Watchman of the Lake – Summary

“Watchman of the Lake” is a stunning dramatic adaptation of R.K. Narayan’s storey, which recounts the legend of a great rustic Mara making a supreme sacrifice for the conservation of a lake and the lives that depended on it for survival. Additionally, this drama emphasises the priceless gift of folk wisdom to humanity.

The title of the play, ‘Watchman of the Lake,’ refers to a watchman who played a significant role in the creation of the lake. The one-act drama with five parts tells the storey of Mara, who overcame formidable opposition to guarantee that the lake was built and then sacrificed himself to ensure that the lake did not overflow its banks, destroying the king’s whole capital. The first scene depicts road builders carrying out the village headman’s directions. The village headman, who is impolite to all of the employees, tells them frequently that the road must be completed by a day of the king’s arrival. When he observes a group of workers laughing, he inquires as to why. He is incensed to learn that Mara is hiding behind a rock, the source of their laughing. The headmaster directs his employees to pursue Mara. When Mara is brought to him, he admonishes (scolds) him for distracting the employees and reminds him that he had constantly requested Mara to stay away from the workers and the king when they went that way. When Mara disobeys, he commands one of his workers, Bhima, who is as massive as a giant, to tie Mara up and confine him to a cellar. Even when Mara informs him that he wishes to alert the king of a dream in which he saw the Goddess, the headman refuses to budge. Bhima is warned by the headman not to listen to Mara’s prattle.

The king is seen passing that way in scene two. However, Mara suddenly leaps from a tree and presents the king with the vision and words of the Goddess from his dream. According to Mara, the plate on which the king stood was a hallowed location since Hanuman had come there in quest of the sanjeevini in order to resurrect Lakshmana, who had been mortally wounded during the conflict. Veda was the stream from which the sanjeevini grew, and she was the Goddess’s plaything. The Goddess sheltered her during the summer and directed her to flow through the king’s territory during the rest of the year. Thus, if a bank were constructed for her, even throughout the summer, the king’s subjects would be able to use the water. The king is taken aback by Mara’s vision of the Goddess and invites her to join him in the kingdom.

In scene three, we find that a massive tank has already been constructed for the river Veda, and Mara has been entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the lake. He is vigilant for those who come to fish but is willing to open the water to all subjects in accordance with the king’s legislation. He makes certain that nobody is injured at the lake, not even the tiger that comes to quench its thirst. Mara enlists the assistance of his son – Ganga – in order to keep the lake in good condition. At the conclusion of the sequence, we observe Mara concerned about the lake’s growing water levels.

Mara arrives at the palace in scene four, requesting permission to talk with the king late at night. Mara, drenched in water and covered in dirt, informs the king that the Goddess reappeared in his dream and warned him about Veda overflowing the lake’s banks. She had refused to back down even after Mara reminded her that the bank had been constructed at her direction. Mara continues, “It appeared as though the Goddess was in a destructive mood.” Mara informs the king that if the water level rises too high, the entire kingdom would perish. While the king prepares to inform his subjects of the impending downpour and impending doom, Mara informs him that there is one chance to save the country. He claims that the Goddess pledged not to overflow until Mara returned, and that the king could assure Mara’s absence by murdering him. As thus, we witness Mara making a self-sacrifice for the king’s and his subjects’ welfare. His sole desire is that his son be appointed as the lake’s next watchman, and that his grandson and great-grandsons after him.

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In scene five, Ganga is revealed to be the lake’s watchman, and he recounts to his son how he assumed his father’s duties. We learn from his storey that the king personally visited Ganga to inform him that his father was no longer alive. Additionally, the king requested that Ganga immediately begin carrying out his father’s duties. Additionally, the king constructed a shrine featuring two figures of Mara — one of the Guardian Goddess on the top pedestal and another of Mara directly beneath it. Worship was to be held every Tuesday and Friday, per the king’s decree. Ganga notes that hundreds of people have subsequently flocked to worship from far and wide. As a result, we see that Mara, whom the local headman referred to as a crazy, was revered by thousands of villagers.

Questions and Answers

Comprehension I

1) Why was the headman in a hurry to complete the road work?

Ans: The headman was in a hurry to complete the road work because the king of land would pass by that was the following day.


2) The village headman asked Mara to keep away from the road workers because of ______

Ans: The king should not know that fools like Mara were stayed in the village.


3) How did Mara manage to draw the attention of the king? Why?

Ans: Mara hopped down from the tree where he was hiding before the king passed that way. Mara did it as he was urgent to enlighten the lord concerning his dream and what the Goddess had uncovered to him.


4) The Goddess’ command to Mara was to ______

Ans: To build a tank for Veda.


5) How does the king respond to Mara’s information about the tank?

Ans: The king invites Mara to go with him to the palace the following day as he needed to examine further the tank to be built. Thus, the king responds to Mara’s information about the tank.


6) What does Mara advise his son in saving the lake and the creatures?

Ans: Mara advised his son that he must be guardian of the lake after him. He explained whatever the Goddess instructed him and told that nothing that flew, swam or strolled those parts, where the lake existed, be murdered as the spot was terrified.


7) Why did the visitor approach Mara?

Ans: The visitor’s village was the outermost from the king’s realm and crops scorched up and cattle were last of dearth. So, the visitor approached Mara for some water from the tank.


8) Mara rushed to the king because he wanted to save (a) his own life (b) the king(c) the lake.

Ans: (b) the king.


9) Mara was trembling at the king’s palace because (a) he was afraid of the king (b) he was drenched in the rain,(c) he was worried about the lake.

Ans: (c) he was worried about the lake.


10) On what condition did Mara make the Goddess wait for him?

Ans: Mara begged the Goddess not to complete her demonstration of decimation until he got back from the capital subsequent to illuminating the king about the threat.


Comprehension II

1) What was the significance of Mara’s dream?

Ans: Mara dreamed twice. The first time, it was the Goddess’s dream that prompted Mara to secure a bank job for Veda in order to acquire a home for herself. It was a similar Goddess the following time, enraged that her toy Veda had been imprisoned in the man-made bank. When Mara informs her that the bank was built at her order, the Goddess, who was in a condition of decimation, responds that she was currently preparing for pulverisation. Following the vision, Mara worked for total government help on both occasions. Following the primary dream, he required the bank’s construction on the grounds that he recognised the protected water’s enormous utility to the ruler’s subjects. He was subjected to considerable badgering by the town headman before he was given the opportunity to address the ruler. Following the dream, when he saw that nothing could stop the Goddess from demonstrating obliteration, he sacrificed himself to save the ruler and his land. Indeed, it was Mara’s penance that brought this to a head. However, if we possessed the honour of Mara, they might be able to avoid the ruinous edge of even divine plans. The centrality of the illusions was their lack of control over the divine plan.

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2) What instructions did Mara give his son about the lake and the creatures? What light do these instructions throw on Mara’s character?

Ans: Mara’s instructions to his son regarding the lake and its inhabitants were to remind him that he must serve as the lake’s protector following his demise. Mara also taught his child what the Goddess had taught Mara. She had directed that nothing that flew, swam, or strolled through those areas where the lake resided be slain, as the location was fearful. As a result, Mara informed his child that no executioners should be admitted there, regardless of whether they accompanied bolts for the skimming gulls or the fishing pole. These directions given by Mara to his child demonstrate, above all, Mara’s devotion to the Goddess. Additionally, it demonstrates his profound admiration for nature. Thirdly, it demonstrates his sense of obligation. He did not allow anyone to abuse the bank. He did not, however, deny anyone the right to merely use the bank’s water. As a result, we can see that Mara was a deserving keeper of the lake. He required an honourable disposition of the lake and bank. Simultaneously, he was also legitimate.

3) Bring out the significance of the sacred spot that Mara describes to the king.

Ans: According to Mara’s account, the place was dedicated because Hanuman remained there on the day Lakshmana lay dying in the war zone at Lanka. Hanuman was guided by heavenly indications to the location of the lord and up the mountain to discover sanjeevini, which he used to revive Lakshmana. A stream originated from the sanjeevini’s location and flowed past the ruler’s location. Subsequently, the location became sacred for two reasons. Above all, the matchless Hanuman arrived there; also, Veda streamed there, beginning at the location of sanjeevini’s development.

4) How did Mara react to the Goddess when she appeared before hima) the first time?

b) the second time?

Ans: a) the first time: the Goddess showed up before Mara, he perceived her quickly as the perfect mother and fell at her feet. He was struck by her magnificence, and this is apparent from the realistic depiction he provides for the ruler of the braids, the stars in her coronet and the ruby on the temple of the Goddess.


b) The second time: Mara sees the Goddess in her dangerous mind-set. Her braids are wild, her eyes sparkle with a weird light, her brow is sprinkled with vermilion and she conveys a blade. This time too Mara falls at her feet, yet this time he is scared and argues for kindness.

Comprehension III.

1) Was the headman justified in calling Mara a lunatic? Give reasons.

Ans: No, the headman was incorrect in labelling Mara a crazy. Above all, he avoids meeting Mara in any way. From the outset, he has been quite offensive to Mara and other coworkers. Whether or not he believes Mara’s accounts, it is irrelevant to be so nasty to Mara. He even goes so far as to detain Mara. Additionally, we observe that the monarch seems unconcerned about Mara’s storey. As a result, it is clear that the headman is not justified in considering Mara insane.

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2) “Nature is both protective and destructive.” How does the play bring out this idea?

Ans: “Nature is both protective and destructive”. The play amply demonstrates how nature is both defensive and dangerous, and how powerless humans are in the face of nature. That is why we regard waterway Veda as the source of life, the sustainer of life, and the destroyer of life. The drama portrays it as the Goddess’s exuberant impulse, for whom Waterway Veda is a toy. However, what the creator is attempting to demonstrate is that nature can touch us in a variety of ways at various times and we are unable to fathom why. What is critical, though, is that we safeguard nature and do not exploit it.

3) How differently did Mara treat the fisherman and the visitor?

Ans: Mara is the lake’s chosen guardian, and he obeys all of the Goddess’s commands. That is why he avoids harming the tiger that travels to the lake to quench its thirst. For a same reason, he exposes the angler to dire consequences if he returns to the lake. Mara’s responsibility is to ensure that no live creature is harmed at the lake. Simultaneously, he refrains from abusing his ability. He is courteous to the guest and extends all assistance, as demonstrated by the standards placed around the lord. Mara understands that the lake’s water is for human use and does not hinder anyone from obtaining it for acceptable purposes.

4) Why do you think Mara asked the king make his son, son’s son, and soon, the watchman of the lake?

Ans: Mara’s bond to the lake is intended to make him incapable of confiding in anybody else with the support of the government. He has witnessed folks with narrow minds, such as the angler, abuse their capacity. Additionally, he has guided his child at each phase in terms of how to properly care for the lake and recognises that his child is capable of doing so in the long run. Along similar lines, when Mara senses that his time has come, he insists that the monarch grant him his final wish: to name his child and grandsons after his child as the lake’s gatekeepers. As a result, Mara’s caring attitude is evident in any case, even when he makes a solicitation that may sound juvenile to others.

5) In what way do you think Mara’s sacrifice saved the lake? What ‘sacrifices’ need to be made to save the lakes today?

Ans: Mara ensured that the canal would never flood its banks, as the Goddess could not force Veda to flood her banks until Mara’s arrival, and then only after Mara’s death. His compassion in ordering the lord to slay him spared the ruler’s and all of his subjects’ lives. At the moment, we lack guardians to look over our streams and other water sources. We have been squandering our water resources in a foolish manner. We dump rubbish into the water, including waste from processing plants; we sewage; and we make no endeavour to protect water through watershed executives, water collection, and so on. We have defiled our most sacred watercourse — the Ganga – in ways that are unthinkable. It is past time for us to recognise that water is the remedy for life and that without careful water management, we would perish.

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