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Venisamhara of Bhatta Narayana

Venisamhara is the only known work of Bhatta Narayana. But there are reasons to believe that he must have written other works as well. Bhatta Narayana belonged to the 6th or the 7th century CE.

The plot of Venisamhara (Binding of Hair) is based mainly on the episode in the Mahabharata of Bhima taking a vow that he would tie up the tresses of Draupadi with the blood drawn from the thighs of Duryodhana. The playwright takes liberties with the original episode in maturing omissions, additions and variation. The play consists of six acts.

The drama is much quoted in manuals of rhetoric of Vamana, Anandavardhana, Ruyyaka, Namisadhu, Kshemendra, Mammata, Dhananjaya etc.

There is plenty of action in the drama but little actual movement on the stage. Characterization is not the strong point of Bhatta Narayana. This does not mean that he has not the capacity to paint the characters. Heroic and pathetic sentiments run side by side.

Dhananjaya, following Anandavardhana, has drawn many verses from the drama to illustrate different emotions.

The action though polished and powerful is labored.

Scholars have expressed their difficulty in identifying the hero of the drama – whether it is Bhima or Dharmaputra? There are episodes example – Duryodhana and Bhanumati, which are irrelevant to the main action of the play. It is said that Duryodhana alone has secured the best attention of the playwright. The play is noted not so much for innovative ideas but for dramatic devices.