PanacyudhaPlapalical is perhaps the largest hitherto known Bliapa of Sanskrit literature. The drama is composed in such a chaste and erudite Sanskrit, the plot is so interesting and captivating and the work is so perfect from the point of view of dramatic art that it can vie with even the best Blears of the classical and later classical age. It is surprising that such a wet k could be written, produced and enjoyed as late as 1805 A. C. when the Maratha power w as no more in ascendance and the influence of European Culture had already made itself felt, especially in and around Bombay, heralding an age in which traditional learning had already experienced a big jolt.
The word Bhana is derived from the root Bhatia = to tell, to narrate. Among the ten forms of Sanskrit plays, Bhana is the form in which one single actor re-creates the whole drama with all its events and characters on the stage simply by narration, by descriptions, by repeating imaginary questions and giving their answers. The play is a running performance, the vita or the Bhanika continuously remains present on the stage, there being no division in acts.
The genre of Bhana seems to have risen from unconventional folk theatre to a literary form. It has its origin in the witty and sarcastic remarks of a talented person accompanied by proper dramatic gestures in front of public, thus bringing to light the weaknesses of certain special categories of people who are normally highly respected in the society It is full of humor and satire and aims at purging the society of its evil and incongruities, a very healthy and constructive approach indeed. This dramatic art is presently highly developed in western countries where the telecasts of expert artists dealing critically and sarcastically with the contemporary social and political situation send an audience of millions into roaring laughter. It seems that in ancient India too this art was practiced as a full-fledged profession as a number of stone pillars and penals of Barhop stump (2nd C. B. C.) has been donated by persons who call themselves `banana-s’ etc.
The terms banana has rightly been interpreted as a person who moves from village to village performing bhangs and is to be connected with the Hindi word 1114' which denotes a person adept in the art of satirical sayings, farces and other sorts of humorous performances.' In order to cater to the taste of commonplace audience these lite of North India often indulge in language bordering on obscenity which, however, seems to have its historical antecedent in the Sanskrit bhTh.las. In the long tradition of Sanskrit bhanas which started with the Caturbliaq2 of Gupta age and continued till late in the modern times enriching the Sanskrit literature with approximately 120 Lianas, by far the largest number of bhanas contains such words as north, Big, wrost. and TR' etc, in their titles and almost invariably have one or more courtsansidancing girls/prostitutes as their prominent characters.
It may be noted here in passing that of late this Vidyapeetha has also successfully endeavored to stage one of the most charming. Bhatlas of Sanskrit Literature, namely not SI Tovar. There have been four presentations of this play, three in Allahabad and one in Jammu. The roles of Dr. Azad Mishra as Vita and that of Sri Shriram Mishra as Ritradhara in these presentations have highly been appreciated by the Public.
The present edition of Paficayudhaprapafica-bhana has been prepared on the basis of its lithographed edition (by Vishnu Vasudeva God bole, Bombay, ,§aka year 1786) assisted by two further manuscripts, one deposited in the manuscripts Library of our Institute and the other procured from the Saraswati Phavan Library of Varanasi, When the text had almost entirely been printed, 1 chanced upon a printed edition of this work in April 1986 in a small antiquarian shop in Poona issued by Abaji Ramchandra Savanta in the aka year 1814 from Belgaum and brought it to Allahabad with me. It was unfortunately already late to make use of this book for the reconstruction of the text; however, we collated the text of the Belgaum edition with our own text and noted down the variant readings in an appendix. In case a second edition of this work is ever published, these readings will be proper lee taken care of and incorporated in the main body of the text; so also a few other manuscripts of this work which are available e.g. in the Manuscripts Libraries of Mysore and Baroda which could not be procured for preparing this edition.
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