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.)