Musical Origin of the Universe

The universe we live in and with it, the numerous celestial spheres, which it comprises, are always in motion. The vibrations caused by their revolution constitute what is familiarly known as the “music of the spheres”, which was revealed to the seers of yore in the innermost recesses of their hearts when they sat in meditation, with their minds abstracted from all distractions (with the … [Read more...]

The Meghaduta

The Meghaduta has traditionally been divided into two parts, Purvamegha and Uttaramegha; these are apparently meant to distinguish the stanza’s covering the cloud’s imagined journey from those covering its arrival at the Yaksha’s home, Alaka. But this particular division (between stanzas 63 and 64) is open to some doubt has not always been observed, even in some early commentaries. There are, in … [Read more...]

Preview of the Mattavilāsaprahasanam in the Bhagavadajjukam

Mahēndravarman’s Bhagavadajjukam is not only an extempore composition to instruct the Vidūṣaka in the essential requisites of the prahasana (farcical comedy), but also a prelude/preface to the Mattavilāsaprahasanam, though the title of the play is not spelt out by the Sūtradhāra. The Sūtradhāra simply says that he is going to put on a prahasana within a week at the royal palace and that he will … [Read more...]

The Two Episodes in the Mattavilāsaprahasana

In the Mattavilāsaprahasana, when Dēvasōmā asks Kapālī, “Bhagavan! Who could have taken the skull bowl?” the Kapālī says, “Dear! I figure a dog or a Buddhist monk, since it contained roasted meat” (60-61). The reference to the “dog” the “Buddhist monk” “roasted meat” and “the skull bowl” makes the Kapālī’s statement look like a stage-directions introducing the two episodes: (1) the episode in … [Read more...]


Both the Bhagavadajjukam and the Mattavilāsaprahasanam are Mahēndravikramavarman’s pioneering works in composing full-length Prahasanas (farcical comedies). In the Mattavilāsaprahasanam, the Naṭī refers to the play as something unprecedented (Nanv-apūrvatayā 18). The expression ‘apūrvatayā’ seems to apply to the Bhagavadajjukam also, when the Vidūṣaka tells the Sūtradhāra, “Though I’m a comedian, … [Read more...]

Sacrifice and Theatre

The fire sacrifice (yajna) was a rite of central importance in the vedic tradition. It dominated the mode of thinking so much that it became the central metaphor, used to underline the importance of every human activity. Thus, the yajna metaphor has been employed while talking of academic study, love-making, the epics, marriage, indeed, of life itself. No wonder, then, that it is also a favourite … [Read more...]

Lakshya-Lakshana Bhāva

Expressions such as Kāma-rūpatā prāpyata (attains a desired form), Anya ēva rūpātishayah…prapannah (instantly assumed an altogether different, excellent form) used by the Kapāli, at the beginning of the play-proper in the Mattavilāsa-prahasanam (22) recall the Nāndī in which the sūtradhāra speaks of how “the arousal of the power of primal feelings reveals the manifold march of evolution of the … [Read more...]

Unbroken Continuity of Structure

At the end of the Prastāvanā of the Mattavilāsa-prahasanam, the sūtradhāra seems to be lost in the song he sings in praise of the poet-author of the play. For a moment, he seems to have forgotten that he has to put on a farcical comedy called the Mattavilāsa-prahasana: Director:           Forgive me! Here am I, one whose treasure is song, Stupefied with recital of the poet’s virtues in … [Read more...]

Transformations in the Mattavilāsaprahasanam

The Nāndī of the Mattavilāsaprahasanam speaks of numerous transformations involved in the manifold march of evolution of the three worlds. The Prastāvanā begins with the transformation of the angry mood of the jealous older wife into the happy mood of the actress who is going to participate in the production of a play – a production which reconciles her to her husband, the stage-director. The … [Read more...]

The Mattavilasa-prahasana

In the Bhagavadajjukam, the Sūtradhāra specifically states that he is going to produce a Prahasana (farcical comedy), but the Prahasana that he is going to put on is not the Bhagavadajjukam, instead, it is, most probably, the Mattavilasa-prahasanam – “the show”, which, according to the astrologer’s prediction, “he will put on, on the seventh day from that day, at the royal palace.” The … [Read more...]