‘An invincible warrior, an able administrator, a great diplomat, a popular politician, an erudite scholar, a precise poet, a man of detachment and renunciation, of charity and nobility, of sannyasa and study, Swami Vidyaranya was, indeed a rare manifestation divine’, was how Pujya Gurudev had described Swami Vidyaranya in one of his unpublished works. Between 1985 and 1990, Pujya Gurudev gave three projects to Chyks—Kamba Ramayana to Chennai Chyks, Samarth Ramdas to Maharashtra Chyks and Swami Vidyaranya to Andhra Chyks. While the first two manifested beautifully, the third one could not. 33-35 years later, in May 2023, during the 108th Chinmaya Jayanti year, His sankalpa manifested through the theatrical presentation of Chinmaya Yuva Kendra Mumbai, titled ‘Dharmayoddha Vidyaranya’. While the main cast was from Mumbai, the play also had notable contributions of youngsters from Navi Mumbai, Pune and Yuvaveers hailing from different parts of Bhaarat. Thus, it was indeed a pan-India team that made this play happen!
The play, developed after extensive research for more than two years, was first performed on 19th May 2023 during the Chinmaya National Youth Convention at Chinmaya Vibhooti, Kolwan. It evoked a tremendous response from the youngsters gathered from all over Bhaarat. The team then performed two back-to-back shows in Mumbai; at Birla Matoshri in New Marine Lines on 29th July 2023 and Fine Arts Auditorium in Chembur on 30th July 2023. Despite lingering Mumbai rains, almost 800 people attended the first show and around 1000 attended the second show.
The play depicts the life story of Swami Vidyaranya through power-packed performances, impactful videos, dances, action sequences, and much more. Along with the life story of Swami Vidyaranya, it also gave the historical background of the volatile political situation in Southern India in the early 14th century, the oppression faced by Hindus at the hands of the Islamic invaders, and their courageous resilience against them. It covered several lesser-known facts about the creation of the Vijaynagar Empire and its impact on Dharmik revival in South India.
Along with the focus on history, the play also touched upon several issues faced by Hindus in contemporary Bhaarat today. It busted several myths on topics like sati, religious conversions, etc. By connecting the historical events with the present-day issues, it also helped the audience connect better with the relevance of knowing about Swami Vidyaranya’s life.
The overall response of the audience for both these shows was very positive. Here are a few sample feedback given by audience members.
Thus, the play on Dharmayoddha Vidyaranya certainly inspired the performers and the audience alike to become Dharmayoddhas themselves and stand up for the country and the culture!