Krishna's Supreme Love
A rhyming play based on the writings of Sri ChinmoyThis is a play recently performed for Sri Chinmoy and his students. It is based on Sri Chinmoy’s writings, retelling traditional ancient Indian tales about Sri Krishna’s life. I find these stories so illumining, I can read them again and again, always finding new symbols and keys to a new perspective on my own life. In these particular stories there is an element of destruction – I take these as symbolic rather than literal: the transformation of our own ignorance and negativity is something every spiritual seeker faces along the road to higher Truth. These stories remind me what is divine in myself: that which needs to be cultivated, and what is undivine: that which must ultimately be transformed or transcended.
SCENE 1[Enter Krishna's Mother, Devaki]
Who weeps behind the dismal prison gate?
Whose inner might could yet survive this fate?
Six sons she bore, but each before first breath
was snatched away and hurled into his death.
What more bitter pain could smite a mother?
Much worse, this hell was dealt by her own brother. [Enter Kangsa]
Six jewels of the mighty Yadav clan
were culled at birth by their own uncle’s hand. [Enter Balaram]
The seventh, so the hoary legend went,
was by magic to another sent;
Great Balaram escaped an early tomb
by entering a second mother’s womb.
The eighth was uncle Kangsa’s only dread:
this nephew, so the ancient sages said,
would be the cause of Kangsa’s bitter end;
upon that child’s death did he depend,
but little did he know the mighty soul
in tiny form would thwart his evil goal.
To a foster mother’s home the newborn fled,
to wear a peacock crown upon His Head.
SCENE 2Minister [bowing excessively]:
Dear King, you are the pinnacle of virtue!
Pray let no subtle quality desert you!
Each movement and inflection so refined;
the product of a pure, uncluttered mind!
All Heaven’s angels fall before your feet!
Your radiant smile transfigures all you meet!
Your eyes of truth themselves engender trust!
And…let me see... your crown so... free from... rust
Enough, you fawning, crawling toady worm,
as bright and charismatic as a... germ!
Did I ask you to take bows and lie to me
or is your job to seek my enemy?
Ah... yes... of course, I quite forgot to say -
I happened to discover Him today.
In Brindaban He sings and plays and... whirls
amongst a seething mass of... pretty girls
Get back there! I need Him dead!
Don’t come back here without Sri Krishna’s Head!
SCENE 3[Krishna playing the flute. Enter Minister]
Aha! You’re caught! Don’t try to run away!
Uncharismatic germ! You’ve had your day!
I’ve seen you sporting here with all your... “wives”
I might well put an end to all their lives! [Gestures to female audience]
I am known throughout the land as Ruthless Jake
for the fearsome quantity of lives I take,
for my cunning and my cruel imagination.
Destruction is far finer than creation,
it is my art – by death my blood is stirred;
execution always has the final word.
My weapon is a marvel to behold.
Swift I am, and sleek and sly and bold.
Enough of me though, it’s your special day!
Ruthless Jake has spied your sordid play!
These youthful maidens flocking in their droves,
entranced and fawning, trembling like doves
each time you play a note or glance their way.
They dance and curl beside you night and day.
You’re known throughout this land for spiritual height.
The truth is you’re a slur, a burr, a blight,
a blot, a clot, a germ, a worm, a carbuncle,
so Ruthless Jake was sent here by your uncle
to cleanse this kingdom of your sinful game,
and finally erase your filthy name!
My blade is quick, there’s no time for a fight. [Krishna kills him immediately]
But not as quick as divine justice-light.
I listened and forgave them all these years.
It seems My Silence fell upon deaf ears.
My Love for you some will not comprehend, [To female audience]
but always your dear hearts My Heart will tend.
You will remain beyond the world’s commotion
by sheltering inside your true devotion.
SCENE 4[Enter Kangsa and Akrura]
Akrura! Now my anger is torrential!
Your time has come. Unlock your deep potential.
Brute force has failed, you must in gentle ways
release me from these wretched haunted days.
I am His uncle, you His uncle too,
but He has a softer spot for you.
I’ll honour Him with a splendid tournament.
Bedeck the scene with drape and jewel and ornament!
Let many kings recline on silk divans!
Ten slaves apiece to pamper them with fans
in feathered hats and shining leather boots!
Bring honeyed wine and out-of-season fruits!
Bring Krishna and His brother Balaram.
Be k-kind, p-polite and milder than a lamb.
For Balaram some demon I’ll employ,
Sri Krishna with my own hand I’ll destroy.
[Exit Kangsa. Enter Krishna and Balaram]
Uncle! Now this day is truly blessed!
In Brindaban Akrura takes his rest.
Have some butter… or perhaps a cup of chai?
Why so pale? And how you frown and sigh.
You are my nephew but you are my Lord.
By my heart and all the world you are adored.
All but one:
my cruel, deranged employer.
His only goal:
to be my Lord’s destroyer.
He’s staging a great tournament for You,
but he will kill you and your brother too.
He’ll muster thugs who’ve mastered nasty tricks.
This so-called tournament is all a fix.
King Kangsa plans to fight You to the end.
Akrura, dearest uncle, greatest friend,
to your loyalty my life remains in debt.
This fealty my heart will not forget.
Come Balaram, to Uncle Kangsa’s house.
Would the lion quake before the mouse?
[Exit Akrura. Enter Kangsa and a demon. Krishna kills Kangsa, Balaram kills the demon.]
My Lord, it is the lowest crime and shame!
Your greatest devotee repeats Your Name
day in, day out, in constant adoration.
Can You show him no remote appreciation?
It is beyond a mere lack of respect;
all You give him is the cruellest neglect.
All he eats is grass – one blade or two.
He starves and suffers all because of You.
Can You not ask somebody to bring him food?
Outer meals will never do him any good…
but as you wish, go make him some chapattis.
and dahl, and little spicy chickpea patties,
salt lassi, rice with cardamoms and almonds,
...and for dessert... a dozen gulab jamons.
[She goes to the river with the food. Krishna shrugs then plays the flute]
Alas, the gentle Jamuna is wild!
On other days she babbles like a child,
silk-softly flow the ripples of her gown,
but now a thousand elephants she’d drown!
The ferry-boat will not survive her anger.
Meanwhile poor Durvasha aches with hunger.
[Returns to Krishna]
My Lord, I cannot go, the river’s furious!
Indeed? The gentle Jamuna? How curious…
God will not forgive me if you drown.
Tell the river that she must calm down
if this statement is completely true:
that no woman in the world but you
has your Krishna ever looked upon.
What will the river do? This is a con!
You have seen a thousand female faces
here, in Brindaban and other places.
Were Your gopis men or womenfolk?
...I see this is no time for me to joke.
My Lord, I must obey You, here I go,
[She returns to the river]
Great Jamuna, you must calm your flow
if my Krishna’s Eyes have never seen
the face of any woman but this queen.
[River calms and she crosses]
Durvasha, I have brought you food at last!
Satyavama says it’s time to break your fast.
I’m blessed! Never a day was so auspicious! [Starts to eat]
Mother Satyavama, it’s delicious!
Your compassion feeds my soul each day,
but now you feed my life in every way.
It’s more good-fortune than I dare believe!
Enjoy the gulabs, I must take my leave.
My Krishna soon will worry I am lost. [Goes to the river]
Another storm descended since I crossed! [Returns to Durvasha]
Durvasha, I can’t go, the river’s furious!
Indeed? The gentle Jamuna? How curious.
God will not forgive me if you drown.
Tell the river that she must calm down
If this statement is completely true:
if Durvasha’s eaten only grass
since the last ten years have come to pass.
Durvasha! But you know that is not true!
Ten chapattis were consumed by you
not half an hour ago upon this spot,
right here before my eyes, have you forgot?
...I’m stranded so I see I have no choice.
Your dishonesty will tremble in my voice! [Goes to the river]
Krishna, please protect me, here I go.
Good Jamuna, you must calm your flow
if Durvasha has maintained his fast
since the entire last decade has passed. [She crosses and goes to Krishna]
I thought You stood for truth! Please tell me why
You’ve taught your greatest devotee to lie?
Am I the only woman you have seen?
Has Durvasha eaten not one bean?
He devoured a whole banquet before my eyes.
Satyavama, so the highest truth is lies?
Durvasha ate but did not taste your food.
A shame - it must be said your cooking’s good.
He resolved to diet upon leaves,
so that’s the only taste his mouth receives.
Durvasha lives beyond the earthly plane,
devoid of pleasure, preference or pain.
All earthly food is grass, or so he thinks.
It’s only divine nectar that he drinks.
He lives on Heaven’s ecstasy-delight.
You will see the Jamuna was right.
You are the mother of this blossoming world.
Since the primal flora first unfurled
you dreamed within the seemly modest moon,
your gaze the grace of one perpetual boon,
the author and protector of each child,
the might within the sweet the soft and mild.
O, mysterious wondrous power of creation,
all blooms and thrives within your meditation.
You are one with me – my female part.
Whom can I see when you are in my heart?
To me you occupy each woman’s place,
so in truth I only see your face.
Come! You must be hungry from your walk.
Let’s eat some gulab jamon while we talk.
Krishna! The worst news! My father’s dead!
Shatdhanwa killed him in his bed!
he was murdered for a jewel!
What jealous greed could make a man so cruel?
Our Syamantak diamond issued gold
to all my father’s ancestors of old.
Anyone whose hand falls on that gem
has countless coins of gold bestowed on them.
Now my father’s gone, that jewel is mine,
and only in this palace should it shine.
Krishna, please avenge my father’s end.
This grave injustice only You can mend.
Shatdhanwa, you will feel my fury!
I shall be the court, the judge and jury,
And death will be the sentence for your deed!
No other penalty can match your greed!
SCENE 7[Enter Akrura meditating. Krishna runs around searching.]
What can I do? He’s swifter than a deer.
I’m sure I saw him running right through here.
No sooner do I see him than he’s fled.
I will not stop until I see him dead.
I’ll scour the fields and forests of Mathura.
But wait, is that my good uncle Akrura
deep within a meditative trance? [picks up diamond from his lap]
And look at this! What strange and happy chance!
The jewel I seek is nestled in his lap!
How can this be? Perhaps it is a trap?
Krishna? Is it You? So far from home?
For vengeance and for justice do I roam!
Satyavama’s father has been killed.
I cannot rest until I have fulfilled
my duties as her husband and her king.
He was murdered for this very thing. [Holds up diamond]
Uncle can you help me understand
how this diamond came into your hand?
I was just meditating by this tree
And someone dropped the jewel onto my knee.
Before I saw his face he ran away.
More than that I truly cannot say.
Akrura, will you keep it now it’s yours?
No! Greed has brought this planet only wars!
It comes from Satyavama’s family line.
How can I now consider it as mine?
You and she are one. It’s Yours to keep. [Hands over the diamond]
What blessing can reward a heart so deep?
Yours is a selfless, unconditional heart.
You have been on God’s Side from the start.
A boon, Akrura, to you I shall give.
[touching Krishna’s Feet]
My Lord, it is enough for me to live
this sacred incarnation here beside You.
All my goodness started from inside You.
If I take the credit I’m a fool.
I know You don’t need me or this jewel!
I’m blessed that I have lived to serve You twice.
For this devotion there can be no price.
Friends I have, dear ones, admirers too,
But where will I find a devotee like you?