Transformations in the Bhagavadajjukam

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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 level, he transforms himself into the Parivrājaka, whereas at the second level the Parivrājaka transforms himself into the courtesan. And just as the Sūtradhāra says (suggestively though) that he would transform himself into the Parivrājaka, so does the Parivrājaka say that he would transform himself into the Courtesan (“I’ll inject myself into this courtesan’s body” 183). When the Parivrājaka announces his decision to transform himself into the courtesan, he becomes, for the time being, the Sūtradhāra, once again, because he has to direct himself with regard to the theatrical requirements of transformation.

When, however, the messenger of Yama decides to put the soul of the courtesan into the soul of the courtesan into the body of the Parivrājaka, he also assumes the role of the Sūtradhāra, by directing himself in the following words: “Yes, I see a way. I’ll put the soul of the courtesan into the body of the Sannyāsin, and when the fun is over, I’ll exchange their souls properly” (217). The farcical comedy that ensues in the form of the strange behaviour of the Sannyāsin (that is, the courtesan’s soul in the body of the Parivrājaka) leads to a point at which “Hāsya-Pramāna” (229) – that is, the limits of Hāsya Rasa – is achieved by the Sūtradhāra and the Vidūshaka is made to declare, “Now I know the limits of the Hāsya-Rasa. This is neither Bhagavān nor Ajjuka. Better call it Bhagavadajjukam” (229).

That the Messenger of Yama plays the role of the Doctor is evident from the parallel that we see between Yama’s shouting at him for the mistake he makes by carrying the soul of the wrong person (“oh, Yama shouted at me: ‘This Vasantasēnā is not the one” 217, which implies that the Messenger of Yama does not know when exactly people die) and the Courtesan’s shouting at the Doctor for the mistake he makes (“Idiot Doctor! You’ve grown old in vain! You have no idea how creatures die. Tell us what kind of snake killed her” 240.). We may, then, safely say that just as the Vidūshaka transforms himself into Śāndilya, the Messenger of Yama (the universal Vidūshaka) transforms himself into the Doctor.


1. Sūtradhāra – Parivrājaka – Sūtradha – Courtesan –Parivrājaka – Sūtradhāra

2. Vidūshaka – Śāndilya – Vidūshaka

3. Courtesan – Parivrājaka – Courtesan

4. Messenger of Yama – Doctor – Messenger of Yama – Sūtradhāra – Spectator – Doctor – Messeger of Yama – Sūtradhāra – Messenger of Yama