Today's Beautiful Gem: First part of "The Last Illusion"-- An episode from
the play "The Mahabharata" by Jean-Claude Carriere.

" *** Yudhishthira appears, aged, shivering with cold, exhausted
by a long climb. He holds a dog in his arms. An imperious
voice, that of Vyasa, asks: ***

Messenger (M): Who has come as far as this? Who are you?
Yudhishthira (Y): I am Yudhishthira. I am looking for the gate
of paradise.
M: It's here. Are you alone?
Y: Yes, we decided to leave the earth, my brothers and Draupadi,
but while climbing the mountain they slipped. One after the
other they fell into the abyss-- the twins, Draupadi, even Arjuna,
even Bhima. I've come here alone.
M: Your kingdom has known thirty-six years of hapiness. You have
proved yourself to be the best of kings, your place is amongst us.
Leave this dog and enter.
Y: I can't leave this dog.
M: Why?
Y: He has followed me ever since I left the city.
M: Dogs don't enter here. Leave him.
Y: No, he has come all this way with me, we go in together.
M: Paradise isn't open to dogs! Leave him behind, it's no cruelty.
Your brothers are here already. Enter, come and join them, leave
this dog.
Y: Abandon a creature who loves me, who's alone and defenseless?
I can't.
M: You've given up everything, give up this dog. Otherwise you won't
pass this door.
Y: I'll stay outside with the icy wind with this dog.

*** The Guardian-Messenger-- who is, in fact, Vyasa-- invites
Yudhishthira to enter saying: ***

Vyasa (V): Enter. The dog is another form of Dharma, your father.
Once, a long time ago, he took the shape of a lake, you remember?
He has always followed and observed you. Enter the inconceivable
region with him.
Y: Can I go in with my body?
V: Yes come.

*** Yudhishthira steps over the threshold of paradise. Suddenly
Duryodhana appears before him, smiling, splendidly dressed,
accompanied by Dusshasana, also smiling. They are holding
cups of wine. ***

Y: Is that Duryodhana?
V: Yes.
Y: He's here?
V: He's here with his brothers, with all his family.
Y: Millions of men died because of him and he's here? He drinks?
He smiles? He seems happy?
V: He is happy. He's calm. Here, all hates vanish. Kiss him!
Y: Don't ask me to kiss him. I can't. If this murderer is here,
where are my brothers? Where is our wife? What is paradise if
I'm separated from my family? I want to see them.
V: I'll show them to you, follow me. "

Om Santih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao