The Mattavilasa-prahasana

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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 Bhagavadajjukam is meant to illustrate the Prahasana (farcical comedy) for the Vidūshaka who says that he knows “nothing of farcical comedy.”

Unlike in the Bhagavadajjukam, in the Mattavilasa-prahasanam the sūtradhāra does not say he is going to put on a prahasana. All that he says is that now that he is “engaged by an audience to put on a show” (“vayam prēkshādhikarē parishadā niyuktā smah”, prose following 1), he has as excellent opportunity to pacify “his older wife who is upset because of the younger one.” The word “prēkshā” is a broad generalization and means simply “a stage production”. By connecting the stage-production with his domestic problem, the sūtradhāra hopes to announce both the title of the play and the type the play belongs to in a pleasant, dramatic fashion as is evident from the conversation that ensues between him and the Natī when the Natī joins him and speaks like an angry, jealous wife. The conversation, which may be said to constitute a short, interesting playlet, prefigures the play-proper, the opening of which shows the protagonist, Kāpalī, trying to pacify his consort, Dēvasōmā who, when he calls her Sōmadēvā instead of Dēvasōmā, suspects him of having an affair with another lady.

The playlet constituted by the conversation between the Sūtradhāra and the Natī illustrates the farcical comedy in a very subtle manner: for instance, when the Natī says, “What Sir! In your old age, have you come to make a spectacle of yourself – a farce of drunken sport full of juvenile behaviour?” (2), she seems to be referring to what is conventionally called “Vrddha-Rati-Nyāya” – an old man trying to indulge in sexual union, thinking that he is a virile, young fellow and ending up a spoil sport to the utter disappointment of both himself and his consort. The phrase “Vrddha-Rati-Nyāya” also provides visual spectacle in so far as it implies the old man running after a young, beautiful lady.