Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Society in the Rukminiharana’ 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 12 - Society in the Rukmiṇīharaṇa

Vatsarāja was the minister and court poet under the Candel kings, such as Paramardideva and Trailokyavarmadeva, who were the kings of Kāliñjar, ruling in the 11th to 13th century A.D. Mahobā was the capital of Kāliñjar. Paramardideva and Trailokyavarmadeva were successful kings. In those days, the people were living peacefully. The king used to help people who were needy.

It should be noted here that in the epilogue, the poet has advised the kings that they should donate wealth to the people who are needy:

varṣantu cārthiṣu dhanānyamitāni bhūpāḥ
  (IV.29).

The kings of Kālinjar, as stated by Kauṭilya, were ruling according to [the following seven characteristics, for the perfect administration] i.e.

  1. svāmī,
  2. amātya,
  3. janapada,
  4. durga,
  5. koṣa,
  6. bala and
  7. mitra.

(cf. Arthaśāstra, 8.1.5)

The people of different castes were living peacefully in the society. The Brahmins were working as ministers, priestsand justice. The Kṣatriyas were ruling and protecting the land. The Vaiśyas were engaged in various types of business and the Śūdras were cultivating and serving the people of upper casts. In addition to the Hindus, the other people of different faith such as Buddhists, Jains and Muslims were also living peacefully. However, the Hindus dominated the society with the co-operation of others.

In the Rukmiṇīharaṇa, Vatsarāja has advised that people should oblige each other. They should not be cruel but at the same time should be brave:

hālām hālāhalamiva halī manyatām tāvadeṣaḥ
  –(I.27).

In the society, the practice of black magic was rampant. The people used to believe blindly in it.

From the Rukmiṇīharaṇa, it becomes known that the female ascetic Subuddhī had the knowledge of black magic:

“….śīghrā mantrasiddhiḥ, kim tvayi mandānurāgo mukundo mandaśaktirvā
  –(Rukmiṇīharaṇa, C. Dalal, p.64).

However, the people were generally educated and had the knowledge of various types of sciences. For instance, people had the knowledge of astrology and it was practised widely by people.

For every work, people used to take the help of the astrology, for their success:

sampradhāritameva prayāṇam, priyamvada! āhūyantām mauhūrttikāḥ
  –(Rukmiṇīharaṇa, C. Dalal, p.49).

Some haughty people, however, did not believe in the astrology. Vatsarāja has depicted this in the case of Balarāma, who was impatient to fight with Śiśupāla. He had no faith in astrology.

In his view, astrologers, were liars and their calculations were false:

āyāso gaṇakānām mithyā grahagaṇitavistāraiḥ
  –(II, 10).

However, at the time of marriage, astrologers got the importance. Their calculations were important for the life of the bride and groom. Astrologers used to search the auspicious time for the marriage.

This is also exhibited in the Rukmiṇīharaṇa:

ānaya mauhūrttikān pariniṣthīyatām vivāhalagnam
  –(Rukmiṇīharaṇa, C. Dalal, p.49).

People used to take chariots, horses and elephants for travel by the road and the boat for the travel by water. The Rukmiṇīharaṇa describes about the use of the chariot, horses and elephants for the war. Agriculture was the main occupation in the society. The plough was used for the cultivation. People used to cultivate various types of crops like rice, barley, maize etc. However, agriculture was dependent on the rain.

Abundance of rain at proper time was the case of good crops:

nahi vahati narendre kvāpi sadvīramudrārabhasarasadaridre jāṅgale lāṅgalam me
  –(I, 19).

The people used to enjoy various types of food. Generally, the people used to have vegetable and meat.

In some special cases, they used to prepare sweet dishes like “modaka” and enjoy alcoholic drinks occasionally:

pradatto’yam lekhaḥ kimu na madirāpānasamaye
  –(Rukmiṇīharaṇa, C. Dalal, p.42).

The people used to be quite fashionable.

They used to wear colourful dresses and jewels. Earrings, finger rings and necklaces, which were made of various kinds of emerald, are also referred to:

jāne anena vacanopanyāsena ratnamālāsamānayena ca hastagatā hareḥ saṃvṛtā rukmiṇī
  –(Rukmiṇīharaṇa, C. Dalal, p.52).

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