The Madhyama Vyayoga
- "He is as the fall of a thunderbolt to the lordly mountains,
the eagle to all the birds, the lion to the assemblies of wild beasts,
Death, in human form."
- "Oh, my heart, be thou content with the truth of thy suspicions. Learn now of my sire's decease and for a moment be thou calm."
Save for mention in the works of other writers such as Kālidāsa, the first great playwright in India – known as “Bhasa” – was unrecognized until the early 20th Century, even though he lived at some point between the 2nd Century BC and 2nd Century AD. Even his name is not verified, for bhasa simply means “spoken language” in Sanskrit.
Nonetheless, to Bhasa are credited the earliest plays in Sanskrit, although until copies were discovered in Kerala in 1912 these works were thought to have been lost. Now 13 classic scripts are confidently (more-or-less) credited to him by historians. All of these one-act dramatizations, save for the Charudatta, are complete and generally romances taken from the famous epics the 'Mahabharata' and the 'Ramayana.' But the prolific Bhasa did not respect Indian dramatic conventions of his time, for he freely depicted scenes of sleep, battle, death, and murder on stage – all of which the Natya-sastra considered inappropriate for public display. His style was vigorous, dramatic, and direct, without excessive ostentation, unlike other Indian playwrights … although he did tend to repeat whole stanzas from one play to the next.
As India squeezed out from under British dominion, Bhasa’s plays were revived and performed once again, initially in Hindi and later translated into other languages (even English). Today, at least in Indian civilization, he is considered on par with Sophocles and Shakespeare.