Buddha and the four women

By Neena Badhwar


Buddha and the four women

This play is based on the fact that one cannot achieve enlightenment like what King Siddhartha did in one life time without the help of people around him. They say ”˜There’s always a woman behind a man’s success’. In King Siddhartha’s case, for him to have achieved Buddhahood, there were four women.

Six Characters:

Yashodhara ”“ Buddha’s wife – The suffering wife (Y)   (very pretty)

Sujata – The Witness (S) ”“ Sujata is the witness to Budhha attaining enlightenment ”“ She fed Sidhhatha the rice porridge as he sat under the Bodhi tree on that very special night when Siddhartha attained Nirvana and became the enlightened Buddha

Maya ”“ The Illusion –   (M) The Evil force who distracts Buddha from his resolve to find the noble truths and achieve nirvana

Amrapali – The Disciple   –   (A) She is the filthy rich royal prostitute of Vaishali, disenchanted by the world, seeks refuge in the enlightened Buddha and donates all her jewels, money and assets.

Rahul: Son of Buddha who asks for inheritance from his father, the enlightened Buddha, turning into a monk himself.

Buddha: Who sits in meditation pose oblivious of goings on around him.


Setting: Four women walk in a restaurant talking, conversing with each other, choose a table to sit in a corner, next to Buddha (can be real or a statue) still talking animatedly with each other

Waiter: Good morning ladies , I’m your wait staff today. My name is Raghu”¦Mam’

Y: I am Yashodhara”¦I married King Siddhartha who became later the enlightened Buddha”¦Tall, handsome, noble and I fell in love with him soon as I saw him. I craved for his company. (To Waiter, A Latte please, turns again to her friends and continues) He decided to get married to me. His father wished for him to become a householder and bear a son who would inherit the kingdom.

Waiter: ok, so a latte then, anything else? (waiter waits but women keep on talking, he exits)

S: I am Sujata. I have gone through a difficult time in my life with my husband and in-laws. They are on my back to forget about this monk who has come to town.

M: (talking to the audience) Me? I am Maya. I am the illusion. HA! I am the evil one, always hovering around you, enticing you to follow your desires. I cast a spell on you. I hound you with all the beautiful things in this world, all those rich lovely materials, bags, shoes, beautiful clothes that you crave for. (Comes to the meditating Buddha and throws jewels, pearls, her stole at Him, and calls him: You Scoundrel, you”¦Cruel”¦(says) look at me”¦look at me, You)

A (she is proud of her beauty, admiring herself in the mirror that she takes out of her bag): I am Amrapali. The most beautiful girl in the world. This whole world sits at my feet. Kings beg me for my time. They actually fight over me. They cause wars, in fact, over me”¦imagine me the cause of wars (laughs)

(waiter brings latte)

Y (sad): My son Rahul keeps on asking about his father. I don’t know what to say.

(waiter leaves)

S: He begs for alms and when I put food in his bowl for him to eat, I feel this attraction towards him. He is so handsome, serene and peaceful yet there’s this far-away look in his eyes as if he’s looking for something that’s missing in this mundane, boring world of ours.

M: (speaks to the Buddha), I give you a glimpse of things, jewels, treasures, power, foods, clothes, sensual pleasures, all the love”¦(tries to hug him and plants a kiss on him) I know this world is an illusion yet I give you all what you crave for – love, sex, ego, all the treasures of this illusory world. (goes all over him”¦hugging and kissing Buddha)

A (whispers as if it is a secret): You know, I was found as a baby orphan under a mango tree by this old couple who brought me up. They named me thus Amrapali ”“ the mango girl. (laughs), Yes! Mango Girl

Waiter comes near: Mangoes? Yes Mam, we can make a Mango shake”¦

Y: Though he became my husband he was always lost in thoughts. Never ever interested in me, you know. I saw him suffer, always restless as I slept near him. He queried life, why old age, why death and disease. How Silly. Why there’s so much affluence around him when people have not a morsel to eat, he’d ask. Why the wars and the senseless violence and the killing. Why his father sent armies to fight as thousands of soldiers and innocent people died during those battles, for nothing. He used to ask: What did my father achieve that he wants me to take up a sword and act like a Kshtriya king, to follow in his footsteps, to create more suffering? My husband never ever looked at me!

(waiter is waiting,  scratches his head, wondering when he will get the order, and leaves)

S: Guess what, he goes then and sits under this pipal tree (pointing to Buddha sitting under the tree) outside our town. Everyday when I walk to the river to fill my pitcher with water I see him sitting like a statue meditating, without a care in the world. I think he avoids looking at me.

M (frustrated): O Yes, me too, I see this man sitting and meditating under the tree. I try my best to seduce him with things. I cause a spell on him, with the most beautiful celestial women surrounding him, but NO, he just sits like a ROCK (slaps him). I offer him the world there, this stubborn man sits meditating, never looking at me once even.

A: You know, my parents could not hide me, as I grew, word about my beauty spread all over Vaishali. It reached the King who asked my parents to present me in his court when I turned 12. In his harem I was groomed.

(Waiter passes by to take orders from another table, still hi sears listening to their talk)

Y: Why do loved ones have to go away he asked. Instead of spending time with me, loving me, I, who waited for him the whole day, he rather discussed life, its meaning. As I sat near him all decked up, did he even bother to look at me, Nah!

S: Oh! He survives on very little. Sometimes he is so engrossed that he forgets to ask for food. (to the waiter ”“ get him something. Can’t you see, he is loosing weight.) Shriveling and withering right before my eyes. Does he want to kill himself?

M (frustrated): Ah! he makes me so angry. I try to enter his head, his body and cause havoc. (puts a toy knife into Buddha’s stomach ”“ nothing happens to him) He experiences extreme pain yet he doesn’t even winch. You cruel rock ! (beats him)

A (Really Vain – again talking, sort of boasting to other women): You know I was made the head ”˜courtesan’ and won the title of ”˜City wife’. Yes! I became the royal prostitute. All the rich men in town came after me.

(waiter hears the word prostitute as he passes, raises his eyes)

Y (sad, and walks to Buddha): Doesn’t he realize how much I love him. I crave for him. What’s the point of these clothes I wear and the jewels my maids dress me in every day (takes out a necklace in frustration, which falls at waiter’s feet). There’s no one to appreciate me. Just the mirror”¦(looks into the mirror on the wall behind her)

S (worried look): Why? O why doesn’t he open his eyes. His eyes are now sunken shallow sockets and his ribs show. He was the most handsome guy who came to town. A skeleton”¦ now turned into scrawny self. (goes to Buddha) I beg you to eat, please. (to the audience) See ! There he sits, deaf”¦ totally lost from this world. What should I do with this food I ordered.

M (angrily): My fire rages through his head, but he bears it with a smile. How I hate his smile. I cause him such pain that no one on this earth can bear but he sits there utterly resolute. I will bring down storms. (Throws a glass of water at the Buddha).

A (again showing off her riches): I have jewels, wealth and the most expensive abode in the kingdom. See my branded bags, shoes, jewellery. All these luxuries are mine for the asking. (throws some jewels at the audience while talking to them.) And many a rich men come to my palace seeking me. Ha, I keep on making them wait for hours.

Y (acting lovelorn): If only he could read my emotions. There’s nothing more I want than his attention.   A hug I ask. Just a kiss from him on these lips. There he sits fretting about this world. (crying, waiter offers a tissue) When me, me and my world lies begging at his feet.

S: My husband gets angry with me for paying attention to him. I think of this man all the time. He is totally emaciated, (worried) What if he dies?

M(very angry now): I will burn him, (hovers around him throwing snakes and scorpions) Here ..Here. Look at him he sitting like a stone. Trying to look for answers to this boring life, the suffering, the killing, the fake world. You think, you’ll get answers? I won’t let you. (to Buddha), (then to the audience) I am Maya the mysterious one, I cause spells on you all. I am evil ! (angry at Buddha) You wretch ! (waiter gets scared), Stupid! He created you humans, this planet, the species, the plants yet I rule you all. Don’t you get it, under my illusion, in this realm you have no chance to find answers. No way, never!!!

A (she is still lost in her life’s story, gossiping): You know, Near by kingdom Magadh’s king Bimbisar is my lover now. He attacked our kingdom Vaishali and came to my palace. We fell in love. I bore him a son. But then he left me and started to plott against my beloved motherland, causing war, death, total DESTRUCTION. Bombs, Missiles, drones, terrorism, A fraud really ”¦how could he do that?

Y: Oh! Then he consummated. He left in me a tiny being. I felt fully satiated.   Don’t go away my beloved. Now that we are one I beg you to stay!   Please come (then turns to others) Alas! he’s gone.

(Waiter raises his eyes as he listens to the words ”˜consummated and ”˜satiated’, he   thinks she is talking to him, comes near wondering if they are ready to order)

S (sad walks to Buddha): People make fun of me when I go and sit near him and beg him to eat. But he sits stubborn, lost from the world. What does he want? What is he contemplating I wonder?

M (looking pale and unhappy): He makes me feel weak. I am going limp. I need a coffee. ( Calls Waiter to order coffee, then keeps on talking) I created conspiracies, created the fires all around in the bush where he meditates, the floods. Nothing bothered him. My charms, my wealth, my threats of torture nothing worked, you know. All failed. He just bears every infliction with a smile. (Says to Buddha angrily) ”“ Oh, How much I hate you.

A (still lost in her own woes): Where is Bimbisar and his promises of love when he was spending every moment with me. He does not even want to own his son now. He had many a concubines, I hear. Me too, I became one more toy for him. I am utterly disenchanted with this world full of lies. He used me, got all the secrets off me.   (she starts to take off her jewels) All these jewels, these precious stones, these palaces, these expensive gifts do not attract me anymore. All I wanted was Bimbisar, and he went and declared war, on my motherland”¦ that wretched”¦How could I fall in love with my enemy who attacked my darling Vaishali!

Y: I carry his baby in my womb. Everyone in the royal house harassed me with taunts. His stepmother wanted me to marry Devdatt, that horrible, horrible son of hers”¦

S: Its been six years since he has been following strict austerities, eating nothing, living on air. That’s it, today I cooked the best basmati rice in the saffron-scented milk milked from my favourite cow. I added almonds, honey and ghee and offered it to him in my gold bowl. With all the love I have for him, without a care about my husband, who beat me up. I just walked out of the house without a care. May be the aroma will wake this saint out of his Samadhi. O Stranger! I implored you to try the porridge, (to Buddha) I begged, be on your way, before my husband comes to get me and drive you out of the town.

M (jealous of Sujatha, beats her and pulls her hair, pushes away Sujata who is offering the pudding to Buddha): This Sujata gives him the rice porridge, and he doesn’t even look at all what I have offered ? Even begged…(Buddha opens his eyes, smiles and takes the bowl from Sujata, and, and starts eating.. Maya throws fruits at Buddha, Here, Here and more”¦and angry at Sujatha, says to her) ”“ Leave him or I will kill you.

Waiter comes and says to Maya: Wo, wo, Lady, don’t mess the place, this is our fruit as the decoration, and our cake (picks up the fruit, as Maya’s fruits and cake hit him), you can’t do that Mam, it’s been ages and you haven’t placed the order even, just coffee, please pay and go, and you can’t destroy our decore”¦please you will cause trouble for me, Mam I will loose my job, can you leave now.

M(to waiter, angry): How dare  you speak like that to me. Call your boss.

Y (goes on blabbering): I fret and waste. People make fun of me. No one comes near me. No one attends to me. They all say things about me. I have no answers as to why my husband left me.   They think I drove him to the bush, the baby I carry, they say is not his son”¦

M (feeling weak and almost falling): Oh this wretch, swine, never listened to me. He thinks he’s got the answer. My foot! The Ultimate truth? He says has been revealed to him in his austere meditation that this whole world is just an illusion, a distraction. He doesn’t know that it is all my doing really! All these fires, the floods, the climate, the Coronavirus. Governments fight and are in denial when they don’t realize I was the cause, stupid Fools! I won’t even let them discover the vaccine, (to the audience) I will destroy you all…Suffer…

S (looks happy): I decided to go to him at night. (looking outside through the window) Full moon shines in the sky. What’s this pale blue light that reaches my room through the window? It’s mesmerizing, (walks towards it) I get attracted towards the rays emanating from where he is sitting. It’s the most splendorous moment. The most handsome, the most enlightened man on this earth”¦ (suddenly Buddha opens his eyes) Oh ! he draws me like a magnet towards him.

M (pale and weak slumps to the floor): How much I wanted to distract him but Alas ! he won.

Waiter: Mam, please get up, the manager is here to talk to you.

S: Under the Bodhi tree, he sits with this peaceful smile on his face, his eyes closed. Moments pass as I sit and wait. And Lo! slowly he opens his eyes, Can stones have eyes! How Radiant, Mindful, Alert, Enlightened, Peaceful, the Awakened One, is He!

A (looks to Buddha who has gotten up and stands up from his seat): I hear an Exalted one is in town.

M: (with mocking tone) Him? the Enlightened Being who will walk this earth and spread the message of Peace. Perhaps find the cure to Coronavirus, huh, Stupid! calls himself Buddha.

A: They say he is the Most Emancipated, Most Enlightened being who has achieved Nirvana, Moksha, the liberated One. He has the answer to all our suffering, He says, extreme of anything is bad. He wants us all to follow the Middle path. We have driven this planet to a path of extinction. Our greed, our fights, this consumerism of ours, our egos have led us to destroy this beautiful planet of ours. I have given all my wealth to him. He will have answers to our questions about Coronavirus.

Manager: Mam, we are closing the place, because of the mandatory rules on isolation.

S: Isolation? How isolated he looks. (to the manager) Look at him, he got up and walks away.  (She follows Buddha and asks) Where”¦ where are you going? Wait, I am coming too.

M (Pale, weak and dragging on the floor): There he goes to spread the message of what ails humanity and how to end humanity’s suffering.

A (pushes others out of her way to look at Buddha): Let me, let me get a glimpse of him. I must go to him. (tries to take out all her jewels to give to him)

S: (follows him): He doesn’t even look back, six years! I, I”¦waited

M: (sniggers but still follows, there’s sarcasm in her manner) I bow to thee My Lord! Come on Mango girl…

A: Oh! he is a delight to my eyes, he quenches my thirst that I have sought for years. So peaceful.

S: The most purified, the most Renunciated, the Divine One.  

M (feeling weak and dragging on her feet): I give up and lie at your feet defeated. If this Coronavirus had not come I would have beaten you, I bet.

A (puts all her jewels at his feet): Here all my wealth is yours. Oh ! How peaceful I feel to be at your feet. Liberate me, Sir, from my attachments.

M: I offered him the world…Silly girl! (to Yashodha)…You the subservient wife, following this Monk…this husband of yours, see he had deserted you and now your son, Rahul, too. He is evil.

Y (cries): I bow to you. Alas! I will never see you, my dear husband”¦ and my son Rahul never ever saw his father”¦please take at least one look at him”¦our son who looks exactly like you”¦please, just one look!

Buddha walks away

All women walk behind him. Also the Manager, the waiter and the rest.






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