(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 anymore. 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 anymore.
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.
– Sri Chinmoy
Prince Siddhartha Leaves The Palace (act I, Scene I)