The Little Clay Cart

The Little Clay Cart

The "Little Clay Cart" is, for Sanskrit theatre, atypically romantic, funny, and thrilling. This most human of Sanskrit plays is Shakespearian in its skilful drawing of characters and in the plot's direct clarity. One of the earliest Sanskrit dramas, "Little Clay Cart" was created in South India, perhaps in the seventh century CE. Set in the city of Ujjain, so secular and universal is the story that it can be situated in any society, and it has, including in Bollywood film and by the BBC. Charu-datta, a bankrupt married merchant, is extramaritally involved with a wealthy courtesan, Vasánta-sena. The king's vile brother-in-law, unable to win Vasánta-sena's love, strangles her, and accuses Charu-datta. The court decides the case hastily, condemning Charu-datta to death. Fortunately, our heroine rises from the dead to save her beloved, and all applaud their love. At this climax, the regime changes, and the rebel-turned-king makes Charu-datta lord of an adjacent city.

Publication Date: 
April 20, 2009