Sanskrit Poets of India
Bhasa, the Sanskrit Dramatist
Bhasa is one of the earliest and most celebrated Indian playwrights in Sanskrit. However, very little is known about him.
Kālidāsa in the introduction to his first play Malavikagnimitram writes - Shall we neglect the works of such illustrious authors as Bhāsa, Saumilla, and Kaviputra? Can the audience feel any respect for the work of a modern poet, a Kālidāsa?
One of the greatest pioneers of classical Sanskrit drama, Bhasa is said to have lived around 3rd Century A.D. He is one of the earliest known Sanskrit dramatists of ancient India. An Indian scholar, Mahamahopadhyaya Ganapati Sastrigal, rediscovered thirteen of his plays in the year 1912. Not much is known about the life history of Bhasa. There are no written records of his life nor is there a biography of Bhasa. It is said that the great poet Kalidasa was inspired very much by Bhasa and adopted most of his techniques.
Perhaps the most noted play of Bhasa is Svapnavasavadatta (Vision of Vasavadatta). The story revolves around King Udayana who is pressurized by his state minister to marry the daughter of a very powerful ruler in order to gain power to protect his kingdom from foreign invasions. The king is not too keen on this proposal as he loves is wife too much to consider taking such a step. But the wife becomes ready to sacrifice her life for the kingdom and stages a fake death. She secretly returns back to the king to be with him and awaits the new wife. The play is so well written that it won the hearts of the sternest critics.