Tagore’s Chitra

Tagore’s Chitra

Tagore’s Chitra is song of beauty and Love. It is a one act play available in the net - http://terebess.hu/english/tagore10.html . I read the play online (today). Tagore is known for his aesthetic and pantheistic attitude and his spiritually inclined mind.
The source for this play is Mahabharata – an episode from Arjuna’s life during his vanvaas (forest life exile). This small episode is made beautiful (by) the hands of Tagore. It has answers to some intriguing aesthetic questions as to what is Love and Beauty, is Beauty ethereal, is Love instigated by the beautiful and is Love and Beauty same words for one feeling.

                          Chitrangada (Chitra) is the daughter of Chitravahaana, not so very beautiful, brought up as prince would have been (very manly). To quote “I know no feminine wiles for winning hearts. My hands are strong to bend the bow”. One day in the forest she meets Arjuna (in man’s attire) and falls in love in with him. She wants to serve him as a man but Arjuna does not comply. Then with the help of Madana (Cupid), lord of Love and Vasantha, the Lord of Spring and Beauty, she gains transient beauty for one year to woo Arjuna. She succeeds and Arjuna and Chitrangada stay together enjoying all their youth and beauty (beauty of surroundings as well). Some of the verses are so enchanting that you would want to read again and again. (I read the play more than three times-I regret I didn’t read it before). It is so lyrical and poised. For e.g., “She bound up her tresses, drew her veil over her arms, and sighing slowly, walked away like a beauteous evening fading into the night. To me the supreme fulfillment of desire seemed to have been revealed in a flash and then to have vanished. . . . (Scene II). Just don’t miss reading the whole play –very short one too.

                   Nothing is ever permanent in this world – the year is complete – and Arjuna comes to know the truth during a crisis where Chitra, the princess has to save the villagers from robbers. Chitra reveals herself to Arjuna, she is even tired of the burden of the beauty that was carrying her for one year and very gladly says “I am Chitra. No goddess to be worshipped, nor yet the object of common pity to be brushed aside like a moth with indifference. If you deign to keep me by your side in the path of danger and daring, if you allow me to share the great duties of your life, then you will know my true self. If your babe, whom I am nourishing in my womb, be born a son, I shall myself teach him to be a second Arjuna, and send him to you when the time comes, and then at last you will truly know me. Today I can only offer you Chitra, the daughter of a king” and to this Arjuna says “My Life is Full”.

                 Enthralling Love story isn’t it? But certain questions have to be answered. Love and Beauty are feelings belonging to soul. As per the legend, Arjuna marries her – She has a son – Arjuna then leaves her and his son to Chitravahaana as per the promise given by him –as a heir to continue the dynasty. Tagore does not give conclusion. I feel Arjuna perceives Chitra’s inner beauty. What do you feel friends?  

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