The story of the play in brief is as follows. Udayana was the king of Kausambi and his beloved wife was Vasavadatta. Ratnavali or Sagarika was the princess of Simhala and was shipwrecked on her way to Kausambi, when she was coming to marry Udayana.
Ratnavali is rescued by Yaugrandharayana, the Chief Minister of Udayana. He gives a pseudonym 'Sagarika' and introduces her to the queen Vasavadatta as one of the maid to take care of her.
Sagarika on one occasion of Manmatha puja sees the King Udayana and falls in love with him. The king also comes to know of her love towards him and reciprocates. The Jester Vidushaka in service of King Udayana also comes to know of this fact. He arranges meeting between the king Udayana and Sagarika.
The Queen Vasavadatta comes to know of this fact and prevents the meeting by throwing Sagarika in the prison. Later, the queen realizes that Sagarika is none other than her own cousin, the Princess Ratnavali. Then the queen readily agrees to allow Sagarika share the affection of her husband, King Udayana. Both Sagarika and the King Udayana are married in the end.
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