Mudrarakshasa (literary study)

by Antara Chakravarty | 2015 | 58,556 words

This page relates ‘Employment of akashabhashita’ 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.

2. Employment of ākāśabhāṣita

In a dramatic composition the stage directions or the nāṭyoktayaḥ play the vital role. One of the stage directions is ākāśabhāṣita or the speech from void. Viśvanātha following Dhanañjaya defines ākāśabhāṣita as what is uttered in acting beginning with “what do you say” after pretending to have heard what has not been said.[1] This ākāśabhāṣita is nothing but a monologue in which both the question and reply are uttered by only one character.

Viśākhadatta has used ākāśabhāṣita in many places of Mudrārākṣasa. At the beginning of the second act, Āhituṇḍika first introduces ākāśabhāṣita in the drama.[2] Herein Āhituṇḍika is looking for the opportunity to enter into the house of Rākṣasa.

Again at the beginning of the third act in the speech of Kañcukī, the second ākāśabhāṣita can be found. Here Kañcukī orders the inhabitants of the country to prepare for the kaumudīmahotsava.[3]

The third ākāśabhāṣita can be found in the fourth act. There a man having a cane in his hand enters the room and announces for the arrival of Malayaketu to meet Rākṣasa who is suffering from headache.[4]

Another ākāśabhāṣita can be heard in the speech of Caṇḍāla at the beginning of the seventh act. There Caṇḍāla acts as if speaking to a person who is asking about Candanadāsa, and, the Caṇḍāla let him know that there is no chance of Candanadāsa to become free unless he delivers up the family of the minister Rākṣasa to Cāṇakya.[5]

Thus Viśākhadatta has used this monologue in his drama Mudrārākṣasa where ever necessary to avoid involvement of additional actors.

Footnotes and references:


(a)kiṃ vravīṣyevamityādi vinā pātraṃ vravīti yat/ Śrutvevānuktamapyekastat syādākāśa bhāṣitaṃ// Daśarūpaka, I.67 (b)kiṃ vravīṣīti yannāṭye vinā pātraṃ prayujyate/ śrutyevānuktamapyarthaṃ tatsyādākāśabhāṣitaṃ//Sāhityadarpaṇa, VI.140


(ākāśe) ārya! kiṃ bhaṇasi…kathameṣo’pyatikrāntaḥ? Mudrārākṣasa,p.101-102


(punarākāśe) kiṃ brutha ārya,…bhadrāḥ tvaradhvaṃ/ ayamāgata eva devaścandraguptaḥ, Ibid., p. 180-182


(ākāśe) āryāḥ! kiṃ bhaṇatha…tasmādapasāraṇā kriyate/ Ibid., p.270


(ākāśe) āryāḥ! kiṃ bhaṇatha…kimidānīṃ yuṣmākaṃ pratīkāravicāreṇa? Ibid., p. 446

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