taking the centrestage …

The Mantra for Positivity

प्रबिसि नगर कीजे सब काजा ।
हृदय राखि कोसलपुर राजा ।।

Every endeavour as you start,
Let the ‘King of Kosala’ be in your heart!

Image courtesy: Vector Stock

I realize that in these fraught times, invoking the name of the ‘Scion of Raghuvansh’ is inviting debate, but this is a literary forum — not a political one, and definitely not a religious one.

And the sentiment expressed in the couplet is simply a commonsense one, of starting each task, each endeavour, on a positive note.

It only needs the understanding that the persona of the mythological figure of Ram in the Ramayana is actually that of a legendary hero, revered by the people, around whom folktales sprang up and were handed down generations, not only in the subcontinent, but across the entire Asia-Pacific.

Indeed, versions of the Ramayana crop up in the folklore of the entire region, including China, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with organized religion. Thus, the ‘story of Ram’ is, more than anything else, a roadmap for staying on the straight and narrow path. In fact, it is widely known that in Indonesia, a predominantly Islamic nation, a large proportion of the population arranges for a chanting of the Ramayana in their homes when a child is born, to bless the newborn and start its life on a positive note.

On a more personal level, the Ramayana Prashnavali (Questionnaire), to be found in the standard versions of Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, has always been a beautiful and effective way of asking for guidance from the Universe, just like my little copy of the New Testament that we got from the Sisters in school, or the little Bhagwad Geeta bequeathed by my grandmother.

Over the next few weeks I will try to take up the various couplets in the Prashnavali and discuss their meaning and significance in today’s context.

Keep smiling 🙂

Leave a comment »

Ramayana IX: Ravana’s End

And so, Lakshmana was revived by the Sanjeevani Booti …












Narrator: The Battle Drums roll! The Asuras are strong, but the Vanaar Sena have the force of Rama. Lakshmana has been revived! The Sanjeevani Booti gives them hope and strength. Meghnad climbs on to his flying chariot and calls out to Lakshmana.

Meghnad: Lakshmana! Come and fight again! Fight for Sita, Fight for your brother! I will surely get you today.

Lakshmana: I will fight! And fight to win this time! On guard!

Narrator: And as the skies shook with the celestial weapons, Lakshmana and Meghnad fought, till finally …

Meghnad: AAAaaaaaaa! That was the deathblow!

Lakshmana: Tell your brother, evil and greed will always be destroyed!


Ravana:Oh no! My bright Meghnaad has been killed! It is time to wake up Kumbhakarana. Bring on Kumbhakarana!

Courtier: O great King! But Waking Kumbhakarana is impossible! He eats for six months and sleeps for six months! It is not time to wake him up yet. It cannot be done.

Ravana: It is my order! And my brother will wake to fight for me!

Courtier: As you order, my lord. It may take an army to rouse him!

Narrator: Kumbhakarana rises, a giant with a loping gait. With every step he takes a hundred of the vanaar sena are crushed 😦

Kumbhakarana causes fierce damage.

Hanuman: The killing of Kumbhakarana is essential. But he has the gift of invincibiity! How shall we kill him?

Rama: I shall kill him with Indra’s arrow.

Narrator: And that is what happens. Ravana is wild with grief.

Ravana: My brother! My son! All gone! I am desolate! I shall have my revenge!

Rama: Ravana, go back this evening and come back to fight with weapons tomorrow. I cannot shoot at an unarmed enemy.

Narrator: Ravana goes back to his palace where his wife Mandodari speaks to him.

Mandodari: What is all this destruction for? Why this battle? Why have my sons been killed? All for a beautiful woman?

Ravan: This is destined, my dear wife. The battle inevitable.

Manodari: In the battle between right and wrong, you know you have done wrong. You have brought this punishment upon your family and your kingdom. Punishment we did not deserve.

Ravan: you may be right, my true wife. They have sadly been hurt. We must fear the unintended consequences of our actions. But this battle must be fought, for honour. Even if I lose, I must fight.

Narrator: The next morning, Rama and Ravana face each other. Ravana’s brother Vibhishana is on Rama’s side, ready to help.

Rama:Come and fight, Ravana. You know you have sinned. Come and pay the price.

Ravana: I am the great Ravana! I cannot be killed – try as you might!

Rama: I shall chop your head off with my arrow! (Shoots arrow)

Ravana: Ha Ha ha ha ha! See my heads grow back! You can never kill me!

Vibhishana: (whispering to Rama) – Shoot at his navel. His life is in his navel

Rama: This is the end, my friend. (Shoots at navel)

Ravana: Aaaah! It am fortunate to die at the hands of a good man, an avatar.

Narrator: The battle is ended. The Vaanar Sena cheers the victory of Good over Evil. Devi Sita is rescued!!

And all over the land, effigies of Ravan are burnt, as symbols of evil.

Of course, this is not the end of the story.

But to hear the Story of Rama and Sita together, and what happens next, you will just have to come back another day!

Leave a comment »

Ramayana VIII: The Vanar Sena to the Rescue

So, Hanuman burnt Ravana’s capital city of Lanka to ashes and reported back to Rama …







Jamwant (actor with bear mask)



Sushena (bear doctor)


Narrator:When Hanuman returns to Kishkindha, the Vanar kingdom, with Sita’s hair ornament, Sugreev calls a meeting of his important ministers: Hanuman the Strong (Mahabali), Jamvant the wise Bear, Nal and Neel the Vanar architects and Angad the steady.

Sugreev: So, it is decided that the Vanar Sena (Monkey Army) will start for the southern shore immediately and find a way to reach Lanka, battle Ravana’s demons and rescue Sita. We have already wasted three months because it was impossible to cross the jungle in the monsoon.

Narrator: The Vanar Sena reaches the place we know today as Kanyakumari. The ocean stretches in front of them, and since they were not all Hanumans, they could hardly jump across it to Lanka.  

Jamvant: We have to make a bridge to Lanka.

Lakshmana: But how is it possible to make a bridge across the ocean?

Jamvant: Nal and Neel in our Sena are the world’s best architects. They know how to make heavy things float in water. The whole Sena shall gather rocks and stones and Nal and Neel shall make them float and join them to form a bridge to Lanka.

 Narrator: The bridge (Ram Setu) is soon ready and the Vanar Sena, led by Rama and Lakshmana, reaches Lanka and camps outside the city gates. They decide to first send a message of peace to Ravana, for war must be avoided if possible. Angad goes to Ravana’s court as Rama’s messenger of peace, but Ravana is in no mood to listen.



Ravana:(furiously) Throw this monkey out. No! Don’t touch his tail. Just pick him up and throw him out!

(Angad cries ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and plants his foot firmly on the ground)

Angad: This foot is a symbol of Right. If anyone from your court can even move it an inch, we will admit defeat and our whole army will go back.

Narrator: All the mightiest braves of Lanka try their hardest, but cannot move Angad’s foot.

Angad: See the Power of Right? You have refused to listen to sense. We shall meet on the battlefield.

(Angad goes away)

Narrator: Ravana’s brother Vibhishana now advises him to send Sita back to Ravana with honour, otherwise they would all be killed. Ravana flies into a rage and kicks Vibhishana out. Vibhishana, who is a fan of Rama, goes to join him. Rama promises to make him the King of Lanka after they killed Ravana.

The battle starts next day. Ravana’s son, the mighty Meghnad joins the fight in his flying chariot. Lakshmana goes to fight him.

Lakshmana: Meghnad is mighty indeed. He knows magic and can vanish when he likes. But I will defeat him.

Narrator:They battle long and hard, and suddenly, Meghnad’s arrow hits Lakshmana, and Lakshmana falls into a deadly faint just before nightfall and the stop of the battle, for true warriors never fight at night. No one is able to revive Lakshmana. Rama is grief stricken. Jamvant goes quietly and calls Sushena, the learned doctor of Lanka who is his cousin.

(Sushena examines Lakshmana’s pulse and looks grave)

Sushena: The only way to save him is to give him the juice of the Sanjeevani Booti (Plant o f Life) that grows on Mount Sumeru in the Himalayas. The juice has to be given to him before sunrise.

Hanuman: I will go and get the Sanjeevani Booti for Lakshmana.

Narrator: Hanuman flies faster than a jet plane as he has to fly from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas and back again before sunrise. He reaches the Himalayas, fighting demons on his way, and locates Mount Sumeru.

Hanuman: Oh my goodness! So many of these plants look like the one Sushena described. Well, this is not time for guessing games. I will just have to carry the whole mountain to him!

Narrator: And so, the Mahabali Hanuman uproots the entire Mount Sumeru and carries it to Lanka. Sushena is most amused, and impressed. He immediately picks out the Sanjeevani Booti, juices it and revives Lakshmana, and all the Vanar soldiers who had fallen in battle that day.

Leave a comment »

Ramayana VII: Lanka on Fire!

And so, Rama and Lakshmana met Hanuman, who would be invaluable in their search for Sita …







Narrator:Hanuman the Strong carries a tired Ram and Lakshman to their secret hideout deep in the Rishyamukha Mountain, to their king in exile, Sugreev.

Lakshmana: Why are you hiding here if you are so strong?

Hanuman: My King Sugreev has been wronged by his brother Vaali, who wants to be King alone. We have been banished. So, we hide in the hills as we plot our return.

Rama: You have been kind to us;; let us find ways to help each other out. Ah look, I see your king arrive.

(Sugreev approaches. Hanuman introduces them, and they all sit down to talk)

Sugreev: Welcome to our little hill kingdom. You have lost your wife, and we have lost our throne.

Rama: Then we have a deal, we can help each other. But let me warn you, there should be no monkey business here!

Hanuman: Let there be a fight to the death with Vaali. King Sugreev can challenge him, and with your help, Rama, Vaali can be killed.

Narrator: The fight is set up. Look, you can see Sugreev, wearing a garland, ready to fight with Sugreev. Rama hides in the bushes, ready with his bow and arrow. Look, the battle begins. They fight each other. Though they look alike, Vali is the stronger one, for he has been given a boon that in any fight, half the strength of the enemy facing him will go over to him. So, it is impossible to kill him face to face. If the injustice to Sugreev is to be avenged, Vali will have to be shot by someone he can’t see. Thank goodness for the garland, or how would Rama know whom to shoot! Oh look, Ram takes aim, and he shoots! (cricket commentrary style, improvise too!)

Sugreev: I am sad to lose my brother, but I am happy to be King. Since Vali has repented of his sins while dying, I accept his son Angad as my own son and heir. Now Rama, my Monkey army is yours. The Vaanar Sena is good and loyal. Hanuman is in your service too.

Rama: I thank you King Sugreev. O Hanuman, we need news of Sita. We hear she is across the sea in Lanka, captured by the evil Ravana.

Hanuman: I will leap across the sea! I will take on my giant form, and reach little Lanka of the mighty Ravana. Give me but a sign, Lord Rama, so that Sita Ma may know that I come from you!

Rama: Here Hanuman, take my ring. She will recognise it and trust you. Speak to her; tell her we care and we are coming to avenge our humiliation.

Narrator:Hanuman races to the edge of the sea. He takes on his Viraat-Roop (giant form) and jumps all the way to Lanka! Meeting

monsters on the way, he escapes being eaten alive by them, and reaches Lanka safely. Sita is in a beautiful garden, the Ashok Vatika. He finds his way there.

Hanuman: I am hungry, after all that jumping and leaping. But work first!! Ah, there, I see mother Sita surrounded by her horrible guards. I shall wait for them to fall asleep. (waits) Ah, they are asleep now. Let me throw the ring to her.

Sita: Ah! What is this? My Lord’s ring? Where did it come from?

Hanuman: From me, mother! Lord Ram sent me with it. And a message of hope. He is on his way to rescue you and kill Ravana.

Sita: Child, my blessings. I am happy for now. Here, take my hair ornament to my Lord and tell him I await him.

Hanuman: Mother, I am hungry. Can I eat the fruits here?

Sita: Yes Child, eat and eat well. Then go and bring Rama to me.

Narrator:Hanuman tears up most of the forest garden. The guards panic. Soldiers are called, and hundreds of them cannot capture


Hanuman: (laughing at them) You cannot catch me! So stop trying. Lead the way, I want to see the evil king Ravana.

Narrator:In Ravana’s court, Hanuman laughs at everyone present. He refuses to bow to Ravana. Ravana is furious.

Ravana: You are a cheeky monkey! I will punish you. Monkey people love their tail – Set fire to it!!

Hanuman: Ha ha! Try that too, and see what monkeying around can do! Aha, bring the cloth, bring the oil, set the fire. Off I go!!

Narrator: Hanuman leaps from building to building, making his tail longer and longer. He sets fire to the whole of the golden city of Lanka!

And leaving Lanka burning, Hanuman leaps back to the sea. He douses the fire, and then jumps across the ocean  – back to his Lord Rama.

Leave a comment »

Ramayana VI: The Search for Sita

And so, Ravana, the Demon King, kidnapped Sita and carried her away in the Pushpak Vimaan (his flying chariot) to his island kingdom of Lanka in the southern ocean …







Jatayu the Vulture King (actor wearing wings and beak)

Hanuman (actor with monkey mask and shorts with attached tail)

Narrator: Ravana’s Pushpak Vimaan is flying south towards Lanka, with Sita, calling out for help and screaming Rama’s name, struggling in Ravana’s hold. Suddenly there is a flurry of large wings and Jatayu, the Vulture King, who is an old friend of King Dashrath, falls upon Ravana to save Sita.

(Jatayu charges at Ravana and beats at him with his wings)

Jatayu: Stop Ravana! Let Sita go! I will not let you carry her off!

Narrator: But Ravana just laughs and beats Jatayu back. Jatayu fights bravely, but he is old and no match for the powerful Ravana. Ravana cuts off one of his wings and leaves him dying, while he continues on his way to Lanka.

(Ravana cuts off Jatayu’s wing and Jatayu falls back, groaning)

Narrator: Sita is powerless against Ravana’s might, but knows that Rama will come looking for her. So, she takes off her jewels one by one and drops them out of the flying chariot at short distances to guide Rama in his search.

(Sita throws down her jewels one by one)


Narrator: Back at Panchvati, Rama and Lakshmana rush back to the cottage and find Sita gone. The food offering that dropped out of Sita’s hands when Ravana dragged her off shows them clearly that Sita has been kidnapped by some enemy. Rama and Lakshmana are in tears.

(Rama and Lakshmana clutch their heads and shed tears)


Oh where are you, Sita my dear?

Separation from you I just cannot bear!

Oh why did I ever go to chase that golden deer?

But I will find you and bring you back, I solemnly swear!


Woe is me, for I betrayed my sacred trust!

Curse me O Brother, with my shame I could burst!

For Sita Ma is gone; carried away by some foe,

And we must find her soon; but where do we go?

Narrator: Rama and Lakshmana search in all directions, anxious and desperate. At last, they hear the call of ‘Rama! Rama!’ and come to a clearing where Jatayu lies wounded and dying, calling out Rama’s name.

(Jatayu lies wounded. Rama and Lakshmana bend over him.)

Jatayu: Rama! Thank God you have come! Devi Sita has been kidnapped by the Demon King Ravana. He has carried her off south, heading towards his kingdom of Lanka. I tried my best to rescue Devi Sita, but could not do it. Please forgive me!

Rama: Dear Uncle! Please do not blame yourself! You tried your best. And you have been able to tell me where I can find Sita. I thank you with all my heart!

Narrator: Having told Rama where his wife was headed, Jatayu dies peacefully. Rama and Lakshmana pay their respect to him and move south, in search of the path to Lanka through the dense forest, for, in those days they had no maps and no GPS to guide them. Those were the days before deforestation and global warming, and the forest stretched endlessly all around them.

Suddenly Rama notices something shining in a clearing between trees.

Rama: What is that? (goes and picks it up) This is Sita’s bangle! I’m sure! (some way ahead they find another ornament) And this is one of her anklets!

Lakshmana: You are right brother! (cheering up) Sita Ma is one smart cookie! She’s left us a trail of jewels to guide us! A little extravagant, perhaps, but we can always get her lots more, once we rescue her and return to Ayodhya.

Narrator:Bit by bit, the brothers search out the jewel trail that Sita has left for them through the forest and reach the Rishyamukha mountain. Suddenly they see a learned man (Brahmin) coming towards them.

Brahmin: Salutations O sages! What brings you to this place?

 Lakshmana (tired and irritable): Our own business! And pray, you mind your own!

Rama (patiently): Be not hasty, Lakshmana. Our grief and anxiety is no reason to be rude! Besides, the Brahmin looks learned and wise, and might help us in our quest.

(to the Brahmin): Pranaam Vipradev (greetings, O Learned One)! I am Rama of Ayodhya and this is my brother Lakshmana. The Demon King Ravana has abducted my wife Sita. We are looking for a way to reach Lanka and rescue her. Can you help us?

Narrator: Hearing this, the Brahmin assumes his true form of a Vanara (monkey-man)

(turns around, wears a monkey mask and takes off his shawl, under which he is wearing shorts with an attached tail, and turns back again)

Vanara: My Lord! I am blessed to have met you! I am Hanuman and it is my life’s mission to be by your side and help you! Let me take you to our King. I am sure we can help you to bring back Sita Ma from Lanka!

Narrator: And so saying, Hanuman leads Rama and Lakshmana into a cave in the Rishyamukha mountain.

Leave a comment »

Ramayana V: Shoorpanakha’s Revenge

So, Lakshmana cut off Shoorpanakha’s nose and she fled to her brother, the Demon king Ravana …








Golden deer (toy)

Fence (made of cardboard)

Narrator: A few days later, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are whiling away the time in their beautiful surroundings, probably stringing flower garlands and hair ornaments for themselves (got to keep BO away after all, and not too many deos to be had in the jungle) when Sita spots a golden deer.


Look, Oh look, what a pretty deer:

His golden hue beyond compare.

Unrivalled beauty, it has no peer;

I want that one, does anyone dare!


The deer is pretty, that I submit,

But do not, your desires, admit:

You are a queen, to lead your race;

You must give up your desires with grace.


The promises that bind you set me free.

I am now Queen Junglee!

Such beauty, how can you not crave?

Get it for me, O husband Brave!


The jungle is wild, O delicate one;

Brother Lakshmana will protect you while I am gone.


Mother Sita will be protected by me

While you chase the deer, see, off it does flee!

Narrator: Ram leaves with his weapons to chase the deer. The deer is not real but an illusion, but simple Rama does not know that. The deer is really Marichi in disguise. It is a plot! Remember beautiful Shroopanakha, insulted by Lakshman?


Flashback Scene:

Narrator: Shroopnakha rushes into Ravana’ s majestic court.

Shroopanakha: Brother! I have been insulted! I must be avenged! Lakshmana and Rama of the Raghu family have hurt me! You must hurt their pride!

Ravana: You, with your beauty and powers need help! This must be a worthy enemy. I have heard of them – they pride themselves on their ability to protect the weak. I will take what they are most proud of – their ability to protect their defenseless wife!

Narrator: So Ravana hatches a plan. Marichi, the master illusionist is called. He is to lure Ram away. And he does!


Back to Chitrakoot:

(Voice in the background: Haye Lakshman! Save Me! Lakshman! Save me!)

Sita: Hark! this is your brother’s voice! You must go to his aid.

Lakshmana: I have the sacred charge of protecting you, Sitamma! I cannot disobey!

Sita: What should you obey? Past restrictions or present circumstances?? Think Lakshmana, my child. Rama needs you. I will be safe here.

Lakshmana: Fine, then I will set up this electric fence.. this line that will keep you safe. Do not cross the line.

(Lakshmana sets up an electric fence around the cottage)

Sita: Go! Go where you must, or this story will not progress!

Narrator:And so, Lakshmana goes to Ram’s aid and Sita goes back into the cottage, praying for Rama’s safety and with no intention of crossing Lakshmana’s electric fence. But Alas for such good intentions! It’s a plot, remember? The distress call to Lakshmana was really Marichi, who, besides creating life-like visual illusions, was an adept at voice impersonations too. Lakshmana finds Rama unhurt and Marichi, in his true form, dying of Rama’s arrow. With dread premonition, they hasten back to the cottage, taking comfort from the thought of Lakshmana’s protective fence, the Lakshman Rekha.

But meanwhile, at the cottage:

(Enter A sage-mendicant (bhikshuk) asking for alms)


Bhikshaam dehi! Bhikshaam dehi! Give alms to a holy man;

I ask not for riches or treasure: Just a little of whatever you can!

(Sita comes out with some food stuffs)


Here, Baba: your bhiksha; and while we no longer have power or pelf;

My food is to die for, even though I say it myself!

Narrator:The sage-mendicant, who is really Ravana in disguise, has already tried to get past Lakshmana’s electric fence before

calling out to Sita, and been mildly electrocuted. He realizes that Sita must come out of its protection herself if his plan is to succeed. 


My dear good lady, please to have some sense:

It is against a bhikshuk’s dharma to take alms across a fence!

If you would give me food, come out of this bind;

There are places I need to be. Hurry! Make up your mind!


Well, this fence is for my protection; Lakshmana’s warning I should heed.

But giving alms to a bhikshuk is, after all, a good deed!

(Sita steps out of the fenced boundary and offers the food to the sage-mendicant).

Narrator: As soon as Sita steps out of her line of protection, Ravana reveals his true self (takes off false beard and mustache) and drags her away, kicking and screaming, to his flying charriot, the Pushpak Vimaan, to carry her off to Lanka.

(The stage echoes with Sita’s screams of ‘Rama! Help!’ growing fainter and fainter).

Leave a comment »

Ramayana IV: Life in the Jungle

And so, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita leave Ayodhya for the fourteen year long exile in the Jungle, or Vanvaasa…


image courtesy: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/me alac/pritchett/00routesdata/bce _299_200/ramayana/banishme nt/banishment.html









Narrator: Kaikeyi thought she would tell Bharat the good news about his becoming King after he returned with Shatrughna from her Dad’s place. But King Dashrath died on the sixth day after Rama, Lakshmana and Sita left for the jungle (He probably had a heart attack). The throne could not be left vacant, so, they had to send for Bharat and Shatrughna. Kaikeyi met them at the palace entrance.

Kaikeyi: Bharat! My son! I have some bad news, and some good news for you! The bad news is, your father has passed away.

(Bharat and Shatrughna fall back in shock)

Kaikeyi: But the good news is that YOU are now going to be King of Ayodhya!

Bharat: What do you mean, Mother? Brother Rama will be King, not I!

Narrator: And so, Kaikeyi tells them about her two promises and Rama’s exile. Shatrughna wants to kill Manthara, but Bharat stops him. He says the real culprit is Kaikeyi.

Bharat: You have brought shame on me by this act, Mother! I will never sit on my brother’s throne. I will bring him back if I have to beg him. And I vow that I will never speak to you again in my life!

Narrator: Bharat and Shatrughna leave for the forest to bring back Rama Lakshmana and Sita and make Rama the king of Ayodhya.



Narrator: Meanwhile, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita cross River Saryu and go towards Chitrakoot, the forest where many sages and holy men lived. Rama and Lakshmana make a Parnakuti – a cottage covered with green leaves – for them to live.

Rama:  Aaah! This is the life! Lots of greenery; fresh air; natural, organic food straight from the trees and bushes; learned sages for company; and my dear brother and wife with me! What more could I ask for?

Sita: I agree dear Rama! I would go anywhere with you. I might have missed my beauticians, but the sages’ wives have taught me great herbal beauty treatments, and what better source for them than the jungle?

Lakshmana: If everyone is satisfied, so am I, though …. But Hark! I hear someone calling out. (goes to the cottage door and looks out) It’s Bharat … and Shatrughna.
(angrily) I’ll show them!

Rama: Stop Lakshmana! Don’t blame Bharat. It wasn’t his fault. (Goes out to greet Bharat and Shatrughna)

Bharat: Brother! Forgive me! (falls at Rama’s feet) Come back to Ayodhya. Father is no more and you must be King.

Rama: Alas! Poor father! May he rest in peace. (tears in everyone’s eyes) But I cannot come back to Ayodhya before my fourteen years of vanvaas are up. Now say no more, but return to Ayodhya, be the King and rule wisely.

Bharat: I will never take your place, Brother! If you will not come, at least give me your Paadukas (wooden sandals). I will place them on the throne and govern the kingdom as your minister. The throne will await you till you come back from your exile.

Narrator:Bharat and Shatrughna go away, bearing Rama’s Paadukas. Rama, Lakshmana and Sita decide to move South to the

Dandak Forest as they feel Chitrakoot is too close to Ayodhya and someone or the other would always be popping in to disturb them. They make a cottage at Panchvati in the Dandak forest and live peacefully for almost thirteen years.

And then, one day, Shoorpanakha, the beautiful sister of the Asura King Ravana of the island kingdom of Lanka, passes by. She sees the trio and develops a crush on the handsome Rama.

Shoorpanakha: Hello there, you handsome hunk! I’m Princess Shoorpanakha and I’ve fallen in love with you. Will you marry me?

(Sita glares at Shoorpanakha)

Rama: You are a beautiful lady, Princess, but I am already married.

Shoorpanakha: What ill luck! But wait! Your brother is almost as handsome as you. (to Lakshmana) What say you, my scrumptious sage? Will you marry me?

Lakshmana: No. Go away!

Narrator: Now, this is where our story takes a twist. Shoorpanakha probably came on strongly, because she didn’t go away. Maybe she made a nuisance of herself with the brothers, but Lakshmana could have been a little patient. However, as you might have guessed by now, he was a little short tempered and impatient. Well, he lost his temper and cut off Shoorpanakha’s nose. Shoorpanakha fled, seething with humiliation and anger, to her brother, the Demon King Ravana. 

Leave a comment »

Ramayana III: The Two Promises

And so, the four princes came back to Ayodhya with their brides …




The four princes: Rama, Lakshmana, Bharat and Shatrughna



Narrator: The palace was full of happiness and laughter. The young princes and their wives performed their duties and had time for fun too. King Dasharath’s kingdom was ruled well. Everything was peaceful.

Rama: Come brothers, let us ride to the eastern corner of the kingdom to check on its welfare!

Bharat: And there is some good hunting there too!

Rama: First we finish our work, then we may have some time to hunt!

Kaikeyi: Yes Rama, you are right. I am proud of you, my son. Bharat, do learn from your brother!

Bharat: Yes, yes. Bigger is better, right!

Narrator: The King and his sons ruled well. Rama was not only his first born, but a good leader too. He was loved by the people. He had all the qualities of a good king.

Dasharath: It is time I retired. I think Rama will make a good king. It is time for me to party!

Kaikeyi: I think so too. Rama is the best trained, most disciplined and most loved of all. He will be a good king.

Dasharath: I will announce it, as long as you don’t change your mind. One never knows about your moods!

Narrator: Dashrath was right. Kaikeyi knew Rama was the right choice for king, but her moods were unpredictable. Her childhood nurse and trusted companion Manthara was plotting to have her own nurseling, Bharat, crowned as king. She made the queen think that she wold become less important if Kaushalya’s son Rama became king instead of her own son Bharat. And Kaikeyi, of the unpredictable moods, lost her commonsense and went off to her Palace of Sulks. Jewels  strewn all over the palace, forming a clear path to where she lies, crying. As if she was dying. The King could not win.

Dasharath: I cannot bear to see you so. What do you want?

Kaikeyi: Two promises – I have two promises due. One to make Bharat the King. Two: send Rama to the forest for fourteen years.

Dasharath: Diltoot! My heart will break! But promises must be kept. So be it!

Narrator: Dasharath keeps his promise, but cannot face his son. Kaikeyi calls him and tells him what must be done.

Kaikeyi: Your father made a promise, and it must be kept. You must go to the Jungle so Bharat may be king. When he comes back from his holiday, that is. He is visiting my dad, you know. You must go for fourteen years.

Rama:Obedience is a virtue, mother and I will obey.

Narrator: So Rama prepares for the Jungle. Not much packing to be done.

Sita: Rama, I want to come too. I will be bored without you.

Lakshmana: I will come too – we make a good team.

Rama: Well, I can say no for a while, but really, it will be much nicer if both of you are there with me.

Narrator: The three of them may have danced a jig together. Or may have looked at each other deeply and meaningfully, eyes full of promise and respect. Or they may have sat through the evening discussing how unfair it was that Ram would not be King. We will never really know which. But the fellowship was formed.

But what about the people of Ayodhya? They wanted their beloved Rama to be king.

People: Rama, Don’t go! Rama, Don’t Go! We love you! You are to be our King! We will come with you! Rama, Don’t Go.

Rama: People, you have your lives to live. Come as far as the city gates, where the jungle begins. Then go back and prosper. I will be back in fourteen years.

Narrator: And so, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita walk away. The people follow them for a bit, and then turn back. Sad music may have played, or maybe it was the fading echo of people chanting: Rama! Rama!

(song plays in the background: Ban chale Ram Raghurai)

Leave a comment »

Ramayana II: Growing Up

Continuing the saga  of the family of King Dashrath …



Sages Vishwamitra and Vashishta

Four Princes: Rama, Lakshmana, Bharat and Shatrughna


Asuras (can be a picture in the background)

Narrator: Welcome to the Palace of Ayodhya! Where the halls resound with the happy laughter of four princes.

Rama: Here I am! Throw the ball to me!

Lakshmana: I caught it for you brother! Here you are – take it.

Bharat: To Me! To me! Throw the Ball to Me!

Shatrughna: It’s my turn now! Yaay!

Narrator: The princes played on, and centuries later people wrote songs about it

Link: Thumak Chalat..

(But soon it was time for School..)

Dasharath: Call the Wise Sage of the Court, Vashishta

(Vashishta arrives)

Dasharath: I bow to you Great Sage, and pray that you teach my sons!

Vashishta: I will teach your sons, King! I will teach them to be men and to be Kings. I will teach them of kindness, and I will teach them war. I will show them cruel weapons, and I will show them beautiful poetry. I will take them to the Ashram to teach them how to slay their Demons.

Dasharath:Take them, and Teach them!

Vashishta: Bless them on their journey to manhood, O King! Let them go.

Narrator: Vashishta leaves the palace with the four princes.

(Princes fence in the background)

Narrator: As they grow up, they learn to battle and win.

They learn to survive in the jungle as happily as they had in the palace.

When they are sixteen and have learnt all that the wise Sage Vashishta teaches them, they return to the palace in Ayodhya. King Dashrath’s heart overflows with gladness.  And then, one day, the great Sage Vishwamitra arrives at court.

Vishwamitra: O King, I come to seek Help! The demons are destroying my Ashram and eating all the villagers! Save us!

Dashrath:I shall send my bravest soldiers to help you.

Vishwamitra: But I want only Rama and Lakshmana.

Dashrath: But they are only children! How can they fight the terrible asuras?

Vishwamitra: They are able students of Guru Vashishta, O King . Let them grow into able young men. Let them come with me.

Narrator: King Dashrath is unable to refuse and lets Rama and Lakshmana go with Vishwamitra.

Soon they reach Vishwamitra’s ashram where the asuras are destroying everything in sight.

(Asuras brandishing weapons and dancing in the background)

Vishwamitra: Go Rama and Lakshmana! Go and save the village from the Asuras!

Rama: As you say, Guru Sage!

Lakshmana: We shall kill them all!

Narrator: And they do!

(Rama bows to Sage Vishwamitra)

(Lakshmana bows to Sage Vishwamitra)

Vishwamitra: Boys! You have made us proud! You have killed the trouble making demons! But to be true men and to become kings, you have to learn of kindness and care too.

We go now to the palace of Janak, in Mithila where you learn to seek. Woo the princess, persuade her to be your partner in life. She is of the Earth and will always hold you steady.

Narrator: The princes, with Sage Vishwamitra, go to Mithila, the Kingdom of Raja Janak. It was alive with music and festivities! The princess was to choose her mate!

Sita:I must see the princes who have arrived, or how can I choose tomorrow? I shall go to the Temple to pray, and there, I shall be able to see them behave naturally in the Mela Gardens. I love spying!

Narrator: Sita goes to the Garden. And sees many princes. Some were old, some looked cruel. Some looked proud. Then she spotted Rama.

Sita:What a kind face! He looks as if he could care and share, as well as be strong! He is the one who will string the bow!

Narrator: The next day, in the Marriage Hall, princes came up turn by turn, but none could string the great Shiva’s Bow.

Sita: I sit here all pretty with flowers and jewels. But I really wish I could help Rama. He said he was confident he could manage the task. I did tell him how to handle the Bow, I hope he is a listening man. Well, if he can’t listen, he does not deserve to win!

Narrator: Rama was a good listener, it seems. He walked with Grace.. (Rama Walks to Bow) picked it up with ease (Rama picks up Bow) and strung it with ease (Rama acts out the stringing of the Bow). In the real story, the Bow breaks, but I think we can change it a bit. (Narrator to Grin).

Rama: Sita, Be my Queen, come and rule Ayodhya with me!

Sita: It will be a joy to share your journey, O King to Be! I am of the Earth; Palaces and Jungles are the same to me. And I will be your partner.

Narrator: Amid great festivities, the marriage was performed. The four brothers found wives in Mithila, and went home to Ayodhya for more… Food and Fun! The Brides were welcomed, the Palace was an even better place than before. 

Leave a comment »

Ramayana I: The Tale of Four Princes

At the start of Navaratri, we commence the Ramleela site with the Ramayana in ten parts; one part to be enacted on  each day of the festival and the climax on Dussehra. This is the first part of the great epic, in two short, fun-filled acts for the young actors … ENJOY!

Characters: Narrator

image courtesy: http://www.indianetzone.com/46/birth_lord_rama.htm


Deer (toy)



Dashrath’s 3 wives (Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra)


4 baby dolls

Activity: Crowns, Bow & Arrow made from chart paper/ cardboard)


Narrator: The Kingdom of Ayodhya was great – with kind King Dasharath, rising palaces and happy people. Like all great kings, one day Dashrath went hunting.

Dashrath enters, holding a Bow and Arrow. 

Pretends to hear a sound.

Dasharath: That sounds like a deer in the forest. I will follow the sound and shoot!

(Takes aim, shoots)

Shravan: AAAAAAH!

Dasharath: Oh no! That sounds like a boy!

(Runs over to Shravan)

Shravan: I must go to my parents, they are blind and need me! (Dies)

Dasharath: I must tell his parents what happened. They are sure to curse me. Nothing can be worse than this!

(Goes over to Shravan’s blind parents, a little distance away)

Shravan’s Parents: We curse you Dasharath! May you die longing for your Children!

Dasharath: I am deeply sorry. (Whispers – does this mean I will have children??) I promise to look after you all your life.



Dasharath in his palace talking to his queens

Dasharath: This is so sad! I have no children! I want children! The punditji may have a magical solution.

Pundit: Oh yes, I always have incredible solutions that mere mortals cannot understand. We will perform a havan, and the fruit offering must be shared among your wives. Then they will have children.

Dasharath: OK

Pundit: Here is the blessed Fruit

Dasharath: Yooohoo! Ahem. I mean, thank you, wise sage. Your blessings are the best!

Dasharath takes the fruit and shares it among his three wives.

Only, he never learnt how to do fractions, so he cut it into four parts.

Dasharath: Kaushalya, you are my first wife, the first slice goes to you.

Kaushalya: Thank you my king. Though you could have asked me to slice it for you, I could have cut it evenly into three, then all of us would have bigger pieces.

Dasharath: Kaikeyi, my most beautiful wife, here is a piece of the fruit for you!

Kaikeyi: Is it the best piece?

Dasharath: Sumitra, my sweetest wife, you never ask for anything. I have two pieces of the fruit left. They are yours.

Sumitra: Thank you, you kind king. May your kindnesses increase!

Narrator: Soon the Queens had babies. The first was born to the eldest queen, he was Rama. The Beautiful Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharat. Sumitra had twins, and they were called Lakshmana and Shatrugna.

The palace resounded with song, dance and celebration. Flowers were showered and lamps were lit!