Subhadra Haranam (The abduction of Subhadra)
Story Play (Attakkatha):
Subhadra Haranam (The abduction of Subhadra):
Subhadra Haranam is written by Mandredath Namboothiripad ( 1851-1906). This story is based on the Śrīmad Bhagavata Dasama Skanta ( tenth aggregate ) and Mahabharatha Adiparva.
The story of Subhadra Haranam is a chain of events that lead to Arjuna's marriage with Subhadra (Krishna's Younger sister). The Kathakali repertoire of this story is popular for conventional structure (chitta) with intermittent possibilities for improvisation (manodharma).
Once a group Brahmins came to Arjuna for help to guard their cows from evil spirits. Arjuna needed gandiva to protect the cows and he entered the house where Yudhishtira and Draupadi lived. As per the agreement (for breaking the rule) Arjuna went on a pilgrimage for a year. During that Arjuna met his friend Krishna and Krishna took him to Raivata Mountains for a yadava festival, where Arjuna happened to see Krishna's younger sister Subhadra. Arjuna fell in love with Subhadra at first sight.
With Krishna's blessings Arjuna impersonated as a saint and started spending time next to Dwaraka, Krishna's palace. Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna, then welcomed the saint to their own palace, Dwaraka, and requested him to spend his days at Dwaraka till he completes his fasting. He also instructed his younger sister Subhadra to serve the saint.
One day, when Balabhadra and Krishna were away from Dwaraka for a festival, Arjuna expressed his desire to Subhadra, and knowing that Balarama won't allow him to marry Subhadra, with Krishna's permission, Arjuna decided to abduct her away from Dwaraka.
This is where the story of Subhadra Haranam Kathakali starts. While this story has 17-odd scenes not all scenes are that popular. So the synopsis concentrates more on the popular scenes.
Krishna informs his wives, Rukmini and Satyabhama, that the saint staying at Dwaraka is none other than Arjuna, also informs that both Arjuna and Subhadra are in love. He also instructs them to keep this as a secret.
Arjuna marries Subhadra in the presence of Krishna, his father Indra and other heavenly gods. This scene is specifically known as 'Malayital', means 'placing the garland'.
After the marriage, Arjuna tells Krishna that he feels ashamed of himself for deceiving all. Krishna consoles him and requests him to leave to his kingdom sooner.
Arjuna expresses his love and desire to Subhadra and after spending a little time together they decide to leave to Indraprastha, Arjuna's palace. Subhadra informs Arjuna that she is good at driving chariot, and takes control of the whip.
Along the way Yadava commander Viprudhu with his army tries to stop Arjuna, Arjuna defeats the whole army without bruising anyone of them. Arjuna and Subhadra continues their journey to Indraprastha.
Four traveling Brahmins happen to witness the battlefield at Raivata Mountains where Arjuna defeated the Yadava army. They talk about the rumor that the saint who abducted Subhadra is none other than Arjuna. Watching the battlefield they express their surprise on Arjuna's extreme archery skills.
On completion of the festival, Balarama returns to Dwaraka. On the way he happens to hear about the news that his younger sister Subhadra was abducted by Arjuna,who impersonated as the saint, with the blessings of Krishna. Balabhadra, known for his extreme rage, encounters his little brother Krishna with uncontrollable anger.
He threatens Krishna that in no time he will kill Arjuna. Skillful and cunning Krishna comes up with different arguments in an attempt to stop and pacify Balabhadra. As a last resort, Krishna reminds Balabhadra that their younger sister will have to face widowhood, in an event Arjuna gets killed.Shocked and perplexed Balabhadra says that at least he will lock him up, but Krishna says Balabhadra that this marriage was destined to happen, and the best course of action at the moment is to go and visit Arjuna and Subhadra.
Pacified by Krishna's words Balabhadra starts to Indraprastha along with Krishna and his family members. Along the way Krishna shows Balabhadra the battlefield at Raivata Mountains. Highly impressed with Arjuna's exceptional valor and war-skills Balabhadra accepts Arjuna as his brother-in-law with utmost satisfaction. With this the story ends.
Translation by Vikar T M