2. Forms of Popular Dissent.
In the first part we were moving around the metaphor of wheel. Here we depend on another image that of a magnificent edifice. Mba is a colossal structure. It has three levels. In the outer level the court yard and gardens were anyone moves freely. This is the sphere of popular mba. When we move closer the watchman stops us. Admission is restricted. The structure built on one lakh twenty‐five thousand bricks is amaizing.This is the second lare‐ the text of mba. When we move in and in we reach the innermost chamber‐ the sanctum sanctorum. This is the abode of geeta. Sankaracarya, for reasons best known to him took out geeta from mba and elevated it to the rank of Upanishads. Yet this forms the integral part of mba. These are the three levels of mba‐ popular textual and philosophical. Our engagement here is confined to the first two. Everybody knows that the mba war was fought by the pandavas and kauravas.But the heroes of kurukshetra really are the aborigines. 361 aboriginal groups drawn from different parts of India participated in it. Anthropologists have identified 38 groups of adivasis who joined the pandava camp and 59 with the kaurava. The rest might, perhaps, have disappeared or merged with other clans. The aborigines fought with vigour many fell dead and others returned to their native place. Those who returned carried with them the memories of what they saw and heard. They narrated, of course, with inflated imaginations these stories to their kith and kin. Thus a parallel oral tradition grew up. Everywhere in India there is a river where Kunti took her daily bath or a cave where pandavas lived in. The rustic fascination of the innocent rural folk gave fanciful pictures of their heroes. They differed very much from the official releases of Sanjaya. The sympathy of the innocent people were with those who suffered or humiliated. They built temples for Draupati. You will be surprised to know that there is a temple for Duryodhana in Kerala. There are thousands of stories popular all over India orally transmitted from generation to
generation. This mass of tales is an integral part of our mba tradition.
This tradition, in most cases expresses the voices of dissent from textual mba. We take some examples from theatre. They are more faithful to the fact. Actors use masks to
uncover the truth; we on the other hand conceal the truth with golden covers.
We all know that Paschalis in exile got the akshayapatra. The beauty conscious rural folk ofGujarat worried that how much she suffers in the absence of a mirror. They gave her a mirror. Our mirrors reflect the image of he who holds it. But this mirror reflects the image of the one whom she likes most. The play based on this theme is Chhayamukhi. There is another popular play jampoophal.During their exile Draupadi came across a wonderful fruit. She plucked it. Now the tree spoke. Hold it back. This is indented for that sage who will shortly open his eyes after the fast for 12 years. You will be cursed. Frightened she put it back. But failed. The tree said. You are unchaste; otherwise you would have been successful. She pleaded innocence. Tree insisted otherwise. At last she said .Once, only once a thought came to me that I need not have to suffer these ordeals had Karna being successful in svayamvara. She was excused for being truthful. Everything ended happily. The poor folk in their innocence hopes to save her.
Many of you might have seen therukkuth. After the scene of disrobing Panchali the Jester (kattikkaran) comes out and tells the audience what a gruesome act .We do
not endorse it. We presented it only because Vyasa described it so. We need not multiply the examples. Only two more. Keecakavadha of Khadilkar was staged in
Pune in 1907by Maharashtra natak mandali. The audience soon realised that Kecaka is intended to be Lord Curson and Draupati is India and that Yudhishthira and
Bheema the moderate and extremist parties respectively. The British govt was terrified and prohibited the play on charges of sedition. This is the first political
incarnation of mba in theatre. I would like to add the Andhayuga of Dharmavirbharati staged in Delhi in 1954 to the group. Aswathama was the central
character of the play. Gandhari encourages him and inflix a terrible curse on Krishna. Last month I went to Kerala to inaugurate a play on draupati.
It is an enquiry of a college girl of today as to how Draupati is relevant to her today.
In this part we are discussing the popular face of mba.