BUDDHA: THE 'WHY' WITHIN is a transcendental journey of love, hate, deception, aspiration and desolation. The story, reverberates through the voices of certain unsung characters from the Mahabharata, who seldom share in the glory of the epic but impact greatly on the concept of self actualisation, even as they seem to reflect the very essence of BUDDHA's guide to sublimation.
The project is not about celebrating the righteousness of religion or the eight fold path, which is the cornerstone of BUDDHA's philosophy; it traces the powerful journey of one’s self, in the search for the true meaning of philosophy and the ultimate liberation of the soul.
The story here deals mainly with Arjuna and three other characters from the epic Mahabharata - Ulupi, Aravan and Barbareek, whose karma is echoed, through time, in that of many, right up to the present generation.
The story of the Mahabharata is not confined to the pages of books but is echoed by voices from life and society today. Arjun is defined by an inherent dichotomy, wherein he epitomises valour and heroism but is simultaneously shrouded in darkness, being self serving and treacherous. Ulupi is the neglected one and Aravan - destiny's child and the desolate one.
Each one of us mirrors the ravaging greed, lust, trickery and selfishness we see in these characters. Our quest, dreams and search for goals is endless. It is only when we pause for breath that the questions inside us - the 'why's within - rattle us and lead us to the search for 'Bodh', the ultimate realisation of the Buddha. 'Bodh' transcends religion, it is the pathway to eternal conflict and resolution, where no one wins or loses, where we evolve everyday - beyond cast, creed and religion - in pursuit of the Buddha within us.
ARJUN - THE ETERNAL HERO : Celebrated as the ultimate hero - not just in the epic but in society - the darker side of Arjun's journey through life reveals itself in passages of questionable behaviour and morals. We see this symbol of manhood unjustly seeking the ultimate sacrifice of Aravan - his illegitimate son, born of Ulupi - in order to secure victory over the Kauravas, in the battle of Kurukshetra.
ARAVAN - THE GOD:His existence may be traced to the festival of Koovagam, when transgenders believe that uniting with the god Aravan signifies ultimate bliss and the fulfillment of their individuality, beyond discrimination based on caste, creed and gender. A version of the Mahabharata tells us that Arjuna met Ulupi, the Naga princess from Manipur, during his Vanaprastha (banishment) and Ulupi offered her love and commitment to him. They enjoyed one night of conjugal bliss and then Arjun went his way, rejecting any commitment to Ulupi and shattering her self respect and dignity. Arjuna's flimsy excuse was that, according to Hindu philosophy, a true Kshatriya would never deny a woman who unconditionally offered herself to him. Ulupi symbolises one sided commitment and the disappointment of hopes and aspirations remaining unfulfilled. Aravan, the illegitimate son born out of that dark night, grew up without any relationship with his father and was doomed to being 'the desolate one'.
In this version of the Mahabharata, destiny demanded the sacrifice of one from Arjuna's bloodline, in order to ensure that his bravery triumphed at Kurukshetra. Arjuna met Aravan and requested him to sacrifice himself, so that his father's valour could prevail in the battle. Though Aravan was filled with anger, hatred and desolation at what he saw as Arjuna's deception, pride coursed through him like a crimson flame and he agreed to ensure his father's success - literally over his own dead body - but on one condition.
Before he sacrificed himself, Aravan wanted to experience marital bliss for one night. Krishna granted this wish by transforming himself into Mohini, to unite with Aravan on that momentous night of the battle of Kurukshetra.
This became the most significant event for transgenders - the night they got married to Aravan (be way of Krishna's gender conversion). This unusual and blissful union was then bathed in tears, as their husband and God, Aravan, then sacrificed himself. Till date, transgenders smear their God with crimson turmeric and - soaked in tears and aspirations - they cherish that night and believe that every year, on that ill-fated but divine night in the Koovagam festival, they will live again. The festival celebrates this basic dichotomy, an unusual mix of joy and pathos.
BARBAREEK - THE INDESTRUCTIBLE: Babareek was the talking head, the son of Ghatotkacha. He was beheaded but his head was placed on top of the mountain in order to witness all the sequences of the Kurukshetra war. He observed everything, as a part of collective human consciousness but did not comment or judge. In this version of the Mahabharata, Barbareek is the void, the unidentified one, our inner self, the indestructible one and the one 'who sees it all', ultimately helping mankind to reach the path of supreme divinity through self realization and a constant churning of The 'Why's Within.
The project BUDDHA: THE 'WHY' WITHIN has been an unusual and exciting journey for the three of us. While creating this, we lived through many differences of opinion and conflicts, among ourselves and around us. An Indo French production dealing with BUDDHA's global philosophy, is not easy to execute. But the ethereal mysticism of the Buddha became almost tangible for us. BUDDHISM is beyond religion, it is a path to self knowledge, through deep introspection about one’s true identity and one’s duties in life and society. It is truly a quest for The 'WHY' Within.
Our first production, ‘Swan Lake Revisited’, debuted to enormous appreciation and Rhythmosaic started their journey to international acclaim. The production has represented India in Denmark (performing to packed audiences at the prestigious Royal Danish Theatre), Sweden and Belarus, been presented at the Europe and Asia Foreign Ministers’ meet and traveled nationally.
“BUDDHA: THE 'WHY' WITHIN is also a cross-over embrace of Indian and European Movement Art, with subtle influences of the introspective Chi-Gung (the Chinese Martial Art for cultivation of life energy - the essence of BUDDHA). We hope the production will communicate our thoughts to you and touch a chord in each one of you.
Choreography: Gianin LORINGETT, Martine KAISSELIAN, Mitul SENGUPTA
Dancers: Mitul Sengupta, Yorma Loringett, Shambik Ghose, Helene Humeau, Julio Liberos Parra, Prasanna Saikia, Subhash Bera, Shibayan Ganguly, Tahnun Ahmedy, Mahabub Hussain, Mekhola Bose, Rajni Thapa, Sayoni Chakraborty, Victor Mohamed Ali, Yuvraj Kumar.
Script and Narration – Oindrilla Dutt.
Music – Dishari, Bernard Dsouza, Munnu Shaw
Production Manager – Oeix Dsouza.
Costume : Debbie Nath Germanotta, Swarup Dutta
Scenography: Swarup Dutta
Videography: Pritha Chakraborty, Swarup Dutta
Photography - Miles Trevelyan- Johnson, Swarup Dutta
NATIONAL TOUR 2015 supported by Alliance Francaise, Chennai, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Bangalore & Chandigrah & Ministry of Culture- France.
Julio Liberos Para