Kuntaka’s evaluation of Sanskrit literature

by Nikitha. M | 2018 | 72,578 words

This page relates ‘Udattaraghava in Kuntaka’s treatment’ of the study on the evaluation of Sanskrit literature with special reference to Kuntaka and his Vakroktijivitam from the 10th century CE. This study reveals the relevance of Sanskrit poetics in the present time and also affirms that English poetry bears striking features like six figurativeness taught by Kuntaka in his Vakroktijivita, in which he propounds the vakrokti school of Sanskrit literary criticism.

9. Udāttarāghava in Kuntaka’s treatment

There are numerous minor plays in Sanskrit literature but their entire texts are now in oblivion. The information about these texts is obtained only through some citations from poetic texts. Moreover the texts like Indian kāvya literature of A.K Warder, ‘Some old lost Rāma plays’ of V. Raghavan, ‘Rāmakatha’ of Kamil Bulke also threw some light for them. Some of the old lost plays cited by Kuntaka like Kṛtyārāvaṇa, Chalitarāma, Udāttarāghava etc. are also in the texts like Sāhityadarpaṇa, Śṛṅgāraprakāśa etc. But some of them like Pāṇḍavābhyudaya, Pratimāniruddha etc. came to light only through Kuntaka. Among these minor dramas Kuntaka cites one or two verses from only three like Rāgavānanda, Abhijñānajānaki and Hanumannāṭaka. He cites Udāttarāghava and Puṣpadūṣitaka for discussing contextual figurativeness. Details of these dramas are given below. Remaining dramas are mentioned only through their title for discussing two varieties of compositional figurativeness. Kuntaka’s overall assessment of these texts is impossible due to lack of verses taken from them. So brief information about these dramas is given as appendix.

There is no exact information about this drama. Some of its citations are found in Nāṭyadarpaṇa, Sāhityadarpaṇa etc. It is conjectured that most probably it is written by one Anaṅgaharṣa Māyurāja of 8th century C.E. and he is the son of King Narendravardhana.

Rājaśekhara says about Māyurāja as follows:-

māyurājasamo nānyo jajñe kalacuriḥ kaviḥ/
udanvataḥ samuttasthuḥ kati vā tuhināṃśavaḥ//[1]

“No poet was born in the Kalachuri family who equaled Māyurāja. This is not surprising; for how many moons have sprung from the ocean.”[2]

This drama has six cantos and its story starts with the exile of Rāma up to the return of Rāma in to the Ayodhyā after killing Rāvaṇa.

In it a few demons personifying as some character belongs to the side of Rāma and gave some false information too. For example in the fourth canto one demon personifying as Hanuman and inform Sugrīva that Rāvaṇa killed Sītā. Hearing this sad plight of Sītā, Sugrīva wished to enter in to the fire after bestowing the kingdom to Aṅgada. But the entering of real Hanuman at the proper time rescued Sugrīva from his deed.

The speciality of this drama is the innovation found in the abduction of Sītā. Here first of all Lakṣmaṇa goes to kill the golden deer. At that moment Rāvaṇa, approaching Rāma and Sītā, disguises as an ascetic and blames Rāma for letting Lakṣmaṇa alone for killing the golden deer. While another disguised demon enters the hut and tells them that the golden deer that Lakṣmaṇa is chasing is a demon in disguise. Only after hearing this, Rāma went to seek Lakṣmaṇa keeping Sītā aside to the disguised ascetic.

As an example for contextual figurativeness Kuntaka discusses this instance from Udāttarāghava. Here the poet makes some developments in the new plot from its original source. For example in Rāmāyaṇa, Rāma goes to catch the golden deer and then Lakṣmaṇa goes to help him by the compulsion of Sītā. But according to the author of Udāttarāghava, it is not proper for Rāma to chase the golden deer when his younger brother Lakṣmaṇa was with him. Moreover it is also not proper that Lakṣmaṇa goes to help his elder brother Rāma when he hears Rāma’s cry. For avoiding such impropriety the author of Udāttarāghava changed the context and here first of all Lakṣmaṇa goes to catch the deer and only then Rāma went to help him by hearing the cry of Lakṣmaṇa. This is really a proper innovation made by the poet to make this plot attractive and also to delight the readers. Kuntaka’s selection of this particular situation for explaining his concept of contextual figurativeness is also highly appreciable.

From some citations it seems that for writing this drama, Māyurāja wished to omit some blemishes found in the original source. The context mentioned above is one of its best instances. Moreover in this drama, the poet avoided Rāma’s deceitful killing of Vālin as mentioned in Rāmābhyudaya. Danika in Daśarūpāvaloka says it as ‘chadmanā vālivadho māyurājenodāttarāghave pariyaktaḥ’.[3] The poet’s beautiful depiction of the dilemma of Rāma in a single verse is also praiseworthy. After hearing the pathetic cry of Lakṣmaṇa, Rāma got confused that either he would went out to the search of Lakṣmaṇa or to protects Sītā. Thus Māyurāja tries to refine some portions of Rāmāyaṇa according to his will. This is really a bold and beautiful attempt of the poet

Footnotes and references:


V.V. Mirashi, Bhavabhūti, p.368.





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