The Anargharāghava (Devanagari अनर्घराघव) is a dramatised retelling of the Ramayana, and one of the most challenging pieces of classical Sanskrit poetry. It is the only surviving work by Murāri, a brahmin court poet, who lived some time between the 8th and 10th century CE, perhaps in Orissa or in neighbouring South India.
Because of its elegant style, learned allusions and often striking imagery, the poem has been a great favourite among pandits[who?], although it received little attention in the West until recently. The well-known epic story of Rama’s exploits is presented as a series of political intrigues and battles, and contrasted with lyrical passages of various kinds: on love and war, pride and honor, gods and demons, rites and myths, regions and cities of ancient India.
The play has little action — most fights and events take place behind the scenes or between acts — focussing instead on diction and other elements of dramatic representation, reminiscent of the Keralan Kutiyattam tradition. Although Kutiyattam representations are envisaged for dramas with more action than the Anargharāghava, actual performances — which normally include only one episode of a play at one go — often resemble spectacular chanting recitations of poetry interspersed with well-choreographed movements rather than what one would normally call theatre.
Murāri's emphasis on writing a play rather than a series of beautiful stanzas is also seen in the numerous allusions to plays and theatre. In the Prakrit-Sanskrit prelude of Act 4, entitled miśraviṣkambhaka, Mālyavan, the great intriguer of the demons, Rāvaṇa’s minister, is angry with Vishvāmitra, who is directing a ‘bad drama’, durnāṭaka, a play which is altogether against Mālyavan’s will. The expression is made more explicit by one of the commentators, Vishnubhatta, who gives the following paraphrase: he Vishvāmitra directs everything himself, just as a stage-manager does (svayaṃ sūtradhāravat sarvapreraka iti bhāvaḥ). In presenting the Rama-story as a story of intrigues, Murāri follows the tradition of Bhavabhuti’s Mahāvīracarita, but renews it with his parallels from the world of stage.
- Anargharāghavam with Sanskrit commentary and Hindi translation by Rāmacandra Miśra, Varanasi: Chowkhamba Vidya Bhawan, 1960.
- Anargharāghava: Das Schauspiel vom kostbaren Raghuspross. Einführung und Übersetzung by Karin Steiner, Drama und Theater in Südasien, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1997.
- Rama Beyond Prise by Judit Törzsök, Clay Sanskrit Library, 2006.
- Viṣṇubhaṭṭaviracitā Anargharāghavapañcikā: The Commentary of Viṣṇubhaṭṭa on the Anargharāghava of Murāri by Judit Törzsök, Critical edition, Vol I: The Commentary of Viṣṇubhaṭṭa; Vol. II: The Anargharāghava of Murāri as Read by Viṣṇubhaṭṭa, Notes, Appendices by Harinarayana Bhat, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 123, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 2003), pp. 431-434.
- scans of a 1887 edition, Nirnaysagar press, Mumbai.
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