in his present condition to revive enmity. Aśvatthāmā however, tells him that it appears as if his dignity has been killed along with his thighs; but Duryodhana silences him by saying that honour (māna) is the life of the king and it was for māna alone that he fought. The evils wrought by the Pāṇḍavas are nothing as compared to his treatment of the Pāṇḍavas. All this fails to convince and satisfy Aśvatthāmā who takes a vow, with Balarāma as a witness, to fight with the Pāṇḍavas and crown Durjaya as the emperor. Duryodhana feels satisfied at this and then gets a vision of his ancestors at his death. His body is covered with a piece of cloth after his death. Then Dhṛtarāṣṭra in his grief declares his intention of going to the forest for the penance and Aśvatthāmā starts to kill the Pāṇḍavas in their sleep with upraised weapon. The general praise by all for the protection of the earth by “our king” after destroying his enemies ends the drama.

(The summary has been taken from “Bhāsa A Study” of A. D. Pusalkar, 1940, pp.195-99).

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