Mudrarakshasa (literary study)

by Antara Chakravarty | 2015 | 58,556 words

This page relates ‘Use of Raudrarasa (furious sentiment)’ of the English study on the Mudrarakshasa: an ancient Sanskrit dramatic play (Nataka) authored by Vishakhadatta which deals with the life of king Chandragupta. This study investigates the Mudra Rakshasa from a literary perspective, such as metrics, themes, rhetorics and other poetical elements. Chandragupta ruled the Mauryan Empire during the 4th century BCE, hence this text can also be studied as a historical textbook of ancient India.

3.3. Use of Raudrarasa (furious sentiment)

Raudrarasa is very beautifully delineated in Mudrārākṣasa. While entering the stage at the very beginning of the drama, Cāṇakya chants some verses expressing his anger to the people who are against Candragupta, and being furious warns them with his arrogant speeches thus—


nandakulakālabhujagīṃ kopānalabahulanīladhūmalatām/
adyāpi badhyamānāṃ vadhyaḥ ko necchati śikhāṃ me//


ullaṅghayanmama samujjvalataḥ pratāpaṃ kopasya nandakulakānanadhūmaketoḥ/
sadyaḥ parātmaparimāṇavivekamūḍhaḥ kaḥ śālabhena vidhinā labhatāṃ vināśaṃ//

These are the upshot of the rage of Cāṇakya, even after the annihilation of the Nanda dynasty, whose fire of anger is still blazing with the insult done to him by the Nandas.

There is another striking example of Raudrarasa in the third act during the mock quarrel between Cāṇakya and Candragupta.

Cāṇakya bursts with anger on Candragupta and says—

“My hand again runs to loosen the knot of hair though tied up-(Stamping on the ground with his foot) and this foot too rushes to enter into vow. Encompassed by death, you now inflame the fire of my wrath that was extinguished by the destruction of Nandas.”[3]

The act of stamping on the ground is one of the well-known Anubhāva of Raudrarasa.[4]

Hearing the above verse, Candragupta becomes frightened and compares Cāṇakya with Rudra while dancing tāṇḍavanṛtya in the following way—

“His ruddy eyes though dimmed by being washed by the clear water dropping from the eyelids rose up in anger flashed forth. As if it were fire, in which, the knitting of the eyebrows appeared like smoke, and it appears to me that the blow with the foot has been withstood by the earth somehow with a rude shock felt as if remembered Rudra acting the sentiment of wrath at his dances”.[5]

In this verse, the Ālambanavibhāva is Candragupta; praising Rākṣasa and saying that the fate only is the destroyer of the Nanda dynasty and not Cāṇakya is the Uddīpanavibhāba; the ruddy eyes, dropping water from the eyelids in anger and blowing the earth with the foot etc. are the anubhāvas; and obviously the anger of Cāṇakya which is very nicely delineated by the padāghāta like the act of Rudra while performing tāṇḍava dance is cherishing the sthāyibhāva of the Raudrarasa herein.

In another place Malayaketu shows his anger to Rākṣasa when he finds that Rākṣasa is the main culprit of his father’s murder.


(sakrodham) rākṣasa rākṣasa, nāhaṃ viśrambhaghātī rākṣasa. malayaketuḥ khalvaham.tadgaccha.samāśrīyatām sarvātmanā candraguptaḥ. paśyaviṣṇuguptaṃ ca mauryaṃ ca samamapyāgatau tvayā unmūlayitumīśo'haṃ trivargamiva durnayaḥ//[6]

There are very few verses of Raudrarasa in this drama, yet those are enough to prove the excellence of Viśākhadatta.

Footnotes and references:


Ibid., I. 9


Ibid., I. 10


śikhāṃ moktuṃ baddhāmapi punarayaṃ dhāvati karaḥ (bhūmau pādam prahṛtya) pratijñāmāroḍhuṃ punarapi calatyeṣa caraṇaḥ/ praṇāśānnandānāṃ praśamamupayātaṃ tvamadhunā paritaḥ kālena jvalayasi mama krodhadahanaṃ//Ibid., III.29


Daśarūpaka, IV. 74


III. 30


Ibid., V. 22

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