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.