Sudraka was an ancient Indian playwright who is believed to have lived in the 5th century CE. He is best known for his play “Mrichchhakatika- The Little Clay Cart”, which is considered one of the greatest  works of Sanskrit literature. Mrichchhakatika is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a young Brahmin named Charudatta, who falls in love with a courtesan named Vasantasena. The play explores themes of love, friendship, loyalty, and social status, and is noted for its complex characters and intricate plot. Sudraka is also credited with writing other plays, including “Veena Vasavadatta, Padmaprabhritaka, Daśarūpa and Bhagavatī. However, only Mrichchhakatika has survived in its entirety, and it remains one of the most celebrated works of ancient Indian literature. Mrichchhakatika and Veena Vasavadatta are based on Bhasa’s plays Daridra Charudatta and Svapnavasavadatta respectively.  


The Little Clay Cart – is a play written by the great writer Sudraka. It is based on the story of the play Daridracharudatta by Bhasa. This play is a love story of a young Brahmin Charudutta and a rich and beautiful courtesan Vasantasena. Charudutta is married to Dutaa and has a son named Rohasena. They have a househelp Radanika. Charudutta has a best friend named Maitreya. Vasantasena is a famous courtesan of Ujjayini. Madanika is her best friend, who is always with her. Shakara is the antagonist of this play, who tries to possess Vasantasena forcefully. He is after her with his friends Cheta and Veeta, when she hides in Charudutta’s house to save herself. Charudutta meets her there for the first time, and they fall in love with each other. She tells him that she is being followed by some men and won’t be safe with all her jewellery. So she asks Charudutta to keep his jewellery with him. She does this in a hope of meeting him again when he returns her valuables. The jewellery gets stolen from the house by Sharvilaka, who is Madanika’s lover. She takes a loan from Vasantasena and is unable to pay back, so continues working with her due to the debt. Sharvilaka does this to help Madanika pay the debt and then take her with him to marry her. But, Madanika identifies the jewellery that is Vasantasena’ s. She passes out on knowing the truth. Vasantasena passes out too, who overhears this conversation. She agrees to accept the jewellery and frees Madanika to go with Sharvilaka. On the other hand, Charudutta is worried about Vasantasena’s stolen jewellery. Dutaa gives her valuable pearl necklace to Maitreya and asks him to give the necklace to Vasantasena instead of her jewellery. When Maitreya visits Vasantasena, the way he has described her house is very amazing. At the end of the play, Shakara tries to kill Vasantasena. He runs away after doing so. But, Charudutta is blamed for killing her. As the judge is about to declare him the killer, Vasantasena arrives in the court, and tells everyone that she is alive and Shakara is the one who tried to kill her. In this way the story ends with all of them living happily ever after.

Description of Vasantasena’s house by Maitreya in Mricchakatika

As told by Dutaa, Maitreya takes her valuable pearl necklace to Vasantasena’s place. He describes the house in detail. The house is eight quadrangular, he says. The first one is the entrance with a huge gate, on which long garlands made of flowers and mango leaves are tied. 

Veena Vasavdutta

Veena- Vasavdatta, a play written by Sudraka, is a love story of princess Vasavadatta and King Udayana of Vatsa. This play is based on Bhasa’s play SvapnaVasavadatta. The first eight acts of this play were found in Kerala, but the end part of the play is lost, that was about two to three acts. Vasavadatta is the daughter of King Pradyota, the king of Avanti. King Pradyota wishes to teach his daughter to play Veena. He is trying to find a suitable groom for her. God Shiva once tells him in his dream that his daughter will get married to an ideal man, but without will. He feels that King Udayana is a good choice for his daughter. But, King Udayana was too proud to accept the marriage proposal. King Pradyota orders to capture Udayana and put him in prison in Ujjayini, the capital of Avanti. King Udayana falls in love with Vasavdatta in Ujjayini, while teaching her to play Veena. He plans to escape from there along with the Princess. The last two to three acts of the play that are lost, probably describe the story about how King Udayana plans an escape with Vasavadatta and how they end up together. Bhasa’s plays Pratidnya Yaugandharayan and Svapna Vasavadatta, with the same characters, are very short. The main characters do not appear on the stage, and just are described indirectly. Unlike these, what Sudraka wrote is a full-fledged play with a very detailed story. 

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