Kamanita And Vasitthi
[[~By KARL GJELLERUP]
THEN THE MASTER awoke in the grey dawn
he saw Kāmanīta busy rolling up his mat, hanging his
gourd over his shoulder and looking round for his staff,
which he hadn’t at once been able to see in the corner
in which he’d placed it, owing to its having fallen down
While thus engaged, there was in his every movement
the appearance of a man in a great hurry.
The Master sat up and gave him a friendly greeting:
“Are you going already, brother?”
“Oh yes, yes!” called out Kāmanīta, full of excitement,
“just think, it’s hardly to be believed — such rare good fortune!
A few minutes ago I awoke and felt my throat quite
parched after all the talk of yesterday. I
jumped up and went to the well just across the way,
beneath the tamarinds. A maiden was standing there
drawing water. And what do you suppose I learn from her.
The Master isn’t in Sāvatthi at all. But can you imagine
where he is? Yesterday, accompanied by three hundred
monks, he arrived here in Rājagaha! And at this very
moment he is in the Mango Grove on the far side of town.
In an hour, maybe less,I shall see him. It is only a good half‐
hour to there, the maiden said, if you don’t go through the
main streets but run through the lanes and squares to the
west gate... I can scarcely believe it. The ground burns
beneath my feet — farewell, brother! You have meant well
by me, and I shall not fail to bring you also to the Master,
but now I really cannot delay a moment longer!”
And the pilgrim Kāmanīta dashed out of the hall and
ran away along the street as fast as his legs would
carry him. But when he reached the city gate of Rajagaha
it was not yet open and he was obliged to wait for a short
time - time which seemed to him an eternity and which
raised his impatience to the highest pitch.
As soon, then, as the gate was opened he dashed
recklessly away in the direction indicated. so utterly was
he possessed by the one thought that soon, so wonderfully
soon, he should see the Buddha.
"What rare fortune!" he said to himself, "how many
generations pass and have no Buddha who sojourns on
the earth in their time; and of the generation that has a
Buddha for its contemporary, how few ever behold him.
Filled with such thoughts, he turned into a narrow
little lane. In his foolish onward rush he failed to observe
that from the other end of it a cow, mad with fear from
some cause or other, was dashing towards him, and he
failed also to notice that while several people in front of
him fled into a house, others concealed themselves behind
a projecting bit of wall — nor did he hear the shout with
which a woman standing on a balcony tried to warn him
— but he dashed on, with his eyes fixed on the pinnacled
tower, which was to prevent his taking some wrong turning.
Only when it was too late to get out of the way did
he see with horror the steaming nostrils, the bloodshot
eyes and the polished horn which, the next instant, drove
deep into his side. With a loud scream he fell down by the wall.
The cow dashed onward and then disappeared into another street.
People instantly hurried up, in part from curiosity,
in part to help. The woman who had warned him brought
water with which to cleanse the wound. They tore up his
robe to make a bandage and, if possible, to staunch the
blood which gushed forth as if from a fountain.
Kāmanīta had hardly lost consciousness for an instant.
It was clear to him at once that this meant death.
But neither that knowledge nor the agonies he was endu‐
ring were such torture to him as the fear that he might not
now see the Buddha. In a deeply agitated tone of voice he
begged the bystanders to carry him to the Mango Grove:—
To the Master.
"I have journeyed so far, friends, I was so near my
goal. Have pity upon me, don't delay to carry me there.
Don't think of the pain to me, have no fear that I shall sink
under it — I shall not die until you have laid me down at
the feet of the Blessèd One; then I shall die happy, and
happily rise again."
Some of them ran to fetch poles and a stretcher.
A woman brought a strengthening draught of which
Kāmanīta took a few mouthfuls. The men were divided as
to which way was the shortest to the hall of the Sangha in
the Mango Grove, for every step would make a difference.
It was clear to all that the seeker's life was ebbing fast.
"Here come some disciples of the Blessèd One,"
cried a bystander, pointing along the little lane, "they will
best be able to tell us."
And, in fact, several bhikkhus of the Order of the
Buddha were approaching, clad in ochre robes. Most of
them were young men but at their head walked two
venerable figures — a grey‐haired man whose earnest, if
somewhat severe face, with its piercing eye and powerful
chin, involuntarily attracted attention to itself, and a
middle‐aged man whose features were illumined by such
a heart‐winning gentleness that he almost had the appear‐
ance of a youth. Yet an experienced observer might, in his
bearing and somewhat animated movements, as also in his
flashing glances, have detected the inalienable character‐
istics of the warrior caste, while the deliberate calm of the
older man no less revealed the born brahmin. In loftiness
of stature and princely carriage they were, however, alike.
**************to be continued***************
Edited by yawares