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Social Hierarchies in Terms of Conformity and Deviance as ... - ipedr

Social Hierarchies in Terms of Conformity and Deviance as ... - ipedr

Social Hierarchies in Terms of Conformity and Deviance as ... -

DOI: 10.7763/IPEDR. 2012. V51. 27 Social Hierarchies in Terms of Conformity and Deviance as Evident in the Mŗccakațika Aditi Singh + Department Of History, University Of Delhi Abstract. The paper looks at different social positions depicted in the Sanskrit drama Mŗccakatika placed in 5 th Century AD. Keywords: Social Hierarchies, Conformity, Deviance. 1. Introduction The Mŗccakatika or The Little Clay cart is a comic love story set in Ujjainī where the hero of the drama is a poor BrāhmaṇCārūdutta. Cārūduttathroughout the play had been associated with various occupations. He is addressed as a “leader of Brāhmaṇs” (Dvijasārthavāho) by M R Kalewhere as at places in the play he is referred to as both a merchant and a Brāhmaṇ. The heroine is a well established and cultured courtesan (gaṇikā) Vasantasenā. The play itself can technically be called a Prakarṇa where the plot must be an invention of the poet based on worldly life. The author Śūdraka finds reference in the beginning of the play, his background is detailed upon by the play itself where Śūdraka is referred to as a king who is an expert in the Ŗgveda, the Sāmaveda, Mathematics, the arts regarding the courtesans and the science of elephants. The humour here presents an antithesis to the outlined precepts. Dueto the discovery of Bhāsa’s plays and one of his plays Cārūdutta having some resemblance with Mŗccakatikait has been argued that even Mŗccakatika was written by Bhāsa and was an improved and completed version of Cārūdutta. Buittenen argues that Śūdraka is a very common name and it means ‘little śūdra’ or servant and was thus used by the author probably as a modest gesture to show his indebtedness to Bhāsa. Otherwise Śūdraka to Kalhana in Rājtarangini was a figure to be set beside Vikramāditya. What we see is that no other Sanskrit play exhibits such a huge variety of dramatic incidents. The humour presented in the play is unmatchable and the dialogues are pointed and witty. This of course is a major contrast when compared to the general Sanskrit play writing. Here the humour is dependent not only on puns or words but also on situations. 2. The Play Like many other Sanskrit dramas various prakrits have been used in the play which seems to almost illustrate the precepts of Nātyaśāstra in this regard. Sanskrit on the other hand is spoken by the hero Cārūdutta, the Vita, The royal claimant Āryaka, the Brāhmaṇ thief Śarvilāka and the heroine Vasantasenā. In all the play marks itself as very different and cannot be type castes in any genre as such but what is evident is that it contains all the flavours of a cosmopolitan drama and out of all these the comic element seems to dominate. While looking at the social hierarchies within the play very evident is the depiction of various kinds of Brāhmaṇs in the text, in general the ideal picture of a Brāhmaṇ or the ideal roles played by him have been elaborated by G P Upadhyay where he outlines their various categories under this larger unit as one the Ŗtis, two the Brāhmaṇs as priests, three the royal chaplain, four the domestic priest and five the temple priest, but in contrast to this general description what is depicted in the drama is very different and deviates from the shastric trends completely. Theoretically it was common knowledge that the son was to adopt the profession of the father but this was not something really followed in practice. As we would also see clearly in the play the smŗtīs make it evident that non brahmanical callings were followed by Brāhmaṇs and this is corroborated by inscriptions also which testify to the existence of Brāhmaṇs following agriculture, + Corresponding author. Tel.: + 011-22377146. E-mail address: addyjam@gmail.com. 119

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