King Rama the Seventh adopted and promoted KAMANITA AND VASITTHI as his ‘chosen literary work for the nation’.
It was used as part of the standard high school textbook on Thai literature. This love story so popular it became TV series.
Kamanita And Vasitthi
[~By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE SHAVEN‐HEADED MONK
One morning, I sat in a large room which lay on the shady side of the house and which was set apart for the transaction of all business matters. For that reason it over‐looked the courtyard, an arrangement which enabled me to keep under my own eye everything relating to the administration of my affairs.
Before me stood a trusted servant who had, for a number of years, accompanied me on all my journeys and to whom I was giving exact instructions with regard to the taking of a caravan to a somewhat distant spot. Along with these directions I was, of course, describing to him the best mode of disposing of his wares when he got there, the produce he had to bring back with him, the business connections he was to form and other similar matters, for it was my intention to give him full charge of the expedition.
Suddenly I saw my two wives at the front gate, spoke angrily to a wanderer belonging to some ascetic school and a man of strikingly lofty stature, stood still beside the gate‐post in an attitude of easy repose. His robe, of the amber colour of the Kanikāra flower and not unlike your own, fell in picturesque folds over his left shoulder to his feet, and gave the impression of covering a powerfully built body. The right arm, which hung limply down, was uncovered and I could not help admiring the huge coil of muscles, which rather seemed to be the well‐earned possession of a warrior than the idle inheritance of an ascetic; and even the clay alms‐bowl appeared to be as strange and incongruous in his hand as an iron bludgeon in that same hand would have seemed to be in its proper place. His head was bent, his gaze fixed on the ground, his mouth absolutely without expression, and he stood motionless there as though some masterly artist had hewn the statue of a wandering monk in stone, had painted and clothed it, and that I had thereupon caused it to be set up at my gate — as if it were a symbol of my liberality. This tranquillity of his, which I held to be meekness .
Then I went up to the wanderer, bowed respectfully before him and begged him not to be mad at my hot-temper wives. And I said: "I will fill your alms‐bowl myself with the best this house has to offer, Honoured Sir. How fortunate that the bowl is as yet empty! I will fill it so that it cannot contain another morsel and no neighbour shall, this day, earn merit by feeding you. You have indeed not come to the wrong door, Venerable One; and I believe the food will be to your taste, for it is a proverbial saying in Ujjenī: "His table is like the merchant Kāmanīta's," and I am he.
Whereupon he answered, and with no appearance of unfriendliness: "How could I be angry at such abuse, O head of this house, seeing as how it is my duty to be grateful for even far coarser treatment? Once, in the past, I took myself with robe and alms‐bowl into a town to receive food from the charitable, as is our custom. But in that town, Māra, the Evil One, had just then stirred up the brahmins and the householders against the Order of the Buddha — 'Away with these so‐called virtuous, noble‐minded ascetics! Abuse them, insult them, drive them away, pursue them.' And so it happened, as I passed along the street a stone flew at my head; next a broken dish struck me in the face and a stick which followed half crushed my arm. But when, with head all cut and covered with blood, with broken bowl and torn robe I returned to the Master, his words were: 'Bear it, brahmin! Bear it! For you are experiencing here and now the result of deeds because of which you might have been tortured in hell for many years, for many hundreds of years, for many thousands of years.'"
At the first sound of his voice, there quivered through me from head to foot a flash of horror and, with every additional word, an icy coldness penetrated deeper into the very recesses of my being. For it was, brother, the voice of Angulimāla, the robber — how could I doubt it? And when my convulsive glance fixed itself on his face, I recognised it also: although his beard formerly went up almost to his eyes and his hair had grown down deep into his forehead, and whereas he now stood completely clean‐shaven before me. But only too well did I recognise again the eyes under those bushy, coalescing eyebrows, although instead of darting flashes of rage at me, as in those former days, they now looked kindness itself; and the sinewy fingers which encircled the alms‐bowl — they were assuredly the same that had once clutched my throat like devilish talons.
"How, indeed, could I grow angry at abuse?" my gruesome guest went on, "Has not the Master said: 'Bhikkhus, even if robbers and murderers were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a two‐handled saw, one who gave rise to a mind of hatred on that account would not be carrying out my teachings.'"
When I, brother, heard these words, with their diabolically concealed yet to me so evident threat, my legs shook under me and to such a degree that I had to hold on to the wall in order not to fall down. With the greatest difficulty I managed to pull myself together so far as to indicate to the robber‐ascetic, more by gesture than by my few stammered words, that he was to have patience until I should procure him the food. Then I hurried, as rapidly as my shaking legs would carry me, straight across the courtyard into the large kitchen.Here I chose, with no less haste than care, the best and most savoury morsels. Armed with a golden ladle and followed by a whole troop of servants bearing dishes, I dashed again into the courtyard in order to give alms-food to my terrible guest. But Angulimāla had disappeared.
HALF‐SWOONING, I SAT down upon a bench. My brain, however, began to work again at once. Angulimāla had been there, of that there could be no doubt; and the reason for his coming was only too clear to me. How many tales had I heard of his implacability and greed for vengeance! In the disguise of an ascetic he had succeeded in leisurely surveying the places in the neighbourhood and, without doubt, had resolved to act that same night. Even if he had by any chance perceived that I recognised him, he dared not delay,he might attack at night.
**************To be continued*************
Edited by yawares