• Puja Shah

Different, But Equal

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai from Pexels

I was introduced to the Sadhu Vaswani Mission back in 2012 when I went to see a play named “Right Here, Right Now”. And instantly, I heard my inner voice speak, “Where else would you be if not right here, right now.” There is something in the air of this place. Every time you visit, it almost feels like you’ve been invited to make a pilgrimage into your own heart and life where the Supreme Power of this Universe resides.

It has been over 6 years since my association with this divine land and today I feel eternally blessed to bag this opportunity to write the script for a play to be performed at a special youth meet by Bridge Builders in honor of the 139th birth anniversary of the Mission’s Founder Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani.

His birthday is also observed as ‘International Meatless Day’, for a noble cause promoting “Stop All Killing”. The message for today is to love all life and have compassion in your hearts.

The Play: Different, But Equal


  • A judge (a funny looking character with a fat protruding belly)

  • A lawyer (the defendant – an arrogant personality who ups his tone every time he wants to make his point.)

  • Chicken (the complainant – the victim, the helpless, yet very calm and composed even while stating bold and strong statements.)

Scene: Lights turn on and the stage is set up to look like a courtroom. A lawyer and a cute little chicken (a child, wearing a chicken’s costume) are already standing on either side of the stage and waiting for the judge to arrive so they can put forth their case. A fat and funny looking judge sluggishly enters the courtroom. He drops a few things around while trying to take his seat; he has picked up some junk food on the way so he can eat while the proceedings are going on. Ironically, he is also carrying a diet coke. These elements add to the satire. He is very chaotic, clunky and shabby. Finally, he grabs his seat, yawns loudly and, wiping the sweat off his face asks for the proceedings to begin.

Judge: Prosecution… Defense… please proceed. And, remember you are under oath.

(The chicken comes forward and speaks first.)

Chicken: Thank you, Your Honor!

King Lear asks the Earl of Gloucester in a William Shakespeare play, “How do you see the world?” And, the blind man Gloucester replies, “I see it feelingly.”

My question is, shouldn’t we all see it that way?

Born into the same world, but have unequal rights. We are more than just meat that is red and white.

We do what we can to survive, while you hunt and kill to capitalize.

Insane acts of violence seem to be your culture, blood on your hands sending us to slaughter.

Staining and burning our flesh to claim ownership, branding us to secure your clothing brands to ship.

I represent my friends and family, the poor and the voiceless victims of consumerism and cannibalism.

Your honor, we have gathered in this courtroom today because tonight my fellow beings are screaming in terror in the slaughterhouses, in crates and in cages.

I am here to express while we still can, to seek with great hope, our one fundamental right, the RIGHT TO LIVE, and this can only happen if me, and my fellow beings are put off the menu cards.

Thank you, Your Honor.

(The judge looks impressed and now turns towards Defense attorney asking him to state his case.)

Judge: Defense?

Lawyer: Thank you, Your Honor.

(The lawyer slowly pulls something out of his pocket before he starts speaking. He creates suspicion. He holds up something that looks like a chocolate bar wrapped in an attractive wrapper. Indicating a bar that contains Egg as an ingredient, he then starts talking to the chicken notoriously.)

Here, do you recognize this? Maybe one of your brothers or sisters, yet unborn mixed into this delicious bar. You don't stand a chance today, Chikky! Want a bite?

(The chicken refuses and turns his face the other side. He tickles the chicken playfully to scare him, opens the wrapper and consumes it. Laughs loudly and wickedly.)

Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!

Since, the law doesn’t allow one to consume “alcohol” in this court of justice, I knew I could have a bit of a sugar rush to jazz-up my day because I had kind of guessed what this hearing would be like.

(He has finished his chocolate by now and he is ready to speak profoundly.)

Your honor, my point is that at no time in the history of human existence have we come across such a dumb, stupid and time wasting open and shut case. I mean, show me a chicken, a sheep or a cow who can do quantum physics and then I’ll think animals are on par with humans.

(Pauses and smirks. Then continues proudly.)

Taste plays a very important role in our choice of food. And I believe, humans are the supreme creation of God. He put us on top of the food chain for a purpose and I’m sure God is a wise man!

Me, and my fellow beings do not want to downplay our strengths, and why should we? Why should we consider ourselves equal to a fish, hen or a pig?

(Pauses and looks at the judge)

I rightfully enter a not guilty plea, Your Honor… on behalf of the “ENTIRE” human race!

Chicken: No, you show me a chicken, a sheep, or a cow who sends planes into skyscrapers, massacres 150 billion animals every year for taste pleasures and destroys the planet to the extent that we might soon need another one. Then I’ll think humans are on par with animals.

And, food chain? What is a food chain? One fine day, one of your guys decided to take out a pencil and draw a little diagram on a piece of paper and call that a food chain; where you put nobody, but yourself, for obvious reasons, on top of that “food chain”.

I think the question is not whether you’re at the top or anywhere else on that drawing. The bigger question is what do you do with that higher conscious energy and that power?

Do you choose to take a life or do you choose to live in love?

Lawyer: Look! We humans have a higher purpose than you do - all of you put together do. We are responsible for the growth and prosperity of this planet. We have to work hard, raise our nations and the world at large. So, it is extremely important for us to support our physical body and mental health.

For example, on any given day, I can’t function to the best of my abilities if I don’t feel healthy, emotionally and intellectually stable, and productive at work if I don’t have proper nutrients in my body.

(The judge interrupts and addresses the chicken politely, neutrally.)

Judge: That is true Prosecutor! Most of us have such fast-paced lives! Working late nights, waking up early in the morning, trying to lose weight. Oh no! Don’t look at me. There are always exceptions, you see!

But then, while rushing to work every morning… It is just so easy to find and grab a quick bite of your protein packed meat sandwich and savor some finger licking fish food.

(Grabs a bite of his sandwich while saying all this.)

(The lawyer continues.)

Lawyer: Exactly my point, Your Honor! Hey Chicky, all you have to do is clucking and chirping

(Makes the chicken sound - pak-pak-pak-pak-pakayk, immitates the chicken by running and jumping around and teases the chicken.)

Judge: Order! Order! Please maintain the decorum of this courtroom.

Lawyer: Oh Sorry, Your Honor I got a bit carried away!

(Addresses the chicken)

Do you even realize how much of our energies are spent on building world peace and uniting all nations?

Chicken: Your Honor and my dear defense lawyer, peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of justice. So, what the human race is doing to bring peace to the world is a debate for another day!

For centuries, you have been treating animals as just another species failing to realize that we are just like other nations. We are citizens of this world who are different, but still equal. You have raged a war on our land and murdered us for your pleasure.

Do you ever question, what are you putting in your body? Pain, carcass, suffering and fear. The dead?

(Strategic Pause.)

My dearest champion and defender of world peace, the peace map is first drawn on the menu.

Lawyer: It is not that simple. Your Honor, so many people are dependent on the meat industry. What will happen to them? If they sink, our economy will be doomed. People will become jobless, helpless and homeless. They won’t know where to go. I represent the industries, the employees and their families, your honor!

We need to look at this issue holistically and prioritize the health, well-being and prosperity of our people.

(The judge has started becoming serious by now and taking real interest in the case as the points of argument become stronger.)

Chicken: My friend, when we suffer, we suffer as equals. And, for the suffering, a dog, a pig, a fish... a boy… all are the same.

Animal meat, chicken and fish are like those 1p and 10p coins that cost more to make than they are worth.

By going meatless, you will actually help new industries and jobs flourish. Farmers are the ones who will gain the most. They will make so much money they won’t even bother counting. Health insurance premiums would drop. Hospital waiting lists would disappear.

Hell, you all would be so healthy; you’d have to shoot someone just to start a cemetery. (Smirks)

Your Honor, I want to give the defense lawyer only two last challenges and if he wins, I will rest my case. May, I?

(The judge nods in agreement.)

Challenge #1: The Cornell’s and Harvard’s of the world say that the optimum amount of meat in a healthy human diet is precisely ZERO. Animal-based food is rather popular for causing a range of heart diseases and cancers. Can you name one disease my friend that is plant based?

(The Judge and the lawyer think very hard but can’t come up with an answer.)

Challenge #2: The time has now come! World-over Animal Rights has become the greatest social justice issue since the abolition of slavery. You don’t have to believe me. I know that the court needs proof and witnesses. So I have brought with me honest of all men ever known to humanity to testify for me and my kind.

The AV Plays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKJWP5ru2MU

We just heard none other than the Saint of this Century, Dada J.P. Vaswani referring to our plight as “a condition of which the worst Nazi concentration camps would be ashamed of...”

(Strategic pause.)

Defense lawyer, would you still DARE to justify and defend your acts in the name of taste, health and environment protection?

(The lawyer puts his head down feeling ashamed. He is unable to speak due to remorse. But, the judge has been enlightened. He immediately speaks up and imparts his verdict.)

(The judge takes off his glasses, clears his throat and speaks in a serious tone.)

The Judge: I think that is all. We don’t need any more arguments and witnesses.

I feel, many of us are ready to love and sympathize with those who are close to us - relatives, friends, loved ones. We may go out of our way to help them - but when animals are involved, do we rush to their help, or do we simply turn away? This is the true test of compassion.

Rev. Dada J.P Vaswani has always referred to His Master, Sadhu Vaswani, as a Messiah of Compassion. His compassion was not restricted to human beings, it extended to all creatures. Sadhu Vaswani would say, "For me not to love birds and animals would be not to love the Lord. For His children are birds and animals, no less than human beings."

(Strategic pause.)

We have been committing a crime against humanity of unimaginable proportions. George Bush was wrong when he said, “The Axis of Evil runs through Iraq, Iran or North Korea. It runs through our dining tables. Weapons of mass destruction are our knives and forks.”

But, happily, the world is changing.

10 year ago, Twitter was a bird sound, www was a stuck keyboard, cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking space, Google was a baby’s burrp, Skype was a typo and Al Kaida was my plumber’s name.

I read the other day, there are over 600 million vegetarians in the world and that is bigger than the USA, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Australia combined!

The earth can produce enough food for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed. Sadhu Vaswani says: “Giving is living! For the health of the human body depends on its exhalations as well as its inhalations.”

(All stage lights start to dim and the spotlight slowly grows stronger on the blindfolded Lady Justice: Iustitia.)

Justice must be blind to race, color, religion, gender, or species. If she is not blind, she will be a weapon of terror.

Let us “Be Kind to Every Kind” and put the animals off our menus.

(The judge taps a gavel and stamps his verdict.)

(Stage lights go off completely by now and only the spotlight continues to shine on Lady Justice.)

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