Let us have a look at the dialogues before and after this verse. A minor character expresses concern that Kālidāsa might lose face if his play is performed disregarding the compositions of past masters. The stage-director uses the phrase viveka-viśrānta in his dialogue. The minor character listens to the verse, acquiesces, and says āryamiśrāḥ pramāṇam.
The following night Gomukha narrated this story to entertain Naravāhanadatta–
A great muni resided in Dhāreśvara. He addressed his disciples, ‘If any of you have seen or heard something extraordinary tell me!’ One of his disciple narrated this story:--
After introducing the major characters, Śūdraka has gone on to describe the nucleus of his story in all its complex shades. Keeping this in mind, let us try to understand the extent of scope that a social play offers to various rasas. According to Indian dramaturgy, a prakaraṇa involving commonfolk is not the best type of play to delineate the heroic mood, vīra-rasa. Vīra is typically the forte of nāṭaka, the ‘prototype play’ that involves deities and humans.
Early next morning, the three men began their journey. After travelling for several hours, they came by a pond and rested there until the sun went down. At night, as the stars began to dot the night sky, they climbed up a tree on the shore and sat down on one of the branches. After a little while, they witnessed something miraculous. From the depths of the pond arose a man. From his mouth, he pulled out a woman and then a bed. As the three men perched atop the tree watched incredulously, the strange man went to sleep with his woman on that bed.
Lockwood and Bhat in their introduction (page 10) use this conversation where Parivrājaka punishes Śāṇḍilya as an example to prove that Parivrājaka himself isn’t on par with the standards he had set earlier. And this alone would prove that Parivrājaka isn’t a true ascetic. They also say that by such an assumption, the play becomes more entertaining since everything Parivrājaka utters would be hypocritical. While there seems to be a contradiction in the behaviour of the Parivrājaka here, this alone isn’t sufficient to say that he is a quack!
A poor man once found a bag of gold coins. While he could have gone elsewhere, he foolishly sat down at the same place and started counting the coins. In the meantime, the person who had lost the money came looking for it. He found this man and snatched his belonging back.
Thus, anything that a fool finds will come of no use to him.
A person wanted to show the full moon to a foolish guy. He stretched his hand out and pointed a finger at the moon. The fool kept staring at the tip of his finger and never saw the moon!
Aśvaghoṣa clearly states that his work is principally a scripture. It is structured as a poem, yes, but that is only a veneer, a convenient pretence. Nevertheless, his work is appealing because of two reasons: one, he was a gifted poet; two, he chose the lofty story of the Buddha’s life as his subject. From this we understand that at times even purpose-driven compositions get the glitter of pure poetry. We should be wary of the fact that not all purpose-driven compositions are good.
While Parivrājaka seems to be miffed, he is also compassionate enough to reconcile that Śāṇḍilya being in this ephemeral world is bound to be behave that way! The verse which describes his rationale while not being as brilliant as Bhartṛhari can well be a part of an extrapolated vairagya collection.
देहो रोगनिधिर्जरावशगतो लीनान्तकाधिष्ठितो
यो नित्यप्रतिघातरुद्धविषयस्तीरे यथा पादपः।
तं लब्ध्वा सुकृतैरनेकगुणितैर्देहात्मना विस्मितो
मत्तो यो बलरूपयौवनगुणैर्देीषान्न तान् पश्यति ॥३॥
A fool went to a lake to drink water; he saw the reflection of a bird called svarṇa-cūḍa and thought that there was gold fallen in the waters. He jumped into the lake to fetch the gold. He, however, did not procure anything. His father saw him taking a dip in the water again and again, shooed away the bird and explained to him that it was not real gold. People like him are comical, cause humour, but are in pain within themselves.
Modern literary theory usually insists that a poet should not come in the way of the natural development of events and characters. If he gets personally involved, the work runs the risk of turning into a pamphlet meant only to air the author’s pet views. It would then become an artificial construct, straying away from its primary purpose of leading the readers to rasa.