The King of the Dark Chamber, Rabindranath Tagore
The King of the Dark Chamber
Rabindranath Tagore
2:14 h Verse Lvl 11.66
Raja (Bengali: রাজা), (also known as The King of the Dark Chamber in English translation), is a play by Rabindranath Tagore written in 1910. This play is marked as a symbolic play as well as a ‘mystic play’. The story is loosely borrowed from the Buddhist story of King Kush from Mahāvastu. A short stage version of Raja was published under the title of Arupratan in 1920. The theme of the play is ‘the secret dealing of God with the human heart.

The King of the Dark Chamber

by
Rabindranath Tagore

Translated into English
by the Author


I.

[A street. A few wayfarers, and a CITY GUARD]

FIRST MAN.
Ho, Sir!

CITY GUARD.
What do you want?

SECOND MAN.
Which way should we go? We are strangers here. Please tell us which street we should take.

CITY GUARD
Where do you want to go?

THIRD MAN.
To where those big festivities are going to be held, you know. Which way do we go?

CITY GUARD.
One street is quite as good as another here. Any street will lead you there. Go straight ahead, and you cannot miss the place. [Exit.]

FIRST MAN.
Just hear what the fool says: “Any street will lead you there!” Where, then, would be the sense of having so many streets?

SECOND MAN.
You needn’t be so awfully put out at that, my man. A country is free to arrange its affairs in its own way. As for roads in our country — well, they are as good as non-existent; narrow and crooked lanes, a labyrinth of ruts and tracks. Our King does not believe in open thoroughfares; he thinks that streets are just so many openings for his subjects to fly away from his kingdom. It is quite the contrary here; nobody stands in you way, nobody objects to your going elsewhere if you like to; and yet the people are far from deserting this kingdom. With such streets our country would certainly have been depopulated in no time.

FIRST MAN.
My dear Janardan, I have always noticed that this is a great fault in your character.

JANARDAN.
What is?

FIRST MAN.
That you are always having a fling at your country. How can you think that open highways may be good for a country? Look here, Kaundilya; here is a man who actually believes that open highways are the salvation of a country.

KAUNDILYA.
There is no need, Bhavadatta, of my pointing out afresh that Janardan is blessed with an intelligence which is remarkably crooked, which is sure to land him in danger some day. If the King comes to hear of our worthy friend, he will make it a pretty hard job for him to find any one to do him his funeral rites when he is dead.

BHAVADATTA.
One can’t help feeling that life becomes a burden in this country; one misses the joys of privacy in these streets — this jostling and brushing shoulders with strange people day and night makes one long for a bath. And nobody can tell exactly what kind of people you are meeting with in these public roads — ugh!

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