Moksha: Ravana’s monologue
Joshua Salomon Gannon
What achievement is this? Moksha? I have been defeated, but I feel no pain. I have been disgraced, overthrown, yet I feel no shame. The arrow in my chest afflicts me not at all. I am like a mountain lake at midnight, utterly becalmed, without the tiniest ripple.
This is not a blessing. You must understand, oh people, that this so-called release from birth, death, and rebirth to me is like being banished forever from my homeland. The highest levels of Indra’s shining city seem dull to me after seeing Lanka in its splendour. This dim, formless place has no suffering, perhaps, but no pleasures either.
The irony is, to most humans, this refuge from the physical world would be a boon. But to a raksasa like myself, it is simply a grander punishment, preventing me from ever tasting the pleasures of life as I once did. It is no sin to refuse the idea of the earth as a vale of tears. I, of course, went far beyond that, but most of my city’s men and women knew how to live and die in all but unbroken streams of pleasure. Our whole civilisation rode on the strengths of my former austerities, and our delights harmed no one until thoughts of Sita drove me to distraction and error. If I had only refused that one act, that one disruption of the flow of young Rama’s life, I could have died in my bed, loved and lamented by my women and ministers, and feared even in death by my enemies. Now I sit here, and I cannot even feel self-pity or
nostalgia for the earth. . .
I am sated, but it brings me no joy, no sadness. I have struck a balance I never wished to strike in life, and if I were yet alive, it would confound me with fear. But here in this place of utter neutrality, I find only the watery twilight between my accustomed extremes, and like an unfamiliar bed, I can find no comfort here.
Joshua Salomon Gannon studied theatre at Hampshire College. Ravana’s monologue was written and performed for a class on the Ramayana. He wishes to acknowledge his professors, Talya Kingston, and his wonderful visiting professor Arshia Sattar. His blog, http://transpersonaltheatre.wordpress.com/.