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Polity Of Ancient India In Mudrarakshasa Of Vishakhadatta

Vishakhadatta in his Mudrarakshasa characterizes the king as not different from Bhagavan Vishnu (VII.9), following Vedic tradition (the Mahabharata, XII.59). Here is a look at the polity of Ancient India in the play Mudrarakshasa.

Mudrarakshasa contains a number of important statements regarding the principles and policies of government. In it, Chandragupta observes that self-regarding interests take leave of the king who is engaged in fulfilling the interests of others (Act. III. Verse 4). It is difficult, even for kings possessed of self-mastery, to win royal fortune which recoils from the severe and rejects the mild, which hates the foolish and refuse intimacy with the very learned, which fears the brave and derides the timorous (Mudrarakshasa 111.5).

Vishakhadatta draws from the old generic principles of the king’s obligation towards subjects, dealing with disaffected subjects, dealing with friends and foes, the policy of the king’s internal security, application of the diplomatic means (upaya), policy of inter-state relations (Act.III; Act V; Act V.8).

The plot of the play Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadatta turns on the intrigues and counter-intrigues of the two master-politicians Chanakya and Rakshasa. This involves the application of mantra yuddha and kuta yuddha, which establish the superiority of the strength of intellect (mantra shakti) to that of material sources (prabhavashakti).