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Laosen Does the Impossible

Based on the story by Sri Chinmoy
Laosen does the impossible. Performed on January 1st 2017 for students of Sri Chinmoy on a winter retreat in Kalamata, Greece.

CAST

Sun God
Karnasen
Ranjabati
Laosen
Gaur
Kripan


SCENE 1

[Enter Sun god from East, exit West]

[Enter Karnasen]

KARNASEN:
I am Karnasen, although perhaps you doubt my word.
This figure may not tally with the stories you have heard
from years long past, now lost within the annals of my youth.
Yes, I am Karnasen – it has turned out a heavy truth –
while I carry only dreams of all the battles I have scored,
and riches I collected then by way of my reward.
Lightning quick, they used to say, and stronger than a horse. [Laughs modestly]
Good and just, I hope at least – I never ruled by force.
That last war, though fairly fought, came at tremendous cost.
My childhood bride, my warrior sons, my palaces were lost.
My armies then were slaughtered – every animal and man.
But call it luck or call it fate, this new life then began.
My enemy soon let me free, and sent me on my way.
Go, good king, he gently said, your hair is fading grey,
your day is done, your time is past, go peacefully and rest.
Through his honour and compassion I knew I was blessed,
yet wandered here with nothing but the clothes upon my back,
peering at a future I saw miserable and black.
I slept in forests on the way – what else can outcasts do? –
till I was offered shelter and the kindest welcome too.
My rooms are bright, the air is sweet, the grounds are like no other.
[Enter Gaur]
King Gaur it was who took me in, as would a long-lost brother.
I want for nothing – I have been bestowed a second life.

GAUR:
Nothing? Are you certain? What about a second wife?

KARNASEN:
A wife! Then what, a family? At my decrepit age?
My heart is weak, my eyes are dull, how would I earn a wage? [Laughs ironically]
I take comfort in my peace – to marry would be madness.

GAUR:
Your defeat has worn you down – you are but aged by sadness.
A wife will do the power of good, her company will cheer you.
And can you doubt the joy of having little children near you,
to play and sport and learn from you all that your days have known –
the legends of your valour and the empires you have grown?
Teach them all the skill you earned and raise them even stronger!
But do it now, I urge you not to leave it any longer. [Laughs cheekily]
I have someone in mind – the youngest sister of the Queen –
sweet of nature, and the fairest face you will have seen.
Calm of bearing too – she will not rob you of your peace.
I promise you, your happiness then cannot but increase.
Must you stretch out all your days in quietude and sorrow?
Ranjabati is her name, I’ll send for her tomorrow,
then I shall introduce you, if you kindly would allow.

KARNASEN:
Will she like me?

GAUR:
Yes. [Pauses]
Oh must I list your virtues now?

[Exit Gaur and Karnasen, laughing]
[Enter Sun god from East, exit West]


SCENE 2

[Enter Kripan]
KRIPAN:
I am Kripan, as you know, world famous… in these parts –
brave, cunning, clever, and proficient in dark arts.
Second to the throne am I, that is but one credential.
Gaur’s only son died in his sleep [laughs guiltily] so I have great potential.
But I am parched with bitterness, I cannot bear the shame –
my sister Ranjabati has brought down my family name.
I was at war… or something of that nature I am certain,
when Karnasen, that devious brute, crept from behind the curtain
and took my sister for his bride, with none of my permission!
He is nothing but a beggar, with a fool’s ambition.
My sister is a failure, her honour is defiled:
two years since she married him and yet she has no child!
It was King Gaur’s grave error letting Karnasen in here.
My hackles rise whenever that foul parasite is near.
He wormed his way into our world and wants to overturn it.
There is some conspiracy, though I cannot discern it.
I hear the two men laughing, and their secrecy is sworn.
Some nights they do without their sleep, and talk until the dawn.
They ride together side by side, shoot arrows and play chess.
That ought to be my privilege, this is a rotten mess!
I must have what is my due – my fate is far from sealed.
[Enter Ranjabati]
You are a useless woman. You are but a barren field!

[Exit Kripan, Ranjabati starts to cry, enter Karnasen]

KARNASEN:
Ranjabati, come, tell me what has happened here!
Never since I met you have I seen you shed a tear.
What on earth could shake your poise and bring so much distress?

RANJABATI:
Shame and sadness both, and such that words cannot express!
A woman of good character I ever long to be,
and yet that self I cannot reach – a stranger still is she.

KARNASEN:
Unparalleled your character, and rich with every virtue.
People judge and criticise – you never let it hurt you,
but till you bear a child I know you will not feel complete.

RANJABATI:
I must go to the Sun god now and place this at his feet.
I know the chants and rites and I perform them every day,
but I must set aside my life and most sincerely pray.
Till I know he has heard me, I shall fast and forego sleep.
I must leave at once, for I have promises to keep.

KARNASEN:
Godspeed, good wife, I do believe your answer is secure.
How can the gods ignore petitions from a heart so pure?

[Exit Karnasen]

[Enter Sun god from East, exits West, Ranjabati follows with folded hands]


SCENE 3

[Enter Laosen, running]

LAOSEN:
You do not know me yet, hello, they call me Laosen –
my mother Ranjabati and my father Karnasen.
I have not much to tell you as I am but seventeen.
I have not cut my teeth on life, but am keyed up and keen!
[Exit Laosen, running. Enter Karnasen and Gaur behind.]

GAUR:
That boy of yours! Where does he get his energy and strength?
Every day it seems he covers half the country’s length!
Right from childhood he was drawn to wrestle and to fight.
Yet he is charming, sweet of nature, ever a delight.
You have raised him well, the boy must ever do you proud.

KARNASEN:
He does, and does so every day – by nothing is he cowed.
He fights with tigers and with whales, the boy is in his prime!
Three or four grown men you know he takes on at a time.
But I take no credit for the way he has turned out.
He is the Sun god’s gift to us, of that I have no doubt.
The child is a phenomenon, a miracle, a boon.
To all things born of darkness it appears he is immune.
Had not Ranjabati made her solitary prayer
we would not be fortunate to have him in our care.

GAUR: [looking behind]
Ah, now here comes Kripan, he is constantly suspicious –
the atmosphere around him is distinctly inauspicious.
Though he is of this kingdom, does he seek to overturn it?
There is some conspiracy, though I cannot discern it.

[Exit Gaur and Karnasen. Enter Kripan from behind.]

KRIPAN:
Why ever did I taunt my sister? Then from worse to worse!
The child Laosen was born and bore me nothing but a curse.
The king adored him from a babe – how he would coo and dandle.
To watch him grow into a man is more than I can handle.
He sickens me – his frame so light, yet stronger than an ox.
He fights so fair, and thinks so fast, so tiresome to outfox.
And how they praise and cheer him on, and never will desist:
Oh Laosen this and Laosen that – so do I not exist?
I have royal blood and I am second to the throne,
yet these beggars take my place, it riles me to the bone.
Rage it boils within me such that I can barely function.
Kill Laosen? Oh if I could, I would have no compunction!
But how, I ask – how many times have I found new ideas,
only to be thwarted – there is nothing that he fears.
Once I hired ruffians to stab him in his bed.
He came out with a minor cut that hardly even bled.
Once I gave a banquet ‘in his honour’ at my palace.
My first idea went awry – that was a poisoned chalice.
So I sent mad elephants to chase him home at night,
but he saw it as a game and laughed while taking flight!
This has gone on long enough – we cannot coexist.
I shall make the king a threat that he cannot resist.
[Enter Gaur]
Banish Laosen from this place, King Gaur, I entreat you!
If not, then I shall leave and raise an army to defeat you!

GAUR:
Kripan, are you ill? What has inflamed this fit of rage?
Let us calmly talk this through, your anger to assuage.
How could I consider banishing a dear relation?
And why should I do it when there is no accusation?
If he goes, he leaves us with the odds against us stacked –
who would then defend us if our kingdom is attacked?
He is our secret weapon – no opponent can defeat him.

KRIPAN:
Really? Is he such a god that mortals cannot beat him?
Will he do what is impossible, this darling boy of yours?
I speak of things beyond the mere art of waging wars.

GAUR:
Impossible? He does not know the meaning of the word.

KRIPAN:
Really? I will show you that your statement is absurd.
I will take your word for it but on one sole condition:
this one feat, and this alone will bow me to contrition –
can Laosen the hero make the sun rise in the West?

GAUR: [Pauses to think]
I am certain you will even see him pass that test.

[Exit Gaur]

KRIPAN:
Ah, what sport will follow on the folly of the king!
Blinded by his love… and love does have a nasty sting.
Sunrise in the West? Oh I will come and watch that show.
Pigs will fly, presumably, and hell will have some snow.

[Exit Kripan]


SCENE 4

[Enter Laosen, running, looking. Enter Gaur, tentatively.]

LAOSEN:
Do not worry, good King Gaur, your promise I have heard.
I cannot see how just yet, but I shall keep your word.
My mother asked the Sun god for my life, thus I was born.
He is my progenitor – I am the child of dawn.
I offer my devotions and I thank him every day,
but I must set aside my life and most sincerely pray.
Till I know he has heard me, I shall fast and forego sleep.
I must leave at once, for we have promises to keep.
[Exit Laosen to the East, running. Exit Gaur, worried.]

[Enter Sun god from the East, Laosen follows with folded hands. They stand beside each other. Enter Kripan and Gaur.]

KRIPAN:
Look at this rank fool who thinks the sun will change its course.
Here is one thing he cannot accomplish just by force.
Three days we have waited – clearly it cannot be done.

GAUR:
Give him time and he will do it, you have not yet won.

[Exit Kripan and Gaur]

SUN GOD:
Laosen, I am pleased with you, o child of my light.
I will try to grant your wish, but heavy grows the night.
I must leave your company, come back to me at morn.
Continue in your prayer meanwhile, as sleep you have forsworn.

[Exit Sun god to West. Laosen follows, then returns.]

LAOSEN:
He will try, but gods are not aware of earthly time.
My uncle is impatient and is predisposed to crime.
I must preserve the honour and the safety of the king,
but for the sun to change its course is not a trifling thing.
I must find a way to show him I am most sincere –
that I truly am his child and have transcended fear.
The ultimate in sacrifice is difficult indeed,
but it is the only way in time I might succeed.
[Pauses]
I shall cut off my own head to show him my devotion.
Words have strength, but deeds contain the power of an ocean.
If I merely die, I know that I have done my best,
but if my gesture pleases, let the sun rise in the West.

[Exit Laosen East.]

[Enter Sun god from East, holding Laosen’s head.]

SUN GOD:
All now hail, and look upon the face of true devotion!
Yea, for this would all the stars and gods adjust their motion.
If you say I am bound by my predictable condition,
I will answer: you are right, I am no great magician.
I do not change my course for entertainment or for threats,
or because some braggart has decided to place bets.
If Kripan had come to me and challenged me directly,
I would still be navigating through the sky correctly,
but what will I not do for my sincere devotee?
Myself perhaps you can defeat, but surely never he.
God has never any need to prove He is Supreme,
and knows impossibility is but a human dream.
For devotees impossibility does not exist,
as God Himself will change the course of nature to assist.
Never challenge devotees, for you will surely lose.
[to Laosen]
Now you must away and tell your family the news!
[Pauses teasingly, then continues, laughing fondly]
Come, Laosen, I will undo the workings of your knife.
You have pleased me such that I will give you back your life.
And Kripan, for his cruelty, I have devised a curse:
leprosy. You see in his case nothing could be worse.
To you a life in exile was the fate he tried to deal.
Now comes his opportunity to learn how outcasts feel.


SCENE 5

[Sun god exits West. Laosen enters West. Karnasen, Ranjabati and Gaur enter East, followed by Kripan.]

LAOSEN:
Father, Mother and King Gaur, I have tremendous news!
The Sun god now has promised, so we surely cannot lose –
From the West the sun will rise for certain in the morning!
Come, the night has nearly passed, and day will soon be dawning!

KRIPAN:
Ah, he specifies a time, I hold him to that word!
In the morning – that is set, and cannot be deferred.
If it does not come to pass, then you must throw him out.

GAUR:
Yes, but he will do it, I am not in any doubt.

[Enter Sun god from West.]

THE END

Photo by Bijoy


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  1. Sri Chinmoy Centre activities in Greece – Sri Chinmoy Centre – News and Features - January 9, 2017

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