The Little Clay Cart

by Sudraka
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Discuss the Mrichhakotika as a prakarana play.

The Mrichhakotika is a prakarana play in that is it the author's invention rather than being based on traditional epic literature. That The Little Clay Cart, as it's also known, is a prakarana play allows Sudakra to comment upon certain aspects of contemporary society.

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In traditional Sanskrit drama, two main kinds of play can be observed. First, there is nataka, which is based on epic material—tales of gods and mythical heroes, for example—and prakarana, which is purely the playwright's invention. The Little Clay Cart by Sudakra falls under the latter category in that the play's characters and situations are the product of the dramatist's imagination.

Though the situations depicted in the play are wholly fictitious, they are nonetheless drawn from everyday life. In writing The Little Clay Cart, Sudraka will doubtless have wanted his audience to identify with the characters on stage. To this end, he made them as real as possible, giving them similar characteristics to those of his audience.

The forbidden love that develops between the Brahmin Chrudatta and Vasantasen, a courtesan, allows Sudraka to explore the Hindu caste system and put forward the notion that love can truly conquer all the many obstacles that religion and society can put in its way.

The playwright would not have been able to do this in a nataka, where the epic material would've restricted him in what kind of characters and situations he could depict on stage.

As it is, the prakarana provides him with the opportunity to say something important about contemporary society and gives his audience much food for thought.

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