THE JUDGMENT OF INDRA
By Dhan Gopal Mukerji
Copyright, 1920, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
All rights reserved.
The professional and amateur stage rights of this play are strictly reserved by the
author, to whose dramatic representative, Frank Shay, in care Stewart & Kidd Co.,
Cincinnati, Ohio, applications for permission to produce it should be made.
THE JUDGMENT OF INDRA
By Dhan Gopal Mukerji
[Time: The Fifteenth Century.]
[Place: A Monastery on one of the
foothills of Himalaya.]
[: In the foreground is the outer
court of a Monastery. In the center of
the court is a sacred plant, growing out
of a small altar of earth about two feet
square. On the left of the court is a
sheer precipice, adown which a flight of
stone steps—only a few of which are
visible—connects the Monastery with the
village in the valley below.
To the right are the temple and the
adobe walls and the roof of the monastery
cells. There is a little space between
the temple and the adobe walls, which is
the passage leading to the inner recesses
of the monastery. Several steps lead to
the doors of the temple, which give on the
court. In the distance, rear, are the
snowy peaks of the Himalayas, glowing
under the emerald sky of an Indian afternoon.
To the left, the distances stretch
into vast spaces of wooded hills. Long
bars of light glimmer and die as the vast
clouds, with edges of crimson, golden and
silver, spread portentously over the hills
A roll of thunder in the distance, accompanies
the rise of the curtain.]
Shanta. [He is reading a palm-leaf
manuscript near the Sacred Plant. He
looks up at the sky.] It forbodes a calamity.
[Suddenly the Temple doors open.
Shukra stands framed in the doorway.
Seeing that Shanta is alone,
Shukra walks down the steps toward
Shukra. Are you able to make out
Shanta. Aye, Master.
Shukra. Where is Kanada?
Shanta. He will be here presently.
Listen, master: it sayeth: "Only a hair's
breadth divides the true from the false.
Upon him who by thought, word or deed
confuses the two, will descend the Judgment
Shukra. The thunder of Indra is
just. It will strike the erring and the
unrighteous no matter where they hide
themselves; in the heart of the forest or
in the silence of the cloisters, Indra's
Judgment will descend on them. Even
the erring heart that knows not that it is
erring will be smitten and chastised by
Indra. [Thunder rumbles in the distance.]
Shanta. Master, when you speak, you
not only fill the heart with ecstasy, but
also the soul with the beauty of truth.
Shukra. To praise is good. But why
praise me, who have yet to find God
and,—[Shakes his head sadly.]
Shanta. You will find Him soon;
your time is nigh.
Shukra. I wish it were true.
Shanta. Master, if there be anything
that I can do for you. If I could only
lighten your burden a little,—
Shukra. Thou hast done that already.
All the cares of the monastery thou hast
taken from me. Thou hast bound me to
thee by bonds of gratitude that can never
break. [Enter Kanada.] Ah, Kanada,
how be it with you to-day? [Coming to
Kanada. [He is a lad of twenty and
two.] By your blessing I am well and
at peace. Have you finished your meditation?
Shukra. [Sadly.] Nine hours have I
meditated, but—I shall say the prayers
now. [Enters the temple and shuts the
Kanada. He seems not to be himself.
Shanta. When he is in meditation for
a long time, he becomes another being.
Kanada. There is sadness in his eyes.
Shanta. How can he be sad,—he who
has risen above joy and sorrow, pleasure
and pain, hate and love?
Kanada. Above love, too?
Shanta. Yea, hate and love being opposite,
are Maya, illusion!
Kanada. Yet we must love the world.
Shanta. Yea, that we do to help the
Kanada. The Master is tender to the
villagers even if they lead the worldly
Shanta. We be monks. We have
broken all the ties of the world, even
those of family, so that we can bestow
our thoughts, care and love upon all the
children of God. Our love is impartial.
[The thunder growls in the distance.]
Kanada. Yea, that is the truth. Yet
I think the Master loves thee more than
Shanta. Nay, brother. He loves no
one more than another. I have been with
him ten years; that makes him depend
on me. But if the truth were known,—he
loves none. For he loves all. Indra,
be my witness: the Master loveth no one
more than another.
Kanada. Ah, noble-souled Master!
Yet I feel happy to think that he loveth
thee more than any.
Shanta. He loves each living creature.
He is not as the worldly ones who
love by comparison—this one more, the
other less. Last night, as the rain wailed
without like a heart-broken woman, how
his voice rose in song of light and love!
He is one of God's prophets, and a true
singer of His praise.
Kanada. I can hear him yet.
Shanta. I will never forget the ineffable
joy that glowed in his words.
Only he who has renounced all ties, can
speak with such deep and undying love.
Kanada. It was that of which I would
speak to thee. Dost thou not see sadness
and anxiety in the Master's face?
Shanta. He is deep in thought—naught
Kanada. Ever since that message was
brought him the other day, he has seemed
heavy hearted. It was melancholy tidings.
Shanta. Nay, that message had
naught to do with him. [Thunder
growls. The Temple doors open. Shukra
comes out of the Temple and shuts
the doors behind him. Then he stands
still in front of the Temple.]
Shukra. [Calling.] Kanada.
Kanada. Yea, Master. [He goes up
to Shukra, who gives him some directions.
Kanada exits; Shukra stands looking at
Shanta. How wonderful a vision he
is! As he stands at the threshold of the
temple he seems like a new God, another
divinity come down to earth to lead the
righteous on to the realms celestial. Ah,
Master, how grateful am I to have thee
as my teacher! I thank Brahma for giving
thee to me.
[Enter Kanada. Shukra then walks
to Shanta, with Kanada following
Kanada. Master, all is ready.
Shukra. Go ye to the village; ask
them if all be well with them. When the
heavens are unkind—ah, if it rains another
day all the crops will be destroyed.
What will they live on? No, no, it cannot
be. Go ye both down to them and
take them my blessings: Tell them we
will make another offering to Indra to-night.
It must not rain any more.
Shanta. Bring out begging bowls,
Kanada. Shall I bring the torches,
Shukra. The clouds may hide the
moon; yea, the torches, too. [Kanada
Shukra. Yea. [Thunder growls
above head.] The storm grows apace.
I hope thou wilt find shelter ere it breaks.
[A short silence.] The world is growing
darker and darker each day. Sin and
Vice are gathering around it like a vast
coiling Serpent. We monks be the only
ones that can save it and set it free.
Shanta, be steadfast; strengthen me.
Help me to bring the light to the world.
Thou art not only my disciple, but my
friend and brother. [He embraces Shanta.]
Save me from the world.
Kanada. [Entering.] Here be—[Stops
Shukra. [Releasing Shanta.] Come
to me, Kanada. [The latter does so,
Shukra putting an arm around Kanada's
neck.] Little Brother—
Kanada. [Radiantly.] Master—
Shukra. Be brave and free—free
from the delusions of this world, Sansara.
Go yet to the village; take them
our blessings! Hari be with them all!
May ye return hither safely. [Thunder
and lightning.] Ah, Lord Indra!—Look,
it is raining yonder. Go, hasten—
Shanta. [Taking a begging bowl and
torch from Kanada.] Come!
Shukra. [Putting his hands on their
heads.] I bless ye both. May Indra
protect ye—[the rest of his words are
drowned by the lightning flash and peal
[The two disciples intone: "OM
Shanti OM." They go down the
Shukra. May this storm pass. OM
Shiva. Shiva love you, my Shanta.
For ten long years he has been with me;
he has greatly helped me in my search
after Him who is the only living Reality.
To-day I am nearer God—I stand at
the threshold of realization. I seem to
feel that it will not be long before the
Veil will be lifted and I shall press my
heart against the heart of the ultimate
mystery—Who comes there? [Listens
attentively]. They cannot have gone and
come back so soon. Ha! another illusion!
These days I am beset by endless
illusions. Perhaps that betokens the end
of my search, as the gloom is always
thickest ere the dawn. Yea, after this
will come the Light; I will see God!
[Hears a noise; listens attentively.] Are
they already returning? [Calling.]
Shanta! [He crosses and looks down.
Thunder rolls very loudly now. He does
not heed that. Suddenly he recoils in
agitation. Footsteps are heard from below,
rising higher and higher. Shukra
rubs his eyes to make sure that he has
really seen something that is not an illusion.
He goes forward a few steps.
The head of an old man rises into view,
Shukra is stupefied; walks backwards until
his back touches the Sacred plant.
He stands still. The old man at last
climbs the last step. He has not noticed
Shukra. He looks at the Himalayas
in the rear. Then his eyes travel
over the monastery walls—Now suddenly
they catch sight of Shukra.]
Shukra. What seek ye here?
Old Man [eyeing him carefully].
Ah, Shukra! dost thou not recognize
thine aged father? [He goes to Shukra
with outstretched arms.]
Shukra. I have no father.
Old Man. But I am thy father. Did
not my messenger come the other day?
[Silence.] Did he lie to me? Dost thou
not know thy mother is—
Shukra. Thy messenger came.
Old Man. Then come thou home at
once. There is not time to be lost.
Come, my son, ere thy mother leaves this
Shukra. I cannot go.
Old Man. Thou canst not go? Dost
thou not know that thy mother is on her
Shukra. I have renounced the world.
For twelve years I have had no father,
Old Man. Thou didst leave us, but
we did not renounce thee. And now
thou shouldst come.
Shukra. I told thy messenger that I
have no father nor mother,—I cannot
Old Man. I heard it all. If you art
born of us, thou canst not have a heart
of stone? Come, my son: I, thy father,
Shukra. Nay, nay; God alone is my
Old Man. Hath it not been said in
the scriptures that thy parents are thy
God? Thy father should be obeyed.
Shukra. That was said by one who
had not seen the Truth, the Light.
Old Man. I command thee in the
name of the Scriptures.
Shukra. God alone can command me.
Old Man. Vishnu protect me! Art
thou dreaming, my child? Yonder lies
thy mother, fighting death,—
Shukra. I have heard it all.
Old Man. And yet thou wilt not go?
Shukra. Nay, father, I cannot go.
The day I took the vow of a monk, that
day I cut the bond that binds me to
you all. I must be free of all ties. I
must love none for myself that I may
love all for God. Here I must remain
where God has placed me, until He calls
Old Man. But thy mother lies, fighting
with each breath. She wishes to see
Shukra. I cannot come.
Old Man. But thou must.
Shukra. I would if I could; but my
life is in the hands of God.
Old Man [mocking]. God! Thy
life belongs to God? Who gave thee
life? Not God, but she who lies there
dying; what ingratitude! This, indeed, is
the age of darkness; sons are turning
against their fathers,—and killing their
Shukra [quietly]. I may not love one
more than another; my steps, as my
heart, go whither God guides them.
Old Man [mocking]. Truth is thy
Shukra. May Indra himself punish
me if I love one more than another.
Hear me, Indra. [The roll of thunder
Old Man [in desperation]. Come,
my son, in the name of thine own God I
pray to thee, come to thy mother. I
kneel at thy feet and beg for this boon.
[He does so.]
Shukra [raising him to his feet. He
puts his own head down on the old man's
Old Man. Then thou comest? [Shukra
rises to his feet.]
Shukra [hesitating]. There is a
law in the Sacred books that says an ascetic
should see the place of his birth
every twelfth year.
Old Man. And it is twelve years now
since thou didst renounce us! Ah!
blessed be the law.
Shukra. Yet, father, if I go, I go
not in obedience to the law, but since the
desire to see my mother is uppermost in
me, I who dreamt not of the law hitherto—yea,
now I hasten to abide by the law.
Ah, what mockery! It is not the letter
of the law, but the spirit in us that
judges us sinners or saints. Now if I
go with thee to obey the law, that would
be betraying the law.
Old Man. Betraying the law!
Shukra. Thought alone is the measure
of our innocence. He who thinks
evil is a doer of evil indeed. Nay, nay,
tempt me not with the law. I must remain
here. I must keep my vow. [He
looks up to heaven; it is covered with
enormous black clouds.]
Old Man. The law is not written in
the heavens. It is inscribed in the heart
of man. Obey the dictates of thy heart.
Shukra. God alone shall be obeyed.
I cannot betray His command. I, who
am an ascetic, must not yield to the desire
to see my mother—Nay! God—
Old Man. What manner of God is
He that deprives a dying mother of her
son? Such a God never was known in
Hindu life. No such God lives, nor
breathes. [Thunder and lightning.]
Shukra. Erring Soul, do not blaspheme
your creator. He is the God of
Truth—God of Love.
Old Man [disdainfully]. God of
Love,— How can He be God of Love
if He dries up the stream of thy heart
and blinds thy reason as the clouds blind
the eyes of the Sun? Nay, thou liest.
It is not the God of Love, but the God
of thine insane self—self-love that makes
thee rob thy mother of her only joy in
life. I—yea, I will answer to God for
thee. If, by coming to see thy mother,
thou sinnest, I ask God to make me pay
for thy sin. Come, obey thy father,—I
will take the burden of thy sin, if sin
Shukra. Nay, each man pays for his
sins as each man reaps the harvest of his
own good deeds. None can atone for
another. Ah, God! cursed be the hour
when I was born. Cursed,—
Old Man [angrily]. Thou cursest
Shukra. Yea, to be born in this
world of woe is a curse indeed.
Old Man. Then curse thy tormented
mind and thy desolate heart; curse not,—
Shukra. Nay, I curse the hour that
saw me come to this earth of delusion and
Maya. I do curse,—
Old Man. Thou dost dare curse the
hour when thou wert born! Ah, vile sinner!
To curse the hour of thy birth
when thy mother is dying! God be my
witness, he has incurred his father's
wrath. Now,—no God can save thee.
Shukra. Nay, nay,—
Old Man. Shukra. I, thy father, thy
God in life, curse thee. Thou hast deprived
thy mother of her child, and her
death of its solace. Thou hast incurred
the wrath of the Spirits of all thy departed
Shukra [cries out]. Not thus; not
thus. [Thunder and lightning, the whole
sky is swept by the clouds.]
Old Man. Not thus? Thus alone
shall it be. Cursed be thou at night;
cursed be thou by day; cursed be thou
going; cursed be thou coming. Thou art
cursed by the spirit of the race, by the
spirit of God. [Continued thunder and
Shukra [falling at his father's feet].
I beseech thee, my father,—
Old Man [shrinking away]. Touch
me not. [Going left.] Cursed art thou
in Life and Death forever.
Shukra. God!—Father, go not thus.
Old Man. I am not thy father.
[Deafening and blinding thunder and
Old Man [going down the steps].
Pollute not my hearing by calling me thy
father. May the judgment of Indra be
upon thee! [He totters down out of
sight, left, in anger and horror.]
Shukra. Father, hear, oh hear!
[The rain comes down in a deluge; thunder
and lightning. The rain blots everything
out of sight. It pours in deep,
dark sheets, through which the chains
and sheets of lightning burn and run.
After raining awhile, the sky clears. In
the pale moonlight, Shukra is seen
crouching near the Sacred plant. He is
wet and disheveled. He slowly rises,
swaying in exhaustion. Voices are heard
Shukra. Can it be that it is over?
Has Indra judged me and found me free
of error? Yea, were I in error, the lightning
would have struck me. I lay there
blinded by rain awaiting my death. It
did not come. Yea, Indra has judged!
[Noises below; he does not hear.] O,
thou shadowy world, I am free of thee at
last. Free of love and loving, free of all
bondage. I have no earthly ties,—I lean
on God alone. At last, I am bound to
no earthly being, not even—[strange
pause]—not even,—Shanta. [He becomes
conscious of the noise of approaching
footsteps and the light of the torches
from below.] Who is that? [He goes
forward a few steps. Enter Kanada,
torch in hand.]
Kanada. Master, Master.
Shukra. Kanada, thou,—[a pause,
very brief but poignant]. Why this agitation?
Shanta, where is Shanta?
Kanada. Shanta is—
Shukra [seeing the other torches
rising suddenly]. Speak! Who comes
Kanada. They bring a dead man.
Shukra. Who is he? [As a premonition
of the truth comes over him.]
Where is Shanta?
Kanada [blurts out]. At the foot
of the hill the lightning struck him.
Shukra [with a terrible cry]. Shanta,—my
Shanta! [Two men carrying
torches with one hand, and dragging
something white with the other, come up
the steps. This vision silences Shukra.
A pause follows. Another torch is seen
rising behind them.]
Shukra [slowly], Shanta,—gone.
[Pause again, looking into the starry
heavens.] This is the Judgment of Indra!