By Bill Davis
Characters in order of appearance:
Brahmin (with a beard. He is wearing a shirt and dhoti)
Kali (She has a sword in her upper left hand [arm one], the palm of her lower right hand is low, facing upwards [arm two], a head in her lower left hand [arm three], the palm her upper right hand is facing the audience [arm four], she has a necklace of paper mache’ heads, her complexion is dark, she has a crown. A second person is playing arms three and four.)
Cow (two people in a cow costume)
Sin of cow killing (all red)
Mind of Brahmin (all white)
Indra (Skin colored pullover on upper body. Eyes all over this. A crown upon his head. Fancy tights. A small scepter in his right hand.)
Setting: On the right three quarters of the stage (from audience point of view) there are poles with string from one pole to the other. At the left-most 2 poles is a gate that can swing open, pivoting on the left-most pole. Behind the strings there are plants (either props or potted plants). There is the Brahmin in the garden on the right. He is making digging motions with a spade. On the left is a throne upon which Kali is sitting. Lighting is bright on the right side. Dim on the left.
(Curtain comes up.)
(Two men stroll from right, open the gate, enter the garden and close the gate.)
First visitor: This is a remarkable garden. Look how delightfully everything is arranged.
Second visitor: I especially like the subtle contrasting colors of the blooming flowers. It’s done so artistically.
Brahmin: (Facing away from the visitors) I love it that I am receiving the recognition I deserve for the careful and creative work I have done in making this garden. Many visitors praise it. It may be that I am the best gardener in all of Kolkata – certainly one of the best.
(Lighting is reversed: Dim on right, Bright on left.)
Kali: That Brahmin is becoming puffed up with pride. He offers me beautiful flowers every day and I know he loves me, but I see that in his heart what he craves as a boon from me is that poison known as praise. So up to now I have given him this. Now, out of pity, I will use my sword to cut off his swelling head of egotism. (She swings the sword in a circle as she says this. Then she leaves throne and exits left leaving the throne empty. Left lights dim. Right lights bright.)
(The two visitors leave garden, close gate and exit to right. Then the Brahmin leaves laying down the spade, closes gate and also exits right. Then there are two more visitors from right. Music while this happens.)
Third visitor: This is an amazingly beautiful garden.
Fourth visitor: Yes, I wonder who is the gardener?
(Visitors three and four leave. They leave the gate open. After they exit right, a cow walks from right and enters the garden. It pulls up flowers with its mouth walking to right as it eats. More music while this is happening until cow begins lowing.)
Cow: Moo. Moo. Mooo. (with contentment)
(The Brahmin returns from the right carrying a pot of plants. He enters the garden. Indra enters from left and takes the throne. He has a satchel by him.)
Brahmin: Oh my God. Look what that cow is doing. That stupid cow. How dare she eat these flowers? She has utterly ruined my garden. What will people say when they see this devastation? I hate her. Where’s that spade? Oh here it is.
(He puts down the pot of plants and picks up the spade. He brings it down on the head of the cow. There should be a loud sound effect. The cow drops to the ground.)
Brahmin: You got what you deserve. (Pause) OK, you can get up now and I’ll lead you out. Get up. GET UP. Why aren’t you getting up?
(The Brahmin shakes the cow. It doesn’t move.)
Brahmin: Oh Lord. Help me. What have I done? She is dead. It is a great sin to kill a cow. I will suffer a terrible karma for this act. But wait. Ah Hah, I just remembered. It is Indra who is in charge of the hands. He guides them. Thus the fault lies with Indra. So that’s a relief.
(The sin of cow killing enters from behind the cow. A black cloth is held hiding sin. The cloth is removed and shows the sin standing above the cow. From behind the Brahmin at the same time the sin enters the “mind of the Brahmin” enters. The mind is in all white and has a beard. The mind stands behind the Brahmin and peeks out toward the cow. The sin shakes its head making a disapproving face. Then the sin turns toward the Brahmin and points its finger at him.)
The sin of cow killing: I am the sin of cow killing. You did this dastardly deed. I will now take possession of you.
The brahmin’s mind: I am the Brahmin’s mind. Go away! It is Indra who is at fault. He guided the hands to commit this dastardly deed.
The sin of cow killing: OK, if you say so. I’ll go and take possession of Indra.
(The sin walks over to Indra. Lights reverse.)
Sin: Sorry, Lord Indra, I have to possess you for killing the cow in that garden over there. The Brahmin’s mind tells me that you guided the hands, so you are at fault.
Indra: Just wait a minute. Let me go and investigate. If I’m truly at fault then you can possess me.
(Indra pulls a robe from a satchel and puts it on. He puts his crown and scepter into the satchel. He carries the satchel and approaches the Brahmin standing in the midst of his garden. Both Sin and the mind of the Brahmin leave the stage, Sin to the left, mind to the right. Lights again reverse.)
Indra: What a beautiful garden! It is such a lovely arrangement. The flowers and plants are just delightful. Who planted it?
Brahmin: Well, thank you. It was uh, uh. . . .
(The Brahmin falls silent. He bites his lip. After a little while he speaks again.)
Brahmin: I’ll tell you the truth. If you had asked me this morning I would have answered without hesitation that it was I who planted it. And I would have felt quite elated at your praise. But I’m ashamed to say that something just happened which has revolutionized my outlook. A little while ago I found a cow eating flowers in my garden. In my rage I struck it with a spade, killing it. (pathetically) I didn’t mean to kill it. Look there she is lying dead. (The Brahmin points.) When I came to my senses, I thought, “What a terrible thing I have done.” Then I had an “Ah Hah.” I remembered that Indra guides the hands. So in order to escape punishment, I put the blame on him. But when you asked me the question: “Who planted this garden?” it got me thinking. If it was Indra who killed the cow, it was also Indra who planted the garden. Thus, in answer to your question, it was Indra who planted this garden but I was not conscious of it at the time.
Indra: I’m amazed and pleased with your honesty. Tell me, what gave you this change of heart? At first you thought of Indra guiding the hands as a way to escape punishment, but now you seem to have taken this idea to heart.
Brahmin: I really can’t say. I can’t remember having ever spoken so confidentially to a stranger before.
(Indra removes his robe dropping it to the ground. He takes his crown and scepter out of the satchel and puts the crown on his head, the scepter in his right hand held up. The satchel is also dropped. He stands very erect.)
Indra: I am Indra.
(The Brahmin falls prostrate at his feet. Indra raises him.)
Brahmin: Please. I beg your pardon for trying to foist the blame for this heinous sin on you. I am ready now to fully accept the sin of cow killing and its karmic consequences which I certainly deserve since I was not aware of you as the actor when I struck the cow.
Indra: I will share the sin with you. I accomplished the planting of the garden and the killing of the cow. I brought to the surface of your mind various creative thoughts which led to such a nice arrangement of flowers. I, in the form of ignorance of your true nature, filled your mind with anger at the cow. The killing of the cow has become a blessing to you since it has raised the level of your consciousness and subdued your pride. If you can maintain awareness of me as the doer, the sin and its consequences will be utterly wiped away. You will be a Brahmin worthy of the name.
Brahmin: This is all Thy grace.
Indra: No, it’s the grace of Mother Kali.
(Mother Kali emerges, Sin and the mind of the Brahmin come out. The Brahmin, his mind, Indra and Sin form a circle and go around Kali. As they go they chant.)
All: Kali, Kali, Kali, Kali (repeat 16 times)
(The four visitors and the cow also emerge. The cow goes into the circle, kneels in front of Kali and is petted by Her with her lower right hand. The four visitors join the circle, each one between the ones already there. As they go around they chant.)
All: Om Kali, Om Kali, (repeat eight times.)
Indra: Everyone join! (Let this go on for a minute.)
Bill Davis, a disciple of Swami Pavitrananda, came to the Vedanta Society of New York in 1972. After a career as a psychologist, he retired in 2007. Bill now lives at Vivekananda Retreat, Ridgely, where he serves as a handyman. He also still offers service at the Vedanta Society of NY. Email Bill at email@example.com.