Upagupta

Category: Written by Nerella Bharat / 10:34 PM
Two different scenes which were separated in time are described in the poem. Lines 1-12 are in the first scene. It is in the rainy season. Lines 13-22 are in the second scene. It is in the spring season and the branches of the trees were full of flowers.

First Scene (1-15 Lines) 
Upagupta lay asleep in the dust by the city wall of Mathura. He slept in the dust because he was a saint and he hated comfort, luxury and wealth. The night was described as murky because it was dark and unpleasant every where. It was the rainy season. So, people stayed indoors and they closed the doors and put out all lights. At that time of the night the dancing girl was returning home from the royal court. As it was dark at that time, she approached the city wall and couldn't see the path clearly. She touched Upagupta with her feet. He didn't mind her feet touching him since it wasn't deliberate attempt.

(6-10 Lines) 
The dancer was attracted by Upagupta's austerely handsome face. She thought that the dusty earth wasn't the proper place for the ascetic to sleep on. So, she requested Upagutpa to come to her house. But he was a saint. He hated comfort, wealth and worldly pleasure. So, he declined the dancer's invitation of going with her to her house as he understood what she meant. He promised her that he would visit her house at an appropriate time by saying that Woman, go on your way! His words your way have a special significance. He asks her to go on with her worldly pleasures. She is too young to renounce material and physical pleasures. Her way was to enjoy herself. But he was a saint and renounced all worldly pleasures. His way was to lead a simple and spiritual life.

(11-12 Lines) 
When the young ascetic had spoken his words, the black night showed its teeth in a flash of lighting and a storm growled from the corner of the sky. Due to this, the dancing girl trembled in fear.

Second Scene 
It is the spring season. The branches of the trees were full of flowers. The air was warm and the breeze made musical sounds. The citizens went to the trees to attend the festival or flowers.

(16-20 Lines) 
The town was silent and there was no passerby because most of the citizens left for the woods to attend the festival of flowers. The dancing girl was suffering from a deadly disease and she was driven away from the town. She had severe sores on her body. They were very painful and the disease was contagious. She lay in the shadow of the city wall suffering. She should be looked after by someone. She was in dire need of an attendant. The time for the ascetic, Upagupta, had come to serve her. He sat by the side of the suffering woman. He took her head on his knees, watered her lips, applied some balm to her sores and showed great care towards her.

(21-22 Lines) 
The dancing girl asked who the merciful one was. He was Upagupta. He said that it was the right time for him to visit her because the duty of an ascetic was to render service to humanity.

Public Question 
& Answers:

  1. Graciously come to my house
    The dusty earth is not a fit bed for you
    The ascetic answered, "woman go on you way
    When the time is ripe, I will com to you"
    What did the dancing girl ask the ascetic to do? Why do you think he declined her invitation? What did he promise her? (Sep 90, March 2001, 2002)
    A. 
    a) The dancing girl asked the ascetic to come to her house
    b) She felt that the dusty earth was not a fitting bed for him. In fact she was attracted by his beauty. But the ascetic had already given up all the worldly pleasures. So he declined her invitation
    c) He promised that he would visit her when the right time had come. 
  2. Woman, go on you way,
    When the time is ripe, I will come to you.
    Do you think 'your way' has any special meaning? What was 'her' way? What was 'his' (March 89)
    A. 
    a) It has a special meaning 'your way' means the way the dancing girl is leading the life - a life of enjoying bodily pleasures, a wordly way (or earthly pleasures)
    b) Her way was the way of enjoying worldly pleasures.
    c) Upagupta was an ascetic. An ascetic is one who follows the principle of self-denial. His way is spiritual the one of anunciation and meditation. 
  3. "Who are you, merciful one?" asked the woman.
    Who is asking the question? Who is the 'merciful one'? When had the woman met him first? (Sept 94)
    A. 
    a) The dancing girl is asking the question. She is now stricken by a dreadful disease and driven away from the town. The merciful one is Upagupta, the yound ascetic. The woman had first met him when she was in her youthful pride. 
  4. The ascetic sat by her side, taking her head on his knees, and moistened her lips with water and smeared her body with balm. (Sept 91, 93, 97, April98)
    "Who are you, merciful one?" asked the woman.
    "The time, at last, has come to visit you, and I am here," replied the young ascetic.
    Who was the young ascetic? Who was the woman he was treating?
    Why did the woman call him 'the merciful one'?
    Why did the ascetic tell the woman that the time to visit her had come at last?
    A.
     a) They young ascetic was Upagupta.
    b) The woman was the dancing girl who met him at the temple gate long ago when she was young. She was very proud of her youth when they first met.
    c) When she was attacked by a dreadful disease, she was driven away from the town. Nobody cared for her. Then he was the only one who pitied her and helped her the young ascetic sat by her. He took her head on his knees, put some water on her lips and applied balm to her body. So she called him 'the merciful one'.
    d) When the woman lay down suffering from a dreadful disease, who was really in need of somebody's help. So the ascetic said that the time at last had come to visit her and serve her. It was the time she needed him the most to soothe her in sorrow, nurse her and lead on the right path. 
  5. The time, at last, has come to visit you, and I am here, (March 88, 89, 99, Sept97)
    Who is the 'I' in the poem? Who is 'you' in what sense has the time come?
    A. 
    a) 'I' in the poem is Upagupta.
    b) 'You' is the dancing girl.
    c) The time has come for the ascetic to come to her in order to attend on her, when she is really in need of his help. 
  6. The time, at last, has come to visit you,
    And I am here, what is the significance of these words spoken by the ascetic?
    (March 97, Sept93)
    A. 
    When Upagupta first met the dancing girl, she welcomed him to her house. But he did not accept her invitation. He told her that he would come when the time was ripe. But not who was suffering from a dreadful disease. She was driven away by the people from the town. So the ascetic decided to cure her and put her on the proper path. He tells her that the time has come to visit her. 
  7. Two kinds of lives are depicted in the poem Upagupta. What are “They”? (June 2005)
    A. 
    Two kinds of lives are depicted in the poem Upagupta by the two main characters - Upagupta and the dancing girl.
    Upagupta is a disciple of Buddha and depicts a life of renunciation and spiritual pursuit.
    The dancing girl is drunk with the wine of ther youth and despicts a life of worldly pleasures and material pursuit. 
  8. What did Upagupta mean when he said to the young woman that he would come to her when the time was ripe?
    A.
     When Upagupta said to the young woman that he would come to her when the time was ripe, means that his way was one of renunciation, meditation and helping others in time of need. So he came to help her when she needed it most. 
  9. What happened as soon as the young ascetic had spoken his words? (Mar 2000)
    A. 
    Suddenly the black night showed its teeth in a flash of lighteing. The storm growled from the corner of the sky and the woman trembled in fear.
Additional Questions & Answers:
  1. Why was the dancing girl up and about at that time of the night? The girl touched Upagupta with her feet. Why? What had happened?
    A. 
    a) The dancing girl was on her way back home from the royal court at that time of the night. She approached the city wall.
    b) Whe touched Upagupta with her feet because she could not see him in the darkness of the night.
    c) So she begged his pardon. She invited him to her hous saying that the dustry earth was not the proper place for him to sleep. 
  2. "He woke up started and the light from a woman's lamp struck his forgiving eyes". What woke up Upagupta? Why was he started? Would any one have liked it? Why his eyes are described as 'forgiving'?
    A.
     a) The touch of the dancing girl woke him up.
    b) He was started because he was suddenly woken up and also he saw a beautiful woman in front of him.
    c) No one would have liked a strong light striking ones eyes when one opened.
    d) His eyes are described as 'forgiving' because there were no signs of anger in them. 
  3. 'Forgive me, young ascetic', said the woman. Why did she ask him for his forgiveness? What had she done?
    A.
     a) The dancing girl touched the ascetic with her feet because she could not see him in the darkness of the night. So she asked him for his forgiveness.
    b) She invited him to her house. 
  4. Suddenly the black night showed its teeth in a flash of lighting
    The storm growled from the corner of the sky and the woman trembled in fear
    Who shows teeth when angry? Who growls? What is nature compared to? Do you think fate was indicating what was to come? How did the woman react?
    A. 
    a) A monkey shows its teeth when angry.
    b) A tiger growls.
    c) Nature is compared to a tiger
    d) Fate was indicating what was to come.
    e) The woman trembled with fear. 
  5. Why was the street lonely and the town silent? What was happening to the woman, while the whole world was rejoicing? What had the people done to her? Why do you think she was driven away hurriedly?
    A. 
    a) The street was lonely and the town silent because it was midnight.
    b) While the whole world was rejoicing, the woman was suffering from a dreadful disease.
    c) The people had driven her away from the town
    d) The people were afraid that her disease would spread fast in the town. 
  6. What did the ascetic do?
    A.
     The ascetic sat by the side of the woman and took her head on his knees. He moistened her lips with warm water and daubed her body with balm.
Thank for sharing!

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