Ideal King Description
             

 

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A Guide to “ Ideal King” Dance Ballet

By Srutilaya Dance Troupe

Prologue

The theme for the dance ballet is drawn from “Vikrama Charitha,” said to be written in 11 th century AD by a poet in King Bhoj’s court. In this story, King Bhoj unearths a glittering throne guarded by 32 statuettes (angels). As he tries to ascend the throne, one of the statuettes comes alive and says, “Stop! This throne once belonged to King Vikramaditya. Are you as qualified as he was to sit on this throne?” The statuette goes on to narrate a story that illustrates the good qualities of Vikramaditya. King Bhoj returns accepting that he is not as great as Vikramaditya, makes himself more worthy, and tries again to ascend the throne. He is stopped by the second statuette and so on until all 32 statuettes recite a story about Vikramaditya.

This dance ballet is based on the above theme, but with two modifications. First, three stories are enacted instead of 32. Second, we depict stories about three different kings:

King Vikramaditya: Vikramaditya is a mythical figure, who is an embodiment of all the great qualities of an emperor, and more! There are numerous stories centered around Vikramaditya, the most popular one being “Vikrama Charita,” also called “Simhasana Dwatrimsika” or Thirty two tales of the throne. These stories are generally believed to have been written in Sanskrit around the 11 th century AD. The main purpose of these stories is to illustrate the generous deeds of a model king and emphasize moral lessons. In this light, they are didactic, but in their ingenious plots, they are dramatic!

The story that will be portrayed today shows how Vikramditya’s cleverness and knowledge of art enabled him to decide which one of the two celestial beings – Ramba or Urvashi – is a better dancer!

King Harichandra: Harichandra is also a folk-tale figure. But so powerful is his character that his story is believed by many to be true! The very utterance of his name conjures up visions of honesty, integrity, and truthfulness in all their manifestations. The story of Harichandra portrays a king tested to his limits in an arrogant sage Vishwamitra’s quest to prove that men are fallible. How far did the sage go to test Harichandra? Did Harichandra succumb to pressure? Answers to these questions are presented to you in this episode.

King Ashoka: King Ashoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. He was born in about 304 B.C. and became the king of the Mauryan dynasty after the death of his father, Bindusara. In 262 B.C., eight years after his coronation, Ashoka's armies attacked and conquered Kalinga, a country that roughly corresponds to the modern state of Orissa. The loss of life caused by battle, reprisals, deportations and the turmoil that always exists in the aftermath of war so horrified Ashoka that it brought about a complete change in his personality, as you will see in this episode.

I. & II. Pushpanjali and Vikramaditya Episode

Scene

Brief Description

I

Pushpanjali – a floral invocation to the throne
Ragam: Gambira Nattai, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II

Vikramaditya Episode

II.1

Enter King Bhoj – Can he ascend the throne?!
Ragam: Hamsadvani, Talam: Adi

II.2

Statuette comes alive and says “Stop! Let me tell you the story of Vikramaditya!!”

II.3

Indra’s court – Narada enters: Ragam: Kedaram, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II.4

Who is the better dancer? Me (Ramba) or You (Urvashi)?
Ragamalika in Panchanadai then Kalyani Ragam Lyrics: Tamil

II.5

Statuette Interlude

II.6

Indra is perplexed and Narada says, “Don’t worry, Get Vikramaditya.”
Ragam: Nattai, Sahana, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II.7

Enter Vikramaditya – chariot and all!!
Ragam: Vasantha, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II.8

Indra tells Vikramaditya – “You be the Judge.”
Ragam: Aaberi, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II.9

Ramba and Urvashi dance again
Ragam: Hamsanadham, Kanta nadai

II.10

Vikramaditya says to Ramba and Urvashi – “Here, take this bouquet and dance!”
Ragam: Vaasanthi, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II.11

Ramba and Urvashi dance and Ramba loses!
Ragam: Hamsanadham, Kanta Nadai

II.12

Vikramaditya leaves in the chariot
Ragam: Hamsanadham, Talam: Adi

II.13

“Long Live King Vikramaditya!” Court dancers praise.
Ragam: Hamsanadham, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Tamil

II.14

Statuette asks Bhoj, “Are you as clever as Vikramditya? Then, you may sit on the throne.”

 

II. Harichandra Episode

Scene

Brief Description

III.1

Enter King Bhoj–Can he ascend the throne this time?!
Ragam: Hamsadhvani, Talam: Adi.

III.2

Statuette comes alive and says “Stop, Let me tell you the story of Harichandra!”

III.3

Harichandra does the Yajna Vishwamitra enters – and takes away all of Harichandra’s possessions! Ragamalika and Talamalika, Lyrics: Kannada

III.4

Statuette Interlude

III.6

Child Lohidasa is playing happily in the forest, when, alas, a snake bites him!
Ragam: Valaj, Bahudhari, Punnavarali, Instrumental

III.7

Mother Chandramathi cries out in grief – “Ettulorthuno” (What do I do?))
Ragam: Keeravani, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Telugu

III.8

Statuette interlude

III.9

“Please cremate my son, I have no money,” Chandramathi begs the cremator, who is no other than Harichandra. But, he refuses!
Ragam: Keeravani, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Telugu

III.10

Enter Vishwamitra – “Harichandra, it is all My doing. Utter but one lie and I will release you from all your misery.”
Ragam: Bindumalini, Bhaskara, Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Kannada

III.11

Chandramathi goes to beg for money but is wrongly accused of stealing the queen’s jewelry and sent for beheading by her own husband!

III.12

Distant Voice, “Oh! Harichandra, you have passed the toughest test. May you regain your family and wealth.”Narrative: English

III.13

Harichandra and family dance with joy
Ragam: Brindavani, Talam: Adi

III.14

Statuette asks Bhoj, “Are you as truthful as Harichandra? Then, you may sit on the throne.”

IV. Ashoka Episode

Scene

Brief Description

IV.1

Enter Bhoj – Can he ascend the throne in his third attempt?!
Ragam: Hamsadhvani , Talam: Adi

IV.2

Statuette comes alive and says “Stop, Let me tell you the story of Ashoka!”

IV.3

Ashoka enters in a procession
Ragam: Amritavarshini , ,Talam: Adi

IV.4

Ashoka is praised and coronated as King of Magadha
Ragam: Ahir Bhairavi, Talam: Adi

IV.5

Statuette interlude

IV.6

King of Kalinga dares to defy Ashoka’s authority

IV.7

A war breaks out between Kalinga and Magadha, and Ashoka wins

IV.8

Ashoka inspects the war scene, “Oh! What have I done??”
Ragam: Shubapanthuvarali, Talam: Adi. Lyrics: Hindi

IV.10

Statuette interlude

IV.11

The torment continues even in Ashoka’s sleep and he finds solace by embracing Buddhism

IV.12

People rejoice with singing and dancing under Ashoka’s rule
Ragam: Sallabham , Talam: Adi, Lyrics: Hindi

IV.13

Statuette asks Bhoj, “Are you as considerate as Ashoka? If so, you may sit on the throne.”

Epilogue

While there are many versions of how Vikrama Charitha ended, one version states that finally King Bhoj was able to ascend the throne and actually released the statuettes from the curses that they were put under. Another version states that all attempts by King Bhoj to ascend the throne failed. However, he was allowed to sit on the throne during the last year of his reign. The former version seems to make more sense, if it was written by a poet in King Bhoj’s court!

As we turn to leadership in the present times, questions arise as to the relevance of these stories and the value of the qualities they illustrate. Are truth and non-violence mere clichés that leaders pay lip service to but impractical in the present terrorist-ridden, nuclearised world? Should a single person be expected to possess all these qualities -- clever, truthful, non-violent, and knowledgeable, in these days of group decision making with congresses, senates, and parliaments? Even if they are valuable characteristics, are there individuals who are endowed with these qualities?

We do believe that many leaders who have made a significant and positive change to the world we live in have possessed one or more of these qualities in abundance. In an age of empire building and military might, one person proved that the powerless had power and that force of arms could not quell the force of spirit. Mohandas Gandhi, one of Time magazine’s person of the 20 th century was steadfast in adherence to truth, like Harichandra, was the apostle of peace, like Ashoka, and, in his own way, was a crafty statesman, like Vikramaditya, who knew how to motivate 300 million people in Indian villages. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), Time magazine’s other person of the century, had visions for the post-Nazi world that empathized with the poor and under-privileged. There are many such leaders who have made this world a better place to live – Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, to name a few.

The question is not whether the leadership qualities emphasized in this ballet – knowledge of art, cleverness, honesty, adherence to non-violence are relevant in the modern world. The question is -- can we find leaders who possess these qualities that could emerge in the present world to make this earth a more prosperous and peaceful place to live??

MUSICAL ENSEMBLE

Vocal female Smt. Neela Ramanujam
Vocal male Sri. Mohan
Mridangam Sri. N.G. Ravi
Flute Sri. Ravichandra Kulur
Rhythm pad

Sri. Arun Kumar

Key board Sri. Shaddirn
Veena

Smt. Chitra Lingam

Nattuvangam Smt. Madhusri Sethuraman

LYRICS AND COMPOSITION

Lyrics/Composition (main) Sri. Rajkumar Bharthi
Lyrics (Vikramaditya) Sri. K.S. Muthuswamy
Choreography Smt. Madhusri Sethuraman