Kamanita And Vasitthi
[~By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE DEEP THOUGHT
Fear made me cold. Yet how was that possible? Was I, after all, the victim of some illusion when I recognised Angulimāla in that wanderer? Again and again I asked myself the question, but that I could not believe. And yet if it were he, he would be sure to come this night — he would certainly not have appeared at my house in his very clever disguise without a purpose, only to disappear again as though the earth had swallowed him. The drowsy crowing of a young cock, in the courtyard nearby, woke me out of my brooding. The constellation that I sought, I was now scarcely able to find, several of its stars having already sunk beneath the tree‐tops. All the other groups, with the exception of those that stood highest in the heavens, had lost their clear twinkling. There was no longer room for doubt; the grey dawn was already heralding its coming and an attack by Angulimāla was absolutely out of the question. But of all the strange things that I had experienced this night, the strangest came now.The recognition of my immunity was at first accompanied by a feeling of disappointment, rather than any feeling of relief because of the disappearance of all danger.But a new thought had suddenly arisen and possessed me utterly:
"What do I really need those robbers for?" I had longed for their torches and pitch garlands to come and free me from the burden of this magnificent property. There are people, however, who of their own free will divest themselves of their possessions and lay hold of the wandering seeker's staff. As a bird, whither‐soever it flies, flies bearing only its wings and is content with these, so also it is with the spiritual seeker — they are content with a robe to cover the body and with alms‐food to sustain health and life. And I have heard them say in praise of that life: "The household life is crowded and dusty; wide open, like the free air of heaven, is the life of one gone forth."
I had called upon the swords of the robbers to kill this body. But if this body crumbles into dust, a new one is formed; and out from the old life goes forth a new one as its fruit. What type of life would go forth from mine? It is true that Vāsitthī and I solemnly swore by yonder Heavenly Gangā, whose silver waves feed the lotus ponds of the Western Paradise, that we would meet in those Fields of the Blessèd. And with that vow there was formed, as she said, for each of us there in the crystal waters of the sacred sea, a life bud: a bud that would grow by every pure thought, every good deed, but at which everything low and unworthy in our lives would gnaw like a worm.
Ah! I felt mine must have been gnawed utterly away long ago. I had looked back over my life; it had grown unworthy. Unworthiness would go forth from it. What would I have gained by such an exchange? But there are, as we know, people who before they leave this life, destroy every possibility of rebirth on earth and who win the steadfast certainty of eternal bliss. And these are the very people who, forsaking everything, adopt the wandering seeker's life. Freed alike from fear and hope, I felt a great calm. In this peace I assuredly experienced a foretaste of the joy which is theirs who have reached the spiritual seeker's Goal. I now decided without fear or vacillation to journey shelterless and on foot to the end of my days, content to take things as they came.
Without once going back into the house I went straight away to a shed lying between the garden and courtyard, where all kinds of tools were kept. There I took an ox‐goad and cut the point off it, in order to use it as a staff; and I hung over my shoulder a gourd‐bottle, such as the gardeners and field‐workers carried. At the well in the courtyard I filled the gourd, upon which the house‐steward approached me.
"Angulimāla and his robbers will not come now,
Master! Will they?"
"No, Kolita, they will not come now."
"But, Master — are you going out already?"
"Even so, Kolita, I go. And of this very matter I desire to speak with you. For I go the way now that people call the way of the noblest birds of passage. From this way, however, Kolita there is no return for one who perseveres in it — no return to this world after death, how much less to this house during life. But the house I give into your care, for you have been faithful unto death. Administer the house and fortune until my son attains to manhood. Give my love to my father, my wives, my little girls and the boy, and — farewell!"
After I had thus spoken and freed my hand from the good Kolita, who covered it with kisses and tears, I walked towards the gate, and at the sight of the gate‐post beside which the figure of the wanderer had stood, I thought: "If its likeness to Angulimāla was but a vision, then I certainly have read the vision right!" Quickly, and without looking back, I went through the suburb with its gardens. Before me the desolate, far‐reaching country road lay stretched out in the first grey shimmer of the dawn, as if it went on and ever on for all eternity.
Thus, Venerable One, did I adopt the life of homelessness.
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***************To be continued*****************
Edited by yawares