Vidusaka’s appetite

Vidusaka is a stock comic character in ancient Sanskrit drama; there has been much ink spilled as to whether he was a jester or not, and many of the arguments against this proposition seem rather to confirm it.  We’ll be featuring more quotes and stories about vidusaka, so we can build a fully rounded picture of him, as well as enjoying his jesterish cheek. 

A common trait is fearless irreverence, including mocking the master’s love-lorn pinings.  Says one vidusaka in Kalidasa’s Urvasi Won by Valor:

`Oh Lord!  Thank God!  After frolicking a long time with Urvasi around paradise grove and who-knows-where-else, my dear friend has finally returned’ (Urvasi, V.). 

In the same vein, vidusaka can equate regal heartache to the jester’s ever-griping stomach:

King.  Enough, friend, I need compassion!

Gautama.  And so do I!  The pit of my stomach burns like a cooking pot in the market.  (Malavika, II.)

See another vidusaka character, Maitreya, who is proud of his sense of timing. 

Source: Kalidasa (fl.c. fifth century), Urvasi Won By Valor, trans. by David Gitomer, in Theater of Memory: The Plays of Kalidasa, ed. by Barbara S. Miller (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 1984), p. 239; Malavika and Agnimitra, trans. by Edwin Gerow, ibid., p. 273.

Photo credit: Pexels at pixabay


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