Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Shapmochan’, Aradhana is a story of love and separation redeemed through suffering and surrender. It is a symbolic play of man’s spiritual quest for Beauty & Truth.
Gandharva Sursen is a highly accomplished musician in the celestial ‘Sur Sabha’ of Lord Indra. One day as usual, his beloved Madhushri goes to the distant mountains to worship the Sun God. However this time her absence makes Sursen lonely and anxious. His concentration broken, the fluid rhythm of Urvashi’s dance is interrupted and he makes an error in the playing of his mridangam. As this is an unforgivable lapse, it resulted in a curse falling on Sursen. He is banished from the world of Paradise, he is born into the Gandharva royal house as Mugdhasen, and while his countenance and appearance grows ugly.
A devastated Madhushri falls at Indra’s feet and begs him not to separate the two lovers. She wishes to share the same fate – suffer agony and humiliation together. Lord Indra grants Madhushri her prayer. He bids them depart to the living world where they will unite after undergoing a great deal of sorrow and pain.
Madhushri is born as Kamalika the beautiful princess of the royal house of Kushalpur. Even in rebirth Mugdharaj experiences unexplained longings. Because Kamalika’s pictures come in his hands and he feels a strange previous birth is now here again like a beautiful dream. He wishes to marry her and is accepted. But Mugdharaj knows that Kamalika is an ardent admirer of beauty and will not be able to love his ugly form. So he sends his much loved veena to represent him and Kamalika exchanges garlands with the veena. Mugdharaj and Kamalika are thus united in marriage, but the two meet only in darkness during the night. Kamalika is anxious to see her lord. She begs him to reveal himself to her but Mugdharaj declines, knowing she is not yet ready. However Kamalika discovers that Mugdharaj is ugly and leaves in repulsion and disgust. It is only much later she realizes her ignorance. True beauty is of the soul – it lies inside and outward manifestations are only superficial. Separation from Mugdharaj has made her realize how much she had grown to love and worship him although she has not set eyes on him. Understanding dawns upon her. She throws open the doors of the dark chambers of her soul and lets in the light. Through the eyes of love Kamalika beholds Mugdharaj and finds him to be handsome beyond compare. The lovers and reunited and harmony is restored.