Indian Mythological Drama by Kalidasa
VIKRAMORVASI, URVASI WON BY HEROISM, or THE HERO AND THE NYMPH.
Vikramorvasiyam meaning Urvasi Won by Valour is a Sanskrit drama written by the ancient Indian poet Klidasa, who lived in the 4th or 5th Century CE. It is based on the love story of King Pururavas and an Apsara (celestial nymph) called Urvasi, who was renowned for her beauty. The initial story appears both in Rigveda and Mahabharatha. The play consists of five acts.
The name may also be written as VIKRAMORVASI or URVASI WON BY VALOR or THE HERO AND THE NYMPH.
As they make their way back from a meeting with the gods, the nymphs of heaven are lamenting the loss of Urvasi, a fellow nymph, who was abducted by a demon and is now missing. The Himalayan highlands are the location of this tragedy. After learning the reason for their sorrow, King Pururavas rides in on his chariot and immediately makes his way to the location of the nymph in order to save her. After quickly regaining his composure, he quickly returns, having successfully apprehended the thief, and returns Urvasi to her celestial friends. During the time that he was transporting the nymph back to her companions in the chariot, he was mesmerised by her beauty. He fell in love with her, and she fell in love with the man who rescued her. Urvasi was summoned before the throne of Indra, King of Gods, and as a consequence, the lovers were eventually forced to separate company. Urvasi expresses the desire to make one last view of the parting king.
She acts as if a stray vine has snagged her garland, and as she is trying to free herself, she summons one of her other friends to assist her. She then continues to pretend that the vine has caught her garland.
The friend responds by saying:
“I’m afraid that this won’t be a simple endeavour. You seem to be caught up in a snare too quickly to be freed; nonetheless, rely on my friendship no matter what happens.” Urvasi’s eyes then meet those of the monarch, and there is a meeting of gazes. They will now separate ways.
At this time, the monarch may be seen at his palace at Prayag, which is today known as Allahabad. He is escorted on his stroll around the garden of his palace by a Brahman who serves as his trusted friend and confidant. The Brahman is aware of his feelings for Urvasi. He is so terrified of revealing something that must be kept hidden from everyone at court, and especially from the queen. that So the companion has retreated to a remote temple in order to keep himself hidden and not to tell the secret to anybody. There, a female servant of the queen finds him, and since “a secret can no more rest in his breast than morning dew upon the grass,” she quickly learns from him why the king has become so unusual since his return from the fight with the demon, and she relates the story to the queen. In the meanwhile, the monarch has fallen into a hopeless state and is venting his despair. Urvasi is heaving a sigh for him as well. Suddenly, she and her friend make their way through the sky towards him in order to meet him.
Both are initially hidden from his view and listen to his declaration of love towards her.
Then Urvasi composes a poem on a birch leaf, and she tosses it on the ground next to the bower where her sweetheart is resting.
Then, her companion reveals to the king, and finally, Urvasi herself is shown to the king. However, after a little while, Urvasi and her companion are both summoned back by a messenger of the gods, and the king is left alone with his clown. He searches all over for the leaf on which Urvasi had written words of her love declaration, but the wind has blown it away. But what’s even worse is that the leaf is picked up by the queen, who is on her way to the garden to search for the king. The queen angrily reprimands her husband, and then, after some time has passed, she rushes away as quickly as a river during the monsoon season.
Urvasi was required to play the role of the goddess of beauty in front of Indra when she was brought back to Indra’s paradise. In this role, Urvasi chooses Vishnu to be her spouse. Purushottama is one of the names that are given to Vishnu.
When Urvasi was asked to confess on whom her heart was set, she forgot the role she had to portray and said, “I love Pururavas,” rather than “I love Purushottama.” Poor Urvasi.
Urvasi receives a curse from her instructor Bharata, who also wrote the play, since he is so frustrated by the error that she made in enacting the play. “You are going to have to give up your supernatural wisdom.” After the conclusion of the show, Indra calls her and tells her the following as she was standing alone, feeling embarrassed and dejected:
“The person who occupies your thoughts is a mortal man, but he has been my companion in times of need; he has assisted me in the battle against those who intended to harm the gods, and he deserves my thanks for his assistance. You are obligated to make your way to him and stay with him until the moment that he witnesses the children that you’re going to give birth to him.” Because of this, the god gives her permission to wed the mortal hero.
Following the completion of his duties as head of state, the king will then make his way to the garden of the palace as the sun begins to set. His Majesty is informed by a messenger that the queen wishes to meet him on the terrace of the pavilion. As the moon is just about to rise and the east is becoming a shade of red, the monarch complies with the request of his queen and climbs the crystal stairs.
As he sits there anticipating the arrival of the queen, his longing for Urvasi is revived. Urvasi and her companion appear before the king in an instant, riding on a celestial vehicle. They remain hidden from the king, just as they did the last time they appeared before him. The queen makes her entrance just as Urvasi is ready to remove the veil that she has been wearing. The queen is here to take a vow in order to console her husband, and she is clothed entirely in white. There is not a single jewellery on her body.
After that, she fulfils her serious commitment, addressing the deity of the moon as she does so, and then she departs.
Urvasi, who was there throughout this moment of marital reunion despite being in an invisible condition, suddenly moves behind the king and covers his eyes with her hands. The king says:—
“It had to be Urvasi because no other hand could have caused such delight to ripple through my frail body. The night’s beautiful flower is the only one that opens up when it becomes aware of the moon’s close presence; the sun’s rays have no effect on it.”
She takes the resignation of the queen seriously and asserts that the king should recognise her as the legitimate wife. Her companion departs, and she is left behind in the king’s groves of the forest to serve as his cherished bride.
After that, the couple is seen travelling close to Kailasa, which is known as the heavenly mountain, when Urvasi, overcome with passion, breaks into the grove that belongs to Kumara, the god of battle, despite the fact that it is beyond limits to all women. She is instantaneously transformed into a creeper as a direct result of the curse that Bharat cast upon her. The king, who is absolutely heartbroken at her disappearance, searches for her everywhere. The nymphs lament her misfortune in the form of a chorus. Sounds of lamentation may be heard floating through the air.
After entering a dense forest, the characteristics of the monarch, who seems to be insane, are accentuated by his dishevelled attire. There is an accumulation of clouds in the sky. He pursues a cloud feverishly, thinking that it is a monster that has abducted his wife, but all he finds is just a cloud.
He asks a number of different birds if they have seen his love, including the peacock, which he refers to as “the bird of the dark-blue throat and eyes of jet,” the cuckoo, “whom lovers deem Love’s messenger,” the swans, “who are sailing northward, and whose elegant gait betrays that they have seen her,” and the chakravaka, which he describes as “a bird who, during the night, is himself separated from his mate. He asks a number of different insects, animals, and even a mountain peak to guide him in the right direction to find her.
Neither the bees that buzz among the petals of the lotus nor the royal elephant that relaxes with his partner under the Kadamba tree have spotted the missing one yet. Neither have they heard the lost one’s cries.
At last, he is under the impression that he spots her in the mountain stream:
“As she moves along, the rippling water is analogous to her frown, the row of tossing birds is her girdle, streaks of foam represent her fluttering gown, and the stream is her tricky and halting step. It is the torrent that she created as a result of her anger.”
At last, the king discovers a radiant ruby in his search. He grasps it in his hands and wraps his arms around the vine, which has transformed into Urvasi. As a result of the powerful enchantment cast by the magical stone has allowed her to revert back to her original form. The powerful jewel is placed on her forehead as an ornament. The king is brought back to his senses. They are thus reunited in joyous fashion and go back to Allahabad. (Prayag)
A good number of years pass. An unfortunate occurrence is about to take place. The precious stone of reunion is carried off by a hawk. After a little time, a forester comes back with the gem as well as the arrow that was used to kill the hawk. This indicates that the bird was shot in response to an order. It is clear from the writing on the shaft of the arrow that Ayus is the one who owns it. A female ascetic enters the palace guiding a little child who is holding a bow behind her.
The little boy’s name is Ayus, and his mother, Urvasi had entrusted the child to a female ascetic’s care. The king was unaware of the birth or existance of the child. The ascetic raised him for free in the woods, and she now gives him back to his mother. The monarch, who previously had no idea that Urvasi had ever given birth to him a son, has come to acknowledge that Ayus is in fact his son. Urvasi also comes there in order that she may hug her son. Now, all of a sudden, she is overcome with emotion and starts crying. She tells the king:
“It was determined by Indra that I would be brought back to paradise the moment you saw our son. Because of this, I kept the birth of the child a secret from you for such a long time. As a result of the fact that you happened to get a glimpse of the baby, it has been determined that I must go back to heaven to obey Indra’s command.”
After witnessing the installation of her son as associate king, she is now making preparations to divorce her husband. As a result, preparations are made for the inauguration ceremony when Narada, the messenger of the god Indra, arrives to tell that the god has mercifully withdrawn the order. The nymph is granted permission to stay on earth permanently as the hero’s second wife as a result of this.
The heavenly nymphs bring with them a golden vase that is filled with the water from the heavenly Ganges, as well as a throne and other paraphernalia, which they arrange. The prince is given the name Yuvaraj during the ceremony. Everyone must now go together to pay their respects to the queen, who had been so kind as to abandon her rights in order to benefit Urvasi.
Read an abbreviated version of the same story below.
On their return from a gathering of gods, the nymphs of heaven are lamenting the loss of Urvasi, a fellow nymph who was abducted by a demon, in the Himalayas. King Pururavas arrives in his chariot and, upon hearing the reason of their sorrow, rushes to the nymph’s rescue. After defeating the thief, he quickly returns and restores Urvasi to her heavenly friends. While transporting the nymph back to her companions in his chariot, he is captivated by her beauty and falls in love with her, as does the nymph. Urvasi is brought to the throne of Indra, forcing the lovers to separate. Urvasi desires to see the king once more upon their parting.
She pretends that a stray vine has entangled her garland, and while pretending to free herself, she summons a friend for assistance.
The friend’s response is:
“This is not an easy process. You seem to be intertwined too quickly to be untangled; however, retain my friendship.” The king’s eyes then meet with those of Urvasi. They now separate ways.
His current residence is in Prayag, the modern Allahabad. He walks across the courtyard of his palace with a Brahman who is his trusted friend and who is aware of his affection for Urvasi. The companion hides himself in a secluded temple out of fear of revealing what must remain a secret to everyone at court, and especially to the queen. There, a female servant of the queen discovers him, and ‘since a secret can no more rest in his breast than morning dew on the grass,’ she quickly learns from him why the king has become so disturbed since his return from the fight with the demon, and informs the queen. In the meantime, the king is in despair and expresses his sorrow. Urvasi is also yearning for him. She and her companion suddenly descend through the air to meet him.
Both are at first invisible to him, and listen to his declaration of love.
Then Urvasi composes a poem on a birch leaf and allows it to fall close to the bower where her beloved lover king reclines.
Next, her companion becomes visible, and at last, Urvasi herself is revealed to the king. Urvasi and her companion are subsequently summoned back to heaven by a messenger of the gods, leaving the monarch alone with his clown. He searches for the leaf on which Urvasi first declared her love, but the wind has taken it away. Worse yet, the leaf is picked up by the queen, who has gone to the garden to search for the king. The queen angrily upbraids her husband, and, after a time, goes out in a hurry, like a river in the rainy season.
When Urvasi was summoned to Indra’s paradise, she had to play the part of the goddess of beauty, before Indra, who chooses Vishnu as her husband. One of Vishnu’s names is Purushottama.
In the play poor Urvasi answers “I adore Pururavas” instead of “I love Purushottama” when asked about her true affections since she forgot the role she had to play.
Her instructor and the playwright, Bharata, is so enraged by Urvasi’s error that he pronounces a curse upon her. “You must lose your celestial knowledge.” Indra, noticing her as she stood alone, humiliated and depressed, at the end of the performance, summons her and says:—
“The person, who captivates your thoughts, has been my friend in the days of difficulty; he has assisted me in the battle with the enemies of the gods, and is entitled to my acknowledgements. You must, therefore, go to him and stay with him until he beholds the children you shall bear him.” The god finally permits her to marry the mortal hero Pururuvas.
After completing state duties, the king retires to the garden of the palace as the evening approaches. A messenger comes from the queen, informing his Majesty that she intends to meet him on the terrace of the pavilion. While the moon is just about to rise and the east is tinted crimson, the king obeys and ascends the crystal stairway.
As he is waiting for the queen, his love for Urvasi is awakened again. On a sudden, Urvasi arrives on a heavenly chariot, escorted by her friend. They are invisible to the king similar to the previous occasion. The moment before Urvasi is going to remove her veil, the queen arrives. She is clothed in white, without any ornaments, and has come to take a promise to comfort her husband.
Then she, calling upon the goddess of the moon, makes her solemn vow and departs.
Urvasi, who is there, despite her unseen condition, throughout this moment of marital reunion, now comes behind the king and covers his eyes with her hands. The king says:—
“It must be Urvasi, because no other hand could bring such delight to my frail body. The sun beams do not rouse the night’s lovely flower; it alone grows when aware of the moon’s sweet presence.”
She takes the resignation of the queen in good earnest and claims the king as given her by right. Her companion departs, and she now lives in a jungle with the king as his beloved wife.
Subsequently the lovers are walking near Kailasa, the heavenly mountain, when Urvasi, in a fit of anger, enters the grove of Kumara, the god of war, which is prohibited to all females. In consequence of Bharata’s curse she is quickly metamorphosed into a creeper plant. The king, overcome with sadness at her disappearance, searches everywhere for her. The nymphs in a chorus lament her fate. Mournful tunes are heard in the air.
The king approaches a wild forest, his face suggest madness, his attire is disordered. Clouds gather overhead. He desperately follows a cloud, which he mistakes for the demon who abducted his spouse.
He addresses various birds and asks them whether they have seen his love,—the peacock, ‘the bird of the dark-blue throat and eyes of jet,’—the cuckoo, ‘whom lovers deem Love’s messenger,’—the swans, ‘who are sailing northward, and whose elegant gait betrays that they have seen her,’—the chakravaka, ‘a bird who, during the night, is himself separated from his mate,’—but none responds. He apostrophises numerous insects, animals and even a mountain peak to tell him where she is.
Neither the bees which murmur between the petals of the lotus, nor the royal elephant, that reclines with his spouse beneath the Kadamba tree, has seen the lost one.
At last he believes he sees her in the mountain stream:—
“The rippling wave is like her frown; the row of tossing birds her girdle; streaks of foam, her fluttering gown as she hurries along; the stream, her devious and unsteady step. It is she converted in her rage into a stream.”
At last the king discovers a jewel of reddish brightness. He grabs it in his hands, and caresses the vine which is now converted into Urvasi. Thus is she returned to her original shape, by the great enchantment of the magical diamond. The powerful diamond is put on her forehead. The king recovers his reason. They are thus joyously re-united and return to Allahabad.(Prayag)
Several years elapse. An unfortunate situation now comes to pass. A bird carries away the gem of re-union. Orders are issued to shoot the bird, and, after a little time, a forester presents the diamond and the arrow with which the hawk was killed. An inscription on the shaft suggests that its owner is Ayus. A female ascetic arrives, bringing a youngster Ayus with a bow in hand.
The boy’s name is Ayus, and he is Urvasi’s son. His mother entrusted him to a female ascetic who raised him lovingly in the wilderness and now gives him back to his mother. The king who was not aware that Urvasi had ever bore him a son, suddenly accepts Ayus as his son. Urvasi also begins to accept her son. She immediately breaks out in tears and tells the king:
“Indra decided that I am to be returned to heaven when you meet our son. This prompted me to hide from you so long the birth of the child. Now that you have unexpectedly seen the infant, I will have to return to heaven, in accordance with the command of Indra.”
She now intends to leave her husband once she has seen her son appointed as associate king. So preparations are made for the inauguration ceremony when Narada the messenger of Indra, arrives to report that the god has compassionately withdrawn the order. The nymph is therefore allowed to dwell on earth forever as the hero’s second bride.
Nymphs descend from heaven carrying a golden vase with the water of the holy Ganges, a throne, and other paraphernalia, which they arrange. The prince is inaugurated as Yuvaraj. All now gather together to pay their tribute to the queen, who had so kindly renounced her rights in favour of Urvasi.
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