(Last Updated on : 22/07/2009)
Prakarana is the major form of those plays in Sanskrit theatre in which the dramatist invented the plot. The story was human and mundane. Like the nataka, it offered a panoramic view of life in five to ten acts. The prakarana appears to be deeply rooted in the life of common people and social reality in contrast with the nataka. Nataka is mainly based on tales drawn from the Vedas, epics, Puranas, or great men's exploits. Love and comedy were its principal themes or rasas, and the hero a Brahman, minister, or merchant of the dhirasanta type, intent on meritorious deeds yet seeking with selfish motives objects of desire and wealth, which perish or bring but transitory pleasure.
The heroine was sometimes a noblewoman and sometimes a courtesan, sometimes both. Prakaranas featured characters like the vita i.e. the parasitic companion of a prince, of a dissolute young man, or of a courtesan, skilled in singing, music, and poetry, on familiar terms with his associate whom he serves as a vidushaka. Minor characters included gamblers, thieves, and servants. The Natyashastra
prescribes wider use of Prakrits and dialects in prakaranas. Sudraka's Mricchakatika i.e. 'The Little Clay Cart' and Bhavabhuti's Malati-Madhava i.e. 'Malati and Madhava' are excellent examples of the form.
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