Malatimadhava (study)

by Jintu Moni Dutta | 2017 | 52,468 words | ISBN-10: 8120813057 | ISBN-13: 9788120813052

This page relates ‘Education System in the Malatimadhava and 8th-century India’ from the English study on the Malatimadhava of Bhavabhuti:—A Prakarana type of Drama in ten acts revolving around the love-story of Malati (from Padmāvatī) and Madhava (from Vidarbha). This study discusses the history of its author and the literary, social, religious, historical and cultural aspects of the Malatimadhava.

Part 4 - Education System in the Mālatīmādhava and 8th-century India

1 Meaning of Education:

Education signifies man’s supreme position in society.[1] The word education is derived from the Latin word “Educare” and Educare means to bring up, to lead out and to develop etc. In this way the word education means to develop the inborn qualities of a child to the full.[2] According to Oxford English Dictionary education means the theory and practice of teaching or training in a particular subject.[3] Hence, education is an essential element in human life. While a man is being educated, his regard for morality ought to be developed, his feeling of good will towards human beings ought to be strengthened and his control over his mind ought to be perfected, so that he can follow the beacon of light of his conscience.[4] In other words, education ought to develop man’s ideal nature by giving him a sure moral feeling and by enabling him to control his original animal nature.The tree of education ought to flower in wisdom as well as in virtue, in knowledge as well as in manners.[5]

In the Mālatīmādhava of Bhavabhūti, education system of 8th century A.D. is very well reflected. At the very outset of the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has mentioned that his ancestors were teachers of Vedic school. Here he has used the term caraṇaguravaḥ.[6] According to the Jagaddhara commentary of Mālatīmādhava the term caraṇa denotes group. He has defined caraṇa as such individuals who study particular branch of Vedas and form a group. Such a group of students is called caraṇa.[7] Bhavabhūti has used the term guravaḥ which Jagaddhara means teacher of Veda in a caraṇa or group.[8] Thus it becomes clear that Bhavabhūti’s ancestors were teachers of Taittirīya branch where Brāmaṇas were mainly authorised for Vedic study and spiritual knowledge.

As śrotriyās or Vedic scholars, Bhavabhūti’s ancestors were perpetually devoted themselves to manifold holy studies for ascertaining truth. They acquired wealth for the performance of sacrificial rites and they performed construction of works of public utility. They were anxious to lead a conjugal life for progeny and they cared for life only for the performance of religious austerities.[9] According to jagaddhara commentary, śrotriyā is he who learns by heart the Candas or Vedas.[10] Further, Bhavabhūti has mentioned that his grandfather named Bhaṭṭagopāla had attained eminence by his learning and his father Nīlakaṇṭha had acquired fame by his learning. [11] Thus, it shows that Bhavabhūti’s ancestors were well educated.

2 Institution of Learning:

In the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has given the reference of institution of learning. In the 1st act of the Mālatīmādhava, it has been found that Mādhava was sent by his father Devarāta from Kuṇḍinapura to the city of Padmāvatī in order to study Ᾱnvikṣikī.[12] There he had studied Ānvīkṣikī in the Padmāvatī along with his childhood friend Makaranda.150 All these descriptions apparently indicate that there was famous learning institution in the city Padmāvatī during Bhavabhūti’s time where students gathered from distant places.As Padmāvatī provided higher education, students went there for higher education only.

3 Co-education:

In this Prakaraṇa, Bhavabhūti throws very interesting light on co-education. In the 1st act of the Mālatīmādhava, it is found that Kāmandakī had secured education in the city of Padmāvatī along with Bhūrivasu, Devarāta and Saudāminī where students had come from different regions[13] where boys and girls were educated together which signifies the prevailing co–education system during the period of 8th century A.D.

4 Subjects of Study:

In the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has referred various subjects of study of his time. During the period of 8th century A.D. the four Vedas, Upaniṣads, Ᾱnvīkṣikī and the Nyāya systems of philosophy were the principal subjects. Fine arts like painting, music, dancing etc. were also taught.

The four Vedas, Upaniṣads:

The Vedas are said to be the foundation of all knowledge

.According to Sāyaṇācārya, Veda constitutes statements of divine origin:

apauruṣeyam vākyaṃ vedaḥ.[14]

According to him Vedic literature includes the Vedic Saṃhitās, Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads.

There are four Saṃhitās viz.,

  1. Ṛgveda,
  2. Yajurveda,
  3. Sāmaveda and
  4. Atharvaveda.

In the very beginning of this Prakaraṇa, reference to the study of the Vedas by Bhavabhūti is found.[15]

The Upaniṣads:

The Upaniṣads form the closing part of the Veda and are called Vedānta.They are known as parā-vidyā. They were considered to be above all the knowledge. The Upaniṣads are the books that deal with the spiritual knowledge and absolute.These enable a man to realise oneness with Brahman. The knowledge of Upaniṣads also enables the nearness or oneness with absolute God and destroys the illusion and its effect. Literally, Upaniṣad means sitting down near. In the beginning of the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti himself has recognised that he has mastered the Upaniṣads.[16]

Ᾱnvīkṣikī (subjective or metaphysical speculation):

The name of Ᾱnvīkṣikī stands for the sciences derived from subjective or metaphysical speculation involving keen introspection. 

Three such different subjects or systems of thought and philosophy are known as Ᾱnvīkṣikī viz.,

  1. Sāṃkhya,
  2. Yoga and
  3. Lokāyata. [17]

It has been known that Mādhava had gone to the city Padmāvatī for studying Ᾱnvīkṣikī.[18] Again in another place it is found that Mādhava had studied Ᾱnvīkṣikī along with Makaranda.[19] The Sāṃkhya system is one of the six orthodox Indian systems. Kapila is the founder of this system. Hence this system is known as Kāpila darśana. The word Sāṃkhya is derived from the word Saṃkhyā which means number. Etymologically the word is derived from the root khyā preceeded by the suffix sam. The meaning of the root khyā is knowledge. In the sense of number, it deals with twenty-five categories. Hence, the Sāṃkhya means the philosophy of right knowledge as also the philosophy of numbers.[20] The Sāṃkhya believes in the authority of the Vedas. So, it is orthodox. It establishes that there is no God. It accepts two ultimate realities, puruṣa and prakṛti and further maintains the plurality of the puruṣa and is silent on God.

The three guṇas are:

  1. Sattva,
  2. Rajas and
  3. Tamas.

The guṇas are not perceived but are inferred from their effects of the worldly objects.[21] The Sattva guṇa is that element of prakṛti which is of the nature of pleasure. It is light (laghu) and bright or illuminating (prakāśaka). The second guṇa is Rajas. It produces pain and sorrow. The third guṇa Tamas is that which resists activity and produces the state of apathy or indifference. Tamas means darkness. It is heavy and enveloping (varaṇaka). The function of these three guṇas are manifestation (prakāśa) activity (pravṛtti) and restraint (niyāmaya) respectively.

The Yoga philosophy, the chief aim of which is to teach the means by which the individual soul can be united with the supreme spirit, and many elaborate rules are given for the proper practice of Yoga or abstract meditation.[22] In the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has given numerous reference of practising Yoga. In the 9th act Saudāminī has given to know that she had attained the miraculous power of transport by her practice of Yoga.[23] Patañjali in his Yogasūtra, says when the power of concentration of the mind has reached a very high degree of perfection, a yogi can move through space by concentrating his mind on such light objects as cotton.[24] It can be conceded that people had made deep practice of Yoga during 8th century A.D.

The Lokāyata darśana or Cārvāka darśana is a system of philosophy. It is also termed as Materialism. It is said that the term Cārvāka was originally the name of the disciple to whom the doctrine was first communicated by its founder.Moreover the word is understood as the equivalent of “sweet-tongued” cāru vāk which aptly describes the advocates of a doctrine characterised by so much of superficial attractiveness.The most important doctrine of this system is that perception is the only means of valid knowledge but that gives rise only to a piecemeal knowledge of things without connecting them by means of any necessary relation.The Cārvāka discards other pramāṇas including inference. The Cārvāka regards feeling as directly characterizing the physical body and describes it in terms of bodily expression[25] . During Bhavabhūti's time systems of philosophy such as Lokāyata darśana or Materialism was a subject of study.

Nyāya (logic—the process of reasoning):

The Nyāya is also the system of Indian philosophy. Gautama was the propunder of this philosophy. This philosophy deals with logic, the process of reasoning. Sixteen major topics were discussed in this system, the most important of which is pramāṇa, the source of valid knowledge. Bhavabhūti was conversant with the Nyāya philosophy is evidenced by the word pramāṇa in the epithet pada-vākya-pramāṇajña applied to him. Although, reference of Nyāya system is not found in the Mālatīmādhava, yet in the 4th act of the Uttararāacarita, the technical term nigraha-sthāna of the Nyāya system is alluded to in the words bho, nigṛhitosi of the baṭu Saudhātaki.164


The Mālatīmādhava indicates wide range of learning in paintings of his time. In the 1stact it is found that when Mālatī stationed at the lofty window of the topmost room, having again and again beholding Mādhava her longing grew intensely and at that very moment she had drawn a portrait of Mādhava for her diversion and placed it into the hands of Mandārikā through Lavaṅgikā to give Mādhava.[26] When Mādhava had got the portrait of him drawn by Mālatī then Makaranda said to him to portray Mālatī by the side of him.[27] Accordingly, Mādhava told Makaranda to bring the picture board and the painting brushes for him.[28] Thereafter Mādhava drew a life–like portrait of Mālatī within a few minutes. Thus, it may be noted here that painting was a subject of study during 8thcentury A.D.


Bhavabhūti has furnished interesting evidence regarding the learning of music of his time. In the 2nd act there is a reference of music hall which denotes the practising of music.[29]


Again in the 6th act it is found that during the marriage ceremony of Mālatī, when she went to worship the city-deity, during her journey to the temple the courtesans had sung loudly sweet auspicious songs. [30] It indicates how the art of singing was being taught to the girls during the time of Bhavabhūti.


In the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has provided the evidence of learning dance also. In the 2nd act Lavaṅgikā says that Mālatī was dancing without music but accompanied by her nature only.[31] From this it appears that Mālatī had acquired the knowledge to perform dance. Further in the 10th act it has been found that when Mādhava and Mālatī became united, at that time Mādhava’s servant Kalahaṃsaka, Avalokitā and Buddharakṣitā are found dancing in various ways.[32] Thus, it appears that learning of art of dancing was very common during Bhavabhūti’s time.

Footnotes and references:


Sharma,Shashi Prabha., Basic Principles of Education, p.3




Vide, Hawker, Sara, Oxford English Dictionary, p.217


Altekar,A.S., Education in Ancient India, p.9




astidakṣiṇāpathe vidarbheṣu padmapuraṃ nāma nagaraṃ /
tatra kecitaittirīyiṇaḥ /
kāśyapāścaraṇaguravaḥ /
Mālatīmādhava, I.p.7


caraṇaśabdaḥ śākhāviśeṣādhyayanaparaikatāpannajanasaṅgavācī /
Jagaddhara on Ibid., I. p.7


tatra samuhe te guravaḥ kriyāṃ kṛtvā vedādhyāpayitāraḥ /Ibid.


te śrotriyāstatvaviniścayāya bhūri śrutaṃ śāśvatamādriyante /
iṣṭāya pūrtāya ca karmaṇearthāndārānapatyāya tapoarthamāyuḥ //Ibid., I.5


Jagaddhara on Ibid., I.p.7


tadāmuṣyāyaṇasya tatrabhavataḥ sugṛhītanāmno bhaṭṭagopālasya pautraḥ pavitrakīrter nīlakaṇṭhasyātmasaṃbhavo bhaṭṭaśrīkaṇṭhapadalāñcano bhavabhūtirnāma jātukarṇīputraḥ kavinisargasauhṛdena bharateṣu svakṛtimevaprāyaguṇabhūyasīmasmākamarpitavān /
Ibid., I.p.8


tadidānīṃ vidarbharājamantrinā satādevarātena mādhavaṃ putramānvīk ṣikīśravaṇāya kuṇḍinapurādimāṃ padmāvatīṃ prahiṣṇatā suvihitam /
Ibid.150 atra vālasuhṛdā makarandena saha vidyāmānvīkṣikīmadhīgacchati /
Ibid., II.p.60


ayi kiṃ va vetsi yadekatra no vidyāparigrahāya nānādigantavāsināṃ sāhasaryamāsīt /
Ibid., I.p.14


Vide, Chaturvedi, S., Ṛgveda Bhāṣyabhūmikā of Sāyaṇācārya,p.22






sāṃkhya yogo lokāyataṃ cetyānvīkṣikī /


devarātena mādhavaṃ putramānvīkṣikīśravaṇāya kuṇḍinapurādimāṃ padmāvatīṃ prahiṣṇvatā suvihitam /
Mālatīmādhava, I.p.14


atra vālasuhṛdā makarandena saha vidyāmānvīkṣikīmadhigachati /
Ibid., II.p.60


sāṃkhyaṃ saṃkhyātmakatvācca kapilādibhirucyate /
Matsyapūrāṇa, 3.26


pravartate triguṇataḥ samudayāt sa/
Sāṃkhya Kārikā,16


tadvārthamātranirbhāsaṃ svarūpaśūnyaṃ samādhiḥ /
Yogasūtra., III.2,3


gurucaryātapastantramantrayogābhiyogajām /
Mālatīmādhava., IX.V.52


kāyākāśayoḥ sambandhasaṃyamā llaghutulasamāpatteścākāśagamanam /
Yogasūtra, III.41


Hiriyanna. M, Outlines of Indian Philosophy,p.187164 Uttararāacarita, IV


tayāpyātmano vinodanimittaṃ mādhavaprachandakamalikhitaṃ tallavaṅgikayā mandārikāyā hasteadyanihitaṃ tāvat /
Mālatīmādhava., I.p.17


draṣṭavyarupā ca bhavato vikārahetustadatraivālikhyatāṃ mālatī /
Ibid., I.p.38


tadupanaya citraphalakaṃ citravartikā śca /


saṃgītaśālā .,Ibid., II.p.44


Ibid., VI.p.111


tvamapi svabhāvainaiva tasminnavasareasaṃgītakaṃ nartitāsi/
Ibid., II.p.48


kathamavalokitābudharakṣite kalahaṃsakena saha pramodanirbharaṃ nṛtyantyāvita evāgachataḥ /
Ibid., X.p.216

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