Who is the owner: the life-saver or the life-taker?
DEVADATTA (COUSIN OF SIDDHARTHA)
(Prince Siddhartha is walking in the garden in a contemplative mood. All of a sudden a bird falls down in front of him.)
SIDDHARTHA: Ah, poor bird! My heart is bleeding for you. Who has done this? Who has hurt you? Who has aimed this arrow at you? Poor, innocent bird! Let me take the arrow out of your body. (He removes the arrow.) Now let me try to cure you.
DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, this is my bird. What right have you to keep my bird? Give it to me!
SIDDHARTHA: No, this is my bird, Devadatta.
DEVADATTA: Your bird! I shot this bird. It belongs to me. This is my arrow. I aimed at the bird and it fell down here. It is mine, mine, my property, my possession.
SIDDHARTHA: Devadatta, if I had not removed the arrow from the bird, it would have died by this time.
DEVADATTA: The point is not whether the bird would have died or would not have died. The bird is alive, and it is my possession. It was my power, my skill, my capacity that brought the bird down to earth. You cannot have it. Everybody appreciates and admires you for your heart, for your kindness. But now let the world appreciate my capacity, my skill. You be satisfied with what you have: love. And I shall be satisfied with what I have: power. My power, my skill at archery deserves this bird, not your love.
SIDDHARTHA: O Devadatta, you have the power to kill, and I have the power to love. But since I have this animal, this poor innocent bird, you shall not get it back.
DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, there is a time to listen to your philosophy, and there are people to listen to your philosophy. But this is not the time, and I am not the person. You can advocate your philosophy to others who want to be like you, who want to live in the moon-world and have no practical sense. Life has to be practical. Life needs strength, life needs vigour. But your life is a life of laziness and false kindness. You should be strong. You are the Prince, and soon you will have to rule your kingdom. This kind of false attitude will not help you in any way. What I have done today, you will do millions of times more. I was about to kill a bird. You will one day kill men. At that time your philosophy will change.
SIDDHARTHA: No, Devadatta, my philosophy will always remain the same. My philosophy is the philosophy of compassion, and not the philosophy of destruction.
DEVADATTA: You stay with your philosophy, and let me stay with mine. My philosophy is power. Your philosophy is compassion. Well and good. Now give me my bird.
SIDDHARTHA: Sorry, I will not give it to you.
DEVADATTA: Are you prepared to go to the court to fight for this bird?
SIDDHARTHA: Yes, I am fully prepared.
JUDGE: Prince, why do you keep a bird which belongs to somebody else? True, you have compassion, you have love for the bird. You have love for everything. But justice says the bird belongs to Devadatta. It was he who brought the bird down to earth. It is his possession.
SIDDHARTHA: O venerable Judge, I do not know anything about justice, but my heart tells me that he who saves life is the owner, not he who takes life. My heart was bleeding for the bird and I saved it. I am prepared to give my own life for this bird.
DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, you know how to talk. You know perfectly well that no one will kill you in place of this bird. Don’t show your false compassion.
JUDGE: Devadatta, I am the Judge. Let me hear more from him.
SIDDHARTHA: O sir, I feel that this bird belongs to me because I have saved its life. Devadatta practically killed the bird. Please tell me who is more important, the life-saver or the life-destroyer?
JUDGE: Prince, I agree with you. The life-saver is infinitely more important than the life-taker. You have saved the bird’s life; therefore it is you who can claim this bird. The bird is yours. He who saves life or gives new life is the real owner, and not he who takes life or destroys life. Today you have offered your life for a bird. A day will come, I clearly foresee, when you will offer your life for all of humanity. Your heart will cry to save the bleeding heart of humanity. Your heart will cry to illumine the unlit mind of humanity. Your soul will cry to elevate the consciousness of humanity.
DEVADATTA: Siddhartha, today your love-power has won the victory, but a day will come when I shall conquer you with my destruction-power. You will see that power conquers love.
SIDDHARTHA: Devadatta, you are wrong. Love will always conquer, for Love is the Almighty Power.
Prince Siddhartha leaves the palace
CHANNA (HIS CHARIOTEER)
AN OLD MAN
A SICK MAN
A DEAD MAN
A SPIRITUAL MAN
(Channa, Siddhartha’s charioteer, is driving the Prince through the streets.)
SIDDHARTHA: Channa, I am so happy today. For the first time I have come out of the palace. I smell now the real fragrance of life. Look at this panoramic view. My entire being is in deep ecstasy.
CHANNA: O Prince, in your happiness is my happiness. I am always at your disposal.
(All of a sudden Siddhartha sees an old man before him.)
SIDDHARTHA: Channa, who is this man? He can’t even walk. How strange — his hair is white. My hair is black, and yours is, too. Everyone in the palace has black hair. What is wrong with this man’s hair?
CHANNA: Prince, he is an old man; therefore he is very weak. That is why he cannot walk properly. Old people have white hair. One day you and I also will grow old.
SIDDHARTHA: Me? I shall become old? Impossible! I feel miserable for that old man. Channa, I don’t think that I shall ever have to become old.
CHANNA: Prince, how I wish that you would never become old! But, unfortunately, nobody can escape old age.
SIDDHARTHA: Channa, I feel really miserable for that old man, who is so thin and weak. Let us go back to the palace. I hope that tomorrow I shall not have to see an old man.
CHANNA: Oh, no. Tomorrow I shall drive you along another road.
SIDDHARTHA: The very idea of becoming old in the future is making me sad.
CHANNA: Me too, O Prince.
(The following day Channa is driving Siddhartha in the chariot along a different road.)
SIDDHARTHA: Life outside the palace is really beautiful, Channa. Here everything is fresh, charming and soulful.
CHANNA: I am glad that you are enjoying your ride.
SIDDHARTHA: Inside the palace it is all luxury. Outside the palace it is all beauty, nature’s beauty, life’s beauty. (All of a sudden Siddhartha sees a man lying in the street.) Channa, who is this man? He can’t even sit properly. He is lying down in the street. He is pressing his head with one hand and pressing his stomach with the other. His eyes are deeply sunken. He is moaning and shedding bitter tears. What is wrong with him? It seems that he is finding it difficult to breathe.
CHANNA: Prince, that man is sick. He is suffering from severe pain in his head and stomach. Perhaps he has other ailments, too. Prince, everyone falls sick once in a while.
SIDDHARTHA: No! I have never fallen sick. I feel such sorrow for that man. Can I be of any help to him?
CHANNA: No, you cannot be of any help to him, Prince. Only a doctor can help him. I am sure that soon some of his friends will take him to a doctor. Prince, we should move away from this place. As it was yesterday, today also your joy is ruined. The world is full of misery.
SIDDHARTHA: I see. I was totally ignorant of this. Tomorrow we must take another road and drive around the kingdom.
CHANNA: Certainly. Tomorrow we will drive through other streets.
(The next day. Siddhartha and Channa are in the chariot. Channa has taken a new road.)
SIDDHARTHA: Beauty, beauty! Today I see and feel real beauty on earth. We have covered a long distance. We are passing through a series of beautiful spots. (All of a sudden Siddhartha sees some people carrying a man on their shoulders. Tears are running down their cheeks.) Channa, what is wrong with that fellow? Why should others have to carry him? And why are they crying?
CHANNA: Ah, that man is dead.
SIDDHARTHA: What do you mean?
CHANNA: There is no life in him, Prince. His play on earth is over. Everybody has to die one day. Everybody has to go away from this world. Everybody has to suffer from death.
SIDDHARTHA: Not me! I don’t want to die. My beloved wife also has to die? My darling Rahul also has to die? No, that can’t be. I shall not be able to bear such a loss.
CHANNA: Prince, whoever lives on earth has to die eventually. Nobody can live forever.
SIDDHARTHA: Channa, I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. I must conquer death, not only for myself, but for everybody. Channa, please tell me if there is anything more powerful, more destructive than death.
CHANNA: No, Prince, there is nothing more powerful and destructive than death. Death conquers everybody. We are all slaves of death.
SIDDHARTHA: Not me!
CHANNA: We are all at the mercy of death.
SIDDHARTHA: Not me! Channa, now that I have seen an old man, a sick man and a dead man, I think that I have seen everything bad that the world can show me. But something within me tells me that there are still things that I have not seen as yet. I want to come out tomorrow again.
CHANNA: If you want to come out of the palace again, I shall be more than happy to drive you, O Prince.
(The next day. Siddhartha and Channa are in the chariot driving along the streets.)
SIDDHARTHA: Channa, we have covered a very good distance. Today everything is fine. Today I don’t have to see an old man, a sick man or a dead man. Today I shall see and enjoy only nature’s beauty, nature’s lustre, nature’s love, nature’s heart and nature’s soul.
(All of a sudden he sees someone meditating beneath a tree.)
SIDDHARTHA: Who is that man, Channa? What is he doing at the foot of that tree? Why are his eyes closed? What is he doing with a garland of beads?
CHANNA: I am answering your questions one by one, O Prince. Who is that man? He is a spiritual man. What is he doing at the foot of the tree? He is praying and meditating. Why are his eyes closed? He thinks that his prayers will be more sincere and his meditation will be more intense if he keeps his eyes closed. What is he doing with a garland of beads? He is repeating the name of God, and counting the number of chants on the beads.
SIDDHARTHA: I believe all that you say, but what will he get by leading this kind of life?
CHANNA: He will get infinite Peace and infinite Joy.
SIDDHARTHA: Infinite Peace? Infinite Joy? I must go and talk to him. Channa, come along. Let us go and speak to this peculiar man.
CHANNA: Indeed, that’s a nice idea.
(They leave the chariot and approach the spiritual man.)
SIDDHARTHA: May I know your name? What do you do for your living? (No answer from the spiritual man.) Do you know that I am Prince Siddhartha? My father owns this kingdom; he is the Lord of this kingdom. You are ignoring his son. I can do anything to you that I want. For God’s sake, don’t waste my precious time!
(No answer from the spiritual man.)
CHANNA: Prince, forgive me. I must tell you something. He is a spiritual man. He is praying to God; he is meditating on God. We should not disturb him. Who knows what is happening inside him? Perhaps God and he are talking inwardly. Perhaps God is telling him how he can have infinite Peace and Bliss.
SIDDHARTHA: I need that. I need infinite Peace and infinite Bliss, Channa. Do you think I will ever have that kind of Peace and Bliss?
CHANNA: Why not? Why not? Without fail you will have infinite Peace and infinite Bliss if you pray and meditate like this spiritual man.
SIDDHARTHA: Channa, then tomorrow a new life for me begins. I shall pray and meditate all day and night. My present life of luxury is no longer for me. I shall welcome the life of poverty. I shall embrace the life of renunciation. I shall put an end to suffering in this world. I know ignorance is the root of all suffering. I shall uproot the huge ignorance-tree, Channa; I shall exterminate it. The first day I saw an old man; the second day I saw a sick man; the third day I saw a dead man; today, the fourth day, I see a spiritual man. Either tomorrow, or in the near future, or in the distant future, I shall see another man, who has infinite Light, infinite Peace and infinite Bliss. My life is meaningless and useless without eternity’s Light, infinity’s Peace and immortality’s Bliss. The human in me ends its role today, Channa. No more for me this life of pleasure. The divine in me shall begin its role tomorrow. For me, from now on, only the life of universal Peace and transcendental Bliss.
Siddhartha becomes the Buddha
SIDDHARTHA (LATER, THE BUDDHA)
SUJATA (A DEVOTEE)
(Siddhartha is sitting under a tree in high meditation. Enter five ascetics.)
FIRST ASCETIC: O Siddhartha! Siddhartha! Look at Siddhartha!
SECOND ASCETIC: I am sure he will soon realise the highest Truth.
THIRD ASCETIC: Without fail.
FOURTH ASCETIC: We have also been crying for our realisation. We have been praying to God and working so hard in our inner life. But still the realisation of God is a far cry for us. I am happy that at least one person will realise God.
FIFTH ASCETIC: At least Siddhartha will reach the highest Truth. It does not matter who reaches the Truth first; I want people to be free from ignorance.
FIRST ASCETIC: Let us not disturb him. He is in deep meditation, in trance. Let us not disturb poor Siddhartha. May God bless him. He has not been eating at all. He drinks only water. He is so weak, so weak. Poor fellow! Such a hard, austere life! I am sure God will soon grant him illumination.
SECOND ASCETIC: He could have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world. He was the Prince, and in every way he could have lived a life of pleasure.
THIRD ASCETIC: He knows that the life of pleasure cannot give him abiding satisfaction.
FOURTH ASCETIC: But it is very difficult to overcome vital movements, vital pleasure.
FIFTH ASCETIC: God has something special to do with Siddhartha’s life. I can clearly see it.
(Enter Sujata, who bows down to Siddhartha and places before him a bowl of sweetmeats. Siddhartha opens his eyes and accepts food from Sujata.)
SUJATA: O Sage, I am so grateful to you that you have accepted my food. For days you have not eaten anything. Your body has become so weak, so thin. Now I shall bring food for you regularly. You pray to God; I shall serve you. I am so glad, so grateful that you will accept my devoted service.
SIDDHARTHA: I have come to understand that starvation is not right. The extreme path is not the right way. The middle path is by far the best. To reach the highest Truth one need not stop eating altogether. One has to eat a moderate amount of food. The food that is necessary for health, to keep the body fit, one must eat. But at the same time one must not be a voracious eater. When I realise the highest Truth, mine will be the middle path.
FIRST ASCETIC: Shame, shame! Look at Siddhartha! He is eating food!
SECOND ASCETIC: Look who is serving him! Such a beautiful girl!
THIRD ASCETIC: Well, what can you expect? How long can one control his vital life?
FOURTH ASCETIC: Alas, Siddhartha has fallen.
FIFTH ASCETIC: He does not deserve our appreciation and admiration. He has taken sweetmeats from such a beautiful girl. He is serving his senses and he is feeding his body. See, the life of pleasure has already started. A woman is enough to destroy a man’s aspiration no matter how sincere, how devoted he is. One beautiful woman is enough to take even such a great aspirant from the path of Truth. Let us go.
FIRST ASCETIC: Whom to blame? The girl or Siddhartha?
SECOND ASCETIC: I blame the girl. She has ruined Siddhartha’s aspiration.
THIRD ASCETIC: I blame Siddhartha. Who asked him to be so weak? If he had been strong in his mind he could have rejected her.
FOURTH ASCETIC: Well, we must remember that it is a difficult task to conquer the wrong movements of the vital.
FIFTH ASCETIC: It is difficult also to pray to God, to meditate on Truth.
FOURTH ASCETIC: But since he made an attempt to realise the Highest, he should have continued.
FIFTH ASCETIC: I feel sorry for him. At the same time I feel that he can be of no use to us now. I thought that he would illumine us as soon as he got his own illumination.
THIRD ASCETIC: I thought the same. But now it is impossible. Let us leave, let us leave. Siddhartha has failed, Siddhartha has fallen.
(Exeunt the five ascetics. All this time Sujata is feeding Siddhartha and showing her loving, soulful gratitude to him. Tears of gratitude are flowing from her eyes.)
SIDDHARTHA: Sujata, don’t pay any attention to them. They are ignorant people. From ignorant people we can expect only ignorance. You have come to feed me, and I am grateful to you. My blessingful joy you will always feel.
SUJATA: O Sage, I don’t pay any attention to those ascetics. They are fools. They do not see your utmost sincerity. They do not see your burning cry for Truth, for God. It will take them thousands of years to realise God, but I clearly see that very soon you will reach your goal. I see that the day of your realisation is fast approaching.
SIDDHARTHA: They came, and now they have left. They saw something in me, and that is why they wanted to stay. But when they saw me take food from you, they left. They left just because their minds are still impure; just because their vitals need more purification; just because they could not identify their lives with my aspiring consciousness and your dedicated consciousness. Your dedication knew and felt the depth of my aspiration. And my aspiration feels the depth of your dedication. Sujata, I bless you with all my heart and soul. Here I shall sit, here at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Here I shall realise the Truth. I shall not move from this spot any more. Even if I suffer from cold or hunger or thirst, or from anything else, I shall not move. Here at this very place my Illumination must take place. And I shall put an end to sorrow.
(Sujata bows to Siddhartha and leaves. Siddhartha sings.)
Hihasane shushyatu me shariram
twagasthi mangsam pralayancha jatu
aprapya bodhing vahukalpa durlabham
naivasanat kayamatah chalishye
(Here on this seat may wither my body;
Skin, bone and flesh may be destroyed.
Without getting the supreme Wisdom
Attainable only with difficulty
In myriad aeons,
Definitely I shall not move from this seat.)
(Siddhartha meditates. He is having visions of life. The life of pleasure, vital movements, sex forces — all are trying to enter into him.)
SIDDHARTHA: Ah, these lower vital movements are trying to enter into me. No, I shall not permit them. I have my inner strength, indomitable strength. I shall fight against them.
(Siddhartha meditates with tremendous determination. Suddenly his whole being is flooded with Light. He starts to sing.)
No more my heart shall sob or grieve.
My days and nights dissolve in God’s own Light.
Above the toil of life my soul
Is a Bird of Fire winging the Infinite.
I have known the One and His secret Play;
And passed beyond the sea of ignorance-Dream.
In tune with Him, I sport and sing,
I own the golden Eye of the Supreme.
Drunk deep of Immortality,
I am the root and boughs of a teeming vast.
My Form I have known, and realised,
The Supreme and I are one — all we outlast.
(All of a sudden his body begins radiating a golden Light and Siddhartha becomes the Enlightened One, the Buddha.)
BUDDHA: I know, at last I know the Truth! I know the way. I know the way to end sorrow, to exterminate the tree of suffering. From today I shall serve humanity with my inner Light. I have seen the Truth, and this Truth every human being on earth will achieve. My Truth is for all. My Love is for all. My Realisation is for all. I am for all. This life of mine, this dedicated life of mine, is for humanity’s use. Now that I have the Transcendental Light within me, I shall go out into the world to teach others.
(Exit the Buddha.)
(The five ascetics are meditating. Enter the Buddha.)
BUDDHA: Now I have come to Benares, a sacred place. (He sees the five ascetics) Ahhh! Here are the five ascetics who came to me and left me.
FIRST ASCETIC: Look, here is Siddhartha again.
SECOND ASCETIC: But this time he cannot fool us.
THIRD ASCETIC: Certainly not. He cannot fool us any more.
FOURTH ASCETIC: But look at him. He looks different.
FIFTH ASCETIC: I see something in him, something strange.
FIRST ASCETIC: Well, I seem to see some Light in him.
THIRD ASCETIC: His whole face is glowing.
FOURTH ASCETIC: His face? His entire body is glowing!
FIFTH ASCETIC: He is illumined, totally illumined!
(The Buddha approaches them. One by one they touch the Buddha’s feet. The Buddha, with his compassionate smile, blesses them.)
SECOND ASCETIC: Siddhartha, you are no more Siddhartha.
THIRD ASCETIC: You are the Enlightened One.
FIRST ASCETIC: O Buddha, we are bathing in the sea of your Light.
FOURTH ASCETIC: O Buddha, we are your first disciples.
ALL TOGETHER: With us the journey of your manifestation begins. With us the manifestation of your mission begins.
(The Buddha gives them a smile of compassion, joy and pride.)
BUDDHA: You have my Compassion. You have my Light. You have my Bliss, my children, my sweet children.
Father, give me my share, please
DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA
RAHUL (SON OF THE BUDDHA)
(The Buddha with his disciples. Enter Rahul, his son. The disciples are all excited to see the Buddha’s young son.)
BUDDHA: Yes, my son?
RAHUL: Mother says that you have given joy to hundreds of people. Now I also want to have joy from you.
BUDDHA: My son, tell me what kind of joy you want from me.
RAHUL: I want my share of your wealth, your property. Everybody has become rich with your wealth. Now I want to be rich, too.
BUDDHA: My son, my wealth is of a different type. I have no money. I have no material wealth. I have only inner wealth, which is Peace, Light and Bliss.
RAHUL: Father, I know Mother has told me about your wealth. You have Infinite Peace, Infinite Love, Infinite Joy, Infinite Bliss. I want to have my share. I am your son. I want to follow your path.
BUDDHA: But you are a child, you are a little boy. How can you accept the path right now?
RAHUL: Father, what is wrong? Is your spirituality meant only for grown-up people and not for children? Is the Truth you have achieved only for the elderly? Is Truth not for everybody? Is God not for everybody, Father?
BUDDHA: Wonderful, my child, wonderful, my son! I accept my defeat. Truth is for all. And my Love, my Peace, my Light you can share, as others already share. I share with you my Joy, my Peace, my Illumination.
RAHUL: Father, have you accepted me as your disciple?
BUDDHA: Yes, I have accepted you with all my heart and soul, my son.
RAHUL: Then you have to accept another also. There is one more seeker you have to accept as your disciple.
BUDDHA: Who? Whom have I to accept, my son?
RAHUL: My mother. My mother wants to be your disciple.
BUDDHA (pauses): My son, I do not accept women as my disciples, my real disciples.
RAHUL: Father, why not? Are women not meant to realise the highest Truth? Your heart is big. Everybody says the Buddha’s heart is as vast as the infinite ocean. If your heart is so big, how then do you deny women the Truth that you have realised? Father, that is unfair. You have to accept my mother. And the day you accept her, you must accept all women.
BUDDHA: My son, I am truly proud of you. You are still a child, you have not yet seen even eleven summers, but your inner knowledge is profound. My son, your knowledge of Truth has given me enormous joy and pride. The world listens to me. I have hundreds of disciples and they listen to me with devotion. I listen to you with my heart’s pride and my soul’s joy. Go and tell your mother that I have accepted her also as my true disciple. Today I take both of you into the sangha, my spiritual community.
The Buddha needs a few mustard seeds
KRISHA GAUTAMI (A DISCIPLE)
(The Buddha is in deep meditation with his eyes wide open. Enter Krisha Gautami, carrying her dead child. She places the child at the feet of the Buddha.)
GAUTAMI: O Sage, O Master, O Lord, O Light of the World, please, please bring back life to my child. He is my only child.
BUDDHA: Gautami, don’t cry, don’t weep. Just do as I say.
GAUTAMI: O Master, I shall do anything that you want, immediately. Only bring back my child’s life.
BUDDHA: Gautami, I wish you to bring me a few mustard seeds. But they must come from a family that has not been visited by death. Remember, you must bring me the mustard seeds only from a house that has not been visited by death.
GAUTAMI: O Master, that is so easy. I shall go and bring mustard seeds for you. Then will you be able to cure my son?
BUDDHA: Yes, Gautami, I shall be able to do it if you can bring me mustard seeds from a house where there has not been any death.
(Gautami is going from door to door.)
GAUTAMI: O Mother, please give me some mustard seeds. My only child has died and the Buddha has told me that if I bring him some mustard seeds he will bring life back to my child.
LADY: Don’t worry. I will bring them to you.
GAUTAMI: O venerable lady, please wait. First tell me, has anybody died in your family?
GAUTAMI: Any time.
LADY: Just last year I lost my husband.
(She begins to weep.)
GAUTAMI: Then I cannot take your mustard seeds.
(Gautami sheds bitter tears and goes to another house. A man opens the door.)
GAUTAMI: My Lord, please give me a few mustard seeds. I need them badly.
MAN: Certainly, I will give you mustard seeds. I shall get them for you.
GAUTAMI: First, please tell me, has anybody died in your family?
MAN: Ah, just last week I lost my wife, my dearest on earth.
GAUTAMI: Ah, then I cannot take the mustard seeds from you.
(Gautami again sheds bitter tears and goes to another house. A young girl opens the door.)
GAUTAMI: My child, you are so beautiful. Please bring me a few mustard seeds. Please go and ask your mother to give me some mustard seeds.
LITTLE GIRL: I know where my mother keeps mustard seeds. I will bring them for you.
GAUTAMI: Please tell me what your father does?
LITTLE GIRL: My father? (Starts crying.) My father is in Heaven. Just two months ago my father died all of a sudden.
GAUTAMI: My child, I cannot take your mustard seeds.
(Weeping, Gautami goes to another door.)
(Gautami returns to the Buddha.)
GAUTAMI: O Master, I have been to many places. Each family has lost someone. It seems that there is no family that has not suffered from death.
BUDDHA: Gautami, you are right. No family on earth can say that death has not visited it. You are suffering, and like you many, many others are suffering. Many have suffered and many will suffer. Not just many, Gautami — all. Everyone has to suffer from death. We came from Light and we shall go back to Light.
GAUTAMI: But, Father, he was my only child. How can I be consoled? Who will console me?
BUDDHA: Who will console you, Gautami? I will console you.
GAUTAMI: Please console me, Father. You are the only one who can do it.
BUDDHA: Gautami, as long as there is life there will also be death. Birth is bound to be followed by death, and death is bound to be followed by birth. Now, Gautami, I shall tell you the cause of sorrow. You have lost your only child. Your life is overwhelmed with sorrow. But the cause of your sorrow is not death. The cause of sorrow is desire. The day you conquer desire you conquer sorrow, too. Pray and meditate. You will conquer desire, and at that moment you will see that Light and Delight have become your constant friends.
GAUTAMI: O Sage, you are my Master. Today I know you. I have nobody on earth, nobody. I have no husband, I have no child — nobody but you. You are my All. You have consoled me. Now what I need from you is inner illumination. I shall dedicate my entire life to you unconditionally, wholeheartedly. It is through my dedicated service to you, Master, that I shall achieve my illumination.
BUDDHA: Gautami, you are right, absolutely right. My child, your life is destined to enter into the realm of eternal Bliss. Meditate on God. Meditate on Truth. You will attain Peace, Joy and Bliss.
The meeting place of existence and non-existence
KSHEMA (A GREAT DISCIPLE OF THE BUDDHA)
(King Prasenjit and Kshema.)
KING: Kshema, you are a great disciple of the Buddha. He is proud of your wisdom and I am fascinated by your spiritual insight. You have been at my palace for a few days, and you have given much wisdom to all the members of my royal family. I offer you my deepest gratitude.
KSHEMA: O King, I am so happy that I have been able to serve my Lord Buddha in your royal family.
KING: Kshema, tell me in a few words about Buddha’s philosophy. You have to forgive me, but I do not have much time. My work in the kingdom is simply killing me. I am overburdened, but I am deeply interested in Buddha’s philosophy. Tell me in a few words.
KSHEMA: Your Majesty, Buddha’s teaching is very simple. He gives us the message of renunciation. He gives us the message of compassion. It is through renunciation and compassion that one can enter into Nirvana.
KING: One thing more, O Kshema.
KSHEMA: Tell me.
KING: Why has Buddha not spoken about the soul? We Hindus all believe in the existence of the soul. Nothing can be done without the soul.
KSHEMA: True, he has not spoken about the soul, but he has spoken about the inner Light. What is that inner Light if not the soul? He has not used the term soul, but what he speaks of as the inner Light is nothing but the soul.
KING: He has not used the term God. We Hindus believe in God.
KSHEMA: True, he has not used the term God. But he has used the term Truth. What is Truth? Truth is God. God is Truth. The moment you realise the Highest Truth, you will realise God the Infinite.
KING: It seems to me that Buddha has not spoken about life after death or about life after Nirvana.
KSHEMA: True, Buddha has not spoken about life after death and life after Nirvana, but he has told us why death exists, and he has told us a little about Nirvana. He has given us the message of peace. Death exists when there is no peace. When you have peace, there is no death. As for the life after Nirvana, first we have to know what Nirvana is. Nirvana is infinite Delight. What can there be after infinite Delight?
KING: I don’t understand your philosophy, Kshema.
KSHEMA: Let me try to make it clear to you. From your palace you can see the Ganges?
KSHEMA: You can see the sand on the bank of the Ganges. Now send whomever you want from your kingdom to count the number of grains of sand. Or send somebody to measure the weight of the ocean. Can anybody from your kingdom do it, your Majesty?
KING: I am sorry, I do not think anybody can count the number of grains of sand on the shore, or measure the weight of the ocean.
KSHEMA: True. Nobody can count the grains of sand on the bank of the Ganges or weigh the water in the ocean. Similarly, when you enter into Nirvana, there Bliss is infinite. It cannot be measured, weighed or counted. It is unfathomable. In that highest realm of Bliss we see the meeting place of existence and non-existence. There non-existence and existence are inseparable, indescribable.
Here and nowhere else
ANGULIMAL (A DACOIT)
KING UDAYAN OF KAUSHAMBI
MAGANDIYA (HIS WIFE)
ANANDA (DEAREST DISCIPLE OF THE BUDDHA)
(The Buddha with his disciples. One disciple stands up.)
DISCIPLE: O Lord, I wish to preach your teachings.
BUDDHA: Certainly you may, but I would like to ask you a few questions first. I am sure you will be able to answer them.
DISCIPLE: It is by your grace that I will be able to answer them.
BUDDHA: Tell me, if somebody speaks ill of you, what will you do?
DISCIPLE: My Lord, I shall keep silent.
BUDDHA: Tell me, if he strikes you, what will you do?
DISCIPLE: I shall not raise my hands. I shall remain silent.
BUDDHA: If he wants to kill you, what will you do?
DISCIPLE: I shall keep silent. I know that death is inevitable. Everybody has to die. I shall also have to die one day. I shall not invoke death, and at the same time I shall not avoid death.
BUDDHA: I am most pleased with your answers. You can preach my philosophy. You have my blessings. (To all the disciples.) Today I would like to walk in the forest. Those who want to follow me can come along.
(All the disciples eagerly follow the Buddha.)
(The Buddha and his disciples are in the forest. All of a sudden a dacoit named Angulimal enters.)
ANGULIMAL: Stop! Stop!
BUDDHA: I have already stopped. It is you who have not stopped. You have killed hundreds of people. You wear a garland of thumbs around your neck. I have already stopped; I am stationed in the Infinite Consciousness forever. But you are still roaming in the world of vital desires and trying to destroy the world. You have not yet come to a halt. In my case, I am already in the static silence of the Ineffable.
(Angulimal pulls out a knife and attempts to stab the Buddha, but the Buddha’s Light captures him. He falls at the feet of the Buddha.)
ANGULIMAL: O Buddha, forgive me. Forgive my ignorance. Forgive me for what I have done to the world, and for what I was going to do right now to you.
BUDDHA: I have forgiven you. I have forgiven your past; I have forgiven your present.
ANGULIMAL: If it is true that you have forgiven my past and my present, then I wish you to prove it.
BUDDHA: How do you want me to prove it?
ANGULIMAL: Accept me as your disciple. If you accept me as your disciple, then I will believe that you have truly forgiven me, O Lord.
BUDDHA: You are my disciple, Angulimal. I accept you.
(The Buddha with his disciples. Enter King Prasenjit.)
PRASENJIT: Master, I am so sorry that I have not been able to come to you for such a long time. My body remains in the palace, but my heart remains with you.
BUDDHA: Yes, my son, I know. Your heart of dedication and aspiration is here, but your physical body is needed by your kingdom.
PRASENJIT: Master, the world is so corrupt. But your dream will one day be fulfilled, and then this world will have no suffering. One day the world will come to know that the cause of suffering is desire. Now people are still quarrelling, fighting and killing each other. I have some sad news for you: just last week a member of the royal family was stabbed to death by Angulimal, the dacoit. I am sure you have heard about Angulimal. He removed the right thumb of my relative and is now wearing it around his neck. How hard my soldiers are trying to capture him! But that criminal will never be caught. This is very sad news for me. Master, I pray to you to do something for my relative in the inner world.
BUDDHA: I shall certainly do something for him.
PRASENJIT: I am sure, Master, that a day will come when even a murderer like Angulimal will be transformed by your Light and Compassion.
(Angulimal is now a disciple. He is seated among the other disciples, listening to this conversation. He is clean-shaven and wears the ordinary simple dress of a mendicant.)
BUDDHA: Prasenjit, Angulimal’s transformation has already taken place.
PRASENJIT: How? When? Where?
BUDDHA (pointing to Angulimal): There is Angulimal.
PRASENJIT: This is Angulimal? He who has killed hundreds of people? This is Angulimal? This is the murderer? I see light around his face! How can it be?
BUDDHA: His transformation has already taken place.
(King Udayan of Kaushambi and his wife, Magandiya.)
UDAYAN: Magandiya, why do you always speak ill of Buddha?
MAGANDIYA: I hate him! I hate him! I hate him! He has insulted me! I must take revenge!
UDAYAN: How strange, how strange! Buddha, of all people, has insulted you? How? When?
MAGANDIYA: Before I married you I loved him most dearly. But he rejected my love brutally.
UDAYAN: I am surprised. I am sure he rejected your love gently and not brutally.
MAGANDIYA: Say whatever you want to say; to me Buddha is not a man of compassion. To me he is a man of cruelty. He creates frustration in others’ hearts. He creates destruction in others’ lives.
UDAYAN: But now that you have married me, are you not happy with me, my darling?
MAGANDIYA: Yes, I am, but an insult is an insult. Neither can I forget Buddha’s insult nor can I forgive him.
GATEMAN (salutes the King and Queen): Buddha and his disciples are anxious to see you, your Majesty.
UDAYAN: Please bring Buddha and his disciples in. I am so happy that on his own Buddha has come to my palace.
MAGANDIYA: Buddha! Buddha! Think of the devil and the devil appears. I can’t stand Buddha. I can’t stand him at all! You stay with your Buddha, but I am leaving!
(Exits angrily, breaking a vase. Enter the Buddha and his disciples. Udayan offers him a soulful salutation.)
UDAYAN: Buddha, please be seated on this throne.
BUDDHA: King Udayan, I prefer to sit on the floor. (He sits.)
UDAYAN: If you sit on the floor, then my seat must also be on the floor, Lord Buddha. (Sits.)
BUDDHA: My children, sit down. (All the disciples sit.) Where is the Queen?
UDAYAN: She is extremely busy. I am afraid she will not be able to join us.
BUDDHA: I understand, King Udayan. For some time you will be occupied in listening to my spiritual teachings, and she will be occupied in insulting and cursing me.
UDAYAN: O Buddha, nobody can hide anything from you. You are all knowledge.
(The Buddha smiles.)
ANANDA: O Lord, why do you come to this kingdom of Kaushambi where the Queen is so hostile to you? On our way to the palace so many people mocked you, insulted you and threatened you. You know perfectly well that it is the Queen who has been instigating them for the last few years to say and do all these undivine things to you.
BUDDHA: Ananda, my most devoted disciple, tell me one thing: if we go to some other place and are insulted there, if we are criticised and threatened the same way we have been treated in this kingdom, what would you suggest we do then?
ANANDA: Lord, we should immediately move to some other place.
BUDDHA: And in the new place also if we meet with the same problem, what should we do?
ANANDA: Then, Lord, we should go to some other place.
BUDDHA: Ananda, if the same thing happens over and over everywhere we go, what will you do?
ANANDA: Each time we are criticised and insulted, I think we should to go a new place to observe our fate.
BUDDHA: O Ananda, most loving child, if we move from one place to another with the idea of finding a better place for manifesting the Truth, we shall never be successful. Truth has to be manifested here where we are, and not elsewhere. Once the Truth is established here, in the twinkling of an eye the Truth will be founded everywhere. Either here or nowhere the Truth must be established. Again and again I must tell you, Ananda, the Truth has to be seen, felt and realised within, and then manifested here on earth, wherever we are, and nowhere else.
Buddham saranam gacchami
DEVADATTA (COUSIN OF THE BUDDHA AND A CLOSE FRIEND OF AJATASHATRU)
AJATASHATRU (THE PRINCE, LATER KING)
DR. JAIVAKA (PHYSICIAN OF KING AJATASHATRU)
DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.)
Sariputra, you are a fool
SARIPUTRA (A DISCIPLE)
(The Buddha and his disciple Sariputra.)
SARIPUTRA: O Lord Buddha, I am sure that you are the greatest of all spiritual Masters. Nobody before you attained to your height, and nobody after you will be able to equal you. You are unparalleled. You will always remain unparalleled. Nobody has come near your realisation, and nobody will ever come near your realisation.
BUDDHA: Sariputra, how do you know that nobody before me has ever attained to what I have attained? And how do you know that nobody will surpass me in the future? How can you make this kind of utterance? Do you know anything of the past? Do you know anything of the future?
SARIPUTRA: O Lord, I do not know anything about the past or the future, but I know everything about you.
BUDDHA: Sariputra, you are a fool. You know very little about me. A spiritual Master of my calibre cannot be known totally by anybody on earth. You see my outer history, my outer life. But my inner life you do not see, you cannot see. In my outer life I do perhaps ten things a day. In my inner life I am doing millions of things daily. The inner life of a spiritual Master will always remain a mystery. The outer life of the Master may be observed, but it will not always be understood. Very often it will be misunderstood. So, Sariputra, about my outer life you know practically nothing, and about my inner life you know nothing at all.
SARIPUTRA: I know nothing, true. But I know who you are. You are my liberation and you are my All.
BUDDHA: Sariputra, do not think of the past. Do not think of the future. Think only of the present. The past we have left behind. The future has not yet arrived. To think of things that we have left behind is useless, and to think of things that have not yet happened is equally useless. Forget about the past. Forget about the future. Think only of the present. It is today that you have to aspire. It is today that you have to realise. It is today that you have to manifest. It is today that you have to conquer all your desires. It is today that you have to bring to the fore all your aspiration. It is today that you have to become what you inwardly are, the Light. It is today that you have to give to the world at large what you are, the Light.
The Buddha and Ananda
ANANDA (HIS DEAREST DISCIPLE)
A GROUP OF A FEW INTIMATE DISCIPLES
(The Buddha and Ananda.)
BUDDHA: Ananda, I am now an old man. I am eighty years old. Ananda, for fifty years I have been teaching and preaching. The time has come for me to depart from this world. I am weak. I am an invalid. My whole body is shattered, Ananda. This body can be of no more use here on earth.
ANANDA (shedding tears): No, Master, no. You have to stay with us for quite a long time more. Your very presence is a great blessing to humanity. This sangha is not yet well established. This sangha needs your physical presence.
BUDDHA: Ananda, do you mean to say that the sangha expects something new from me? Do you mean to say that I have not spoken in clear terms what I have to say about this dharma? I have not kept anything hidden from you people. Never have I shown any sign of reticence, nor any indifference. Besides, I never thought that I would have to conduct and manage the sangha, and that it would always depend on me. So why should I stay? Why should I be involved any longer in the activities of the sangha? Ananda, from now on be self-sufficient. Have faith in yourself. Lead a spiritual life. You will realise the highest Truth. He who follows the dharma, he who takes refuge in the dharma, will alone enter into the world of Bliss, and nobody else.
ANANDA: O Lord Buddha, what you say is perfectly true, but our hearts cannot live without you. We need you. We shall eternally need you.
BUDDHA: Ananda, you need me. I need you. Again, the Truth Eternal needs us both. The Truth Eternal needs me in the world of the Beyond, and the same Truth needs you here on earth. My life has come to an end. All the experiences of the world I offer to the world. Yesterday I ate at Chunda’s house. Since then I have been feeling weaker, but I wish to assure you that this weakness is not due to his food. I am suffering, true, but it is not his fault at all. He gave me food with utmost love and devotion. Nobody should blame him when I die. I offer him my deepest blessings. Before I was illumined, before I became the Enlightened One, Sujata’s food helped me to live on earth. Her food made it possible for me to meditate. And now Chunda’s food is helping me to enter into the highest Nirvana. I see no difference between Sujata’s food and Chunda’s food. Each has served a special purpose of its own.
(Enter a few intimate disciples.)
ANANDA: Look! Look! Today the Buddha’s whole body is flooded with Light. This Light we have never seen around him. Such celestial Light!
THE DISCIPLES: Yes, Lord, today we see something totally new in you which we have never seen before. Your whole face is inundated with Light and Delight.
BUDDHA: Ananda, today reminds me of my days at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Just before I entered into Nirvana this body had the same Light, the same Delight. Today once again this body is flooded with Light and Delight. You are seeing it for the first time. But I am seeing it for the second time. The day ends, and my earthly sojourn ends along with it. Therefore, all of you are seeing this Light in me and around me.
(Ananda bursts into tears and is about to leave.)
BUDDHA: Ananda, stay here. Don’t go away. My life can now be measured in minutes. Ananda, do not cry for me. I tell all of you not to cry for me. Ananda, I have told you repeatedly that everything is transient on earth. There is nothing everlasting here. Anything that comes into life will have to give up life. You have served me, O Ananda, most devotedly, most soulfully, and for that I offer you my last blessings. Proceed on your inner strength, and you will receive liberation. You will have your liberation in due course. My spiritual journey began with renunciation and compassion, and today, at the end of my journey’s close, I offer to the world the same message: renunciation and compassion. O Ananda, do not grieve.
(The Buddha dies.)
(Sri Chinmoy, Siddhartha becomes the Buddha, Agni Press, 1973)