Jivanandana of Anandaraya Makhin (Study)

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

This page relates ‘Need for Present Study’ 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.

Little study has been done in the field of allegorical literature, especially in relation to allegorical plays. Dr. Usha Aggarwal, has made a 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 Dharmoddhāraṇa 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 Jīvanmuktipariṇaya of Nallādhvarin have been studied.[1]

The Jīvānandana Naṭaka which has great merit for its three dimensional content, becomes all the more important for the reason that it has been erroneously condemned as not worthy of attention as a Kāvya by Pandits Durga Prasad and Kasinath Pandurang Parab, who edited it for the first time and brought it out as the Nirnayasagar publications of Kāvyamālā Series (No.27) in 1891.

In the footnote at the last page of this publication they have recorded–

jīvānandane yadyapi nāsti kavitvacamatkāraḥ tathāpi saṃvidhānakamanucchiṣṭaṃ cikitsā-śāstrānukūlam iti kṛtvaivāsya kāvyamālāyāṃ praveśaḥ |

Even the second edition of this text in 1933 by the same N.S. Press carries these remarks without any alteration.

A.B. Keith who brought out his work The Sanskrit Drama[2] (p.253) simply reiterates this opinion–

“Two Śaiva dramas are the Vidyā-pariṇayana and Jīvānandana written at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century. They have no merits”.

In the year 1933, when the second edition of Kāvyamālā 27 came, another edition of the text also got published from Khurja. Specifically for the benefit of students of Āyurveda, a commentary named Rasāyana was written by Paṇḍit Nārāyaṇa Vaidya and it was edited by Śrīhariśastrī Dādhīca of Jaipur. It was duly published by another Āyurveda physician Śrīlakṣmīrāmasvāmi who requested Paṇḍit Nārāyaṇa Vaidya to write the commentary. The editor in his Āvedana clearly notices the error of the Paṇḍits who brought out the Kāvyamālā edition and the view of A.B. Keith. He adds that this drama Jīvānandana has both medical and literary value.

A third edition of the text had been brought out by Vaidyaratna Pandit M. Duraiswami Aiyangar. He also found out that the Kāvyamālā edition of the text had many errors that marred the value of the text. Fortunately for him, he could procure another publication of the text in Telugu script having better reading, from a scholar-friend. To bring out the intrinsic merit of the nāṭaka, M. Duraiswami Aiyangar brought out a new edition of the text by critically editing the available two publications along with his own commentary named Nandinī. This was brought out quite efficiently by the Adyar Library, Madras in 1947.

Assessing the value of the drama, Pt. Duraiswami Aiyangar writes in the Introduction (p.6):

“To those, who go through with interest this play will be found to befit great appreciation, in view of the fact that the clever combination of religious truths of Vedānta with that of the main fundamentals of Āyurvedic science, in a very suitable play and the high literary talent exhibited, make the whole work, engrossing and deserving of admiration by every one of high learning.”

Further Duraiswami Aiyangar finds the statements that Jīvānandana ‘does not possess poetic charm’ and that it has ‘no merits’, as “most incongruous and absurd”. He claims that Jīvānandana is one of the “worthy classical brilliant plays in Sanskrit literary field”. He considers the work, 'delightful' and hence this text has been taken up for critical study.

All the three editions of the Jīvānandana Nāṭaka, available at present, have been consulted in the preparation of the thesis. Still, the Adyar library publication of the text with the commentary of Pt. M. Duraiswami Aiyangar is meticulously followed for the present study. His commentary Nandinī is much helpful in understanding the nuances of Āyurveda as presented in the drama, Jīvānandana.

The following chapters would deal with the contents of the play, and also the Āyurvedic and Advaitic principles presented in the play. Further, it will analyse the text as a fine specimen of the Nāṭaka type fulfilling the requirements of nāṭakalakṣaṇa as given by dramaturgical treatises.

Footnotes and references:


T.V. Vasudeva, “Jīvanmuktikalyāṇa of Nallādhvarin”, The Saṃsrita Ranga-Annual X, 1998, pp.160-80.—K. S. Balasubramanian and T.V. Vasudeva, “Sanskrit Allegorical Plays on Advaitic Theme” The Saṃsrita Ranga-Annual XI, 2003, pp.116-125.


The Sanskrit Drama in its Origin, Development, Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press, 1924.

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