[Play] For Children: Dhruva Charithram
I wrote this play a few years ago for children to introduce them to the legends of Indian myth.
Narrator: The story of Dhruva who attained the greatest exaltation serves as an inspiration to young children all over India. The play you are about to witness on the life of Dhruva appears in the Bhagavatham and took place a very long time ago. In that great age the king Uttanapada ruled over the entire world. He had two wives named Suniti whose son was named Dhruva and Suruchi son was called Uttama. Unfortunately the king showered his affections on the younger queen Suruchi and her son. The play focuses on one incident that took place in the young Dhruva’s life which changed him forever.
(Opens with the king and Suruchi seated on the throne the king playing with Uttama.)
Uttanapada: I must be the most fortunate king in all the three worlds. I have a beautiful queen and a wonderful son- do you know Suruchi – all his acharyas say that Uttama is a clever boy… (Picks up Uttama, places him on his lap and begins to hug him)
Enter Dhruv: (who comes running excitedly to his father) Father, father look what I found.
(The king does not pay any attention)
Dhruva: (in a pleading voice) father, please look at me for a moment! Father ...
(He tries to push Uttama away and tries to sit on the king’s lap)
Suruchi (getting up angrily): What do you think you are doing Move away you unfortunate child, can’t you see that the king is busy playing with Uttama.
Dhruv: But mother I only...
Suruchi: How dare you call me that way - to call me mother you should have been born to me. Now you will never be able to climb on to your father’s lap or for that matter onto his throne. If you want your father’s love, go pray to Narayana, that, in your next birth, you may be born as my son. That is the only way your father will ever love you.
(Dhruv begins to cry and runs out.)
Narrator: Suniti sits in prayer in front of an idol of Narayana. She is sad as the women of the palace had already told her of what had taken place in the king’s court.
Dhruv: (cries and buries his head in her lap) Mother is it really wrong to want to be with my father? Is it wrong to ask for his affection?
Suniti (tries to pacify the child) Sh sh don’t cry my child. This indeed is the result of sins in our past lives. The king your father has no time for me and treats me below the maid servants in this palace.
Dhruv: But why did mother Suruchi speak to me like that?
Suniti: I am afraid that Suruchi is right my son. If you want to be treated like Uttama, if you want rule the world someday, the only person who can help you is Narayana.
(They both sit in deep thought. The mother saddened by the events of the day.)
Dhruv: (getting up suddenly) If it is Narayana that I must seek, so be it. I shall leave right away.
Suniti: Wait Dhruva.... listen to me. This is not the right time ... Dhruva..
Narrator: As the boy left the city, not listening to his mother’s entreaties, the sage Naradha perceiving his intentions came to meet him.
(Enter Naradha from one side and Dhruv from the other)
Dhruv: Pranam, gurudev.
Naradha: (keeping his hand on Dhruv’s head) Narayana Narayana, ah my little prince, may Narayana shower his blessings on you.
Dhruv: Gurudev, I need your guidance for what I am about to do.
Naradha: I really appreciate your spirit oh young Kshatriya. You are but a child yet you choose to venture into the wilderness then swallow the insults of your stepmother. But tell me my child, where will you go? Life outside the palace and that too in the forest will be abominable.
Dhruv (in astonishment): How did you read my mind gurudev? Tell me how I can live here after mata Suruchi spoke to me like that and my father... my father never said a word to stop her.
Naradha: Know this my child that honour and dishonour are but mere perceptions. You are but a child. You should be playing at this age not choosing the path that sages tread. Besides , the happenings in our lives are the results of past karma. You should be content with your life.
Dhruv: But gurudev, even my mother said that I must seek out Vishnu..
Naradha: Remember my child that the god Vishnu is very hard to please. Rishis who have done penances in life after life still do not find him. Dhruva you have set out on a journey that you know nothing of. Go back home, this path is not for you. Perhaps when you are older and when your heart is quieter you may seek the lord.
Dhruv: O gentle sage, my heart is broken beyond repair. I am a Kshatriya a wild and proud spirit. I am ambitious and now I want to be greater than even my ancestors. You are the son of Brahma , you travel through the worlds, please show me the path to attain my wish.
Narrator: Hearing the child’s sweet voice, seeing his resolve, Naradha was moved to tears.
Naradha: I can see that you are not one to be dissuaded. To find Vishnu you must go to Madhuvana on the banks of the Yamuna, he is always there. Sit in a yogic posture and worship him with this mantra – repeat after me – Om namo Bhagavathey Vasudevayaa
(Dhruv repeats after him. They both freeze in the posture of guru and shishya)
Narrator: Naradha described Vishnu’s form to Dhruv- how he was blue like the rain clouds, and wore a yellow silk robe. That he carried in his four hands the shanka the chakra the mace and the lotus. That his eyes were always slightly red and how his presence had a calming effect on people.
(Dhruv falls at Naradha’s feet and proceeds to Madhuvana.)
Narrator: Dhruva reached the Madhuvana and after bathing in the waters of the sacred river Dhruva began chanting the mantra. He controlled his breath and thought of the form of the lord that Naradha had described to him. He found it easy to meditate thus. The first month he ate fruits that he found in the forest once in three days, the second month he ate on every sixth day grass and dry leaves. For the third month every ninth day he had a sip of water. The fourth month he neither drank nor ate anything. Soon he breathed once only every twelve days.
The devas were dismayed by his penance as it sent waves of fire into their realms. They tried to distract him but in vain. By the fifth month the child stopped breathing and only the chant of the lord’s name held his life to his body. As he stopped breathing all the gods as well as the creatures could not breathe anymore. They pleaded with Vishnu to rescue them.
So Vishnu appeared to the Young Dhruva within just six months of penance to no one else has the lord appeared in such a short duration.
Vishnu: Wake up O brave one, you have indeed pleased us.
Dhruva: (falling at his feet) tries to speak..
Vishnu: How amazing indeed that one as young as you has sent the gods in the three worlds quaking and running to me...
Narrator: Dhruva was so overwhelmed by the presence of the lord that he kept on looking at him and the emotional swell in his heart was so much that he was unable to speak. Realising that the child was speech less, Vishnu gently touched his cheek with the panchajanya. At this the child began to sing the praise of the lord.
(A song is sung at this point)
Dhruva: I am a simple perishable being lord bound by my desires while you are the paramatma, primeval, changeless, birth less and deathless too.
Vishnu: (smiling) I am pleased with the beautiful hymn that you have sung in my praise.
I know why you began this penance, Dhruva you shall have what you wanted. But I shall give you more. One day I will give you an eternal place in the sky, higher than the Saptharishis . The Sun the moon and the galaxies will orbit around you. Even when the kalpas end and pralaya engulfs the world, your position will be spared.
Oh Dhruva, but this not why you began worshipping me. King you will be and rule over your father’s kingdom for 66thousand years.
Narrator: So saying the lord disappeared from his view. Dhruva stood there for a long time, awed by this encounter. Slowly he began the journey back to his kingdom.
Narrator: Meanwhile king Uttanapada was sorry for his treatment of Dhruva. The sage Naradha went to meet him.
Naradha: Why are you sad O king, what calamity has befallen you?
Uttanapada: Oh I am sinner Naradha; there is no man more heartless and weaker than I am.
Naradha: (smilingly) what is the matter my lord?
Uttanapada: How savagely I have treated Dhruva. He saw me playing with Uttama and all he wanted was a bit of my attention. But I cruelly banished him to the forest. I shall never see him again as by now a wolf or a tiger must have surely eaten him.
Suruchi enters excitedly: What a joyful day it is... I just heard that our son Dhruva has entered the palace gates... They say he shines as bright as the sun himself....
(Suniti too enters the stage at this point)
(Dhruva enters. The king rushes to him and hugs and kisses him. Dhruva touches his father’s feet then touches Suruchi’s feet first)
Suruchi: May you live long my son.
(Uttama comes up ad embraces him)
Suniti: (after he touches her feet raises him up and hugs him) my darling child you have returned in such glory carrying with you the grace of the god of gods.
(Touches the feet of Naradha)
Naradha: You are no ordinary Kshatriya... which other person could hope to achieve what you have in one lifetime even in a hundred lifetimes?
Narrator: It is said that a beautiful palace sprung up from nowhere that was to be the abode of Dhruva. It had pillars of gold and floors paved with precious jewels. It had crystal walls inlaid with green emerald. When he reached manhood his father crowned him king. Dhruva always carried the image of lord Narayana in his heart and ruled the earth justly for 36 thousand years. Later he was transported in a vimana to occupy the highest position ever -a jewel among all the worlds a constant star in the northern sky. It is around his station in the firmament that all the planets revolve.