Act I, Scene II

(Krishna and Arjuna are walking together along the street. All of a sudden they see an ascetic.)

ARJUNA: Look, there is an ascetic meditating.

KRISHNA: Yes, let him meditate. Let us not bother him.

ARJUNA: But look, Krishna, something is very strange.

KRISHNA: What is it? I don’t see anything.

ARJUNA: Look, he is eating a tiny blade of dry grass. I see green grass all around, but he is eating dry grass.

KRISHNA: It is certainly strange, Arjuna.

ARJUNA: But that is not the thing. It is something unthinkable, unbelievable! The man has a naked sword by his side. Krishna, it is really incredible! On the one hand he will eat only dry, lifeless grass, because he does not want to destroy life. His compassion for living things is so great that he won’t even eat green grass. But at the same time, he is carrying a naked sword. Tell me, Krishna- why is he behaving like this? What is wrong with the fellow? It seems to me that his life is a life of contradiction. A blade of grass and a naked sword don’t go together.

KRISHNA: Yes, you are right. To eat only dry grass and carry a naked sword is certainly incongruous. Why don’t you go and ask why he does this? I shall wait for you.

(They go up to the ascetic.)

ARJUNA: Please tell me, venerable sir, why you act this way? I see that you are leading a simple life, an austere life, a pious life. But why are you carrying this sword? Please tell me the reason for this strange behaviour.

ASCETIC: The reason is very simple. I have four persons to kill with this sword, four unpardonable rascals.

ARJUNA: Who are they? I may be of some help to you if they are so bad.

ASCETIC: I don’t need your help. Thank you anyway.

ARJUNA: May I please know their names? Such bad people must not stay on earth. They should be killed if they are really so bad. You say you don’t need my help, but in case you change your mind, I am the person who can be of service to you.

ASCETIC: Thank you. I am happy to hear it. I shall tell you their names after all. The first is Narada.

ARJUNA: Narada! What has he done? What has he done to you?

ASCETIC: All the time Narada sings the glories of my Lord Krishna. He never shuts up. He does not even give my Lord time to take his rest. All the time he has to sing, and Krishna has to hear his songs. With his constant singing, singing, singing, he is always disturbing my Lord’s sleep. I shall kill that wretched Narada if I see him!

ARJUNA: May I know who the second person is?

ASCETIC: The second rascal is Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. As soon as she got into a difficult situation she had to cry, “Lord, save me! Save me!” My Lord had to go and use his force in order to save her modesty. What kind of audacity she had! Who asked her husband to mix with bad people and play dice with the Kauravas? If her husband did something wrong, she should have to pay the penalty for it. Why did she have to call on my Lord Krishna to save her modesty? He had to waste his precious time and energy just to save her modesty. I hate her. I hate her for that, and I shall kill her as soon as I see her!

ARJUNA: What are you talking about? How do you know that story? You are an ascetic.

ASCETIC: Do you think that I do not care for the world’s news? I know what is happening in the world. Listen: The story of Draupadi is very simple. Draupadi’s husband, Yudhishthira, lost to Duhshasana in a dice game. And his last promise, unthinkable, was that he would give his wife, Draupadi, to the winner. Naturally Duhshasana defeated Draupadi’s husband, that senseless man. She had to stay with the Kauravas, their enemies. They wanted to undress her in front of their kings and potentates. Draupadi tried to hold fast to her sari, but finally she surrendered and said, “O Krishna, save me, save me!” Immediately my Lord had to grant her an endless stretch of material. They went on and on pulling at her sari, but it was endless. That is why I hate Draupadi. As for Yudhishthira, it is beneath my dignity even to think of him. He was the real culprit. Anyway, it was Draupadi who invoked my Lord to help her. I hate her. In season and out of season, at any time, she calls on him. When the Pandava family was in the forest, do you know what happened?

ARJUNA: I do not know what happened.

ASCETIC: You don’t know? That means you don’t read, then.

ARJUNA: Oh, I am an illiterate person. I do not read books, but I would be very happy to hear from you what happened. I have great fondness for the Pandava family. I like the Pandavas better than I like the Kauravas.

ASCETIC: Yes, they are nice people. My Lord Krishna always takes their side. But they have no sense. They exploit my Lord Krishna. When the Pandava family was in the forest, it happened that the sage Durvasha came to visit them with all of his followers and disciples. The Kauravas, the enemies of the Pandavas, had sent Durvasha to pronounce a curse on the Pandavas. Durvasha had once gone to the Kauravas, where he was given princely honours by the eldest of the Kauravas, Duryodhana. Now, since he was very highly pleased with Duryodhana, Durvasha said he would grant him any boon. So Duryodhana asked him to go into the forest where the Pandavas were and cause them trouble. My Lord Krishna had given the Pandavas a pot out of which any number of people might be fed. But this miracle could take place only before Draupadi had taken her last meal of the day. After Draupadi had eaten her last meal, the Pandavas could not feed a single person on earth. Duryodhana asked Durvasha to go there one day after Draupadi had finished her last meal. Durvasha listened to Duryodhana’s request. He came after Draupadi had finished her meal, only to torture her. When he came in he said, “I am very hungry, very hungry. I and my followers are going to bathe in the Ganges, and when we return you must feed us.” Draupadi knew that she could not feed them. But she also knew that if she did not feed them he would curse her and her husbands. So she invoked my Lord Krishna for help. My Lord Krishna-do you know where he was?

ARJUNA: No.

ASCETIC: He was seated on his throne. He was nowhere near the forest, but immediately he had to use his occult power to come physically to save her. Sri Krishna said, “Please give me something to eat. I am very hungry, Draupadi.” Draupadi answered, “You are hungry? O Krishna, I’ve invoked you to help me because I have no food, and you have come here to torture me. How am I to feed you? I have no food here.” Lord Krishna said, “You have to give me food. Examine your pot.” She replied, “There is nothing left, O Krishna. I am not telling you a lie. We have all eaten, and there is nothing left. I can show the pot to you.” She brought the pot before Krishna. To her surprise there was a grain of rice in it. He ate it. Then he said, “I am satisfied. Now ask me anything. I am pleased with you.” She said, “Then save me. The sage Durvasha is coming. He has gone now with his thousands of disciples to bathe in the Ganges, and when he comes back he will want food.” With his spiritual power, Krishna immediately made food for thousands of people. But Durvasha, with his yogic vision, came to know that Sri Krishna was there. He said, “It is useless for me to go there, because now they will be able to feed us. I don’t want to go there. I am satisfied.” So look how Draupadi caused problems for my Krishna. My Lord Krishna had to save her again. I shall kill her! I won’t let her go on like this, exploiting my Lord.

ARJUNA: Who is the third person, please?

ASCETIC: The third person is that Prahlada. Whenever there is any danger, immediately Prahlada says the name of my Lord Krishna, who goes to save him. Prahlada has no right to bother my Lord so often. He has to be punished.

ARJUNA: Please tell me who Prahlada is.

ASCETIC: Oh, you don’t know Prahlada? He claims to be one of the greatest disciples of Krishna, which is absolutely untrue. Prahlada’s father used to hate Krishna. The very name of Krishna used to irritate him. His son was just the opposite. Constantly he was all love, all admiration for Krishna. So what did his father do? His father took Prahlada and threw him into a tub of boiling oil. On another occasion, he knocked him onto the ground in the path of a mad elephant, all because his son was worshipping Krishna. But the boiling oil did not kill the boy, nor did the elephant crush him. Sri Krishna, my Lord, was there to save him. Sri Krishna’s presence saved him every time. I hate Prahlada! I shall punish him. I shall punish him for wasting my Krishna’s time. All these three that I have mentioned I shall kill.

ARJUNA: Now may I know who the fourth person is?

ASCETIC: The fourth! He is the worst of all! The wretched, wretched Arjuna! I want to kill him here and now. If I see him anywhere I will kill him, without delay.

ARJUNA: Arjuna! What has he done?

ASCETIC: That third Pandava has brought disgrace to his family and to the whole world!

ARJUNA: How? Please tell me how Arjuna has brought disgrace to his family and to the world?

ASCETIC: Look at his audacity. He asked my Lord Krishna to be his charioteer on the battlefield. Sri Krishna is not only my Lord, he is the Lord of the Universe. And Arjuna asked him to be his charioteer! Look at his audacity! I shall kill him! I shall kill him! Until I kill him I shall not leave this earth.

ARJUNA (smiling): You are absolutely right. I am sure that one day you will meet these four and you will be able to kill them.

ASCETIC: I am so happy to hear these words from you. Yes, I shall certainly do it.

(Exeunt Krishna and Arjuna)