Bhāsa, a renowned Sanskrit dramatist of the pre-Christian period, was the most prolific and versatile among classical Sanskrit dramatists.
Kalidasa openly declared that Bhasa was one of the celebrated dramatists of his day and that he himself was just a dwarf before the ancient giants of the dramatic art. Kalidasa in the prologue to his Malvikagnimitra, confesses that his work could be no match for the dramas of his predecessors and pleads, rather apologetically, to his discriminating audience to judge him on merits without being swayed by blind partiality for the ancients. Three dramatists are specifically mentioned, that is Bhasa, Kaviputra and Saumilla; Bhasa heads the list from amongst these three. Bhasa's works have alone survived today.
WORKS OF BHĀSA
The discovery in 1912 of thirteen dramas, by Shri T. Ganapati Śāstrī1 of Trivandrum, was momentous in the history of Sanskrit literature. The lost treasure of the plays of the famous dramatist Bhasa, —whose works till then, had only been heard of, in the praises of Kalidasa and Dandin and others, —appeared to have been recovered. The extant dramatic works of Bhasa, stand today as the earliest available specimens of the dramatic art in India. The number of these
1. See page 117 for a note on Shri T. Ganapati Śāstrī.
surviving plays of Bhäsa is quite considerable. They are thirteen in number. No other playwright of the ancient, medieval or modern period, including the greatest, Kālidāsa and Bhavabhūti, could reach anywhere near Bhāsa's score. It is on account of this exceptionally large number of plays written by him that his dramas came to be known as Bhāsa-nāṭaka-cakra (cycle or garland of Bhāsa's plays).
The thirteen plays are:
Bharata, the father of Indian dramaturgy, recognized the basic principle of drama; of the ten major types of dramas, classified and discussed by him, all but one, have plots drawn from history or other well-known chronicles or tales. True to this deep-rooted Indian tradition of drama, Bhāsa drew on the epics and contemporary lore for the plots of his thirteen plays. The first six of these are based on the Mahābhārata, Pratīmānāṭakam and Abhiṣekanāṭakam on the Rāmāyaṇa, Bālacaritam on Harivamśa, Pratijñāyaugandharāyaṇam and Svapnavāsavadattam are based on the stories of Vatsarāja (Udayan) and Väsavadatta, which were current in the poet's time.
With thirteen plays to his credit, his works outnumber those of Kālidāsa, Bhavabhūti, Śūdraka, Śrīharṣa and others. His plays present a diversity of forms and techniques as well as themes, characters and sentiments unparalleled in Sanskrit drama. Unlike other Sanskrit
dramas of the later ages, Bhasa's plays rank highest in respect of stage-worthiness. He is also considered a humorist par excellence.
In the words of V. Venkatachalam in his book Bhasa:
If the fire of mellow genius is not fully ablaze in all of them, the alluring glow of the bursting spark is evident everywhere. Some of the mature plays like Svapnavasavadattam can easily stand comparison with the best dramatist of the world for their pure dramatic qualities: the deftness of plot construction, the unity and verisimilitude of the plot tissue, the even rise and fall of dramatic tempo, the organized build up of the climax from the initial seeds of conflict and its entanglement followed by its swift unraveling in unanticipated denouement, the effective alternation of foreshadowing and suspense, the sparkling wit of its dialogues, the portrayal of living characters holding a mirror up to life and, above all, the powerful representation of the varied emotions of the human-heart, wherein lies the soul of any drama. And for sheer stage-worthiness — the crown of dramatic excellence — it will be quite safe to say that Bhasa ranks higher than even KaHasa.
His thirteen plays present such extraordinary diversity of form and technique, not to be met with in the creations of any other Sanskrit dramatist.
It is a coincidence that these direct and indirect references in later writings to Bhasa or his works are representatives of different parts of the country, covering practically the whole of the subcontinent and extend over a full span of nearly fifteen centuries from the beginning of the Christian era. Such poets and critics who refer to Bhasa or his works include Kalidasa and Bhoja (11th century) of Malaya, Vamana (9th century) and Abhinavagupta (11th century) of Kashmir, Baha (7th century) and Vakpatiraja (8th century) of Kanauj, Somaprabhasuri (12th century) of Anhilwad (Gujarat), Soddhala (11th century) of ancient Kohkana and possibly Sardatanaya (13th century) of Tamil Nadu and last of all the Cakkyars of Kerala, where Bhasa plays became part and parcel of the repertoire of the professional actors for
many centuries. One of the most significant of these extolling references to Bhasa's popularity in the Indian theatre comes from no less a critic than Dandin, who came nearly 12th century after Bhasa, in Avanti-Sundarikatha:
Long ago did Bhasa breathe his last;
But lo, even now, after all his life is past,
He lives, through plays of flawless skill,
His veritable bodies, which time dare not kill.
This gives us a sure indication of Bhasa's uninterrupted and supreme hold over the Indian theatre, throughout the length and breadth of the country for nearly two millennia.
Thus it is clear that the ancient writers as well as modern scholars were aware of a great poet and a dramatist Bhasa, to whom is attributed a cakra (cycle or garland) of dramas including the Svapnavasavadattam which is the most outstanding one. They were also aware that he was a pre-Kālidāsa dramatist and as such these plays were among the oldest Indian plays. That these compositions were not lacking in merits have been testified to, by the glowing tribute of Kālidāsa to the poet. But it remained a riddle why none of these plays had seen the light of day despite the intrinsic merit and popularity of their author. It is against this background of mystery, that Trivandrum sprang an agreeable surprise (the discovery by Shri Ganapati Sastri) which could legitimately be described as the discovery of the century in the realm of world literature.
For want of sufficient and reliable data it is difficult to arrive at any precise determination of Bhāsa's date, like that of many other Sanskrit writers. The earliest direct reference to Bhasa is by Kālidāsa in his Malvikagnimitra and we may safely date Kālidāsa about the 1st century BC. It is clear then that in the time of Kālidāsa i.e. 1st century BC, Bhasa was recognized as an ancient poet of established fame.
There is another reference in Kautilya's Artha§astra, too, which can, indeed, serve to push the lower limit up to the 4th century BC but unfortunately it is not as uncontroversial as the reference by KaHasa.
An upper limit is given by the fact that Bhasa is doubtless later than Mvaghosa, whose Buddhacarita is probably the source of a verse in Pratifflayaugandharayanam, and whose Prakrit is assured by and unquestionably older in character. It is useless to seek to estimate by the evidence of the Prakrit whether Bhasa is more closely allied in date to KaHasa than to Mvaghosa, because changes in speech and the representations of them in literature are matters which do not in the slightest degree permit of exact valuation in terms of years. The most that can be said is that it may be held without improbability that Bhasa is nearer to Kalidasa's period than to Aavaghosa.
Besides these direct references to Buddhist and Jain monks, Bhasa's plays mention Nagavana, Venuvana, Rājagrha1 and Pataliputra, "all of which rose into prominence after Buddha's time." These are also clear pointers of a post-Buddha age for the Bhasa's plays.
It will, therefore, be safe to conclude until any decisive proof to the contrary is unearthed by future research that Bhasa lived somewhere between the two clear landmarks, Buddha and Kautilya; nearer the former than the latter. Hence, the nearest possible approximation for the date of Bhasa in the present state of our knowledge should be put down as the early 5th century BC.
Bhasa's reticence about himself is total. Later dramatists whispered at least their names to their contemporary and future audience through the conversation of the Sutradhara and his assistant in the conventional prologues to their plays. However, unlike Kalidasa and others, who came in his wake, Bhasa did not care to record for posterity even his name in the prologues, which are invariably very brief and conform to a set pattern; typically Bhasa's.
1. Rajagrha, was built by King Bimbsara (528 BC — 500 BC) as the capital of Magadha and has been identified with the modern Rajgir.
We have to go to his works themselves for our knowledge of Bhasa's true parentage, caste, provenance, education and other accomplishments. The picture of Bhasa that emerges from his dramas is that of a Brahmana, well versed in the conventional branches of learning current during his days and having an abiding faith in and reverence for the ancient Vedic religion and its basic scriptures, the Vedas, the KalpasOtras, the epics and the Puranas.
As for the home of Bhasa, the prevailing atmosphere of all the plays without exception leaves us in no doubt that he lived and worked in India, north of the Vindhyas. Though the advocates of the Cakkyar theory have tried to see Keralite influences in some of the customs described in the plays and sometimes even in select words of Bhasa's vocabulary, it has been more or less firmly established that such conclusions stand nowhere. If we view it dispassionately, the conclusion is irresistible that Bhasa's home must have been somewhere in the country between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas, though it may be difficult to narrow down the region or pinpoint the place. Bhasa's beautiful phrase himvad-vindhya-kundala gives the final verdict in this matter. Bhasa's repetition of the words himvad-vindhya-kundala breathes not only the poetic fervor but also the personal warmth of the love of one, who loved his country.
AUTHENTICITY OF BHĀSA'S DRAMAS
In the year 1909, the department for the publication of Sanskrit manuscripts was organized by the Government of His Highness the Maharaja of Travancore. While touring Kerala State, searching for Sanskrit manuscripts, Dr Ganapati Sastri came across a palm-leaf codex in Malayalam of natakas in a small village near Trivandrum in the Monatkkaro Matham near Padmanabhapuram. The manuscript was found to contain 105 leaves with ten lines of twenty granthas in each page written in old Malayalam characters. Though the manuscript seemed to be more than 300 years old, there was no defacement of characters except in certain parts of the first twelve leaves.
The style and dignity of conception appeared to be such as characterizing the great works of the Rishis, and superior to what we find in famous works of the great poets.
On examination the manuscript was found to contain the following ten Rūpakas: Svapnavasāvadattam; Pratijñāyaugandharāyanam; Pañcharātram; Cārudattam; Dūtghatotkacam; Avimarākam; Bālacaritam; Madhyamavyāyogah; Karnābhāram; Urubhańgah.
Besides, there was also an eleventh Rūpakas just begun but abruptly left unfinished, towards the middle of the reverse side of the first leaf. During a subsequent tour, from one Govinda Pisharadi, an astrologer of Kailashpuram, near Kaduthurutli were obtained two natakas of a similar character, named Abhisekanatakam and Pratimanatakam. It was subsequently discovered that the palace library also contained a manuscript of each of these works. All these manuscripts written in Malayalam characters were on palm-leaves.
Pandit T. Ganapati Sastri observed a family-likeness in all the thirteen plays, besides a number of common passages and repetitions. It is usual for classical plays to begin with NandT(the benedictory verse) and then to state "नान्द्यन्ते सूत्रधारः" But the plays in this collection, as a rule begin with "नान्द्यन्ते ततः प्रविशति सूत्रधारः" ("After prayers the stage manager or stage director enters"), and then the mahgala4oka is introduced. Again instead of the word Prastavana, (Prologue) used in classical plays, these plays use the word Sthapana. Thirdly, in the plays of Sadraka, Kalidasa and others, mention is made of the name of the author and of the works and in some instances in terms of praise, in the Prastavana. But in the plays before us, in the Sthapana, not even the name is mentioned in any of the works of the author. In the "Bharata-Vakya"1 or the closing sentence of every one of these plays, invariably occurs the prayer: - "May our greatest of kings or may our king rule the land." In all these plays there is at the close, a sentence, announcing such and such a play is finished and here the name of the work is given.
These in the opinion of Shri Ganapati Sastri, were unmistakable evidence of their common authorship.
1. This stanza is an expression of good wishes etc., repeated by the actors 1-17d(bharats).
The question then arose, who this common author could be? And here came two earlier references to Bhasa and his plays. Speaking of Bhasa's fame, Bana has mentioned certain special characteristics of his dramas and instituted a punning comparison of Bhasa's plays with temples:
सपताकैर्यशो लेभे भासो देवकुलैरिव।।
This characteristic of Bhasa's plays mentioned by Baria in this verse viz., that the expression सूत्रधारकृतारम्भै: points to the distinguishing characteristic of Bhasa's plays, that they began by the sOtradhara, was to be found, according to Dr. Sastri, in the thirteen plays, pointing to Bhasa as their common author. However, the opponents of this theory contend otherwise as they lay emphasis on the words देवकुलः i.e. temples, to which Bhasa's plays are compared.
The second reference was more decisive:
भासनाटकचाऽपि च्छेकैः क्षिप्ते परीक्षितुम्।
स्वपनवसवदातताम्वासवदत्तस्य दाहकोऽभून्न पावकः।।
The verse quoted above of Rajashekhra preserved in one of our early anthologies, not only speaks of Svapnavasavadattam as a drama of Bhasa but also glorifies its excellence by the assertion that it was the only play that proved incombustible, when the complete works of Bhasa were subjected to the fire of literary criticism. With this clear affirmation that Bhasa was the author of Svapnavasavadattam, it was possible to conclude that the common author of all the thirteen plays was Bhasa.
As it happens with all new discoveries, strong protests were raised against Shri Sastrr's identification of the plays as Bhasa's works. These protests actually gave rise to more research in this area. And close scrutiny revealed more facts. In the words of V. Venkatachalam in his book Bhasa:
More evidence of common authorship emerged out of such
studies, which unraveled the numerous similarities of the thirteen plays with regard to their structural pattern, dramatic technique, use of Patakasthanaka, vocabulary and expression marked by recurrence of certain typical words and phrases, depiction of prohibited things on the stage like death and sleep, actual bringing of water on the stage, uniform patterns of grammatical solecisms, and Prakrit archaisms and stylistic and metrical peculiarities; besides common dramatic situations, common imagery and predilection for certain motifs, themes and descriptions, common names for minor characters and also repetition of similar ideas and of stanzas in whole or parts.
Giving a conspectus of such similarities, Dr. Sarup wrote:
The community of technique, language, style, ideas, treatment and identity of names of dramatis personae, prose and metrical passages, and scenes are so remarkable that the conclusion of their common authorship is inevitable.
In the opinion of Dr. Paranjape:
... the uniformity of grammatical solecisms is the most unquestionable proof that places beyond all doubts the common origin of all these plays.
CHARACTERISTICS OF BHASA'S PLAYS
The most remarkable feature of Bhasa's plays is their introduction. The specialty of it has been marked by many, especially by Bana who speaks of the plays of Bhasa as having the special feature of beginning with the Sutradhara. The beginning of all the dramas in Sanskrit is done by the Sutradhara, the statement of Bana, as already observed, has got a special meaning. The role of the Sutradhara of Bhasa is of a singular type and as such forms a class by itself. All the thirteen plays ascribed to him show the speciality of this technique of
The introduction has two aspects according to Bharata. The first s the PUrvaranga ending with the handl §loka and the second is Prastavana or the proper introduction of the play. The former is allotted to the Sutradhara and the latter to the Sthapaka. It is pointed out that the PUvaranga does not come under the jurisdiction of the dramatist and his work begins with the Sthapana. Accordingly, Bhasa eliminates the Parvaranga, or rather allots it to the body of actors and begins his play with the Sthapaka whom he gives the name of SCItradhara. His practice was so much appreciated, it seems, that in the latter Shasta we find no mention of Sthapaka whose functions are entirely assigned to the Suitradhara.
Apart from this, the introduction in Bhasa, which is styled as Sthapana (which also points to the fact that Bhasa was conscious in making the change) is remarkable for its brevity. Bhasa has shown a great skill in completing the introduction of his plays with the greatest economy of words. The number of lines used by the Siltradhara in all the plays is given below:
Svapnavasavadattam 7 lines;
Pratijnayaugandharayanam 9 lines;
Avimarakam 18 lines;
Carudattam 80 lines;
Pratimanatakam 13 lines;
Abhisekanatakam 19 lines;
Pancharatram 10 lines;
Madhyamavyayogah 18 lines;
Dutvakyam 8 lines;
Dutghatotkacam 14 lines;
Karhabharam 10 lines;
Urubhangah 20 lines;
Balacaritam 10 lines.
From this it will appear that whether the plays belong to the larger types, viz: Alataka, Prakarna, Samavokara, or to the smaller, viz: Vyayoga, VithT, etc, Bhasa introduces them with equal ease and
brevity. The only exception is the Carudattam which has 80 lines in the Sthapana. The Introductions of all his plays display a similarity not only on the point of brevity but also in the method of execution.
The success of Bhasa in this respect is remarkable. The technique of introduction by the Suitradhara is typical to Sanskrit plays and serves many purposes. The chief of which is that the Sutradhara supplies to the audience, the link of the subject-matter of the play. It is a very difficult task to lead one, completely ignorant of the theme, to the understanding of the very first scene unaided. This is affected by the Sutradhara, and the successful dramatists have shown remarkable skill in this respect. The best type of introduction is that which introduces the main events without much ado. The test of the successful dramatist, thus, lies in his power to begin a play with as brief a preamble as possible. Bhasa is undoubtedly one of the best dramatists from this point of view.
Bhasa very often uses two dramatic devices - 'speaking from behind the curtain' and 'speaking to the sky' for the sake of brevity. An introduction has a speech or sound from behind the curtain; by way of explaining that the Sutradhara ushers in the main character or hints at the main event. The other technique of 'speaking to the sky' is very helpful to dramatists in giving so much information by a single character.
One of the striking features of Bhasa's dramas is the use of a dramatic device patakasthan in order to excite astonishment. For example, in the Pratijilayaugandharayaham, the king of Ujjayini, Mahasena, (father of Vasavadatta), while discussing with his queen the merits of various suitors of Vasavadatta, asks her: "Which of these do you think is worthy of our daughter?" A chamberlain enters and exclaims "Vatsaraja". He actually brings the joyful news of the capture of Vatsaraja, and unable to contain his joy bursts out "Vatsaraja"! Another example of this device is seen in the Abhisekanatakam, when Ravarta while taunting Sita says to her, "When that wretch of a mortal together with his brother Laksmana is killed by Indrajit, by whom wilt thou be set free?" A raksasa enters just then and says, "By Rama."
Of the five explanatory devices, Bhasa uses only two - the Explanatory and the Introductory Scenes. (Viskambhaka and
Praveska). Herein also, Bhasa shows his skill in the economy of words. His explanatory devices are usually short.
With reference to the usual practice of ending a drama with a Benediction (generally known as Bharatavakya) some are of the opinion that Bhasa dispensed with it and left this task to the stage-manager, which can be surmised from the fact that the same verse appears at the end of most of Bhasa's dramas. It would have been otherwise, had the poet himself furnished the same, as he could have written any number of them, did he so choose.
...The principal characteristics of his [Bhasa's] plays that strike the reader the most, are their simplicity in construction, naturalness in style, and realism in description as well as the dramatic qualities of vigour, life and action and sharpness of characterization.'
According to Dr. M.L. Gaur and Shri M.R. Kale:
As a dramatist Bhasa is unique in Sanskrit literature. He knows the technique of the drama and like an expert of it he utilizes it properly. The plot of each drama of Bhasa is unfolded in a few effective situations that follow each other in their natural sequence and are calculated to bring out the sentiment in hand.
An essential dramatic merit in Bhasa is that his expression is far easier to follow than in much of the later dramatic poetry. He possesses in fact that clarity, which is theoretically a merit of the Kavyastyle, which is signally neglected by the average Kavya-writer in his anxiety to display the complete familiarity which he possesses with every side of the art of poetry.
Bhasa is an accomplished master of the art of poetry, but one whose good sense and taste preserve him from adopting in drama the artifices which are permitted in the court-epic and lyric which were
intended to be studied at leisure. The simple and sententious is beloved of Bhasa.
The necessities of the drama saved Bhasa from one great defect of the epic style, the lack of measure, which permits the Ramayana to illustrate by twenty-nine similes the sorrows of Sita in her captivity, while in the Abhishekanatakam, Bhasa is satisfied only with one. On the other hand he owes to it the relative simplicity of his diction, and his freedom from the excesses of the poetic equivalent of the nominal style, which comes to dominate later Sanskrit literature.
Bhasa's style is very simple, sweet and clear. The words are simple and easily understandable. He avoids long compounds and elaborate figures of speech common in the later Sanskrit literature.
Bhasa's style is sometimes obscure; sentences are sometimes elliptical and it is difficult to get at their meaning unless we supply the ellipsis. Sometimes the connection between sentences is left by the poet to be found out by his readers. It is his compressed style that makes some part of Bhasa's writing obscure and the reader in order to clear up the obscurities must have recourse to a comparison with his original, the Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as his own works.
Bhasa's power of depicting irony is especially prominent in Svapnavasavadattam, where it is used to intensify the (rasa) sentiment of vipralambha§rngara (love-in-separation). A striking example is where Vasavadatta is asked to weave the garland for the marriage of her husband to Padmavati.
According to Shri M.R. Kale and Shri Karindikar, it seems that Bhasa was the first dramatist who has taken the plots for his plays from the epics as through the study of Bhasa's plays everyone can easily reach this conclusion that as a dramatist Bhasa has used more ungrammatical or archaic forms and constructions in his plays, so, it is clear that his style, description and language etc. are greatly influenced by the epics.
Bhasa no doubt, drew his inspiration from the epics, and the dominating influence of the epics is clearly seen everywhere in his dramas. Along with many beautiful expressions and ideas of the epics, along with their naturalness and simplicity of diction,
Bhasa seems to have unconsciously adopted even the solecisms from his great originals. Or more probably Sanskrit being the living tongue in his time, Bhasa did not, like later writers, feel obliged to use forms, and constructions strictly in conformity with the hard and fast rules of Panini's grammar.1
A characteristic of Bhasa is his fondness for pithy proverbial phrases, 'everything suits a handsome figure', 'misfortune never comes singly', 'Good news sounds more pleasant from a friend's mouth', ' there are many obstacles in the road to fortune', etc.
An idea once expressed fascinates Bhasa and is repeated again and again in the same terms, a fact which incidentally helps to assure the genuineness of the plays.
Varied figures of speech are used in Bhasa's plays. Through the study of these, we see that Bhasa is very effective in Svabhavokti (natural description). Although there are various examples in his plays of this figure of speech, I give below some examples from Svapnavasavadattam which are really very beautiful. The first paints a beautiful serene picture of the hermitage:
The unperturbed deer in whom confidence is inspired, in the safe place of penance grove grazing the grass confidently, all the trees, tenderly nurtured, have their branches fully laden with flowers and fruits.
Abundant are the herds of yellow-colored cows, which are like wealth, the outer place without farmland indicates that this must be a penance grove, especially because the smoke is rising from many places.
Bhasa's descriptions are simple, natural and straight-forward. He always aims to produce before his readers, his pictures in such a way as they not only please them but put before them a beautiful, clear and real position of the scene concerned. Though beautiful and realistic, his descriptions are never lifted into the sphere of the sublime like
1. M. R. Kale, Svapnavasavadatta of Bhasa.
other great poets of Sanskrit literature.
Bhasa's plays contain many characters. He has taken characters for each of his plays, in such a number, which is necessary in all respects for the play. None of the characters can be removed from his plays because it would not be possible, neither justified nor correct. Says Prof. M. R. Kale:
Bhasa's characters are sharply distinguished or individualized. Every character is strongly marked with its own individuality, and made to help development of the plot each in its way.1
In the second act of Svapnavasavadattam, a character - the Brahmacharin - appears and then disappears after that, and is nowhere seen again in the drama; his importance is immense although he appears for a short while. Bhasa borrowed his characters from different classes of the society. His characters are of both qualities, high and low, and due to these he succeeded in pleasing or entertaining the whole society, his audience and admirers. All his characters are not only externally charming, but are also individuals with many good qualities. They are open, straight-forward, sympathetic and full of human emotions.
Bhasa's deviation from Bharata
While strict adherence to Bharata rules was not obligatory, though literary practice, more or less, demanded it, Bhasa at times struck out a new way and thereby deviated from the master. A dramatist may very well take a new path even if the Shastra directs otherwise. Moreover, it is an undeniable fact that the definition and rules of Bharata are too elastic in comparison with those of the later law-givers. In following Bharata one may very easily strike a new path without in the least violating totally the rules of Bharata. But none can do so with the rules of Dhananjaya or Vishvanatha.
The deviations are to be considered not as transgression of the
1. M. R. Kale, Svapnavasavadattam of Bhasa.
laws of Bharata but should be acclaimed as the landmarks in the gradual development of the drama. The chief deviations are the presentation of death on the very stage in the Abhisekanatakam (Act-I) and the Urubhangah, the speech of Satradhara in Prakrit in the Carudattam and the new function of Seitradhara in Bhasa's dramas. The Seltradhara in Carudattam uses Prakrit instead of Sanskrit. This is the only drama of Bhasa which has got a Prakrit-speaking Sutradhara. It is definitely a remarkable deviation from the Shastra and it may be due to the influence of another current of thought which attempted at giving the dramatic directions in Prakrit.
As regards the killing of Vali in the Abhisekanatakam, we may say that the dramatist could have avoided it by resorting to the use of a Viskambhaka or PraveSaka, but so far as the death of Duryodhana is concerned, it was indispensable. And as the latter is an Anaka in form, having karuha as its rasa, we may say that a death-scene in such forms of drama could hardly be avoided. The rule that no death is to be presented, came it seems, as a result of a consideration of the technical difficulties in presenting it. The killing of one by an arrow on the stage seems even today incredulous and ludicrous instead of being awe-inspiring and effective. A consideration of this fact is most probably responsible for the elimination of death-scenes. But the death of Duryodhana in Urubhangah is of another type. There he is not directly killed on the stage. He dies due to the mortal blow of Bhima, which is not shown. As a result, his death becomes much more pathetic and effective. So, as a technique the presentation of death by Bhasa, it may be said, is successful in the case of Urubhangah and is flat in the Abhisekanatakam.
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