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[A DarkChamber. QUEEN SUDARSHANA. Her Maid of Honour,
SUDARSHANA. Light, light! Where is light? Will the lamp never
be lighted in this chamber?
SURANGAMA. My Queen, all your other rooms are lighted--will you
never long to escape from the light into a dark room like this?
SUDARSHANA. But why should this room be kept dark?
SURANGAMA. Because otherwise you would know neither light nor
SUDARSHANA. Living in this dark room you have grown to speak
darkly and strangely--I cannot understand you, Surangama. But
tell me, in what part of the palace is this chamber situated? I
cannot make out either the entrance or the way out of this room.
SURANGAMA. This room is placed deep down, in the very heart of
the earth. The King has built this room specially for your sake.
SUDARSHANA. Why, he has no dearth of rooms--why need he have
made this chamber of darkness specially for me?
SURANGAMA. You can meet others in the lighted rooms: but only in
this dark room can you meet your lord.
SUDARSHANA. No, no--I cannot live without light--I am restless
in this stifling dark. Surangama, if you can bring a light into
this room, I shall give you this necklace of mine.
SURANGAMA. It is not in my power, O Queen. How can I bring
light to a place which he would have kept always dark!
SUDARSHANA. Strange devotion! And yet, is it not true that the
King punished your father?
SURANGAMA. Yes, that is true. My father used to gamble. All
the young men of the country used to gather at my father's
house-and they used to drink and gamble.
SUDARSHANA. And when the King sent away your father in exile,
did it not make you feel bitterly oppressed?
SURANGAMA. Oh, it made me quite furious. I was on the road to
ruin and destruction: when that path was closed for me, I seemed
left without any support, without any succour or shelter. I
raged and raved like a wild beast in a cage--how I wanted to tear
every one to pieces in my powerless anger!
SUDARSHANA. But how did you get this devotion towards that same
SURANGAMA . How can I tell? Perhaps I could rely and depend on
him because he was so hard, so pitiless!
SUDARSHANA. When did this change of feeling take place?
SURANGAMA. I could not tell you--I do not know that myself. A
day came when all the rebel in me knew itself beaten, and then my
whole nature bowed down in humble resignation on the dust of the
earth. And then I saw ... I saw that he was as matchless in
beauty as in terror. Oh. I was saved, I was rescued.
SUDARSHANA. Tell me, Surangama, I implore you, won't you tell me
what is the King like to look at? I have not seen him yet for a
single day. He comes to me in darkness, and leaves me in this
dark room again. How many people have I not asked--but they all
return vague and dark answers--it seems to me that they all keep
SURANGAMA. To tell you the truth, Queen, I could not say well
what he is like. No--he is not what men call handsome.
SUDARSHANA. You don't say so? Not handsome!
SURANGAMA. No, my Queen, he is not handsome. To call him
beautiful would be to say far too little about him.
SUDARSHANA. All your words are like that--dark, strange, and
vague. I cannot understand what you mean.
SURANGAMA. No, I will not call him handsome. And it is because
he is not beautiful that he is so wonderful, so superb, so
SUDARSHANA. I do not quite understand you--though I like to hear
you talk about him. But I must see him at any cost. I do not
even remember the day when I was married to him. I have heard
mother say that a wise man came before my marriage and said, "He
who will wed your daughter is without a second on this earth."
How often have I asked her to describe his appearance to me, but
she only answers vaguely, and says she cannot say--she saw him
through a veil, faintly and obscurely. But if he is the best
among men, how can I sit still without seeing him?
SURANGAMA. Do you not feel a faint breeze blowing?
SUDARSHANA. A breeze? Where?
SURANGAMA. Do you not smell a soft perfume?
SUDARSHANA. No, I don't.
SURANGAMA. The large door has opened ... he is coming; my King
is coming in.
SUDARSHANA. How can you perceive when he comes?
SURANGAMA. I cannot say: I seem to hear his footsteps in my own
heart. Being his servant of this dark chamber, I have developed
a sense--I can know and feel without seeing.
SUDARSHANA. Would that I had this sense too, Surangama!
SURANGAMA. You will have it, O Queen ... this sense will awaken
in you one day. Your longing to have a sight of him makes you
restless, and therefore all your mind is strained and warped in
that direction. When you are past this state of feverish
restlessness, everything will become quite easy.
SUDARSHANA. How is it that it is easy to you, who are a servant,
and so difficult to me, the Queen?
SURANGAMA. It is because I am a mere servant that no difficulty
baulks me. On the first day, when he left this room to my care,
saying, "Surangama, you will always keep this chamber ready for
me: this is all your task," then I did not say, even in thought,
"Oh, give me the work of those who keep the other rooms lighted."
No, but as soon as I bent all my mind to my task, a power woke
and grew within me, and mastered every part of me unopposed....
Oh, there he comes! ... he is standing outside, before the
door. Lord! O King!
Open your door. I am waiting.
The ferry of the light from the dawn to the dark is done for
The evening star is up.
Have you gathered your flowers, braided your hair,
And donned your white robe for the night?
The cattle have come to their folds and birds to their nests.
The cross paths that run to all quarters have merged into one
in the dark.
Open your door. I am waiting.
SURANGAMA. O King, who can keep thy own doors shut against thee?
They are not locked or bolted--they will swing wide open if you
only touch them with thy fingers. Wilt thou not even touch them?
Wilt thou not enter unless I go and open the doors?
At a breath you can remove my veils, my lord!
If I fall asleep on the dust and hear not your call, would you
wait till I wake?
Would not the thunder of your chariot wheel make the earth
Would you not burst open the door and enter your own house
Then do you go, O Queen, and open the door for him: he will not
SUDARSHANA. I do not see anything distinctly in the dark--I do
not know where the doors are. You know everything here--go and
open the doors for me.
[SURANGAMA opens the door, bows to the KING, and goes out. The
KING will remain invisible throughout this play.]
SUDARSHANA. Why do you not allow me to see you in the light?
KING. So you want to see me in the midst of a thousand things in
broad daylight! Why should I not be the only thing you can feel
in this darkness?
SUDARSHANA. But I must see you--I am longing to have a sight of
KING. You will not be able to bear the sight of me--it will only
give you pain, poignant and overpowering.
SUDARSHANA. How can you say that I shall be unable to bear your
sight? Oh, I can feel even in this dark how lovely and wonderful
you are: why should I be afraid of you in the light? But tell
me, can you see me in the dark?
KING. Yes, I can.
SUDARSHANA. What do you see?
KING. I see that the darkness of the infinite heavens, whirled
into life and being by the power of my love, has drawn the light
of a myriad stars into itself, and incarnated itself in a form of
flesh and blood. And in that form, what aeons of thought and
striving, untold yearnings of limitless skies, the countless
gifts of unnumbered seasons!
SUDARSHANA. Am I so wonderful, so beautiful? When I hear you
speak so, my heart swells with gladness and pride. But how can I
believe the wonderful things you tell me? I cannot find them in
KING. Your own mirror will not reflect them--it lessens you,
limits you, makes you look small and insignificant. But could
you see yourself mirrored in my own mind, how grand would you
appear! In my own heart you are no longer the daily individual
which you think you are--you are verily my second self.
SUDARSHANA. Oh, do show me for an instant how to see with your
eyes! Is there nothing at all like darkness to you? I am afraid
when I think of this. This darkness which is to me real and
strong as death--is this simply nothing to you? Then how can
there be any union at all between us, in a place like this? No,
no--it is impossible: there is a barrier betwixt us two: not here,
no, not in this place. I want to find you and see you where I
see trees and animals, birds and stones and the earth
KING. Very well, you can try to find me--but none will point me
out to you. You will have to recognise me, if you can, yourself.
And even if anybody professes to show me to you, how can you be
sure he is speaking the truth?
SUDARSHANA. I shall know you; I shall recognise you. I shall
find you out among a million men. I cannot be mistaken.
KING. Very well, then, to-night, during the festival of the full
moon of the spring, you will try to find me out from the high
turret of my palace--search for me with your own eyes amongst the
crowd of people.
SUDARSHANA. Wilt thou be there among them?
KING. I shall show myself again and again, from every side of
the crowd. Surangama!
SURANGAMA. What is thy pleasure, lord?
KING. To-night is the full moon festival of the spring.
SURANGAMA. What have I to do to-night?
KING. To-day is a festive day, not a day of work. The pleasure
gardens are in their full bloom--you will join in my festivities
SURANGAMA. I shall do as thou desirest, lord.
KING. The Queen wants to see me to-night with her own eyes.
SURANGAMA. Where will the Queen see you?
KING. Where the music will play at its sweetest, where the air
will be heavy with the dust of flowers--there in the pleasure
grove of silver light and mellow gloom.
SURANGAMA. What can be seen in the hide-and-seek of darkness and
light? There the wind is wild and restless, everything is dance
and swift movement--will it not puzzle the eyes?
KING. The Queen is curious to search me out.
SURANGAMA. Curiosity will have to come back baffled and in
Ah, they would fly away, the restless vagrant eyes, the wild
birds of the forest!
But the time of their surrender will come, their flights hither
and thither will be ended when
The music of enchantment will pursue them and pierce their
Alas, the wild birds would fly to the wilderness!
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