Collected Plays and Short Stories
The Prince of Mathura1
Persons of Drama
Ajamede, Prince of Mathura, a fugitive in the mountains.
Indradyumna, his friend and comrade.
Atry, King of Mathura, by the help of the Scythians.
Toraman, Prince of Cashmere, son of the Scythian, warlord2 of the North West.
Canaca, his3 Brahmin, his court jester.
Hooshka, Captain of the Scythian bodyguard.
Mayoor, Atryís general and minister.
Indrany, Queen of Mathura.
Urmila, Princess of Mathura, daughter of Atry and Indrany.
Lila, daughter of Hooshka.
Mathura, a room in the palace.
However hard it be, however gross
The undisguised compulsion none can stay,
Compulsion by impracticable revolt,
Indrany, deeper, viler the disgrace
If by rebellion we invite constraint
Naked, contemptuous, to a slave subdued.
The reed that bows to the insistent wind
Is wiser than the trunk which the cyclone
Indignantly uproots. To force we yield,
But to a force disguised in courtly forms.
Thatís better than to yield beneath the scourge.
Thereís a defeat more noble, not to yield,
Even though we break. And break, I know, we must,
But to live fouled for ever, vilely robed
In a soiled purple, marked apart4 to all the world
For laughter by the puppetís tinsel crown,
That is disgrace indeed.
We hold this realm
Because the northern Scythian helps our sword.
By princely compromise, alliance high,
Not yet by purchase or a social stain.
Our child will be an empress.
There have been many nuptials mixed like these
Of which world-famous emperors were born.
Yes, but we took, not gave, warlords5 not slaves.
A6 ransom of his fate the conquered Greek
To Indian Chandragupta gave his child,
Knowing a son by her could never rule.
There is one7 bar. The Scythian weds with all
And makes Impartial Time the arbiter
Whether a native or a foreign womb
Shall be the shelterer of his empireís heir.
This honourís purchased at too vile a cost.
There is no help. If we deny our girl
He will8 have her violently, make her his slave
And not his wife.
Do this then, seem to yield,
But send her to your fortress on the hills,
Whence let one take her with a show of force,
Whoeverís noblest now of Aryan lords
In Magadha, Avanty or the South,
Fit mate for Atryís stock. Twixt him, be strife,
And the Cashmerian, we escape his wrath.
It shall be so. Iíll choose a trusty man
Who shall to Magadha before the morn.
Meanwhile, prepare your daughter for the hills.
(Indrany goes out joyfully.)
It is not good. The man will learn the trick,
A fierce barbarian, rapid as the storm,
Violent, vindictive, stamping on the world,
Like a swift warhorse, neighing to the wind9,
With nostrils wide for any scent of war,
For men to kill, lands to lay desolate,
Haughty and keen, armed with10 his violence,
With the kingís eye that reads the minds of men, ó
Such is the man she counsels me to tempt
By palpable evasion. I will send
Urmila to my fortress on the hills,
But he, not Magadha, shall take her forth
By secret nuptials. He is honourable
Though violent, a statesman though too proud11.
The prejudices of our race and day
Must yield to more commanding thoughts and views
That suit the changing times. Custom is mutable,
Only the breach of it is dangerous,
If too impetuously we innovate. Itís best
To circumvent opinion12, not provoke.
Who is13 there? Call Mayoor!
The Kingís first task is to preserve his realm,
Means honourable or dishonourable
Are only means ó to use impartially
The most effective first.
Mayoor, you know,
The motion14 made by the Cashmerianís son
To wed my daughter.
We have spoken of it
You are still of the same mind?
You think my subjects will revolt?
The Scythian sword can keep them hushed and still.
And you its slave and pensioner, impotent.
Then do it thus. The thing is secret still
Let it remain so. Let Prince Toraman
Wed Urmila in secret in the hills
As if herself had yielded to his suit,
Not my consent. Against whom then, Mayoor,
Shall Mathura revolt?
It may be done.
But will the Scythianís pride assent, or if
The bond is secret, will he own the bond?
He shall, he must. To break by any means
The bar of pride that lowers him beneath
The lowest of his Aryan tributaries,
He will consent to much. And for the bond
He shall engage his honour, then possess.
Yourself go to him, Mayoor, where heís camped;
Persuade him. Let an escort start at once
With Urmila to Roodhra15 in the hills.
I trust you, Mayoor, for entire success.
My crown, my honour are upon this cast.
Your crown is safe with me, your honour, King,
Always few words were yours, Mayoor,
But each one solid gold.
He goes out.
To cheat youís best
Of the dishonour to which you aspire
And for the crown itís safer in my hands
Than Toramanís, the Scythian giant, bold,
Subtle and violent, who spreads his toils
Over all India, helping force with guile
And guile with force
He is alone. Hear you,
Itís from the queen?
Read it and see.
Tell her my word is pledged and Urmila
Saved from the Scythian wedlock.
And that means
Youíll do it?
She shall not wed Toraman
Mekhala goes out.
This is another coil. The King it seems
Deceives his people and deceives his queen.
She trusts him not, nor they. A lying King
Tortuous and serpentine in policy,
Loses as much by the distrust he breeds
As all his shufflings gain. Iíll write to Magadha
In other terms than Queen Indrany dreams.
I will send out my messengers at once.
Our16 first to Ajamede, the Lion dispossessed,
Where in the hills of Roodhra now he lingers17.
Another to the mighty Magadhan
Who gathers up his strength to free the land
From the barbarianís tread. Myself shall go
To Toraman, and meet the Scythian will.
The end shall be as God from old desired18.
(Several pages torn off)
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo: Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 3-4.- Collected Plays and Stories.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1998.- 1008 p.
1 This seems to be a first version of Prince of Edur
2 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: overlord
3 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: a
4 Uncertain reading. In 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: out
5 Uncertain reading. In 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: were lords
6 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: As
7 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: no
8 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: Heíll
9 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: winds
10 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: amid
11 Uncertain reading
12 Uncertain reading
13 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: Whoís
14 Uncertain reading
15 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4, sic passim: Roondhra
16 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: One
17 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: lairs
18 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: long since decreed