Scene 1

(King Vishwamitra and a group of attendants and admirers are in the forest. They are returning to the palace after hunting. On their way they see the cottage of the great sage Vashistha and decide to pay him a short visit. Vashistha welcomes the King and his party.)

VASHISTHA: Your Majesty, you are tired. You are exhausted. You are thirsty. You are hungry.

VISHWAMITRA: O sage, you are perfectly right. But this is not the place where I could expect anything, let alone food. Your poverty beggars description.

VASHISTHA: I see, Your Majesty, I see.

(Vashistha enters into his hermitage and comes back with a large quantity of milk. The King and his attendants are wonder-struck.)

VASHISTHA: Let me serve the King. You all serve yourselves, please.

VISHWAMITRA (after drinking): Ah, my thirst is quenched. The milk is most delicious. O sage, where did you get this milk?

VASHISTHA (smiling): King, I shall tell you later on.

(The sage enters into his hermitage and comes out with a most delicious meal — a variety of dishes. The King and his attendants are simply amazed.)

VASHISTHA: Your Majesty, let me serve you. (To the others.) You all serve yourselves, please.

(While all are eating, Vashistha chants.)


Purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya
purnam evavashisyate

(Infinity is that.
Infinity is this.
From Infinity, Infinity has come into existence.
From Infinity, when Infinity is taken away, Infinity remains.)

VISHWAMITRA: O sage, God made a mistake. He didn’t give me an ear for music. But he has made me a really practical man. Please tell me the source of your milk and all the food that you have offered us just now.

VASHISTHA: Ah, don’t you know the source, my source, my only source?

VISHWAMITRA: I am all curiosity. For God’s sake, do not exploit my patience!

VASHISTHA: Your Majesty, yonder you see my Nandini.


VASHISTHA: Yes. To you she is just an ordinary cow. But to me, my Nandini is my all. She gives me everything I need. She is my protection. She is my salvation. She is my perfection.

VISHWAMITRA: O sage, you may stop now. Everybody knows that Vashistha is a wise sage. I wish you to be wiser. And it is I who can make you so.

VASHISTHA: O King, do make me wiser. I really want to be wiser than I am now.

VISHWAMITRA: I can make you infinitely wiser, this very day. Look, you are pure, but poor. You are pure, but obscure. Vashistha, you love your cow. The cow is your daughter. Now, don’t you want the entire world to appreciate and admire your child? I am the mightiest King on earth. Thousands and thousands of people come to my palace. They all will adore your Nandini. And you need not feel sorry, for I shall give you one thousand cows in return. Only let me have your Nandini.

VASHISTHA: Impossible.

VISHWAMITRA: I shall give you anything you want: money, property, name, fame, whatever you want, in the twinkling of an eye. Just let me have your cow.

VASHISTHA: Impossible.

VISHWAMITRA: Sage, you are a fool! Enough of your audacity. Don’t exploit my patience. Don’t exploit my compassion. Must I unseal your ears so that you can hear from others about my powers? Don’t you know that there is no human being on earth who is not at my express command? How dare you defy me! You don’t deserve my earnest request. You deserve, rightly deserve, my lofty contempt. Your audacity knows no bounds. Therefore I shall give you nothing, absolutely nothing! Vashistha, I am taking your cow away!

VASHISTHA: Impossible.

(Vishwamitra commands his attendants to seize the cow. Nandini charges Vishwamitra’s men with such force that they all run for their lives.)

VISHWAMITRA: I am disappointed, I am disheartened.

VASHISTHA: And badly defeated.

VISHWAMITRA: Defeat! No defeat. Vishwamitra never accepts defeat. Victory, here, there, everywhere: that is my name! I am going back to my palace. Soon I shall be back with my indomitable force, and then I shall take your Nandini away.

VASHISTHA: Impossible.

VISHWAMITRA: You fool! You are the worst fool I have met in this incarnation. (Addressing the heavens.) God, this fool has no equal on earth. Anyway, Vashistha, I shall be back soon. In the meantime drink milk from your Nandini to your heart’s content, for this will undoubtedly be the last chance for you to enjoy her milk.

VASHISTHA: Impossible.

VISHWAMITRA: The entire world knows that I am a man of action, immediate action. Your vast ignorance does not permit you to recognise who I am. I don’t blame you, but I do blame your ignorance.

(Vishwamitra hurriedly leaves the hermitage, followed by his attendants.)