American touch to Sankardeva’s immortal ‘Keli Gopal’


By Gaurav Das

Guwahati, November 20: In a first, Sankardeva’s immortal ‘Keli Gopal’ is expected to be performed in American English by a team of performers from the department of performing arts of the prestigious Brown University, United States of America at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra (SSK) in Guwahati, early next year.

The American version of the Ankiya Naat Bhaona (one-act play) will be enacted under the watchful eyes of noted Sankardeva expert and Sattriya exponent Bhabananda Barbayan. The play was originally penned by the 15th-century saint, social reformer and founder of the Vaishnavite movement in Assam, Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568) and will now feature 11 performers from the university’s department.

Royal Global University

“We are still awaiting confirmation but talks are going on between SSK and Brown University. This is for the first time that such an iconic play which was penned by Sankardeva five hundred years ago will be performed in American English. As we know that North American English is quite different from British English. The play will be performed in this language and the words will have a distinct pronunciation from the British ones” said Barbayan.

This will be the third time that Ankiya Bhaona will be performed in any other language other than Brajavali. In 2015, a French cultural troupe performed ‘Parijat Haran’ at SSK. In January this year, Danish, Spanish and Mexican troupes performed ‘Ram Bijoy’ in a mixed language.

The original ‘Keli Gopal’ and other such immortal plays were written originally in the Brajavali dialect. Noted Sankardeva scholar, Dayananda Pathak had translated some of the one-act plays into English. Among one of the translated plays was ‘Keli Gopal’.

“The English translation by Pathak will be used by the performers. This translation will again be rendered into American English. Nattis Belton, a Brown University student who is pursuing Neurology and Sanskrit, and who has experience in performing Bhaona in other languages, will be coordinating for this American version,” added Barbayan.

Keli Gopal like many other one-act plays is thought to be written somewhere between 1518 and 1568. This play features Krishna and his myriad love-induced gopis, and the emotional competition among them to win Krishna’s affection. But the crux of the play narrates the love bonding between Krishna and Radha and the slaying of a lust filled demon.

Edited by: Arnab Jyoti Das