Jivanandana of Anandaraya Makhin (Study)

by G. D. Jayalakshmi | 2019 | 58,344 words

This page relates ‘Preface’ of the study on the Jivanandana (in English) which is a dramatic play written by Anadaraya Makhin in the 18th century. The Jivanandana praises the excellence of Advaita Vedanta, Ayurveda (medical science) and Dramatic literature as the triple agency for obtaining everlasting bliss.


Classical Sanskrit literature is mainly divided into two as dṛśyakāvya and śravyakāvya. A dṛśyakāvya can be represented on the stage. It is called rūpaka. Rūpakas are ten fold such as: Nāṭaka, Prakaraṇa, Bhāṇa, Prahasana, Ḍima, Vyāyoga, Samavakāra, Vīthī, Aṅka and Īhāmṛga. The difference in the plot, the hero and the emotion distinguishes each one: Vastu-netā-rasas-teṣām bhedakah.

Apart from these ten, there are some other types of drama available in Sanskrit. Among them the allegorical plays known as rūpaka-nāṭaka or pratīka-nāṭaka are very popular.

The term allegory has been commonly known as personification of abstract things. The word rūpaka has been used in two different meanings. Firstly, as a category of the literary writing popularly known as 'drama' and secondly in rhetorics, as a kind of figure of speech. Hence the figurative use of characters in dramatic presentation has come to be known as rūpaka-nāṭaka.

In such allegorical plays, characters of the play are not real persons but abstract human qualities personified; they are made to talk, act and behave as if they are real human beings.

Allegory is as old as the Vedic literature. The Vedas use the metaphorical expressions to imply abstract notions through concrete objects. Allegorical dramas enable human society to distinguish between right and wrong, to imbibe the right and to lead a comparatively nobler and purer life. They present philosophy as a way of living and therein lies their value.

Dr. Usha Aggarwal, has made a historical study of allegorical plays in her book " Philosophical Approach to Sanskrit Allegorical Dramas". Tracing the history of allegorical writings in Sanskrit literature, she deals with only five major allegorical plays, namely, Bhāvanā Puruṣottama, by Ratnakheṭa Śrīnivāsa Dīkṣita, Jñānasūryodaya by Vādicandra Sūri, Viveka Vijaya by Rāmānuja Kavi, Pracaṇḍarāhūdaya by Ghanaśyāma and Dharmodhāraṇam by Durgeśvara Paṇḍita.

Apart from this, no serious study has been carried out in this field, though some allegorical plays like Vidyāpariṇaya of Ānandarāya Makhin and Jīvanmuktiparinaya of Nallādvarin have been taken for doctoral studies.

The Jīvānandana Naṭaka which has great merit for its three dimensional content becomes all the more important for the reason that it has been condemned as not worthy of attention by A.B. Keith, Durga Prasad and Kasinath Pandurang Parab.

Vaidyaratna Pandit M. Duraiswamy Aiyangar finding this opinion as faulty, has written a commentary Nandinī on it which has been published by the Adyar Library and Research Centre in 1947.

M. Duraiswami Aiyangar claims that "this is one of worthy classical brilliant plays in Sanskrit literary field''. He considers the work, 'delightful' and hence this text has been taken up for critical study. The Adyar libray publication of the text with the commentary of M. Duraiswami Aiyangar is meticulously followed for the present study. The commentary is helpful in understanding the nuances of Āyurvedapresented in drama.

Accordingly, the critical study of the text Jīvānandana-nāṭaka, has been organized into seven chapters:

Chapter I forms the introductory part of the thesis, tracing the history of allegorical writings in Sanskrit Literature. From the earliest period of the development of Sanskrit Literature, poets and writers have had the tendency to personify inanimate objects and human qualities. Also, the development of various systems of thought gave support to such writings and allegory was used to teach the philosophy in an easier way. The abstract qualities so personified came to play the role of characters in the drama.

As the famous śloka says that is not knowledge, be it Śāstra, Vidyā, Śilpa, Kalā or Yoga, if it is not represented on stage:

na tacchāstraṃ na sā vidyā na tacchilpaṃ na tāḥ kalāḥ |
nāsau yogo na tad jṣānaṃ nāṭake yanna dṛśyate ||

In other words, any knowledge represented on the stage, becomes perfected and easily comprehensible.

In the history of Sanskrit drama, Buddhist dramatist Aśvaghoṣa is said to have brought out allegorical representation in his Sārīputra Prakāraṇa. But, Dr. V.Raghavan through his researches has established beyond doubt that Āgamaḍambara or Ṣaṇmatanāṭaka by Jayanta Bhaṭṭa of the 10th century A.D., is the first full length allegorical play in Sanskrit.

Kṛṣṇamiśra’s Prabodhacandrodaya (11th C.A.D.) and Vedānta Deśika’s Saṅkalpa Sūryodaya (13-14th C.A.D.) are such dramas of high literary merit. The former is based on Advaita doctrine, and the latter considers and expounds Viśiṣṭādvaita philosophy and gives exclusive prominence for Viṣṇubhakti. The Mohaparājaya (13th C.A.D.) of Yaśaḥpāla glorifies the Jaina principles. The Amṛtodaya of Gokulanātha (14th C.A.D.) in five acts is in defence of Nyāya system of philosophy. The Bhāvanā-puruṣottama of Ratnakheṭa Śrīnivāsa Dīkṣita, Caitanyacandrodaya of Kavikarṇapūra (16th C.A.D.), Dharmavijaya Nāṭaka of Bhūdeva Śukla (18th C.A.D.) and others are allegorical plays that bring out vividly the religious practices and philosophical doctrines of their times. This type of writing has continued even in the 20th century, when Dr. V. Raghavan wrote the well-known play Vimukti dealing with the soul and the Lord.

In this line, both Vidyāpariṇaya and Jīvānandana, are the allegorical plays written by Ānandarāya Makhin (17thcentury A.D.). Both deal with Advaita philosophy. However, Jīvānandana, which is taken up for study in this thesis, is a rare and extraordinary allegorical play, which coherently elucidates the excellence of Advaita as well as Āyurveda. It expounds the everlasting bliss obtained by jīva, through the triple agency of medical science, dramatic literature and concomitant methods of Vedānta, especially those of Advaita philosophy.

Chapter II discusses the life and works of the author Ānandarāya Makhin. Hailing from an erudite family called Yajvas he himself was a great performer of yāgas. His father was Nṛsiṃhādhvarin also known as Nṛsiṃhāmātya, minister to king Ekoji I. Ānandarāya Makhin also excelled in politics and warfare as he was in the ministry of Sahaji and Sarfoji I, Mahārājas of Tanjore. In addition he was a great literary exponent with deep knowledge in Vedānta. He has authored three works namely–(i) Āśvalāyana-gṛhyasūtra-vṛtti, (ii) Vidyāpariṇaya-nāṭaka and (iii) Jīvānandana-naṭaka.

The authorship of the two plays is in question and many a scholar opines that these two dramas were written by Vedakavi, an ardent follower of Ānandarāya Makhin and that they are attributed to his patron, Ānandarāya Makhin. This shall be discussed in detail in the thesis.

Chapter III provides the Act-wise details on the plot of the drama. The play opens with two Nāndī verses seeking the blessings of Lord Dhanvantari (the progenitor of Āyurveda) and Lord Śiva (the embodiment of Advaita). After the prelude where the stage-manager talks about the author and the purport of the play, the main act opens with Vijñāna Śarma, the Prime Minister of king Jīva, on his way to meet the king to appraise him of the news brought by Dhāraṇā about the maneuverings of Rājayakṣma, the enemy king against king Jīva. On gathering the details about the enemy's plan, the Prime Minister meets the royal couple king Jīva and queen Buddhi and advises them to go to Puṇḍarīkapura and invokes Lord Śiva and Pārvatī and procure the rasa and gandhaka from them so as to thwart the efforts of the enemies in the form of diseases and completely rout them.

The second act depicts activities on the side of the enemy king. The spies of Rājayakṣma, Kāsa and Chardi also have come to know about king Jīva and his queen travelling to Puṇḍarīkapura. Pāṇḍu, son and minister of Rājayakṣma being aware of these facts counsels with the thirteen member team of Sannipātas, the Kuṣṭhas (8 in number), Unmādas (6) Vraṇas and the like. These groups form a powerful batallion of warriors and each reveal about their special ability in attacking the enemies. Pāṇḍu, on checking that the army is all in readiness for an attack, departs to inform Rājayakṣma about the same.

In the third act, the capital city of king Jīva is getting decorated to welcome the king and queen who have returned to the city having successfully accomplished their mission of getting rasa and gandhaka, thebest medical ingredients to prepare enough medicine to deal with their enemies, the diseases. The Prime Minister, the king and the queen discuss in detail about their further course of actions. On the royal couple retiring to take rest, the act ends.

The fourth act opens with the Vidūṣaka's entry; feeling hungry he wants his lunch and is sent to the kitchen with the Prime Minister. Kings from the nearby countries meet king Jīva with their offerings, whom he also rewards. Then, Bhakti with Smṛti and Śraddhā meet the king and have some discussions. After they leave, Jīva goes to his personal chamber for performing mid-day duties. He then goes to the royal garden in the evening with queen Buddhi, Vijñāna Śarma and Vidūṣaka. Vijñāna Śarma explains in detail about six seasons, their specialties, the ailments one can get during these seasons and special medical treatments for them as prescribed by the doctor.

The royal couple have a joyful time in the garden listening to melodious music. On the bards proclaiming the sunset, the act comes to a close.

The fifth act opens with Matsara returning to report to Pāṇḍu his defeat in his attack on the city of king Jīva. After listening to his report, Pāṇḍu sends Apathyatā to attack Jīva directly. Being informed in detail by Matsara, Rājayakṣma visits Pāṇḍu's place and all of them seriously discuss their strategies for attacks. As night sets in, all exit and theact ends.

The sixth act is the lengthiest and unique. Here the activities of both the sides are narrated as a running commentary by Kāla and Karma who are witnessing the entire procedure. The special feature of this kind of narration is that the technique using two characters is done in a unique manner. It does not fall under either nepathya or apavārya. From their conversation we come to know that king Jīva had been attacked by Bhasmakaroga, the fore runner of further diseases to come. In the meantime the king is advised by his other minister Jñāna Śarma, to turn his mind towards release from the bondages of life. Prime Minster Vijñāna Śarma enters at this juncture and makes the king concentrate on the latest position of war. Afflicted by the attack of Bhasmakaroga the king feels extremely hungry. From this point the act provides an elaborate description about the various diseases and different medication administered by Prime Minister. Thus many of the warriors in the form of diseases of king Yakṣma’s side get destroyed by the soldiers of king Jīva. Rajayakṣma with Pāṇḍu, Viṣūci and Matsara discusses the heavy losses and decides to withdraw from the battlefield. King Jīva too along with his minister leaves the stage to decide upon the next course of action.

The seventh and final act opens with the happy news that the enemy has been destroyed. The discussion between the king Jīva and his Prime Minister gives details about the various medicines that had cured many of the diseases that had attacked them. Still the Prime Minister has a vague suspicion that Rājayakṣma, the main rival, who still possesses the mightier diseases in reserve might use them to attack the king. Hence on his advice the king prays to the divine couple for advice and guidance. The Lord teaches him the nuances of yogic practice that would resolve all health problems. With Bharatavākya praying for the welfare of all, the nāṭaka ends.

Chapter IV of the thesis is entitled "Ayurvedic principles in Jīvānandana Nāṭaka. The Nāndī verse of the drama invokes the blessings of Lord Dhanvantarī, the celestial physician indicating thereby that the play shall deal with Āyurveda till the end when the diseases are overcome and make the śarira fit for jīvanmukti. The play is filled with Ayurvedic principles and precepts. The dramatist's intention of bringing in Āyurveda's aspects into course of the development of play gets fructified.

Human body is the kingdom and king Jīva is the Soul dwelling in it. As this entire play is an allegorical one, the playwright brings diseases as the army of the enemy king, Rājayakṣma. The characters on the side of Rājayakṣma are: Viśuci, his wife; Pāṇḍu, his son and Minister; Śvāsa and Kāsa, his servants; Charḍi and Kaṇṭhakaṇḍūti, wives of Kāsa; Galagaṇḍa, the door-keeper; Sannipātas, Commanders of army; Gada and Vyakṣepa, the spies of Yakṣma and Pāṇdu respectively. Following lists are various diseases under the team of this villain:—Jvara, Gulma, Atīsāra, Grahaṇī, Kuṣṭha, Unmāda, Prameha, Vraṇas, Arśās, Aśmarī, Karṇamūla, Kāmala, Śulam, Apathyata, Atibubhukṣā and other diseases due to the faults of Vāta, Pitta and Kapha.

Apart from these, the dramatist brings in the born-enemies, Matsara, Kāma and Krodha, also as characters.

The entire drama has been envisaged as a portrayal of the fight between the body and soul. While the body succumbs to the negative power of the diseases, the soul tries to overcome them and raise itself above the human frailties and reach the Supreme Bliss. In this endeavour, Jīvarāja is helped by his Prime Minster, Vijñana Śarma, highly prolific in secular knowledge and Jñāna Śarma, an epitome of Supreme knowledge. The former by advising the king Jīva to procure rasa and gandhaka from Lord Śiva, helps him to fight afflictions and diseases by preserving perfect healthy body. The latter teaches the soul that the ultimate goal of life is to attain Jīvanmukti which again is possible when the body is preserved in good health.

The qualities of each and every disease are depicted by the author, for which the remedies in the form of various medicines with their efficacies in eradicating stubborn ailments, are also dealt with. These details establish the greatness of ancient Indian Medical Science, namely, Āyurveda, which eradicates ailments that develop into hard to cure chain of major diseases, collectively known as " vyādhi" and mental disorders due to various internal feelings collectively known as " ādhi". Hence the play is verily " jīvānandana".

Chapter V entitled Advaitic Principles is devoted to analysing the drama dealing with the doctrines of Advaitic philosophy. Accordingly, in every act of the play the underlying principle is Advaita culminating in the final emancipation of the soul. In this drama, the hero is the soul (Jīva) yearning for Supreme Bliss, who obtains Jīvanmukti by the grace of the Lord.

The characters that revolve round king Jīva, who enable him to achieve his goal are the two ministers Jñana Śarma and Vijñāna Śarma, queen Bhuddhi, her attendant Dhāraṇā, the door keeper Prāṇa, the police men Vicāra, the other helpers Smṛti, Śraddha, Bhakti and Kāla and Karma.

The Advaitic philosophical thoughts are found in–the conversation between Vijñana Śarma and Jīva, Vijñāna Śarma and Dhāraṇā, discussion on the Yogic practices, concepts like smṛti and sraddha assisting Jiva to attain perfection and finally Jiva attaining Bliss through Bhakti.

The VI chapter of the thesis analyses the text Jivānandana as the nāṭaka proper. Here lies the greatness of the author that the simple but lofty language of both prose and poetry that he has executed in the drama is a laudable medium for teaching both the tenets of Advaita as well as the principles of Āyurveda quite easily. His poetry is striking and lucid and his prose style is eloquent and clear. The power of expression of thought and feeling, in words, makes the work excellent. Being a nāṭaka, the principles of nāṭakalaksaṇa are applied here and the drama is tested accordingly. The poet has very suitably and artistically used all the nine rasas in the play. So also, he has handled effectively, the different Alaṅkāras, Rītis, Vṛittis and other allied matters. The five Sandhis, the Sandhyaṅgas and the Arthaprakṛtis are also analysed here. The characters through figurative representations of Advaitic ideas and Ayurvedic diseases and medicines are, well presented and well developed and conform to the nature of the dramatic role allotted to them. The author has also made use of suitable metres according to the situations. All these will be discussed in this chapter bringing out the value of the text as a drama.

The seventh and last chapter evaluates the text Jīvanananda Nāṭaka on its own merits and also the author's erudition. As the subject matter of the drama is Advaita and Āyurveda and form of presentation being nāṭaka, the chapter analyses how Ānandarāya Makhin as a dramatist excels in blending the subject-matter and the format successfully. The work becomes all the more valuable as it is an allegorical play which is a difficult form of writing.

The drama was a unique medium in olden days to connect with the masses comprising of people with diverse tastes. The nāndī verse indicates that this drama was staged during the annual car festival of Lord Bṛhadīśvara of Tanjore temple. The dramatist Ānandarāya Makhin had a laudable intention of presenting to a large audience the basic tenets of Āyurveda and Advaita.

He does it in an interesting manner skillfully blending science within the plot and the characters, reminding one of Mammaṭa Bhaṭṭa's words that kāvya instructs one like a beloved–

Kāntasammitatayā upadeśa yuje”.

Āyurveda believes that what is in the aṇḍa is also in the piṇḍa that is, whatever is found outside the body–the environment is also found within. Elements and seasons therefore influence the vāta, pitta, kapha factors on which the health of a person rests. The dramatist deftly brings it to the fore in Act IV, where the Prime Minister recounts the influences of the seasons while the king and queen enjoy the natural surroundings of the garden. Again the slow onset of diseases which can enter the body through Apathya is also pointed out in a subtle manner.

Man's (jīva's) journey in this world does not end with a good up-keep of the gross body alone. This fact is also stressed and the principles of yogic practice which would lead him to be the Ultimate are also brought out with ease. The dramatist, by bringing in the character of Bhakti, highlights that the expression of Bhakti found in recounting Śiva-līlas would give one the necessary pre-qualification or citta-śuddhi to prepare the ground for upadeśa from the Lord.

The topics dealt with in this drama are deep and technical but simplified and conveyed in a lucid manner with the lofty ideal of teaching it to the common man.

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