Ramleela

taking the centrestage …

Ramayana VI: The Search for Sita

on October 20, 2012

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 …

Characters:

Narrator

Rama

Lakshmana

Sita

Ravana

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)

Rama:

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!

Lakshmana:

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.

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