The seeds of the ancient dramas are found in the Rig Veda. Viz. Pururava - Urvashi, Yama-Yami, Indra-Indrani, Sarma-Pani and Ushas Suktas.

There is a USHAS SUKTA in the Rig Veda. USHA is given a simile. So she is compared with the actress.

Maxmuller, Levi and Oldenburg, Western Scholars, believe that above suktas give seeds of ancient dramatic art and technique. Many dramas of the west, end with tragedy. Because, the soul of them is the conflict. While Sanskrit dramas end with happiness.

The epics - Ramayana, Mahabharata and Artha Shastra help us to get some techniques of dramas, Valmiki, Vyas and Panini throw light on dramaturgy, Patanjali writes in his Mahabhashya that there were two dramas, viz. - Kamsa Vadha and Vali Vadha. Dr. Keith syas that actors were not only dancers but also were musicians. Vatsyayan syas in Kama Sutra that Kings were arranging programmes of acting through actors in festivals. So the origin of dramas found from the early vedic age.

Indian Drama is one of the oldest in the world. By the mid-A.D. 300's, flourishing darma in the Sanskrit language had developed. In technique, Sanskrit plays resembled epic poems. Each play was organized around one of nine RASAS (mood - sentiments). The goal was to produce harmony, so authors avoided clashing moods and all these plays ended happily.

There are mainly six dramatists, viz. Bhasa, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Shudrak, Bhatta Narayana, Vishakhadutta and Harsha.

Bhasa wrote 13 plays, Kalidasa wrote 3 plays, Bhavabhuti 3 plays, Shudrak 1 play, Bhatta Narayana 1 play, Vishakhadutta 1 play and Harsha 3 plays. Harsha is the later dramatist. Hence, we have not discussed here about his plays.

The dramas were written on the basis of the epics and puranas. So people found much interest in the dramas. Rasa and acting were much popular in the society. So, slowly Loka natya became popular.

Acharya Bharat is the founder of the Indian dramaturgy. So he said that Drama is the fifth Veda. Natya Shastra states mainly NATA, NATI, Dance, Music, Instrument, Dialogue, Plot and the Stage. The imitation is the soul of the drama.

Mahakavi Bhasa is the first playwright if Sanskrit literature. He has written 13 plays, taking the story of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and Lok Kathas. Pratima is his first drama. It is based on Ramayana.

The essential constituents of all dramas are as follows : 1. The plot of the play, 2. The Hero.
3. The Sentiment.

The drama is called the Rupaka. It has Rasa or Sentiment for its substratum,is divided into ten classes, viz. Natakam, Saprakaranam, Bhanah, Prakaranam, Dimah, Vyayogah, Samakarah, Veethyangah, Ihamrigah etc.

Mahakavi Kalidas has written three dramas, viz. Malavikagnimitram, Vikramorvashiyam and Abhignan Shakuntalam. Kalidas gave new art, technique, Bhava, Costumes, thoughts, methods and directions. Thus he became greatest poet and plawright in Sanskrit Literature.


Kalidasa says in the beginning of Malavkagnimitram-
"Shall we neglect the plays of Bhasa, Saumilla and Kavi Putras? Can the audience feel any respect for the work of a modern dramatist, a Kalidasa?"

The drama is in five acts, based on a love letter intrigue set on feet by King Agnimitra of Vidisha. He is the hero. Malavika, a princess in the service Dharini, the chief Queen, being the heroine. The scene is laid in VIDISHA and in its vicinity.


The love of Vikrama and Urvashi is shown here. Pururavas the son of Budha and lla, is the hero of this drama. His Queen is Aushinari, a daughter of KASHIRAJ. Uravashi a nymph of heaven, is the heroine. This is a historical play.

ABHIGNAN SHAKUNTALAM-KALIDASA The love of Dushyanta and Shakuntala is shown by the best dramatic art. Dushyanta is the king. He marries with Shakuntala. Due to curse of saint Durvasa to Shakuntala the King does not recognise Shakuntala at all. Then she goes to Ashrama. There she gives a birth of a son namely Bharat. Then by Bharat, King recollects and thus happy reunion of Duhyanta and Shakuntala, shown by the great Kalidasa.

Kalidasa was considered as Ratna (Gem) in the adorned court of Vikramaditya. There were nine gems in his kingdom. So he was a gem there. There is a verse about his drama which is the best.

Among the poems, the drama is the most charming. Among dramas Shakuntala is the best. Even there the fourth act is the best. In fourth act four stanzas are the best and most charming.

Kalidasa shows the greatest love of nature and art in Shakuntala. Characterrisation is considered as the soul of the drama. So kalidasa is considered as the Shakespere of India.

Kalidasa says less and suggests more while Bhavabhuti says more and suggests less.


Bhavabhuti has written three dramas, viz. Mahavircharitam, Malti Madhavam and Uttar Ramcharitam. He was more of a lyric than of a dramatic nature. In point of ability and fame, Bhavabhuti stands second only to Kalidasa in the field of Sanskrit Dramatic Literature.



This drama is based on Ramayana of Valmiki. Dramatist depicts the character of Shri Rama, showing his bravery and valour, of the young age. he describes Shri Rama's earlier life which was much courageous. So the people get spirit from his life.

Malati Madhava is the second play of bhavabhuti. The story of it is distributed in ten acts. He knew well the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Samkhya and Yoga. He had much interest in Yoga. Malati Madhava starts with Nandi. Oh Lord Jagannath, take away our sins and shower blessings on us.

The love of Malati and Madhava is depicted in the drama. Tha Pani Grah means marriage will take place of Malati and Madhava. The dramatist brings the happy reunion of hero and heroine. It ends with Bharat Vakyam.




Uttarramacharitam signifies, purports to be an account of the life of Rama subsequent to his return from exile and installation of the throne of Ayodhya. Rama banishes Sita thus shown in Ramayan and Mahabharata. Poet was inspired by Valmiki and Kalidasa.

Shri Rama is the hero of the play. He was perfect and ideal of mankind. His heart was soft like flower. Sita is the perfect type of womanhood. She is representing a role of Bharatiya Arya Nari.

Bhavabhuti took his Uttarrama Charita to Kalidasa and asked him to give his judgement on it. Then he said that it is O. K. Then he told to read it minutely. Then he read and told there is a mistake of oly a dot, i.e. not AEEVAM but AEV. Then Bhavabhuti was much pleased.

It is said that -


Bhavabhuti has reached in excellence in dramatic art.



Mrichachakatikam is a Prakarana drama. There are ten acts. This was a new experiment on the sanskrit stage. Charudatta, a brahmin merchant and Vasantsena, a courtesan by birth were both of Ujjaini, have conceived, a passion for each other, that on Vasantsena's side being by for the stronger samsthanak, a brother-in-law of the reigning King Palak, has an eye on Vasantsena and seeks her love with offers of money. There are ten acts in the drama.

The drama starts with nandi. the poet bhatta Narayana was designated by the title MRIGARAJ.

The meaning of title is lying of the hair into a braid. The Pandavas were defeated by Kauravas. So they were asked to go to forest. Then Draupadi gets angry with Pandavas. Then Bhima takes it seriously and inspires other brothers. Duryodhana is cruel but his wife Bhanumati is kind. Then the qurrel starts between Karna and Ashwathama. At the end Duryodhan is killed and Draupadi's hairs were tied to braid. Lastly Bharat Vakyam takes place. Thus, the plot is distributed in six acts. So his drama is historical.


Drama is in seven acts. It opens with a prologue. This is a historical play. It is mainly concerned with Chandragupta's elevation to the throne of Magadh, on the fall of Nanda dynasty. The adoptions of measure strength on his rule by Chanakya, the revered politician of his time. Rakshasa is conquered by ring, hence the title is most significant.

The aim of writing this article was to throw light on ancient drama and give origin and growth of Sanskrit Dramas based on Bharat Muni's Natya Shastra.


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