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Yellamraju’s ‘Arjuna’ Raises Funds For Chinmaya Mission
BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Chinmaya Mission Alpharetta (CMA) presented 'Arjuna', a full-length English drama on Sunday, March 6th at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. Directed by Syam Yellamraju, the play was a fundraiser for the 'Chinmaya Gurukul', an ashram aimed to serve educational, spiritual, cultural and social service needs of the community.
Board President, Sudha Malhotra, in her speech talked about the growth of CMA from its humble beginnings of 25 kids to nearly 350 member families, with 475 children enrolled in Bala Vihar. In 2010, Chinmaya Mission acquired 6.5 acres in Alpharetta. The property currently has a small house that serves the purpose for small gatherings. The goal of CMA is to build a permanent structure for the Bala Vihar and have space for other community activities and classes such as music, dance, art, yoga, meditation.
Sudha thanked Syam Yellamraju's support for the cause and the member families. Acharya Raghuji also welcomed the audience. He said that even though Chinmaya mission was originally meant to reach out to educated adults , now it was the kids that were drawing adults to the mission. He added that the dedication of the member families, their active support and grace of their Guruji had largely contributed to the success of CMA and encouraged all to support the cause. Raghuji's speech was followed by the lighting of the lamp.
The show Arjuna, embellished with elaborate sets and special effects on stage including matsya yantra, Viraat rupa, arrow bed, chariots provided a visual treat. As per the title, various characters and stories associated with Arjuna in Mahabharatha were presented to the audience, narrated by Vyasa Maharshi.
The various aspects of Arjuna's life, as an ardent student, archer, relative, friend, companion, spouse, warrior and ultimately as a disciple and devotee of Sri Krishna are timeless in their reach. The play attempts to showcase the various inspirational qualities of Arjuna.
"Arjuna" began with the Kaurava and Pandava princes being sent away to the Gurukul of Dronacharya. Arjuna's focus, determination and eagerness to learn as a student are highlighted through stories where Arjuna, can only see the eye of a bird ( his target ), and nothing else when asked what he sees on top of the tree. Watching Bheema eat in the dark inspires Arjuna to learn 'shabdavedi', the art of shooting target in the dark following the voice. Arjuna's concentration and skills at archery are proven at Raja Drupad's palace where Arjuna wins the 'Swayamvara' contest of Draupadi by shooting a rotating fish by looking at its reflection in the water. Arjuna's dedication wins him the 'Pashupath' from Lord Shiva during the 13 year exile of the Pandavas. The play also depicted the playful side of Arjuna with Subhadra. Arjuna's talent as the dancer 'brahannala', comes to play at King Virat's place where Pandavas are in 'agyatvas' or exile in disguise. Keechaka's lust for Draupadi becomes his cause of death by Bhima. The battlefield of Kurukshetra, with Bhishma on the bed of arrows, Viraata Roopa of Krishna, horse chariots carrying warriors formed the final scene where Arjuna enlightened by the teaching of Lord Krishna known as the Bhagavad Gita, turns into his disciple and devotee concentrating only on his duties and surrendering the results of his actions to the Supreme.
Various Mahabharata characters such as Bheeshma, Drona, Dritarashtra, Gandhari, Sanjaya, Vidura, Kunti, Drupad, Virat raj, Draupadi, Pandavas, Kauravas , Shakuni, and Lord Krishna to name a few, formed part of the play. Nine months went into project Arjuna. Syam Yellamraju, who has various other shows such as "Chanakya", to his credit, tells us that it took one month and a team of five people to put the exclusive, colorful sets together. With a cast of forty two members and twenty five people in the production team, the mega show "Arjuna" was a sold out event with 1250 audience in attendance.
"We are very pleased with the event and the turnout", says Sudha Malhotra adding that the show showcased Arjuna and Gita, the teaching of which guide the Chinmaya Mission.