Rabindranath Tagore’s Chandalika

Self consciousness, up to a point, is necessary to self development;for without an awareness of the dignity of one’s own role or function, one cannot give one’s best to the world.

The above, are the lines from one of the most underrated dramas of Rabindranath Tagore, in the world of literature – Chandalika. A drama with a lots of love, compassion, over compassion, feeling of inferiority, new birth, and culmination of great teachings of Buddha. This drama has a vast history and has been portrayed over centuries as a musical drama, music to give more life to it, and make the audience understand the intensity of the emotions that the protagonists carry in themselves, during the play.

Themes –

A religion that insults is a false religion. Everyone united to make me conform to a creed that blinds and gags. But since that day something forbids me to conform any longer. I’m afraid of nothing now.

The story that is revealed in the plot is all about discovering new dimensions of life, as well as, discovering one’s inner self. Readers also come across new experiences of life through the characters themselves, in each and every scene that is being played on. Set in an old city of Shravasti, in the then Uttar Pradesh, the story has to offers many aspects of human approaches, such as, over obsession for something can be as disastrous as gulping poison. Another aspect of the play is discovered through the act of quenching thirsty Buddhist monk, that proves to be a kind of “rebirth” for a girl who is meant to be untouchable. The presence of the mother is a cue of saying that, one should not step out of the boundaries that are set by the religion and society for any person living on this earth. Rebellion against the wall of system and society, is another thing that is portrayed by the drama. The presence of a Buddhist monk in the play, rejuvenates it, bringing whole of a new sense to the play, teachings of Buddha, determination towards life and bringing up the best of a person, is that converts it into a multi dimensional and psychological drama of intense spiritual conflict. Finally, turning into a sort of redemption, along with self realisation, the drama yet has a tale to tell, that –

Love does not claim possession, but it gives freedom.

Introducing the characters –

Chandalika, as the name suggests, is about a chandal girl belonging to the lowest untouchable caste, who gives water to a beautiful monk and falls for him. Unable to restrain herself, she made her mother chant the spells and bound him to be presented at their house at night. Filled with lust and sensitivity, the character of Prakriti portrays the nature’s qualities, she is aggressive, ready to make sacrifices, adorably tolerant, love excessively, mostly alike our mother nature. The story is not of a wicked girl roused to lust by the physical beauty of the monk, but of a very sensitive girl, condemned by her birth to a despised caste, suddenly awakened to a consciousness of her full rights as a woman.

Anand, the famous disciple of Buddha, is a monk in a real sense, pure, loved all the creatures of the world, spread the enlightenment, and victim of the lust of a girl, who unknowingly, is put to remorse and shame.

Symbolizing the social evils prevailing in the society, in the contemporary time, Prakriti’s mother, is yet another character of the play, who, unfortunately had to pay heavy price of her daughter’s love, by giving sacrificing every nerve and cell of her body. She is, as protective, as every other mother ever lived on this earth. At the same time, preventing her to not to claim such a pure soul, Anand, as her’s.

The plot –

For wisdom is not happiness, and renunciation is not fulfilment.

Forgotten that I was a human being, these words always pinched Prakriti’s ears for many years, when one day in vaisakh, she, sitting under the blistering sun was introduced to a person in town, whom she could only think to be standing some fifty feets apart from “a girl, as she. ” It is, Anand, the monk, pure as heaven, beautiful,englitened, who has renounced the earthly leisures, approaches her to quench his thirst. But, being a Chandal, Prakriti was bound not to offer him water from a lake as unpure as herself, on which he laments, and speaks to her, if the black clouds of sravana are dubbed chandal, what of it? It doesn’t change their nature, or destroy the virtue of their water. Don’t humiliate yourself;self humiliation is a sin, worse than self murder. It is when comes twist in the tale, she is revealed to a new birth of herself and is determined to bring him back to her, and discover a cherish her new birth with herself.

Hearing this from Prakriti’s own mouth, her mother is shaken up and thinks that somebody has chant some spell over her. She is awestruck by the idea of her talking of the humanism, caste, and want for the monk. Not ready to listen to her mother, Prakriti wants the monk back, by hook or by crook, that could be achieved when the mother chants her spell over him, and call him off straight to her place. The mother rebels and protests against this idea of her, saying, we only churn up the mud, his power is much more greater than hers, and by chanting spell over him, she can commit a great sin.

The utmost desire to have the monk right next to her is unshakable, and being the only loveable daughter of her, the mother is bound to chant the magic spells. She makes her prepare all the stuff that is required to fulfill the strength of the words, and giving her a magic mirror, tells her to be attentive of the paththat Anand will choose to come over here. Magically, her spells worked out, but in a different manner, though Anand came all the way to her house, without any second thought, but his radiance withered, the shining, the purity, the heavenly glow, all gone, faded, destroyed to pieces. Also, her mother was exhausted till now, she was lying on the floor, counting last of her breath,as overpowering such a majestic personality was a difficult task to do.

It was the time when Prakriti again realised, was awakened to life, that she has committed a sin, redeemed for the second time, purged of the pride and egoism that had made her forget that love does not claim possession, but gives freedom. Also, the holy monk is taken back into his earlier state by the powers of The Buddha.

The drama is a delight to the readers, a tragedy with a lot of teachings and morals to tell. Self redemption, obsession, realization, rebirth, it is a bunch of great dialogues, that takes the reader into in itself.