ACK-036: Nagananda

An out of print ACK
Nagananda (Joy of the Serpents) is a Sanskrit play attributed to king Harsha (606 C.E. - 648 C.E.).

Nagananda is one of the best Sanskrit dramas in five acts dealing with the popular story of Jimutavahana's self-sacrifice to save the Nagas. The unique characteristic of this drama is the invocation to lord Buddha in the Nandi verse, which is considered as one of the best examples of the dramatic compositions.

Harsha was a distinguished and creative patron of religions and the arts. He lavished gifts on Buddhist institutions, and it is clear that he was profoundly influenced by Buddhist thought and practices. Still, there is no evidence that he became a Buddhist; rather it would seem that he remained a devotee of Shiva. Late in his life he may have become more concerned with the prosperity of Buddhist institutions as he emulated the manner of Asoka Maurya.

Kings and princes of India prided themselves on the accomplishments of artists, scholars, and poets whom they attracted to their courts. Harsha was no exception. And he had reason to be proud, for in his court were such great literary personalities as Banabhatta and Mayura.

Harsha's participation in the cultured life of his court was more direct than that of most kings, and it is in his personal contribution to Sanskrit literature that he clearly overshadows them. To him are assigned three plays: Priyadarsika, Ratnavali, and the Nagananda. In addition, he is credited with two significant poems on Buddhist themes--the Ashtamahasricaityastotra (Praise to Eight Grand Caityas [Buddhist assembly halls]) and Suprabhatastotra (Laud to Morning)--and a tract on grammatical gender, the Linganusasanam. Harsha's authorship has been disputed on several occasions, but no decisive contrary arguments have been proposed.

The Priyadarsika appears to be the earliest of Harsha's plays. It and the Ratnavali deal with the amorous adventures of the king Vatsa, his queen Vasavadatta, and newcomers to the royal harem. Both plays borrow from the earlier works of Bhasa and Kalidasa (especially the latter's Malavikagnimitra) and are based ultimately on material in the collection Brhatkatha. These plays lack thematic novelty but sustain interest through brisk dialogue. Both are frequently cited by later writers on dramatic theory and technique.

Harsha's Nagananda is his most important play. This five-act drama draws again on the Brhatkatha for the substance of its first three acts. In them, the hero, Jimutavahana, Prince of the Vidyadharas, meets and marries the Siddha princess Malayavati. To that point, the romance of the fairy prince and princess is quite conventional.

The mood of the play changes sharply in the fourth act. Jimutavahana discovers mounds of skeletons which evidence the daily sacrifice of serpents to the celestial bird Garuda. The hero resolves to offer his own body so that the serpents may be spared (a type of resolution very familiar in Buddhist literature). At the drama's conclusion it is the non-Buddhist goddess Gauri, however, who restores the bodhisattva, Jimutavahana, to life. In this attractive and moving drama, Harsha combined Buddhist and "Hindu" themes adroitly and uniquely, and through it one sees clearly his artistic and political genius.

With Harsha's death passed an age unduplicated in Indian history. There would be other Hindu political structures more extensive and longer-lived than Harsha's; and there would appear Sanskrit authors more facile and ingenious than he. But India has not produced again an individual of such wide-ranging talents who could wield the sword, the scepter, and the pen with equal authority.

Many many thanks to an “Anonymous friend” for providing this ACK scan.

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10 comments:

Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 6:35 PM  

Thank You :-)

Rajeev Sharma December 1, 2008 at 7:17 PM  

thanks again parbhat... it has become a ritual for me to check ur blog regulary for updates...

Dhaval December 2, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

Thanks Prabhat!

I read the original play long ago, but never knew that there is an ACK based on this play!!

Great Prelude, like always..!
Great work guys.. keep it up

The Comic Project December 4, 2008 at 2:16 AM  

Excellent work ACKnowledge.

Still asking my mom to courier me my 150 ACKs from India :-)

AJAY December 9, 2008 at 11:52 PM  

Prabhat,
Excellent work you are doing , posting comics on a regular & on a set pattern . The most important thing you are doing that you are giving credit to original scanner so that he or she is encouraged to scan more & missing comics .
In my case , since you started giving credit to scanners , I scanned & forwarded my most of comics to you only . Recently I have observed some other bloggers are posting comics scanned by others , not bothered to say a courtsey words of thanks to the persons who take real pains. They post comics without knowing or pretending not knowing & posting comics .
They should learn from you some basic manners of manners.

Ajay

Anonymous December 10, 2008 at 1:51 PM  

and that 'ungrateful' blogger is none other than Sameer,who has a history of unmatched forgetfulness and short term memory.
Srinivas,Ajay and some other persons will sure agree with it.
Dear Ajay what stops you from not naming such bloggers publicly!

RadheShyam Sharma December 15, 2008 at 5:18 AM  

Can you make your mediafire folder public like before? You understandably take a long time to post comics you announce as "coming soon"... but the scans are already available on mediafire. It is much more convenient when we can access mediafire directly to download very old posts. Please make your ACK folder public again... just can't wait so long for all those nice comics. Keep up the great work.

... RS

Prabhat's Books and Comics December 29, 2008 at 9:40 PM  

Sorry friends, I was changing flat, unable to reply & post some more ACK.

Anonymous: Welcome!

Rajeev Sharma: Welcome! I hope, soon your visits will start giving more pleasure. Many ACK will be posted next year. My plan is to post all ACK till 2010. I’m sure- help of contributors & love of visitors will make my (our) dream true. As much as hard works of contributors (not mine) will be appreciated, more energy they will give to scans.

Ajay is going to scan 35 Bumper Issues (as you know every contains 3 ACKs ), Tinkles & many other ACKs.

Aznaabi, Anon & Apoorva (new contributor) are going to support actively. TPH has planned to post some ACKs already.

And my past posing history (check my other blog too) says when I have opportunities, can post many at once. I really don’t care about comments about myself. I’m a hardcore fan of some comics, both blogs are just for sharing. My goal is turning these into e-library. Sometimes it takes time to search appropriate material about posts. These are not comics, but history. I don’t wish to distort it or present in vague manner. So regularly encourage contributors not me, these friends deserves real appreciations.

Dhaval: Great, you had opportunities to read in original! Inspired with Harsha my father had chosen my son’s name Harsha. Without a second thought all family members agreed. :)

The Comic Project: Welcome! It’s great news you will have a lot of ACK. I wanted to collect 200+ ACK from India which I bought through a friend (but still don’t transferred money, wished to pay back him face to face). But due to some incidents my visit to India is postponing since last 14-15 months.

My request to you, please join this blog for ACK posting.

AJAY: Welcome! Words are not enough to thank you. Your love for sharing comics is remarkable. Many have good collections, but very few come forward to share with others. Thanks you very much friend not only for scans, but giving your time & money to make us happy. These comics one can download in minutes, but how much real time & energy I know. I understand it always. I’m really very thankful to you and all other friends.

Radhe Shyam Sharma: Welcome friend! Now folder is open. But sadly there is no any new ACK. I planned to post these in this month, but first I lost job, second I had to change flat. I’m doing what I can.

TheBlabberingBard March 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM  

Hi Prabhat....just thought u would like to know...the link points to ACK-Kannappan and not nagananda..I dont know how ppl missed it..guess all of them download the HQ scans

Prabhat's Books and Comics March 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM  

TheBlabberingBard: Thanks friend! Links are fixed.

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