During Gupta age there was remarkable development in the field of literature. In this age Sanskrit became the language of royal court and most popular literary works of this age were composed in Sanskrit language. Many great writers and poets were patronised by the Gupta kings.Most prominent of them was Kalidasa.

Mahakavi Kalidas
Mahakavi Kalidas

He surely is the most respected and celebrated dramatist of ancient India. British historians  who read his dramas and plays were impressed by his beauty of conception, richness of imagination and called him Shakespeare of India. During his lifetime he composed many masterpieces like Ritusamhar, Raghuvansa, Shakuntala, Meghadut, Kumarsambhava,  Vikramorvasiya, Malvika-agnimitram and many more. Today we will share a small summary of his first famous play malvika-agnimitram. 

It's said that he was impressed by the work of Bhasha , saumilla and Kaviputra whose plays were performed in public at Ujjain near Mahakal temple . Once he too became the audience of the performance of Bhasa's play and when he saw people praising the work of bhasa he too from that moment decided to write a play . He was already well versed in the rules of dramatics as proposed by Bharat muni, the father of dramatics in India. The play that he wrote that night is said to be Malvika-agnimitram . 

The Love between King agnimitra and Malvika is the central idea of the play and towards its fulfillment all the situations and incidents converge.

Summary of Malvika-agnimitram


  1. King Agnimitra- Hero of the play, Son of King Pushyamitra Shung and ruler of Vidisha. He's a great king ,kind,brave, intelligent ,one who shows great interest in fine arts. He always takes advise of his ministers before taking any decision,his aim is to serve his subjects. Falls in love with malvika a maid servant but can't confess as he doesn't want to hurt his queens .
  2. Malvika- Heroine of the play, very pretty, innocent, truthful girl,in reality she's a princess of Vidarbha but due to circumstances She's working as a maid of Queen Dharini, first wife of King Agnimitra  but she has not revealed her true identity to her mistress. Falls in love with the king Agnimitra.
  3. Queen Dharini- Chief consort of King ,A devoted wife, she's witty, intelligent,observant and has great insights. She keeps her promise and respects the feelings of all. 
  4. Queen iravati - Second Queen of King Agnimitra, she's quite younger than Queen Dharini, king agnimitra loves her more than Queen Dharini. She gets angry when she come to know about kings feelings for Malvika. Conspires to get Malvika arrested.
  5. Kaushiki- a saint wanderer , currently a spirtual guru of Queen Dharini, she's sister of Madhavsen's minister sumati . Madhavsen is unfortunate heir of Vidarbha throne whose kingdom was taken over by his cousin brother Virsena. After losing his kingdom When madhavsen along with Sumati,kaushiki and Malvika were moving towards Vidisha they were attacked by Virsena's's men . All gets separated in that brawl madhavsen was made prisoner, His minister sumati get killed and sumatis's sister kaushiki becomes saint wanderer and Malvika becomes made servant of Queen Dharini of Vidisha. Later Kaushiki unites with malvika in Vidisha palace and helps in the union of King Agnimitra and Malvika.
  6. Bakulavalika- Maid servant of Queen Dharini and also her assistant. She admires Malvika a lot ,a true friend and also knows about her deep feelings for King Agnimitra. She's intelligent and knows how to get secrets of malvika's heart.
  7. Gautama- He's vidushak (advisor/friend) of King Agnimitra , he adds some comedy to the drama by his witty comments, he suggests all sorts of tricks to king agnimitra to meet Malvika which finally results in to the marriage of Malvika and Agnimitra. he's a loyal servant of his king. He also aligns with bakulwalika , malvika's friend , Kaushiki and others to develop feelings in malvika's heart for the king. Everybody likes him except Queen iravati and Queen Dharini.He remains in the centre of the play all the time.
  8. Ganadasa- music and dance teacher of Malvika, he's appointed by Queen Dharini for training Malvika in dance and music.

Plot of the Play

The first scene shows a maid-servant of Dharini , the eldest queen of King Agnimitra,is carrying a ring with the image of a snake on it ,when she meets another maid, Bakulavalika by name ,who was going to ganadasa,the dancing-teacher ,to enquire how Malavika, the young girl recently placed under him ,was progressing in her dancing lessons. 

The conversation that ensues between the two reveals how the king once went to the royal studio where the queen was inspecting a fresh portrait of hers with Malvika's figure drawn prominently among the servants. On seeing this figure of a stranger, the king asked who she was. The queen hesitated to reply but the child princes Vasumati (who was the sister to the queen) interposed: "Sir it is Malvika". From then onwards the queen Dharini took greater precautions to keep Malvika away from the eyes of her husband. The maid servants then go their own way.

This is how the whole affair starts. The presence of a beautiful girl in the royal palace is noticed by King. 

However king soon indulges him in the state's affairs. He is seen concerned about getting no replies from king of Vidarbha,Virsena who has not sent a satisfactory reply yet to the king Agnimitra about the release of his cousin brother Madhavsen, who was on his way to Vidisha to offer his little sister's hand to king agnimitra when he was attacked and taken prisoner by Virsena's men. King Agnimitra is planning a military operation against Vidarbha king .

Meanwhile in the royal palace there is a quarrel going on between two dancing teachers who enjoyed patronage of both King and the queen regarding their talents, the one is Ganadasa and  the other one is Hardutta both claims superiority over one another. So they come to the king and request him to test them in their art and their relative merits. The king however declines to act as the judge as he might be suspected of partiality for his own protege Hardutta he therefore decides that the contest must be held in the presence of the queen. The queen arrives there in the company of the learned nun whose name is pandit Kaushiki the latter is invited to officiate as the judge. Queens smells some deep-laid plan in the whole affair but much against her will she consents to the holding of the contest.

The nun parivrajaka (as kaushiki is called) call rules that in view of the perfect mastery on the part of the two contesting dancing-teachers over their arts, their relative merits must be adjudged in terms of their ability and skill in imparting their arts to others and therefore each one was to give an exhibition of his art through his pupil. Ganadasa has put all his hopes on his pupil Malvika. 

On a fixed date the arrangements in the theatre are made the sound of the drum heard and the royal party leaves for the theatre to witness the demonstration. The curtain rises and the Malvika appears before the royal party exquisite in her grace of body which seems to have been fashioned after the desire of the dancing master she commences her part by singing a heart touching song, she then demonstrates the different modes in this song by means of dancing. During this whole performance the king was mesemerised by the beauty and talent of Malvika who was looking like an Apsara in her dancing moves.

When Queen dharini saw this she grew impatient and after the performance was over Malvika retired behind the curtain Hardutta's demonstration was postponed to the the next day as it was already noon time. 

Ever since the contest in which Ganadasa was adjudged superior to his rival solely by reasons of the superiority of his pupil's performance, the king was ardently in love with Malavika.but different himself from revealing his feelings as he didn't want to hurt his queens on the other hand Malvika too was languishing day by day like a garland of malti flowers which is cast away after its use.

As the time passes the king becomes love sick. He doesn't want to attend his royal duties and is wondering about malvika's beauty. His friend Vidushaka (Gautama) takes him to the pleasure garden to cheer him up. When they see Malvika coming toward them they hide themselves in a nearby bush and observes that Malvika doesn't look happy then they see her friend Bakulwalika coming near to her who came there to decorate Malvika as an Asoka tree in Queen Dharini's  garden was not blossoming and forteller has said that this tree will blossom only when a beautiful girl will kick it's trunk. So Malvika was chosen for this task and bakulwalika came to decorate her for the kicking ceremony.  While she decorates Malvika Queen iravati arrives with her maid servant nipunika she doesn't look at Queen Dharini's decision of picking up Malvika for the kicking ceremony. She hears bakulwalika encouraging Malvika to confess her love to the king. King also comes out of bushes with Vidushaka and request Malvika to fullfill his longing like she satisfied that of Asoka's tree.

Iravati gets angry at this she almost wants to hit king with her girdle but desists, king and vidushak tries to explain her which she hardly listens. She goes away in anger leaving the king and vidushak in the garden.

In the meanwhile the king gets the news that Queen Dharini had a terrible fall from the swing and she's resting in bed. King want to see queen Dharini when he sees vidushaka arriving . The king asks him about Malvika. Vidushaka gives a bad news and informs king that on the request of Queen iravati, Queen Dharini got Malvika and Bakulwalika arrested and has kept them in underground cellars. She has also ordered santry not to release them unless someone shows Queen Dharini's ring with snake's image. King gets dejected on hearing this he also doesn't want to interfere in the matter of queen and feels sad for Malvika too. Still he asks vidushak to accompany him to Queen dharinis palace to see her . Vidushaka says he's need to go pleasure garden first coz he will have to present Queen with flowers and he will later join the king in Queen Dharinis palace and takes his leave. 

The king then alone reaches queen Dharinis palace , queen  gets happy on seeing that king came to see her condition. While they talks , suddenly vidushaka appears  , he appears to be in pain , he informs queen and king that while he was plucking flowers from the garden a black cobra bit him and now he needs Queen dharinis ring having snake image inscribed on it to get him treated by the toxicologist who will use this ring to invoke a charm and cure him. 

In this confusion queen hurriedly gives her ring which vidushaka takes and runs towards underground cellars, he shows queen's ring and rescues both Bakulwalika and Malvika and take them to the pleasure garden where soon king also arrives. While they were confessing their love to each other, one of maid of iravati sees them and informs latter. Queen iravati reaches the garden to counter them but king leaves as soon as he hears that his daughter has been scared by a yellow monkey. Queen also leaves. Bakulwalika cheers up Malvika and tells her that now that the Asoka tree she kicked has blossomed Queen Dharini would surely fullfill her wishes as she had promised it to her.

The next scene shows a conversation between garden keeper madhukarika and queen's servant Saraska. Madhukarika tells about a function called upon by the Queen Dharini for the blossoming of Asoka tree. Saraska informs him that queen is also happy because her son Prince Vasumitra is closed by his grandfather King pushyamitra Shung of Magadha to guard the sacrificial horse of Ashvamedha. To ensure his safety she's donating food to Brahmins everyday. He also tells that King Agnimitra's army has defeated King of Vidarbha and the defeated King virasena has sent a large number of presents in he service of king Agnimitra along with dancing girls and servants . 

Just then king Agnimitra and vidushaka gets an invitation from Queen Dharini to be present in pleasure garden to see the blossom of  her Asoka tree. When both king and king and Vidushaka arrives they get surprised on seeing the Queen accompanied by Malvika that too fully dressed in precious apparels. While they were witnessing the blossom of Asoka tree a servant arrives with the dancing girls sent by the king virasena of Vidarbha. They instantly recognises their princess Malvika . They informs the royal party about the escape of her brother Madhavsen from vidarbha who fled with his sister malvika, minister sumati and sumati's sister Kausiki. In the meanwhile Kausiki the parivrajaka also arrives and further narrates the full story that how their caravan was attacked and how they madhavsen was captured while sumati was killed. Kausiki who was in the caravan accompanying her brother sumati felt sad on her brother' death and decided to become parivrajaka . While princess Malvika was captured by virsena's soldiers and he later sent her as a maid in the service of Queen Dharini. She also reveals that a sage has fortelled her about the Marriage of malvika with king of vidisha but before that she shall pass one whole year as a maidam servant. Kaushiki tells them she knew malvika's truth but never revealed it as she didn't wish to ruin the prophecy and now after one year she came here to tell everyone about Malvika's reality. 

When king Agnimitra heard this he and his ministers had consultation after which the king orders the state of Vidarbha to be divided in two parts one given to Virasena and other part to his cousin brother Madhavsena . Soon a messenger brings the invitation from prince Vasumitra for the royal family to attend Ashvamedha sacrifice which he was conducting after defeating the yavanas who tried to snatch the royal horse of shungas. 

Dharini gets elated on hearing the news about heroics of her son, she puts the pallu of malvika's dress as a veal on the face of Malvika and offer her as a present to king Agnimitra showing her agreement to their marriage. She also later explains the whole affair to Queen Iravati who also gives her ascent as her aristocratic mind is pleased to know that Malvika is not a low born maid but a Princess of Vidarbha.

In this manner this love story of Princess Malvika and King Agnimitra after facing several roadblocks, culminates into a happy union.

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