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The Gods Gain Immortality

BrihaspatiBased on the story by Sri Chinmoy: The Gods Gain Immortality.

Performed on December 30th 2017 for students of Sri Chinmoy on a winter retreat in Budva, Montenegro.


CAST

Brihaspati
Sukaracharya
Coch
Debajani
Disciple 1
Disciple 2


[Enter Brihaspati & Sukaracharya]

BRIHASPATI:
The gods and demons tooth and nail have fought throughout the ages.
Devastation and destruction litter history’s pages.
How many aeons even time itself has lost the count.
The problem of this tit-for-tat it seemed none could surmount.
But the embodiment of sacrifice before you stands. [Points to Sukaracharya]
The story of his goodness is renowned in Eastern lands:
Guru of the demons, Sukaracharya is his name.
Who could know the crucial part he’d play in this long game?
The gift of life: to this secret he once held the key.
How might this bring peace amongst our people? You will see.
Though life and all its many complications may enmesh us,
Who can deny the simple fact that life itself is precious?

SUKARACHARYA:
Ah, I am an old man, my friend, you flatter me!
In wisdom and compassion none can ever equal he:
Brihaspati, you will surely recognise his name.
Guru of the gods! …Though we care not for earthly fame.
Mark my words, there is no measuring his virtue.
But once any Guru gives his word, he’ll not desert you.
The quality of constancy: that at least I’ll claim.
I say any real Guru would have done the same
as I did all those years ago, in the same position.

BRIHASPATI:
A Guru’s love must know no bounds, and come without condition.
This one truth eternal is essential to our tale.
Listen, and the sequence of events we shall unveil.
Sukaracharya had a mantra to revive the dead,
So instead of dwindling, the demons thrived instead.
For all my long experience I did not know this chant,
So when the gods implored me for the same, I said, “I can’t”.
How it riled and pained me to refuse their intercession!
But here I must tell you that I have a small confession.
You have heard the saying: all is fair in war and love.
That rings true on earth, and just so in the worlds above.
So despite the demons and the hideous wars they’d wage,
I sent my own son to study with their master sage.
Even amongst enemies a Guru you may choose,
And if the Guru sees you are sincere, need not refuse.
Such happenings are not uncommon in our old tradition.
But I digress now, and as promised, here is my admission:
I did not tell my dear son Coch the secret of my quest.
In fondness and obedience he went at my behest
To learn some wisdom and some use of weapons from our rival.
Little did he know how it would threaten his survival.
There is no limit to the ways in which a Guru serves,
Giving what the student needs… and not what he deserves.
The gods had the idea that I send my dearest boy:
A brilliant scholar, brave of heart, he was my pride and joy.
And how could I refuse my spiritual children in their need?
It was my love that drove me to this questionable deed.
With such innocence, and with an eagerness to learn,
Coch left for the lower worlds, p’rhaps never to return

[Exit Brihaspati. Enter Sukaracharya & Disciples]

SUKARACHARYA:
Where has Debajani gone? Today I have not taught her
any songs, now go away and look for her! Where is my daughter?
Debajani, come and learn… and bring a little snack. [Disciple offers food from his pocket. Enter Coch]
I am pinched with hunger. No you go and bring her back!
Stupid boys, have you no ears? Be gone, you should be looking!
I eat Debajani’s food, you think I trust your cooking?

COCH:
Master, I have seen her in the dairy, I will fetch her.

SUKARACHARYA:
They are gone, at least, so I may spare myself the lecture.
Good boy, Coch, yes go and ask her back, my dearest student.
To trust those oafs with anything important is imprudent. [Exit Coch]
My daughter Debajani, ah, where would I be without her?
What a scholar, there’s a touch of genius about her.
Yet all things she does with simple joy and pure humility.
Indeed it seems to me there are no bounds to her ability.
And Coch, though he is of the gods, is similarly matched.
As time goes on I see those two increasingly attached.
It is something more than admiration and affection.
While he is from another world, I would have no objection
To their marrying in future, when they reach a certain age.
But I need not broach it now, we’re not yet at that stage.
This boy and my daughter both, I love with all my heart.
I see not any reason why they should remain apart.

[Enter Debajani, followed by Coch. Enter disciples from another direction. They grab Debajani and present her. Exit Disciples.]

DEBAJANI:
Father, are you hungry? I have brought some honey cake.

SUKARACHARYA:
Debajani, come! How do you find the time to bake?
You are a wonder, good girl, yes some honey cake please bring.
Take some too, your voice will sound the sweeter when you sing.
Coch, go to the armoury and sit amongst the spears.
To learn to tame a weapon with your hands will take you years.
Your journey is a long one, and you’ve barely yet begun.
Just hold the weapon, meditate – with it become one.
Oh, but first go to the well and draw a pail of water.
Take it to my room while I am singing with my daughter.

COCH:
Water is already there and waiting for you, Master.

SUKARACHARYA:
There, he does it in a flash! Would lightning travel faster?
Blessings to you, Coch, good boy, you are my feet and hands.
Not only are you heeding, you’re pre-empting my commands!
Now hurry or you will not have the time to fetch the cattle.
Later bring me news and stories from the latest battle.

COCH:
Master, certainly, for you I only live to serve.

[Exit Debajani, Sukaracharya & Coch. Enter disciples – Disciple 2 is mute, and only shakes or nods the head]

DISCIPLE 1:
Ugh! I cannot stand the boy, he really has a nerve
He thinks he’s something special, but he just comes from the gods!
And Debajani loves him most of all, what are the odds?
Surely it is clear that she should marry demon blood
No I cannot bear to see her name dragged through the mud
Why does the Master dote on him and give him such attention?
I cannot stand that sneaky little weasel, did I mention?
The gods go on tormenting us, both in and out of season
Why don’t we just kill him? Can you think of any reason?
Tending to the cattle is one of his many tasks
Since he always does precisely as the Master asks
He will be out in the meadow around five o’clock
I will hide some stones and bits of metal in a sock
Just a sock, so it will seem – no reason to suspect
Then you will thrash him on the head when he would least expect!

[Exit disciples. Enter Debajani running]

DEBAJANI:
Father, please come to the meadow now, we must be quick!
Coch was bludgeoned from behind, it must have been a trick!
I was worried when he missed his time to round the cattle.

[Debajani cries softly]

SUKARACHARYA:
And I, daughter, when he failed to bring me news of battle.
Left here in the meadow as though he might be forgotten?
This is the work of dark in darkness, with a motive rotten.
Such a sharp blow to the head, nobody could survive.
Give me space and silence while the poor boy I revive.

[Enacts the chant in silence. Coch revives and stands with folded hands, unsteady on his feet]

COCH:
Master, Debajani, I have had the strangest dream!

SUKARACHARYA:
Steady, Coch, stand easy, things are not quite as they seem:
While tending to the cattle you sustained a fatal blow.
Who would do this to you, child? That we may never know,
But perhaps you might consider carrying a knife.

COCH:
I am gratitude to you for bringing back my life –
Only gratitude, indeed the past for me is dust.
What need have I for self-defence when in your love I trust?
Do you think it possible that somebody has tricked me?
Master, what if it is simply that a cow has kicked me?

SUKARACHARYA:
Faith is good, my dear one, yes, but so is common sense.
I appreciate your living in the present tense,
But you are in the lower worlds, where there are no holds barred.
Now come home and rest with us, that death blow… hit you hard.

DEBAJANI:
Coch! To have you back with us is worth the highest cost.
You know without you in our lives we would be fairly lost.

[Exit Sukaracharya, Coch & Debajani. Enter disciples]

DISCIPLE 1:
Idiot! Of course the Master would just bring him back.
We must try again, but this time tie him in a sack,
Then drag him down the sandy bank and throw him in the river.
He sickens me, I tell you, that insufferable self-giver.
Wait, I have a better plan: we down him with a bash,
just like the time before, but then we burn him into ash.
The ash we use to mix with juice and make a special drink,
Then give him to the Master in a cup. What do you think?

[Exit disciples. Enter Sukaracharya, making notes in a book. Enter disciples.]

SUKARACHARYA:
What is it now, come quickly, I have many things to do.

DISCIPLE 1:
Please excuse us, Master, we have made a drink for you.
We understand why you do not appreciate our cooking,
And perhaps your dearest ones are somewhat better looking.
We’re clumsy and incompetent, and we do not deserve you,
But still we long for any opportunity to serve you,
So we made this special drink of pomegranate juice.

[Sukaracharya beckons and drinks, while still distracted by the book. Enter Debajani, running.]

DEBAJANI:
Father, stop! Put down the cup, it is a cunning ruse!

[Exit disciples, running.]

SUKARACHARYA:
What is this concoction? It has made me rather queasy.

DEBAJANI:
Father, it is little wonder that you feel uneasy,
This is not just pomegranate juice as you might think.
The ashes of your dear boy Coch were added to this drink!
Now that you have drunk it, he is surely gone for good.

SUKARACHARYA:
Ah… there’s little wonder it did not taste as it should
It is true, if I revive him I will surely perish
I’ll not ask if it is Coch or me whom you most cherish

[Debajani starts crying.]

DEBAJANI:
I know I have said that he is worth the highest cost,
But without my Guru, I would be forever lost.

SUKARACHARYA:
Come now, my sweet girl, I cannot bear to see you cry.
Come, I am an old man, it is time for me to die.
I’ve experienced many things – some good, some others bad.
God knows I am thankful for the happy life I’ve had.
I see no reason to remain in this world any longer.
Debajani, dearest, you must grow a little stronger.
Everybody’s time must come, and now I should retire.
This life is but a firefly, this body is but maya –
Flimsy and ephemeral – but this soul is supernal.
I’ll never leave you inwardly – my love remains eternal.
With equanimity and courage, please accept this fate.
Now leave me to perform the chant, before it is too late.
This will not be easy, but I’m certain he will live

[Exit Debajani, reluctantly.]

With my blessings, chela, my last breath I gladly give.

[Sukaracharya falls, Coch rises.]

COCH:
Master, you have saved me once again from the abyss.
The dust of the dust of your feet do let me kiss.
For my life, you gave your own – I never can repay you.
Yet you have my promise: I shall evermore obey you.
To think of how you suffered here is utterly appalling…
But the mantra to revive the dead, I am recalling.
Although my faults and failings are too many to be measured,
If at least I could bring back this life so deeply treasured,
My life and death, life and death again are not in vain.
Please God, I implore you, let my Master live again!

[Sukaracharya stands.]

SUKARACHARYA:
Coch, you saved me with the special mantra you have learned!

COCH:
Master, it is by your grace to us you have returned.
That first time you brought me back, the words came in a haze.
The second time I heard them very clearly, phrase by phrase.
Now I see! The first time I was lying down beside you.
This time, as your very being, I was right inside you.

SUKARACHARYA:
Blessings to you, dear one, you have learned more than my skill,
And as you’ll see, your father’s secret wish you will fulfil.
You learned that to make your progress infinitely faster,
You must have inseparable oneness with your Master.

BRIHASPATI:
So both Coch and Sukaracharya were in time restored.
Debajani thus regained the father she adored.
But her new rejoicing soon gave way to dawning sadness.
To marry Coch, she realised then, would be a certain madness.
He’d come out of her father, so of course that was taboo.
He was now her brother, so their union would not do.
Yet she treasured him no less, because her heart was pure.
A life of simple friendship she would willingly endure.
Coch was loved by Debajani, hence some rogues were jealous.
Were they not, they might not have been quite so over-zealous.
In the history of our worlds, the rascals played their part,
As did Coch in his turn, with his wide and generous heart.
My own son brought back my erstwhile rival from the dead,
But for my son’s life, the Guru gave his life instead.
Like a real Master, he has shown his heart’s nobility.
Even for his enemy he bore no animosity.
Since then in our different worlds, true peace has reigned supreme.
In the game of life there is not one immortal team,
but two, so all the fighting had to reach a natural end.
There is little point in killing soldiers who will mend.
True, the gods gained immortality by hook or crook,
But for eternal peace we might not do things by the book.
So our story, as you see, begins and ends with love.
Love has the force to move the worlds below, just as above.


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