Drama holds an important position in Sanskrit literature. There have been many Sanskrit dramatists whose works are a great source to peep into cultural past of India. Some dramas like Mudrarakshasa by Vishakhadutta can help in understanding of history too, though for most part they are considered to be fictional.
Origin of Sanskrit dramas can be traced to Mahabhasya by Patanjali which is a treatise on grammar written around 140 BCE. The most interesting feature of Sanskrit dramas are usage of stock characters. Some of the notable dramas were a result of influence from earlier epics like Abhijinasakuntalam by Kalidasa was inspired from an earlier story found in Mahabharata which later on influenced Goethe’s Faust, Mahavircharita and Uttar Ramcharita by Bhavabhuti were inspired from the epic Ramayana.
Notable Sanskrit Plays and Playwrights
Although more than a millennium old, Sanskrit plays and their influence on Indian literature can be seen till this day. Very little is known about various Sanskrit dramatists’ personal lives, though their works are still highly revered. One of the best known Sankrit dramatists of all ages is Kalidasa. Kalidasa’s works were highly influenced from already existing religious works, some of his notable plays include Abhijinasakuntalam, Vikramorvasiyam and Malvikagnimitram. Other than plays, Kalidasa wrote some very popular epics like Rahuvansa, Kumarsambhava, Ritusamhara and Meghduta. Bhavabhuti was a dramatist who is known for his plays titled: Malati-Madhava, Mahavircharita and Uttar Ramcharita. Emperor Harsha wrote some popular plays like Ratnavali, Priyadarsika and Nagananda. Other important Sanskrit dramatists include Bhasa, Sudraka and Asvaghosa.
More on Sanskrit Dramas in my blog
In coming days, I would like to write more specifically on Sanskrit dramas, one at a time. My blog would feature Sanskrit dramas, both notable and non-notable ones. Apart from this, I would also write about folk tales and legends reflecting culture and heritage of South Asia under the category of Literature. Keep checking for updates!!!