The Village Play

draupadi1.jpg I really feel blessed that I was born and brought up in a village, where there was no T.V in those days. People ask me, ‘how do you pick up things easily? Of course I somehow pick up things very easily, very quickly. One small fact, its truth. Only two years ago I started speaking English; I studied little bit, which also in mother tongue. I started speaking English when I started coming to America, which was two years ago, 2003 August. They asked me, how do you pick up?  I continuously read. They ask, how do you read so many pages, so many books?

It is just because I never used to watch T.V; T.V straight away destroys your consciousness.

In my village, they used to recite Mahabhatratha, once in a year, for sixty days. In daytime they will tell a story, they will recite the story and nighttime a small drama, Village drama, not organized, trained, arranged people. Four people from that village itself will take the roll and they will play the drama. More than the drama, the mistakes they do will be funny.

So people will all sit and gather. People will all sit and gather and watch. Not for the drama’s sake. The mistakes they do will be really funny. Because, what comes as veena for Saraswathi, same thing will come as gadha for Arjuna, or hanuman. Hanuman will bring the same for gadhayudham; next day Saraswathi will bring the same thing as veena. It’ll be really funny and four or five people only will play all the roles. And Krishna will be an eighty-five year old man, with one stick in his hand and he will not even be able to walk. With the help of somebody he will come, and say, ‘oh Arjuna, stand up.

By the time he says, ‘Arjuna stand up’ he will fall. And it’ll be really funny to watch the whole drama; all the mistakes they do. I used to go and attend the drama every night, and only males can participate; it is done as a ritual also. The people who participate, they have to wear the sacred threads in the hand, and it is done as a ritual. They have to recite those entire poems completely and only males participate in the rituals.

That day the scene is supposed to be the vastrabharana; Dhraupathi vastrabharana – the removing of saree (outer garment worn primarily by Indian women, consisting of several yards of light material that is draped around the body) from Dhraupathi, trying to pull the saree from Draupathi, that’s the scene. And this guy had all the make-up and wore seven thin sarees. According to the scene, Dhuchadhana was supposed to pull six sarees, and by the time he pulls the sixth saree, he has to act as if he has become tired, and he is falling and he has to do some drama, and fall. Then Krishna will appear. And actually, the moment Dhuchadhana is about to fall, Draupathi will shout, “Krishna, Krishna”; then Krishna will appear. I’m remembering the whole scene; then Krishna will appear. Suddenly what happened was, when the scene started Dhuchadhana forgot the count; he forgot the, count. He is supposed to pull seven sarees totally; by the sixth saree, he is supposed to fall. Once he falls, Dhraupadhi will call out for Krishna and then Krishna will jump on to the stage; this is the scene.

This guy, he somehow forgot the number, counting. And he started to pull the seventh saree also. He started pulling the seventh saree also. And Dhraupathi, she is trying to show through her eyes, ‘hey seventh saree, seventh saree’. This guy does not understand; he thought that Dhraupathi was acting nicely, so he kept pulling. Then suddenly Draupathi started beating Dhuchadhana directly, shouting, ‘hey leave my saree, hey leave my saree. It’s my saree, it’s my saree’. Straight away Draupathi attacks Duchadhana. And we are all surprised. Morning, the story says something and evening drama says something different. And straight away he is attacking.

Actually by the sixth saree Dhuchadhana is supposed to fall and Draupathi should cry Krishna, Krishna and, Krishna should jump onto the stage. But Krishna is waiting behind the screen with beedi (Indian cigarette) he is waiting with his beedi, for the call, to jump onto the stage.  He is standing behind the stage, Waiting for Draupathi to call. And Draupathi is shouting, ‘hey Duchadhana, leave my saree’. So Krishna is thinking that the scene is still going on, still the scene is, going on; still the sixth saree is not over. He is thinking standing there, smoking the beedi! This fellow Dhuchadhana, without understanding, finally, and moreover Draupathi kicked him also, so he got so angry, he just pulled the saree completely. Suddenly he saw on the stage, with half female outfit with a pair of shorts this guy is standing. Below male, above female; all female makeup. With the long hair and the facial makeup, like a female, wearing female clothes. Above female outfit and below male outfit. This guy is standing on the stage.

Somehow, this guy is a little spontaneous; suddenly he turned and said, ‘Krishna, just because you can’t come, you made me a male and saved my life. You converted me into male and saved my prestige’. This guy is a spontaneous guy; he managed the whole situation. Because he had to manage the mistake done by Duchadhana, and the mistake done by Krishna, because Krishna had not appeared on the stage as he was supposed to appear, but he was still waiting for the call with the beedi, waiting for Draupathi to call Krishna, Krishna. When you have spontaneity, really you can manage anything. Whenever I remember the word spontaneity, I remember this story.

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