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.

Sri Chinmoy, Supreme sacrifice, Sky Publishers, New York, 1973