Bhāsa

Bhāsa is one of the reputed authors known to the writers of ancient classical literature in Sanskrit. Though mentioned by Kālidāsa and Bāṇa, his works had not been traced. It was only in 1912 that Paṇḍit Gaṇapati Śāstri of Trivandrum published 13 plays like Pratijña Yaugandarāyaṇa and Svapnavāsavadatta. After several rounds of controversies among the Sanskrit scholars, it is now generally agreed that all these 13 plays are by a single author and that it could be Bhāsa, though the evidence is not conclusive. He might have been a contemporary of Pāṇini, the grammarian, and might have lived in the 4th century B. C., but in a place far away from his.

Very little is known of his life. He was probably a brāhmaṇa-muni and had strong leanings towards the Viṣṇu cult.

Six of his plays like Madhyama Vyāyoga, Karṇabhāra and Ūrubhaṅga are based on the Mahābhārata and two (Pratimā and Abhiṣeka) on the Rāmāyaṇa.

The rest like Svapnavāsavadatta and Avimāraka are from miscellaneous sources like the Bṛhatkathā of Guṇāḍhya, an ancient collection of tales in the Paiśācī language.

Bhāsa’s language is simple, direct and forceful. The dramas are eminently suited to be enacted on the stage.