Collected Plays and Stories
CWSA. Volume 3 and 4
Incomplete and Fragmentary Plays
The Prince of Mathura
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 overlord1 of the North-West.
Canaca, a2 Brahmin, his court jester.
Hooshka, captain of the Scythian bodyguard.
Mayoor, Atry’s general and minister.
Indrany, Queen of Mathura.
Urmila, Princess of Mathura, daughter of Atry and Indrany.
Lila, daughter of Hooshka.
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.
That’s better than to yield beneath the scourge.
There’s 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 out3 to all the world
For laughter by the puppet’s 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, were lords,4 not slaves.
As5 ransom of his fate the conquered Greek
To Indian Chandragupta gave his child,
Knowing a son by her could never rule.
There is no6 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 empire’s heir.
This honour’s purchased at too vile a cost.
There is no help. If we deny our girl,
He’ll7 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,
Whoever’s noblest now of Aryan lords
In Magadha, Avanty or the South,
Fit mate for Atry’s stock. Twixt him be strife
And the Cashmerian, we escape his wrath.
It shall be so. I’ll 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 winds8
With nostrils wide for any scent of war,
For men to kill, lands to lay desolate,
Haughty and keen amid9 his violence
With the king’s eye that reads the minds of men,—
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 proud10.
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. It’s best
To circumvent opinion11, not provoke.
Who’s12 there? Call Mayoor!
The King’s first task is to preserve his realm,
Means honourable or dishonourable
Are only means to use impartially,
The most effective first.
Mayoor, you know
The motion13 made by the Cashmerian’s 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 Scythian’s 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 he’s camped.
Persuade him. Let an escort start at once
With Urmila to Roondhra14 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 you’s best
Of the dishonour to which you aspire
And for the crown, it’s safer in my hands
Than Toraman’s, 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,
It’s from the queen?
Read it and see.
Tell her my word is pledged and Urmila
Saved from the Scythian wedlock.
And that means
You’ll 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. I’ll write to Magadha
In other terms than Queen Indrany dreams.
I will send out my messengers at once.
One15 first to Ajamede, the lion dispossessed,
Where in the hills of Roondhra now he lairs16.
Another to the mighty Magadhan
Who gathers up his strength to free the land
From the barbarian’s tread. Myself shall go
To Toraman and meet the Scythian will.
The end shall be as God long since decreed17.
Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30 volumes.- Volume 7.- Collected Plays and Short Stories: Part Two.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Asram, 1972.- 562-1089 pp.
1 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: warlord
2 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: his
3 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: apart (Uncertain reading)
4 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: warlords (Uncertain reading)
5 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: A
6 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: one
7 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: He will
8 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: wind
9 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: armed with
10 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6, there is a footnote: Uncertain reading
11 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6, there is a footnote: Uncertain reading
12 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Who is
13 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6, there is a footnote: Uncertain reading
14 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7, sic passim: Roodhra
15 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Our
16 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: lingers
17 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: from old desired