After the Naandi (the worship of the stage), the sutra-dhara (holder of the thread – the manager) enters the stage. He invokes the blessings of Siva on the audience and then describes a conversation between Siva and Parvathi. She wants to question him about the river Ganga, that Siva carries about on his head and he tries to turn the conversation to Chandra (the moon), which he also carries on his head.
As the sUtradhAra invokes S’ivA’s blessings on us (the audience), he introduces the new drama called mudra-rakshasam, wiritten by Visakhadatta, the son of Maharaja Bhaskaradatta and the grandson of Samanta Vatesvaradatta. He is glad that he has a good audience because “the sowings of even a dullard thrive in a good soul”.
He is about to start the performance, when he observes that all his servants are busy decorating the house and preparing for festivities. He calls his wife NaTi (actress) on to the stage and asks her what the festivities are for. She tells him that brahmins have been invited to dinner because she has heard from the townfolk that there will be an eclipse of the moon.
The sutradhara says that he has studied 64 sciences related to the movements of the luminaries and he would like to proceed with feeding the brahmins, but he knows for sure that there is to be no eclipse. For though the malignant Rahu and Ketu intend to eclipse Chandra… (Rahu and Kethu are the names for the moon’s node and antinode, see the SuryaSiddhantam of Maya Danava.)
….A voice from backstage… is heard saying.. ” who dares to assault Chandra, inspite of me?”
The sutradhara continues…. Budhayoga saves him. (Chanakya is also called Buddha and Sarvagnya, so this is reference to him. It is also a pun on Budha Graha (Mercury), who is considered very intelligent)
Nati wants to know which human can save Chandra (the moon) from Rahu.
Then sutradhara listens to the voice again saying “who dares to assault Chandragupta inspite of me?” and recognises it as Kautilya!
This scares Nati.
Sutradhara says, ” This is that angry Chanakya who destroyed the house of the Nandas with his ”kutilamati” (shrewdness).
He thinks that we are speaking of the Maurya Chandragupta, though we speak of the eclipse of the Chandra the moon. Therefore let us retire…!”
Then the scene shifts to the actual play.
- From this we learn that there were 64 sciences related to astronomy.
- Even those educated in astronomy like Sutradhara respected the custom of feeding the brahmins, as did the uneducated like Nati.
- Like us, Sutradhara (and Visakhadatta) know perfectly well that Budha Yoga cannot influence eclipses.
- Visakhadatta is trying to poetically suggest that no one could harm Chandragupta Maurya, while the ever alert, wise and shrewd Kautilya Chanakya is there to protect him. That is the budhayoga.
- We also gather that ordinary people may have been a little scared of Chanakya for they only knew ordinary Niti (ethics) as applicable to citizens and not the RajaNiti (Ethics of kings – oft translated as Politics ) that applied to kings.
- Nati speaks Pali, while Sutradhara speaks Sanskrit.
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