Scene 2

(Haridas’ home. Enter Tansen, and Akbar in the guise of Tansen’s servant. Haridas is meditating.)

TANSEN: Master, here is my servant. He has been begging me for a long time to bring him to hear your music. Today I have brought him.

AKBAR (to Haridas): Lord, I will be so grateful to you if you play. For some time I have been longing to hear your music. Today my master, Tansen, has brought me to you. Please play.

HARIDAS: I am sorry. Today I am not in the mood to play at all. I do not know why. Otherwise I would listen to your request. You look quite nice and smart. I am happy that my Tansen has such a good servant. You look beautiful, you look powerful. I am sure you are pleasing your master in every way.

TANSEN: Master, it is true that this servant is pleasing me in every way. I am most pleased with him and proud of him and, as a reward, I have brought him here. Please play for him just a little. It will be difficult for me to bring him here again.

HARIDAS: Tansen, when I refuse to do something, rest assured that I will never do it. I am not in the mood today. Today my mind is all concentrated on God. You came to me to learn music. I taught you many things, and now when you play I get tremendous joy. Today I wish you to play for me. Let your servant and me hear your music. It will transport me into the highest realm. Your music will inspire me to go deep within and commune with my inner Pilot. Now, Tansen, please play.

(Tansen bows to Haridas and starts playing. Soon he starts playing wrong notes.)

HARIDAS: Tansen, what is wrong with you today? Your music is absurd. You are playing like an absolute beginner. You, my greatest student! Is anything wrong in your family? Are you upset?

TANSEN: No, no, my family is all right. But today I had the greatest hope that my servant would be able to hear your music. You did not listen to my request, and that has made me very sad. Perhaps it is my sadness that is creating this problem and making it difficult for me to play well.

HARIDAS: No matter how sad you are, Tansen, I can’t imagine how you can play so badly.

TANSEN: Master, it seems to me that I am playing everything correctly. You are saying that I am playing badly, but I feel that I am playing everything as I used to play before, as you have taught me.

HARIDAS: Tansen, you liar! I have not taught you to play like this. It is all wrong.

(Haridas snatches away Tansen’s vina and starts playing most soulfully and hauntingly. The music comes from another world. Akbar is in deep trance. Tansen is listening with deepest inner delight. Haridas sings.)

Ekti katha ekti sur ekyi jhankar
nam dhare ke dakchhe jena amai barebar
kothai achi kothai jabo
nai jena thikena
ghumer ghore karchhi shudhu
ami becha kena
kata bhangi katai gari
katai kari ashha
hiya khani dhekechhe mor
andhar sarbanasha
alor pakhi alor pakhi
abar eso phire
jyotir dhara banan kare
namo amar shire
dak ditechha urdhe jete
jabo keman kare
bandi je mor paran khani
ekti andhar ghare
alor pakhi alor pakhi
alor pakhi alo
prane amar rekhona ar
ektu andhar kalo

(One thought, one tune, one resonance —
Who calls me ever and anon?
I know not where I am,
I know not whither I shall go.
In dark amnesia, myself I buy, myself I sell.
All I break, again all I build.
All I hope to be mine, mine alone.
Alas, my heart is eclipsed by dark and wild destruction-night.

O Bird of Light, O Bird of Light,
With your glowing and flowing flames, do enter into my heart once again.
You are calling me to climb up and fly into the blue.
But how can I?
My heart is in prison in the strangled breath of a tiny room.
O Bird of Light, O Bird of Light,
O Bird of Light Supreme.
In me, I pray, keep not an iota of gloom.)

TANSEN (at the end of the music): Master, forgive me. I know I have played all wrong today. After hearing you I realise how badly I have played. Forgive me, forgive me.

AKBAR (bows): I always thought that my master was the best musician, but he was sincere enough to say that you play far better than he does. I didn’t believe him. But now that I have heard you, I know that undoubtedly you are a far better musician. I am so grateful to you and also I am so grateful to my master for bringing me to you today.

HARIDAS: May God bless you, my son. May God bless your devoted head. You are serving your master, who is my fondest son.

TANSEN: I am also fond of my servant.

AKBAR: Lord, I am also proud of my master, Tansen.

(Akbar and Tansen bow and leave.)