Bhāsa As a Dramatist

Bhāsa:  As a dramatist

    As in Sanskrit literature, the original poet means Balmiki that form means the original playwright who means Bhāsa. The name of Bhāsa is first heard in the introduction to Kālidāsa's play "Mālāvikāgnimitraṁ". Then some of the extraordinary features of his plays can be known in Bāṇabhatta's poetry. Finally, through Rājshekhar's statement, it is understood that there are several plays in his Natak Chakra (Drama list), but the name of the only play known as 'Swapnabāsavadattam' is known. The misfortune and regret of the Indians are that, before the second century of the twentieth century, we did not have the good fortune to get acquainted with the plays of such a renowned poet and playwright.


    In 1910-1911 AD, Pandit T. Ganapati Shastri discovered a manuscript of a Sanskrit play written in Malayalam script in two palm-leaf manuscripts at a place called Manlikkarnatham in South India. There are ten plays in one book – 1.Swapnavāsavadattām,

2. Pratijñā-Yaugandharāyaṇam,

3. Pancharātram,

 4. Chārudattam,

5. Dutghattotkacham

6. Abimārakam

7. Bālcharitam

8. Madhyamvyāyogam

9. Karṇavāram

10. Ūrūbhangam.

Then there are three more metaphors in the other –

11. Pratimānātakam

12. Abhishek-nātakam

13. Dutavākyam.

The period of Bhāsa - 

The name of the poet first heard in the fourth century, and with whose writings man first became acquainted in the twentieth century, it is not possible to determine the exact date of the appearance of that poet Bhāsa. However, since Bhāsa is mentioned in Kalidasa's plays and Banabhatta's poems, that is why it must be said that Kalidasa and Banabhatta preceded him. According to linguists, the advent of Bhāsa is said to be earlier than that of Prakrit, even after Kalidasa. Kalidasa was probably a fourth-century  poet, and the Aśvaghosa was in the first to second centuries CE . So the great poet Bhāsa third century BCE appeared on it.



Bhāsas 13th Dramas -

Thirteen plays named after Bhāsa are divided into four parts in terms of the subject matter. Such as -

A. The drama based on the story of Ramayana -

1. Pratimā Nātaka (The Statues) and 

2. Abhiṣeka Nātaka (The Coronation)

B. The drama based on the story of Mahabharata -

3. Pancharātram (The Five nights), 

4. Dūtvākyam (The envoys message), 

5. Dūtaghatotkacha (Ghatotkacha as envoy),

6. Madhyamvyāyoga (The Middle one), 

7.Karṇabhāram (Karṇa's burden) ,

 8.Ūrubhangam ( The broken thigh).

C. The play based on the story of Bhagavata Purana -

9. Balacharitam (The tale of childhood).

D. The drama based on conventional ancient stories -

10. Pratigyayaugandharayanam (The vow of Yaugandharayana), 

11. Swapnavāsavadattam (Vasavadatta in the dream),

12. Charudattam , 

13. Abimarakam.



The essence of the story of the plays-


1. Pratimānātakaṁ-

    This seven-act play is based on the story of Ramayana. The play tells the story of Rama's coronation initiative by Dasaratha, Bharata's conquest of Kaikeyi's prayer, Rama's journey to the forest with Lakshmana and Sita, and Rama's return to Ayodhya after killing Ravana from exile, and Rama's assumption of the kingdom.

When Dasaratha died in the grief of Rama's banishment, his idol was placed in the idol house along with the idols of his ancestors. On his way back from Mama's house, Bharat bows to his ancestors and sees the idol of Dasaratha and realizes that Dasaratha has died. Then, according to the story of Ramayana, the play ends with the insertion of events. The novelty of this play is the house of idols and the installation of idols of Ishvaku-banshi. The play has been named 'Pratima Natkam' with the predominance of the idol house incident.

2. Abhiṣeka-natakaṁ-

    The great poet Bhāsa composed this play based on the story of Kishkindhyakanda Sundarkanda and Lankakanda of Ramayana. It is divided into six digits. Rama's friendship with Sugriva after Sitaharan, the Sand massacre by Rama, Sugriva's coronation, Hanuman's visit to Lanka, the consolation of Sita, bridging, Indrajith's death by Lakshman, Ravana's fascination on hearing it, Ravana's determination to kill Sita, The subject matter of the play. The play has been named as the outcome of the play - Abhishek.


3. Pancharātram-

    This three-act play is composed by mixing poetic imagination with the story told in the great episode of Mahabharata. This play is called the metaphor of the peer class.

As shown in the play Pancharatra, when the year of anonymity of the Pandavas was almost coming to an end, Duryodhana performed a yajna and asked Dronacharya to pray Dakshina as per his wish. At this time Dronacharya prayed to Duryodhana for half the kingdom for the Pandavas. In this prayer of Dronacharya, Duryodhana made it a condition that if he could find the Pandavas within five nights, he would fulfill that prayer of Acharya. Then, on the orders of Bhishma, when the Kauravas went to abduct the godhan of the great king, the Pandavas, who were hiding in the big house, took the side of the great and defeated the Kauravas. However, the Pandavas were found through this battle. As a result, according to Dronacharya's prayer, half of the Kuru kingdom of the Pandavas was given. Here "Pancharatra" has been named with the predominance of those Pancharatras.


4. Dutavākyam-

         Based on the story of Mahabharata. This is a one-size-fits-all metaphor. The form of the messenger is shown - hearing that Lord Krishna was coming to Hastinapur as the messenger of the Pandavas, Duryodhana ordered that no form of respect should be shown to Lord Krishna. Then Lord Krishna came to the assembly hall and demanded the rightful share of the Pandavas. When Duryodhana rejected that claim and tried to capture Lord Krishna, Lord Krishna showed the world. At last, at the request of Dhritarashtra, Lord Krishna calmed down. The play has been named as Dutbakyam as Sri Krishna's mission is the main dramatic object here.



5. Dūtghatotkachaṁ -

     It is a one-act metaphor written by the great poet Bhāsa. The theme of the play, which is based on the story of the Mahabharata, is - although the Kauravas are happy to kill Abhimanyu in an unjust war, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari strongly condemn it and are worried about a new danger. On the other hand, Arjuna, mourning the death of his son, vowed to kill Putrahanta. At that time, when Ghatotkach Kaurava became the envy of the Pandavas and attended the meeting, the Kauravas insulted him. Ghatotkach became angry and announced the immediate destruction of the Kauravas at the hands of Arjuna. The name of the play is "Dutghatotkacham" as the mission of Ghatotkach is a dramatic theme.


6. Madhyamvyāyogam -

    It is a one-act play written by Bhāsa based on several characters from the Mahabharata. According to the features of the play, it belongs to the branch of Bayog. There was a fierce battle between father and son. At the end of which no one knew anyone, Bhima showed his strength and went with him, surprising Ghatotkacha. Later, Hiramba came to see her husband and greeted him with joy. Brahmaputra Muktipel and father-son reunion took place. This poetic fictional drama is composed of heroes, heroines, and comedians.

The exercise is named after the middle child - "Middle Expenditure".


7. Karṇabhāram-

    It is a one-act play based on the story of Mahabharata. The theme of the play is - Kurukshetra War Karna Kaurava becomes the commander of the party when he is ready to go to fight against Arjuna,

At that time Devaraja Indra came in the guise of a Brahmin and deceived, Karna's innate kabachkundal khani praying was prohibited by the charioteer Shalyaraj, but the giver donated the kavachkundal to fulfill Karna's prayer. Later, Indra sent an infallible weapon named Bimala to an angel as a gift to Karna. This form has been named Karnavaram because of the outstanding gift that has established the burden of Karna i.e. glory.


8. Ūrūbhangam -

    It is a one-act play by Bhāsa based on the story of Mahabharata. The play shows that on the last day of the battle of Kurukshetra, Bhima unjustly hit Duryodhana in the gadayuddha in front of Byas, Sri Krishna, Yudhisthira, and Balarama and broke Duryodhana's thigh. Then Duryodhana saw the dead brothers in a dream and there he left the body. Urubhangai is the only tragic drama in Sanskrit literature.



9. Bālcharitam-

    The great poet Bhāsa composed this play based on the story of Krishna narrated in Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is a five-digit article. In the prologue to this play, Sutradhara praises the four incarnations of Vishnu in the four ages and says that Krishna is Vishnu. Miraculous deeds like the birth of Krishna, childhood, Putna and Chanu's slaughter, Kalia's suppression, etc. The play does not mention Radha and other gopis or the common tales of Krishna's love affair with them.


10. Pratijñāyaugandharāyanam-

     The great poet Bhāsa has taken the story of this play from the big story. This is a four-act drama. The dramatic subject matter is that Ujjainiraj Pradyot Mahasen tricks Batsaraja Udayan into teaching music to his daughter Basavadatta and snatches Udayan's famous Ghoshvati Veena and gives it to his daughter. Upon learning of this, the minister of Udayan, Yaugandharayan, vowed to give up his name if he could not free the Lord. Then he came to Ujjain in disguise and found out that Udayan and Basavadatta were in love with each other. Then he sent Udayan to the kingdom of Batsa with his residence even though he was imprisoned by various tactics. Eventually, Mahasen's friendship with Yaugandharayan was established and Mahasen accepted Udayan as his son-in-law. As the daughter and son-in-law were not present at that time, Mahasen married Udayan and Basavadatta in the film. This play has been named as Pratigya Jugandharayanam as it is the main theme of Yaugandharayan's diplomacy for keeping promises.


11. Swapnavāsavadattam -

     The play is based on the great story of the great poet Bhāsa Gunadhya. This play is considered to be the best composition of Bhāsa. This six-act play is the next chapter of the story told in Pratijñāyaugandharāyana.


The play shows that a vast part of the kingdom of Udayan, occupied by the love of Queen Vasavadatta, is occupied by the enemy. Then the minister Yaugandharayan, seeking the help of the Magadharaja spectators to rescue Hritrajya, arranged for Udayan to marry his sister Padmavati. But in consultation with Vasavadatta, Vasavadatta preached that he had been burnt to death and hid him and kept his name Avantika as his sister and kept it with Padmavati. Vasavadatta remained there under the name of Avantika. After that Padmavati got married to Udayan due to the efforts of Yaugandharayan and Vasavadatta but Vasavadatta remained alive in Udayan's mind. At the end, when all the states of Udayan were rescued by the diplomacy of Yaugandharayan, suddenly one day the midwife of Mahasena sent a picture of Vasavadatta's daughter Vasavadatta to the meeting of Udayan. Padmavati saw the picture and realized that Avantika was the rightful dweller. At this time, Yaugandharayan also returned in a pilgrimage. He is the one who reveals all his secrets and reunites Udayan with Vasavadatta. The first of these is to see Udayan in a dream and there the seeds of their reunion germinate. So the naming of Swapnavasavadattam has been successful. Perfect characterization and storytelling have given the play a novelty.


12. Chārudattam-

    The epic poet Bhāsa composed this play based on the conventional story. It is an incomplete drama with four figures. The story and plot of Charudattam and Mritchakatikam dramas are almost the same. Many shot verses and one type. The dramatic subject matter is that the prostitute Vasavadatta, who was in love with the merchant Charudatta, took refuge in Charudatta's house one day to escape from the hands of the miscreants and left her precious jewels in her possession. But unfortunately, those jewels were stolen overnight


And the jewels accidentally fell into the hands of the spring army. One day, Charudatta sent his wife's pearl necklace to Vasantasena as compensation for stealing the stolen goods. As a result, Vasantasena's affection and love for Charudatta increased. This time he decided to go to Charudatta's house one day after wearing that pearl necklace.

This is where the play remains incomplete.

13. Avimārakam -

    The great poet Bhāsa has composed this play based on the conventional story. This play has six figures. Shown in the play -

 Prince Vishnu was killed by a sage under the curse of sage Abi and killed a demon named Avimaraka. One day he fell in love with Kurangi, the daughter of a crocodile, by protecting her from an elephant attack. But they meet secretly, knowing that a princess can't marry a lower caste. Unfortunately, when the word came out, Avimaraka fled and tried to commit suicide. Then a Vidyadhara kindly gave him a ring. Under the influence of that ring, Avimaraka disappeared and went to the palace and saw that the princess was going to commit suicide due to grief. Avimaraka then saves him. At that time Narada came and freed him from the curse and gave him his true identity. Avimaraka married Kurangi with the consent of all.

In Sanskrit drama, Bhāsa's place is above theearlier . Kālidāsa, Bhavabhuti's plays are more subtle in audio-poetry than in visual-poetry. But Bhāsa's drama is completely visual. He was a true playwright.

    Later, the influence of Bhāsa can be seen in the plays of epic poets like Kālidāsa and Bhavabhuti. So it would not be inconsistent to call the playwright Bhāsa the first pioneer in Sanskrit literature.


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