Khona:the saga

A protagonist, Leelavati who is also known as Khona, is a legendary wizard of The tale is primordial, clouded with plentiful myths. However, while trying to fathom what Leela really was from all these myths we reveal that she was an astrologer, so was her husband, Mihir and Father-in-Law Varaha Mihir- The sang of Khona’s tongue getting severed according to Varaha’s order and her becoming of ‘Khona’ has transcended generations. The play centers on the Chandraketugarh in Deulnagar where the Khona-Mihir’s stupa still exists. Varaha was the royal astrologer of King Darmaketu of Deulnagar. Varaha’s wife died while giving birth to Mihir. Varaha was devastated. He miscalculated Mihir’s birth chart as to bring misfortune and death. Therefore, he hailed farewell to his newborn in a copper pot with his birth chart into the river Viddyadhory. After 25 years, Khona reunited Mihir with his father and proved that Varaha’s calculations were wrong. The couple was introduced to the royalty of Deulnagar who accepted them with highest eulogy. Eventually the couple was coroneted as royal astrologers, which was not, well accepted by Varaha since he could not bear the ascendance of his daughter-in-law. On the other hand, Khona persistently and effortlessly mingled with the peasants of Deulnagar. Soon she became the spokesperson of the subalterns and a threat to the orthodox ruling class. About fifteen hundred years from now, Leela continued to verse the agricultural proverbs ceaselessly for the Prakrito (subaltern) savages who lacked a script, in an attempt to reiterate the subaltern knowledge of agriculture. She was rebuked by Varaha for her association with the subalterns though she never listened. Enraged and envious Varaha ordered his son to severe Khona’s obstinate tongue and dedicate it to him (Varaha) as a tribute for the ‘father’. But why did she embrace death? Her proverbs had been identical with resistance from below for hundreds of years. Are Khona’s proverbs her own knowledge? Or are these an anthology of the age-old collective knowledge echoed through rain, alluvial soil and wind of Bengal? Was it only her gender or was it her interaction with the subalterns, or rather the both, that rose against Khona? However, BotTala asks: are the truths of Khona, the only truth? What is true today, can it be false tomorrow?

নাটক কাহিনী
এক বিদুষী ‘খনা’ যার অন্য নাম লীলাবতী। তার গল্পটা অনেক পুরোনো, কিংবদন্তীর ঘেরাটোপে বন্দী। তবু যেটুকুর তল খুঁজে পাওয়া যায় তাতে বোধ হয় যে তিনি এক বিদুষী জ্যোতিষী, স্বামী মিহিরও একই বৃত্তিধারী। শ্বশুর যশস্বী জ্যোতিষী বরাহ মিহির। পুত্রজায়ার যশ, খ্যাতি ও বিদ্যার প্রভাব দর্শনে বরাহের হীনমন্যতা ও ঈর্ষা। শ্বশুরের নির্দেশে লীলাবতীর জিহ্বা কর্তন ও তার ‘খনা’ হয়ে ওঠার গল্প পেরিয়েছে প্রজন্মের সীমানা। খনার বচনের মাঝে টিকে থাকা শত বছরের আগের জল, মাটি, ফসল আর মানুষের গন্ধ মাখা জ্ঞান আর সত্যটুকু কি সত্যি লীলাবতীর? নাকি এ সত্য-তথ্য সবই এ ভূ-খন্ডের বৃষ্টি, পলি, আর জল হাওয়ার সাথে মিশে থাকা যুগান্তরের সামষ্ঠিক জ্ঞানের সংকলন? লীলাবতী শুধুই কি একজন নারী বলে তার পরিণতি নির্মম, নাকি তিনি নারী হয়ে মিশেছিলেন চাষাভুষোর সনে; সেই তার কাল? পুরুষতন্ত্র না শ্রেণী কাঠামো; নাকি উভয় দাঁড়ায় লীলাবতীর বিপ্রতীপে? মিহির বা প্রাকৃত লোকালয় কারোর পরোয়া না করা জীবন ত্যাগী নেশার ঘোর তাকে নিয়ে যায় দিগন্তের ওপার। খনার সত্য শুধু থেকে যায় কৃষকের মুখে। তবু প্রশ্ন থাকে, খনার সত্যই কি একক সত্য? নাকি আজকে নির্ভুল যা কাল তা হতে পারে অসত্য? শুধু সত্যের পক্ষে দাঁড়ানোর যে মৃত্যুনেশা তাঁর সে নেশা কি এক রোখা জেদ? খনা নিজেই নিজেকে করেন সম্মুখীন প্রশ্নের।

Published by BotTala - a performance space

Theatre Technology, Aesthetics and Language through Action. It is an open space for performance that symbolizes the origin of rituals and performances in pre colonial Bengal. BotTala also signifies the great tradition of open oratory, poetry, music of Bengal and symbol of public space that belongs to none in specific but to all in general. BotTala as a performance space of twenty first century aspires to provide such an open platform to all theatre activists home and abroad to engage in their creative and intellectual endeavours. We, despite all odds, dream for a space promoting theatre for people, to search for tradition and heritage to speak up for the present and future. We also believe that there is no theatre estranged from politics and as such no politics detached from theatre of the colonial east. Therefore, BotTala’s theatre can never be removed from its base in history and tradition of Humanity as well as its vision for a changed tomorrow challenging authority in today’s theatre. As such, BotTala intend to encourage a space for professional theatre activism, which entails professional attitudes and behaviour in present forms of theatre and activism. BotTala calls for participation from all spheres of cultural activists and citizenry of the global village to engage, encourage, promote and support a new era in theatre activism and towards creating a new phase of cultural solidarity through BotTola.

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