ACK-114,115 & 116: Great Sanskrit Plays:Ratnavali, Vasantasena & Udayana

Today in some states of India people are celebrating New Year as Ugadi & Gudi Padwa . It falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra (March-April).

Ugadi, as called in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra indicates the start of a new year for people in those states.

Ugadi is derived from ‘Yuga adi’ where ‘yugameans time, era or period and ‘adimeans beginning. Gudi in marathi is a Bamboo stick which is decorated and at the top of which a cup or a glass is placed and Padwa means the ‘adi’ described earlier.

Note: It falls on a different day every year because the Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March/April).

Plays of Ancient India

Indian drama is analyzed by Bharata in the Natya Shastra, probably from the third century CE or before. Bharata ascribed a divine origin to drama and considered it a fifth Veda; its origin seems to be from religious dancing. In the classical plays the Brahmins and noble characters speak Sanskrit, while others and most women use Prakrit vernaculars. According to Bharata poetry (kavya), dance (nritta), and mime (nritya) in life's play (lila) produce emotion (bhava), but only drama (natya) produces "flavor" (rasa). The drama uses the eight basic emotions of love, joy (humor), anger, sadness, pride, fear, aversion, and wonder, attempting to resolve them in the ninth holistic feeling of peace. These are modified by 33 less stable sentiments he listed as discouragement, weakness, apprehension, weariness, contentment, stupor, elation, depression, cruelty, anxiety, fright, envy, arrogance, indignation, recollection, death, intoxication, dreaming, sleeping, awakening, shame, demonic possession, distraction, assurance, indolence, agitation, deliberation, dissimulation, sickness, insanity, despair, impatience, and inconstancy. Causes, effects, and moods manifest the emotions. The spectators should be of good character, intelligent, and empathetic.

This bumper issue is based on three great Sanskrit plays:

1. Ratnavali by Emperor Harsha.

2. Mrichchakatikam ( The Little Clay Cart) by Shudraka.

3. Svapnavasavadatta by Bhasa.

Kalidasa refer to Bhasa with reverence. Therefore Bhasa belonged to a period, a hundred or two hundred years before Kalidasa(of the fourth century A.D.). Mrichchakatikam by Shudraka revolves round the love of Vasantasena for Charudatta, the impoverished merchant. Ratnavali is attributed to Emperor Harsha, who ruled from Kanauj in the seventh century A.D.

#205 (#643) Ratnavali

Ratnavali is a famous Sanskrit drama about a beautiful princess named Ratnavali and a great king named Udayana, composed in four acts by the Indian emperor Harsha. Harsha wrote three Sanskrit plays: Nagananda (available in this blog), Priyadarshika and Ratnavali.

This play is a comedy of court life, centring round the light-hearted love-intrigue of king Udayana with a lowly maiden of unknown descent, their secret meetings through the help of a jester and the damsel's friend, the jealousy of the queen and her anger and resentment, and finally her acceptance of the situation when the maiden is discovered to be her lost cousin.


The play is a sequel to the story of Princess Vasavdatta of Ujjaini and King Udayana of Kaushambi. Because of certain events that were happening, Vasavdatta had to fake her death. In order to keep the relation strong between Ujjaini and Kaushambi, they sent Vasavdatta's Sinhalese cousin, Ratnavali, to be married to Udayana. In the mean time, Vasavdatta's faked death was a success and she had returned, reuniting with Udayana and reclaiming her position as Queen of Kaushambi.

Ratnavali, however, was unaware of this. During her voyage her ship was wrecked and she was cast adrift until a merchant ship found her and took her to the palace, where she was disguised as a commoner by the name of Sagarika. Vasavdatta made her a Lady-in-waiting and assigned her to the care of Medhavini, the myna bird.

Fearing that Udayana would be swayed by her new attendant's beauty, Vasavdatta took steps to hide Ratnavali/Sagarika from from her husband. Soon after, the festival of Kamadeva}Madana took place at the palace. Sagarika was intended to stay home to care for her charge, but another companion of the Queen's named Susangata offered to watch Medhavini in her stead. When Sagarika reached the festival and saw Udayana, she fell in love with him, but was sent home due to Vasavdatta's jealousy. Through a series of unlikely events, Susangata and Sagarika plotted to unite the king and Sagarika. In the end, Sagarika marries Udayana as his third wife.

Read more at Wikipedia

#70 (#657) Vasantasena

Little is known of Sudraka, and he is known through only his attributed contributions to Sanskrit literature. Sudraka was an Indian King. Three Sanskrit plays are ascribed to him -Mricchakatika (The Little Clay Cart) [or Mrcchakatika or Mricchakatika or Mrichchhakatika is the play written in the 2nd century BC. It is set in Pataliputra (modern-day Patna)] , Vinavasavadatta, and a bhana (short one-act monologue), Padmaprabhritaka.


The Little Clay Cart refers to the toy cart with which the son of Charudatta, who has been reduced to poverty, plays.

Rife with romance, sex, court intrigue and comedy, the plot of the play has numerous twists and turns. The main story is about a young man named Charudatta , and his love for Vasantasena , a rich courtesan or nagarvadhu. The love affair is complicated by a royal courtier, who is also attracted to Vasantasena. The plot is further complicated by thieves and mistaken identities, and thus making it a hilarious and entertaining play.

Recommend to read an article:

#125 (#621) Udayana

ACK Udayana is adapted from Bhasa's Svapnavasavadatta (Vision of Vasavadatta)

One of the greatest pioneers of classical Sanskrit drama, Bhasa is said to have lived around 3rd Century A.D. He is one of the earliest known Sanskrit dramatists of ancient India. An Indian scholar, Mahamahopadhyaya Ganapati Sastrigal, rediscovered thirteen of his plays in the year 1912. Most of these surviving works are romances taken from the famous epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, although two of Bhasa's plays do boast original plots: Avimaraka and Charudatta which became the basis for a later play, The Little Clay Cart, possibly written by the legendary King Shudraka.

Not much is known about the life history of Bhasa. There are no written records of his life nor is there a biography of Bhasa. Bhasa deviated from the accepted dramaturgical practices of the day by depicting battle scenes and murder on stage. He had a profound influence on the dramatists that would follow him, including India's greatest poet, Kalidasa. His influence is seen in the works of the great dramatist Kalidasa, who consciously imitated and improved upon some of Bhāsa’s literary motifs.


Perhaps the most noted play of Bhasa is Svapnavasavadatta (Vision of Vasavadatta). The story revolves around King Udayana who is pressurized by his state minister to marry the daughter of a very powerful ruler in order to gain power to protect his kingdom from foreign invasions.

The King, however, is too devoted to his wife to consider such a marriage. But the Queen, ready to sacrifice herself to save the kingdom, stages her death in a palace fire, then secretly returns to wait upon the new queen and be near her husband. The play is so well constructed that a 9th century critic is said to have remarked that "when the whole of Bhasa's plays were thrown into the fire, the Svapnavasavadatta alone remained unconsumed by the flames!" The play is so well written that it won the hearts of the sternest critics.

Read more about Bhasa, Wikipedia,

(All above mentioned information are based on Wikipedia,,, etc.)

Many many thanks to “Apoorva Chandar” & “Anupam Agrawal”for providing English & Hindi Amar Chitra Katha respectively.


  1. This is too good to be true...Three comics based on stories from my favorite genre (Sanskrit plays of masters such as Bhasa) and I get to be the first to comment again!
    I've just begun reading the english translation of Somadeva's Katha Sarith Sagara (It is indeed a veritable treasure trove of stories! Can be called the Indian version of Arabian nights...only better) and these comics are exactly suited for the mood I'm in! Great job Prabhat, Apoorva and Anupam.

  2. Maybe I am doing something wrong.. but I cannot open the HQ copies.. am i supposed to join these by a tool or simply use cat file1 file2 file3 file4 > combined.cbr. The last option always worked before..

    btw.. before I forget - thank you for the latest round of scans..

  3. These Kings were such lucky guys! Three wives:)...

    Thanks Prabhat and Apoorva Chandar for this great comic!

    Demonoid Fan

  4. Bravo!! Love this post. Incidentally, I just bought a book of English translations of Kalidasa's plays - and now these comics. Thanks guys!!
    BTW, I recommend the Movie "Utsav" starring Rekha and Shekar Suman, and directed by Girish Karnad to everyone - the story of Vasantasena (Mrichakatika) is shown in a very classy way in the movie.

  5. PS: Hey JP, you said you are reading Somadeva's Katha Sarith Sagara in English. Is that an actual book, or an e-book? Can you share some more info on that?

  6. Hey Amith,

    I was referring to an e-book. It is available at the following location :

    It was actually one of the ACKs posted by Prabhat (Manduka the lucky astrologer) that sent my mind racing back to my school sanskrit texts, and I started searching for KSS online. If you cannot find it online at the above location, let me know. I can upload the files to, maybe media fire.

  7. Oh great, found it :D
    Searched for Somadeva as Author and found the entire Katha Sarita Sagara (10 volumes) in english...downloading it now.
    Hey Prabhat, would this e-copy of Katha Sarita Sagara be an apt posting on this blog, since it is a textual book and generally ACKs are posted here?

  8. JP: Welcome! Glad to know your interest in such old literature. Thank you very much for links. With happiness I'll add any book related to such topic.

  9. KK: There is no need to use any program. Extract first file, all will be extract automatically. Then create RAR or ZIP or CBR or CBZ, which you like. This time Apoova divided these files in different way. I also confused first time. :)

  10. Demonoid Fan: Many many thanks to Apoorva! He bought & find time to scan. Actually, he is busy with his MD entrance exams.

  11. Amith Nag: Welcome! Intially I wished to add information about "Utsav". I missed this movie, so I was not sure about it matter.
    This blog has more extended format. All nice material we’ll add.

  12. thank you Apoorva Chandar, for uploading these classics....

  13. JP: Forget to say, pls upload all these books. As you searched these, I'll like to post with your links giving credits to you. It's a treasure hunt really.

  14. i will be more thankful if anyone tells how to download the comics.. I cant able to find the link..

    thanking you


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