Who is the owner: the life-saver or the life-taker?

Dramatis personæ

PRINCE SIDDHARTHA

DEVADATTA (COUSIN OF SIDDHARTHA)

JUDGE

Scene 1

(Prince Siddhartha is walking in the garden in a contemplative mood. All of a sudden a bird falls down in front of him.)

SIDDHARTHA: Ah, poor bird! My heart is bleeding for you. Who has done this? Who has hurt you? Who has aimed this arrow at you? Poor, innocent bird! Let me take the arrow out of your body. (He removes the arrow.) Now let me try to cure you.

(Enter Devadatta.)

DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, this is my bird. What right have you to keep my bird? Give it to me!

SIDDHARTHA: No, this is my bird, Devadatta.

DEVADATTA: Your bird! I shot this bird. It belongs to me. This is my arrow. I aimed at the bird and it fell down here. It is mine, mine, my property, my possession.

SIDDHARTHA: Devadatta, if I had not removed the arrow from the bird, it would have died by this time.

DEVADATTA: The point is not whether the bird would have died or would not have died. The bird is alive, and it is my possession. It was my power, my skill, my capacity that brought the bird down to earth. You cannot have it. Everybody appreciates and admires you for your heart, for your kindness. But now let the world appreciate my capacity, my skill. You be satisfied with what you have: love. And I shall be satisfied with what I have: power. My power, my skill at archery deserves this bird, not your love.

SIDDHARTHA: O Devadatta, you have the power to kill, and I have the power to love. But since I have this animal, this poor innocent bird, you shall not get it back.

DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, there is a time to listen to your philosophy, and there are people to listen to your philosophy. But this is not the time, and I am not the person. You can advocate your philosophy to others who want to be like you, who want to live in the moon-world and have no practical sense. Life has to be practical. Life needs strength, life needs vigour. But your life is a life of laziness and false kindness. You should be strong. You are the Prince, and soon you will have to rule your kingdom. This kind of false attitude will not help you in any way. What I have done today, you will do millions of times more. I was about to kill a bird. You will one day kill men. At that time your philosophy will change.

SIDDHARTHA: No, Devadatta, my philosophy will always remain the same. My philosophy is the philosophy of compassion, and not the philosophy of destruction.

DEVADATTA: You stay with your philosophy, and let me stay with mine. My philosophy is power. Your philosophy is compassion. Well and good. Now give me my bird.

SIDDHARTHA: Sorry, I will not give it to you.

DEVADATTA: Are you prepared to go to the court to fight for this bird?

SIDDHARTHA: Yes, I am fully prepared.

Scene 2

(The court.)

JUDGE: Prince, why do you keep a bird which belongs to somebody else? True, you have compassion, you have love for the bird. You have love for everything. But justice says the bird belongs to Devadatta. It was he who brought the bird down to earth. It is his possession.

SIDDHARTHA: O venerable Judge, I do not know anything about justice, but my heart tells me that he who saves life is the owner, not he who takes life. My heart was bleeding for the bird and I saved it. I am prepared to give my own life for this bird.

DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, you know how to talk. You know perfectly well that no one will kill you in place of this bird. Don’t show your false compassion.

JUDGE: Devadatta, I am the Judge. Let me hear more from him.

SIDDHARTHA: O sir, I feel that this bird belongs to me because I have saved its life. Devadatta practically killed the bird. Please tell me who is more important, the life-saver or the life-destroyer?

JUDGE: Prince, I agree with you. The life-saver is infinitely more important than the life-taker. You have saved the bird’s life; therefore it is you who can claim this bird. The bird is yours. He who saves life or gives new life is the real owner, and not he who takes life or destroys life. Today you have offered your life for a bird. A day will come, I clearly foresee, when you will offer your life for all of humanity. Your heart will cry to save the bleeding heart of humanity. Your heart will cry to illumine the unlit mind of humanity. Your soul will cry to elevate the consciousness of humanity.

DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, today your love-power has won the victory, but a day will come when I shall conquer you with my destruction-power. You will see that power conquers love.

SIDDHARTHA: Devadatta, you are wrong. Love will always conquer, for Love is the Almighty Power.

Prince Siddhartha leaves the palace

Dramatis personæ

PRINCE SIDDHARTHA

CHANNA (HIS CHARIOTEER)

AN OLD MAN

A SICK MAN

A DEAD MAN

A SPIRITUAL MAN

Scene 1

(Channa, Siddhartha’s charioteer, is driving the Prince through the streets.)

SIDDHARTHA: Channa, I am so happy today. For the first time I have come out of the palace. I smell now the real fragrance of life. Look at this panoramic view. My entire being is in deep ecstasy.

CHANNA: O Prince, in your happiness is my happiness. I am always at your disposal.

(All of a sudden Siddhartha sees an old man before him.)

SIDDHARTHA: Channa, who is this man? He can’t even walk. How strange — his hair is white. My hair is black, and yours is, too. Everyone in the palace has black hair. What is wrong with this man’s hair?

CHANNA: Prince, he is an old man; therefore he is very weak. That is why he cannot walk properly. Old people have white hair. One day you and I also will grow old.

SIDDHARTHA: Me? I shall become old? Impossible! I feel miserable for that old man. Channa, I don’t think that I shall ever have to become old.

CHANNA: Prince, how I wish that you would never become old! But, unfortunately, nobody can escape old age.

SIDDHARTHA: Channa, I feel really miserable for that old man, who is so thin and weak. Let us go back to the palace. I hope that tomorrow I shall not have to see an old man.

CHANNA: Oh, no. Tomorrow I shall drive you along another road.

SIDDHARTHA: The very idea of becoming old in the future is making me sad.

CHANNA: Me too, O Prince.

Scene 2

(The following day Channa is driving Siddhartha in the chariot along a different road.)

SIDDHARTHA: Life outside the palace is really beautiful, Channa. Here everything is fresh, charming and soulful.

CHANNA: I am glad that you are enjoying your ride.

SIDDHARTHA: Inside the palace it is all luxury. Outside the palace it is all beauty, nature’s beauty, life’s beauty. (All of a sudden Siddhartha sees a man lying in the street.) Channa, who is this man? He can’t even sit properly. He is lying down in the street. He is pressing his head with one hand and pressing his stomach with the other. His eyes are deeply sunken. He is moaning and shedding bitter tears. What is wrong with him? It seems that he is finding it difficult to breathe.

CHANNA: Prince, that man is sick. He is suffering from severe pain in his head and stomach. Perhaps he has other ailments, too. Prince, everyone falls sick once in a while.

SIDDHARTHA: No! I have never fallen sick. I feel such sorrow for that man. Can I be of any help to him?

CHANNA: No, you cannot be of any help to him, Prince. Only a doctor can help him. I am sure that soon some of his friends will take him to a doctor. Prince, we should move away from this place. As it was yesterday, today also your joy is ruined. The world is full of misery.

SIDDHARTHA: I see. I was totally ignorant of this. Tomorrow we must take another road and drive around the kingdom.

CHANNA: Certainly. Tomorrow we will drive through other streets.

Scene 3

(The next day. Siddhartha and Channa are in the chariot. Channa has taken a new road.)

SIDDHARTHA: Beauty, beauty! Today I see and feel real beauty on earth. We have covered a long distance. We are passing through a series of beautiful spots. (All of a sudden Siddhartha sees some people carrying a man on their shoulders. Tears are running down their cheeks.) Channa, what is wrong with that fellow? Why should others have to carry him? And why are they crying?

CHANNA: Ah, that man is dead.

SIDDHARTHA: What do you mean?

CHANNA: There is no life in him, Prince. His play on earth is over. Everybody has to die one day. Everybody has to go away from this world. Everybody has to suffer from death.

SIDDHARTHA: Not me! I don’t want to die. My beloved wife also has to die? My darling Rahul also has to die? No, that can’t be. I shall not be able to bear such a loss.

CHANNA: Prince, whoever lives on earth has to die eventually. Nobody can live forever.

SIDDHARTHA: Channa, I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. I must conquer death, not only for myself, but for everybody. Channa, please tell me if there is anything more powerful, more destructive than death.

CHANNA: No, Prince, there is nothing more powerful and destructive than death. Death conquers everybody. We are all slaves of death.

SIDDHARTHA: Not me!

CHANNA: We are all at the mercy of death.

SIDDHARTHA: Not me! Channa, now that I have seen an old man, a sick man and a dead man, I think that I have seen everything bad that the world can show me. But something within me tells me that there are still things that I have not seen as yet. I want to come out tomorrow again.

CHANNA: If you want to come out of the palace again, I shall be more than happy to drive you, O Prince.

Scene 4

(The next day. Siddhartha and Channa are in the chariot driving along the streets.)

SIDDHARTHA: Channa, we have covered a very good distance. Today everything is fine. Today I don’t have to see an old man, a sick man or a dead man. Today I shall see and enjoy only nature’s beauty, nature’s lustre, nature’s love, nature’s heart and nature’s soul.

(All of a sudden he sees someone meditating beneath a tree.)

SIDDHARTHA: Who is that man, Channa? What is he doing at the foot of that tree? Why are his eyes closed? What is he doing with a garland of beads?

CHANNA: I am answering your questions one by one, O Prince. Who is that man? He is a spiritual man. What is he doing at the foot of the tree? He is praying and meditating. Why are his eyes closed? He thinks that his prayers will be more sincere and his meditation will be more intense if he keeps his eyes closed. What is he doing with a garland of beads? He is repeating the name of God, and counting the number of chants on the beads.

SIDDHARTHA: I believe all that you say, but what will he get by leading this kind of life?

CHANNA: He will get infinite Peace and infinite Joy.

SIDDHARTHA: Infinite Peace? Infinite Joy? I must go and talk to him. Channa, come along. Let us go and speak to this peculiar man.

CHANNA: Indeed, that’s a nice idea.

(They leave the chariot and approach the spiritual man.)

SIDDHARTHA: May I know your name? What do you do for your living? (No answer from the spiritual man.) Do you know that I am Prince Siddhartha? My father owns this kingdom; he is the Lord of this kingdom. You are ignoring his son. I can do anything to you that I want. For God’s sake, don’t waste my precious time!

(No answer from the spiritual man.)

CHANNA: Prince, forgive me. I must tell you something. He is a spiritual man. He is praying to God; he is meditating on God. We should not disturb him. Who knows what is happening inside him? Perhaps God and he are talking inwardly. Perhaps God is telling him how he can have infinite Peace and Bliss.

SIDDHARTHA: I need that. I need infinite Peace and infinite Bliss, Channa. Do you think I will ever have that kind of Peace and Bliss?

CHANNA: Why not? Why not? Without fail you will have infinite Peace and infinite Bliss if you pray and meditate like this spiritual man.

SIDDHARTHA: Channa, then tomorrow a new life for me begins. I shall pray and meditate all day and night. My present life of luxury is no longer for me. I shall welcome the life of poverty. I shall embrace the life of renunciation. I shall put an end to suffering in this world. I know ignorance is the root of all suffering. I shall uproot the huge ignorance-tree, Channa; I shall exterminate it. The first day I saw an old man; the second day I saw a sick man; the third day I saw a dead man; today, the fourth day, I see a spiritual man. Either tomorrow, or in the near future, or in the distant future, I shall see another man, who has infinite Light, infinite Peace and infinite Bliss. My life is meaningless and useless without eternity’s Light, infinity’s Peace and immortality’s Bliss. The human in me ends its role today, Channa. No more for me this life of pleasure. The divine in me shall begin its role tomorrow. For me, from now on, only the life of universal Peace and transcendental Bliss.

Siddhartha becomes the Buddha

Dramatis personæ

SIDDHARTHA (LATER, THE BUDDHA)

SUJATA (A DEVOTEE)

FIRST ASCETIC

SECOND ASCETIC

THIRD ASCETIC

FOURTH ASCETIC

FIFTH ASCETIC

Scene 1

(Siddhartha is sitting under a tree in high meditation. Enter five ascetics.)

FIRST ASCETIC: O Siddhartha! Siddhartha! Look at Siddhartha!

SECOND ASCETIC: I am sure he will soon realise the highest Truth.

THIRD ASCETIC: Without fail.

FOURTH ASCETIC: We have also been crying for our realisation. We have been praying to God and working so hard in our inner life. But still the realisation of God is a far cry for us. I am happy that at least one person will realise God.

FIFTH ASCETIC: At least Siddhartha will reach the highest Truth. It does not matter who reaches the Truth first; I want people to be free from ignorance.

FIRST ASCETIC: Let us not disturb him. He is in deep meditation, in trance. Let us not disturb poor Siddhartha. May God bless him. He has not been eating at all. He drinks only water. He is so weak, so weak. Poor fellow! Such a hard, austere life! I am sure God will soon grant him illumination.

SECOND ASCETIC: He could have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world. He was the Prince, and in every way he could have lived a life of pleasure.

THIRD ASCETIC: He knows that the life of pleasure cannot give him abiding satisfaction.

FOURTH ASCETIC: But it is very difficult to overcome vital movements, vital pleasure.

FIFTH ASCETIC: God has something special to do with Siddhartha’s life. I can clearly see it.

(Enter Sujata, who bows down to Siddhartha and places before him a bowl of sweetmeats. Siddhartha opens his eyes and accepts food from Sujata.)

SUJATA: O Sage, I am so grateful to you that you have accepted my food. For days you have not eaten anything. Your body has become so weak, so thin. Now I shall bring food for you regularly. You pray to God; I shall serve you. I am so glad, so grateful that you will accept my devoted service.

SIDDHARTHA: I have come to understand that starvation is not right. The extreme path is not the right way. The middle path is by far the best. To reach the highest Truth one need not stop eating altogether. One has to eat a moderate amount of food. The food that is necessary for health, to keep the body fit, one must eat. But at the same time one must not be a voracious eater. When I realise the highest Truth, mine will be the middle path.

FIRST ASCETIC: Shame, shame! Look at Siddhartha! He is eating food!

SECOND ASCETIC: Look who is serving him! Such a beautiful girl!

THIRD ASCETIC: Well, what can you expect? How long can one control his vital life?

FOURTH ASCETIC: Alas, Siddhartha has fallen.

FIFTH ASCETIC: He does not deserve our appreciation and admiration. He has taken sweetmeats from such a beautiful girl. He is serving his senses and he is feeding his body. See, the life of pleasure has already started. A woman is enough to destroy a man’s aspiration no matter how sincere, how devoted he is. One beautiful woman is enough to take even such a great aspirant from the path of Truth. Let us go.

FIRST ASCETIC: Whom to blame? The girl or Siddhartha?

SECOND ASCETIC: I blame the girl. She has ruined Siddhartha’s aspiration.

THIRD ASCETIC: I blame Siddhartha. Who asked him to be so weak? If he had been strong in his mind he could have rejected her.

FOURTH ASCETIC: Well, we must remember that it is a difficult task to conquer the wrong movements of the vital.

FIFTH ASCETIC: It is difficult also to pray to God, to meditate on Truth.

FOURTH ASCETIC: But since he made an attempt to realise the Highest, he should have continued.

FIFTH ASCETIC: I feel sorry for him. At the same time I feel that he can be of no use to us now. I thought that he would illumine us as soon as he got his own illumination.

THIRD ASCETIC: I thought the same. But now it is impossible. Let us leave, let us leave. Siddhartha has failed, Siddhartha has fallen.

Exeunt the five ascetics. All this time Sujata is feeding Siddhartha and showing her loving, soulful gratitude to him. Tears of gratitude are flowing from her eyes.)

SIDDHARTHA: Sujata, don’t pay any attention to them. They are ignorant people. From ignorant people we can expect only ignorance. You have come to feed me, and I am grateful to you. My blessingful joy you will always feel.

SUJATA: O Sage, I don’t pay any attention to those ascetics. They are fools. They do not see your utmost sincerity. They do not see your burning cry for Truth, for God. It will take them thousands of years to realise God, but I clearly see that very soon you will reach your goal. I see that the day of your realisation is fast approaching.

SIDDHARTHA: They came, and now they have left. They saw something in me, and that is why they wanted to stay. But when they saw me take food from you, they left. They left just because their minds are still impure; just because their vitals need more purification; just because they could not identify their lives with my aspiring consciousness and your dedicated consciousness. Your dedication knew and felt the depth of my aspiration. And my aspiration feels the depth of your dedication. Sujata, I bless you with all my heart and soul. Here I shall sit, here at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Here I shall realise the Truth. I shall not move from this spot any more. Even if I suffer from cold or hunger or thirst, or from anything else, I shall not move. Here at this very place my Illumination must take place. And I shall put an end to sorrow.

(Sujata bows to Siddhartha and leaves. Siddhartha sings.)

Hihasane shushyatu me shariram
twagasthi mangsam pralayancha jatu
aprapya bodhing vahukalpa durlabham
naivasanat kayamatah chalishye

(Here on this seat may wither my body;
Skin, bone and flesh may be destroyed.
Without getting the supreme Wisdom
Attainable only with difficulty
In myriad aeons,
Definitely I shall not move from this seat.)

(Siddhartha meditates. He is having visions of life. The life of pleasure, vital movements, sex forces — all are trying to enter into him.)

SIDDHARTHA: Ah, these lower vital movements are trying to enter into me. No, I shall not permit them. I have my inner strength, indomitable strength. I shall fight against them.

(Siddhartha meditates with tremendous determination. Suddenly his whole being is flooded with Light. He starts to sing.)

  /No more my heart shall sob or grieve./
My days and nights dissolve in God’s own Light.
  /Above the toil of life my soul/
Is a Bird of Fire winging the Infinite.

  /I have known the One and His secret Play;/
And passed beyond the sea of ignorance-Dream.
  /In tune with Him, I sport and sing,/
I own the golden Eye of the Supreme.

  /Drunk deep of Immortality,/
I am the root and boughs of a teeming vast.
  /My Form I have known, and realised,/
The Supreme and I are one — all we outlast.

(All of a sudden his body begins radiating a golden Light and Siddhartha becomes the Enlightened One, the Buddha.)

BUDDHA: I know, at last I know the Truth! I know the way. I know the way to end sorrow, to exterminate the tree of suffering. From today I shall serve humanity with my inner Light. I have seen the Truth, and this Truth every human being on earth will achieve. My Truth is for all. My Love is for all. My Realisation is for all. I am for all. This life of mine, this dedicated life of mine, is for humanity’s use. Now that I have the Transcendental Light within me, I shall go out into the world to teach others.

(Exit the Buddha.)

Scene 2

(The five ascetics are meditating. Enter the Buddha.)

BUDDHA: Now I have come to Benares, a sacred place. (He sees the five ascetics) Ahhh! Here are the five ascetics who came to me and left me.

FIRST ASCETIC: Look, here is Siddhartha again.

SECOND ASCETIC: But this time he cannot fool us.

THIRD ASCETIC: Certainly not. He cannot fool us any more.

FOURTH ASCETIC: But look at him. He looks different.

FIFTH ASCETIC: I see something in him, something strange.

FIRST ASCETIC: Well, I seem to see some Light in him.

THIRD ASCETIC: His whole face is glowing.

FOURTH ASCETIC: His face? His entire body is glowing!

FIFTH ASCETIC: He is illumined, totally illumined!

(The Buddha approaches them. One by one they touch the Buddha’s feet. The Buddha, with his compassionate smile, blesses them.)

SECOND ASCETIC: Siddhartha, you are no more Siddhartha.

THIRD ASCETIC: You are the Enlightened One.

FIRST ASCETIC: O Buddha, we are bathing in the sea of your Light.

FOURTH ASCETIC: O Buddha, we are your first disciples.

ALL TOGETHER: With us the journey of your manifestation begins. With us the manifestation of your mission begins.

(The Buddha gives them a smile of compassion, joy and pride.)

BUDDHA: You have my Compassion. You have my Light. You have my Bliss, my children, my sweet children.

Father, give me my share, please

Dramatis personæ

THE BUDDHA

DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA

RAHUL (SON OF THE BUDDHA)

Scene 1

(The Buddha with his disciples. Enter Rahul, his son. The disciples are all excited to see the Buddha’s young son.)

RAHUL: Father?

BUDDHA: Yes, my son?

RAHUL: Mother says that you have given joy to hundreds of people. Now I also want to have joy from you.

BUDDHA: My son, tell me what kind of joy you want from me.

RAHUL: I want my share of your wealth, your property. Everybody has become rich with your wealth. Now I want to be rich, too.

BUDDHA: My son, my wealth is of a different type. I have no money. I have no material wealth. I have only inner wealth, which is Peace, Light and Bliss.

RAHUL: Father, I know Mother has told me about your wealth. You have Infinite Peace, Infinite Love, Infinite Joy, Infinite Bliss. I want to have my share. I am your son. I want to follow your path.

BUDDHA: But you are a child, you are a little boy. How can you accept the path right now?

RAHUL: Father, what is wrong? Is your spirituality meant only for grown-up people and not for children? Is the Truth you have achieved only for the elderly? Is Truth not for everybody? Is God not for everybody, Father?

BUDDHA: Wonderful, my child, wonderful, my son! I accept my defeat. Truth is for all. And my Love, my Peace, my Light you can share, as others already share. I share with you my Joy, my Peace, my Illumination.

RAHUL: Father, have you accepted me as your disciple?

BUDDHA: Yes, I have accepted you with all my heart and soul, my son.

RAHUL: Then you have to accept another also. There is one more seeker you have to accept as your disciple.

BUDDHA: Who? Whom have I to accept, my son?

RAHUL: My mother. My mother wants to be your disciple.

BUDDHA (pauses): My son, I do not accept women as my disciples, my real disciples.

RAHUL: Father, why not? Are women not meant to realise the highest Truth? Your heart is big. Everybody says the Buddha’s heart is as vast as the infinite ocean. If your heart is so big, how then do you deny women the Truth that you have realised? Father, that is unfair. You have to accept my mother. And the day you accept her, you must accept all women.

BUDDHA: My son, I am truly proud of you. You are still a child, you have not yet seen even eleven summers, but your inner knowledge is profound. My son, your knowledge of Truth has given me enormous joy and pride. The world listens to me. I have hundreds of disciples and they listen to me with devotion. I listen to you with my heart’s pride and my soul’s joy. Go and tell your mother that I have accepted her also as my true disciple. Today I take both of you into the /sangha,/ my spiritual community.

The Buddha needs a few mustard seeds

Dramatis personæ

THE BUDDHA

KRISHA GAUTAMI (A DISCIPLE)

LADY

MAN

LITTLE GIRL