What Does All This Mean?

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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 Sūtradhāra of the various theoretical aspects of the Prahasana (farcical comedy) which he has seen.

The Vidūshaka had a revelation (darshana) of the Prahasana; he knows what it is and he can from now on participate in any production of the prahasana, but he lacks the critical acumen that is necessary to expound the poetics of the prahasana (farcical comedy). Similarly, in his role as Śāndilya of the outer play, he had a revelation of the result of the (mis)use of Yōga, but he does not know that it is the (mis) use of Yōga that has led to the strange behaviour of both the Parivrājaka and the courtesan.

There is a striking resemblance between the situation in which Vidūshaka/Śāndilya and the one in which Satyakāma Jābali found himself when he had a revelation of the Absolute Reality, but lacked the necessary penetrating insight to explain what it was like and so asked his Guru, Gautama to explain it to him.

The whole episode dealt with above reminds us of what the Parivrājaka says in Kalidasa’s Malavikāgnimitram:

ślishtā kriyā kasyacid ātma samsthā

sankrāntir anyasya viśesha-yuktā|

Yasyōbhayam sādhu sa śikshakānām

Dhuri pratishthāpayitavya eva|| (I.16)

Some excel as actors when they act personally;

Some distinguish themselves by imparting instruction to others.

He is the best teacher who distinguishes himself

By combining in his own person both merits.

The Parivrājaka, in his reply to Śāndilya’s question, says, “Āvāsē kathayishyāmi” – “I’ll tell you when we reach our abode” (264). The Parivrājaka, it is obvious, speaks, here, in his role as the Sūtradhāra of the Prastāvana, which is extended as an inner play throughout the play proper, referring to the Sūtradhāra’s re-entrance into his “house” (“grham” I) from where eh came out at the end of the Prastāvana. In the Prastāvana, the Sūtradhāra had told the Vidūshaka to follow him in order to be instructed in the art of the Prahasana, the practical demonstration of which is the extempore presentation of the Bhagavadajjukam which provides the vidūshaka with an opportunity to have the benefit of participative learning. However, the critical aspects of the prahasana will be discussed by the Sūtradhāra in the nātya-grha where all the important matters concerning preparation, production and critical evaluation etc. are discussed. Thus the Sūtradhāra’s initial entrance into the nātya-grha is meant to discuss pre-production matters, whereas his final, re-entrance is for the purpose of discussing the post-production matters – a critical exposition of the poetics of the prahasana.