Act III is played out in 'real time' (though extended in
Siddharta's 'revelation' to a kind of 'augmented present').
Yasodara has given birth to a son. One afternoon, she and Siddharta are sitting with some
friends in the garden. They are being entertained by the sorceress, Mragatrashana, played
by the dancer, Amra. While Amra dances, her sister recounts an old legend about the boy
who loved Kairia, who turned out to be the Princess Schirma. Siddharta himself enters into
the story and begins to wonder about the complicated pattern of roles: Kairia, who is
Schirma, played by Mragatrashana, played by Amra! And who is playing Amra, he asks?
Imagine what it would be like if all around him were playing roles!
As the story continues, Siddharta becomes more and more disturbed. It turns out that Amra
is ill, and she collapses while dancing. Her distraught sister cries that now they must
all go away - "down into Hell". At first, Siddharta understands nothing, but
suddenly the truth is vouchsafed to him. He sees three visions, in which he experiences
sickness, old age and death.
Prajapati arrives on the scene and realises that the moment she has been waiting for (and
fearing) has now come; she informs the Prince of the deception arranged by his father to
protect him. She opens up the prisons, and Siddharta sees the victims of the creation of
this artificial paradise.
Siddharta now realises that he must leave, and even though Suddhodana begs him to stay and
Yasodara entreats him to take her with him, his mind is made up. He takes his leave of all
who have deceived him, removes his princely garb and leaves the palace at the setting of