Based on Amita Kanekar’s English novel, A Spoke In The Wheel (2014), ‘Avyahat’ (meaning continuous) is set in the third century BC after the brutal Kalinga war wherein the undisputed ruler of the Magadha kingdom, Ashoka, is gradually increasing his influence on the Sangha – the Buddhist monastic order. Upali, a monk at the Mahishmati monastery, has been commissioned to write a biography of Gautam Buddha by Ashoka as a part of his larger project revive Buddhism among masses. But to Ashoka and Sangha’s disagreements, Upali portrays Gautam Buddha in an objective, non-mythified manner. Upali continues to underscore the disparities between Buddha’s teachings and Sangha’s deviation from it. Meanwhile, Upali bonds with Bhima – a war-prisoner of Kalinga and a leader of the Bhurya community – over their shared trauma of the violence at Kalinga and their dislike towards Ashoka. As these and several other characters come together, the play unfolds the conflict between state and its subjects, and the threats that absolute concentration of power through religious sanction pose to the freedom of people.

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