|Ramayana Shadowplay Script: Written and performed
by Donna Kasprowicz' 6th grade class at Corte
Madera Middle School, Portola Valley, California.
round my children, and I, the great sage Valmiki, will tell you a tale.
It is a tale of bravery, courage and adventure; an epic filled with
intriguing characters and bloody battles. It is a story of goodness,
balance, and righteousness. It is the story of Rama. It starts in Ayodhya,
the jewel among cities. Within this city nobody was hungry, nobody was
poor, every woman was faithful to her husband, everybody knew their
role in society, everybody was learned in the Vedas, and everybody was
happy. And so, at this point, the heroic adventures of Rama truly begin.
- However, one person in Ayodhya was not happy. It was the king, Dasaratha,
and he lamented his lack of sons to carry on the royal line. He presented
his problem to the royal sages, and one had an idea. "We must, King
Dasaratha, perform a horse sacrifice as prescribed in the Vedas, and
if it pleases the gods, they may grant you sons." The king was pleased
with this idea, and ordered the preparation to begin at once.
- At the same time, the gods were discussing Ravana,
the vile, disgusting demon king with 10 heads and 20 arms. Ravana was
terrorizing the sages and ascetics by having his minions disrupt the
sacrifices, and destroy the peace and quiet the holy men needed to have
in order to meditate. The gods could not kill Ravana because a long
time ago, Brahma had granted him a boon. This boon protected Ravana
from all gods, demons, celestial beings, and the like. However, because
Ravana believed that no monkey or human could kill him, he did not ask
for protection from the beings of the human or animal world. So to remove
this thorn from the gods' sides, Vishnu, the protector of the universe,
decided to be reborn as a human.
HERE FOR VIDEO
Back on earth, Dasaratha was performing his horse sacrifice. He was
chopping up a perfect white horse with three knives, and with the greatest
care, threw the pieces into the fire. As he put the last piece in the
fire, a celestial being in white robes appeared. The being, in a mellow
and throaty voice, spoke these words, "King Dasaratha, the gods are
pleased with your fine sacrifice. In order to honor your wishes here
is some sacred porridge." The divine creature handed Dasaratha a bowl
with a thick, white substance inside. Then, when the king had returned
his attention to the god-like being, it uttered these instructions,
"You must give this divine drink to your wives, and then, they in turn,
will produce sons." The king was overjoyed at this news and hurried
to give the porridge to his wives.
- The great king divided the porridge among his three major wives,
and to them four sons were born. Rama was the eldest and was born to
Kausalya; Bharata was born to Kaikeyi; and Lakshmana and Satrughna were
born to Sumitra. They all excelled in the art of war, were taught politics
and history, and were well learned in the Vedas. When Rama was barely
a teenager, the great sage Visvamitra visited the court and made a demand
of the king. "King Dasaratha, I intend to take your eldest son, Rama,
to the forest in order to kill the demons that are harassing us." Rama
was the king's favorite son, and the king tried to bargain with the
holy man, but it was to no avail. Because Rama and Lakshmana could not
bear to be separated, they both immediately left for the forest.
- Once inside the forest, Visvamitra took them to Tataka, the terrible
demoness. She was hideous in form, and enormous. Around her neck was
a human skull. She threw enormous rocks at them while hovering above
them and changing shapes. "We must not kill her," instructed Rama, "for
she is a woman, and it would not be right to slay a woman." But Tataka
would not give up, and so Lakshmana pierced her heart with a single
arrow, and the gods praised them.
- When the threesome had returned to the sage's ashram, Visvamitra
spoke in his deep, unwavering voice, "You have done well, sons of Dasaratha.
As a reward for your valor I present you with these weapons." And he
gave Rama and Lakshmana supernatural weapons, with amazing powers, and
all a beautiful gold color. There was a quiver with an unlimited amount
of arrows, arrows that could destroy entire armies, and bows that were
so extremely powerful; one couldn't begin to contemplate their power
- Now that they had these weapons with an infinite amount of power,
Visvamitra enlightened Rama and his brother on their next task. "You
must stand vigilant, guarding a sacrifice from demons for six days and
seven nights." So the brothers watched over the sacrifice the sages
were performing, and guarded it. But there were no demons. Then, suddenly
on the sixth day, which was the most important part of the ritual, hundreds
of demons swooped down, flinging dead flesh and spitting blood. Lakshmana
and Rama took aim, and whoosh, let their arrows fly. Every arrow found
its mark and before long, every single demon had been utterly destroyed.
HERE FOR VIDEO
With the grisly task finished, the brothers and the sage left the forest
to go to the city of Mithila. The king of the city was in possession of
a mighty bow, the Bow of Shiva, which was left in the
city many eons ago. The king also had a daughter named Sita. Sita was
born of mother earth and has all the qualities of a perfect woman and
wife. She was fair, beautiful, kind, loving, and had a heart of gold.
In order to win Sita's hand in marriage, a prince or king had to lift
the great bow of Shiva and string it, but nobody could do it. After witnessing
everybody's failure, Lakshmana convinced Rama to try his luck. As Rama
approached the bow, a light seemed to shimmer from him. He grasped the
great bow with one hand, easily lifted it up, and strung it. But when
he tried to draw the bow, it broke with a sound like a thunderclap. In
fact, the sound was so loud that all but the strongest men were knocked
senseless by it. And to Rama's boundless delight, Sita stepped forward
and put a garland of lotuses around his neck, which we all know means
that she accepted his marriage proposal.
- They returned to Ayodhya, and got married. King
Dasaratha realized that he was growing old and decided to give up the
reign to his favorite and oldest son, Rama. The people of the city rejoiced
when they heard the news, for they all loved Rama, too. But the maidservant
to Kaikeyi, Manthara, convinced Kaikeyi that she would be better off
if her son, Bharata, was king. So Kaikeyi approached Dasaratha and said
these hateful words, "My husband, remember when I saved your life in
the battlefield so many years ago? And do you remember that you granted
me two boons at that time. The time has come for you to fulfill your
promise! I want Rama exiled for 14 years and forced to live like an
ascetic, and Bharata to be made king!" Dasaratha replied in anguish
to her venomous words, "Oh woman, have you no heart? Please ask anything
but that." But she would not give in and the king was forced to honor
his promise. When Rama heard the news, he wished to honor his father's
wishes, so he departed to the forest immediately, accompanied by his
ever faithful brother, Lakshmana, and his wife, Sita.
- Bharata was in his uncle's court when the news of his kingship and
Rama's exile reached him. When he returned to Ayodhya he found out that
his father, King Dasaratha, had died of a broken heart. He refused to
profit from his mother's evil scheming, and departed immediately to
the forest with a huge army, and an iron resolve to restore his brother
to the throne.
- When Lakshmana heard the thundering of a thousand hooves, a million
footmen, and saw the flag of Ayodhya, he tried to convince Rama that
Bharata was here to kill them, and that they needed to destroy the army.
But Rama calmed him down, and decided to talk to Bharata. As Rama and
Bharata met, they hugged each other and Bharata made his plea. "My dear
brother, won't you come back to Ayodhya to rule? The people need you."
But Rama intended to honor his father's boons and told Bharata that
he needed to stay in the forest. So Bharata took Rama's sandals, put
them on the throne, and vowed not to go into Ayodhya until Rama returned.
Bharata then ruled in Rama's name in a small town outside of Ayodhya.
- And so Rama and his faithful family members walked through the beautiful
forest called Dandaka. They found a pleasant spot that had lots of game
by a stream. They built a hut and lived happily for ten peaceful, happy
- One day Supernaka, the terrible demoness, was traveling
through the forest when she saw Rama. She looked at his handsome body
and thought, "I would like to have that man for my husband." So she
changed herself into a beautiful lady and tried to seduce Rama. But
Rama could see through her guise, and so he brought her to Lakshmana.
Lakshmana was so furious at the idea of his brother marrying a demoness
that with three swift arrows he promptly cut off Supernaka's ears and
- This terrible demon woman, so terrible to behold,
ran to her brother Ravana, the King of Lanka. When he had heard her
plight he grew outraged, and sent an army of 14000 rakshasas to destroy
Rama. Furthermore, Supernaka told Ravana of Sita's exquisite beauty
and at once the king of the demons desired her to be his wife.
- Meanwhile, the army of demons had approached the place where Rama,
Lakshmana and Sita were living. Rama and Lakshmana were ready for the
onslaught, bows in hand. The demons attacked! The air was filled with
whistling arrows and terrible cries. (Pause while fighting is going
on) But finally Rama had slaughtered every rakshasa that Ravana had
to his wish, and following his desires instead of his brain, as all
rakshasas will do, Ravana set out with his Uncle Marica to capture Sita.
He had Marica change himself into a golden deer. As Ravana expected,
the deer caught Sita's fancy and she asked Rama to capture it. Rama
willingly obliged his wife, but not until giving firm instructions to
Lakshmana to guard Sita. As Rama got closer to the deer, he saw that
it was a demon, and right before Rama killed it, the deer uttered these
words in Rama's voice, "Sita, help me!" When Lakshmana and Sita heard
these words, Sita convinced Lakshmana to go help Rama. But first he
drew a circle around the hut that would protect Sita and told her to
stay within it. When Lakshmana was gone, Ravana turned himself into
the likeness of an ascetic and begged from Sita. Because an ascetic
cannot come into a woman's home Sita came out of the circle and Ravana
quickly turned himself back into a demon, and carried her off.
- Meanwhile in the forest Lakshmana found Rama and
they discovered and that someone had tried to lure them away from Sita.
When they found that Sita had been abducted Rama was filled with sorrow
and tried seeking advice of where Sita had disappeared. Finally he met
some monkeys that Sita had seen and dropped her jewelry to. When the
monkeys agreed to help them, their king, Sugriva, sent search parties
in every direction.
- Hanuman, a mighty monkey that can do the impossible,
went with one of the search groups. When they came to the ocean they
were told that Sita was on an island 300 miles away. After this Hanuman,
forever loyal to Rama, made the jump to Lanka. In Lanka he found Sita
and offered to take Sita to Rama, but Sita refused to let anyone but
Rama touch her. Sita also gave a ring to Hanuman to give to Rama. As
Hanuman was trying to escape he was caught by the rakshasas who decided
to set his tail on fire. With his tail ablaze Hanuman leaped from house
to house setting all of Lanka on fire except the grove where Sita was.
After this he went back to report to Rama.
- When Hanuman returned to Rama he told him of the
good news and gave him the ring. After receiving this news Rama set
out with his monkey army to attack Lanka. When they came to the mighty
ocean the monkey army built a great bridge to Lanka. When they reached
Lanka, both sides were ready for war.
- The armies collided, monkeys and bears against the
demons and hideous creatures. There were cries of pain, shouts, screams
and the bloodcurdling laugh of the demons. The air was thick with arrows,
and the ground was soaked with blood. In the midst of this terrible
carnage, Rama searched for Ravana.
- As Rama and Ravana met, a light seemed to be shining
on Rama, while the clouds darkened about Ravana's head. Ravana charged,
but Rama neatly parried and thrust back with his sword. They fought,
long and hard, for many hours, until Rama, using his divine bow, pierced
Ravana's heart. The monkeys, at the same time, defeated the rakshasa
army. Rama and his troops gave Ravana a proper burial, for as Rama so
wisely put it, "Hostility ends at death."
- Sita's purity was in doubt by the people, because
she had been in the house of another man. To prove her purity she walked
into a burning pyre. Her loyalty to Rama was revealed, as she survived
unscathed. Lakshmana and Sita returned to Ayodhya where Rama was crowned
king and he ruled in peace for many thousands of years.