Plays of Rajasekhara
Rajasekhara was a great poet and dramatist of his age. He lived in the court of the Pratiharas. The Karpuramanjari was his first play. He was regarded as the teacher of Nirbhaya or Mahendrapala of Kannauj. The Balardmdyana was produced at his request. The Viddhasalabhanjika was produced for Yuvaraja Keyuravarsa of Tripuri. But again the unfinished Balabharata was written for the Pratihara ruler Mahipala I, whose rule begins probably in 914 A.D. The Balaramayana is Mahandtaka i.e. in ten acts which is very lengthy. The author has expanded each act to almost the dimensions of a Natika. Even the prologue has been expended to the size of an act. Though the drama is based on the Ramayana but the love of Ravana has been made the dominating factor.
The Balabharata i.e. 'The Little Bharata or Prapanca Pandava or 'The Five Pandavas' is based on the Mahabharata that depicts the marriage of Draupadi, the Pandavas' loss of kingdom, the gambling scene with the ill usages of Draupadi and the Pandavas' departure to the forest.
The Karpuramanjari is classed as a sattaka because it is in prakrit and none of the characters speaking Sanskrit. The play depicts the love affairs between the kind Chandapala and the Kuntale princess, Karpuramanjari cousin of the queen. The same motif is repeated in the Viddhasalabhanjika a regular Natika.
Viddhasalabhanjika is a four act natika. The parts can be mentioned as Chandravarman, king of Lata, has no son and passes off his daughter as a boy, and sending her to the Vidyadhara queen in Kerala. This leads to a secret marriage between her and the Vidyadhara king. Meanwhile, a messenger brings the happy news of the birth of a son to Chandravarman. The fourth work, Karpuramanjari i.e. 'Camphor Blossoms' is a sattaka. This is a variety of drama written entirely in Prakrit in four acts. It tells the story, full of vicissitudes, of love between king Chandrapala and a princess of Kuntala. His queen's jealousy, the consequent impediments, the lovers' secret meetings, and finally their marriage, follow a pattern borrowed from older court comedies.
Rajasekhara's chief theatrical contribution lies in having written a new genre of play, the sattaka. The works of Rajasekhara depict the beginning of the process of decadence of real dramatic quality. In this he integrated the spectacular elements of his day, such as magic performances and acrobatics. Both his natika and the sattaka show the evolution of Sanskrit Theatre practice in which, with the gradual emergence of the new dramatic forms known as uparupakas, a predominant role was assigned to music and dance. At the same time, his two natakas based on the epics display his capability of composing in forms inherited from tradition. He also authored an important text, Kavyamimamsa i.e. 'Treatise on Poetry' of literary criticism and theory.