The Mudrarakshasa is a historical play and is mainly concerned with Chandragupta's elevation to the throne of Magadha or South Bihar, on the fall of the Nanda dynasty, and the adoption of measures to strengthen his rule by Chanakya, the renowned politician of his time. The events represented in the play cover a period of about a year, as shown further on, and it is necessary, for a clear understanding of the intricate policy of Chanakya during this period, that the reader should have an insight into the history of the time.
A race of kings, designated ëthe Saisunagas' from Sisunaga the first king, reigned in Magadha, according to R.C. Datta, from 637-370 B.C. Their capital was Pataliputra also called Kusumapura. Mahanandin was the last monarch of this dynasty. He had a son named Nanda, otherwise called Mahapadma by a woman of the Sudra class. He was a powerful and ambitious king but was exceedingly avaricious. He had by one wife eight sons, Sumalya and others,
and according to tradition he had a son, named Chandragupta, by another wife of low extraction. The Nandas reigned, accordng to V. Smith, for fifty years, from 372ñ322 B.C. The play presents dramatic depiction of a political plot to win over Rakshasa, the ablest minister of Nanda, in Candragupta's side, through the guile of Canakya.
Thye Mudrarakshasa, unlike the majority of sanskrit plays, is purely a political drama. It has for its theme, besides elevation of Chandragupta to the throne of Magadha, wining over of Rakashsa, the hostile minister of the Nanda dynasty to the side of Chandragupta and adoption of measures to strenghen the rule by Chankaya, the renowned politician of his times. In the words of H.H.Wilson; It is a historical or political drama, and represents a curious staste of public morals, in wich fraud and assassination are the simple means by which inconvenient obligations are open enemies removed. It is not howere , that such acts are not held in themselves as crimies, orthat their perpetrators, if instigated by vugar vice or ferocity, are not condemned as culprits; it is only when the commission of the crime proposes a poliotical end that it is represented as venial, and is compatible with an amiable.
It includes the commentary of Dhundiaja, English translation, critical and explanatory notes, Introduction and verious readings.