Home Page | Workings | Works of Sri Aurobindo | Collected Plays and Short Stories. Part 2


Collected Plays and Short Stories

Part Two

or The Hero and the Nymph

Translated from the Sanskrit Play of Kalidasa


Act One


Act Two

Scene I

Act Three

Scene I

Scene II

Act Four

Scene I

Scene II

Act Five

Scene I


Pururavas, Son of Budha and Ila, grandson of the Moon, King of the world, reigning at Pratisthana.

Manavaka, A Brahmin, the King's jester and companion.

Latavya, Chamberlain of the King's seraglio.

Chitrarath, King of the Gandharvas, musicians of Heaven.

Pelava, Disciples of Bharat, Preceptor of the Arts in Heaven.

Ayus, Son of Pururavas.

Charioteer of Pururavas.

The Queen Aushinarie, Wife of Pururavas and daughter of the King of Kashi.

Urvasie, An Apsara or Nymph of Heaven, born from the thigh of Narayan.

Nipunika, The Queen's handmaid.

Menaka, Nymphs of Heaven, companions of Urvasie.

Satyavatie, A hermitess.

A Huntress.

Girls, Attendant on the King; Amazons.

Act One


He in Vedanta by the Wise pronounced

Sole Being, who the upper and under world

Pervading overpasses, whom alone

The name of God describes, here applicable

And pregnant — crippled else of force, to others

Perverted — and the Yogins who aspire

To rise above the human death, break in

Breath, soul and senses passionately seeking

The Immutable, and in their own hearts find —

He, easily by work and faith and love

Attainable, ordain your heavenly weal.

After the invocation the Actor-Manager speaks.


No need of many words.

He speaks into the greenroom.

Hither good friend.

The Assistant-Manager enters.


Behold me.


Often has the audience seen

Old dramas by our earlier poets staged;

Therefore today a piece as yet unknown

I will present them, Vikram and the Nymph.

Remind our actors then most heedfully

To con their parts, as if on each success



I shall do so.

He goes.


And now to you,

O noble audience, I bow down and pray,

If not from kindliness to us your friends

And caterers, yet from pride in the high name

That graces this our plot, heedful attention,

Gentles, to Vikramorvasie, the work

Of Kalidasa.


Help! O help, help, help!

Whoever is on the side of Heaven, whoever

Has passage through the paths of level air.


What cry is this that breaks upon our prologue

From upper worlds, most like the wail distressed

Of ospreys, sad but sweet as moan of bees

Drunken with honey in deep summer bloom,

Or the low cry of distant cuckoo? or hear I

Women who move on Heaven's azure stage

Splendid with rows of seated Gods, and chant

In airy syllables a liquid sweetness?

(After some thought)

Ah, now I have it. She who from the thigh

Of the great tempted sage Narayan sprang

Radiant, Heaven's nymph, divinest Urvasie,

In middle air from great Coilasa's lord

Returning, to the enemies of Heaven

Is prisoner; therefore the sweet multitude

Of Apsaras send forth melodious cry

Of pathos and complaint.

He goes. The Nymphs of

Heaven enter, Rambha, Menaka,

Sahajanya and many others.


Help, help, O help!

Whoever is on the side of Heaven, whoever

Has passage through the paths of level air.

Pururavas enters suddenly and with speed

in a chariot with his charioteer.


Enough of lamentation! I am here,

Ilian Pururavas, from grandiose worship

In Surya's brilliant house returned. To me,

O women! say 'gainst what ye cry for rescue.


Rescue from Titan violence, O King.


And what has Titan violence to you

Immortal done of fault, O Heaven's women?


King, hear us.




Our sister, our dear sister!

The ornament of Eden and its joy!

Whom Indra by asceticism alarmed

Made use of like a lovely sword to kill

Spiritual longings, the eternal refutation

Of Luxmie's pride of beauty, Urvasie!

Returning from Cubera's halls, O she

Was met, was taken. Cayshy, that dire Titan,

Who in Hiranyapoor exalts his house,

Beheld her and in great captiving hands

Ravished, Chitralekha and Urvasie.

We saw them captive haled.


Say, if you know,

What region of the air received that traitor?


North-east he fled.


Therefore expel dismay.

I go to bring you back your loved one, if

Attempt can do it.


O worthy this of thee!

O from the Lunar splendour truly sprung!


Where will you wait my advent, nymphs of Heaven?


Upon this summit called the Peak of Gold,

O King, we shall expect thee.



Urge on my horses to the far north-east;

Gallop through Heaven like the wind.


'Tis done.


O nobly driven! With speed like this I could

O'ertake Heaven's eagle though he fled before me

With tempest in his vans. How much more then

This proud transgressor against Heaven's King!

Look, charioteer, beneath my sudden car

The crumbling thunder-clouds fly up like dust,

And the wheel's desperate rotation seems

To make another set of whirling spokes.

The plumes upon the horses' heads rise tall,

Motionless like a picture, and the wind

Of our tremendous speed has made the flag

From staff to airborne end straight as if pointing.

They go out in their chariot.


Sisters, the King is gone. Direct we then

Our steps to the appointed summit.



O hasten.


Hasten, O hasten, come, come, come.

They ascend the hill.


And O, will he indeed avail to draw

This stab out of our hearts?


Doubt it not, Rambha.


No, Menaka, for not so easily

Are Titans overthrown, my sister.



Remember this is he whom Heaven's King,

When battle raised its dreadful face, has called

With honour from the middle world of men,

Set in his armèd van, and conquered.


Here too

I hope that he will conquer.


Joy, sisters, joy!

Look where the chariot of the moon appears,

The Ilian's great deer-banner rushing up

From the horizon. He would not return

With empty hands, sisters. We can rejoice.

All gaze upwards. Pururavas enters in his chariot

with his charioteer; Urvasie, her eyes closed in terror,

supported on the right arm of Chitralekha.


Courage, sweet sister, courage.


O thou too lovely!

Recall thy soul. The enemies of Heaven

Can injure thee no more; that danger's over.

The Thunderer's puissance still pervades the worlds.

O then uplift these long and lustrous eyes.

Like sapphire lilies in a pool where dawn

Comes smiling.


Why does she not yet, alas!

Recover her sweet reason? Only her sighs

Remind us she is living.


Too rudely, lady,

Has thy sweet sister been alarmed. For look!

What tremblings of the heart are here revealed.

Watch the quick rise and fall incessantly

That lift between these large magnificent breasts

The flowers of Eden.


Sister, O put by

This panic. Fie! thou art no Apsara.


Terror will not give up his envied seat

On her luxurious bosom soft as flowers,

The tremors in her raiment's edge and little

Heavings and flutterings between her two breasts

Confess him.

Urvasie begins to recover.

(with joy)

Thou art fortunate, Chitralekha!

Thy sister to her own bright nature comes

Once more. So have I seen a glorious night

Delivered out of darkness by the moon,

Nocturnal fire break through with crests of brightness

Its prison of dim smoke. Her beauty, wakening

From swoon and almost rescued, to my thoughts

Brings Ganges as I saw her once o'erwhelmed

With roar and ruin of her banks, race wild,

Thickening, then gradually from that turmoil

Grow clear, emerging into golden calm.


Be glad, my sister, O my Urvasie.

For vanquished are the accursed Titans, foes

Of the divine, antagonists of Heaven.

Urvasie (opening her eyes)

Vanquished? By Indra then whose soul can see

Across the world.


Not Indra, but this King

Whose puissance equals Indra.

Urvasie (looking at Pururavas)

O Titans,

You did me kindness!

Pururavas (gazing at Urvasie)

And reason if the nymphs

Tempting Narayan Sage drew back ashamed

When they beheld this wonder from his thigh

Starting. And yet I cannot think of her

Created by a withered hermit cold:

But rather in the process beautiful

Of her creation Heaven's enchanting moon

Took the Creator's place, or very Love

Grown all one amorousness, or else the month

Of honey and its days deep-mined with bloom.

How could an aged anchoret, dull and stale

With poring over scripture and oblivious

To all this rapture of the senses, build

A thing so lovely?


O my Chitralekha,

Our sisters?


This great prince who slew our fear

Can tell us.


Sad of heart they wait, O beauty!

For with thy sweet ineffugable eyes

Who only once was blessed, even he without thee

Cannot abstain from pining. How then these

Original affections sister-sweet

Rooted in thee?


How courteous is his tongue

And full of noble kindness! Yet what wonder?

Nectar is natural to the moon. O prince,

My heart's in haste to see once more my loved ones.


Lo, where upon the Peak of Gold they stand

Gazing towards thy face, and with such eyes

Of rapture as when men behold the moon

Emerging from eclipse.


O sister, see!

Urvasie (looking longingly at the King)

I do and drink in with my eyes my partner

Of grief and pleasure.

Chitralekha (with a smile; significantly)

Sister, who is he?


He? Oh! Rambha I meant and all our friends.


He comes with victory. Urvasie's beside him

And Chitralekha. Now indeed this King

Looks glorious like the moon, when near the twin

Bright asterisms that frame best his light.


In both ways are we blest, our lost dear one

Brought back to us, this noble King returned



Sister, true. Not easily

Are Titans conquered.


Charioteer, descend.

We have arrived the summit.


As the King



O I am blest in this descent

Upon unevenness. O happy shock

That threw her great hips towards me. All her sweet shoulder

Pressed mine that thrilled and passioned to the touch.

Urvasie (abashed)

Move yet a little farther to your side,


Chitralekha (smiling)

I cannot; there's no room.



This prince has helped us all. 'Twere only grateful

Should we descend and greet him.


Let us do it.

They all approach.


Stay, charioteer, the rush of hooves that she

Marrying her sweet-browed eagerness with these

May, mingling with their passionate bosoms, clasp

Her dearest, like the glory and bloom of spring

Hastening into the open arms of trees.


Hail to the King felicitous who comes

With conquest in his wheels.


To you, O nymphs,

As fortunate in your sister's rescued arms.

Urvasie descends from the chariot supported

on Chitralekha's arm.


O sisters, sisters, take me to your bosoms.

All rush upon her and embrace her.

Closer, O closer! hurt me with your breasts!

I never hoped to see again your sweet

Familiar faces.


Protect a million ages,

Monarch, all continents and every sea!

Noise within.


My lord, I hear a rumour in the east

And mighty speed of chariots. Lo, one bright

With golden armlet, looming down from Heaven

Like a huge cloud with lightning on its wrist,

Streams towards us.


Chitrarath! 'tis Chitrarath.

Chitrarath (approaches the King with great respect)

Hail to the Indra-helper! Fortunate

Pururavas, whose prowess is so ample,

Heaven's King has grown its debtor.


The Gandharva!

Welcome, my bosom's friend.

They clasp each other's hands.

What happy cause

Of coming?


Indra had heard from Narad's lips

Of Urvasie by Titan Cayshy haled.

He bade us to her rescue. We midway

Heard heavenly bards chanting thy victory,

And hitherward have turned our march. On, friend,

With us to Maghavan and bear before thee

This lovely offering. Great thy service done

To Heaven's high King; for she who was of old

Narayan's chief munificence to Indra,

Is now thy gift, Pururavas. Thy arm

Has torn her from a Titan's grasp.



Never repeat it; for if we who are

On Heaven's side, o'erpower the foes of Heaven,

'Tis Indra's puissance, not our own. Does not

The echo of the lion's dangerous roar

Reverberating through the mountain glens

Scatter with sound the elephants? We, O friend,

Are even such echoes.


This fits with thy great nature,

For modesty was ever valour's crown.


Not now nor hence is't seasonable for me,

Comrade, to meet the King of Sacrifice.

Thou, therefore, to the mighty presence lead

This beauty.


As thou wilt. With me to Heaven!

Urvasie (aside to Chitralekha)

I have no courage to address my saviour.

Sister, wilt be my voice to him?

Chitralekha (approaching Pururavas)

My lord,

Urvasie thus petitions —


What commands

The lady?


She would have thy gracious leave

To bear into her far immortal Heavens

The glory of the great Pururavas

And dwell with it as with a sister.

Pururavas (sorrowfully)

Go then;

But go for longer meeting.

The Gandharvas and the nymphs soar up into the sky.


Sister, stay!

My chain is in this creeper caught. Release it.

Chitralekha (looking at the King with a smile)

Oh, yes, indeed, a sad entanglement!

I fear you will not easily be loosed.


Do not mock me, sister. Pray you, untwine it.


Come, let me try. I'll do my possible

To help you.

She busies herself with the chain.

Urvasie (smiling)

Sister, think what thou hast promised

Even afterwards.

Pururavas (aside)

Creeper, thou dost me friendship;

Thou for one moment holdest from the skies

Her feet desirable. O lids of beauty!

O vision of her half-averted face!

Urvasie, released, looks at the King, then with a

sigh at her sisters soaring up into the sky.


O King, thy shaft with the wild voice of storm

Has hurled the Titans in the salt far sea,

Avenging injured Heaven, and now creeps back

Into the quiver, like a mighty snake

Seeking its lair.


Therefore bring near the chariot,

While I ascend.


'Tis done.

The King mounts the chariot.


Shake loose the reins.

Urvasie (gazing at the King, with a sigh, aside)

My benefactor! my deliverer!

Shall I not see thee more?

She goes out with Chitralekha.

Pururavas (looking after Urvasie)

O Love! O Love!

Thou mak'st men hot for things impossible

And mad for dreams. She soars up to the Heavens,

Her father's middle stride, and draws my heart

By force out of my bosom. It goes with her,

Bleeding; as when a wild swan through the sky

Wings far her flight, there dangles in her beak

A dripping fibre from the lotus torn.

They go.


Act Two

Scene I

Park of the King's palace in Pratisthana. — In the background the wings of a great building, near it the gates of the park, near the bounds of the park an arbour and a small artificial hill to the side.

Manavaka enters.


Houp! Houp! I feel like a Brahmin who has had an invitation to dinner; he thinks dinner, talks dinner, looks dinner, his very sneeze has the music of the dinner-bell in it. I am simply bursting with the King's secret. I shall never manage to hold my tongue in that crowd. Solitude's my only safety. So until my friend gets up from the session of affairs, I will wait for him in this precinct of the House of Terraces.

Nipunika enters.


I am bidden by my lady the King's daughter of Kashi, “Nipunika, since my lord came back from doing homage to the Sun, he has had no heart for anything. So just go and learn from his dear friend, the noble Manavaka, what is disturbing his mind.” Well and good! but how shall I overreach that rogue — a Brahmin he calls himself, with the murrain to him! But there! thank Heaven, he can't keep a secret long; 'tis like a dewdrop on a rare blade of grass. Well, I must hunt him out. O! there stands the noble Manavaka, silent and sad like a monkey in a picture. I will accost him. (approaching) Salutation to the noble Manavaka!


Blessing to your ladyship! (aside) Ugh, the very sight of this little rogue of a tiring-woman makes the secret jump at my throat. I shall burst! I shall split! Nipunika, why have you left the singing lesson and where are you off to?


To see my lord the King, by my lady's orders.


What are her orders?


Noble sir, this is the Queen's message. “My lord has always been kind and indulgent to me, so that I have become a stranger to grief. He never before disregarded my sorrow” —


How? how? has my friend offended her in any way?


Offended? Why, he addressed my lady by the name of a girl for whom he is pining.

Manavaka (aside)

What, he has let out his own secret? Then why am I agonizing here in vain? (aloud) He called her Urvasie?


Yes. Noble Manavaka, who is that Urvasie?


Urvasie is the name of a certain Apsara. The sight of her has sent the King mad. He is not only tormenting the life out of my lady, but out of me too with his aversion to everything but moaning.

Nipunika (aside)

So! I have stormed the citadel of my master's secret. (Aloud) What am I to say to the Queen?


Nipunika, tell my lady with my humble regards that I am endeavouring my best to divert my friend from this mirage and I will not see her ladyship till it is done.


As your honour commands.

She goes.

Bards (within)

Victory, victory to the King!

The Sun in Heaven for ever labours; wide

His beams dispel the darkness to the verge

Of all this brilliant world. The King too toils,

Rescuing from night and misery and crime

His people. Equal power to these is given

And labour, the King on earth, the Sun in Heaven.

The brilliant Sun in Heaven rests not from toil;

Only at high noon in the middle cusp

And azure vault the great wheels slacken speed

A moment, then resume their way; thou too

In the mid-moment of daylight lay down

Thy care, put by the burden of a crown.


Here's my dear friend risen from the session. I will join him.

He goes out, then re-enters with Pururavas.

Pururavas (sighing)

No sooner seen than in my heart she leaped.

O easy entrance! since the bannered Love

With his unerring shaft had made the breach

Where she came burning in.

Manavaka (aside)

Alas the poor

King's daughter of Kashi!

Pururavas (looking steadfastly at him)

Hast thou kept thy trust —

My secret?

Manavaka (depressed)

Ah! that daughter of a slave

Has overreached me. Else he would not ask

In just that manner.

Pururavas (alarmed)

What now? Silence?


Why, sir,

It's this, I've padlocked so my tongue that even

To you I could not give a sudden answer.


'Tis well. O how shall I beguile desire?


Let's to the kitchen.


Why, what's there?


What's there?

The question! From all quarters gathered in

Succulent sweets and fivefold eatableness,

Music from saucepan and from frying-pan,

The beauty of dinner getting ready. There's

A sweet beguiler to your emptiness!

Pururavas (smiling)

For you whose heart is in your stomach. I

Am not so readily eased who fixed my soul

Upon what I shall hardly win.


Not win?

Why, tell me, came you not within her sight?


What comfort is in that?


When she has seen you,

How is she hard to win?


O your affection

Utters mere partiality.


You make me

Desperate to see her. Why, sir, she must be

A nonpareil of grace. Like me perhaps?


Who could with words describe each perfect limb

Of that celestial whole? Take her in brief,

O friend, for she is ornament's ornament,

And jewels cannot make her beautiful.

They from her body get their grace. And when

You search the universe for similes,

Her greater beauty drives you to express

Fair things by her, not her by lesser fairness:

So she is perfection's model.


No wonder then,

With such a shower of beauty, that you play

The rainbird open-mouthed to let drops glide

Graciously down his own particular gullet.

But whither now?


When love grows large with yearning,

He has no sanctuary but solitude.

I pray you, go before me to the park.

Manavaka (aside)

Oh God, my dinner! There's no help.

(aloud) This way.

Lo, here the park's green limit. See, my lord,

How this fair garden sends his wooing breeze

To meet his royal guest.


O epithet

Most apt. Indeed this zephyr in fond arms

Impregnating with honey spring-creeper

And flattering with his kiss the white May-bloom,

Seems to me like a lover-girl divided

Between affection smooth and eager passion.


May like division bless your yearning, sir.

We reach the garden's gate. Enter, my lord.


Enter thou first. O! I was blindly sanguine,

By refuge in this flowery solitude

Who thought to heal my pain. As well might swimmer

Hurled onward in a river's violent hands

Oppose that roaring tide, as I make speed

Hither for my relief.


And wherefore so?


Was passion not enough to torture me,

Still racking the resistless mind with thoughts

Of unattainable delight? But I

Must add the mango-trees' soft opening buds,

And hurt myself with pallid drifting leaves,

And with the busy zephyr wound my soul.


Be not so full of grief. For Love himself

Will help you soon to your extreme desire.


I seize upon thy word, — the Brahmin's speech

That never can be false!


See what a floral

Green loveliness expresses the descent

And rosy incarnation of the spring.

Do you not find it lovely?


Friend, I do.

I study it tree by tree and leaf by leaf.

This courbouc's like a woman's rosy nail,

But darkens to the edge; heavy with crimson,

Yon red asoka breaking out of bud

Seems all on fire; and here the carvy mounting

Slight dust of pollen on his stamen-ends

Clusters with young sweet bloom. Methinks I see

The infant honeyed soul of spring, half-woman,

Grow warm with bud of youth.


This arbour green

With blosoms loosened by the shock of bees

Upon a slab of costly stone, prepares

With its own hands your cushioned honours. Take

The courtesy.


As you will.


Here sit at ease.

The sensitive beauty of the creepers lax

Shall glide into your soul and gently steal

The thought of Urvasie.


O no, mine eyes

Are spoilt by being indulged in her sweet looks,

And petulantly they reject all feebler

Enchantings, even the lovely embowering bloom

Of these grace-haunted creepers bending down

To draw me with their hands. I am sick for her.

Rather invent some way to my desire.


Oh rare! when Indra for Ahalya pined

A cheapjack was his counsellor; you as lucky

Have me for your ally. Mad all! mad all!


Not so! affection edges so the wit,

Some help it's sure to find for one it loves.


Good, I will cogitate. Disturb me not

With your love-moanings.

Pururavas (his right arm throbbing. Aside)

Her face of perfect moonlight

Is all too heavenly for my lips. How canst thou then

Throb expectation in my arm, O Love?

Yet all my heart is suddenly grown glad

As if it had heard the feet of my desire.

He waits hopefully. There enter in the

sky Urvasie and Chitralekha.


Will you not even tell me where we go?


Sister, when I upon the Peak of Gold

Was stayed from Heaven by the creeper's hands,

You mocked me then. And have you now to ask

‘Whither it is I go?’


To seek the side

Of King Pururavas you journey then?


Even so shameless is your sister's mind.


Whom did you send before, what messenger

To him you love?


My heart.


O yet think well,

Sister; do not be rash.


Love sends me, Love

Compels me. How can I then think?


To that

I have no answer.


Then take me to him soon.

Only let not our way be such as lies

Within the let of hindrance.


Fear not that.

Has not the great Preceptor of the Gods

Taught us to wear the crest invincible?

While that is bound, not any he shall dare

Of all the Heaven-opposing faction stretch

An arm of outrage.

Urvasie (abashed)

Oh true! my heart forgot.


Look, sister! For in Ganges' gliding waves

Holier by influx of blue Yamuna,

The palace of the great Pururavas,

Crowning the city with its domes, looks down

As in a glass at its own mighty image.


All Eden to an earthly spot is bound.

But where is he who surely will commiserate

A pining heart?


This park which seems one country

With Heaven, let us question. See the King

Expects thee, like the pale new-risen moon

Waiting for moonlight.


How beautiful he is —

Fairer than when I saw him first!


'Tis true.

Come, we will go to him.


I will not yet.

Screened in with close invisibility,

I will stand near him, learn what here he talks

Sole with his friend.


You'll do your will always.


Courage! your difficult mistress may be caught,

Two ways.

Urvasie (jealously)

O who is she, that happy she

Being wooed by such a lover, preens herself

And is proud?


Why do you mock the ways of men

And are a Goddess?


I dare not, sweet, I fear

To learn too suddenly my own misfortune,

If I use heavenly eyes.


Listen, you dreamer!

Are you deaf? I tell you I have found a way:


Speak on.


Woo sleep that marries men with dreams,

Or on a canvas paint in Urvasie

And gaze on her for ever.

Urvasie (aside)

O sinking coward heart, now, now revive.


And either is impossible. For look!

How can I, with this rankling wound of love,

Call to me sleep who marries men with dreams?

And if I paint the sweetness of her face,

Will not the tears, before it is half done,

Blurring my gaze with mist, blot the dear vision?


Heard'st thou?


I have heard all. It was too little

For my vast greed of love.


Well, that's my stock

Of counsel.

Pururavas (sighing)

Oh me! she knows not my heart's pain,

Or knowing it, with those her heavenly eyes

Scorns my poor passion. Only the arrowed Love

Is gratified tormenting with her bosom

My sad, unsatisfied and pale desire.


Heard'st thou, sister?


He must not think so of me!

I would make answer, sister, but to his face

I have not hardihood. Suffer me then,

To trust to faery birch-leaf mind-created

My longing.


It is well. Create and write.

Urvasie writes in a passion of timidity and excitement, then

throws the leaf between Pururavas and Manavaka.


Murder! murder! I'm killed! I am dead! help! help!


What's this? a serpent's skin come down to eat me?

Pururavas (looks closely and laughs)

No serpent's slough, my friend, only a leaf

Of birch-tree with a scroll of writing traced upon it.


Perhaps the invisible fair Urvasie

Heard you complain and answers.


To desire

Nothing can seem impossible.

He takes the leaf and reads it

to himself, then with joy.

O friend,

How happy was your guess!


I told you so.

The Brahmin's speech! Read, read! aloud, if it please you.

Urvasie (aside)

The Brahmin has his own urbanity!




I am all ears.

Pururavas (reading aloud)

“My master and my King!

Were I what thy heart thinks and knows me not,

Scorning thy love, would then the soft-winged breeze

Of deathless gardens and the unfading flowers

That strew the beds of Paradise, to me

Feel fire!”


What will he say now?


What each limb,

That is a drooping lotus-stalk with love,

Has said already.


You're consoled, I hope?

Don't tell me what you feel. I've felt the same

When I've been hungry and one popped in on me

With sweetmeats in a tray.


Consoled! a word

How weak! I con this speaking of my sweet,

This dear small sentence full of beautiful meaning,

This gospel of her answering love, and feel

Her mouth upon my mouth and her soft eyes

Swimming and large gaze down into my own,

And touch my lifted lids with hers.


O even

Such sweetness feels thy lover.


Friend, my finger

Moistening might blot the lines. Do thou then hold

This sweet handwriting of my love.

He gives the leaf to Manavaka.


But tell me.

Why does your mistress, having brought to bloom

Your young desire, deny its perfect fruit?


O sister, my heart flutters at the thought

Of going to my lord. While I cajole

And strengthen the poor coward, show yourself,

Go to him, tell him all that I may speak.


I will.

She becomes visible and approaches the King.

Hail, lord our King.

Pururavas (joyfully)

O welcome, welcome!

He looks around for Urvasie.

Yet, fair one, as the Yamuna not mixed

With Ganges, to the eye that saw their beauty

Of wedded waters, seems not all so fair,

So thou without thy sister givest not

That double delight.


First is the cloud's dim legion

Seen in the Heavens; afterwards comes the lightning.

Manavaka (aside)

What! this is not the very Urvasie?

Only the favourite sister of that miracle!


Here sit down, fairest.


Let me first discharge

My duty. Urvasie by me bows down

Her face thus to her monarch's feet, imploring —


Rather commanding.


She whom in Titan hands

Afflicted thou didst pity, thou didst rescue,

Now needs much more thy pity, not by hands

Titan, but crueller violence of love

Oppressed — the sight of thee her sudden cause.


O Chitralekha, her thou tell'st me of

Passionate for me. Hast thou not eyes to know

Pururavas in anguish for her sake?

One prayer both pray to Kama, ‘Iron with iron

Melts in fierce heat; why not my love with me?’

Chitralekha (returning to Urvasie)

Come sister, to your lord. So much his need

Surpasses yours, I am his ambassador.

Urvasie (becoming visible)

How unexpectedly hast thou with ease

Forsook me!

Chitralekha (with a smile)

In a moment I shall know

Who forsakes whom, sister. But come away

And give due greeting.

Urvasie approaches the King fearfully and

bows down, then low and bashfully.

Conquest to the King!


I conquer, love, indeed, when thy dear lips

Give greeting to me, vouchsafed to no mortal

But Indra only.

He takes her by both hands and makes her sit down.


I am a mighty Brahmin and the friend

Of all earth's lord. O'erlook me not entirely.

Urvasie smiles and bows to him.

Peace follow you and keep you.

Messenger of the Gods (cries from within)

Chitralekha, urge haste on Urvasie.

This day the wardens of the ancient worlds

And the great King of Heaven himself will witness

That piece where all the passions live and move,

Quickened to gracious gesture in the action

Deposed in you by Bharat Sage, O sisters.

All listen, Urvasie sorrowfully.


Thou hearst the Messenger of Heaven? Take leave,

Sweet, of the King.


I cannot speak!


My liege,

My sister not being lady of herself

Beseeches your indulgence. She would be

Without a fault before the Gods.

Pururavas (articulating with difficulty)


I must not wish to hinder you when Heaven

Expects your service. Only do not forget


Urvasie goes with her sister, still looking

backwards towards the King.

O she is gone! my eyes

Have now no cause for sight: they're worthless balls

Without an object.


Why, not utterly.

He is about to give the birch-leaf.

There's — Heavens! 'tis gone; it must have drifted down,

While I, being all amazed with Urvasie,

Noticed nothing.


What is it thou wouldst say?

There is — ?


No need to droop your limbs and pine.

Your Urvasie has to your breast been plucked

With cords of passions, knots that will not slacken

Strive as she may.


My soul tells me like comfort.

For as she went, not lady of her limbs

To yield their sweets to me for ever, yet

Her heart, which was her own, in one great sob

From 'twixt two trembling breasts shaken with sighs

Came panting out. I hear it throb within me.

Manavaka (aside)

Well, my heart's all a-twitter too. Each moment

I think he is going to mention the damned birch-leaf.


With what shall I persuade mine eyes to comfort?

The letter!

Manavaka (searching)

What! Hullo! It's gone! Come now,

It was no earthly leaf; it must have gone

Flying behind the skirts of Urvasie.

Pururavas (bitterly, in vexation)

Will you then never leave your idiot trick

Of carelessness? Search for it.

Manavaka (getting up)

Oh, well! well!

It can't be far. Why here it is — or here — or here.

While they search, the Queen enters, with

her attendants and Nipunika.


Now, maiden, is it true thou tell'st me? Saw'st thou really

My lord and Manavaka approach the arbour?


I have not told my lady falsehood ever

That she should doubt me.


Well, I will lurk thick-screened

With hanging creepers and surprise what he

Disburdens from his heart in his security.

So I shall know the truth.

Nipunika (sulkily)

Well, as you please.

They advance.

Aushinarie (looking ahead)

What's yonder like a faded rag that lightly

The southern wind guides towards us?


It is a birch-leaf.

There's writing on it; the letters, as it rolls,

Half show their dinted outlines. Look, it has caught

Just on your anklet spike. I'll lift and read.

She disengages the leaf.


Silently first peruse it; if 'tis nothing

Unfit for me to know, then I will hear.


It is, oh, it must be that very scandal.

Verses they seem and penned by Urvasie,

And to my master. Manavaka's neglect

Has thrown it in our hands.



Tell me the purport.


I'll read the whole. “My master and my King!

Were I what thy heart thinks and knows me not,

Scorning thy love, would then the soft-winged breeze

Of deathless gardens and unfading flowers

That strew the beds of Paradise, to me

Feel fire!”


So! by this dainty love-letter,

He is enamoured then, and of the nymph.


It's plain enough.

They enter the arbour.


What's yonder to the wind

Enslaved, that flutters on the parkside rockery?

Pururavas (rising)

Wind of the south, thou darling of the Spring,

Seize rather on the flowery pollen stored

By months of fragrance, that gold dust of trees.

With this thou mightest perfume all thy wings.

How wilt thou profit, snatching from me, O wind,

My darling's dear handwriting, like a kiss

All love? When thou did'st woo thine Anjana,

Surely thou knewest lovers' dying hearts

Are by a hundred little trifles kept,

All slight as this!


See, mistress, see! A search

In progress for the leaf.


Be still.



I was misled with but a peacock's feather,

Faded, a saffron splendour of decay.


In every way I am undone.

Aushinarie (approaching suddenly)

My lord,

Be not so passionate; here is your dear letter.

Pururavas (confused)

The Queen! O welcome!

Manavaka (aside)

I'll come, if 'twere convenient

To tell the truth.

Pururavas (aside)

What shall I do now, friend,

Or say?

Manavaka (aside)

Much you will say! A thief red-handed

Caught with his swag!

Pururavas (aside)

Is this a time for jesting?


Madam, it was not this I sought but other,

A record of state, a paper that I dropped.


Oh, you do well to hide your happiness.


My lady, hurry on His Majesty's dinner.

When bile accumulates, dinner does the trick.


A noble consolation for his friend

The Brahmin finds! Heard'st thou, Nipunika?


Why, madam, even a goblin is appeased

By dinner.


Fool! by force you'ld prove me guilty.


Not yours the guilt, my lord! I am in fault

Who force my hated and unwelcome face

Upon you. But I go. Nipunika,

Attend me.

She is departing in wrath.

Pururavas (following her)

Guilty I am. O pardon, pardon!

O look on me more kindly. How can a slave

Be innocent, when whom he should please is angry?

He falls at her feet.

Aushinarie (aside)

I am not so weak-minded as to value

Such hollow penitence. And yet the terror

Of that remorse I know that I shall feel

If I spurn his kindness, frightens me — but no!

She goes out with Nipunika and attendants.


She has rushed off like a torrent full of wrath.

Rise, rise! she's gone.

Pururavas (rising)

O she did right to spurn me.

Most dulcet words of lovers, sweetest flatteries,

When passion is not there, can find no entrance

To woman's heart; for she knows well the voice

Of real love, but these are stones false-coloured

Rejected by the jeweller's practised eye.


This is what you should wish! The eye affected

Brooks not the flaming of a lamp too near.


You much misjudge me. Though my heart's gone out

To Urvasie, affection deep I owe

My Queen. But since she scorned my prostrate wooing,

I will have patience till her heart repent.


Oh, hang your patience! keep it for home consumption.

Mine's at an end. Have some faint mercy instead

And save a poor starved Brahmin's life. It's time

For bath and dinner! dinner!!

Pururavas (looking upward)

'Tis noon. The tired

And heated peacock sinks to chill delight

Of water in the tree-encircling channel,

The bee divides a crimson bud and creeps

Into its womb; there merged and safe from fire,

He's lurking. The duck too leaves her blazing pool

And shelters in cold lilies on the bank,

And in your summer-house weary of heat

The parrot from his cage for water cries.

They go.


Act Three

Scene I

Hermitage of the Saint Bharat in Heaven.

Galava and Pelava.


Pelava, thee the Sage admitted, happier

Chosen, to that great audience in the house

Of highest Indra — I meanwhile must watch

The sacred flame; inform my absence. Was

The divine session with the acting pleased?


Of pleased I know not; this I well could see

They sat all lost in that poetic piece

Of Saraswatie, “Luxmie's Choice” — breathlessly

Identified themselves with every mood.

But —


Ah, that but! It opens doors to censure.


Yes, Urvasie was heedless, missed her word.


How? how?


She acted Luxmie; Menaka

Was Varunie; who asking, “Sister, see,

The noble and the beautiful of Heaven,

And Vishnu and the guardians of the worlds.

To whom does thy heart go mid all these glories?”—

Urvasie should have answered ‘Purushottam,’

But from her lips ‘Pururavas’ leaped forth.


Our organs are the slaves of fate and doom!

Was not the great Preceptor angry?



He cursed her, but high Indra blessed.


What blessing?


“Since thou hast wronged my teaching and my fame,

For thee no place in Heaven” — so frowned the Sage.

Heaven's monarch marked her when the piece was ended,

Drooping, her sweet face bowed with shame, and said,

With gracious brows, “Since thou hast fixed thy heart

Upon my friend and strong ally in war,

I will do both a kindness. Go to him

And love and serve him as thy lord until

A child is got in thee and he behold

His offspring's face.”


O nobly this became

Indra; he knows to value mighty hearts.

Pelava (looking at the Sun)

Look, in our talk if we have not transgressed

Our teacher's hour for bathing. Galava,

We should be at his side.


Let us make haste.

They go out.

Scene II

Outside the palace of Pururavas, beneath the House of Gems. The terrace of the House of Gems with a great staircase leading up to it.

The Chamberlain Latavya enters.

Latavya (sighing)

All other men when life is green and strong

Marry and toil and get them wealth, then, ageing,

Their sons assume the burden, they towards rest

Their laboured faces turn. But us for ever

Service, a keyless dungeon still renewed,

Wears down; and hard that service is which keeps

O'er women ward and on their errands runs.

Now Kashi's daughter, careful of her vow,

Commands me, “I have put from me, Latavya,

The obstinacy of offended love

And wooed my husband through Nipunika.

Thou too entreat him.” Therefore I linger here

Waiting till the King's greatness swiftly come,

His vesper worship done. It dims apace.

How beautifully twilight sits and dreams

Upon these palace walls! The peacocks now

Sit on their perches, drowsed with sleep and night,

Like figures hewn in stone. And on the roof

The fluttering pigeons with their pallid wings

Mislead the eye, disguised as rings of smoke

That from the window-ways have floated out

Into the evening. In places flower-bestrewn

The elders of the high seraglio, gentle souls

Of holy manners, set the evening lamps,

Dividing darkness; flames of auspice burn.

The King! I hear the sound of many feet,

Ringed round with torches he appears, his girls

Hold up with young fair arms. O form august

Like Mainak, when as yet the hills had wings,

Moving, and the slim trees along its ridge

Flickered with vermeil shaken blooms. Just here

I'll wait him, in the pathway of his glance.

Enter Pururavas, surrounded by girl attendants

carrying torches; with him Manavaka.

Pururavas (aside)

Day passes with some pale attempt at calm,

For then work walls the mind from the fierce siege

Of ever-present passion. But how shall I

Add movement to the tardy-footed night,

The long void hours by no distraction winged?

Latavya (approaching)

Long live the King! My lady says, “The moon

Tonight in splendour on the House of Jewels

Rises like a bright face. On the clear terrace,

My husband by my side, I would await

With Rohinie, his heavenly fair delight,

The God's embracings.”


What the Queen wills, was ever

My law, Latavya.


So I'll tell my lady.

He goes.


Think you in very truth for her vow's sake

My lady makes this motion?


Rather I deem

'Tis her remorse she cloaks with holy vows,

Atoning thus for a prostration scorned.


O true! the proud and loving hearts of women,

Who have their prostrate dear ones spurned, repenting

Are plagued with sweet accusing memories

Of eyes that ask forgiveness, outstretched hands,

Half-spoken words and touches on their feet,

That travel to the heart. Precede me then

To the appointed terrace.


Look, my lord,

The crystal stairs roll upward like bright waves

On moonlit Ganges; yonder the terrace sleeps

Wide-bosomed to the cold and lovely eve.


Precede me; we'll ascend.

They ascend to the terrace.


The moon is surely

Upon the verge of rise; swiftly the east

Empties of darkness, and the horizon seems

All beautiful and brightening like a face.


O aptly said! Behind the peak of rise

The hidden moon, pushing black night aside,

Precedes himself with herald lustres. See!

The daughter of the imperial East puts back

The blinding tresses from her eyes, and smiles,

And takes with undimmed face my soul.



The king of the twice-born has risen all white

And round and luscious like a ball of sugar.

Pururavas (smiling)

A glutton's eloquence is ever haunted

With images of the kitchen.

(bowing with folded hands)

Hail, God that rulest

The inactive night! O settler with the sun

For ritual holy, O giver to the Gods

And blessed fathers dead of nectarous wine,

O slayer of the vasty glooms of night,

Whose soul of brightness crowns the Almighty's head,

O moon, all hail! accept thy offspring's prayer.


Well now, your grandpapa has heard your vows;

You'll take it from a Brahmin's mouth, through whom

Even he may telepath his message. So,

That's finished. Now sit down and give me a chance

Of being comfortable.

Pururavas (sitting down, then looking at his attendants)

The moon is risen;

These torches are a vain reiteration

Of brightness. Ladies, rest.


Our lord commands us.

They go.


It is not long before my lady comes.

So, let me, while we yet are lonely here,

Unburden me of my love-ravaged thoughts.


They are visible to the blind. Take hope and courage

By thinking of her equal love.


I do;

And yet the pain within my heart is great.

For as a mighty river whose vast speed

Stumbles within a narrow pass of huge

And rugged boulders, chides his uncouth bed,

Increasing at each check, even so does love,

His joy of union stinted or deferred,

Rebel and wax a hundredfold in fire.


So your love-wasted limbs increase their beauty,

They are a sign you soon will clasp your love.


O friend, as you my longing heaviness

Comfort with hopeful words, my arm too speaks

In quick auspicious throbs.

He looks with hope up to the sky.


A Brahmin's word!

There enter in the air Chitralekha

with Urvasie in trysting-dress.

Urvasie (looking at herself)

Sister, do you not think my trysting-dress,

The dark-blue silk and the few ornaments,

Becomes me vastly? Do you not approve it?


O inexpressibly! I have no words

To praise it. This I'll say; it makes me wish

I were Pururavas.


Since Love himself

Inspires you, bring me quickly to the dwelling

Of that high beautiful face.


Look, we draw near.

Your lover's house lifts in stupendous mass,

As it were mountain Coilas, to the clouds.


Look, sister, with the eye of Gods and know

Where is that robber of my heart and what

His occupation?

Chitralekha (aside, with a smile)

I will jest with her.


I see him. He, in a sweet region made

For love and joy, possesses with desire

The body and the bosom of his love.

Urvasie (despairingly)

Happy that woman, whosoe'er she be!


Why, sweet faint-hearted fool, in whom but thee

Should his thoughts joy?

Urvasie (with a sigh of relief)

Alas, my heart perverse

Will doubt.


Here on the terraced House of Gems

The King is with his friend sole-sitting. Then,

We may approach.

They descend.


O friend, the widening night

And pangs of love keep pace in their increase.


Sister, my heart is torn with apprehension

Of what his words might mean. Let us, ourselves

Invisible, hear their unfettered converse.

My fears might then have rest.




Take the moonbeams

Whose pregnant nectar comforts burning limbs.


But my affliction's not remediable

With such faint medicines. Neither smoothest flowers,

Moonlight nor sandal visiting every limb,

Nor necklaces of cool delightful pearl,

Only Heaven's nymph can perfectly expel

With bliss, or else —

Urvasie (clutching at her bosom with her hand)

O me! who else? who else?


Speech secret full of her unedge my pangs.


Heart that left me to flutter in his hands,

Now art thou for that rashness recompensed!


Yes, I too when I cannot get sweet venison

And hunger for it, often beguile my belly

With celebrating all its savoury joys.


Your belly-loves, good friend, are always with you

And ready to your gulp.


You too shall soon

Possess your love.


My friend, I have strange feeling.


Hearken, insatiable, exacting, hearken,

And be convinced!


What feeling?


This I feel,

As if this shoulder by her shoulder pressed

In the car's shock bore all my sum of being,

And all this frame besides were only weight

Cumbering the impatient earth.


Yet you delay!

Urvasie (suddenly approaching Pururavas)

O me! sister!


What is it now?


I am

Before him, and he does not care!

Chitralekha (smiling)

O thou

All passionate unreasoning haste! Thou hast not

Put off as yet invisibility.

Voice (within)

This way, my lady.

All listen, Urvasie and Chitralekha are despondent.

Manavaka (in dismay)

Hey? The Queen is here?

Keep watch upon your tongue.


You first discharge

Your face of conscious guilt.


Sister, what now?


Be calm. We are unseen. This princess looks

As for a vow arrayed, nor long, if so,

Will tarry.

As she speaks, the Queen and Nipunika enter

with attendants carrying offerings.


How does yonder spotted moon

Flush with new beauty, O Nipunika,

At Rohinie's embracings.


So too with you,

Lady, my lord looks fairer than himself.


The Queen, my lord, looks very sweet and gracious,

Either because I know she'll give me sweetmeats

Or 'tis a sign of anger quite renounced,

And from your memory to exile her harshness

She makes her vow an instrument.


Good reasons both;


Yet to my humble judgment the poor second

Has likelier hue. For she in gracious white

Is clad and sylvanly adorned with flowers,

Her raven tresses spangled with young green

Of sacred grass. All her fair body looks

Gentle and kind, its pomp and pride renounced

For lovely meekness to her lord.

Aushinarie (approaching)

My husband!


Hail to our master!


Peace attend my lady.



He takes her hand and draws her down on a seat.


By right this lady bears the style

Of Goddess and of Empress, since no whit

Her noble majesty of fairness yields

To Heaven's Queen.


O bravely said, my sister!

'Twas worthy of a soul where jealous baseness

Ought never harbour.


I have a vow, my lord,

Which at my husband's feet must be absolved.

Bear with me that I trouble you one moment.


No, no, it is not trouble, but a kindness.


The good trouble that brings me sweetmeats! often,

O often may such trouble vex my belly.


What vow is this you would absolve, my own?

Aushinarie looks at Nipunika.


'Tis that women perform to win back kindness

In eyes of one held dear.


If this be so,

Vainly hast thou these tender flower-soft limbs

Afflicted with a vow's austerities,

Beloved. Thou suest for favour to thy servant,

Propitiatest who for thy propitiated

All-loving glance is hungry.


Greatly he loves her!


Why, silly one, whose heart is gone astraying,

Redoubles words of kindness to his wife.

Do you not know so much?

Aushinarie (smiling)

Not vain my vow,

That to such words of love has moved already

My husband.


Stop, my lord, a word well spoken

Is spoilt by any answer.


Girls, the offering

With which I must adore this gentle moonlight

That dreams upon our terrace!


Here, my lady,

Are flowers, here costly scents, all needed things.


Give them to me.

She worships the moonbeams with

flowers and perfumes.

Nipunika, present

The sweetmeats of the offering to the Brahmin.


I will, my lady. Noble Manavaka,

Here is for you.


Blessings attend thee. May

Thy vow bear fruit nor end.


Now, dear my lord,

Pray you, draw nearer to me.


Behold me, love!

What must I do?

Aushinarie worships the King, then bowing

down with folded hands.


I, Aushinarie, call

The divine wife and husband, Rohinie

And Mrigalanchhan named the spotted moon,

To witness here my vowed obedient love

To my dear lord. Henceforth whatever woman

My lord shall love and she desire him too,

I will embrace her and as a sister love,

Nor think of jealousy.


I know not wholly

Her drift, and yet her words have made me feel

All pure and full of noble trust.


Be confident,

Your love will prove all bliss; surely it must

When blessed and sanctioned by this pure, devoted

And noble nature.

Manavaka (aside)

When from 'twixt his hands

Fish leaps, cries me the disappointed fisher,

“Go, trout, I spare you. This will be put down

To my account in Heaven.”


No more but this

You love my friend, your husband, lady?


Dull fool!

I with the death of my own happiness

Would give my husband ease. From this consider

How dearly I love him.


Since thou hast power on me

To give me to another or to keep

Thy slave, I have no right to plead. And yet

I am not as thou thinkest me, all lost,

O thou too jealous, to thy love.


My lord,

We will not talk of that. I have fulfilled

My rite, and with observance earned your kindness.

Girls, let us go.


Is thus my kindness earned?

I am not kind, not pleased, if now, beloved,

Thou shun and leave me.


Pardon, my lord. I never

Have yet transgressed the rigour of a vow.

Exeunt Queen, Nipunika and attendants.


Wife-lover, uxorious is this King, and yet

I cannot lure my heart away from him.


Why, what new trick of wilful passion's this?

Pururavas (sitting down)

The Queen is not far off.


Never heed that,

Speak boldly. She has given you up as hopeless.

So doctors leave a patient, when disease

Defies all remedy, to his own sweet guidance.


O that my Urvasie —


Today might win

Her one dear wish.


From her invisible feet

The lovely sound of anklets on my ear

Would tinkle, or coming stealing from behind

Blind both my eyes with her soft little hands

Like two cool lotuses upon them fallen:

Or, Oh, most sweet! descending on this roof

Shaken with dear delicious terrors, lingering

And hanging back, be by her sister drawn

With tender violence, faltering step by step,

Till she lay panting on my knees.


Go, sister,

And satisfy his wish.


Must I? well then,

I'll pluck up heart and play with him a little.

She becomes visible, steals behind the King and covers

his eyes with her hands. Chitralekha puts off her veil of

invisibility and makes a sign to Manavaka.


Now say, friend, who is this?


The hands of beauty.

'Tis that Narayan-born whose limbs are sweetness.


How can you guess?


What is there here to guess?

My heart tells me. The lily of the night

Needs not to guess it is the moon's cool touch.

She starts not to the sunbeam. 'Tis so with me.

No other woman could but she alone

Heal with her little hands all my sick pining.

Urvasie removes her hands and rises to her feet;

then moves a step or two away.


Conquest attend my lord!


Welcome, O beauty.

He draws her down beside him.


Happiness to my brother!


Here it sits

Beside me.


Because the Queen has given you to me,

Therefore I dare to take into my arms

Your body like a lover. You shall not think me



What, set the sun to you on this terrace?


O love, if thou my body dost embrace

As seizable, a largess — from my Queen,

But whose permission didst thou ask, when thou

Stolest my heart away?


Brother, she is

Abashed and has no answer. Therefore a moment

Turn to me, grant me one entreaty.




When spring is vanished and the torrid heat

Thickens, I must attend the glorious Sun.

Do thou so act that this my Urvasie

Left lonely with thee, shall not miss her Heaven!


Why, what is there in Heaven to pine for? There

You do not eat, you do not drink, only

Stare like so many fishes in a row

With wide unblinking eyes.


The joys of Heaven

No thought can even outline. Who then shall make

The soul forget which thence has fallen? Of this

Be sure, fair girl, Pururavas is only

Thy sister's slave: no other woman shares

That rule nor can share.


Brother, this is kind.

Be brave, my Urvasie, and let me go.

Urvasie (embracing Chitralekha, pathetically)

Chitralekha, my sister, do not forget me!

Chitralekha (with a smile)

Of thee I should entreat that mercy, who

Hast got thy love's embrace.

She bows down to the King and goes.


Now nobly, sir,

Are you increased with bliss and your desire's



You say well. This is my increase;

Who felt not half so blest when I acquired

The universal sceptre of the world

And sovran footstool touched by jewelled heads

Of tributary monarchs, as today

I feel most happy who have won the right

To touch two little feet and am allowed

To be thy slave and do thy lovely bidding.


I have not words to make a sweeter answer.


How does the winning of one loved augment

Sweet contradictions! These are the very rays

Of moonlight burned me late, and now they soothe;

Love's wounding shafts caress the heart like flowers,

Thou being with me; all natural sights and sounds

Once rude and hurtful, now caressing come

Softly, because of thee in my embrace.


I am to blame that I deprived my lord

So long.


Beloved and beautiful, not so!

For happiness arising after pain

Tastes therefore sweeter, as the shady tree

To one perplexed with heat and dust affords

A keener taste of Paradise.


We have courted

For a long hour the whole delightfulness

Of moonlight in the evening. It is time

To seek repose.


Guide therefore this fair friend

The way her feet must henceforth tread.


This way.


O love, I have but one wish left.


What wish, my lord?


When I had not embraced thee, my desire,

One night in passing seemed a hundred nights;

O now if darkness would extend my joys

To equal length of real hours with this

Sweet face upon my bosom, I were blest.

They go.


Act Four

Scene I

The sky near the doors of the sunrise; clouds everywhere.

Chitralekha and Sahajanya.


Dear Chitralekha, like a fading flower

The beauty of thy face all marred reveals

Sorrow of heart. Tell me thy melancholy;

I would be sad with thee.

Chitralekha (sorrowfully)

O Sahajanya!

Sister, by rule of our vicissitude,

I serving at the feet of the great Sun

Was troubled at heart for want of Urvasie.


I know your mutual passion of sisterliness.

What after?


I had heard no news of her

So many days. Then I collected vision

Divine into myself to know of her.

O miserable knowledge!


Sister, sister!

Chitralekha (still sorrowfully)

I saw that Urvasie

Taking with her Pururavas and love —

For he had on his ministers imposed

His heavy yoke of kingship — went to sport

Amorously in Gandhamadan green.

Sahajanya (proudly)

O love is joy indeed, when in such spots

Tasted. And there?


And there upon the strands

Of heavenly Ganges, one, a lovely child

Of spirits musical, Udayavatie,

Was playing, making little forts of sand;

On her with all his soul the monarch gazed.

This angered Urvasie.


O natural!

Deep passion always is intolerant.



She pushed aside her pleading husband,

Perplexed by the Preceptor's curse forgot

The War-God's vow and entered in that grove

Avoidable of women; but no sooner

Had trod its green, most suddenly she was

A creeper rooted to that fatal verge.

Sahajanya (in a voice of grief)

Now do I know that Fate's indeed a thing

Inexorable, spares no one, when such love

Has such an ending; O all too suddenly!

How must it be then with Pururavas?


All day and night he passions in that grove

Seeking her. And this cool advent of cloud

That turns even happy hearts to yearning pain

Will surely kill him.


Sister, not long can grief

Have privilege over such beautiful beings.

Some God will surely pity them, some cause

Unite once more.

(looking towards the east)

Come, sister. Our lord the Sun

Is rising in the east. Quick, to our service.

They go.

Scene II

Pururavas enters disordered, his eyes fixed on the sky.

Pururavas (angrily)

Halt, ruffian, halt! Thou in thy giant arms

Bearest away my Urvasie! He has

Soared up from a great crag into the sky

And wars me, hurling downward bitter rain

Of arrows. With this thunderbolt I smite thee.

He lifts up a clod and runs as to hurl it;

then pauses and looks upwards.


Oh me, I am deceived! This was a cloud

Equipped for rain, no proud and lustful fiend,

The rainbow, not a weapon drawn to kill,

Quick-driving showers are these, not sleety rain

Of arrows; and that brilliant line like streak

Of gold upon a touchstone, cloud-inarmed,

I saw, was lightning, not my Urvasie.


Where shall I find her now? Where clasp those thighs

Swelling and smooth and white? Perhaps she stands

Invisible to me by heavenly power,

All sullen? But her anger was ever swift

And ended soon. Perhaps into her Heavens

She has soared? O no! her heart was soft with love,

And love of me. Nor any fiend adverse

To Heaven had so much strength as to hale her hence

While I looked on. Yet is she gone from me

Invisible, swiftly invisible —

Whither? O bitter miracle! and yet —

He scans each horizon, then pauses and sighs.

Alas! when fortune turns against a man,

Then sorrow treads on sorrow. There was already

This separation from my love, and hard

Enough to bear; and now the pleasant days,

Guiltless of heat, with advent cool of rain

Must help to slay me.


Why do I so tamely

Accept addition to my pangs? For even

The saints confess “The king controls the seasons”;

If it be so, I will command the thunder

Back to his stable.

(pausing to think)

No, I must permit

The season unabridged of pomp; the sighs

Of storm are now my only majesty;

This sky with lightning gilt and laced becomes

My canopy of splendour, and the trees

Of rain-time waving wide their lavish bloom

Fan me; the sapphire-throated peacocks, voiced

Sweeter for that divorce from heat, are grown

My poets; the mountains are my citizens,

They pour out all their streams to swell my greatness.

But I waste time in idly boasting vain

Glories and lose my love. To my task, to my task!

This grove, this grove should find her.

He moves onward.

And here, O here

Is something to enrage my resolution.

Red-tinged, expanding, wet and full of rain,

These blossom-cups recall to me her eyes

Brimming with angry tears. How shall I trace her,

Or what thing tell me “Here and here she wandered?”

If she had touched with her beloved feet

The rain-drenched forest-sands, there were a line

Of little gracious footprints seen, with lac

Envermeilled, sinking deeper towards the heel

Because o'erburdened by her hips' large glories.

He moves onward.


Oh joy! I see a hint of her. This way

Then went her angry beauty! Lo, her bodice

Bright green as is a parrot's belly, smitten

With crimson drops. It once veiled in her bosom

And paused to show her navel deep as love.

These are her tears that from those angry eyes

Went trickling, stealing scarlet from her lips

To spangle all this green. Doubtless her heaving

Tumult of breasts broke its dear hold and, she

Stumbling in anger, from my Heaven it drifted.

I'll gather it to my kisses.

(He stoops to it, then sorrowfully)

O my heart!

Only green grass with dragon-wings enamelled!

From whom shall I in all the desolate forest

Have tidings of her, or what creature help me?

Lo, in yon waste of crags the peacock! he

Upon a cool moist rock that breathes of rain

Exults, aspires, his gorgeous mass of plumes

Seized, blown and scattered by the roaring gusts.

Pregnant of shrillness is his outstretched throat,

His look is with the clouds. Him I will question:

Have the bright corners of thine eyes beheld,

O sapphire-throated bird, her, my delight,

My wife, my passion, my sweet grief? Yielding

No answer, he begins his gorgeous dance.

Why should he be so glad of my heart's woe?

I know thee, peacock. Since my cruel loss

Thy plumes that stream in splendour on the wind,

Have not one rival left. For when her heavy

Dark wave of tresses over all the bed

In softness wide magnificently collapsed

On her smooth shoulders massing purple glory

And bright with flowers, she passioning in my arms,

Who then was ravished with thy brilliant plumes,

Vain bird? I question thee not, heartless thing,

That joyest in others' pain.

(turning away)

Lo, where, new-fired

With sweet bird-passion by the season cool,

A cuckoo on the plum-tree sits. This race

Is wisest of the families of birds

And learned in love. I'll greet him like himself.

O cuckoo, thou art called the bird of love,

His sweet ambassador, O cuckoo. Thou

Criest and thy delightful voice within

The hearts of lovers like an arrow comes,

Seeks out the anger there and softly kills.

Me also, cuckoo, to my darling bring

Or her to me. What saidst thou? “How could she

Desert thee loving?” Cuckoo, I will tell thee.

Yes, she was angry. Yet I know I never

Gave her least cause. But, cuckoo, dost thou know not

That women love to feel their sovereignty

Over their lovers, nor transgression need

To be angry? How! Dost thou break off, O bird,

Our converse thus abruptly and turn away

To thine own tasks? Alas, 'twas wisely said

That men bear easily the bitter griefs

Which others feel. For all my misery

This bird, my orison disregarding, turns

To attack the plum-tree's ripening fruit as one

Drunken with love his darling's mouth. And yet

I cannot be angry with him. Has he not

The voice of Urvasie? Abide, O bird,

In bliss, though I unhappy hence depart.

He walks on, then stops short and listens.

O Heaven? what do I hear? the anklets' cry

That tell the musical footing of my love?

To right of this long grove 'twas heard. Oh, I

Will run to her.

(hurrying forward)

Me miserable! This was

No anklets' cry embraceable with hands,

But moan of swans who seeing the grey wet sky

Grow passionate for Himaloy's distant tarns.

Well, be it so. But ere in far desire

They leap up from this pool, I well might learn

Tidings from them of Urvasie.



O king of all white fowl that waters breed.

Afterwards to Himaloy wing thy way,

But now thy lotus fibres in thy beak

Gathered by thee for provender resign;

Ere long thou shalt resume them. Me, ah, first

From anguish rescue, O majestic swan,

With tidings of my sweet; always high souls

Prefer another's good to selfish aims.

Thou lookest upward to the Heavens and sayest,

“I was absorbed with thoughts of Himaloy;

Her have I not observed.” O swan, thou liest,

For if she never trod upon thy lake's

Embankment, nor thou sawest her arched brows,

How couldst thou copy then so perfectly

Her footing full of amorous delight,

Or whence didst steal it? Give me back my love,

Thou robber! Thou hast got her gait and this

Is law that he with whom a part is found

Must to the claimant realise the whole.


O yes, thou flyest up, clanging alarm,

“This is the king whose duty is to punish

All thieves like me!” Go then, but I will plunge

Into new hopeful places, seeking love.

Lo, wild-drake with his mate, famed chocrobacque,

Him let me question. O thou wondrous creature,

All saffron and vermilion! Wilt thou then

Not tell me of my love? Oh, sawest thou not

My Goddess laughing like a lovely child

In the bright house of spring? For, wild-drake, thou

Who gettest from the chariot's orb thy name,

I who deprived am of her orbèd hips,

The chariot-warrior great Pururavas,

Encompassed with a thousand armed desires,

Question thee. How! “Who? Who?” thou sayest to me!

This is too much. It is not possible

He should not know me! Bird, I am a king

Of kings, and grandson to the Sun and Moon,

And earth has chosen me for her master. This

Were little. I am the loved of Urvasie!

Still art thou silent? I will taunt him, then

Perhaps he'll speak. Thou, wild-drake, when thy love,

Her body hidden by a lotus-leaf,

Lurks near thee in the pool, deemest her far

And wailest musically to the flowers

A wild deep dirge. Such is thy conjugal

Yearning, thy terror such of even a little

Division from her nearness. Me afflicted,

Me so forlorn thou art averse to bless

With just a little tidings of my love!

Alas, my miserable lot has made

All creatures adverse to me. Let me plunge

Into the deeper wood. Oh no, not yet!

This lotus with the honey-bees inside

Making melodious murmur, keeps me. I

Remember her soft mouth when I have kissed it

Too cruelly, sobbing exquisite complaint.

These too I will implore. Alas, what use?

They will despise me like the others. Yet,

Lest I repent hereafter of my silence,

I'll speak to him. O lotus-wooing bee,

Tell me some rumour of those eyes like wine,

But no, thou hast not seen that wonder. Else

Wouldst thou, O bee, affect the lotus' bloom,

If thou hadst caught the sweetness from her lips

Breathing, whose scent intoxicates the breeze?

I'll leave him. Lo! with his mate an elephant.

His trunk surrounds a nym-tree to uproot.

To him will I, he may some rumour have

Or whisper of my love. But softly! Haste

Will ruin me. Oh, this is not the time!

Now his beloved mate has in her trunk

Just found him broken branches odorous

And sweet as wine with the fresh leaves not long

In bud, new-honied. These let him enjoy.

His meal is over now. I may approach

And ask him. O rut-dripping elephant,

Sole monarch of the herd, has not that moon

With jasmines all a glory in her hair

And limbs of fadeless beauty, carrying

Youth like a banner, whom to see is bliss,

Is madness, fallen in thy far ken, O king?

O joy! he trumpets loud and soft as who

Would tell me he has seen indeed my love.

Oh, I am gladdened! More to thee I stand

Attracted, elephant, as like with like.

Sovereign of sovereigns is my title, thou

Art monarch of the kingly elephants,

And this wide freedom of thy fragrant rut

Interminable imitates my own

Vast liberality to suppliant men,

Regally; thou hast in all the herd this mate,

I among loveliest women Urvasie.

In all things art thou like me; only I pray,

O friend, that thou mayst never know the pang,

The loss. Be fortunate, king, farewell! Oh, see,

The mountain of the Fragrant Glens appears,

Fair as a dream, with his great plateaus trod

By heavenly feet of women. May it not be,

To this wide vale she too has with her sisters

Brought here her beautiful body full of spring?

Darkness! I cannot see her. Yet by these gleams

Of lightning I may study, I may find.

Ah God! the fruit of guilt is bounded not

With the doer's anguish; this stupendous cloud

Is widowed of the lightning through my sin.

Yet I will leave thee not, O thou huge pile

Of scaling crags, unquestioned. Hear me, answer me!

O mountain, has she entered then the woods,

Love's green estate — ah, she too utter love!

Her breasts were large like thine, with small sweet space

Between them, and like thine her glorious hips

And smooth fair joints a rapture.

Dumb? No answer?

I am too far away, he has not heard me.

Let me draw nearer. Mountain, seen was she,

A woman all bereaved, her every limb

A loveliness, in these delightful woods?


Nearer, O nearer! Mountain-seen was she,

A woman all bereaved, her every limb

A loveliness, in these delightful woods.


He has answered, answered! O my heart, I draw

Nearer to her! In my own words the hill

Answers thee, O my heart. As joyous tidings

Mayst thou too hear, mountain. She then was seen,

My Urvasie in thy delightful woods?


Mountain! mountain! mountain! She then was seen,

My Urvasie in thy delightful woods,

In thy delightful woods, delightful woods.


Alas! 'tis Echo mocks me with my voice

Rolling amid the crags and mountain glens.

Out on thee, Echo! Thou hast killed my heart.

O Urvasie! Urvasie! Urvasie!

He falls down and swoons.


I am all weary and sad. Oh, let me rest

Beside this mountain river for a moment

And woo the breeze that dances on the waves.

All turbid is this stream with violent rain,

And yet I thrill to see it. For, O, it seems

Just like my angry darling when she went

Frowning — as this does with its little waves, —

A wrathful music in her girdle — and see!

This string of birds with frightened clangour rise;

She trailed her raiment as the river its foam,

For it loosened with her passion as she moved

With devious feet, all angry, blind with tears,

And often stopped to brood upon her wrongs:

But soon indignantly her stormy speed

Resumed, so tripping, winding goes the stream,

As she did. O most certainly 'tis she.

My sweet quick-tempered darling, suddenly changed

Into a river's form. I will beseech her

And soothe her wounded spirit. Urvasie?

Did I not love thee perfectly? Did not

My speech grow sweetness when I spoke to thee?

And when did my heart anything but hate

To false our love? O what was the slight fault

Thou foundest in thy servant that thou couldst

Desert him, Urvasie, O Urvasie!

She answers not! It is not she, merely

A river. Urvasie would not have left

Pururavas to tryst with Ocean. And now

Since only by refusal to despair

Can bliss at last be won, I will return

Where first she fled from my pursuing eyes.

This couching stag shall give me tidings of her,

Who looks as if he were a splendid glance

Some dark-eyed Dryad had let fall to admire

This budding foliage and this young green beauty

Of grass. But why averts he then his head

As though in loathing? I perceive his reason.

Lo, his fair hind is hasting towards him, stayed

By their young dearling plucking at her teats.

With her his eyes are solely, her with bent

Lithe neck he watches. Ho, thou lord of hind!

Sawst thou not her I love? O stag, I'll tell thee

How thou shouldst know her. Like thine own dear hind

She had large eyes and loving, and like hers

That gaze was beauty. Why does he neglect

My words and only gaze towards his love?

All prosperous creatures slight the unfortunate!

'Tis natural. Then elsewhere let me seek.

I have found her, I have found her! O a hint

And token of her way! This one red drop

Of summer's blood the very codome was,

Though rough with faulty stamens, yet thought worthy

To crown her hair. And thou, asoka red,

Didst watch my slender-waisted when she gave

So cruelly a loving heart to pain.

Why dost thou lie and shake thy windy head?

How couldst thou by her soft foot being untouched

Break out into such bloom of petals stung

And torn by jostling crowds of bees, who swarm

All wild to have thy honey? Ever be blest,

Thou noble trunk. What should this be, bright red,

That blazes in a crevice of the rocks?

For if it were a piece of antelope's flesh

Torn by a lion, 'twould not have this blaze,

This lustre haloing it; nor can it be

A spark pregnant of fire; for all the wood

Is drowned in rain. No, 'tis a gem, a miracle

Of crimson, like the red felicitous flower,

And with one radiant finger of the sun

Laid on it like a claim. Yet I will take it,

For it compels my soul with scarlet longing.

Wherefore? She on whose head it should have burned,

Whose hair all fragrant with the coral-bloom

I loved like Heaven, is lost to me, beyond

Recovery lost to me. Why should I take it

To mar it with my tears?

A Voice

Reject it not,

My son; this is the jewel Union born

From the red lac that on the marvellous feet

Was brilliant of Himaloy's child, and, soon,

Who bears it, is united with his love.


Who speaks to me? It is a saint who dwells

In forest like the deer. He first of creatures

Has pitied me. O my lord anchoret,

I thank thee. Thou, O Union, if thou end

My separation, if with that small-waisted

Thou shouldst indeed be proved my Union,

Jewel, I'll use thee for my crown, as Shiva

Upon his forehead wears the crescent moon.

This flowerless creeper! Wherefore do mine eyes

Dwell with its barren grace and my heart yearn

Towards it? And yet, O, not without a cause

Has she enchanted me. There standst thou, creeper,

All slender, thy poor sad leaves are moist with rain,

Thou silent, with no voice of honey-bees

Upon thy drooping boughs; as from thy lord

The season separated, leaving off

Thy habit of bloom. Why, I might think I saw

My passionate darling sitting penitent

With tear-stained face and body unadorned,

Thinking in silence how she spurned my love.

I will embrace thee, creeper, for thou art

Too like my love. Urvasie! all my body

Is thrilled and satisfied of Urvasie!

I feel, I feel her living limbs.


But how

Should I believe it? Everything I deem

A somewhat of my love, next moment turns

To other. Therefore since by touch at least

I find my dear one, I will not separate

Too suddenly mine eyes from sleep.

(opening his eyes slowly)

O love,

'Tis thou!

He swoons.


Upraise thy heart, my King, my liege!


Dearest, at last I live! O thou hadst plunged me

Into a dark abyss of separation,

And fortunately art thou returned to me,

Like consciousness given back to one long dead.


With inward senses I have watched and felt

Thy whole long agony.


With inward senses?

I understand thee not.


I will tell all.

But let my lord excuse my grievous fault,

Who, wretch enslaved by anger, brought to this

My sovereign! Smile on me and pardon me!


Never speak of it. Thy clasp is thy forgiveness.

For all my outward senses and my soul

Leap laughing towards thy bosom. Only convince me

How thou couldst live without me such an age.


Hearken. The War-God Skanda, from of old

Virginity eternal vowing, came

To Gandhamadan's bank men call the pure,

And made a law.


What law, beloved?



That any woman entering these precincts

Becomes at once a creeper. And for limit

Of the great curse, “Without the jewel born

From crimson of my mother's feet can she

Never be woman more.” Now I, my lord,

My heart perplexed by the Preceptor's curse,

Forgot the War-God's oath and entered here,

Rejecting thy entreaties, to the wood

Avoidable of women: at the first step,

All suddenly my form was changed. I was

A creeper growing at the wood's wild end.


Oh now intelligible! When from thy breasts

Loosening the whole embrace, the long delight,

I sank back languid, thou wouldst moan for me

Like one divided far. How is it then

Possible that thou shouldst bear patiently

Real distance between us? Lo, this jewel,

As in thy story, gave thee to my arms.

Admonished by a hermit sage I kept it.


The jewel Union! Therefore at thy embrace

I was restored.

She places the jewel gratefully upon her head.


Thus stand a while. O fairest,

Thy face, suffused with crimson from this gem

Above thee pouring wide its fire and splendour,

Has all the beauty of a lotus reddening

In early sunlight.


O sweet of speech! remember

That thy high capital awaits thee long.

It may be that the people blame me. Let us,

My own dear lord, return.


Let us return.


What wafture will my sovereign choose?


O waft me

Nearer the sun and make a cloud our chariot,

While lightning like a streaming banner floats

Now seen, now lost to vision, and the rainbow

With freshness of its glory iridescent

Edges us. In thine arms uplift and waft me,

Beloved, through the wide and liquid air.

They go.


Act Five

Scene I

Outside the King's tents near Pratisthana. In the background the

confluence of the river Ganges and Yamuna.

Manavaka alone.


After long pleasuring with Urvasie

In Nandan and all woodlands of the Gods,

Our King's at last returned, and he has entered

His city, by the jubilant people met

With splendid greetings, and resumed his toils.

Ah, were he but a father, nothing now

Were wanting to his fullness. This high day

At confluence of great Ganges with the stream

Dark Yamuna, he and his Queen have bathed.

Just now he passed into his tent, and surely

His girls adorn him. I will go exact

My first share of the ointments and the flowers.

Maids (within lamenting)

O me unfortunate! the jewel is lost

Accustomed to the noble head of her

Most intimate with the bosom of the King,

His loveliest playmate. I was carrying it

In palm-leaf basket on white cloth of silk;

A vulture doubting this some piece of flesh

Swoops down and soars away with it.



This was the Union, the crest-jewel, dear

O'er all things to the King. Look where he comes,

His dress half-worn just as he started up

On hearing of his loss. I'll go to him.

He goes.

Then Pururavas enters with his Amazons of the Bactrian

Guard and other attendants in great excitement.


Huntress! huntress! Where is that robber bird

That snatches his own death? He practises

His first bold pillage in the watchman's house.


Yonder, the golden thread within his beak!

Trailing the jewel how he wheels in air

Describing scarlet lines upon the sky!


I see him, dangling down the thread of gold

He wheels and dips in rapid circles vast.

The jewel like a whirling firebrand red

Goes round and round and with vermilion rings

Incarnadines the air. What shall we do

To rescue it?

Manavaka (coming up)

Why do you hesitate to slay him?

He is marked out for death, a criminal.


My bow! my bow!

An Amazon

I run to bring it!

She goes out.



I cannot see the bird. Where has it fled?


Look! to the southern far horizon wings

The carrion-eating robber.

Pururavas (turns and looks)

Yes, I see him.

He speeds with the red jewel every way

Branching and shooting light, as 'twere a cluster

Of crimson roses in the southern sky

Or ruby pendant from the lobe of Heaven.

Enter Amazon with the bow.


Sire, I have brought the bow and leathern guard.


Too late you bring it. Yon eater of raw flesh

Goes winging far beyond an arrow's range,

And the bright jewel with the distant bird

Blazes like Mars the planet glaring red

Against a wild torn piece of cloud. Who's there?

Noble Latavya?


Your Highness?


From me command

The chief of the police, at evening, when

Yon winged outlaw seeks his homing tree,

That he be hunted out.


It shall be done.

He goes out.


Sit down and rest. What place in all broad earth

This jewel-thief can hide in, shall elude

Your world-wide jurisdiction?

Pururavas (sitting down with Manavaka)

It was not as a gem

Of lustre that I treasured yonder stone,

Now lost in the bird's beak, but 'twas my Union

And it united me with my dear love.


I know it, from your own lips heard the tale.

Chamberlain enters with the jewel and an arrow.


Behold shot through that robber! Though he fled,

Thy anger darting in pursuit has slain him.

Plumb down he fell with fluttering wings from Heaven

And dropped the jewel bright.

All look at it in surprise.

Ill fate o'ertaking

Much worse offence! My lord, shall not this gem

Be washed in water pure and given — to whom!


Huntress, go, see it purified in fire,

Then to its case restore it.


As the King wills.

She goes out with the jewel.


Noble Latavya, came you not to know

The owner of this arrow?


Letters there are

Carved on the steel; my eyes grow old and feeble,

I could not read them.


Therefore give me the arrow.

I will spell out the writing.

The Chamberlain gives him the arrow and he reads.


And I will fill my office.

He goes out.

Manavaka (seeing the King lost in thought)

What do you read there, sir?


Hear, Manavaka, hear

The letters of this bowman's name.


I'm all

Attention; read.


O hearken then and wonder.


“Ayus, the smiter of his foeman's lives,

The warrior Ilian's son by Urvasie,

This arrow loosed.”

Manavaka (with satisfaction)

Hail, King! now dost thou prosper,

Who hast a son.


How should this be? Except

By the great ritual once, never was I

Parted from that beloved; nor have I witnessed

One sign of pregnancy. How could my Goddess

Have borne a son? True, I remember once

For certain days her paps were dark and stained,

And all her fair complexion to the hue

Of that wan creeper paled, and languid-large

Her eyes were. Nothing more.


Do not affect

With mortal attributes the living Gods.

For holiness is as a veil to them

Concealing their affections.


This is true.

But why should she conceal her motherhood?


Plainly, she thought, “If the King sees me old

And matron, he'll be off with some young hussy.”


No mockery, think it over.


Who shall guess

The riddles of the Gods?

(enter Latavya)


Hail to the King!

A holy dame from Chyavan's hermitage

Leading a boy would see my lord.



Admit them instantly.


As the King wills.

He goes out, then re-enters with Ayus

bow in hand and a hermitess.

Come, holy lady, to the King.

They approach the King.


How say you,

Should not this noble boy be very he,

The young and high-born archer with whose name

Was lettered yon half-moon of steel that pierced

The vulture? His features imitate my lord's.


It must be so. The moment that I saw him,

My eyes became a mist of tears, my spirit

Lightened with joy, and surely 'twas a father

That stirred within my bosom. O Heaven! I lose

Religious calm; shudderings surprise me; I long

To feel him with my limbs, pressed with my love.

Latavya (to the hermitess)

Here deign to stand.


Mother, I bow to thee.


High-natured! may thy line by thee increase!


Lo, all untold this father knows his son.


My child,

Bow down to thy begetter.

Ayus bows down, folding his hands over his bow.


Live long, dear son.

Ayus (aside)

O how must children on their father's knees

Grown great be melted with a filial sweetness,

When only hearing that this is my father

I feel I love him!


Vouchsafe me, reverend lady,

Thy need of coming.


Listen then, O King;

This Ayus at his birth was in my hand

By Urvasie, I know not why, delivered,

A dear deposit. Every perfect rite

And holiness unmaimed that princely boys

Must grow through, Chyavan's self, the mighty Sage,

Performed, and taught him letters, scripture, arts —

Last, every warlike science.


O fortunate

In such a teacher!


The children fared a field

Today for flowers, dry fuel, sacred grass,

And Ayus faring with them violated

The morals of the hermitage.

Pururavas (in alarm)

O how?


A vulture with a jag of flesh was merging

Into a tree-top when the boy levelled

His arrow at the bird.

Pururavas (anxiously)

And then?


And then

The holy Sage, instructed of that slaughter,

Called me and bade, “Give back thy youthful trust

Into his mother's keeping.” Therefore, sir,

Let me have audience with the lady.



Deign to sit down one moment.

The hermitess takes the seat brought for her.

Noble Latavya,

Let Urvasie be summoned.


It is done.

He goes out.


Child of thy mother, come, O come to me!

Let me feel my son! The touch of his own child,

They say, thrills all the father; let me know it.

Gladden me as the moonbeam melts the moonstone.


Go, child, and gratify thy father's heart.

Ayus goes to the King and clasps his feet.

Pururavas (embracing the boy and seating him on his footstool)

This Brahmin is thy father's friend. Salute him,

And have no fear.


Why should he fear? I think

He grew up in the wood and must have seen

A mort of monkeys in the trees.

Ayus (smiling)

Hail, father.


Peace and prosperity walk with thee ever.

Latavya returns with Urvasie.


This way, my lady.


Who is this quivered youth

Set on the footstool of the King? Himself

My monarch binds his curls into a crest!

Who should this be so highly favoured?

(seeing Satyavatie)


Satyavatie beside him tells me; it is

My Ayus. How he has grown!

Pururavas (seeing Urvasie)

O child, look up.

Lo, she who bore thee, with her whole rapt gaze

Grown mother, the veiled bosom heaving towards thee

And wet with sacred milk!


Rise, son, and greet

Thy parent.

She goes with the boy to Urvasie.


I touch thy feet.


Ever be near

Thy husband's heart.


Mother, I bow to thee.


Child, be thy sire's delight. My lord and husband!


O welcome to the mother! sit thee here.

He makes her sit beside him.


My daughter, lo, thine Ayus. He has learned

All lore, heroic armour now can wear.

I yield thee back before thy husband's eyes,

Thy sacred trust. Discharge me. Each idle moment

Is a religious duty left undone.


It is so long since I beheld you, mother,

I have not satisfied my thirst of you,

And cannot let you go. And yet 'twere wrong

To keep you. Therefore go for further meeting.


Say to the Sage, I fall down at his feet.


'Tis well.


Are you going to the forest, mother?

Will you not take me with you?


Over, son,

Thy studies in the woods. Thou must be now

A man, know the great world.


Child, hear thy father.


Then, mother, let me have when he has got

His plumes, my little peacock, jewel-crest,

Who'ld sleep upon my lap and let me stroke

His crest and pet him.


Surely, I will send him.


Mother, I touch thy feet.


I bow to thee,



Peace be upon you both, my children.

She goes.


O blessed lady! Now I am grown through thee

A glorious father in this boy, our son;

Not Indra, hurler down of cities, more

In his Jayanta of Paulomie born.

Urvasie weeps.


Why is my lady suddenly all tears?


My own beloved! How art thou full of tears

While I am swayed with the great joy of princes

Who see their line secured? Why do these drops

On these high peaks of beauty raining down,

O sad sweet prodigal, turn thy bright necklace

To repetition vain of costlier pearls?

He wipes the tears from her eyes.


Alas, my lord! I had forgot my doom

In a mother's joy. But now thy utterance

Of that great name of Indra brings to me

Cruel remembrance torturing the heart

Of my sad limit.


Tell me, my love, what limit.


O King, my heart held captive in thy hands,

I stood bewildered by the curse; then Indra

Uttered his high command: “When my great soldier,

Earth's monarch, sees the face that keeps his line

Made in thy womb, to Eden thou returnest.”

So when I knew my issue, sick with the terror

Of being torn from thee, all hidden haste,

I gave to noble Satyavatie the child,

In Chyavan's forest to be trained. Today

This my beloved son returns to me;

No doubt she thought that he was grown and able

To gratify his father's heart. This then

Is the last hour of that sweet life with thee,

Which goes not farther.

Pururavas swoons.


Help, help!


Return to me, my King!

Pururavas (reviving)

O love, how jealous are the Gods in Heaven

Of human gladness! I was comforted

With getting of a son — at once this blow!

O small sweet waist, I am divorced from thee!

So has a poplar from one equal cloud

Received the shower that cooled and fire of Heaven

That kills it.


O sudden evil out of good!

For I suppose you now will don the bark

And live with hermit trees.


I too unhappy!

For now my King who sees that I no sooner

Behold my son reared up than to my Heavens

I soar, will think that I have all my need

And go with glad heart from his side.



Do not believe it. How can one be free

To do his will who's subject to a master?

He when he's bid, must cast his heart aside

And dwell in exile from the face he loves.

Therefore obey King Indra. On this thy son

I too my kingdom will repose and dwell

In forests where the antlered peoples roam.


My father should not on an untrained steer

Impose the yoke that asks a neck of iron.


Child, say not so! The ichorous elephant

Not yet full-grown tames all the trumpetings

Of older rivals; and the young snake's tooth

With energy of virulent poison stored

Strikes deadly. So is it with the ruler born:

His boyish hand inarms the sceptred world.

The force that rises with its task, springs not

From years, but is a self and inborn greatness.

Therefore, Latavya!


Let my lord command me.


Direct from me the council to make ready

The coronation of my son.

Latavya (sorrowfully)

It is

Your will, sire.

He goes out. Suddenly all act as if dazzled.


What lightning leaps from cloudless Heavens?

Urvasie (gazing up)

'Tis the Lord Narad.


Narad? Yes 'tis he.

His hair is matted all a tawny yellow

Like ochre-streaks, his holy thread is white

And brilliant like a digit of the moon.

He looks as if the faery-tree of Heaven

Came moving, shooting twigs all gold, and twinkling

Pearl splendours for its leaves, its tendrils pearl.

Guest-offering for the Sage!

Narad enters: all rise to greet him.


Here is guest-offering.


Hail, the great guardian of the middle world!


Greeting, Lord Narad.


Lord, I bow to thee.


Unsundered live in sweetness conjugal.

Pururavas (aside)

O that it might be so!

(aloud to Ayus)

Child, greet the Sage.


Urvasiean Ayus bows down to thee.


Live long, be prosperous.


Deign to take this seat.

Narad sits, after which all take their seats.

What brings the holy Narad?


Hear the message

Of mighty Indra.


I listen.



Whose soul can see across the world, to thee

Intending loneliness in woods —


Command me.


The seers to whom the present, past and future

Are three wide-open pictures, these divulge

Advent of battle and the near uprise

Of Titans warring against Gods. Heaven needs

Thee, her great soldier; thou shouldst not lay down

Thy warlike arms. All thy allotted days

This Urvasie is given thee for wife

And lovely helpmeet.


Oh, a sword is taken

Out of my heart.


In all I am Indra's servant.


'Tis fitting. Thou for Indra, he for thee,

With interchange of lordly offices.

So sun illumes the fire, fire the great sun

Ekes out with heat and puissance.

He looks up into the sky.

Rambha, descend

And with thee bring the high investiture

Heaven's King has furnished to crown Ayus, heir

Of great Pururavas.

Apsaras enter with the articles of investiture.


Lo! Holiness,

That store!


Set down the boy upon the chair

Of the anointing.


Come to me, my child.

She seats the boy.

Narad (pouring the cruse of holy oil on the boy's head)

Complete the ritual.

Rambha (after so doing)

Bow before the Sage,

My child, and touch thy parents' feet.

Ayus obeys.


Be happy.


Son, be a hero and thy line's upholder.


Son, please thy father.

Bards (within)

Victory to Empire's heir.



First the immortal seer of Brahma's kind

And had the soul of Brahma; Atri's then

The Moon his child; and from the Moon again

Sprang Budha-Hermes, moonlike was his mind.

Pururavas was Budha's son and had

Like starry brightness. Be in thee displayed

Thy father's kindly gifts. All things that bless

Mortals, descend in thy surpassing race.



Thy father like Himaloy highest stands

Of all the high, but thou all steadfast be,

Unchangeable and grandiose like the sea,

Fearless, surrounding Earth with godlike hands.

Let Empire by division brighter shine;

For so the sacred Ganges snow and pine

Favours, yet the same waters she divides

To Ocean and his vast and heaving tides.

Nymphs (approaching Urvasie)

O thou art blest, our sister, in thy son

Crowned heir to Empire, in thy husband blest

From whom thou shalt not part.


My happiness

Is common to you all, sweet sisters: such

Our love was always.

She takes Ayus by the hand.

Come with me, dear child,

To fall down at thy elder mother's feet.


Stay yet; we all attend you to the Queen.


Thy son's great coronation mindeth me

Of yet another proud investiture —

Kartikeya crowned by Maghavan, to lead

Heaven's armies.


Highly has the King of Heaven

Favoured him, Narad; how should he not be

Most great and fortunate?


What more shall Indra do

For King Pururavas?


Heaven's King being pleased,

What further can I need? Yet this I'll ask.

He comes forward and speaks towards the audience.

Learning and fortune, Goddesses that stand

In endless opposition, dwellers rare

Under one roof, in kindly union join

To bless for glory and for ease the good.

This too; may every man find his own good,

And every man be merry of his mind,

And all men in all lands taste all desire.