Kamanita And Vasitthi
[[Translated ~By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE TRIP TO KOSAMBI
Everything ran as smoothly on the present journey as on my first one, and one beautiful morning I entered
Kosambī, half‐crazed with joy. I was soon aware, however, of a huge throng of people in the streets, and my
progress became ever slower until at length, at a spot where we had to cross the chief thoroughfare of the town,
our train of wagons was brought to a complete standstill.It was literally impossible to force our way through the
crowd, and I now noticed that this main street was magnificently decorated with flags, carpets draped from the windows and balconies, and festoons hung from side to side over the road, as if for some pageant. Cursing with
impatience, I asked those who stood in front of me what was taking place. “Why!” they cried out, “don’t you know? Today Sātāgira, the son of the Minister of State, is celebrating his marriage."
Sātāgira celebrating his marriage was welcome news to me, because his seeking the hand of my Vāsitthī in marriage would have been, along with the ill‐favour of her parents, one of the greatest hindrances to our union. So the waiting did not displease me, especially in the realisation that it could not last long for already we were able to see the lances of a cavalry division which moved slowly past amid the deafening cheers of the crowd. The people told me that these horsemen now enjoyed great popularity in Kosambī,because it was chiefly they who had destroyed Angulimāla's band.
Almost directly behind them came the beautifully decorated elephant carrying the bride— beyond all question a stupendous sight. Then I heard one woman say to another: "But the bride — she doesn't look at all happy!" Hardly conscious of what I did, I glanced upward,and a strange feeling stole over my heart as I caught sight of the figure sitting there under the purple
baldachin. Figure, I say because I couldn't see the face. But a figure seemed as if in that mass of rainbow‐coloured muslins. The way in which she swayed hither and thither at every movement of the animal, whose powerful strides caused the curtained structure on his back to rock rhythmically to and fro, had something unutterably sad, something to make one shudder in it. There was real cause to fear that she might at any moment plunge headlong downward. Some such idea may have occurred to the maiden sitting behind her, for she laid her hand on the shoulder of the bride and bent forward, possibly to whispera word of encouragement in her ear.
An icy fear all but crippled me as, in the supposed maid of honor, I recognised.. Medinī.And before this suddenly awakened foreboding had time to grow clear within me, Sātāgira's bride raised her head It was my Vāsitthī.
THE HEARTBREAK : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gOrrjnXwrE
When I came to my senses again the end of the procession was just passing us. My fainting so suddenly was ascribed to the heat and to the crush of people. Utterly without power of volition, I allowed myself to be taken to the next caravanserai. There I lay down in the darkest corner, with my face to the wall, and remained in the same position for many days, bathed in tears and refusing all food. To our old servant and caravan leader, the same that had accompanied me on my first journey, I gave directions to sell all our wares as quickly as possible if necessary, even on the most unfavourable terms —as I was too ill to attend to any business. In truth, I was able to do nothing but brood upon my inconceivable loss;in addition to which I did not wish to show myself in the town, lest I should be recognised by someone. Before all things, I desired to keep Vasitthi from learning anything of my presence in Kosambi.
Her picture as I last saw her floated unceasingly before my vision. True, I was indignant at her fickleness,
or rather at her weakness, for I could not fail to realise that only the latter came into question, and that she had not been able to withstand the pressure brought to bear upon her by her parents. That she had not turned her heart to the triumphant son of the Minister was made evident plainly enough by her attitude and appearance. But when I remembered her as she had sworn eternal fidelity to me, standing in the Krishna grove with her whole face transfigured, I did not understand how it was possible for her to yield so soon; and I cursed to myself, sighing bitterly in my despair:— On women's oaths no reliance was to be placed.
Yet always that face full of deepest misery rose before me — and in a moment all resentment was dispelled and only tenderest compassion went surging forth to meet it. So I firmly made up my mind not to add to her troubles by allowing any news of my presence in Kosambi to come to her ears. Never again should she learn anything of me.
Fortunately circumstances rendered it possible for my old servant, in an unexpectedly short time, to exchange or sell our wares to great advantage so that, after only a few days, I was able to leave Kosambī with my caravan very early one morning. When I passed the western gate on my way out, I turned to take a last look at the city — within whose walls I had lived through so much joy and sorrow that the place could never be forgotten.
THE COMPANION OF SUCCESS
THE END OF THE MATTER was that I continued to reside in the house of my parents in Ujjenī.
"As all the world knows, stranger, this my native town is famed throughout Jambudvīpa as much for its revels and unstinted enjoyment of life, as for its shining palaces and magnificent temples.But of all the glories of Ujjenī, none enjoy a reputation so extraordinary as do its courtesans. From the great ladies who live in palaces — building temples to the gods,laying out public parks for the people, and in whose reception‐rooms one meets poets, artists and actors, distinguished strangers and occasionally even princes. All courtesans are beautiful with softly swelling limbs and indescribable grace. At all the great festivals, in processions and exhibitions, they form the chief adornment of the beflagged and flower‐strewn streets. In crimson saris with fragrant wreaths in their hands, the air about them heavy with delicious perfumes, their dresses sparkling with diamonds:— Do you see them, brother? Sitting on their magnificent grandstands or moving along the streets with glances full of love, seductive gestures and playfully laughing words, everywhere fanning the heated senses of the pleasure‐seekers to living flame.Honoured by the King, worshipped by the people,sung of by the poets, they are aptly named "The many‐coloured floral crown of the rock‐enthroned Ujjenī,"
Desiring to drown the grief that was eating away my life, the golden cup of pleasure, filled to the brim with its intoxicating Lethe draughts of forgetfulness, was freely raised to my lips by the fair hands of this joyous sisterhood. I became a favoured guest of the great courtesans.Thus madly did I dive deep down into the rushing whirl of the pleasures of my native city, and it became, O stranger, a proverbial saying in Ujjenī: "As fast as young Kāmanīta."
Then I resolved to become the richest man in Ujjenī and, to this end, to devote myself with all my strength to
the traffic of caravans of goods. I carried out my resolutions; I was able, without ridiculous foolhardiness, to carry to a successful conclusion enterprises which another would never have dared to venture upon. And so it was these that I now purposely selected, no longer condescending to the ordinary routes. As a result, when I conducted a large caravan to a town to which, for months, no other merchant had been able to proceed because powerful bands of robbers had cut off the district from all contact with the outer world, I found the inhabitants so desperately anxious to buy my wares that I was at times able to dispose of these at ten times the usual profit. So several years passed, during which the various delights of my pleasure‐loving native city alternated healthily with the hardships of business journeys, rich indeed in dangers but nevertheless by no means barren of pleasure, in spite of all perils. In strange cities I always resided with a courtesan to whom I was as a rule recommended by some mutual friend — some one of the fair ones of Ujjenī — and who not only played the part of
hostess but, as often happened, formed my business connections for me very shrewdly as well.
***********************To be continued*******************
Edited by yawares