ACT II Scene II
PLACE: A Street in Ayodhya.
TIME: After night-fall.
(A very large crowd of men and women are gathered and are clamouring boisterously)
First Citizen :- Catch, Catch her! Let us hack her!
Second Citizen :- That hunch back wench!
Third Citizen :- Spurn her! Burn her!
Fourth Citizen:- That devil of a witch!
Fifth Citizen:- Kick her! Kick her! Stick her straight!
Sixth Citizen:- She drove our Rama and Sita to the forest.
Seventh Citizen:-She murdered Dasartha our old Kind.’
Eight Citizen:- She cannot escape now.]
(When the crowd is thus engaged, two of the citizens catching either hand of Manthara emerge from the crowd)
Manthara:- Who am I? What am I? Why are you killing me? What have I done?
First Citizen:- Do you think we do not know that you are Manthara, Queen Kaikeyi’s confidant?
Manthara:- I am not the same Manthara.
Second Citizen:- No, of course not! You must have changed.
Manthara:- Because , I am a hunchback, you mistake me.
Third Citizen:- Take or mistake. We are not going to leave you. We are going to burn you alive.
Fourth Citizen:- Was it not you that poisoned the mind of Queen Kaikeyi? Murdered Dasaratha the Great King and drove out our Rama and Sita. What do you not deserve?
Manthara:- Friends! Have patience, I shall explain
Fifth Citizen:- Explain what? Your lies won’t wash. You cannot escape us this time.
Manthara:- (Despairing of escape cries out weeping) Ha! Rama, Ha! Sita!
(Just at that moment there enters Rama accompanied by the Police-General of Ayodhya and other members of the Police)
(Manthara, looking at Rama. Begins to weep more loudly)
Rama:- What is all this about? (Then recognizing Manthara)Why, this is the old Manthara! What are you doing with her? Friends! Hands off!
(On that order the two citizens, who were catching hold of Manthara, release her hands. As soon as Manthara realizes that it was Rama that was standing before, her, she cries out bitterly and falls at his feet).
Manthara:- Save me! Save me! Oh Lord! These people are torturing me to death.
Rama:- (To Manthara) Don’t be afraid Manthara Get up. I shall protect you.
(Thereupon Manthara gets up and keeps standing before Rama with obeisance)
Rama:- (addressing the crowd) Friends! I am ashamed of you, the people of Ayodhya, behaving thus like ruffians! Why? You seem to have almost killed this old lady.
First Citizens:- (Addressing Sri Rama) Maharajah! Do you know who she is?
Rama:- Yes, I know her. Only too well!
Second Citizen:- Lord! She is Manthara. The very devil incarnate.
Third Citizen:- She it was that poisoned Queen Kaikeyi’s mind.
Fourth Citizen:- And murdered your father.
Fifth Citizen:- And drove you and Sita out to the forest.
Sixth Citizen:- Does she deserve any pity?
Rama:- Yes, she does. There is not a single human being, male or female, who is so bad as not to deserve pity.
(First citizen attempts to catch hold of Manthara’s hand and says)
First Citizen:- No, Maharajah! In this respect we will not obey you. We are determined to take her to the burning that and burn her alive, Even that will be kindness to her.
Rama:- (looking hard at that a citizen).
I command you. Take of that hand yours. Leave her. Anyone that touches her will be punished severely. When Rama speaks, Rama’s people must obey. And it is the rule in Rama Rajya that no one should indulge in any violence of any kind.
(Addressing Manthara) How did you Manthara Devi, manage to get into the hands of these ruffians?
Manthara:- Oh Lord! I was in hiding all these fifteen years, far away, in the land of Kekayas. When prince Bharata spurned me and abused me, I made my escape to my native country. A few days back I heard that you Ramachandra and Sita have returned from the forest and have been crowned. I thought it must have all been forgotten. I was curious to come and see you all. And so this evening after dark, I peeped to the street. Some one saw and cried, and a crowd gathered and beat me and kicked me and almost killed me. But for your stopping them just now, I might have been dead by this time.
Rama:- (Addressing the crowd). Friends! All this is wrong. Very wrong. You ought not to have laid violent hands on this old lady. For this you deserve severe punishment.
Second Citizen:-What! We deserve punishment for trying to punish this wicked woman, this old hag, this witch!
Rama:- Shut up there. You know not Dharma. Evil breeds evil. Good breeds good. I would have punished you all, every one of you, had it not been that you seem to have done, what you did, in love of me and Sita. And yet it was a great wrong, though I forgive you now. You, my dear friends, you will not behave like this, at any time in the future.
Third Citizen:- Is this justice Maharajah, that this worst of sinners, the most hated by all the people of Ayodhya, should be rescued from our hands which are itching to do her to death and be allowed to escape?
Rama:- Shame! Do not speak any more in that style. What do you know of justice? Of Dharma that is hidden, as it has been said, in the recesse of dark caverns unseen by human eyes, unknown to human minds. That is not the justice of reprisals, of returning evil for evil. Mine is the Dharma, the divine Dharma of returning good for evil, of mercy of forgiveness, of redemption, of sympathy and of helpfulness.
Manthara:- Oh! Sri Rama! You are God himself in human form.
Rama:- Speak not so. I am but a man striving.; struggling, towards the goal. What will you want Manthara Devi?
First Citizen:- Maharaja is not only forgiving her, this wretched old sinner, but I suppose loading her with presents.
Rama:- Why not, brother? Do you really know what she has done for me and my Sita and indeed for the whole world? But for her, we should not have become, we should not be today, the great King and Queen acclaimed by you with loyalty and devotion. But for her, we should not have become chastened and purified, as we have been, by our life in forest. But for here, I should not have known and become friends with Guha, Hanuman, Sugriva and Vibhishana. But for her Ravana would not have been killed in war and the world got ridden of that great malefactor. My friends, inscrutable , even devious, are the ways of Providence. Manthara, this lady, has been the tool of the Gods. To me, after Bagawan Viswamitra, she has been the greatest benefactor. You must judge of the acts of persons, not from what appears on the surface or even from the ideas of the moment, but only by the results, even as a plant is judged by the fruit it bears.
First citizen:- And so, Maharajah, you will now take her to the palace and make her the maid of the Queen and the queen of maids.
Rama:- My brother, you have spoken well and rightly. That is exactly what I propose to do. (Turning to the Police General) Well, General! You, please, with your men, escort this lady, safe to the apartments of my Queen Sita. Tell her from me that from this day forth, the should be the chief of all the maids of the palace and should be treated with kindness and consideration. It is my desire. It is my order. Please take her away. (The Police General then asks Manthara to follow him and surrounding her with members of the Police force escorts her and they all leave).
Rama:- (to the crowd) Now that all this is over, all of you, my brother may disperse and get to your homes. A great wrong has been righted today.
First citizen:- I suppose this is what is called Rama Rajya.
Second citizen:- Shut up you fool. If you and I do not understand, should we talk ill of it.
Rama:- Yes, My dear friends, this is Rama Rajya and if you want Rama, you can only have Rama Rajya.
Scene III. to be continued