Question 6: Explain with examples how Andhayug is relevant to our times.
Ans: Andha Yug ( The Age of Blindness) is a play written by Dharamvir Bharati. Andha Yug is a literary text which is based on The Mahabharata,it is originally written in Hindi and published in 1954. Andha Yug has drawn lot of attention because of its creative and powerful statement against the contemporary situation by invoking the characters from the Mahabharata. Andha Yug is essentially a play about morality: it questions whether we are accountable for our moral choices, whether the quality of our actions can go beyond the time, place, and circumstances of our existence, and whether we can be more than agents of destiny.
Dharamvir Bharati was deeply upset by the Second World War and the destructive events which accompanied India’s Independence in 1947. He was deeply worried in specific by the near absence of a moral-ethical centre which could hold people together and prevent their descent into immeasurable depths of cruelty which characterized human behaviour during those troubled times. The anarchy which resulted led the nation into a situation where distinctions between evil and virtue, and good and bad got clouded. This was veritable Kal Yug, the Age of Darkness, one of the last of the four eons in Indian philosophy, the preceding three being Krita Yug (known popularly as Sat Yug), Treta Yug, and Dvapara Yug. The entire story of The Mahabharata unfolds in the Dvapara Yug which slides into the Kal Yug with the death of Lord Krishna. The conduct of the Kauravas and Pandavas during and after the eighteen day internecine Kurukshetra War, which ended the reign of the Kauravas provides ample intimations of the descent of the society into Kal Yug.
Dharamvir Bharati’s play, divided into five acts, a Prologue, an Interlude and an Epilogue is an imaginative retelling of the eighteenth day of the epochal Kurukshetra War, and the play lays bare before us the utterly catastrophic nature of violence. The playwright takes some liberties with the original Mahabharata whose authorship is attributed to Ved Vyasa. Although all major incidents and characters in the play are all from the Mahabharata, the play immediately calls for a comparison between the mythological age of darkness (Kal Yug) and contemporary age of darkness which descended on India at the time of India’s independence. Thus by employing elements of mythology, the author gives us an opportunity to understand our present better.
The play Andha Yug begins on the evening of the eighteenth day of the war, consisting of sixteen characters only four characters are not from the royal family, all the remaining twelve characters belong to the high class royal family. That proves the fact that the entire action of the play is centered on the clashing interests within the family of the great warriors and the kings. On the other side the remaining four characters belong to the common class who witness this epic drama and also get affected by that. In short these characters are representative. They represent those behavioural attributes and tendencies which are central to any cultural establishment. The Mahabharata epic carries the elements from the Indian culture.
Relevance of Andha Yug to our times has many means to convey the message of morality to the people. One example may be the keeping of one’s soul free from desires, temptations and evil thoughts. If one fails to do that he has to suffer the dire consequences of it. Almost all the characters in the play suffer from this problem. Their souls are corrupted. The darkness inside every character has affected their souls so badly that they are blind, inert or misguided. Characters like Duryodhana, Ashwatthama or Yuyutsu are full of force but they are misdirected, Sanjaya and Viduraare sensible nut they are passive and Yudhishthira or Krishna are right but helpless before the reality. The chaos outside in Andha Yugis juxtaposed with the darkness inside the souls of all characters. If the soul is perverted then the doom is inevitable for them. Dhritarashtra realises his soul’s anguish after the massacre. (”Today I realised that there is a truth that lies beyond the boundaries of selfhood” [AY 35]) Therefore everyone suffers- winner or losers, king or mendicant, man or woman, powerful or meek, man or god without any exception to it. Andha Yugis not a tragedy of characters only but it is the tragic tale of the characters whose souls are the worst sufferers. Thus the sanctity of the soul depends on the actions one undertakes or what is known as Karma.
Andha Yugis a modern adaptation is many senses. It basically poses questions about the traditional ways of looking at things especially in the times of crisis. Questioning the established is the hallmark of modern and postmodern spirit. The adaption uses the mythological context to put this series of questions about the very basic issues truth, dharma, power-positions, viability of war and heroism. The mythical characters and events in Andha Yugare indicative of the fact that this is in no way a heroic tale of the Mahabharata tale. It is a meditative view about the existential issues after the excitement of the war recedes. It is a serious point of view about the human life by using the mythological narrative. The characters from the antiquity allow the pondering on the contemporary situation as they are representative. Every character in the play is of metaphoric value, signifying the beast in the human life.The dark side of revenge and imprudence is exhibited by Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, who fail to respond to the demands of the time. Sanjay and Vidura are the metaphor for the wise minds who feel utterly lost in the weird forest of the Kali Yug. Ashwatthama symbolises the hidden beastlike tendencies inside every human heart which can spring at any time. The Pandavas signifies the degradation from good to bad. The old mendicant represents the common consciousness which suffers yet survives till the last. He is just like Tiresias who witnesses the tremendous degradation in this ‘waste land’. The guards symbolise the predicament of the common man who unnecessarily suffer because of the power politics. The events are carries the metaphoric value. There is a constant presence of vultures that keep flying towards Kurukshetra in search of the dead flesh. The flying vulture is a bad omen as they indicate death and calamity. The presence of vultures indicates the swapping current of massacre which shows the inhuman nature of the wars. In another symbolic event the fight between the crow and the owl, in which the owl kills the crow by treachery is shown. It indicates the thoughtless violence and cunningness inside the human heart that can easily anyone without feeling any pain for that act. Ashwatthama is witness to this ‘dance of war’ and ‘dance of death’ where no moral principles are followed. The owl is merciless in killing the sleeping crow. The more painful outcome of this act is that Ashwatthama gets the idea of attacking the Pandava camp during the night when everybody would sleep. The animal instincts in human beings are highlighted through this event. More horribly animals fight or kill each other for survival or physical needs. However the human beings fight or assassinate each other just to take revenge or prove the dominance. The violence is thus an unnecessary yet often used means by the human beings. Are we then the worst creatures than animals? The interlude presents three different objects – feathers, bandages and wheels. Feathers indicate which floats on the ocean which is a dark sea, where ‘snake skins’ are floating.