(Last Updated on : 18/11/2011)
Bhasa was one of the earliest and most celebrated Indian playwrights in Sanskrit. He has to his credit of writing thirteen dramas. Kalidasa
had referred to him in his first work of Mdlavikdgnimitra. Bhasa can be placed in the latter half of the third century A.D. His dramas include Avimaraka, Pratijna-yaugandharayana, Balacarita, Dutavdkya, Madhyamavyayoga, Dutaghatotkacha, Pancaratra, Urubanga, Karncabhdra, Pratimanantaka Abhisekanataka, Carudatta and Svapnavdsavadattd. He appears to be a prolific writer having written a number of dramas on a variety of themes. The Abhisekanataka and the Pratimdndtaka are based on the Rama episode, the former being somewhat dreary summary of the corresponding books of the Rdmdyana. There are certain variations in these dramas but the characters remain stereotyped.
The dramas like the Madhyamavyayoga, the Karnabhdra the Dutaghatotkaca, the Dutavakya and Urubhanga, based on the Mahdbhdrata, show more invention and interest.
The Bdlacarita, based on the Krsna legend, reveals the originality of Bhasay's genius. In it the poet has put strange figures of the attendants of Visnu or the host of the goddess Kartya-yani or the bull Arista or the snake demon Kaliya. All of them appear on the stage in costumes and the audience is required to conceive these figures in their imagination. According to Keith as a drama "the play suffers unquestionably from the wholly undeniable disparity between the two opponents, Krsna is never in danger, and his feats are too easily achieved to produce their full effect."
The Avimaraka is a drama of love, primitive in its expression and intensity. There is a more interesting hint of youthful love in the armour of Udayana and Vasavadatta in the Pratijnayaugandharayana. The Svapnavasavadatta itself reveals Udayana as a faithful and devoted husband.
Style of Drama of Bhasa
Bhasa did not accord, in technique, entirely with the later rules of the theorists. For example the Natyasastra forbids the exhibition of battle scenes while Bhasa freely permits them. In the primitive drama one finds the presence of battle scenes such as Lord Krishna
. One can also find death scenes on the stage but of such evil doers which cause no sorrow to the audience. In Bhasa'a art one finds primitive traits when he uses the device by which some one departs and returns straight way to narrate, which must have taken long to happen. He has also freely used magic weapons, as in the epics, Ghatotkacha, in the Madhyamavydyoga. Here he is seen using his magic ring of power. Similar is the case in the Dutavdkya. The magic ring of the Vidyddhara plays a decisive part in the Avimarka, with the help of which the hero visits his wife Kurangi unseen.
Bhasa has also frequently employed the usage of dance as an ornament to the drama. The Hallisaka dance in the Act III of the Balacarita and the ritual dance in the Act II of the Pancaratra are some of the examples. The dance is accompanied by music and song.
The influence of epic tradition and epic recitation can also be seen in the dramas of Bhasa. Bhasa has also used the verse to further the progress of the play and employed the usage of monologue. However, Bhasa's dramas do not suffer from one great defect of epic style, the lack of measure. This permits the Ramayana
to illustrate by twenty nine similes the sorrows of Sita in her captivity. In the Abhisekanataka there is only one simile. Further, it is an essential dramatic merit in Bhasa that his expression is far easier to follow than in much of later dramatic poetry.