Act II. Scene I.
PLACE: Royal palace at Ayodhya - A Private Chamber of Sri Rama.
TIME: Early forenoon.
(When the curtain rises Rama is seen seated on a Divan after having finished his morning ablutions. Sita is standing a little close by.)
Rama: Can you guess? My dear Sita, what dream I has last night?
Sita: The very question would seem to suggest that it would not be possible or easy to guess. How can I?
Rama: Just try. Let us see.
Sita: (Pausing to think and smiling) I should have liked you to dream of our marriage. It seems only the other day, though it was so many years ago.
Rama: True! True! Was it not the greatest event in the lives both of us?
Sita: What would have happened, My Lord, if you have not had the misfortune to marry me and go through all the sufferings and dangers of those fourteen years?
Rama: What else? If I had not married you, I would not have been Rama, nor you Sita, and there would not have been the SitaRam, the refrain, which we found so many groups of citizens singing with ecstasy in the streets of our Ayodhya last night.
Sita: I suppose it is Divine? Providence that brought it all about.
Rama: No! it seems to me that even Providence could not have prevented it. We seem to have been made for each other, my dear!
Sita: What else! How else! It was because of your becoming wedded to me that you had to share all my misfortunes.
Rama :- No, My Lord! No! Even now, when I look back on those fourteen years of exile, I feel I would not have it otherwise. It strikes me that it was planned by Providence for us both. But for it, we might have been Sita and Rama, but never Sitaram.
Rama :- I like hearing you say so. Our troubles and struggles are momentary. But, as soon as the fleeting present becomes embalmed in the museum of our memory, it almost becomes a kind of Purana we like to hear recited, or a kind of painted picture, gazing at which from a distance, we like to enjoy its presentation of truth, beauty and good. By-the-by, my dream last night was of the forest and of the life we had therein in inseparable company.
Sita:- Ah! Ah! Those days ! How I love them!
(Enter Dwarapalaka, the watchman at the door of the Chamber)
Rama :- What is the matter, Dwarapalaka?
Dwarapalaka:- Maharajah must excuse me! His Holiness Baghawan Vasishta Maharishi, it seems, is coming here to see the Maharajah. A disciple came running and told me in advance.
Rama :- Very well.
Rama :- (Turning to Sita) Rather and unexpected visit What may be the purpose?
Sita :- You will know it soon, My Lord! Shall I retire?
Rama :- No! Not so! There is no need for you to leave. We shall wait and see.
(The doors of the hall are suddenly thrown open and there enters Vasishta Maharishi with a smile on his face. As soon as Rama and Sita see him, both of them together prostrate before him and Srirama makes Abhivadanam by taking both his hands near the ears and then touching the feet of the Maharishi).
Vasishta :- May you both, like Sriman-Narayana and Mahalakshmi, rule over this ancient land of the Raghu’s Race for ever and ever! May this earth, under the joint sovereignty of you both become and be the pattern of a Dharma Rajya!
(Rama makes a gesture to the Maharishi to be seated on a special seat reserved for holy persons. Vasishta takes his seat there. Then Vasishta to Rama):
Vasishta :- Be seated, Sri Ramachandra! (Rama sits down on a seat at some distance from Vasishta).
Rama :- I have been wondering what this honour of an unexpected visit by your Holiness may be due to.
Vasishta :- You are right, Sri Ramachandra! Even as I rose early this morning, a thought struck me. Indeed it has been coming into my mind off and on for the last few days. I thought I world come and see you this morning about it.
Rama :- May we know it ?
Vasishta :- Of course. It is to tell you about it, I have come over here specially. It is this. Now that everything is over and you are finally installed on the throne of your great forefathers, it struck me that the time has come when I might retire once again to the Himalayan heights and spend the rest of my life in Tapas, Yoga and Samadhi – in that unison with the divine which alone gives us the peace that passeth understanding.
(Sita looks at Rama).
Rama :- Whence this sudden resolve Your Holiness? We are both of us surprised and pained in mind to hear it.
Vasishta :- Sri Ramachandra! I nee not tell you. All meetings on this earth of ours must end in partings. So many of our great and distinguished ancestors are gone. How long should I waste my years with Kings and Courts? I seem to have been waiting for your advent and coronation. It is all over now. I am beginning to feel tired and weary of crowds and noises. The call of the high hills and forests is irresistible. Their call is the call of the harmony of nature. Their message is the message of silence and meditation. It is the goal of my soul. How long can I keep away?
Rama :- It is not for you along, your Holiness! Even we, who are not rishis, are thrilled with joy when we think of the trees reaching up to the skies, the wild beasts, the singing birds, the leaping rivulets, the rushing rivers, the majestic rocks and the joys of solitude, far from the dust and din of cities.
Vasishta :- But you are the king. It is your duty to rule. It is your Dharma which you should not run away from, except-except-perhaps at the last and final stage, even as many of your ancestors have done.
Rama :- It is true, quite true, Your Holiness! It is that thought alone that keeps me here. Else, any day, my Dharmapathni here, - my Sita – and myself, would a hundred times prefer the discomforts of Dandaka to the delights of Ayodhya.
Vasishta :- But, if your proper place is on the throne of your ancestors, my proper place is among the heights of Himalayas.
Rama :- No, your Holiness! I refuse to agree, I cannot agree. To the Rishis who are still on the path, who are still in the process of preparation, the practice of Tapas may be necessary. But not to those like you Holiness, who have reached the summit of spiritual perfection. To such, indeed the return to the forest is only an act of utter selfishness. Their duty to humanity enjoins on them to live, move and have their beign among the people, to teach, to lead, to guide and to save.
Vasishta :- Sri Ramachandra! It is you that seem selfish now.
Rama :- I confess, now I am. In such a case, it is my duty to be selfish. I am selfish not for me, but for my people no, not for me, but for this ancient capital and country,.
Vasishta :- you both are here; your devoted brothers are here; all of you to look after the people and county. What need is there for me? I have begun to think that my function is finished, my mission is ended. Let me go back to my hallowed ashram on the Hills. I have been dreaming of it day and night.
Rama :- I and my Sita, You Holiness, will also come away with you.
Vasishta :- No! No! No! That cannot be. That ought not to be. That will verily lobe running away from the post of duty.
Rama :- It is only that which is keeping me here. Does your Holiness think that I have accepted the charge of the Raj because of the power and the pomp, because of the pleasures and luxuries, or even because I like to be a king? No, your Holiness! The crown is at best a heavy load on the head which wears it.
Vasishta :- Sri Ramachandra! I am sorry to here you speak so. You are yet young. Your ruling over this land will become and be the ideal for all future ages. For thousands of years still to come, Rama Rajya will be, and remain, a pattern to follow, a goal to be reached.
Sita :- With your blessings, your Holiness, may it prove so!
Vasishta :- I have no doubt about it. I know that the country and people are safe with you. Even when you great father, the old Dasaratha was alive, I was contemplating retirement from the pontifical land ministerial duties entrusted to me. But, when he passed away suddenly and you both left for the forest, and Bharatha would not touch the crown, it seemed to me that I should not leave the country or people in that state of anarchy. But all is well and it has ended well. I have crowned you both King and Queen. It is true that that there has been no precedent. I wished to create one. I did so, because of my faith in the perfection of humanity only in the inseparable combination of the masculine and the feminine in creation. I would not have been what I am but for my Arundhati-that perfection and pattern of womanhood.
Sita :- Your Holiness! I did not think of all these things when you placed us both on the throne on the Coronation day. I thought is was only for your blessings.
Rama :- No! my dear Sita. I had a glimpse into the mind of His Holiness. I knew and felt it was not for nothing. It is you who have made me what I am. And what am I without you? What is the sun without its light?
(The doors of the chamber open and the Dwarapalaka enters).
Dwarapalaka :- (Making obeisance to Vasistha, Srirama and Sita). Maharajah! Sachivothama sumantra has come and is waiting at the door. He asks if he may come in.
Rama :- What else! Somehow he always comes in at the right moment (To the Servant.) Ask him to come in.
Rama :- (To Vasishta) He is forsooth the other wing of our family –the secular wing.
(He prostrates before Vasishta and makes obeisance to Rama and Sita)
Rama :- (To Sumantra). May I know my Sachivothama how you have throughout your life always come to the right place at the right moment?
Sumantra :- A minister who is worthy of his name must be al eyes and all ears.
Rama :- I suppose not all talk!
Sumantra :- No Maharajah! He who talks will not do.
Vasishta: And he who does, need not talk:!
Rama: (To Sumantra) My revered Minister! Baghawan Vasishta has come here to take leave of us and retire to his ancient Ashram on the Hills.
Sumantra: I suspected some such thing, Maharajah, and have therefore come with all speed.
Vasishta: (To Sumantra) Sachivothama, you and I have served the Raghu’s race of Kings faithfully for so long. Do tell me if I have not earned my right, in this evening of my life, to retire for my Tapas.
Sumantra: Your Holiness might also take me along with you.
Vasishta: You are not a Tapaswi. Your Tapas is the faithful discharge of your duties as Minister by the side of Sri Ramachandra!
Sumantra:- Your Holiness! How can even the mighty Royal Bird fly with one wing.
Rama:- Well spoken, Sumantra! It seems a judgment in one sentence. That is why you are truly Sumantra. I have been wondering whether that name was one given by your parents, or by my forefathers,
Sumantra: Why not both, Maharajah?
Rama: Yes, it was a proper name. It is truly a proper name.
Sita: I have ever thought that there is always a secret law behind the significance of the names of persons and even of places. A kind of pre-destiny! What about your own name, My Lord?
Vasishta: (Smiling) you have spoken truly, Sita. Though when I came in her, I came resolved to bid good-bye to you all, before retiring to my hermitage, as soon as I saw and spoke to Sri Ramachandra, all my resolve has melted away, even like moonlight of the smile of Sri Ramachandra?
Vasishta: (thinking for a moment and rising from his seat) (To Sumantra), Sumantra! When I came in, I was in two minds. There was a struggle within me. You have, as usual, helped me to get over it. How can I leave and go? Is he not a fool who leaves when the tree he has planted is in blossom and who would not wait till it bears fruit? (turning to Rama). I am sorry Sri Ramachandra, that I disturbed your peace of mind this morning by my impulsive proposal. No, I shall not leave. I shall go out of Ayodhya, when you, Sri Ramachandra, are leaving it with your Sita. (So saying Vasishta departs and goes out through the door. Rama, Sita and Sumantra follow him for a few steps and then halt).
Sita: It is a good morning in which such a great thing has been achieved with so little effort.
Rama: It is all due to our good and great Sachivothama!
----------------------Scene II to continue