Now this is the beginning of THE PARADISE OF THE WEST.
Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
IN THE PARADISE OF THE WESTAT THE TIME WHEN the Master uttered these
words in the hall of the potter at Rājagaha, Kāmanīta
awoke in the Paradise of the West.
Wrapped in a red mantle, whose rich drapings
flowed down about him, delicate and glistening as the
petals of a flower, he found himself sitting with crossed
legs on a huge, similarly coloured lotus blossom which
floated in the middle of a large lake.
On the wide expanse
of water such lotus flowers were to be seen everywhere,
red, blue and white; some as yet were mere buds, others,
although fairly developed, were still closed.
At the same time, however, countless numbers
were open like his own, and on almost every one a
human form was enthroned — their richly draped robes
seemed to grow up out of the petals of the flower.
On the sloping banks of the lake, in the greenest of
grass, there laughed such a wealth of flowers as made it
seem that all the jewels of earth had taken the form of
blossoms, and had been reborn there. Their luminous play
of colour they had retained, but the hard coat of mail they
had worn during their earthly existence they had exchang‐
ed for the soft and pliant, living vesture of plants. The
fragrance they exhaled, which was more powerful thanthe most splendid essence ever enclosed in crystal, in
keeping with this change, still possessed the whole
heartsome freshness of the natural perfume of flowers.
From this enchanting bank his enraptured glance
swept away between masses of splendid trees, some
loftily piercing the sky, others with broader summits and
deeper shade, many clad in rich emerald foliage. Numbers
of them were resplendent with jewelled blossoms, stand‐
ing now singly, now in groups, some forming deep forest
glades. Far upward he gazed — onto where craggy
heights of the most alluring description displayed their
graces of crystal, marble, and alabaster, here naked, there
covered with dense shrubbery or veiled in an airy drapery
of florets. But at one spot the groves and rocks disap‐
peared entirely to make room for a beautiful river, which
poured its waters silently into the lake, like a stream of
starry light.Over the whole region the sky formed an arch, the
deep blue of which grew deeper as it neared the horizon,
and under this dome hung white, massy cloudlets on
which reclined lovely gandharvas, celestial musicians,
who drew from their instruments the magic strains of
rapturous melodies that filled the whole of space.
But in that sky there was no sun to be seen and,
indeed, there was no need for any sun. For from the
cloudlets and the gandharvas, from the rocks and flowers,
from the waters and from the lotus blossoms, from the
garments of the Blessèd and, in even greater degree, from
their faces, a marvellous light shone forth. And, just as this
light was of radiant clarity — without, however, dazzling
in the least — so the soft, perfume‐laden warmth was
freshened by the constant breath of the waters, and the
inhaling of this air alone was a pleasure which nothing on
earth could equal.When Kāmanīta had grown accustomed to the
sight of all these splendours, so that they no longer over‐
powered him but began to seem like his natural surround‐
ings, he directed his attention to those other beings who,
like himself, sat round about on floating lotus thrones. He
soon perceived that those clad in red were male, those in
white were female, while of the figures wrapped in blue
robes some belonged to one, some to the other sex. But
all without exception were in the fullest bloom of youth,
and seemed to be of a most friendly disposition.
A neighbour in a blue cloak inspired him with
particular confidence, so that the desire to begin a conver‐
sation awoke within him.
"I wonder whether it is permissible to question this
radiant one?" he thought. "I would so much like to know
where I am."
To his great astonishment the reply came at once,
without a sound, and without even the faintest movement
of the blue‐clad figure's lips."You are in Sukhavatī, the abode of bliss."
Unconsciously Kāmanīta went on with his unspo‐
ken questioning."You were here, sacred one, when I opened my
eyes, for my glance fell at once upon you. Did you awake
at the same time as I, or have you been here long?"
"I have been here from time immemorial," an‐
swered the neighbour in blue, "and I would believe that I
had been here for all eternity, if I hadn't so often seen a
lotus open and a new being appear — and also because
of the mysterious perfume of the Coral Tree.""What is there special about that perfume?""That you will soon discover for yourself. The
Coral Tree is the greatest wonder of this Paradise."The music of the heavenly gandharvas — which
seemed quite naturally to accompany this soundless
conversation, adapting itself with its melodies and strains
to every succeeding sentence as if to deepen its meaning
and to make clear what the words could not convey — at
these words wove a strangely mystical sound‐picture. And
it appeared to the listening Kāmanīta as if in his mind end‐
less depths revealed themselves, in whose shadows dim
memories stirred without being able to awaken.
"The greatest wonder?" said he, after a pause. "I
imagined that of all wonderful things here the most won‐
derful was that splendid stream which empties itself into
our lake.""The Heavenly Gangā," nodded the blue.
"The Heavenly Gangā," repeated Kāmanīta dream‐
ily and again there came over him, only in added degree,
that feeling of something which he ought to know and yet
was not able to know; which the mysterious music
seemed to seek, in the profoundest depths of his own
being, as if for the sources of that stream.IN A GASP OF astonishment Kāmanīta now
noticed that a white figure, throned not far from him
on her lotus flower, suddenly seemed to grow upward.
The mantle, with its piled‐up mass of folds and corners,
unrolled itself until it flowed down in straight lines
from her shoulders to the golden border. And even
this no longer touched the petals of the flower — the
figure swept away untrammelled over the pond, up the
bank and disappeared between the trees and shrubbery.
***********to be continued****************
Edited by yawares