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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Plays and Stories

CWSA. Volume 3 and 4

Incomplete and Fragmentary Plays

The Prince of Mathura

Ajamede, Prince of Mathura, a fugitive in the mountains.

Indradyumna, his friend and comrade.

Atry, King of Mathura, by the help of the Scythians.

Toraman, Prince of Cashmere, son of the Scythian overlord1 of the North-West.

Canaca, a2 Brahmin, his court jester.

Hooshka, captain of the Scythian bodyguard.

Mayoor, Atry’s general and minister.

Indrany, Queen of Mathura.

Urmila, Princess of Mathura, daughter of Atry and Indrany.

Lila, daughter of Hooshka.


Act I

Scene 1

Mathura. A room in the Palace.
Atry, Indrany.


However hard it be, however gross

The undisguised compulsion, none can stay

Compulsion by impracticable revolt,

Indrany. Deeper, viler the disgrace

If by rebellion we invite constraint

Naked, contemptuous, to a slave subdued.

The reed that bows to the insistent wind

Is wiser than the trunk which the cyclone

Indignantly uproots. To force we yield,

But to a force disguised in courtly forms.

That’s better than to yield beneath the scourge.


There’s a defeat more noble, not to yield,

Even though we break. And break, I know, we must,

But to live fouled for ever, vilely robed

In a soiled purple, marked out3 to all the world

For laughter by the puppet’s tinsel crown,

That is disgrace indeed.


We hold this realm

Because the northern Scythian helps our sword.


By princely compromise, alliance high,

Not yet by purchase or a social stain.


Our child will be an empress.


And outcaste.


There have been many nuptials mixed like these,

Of which world-famous emperors were born.


Yes, but we took, not gave, were lords,4 not slaves.

As5 ransom of his fate the conquered Greek

To Indian Chandragupta gave his child,

Knowing a son by her could never rule.


There is no6 bar. The Scythian weds with all

And makes impartial Time the arbiter

Whether a native or a foreign womb

Shall be the shelterer of his empire’s heir.


This honour’s purchased at too vile a cost.


There is no help. If we deny our girl,

He’ll7 have her violently, make her his slave

And not his wife.


Do this then, seem to yield,

But send her to your fortress on the hills,

Whence let one take her with a show of force,

Whoever’s noblest now of Aryan lords

In Magadha, Avanty or the South,

Fit mate for Atry’s stock. Twixt him be strife

And the Cashmerian, we escape his wrath.


It shall be so. I’ll choose a trusty man

Who shall to Magadha before the morn.

Meanwhile prepare your daughter for the hills.

Indrany goes out joyfully.

It is not good. The man will learn the trick,

A fierce barbarian, rapid as the storm,

Violent, vindictive, stamping on the world

Like a swift warhorse, neighing to the winds8

With nostrils wide for any scent of war,

For men to kill, lands to lay desolate,

Haughty and keen amid9 his violence

With the king’s eye that reads the minds of men,—

Such is the man she counsels me to tempt

By palpable evasion. I will send

Urmila to my fortress on the hills.

But he, not Magadha, shall take her forth

By secret nuptials. He is honourable

Though violent, a statesman though too proud10.

The prejudices of our race and day

Must yield to more commanding thoughts and views

That suit the changing times. Custom is mutable,

Only the breach of it is dangerous

If too impetuously we innovate. It’s best

To circumvent opinion11, not provoke.

Who’s12 there? Call Mayoor!

The King’s first task is to preserve his realm,

Means honourable or dishonourable

Are only means to use impartially,

The most effective first.

Mayoor enters.

Mayoor, you know

The motion13 made by the Cashmerian’s son

To wed my daughter.


We have spoken of it



You are still of the same mind?

You think my subjects will revolt?


It’s sure.


The Scythian sword can keep them hushed and still.


And you its slave and pensioner, impotent.


Then do it thus. The thing is secret still.

Let it remain so. Let Prince Toraman

Wed Urmila in secret in the hills

As if herself had yielded to his suit,

Not my consent. Against whom then, Mayoor,

Shall Mathura revolt?


It may be done.

But will the Scythian’s pride assent, or if

The bond is secret, will he own the bond?


He shall, he must. To break by any means

The bar of pride that lowers him beneath

The lowest of his Aryan tributaries,

He will consent to much. And for the bond

He shall engage his honour, then possess.

Yourself go to him, Mayoor, where he’s camped.

Persuade him. Let an escort start at once

With Urmila to Roondhra14 in the hills.

I trust you, Mayoor, for entire success.

My crown, my honour are upon this cast.


Your crown is safe with me; your honour, King,

I’ll save.


Always few words were yours, Mayoor,

But each one solid gold.

He goes out.


To cheat you’s best

Of the dishonour to which you aspire

And for the crown, it’s safer in my hands

Than Toraman’s, the Scythian giant, bold,

Subtle and violent, who spreads his toils

Over all India, helping force with guile

And guile with force.

Enter Mekhala.


He is alone. Hear you,



It’s from the queen?


Read it and see.


Tell her my word is pledged and Urmila

Saved from the Scythian wedlock.


And that means

You’ll do it?


She shall not wed Toraman.

Mekhala goes out.

This is another coil. The King, it seems,

Deceives his people and deceives his queen.

She trusts him not, nor they. A lying King

Tortuous and serpentine in policy,

Loses as much by the distrust he breeds

As all his shufflings gain. I’ll write to Magadha

In other terms than Queen Indrany dreams.

I will send out my messengers at once.

One15 first to Ajamede, the lion dispossessed,

Where in the hills of Roondhra now he lairs16.

Another to the mighty Magadhan

Who gathers up his strength to free the land

From the barbarian’s tread. Myself shall go

To Toraman and meet the Scythian will.

The end shall be as God long since decreed17.


Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30 volumes.- Volume 7.- Collected Plays and Short Stories: Part Two.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Asram, 1972.- 562-1089 pp.

1 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: warlord


2 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: his


3 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: apart (Uncertain reading)


4 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: warlords (Uncertain reading)


5 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: A


6 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: one


7 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: He will


8 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: wind


9 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: armed with


10 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6, there is a footnote: Uncertain reading


11 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6, there is a footnote: Uncertain reading


12 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Who is


13 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6, there is a footnote: Uncertain reading


14 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7, sic passim: Roodhra


15 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Our


16 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: lingers


17 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: from old desired