Drama of Lord Jagannatha
HH Tamal Krishna Gosvami
Submitted by Manoj
VISVAVASU. Now come. [They approach Nila Madhava and offer dandavats]. There's my Lord. See the many jewels adorning His body, like so many stars in the night sky.
[As Visvavasu speaks, Vidyapati kneels to the side with palms joined, his eyes riveted upon Sri Nila Madhava in devotion. Visvavasu begins to worship the Deity by cleansing, applying oils, etc]
[To the Deity] My Lord, are You well today? Have You been enjoying the cool breezes blowing from Rohini-kunda? Today Your servants the demigods have brought many nice offerings. Some people worship the demigods, as supreme, but they're actually dependent upon You. I've noticed that Lord Brahma, whose eight eyes oversee the entire creation, feels blessed to place Your lotus feet upon his four heads. Even Indra trembles like a leaf in Your presence. Whenever my villagers hold festivals to honor these demigods, I take part just to please my subjects. But You're actually my only worshipable Lord. In Your absence the seconds and minutes are unbearable. My daughter complains that I keep her awake, talking about You in my sleep. She said I cursed the sun last night for moving so slow, making me wait so long to see You.
[He moves to an arm's length away] Does this massage refresh You? I hope the unguent of sandalwood pulp, camphor, and musk is more pleasing today. I told my daughter to grind more.
[Remembering] Oh, I almost forgot. Here's my daughter's new husband.
[He takes Vidyapati by the hand and brings him before Sri Nila Mildhava, placing around Vidydpati 's neck the flower garland Lord Indra had removed from the Deity]
[To Vidydpati] Here's the garland Indra removed from Nila Madhava.
[To the Deity] My Lord, this is Vidydpati. He's a learned brahmana come all the way from Avantipura. In fact, he's the priest of King Indradyumna. So I'll let, him offer You pleasing prayers while I go to collect forest fruits and flowers.
VIDYAPATI. [He touches his head upon Lord Nila Mddhava's lotus feet]. 0 Lord Mukunda, bestower of liberation, today, having stood at a distance and seen Your eternal form of bliss and knowledge, I know without a doubt that You are the Supreme Reality. Who could fail to be attracted by Your wonderful appearance, resembling a newly grown tamala tree with bluish hue? As I delight in smelling the aroma of tulasi and sandalwood offered at Your lotus feet, I feel certain that this one act of mine is far greater than all the Vedic study and sacrifices I have pursued for an entire lifetime. Surely Your personal presence on this sacred mountain, Your eternal abode, has liberated every living entity here from all material entanglements.
[He dances briefly and then moves about]
This mighty banyan and peaceful Rohini kunda are part of Vaikuntha. Indeed, these creepers, forest animals, even that ordinary crow sitting in yonder tree ... [With great astonishment] Haaahhh!...All are liberated! Hardly have I uttered these words when their proof appears before me. A blackish crow, nastiest of earthly creatures, has fallen from his perch into Rohini-kunda, and before my very-eyes he now emerges with a beautiful four-handed form and rises upward to Vaikuntha, vanishing from my vision.
Here is the elixir of immortality, hardly a few steps away ... [He runs toward the lake.] Like the dirty crow let me throw myself into the arms of Mother Rohini so she may wash away all my sins and end my earthly stay forever.
VOICE [From the, sky]. O brahmana, wait [Vidyapati stops at the last second] Have you forgotten why you came? King Indradyumna awaits your return with intense anticipation. That mighty monarch, earth's protector incarnate, lives half awake, half in dreams, like a forgotten forefather doomed to Narakaloka, with no son to deliver him.
VIDYAPATI [To himself]. O selfish Vidylipati. Shameless one! What kind of man are you that leaves aside your best well-wishing friend and cares for nothing but your own salvation?
[Addressing Sri Ni1a Mildhava] Just see, my Lord! For You has wisdom renounced her reason, and strength, her sovereignty, becoming meek. Duty and friendship all forgotten. Your vision for a moment gotten, one cares no more for either life or death. Now Lord, I pray, dispatch me with all haste, so Indradyumna, too, can be an object of Your grace.
[Enter Visvavasu with forest fruits and flower]
VI.SVAVASU [Suspiciously]. What's that about Indradyumna?
VIDYAPATI [To himself]. Could he have heard me?
[To Visvavdsu] I was only begging the Lord to protect the king since I'm no longer there to assist him.
VISVAVASU. Well, don't stand there like a stone. Come! Help carry this load. Just see mother earth's love for the Lord!
VIDYAPATI [Coming to help]. The Lord's presence is overwhelming; it awes me into silence.
V1SVAVASU. Well, I'm at no loss for words.
[He busies himself preparing the fruits and flowers as an offering at the lotus feet of the Deity] I feel quite at ease in Nila Madhava's presence. Really, here's where I feel most at home. My daughter, the villagers, they need me. No doubt. But as for me this is the place I prefer. I wait for the day when I can stay with Nila Madhava, freed from all other cares.
[He closes the Deity's doors and bows down; ringing a bell in offering]
NILA MADHAVA [From behind the scenes]. Vigvavasu. Please hear Me.
V1SVAVASU [Startled, interrupting his offering to look up]. Whose voice is that?
NTLA MADHAVA [Again from behind the scenes]. Visvavasu, My dear devotee. It is I, Nila Madhava, who speaks to you.
VISVAVASU [A bit confused and doubtful]. Lord
NILA MADHAVA. Do you doubt I can speak?
VIVAVASU [Joyfully]. No, of course not. But never before have You spoken to me.
NILA MADHAVA. Now listen - carefully. For many years you have served Me faithfully, offering these simple fruits and flowers.
V1SVAVASU [Apologetically]. It's all I could arrange.
NILA MADHAVA. Knowing that, I have accepted everything, pleased with your devotion. But now I want to be worshiped in great opulence, as I normally am. King Indradyumna, ruler of this planet, is My great devotee, and he awaits the opportunity to worship Me royally. Now you know My desire.
VISVAVASU [Devastated. After a pause]. My Lord, will You say no more? [Steadying himself] Like a woodsman's axe chopping a tree at its very root, these words have sent me reeling.
VIDYAPATI. The Lord is independent, free as-the wind.
VISVAVASU [Devastated]. And I, like a' tree struck down in a tempest.
VIDYAPATI. In any case, the Lord has made you a special object of His favor.
This you call favor?
VIDYAPATI. Yes, certainly-that the Lord has personally spoken with you.
VISVAVASU. But He's rejected me! In the past He was so satisfied with my simple offering's, but now He Wants opulence. Why this sudden change?
VIDYAPATI. After all, the Lord is Laksmipati. Not one but hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune attend His lotus feet. As the master of Vaikuntha, He dwells in mansions bedecked with countless jewels.
VISVAVASU. Maybe that's how you know Him, but to me He's Nila Madhava, who lives in the forest of Niladri and gladly accepts the service of His Sabari friend, Visvavasu.
VIDYAPATI. The Lord is inconceivable. Why He decides-one way or another, none can know.
VISVAVASU. We had an understanding, Nila Madhava and I! But someone's come between us and influenced Him!
VIDYAPATI. No one can sway the Lord. He is the controller of the three worlds. How, then, can He be made to act against His will?
VISVAVASU [Suspecting]. Someone's turned Nila Madhava against me. [Becoming angry] And now I know who it is! [He jumps and catches hold of Vidyapatil Tricky brahmana! I should've known all along. What've you said to change Nila Madhava's mind?
VIDYAPATI [Fearfully]. Nothing! Nothing at all, I assure you. It is the Lord's own desire that King Indradyumna serve Him.
VISVAVASU. [Shaking him]. And you've had nothing to do with arousing that desire? You, the priest of King Indradyumna ! Well, I'll fix that. [He takes a rope and binds Vidyapati's hands behind his back] It hurts me to have to treat a brahmana this way, but I must prove myself to Nila Madhava again.
VIDYAPATI [Pleadingly]. Father-in-law, please! What are you doing to me?
VISVAVASU [Applying the blindfold to Vidydpati's eyes]. What am I doing?,You should've thought more carefully before playing such a game with a Sabara king! [He drags Vidyapati forward]
VIDYAPATI [Stumbling]. Where are you taking me?
VISVAVASU [As they are about to move]. We Sabaras know how to keep someone penned up.
VIDYAPATI [Extremely frightened]. Help! Oh, help me, save me!
VISVAVASU. Yes, let your king save you now. The two of you wanted to cheat me out of worshiping Nila Madhava, but that'll never be, so long as I live. [Drags Vidydpati, who continues calling'out for help]
[Enter Lalita as they leave, moving quickly, shocked at what she sees]
LALITA [To herself. Oh, I must rush to my husband. Feet, move quickly!]
[She stops] Yaw, a fate is mine-born a lowly Sabari,. now trying to become a brahmana's wife. How I wish 1 could sprout wings a and fly away from this nasty village taking my ear husband with me. But like a clumsy insect whose wings are too weak for flying I'm
hardly suited for living as a brahmana's wife. My rough upbringing still controls me, keeping me bound to the village of my birth. 0 feet, become strong wings and bear me quickly along, for my husband now suffers due to marrying me.
[She moves quickly about until she reaches the second entrance, where she stops and calls out] Dear husband! 0 best of Avantipura's brahmanas, can you hear me?
VIDYAPATI [In a weak voicefrom offstage]. Who has come to torture me further? Have you no mercy?
LALITA. Husband, it's me, Lalita.
VIDYAPATI [With a glimmer of hope]. Lalita
LALITA. Yes, yes! 0 my.husband, please forgive, me that my father's so cruel. But I'll get him to release you, I promise.
VIDYAPATI. I'm bound up like an animal awaiting slaughter, and now you've come to torment me with promises of freedom?
LALITA. I'll beg and plead. If he doesn't set you free, I'll put an end to my life.
VIDYAPATI. Lalita, may you be blessed! If ever I reach Indradyumna, you can't imagine the reward he will bestow upon you.
LALITA. As soon as you're free, you must leave this village at once.
VIDYAPATI. Don't worry. I'll' travel day and night. It will take nearly a month to reach Avantipura.
LALITA. Please take me with you.
VIDYAPATI. Don't worry. Before two moons have grown full you will see your husband return. But not alone. For along with me will come not only the monarch; King Indradyumna, whose mighty arms protect the entire earth, but also his powerful army. Like the kaustubha jewel this brilliant ray of the sun dynasty will shine like a bright ornament upon the chest of Lord Nila Madhava.
[Pausing, alarmed] Listen! What is that?
LALITA. Someone's comin'. I must go at once. Please don't forget this lowly wife of yours in the glamour of Avantipura. If you do, my life will really be at an end.
END OF ACT TWO