Supreme sacrifice

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The supreme sacrifice of King Shibi

Dramatis personae

KING SHIBI

PRINCE

PRINCESS

FIRST MINOR GOD

SECOND MINOR GOD

THIRD MINOR GOD

BRAHMA

INDRA

QUEEN

SERVANT OF THE KING

(King Shibi was great. He had many divine qualities. He was noble and just. He was pure and kind. When the strong attacked the weak, he would invariably and immediately protect the weak. He loved men and animals equally. He gave his life to save the life of a dove. He was spiritual in the strictest sense of the term.)

(This play is adapted from a story in the Puranas.)

Scene 1

(King Shibi's palace. King, Prince and Princess are enjoying a family talk.)

PRINCESS: Father, I love you. Father, I am afraid of you.

KING: Why do you love me?

PRINCESS: I love you because your heart is all love.

KING: Why are you afraid of me?

PRINCESS: I am afraid of you because you are so great, unimaginably great. Father, please give me some sound advice. I know you don't want me to be afraid of you all the time.

KING: My child, let me tell you the real reason that you love me and the reason that you are afraid of me. Your heart and soul know how to enter into my heart and soul and become one with them. Therefore, you love me deeply. You are afraid of me because your vital and mind are weak. Your vital does not want to expand along with mine. Your mind does not have the same amount of faith in God as my mind has. For these two reasons you are afraid of me, and not because I am so great. Expand your dynamic vital. Your problem will be solved. Fill your mind with the life-saving and life-fulfilling faith. Your problem will be solved.

PRINCESS: Father, I shall do it. Father, I shall do it. I shall prove to be worthy of having you as my father and I shall prove to be a worthy Princess.

KING: Moreover, my child, if I am great, then you are also great. You are my daughter. What I have as a father and as a King is all yours. My greatness will never frighten you. My greatness will only inspire you to enter into my greatness and claim it as your very own. Now that I have told you the real reason that you are afraid of me, I am sure all your problems will be solved. My child, don't be afraid of me. Take what I have. Be what I am.

PRINCESS: Father, I shall. Father, I shall be.

PRINCE: Now it is my turn. Father, I do not love you, but I admire you. I am not afraid of you, but I am jealous of you.

KING: I appreciate your sincerity, my son. Now, tell me, why do you admire me and what makes you jealous of me?

PRINCE: I admire you because you are powerful, the most powerful in the world. Everybody is at your command. Everybody is at your mercy. I am jealous of you because everybody adores you and touches your feet. Alas, they do not adore me. They do not touch my feet. They just smile at me.

KING: When I grow old, I shall retire. You will replace me. At that time, the world will adore you and touch your feet.

PRINCESS: I don't think so. Father, everybody adores you and touches your feet not because you are most powerful, not because you are the greatest King, but because you are all love, all concern and all compassion. My brother does not have these divine qualities in the least, so why should the world adore him and touch his feet?

PRINCE: Father, look! Look! She is really jealous of me. Father, I have all the good qualities that you have and a few more. I run. You can't run. I sing. You can't sing. I climb. You can't climb. I swim and you can't swim.

PRINCESS (sarcastically): You fool, you have mentioned all your great qualities. I assure you that these qualities will not draw even one person towards you. It is simply impossible for the world to adore you and touch your feet for such common qualities. Don't fool yourself. Try to become great inwardly, like our father, with all the divine qualities of the heart. Then only will you really be happy, adored and worshipped by all.

PRINCE: Stop! Stop! Don't preach! I can take care of my life. I shall take care of Father's kingdom. Needless to say, I shall take care of your life, too, when I become King.

PRINCESS: For God's sake, you don't have to take care of my life. I have two fathers to take care of my life. As long as this father is on earth, he will take care of my life. When he (pointing at the King) ends his earthly pilgrimage, my eternal Father will take care of my life. So you will be given no chance to take care of my heart's aspiration, my life's dedication and my soul's surrender.

KING (blessing the Prince): Son, my outer wealth shall satisfy you. (Blessing the Princess.) Daughter, my awakened daughter, my inner wealth shall illumine and fulfil you.

Scene 2

(Three minor gods in Heaven.)

FIRST GOD: That King Shibi, on earth, is disturbing my inner poise.

SECOND GOD: Mine too.

THIRD GOD: Dear friends, what is wrong with Shibi? What is wrong with you two?

FIRST GOD: That Shibi has become a very great aspirant. Soon he will become a most advanced soul.

SECOND GOD: Shibi's heart is as vast as the ocean of love and compassion. His soul is illumination itself.

THIRD GOD: So what? If Shibi really becomes great or is already great, then we should be proud of him instead of jealous. He is, after all, God's most devoted son.

FIRST GOD: Today Shibi is great. Tomorrow he will be greater. The day after tomorrow he will be the greatest. And then he will outshine us all.

SECOND GOD (looking at the third god): When the matchless glory of his life badly eclipses your inner sun, perhaps you will know what a stupid god you are. Don't be philosophical, for God's sake. Be practical.

THIRD GOD: It is a real shame that even the gods are jealous of a human being. (Looking up.) O God, You are truly kind to me. You have made me a perfect stranger to jealousy. Whosoever is great, whosoever possesses God's Divine Greatness, will be admired and adored by me, be he a human being or even an animal.

FIRST GOD: Since you have come to that kind of realisation, to me you are worse than an animal.

SECOND GOD: You are absolutely right, my good friend. He is undoubtedly inferior even to an animal. (Looking at the third god.) Go back to your most undeveloped stone life, to the mineral kingdom, for that is where you belong.

THIRD GOD: You two are corrupting the purity and beauty of Heaven with your impure and wild jealousy. I pronounce my most powerful curse on you. Heaven will soon get rid of you two. You two have cast a slur on Heaven. Poor Heaven, my Heaven, Indra's Heaven, Brahma's Heaven!

FIRST AND SECOND GODS: One more word and you will be found in the stone life. We shall extinguish your life in Heaven!

(Enter Brahma and Indra.)

(The three gods, as if nothing has happened, show their utmost reverence to Brahma and Indra.)

BRAHMA: Occultly we have observed your most deplorable dispute. Even Indra and I are not sure if Shibi is that great.

INDRA: So we have decided to go to Shibi's palace on earth to test him.

BRAHMA: If he is really that great, then we should and we must admire him — his love, his concern, his compassion and his sacrifice.

INDRA: And if he is not all that we hear about him, then the jealous gods can be happy.

BRAHMA: Hard is it to conquer jealousy.

INDRA: Alas, I suffered from that disease for a long time, but now jealousy and I do not live together. We live separately, we think separately and we fulfil our ideals separately. Now I am ready to touch the feet of anybody who is superior to me in spirituality.

BRAHMA: Indra, I admire your sincerity. I adore your humility.

INDRA (to the minor gods, smiling): You three wait here and see. We two are entering into the world. Brahma will assume the form of a huge hawk and I shall assume the form of a tiny dove.

Scene 3

(King Shibi's palace. The King and Queen are sitting on their thrones. The Prince and Princess are also present. Suddenly a beautiful dove flies in.)

DOVE: O King Shibi, save me, save me! In you I seek my haven.

I fear to speak, I fear to speak.
My tongue is killed, my heart is weak.

I fear to be, I fear to be.
Long dead my life of faith in me.

KING (caressing the dove): Sweet bird, cast aside all your fear. My concern is for you. My protection is for you. I am all for you.

(A huge hawk flies in and starts chasing the dove. The King stops him and places the dove in his protecting lap.)

HAWK: King, this bird is my prey. This bird is mine! You are grabbing my possession. I have worked hard to get this bird. O King, I am hungry. As you have the right to deal with human beings, so have I the right to deal with birds. O King, please don't be greedy. I eat my food and you eat yours.

KING: O hawk, you are powerful, but I believe I am more powerful. You say that you are hungry. I shall feed you. Tell me what meat you would like to eat. Do you care for deer's meat? Do you care for bull's meat? Do you care for boar's meat? Just tell me what kind of meat you like best. In no time I shall feed you.

HAWK: To tell the truth, I care only for dove's meat.

KING: Unfortunately, that is impossible. The dove is under my adamantine protection. Any other meat I can give you and I shall give you, immediately and without fail.

HAWK: Are you sure? Will you not eat your words?

KING: Never. I give my word of honour.

HAWK: Then, O King, give me immediately the flesh of your own body equal in weight to the weight of this dove!

KING: That's all? Take it gladly. I give you my flesh.

(Shibi orders a pair of scales and a big, sharp knife. A servant brings them.)

HAWK: I am sick of hearing about your compassion. Here is a golden chance to prove it. One thing more: I want the piece of flesh right from your chest, and I want you to put the flesh on the scale and weigh it. Until the weight of the flesh is equal to that of the dove, I will not be satisfied!

(Shibi smiles and stabs his own chest and cuts out a piece of flesh and puts it on the scale opposite the dove. The bird weighs more.)

QUEEN (bursting into tears): No more, my Lord, no more! I can't stand it. You rascal hawk! Be satisfied with this one piece. Otherwise, I shall order my soldiers to kill you.

HAWK: O Queen, you had better speak to the King. I know it is not an easy task to keep one's promise.

KING: I shall keep my promise. I shall take more flesh out of my body.

QUEEN: Impossible! My heart shall not permit you to do so. I claim your body to be mine, absolutely mine. Therefore, I shall not allow you to cut this body of mine. (Holding firm her husband's hands.) Now, you animal! (Looking at the hawk.) Only an animal can ask for human flesh! Look, since my husband and I are one, this time I am going to offer my flesh to add to my husband's flesh. I am sure that after this it will equal the weight of the dove. You filthy creature!

HAWK: Queen, call me what you will. After all, it is your own husband's promise. If he fails, he fails. The world will laugh at him, at his so-called compassion. Anyway, I am not going to accept your flesh; I want only his flesh.

KING: You are right, hawk. My flesh, only my flesh.

(The Queen starts weeping and screaming, and cursing the hawk. The King cheerfully cuts another piece of flesh from his chest and puts it on the scale. To everyone's surprise, the dove still weighs more.)

HAWK: All right. King, you can cut flesh from any part of your body you want to. But it must all equal the weight of the dove.

KING: Thank you, my kind friend.

(This time the King cuts a very large piece of flesh from his right arm and places it on the scale. Still the dove weighs more. Everybody is surprised and horror-struck. The Prince and Princess are bitterly crying, shedding helpless tears.)

PRINCESS: It is Father's promise, therefore I am helpless.

PRINCE: Sister, I know what you mean about Father's promise. I too am helpless. Otherwise, by this time I would have kicked this ugly animal out.

KING: My daughter, my son, please, please allow me to fulfil my promise peacefully and cheerfully.

(This time the King cuts quite a few pieces from his body and puts them on the scale opposite the dove. Alas even then the dove weighs more. Disappointed, disheartened and utterly bewildered, he slowly steps onto the scale with his whole body. The scale now balances perfectly. The two birds immediately assume the forms of Brahma and Indra.)

BRAHMA: O peerless King Shibi, you deserve love, admiration and adoration from God's entire creation. I tested you. I was the hawk.

INDRA: I was the dove. Your heart is the infinite Compassion of the Supreme. Your life is the transcendental Pride of the Supreme.

(Shibi bows down to Brahma and Indra.)

Scene 4

(In Heaven, the first two minor gods are hiding in shame and the third god is dancing with joy.)

THIRD GOD: I knew it! I knew that Shibi has no equal either on earth or in Heaven. The depth of his heart is unfathomable. The height of his soul is immeasurable. His life is the fully manifested compassion of the Supreme's supreme Perfection.

Buddham saranam gacchami

Dramatis personae

GATEMAN

DEVADATTA (COUSIN OF THE BUDDHA AND A CLOSE FRIEND OF AJATASHATRU)

AJATASHATRU (THE PRINCE, LATER KING)

DR. JAIVAKA (PHYSICIAN OF KING AJATASHATRU)

THE BUDDHA

DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA

Scene 1

(King Bimbisara's palace. Enter Devadatta.)

GATEMAN: May I know whom you want, sir?

DEVADATTA: Yes, please go and tell Prince Ajatashatru that his friend Devadatta is here.

(Exit Gateman. Enter Ajatashatru.)

AJATASHATRU: Come in, come in. I am so happy to see you.

DEVADATTA: I wish to have a private audience with you. May I?

AJATASHATRU: Yes, come into my chamber, come into my room. Nobody is there.

Scene 2

(A most beautiful room. Enter Ajatashatru and Devadatta.)

DEVADATTA: Ajatashatru, my friend, tell me frankly: are you jealous of anybody?

AJATASHATRU: I don't think so.

DEVADATTA: I am. I am so jealous of Buddha. But my jealousy does not help me at all. He now has thousands of disciples, while I have only a few. And even those few disciples are leaving me and going to him. I hate him! I want to kill him!

AJATASHATRU: Oh, now it seems to me that I am also jealous of someone.

DEVADATTA: Ah, you are also jealous of someone? Please tell me who.

AJATASHATRU: I am jealous of my father, the King. Everybody touches his feet; everybody adores him. He has so much power and wealth.

DEVADATTA: You see, you have as much reason to be jealous of your father as I have to be jealous of Buddha. But we can easily solve your problem.

AJATASHATRU: If you solve my problem I will also try to solve your problem, Devadatta.

DEVADATTA: Ajatashatru, your father is old. This is the time for him to take rest and retire, but these old men never give way. Even until the last moment they want to enjoy the world, they want to lord it over the world. In every way you have surpassed your father. You have strength; you have power. Just throw the old man into prison and then you will become King. You can rule his kingdom peacefully and bravely. Who is there to stop you? I shall help you.

AJATASHATRU: It is an excellent idea, an excellent idea! I shall do it. And when I become King, I promise you, Devadatta, I shall help you kill Buddha.

DEVADATTA: Be sure you don't eat your promise, Ajatashatru. Now you are the Prince, but you will soon be King. And it is on the strength of my advice that you will become King.

AJATASHATRU: I am not a mean fellow. I shall remember your help. I want to become King, and with your advice I shall fulfil my desire. Then I shall help you get rid of Buddha.

Scene 3

(Months later. King Ajatashatru is consulting his physician, Dr. Jaivaka.)

AJATASHATRU: Why have I begun to suffer from all kinds of diseases and ailments since I have become King? When I was Prince I was always healthy and robust. But now I have lost all my health. Is it because of the pressure of my work?

DR. JAIVAKA: No, King, it is not that which is causing your suffering.

AJATASHATRU: Why, then, am I suffering?

DR. JAIVAKA: Your disease, King, is psychological. You have an inner disease.

AJATASHATRU: What kind of inner disease? What do you mean by inner disease, Dr. Jaivaka? How will you cure me?

DR. JAIVAKA: O King, I will not be able to cure you because your disease is not physical. Your disease is mental, psychological, spiritual. Only Buddha can cure you.

AJATASHATRU: Buddha? Lord Buddha? Do you know that Devadatta and I are intimate friends, most intimate friends?

DR. JAIVAKA: Yes, I know it. And I also know that Devadatta helped you become King.

AJATASHATRU: Certainly he did. And I promised him that I would help him get rid of Buddha.

DR. JAIVAKA: That also I have heard. I am fully aware of it.

AJATASHATRU: Then why do you say that Buddha can cure me? That is impossible.

DR. JAIVAKA: O King, do you want me to tell you the truth, or do you want me to flatter you? No ordinary doctor can cure you. Only Buddha the Doctor can cure you. Your heart is extremely pure. Your heart is feeling miserable for what you have done to your father and for what you have been doing to Buddha, the innocent Buddha, the Light of the world. Once you rolled a big stone towards him while he was meditating on his disciples, but it veered away before hitting him. On another occasion, you set a mad elephant to destroy him. But Buddha just looked at the elephant and it bowed down to him. Instigated by Devadatta, in various ways you have tried to kill him, but each time you have failed, and you will always fail. Buddha has realised the highest Truth. Your heart is crying for the highest Truth. This is your disease, the disease of your spiritual heart. If you really want to be cured, go to Buddha. He is the Divine Doctor, the Doctor Supreme. Nobody on earth but Buddha can cure you. He can and he will.

AJATASHATRU: O human doctor, you are sending me to the Divine Doctor. I am grateful. My life of vital desire has ended. My life of soul's aspiration is beginning with your divine advice.

DR. JAIVAKA: Your soul is more than ready to accept the Buddha's Light. Buddha the infinite Light will transform Ajatashatru, the King of ignorance, into Ajatashatru, the Light of immortalising Bliss.

Scene 4

(The Buddha with hundreds of disciples. Enter King Ajatashatru. All the disciples are excited. Ajatashatru prostrates himself before the Buddha.)

AJATASHATRU: O Lord of the world, out of our stupendous ignorance my friend Devadatta and I tried to kill you several times, but we failed, badly failed. Today I am at your august feet, to be killed immediately by your wisdom-sun.

BUDDHA: O King…

AJATASHATRU: Master, I am not your King. You are the King of my heart and soul. You are the Lord of my heart and soul. I am your undeserving slave.

BUDDHA: You are not my slave, you are my son, my chosen son. My compassion-sun forgives your ignorance-night. My wisdom-sun illumines, liberates and immortalises your heart's cry.

(Enter Devadatta. Falls at the feet of the Buddha.)

DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, while we two were quite young I fought with you over the possession of a bird. The strength of my unruly, undivine vital had to surrender to the strength of your all-loving heart. You won the bird. I told you that one day with my vital love of power I would conquer your heart's power of love. Since then I have tried in hundreds of ways to humiliate you, to ruin your mission and to kill you, but I have failed. You forgave me then, O Siddhartha. Now, O Buddha, my shameless life desperately begs your forgiveness.

BUDDHA: Devadatta, forgiveness is granted.

DEVADATTA: O Buddha, if you have really forgiven this inhuman creature, then do me another favour out of your infinite bounty. Your heart of compassion took care of that innocent bird. Now I pray to you to take care of the crying, bleeding bird inside my heart. And also I pray to you to take care of its cage, this body.

(Devadatta sings three times.)

Buddham saranam gacchami
dhammam saranam gacchami
sangham saranam gacchami

(I go to the Buddha for refuge.
I go to the Dharma for refuge.
I go to the Order for refuge.)

Surya and Sanjna

Dramatis personae

NARRATOR

MORTALS

FIRST COSMIC GOD

SECOND COSMIC GOD

THIRD COSMIC GOD

FOURTH COSMIC GOD

FIFTH COSMIC GOD

SURYA (THE SUN-GOD)

VAYU (ANOTHER COSMIC GOD)

SANJNA (A MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL, LATER WIFE OF SURYA)

VISHWAKARMA (SANJNA'S FATHER, THE ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE)

YAMA, VAIVASWATHA (SONS OF SURYA AND SANJNA)

YAMUNA (DAUGHTER OF SURYA AND SANJNA)

CHHAYA (HANDMAID OF SANJNA)

SHANI, MANU (SONS OF SURYA AND CHHAYA)

TAPTI (DAUGHTER OF SURYA AND CHHAYA)

VISHNU

SHIVA

KUMARA

Scene 1

(The mortals on earth are offering their soulful prayers to Surya, the sun-god.)

MORTALS (chanting together):

Aum
bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

"(We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the Heaven. May He stimulate and illumine our minds.)"

Scene 2

NARRATOR: Every day Surya draws his golden chariot across the heavens, offering light and illumination to the heavens and to the earth.

(In Heaven a cosmic god is speaking to Surya.)

FIRST COSMIC GOD: Surya, what is wrong with you today? Why are you so unhappy, O sun-god? Your unhappiness is creating tremendous problems for earth. Earth has become all darkness. There is tremendous chaos there. If you go on this way, if you have a heavy heart and do not do your job, the earth will be doomed. Heaven also will be doomed. It is your presence that illumines the heavens as well as the earth. Tell me, Surya, what is wrong with you today?

SURYA: I shall confide in you. I am in love.

FIRST COSMIC GOD: You are in love? With whom are you in love?

SURYA: I am in love with a most beautiful girl whom I saw yesterday when I was riding across the heavens. Her beauty has conquered my heart. Her beauty has enslaved my mind. The memory of her beauty is torturing me. I cannot do anything but think of her. My heart is crying for her. What shall I do?

Scene 3

(The cosmic gods are having a meeting.)

FIRST COSMIC GOD: Something has to be done. If Surya goes on in this way, if he does not do his job, then we will be in total darkness.

SECOND COSMIC GOD: The asuras will destroy the earth. Earth will cry to us for blessings, and we will not be able to offer any. Earth will cry in utter despair, and we will be helpless.

THIRD COSMIC GOD: And we will be destroyed ourselves very soon if Surya does not come back and offer his light to us.

VAYU: Don't worry. I am going in search of that girl. I shall find her, and then I shall make arrangements for her to marry Surya.

FOURTH COSMIC GOD: If you are successful, we shall be most grateful.

FIFTH COSMIC GOD: And if you are not, then we shall all be ruined.

VAYU: Don't worry, my friends. I know I have the capacity. I can easily find out who she is; I can easily get them together; I can easily arrange for their marriage.

COSMIC GODS (together): All our joy, all our love, all our gratitude to you, dearest brother Vayu.

(Exit Vayu.)

Scene 4

(A most beautiful girl is sitting in a corner of the Celestial Dwellings. Enter Vayu.)

VAYU: You! Ah, I have discovered you at last. Please tell me your name. (She gives him a sulky smile.) Tell me. Tell me, please. Our Lord Surya is deeply in love with you. Because of you, he is not doing his work any more and we shall soon be plunged into total darkness. Tell me, tell me who you are or Heaven and earth will perish. Whose daughter are you?

SANJNA: My name is Sanjna. My father is Vishwakarma.

VAYU: Your father is Vishwakarma? You are his daughter? Come, let us go to your father's house. I shall tell him all about our Surya's love for you.

SANJNA: Are you sure he loves me?

VAYU: Loves you! Loves you! That is an understatement. His heart is crying for you. His heart is breaking for you. He can think of nothing but you. He needs you; he desperately needs you, and he wants to marry you. All the cosmic gods will celebrate your wedding. We shall all have infinite joy, infinite delight to see you two united.

SANJNA (smiling): Come with me.

(Exeunt Vayu and Sanjna.)

Scene 5

(Vishwakarma's home. Enter Sanjna with Vayu.)

VISHWAKARMA: Sanjna, I have told you repeatedly not to speak to strangers. What do you mean by bringing home an unknown person to me?

VAYU: O Vishwakarma, I may not be known to you, but you are well known to me. I have not come here to hurt you or to hurt your daughter. I have come to tell you something that will give you enormous joy. The sun god, Surya, without whom we cannot exist, is in love with your daughter. All the cosmic gods have met together, and they have sent me to you. Please listen to our prayer. Allow your daughter to marry Surya. Their marriage will have the blessings of the entire earth and all the higher worlds.

VISHWAKARMA: I can't believe my ears! I can't believe my eyes! Surya likes my daughter?

SANJNA: Likes! Likes! He loves me!

VAYU: O Vishwakarma, you ask if Surya likes your daughter. She says that he loves her. But I wish to say that both of these are understatements. Your daughter has unconditionally conquered his heart. He is pining away for her.

VISHWAKARMA: Then let us not delay. Let us arrange for the wedding to be celebrated as soon as possible. Where will it take place?

VAYU: In the highest regions of Heaven. Tomorrow you bring your daughter, and all the cosmic gods will be there. We shall celebrate the wedding of Surya and Sanjna.

Scene 6

NARRATOR: All the cosmic gods are present. Surya and Sanjna's wedding takes place. Now Surya has become the happiest god. Once again he draws his chariot across the heavens with enormous delight. Earth is extremely happy with their marriage, since earth is once more getting sunshine. Heaven is happy, since Heaven is getting illumination as before. Sanjna is appreciated, admired and adored by everyone.

Scene 7

NARRATOR: Sanjna has long since given birth to two most beautiful sons, and one daughter: Yama, Vaivaswatha and Yamuna.

(The three children are together in the palace of their father.)

YAMA: We are so proud to have such parents. Our father is so great; our mother is so beautiful.

VAIVASWATHA: Indeed we are happy, proud and blessed.

YAMUNA: I am the happiest woman in God's creation. My father is the most powerful of all the gods. My mother is the most beautiful woman of all. We are the children of the most powerful and illumining, and of the most beautiful and charming parents. None can be prouder than we three.

Scene 8

(In Sanjna's room.)

SANJNA: Chhaya! (Enter Chhaya.) Chhaya, I have made a decision. I have lived with my beloved Lord for many years, but slowly his fiery brightness is killing me. His light is so powerful that his very presence tortures me. When I look at him I am blinded; when I take a breath I breathe in only fire. I am burning up. His golden rays are destroying my very existence. It is impossible for me to stay with him in spite of his deep love for me. I wish you to replace me.

CHHAYA (with enormous joy): I will be Surya's wife?

SANJNA: Yes, Chhaya. He will not know. Even when he comes home after offering his light to Heaven and earth, his brilliance remains always with him. His own brilliance will blind him, and he will not realise that you are not his real wife.

CHHAYA: I am so grateful to you, Mistress, for allowing me to replace you.

SANJNA (blessing Chhaya): You take my place. I am going to take shelter in a cool, dense forest. There I shall live my own life, and everything will be mild, cool and soothing.

Scene 9

NARRATOR: In the course of time Surya and Chhaya had three children — also two boys and a girl. Their names were Shani, Manu and Tapti. Although they were step-brothers and step-sisters, Yama, Vaivaswatha and Yamuna became very good friends with Shani, Manu and Tapti. They were all very affectionate to each other. And although Chhaya was secretly fonder of her own children than of Sanjna's children, she used to hide her favouritism for fear that Sanjna's children would betray her secret.

(Chhaya is secretly offering special sweets and gifts to her three children. Enter Yama suddenly and sees her.)

YAMA (furious): You impostor! Are you like that, then? We never thought that you were so mean. You are offering sweets and gifts to your own children and not to us. You maidservant! We have kept the secret that you were our mother's handmaid because we did not want our father to be angry with our mother, yet even then you show favouritism to your own children. You did not marry our father. To think that you act as his wife! You are not fit to be called mother by us! Had our father known that you were not his real wife he would have killed you long ago! You worthless creature! I shall kick you!

CHHAYA: Stop, Yama! Don't you dare kick me! I curse you! You will suffer tremendous pain in your right leg, and soon you will not be able to walk on it. You will be crippled.

(Exit Yama, running.)

Scene 10

(Outside Surya's room. Enter Yama and knocks at the door. Surya is not inside. Yama waits outside the door. Enter Surya.)

SURYA: Yama, what do you want? Is there something wrong?

YAMA: Father, I have something to tell you.

SURYA: Why are you so frightened and sad? What is wrong, my son?

YAMA: Father, I have been cursed.

SURYA: By whom?

YAMA: By my mother.

SURYA: Oh, well, don't worry. What did she say?

YAMA: She said I will be crippled; my right leg will be paralysed.

SURYA: Don't worry. She is your mother. A mother's curse does not come true.

(Yama's leg is already swollen and painful. He cannot move it at all.)

SURYA: It is very strange, but it seems that her curse has come true. Well, don't worry, my son. Your mother was angry with you for some reason, but I shall cure you. (Using his occult power he cures Yama's leg.) My son, I have always heard that a mother's curse on her children will never come true, for the lives of her children are dearer to her than her own life. I can't understand why your mother's curse affected you. Even if you did something wrong, something very serious, still she is your mother. For her to curse you and for her curse to come true is very strange, very strange. There must be something wrong.

YAMA: Father, shall I tell you the secret?

SURYA: What is your secret, my son? Tell me.

YAMA: Father, you have the deepest love for our mother, Sanjna. But I must tell you that she left us long ago. She was afraid of you. Your brilliance blinded her. Your fiery looks burned her. Your very presence tortured her. She could not bear your power and your brilliance, so she asked her handmaid, Chhaya, to take her place and be our mother. Now she is living in the thick, cool forest. We did not tell you because we thought that you would bring our mother back and then she would die. But today I saw my step-mother, Chhaya, giving sweets and gifts secretly to her own children. I got angry and threatened to kick her. When I said this she cursed me, and her curse came true because she is not my real mother.

SURYA (stupefied): Sanjna is gone? My beloved Sanjna has left me? I have been giving all my love and affection to an impostor? Yama, Yama, my son, what shall I do? I must have my darling Sanjna back. But I do not want to hurt her. I do not want to burn her with my fiery presence.

YAMA: Perhaps, Father, there is someone who will know how to diminish your fiery power. Then Mother can come back to you.

SURYA: You are right. Tell Vayu to search the entire universe until he finds someone who can diminish my light.

YAMA: Yes, Father. I shall tell him.

(Exit Yama.)

Scene 11

(Surya's room. Enter Vayu and Vishwakarma.)

VAYU: Surya, I have found the person who can help you.

VISHWAKARMA: Surya, I am the architect of this universe. I can take away enough of your brilliance so that my daughter will be able to live with you again. Here is my lathe. I shall grind off an eighth part of your brightness and power. This eighth will fall to earth shining and blazing. But before it touches the ground I shall transform it, I shall shape it. It will become three particular things. From this eighth part of your brilliance will come the discus of Vishnu, which is the Sudarshan chakra; the trident of Shiva and the lance of Kumara.

(Vishwakarma carves off a portion of Surya's light. Vishnu, Shiva and Kumara appear momentarily, side-stage, with their weapons.)

SURYA: You have saved me, dearest Father. You have given me another chance to live happily with my beloved wife.

(He touches Vishwakarma's feet.)

Scene 12

(The forest. Surya is searching for Sanjna.)

SURYA (seeing her at last): Forgive me, forgive me, my beloved Sanjna. I did not know that I was hurting you. Now my brilliance has diminished, and you shall suffer no more.

SANJNA: I always loved you, I love you still. But the brilliance of your light was killing me. That was the only reason I left you. I forgive you, my dearest husband. With all my heart I forgive you.

(Enter Vayu, Vishwakarma and the six children.)

SANJNA: Father, Father, you have saved us. We really loved each other. Surya loved me, and I loved him wholeheartedly. Only I could not bear his fiery presence. But now that you have taken away a little bit of his brilliance, I can live with him again. You have all my heart's joy and gratitude. It is you, Father, who have given us this boon — to remain together, eternally one.

SURYA AND SANJNA (together): Father, we are all gratitude to you.

Harish Chandra

Dramatis personae

KING HARISH CHANDRA

QUEEN SHAIVYA (HIS WIFE)

VISHWAMITRA (A GREAT SAGE)

ROHITASHWA (THE PRINCE, SON OF HARISH CHANDRA AND SHAIVYA)

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

PRIME MINISTER

MINISTER OF EDUCATION

MINISTER OF FINANCE

MINISTER OF COMMERCE

MANY SUBJECTS

PRIEST

CROWD OF SLAVE DEALERS AND SLAVES

RICH MAN

VILLAGE BRAHMIN

CHANDALA [UNDERTAKER] (LATER, YAMARAJ THE KING OF DEATH)

(Harish Chandra was the most pious King in Ayodhya. He was sincerity incarnate. His continuous faith in an integral life was unparalleled.)

(This play is adapted from the original story in the Markandeya Purana.)

Scene 1

(King Harish Chandra and Queen Shaivya are roaming in the forest and enjoying themselves.)

HARISH CHANDRA: Shaivya, dearest to my heart and nearest to my soul, I have not heard you sing for a long, long time. Please do me a great favour: sing a song.

(Shaivya sings.)

Into the world of beauty's flame,
Into the world of offering's game,
Into the world of lustre-flood,
I came, I came, my existence came.

HARISH CHANDRA: Shaivya, your life's name is duty. Your soul's name is beauty. Your heart's name is purity. And the name of your voice is the flood of ecstasy. Shaivya, in you I am complete, and with you I am perfect.

(Suddenly, the King and the Queen hear a most pitiful cry.)

THE VOICE: Save me! Help me! Save me! Help me!

(Harish Chandra runs at top speed towards the sound. He comes to a spot where Vishwamitra is rapt in trance. The King is fully aware of the fact that Vishwamitra's anger is not only of the quickest but also of the wildest. Immediately he touches the feet of the sage. With his hands folded he speaks.)

HARISH CHANDRA: O sage of the highest magnitude, your august forgiveness my tremulous heart implores. I have tortured your sublime peace. Your forgiveness I deserve not, but my heart longs for your compassion-flood.

VISHWAMITRA: Your end is come. Today marks the end of your earthly existence. You heard the voice of the spirit crying. I want to conquer the spirit of sciences. I want to control the spirit. I want to lord it over the spirit. Tremendous success was fast approaching my fearsome attempt. But now, you fool, you rascal, you have ruined everything. Prepare yourself to brave my fatal curse. In the twinkling of an eye, my third eye shall utterly destroy your entire kingdom!

HARISH CHANDRA: O peerless sage, kill me; destroy my life, but not my kingdom. Innocent are my subjects. Pure is my kingdom. Destroy them not, I pray. Demand anything else. In no time I shall fulfil your express command, in no time!

VISHWAMITRA: All right. Remember your promise. If you fail to fulfil your promise, my all-destructive curse shall embrace your most beautiful kingdom. You have badly and shamelessly prevented me from fulfilling my desire of today. Tomorrow I shall come to your palace and bless you with my second and last, absolutely last desire. Tomorrow if you fail, your existence and the existence of your vast kingdom will be found in the land of nowhere.

Scene 2

(The following day, Harish Chandra is seated on his supremely beautiful throne. Behind him are seated Shaivya and the little Prince, Rohitashwa. Right in front of the King are seated his ministers and the commander-in-chief. Vishwamitra rushes in.)

VISHWAMITRA: Harish Chandra, give me your kingdom! Leave it with me now and forever. This is my kingdom. You must immediately leave my palace and my kingdom. Today if you break your promise of yesterday, your life and your kingdom's life will be doomed all at once. Yesterday I wanted to destroy you and your kingdom. But today I just want to have your kingdom. That's all.

HARISH CHANDRA: O most venerable Sir, to you I offer my kingdom, my kingdom's heart and soul. My eyes and feet shall now proceed towards an uncharted land.

SHAIVYA (to King): My Lord, you can never go alone. You cannot deny the breath of my heart. You cannot deny our fondest child Rohitashwa. Your son and I shall follow you. You are our all. You are sincerity's all. You are truth's all.

(Shaivya sings the farewell song to the palace.)

O Lord, where is the Truth?
"Where your Beloved is."
Who is my Beloved, who?
"In whom your life is peace."

(The King, the Queen and the little Prince bow down to the sage Vishwamitra and are ready to leave the palace. The helpless ministers and the commander-in-chief offer their heartfelt and soulful affection, love, appreciation, admiration and adoration to their beloved King.)

PRIME MINISTER: Your Majesty, you will always be remembered with highest praise, deepest fondness and mightiest adoration.

VISHWAMITRA: Enough! Shut up!

MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Your Majesty, without any hyperbolical encomiums, you are a King in the highest degree amiable and adorable.

VISHWAMITRA: Enough! Shut up!

MINISTER OF FINANCE: Your Majesty, I have served you with transcendental joy and pride.

VISHWAMITRA: Enough! Shut up!

MINISTER OF COMMERCE: Your Majesty, your supremely devoted life may now pass in penury, but never in obscurity.

VISHWAMITRA: Enough! Shut up!

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF: Your Majesty, we shall, before long, thunder against this heartless brute. We shall without fail bring you back to your kingdom.

VISHWAMITRA: Enough, enough, enough! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You feeble heart, you insignificant creature! (Turning towards Harish Chandra.) Harish Chandra, delay not! My indomitable will shall brook no delay. Leave my palace. Leave my kingdom.

(The King, the Queen and the Prince leave the palace. On the way, innumerable subjects pay their last homage in silence to the royal family. Pure love wells forth from the inmost recesses of their hearts.)

Scene 3

(Harish Chandra, Shaivya and Rohitashwa have travelled a few miles. All of a sudden they hear a frightening voice. They turn around only to see Vishwamitra approaching them in the greatest hurry imaginable.)

VISHWAMITRA: Stop, Harish Chandra! I had not the slightest idea that you were a rogue of the deepest dye. No doubt you have made a generous gift. But what about the dakshina, the sacerdotal fee? I believe you are an Aryan. I believe you are an Indian. Have I to remind you of the simplest religious practice that any gift offered to someone must needs be followed by dakshina? Tell me why and how you have managed to forget such a simple thing. Shall I call you the worst possible fool, or the worst possible rogue? I think the latter you rightly deserve.

HARISH CHANDRA: O sage, at your feet I placed everything that I had. Nothing have I now. Please give me a fleeting month. At the end of the month I shall offer you my humble dakshina.

VISHWAMITRA: Harish Chandra, remember your promise. When this month comes to an end I shall approach you and demand my absolutely legitimate due.

HARISH CHANDRA: O sage, by your grace, by God's Grace, I shall be worthy of my heart's soulful promise. At the end of the month please bless me with your august presence and collect your due.

VISHWAMITRA: All right.

Scene 4

(The King, the Queen and the little Prince wander from place to place, land to land, with no destination whatsoever.)

HARISH CHANDRA: Alas, how can I pay my dakshina to the sage? The fateful month is nearly over. I have left no stone unturned to get a job. No, not a single soul is kind enough to employ me. They say I am weak. They feel I shall be of no use to them. Alas, stark starvation is responsible for my poor health.

ROHITASHWA: Mother, Mother, I am very hungry. I am very tired. I cannot walk, I shall not walk any farther. My head, my stomach and my feet are burning like a hot oven. Look at my feet, look! They are full of blisters. I think I have run a thorn into my left foot. Where are our horses? Where is my father's chariot?

SHAIVYA (shedding unavoidable tears): My child, we are nearing a temple. It is the best temple in Varanasi. I am sure they will give us something to eat. And perhaps your father will get a job there. Then we shall be rich and happy again.

(The three arrive at the temple gate in the small hours of the morning.)

PRIEST: Who are you? What brings you people here at this odd hour?

HARISH CHANDRA: We have been travelling and travelling. We are hungry and exhausted, Our son is totally exhausted and extremely hungry. We shall be so grateful to you if you bless him with some prasad from your holy temple.

(The priest goes inside the temple and brings some prasad for the child and gives it to him. The hungry child eats with greatest joy.)

HARISH CHANDRA: Thanks, thanks a million times to you, O chosen son of God! Would you care to fulfil another desire of mine?

PRIEST: Certainly, by all means, if it is within my capacity.

HARISH CHANDRA: Could you give me some work here?

PRIEST: Work! What kind of work? Oh, no, I can't give you any work. impossible. Your face shows all the marks of a Kshatriya. I can't employ a Kshatriya to work under me. This is a temple. Here only the Brahmins are supposed to work. Kshatriya, no. Vaishya, no. Shudra, no. Only a Brahmin. I am sorry, you must look for a job elsewhere.

HARISH CHANDRA: I shall. Anyway I deeply thank you for the food. Our son's precious life is saved. Thank you again.

(Exeunt King, Queen and Rohitashwa.)

Scene 5

(The family is wandering along a crowded street.)

SHAIVYA: The month is over today. I am sure the sage will not forget us.

HARISH CHANDRA: I am sure he will not forgive us.

(Vishwamitra comes rushing in.)

VISHWAMITRA: Harish Chandra, today ends the month. Where is your dakshina, where?

SHAIVYA: We know it, O great sage. But the day is not yet over. It will be at least four hours before the sun goes to sleep.

HARISH CHANDRA: O sage, just before the day comes to its close please bless us with your divine presence. I shall, without fail, offer you my dakshina.

VISHWAMITRA: Remember, Harish Chandra, remember your promise!

(Exit Vishwamitra.)

SHAIVYA: My Lord, look, there is a market. Let us go over there and see our fate.

(They enter the market. Here they see slaves being bought and sold.)

HARISH CHANDRA: Ah, at long last I have found the place. I am more than willing to be anybody's slave. I shall sell myself. (He approaches a rich man and with folded hands begs the man to buy him.) Please, please buy me. I badly need money. I urgently need money.

RICH MAN: Sorry, I can't buy you. I see no strength in your body. You will be a useless slave. Sorry, I won't have you. But I will buy your wife. She can help my wife in the kitchen.

(Shaivya, overjoyed, with folded hands speaks to the kind customer.)

SHAIVYA: Be pleased to feel my heart's gratitude. I want to help my husband. You are our saviour.

(Harish Chandra sinks his head into his palms.)

HARISH CHANDRA: O merciful Lord, have I to sell my own wife, my most precious treasure here on earth and there in Heaven? No, I simply can't. My wife is infinitely dearer than my life itself.

SHAIVYA: You must not swerve from the path of truth. The preservation of truth is infinitely more important than the prestige of any human being. You cannot make a cowardly escape from reality. This is the hour when the divine courage must enfold you with its celestial wings. Who else will or can uphold the truth if not you, my beloved? You have to keep to your divine promise.

HARISH CHANDRA: Yes, Shaivya, I remember my promise to the sage. But to sell you, my own, my very own?

SHAIVYA: Fear not, my Lord, this heart of mine shall remain eternally yours.

RICH MAN: I can't waste any more time. (Looking at Harish Chandra.) Either sell your wife immediately or leave me alone. Take this sum of five hundred gold coins.

(Harish Chandra accepts the money with his head hanging in utter shame.)

RICH MAN (turning toward Shaivya): You follow me.

(Rohitashwa starts crying and screaming.)

ROHITASHWA: Mother, Mother, where are you going? I can't stay without you, Mother.

RICH MAN: All right. Let me give to the father two hundred and fifty gold coins for the son. Come along, you little fellow.

A VILLAGE BRAHMIN: Shame, shame! Look at this fellow. He has sold his wife and son. How can one sell one's own wife and son? O God, did You not give a heart to this low creature when You gave him a human birth? O God, You alone know what more unthinkable things I shall have to see in Your creation. O God, take me to the other world. This world is simply unbearable!

(The master, Shaivya and Rohitashwa start walking towards their destination while Harish Chandra walks along the street distressed and disheartened, with no destination at all. Vishwamitra appears.)

VISHWAMITRA: Harish Chandra, the time is up. Give me your dakshina.

HARISH CHANDRA: Be pleased to accept this humble dakshina.

(He hands seven hundred and fifty gold coins to the sage.)

VISHWAMITRA: Shame! Shame! That's not enough. Once upon a time you were a great King. Such a small dakshina is beneath your dignity. You must give me at least two hundred and fifty more gold coins. It is imperatively necessary. If not…

HARISH CHANDRA: O venerable sage! By your grace, by God's Grace, one hour is still at my disposal. Please come to me before the last fateful hour fades. In the meantime I shall get the money.

VISHWAMITRA: Remember, remember your promise!

(Exit Vishwamitra.)

HARISH CHANDRA: O Lord Supreme, my beloved wife I have lost, and my only son I have lost. All, all I have lost except this wretched Harish Chandra. Let me go to the market again and see if I can sell my most unlucky body. If I fail to sell myself, then my boat shall sink right near the shore.

(Harish Chandra enters into the market.)

HARISH CHANDRA: O! Is there no kind-hearted man to buy me? I have come to sell myself, my body and my soul.

(A chandala [an undertaker] signals Harish Chandra. In his hands there is a stick and a skull.)

CHANDALA: Come here! Follow me! How much money do you want?

HARISH CHANDRA: Only two hundred and fifty gold coins.

CHANDALA: That's all? There you are. (He hands two hundred and fifty gold coins to Harish Chandra.) Now follow me. Your duty is to wait on dead bodies. You have to demand from the members of the deceased's family rice, cloth and money before you cremate the corpse.

HARISH CHANDRA: Indeed, I shall do that.

Scene 6

(Rohitashwa sits down on the steps of a bathing ghat beside the river Ganga.)

ROHITASHWA:

I remember...
My mother loved me, her world.
My father loved me, his dream.
My home loved me, its "supreme."

I remember...
I prayed with the blooming dawn,
I played with the glowing sun.
My life, the nectar-fun.

I remember...
I sang with the twinkling stars,
I danced with the floating moon.
All lost, alas, too soon.

I remember, I remember, I remember.

(Rohitashwa's face has become an everchanging panorama of dark fear and endless despair. Enter Shaivya.)

SHAIVYA: My son (caressing him), don't feel sad. One day we shall meet your father. I am sure he constantly thinks of us as we constantly think of him. One day the whole world will admire and adore your father for his great sense of truth and his tremendous and unprecedented sacrifice. Rohitashwa, go and play in the garden. I shall join you in the evening. Now I have to work hard in the kitchen. Today I shall make a most delicious meal for you, my son.

ROHITASHWA: Please, don't forget to come and play with me in the evening.

SHAIVYA: My son, without fail I shall come and play with you.

(Shaivya leaves for the house and Rohitashwa for the garden.)

Scene 7

(The King, now a chandala, works in the cremation ground. The heat and smoke have completely changed his face. While tending the burning fire, he suddenly bursts into tears.)

HARISH CHANDRA: Ah, last night I dreamt of my beloved queen and my beloved son. I dreamt of my kingdom regained. O dream, how sweet you are! O reality, how cruel you are!

Scene 8

(At the end of her day's work, Shaivya comes to the garden to play with her son, but she does not find him there. She calls aloud.)

SHAIVYA: Rohitashwa, Rohitashwa! Rohit, my son, my darling, where are you? (She looks around. Suddenly she sees her son lying on the ground fast asleep. She places her two arms around his shoulders.) How strange! Why is my son's body so cold? What are these marks? My son, my son! A poisonous snake has taken your life away!

(Eyes filled with tears and heart completely shattered, she carries her son away in her arms.)

Scene 9

(Shaivya comes to the cremation ground. At the gate of the cremation ground a long-bearded chandala, a most ugly-looking fiend, blocks her way.)

CHANDALA: Stop here! Have you brought rice? Have you brought cloth? Have you brought money?

SHAIVYA: Alas, I have no rice, I have no cloth, I have no money.

CHANDALA: What? How dare you then enter the cremation ground? Where is your husband? Where is the boy's father?

SHAIVYA: My husband (bitterly weeping and sobbing) was once a great man. I don't know where he is now. I work as a slave in the kitchen of a rich man. I asked the master of the family to give me some rice, cloth and money before I came here, but he refused. He said to me brutally, "I can't give you rice, cloth and money. I can't give you all that. Never. I feed you. I feed two big bellies. Is that not enough?" So I am helpless! I came here with nothing.

CHANDALA: I understand all that. I fully sympathise with you. But how can I perform my job without my fee? If I do it free, my master will be furious. I have to listen to my master. It is my bounden duty to please my master. I have to give him everything that I get from this cremation ground. I have no choice.

SHAIVYA: O Harish Chandra, where are you? Our beloved son Rohitashwa is now with God. Here I am left alone, utterly helpless, with his body. O Harish Chandra, O my beloved, where are you?

(The chandala, hearing his name, falls down on the ground and loses consciousness. Shaivya stoops to help him. A few minutes later he regains consciousness and takes his son in his arms.)

HARISH CHANDRA: Shaivya, forgive this lower-than-lowest creature. Your Harish Chandra is here. Shaivya, my Shaivya, you are the citadel of strength. You are the lighthouse of purity.

SHAIVYA: You! You! My husband! My beloved! Our lost son brings his parents back. Our lost son reunites his parents!

(Harish Chandra's master and Vishwamitra appear.)

CHANDALA: Harish Chandra, leave your son on the ground. Listen to me. (Harish Chandra places his son most carefully on the ground.) Harish Chandra, your past experiences are past indeed! All your tests are over. Victory dawns on you. I am Yamaraj, the King of Death. Vishwamitra and I have tested your sincerity, your love of truth and your sacrifice. Victory, eternal Victory, transcendental Victory, dawns today on your devoted head and surrendered heart.

HARISH CHANDRA: Alas, the third member of our family is no more with us. Our dearest son Rohitashwa fails to share our joy. Our lives without him will be filled with excruciating pangs, utterly meaningless and fruitless.

VISHWAMITRA: Where is your child?

HARISH CHANDRA: There he is lying, O mighty sage.

(Vishwamitra sprinkles a few drops of sacred water over the dead body of Rohitashwa. Rohitashwa immediately jumps up and clasps his mother.)

ROHITASHWA: Mother, Mother, where were you? Where was I?

(The King embraces his son with his heart's boundless love and pride. The three bow to Vishwamitra. The parents kiss the dust of his feet. Vishwamitra garlands the King, the Queen and the Prince.)

VISHWAMITRA: Harish Chandra, I shall cherish your life of sacrifice. The entire world shall praise your Kingdom of Heaven. Forever and forever your heart the world will treasure. I am giving you back your palace and your kingdom. Your faith in yourself and Truth's faith in you will march together along the road of Immortality. You will transmit the message of truth on the inner waves of the heart.

You are God's Love.
You are God's Joy.
You are God's Pride.
You are God's All.

(Harish Chandra and Shaivya kneel down before the sage. Shaivya sings.)

God then was Love
So nice and fine.
God then was mine
Below, above.

God now is Light
Delight, Delight.
My All, my All
God now is Light.

Upamanyu

Dramatis personae

AYODADHOMMYA (A SAGE)

UPAMANYU (HIS DISCIPLE)

ASHWINIKUMAR (THE CELESTIAL PHYSICIANS)

Scene 1

(The sage Ayodadhommya and his disciple Upamanyu.)

AYODADHOMMYA: Upamanyu, today you have completed your formal studies, and so I wish to give you a new type of study. From now on, each day early in the morning you will take all my cows to the grazing ground to feed. You will watch them there, and you will bring them back in the evening.

UPAMANYU: Master, Father, I shall fulfil your wish. I shall fulfil your command.

(Exit Upamanyu.)

Scene 2

(The sage is studying the Vedas, the Upanishads and the other scriptures. Evening has set in. Upamanyu comes back.)

AYODADHOMMYA: So you have brought all the cows back?

UPAMANYU: Yes, Father.

AYODADHOMMYA: What have you eaten, my son, for breakfast and lunch? Have you had a decent meal?

UPAMANYU: Oh, while the cows were grazing, I went out for some time and begged a little food from door to door. That is what I ate, Father.

AYODADHOMMYA: Unthinkable! You didn't have my permission! You didn't ask me whether you could go out to beg food from others while the cows were grazing. You must not do that. That is not right.

UPAMANYU (with folded hands): Yes, Master. Forgive me, I shall not do it any more.

Scene 3

(The next day Upamanyu goes to the field with the cows. In the morning for breakfast and in the afternoon for lunch the poor boy drinks milk from the udders of the cows. Happily he watches the cows grazing all day. He sings a soulful song.)

Amar bhabana
amar kamana
amar eshana
amar sadhana
tomar charane
peyechhe ajike thai
moher bandhan hiyar jatan
timir jiban shaman shasan
halo abasan nai nai ar nai

(My thoughts, my desires, my aspiration, my
life's disciplines
Have found their haven at Your Feet today.
The bondage of tempting attachment and pangs
of the heart,
The life of darkness and the torture of death,
No more I see, no more I feel.)

Scene 4

(Upamanyu comes back in the evening.)

AYODADHOMMYA: So, today you have done a fine job. I am sure that today you didn't go out for food. But strangely enough, you seem quite strong despite not having eaten today. Have you not eaten anything?

UPAMANYU: O Master, I drank some milk.

AYODADHOMMYA: Milk? From the cows? Is that milk meant for you to drink?

UPAMANYU: Oh no, Master. What actually happened is this. When the calves had finished drinking their milk, I drank the very little milk that remained in the udders of the cows.

AYODADHOMMYA: That is unfair, unfair! That milk is not meant for you, even if it is left. It is meant for the calves if they want to come back again. The very little that was left, they could have drunk. Unthinkable! I never expected you to behave that way! All right, I forgive you. But don't do it any more!

(Upamanyu touches his Master's feet and then goes away.)

Scene 5

(The next day Upamanyu takes the cows to the fields. There the cows graze happily on grass and leaves. Upamanyu sings soulful songs.)

Prabhu,
tomar hasi bhalobasi
tomar aghat bhalobasi
tomar charan bhalobasi
tomar nayan bhalobasi
atma tomar bhalobasi
deha tomar bhalobasi
tomar sakal bhalobasi
pratikshane bhalobasi
prabhu tomai bhalobasi
tumi amar parichayer banshi

(Supreme,
Your Smile I love
Your Torture I love
Your Feet I love
Your Eyes I love
Your Soul I love
Your Body I love
Everything that is You I love.
Every moment I love You.
O Lord Supreme, O Lord Supreme,
I love You, I love You.
You are the Flute of my existence.)

Ore mor kheya, ore mor neye
ore ananda bani
niya jao mor trishita kshudhita
supta chitta khani
mrittyu nritya heri charidhar
dhangsa ashani hane durbar
ogo kandari tumi je amar
chira asimer kripa-parabar
tomar majhare harabo amare
jani aji ami jani

(O my Boat, O my Boatman, O message of
Transcendental Delight,
Carry me. My heart is thirsty and hungry,
And it is fast asleep at the same time.
Carry my heart to the other shore.
The dance of death I see all around.
The thunder of destruction indomitable I hear.
O my inner Pilot, You are mine,
You are the Ocean of Compassion infinite.
In You I lose myself,
My all in You I lose.)

UPAMANYU: I do not know what I am going to eat today. Yesterday I drank so little milk that I am now tired. I drank very little milk, but even then my Master scolded me and insulted me. What am I going to eat today? (Suddenly.) Ah! I can drink the milk that is left on the mouths of the calves after they have drunk from their mothers.

(So for breakfast and lunch, as soon as Upamanyu sees that the calves have finished he licks the frothy milk from their mouths, and he is satisfied.)

Scene 6

(Evening sets in. Upamanyu comes home.)

AYODADHOMMYA: I am sure that today at least you have listened to my command. You have not eaten, and I am sure you have not drunk milk from the cows.

UPAMANYU: No, I have not.

AYODADHOMMYA: I am very happy that you have listened to my order. But how is it that even today I see you looking quite strong and healthy? Have you not eaten anything?

UPAMANYU: Master, I have licked the froth from the mouths of the calves.

AYODADHOMMYA: Froth?

UPAMANYU: After they have drunk the milk from their mothers, there remains a kind of froth around their mouths. So I drank that.

AYODADHOMMYA: Unthinkable! How could you do that? When those little, innocent creatures have some milk around their mouths, gradually they lick it off. How could you drink it? Unthinkable! I have never seen a boy like you, always disobedient. Every day you drink or eat something without my knowledge or permission. You must not do that. You must not drink any more milk or froth, and you must not go from door to door to collect food. You must not do any of that.

UPAMANYU: Yes, Master. I shall not do it.

(He bows down to the Master and goes away.)

Scene 7

(Early the next morning Upamanyu, as usual, goes to the grazing ground with the cows.)

UPAMANYU: Today I am very hungry and very thirsty. For the last two days I have eaten almost nothing. In the evening I get food at Master's place, but that is very scanty. Previously, Master's wife used to give me a delicious meal three times a day, and I used to eat voraciously. Now I do not have breakfast or lunch at all, so the food I get in the evening is not enough. I do not know what is wrong with me or what is wrong with them that I am not allowed to eat my three meals a day. I am so hungry! What can I eat? Ah, I shall eat some leaves, just to fill my stomach.

(He goes to a tree and eats some leaves. Slowly, his eyesight begins to fail. Evening sets in and the cows begin to go home without their master. Upamanyu cannot see, but he tries to follow them anyway. On the way he falls into a dry well, and he cannot get out.)

Scene 8

(It is dark outside. The cows have returned without Upamanyu. Ayodadhommya goes out to look for his disciple.)

AYODADHOMMYA: Upamanyu, Upamanyu!

UPAMANYU: I am here, Master!

AYODADHOMMYA: Where are you?

UPAMANYU: I don't know where I am, but I am here!

AYODADHOMMYA: Ah, you are in a well! What is wrong with you? What have you eaten today?

UPAMANYU: I have not eaten anything.

AYODADHOMMYA: Nothing?

UPAMANYU: No food, Master. Only a few leaves from a tree. Now I can't see, I have no eyesight. While I was coming back home I fell into this well, and now I cannot get out.

AYODADHOMMYA (shocked): Upamanyu, again? Have you disobeyed me again? You have not asked permission from me to eat leaves. You have undoubtedly eaten leaves from the arka tree, and these leaves destroy the eyesight. Now you have lost your sight. What can I do? Disobedience, always disobedience. At first you begged food from door to door. Then you drank milk from the udders of the cows. Then you licked froth from the mouths of the innocent little calves. And now you have eaten leaves. You have to pay the penalty. I cannot help you.

UPAMANYU: Well, Master, if you do not help me, I shall have to remain here. But I shall pray to you. I shall pray to you for forgiveness. I have eaten these arka leaves, and now I have become blind. It is my own fault, so let me remain blind; but I shall pray to God to give you someone who will be able to take your cows to the pasture every day and bring them back.

(Ayodadhommya helps Upamanyu out of the well.)

AYODADHOMMYA: Just because of your disobedience you are now suffering. I did not want you to eat anything. The first time I scolded you, you should have understood me and taken me seriously. You should not have eaten anything at all. Every time you ate, I kept telling you, "Unthinkable," "Unpardonable," and you should have learnt. You should have understood that my intention was for you not to eat anything without my permission.

UPAMANYU: Master, I ate practically nothing. I drank practically nothing.

AYODADHOMMYA: But you did eat; you did drink.

UPAMANYU: Yes, Master. Forgive me, Master. I shall not do it any more.

AYODADHOMMYA: But you are of no use to me now. You have failed me. You are blind. You cannot help me in anything. And it is all because of your disobedience. Outwardly I told you that you must not eat anything, and inwardly I also told you. You did not understand my inner message and you did not obey my outer message. If you had not eaten for a few days, you would not have died. But look at your disobedience. All right, Upamanyu, I forgive you, but I cannot give you your sight back. Pray to the Ashwinikumar, the divine doctors. Invoke their presence. If they are pleased with you, they will come and cure your eyes.

(Exit Ayodadhommya.)

Scene 9

(With folded hands Upamanyu invokes the presence of the Ashwinikumar most sincerely and devotedly. The Ashwinikumar enter.)

ASHWINIKUMAR: Upamanyu, you are praying to us and we have come to you. Tell us, what can we do for you?

UPAMANYU: I have lost my vision by disobeying my Master. Please cure me.

ASHWINIKUMAR: That's easy. Just eat this pill.

UPAMANYU: No, no, I can't.

ASHWINIKUMAR: Why? What is wrong with this pill?

UPAMANYU: I have to get permission from my Master. Without his permission, I can't eat anything.

ASHWINIKUMAR: You fool, your Master is so unkind, so cruel! He himself did not give you anything to eat. He did not allow you to beg food from others. He did not allow you to drink the scanty milk from the udders of the cows. He did not allow you to lick the froth from the mouths of the calves. And now you have to get permission from your Master to take this pill! What kind of Master is he? Stone-hearted, cruel, brutal! You are a fool! You don't need that kind of Master.

UPAMANYU: Oh, please do not speak ill of my Master. He knows what is best for me. I am so grateful that you have come here, but I can't eat your pill right now.

ASHWINIKUMAR: Then why did you invoke us?

UPAMANYU: I invoked you to ask you to come here and cure me.

ASHWINIKUMAR: Well, that is what we have come for. We have come to cure you, but you will not let us.

UPAMANYU: But you are giving me something to eat. If you do not give me anything to eat, but just cure my eyes, I shall be most grateful.

ASHWINIKUMAR: No, you have to take the medicine. When one is a patient, he has to eat or drink the medicine prescribed by the doctor. This is our medicine. If you don't take our medicine, how are you going to be cured, you fool?

UPAMANYU: That is true, that is true. But how can I eat anything without my Master's permission? You see, I have eaten other things without his permission, and this is my fate: I have become blind because of my disobedience. Now if I disobey him again, who knows what worse things may happen?

ASHWINIKUMAR: But your Master did ask you to meditate on us, to invoke us.

UPAMANYU: Yes, he did.

ASHWINIKUMAR: That means he wanted us to cure you. Now it is up to us to cure you in our way. We are doctors; we have to give you medicine.

UPAMANYU: That is true, that is true. But I can't take your pills without his permission. I won't disobey my Master any more.

ASHWINIKUMAR (pleased): Now you have shown what real obedience is. We are most proud of you. Upamanyu, we will give you back your sight.

(He gets back his sight.)

UPAMANYU: I am most grateful to you. I am most grateful to you. (He bows to them.)

(Exit Upamanyu, running.)

Scene 10

(The home of Ayodadhommya. Upamanyu enters running.)

AYODADHOMMYA: So they came, the Ashwinikumar came and gave you your vision back.

UPAMANYU: Yes, Master.

AYODADHOMMYA: Upamanyu, I have tested your patience, your self-control. Today you passed your examination. You have shown the world what patience is. You have shown the world what self-control is. You have shown the world how one should please one's Master. One should please one's Master the way the Master wants to be pleased. Finally, you have pleased me the way I wanted to be pleased. I wanted you to have nothing to eat without my permission. You came to that point. You didn't even take medicine from the doctors whom I had suggested. You didn't take so much as a pill from them! There you showed your unconditional obedience to me. I am most proud of you. Today marks the end of your studies. Go home. With my blessing, you will lead a prosperous life, a spiritual life. An inner life of illumination and an outer life of perfection I offer to you. Today I give you oneness with me and all my wisdom, which is Perfection.

One must follow one's own nature

Dramatis personae

HOLY MAN

ONLOOKER (LATER, HIS DISCIPLE)

Scene 1

(A holy man is swimming in the river. An onlooker is sitting idly on the bank watching him. The holy man sees a scorpion right in front of him. Feeling sorry for the poor creature, he catches hold of it and very slowly, very gently puts it on land. While he is doing this, the scorpion stings him severely. The man begins to weep with pain.)

HOLY MAN: I wanted to save you, and I did save you. Is this my reward? Anyway, I have done my duty.

(A few minutes later the scorpion again falls into the river. Again the onlooker observes.)

HOLY MAN: Ah, poor creature, you are suffering again. I feel sorry for you.

(He lifts the scorpion again and puts it on land. Once more the scorpion stings him, this time even more severely. He screams with excruciating pain.)

ONLOOKER: You are a fool! Why did you do that? The first time you made a mistake, and the second time you repeated the same mistake.

HOLY MAN: My friend, what can I do? My nature is to love, my nature is to save. The nature of the scorpion is to hate, the nature of the scorpion is to sting. I have to follow my own nature, and the scorpion has to follow its own nature. If it falls into the water again, I shall lift it up again, no matter how many times it falls. I shall be stung, I shall cry, I shall moan; but I shall not deny my nature, which is to love, to save and to protect others.

(The onlooker immediately jumps into the river to touch the feet of the holy man.)

ONLOOKER: You are my teacher, you are my Guru. I have been searching, longing for a Guru. Today I have found in you my real Guru. Since I am your disciple, from now on if the scorpion falls into the river it is I who will put it back on land.

(Disciple sings.)

Amar bhabana
amar kamana
amar eshana
amar sadhana
tomar charane
peyechhe ajike thai
moher bandhan hiyar jatan
timir jiban shaman shasan
halo abasan nai nai ar nai

(My thoughts, my desires, my aspiration, my
life's disciplines
Have found their haven at Your Feet today.
The bondage of tempting attachment and pangs
of the heart,
The life of darkness and the torture of death,
No more I see, no more I feel.)

(He helps the holy man out of the river. The Guru now sits on the bank and watches the scene. In a few minutes the scorpion again falls into the river. The disciple catches hold of it and puts it on dry land, but the scorpion does not bite him.)

DISCIPLE: How is it, Master, that I was not stung at all? I thought that I too would be stung by the scorpion. Twice you were stung mercilessly. I don't understand.

MASTER: My child, you don't understand? Shall I tell you? Will you believe me?

DISCIPLE: Please, please tell me. I shall believe you, Master.

MASTER: The scorpion also has a soul; and its soul told the scorpion that, if it had bitten you, instead of putting it on land you would have killed it immediately. The scorpion knew that you would not accept it, that you would not tolerate its ingratitude. From you the scorpion did not get any assurance of its safety. The scorpion did not sting you because it felt this. In my case, the soul of the scorpion knew that I would never kill it, no matter how many times it might sting me; I would just catch it and put it on land for its safety. In the everyday world also people fight, quarrel and threaten others only when they see that their opponents are either weak or unwilling to fight. If they see that somebody is stronger than themselves, they will remain silent.

DISCIPLE: Master, do you have disciples?

MASTER: I have many, many disciples.

DISCIPLE: What do you do with them?

MASTER: I give and take, and take and give. I take their poison every day, and I give them nectar. I take their aspiration, and I give them realisation. I take from them what they have, ignorance; and I give them what I have, wisdom. They give me the assurance of my manifestation, and I give them the assurance of their realisation. We need each other. You need me so that you can empty yourself into me: your impurity, imperfection, obscurity and ignorance. And I need you so that I can empty my Joy, Love and Light into you. I need you so that I can fill you with my all, with everything that is within me. This is how we fulfil each other. Your nature is to give me what you have: impurity, obscurity, imperfection, limitation, bondage and death. My nature is to give you what I have: Purity, Love, Joy, Light, Bliss and Perfection. When your nature enters into my nature and my nature enters into your nature, we both are totally manifested and totally fulfilled. This is how the seeker and the teacher fulfil the Eternal Pilot, the Supreme.

Who is the greatest?

Dramatis personae

PRAJAPATI (THE CREATOR)

THE EYE

THE EAR

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH

THE MIND

THE LIFE-ENERGY

THE BODY

(A terrible dispute arose among the Eye, the Ear, the Organ of Speech, the Mind and the Life-Energy. Each one was sure that he was by far the greatest. They quarrelled and quarrelled, but they could not come to any satisfactory conclusion; so they decided to go to Prajapati and settle the problem once and for all.)

Scene 1

(Prajapati's abode. The Eye, the Ear, the Organ of Speech, the Mind and the Life-Energy appear, bringing the Body with them. They all bow to Prajapati.)

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH: O Prajapati, save us, save us. We are having a terrible dispute. Each of us feels that he is the greatest, and now we want to know for sure who is the greatest among us.

PRAJAPATI: My children, you have put me into terrible difficulty. If I tell any one of you that he is the greatest, the others will be displeased and angry with me, and they will literally hate me. Why don't you solve your problem yourselves?

THE MIND: O Prajapati, we have tried our best. We have tried to solve this problem, but it is simply impossible for us. Each one of us feels that he is the greatest. It is you alone who can solve our problem. We shall, without fail, accept your judgment.

PRAJAPATI: Is it true? Are you all sure that you will accept my judgment? Whatever I say, you will believe gladly, cheerfully and wholeheartedly?

THE EYE: Of course, of course. Had it not been our intention to accept you as the judge supreme, we would not have come to you. Please tell us who is actually the greatest among us.

PRAJAPATI: My divine children, allow me to concentrate for a few seconds. Then I shall let you know. (Concentrates.) Ah, I have an excellent idea. I won't have to tell you who the greatest is. You will be able to find out for yourselves.

THE EAR: O Prajapati, you are avoiding the issue. We could not solve our problem ourselves; that is why we came to you. And now you are telling us that we can solve the problem ourselves. We have come here; we are bowing down to you and touching your feet, O Prajapati. Please do not avoid us, do not evade the issue. Tell us frankly, we beg of you, who is the greatest among us.

PRAJAPATI: My sweet children, just listen to me. You can easily know who is the greatest, and I will tell you how. Here you all are before me: the Eye, the Ear, the Organ of Speech, the Mind and the Life-Energy. Now will you do one thing?

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH: Yes, we shall do it. We shall at least try.

PRAJAPATI: Try. You will succeed; you are bound to succeed. Now, here is my advice. One by one you will leave the Body for a year. The one whose absence makes the Body suffer most, or prevents the Body from functioning at all, is the most important.

THE MIND: Ah, that is very easy. We shall easily find out who is really the greatest.

(With folded hands they bow to Prajapati and leave. The Body follows them.)

Scene 2

(The Body, the Eye, the Ear, the Organ of Speech, the Mind and the Life-Energy are together.)

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH: Let me go out of the Body first. Let me get the first chance. I know I am the greatest. If I don't speak, the world will think that the Body is dead. It is I who bring glory to the Body. I speak, and people appreciate and admire. I teach the world with my knowledge and inner wisdom. It is I who bring all joy, pride and satisfaction to the Body. Undoubtedly I am the greatest. You have not believed me so far, but now I will go out for a year; and when I come back you all will see and realise that it is I who have all along been the greatest.

(Exit Organ of Speech.)

Scene 3

(One year has passed. The Organ of Speech comes back and stands before the Body, the Eye, the Ear, the Mind and the Life-Energy.)

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH (to the Body): How is it that you are quite all right? I thought that you would suffer greatly. Did you not suffer from my absence?

THE BODY: I am sorry, but I did not miss you badly. As a matter of fact, I did not miss you at all. On the contrary, my silence gave me much inner strength. As you know, a dumb person does not speak, yet he exists on earth. In my case, since I am spiritual, I found your absence quite helpful. I enjoyed it tremendously. At long last I was able to take a little rest. You talked too much for a long time.

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH: You ungrateful creature! Just wait; I shall show you! I shall teach you a lesson!

THE EYE: O Speech, I always knew that you were not the greatest, and here is the proof. In your absence we did exist, we did enjoy everything. Now it is my turn. I shall show you all. I shall prove to you all who is the greatest.

THE EAR: For God's sake, O Eye, don't brag! Until my turn is over the rest of you cannot know who the greatest is.

THE EYE: Oh, be quiet! I am leaving now. Just watch what happens to you all, you fools!

(Exit Eye.)

Scene 4

(A year later the Eye comes back to the Body, the Ear, the Organ of Speech, the Mind and the Life-Energy.)

THE EYE: How strange, how strange! I can't believe my eyes! How is it that you were not affected at all by my absence? You seem to be quite happy and healthy.

THE BODY: O Eye, you are perfectly right. In your absence I enjoyed something really deep and profound.

THE EYE: What nonsense do you speak? What did you enjoy? Tell me! What kind of deep realisation did you have during my absence?

THE BODY: O Eye, in the past you showed me many uncomely things, many ugly things on earth. I saw tremendous suffering through you. But this year I have not seen any ugliness, darkness, imperfection, poverty or other undivine things, and for that I am truly happy. A man without sight can easily live on earth. There are many people who cannot see, but still manage most satisfactorily. I enjoyed your absence, and I have profited and gained tremendously from it.

THE EYE: O ungrateful Body, wait! Wait! I shall smash your pride one day! Just you wait!

THE EAR: O Eye, I told you before you left that you could never be the greatest, and now you see that my prophecy has come true. Now it is my turn. We shall see how well you can get along without me!

(Exit Ear.)

Scene 5

(A year has passed. The Ear comes back.)

THE EAR: O Body, I can't believe my ears! I can't! How is it that you have not suffered in the least during my absence? How could you live one full year, one long year, without me? It is unthinkable, unimaginable!

THE BODY: O Ear! I did not suffer at all in your absence. When you were here, I used to hear gossip; I used to hear about others' jealousy, about others' shortcomings, imperfections, limitations — about all kinds of deficiencies in human nature. But for one full year I did not hear anything undivine. Nobody bothered me, nobody brought me news; I did not hear any quarrels. I myself was my only thought, my only idea and my only news. I was so happy. I didn't miss you at all. On the contrary, you did me a great favour by leaving me for a year. From the human point of view, you know that a deaf person can easily live on earth and do everything except hear. Who cares for hearing, as long as one can stay on earth happily and peacefully? Your presence is not at all essential, and here is the proof.

THE EAR: O ungrateful Body, wait, wait! A day will come when I shall teach you a serious lesson. Then I shall humble you; I shall bring down your pride and smash it. There will surely be some way for me to make you feel how great I am. Wait; wait and see!

THE MIND: Now it is my turn. O Organ of Speech, O Eye, O Ear, you have all failed. Now it is my turn.

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH, THE EYE AND THE EAR (together): Try, Mind, try. Like us, you too will be unsuccessful. Don't boast. We know your capacity, which is incapacity!

THE MIND (angrily): The time will soon arrive when you will see how badly you need me, you fools, you brainless sheep! I will prove to you in my absence that you are all idiots, nothing but idiots! Wait and see what happens to you when I am gone!

(Exit Mind.)

Scene 6

(A year later the Mind returns.)

THE MIND: What? Are you all right? It is beyond my imagination! How, how can you exist without me? O Body, didn't you feel anything during my absence? Didn't you see that the world hated you for your stupidity and your ignorance? It is I who am all knowledge, all wisdom inside you. I am sure that, the moment I left, the world began to despise you, to ridicule you. You must have behaved like a real fool, an idiot, an imbecile. Tell me what actually happened in my absence.

THE BODY: O Mind, in your absence I enjoyed something very vast, something very profound.

THE MIND: What is all this nonsense? What did you enjoy during my absence that was so vast and deep? It is unthinkable, unbelievable!

THE BODY: Mind, you caused tremendous suffering for me. You brought doubts into me, you brought suspicion into me and, what is much worse, you brought jealousy into me. O Mind, in your absence I had such peace, such peace! I did not think of anybody with suspicion, fear, doubt, anxiety or worry. I was all peace, all peace. If one does not have a mind one can exist on earth. There are many who do not have a mind at all, but they live on earth in their own way. Look at children. They do not have the mind. They need to be told everything. Yet how pure, how sweet, how loving, how divine they are! But when you come, everything is lost. They gain the mind and their whole existence becomes mean, suspicious and destructive. You are not needed, not at all! In the spiritual world we see how happy we are when we go beyond the mind. At each moment we enjoy the vast, infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. When we transcend the mind, we become one with the universal consciousness. No, Mind, you are not indispensable.

LIFE-ENERGY: My friends, all of you have tried and all of you have failed. Now I shall try. I have no idea what my fate will be but, if I succeed, we will all be able to share the glory. If I fail, then I will be one of you, and have the same deplorable fate. I shall share my success and glory with you if I succeed. And if I also am defeated, I shall share your disappointment.

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH: Stop, Life-Energy! Don't be so modest, don't be so humble! What is wrong with you today? Why are you saying such divine things? Where was your consciousness when we went to Prajapati in order to know who is the greatest? For so many years you quarrelled and fought with us, as we did with you. Now today you are saying that you will share your success with us. Why this sudden generosity? We don't care for your false modesty. You go out and see. Your pride will also have to bite the dust. You will also fail miserably, just like us.

LIFE-ENERGY: Even if I fail I shall not curse the Body. I shall accept my defeat cheerfully and gladly.

THE OTHERS (together): Go ahead and leave. Stop giving us your philosophy, and leave!

(Life-Energy is about to leave the body.)

THE BODY: Oh stop, stop! Where are you going? I am practically dead. I can't exist without you. I can live perfectly without the Organ of Speech, the Eye, the Ear and the Mind; but without you, it is impossible for me to exist. O Life-Energy, don't leave me!

THE EYE: Oh, I am blind! I can't see anything! I am lost! I am in total darkness! Everything around me is dark!

THE EAR: I don't hear anything! What is wrong with me? I can't hear. I am now totally deaf. On the earth, children are playing, but I don't hear their shouts. There are rivers, but I don't hear their murmuring. There is no sound. I am dead. My existence is nullified.

THE ORGAN OF SPEECH: Oh, I am gone! I am lost! I can't say a word! I have so many things to tell the world, so much advice to offer, but I can't, I can't. I am dead! I have no strength, no power!

THE MIND: Oh, I am lost! I can't think of a thing! I am worse than a fool. I don't have even one idea. Nothing comes to my mind. What is wrong with me? I can't exist in your absence, O Life-Energy. I have to think, I have to! If I can't think, I am lost. O Life-Energy, don't leave me, don't leave!

(Prajapati appears before them. All bow to him with deep gratitude. Prajapati blesses them, one by one.)

PRAJAPATI: So, my children, now you know who is by far the greatest among you.

(Except for the Body and the Life-Energy, the others are sad, depressed and angry.)

PRAJAPATI: I have come to you with divine advice. Listen to me. This advice will make you happy and immortal on earth. It is time for you all to enter into a new Cosmic Game. From now on you, Organ of Speech, will only tell the Truth. Truth is all; Truth is above all. It is my Truth that holds the world. Tell the Truth. Nothing is greater than Truth. Don't utter anything false; don't mix with falsehood any more. Use the Truth as your divine weapon to please the world and to win the world. (To the Eye.) O Eye, from now on try only to see the Beauty in my creation. See Beauty in human beings, Beauty in every object! Beauty, only Beauty. If you see Beauty, then you can become one with my inner and outer divinity. It is in Beauty that one can see and grow into Perfection. Beauty is the manifestation of Truth. Beauty is the only Reality of Truth. (To the Ear.) O Ear, from now on hear only the Truth. The message of Truth comes only from real spiritual seekers. When you have a spiritual Master, whatever you hear him say is the Ultimate Truth. Cry to hear his voice, his Truth, his Light, it is only by hearing the Truth that your inner awakening will take place. It is only by listening to him that you will be able to realise the Highest. Use your capacity to hear only divine things from divine people, and not to enjoy gossip and other undivine utterances from the world. (To the Mind.) O Mind, from now on remain in the Heart. There you will be safe. The aspiring Heart will always receive Light from the Soul, and this Light the Heart will offer to you at every moment. When you receive the Light from your Heart, you will be illumined. There will come a time when you will be able to transcend yourself. You will enter into the ocean of Peace, Light and Bliss. Mind, no longer allow doubt, suspicion, fear, anxiety and worry in your life. You can have boundless Peace, Light and Bliss when you remain in the breath of the Heart. You can transcend yourself. (To the Body.) O Body, remain always pure, pure, pure. If you do not remain pure, my Reality, my Truth and my Existence will not be able to manifest themselves divinely and supremely. It is in your Purity that the members of your family can have abiding joy. When you lack Purity, everything is deplorable, nothing is beautiful, nothing is meaningful, nothing is worth having or achieving. It is through your Purity that every divine quality can enter permanently into the human nature. O Body, you have the capacity to transform yourself with the Light of the Soul, with the messages offered by the Life-Energy, with the Truth pronounced by the Organ of Speech, with the Beauty perceived by the Eye, with the divine wisdom that the Ear brings you from seekers and spiritual Masters and with the vastness that the Mind brings. O Body, it is with your Purity and in your Purity that the members of your family can enjoy perfect freedom and at the same time manifest me totally and integrally on earth.

(The Body, the Organ of Speech, the Eye, the Ear, the Mind and the Life-Energy bow with deepest gratitude to Prajapati.)

He eats grass but carries a naked sword

Dramatis personae

KRISHNA

ARJUNA

ASCETIC

Scene 1

(Krishna and Arjuna.)

KRISHNA: Arjuna, I am in the mood to go out for a walk. Would you like to accompany me?

ARJUNA: Certainly! It is a great joy, a great honour to walk with you.

KRISHNA: Come, let us go.

(Exeunt omnes.)

Scene 2

(Krishna and Arjuna are walking together along the street. All of a sudden they see an ascetic.)

ARJUNA: Look, there is an ascetic meditating.

KRISHNA: Yes, let him meditate. Let us not bother him.

ARJUNA: But look, Krishna, something is very strange.

KRISHNA: What is it? I don't see anything.

ARJUNA: Look, he is eating a tiny blade of dry grass. I see green grass all around, but he is eating dry grass.

KRISHNA: It is certainly strange, Arjuna.

ARJUNA: But that is not the thing. It is something unthinkable, unbelievable! The man has a naked sword by his side. Krishna, it is really incredible! On the one hand he will eat only dry, lifeless grass, because he does not want to destroy life. His compassion for living things is so great that he won't even eat green grass. But at the same time, he is carrying a naked sword. Tell me, Krishna — why is he behaving like this? What is wrong with the fellow? It seems to me that his life is a life of contradiction. A blade of grass and a naked sword don't go together.

KRISHNA: Yes, you are right. To eat only dry grass and carry a naked sword is certainly incongruous. Why don't you go and ask why he does this? I shall wait for you.

ARJUNA: No, please come with me.

KRISHNA: All right, I am coming. I am following you.

(They go up to the ascetic.)

ARJUNA: Please tell me, venerable sir, why you act this way? I see that you are leading a simple life, an austere life, a pious life. But why are you carrying this sword? Please tell me the reason for this strange behaviour.

ASCETIC: The reason is very simple. I have four persons to kill with this sword, four unpardonable rascals.

ARJUNA: Who are they? I may be of some help to you if they are so bad.

ASCETIC: I don't need your help. Thank you anyway.

ARJUNA: May I please know their names? Such bad people must not stay on earth. They should be killed if they are really so bad. You say you don't need my help, but in case you change your mind, I am the person who can be of service to you.

ASCETIC: Thank you. I am happy to hear it. I shall tell you their names after all. The first is Narada.

ARJUNA: Narada! What has he done? What has he done to you?

ASCETIC: All the time Narada sings the glories of my Lord Krishna. He never shuts up. He does not even give my Lord time to take his rest. All the time he has to sing, and Krishna has to hear his songs. With his constant singing, singing, singing, he is always disturbing my Lord's sleep. I shall kill that wretched Narada if I see him!

ARJUNA: May I know who the second person is?

ASCETIC: The second rascal is Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. As soon as she got into a difficult situation she had to cry, "Lord, save me! Save me!" My Lord had to go and use his force in order to save her modesty. What kind of audacity she had! Who asked her husband to mix with bad people and play dice with the Kauravas? If her husband did something wrong, she should have to pay the penalty for it. Why did she have to call on my Lord Krishna to save her modesty? He had to waste his precious time and energy just to save her modesty. I hate her. I hate her for that, and I shall kill her as soon as I see her!

ARJUNA: What are you talking about? How do you know that story? You are an ascetic.

ASCETIC: Do you think that I do not care for the world's news? I know what is happening in the world. Listen: The story of Draupadi is very simple. Draupadi's husband, Yudhishthira, lost to Duhshasana in a dice game. And his last promise, unthinkable, was that he would give his wife, Draupadi, to the winner. Naturally Duhshasana defeated Draupadi's husband, that senseless man. She had to stay with the Kauravas, their enemies. They wanted to undress her in front of their kings and potentates. Draupadi tried to hold fast to her sari, but finally she surrendered and said, "O Krishna, save me, save me!" Immediately my Lord had to grant her an endless stretch of material. They went on and on pulling at her sari, but it was endless. That is why I hate Draupadi. As for Yudhishthira, it is beneath my dignity even to think of him. He was the real culprit. Anyway, it was Draupadi who invoked my Lord to help her. I hate her. In season and out of season, at any time, she calls on him. When the Pandava family was in the forest, do you know what happened?

ARJUNA: I do not know what happened.

ASCETIC: You don't know? That means you don't read, then.

ARJUNA: Oh, I am an illiterate person. I do not read books, but I would be very happy to hear from you what happened. I have great fondness for the Pandava family. I like the Pandavas better than I like the Kauravas.

ASCETIC: Yes, they are nice people. My Lord Krishna always takes their side. But they have no sense. They exploit my Lord Krishna. When the Pandava family was in the forest, it happened that the sage Durvasha came to visit them with all of his followers and disciples. The Kauravas, the enemies of the Pandavas, had sent Durvasha to pronounce a curse on the Pandavas. Durvasha had once gone to the Kauravas, where he was given princely honours by the eldest of the Kauravas, Duryodhana. Now, since he was very highly pleased with Duryodhana, Durvasha said he would grant him any boon. So Duryodhana asked him to go into the forest where the Pandavas were and cause them trouble. My Lord Krishna had given the Pandavas a pot out of which any number of people might be fed. But this miracle could take place only before Draupadi had taken her last meal of the day. After Draupadi had eaten her last meal, the Pandavas could not feed a single person on earth. Duryodhana asked Durvasha to go there one day after Draupadi had finished her last meal. Durvasha listened to Duryodhana's request. He came after Draupadi had finished her meal, only to torture her. When he came in he said, "I am very hungry, very hungry. I and my followers are going to bathe in the Ganges, and when we return you must feed us." Draupadi knew that she could not feed them. But she also knew that if she did not feed them he would curse her and her husbands. So she invoked my Lord Krishna for help. My Lord Krishna — do you know where he was?

ARJUNA: No.

ASCETIC: He was seated on his throne. He was nowhere near the forest, but immediately he had to use his occult power to come physically to save her. Sri Krishna said, "Please give me something to eat. I am very hungry, Draupadi." Draupadi answered, "You are hungry? O Krishna, I have invoked you to help me because I have no food, and you have come here to torture me. How am I to feed you? I have no food here." Lord Krishna said, "You have to give me food. Examine your pot." She replied, "There is nothing left, O Krishna. I am not telling you a lie. We have all eaten, and there is nothing left. I can show the pot to you." She brought the pot before Krishna. To her surprise there was a grain of rice in it. He ate it. Then he said, "I am satisfied. Now ask me anything. I am pleased with you." She said, "Then save me. The sage Durvasha is coming. He has gone now with his thousands of disciples to bathe in the Ganges, and when he comes back he will want food." With his spiritual power, Krishna immediately made food for thousands of people. But Durvasha, with his yogic vision, came to know that Sri Krishna was there. He said, "It is useless for me to go there, because now they will be able to feed us. I don't want to go there. I am satisfied." So look how Draupadi caused problems for my Krishna. My Lord Krishna had to save her again. I shall kill her! I won't let her go on like this, exploiting my Lord.

ARJUNA: Who is the third person, please?

ASCETIC: The third person is that Prahlada. Whenever there is any danger, immediately Prahlada says the name of my Lord Krishna, who goes to save him. Prahlada has no right to bother my Lord so often. He has to be punished.

ARJUNA: Please tell me who Prahlada is.

ASCETIC: Oh, you don't know Prahlada? He claims to be one of the greatest disciples of Krishna, which is absolutely untrue. Prahlada's father used to hate Krishna. The very name of Krishna used to irritate him. His son was just the opposite. Constantly he was all love, all admiration for Krishna. So what did his father do? His father took Prahlada and threw him into a tub of boiling oil. On another occasion, he knocked him onto the ground in the path of a mad elephant, all because his son was worshipping Krishna. But the boiling oil did not kill the boy, nor did the elephant crush him. Sri Krishna, my Lord, was there to save him. Sri Krishna's presence saved him every time. I hate Prahlada! I shall punish him. I shall punish him for wasting my Krishna's time. All these three that I have mentioned I shall kill.

ARJUNA: Now may I know who the fourth person is?

ASCETIC: The fourth! He is the worst of all! The wretched, wretched Arjuna! I want to kill him here and now. If I see him anywhere I will kill him, without delay.

ARJUNA: Arjuna! What has he done?

ASCETIC: That third Pandava has brought disgrace to his family and to the whole world!

ARJUNA: How? Please tell me how Arjuna has brought disgrace to his family and to the world?

ASCETIC: Look at his audacity. He asked my Lord Krishna to be his charioteer on the battlefield. Sri Krishna is not only my Lord, he is the Lord of the Universe. And Arjuna asked him to be his charioteer! Look at his audacity! I shall kill him! I shall kill him! Until I kill him I shall not leave this earth.

ARJUNA (smiling): You are absolutely right. I am sure that one day you will meet these four and you will be able to kill them.

ASCETIC: I am so happy to hear these words from you. Yes, I shall certainly do it.

(Exeunt Krishna and Arjuna.)

Not so easy to change one's fate

Dramatis personae

SHIVA

DURGA (WIFE OF SHIVA)

KUMARA, GANAPATI (THEIR SONS)

OLD MAN (A GREAT DEVOTEE OF SHIVA)

Act 1

(Shiva, Durga and their sons, Kumara and Ganapati, are eating together. Suddenly Shiva stands up and begins to leave.)

DURGA: What is the matter? We have not quarrelled at all. I have not said a word to you and you have not said a word to me. What is wrong? Why are you leaving? What are you doing? The children are here. Have you no sense?

SHIVA: I am coming back. I have to do something very important.

(Shiva leaves and the children follow their father.)

CHILDREN: Father, Father, Mother has not said anything wrong. She is quite innocent. Why are you going away? Has anything gone wrong, Father?

SHIVA: Nothing is wrong with me, Kumara and Ganapati. Please go back and eat with your mother. It is something inner. You won't understand now because you are children. A few years later you will know what your father does in the inner world. I shall come back shortly.

(Exit Shiva.)

GANAPATI: Mother, Father is not angry with you. He says he has to do something inner which we won't understand right now. He will be coming back soon.

(Durga gives them a smile and they start eating. A few minutes later Shiva returns.)

DURGA: Now tell me, why did you leave? What was wrong with you?

SHIVA: Nothing was wrong with me. A great devotee of mine was attacked by a hooligan. He invoked me and I went to help him. But I saw that right after invoking me, he himself put up a brave fight and defeated the hooligan. I need not have worried at all. My devotee had the strength to punish the hooligan. I went there to save him, but now he has taken care of himself. I am always concerned for my devotees.

DURGA: Yes, I know how much concern you have for your devotees. You have next to none! I have never seen anyone as indifferent as you.

SHIVA: Indifferent?

KUMARA: Mother, Mother, you are insulting our father.

GANAPATI: He will not eat. He will go away.

DURGA: You children have no idea how indifferent your father is to some people.

SHIVA: Tell me who?

DURGA: I know that you have a great devotee on earth. He is an old man. He begs from door to door. He makes next to nothing. Early every morning he begins praying to you, and he prays to you all day. Nobody meditates so devotedly and sincerely on you as he does. He prays to you twenty-four hours a day, yet he has to go begging from door to door to maintain his life on earth. He has nobody on earth to take care of him. And even you do not take care of him. You don't give him any money; you don't do anything for him so that he does not have to go out begging every day. Poor man! Even in winter, when everybody shivers with cold, he has to go out begging alms from door to door. This is your compassion for him; this is your concern for him.

SHIVA: What can I do? That is his fate.

DURGA: What is his fate? You can change his fate.

SHIVA: No, I cannot change his fate.

DURGA: Why not? Occultly can't you put some money right by his door? In the morning, before he goes out, you can put a pile of gold coins right in his path. When he gets it he will not have to beg any more.

KUMARA: Father, that is a wonderful idea, Why not? You can do it, you can do it!

GANAPATI: Father, please do it. Since Mother wants it and it is a nice thing to do, why let the poor man suffer? If he is your greatest devotee, he should be given some money and he should be made happy. Poor man; he needs some comfort. There is nobody to look after him.

SHIVA: All right, I shall listen to your mother and to you two.

Scene 2

(The cottage of Shiva's devotee. Shiva enters in occult form and places a pile of coins outside the door, then leaves.)

OLD MAN (to himself): Now I am old. A day will soon come when I will lose my eyesight. Since I have to go from door to door, let me start practising walking along the street with my eyes closed. From now on, let me beg with my eyes closed, and then when I really lose my eyesight, I will have no problem. (The old man closes his eyes and goes to the door. He is pretending.) Oh, I have lost my eyes, I can't see! (Praying.) O Shiva, you are so kind, you are so full of compassion. My vision is gone, but the strength of my legs still remains. Even now you have given me the capacity to walk, and my hands still work. I am so grateful to you. I am waiting for the hour when you will call me.

(Old man sings.)

Tumi shudbu bandhu amar
tumiy amar pran
baul haye desh bideshe
gahi jena bhalobese
jiban bhare tomar jaya gan
tumi shudbu bandhu amar
tumiy amar pran

(You are my only Friend.
You are my life.
Like a divine mendicant,
from one country to another,
May I sing a song of You
With all my love.
May I sing the Song of Your
Victory all my life.)

(The old man goes out with his eyes still closed and almost steps on the money.)

Scene 3

(The old man returns home and opens his eyes. His bowl is piled high with food.)

OLD MAN: Oh, I have found a trick. From now on I will definitely go out with my eyes closed. People have more compassion for me then. They have given me much more than usual.

Scene 4

(Shiva's home.)

SHIVA (to Durga): See? I listened to you, but he went out with his eyes closed and he didn't get the money that I left for him. If he had seen it, by this time he would have been very rich. And for the rest of his life he would have been most comfortable. But he didn't see it. Who can change his fate? His fate is like that.

DURGA: My Lord, now I understand. Many times I thought that you were unkind to people who think of you, who meditate on you. But now I realise that although you try your best to help them, their fate, their karma from the past, in some way does not allow them to receive your blessings. Today I have seen that receptivity is needed. They have to develop the capacity of receiving. If not, no matter what you give them, either they will not be able to receive it or they will not value it.

GANAPATI: But Father, you could have done something else.

SHIVA: What is that?

GANAPATI: You could have gone to his place and personally given him the money. Then he would not have missed it.

KUMARA: That is a nice idea. Why didn't you do that, Father? Tomorrow you can go and do it. Father, do it, do it, do it!

SHIVA: Kumara, Ganapati, you two sons of ours are really stupid. You do not know what will happen.

TOGETHER: What will happen, Father?

SHIVA: When I go to him he will say, "Lord, you have come!" When I give him the money he will say, "Lord, you have come here to deceive me! You are giving me money so that I will lead a comfortable life and forget you. I have no money now. That is why I depend on you. I go begging from door to door and all the time I pray to you. When I come back I also pray to you. When I am in front of other people's doors I beg, beg of you. I beg alms, and at that time I pray to you and repeat your name. The moment I become rich I will stop thinking of you. Please, please, don't be so unkind to me. I want only to think of you, pray to you, meditate on you. This is the only boon I want from you, my Lord. The little food that I need in order to live on earth you can give me in other ways. But do not take me away from your heart. I want to remain in your heart through my prayers, constant prayers." What shall I say to him when he tells me this?

DURGA: Nothing. Now I know why you say that your heart is all the time in your devotees. You are all for them. This particular devotee of yours far outshines the others. He is teaching the world that what is most needed is not money or wealth, but your heart, your feet, your compassion. This devotee of yours is teaching the world that you, you alone, are the supreme object of love and adoration. In you is the fulfilment of the world; with you is the perfection of the world.

(Shiva blesses Durga with tearful joy and pride.)

Three miracles by a Brahmin's hands

Dramatis personae

BRAHMIN

WIFE OF BRAHMIN

INDRA (LORD OF THE GODS)

Scene 1

(A beautiful garden. A cow enters and destroys quite a few beautiful flowers and plants. Enter the owner of the garden, a Brahmin. He becomes terribly angry when he sees what the cow has done.)

BRAHMIN: You stupid brainless creature! I shall kill you! (He grabs an axe lying nearby and kills the cow.)

(Enter his wife, who starts weeping at the sight of the dead cow.)

WIFE: You madman! You have killed a cow. You are a Brahmin, a member of the highest caste, and you have killed a cow! This is a terrible sin! Now what will happen to you? God alone knows.

BRAHMIN: Shut up! I know what I have done. I know what is best. In the garden I see my own creation, my own beauty, my own success, my own glory. I have worked so hard, so very hard for this garden, and now this cow has destroyed all its beauty. I have done the right thing.

WIFE: The right thing! You have taken the life of a poor animal just because he destroyed a few plants. Is not this punishment much worse than the poor creature deserved?

BRAHMIN: What do you know about justice? Unless and until I punish the culprit severely, the culprit will never know the damage that he has done to me and my garden. Anyway, you know I am not the doer. I have read the scriptures. The scriptures say that I am not the doer. It is my hands that have done it. And where is the motive force of my hands? Who has acted in and through my hands? It is Indra, Lord Indra, who is responsible. He is the lord of my hands.

(Enter Indra in the guise of an old man.)

INDRA: Ah, I have never seen such a beautiful garden! I am sure Heaven itself is not as beautiful. Even the Garden of Eden could not be as beautiful as this garden. Who has done it? Who has made it so beautiful?

BRAHMIN (proudly): I have done it. I have done it all with my own two hands. Everything.

WIFE: I have also helped him a lot.

BRAHMIN: Very little, very little. Next to nothing. I have done practically all of it.

INDRA: No matter who has done it, I have never seen such a beautiful garden in my whole life. I shall tell all my friends to come here and visit your garden. It is so beautiful, so charming, so soul-stirring. Did you not appoint some servants to take care of your garden and to help you in gardening?

BRAHMIN: How many times have I to tell you that it is I who have done it, I! With my own two hands.

INDRA: You have done it with your own hands?

BRAHMIN: Yes. Only two hands. God has not given me more than two hands. Only two hands. With these two hands I have done it all.

WIFE: I have also helped you. Don't forget that I also have two hands. With these two hands I have helped you.

INDRA: And with your two hands you have helped? I never knew that four human hands could perform such a miracle. Such a beautiful garden! I am so delighted, so moved. Wherever I go, I shall surely tell people about your garden. (Noticing the cow.) Wait! What is this? I see a cow lying down. Is something wrong with it? Is it your cow?

BRAHMIN: Oh no. Not our cow.

INDRA: Then whose cow is it?

BRAHMIN: It is some neighbour's cow. Don't talk about that cow. It came and destroyed many of my beautiful plants, so Indra has killed it.

INDRA: Indra has killed it! How?

BRAHMIN: With these two hands. Indra is the motive force behind my hands. He is responsible for what my hands do. So Indra killed it with these two powerful hands.

INDRA: Well, make up your mind, Brahmin. Just a few minutes ago you told me that you made this garden with your own two hands. You did not give Indra any credit then. But when it comes to doing something bad, very bad, you put the entire blame on him. You must either sacrifice the praise, or accept the blame as well.

BRAHMIN (embarrassed): Yes, it is I who have done it.

(Indra shows his divine form. The Brahmin starts trembling. Both husband and wife fall at Indra's feet.)

BRAHMIN: Lord, forgive me, forgive me.

(He touches Indra's feet.)

INDRA: Your hands have done three significant things. First, they created tremendous beauty on earth in the form of this garden. Your hands did the right thing. Then they did a cruel and ugly thing: they killed a helpless animal. And of all animals, a sacred cow. That was a terrible thing, unpardonable. Then these hands of yours touched my feet. My feet are compassion, my feet are forgiveness. Because your hands touched my feet, my compassion forgives you for killing one of my sacred cows. With your hands you have performed three miracles. To create beauty is a divine miracle. To take the life of an innocent gentle animal is an undivine miracle. And your last miracle, touching my divine feet of compassion, has brought you my forgiveness. Now I wish you to go to the owner and inform him that you have killed his cow.

BRAHMIN: I don't even know who the owner is. And how can I tell him? He will beat me. He will put a curse on me. He will kill me.

WIFE: That is true.

INDRA: You must go. If you don't, then God will certainly punish you. The most serious catastrophe will take place. Your son will die very soon.

WIFE (starting to cry): Our only son will die! Our only son!

INDRA: Some accident or some person will kill your son as your husband has killed this cow.

WIFE (weeping bitterly): O Indra, you are the Lord of the Gods. Something within tells me that you are the owner of the world. That means that you are the owner of this cow, too. We have told you what we have done. Now please forgive us.

INDRA (smiling): You have spoken the Truth, realised the Truth. I forgive both of you. O Brahmin, your wife has realised the Truth before you. It is she who has saved you. Finally all your problems are over. She has offered you the knowledge, the real knowledge that I am the Lord. I am the owner of this vast creation. I have forgiven you. Your wife is your real illumination.

The winner

Dramatis personae

SHIVA

DURGA (WIFE OF SHIVA)

KUMARA, GANESHA (THEIR SONS)

Scene 1

(Mother Durga is wearing a necklace of pearls. She looks extremely beautiful. Enter Kumara with his bow and arrow and Ganesha with a sacred book.)

KUMARA: Mother, Mother, your necklace is so beautiful. I want to have it for myself, I want to have it!

GANESHA: Mother, I want to have it. It is so beautiful!

KUMARA: Mother, I am younger than Ganesha. I should get it.

GANESHA: Mother, I am nicer than Kumara; therefore I should get it.

KUMARA: I am stronger than he is; therefore I should get it.

GANESHA: Mother, I am wiser than he is; therefore I should get it.

DURGA: My sons, I shall give my necklace to the one who can please me most.

KUMARA: Mother, I can easily please you.

GANESHA: Mother, I can please you more.

DURGA: All right, here is the competition for both of you. Both of you have to travel around the universe, and whoever comes back to me first after travelling around the universe will be the winner. Now both of you start on your journey and come back as soon as possible.

(Kumara knows that he is the swifter and the stronger of the two. He immediately mounts his peacock and rides away, far, far into the distant worlds. Ganesha sits and meditates.)

GANESHA (thinking aloud): My vehicle is the mouse and it is slower than the peacock. What am I going to do? Let me meditate and see if I can get some brilliant idea. (He meditates.) Mother is the goddess who pervades the universe. She is the universe. If I go around my mother, that means I will have gone around the universe. If I just go around my mother once then I will be the winner. (He walks around his mother.) Mother, I have gone around the universe.

DURGA: Sit here now and read. Let us wait until your brother, Kumara, comes back.

(Ganesha starts reading sacred books. Enter Lord Shiva.)

SHIVA: Here is the mother and only one son. Where is our other son, our little son? Where has Kumara gone? Is he playing outside?

DURGA: No, he has gone to circle the universe. I wanted both the brothers to race around the universe. Kumara is still on his journey; he has not yet come back.

SHIVA: And what about Ganesha? Why is he still sitting here?

GANESHA: Father, I have already won.

SHIVA: How? You have already won and still your brother is not within sight?

GANESHA: Father, I know that my mother is the universe. So I went around my mother, and I have won the race.

(Shiva, with deepest joy and pride, blesses Ganesha.)

SHIVA: You are right, you are right. You have true wisdom, Ganesha. Your mother is the Universal Mother. She pervades the universe. You have gone around her and that means you have gone around the universe. My son, I am so proud of your wisdom. Now you read.

(Ganesha reads spiritual books. Enter Kumara hurriedly.)

KUMARA: Ganesha, have you not yet started? Have you surrendered before actually making a try? Have you surrendered to me? You knew well that I would beat you, so you did not even start, right? Can you imagine! I have never seen such a cowardly fellow as you. Mother, look, he is still sitting there. He didn't even try, and I went all the way. I went all, all, all the way around the universe, through all of God's vast creation, and I have come back to you. Mother, give me the necklace. (Shiva smiles.) Father, why do you smile? Have you not heard about our competition? Mother wanted us to go around the universe. She promised to give whoever returned first this beautiful necklace of pearls that she is wearing. Father, I have won, I have won! Look, he has not yet even started! (Ganesha smiles.) You know how to smile. That is what you know. But you don't know how to act, how to run, how to jump, how to do anything. You only know how to smile, smile, smile. And you know something more: you know how to eat. (Durga smiles.) Mother, why do you smile? Why are you all smiling? Can't you appreciate my sincere effort? Can't you appreciate my victory? It is mine. Please give me the necklace. It is I who deserve it. You must keep your promise, Mother.

DURGA: My son, Ganesha is the winner.

KUMARA: How? Why? What do you mean, Mother?

DURGA: He has gone around the universe, and he has come back before you.

KUMARA: Mother, don't tell a lie. How? He didn't even start, as far as I can see. Look at the sweat on my brow. My whole body is perspiring. Look at him. He is sitting there like a lazy fellow. I see nothing in him, no tiredness, no sign of effort. How tired, how exhausted I am, Mother! Look!

DURGA: My son, I am the Universal Mother. I embody the universe. He went around me, and the moment he did so, he became the winner. It took him only a few seconds to go around me and now he is sitting quietly. He is the winner. And you have been gone, you know how many hours. You have taken many hours to come back.

(Kumara throws down his bow and arrows and sits on the floor, dejected.)

KUMARA: Am I such a fool? Am I such a fool?

(Shiva blesses Kumara.)

SHIVA: My son, I am proud of you anyway. We are proud of your speed and strength. We are all proud of you because it is you who will always destroy the hostile forces, the undivine forces that will attack the cosmic gods, the gods in Heaven. You will be the commander-in-chief of the gods fighting against demons and other hostile forces. The world has two things: darkness and ignorance. It is you who have the capacity to destroy darkness, the undivine, hostile forces. And your brother, with his inner wisdom, has the capacity to transform ignorance into knowledge. With his wisdom he will transform ignorance into knowledge-light. With your power you will destroy darkness. (To both.) So both of you are equally dear to me and to your mother. You two beloved sons of ours, from each of you we expect what you have to give. (To Kumara.) What you have is power. What he has is wisdom. With your power you are pleasing us most and with his wisdom he is pleasing us most.

(Shiva blesses both his sons.)

DURGA (to Kumara): With his wisdom your brother has won this particular race. (Places the necklace around Ganesha's neck.) That is why I have garlanded him. But both of you are equally dear to us.

(Kumara bows and sings.)

Hari jadi ma tor kachhe
seito amar joy
tor hate ma ja diyechhi
ta shudbu sanchai
ar baki sab mulya bihin
kebal apabyay
pira dayi pather bojha
kajer kichhui noy
atma-gyaner pare amar
tor kachhe ma har
hale jani pabo ami
shreshtha puraskar

(Mother, if I lose to You,
That is my only Victory.
Whatever I have given into Your hands,
Is only my savings.
To me the rest is of no value, a mere waste,
And it only tortures me
and stands as a burden on my way.
I cannot put it to use.
When I lose to You,
After I have achieved
My full realisation,
I know my greatest reward I shall receive.)

Why should I be responsible?

Dramatis personae

NARADA (A SAGE)

RATNAKAR (A ROBBER AND MURDERER)

FATHER OF RATNAKAR

MOTHER OF RATNAKAR

WIFE OF RATNAKAR

SON OF RATNAKAR

Scene 1

(A forest. The sage Narada is walking through, singing the praises of Lord Vishnu. The notorious robber and murderer, Ratnakar, suddenly attacks him.)

NARADA: Ratnakar, what are you doing? Don't you see that I am singing to the Lord Vishnu? I am invoking him. I am chanting his name.

RATNAKAR: Vishnu? Who is Vishnu? There is only one person on earth and that is I, Ratnakar. I have killed hundreds of people, and I have cut off one thumb from each person. When I have one thousand thumbs, I shall make a garland of them and wear it around my neck. Nobody can save you from me.

NARADA: No? Don't you know that I have spiritual power, occult power? I can easily free myself from you. So don't threaten me.

RATNAKAR: Ha! Spiritual power, occult power! I shall kill you right now! (He is about to stab Narada with his dagger.)

NARADA: Wait a minute! What do you want? Do you want money?

RATNAKAR: Yes.

NARADA: How much do you want?

RATNAKAR: Whatever you have.

NARADA: I can give you whatever I have, and again, with my occult power I can give you double what I have. Look, I have a hundred-rupee coin, Can you see?

RATNAKAR: Yes.

NARADA: Now search me, Search all my garments. There is no money.

(Ratnakar searches him thoroughly.)

NARADA: Now just close your eyes.

(Ratnakar closes his eyes. From nowhere Narada takes another hundred rupees.)

NARADA: Look, Ratnakar, what I can give you.

RATNAKAR (amazed): Where did this money come from? I searched you thoroughly.

NARADA: Ratnakar, Ratnakar, no matter what amount you want I will be able to give it to you, and I will give you. But before that I want to ask you something.

RATNAKAR: What?

NARADA: You know that what you are doing is absolutely wrong. You are acting like an animal, killing people and taking away their money. Now don't you think that you will be held responsible for all this in your life after death? Don't you know that you will be condemned to hell and punished severely? Why do you do this kind of thing? You alone, you and nobody else, will suffer for all these horrible deeds.

RATNAKAR: What do you mean, I alone? I do it because I still have a sense of responsibility. I have two old parents; I have a wife, a beautiful wife, and a beautiful son, I have to think of all of them. I am responsible for my parents, for they are invalids. I am responsible for my wife, who is helpless without me. And my son is only a little boy, so I have to think of him. It is for all of them that I do it.

NARADA: And do you think that they will also take responsibility for you when you get punishment in your after-life? When you die, you will be the one to be punished for this karma in the other world, Ratnakar.

RATNAKAR: If I am punished I am sure they will share my karma with me, since I am doing all this for them. I have no other way to make money. This is the only way I can support my family.

NARADA: All right, this may be the only way, but I tell you, these people will never take responsibility for you.

RATNAKAR: Why not? They should! It is only fair, if I am doing it for them. Today, if anything happens to me, my parents will perish. My wife and son will probably die, too. I am sure they will all be willing to share my punishment in the after-life since it is I who am maintaining them in this life.

NARADA: All right, Ratnakar. Let us see. You feel that your parents, your wife and your son will take responsibility for your undivine actions because you are feeding them, you are clothing them, you are taking care of them by doing all this. Go home and ask them. If they agree, then I shall give you any amount of money you want, and double the amount. I tell you, Ratnakar, they have a claim on your earnings but have nothing to do with your sins. This hard fact will give you a rude shock and then you will take to holy living. I want you to go home and see. I will wait here.

RATNAKAR: You are a holy man. You won't break your promise?

NARADA: I won't break my promise. I am doing this out of my compassion for you. I can easily leave this place with my occult force — as easily as I brought the money I showed you. Right now I can use my occult power and chase you away from here with my light.

RATNAKAR: Oh yes? Show me, show me!

(Narada opens his third eye, and immediately Ratnakar starts trembling.)

RATNAKAR: Stop, stop! The volcanic fire from your third eye is burning me to ashes. I am going. I am going to see my family and I will bring you the news. They will take responsibility for me.

NARADA: Go and see.

Scene 2

(Ratnakar's home.)

RATNAKAR (to his parents): Mother, Father, I have been working hard for you.

FATHER: Yes, my son, you are working very hard and we are pleased with you.

RATNAKAR: They say that killing people is bad, robbing is bad. I have been killing, robbing, doing many, many things, only to support you and the rest of my family. Now, O Father, O Mother, tell me. I am your dearest son. Will you not take responsibility for my actions when I die, when I am punished by the law of karma in the other world?

BOTH PARENTS: Son, why should we accept the responsibility? When you were a young boy we brought you up, we fed you. We looked after you and we did not ask you to take responsibility for our actions. At that time it was our duty. Now you are grown up, mature, and now it is your duty to feed us, to take responsibility for us.

(Ratnakar is taken aback. He goes to his wife.)

RATNAKAR: Now, darling, will you not accept responsibility for me? You say that I am dearer to you than your life. I have done so many wrong things. Every day I harass people, I torture people, I kill people and take their money. What for? Only to feed you and to feed my family. I am sure you will take some of the responsibilities in my next life, in the other world, when I am punished. I am sure you will also share the burden.

WIFE: Me? Why should I be held responsible? I am your wife, but it is your responsibility. Did you ever hear of a wife going out to make money for her husband? It is the duty of the husband to make money and feed the wife. Are you a fool? I thought you had some sense. People will laugh at you if you ever say that I have to take the responsibility for supporting myself. It is your duty to support me. So why should I be held responsible when it is your duty?

(Sadly Ratnakar goes to his son.)

RATNAKAR: My child, will you not take responsibility for what I am doing? I am torturing people, strangling people and killing people. What for? Only to support you, your mother and my parents.

SON: Father, I am only a child. I do not know how to work. I am unable to support myself. You take care of me. For that I am grateful. But how can I be responsible for what you are doing? I am not doing a thing; I am helpless. When I grow up I will be responsible for you — to feed you and support you. I will take care of my grandparents and my mother. But now, Father, I cannot be responsible for you. It is you who have to take responsibility.

RATNAKAR (giving a smart slap to his son): You ungrateful creature! (He kicks his wife.) You ungrateful creature! (He strikes his parents.) You ungrateful parents! I have nothing on earth to hold on to.

Scene 3

(In the forest again. Ratnakar has returned to Narada.)

NARADA: So, you have come here to take your money? Take as much as you want. Why are you so sad? Tell me, what is the news? What is your news?

RATNAKAR: My news is that I have given up my family. I will not be responsible for them since they do not feel responsible for me. They are a bunch of ungrateful creatures: my son, my wife, my parents. I do not want them. I do not need them. Right here, tell me what I should do. I will listen to you.

NARADA: My only advice to you is this: repeat only one name — Rama, Rama, Rama. He will forgive you. He will give you salvation. And it is you who will immortalise him on earth. He will take human incarnation and you will write his biography. Long, long before he is born, before he comes into this earthly existence, you will write his biography. You will tell about his immortal life, his life of dedication, his life of glory, his life of fulfilment. All this you will write down in his biography, From now on repeat his name: Rama, Rama, Rama. Just repeat it and let me hear.

RATNAKAR: Mara, Mara, Mara.

NARADA: Can't you say his name?

RATNAKAR: I can't.

NARADA: Rama, Rama. See what you have done? You cannot repeat his sacred name because you have done thousands of terrible things. Thousands of times you have acted like an animal. You are so impure, you are so mercilessly caught by the hostile forces that you have become like a real asura. Now you cannot even repeat Rama's name. You can only say Mara, which is "Rama" said the other way around. All right, then, say Mara. Repeat Mara and in a few years' time you will be able to say Rama properly. Rama is the heart. Even if you cannot properly pronounce his name, he won't mind. With a soulful heart if you pray every day, repeating the name Mara, Rama will come to your rescue. He will forgive you, he will liberate you. It is to you that he will give the glory of immortalising him here on earth. You will write his biography, you will reveal him and manifest him. You will be the harbinger of his coming. When he comes down into the world and operates on the physical plane, you will see that the biography which you have written about him will immortalise you. He has chosen you to immortalise him, Ratnakar. And the day you start writing his biography, Lord Rama will enter into you and change your name. When you start writing his biography your new name will be Valmiki the Sage. Valmiki will be your real name. "When the power of love replaces the love of power, man will have a new name: God." With your love of power you wanted to destroy the world, but with your power of love you will liberate the world. You will be a messenger of truth, a messenger of fulfilment.

(Narada blesses Ratnakar and departs.)

Rama fails

Dramatis personae

RAMA

MINISTERS AND PRIESTS

A MAN OF VERY LOW CASTE

VASHISHTHA (PRECEPTOR OF RAMA)

MOTHER OF HANUMAN

HANUMAN (A GREAT DEVOTEE OF RAMA)

Scene 1

(Rama's palace. Rama has invited all his ministers and priests to discuss a serious matter. Everyone has arrived except his preceptor, Vashishtha. Vashishtha has a special seat of his own. Suddenly a man of very low caste enters and deliberately sits on Vashishtha's seat.)

EVERYONE NEARBY: Get up! Get up!

A MINISTER: How dare you sit on this seat? This is Vashishtha's seat. He is the preceptor, the Guru of King Rama.

(Enter Vashishtha.)

VASHISHTHA: Why is this man sitting on my seat? (To the man.) How dare you sit there? I shall kill you! Rama, if you are a true disciple of mine, you must kill this rascal.

(Rama gets his bow and arrow. The man runs for his life.)

VASHISHTHA: Rama, you have to kill this rogue, this infidel! I can give you only three chances at most. If you fail in your first attempt, you can try two more times. And if you fail in your third attempt to kill him, I will think you are a useless archer.

RAMA: You know I have killed Ravana, the King of the Demons. Is there anyone I cannot kill on the first attempt, O Vashishtha, O peerless Sage? I assure you, either I shall kill that fellow where I find him, or I shall bring him here.

VASHISHTHA: No, Rama, I don't want you to bring him here. Just kill him wherever you find him. God knows where he is by now.

RAMA: With your blessing let me leave.

(Vashishtha blesses Rama. Exit Rama.)

Scene 2

(Rama is looking for the man. Finally he sees him at a distance. He gives chase, and the man runs for his life.)

RAMA: Ah, I see he is entering into my Hanuman's house. The rogue is caught! He does not know that the house belongs to Hanuman, my dearest devotee. (Shouts) Hanuman! Hanuman!

(Enter Hanuman's mother.)

HANUMAN'S MOTHER: O Rama, you have come. I am so grateful to you. Your presence has sanctified my home. O Rama, please wait for a few minutes. Hanuman will be coming immediately. He is getting ready to see you.

(Exit Hanuman's mother. Enter Hanuman with folded hands.)

HANUMAN: Please tell me what I can do for you, my Lord.

RAMA: Hanuman, where has he gone? Where is that rascal? Bring him out! He has insulted my Guru, Vashishtha. He sat on Vashishtha's seat. Vashishtha wants me to kill him. I have to fulfil Vashishtha's desire. Bring him out and I shall kill him.

HANUMAN: O Rama, I am sorry but I cannot bring him out.

RAMA: I can't believe my ears! Is this you, Hanuman, my dearest disciple? I was under the impression that you were ready to give your life for me at any moment.

HANUMAN: That is true. I will give my life for you. But this is not my life. It is somebody else's life.

RAMA: That means you won't listen to me, to my request, my demand, my command?

HANUMAN: I am sorry. Forgive me. My mother has given him shelter. Janani janmabhumishcha swargadapi gariyasi. "Mother and Mother Earth are superior to Heaven itself."

RAMA: But I am your Lord. Am I not superior to everything in your life?

HANUMAN: That is true, but how am I going to break my mother's promise?

RAMA: If you want to fulfil your mother's promise, then you are no longer my dearest disciple. I must come first in your life, Hanuman.

HANUMAN: Yes, you do come first in my life. I have to break my mother's promise. I am prepared. To please you is to please God. Rama, how are you going to kill this man?

RAMA: I am going to kill him with my arrows. Vashishtha has allowed me three attempts. He made me promise to try three times and then give up. But it will be a real disgrace if I cannot kill a human being in three attempts.

HANUMAN: Please wait here. I shall bring the culprit right to you.

(Exit Hanuman.)

RAMA (to himself): I knew. The moment I saw the culprit entering into Hanuman's house, I knew it was his end. He could not escape me. The human emotions created some problem for my Hanuman; that is why he took his mother's side. But the divine in him is so strong, so powerful, that it has to come forward, and it did come forward. That is why he is bringing the culprit to me.

(Hanuman brings the culprit before Rama.)

HANUMAN: He is ready, Rama. You can satisfy yourself now.

(Rama aims at the culprit and shoots. The arrow drops without piercing his heart. Rama is wonder-struck.)

RAMA: What? How can this be? I killed Ravana, the most powerful demon on earth, and now my arrow fails. Let me try a second time. (The same thing happens the second time.) Only one more chance is left! Let me make my third attempt. (The same thing happens the third time.)

HANUMAN: Lord, you have to keep your promise now. You have three times tried to kill him, and three times you have failed. Now you can't try any more.

RAMA: No, I can't. I won't. But Hanuman, tell me: how could all this happen? I am the King of Kings, and my arrow fails today so miserably for the first time.

HANUMAN: I shall tell you the secret. I told the man to begin repeating in silence, the moment you drew back your bow, "Victory to Lord Rama." And the second time you drew it back, I asked him to repeat, "Victory to the consort of Sita." The third time, "Victory to Dasharatha's eldest son." So each time he prayed for your victory. Now if someone sincerely prays for your own victory, how can you kill that person? Your soul's divinity was pleased with him because he was praying for your victory. It was your vital and your mind that wanted to kill him. Naturally your soul's will shall always conquer the will of your vital and mind. You are the Lord of the gods. He prayed to you for your victory. Naturally your soul gave him protection, even though your mind and vital were begging for his destruction. The power of your soul is infinitely greater than the power of your vital desire.

RAMA: My dearest disciple, I accept my defeat with deepest joy and blessingful pride. I accept my defeat by you, my dearest devotee. You have taught me a lesson. My soul's will shall always conquer my vital and mental craving. I have failed in my outer attempt. But my body's failure is my soul's success. The success of my soul over my body is infinitely more meaningful and fruitful than my outer success.

HANUMAN: This knowledge that I have offered to you was granted to me by you. Is there anything I have that has not come from you? My knowledge, my power, everything that I have, everything that I am, has all come from you. In order to glorify me, in order to immortalise me, you are acting like my student. But I know that I am your eternal student. I know you are my eternal teacher.

(Hanuman sings.)

Janar age tomai ami henechhi
pabar age tomai ami jenechhi
debar age tomai ami peyechhi
taito tomai mor amire sanpechhi

(Before I knew You, I struck You.
Before I received You, I knew You.
Before I gave myself to You,
I received You.
Therefore to You I have offered,
sacrificed and surrendered
my ego-reality's existence.)

Editor's introduction to the first edition

Children play. Light plays on the surface of the world. The play of events rolls throughout time. We play at being ourselves, and our selves play the situations of our life. This book of plays is no different. With few characters and utterly simple stories, Sri Chinmoy creates teaching for the spirit. In the world of these words, we observe more directly the play inherent in our days. With simplicity and trust unclouded by any neurotic mentation, the characters dance with their situation. The veils of past history and a different cultural setting remove any obvious grasp on the characters other than the intended one: see how the rhythm of their lives inexorably leads them towards the unfoldment of their spiritual wisdom.

The language is simple, as befits the clarity of real play, but if we can allow ourselves to enter into the spirit of the game, we become aware of Sri Chinmoy's play with words. They have reference to the varied planes of reality which are always glancing in and out of each other, reflecting the movements of the supreme Play of creation, preservation and destruction.

We find our lives difficult. We find ourselves in situations that are deadly serious, and we discover ourselves suffering. In the midst of this plodding, rare events occur. One phone call among many is laughter and delight. For a few moments in a traffic jam the sun dances with joy on a new world. The people drearily passing on the street suddenly bounce with energy. In these moments, quite beyond our control, we are playing. We have entered into a world where we do not have to control things. We accept the inherent control of all things and merely enjoy our heart's unity with this perfect play.

God dreams. We act. There is no other time but now, and just in this moment we can feel the drift of the Play. It is leading us subtly towards the union with our soul. Sri Chinmoy's disciples act out his plays. By accepting a role, they learn the art of opening their hearts to the play of spiritual reality which is inseparable from the events of our lives.

Sometimes during the evening meditations at the New York Centre, Sri Chinmoy reads his plays to his actors. At other times, a disciple will read, and Sri Chinmoy acts out a related but deeper play on his meditation platform. The words come into the silent room, and the ninety beings who hear them are wrapped in the calm of their receptivity. In and out of different moods and zones of consciousness, the master and his disciples let the play of words glide through their beings, as their beings flow through each other. One hears an exchange of lines between two actors, and it is echoed far inside the heart. The inward Dreamer is awakened and stands in the centre of Being. The Master turns, smiling, greeting God. There is the play of light, the inexpressible soaring of the heart into silence. Words are coming from somewhere: the play is going on. It is always going on. The Master's eyes are weaving with rays of living light the story of all our union. "Play with Me," the soul is saying, "play with my innermost Self, you who are my Heart. Play this celebration of Me with your life." "Yes," comes the assent of being. "Yes, I am."