Background Kalyana Sougandhikam is one of the most popular Kathakali play composed by Kottayam Thampuran, in the 17th century and considered as the best classical literature among the whole Kathakali repertoire. Encounter between two step brothers, both sons of wind God Vayu, the monkey chief Hanuman and the second of Pandava brothers; the mighty Bhima, is one of the highly dramatic scenes on Kathakali stage. The story is taken from the great Indian epic Mahabharata, “Vana Parva.” The five Pandava brothers were in exile. One day Bhima, the second of Pandava brothers, is enjoying the company of his wife Draupadi in a very beautiful natural surroundings of Naranarayanashram—in the valley of mount Himalaya.
Scene 1 (Part 1a) The climate is very much enjoyable, especially for the lovers. In the gentle wind from the Malaya mountain the Jasmine creepers are swinging gracefully. In this appreciable surroundings and joyful occasion, Bhima who is in amorous mood talks these pleasing words to his consort. The cuckoos are singing with Panchama note. The nature is so pleasant. Oh, you one who have sweet sound like a parrot, please come on the marble surface and let us enjoy, O dear, your beautiful flickering eyes defeats the eyes of the scary deer. At this time a celestial flower flies and falls in front of Draupadi which she picks up and approaches Bhima. Draupadi: O, dear, look at this flower in my hand..If you are kind enough, I am of sure that I will get more flowers of this kind.
Scene 1 (Part 1b) Bhima: It is difficult to find such beautiful flowers anywhere on earth. I am so much interested (to get such flowers), O lotus eyed one. Whatever it may be, other than their own Husband, a true wife will not disclose their desires. Bhima: O doe eyed one, the Sougandhika flowers, on which you have great desire; I will get them immediately. Even if from the top of the mountain, or from the heaven I have no difficulty to get them, and to fulfill your wish. O you the most beautiful one, the flickering glance of your long eyes, overwhelmed with love, which will always try to follow me on my way, will be the food for my journey. Bhima: For me? This club which is capable of destroying even the mightiest enemies will always be in my hand to overcome all the obstructions.
Scene 1 (Part 2a) Bhima is in the thick forest; somewhere near the mount Gandhamadana. He scale the huge mountain with his eyes. Bhima: Here is the mountain Gandhamadana in front of me. On the mountain, different minerals in various colors flows from the rocks, glitters in the sun shine. The thick black clouds on top of the mountain resembles as if the smoke emerges from the forest fire of the valley is collected there. Let me now climb the mountain. Here the forest interlocked with thick and long creepers and huge trees with large branches makes hurdles on my way. Different wild animals freely wanders around making different noise.
Scene 1 (Part 2b) There are peacock dancing and monkeys are playing on top of the trees. Look at the mighty tusker strolling in the thick jungle. Brakes the branches of the trees, eats the leaves, pours dust and mud on its back and finally relaxes. A huge python crawls toward the elephant and catch hold of its back foot. Elephant tries to get rid of the python and python tries to tighten its grip. While the struggle between the wild beasts is at its peak, a hungry lion watching the fight, don't want to miss this opportunity. It jumps on the elephant's back, hits and split opens its head, drinks the blood and eat its flesh. After getting satisfied, the lion jumps off from the Elephant. Poor elephant could not stand the double attacks. It collapses and takes its last breath The huge python swallow the elephant! (witnessing such incidences Bhima proceeds further by removing the obstacles with the mace.)
Scene 2 (Part 1) Hanuman seated as if in deep meditation. His concentration is disturbed. He thinks for the reason, “Why my mind disturbed? according to the blessing of Rama, my meditation cannot be disturbed until the end of the universe.” He looks around. “The time not yet came for the world's destruction, the trees and the creepers are with full of new leaves, buds, flowers and fruits. The birds are flying in the sky. The animals makes different sounds and flees to hide themselves. So this is not the time for the end.” Now he listens some terrifying noise and search for the reason. He sees some body approaching from far. Here comes someone shining with golden glow. He carries a conch and a club in his hand. Who may be this? Let me find out…
Scene 2 (Part 2a) Hanuman: Who is this, coming from far? Is there no body to challenge him? He is approaching through the forest with full of arrogance. The herd of elephants losing all their courage and pride are running away. The lions are really terrified and are trying to hide themselves in their dens. I wonder, why a special affection and compassion develops in my mind? (A special dance sequence—Ashtakalasam—choreographed by Padmasree Guru Keezhupadam Kumaran Nair Asan is presented here.) Anilasuthan ivan ente... Alas this is my younger brother, son of Wind God. Now I must know his divine strength.
Scene 2 (Part 2b) Bhima's cousin Duryodhana tried to kill him by poisoning and throwing him in the river. He reached the nether world, where the king of cobras saved him and gave him some special divine drinks; by which Bhima obtained a special strength) and I must make him understand my divine power as well. Hail to you O Rama; hail to you, who is the most attractive in whole universe. Hail to you Rama the destroyer of evil demon Ravana. Salutation to you, Husband of Mother Sita. Hanuman (action, only with percussion): “He is coming in his full vigor; removing all the obstacles on his way. If he proceeds further with such an arrogance, he may be cursed by the celestials. So I must stop him, and guide him to the safe route. Being a king, (kshathriya) he will not be ready to return back or change his way even if there is obstacles. Now I will assume myself as an old and weak monkey and lie on his way as obstruction.” Hanuman prays Lord Rama and assumes as an old monkey and lies on the way by which Bhima is approaching.
Scene 2 (Part 3a) Bhima arrives as Hanuman described. Brake the trees with his club, throws them away and proceeds. He is annoyed to see an old monkey blocking his path. Bhima: Get out of my way, you dirty monkey! If you are not ready to move away, I will rush to you with full rage, catch hold of your throat and throw your fat body away and will proceed. If you stay idle without any fear, I will beat you and break you into pieces. Get out of my way, you dirty old monkey. Bhima tries to lift the tail, but fails. He tries again with full effort, only to lose his club and he collapses. Bhima tries his best to remove the tail, but could not even move the tip of it. Bhima lost his courage and pride. His face is down with shame. He speaks with humility to the great monkey. Bhima enquires who the monkey is, convinced that he is not a mere old monkey and asks him to disclose his identity. Bhima: “No other living creature has the same strength as you. So please disclose your identity.”
Scene 2 (Part 3b) Hanuman (in his real form): I am the messenger of Rama the destroyer of Ravana, your elder brother and my name is Hanuman. Bhima salute Hanuman with full respect and Hanuman hug him affectionately Bhima: My childish words which I uttered, please don't take it as. I prostrate on your feet O brother, show mercy on me. O, elder brother, The divine form by which you crossed the ocean, I am having very much desire to see the same. Hanuman: If you are very much interested, look at my form, but don't be afraid and get exhausted. I will try to make it as small as possible. Bhima sees the gigantic form and collapses. Hanuman consoles Bhima and reminds him of the mission of getting the flower. Hanuman: Don't be afraid of, O Bhima. listen my words. Be cheerful, O' you destroyer of enemy's prosperity.
Scene 2 (Part 3c) Without any delay try to full fill the desire of your beloved who speaks so sweet as a parrot. Bhima: There will be a terrific war against Kauravas. O' the mightiest one, at that occasion, be with us and destroy the enemies. I will be on the flag of the Chariot of your brother Arjuna, son of lord Indra. With the terrifying roar I will destroy the enemies. Hanuman inquire about the wellbeing of other Pandava brothers. He guides Bhima to the proper way to get the divine flower. Bhima takes leave from his brother. But is in a confusion, to go without his club. Hanuma after teasing Bhima little bit, return the club with the advice that never be angry or fight with weak, ladies and those flee from fight. The brothers depart in touching feelings of emotion.