Aravaan: A Tamil Play by Prasad
On his last night alive Aravaan reminisces. He recollects that, though born to Arjuna, he had been in consequential in the scheme of things until the Pandavas required a propitious person endowed with all the noble qualities for human sacrifice before the war. Now, he was being ennobled so that they could quench the thirsty earth with his blood to favour his royal father, the exploiter of his tribe! Maybe they would have spilt his blood anyway, ever if he had not offered himself for sacrifice out of his misplaced filial sentiments. He reflects on how King Dridarashtra, having blood folded himself, had found the easy way out by not looking at such injustices around him and escaped into introspection. This seemed to be reflected by the world around him as well. Blind to the horrors of war. Aravan decides to blindfold himself. Blind to the world, he is able to face himself more clearly. His needs appeal to him with urgency. He decides to satisfy all his sensorial and carnal cravings to the fullest before he eclipses. Once intoxicated, he is aware of the presence of a sensuous woman : he immediately proceeds to claim her amorously.
Suddenly, he is confused. Is this man or woman? Phantom or real? That smell of milk………..krishna?
The day rises. Aravaan realises that the blood thirsty earth that awaits him is not different from himself. He is of the same matter. He shouts to the world that he, Aravaan the virtuous brave that they were awaiting was ready and eager to be sacrificed. He is led away and sacrificed.
The beheaded Aravaan returns, head in hand. The No-Longer-Aravaan is bemissed at the spectacle of the joyously advancing army, off to behead more youth like him. He hears lamentations Not his mother who weeps silently but another who wails loudly. Who is it? Krishna? The one who bewitchingly turned woman to receive the brunt of his lust? For what? To give him the kiss of death! Will he not be left in peace in his death!
He was not born to be sacrificed… he-wants to live again, somewhere, even as a blade of grass on a hill. Will someone not put his head and body together? How long would you sacrifice hapless people like him, in order to exploit thier lands and forests?
“For how long can our corpses bodies appease your hunger for land?”
Aravaan is a character drawn from the story of The Mahabharatha. Born to Arjuna through an illicit relationship with a tribal girl Chitrankadhai, Aravaan is not acknowledged by the Pandavaas until the eve of the great war. Krishna advises them that a human sacrifice of one of noble descent and with all the virtues would alone assure them of success in the battle field! Everyone is in a quandary on who the scapegoat should be, until Krishna himself remembers Arjuna’s boy ignored off spring. Arjuna himself goes back to the forest to bring Aravaan ‘home’. Krishna then convinces Aravaan of the importance of the sacrifice. Eager to please his new found father Aravaan enthusiastically volunteers. His happy family asks him what favour he would like in return and Aravaan asks to be married. Not being able to find a bride for one about to be sacrificed, it is once again upto Krishna to turn himself into a woman and be Aravaan’s wife for a night. At dawn, the next day Arvaan is sacrificed.
In Na. Muthuswamy’s play “Padukalam”, is a moving same, Aravaan, returns as a ghost to talk about the injustices done to him. He demands a full night koothu in his honour, as an important contributor to the story. This play is in response to that demand.
Performer’s Note :
I’m presenting the mythical character of Aravaan as an icon for the exploited. This systematically marginalised character from the Mahabharatha is the quintessential victim, a pawn in the hands of power mongers, manipulating him to the extent of volunteering his life for a cause which does not really concern him.
In this play we see him reflect on his folly, youth coming to its senses. And just as Aravaan, we realise that looking past the ‘Sacredness’ of the Mahabharatha and Krishna, an analyses can illuminate us on the machinations of power; And how little things have changed as suppressed youth continue to volunteer as fodder around the world…
S. Ramakrishnan – Author
S. Ramakrishnan is a well known writer in Tamil serious Literature. Presently he is publishing a magazine “Atcharam” a magazine for Art & Literature. He is the direct example of a writer who works for enriching tradition and contemporary writing in a mystic and with vast imagination. He had created the script for “Aravaan”. He also contributed his work for the flourish of South Indian Film Industry.
K.S. Karuna Prasad- Director – Performer
K.S. Karuna Prasad is one of the Trained actor of Koothu-p-pattarai. He joined Koothu-p-pattarai in 1985 while doing his Bachelor’s degree and acted many plays of Koothu-p-pattarai which was participated in Southzone Theatre Festival. He was one of the Repertory actor of Koothu-p-pattarai. He was receipient of the prestigeous “Erode Book Fair Award” and “Wisdom International Award” for his contribution to Tamil Theatre. He is trained in Koothu and folk dance forms. Karuna Prasad also worked with many of the Tamil Theatre Groups. He had done Music for Magic Lantern’s Plays Don Juan, Ponniyin Selvan, Pattam, Minnal Ravi. He regularly Acts with many individuals and conducts workshops for school children. He also directs children plays.
Thanks: THIRDEYE Southasia.