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Sankalpa Suryodayam

Sankalpa Suryodayam is a play in refutation of the philosophy of monism. Allegorical dramas in Sanskrit, in which abstract notions and symbolic figures take the role of the dramatist personae, have theological – philosophical plots. Among them, Prabodhacandrodaya (the rise of the moon in the form of right knowledge) of Krishna Mishra, a monk (11th/12th century CE), is unique for its vigorous defense of the Advaita (monistic philosophy).

As a rejoinder to this work, Venkatanatha, popularly known as Vedanta Desika (1268 – 1368 CE), who was a staunch votary of the philosophy of Visistadvaita (qualified monism), wrote the play Samkalpasuryodayam (in ten acts), which means “The Rise of the Sun in the Form of the Will or the Grace of God.” The play follows the model of Prabodhacandrodaya, with one significant difference – if Prabodhacandrodaya asserts that correct knowledge of the Supreme is essential for liberation, this play emphasizes grace or the will of God as the one and only means of liberation of the atma.

Viveka (discriminative intelligence) is the hero and Moha (infatuation) is the villain. Santa (quietism) is the principal sentiment. The wrong doer, King Error, appears on the scene, surrounded by his faithful adherents, the Follies and Vices, when Dharma (religion) and the noble King Reason are defeated and banished. Viveka (discriminating intelligence) appeals to Narada to ensure the descent of Samkalpa (divine will). Enter Vishnubhakti, the daughter of Buddhi and Purusha. She prays for the daya (mercy) of Vishnu. Urged by daya, Divine Grace arrives. Now Vishnubhakti narrates the plight of Purusha to Sankalpa, who looks at Purusha compassionately. Sankalpa removes the sins of Purusha and blesses him with Divine Grace or Will to lead him to Vaikuntha (spiritual planets). Both Viveka and Vishnu Bhakti arrive to see Purusha, who is thus blessed with Divine Grace. Purusha honors them duly. With the descent of God’s Grace, Religion and Reason are restored to their proper place.

The poet has succeeded in the difficult task of creating an attractive play with abstractions like Infatuation, Revelation, Divine Grace, Reason, Wisdom, Ego, Dharma, Devotion, etc. The prologue of the play is too long and in many ways non-dramatic. However, the play gets at the essence of Srivaishnavism. The author’s profound knowledge and stately diction are noteworthy.

Source - Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX - IHRF