Director: We got books of the oldest art from Tibet, India, Nepal and all the countries that worship Rama. We took the costumes of the northern people.Sri Chinmoy: Each country will contradict the others! Lord Buddha in one country is of one type, in Japan another and in Thailand another. We have to go to the source, which is the most pristine, and that is India. The whole Ramayana took place in India, so we should stick with the Indian aspect. Lord Buddha was born in India. Sri Ramachandra was born in India. If you base the costumes on the interpretation of other countries, then it will be a hotchpotch. I have seen Rama portrayed in Thailand and in other countries. They do it according to their realisation, according to their culture. They have adapted it to the customs, culture and circumstances of their country. If you adopt these versions, you start going far, farther, farthest from the origin. I feel it is better to stick to the origin.
In the case of Kaushalya, if you want to show her queenly aspect from the very beginning, then she must have lots of bangles and a most beautiful sari. Now her costume is not doing her justice. Also, if the audience wants to identify with the performers, they will get more joy if the costume adds something to the performer, to the way you people are expressing thoughts and ideas. Most soulfully, most eloquently, most powerfully you are expressing the ideas of the play, but the costumes could be better.
Now let us talk about the stage. A few times during the play if you can introduce a more decorative aspect, it will add to the production. Otherwise, very often, an austere aspect is coming. When Bharata returns to the kingdom, after visiting Rama in the forest, he will place Rama’s sandals on the throne, but he has to bring forward the royal family aspect. The throne itself can be simple, because there he is worshipping his brother, but the kingdom as such is very prosperous and splendid.
Then comes the subject of the deer. In your production the deer does not appear at all. You are only indicating it this side and that side. It is always offstage. But I feel you need something tangible on the stage. With a toy deer you can do something very quick to make it appear real. Otherwise, the actors are all saying that they can see the golden deer, but it is not visible to the audience. A deer has to be shown, or it will become like a circus act when a silly clown says that he is seeing somebody and nobody is there. The deer aspect has to become a little more tangible.
Bharata’s performance is excellent. Now, when he is talking to Kaushalya, when he says to her, “You are my real mother,” there I feel that he could show a little more devotion. For what his own mother has done, he is miserable, but he can show more devotion to Kaushalya. He really worships her.
The main thing is that there should be happiness in the beginning of the play. Until the King asks Rama to leave, you should not show the sad aspect of life. Happiness you have to show, and then all of a sudden the atom bomb drops. Before the atom bomb drops, if you are anticipating the explosion of the atom bomb, then the other joy you are not getting. In this case, they do not know in advance what is going to happen. Manthara is the one who started the wrong movement. Before that, Kaikeyi does not know anything. And the others also know nothing about it. So the play should start with boundless happiness.
The ending of the play was so beautiful, super-excellent. Next time you can add the Sanskrit verse:
Deshe deshe cha bandhabah
tantu desha na pashyami
yatra bratha sahodara
It means: “In all countries there are wives, in all countries there are friends, but I shall not find a brother like Lakshmana anywhere in this world.”
In the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Nolini and Amrita were like that. Amrita was like a younger brother to Nolini. If Nolini went one side, Amrita went that side. With my own eyes I saw it. Nolini was the Ashram Secretary and Amrita was the Manager. Amrita would not find any fault with Nolini. If Nolini said, “This is Heaven,” Amrita would say it was Heaven. If Nolini said, “This is hell,” Amrita would say it was hell. He did not keep any individuality whatsoever. The story of Lakshmana and Rama did not only happen ten thousand years ago. Even in this century, this Manager and Secretary proved it to be true. The Manager only followed the Secretary everywhere, everywhere. And he would never argue with Nolini. Only occasionally they would cut jokes together. I would be working inside and they would be drinking tea. Others were working there also. Sometimes I heard them cutting jokes. One day Nolini was bragging that his health was perfect. His only problem was that he could not increase his height. He was at that time 65 years old. So Amrita said to him, “It is very easy. Just stand on your toes and you will become taller instantly!”
How faithful, how obedient and how self-giving Amrita was to Nolini! If Nolini said anything, he accepted it implicitly. I have not seen and I will not see again in this incarnation any two persons who are so sincerely, sincerely surrendered and sincerely obedient to each other.