Scene 2

(Jajati is lying down. Beside him are his two wives and his five sons.)

DEVAJANI: What have I done? I made a mistake by complaining to my father. His curse is more severe than your crime. Ah, what is to be done?

(Both of his wives feel sorry. They are nursing their husband.)

JAJATI (to his sons): Don’t feel sorry for me, my children. Don’t feel sorry, my wives. My father-in-law, Devajani’s father, is still kind to me. He has told me that if anybody wants to take on himself my paralysis and my old age, he can do so. You know, my children, I have been so kind to you, so affectionate to you. I have helped you in every way. You are all young. You will allow me to live on earth for a few more years with joy, enthusiasm, energy and vitality. And then when I die you will regain your health, your strength, your vitality, your energy, everything. And mind you, whoever does this for me will be King. Whoever takes on my old age, my paralysis, my disease, will be King. (To Jadu.) Jadu, look how I am suffering, my son, my eldest son. Now do me this favour. Take this incapacity from me. Just for a few years I shall enjoy life, and then I shall give you my throne.

JADU: Father, forgive me. Even for a moment I could not bear to have that kind of disease. I want to enjoy the world. You have done much for me and I am grateful to you. But I cannot take away your disease.

JAJATI (to his second son): Turbasu, will you accept my disease for a few years?

TURBASU: Father, forgive me. Old age is a very serious type of disease. One loses one’s brain. When the brain is gone, everything is gone. Father, I am grateful to you for what you have done, and I shall ever remain grateful. But I can’t take on your paralysis and your old age.

JAJATI: Devajani’s sons have disappointed me. Now let me try Sharmishtha’s sons. (To Druhyu) Druhyu, you know how I am incapacitated. I can’t speak well, I can’t move. You have love for me. Do me the favour — take my disease.

DRUHYU: Father, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. This life of mine is only for joy and pleasure. This life is to see people, mix with people and get joy from the world — nothing else. Father, I can’t. I cannot do it. You are suffering outwardly, and I shall suffer inwardly for you. But I cannot suffer both inwardly and outwardly for you, Father. Forgive me, but I am ready to suffer only inwardly for you.

JAJATI (to Anu): Anu, Anu, will you not take on yourself my disease?

ANU: Father, forgive me. I want to live a pure life. I know that if I take your disease on myself I will suffer and I will not be able to pray to God. I won’t remain pure, Father. I want to realise God as soon as possible, so I cannot think of your disease. I feel sorry for you, but I am helpless. Forgive me.

JAJATI (to Puru): Puru…

PURU: Father, you don’t have to ask me. I shall take your disease.

(Puru touches the feet of his father and immediately falls to the ground. His whole face is changed. His body becomes the body of an old man. He is totally paralysed. Sharmishtha begins shedding tears.)

SHARMISHTHA (to Jajati): Look! Look! Look what you have done! You are an old man. You have already enjoyed the world. And now you have ruined my son, my youngest and dearest son. He could have enjoyed the world. He could have done much for the world. You have ruined his life!

PURU: Mother, don’t scold my father. Let him enjoy the world for as many years as he wants to. Then, when he is satisfied, he will take his disease back. Even if he does not want to, if he wants to enjoy the world to the end of his life, let him enjoy. I shall enjoy his suffering. Let him enjoy the pleasures of the world.

(Jajati sheds tears of gratitude.)

JAJATI (to Puru): Just a few years, a few fleeting years I shall enjoy, and then I shall take my disease back and you will be King. I shall make you King. (To his other sons.) You ungrateful creatures! I will have nothing more to do with you. Get out of my kingdom! Get out! It is I who could have made you happy and prosperous. I did so much for you, but you have disappointed me bitterly, and my punishment is severe. You four are banished from my kingdom.