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Prabodhacandrodaya – Classical Sanskrit Drama – Story

 Prabodhacandrodaya is an allegorical Sanskrit drama written by Krishna Mishra. When the Chandella king Kirtivarman of Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) regained his sovereignty from the Chedi king Karna, Gopala Samanta was his chief general. His preceptor was Krishna Mishra. Gopala suggested him to write a play to commemorate the victory of the king. Krishna Mishra composed an allegorical play, Prabodhacandrodaya (The Rise of the Moon of Knowledge), in six acts. The play was enacted in 1065 CE in a victory festival organized by the king.

Prabodhacandrodaya glorifies the Vedanta theory from the point of view of the Vaishnava cult in contrast to heretical religious teachings. But the poetry of the play is what will impress everyone. Characters are vividly sketched. There is no frigidity in the plot.

There was a struggle between the powerful sons of the Mind, born respectively of his two wives Activity and Repose and named King Confusion and King Discrimination. After a great struggle and the ultimate triumph of the good party, the Mind is disconsolate over the loss of his progeny Confusion and his wife Activity; but true Doctrine, Vedanta, disabuses him of false ideas and advises him to settle down with the other wife Repose, who is worthy of him. In the end, the Supreme Bhagavan appears as purusha. Discrimination is united with the sacred Bhagavan and the prophecy is fulfilled by the birth of True Knowledge out of the union.

With such an abstract and an essentially scholastic subject matter, it is difficult to produce a drama of real interest. But what is noteworthy is how Krishna Mishra has succeeded to a remarkable degree in producing a work of real merit.

In the whole range of allegorical poetry in Indian literature, Prabodhacandrodaya is the most well known Sanskrit work. Numerous commentaries and translations show the popularity of the play.

Eleven commentaries of Nandgopla and others are available. Among them, the first belongs to 1554 CE. Twenty translations in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Persian are also available; the first amongst them was done in 1480 CE. The importance of this work may be gauged from the fact that it has also been rendered into English, German, French, Dutch and Russian, the first of them date 1842 CE. This popularity led to the production of numerous other dramas of the same type, but none could approach the eminence of Prabodhacandrodaya in literary standards.