A few words on Sanskrit Drama

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!!!


"Nature" is what we see-

Today, I thought to post about one of my most favorite poems by Emily Dickinson. The theme of the poem is simple yet powerful and is a blend of abstract ideas with surrounding.

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.
                        -By Emily Dickinson

“Nature” is what we see- is a poem by Emily Dickinson, it has no title like many of Dickinson’s other poems. In this poem, she is portraying immaterial ideas with material substances. Initially, she seems to suggest that “Nature” is what we see, then puts a big hyphen which could be suggestive for imagery coming up next or is just a question posed to the readers. Then she goes on to put images of “The Hill” and “the Afternoon” with pause suggested by hyphens. After drawing images of a vast mountain on a sunny day, she draws contrasting images in the next line of poem: Squirrel-Eclipse-the Bumble bee- with pause suggested by hyphens. If “The Hill” and “the Afternoon” suggested a vast view of nature on a sunny day then squirrel, eclipse and bumble bee depict the small, fragile side of nature on a day when the all graceful sunshine gets abandoned by eclipse. In next line, she negates with “Nay” and with a pause suggests “Nature is Heaven”. The Bright, The Dark and The Heaven is the sequence followed, so is heaven made up of both good and bad instead of only good or only bad? This could mean that the good have no meaning without the bad and vice versa so, each gives a meaning to another and together form heaven. Her suggestions regarding this appear more prominent from next line when she uses another sense to analyse nature. Again, like a question she suggests an argument using the auditory sense: Nature is what we hear, this time she has not put double quotes around the word Nature which could signify the abstractness or invisibility of sound compared to objects perceived by visual sense. Then she draws auditory contrasts by putting sounds from tiny to vast bodies together with pause: The Bobolink-the Sea. Voice of a small bird, Bobolink is put by the side of sound from the vast body of Sea, Sea gives an illusion to infiniteness that reaches to sky and in the next line, she puts the sound of Thunder and a minute insect, Cricket side by side. She goes on to negate what she posed as a question, that is, Nature is what we hear- Nay- Nature is harmony. She suggests, the big and the small, the dark and the bright, together form a heavenly harmony called Nature. Her next question put as suggestion: Nature is what we know- points that we know nature through experiences that we acquire from our senses. Then she argues that still we cannot say what nature is because our wisdom or knowledge is limited and impotent compared to the simplicity of Nature. Here she points at the vagueness of our wisdom that fails to understand the Nature even in its simplicity.