The title Mrichchhakatika refers to “The little clay cart” in English. Mrichchhakatika is one of the oldest plays in Sanskrit literature. The play was written by Sudraka in the 5th century CE.
The title of the play has both literal and metaphoric significance in the play. Mrichchhakatika is considered a Prakarana because it is completely based on the author’s imagination instead of being borrowed from the epics. However, traditionally a prakarana must be named after the hero or the heroine of the play. But Sudraka had defied this rule while naming his play. Instead of naming the play after Charudatta or Vasantasena, Sudraka chose to name his play after the clay cart. Therefore Sudraka opted for uniquity while choosing the title for this play.
The title Mrichchhakatika refers to the clay cart of Rohasena, the son of Charudatta. When Vasantsena visits Charudatta’s home, Rohasena weeps before her, as he is ashamed of his little clay cart. He complains that their neighbour’s kid has a golden cart, whereas he owns an ordinary clay cart. Vasantasena then gives away all her golden jewellery to Rohasena, which transfers his ordinary cart to a golden one. This scene has played a significant role in the play. Through this act, Vasantsena earned the status of a mother to Rohasena.
The clay cart plays a significant role in the play. This cart depicts an ordinary life, away from luxury. Charudatta’s life is the perfect resemblance to a simple and ordinary life. The clay cart is ordinary and dull like Charudatta’s life, however, Vasantsena adds a precious value to the clay cart by adding her gold jewellery. Similarly, Vasantsena adds value to Charudatta’s boring life by showering love and care. Therefore the clay cart acts as a metaphor for the world that Vasantsena chooses to be a part of.
The clay cart acts as a universal reference. Rohasena’s desire for a golden cart after seeing his friend having one is a reference to human greed for prosperity. By offering her jewels, Vasantsena brings her generous and caring side to the light. The ordinary clay cart attains value when Vasantsena adds her jewels. This refers to the eagerness of Vasantsena in participating in Charudatta’s personal life and becoming a member of his family. Therefore, the title of this play is uniquely appropriate for the plot.