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  • Topic: Sanskrit, Literature, Drama
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Vishakhadatta (6th Century) an eminent dramatist introduces himself as the grandson of the Vassal king Vateshvaradatta, son of king Bhaskaradatta in the introductory section of his play Mudrarakshasa. He hailed, most probably, from Bihar or Bengal. He has been credited with two other works Devichandragupta and Abhisarikavancitaka Devichanragupta deals with the Huna invasion during the reign of Chandragupta. A fine scholar Vishakhadatta had a good command of metres and figures of speech and was well acquainted with dramaturgy, logic, astrology, and philosophy. His dramatic art and knowledge of Arthashastra are evenly balanced in Mudrarakshasa. He broke fresh ground in Sanskrit drama and gained fame with this play only. Vishakhadatta occupies a significant place in the history of Sanskrit literature because he started the tradition of writing purely political plays devoid of the emotions of love and humour. Mudrarakshasa is a historical play of the Nataka type in seven acts written by Vishakhadatta in 6th Century A.D. in which Chanakya, the minister of king Chandragupta of Pataliputra, wins over Rakshasa, the minister of the Nandas to the side of Chandragupta Stylistically he stands a little apart from other dramatists. A proper literary education is clearly no way lacking, and in formal terms, he operates within the normal conventions of Sanskrit literature, but one does not feel that he cultivates these conventions very enthusiastically for their own sake. It would be a travesty to suggest that one can detect in his writing a clipped, quasi-military diction as it would be to think of Kālidāsa as an untutored child of nature simply because he shows himself less steeped than Bhavabhūti in philosophical erudition. But it is fair to say that Vishakhadatta’s prose passages in particular often have a certain stiffness compared to the supple idiom of both Kālidāsa and Bhavabhūti. In relative, rather than absolute, terms his style includes towards...
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