SCENE 2. The ministers Kroda, Madu, and Raga discuss the stagnation of India resulting from the idleness of King Bindusara. They express their cynicism at the likelihood of Bindusara choosing his son Susima over Ashoka to be his successor. Cankya declares that he had made great conquerors of Ashoka' s father and grandfather and can make Ashoka king.
SCENE 3. In the throne room, Cankya addresses Ashoka respectfully, but Ashoka points out he is not a king. Cankya says that he will become one, but Ashoka does not believe that is possible because his father will choose Susima. Cankya declares that he will kill Susima.
SCENE 4. In this mimed scene, Cankya leads Ashoka dreamily through the Court in front of King Bindusara, Prince Susima, and the Ministers. Cankya removes the crown from the King and places it on the head of Ashoka. He then offers a cup of wine to the Prince who drinks it and consequently collapses. Cankya retrieves the cup and leaves.
SCENE 5. Alone in the palace, Lakshmi voices her pain and anxiety at he cold reception she received earlier from Ashoka.
SCENE 6. In another room of the place, Raga and Madu approach Triraksha in the hope of using her to redirect Ashoka away from his cruel capricious behavior. They propose to Triraksha that she ask Lakshmi to intercede in this matter. They also suggest that Triraksha may one day be queen.
SCENE 7. Triraksha goes to Lakshmi and asks her to soften the heart of Ashoka.
SCENE 8. Ashoka and Girika relate the tale of having killed a great many birds and beasts in the forest. Cankya interprets this as an omen that Ashoka must demonstrate ruthless power throughout the kingdom. Ashoka orders his men to carry out such a mission.
SCENE 9. Kroda and Madu discuss the Kalinga nation which does not recognize Ashoka as king. Cankya tells them not to worry about Ashoka's inaction to that point because it is must a matter of time before Ashoka will conquer.
SCENE 10. Lakshmi appeals to Ashoka to stop his destructive armies but Ashoka rebuffs her saying that peace is nothing more than a mirage and can only be guaranteed through force. He tells Lakshmi to go away to wherever she pleases but to leave their son with him.
SCENE 11. Kroda and Madu envision the glory of going to war and the consequent unification of India. Ashoka asks Triraksha what she desires and she replies that she wishes give him a son.
SCENE 12. The battlefield is a scene of great destruction, but Cankya and the Ministers are elated with the conquest. However, Ashoka wanders disorientedly among the dead and dying. he hears a variety of voices uttering no more than a word or two about fathers, sons, husbands. as Triraksha reaches out to him, he calls fro Lakshmi.
SCENE 2. Ashoka finds the Sage and expresses his uncertainty as to how he should rule. the Sage advises hearts overflowing in ceaseless giving. Upon hearing these words, Ashoka is convinced of the path he must follow.
SCENE 3. As Ashoka travels back to his palace he commits to making his kingdom a place of ease, healing, and peace.
SCENE 4. In the palace, Ashoka dictates his orders for libraries, schools and hospitals to be built throughout the land. Cankya an the Ministers listen in disbelief that these new ideas can end the suffering that has always been part of mankind's history.
SCENE 5. Ashoka offers his hand to Triraksha who does not take it. She describes her lack of understanding of his vision. He ultimately convinces her to be with him.
SCENE 6. The Elements give Ashoka offerings of earth, water, fire, and air. He in turn passes these offerings on to his people.
SCENE 7. Cankya and the Ministers continue to be dissatisfied with Ashoka's generosity to the people at the expense of exercising raw power. Ashoka asks Cankya to join in his good works but Cankya says he cannot be a part of a world he does not understand. Cankya takes poison and dies.
SCENE 8. Years pass and Triraksha contemplates what the future holds for her son by Ashoka.
SCENE 9. Triraksha blinds Kunala, Ashoka's' son by Lakshmi.
SCENE 10. Ashoka exiles Triraksha for her crime and declares that her son will never rule, but the crown will follow Lakshmi's line. Triraksha predicts the disappearance of Ashoka's' kingdom after his death.
SCENE 11. As Ashoka lies dying, he summons a guard to his side. He hands him a bowl of fruit to take to the Sage as a final present. During Ashoka's final moments of life, the Elements, Chorus, and Ministers turn to the audience to offer them the story of King Ashoka.
synopsis copyright Judy C. Miner, 1998