III
The past of puranic characters like Arjuna can well be traced from original sources; but other characters like vidushaka do not have such a history. It has to be invented. So Kutiyattam localized vidushaka and created a metaworld of illiterates for him. Using Malayalam language on a Sanskrit stage, soon, the jester came to occupy the center with his witty narratives. He prescribed parallel values of life. For the Brahmins the goal of righteous life (dharma) is eating; financial gain (artha) is through service to royalty;
amorous life (kama) is through the union with prostitutes and the final emancipation (moksa) by cheating them.

The humor of vidushaka, at times, is innocent.


What is the difference between the creations of the potter (kulala) and that of Brahma? Vidushaka gives a simple answer-the former is put to fire before use and the latter after use!


At times his words will be critical and sarcastic-


A poor Brahmin lived in a farm with his pregnant wife. The washer man in the village had a donkey to carry cloths to the river. One day the donkey entered the farm and destroyed the crops. Brahmin’s wife tried to drive the donkey away. She threw a sickle, which hurt the leg of the donkey and made it unable to walk. The furious washer man dashed to the Brahmin’s house to retaliate. Seeing him, the lady ran in fear and fell down which caused abortion to her. The case came to the king. After hearing both sides king pronounced the judgment. The Brahmin should carry the clothes until the donkey recovers because he was responsible for its injury. The washer man also deserves punishment since he caused abortion to Brahmin’s wife. The washer man, therefore, should impregnate the Brahmin’s wife!


This is a strong indictment to the prevailing judicial system. Vidushaka provided eyes, ears and tongue to a mute, closed society. He was the forth estate in a totalitarian society for several centuries.

Kutiyattam is like a wall-clock. The face of it represents the rigid classical structure and the pendulum below moving sideways stands for the popular and the progressive elements. It is a mixture of two traditions that of Bharata and Vyasa, theatrical and narrative.