1. (A) Who first suggests the game of dicing and why?

Ans. Shakuni suggests the game of dicing. He does so in order to win everything for his nephew Duryodhananad deprive the Pandavas of their wealth and fame.

(B) Who builds the assembly hall for the Pandavas and where?

ANS. The asur called Maya builds the assembly hall for the Pandavas at Indraprastha.

(C)Who, among the Kauravas, supports Draupadi in the scene of dicing? Who silences his argument?

ANS. Vikarnaamong the Kauravas, supports Draupadi in the scene of dicing. Duryodhana silences his argument.

(D) How does Draupadi obtain the freedom of her husbands?

ANS. Draupadi obtains the freedom for her husbands by using the boon that Dhritarastra gave her.

(E) Identify the following persons (any two):

i. Prativindhya

Ans. He was the eldest of the Upapandavas. He was born of the union between Yudhisthira and Draupadi.

ii. Vidura

Ans. He was the prime minister of the kuru kingdom and also the uncle of Pandavas and Kauravas.

iii. Sanjaya

Ans. Sanjaya was the son of the charioteer Gavalgani

. He was the advisor of Dhritarastra and also his charioteer. He was the one who narrated the events of the Kurukshetra to Dhritarastra.

(F)”… a woman had become the refuge of the sons of Pandu” – who says this and about whom? What does the speaker mean by ‘refuge?

Ans. Karna says this about the Pandavas. The speaker means to say that the Pandavas have become so weak that in order to save their skins they had to take the help of a woman. Draupadi saves them from enslavement by asking for their freedom from Dhritarastra.

(G) What is the stake in the second round of dicing?

Ans. In the second round of dicing Yudhisthira staked his chariot.

(H) Write a short note on the character of Shakuni,

Ans. Shakuni is the master plotter on the side of the Kauravas. It was he who encouraged Duryodhana in his self-destructive adventure against the Pandavas. He appeared to work not for his own good but for the good of his nephews. Yet in his over indulgent love he actually destroyed his loved ones.

(I) What is the curse of Draupadi as she departs with her husbands for exile?

Ans. Draupadi curses that after the completion of the fourteen years the wives and other women folk of the Kauravas will mourn the loss of their loved ones and will go out in the same state of dishevelment as she was then.


(A) How does the game of dicing expose the major characters in the The Book of the Assembly?

Ans. A crisis often exposes the true nature of the characters involved in the plot. Again it is also true that the true nature of a person also becomes apparent when he/she is armed with power. The dicing scene has both the aspects. The Pandavas lost the game of dice and some aspects of their characteristics were exposed.

While Yudhishthira showed that he could be calm and composed even in the midst of all the storms, Arjun too shows restrain, Nakul and Sahadeva forbears patiently. It was Bhima who burts out in anger against the injustice perpetrated against Draupadi. Duryodhana, Dushsasana and other Kauravas including Karna shows that they are opportunists and like to insult the weak.

They heap insult to injury and come out as mean people who derive joy from insulting people. The elders appear to be bound by some kind of law of propriety that borders on voyeuristic pleasure from watching people getting hurt and insulted. The true cunning and evil person is Shakuni who manages the entire dicing scene. He is forever, remembered for sowing the seeds of the war that whipped out the Kurus.

(B) King Dhritarastra is torn between parental love and fair play. Comment on his role in the Book of Assembly Hall in connection with the game of dicing.

Ans. Initially acting upon the advice of his minister Vidura, Dhritarastra asks Duryodhana not to indulge in the game of dicing with Yudhisthira. However, he soon succumbs to his son’s demand for the game. He appears to be a weak character who is equally responsible to bring about the doom of his own son. If he had been strong and put his foot down against his son’s unjust and self-destructing demands then he could have had saved his sons from their deaths.

When Draupadi was being disrobed he did not raise a finger to stop his sons from committing the sin. May be somewhere down in his own heart he had hatred and jealousy for the Pandavas and so didn’t want to interfere and thus save the day for the Pandavas. However, he grants boons to Draupadi with the help of which Draupadi buys the freedom of her husbands.

(C) What makes Duryodhana ‘sorely aggrieved’ on his return from Indraprastha?

Ans. When the Pandavas under the leadership of Yudhisthira built their palace with the help of Maya then the envy of Duryodhana increased tenfold. It was his envy that led to the war of the Kurukshetra and the demise of the Kuru clan. The palace was so splendid that it attracted the attention of even the gods. Perhaps it attracted the censure of a nemesis like god/goddess who envious of the prosperity of the humans wanted to sow the seeds of disharmony through Duryodhana.

Duryodhana while speaking to his father states that it was the dharma of the Kshatriya to be jealous of his peers otherwise there will be no progress for the king. If that is true then it is also true that one should keep one’s emotions in check, specially a king. The theme of envy is also symbolized by the fire that razed Maya’s forest. The external fire was very well symbolized by the internal fire that burned in the hearts of the Kauravas against the Pandavas.

(D) Draupadi’s disrobing is a scene of violence countered by her outburst. Discuss.

Ans. Like any other woman Draupadi too becomes an object of sexual aggression. After Yudhisthira loses her as a bet she is insulted by Duryodhana and other kauravas. She fights back with all her might and pleads first with the elders present in the hal, then with her husbands and ultimately with Krsna (who finally saves her modesty). Then, She continuously attacks her assaulters with her jibes and calls them various names. She also brings in the question of dharma and other legal jurisprudence. This outburst definitely could be counterpoised against her disrobing.

(B) i. Evaluate Abhijanasakuntalam as a play where the sringara rasa predominates.

Ans. Shakuntala is struck at the king’s appearance and readily falls in love with him. The king thinks of the possibility of his being a suitable suitor of Shakunatala. There is no shadow of doubt in the fact that the first scene of the play is a unique portrayal of scenic beauty and a serene, and calm ambience of Kanva’s hermitage.

Again, the scene is also painted very beautifully with the colours of love at first sight. When Dushyanta looks at Shakuntala he becomes completely enamoured by the beauty of Shakuntala and her composed nature that he immediately falls in love with her. We are reminded of the famous line by Christopher Marlowe: “Whoever loved that loved not at first sight?”

The play presents a tale of love which on one side is innocent, chaste, unsophisticated and romantic, and on the other artful, frail, insidious and unimaginative. the same time oppressively tragic and inexpressibly tearful. Nowhere has love been It strikes a note which is profoundly serene and immeasurably entertaining, but is at portrayed in such attractive and repulsive colours. Love appears to be nothing but a shocking and painful contradiction in this drama.

Just at the time when love desires to fulfil its destined purpose, it meets with a calamitous accident from which even it is later fortunate escape does not enable it to rise to its natural altitude and secure its original position. It appears as if love, wearing its best apparel and laurels, is lustily on its way to the Court of Spring to display its full majesty, when unexpectedly it falls into a catastrophe, with all its clothes spoiled, flowers crushed and face disfigured, so that even its subsequent recovery does not restore it to its primitive charm.

It is really tragic to find in this story that love has to go to knock at its own door and fails to get a spontaneous response, and when somehow the response comes, all its warmth, enthusiasm and spontaneity appear to have vanished.

Now It is important to note that while the play deals with the theme of love primarily love takes a back seat when patriarchal rules and regulations come into force as opposed to the idea of love. Shakuntala had to prove that she was Dushyanta’s wedded wife. Love itself was not enough to make Dushyanta remember her. The message that came across is that, love kneels before the curse of a bad tempered Rishi.

Love is regarded as an elemental force of nature which becomes subservient to the anger of the ‘Purusha’ There is more than just the reputation of Shakuntala at stake here. The entire idea of the nature and its force seems to be weaker than the restrictive forces of society and the anger of the patriarch. The disciples of Kanva warns the audience that marriages made outside the authority of the society based on the promise of love are bound to fail.

ii. Comment on the role of Madhavya , the Vidusaka, in Abhijanasakuntalam.

Ans. Madhavya was King Dushyanta’s personal entertainer and accompanied him to the different places the King visited. He knew that the King had fallen in love with Shakuntala, foster daughter of Sage Kanva. Madhavya also served the King as his companion and confidant in personal matters. The King shared his feelings for Shankuntala with Madhavya who advised against the union, given that she was a hermit-girl.

However after the Kings description of the girl, Madhavya suggested that the King marry her before she was taken by someone else. The King wanted Madhavya to keep it a secret and so he asked the entertainer to remain silent about the issue when he goes back to the palace and that he spoke in Jest. Madhavya believed that the King was not truly in love with Shakuntala and so could not help the King remember his bond to the girl before he rejected her

. However Madhavya helped the King keep up hope that he would see Shankutala again. Madhavya plays the role of Vidhushaka, the court jester. Such comic figures, who add a different dimension to the story, are standard in Indian drama. He speaks the language of ordinary people rather than Sanskrit. He introduces the audience to the other characters of the play.

Madhavya is a close friend of the king, a keen observer, a repository of knowledge, and a commentator on human follies. His sharp wit spares nobody, not even Dushyanta. He appears to be distant from the king’s love affair , almost condemning it, probably because he does not know Shakuntala. He has only heard of her from the king. His absence from the crucial parts of the play can explain his inability to comprehend the depth of Dushyanta’s feelings for Shakuntala.

(C) What is prakarana? How does the Mrichhakatika illustrate a prakarana?

Ans. According to book Natyashastra (chapter 20) there are ten kinds of plays where prakarana is one. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a prakarana play is one where a fictional situation is used as the plot of the play as opposed to some mythological stories. The prakarana play is an invention of the playwright as opposed to the adaptation of the plot from a pre-existing story.

Mrichhakatika is an example of a prakarana play while Abhijanashakuntalam is an example of a play based on the adaptation of a mythological story. The latter is known as a nataka. Prakarana is a play in five to ten acts. The theme is from the imagination of the author. The hero may be a Brahmin, a minister or a merchant devoted to dharma, artha and karma.

The major sentiment is sringara. The heroine may be a respectable lady, a courtesan or the two combined. There is neither any divine intervention nor any royal luxury in the play. Prakarana is a realistic type of play which derives its theme from the society and the life of ordinary folk. The spectators get acquainted with the many problems that occur in the life of the ordinary people who form a major chunk of the society.

(D) Comment on the significance of the title of Mrichhakatika.

Ans. The title of any work of literary art acts like an early hint to the work. The title often acts like the signpost for an area which gives us things to expect from it. the more associated the theme and the title is the more will the title be considered better but contrastive titles are no less attractive either.

The literal meaning of the title ‘Mrichhkatika’is ‘the little clay cart.’ Generally a play is named after the hero or the heroine in Sanskrit plays. This however is true with Shakespearean plays as well, especially in the case of the tragedies. His comedies however, weren’t named after the male/female protagonist other than Cymbeline (1623).

Often a title is based upon the central theme of the play. However, these. general conventions are not followed in the naming of the play. The incident which provides the play’s title occurs in the beginning of Act VI, i.e. the middle of the play. Initially , it might seem as insignificant event but undoubtedly , it is the central incident of the play. It is noteworthy to say that the title of the play is ironic.

The very first word of the title is ‘mrit’ that means ‘clay’. But the story of the play revolves around the golden ornaments. For a very short time, Charudutta’sslittle son, Rohasena is shown with a ciay cart. Here Rohasena’s desire for a golden cart becomes helpful n the development of the plot. However, the importance of the clay cart cannot be refuted and will be explained in the following paragraphs.

In Act VI, Rohasena, is not satisfied with an earthen toy-cart. He wants a golden toy-cart which he used to play previously with. Radhanika clarifies the issue in Act VI, Radanika. He used to play with a gold cart that belongs to the son of a neighbor. But that was taken away, and when he asked for it, I made him this little clay cart. But when I gave it to him, he said “I don’t like this little clay cart, Radanika. Give me my gold cart.” (Act VI)

He wants his golden cart. Vasantasena gives him her ornaments by filing the cart to the brim. The title originates from this incident. Here, the nmoteworthy point is that the ornaments are the same that were given to Charudutta for safe-keeping in Act I. In reality, her purpose was to continue the acquaintance with him. In Act II, Sharvilaka stole those ornaments. And In Act IV, the same ornaments are returned to Vasantasena by him.

The union of Vasantasena and Charudutta becomes possible because of the ornaments. It also proves helpful in revealing the noble character of the hero and the heroine in the play. In the first half of the play, the ornaments seem blessed for the main characters. On the other hand, in the latter half of the play, these ornaments seem blessed for the main characters.

On the other hand, in the latter half of the play, these ornaments prove unfortunate for Charudutta as he to be sent to the gallows. Thus, in the development of the whole play, the ornaments prove to be an ironical tool that presents both fortunate and unfortunate aspects of human life. The earthen toy-cart links these opposite states in the play.

Further, the final complication of the play arises out of the mixing up of the carts. The title thus includes a hint of the mixing of the carts. Perhaps we can comment that the ‘Little Clay Cart’ was a prelude to the actual carts. Moreover, Rohasena was crying because he was missing his golden cart and Vasantasena had to cry at the hands of Sanathanaka because she had missed the cart meant for her. Yet if Aryaka hasn’t boarded Vardhamanaka’s cart then perhaps Ujjayani’s woes under an evil king might have never be over. Though the carts are ‘reaľ carts they do reverberate the clay cart.

There could be a yet religio-philosophic bend to the title. The title might refer to our own existential crises of identities. We are as brittle as little clay carts. In Hindu philosophy the body is often known to be made of clay. We are just vessels of the ‘atman’ and as useless without it. Our dreams also share a same fate.

Thus one could say that the title of the play is appropriate because in subtle ways the same reflects upon the many issues of the play. Besides its short and rings flounders. Vasantasena almost dies.a musical charm.






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