Sudraka Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Sudraka (SHEW-druh-kuh), also spelled Shudraka or Çudraka, is possibly a legendary prince who never really existed. Tradition has it that he lived in the first or second century before Christ, and The Little Clay Cart, a Sanskrit drama of political intrigue and romantic comedy, has been attributed to him by tradition. The Sutradhara, a later Sanskrit manuscript, ascribes the play to him and describes him as a student of the Vedas, a mathematician, and an expert on women and elephants. Sudraka’s authorship of the play is disputed, however, and some scholars believe that its author was Dandin, a seventh century Sanskrit author best known for a picaresque narrative titled Dasakumracharita (the adventures of the ten princes). It may be that neither Sudraka nor Dandin actually wrote the play; many scholars believe that it dates from the fifth century c.e., six or seven centuries after Sudraka’s supposed dates and about two centuries before Dandin’s lifetime. It seems likely that The Little Clay Cart was written at the beginnings of a golden age of Sanskrit drama under the Gupta kings of Kanauj, who ruled over the greater part of India during the fourth and fifth centuries. The play would belong then to that great age of Sanskrit drama which includes the anonymous Mudrrksasa (the prime minister’s ring) and Klidsa’s famous Sakuntala.{$S[A]Shudraka;Sudraka}{$S[A]Çudr aka;Sudraka}