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Watchman of the Lake - 1st PUC English Textbook Solutions

 Watchman of the Lake
R. K. Narayan

Mara is pleading with the headman who was in the process of constructing the road as the king would be visiting soon, to allow him to meet the king.  He wants to inform the king about the warning received from the River Veda about building a tank around it so that no farmers will suffer.
The headman was in a hurry to complete the road work because the king was to pass by that way the next day and the road had to be ready for use.  The  headman  doesn’t  understand  his  dream  and  throws  him  in  the  cell  with  his  hands  and  legs  tied.   He  hid  himself  in  the branches  of  tree  to  draw  the  attention  of  the  king  to  tell  about  his  dream  which  has  revealed  to  him  by  Goddess.  It  was  the goodness of Bhima that Mara was able to escape and meet the king by falling from a tree and stopping the king’s procession.  
 Mara tells a story  from the epic about the spot that standing in front of the king below the  tree, Mara says that  that  place is a sacred spot because Lord Hanuman had stood there once. That was the day when Lakshmana was wounded in the battlefield at Lanka and lay in a deadly faint. Guided by omens, Hanuman came to that spot and then went up the mountain. On the peak of the mountain he found Sanjeevini. He flew to Lanka with it, and at its breath Yama's messengers fled, and Lakshmana rose to his feet with a  new life. Such  was the power of Sanjeevini; and  where it  grew there rose a  steam  which came down the  mountain and flowed near the village.  
Mara, the watchman of the lake allows people and animals to drink water at the lake. He doesn't tolerate anyone killing birds or animals there. Mara threatens the man who was fishing in the lake that if he ever dared to fish in the lake, he would abuse him and push him into tank. He tells his son also to be as strict as he was with such people. He tells him that the lake is sacred and belongs to the Goddess, and her command is that nothing flies or swims or walks in these parts should ever be killed. When Mara sees  a man taking his cow to the water edge, he sends his son to warn that man not to go to deep into the water. We see Mara as a proud watchman of the lake, doing his duty of protecting the water from cruel human beings very sincerely. He is not afraid of anyone and says that even the village headman will have to beg Mara for permission if he wants to touch the water.   
The first time, when the Goddess appeared before Mara, he recognized her immediately as the divine mother and fell at her feet. He was struck by her grand look, he gives description of her appearance that her hair was flying in the wind and she had worn coronet which had stars. Her garment was woven in gold.  
The second time, when the Goddess appeared before Mara, he understood that she was in angry and had terrible look. This time she laughed loudly and she had carried a sword. She did not speak as she spoke at the first time. She wanted to destroy the tank which was built by her wish. Now listening her command, he prostrated before her and begged.  
We see that the same river as the saviour and destroyer. Initially, Goddess herself appears in the dream of Mara and informs him to construct a tank to imprison river Veda which is her plaything. Mara also follows the same as it was told by Goddess. But when everything is going smoothly, the Goddess shows
another form of hers which is terrible to witness. She informs to Mara that she is in a reckless mood to slash the bounds of the lake which is extended more than a tank. Being helpless Mara couldn't think  of anything else except to  meet  and deliver the  message to the king.  But people in  general claim that they  will have control over nature. But this play breaks down those false notions. Being a mortal being Mara couldn't do anything except sacrifices his own very life for the sake of people. His only request is to make his son the next watchman and his grandson and great grandsons after his son to be subsequent watchmen of the lake.  
We see that Ganga is the watchman of the lake and he narrates to his son when he took over his father's duty. From his narration we come to know that the king had come personally to inform Ganga that his father was no more. The king had also asked Ganga to start doing his father's duty immediately. The king had also built a shrine with two figures - one of the Guardian Goddess on the top pedestal and one immediately below it - of Mara. By the king's order, worship was to be performed every Tuesday and Friday. Ganga remarks that scores of people since then had come from far and near to worship. Thus, we see that Mara, who was called a lunatic by the village headman, was worshipped by thousands of villagers.

Comprehension: I  

1.    Where does the action take place?

Ans: - In Sakkrepatna.  

2.    Who is the rustic hero referred in the drama?

Ans: - Mara.

3.    Which lake was Mara watching?

Ans: - Ayyanakere.  

4.    Why were the roads being repaired in the town?
Ans: - Because the king was approaching the city.  

5.    Why was the headman in a hurry to complete the road work?

Ans: - The king Rukmangada was expected pass through the village next day.  

6.    Where is Sakkrepatna?
Ans: - On the base of Baba Budan Hills.  

7.    Who is lunatic according to village headman?
 Ans: - Mara.  

8.    Why did the village headman get angry with Mara?
Ans: - He thought that Mara was a lunatic & always disturbed the work.  

9.    Why did the village headman call Mara a lunatic?
Ans: - Because he was engaged with his own work disturbing the workers.  

10.    Where was Mara when he was called a lunatic?
Ans: - Behind a rock.  

11.    How did Mara spring off according to the workmen?
Ans: - Like a buck.  

12.    Why did the headman order his workers to stop all work?
Ans: - To catch Mara and bring Mara before him.  

13.    Why did the village head decide to lock Mara up in the cellar?
Ans: - He did not want Mara to trouble the King.  

14.    What will Mara do if the headman locks him up in the cellar?
Ans: - Mara will sit there and pray.  

15.    What would the headman offer Mara if he behaves like a good fellow?

Ans: - Gift  

16.    Who gave Mara the greatest gift according to him?

Ans: - His father-in-law.  

17.    What was the greatest gift given?

Ans: - His wife was the greatest gift.  

18.    Where was Mara imprisoned?
Ans: - In the cellar behind the old temple.  

19.    Who was asked to guard Mara? /who was asked to keep Mara in the cellar?
Ans: - Bhima.  

20.    How was Bhīma to look at?

Ans: - Bhima was a giant and could swing an elephant by its tail.  

21.    How did Bhima manage to grow so fat?
Ans: - Bhima's mother gave him iron decoction when he was a baby and at every dawn he ran up the hill with a large grind-stone on his back.  

22.    Who helped Mara to escape from the cellar?
Ans: - Bhima

23.    Why did jailor let Mara out of cellar?
Ans: - On knowing about his dream.  

24.    Where was Mara waiting for the king?
Ans: - In a tree.  

25.    Why was Mara waiting for the king on the tree?
Ans: - He wanted to tell about his dream to the king, but was afraid of the village headman.  

26.    What was the confusion at the arrival of the king?
Ans: - Someone jumped down from the tree as the king was about to arrive.  

27.    Who came in Mara's dream?

Ans: - The goddess of the river.  

28.    How was the goddess' garment?

Ans: - Her garment was of gold woven with lightening.  

29.    Which / what was the plaything of the goddess?
Ans: - Veda.  

30.    Where was Veda born?

Ans: - In the fleeting mists of the mountain top.  

31.    What did the goddess command Mara to tell the king?

Ans: - To build a tank.  

32.    Why did goddess ask the king to build a tank?
Ans: - Not to let Veda leave the village.  

33.    What did Mara call himself as?

Ans: - An unworthy dog

34.    How does the king respond to Mara's information about the tank?

Ans: - When Mara revealed his dream about the goddess, the king believed him and invited him to his palace.  

35.    Where did Hanuman find Sanjeevini?

Ans: - On the crest of mountain in Sakkrepatna  

36.    Who was Ganga?
Ans: - Ganga was Mara's son.  

37.    What was Ganga watching when Mara called him?
Ans: - A man was finishing in the lake.  

38.    Why did the visitor approach Mara?

Ans: - The visitor had come to ask for water from Mara's tank as the crops had parched up and cattle were dying of drought.  

39.    Who would guard the lake after Mara?
Ans: - His son Ganga.  

40.    What is the command of goddess about the animals in that area?

Ans: - The animals should never be killed.  

41.    Who summoned the king one late night?
Ans: - Mara.  

42.    What condition was Mara in?
Ans: - Battered by rain..

43.    What message did Mara bring to the king about the lake?
Ans: - It is about to smash it’s bounds/the goddess is going to destroy the lake.  

44.    On what condition did Mara make the goddess wait for him?
Ans: - He requested the goddess not to destroy the tank wall till he came back after informing the king about the danger to the lake.

45.    What did the king want the announcer to announce?

Ans: - It was the last day of the world.

46.    What did Mara give the king to save the tank?
Ans: - Solution to kill himself

47.    What was Mara's last request?
Ans: - To make Ganga as watchman of the lake.

48.    Where is the figure of the Guardian Goddess of lake?
Ans: - On the top pedestal.

49.    When is the worship performed by the king's order?

Ans: - On the evenings of every Tuesday & Friday.

Comprehension: II

1.    What was the significance of Mara's dream?

Ans: - Mara narrated the king about his dream in which the goddess of the river commanded him to tell the king to build a tank around the river Veda & stop its flowing away. Mara where he met the king told him that the place where they stood was a sacred spot because that was the place Lord Hanuman had stood upon once. Later. He had gone up the mountains to bring Sanjeevini. The magical herb. From the place where the herb grew, a stream began, came down the mountain & became the river Veda which flowed near the town. Its water was the life saver of the people of Sakkarepatna, but in the summer months, it dries up & the town has to go without water. If the king believed Mara's dream & acted upon it, the town of Sakkarepatna would never be deprived of water, even in the hottest summer.

2.    "Nature is both protective & destructive"- how does the play bring out this idea?

Ans: - The goddess of the river is the symbol of nature in this story. Once she came in Mara's dream and commanded him to tell the king to construct a tank around the stream of Veda and not let her flow away from that place. The place was a sacred spot. The goddess claims herself that Veda is her plaything and she plays with it as she wants. She wanted to make the nature protective by constructing a lake so that the people never have to suffer drought. Things were calm for some years. One evening, Veda started swelling. It became stormy. Mara fears floods will destroy the tank and prays to the goddess, she appears and says that she is in a mood to 'kick away the miserable stones they have piled up imprison the waters of her Veda. Thus she wants to destroy the whole thing.

Comprehension: III

1.    How is Mara's role brought out in protecting the lake?

Ans: - Mara is central character of the play Mara struggles a lot to meet the king. He wanted to meet the king Rukmangada as he wanted to narrate his dream in which the goddess of the river came and commanded Mara to tell the king to construct a lake/tank around Veda -Her plaything. The village headman was busy with his workmen repairing the roads as the king was going to pass through that village next day. He called Mara, a lunatic and even put Mara in a cellar. Mara could escape from the prison and climbed up the tree expected king's arrival, though the village headman avoids him, Mara shows his commitment for the livelihood issue of the drought hit villagers. Then the king appointed him as the watchman of the lake. He shows total commitment to the welfare of the living beings depending on the lake. He prevents the people from polluting it. One stormy night, Mara observes the river Veda. Waves rose and harmed the back of the lake. He prays the goddess to let him to  inform  the  king  and  wait  until  he  comes  back.  At  last  she  has  given  a  word  that  she  won't  damage  till  he  returns  from  the palace. That was enough for Mara to save the lake. He goes to the palace to inform the king and decided not to go to back to the lake. He asked the king to kill him. The goddess is kept waiting for the return of Mara. She has not done any  harm to the lake. Thus Mara gives a message to selfish society through his selfless life. His sacrifice saved the people.  

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