The human condition is a wretched one.
On your walk to the local grocer’s, in the side of your eye, you notice a group of four or five large creatures standing outside a cigarette and paan stall. They’re smoking. You look to their side. They’re youth, perhaps from another town, as visiting residents. They’re smoking something strange, looking into each other’s eyes with a disdainful belligerence. The boys look devilish, and the girls don’t look like girls any more. While it appears they’re engaged in friendly banter, to the keen observer of life, immediately become visible the daggers of need, desire and deceit that they point at each other, cajoling one another into sex or money or both. They ought to be studying, their parents holding their hopeful breaths on them. But here they are! Recalcitrant vagabonds. Seeking freedom. But what from?
You bring home a sweet paan, a bottle of Pepsi and some chips. You had food at home. Induced by what did you make that purchase?
The cashier at the bank tells her husband she desperately wants a holiday. They should go to Bali this time so it will be just like the last time they were there five years ago when they were newly weds. The joy has since fled from the marriage. The holiday will bring it back.
The boss is unbearable. To the boss, the worker is a difficult one.
The penniless wants money so he can eat, clothe and shelter himself. That’s good. But then he wants a scooter, and then a car, and then a house of his own, and then a bigger one, and then a helicopter, and then two because one for his son to go to school on. Then he wants to build a mall on Jupiter because the wife has shopped in all the malls on the Earth already.
All along, the wealthy shrinks of the fear of theft, that of the ill-will of those he tries to impress, of the greed of the greedy underlings he has himself cultivated, of the fear of death from his enemies, of the anxiety of not being able to distinguish between friend and enemy, of the paranoia that someone is out to get him for all the crime he has committed along the way to hoard it all up for himself, and of the dread that it might all be stolen or destroyed or go away from his possession one way or another. He cannot sleep. He wants sleep, rest, peace and deliverance from his never ending anxieties and the lawsuits against him.
The sexless wants sex. The sex addict craves for human connection.
The unemployed wants a job. The lifer has a sneaking suspicion that it might all have been a mistake.
Envious of his material abundance, the starving artist woos the Managing Director of Corp she met at the art exhibition. Unbeknownst to her, the Managing Director of Corp is contemplating suicide.
The inexperienced wants an internship. The experienced wants to be an entrepreneur. Investors, gullible salves whom he will trick into employment, clients whom he knows he has no calibre of serving, the entrepreneur wants to fool them all.
The bachelor wants a wife; the married man, a divorce. The maiden spurns the suitor in hopes of protection and financial safety. Upon marriage, the hag seeks protection from him burning with vengeance to bring him to financial ruin.
The poor and the harmless, we chide. On the other hand, with our resentments hidden behind our backs, we eulogize our tormentors with “Love you so much, sir. Wonderful goggles there, madam.”
The husband and wife choke at each other. The great orator is haunted by his own private admittance that he is a charlatan; the leader trying to keep his position by being too agreeable, by the admittance that he is a conman.
King or pauper, CEO of a corporation or the unlettered internship seeker, if we were to take an honest stock, our lives are tales of an unending stream of dejection.
There is no help. Himself heavily sedated, and knowing no better, the shrink shows you recourse in the pill.
No wisdom is to be expected of age. The longer the life, the more pages of the same old story are added. Visit the community park on any evening, and the benches you will find filled with a defeated flock of greyed hairs and faces sullen with betrayal, in self-denial of the meaninglessness of life lived thus far. No, they're not discussing the meaning of life, nor offering consolation to one another for life's troubles, but the most banal utterances such as "Is this building seven storyed? I thought they had six!"
We sulk in repressed misanthropy and plough on still, not quite sure what the summation of all this is.
Man cannot tolerate man. Because he cannot tolerate himself.
Great dissatisfaction is upon us. Our condition is a pitiful one.
One goal alludes to another, the joy of fulfilment ever eluding, reviving a tiresome chase. The horizon of complete restfulness never approaches nearness.
Titillated by our senses, we are, as if by force, constantly thrown into a hunt for the pleasures of the flesh -- food or sex.
Prisoners, ever under siege of thirst, hunger, desire, deceit, anger, lust, hatred, the urge to control, it seems as though we’re after something, but not quite certain what it is. In its different manifestations, the thing appears for a brief moment before eluding us once again.
Great misery is indeed the undercurrent of our lives. Such wretchedness is indeed our condition.
Why this dissatisfaction? Can there be an end to it? What is happiness after all? Why do we only see glimpses of it? Is there no rescue from the Pavlovian drive to purchase items and the ensuing disenchantment after having purchased them? And what to speak of the misery of those that have no money to purchase them?
Tying two pieces from the Upanishads into a simple story, this episode of Upanishad Ganga gives us an insight.
Lest the reader suspect that the Upanishads are scriptures of the Hindu fundamentalists or that they might have something to do with religious extremism, the reader couldn’t be more wrong. The Upanishads describe the Ultimate Reality underlying the one we perceive. It is the same Supreme Reality as was told to their disciples by Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha, Lao Tzu, Hazarat Muhammad, Kabir, Bulleshah, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the ancient Egyptians and literally anyone else who has had a mystic experience.
Thousands of years ago, an unnamed lineage of ancient Indian hermits spent their entire lives meditating on the answers to the questions such as: What is this universe? Why are we here? Who are we? Why all this sorrow? Why this grief? Can we find redemption from the human condition? Is there a God? What’s going on?
Upon realization of the truths, they recorded the truths that were given to them in the deepest meditation in the Vedas. The Vedas are four in number: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.
Each Veda is further broken down into four parts: the first part contains mantras or invocations that are to be offered as prayers to the Supreme Being who manifests Himself as the universe, the second part is about rituals that may be performed by those of a more extroverted disposition, the third part is about meditative practices for those of that introverted temperament and the fourth and the final part is called the Upanishads. This part contain direct answers to the questions that the ancients set out to investigate. These answers are provided in the form of stories, which are often just simple dialogues between a teacher and his pupil.
The subject of the Upanishads, as already stated, is the answer to the highest secrets of existence such as the nature of consciousness, the basis of perception, the meaning and goal of life, about who we are, whether or not there is a God, and of the origin of the universe.
Though the format is visually identical to that of a screenplay, there are intentional differences.
For one, a screenplay is a technical document that has a visual grammar to it that is not so apparent. It serves to nudge the cinematographer as to what lens to use and where to put the light, the casting director to list the parts he needs to audition and recruit for, the art director to find cues about the props they will need during a scene, the production director to find cues about the locations they will need to shoot at, whether a scene will be shot indoors or outdoors, the permissions they might need from local authorities and to form a fair idea of the monetary budget for the film. Here, I obviously had no such responsibilities.
My only concern was to make it readable. In extreme moderation even though, I have taken the liberty of being a bit light in tone in some places where it made sense. For example, in a dialogue Scene 11, I injected the four-letter word where the original had none. This was done, not as a curse word, but as a word conveying pithiness or force. At other places, I have used a more modern English vernacular rather than the literal translation. No levity or frivolity was intended.
For example, a screenplay lacks any exposition of why some actor would have to say something during a scene. It lacks any explanation about the motivations of an actor, or explanatory notes on a scene. All those discussions are usually had by the director with the actor or the actor just makes things up during his own research on his part and asks the director for answers.
While a screenplay is on the one end of the spectrum for terseness, on the other is a novel. This script doesn’t bear any characteristics of the novel format either. A novel pays too much weight to the internal dialogue of a character. Besides, a novelist wants to appetize your sense of taste for good language. So he finds every chance to exhibit his literary capabilities.
This script sits between a screenplay and a novel. It is meant to just tell you what someone said to another, while filling in the gaps that a viewer might feel that are missing in a screenplay. For an instance of such explanatory notes, see Scene 5.
Upanishad Ganga: Episode 32: Bliss, The Happy Man's Shirt
ON A DRAMA STAGE
SINGING OF A KABIR'S (A 15th CENTURY MYSTIC) POEM
In this body, there are beautiful gardens and meadows; in this itself resides the Creator.
In this body is a limitless stretch of calm seas; it this itself a star-lit sky with countless stars.
In this body is the most precious paras jewel; in this itself the appraiser of jewels.
ON A DRAMA STAGE
TWO ANCHORS TELL US WHAT THIS IS GOING TO BE ABOUT
Viewers, welcome to the city of Uttam Pradesh, which is in the state of Uttarakhand.
Where, upon waking, the citizen looks for mishaps in the newspapers to start his day with.
Reads the same news over and over again.
Looking for happiness in the newspapers.
Murder, theft, deceit, sycophancy, he fills his head with news about these.
Reads the daily horoscope section to find out whether or not the day will bring happiness.
Where the industrious ones are busy in gossip...
...the rest in stories about the clash between mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
There's a restless searching after happiness, O' a searching after happiness.
That's why a person with a full head of black hair dyes it with other colors...and fairness creams sell like crazy.
Where, in the pursuit of happiness, the entire nation has turned into a marketplace.
Where man will sell his soul any moment just for some "things."
Anchor 1 and 2 together
To such a land of Uttam Pradesh (UP), welcome, welcome, welcome!
Anchor, why is the minister walking towards the palace looking so worried?
You don't know? The king has taken ill, and everyone's helpless.
ON A DRAMA STAGE
THE COUNCIL OF ROYAL MINISTERS STAND AROUND THE SEATED KING IN HIS ROYAL COURT
Can no one find me a cure?
Royal Highness! In your kingdom, imported milk sells at every street corner. Merchants, lenders and banks lend money even for rice, flour, dahl and ghee.
"Live like a king as long as you live, even if you have to borrow for it," is the motto of your subjects.
"Borrow money if you have to, but drink ghee."
When your own country is happy even with all that debt, then having everything, why are you so unhappy, O great king?
Because I am unhappy. Listless. Apathetic. I don't find your comedy dramas entertaining. Your dancers, singers, they bring me no joy. The discourses of saints, they have no effect on my plight.
My Lord, just say the word, and we'll arrange for a country-wide sports fesitival. May be that'll drive out the moribundity?
Meagre titilations are they are, your sports festivals too have stopped having any effect on me.
Then what may we do to bring you peace?
Announce in the entire kingdom, "Whosoever tells me the secret to being happy will be abundantly rewarded."
OUT IN THE OPEN IN THE TOWN, A PLACE FROM WHERE THEY MAKE ANNOUNCEMENTS AND ALL FOR THE WHOLE TOWN
A MESSENGER OF THE KING'S COURT MAKING AN ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ALL RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN
[Beats a drum to call everyone's attention first]
Hear, hear, O residents of UP, hear!
The king is in great sorrow. Because he cannot find happiness.
He has no dearth of things that give pleasure and comfort. But he is not able to experience happiness.
Celebrity, glory, fame, wealth, beautiful women, children, servants! But joy has, as though, suddenly fled away!
Whoever tells him how to be happy will receive limitless treasures and praise and fame.
Hear, hear, O countrymen!
OUR ANCHORS ARE BYSTANDERS TO THIS ANNOUNCEMENT AS THOUGH WITNESSING THE WHOLE PLAY OF LIFE AND MAKE SENSE OF IT FOR US
The king is not happy?
This is the talk of the town now. That the king is unhappy. He's depressed.
Anchor, how can that be? He who has everything doesn't have happiness?
THIS is the mystery of life. If happiness came from things, why would he have been unhappy?
If happiness could have been purchased, it would be selling in shops.
So, then, did someone tell him the way?
Upon hearing this announcement, a poor brahmin (saint) visited the palace to meet the king.
IN THE KING'S COURT
THE POOR BRAHMIN SEATED IN FRONT OF THE KING, WHO IS SURROUNDED BY HIS COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
There's one cure, O King.
If the king were to wear the shirt of man who was happy.
The king looks around, surveying the faces of the ministers, hoping one of them will appease with an abrupt excitement to the admittance of his own happiness,
but they all put their heads down in shame, as though caught off-guard red-handed.
The king (reading the expressions on his minister's faces)
Are not my ministers basking in joyous happiness?
Minister 1 (head down in guilty confession)
No, O great king.
Minister 2 (head down in guilty confession)
No, King. Far from it.
Why aren't they happy?
Every moment spent in the defense against royal politics, in fearing the king's anger, and in fearing the loss of all royal comforts, how can such a lot be happy?
King (turning to the brahmin)
Are you not happy?
He who a desire to get something, how can he be happy?
But my kingdom isn't short of happy people. I am sure. Go, get me the shirt of the richest merchant in the kingdom.
AT THE HOUSE OF THE RICHEST MERCHANT IN TOWN
THE MERCHANT AND THE KING'S MINISTER CONVERSE IN PRIVATE, BEING ATTENDED UPON BY THEIR ATTENDANTS WHO STAND FAR AWAY
You have complete monopoly over the market. You have influence over thousands of people. Is there still something you want?
You say it right, sir. But...until every lamp is lit with the oil I sell, every body covered with the cloth I sell,
every household the buyer of my brand, till then how can I stop wanting?
And if these desires are misery, then certainly, I am not a happy man.
If you want, you can have my shirt. That's not a problem. May be the king might get relief from his pitiable plight?
ON A DRAMA STAGE
Then the king's soliders went to the most celebrated actor.
It is another matter, though, that the guy had little to do with the skill and devotion required to perform.
ON A DRAMA STAGE
A MINISTER IN CONVERSATION WITH THE CELEBRATED ACTOR
Shirt? How many do you want?
Just one, Mr. Om.
No trouble at all! Take 10 or 15 if you like. I only wear a shirt once. I have thousands of them.
There's no actor equal of yours. You're a stalwart among other actors. Every mother sees a son in you.
Your admirers do not tire of doting over you. You have even obtained the highest honor that one can, in the country.
Damn right you are! But until people forget actors of the yesteryear, how can I have a moment of peace?
So what do you want then?
I want to see my picture wherever I look. On roads, every street, on milk bottles, me, me me everywhere! I want to win over everyone's heart.
And acting? (as in what about that? Don't you want to have anything to do with that?
Is that not on your list? Is it not on your agenda to want to get better at your craft?)
ON A DRAMA STAGE
A FAMOUS CRICKETEER IN A PHOTOSHOOT, MINISTERS WAITING TO THE FAR RIGHT FOR HIM TO BE RELIEVED SO THEY MAY TALK TO HIM
This picture of yours will be posted everywhere.
With the words, "Jeevan Sudha Ras! The great power giving tonic!"
People will go mad about you when they see this ad.
The cricketeer notices the minister.
Yes, sir, tell me?
If you're happy, then we want your shirt.
I was auctioned just yesterday. As the costliest player. Now, even my shirt does not belong to me.
OUT IN THE TOWN WHERE THE KING'S MESSENGER MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT
LIKE THE LEITMOTIF OF A SONG, THE TWO ANCHORS APPEAR AGAIN TO REMIND US OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE
One merchant pitted against another...
A poet jealous of another...
An actor unable to stand the success of another...
Some place, the students don't yield to the teacher.
Some place, the wife doesn't yield to the husband.
Some place, the husabd won't yeild to the wife.
Some place, the son doesn't yeild to the father.
Poverty, competition, jealousy.
Distress, disappointment, pain.
The king's soliders searched high and low, but they couldn't find a single happy soul in the entire kingdom.
Wherever they looked, they found people chasing after happiness.
We hear the sound of a drum beating and the announcer hollering again. The two anchors turn around to see.
Hear, O residents, hear! Any happy man who takes his shirt to the king will receive a huge reward.
Lo, it is now even being announced.
And if found that he has lied about being happy, will be punished severely.
Anchor, did the king find a happy man?
Actress, soliders and ministers were on the lookout.
One day, while searching, they reached a village. Heat-scorched and thirsty, they were dead tired.
MID-DAY, ON THE STREETS OF THE TOWN
TWO OF THE KING'S SOLDIERS WHO WERE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR A HAPPY MAN MOMENTARILY PARK FOR A DRINK OF WATER
In the search for a happy man, the king has made OUR lives miserable.
I don't get it, honestly. Is the whole of the world unhappy or what?
Tired and hopeless, the soldier runs a listless gaze around him, not hoping for anything in particular.
In his view appear the various citizens, busy at work with their typically non-descript countenances
unrevealing of the inner plight.
His gaze turns to another citizen, a cart-man sat by the side of his cart, having lunch in solitude.
Since their eyes meet, the soldier ejects a perfunctory inquiry.
How are you doing, bloke?
The soldier nods back in acknowledgement. It takes a while before it registers to him what the cart-man said.
He replays what he just heard from the cart-man in his head.
The soldier runs to him.
What did you say?
Hey, did you hear this? We found a happy man.
The other soldier also runs towards where the cart man is seated.
How many times should I repeat one sentence? Yes, I am happy.
But where's your shirt?
Did you not hear the announcement? The king wants a happy man's shirt.
But...I don't have a shirt.
What? You don't have a shirt? Then, how do you say you are happy?
My happiness does not come from shirt. I AM happiness itself.
THE KING'S COURT
O Provider, he says his happiness does not come from a shirt. And that he is happiness himself.
He's happy, but he doesn't have a shirt. So...(we can't bring you one).
Minister, get him here.
THE KING'S MINISTERS ARRIVE AT THE CART MAN'S. THE CART MAN'S NAME IS BOORA.
Why? Does the king need a ride on my cart? But he must have all kinds of elephants, horses, chariots...
Boora, he doesn't need a ride. He wants to you meet you.
But what will I do meeting him?
May be he wants to reward you?
And what will I do with that?
Perhaps you'll get happier? With the reward and all? Buy a shirt with that?
Sir, I am happy even without any shirt. And I know that wealth can only buy things?
But can those things give happiness? And for someone filled to the brim with happiness,
where is the room for more?
If the king wants to meet me, he can come here. I'll meet him.
THE KING'S COURT
The cart-man has refused to come here, O Provider.
If the Provider wishes (to meet him), Your Lordship will have to go there.
AT THE CART-MAN'S
And the king along with his caravan arrived at the cart-man's.
I won't be able to give you a ride just now. My bullocks are tired. They need rest.
Boora, the Provider is here to meet you.
Boora, whatever you ask for, I will give you. Elephants, horses, men and women servants, slaves, anything. Anything at all! But tell me the secret to happiness.
I am sleepy, king. Let me sleep now.
The king was astonished. The second time, he came again with big troupe.
AT THE CART MAN'S
Boora...elephants, horses, slaves, men and women servants, how so ever many you want, just ask! But at least tell me the secret to happiness, no?
King, I am happy without any of that nuisance. Come another time.
What the hell do you want, Boora! Just say the word. Try me!
Please at least tell me that secret of being happy, no?
Only a fool can try to tempt someone who is brimming with happiness already.
Go, king, go! Come again some other time.
The king went away. He couldn't wrap his around what exactly would make Boora talk. What did Boora want?
Then one day, suddenly, the king appeared alone in front of the cart-man.
AT THE CART MAN'S
Oh, you! You've come again?
Until you tell me the secret to happiness, I will keep bothering your majesty.
Can you scratch my back?
Leave it, let it go! Sit.
Had you come like this the first time, without all that haughtiness, you'd have saved yourself the trouble of scratching my back.
Ask. What do you want to know?
What kind of irony is this? One who owns a billion shirts has no peace of mind! And one without any is supremely happy?
King, it's the Self that is the source of all happiness, not a shirt (or any "thing").
He who realizes that the source of happiness is within, does not reach after objects outside in search of happiness.
But the mind always hankers after outside objects in order to gain happiness?
That is why, O king, he who comes face-to-face with his own Self, which is an embodiment of bliss, that person's outside search stops.
O king, the Self is an embodiment of bliss. Since the Self is limitless, so is its bliss limitless.
It is due to this bliss-nature of the Self that a person loves himself.
Have you ever thought about this? When a man is old, sick, feeble, with
death knocking at his door, still he wants to carry on living? Why?
Because every individual loves himself.
If the nature of the Self were unhappiness, would a person have loved himself so much?
Have you ever wondered why someone contemplates suicide?
What is the thought of suicide?
Why, under the siege of emotion, does one think of killing oneself?
The desire to kill oneself is also born out of love for one's own self.
When one cannot see a way out of misery and pain, out of ignorance,
one thinks that suicide will be the way out of it.
So much does a person love himself. That he is ready to kill himself.
If happiness is within, then why does man run around looking for it outside?
Because he loves himself.
Whatever a man desires -- wealth, wife, husband, son -- are all instruments or simply means and not the end. The end is happiness for himself.
One becomes ready to leave even that which he held dearest to him, if that object or person starts to give him unhappiness.
That is because: man loves himself only the most.
Whether a man is moving towards the attainment of worldy pleasures or away from them, it is all to the same end: his own happiness.
So much love for himself that either he will have all the world, or have none of it.
This self-love is proof of the bliss-nature of one's own real Self. Of one's own Soul.
If it wasn't this way, man would have loved pain and sorrow.
Unaware of the infinite well-spring of bliss within, we foolishly seek after small, fleeting pleasures outside.
Just as a king, unaware of his royalty, thinking himself to be a pauper, goes around begging for alms.
This is how strong the veil of ignorance is.
Therefore, O King, relations and objects of this world do not give permanent happiness.
But the joy born of beholding the Soul is eternal and infinite.
How is that permanent?
King, the joy experienced when seeing an object we desire is called "priya".
Upon obtaining the object, that joy grows manifolds. Such joy is named "mod."
When we partake of that object, that joy of intimacy with that object is much greater and is known as "pramod."
But as soon as we are separated from that object, that pleasure is gone.
Therefore, O king, the pleasure derived from the possession of objects and or relations of this world is transient.
But the joy of the Soul is both ever-lasting, that is, permanent and also infinite.
This discussion between Boora and the king went on for hours, which, in the Vedanta is documented under the title "Anand Mimamsa."
The kinds of joy, the circumstances in which joy arises, its source and the nature of happiness, Boora explained it all.
At the end, the king asked that question, which is perhaps in all of our minds just now.
O noble one, if I am that Self, whose bliss is independent of circumstance, and is inifite, then why don't I experience that infinite bliss all the time?
King, with the eyes closed, you only see darkness.
Likewise, so long as look for happiness in the objects of this world, you will be deprived of the joy of the Self.
The fault, therefore, is in perspective.
From outward, turn inward if you wish to experience that bliss.
So, anchor, does that mean that we search for happiness because we ARE happiness? So, we seek ourselves actually?
That's right, actress!
That is why we spend our entire lives searching for it.
What we ARE, we keep looking for.
We ARE bliss, therefore we expect it.
Not knowing this truth is the cause of unhappiness.
Therefore, actress, look not outside, but look inside.
THE KING'S COURT
The King's Ministers (in chorus)
Congratulations, O King, congratulations!
You look happy today.
Lord, a news reporter wishes to see you.
Usher (to the reporter)
O king, did you find the shirt then?
The king loses it again.
I...I...I will write against you.
I will expose you.
I will destroy your peace of mind.
ON A DRAMA STAGE
Viewers, this was the story of the unhappy king of Uttam Pradesh attaining happiness.
He didn't find the shirt, but he found the secret to happiness.
But have you...?
A constable on the beat enters the stage.
Hey, stop all this!
Move it. It's time to open the market here.
A swarm of street hawkers flood the stage peddling their wares.
An unintelligible hallaballoo from the street hawkers, each hollering his own wares
Lo, buy this, buy this.
This soap that makes you happy.
Buy this cream, it will make you happy. This necklace...
What's that leash around our necks that the scriptures talk about? Has someone put that around our
necks or have we put our necks inside the leash? Get to know in the next episode in the story of
"The Camel's Leash and Puranjan."