Vishakhadatta – Poet of Mudrarakshasa

Vishakhadatta Biography:

Vishakhadatta was one of the famous Sanskrit poets and playwriters after Mahakavi Kalidas. Primer information about him is not widely propagated. He wrote magnum opus two plays, the Mudraraksasa and the Devichandraguptam. In these books, he wrote the Sanskrit language with beautiful words. So still, we admire the themes of the books at present. His father and grandfather characters are also narrated in these books as Maharaja Bhaskaradatta and Maharaja Vateshvaradatta.


The political play Mudrarakasasa has amused readers for centuries. Here the Mudrarakshasa means the Rakshasa wearing the Ring. The characters of his father and grandfather indicated that Vishakhadatta came from a princely family. Probably, their family had been involved in the political administration at the court of the kings or the local level.

He was not such a great scholar in the Sanskrit language. Vishakhadatta had not proper literary education and grammar. He used the sentences in general form but successfully bound the readers and the spectators to the play with enthusiastic conversations between the characters. The poet was eminent in cultivating the conventions to focus on social life. Before him, Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti were famous for serving Sanskrit literature. Both give high-quality Sanskrit language and beautiful descriptions of the events in the plays. Kalidasa’s works were based on high culture, and Bhavabhuti succeeded in philosophical erudition. But the prose of Vishakhadatta had specific stiffness in the characters’ conversations.


He is another play named Devichandragupta, the story between Devi and Chandragupta. In the later years, the storyline had been reconstructed, but the theme concept was the same. We can see the fragments of the Devichandragupta in King Bhoja’s two works named Natyadarpana of Ramachandra and Gunachandra. A few of the quotations from Vishakhadatta’s book are explained widely by King Bhoja.

The storyline in Devichandaguptam is exciting. Once, the Saka ruler cheated King Ramagupta and was forced into a humiliating treaty. Due to the treaty, Ramagupta sends his Dhruvadevi to the Saka ruler. Then the main hero of the story Chandragupta, the younger brother of Ramagupta, enters the mater and kills Ramagupta and his brother Ramagupta for the humiliation. Then he crowned the Gupta Empire and married Ramagupta’s wife, Dhruvadevi.
In the modern period, the English man Michael Coulson translated ‘Mudrarakshasa’ into English under ‘Rakshasa’s Ring’.