25 May 1973
On Friday evening we journeyed to the Old Mill Farm for the highlight of the weekend: the production of Guru’s volume of plays entitled Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha, to which former United Nations Secretary-General U Thant had been invited as guest of honour. Several boys had spent days constructing a large blue and yellow stage designed like a Buddhist temple with the Centre seal at the top.
Others had provided extensive sound and lighting equipment. Undeniably, it was a chilly and rainy evening. Yet Puerto Rican disciples, accustomed to glorious sunshine and temperatures in the 90’s, cheerfully bundled themselves up as well as possible and joined the other disciples seated on plastic sheets covering the large lawn. To begin the program Guru sang the chant Buddham Saranam Gacchami. All were silent and oblivious of the light drizzle as Guru then garlanded the former Secretary-General and spoke sublimely about the Buddha, known as the Light of Asia, and about his chosen son, U Thant. U Thant offered his gratitude to Guru and expressed his admiration for the plays, which he had already read. He voiced his hope that the two great religions, Buddhism and Hinduism, would find their truths accepted by leaders of men throughout the world; and he wished us all eternal joy. All were inspired by this profound meeting or two world leaders, and the plays began.
The cast, featuring Kanan (N.Y.) as the Buddha, overcame the cold and rain and offered a moving and soulful performance. The plays trace the Buddha’s life from his youth as the innocent Prince Siddhartha to the hour of his death as the deeply beloved spiritual Master. A tree near the stage had been incorporated into the set, and it became the Bodhi Tree, where Siddhartha achieving his supreme enlightenment, became the Buddha. After the last play, which left the Buddha on his deathbed with his dearest disciple at his feet, all the performers returned to the stage and placed flowers around a garlanded golden statue of the Buddha, and Kanan offered a bouquet to U Thant.
It was a moment — and indeed, an evening — recorded forever in the book of spiritual history.
[The next evening] ... Guru blessed the cast of the Buddha plays and their director, Tanima (N.Y.), as well as the boys ... who had built the stage.
U Thant addresses Sri Chinmoy and the disciples before the performance of Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha.
Published in Chinmoy Family, Volume IV, Number 2, May/June 1973, pages 6 & 7