Home Page | Workings | Works of Sri Aurobindo | Collected Plays and Short Stories. Part 2


Collected Plays and Short Stories

Part Two

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.

Act One

Scene I

Mathura, a room in the palace.

Atry, Indrany.


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.


And outcaste.


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 enters.

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?


Itís sure.


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,

Iíll save.


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

Enter Mekhala.


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