What Does All This Mean?

At the end of the Bhagavadajjukam, Śāndilya asks the Parivrājaka, “What does all this mean?” (263). Śāndilya’s question does not imply that he has learnt nothing. Śāndilya asks the question because he wants an explanation from the Parivrājaka of the bizarre behaviour of the Parivrājaka and the courtesan, just as in his role as the Vidūshaka of the inner play he wants an explanation from the … [Read more...]

Transformations in the Bhagavadajjukam

Both the Sūtradhāra of the prastāvana and the Parivrājaka of the play proper indulge in practical demonstrations to teach their disciples – the Vidūshaka and Śāndilya, respectively, so much so that the Vidūshaka intuitively learns what the Prahasana is like and Śāndilya happens to see the power of Yōga. In order to do this the Sūtradhāra has to go through two levels of transformation. At the first … [Read more...]

Mahendravarman’s Dramatic Critique

Then Criticism the Muse’s handmaid prov’d To dress her charms, and make her more belov’d: But following wits from that intention strayed, Who could not win the mistress, woo’d the maid (Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism 102-5) The Bhagavadajjukam is Mahendravarman’s dramatic critique on the concept of ‘prahasana’. Instead of making a dry-as-dust analysis in the form of a pure critical essay, … [Read more...]

Union and Separation as Metadrama in Sakuntalam

Portrayal of Union and Separation Taking the form of Meta-drama in the Śākuntalam Kālidāsa’s intention in the Śākuntalam is to show love in its full manifestation by portraying the different facets of ś®ïgāra-rasa. However, at the end of act III, when love finds its consummation in the union Dußyanta and Śakuntalā, it may seem strange to a cultured spectator that the ideal of a spiritual … [Read more...]

Theory of Order and its Importance

There is a theory of order that is explored in the traditions of Yōga, Vāstu, Śilpa, Saïgīta, Nāñya, Tantra and Vēdānta. This theory postulates the intrinsic order or rhythm that connects the individual elements to the entire system, and follows a working methodology to create order in a chaotic environment so that healing and vibrancy may be established. In music, the sādhaka learns in course of … [Read more...]

The Bhagavad-Ajjuka

The Bhagavad-Ajjuka is, perhaps, the sole major Farcical Comedy in all Sanskrit literature that has continuously led a multiple life: it is at once one of the most philosophical plays and one of the most pungent critiques on philosophical, religious, medical and linguistic systems addressed to the mature imagination. This almost incredible marriage of opposites is possible because, in the main, … [Read more...]


Gītam vādyam nartanam ca trayam saïgītam-ucyate | The Sāman chant pivoted on two notes, namely, Udātta (the Raised, the Higher one), and Anudātta (not raised, the Lower one). In course of time, the interval between these was established as a fourth. Then, later, the notes of this tetrachord received distinct names: the Highest was Prathamā (First), then Dvitīyā, T®itīyā, Caturthī down the scale. … [Read more...]

The Sacrificial Ritual as Metadrama in Kālidāsa’s Śākuntalam

Classical Indian Nāñaka seems to have chosen to portray the four objectives of ancient Indian life in a variety of sacrificial rituals which provide models for the proper balance between desire (Kāma) and Dharma, on the one hand, and material possession (Artha) and Dharma on the other. The balances portrayed by the playwrights can be seen (D®ßya) and heard (Śravya), thought about and felt because … [Read more...]

Myth and the Theatre

The function of myth is to transcend its own functional core, by magnifying it, elaborating upon it, refining it and then enriching itself at each telling and retelling. Through sheer repetition, as it traverses generations, it frees itself from time frames and spatial considerations. Yet, paradoxically enough, it is in the theatre, bound by the three unities of time, space, and action, that the … [Read more...]

Indian Literary Tradition

The true test of creativity is the ability to particularize the universal and universalize the particular. Today, the choice for creative people is not between tradition and modernity but between one type of modernity and another. Indian metaphor, however, celebrated the wedding between tradition and modernity. The epic makes its impact with its modern context and accent within the format of … [Read more...]