Desika’s allegorical play

In his play Sankalpa Suryodayam, Vedanta Desika explains the tattva traya — tattva, hita and Purushartha. The play establishes Ramanuja siddhanta on firm ground, said Kozhiyalam Anantha in a discourse. Sankalpa Suryodayam is a play in ten acts. Kaviraja Viswanatha wrote a work called Sahitya Darpana, where he lays down the requisites for a good play. He talks about both the sravya (poetic) and drishya (dramatical) aspects of a drama. Sankalpa Suryodayam handles the subject of Vedanta, which can pose difficulties with regard to both these aspects. But Desika has handled the subject with ease, because of his mastery over languages and mastery of all Sastras. Slokams from other works of Desika like Hayagriva stotram, Daya Satakam, Gopala Vimsati, Yatiraja Saptathi, Nyasa Vimsati, Sri Stuti, Rahasya Traya Saram and many more are reproduced in this play.

The title is most apt. Nothing happens without Divine will. Hence the word Sankalpa is used in the title to indicate the importance of Bhagavath sankalpa — the Supreme One’s will. Suryodayam is a part of the title because with the Lord willing it, the darkness of samsara vanishes. The play shows the clash between good qualities and undesirable qualities. On the good side is a king with his army and on the bad side is yet another king with his own army. The good king is Viveka, and his wife is Sumati (good sense). The commander in chief of his army is vyavasAya (effort). Tarkka — logic — is the charioteer of the king. On the bad side the king is Maha Moha, that is delusion. This king’s queen is Durmathi — the one with twisted understanding. Naturally, supporting the evil king are characters like krodha (anger), lobha (greed), dhambha (ostentation), darpa (pride) and so on. The drama is about the triumph of good over evil.

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