Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE CORAL TREE
KĀMANĪTA FOLLOWED THEM long with his eyes
and wondered. And then he wondered at his wonder.
"How does it happen that everything here seems so
strange to me? If I belong to this place, why doesn't every‐
thing appear perfectly natural? But every new thing I see is
a puzzle and fills me with astonishment. For example, this
fragrance that now floats past me so suddenly? How
absolutely different it is from all other flower scents here
— much fuller and more powerful, attracting and disquiet‐
ing at the same time. Where can it come from? But where
do I myself come from? It seems to me as though I was,
only a short time ago, a mere nothing. Or did I have an
existence? Only not here? If so, where? And how have I
While he revolved these questions in his mind, his
body had risen up from the meadow, without his perceiv‐
ing it, and he was already floating onward — though not
in a direction taken by any of the others. He made his way
upwards towards a depression in the crest of the hill. As
he passed over it he was greeted by a yet more powerful
breath of that new and strange perfume.
Over the pinnacles of the rocks and the summit of
the tree rose the deep blue sky in which not a single cloud
was to be seen. Nor did the music of the gandharvas
penetrate in any appreciable degree to this spot — what
still trembled in the air seemed to be but a memory of
melodies heard in the long past.
There were but three colours to be seen in the
valley: the cerulean blue of the heavens, the malachite
green of the rocks, the coral red of the tree. And only one
perfume — that mysterious fragrance, so unlike all others,
of the crimson flowers which had led Kāmanīta there.
Almost immediately the wonderful nature of that
perfume began to show itself.
As Kāmanīta inhaled it here, in the dense form in
which it filled the whole basin, his consciousness became
suddenly brightened. It overflowed and broke through the
barriers which had been raised about him from the time of
his awakening in the lake until the present.
His past life lay open before him.
He saw the hall of the potter where he had sat in
conversation with that foolish Buddhist monk; he saw the
little lane in Rājagaha through which he had hurried and
the cow tearing towards him — then the horrified faces
round about and the golden‐clad monks themselves. And
he saw the forests and the country roads of his spiritual
wanderings, his palace and his two wives, the courtesans
of Ujjenī, the robbers, the grove of Krishna and the Terrace
of the Sorrowless with Vāsitthī, his father's house, and
the children's room...
And behind that he saw another life, and yet
another, and still another, and ever others, as one sees a
line of trees on a country road until the trees become
points and the points blend into one strip of shadow.
At this, his brain began to reel.
At once he found himself in the cleft again, like a
leaf that is driven by the wind. For on the first time, no
one can bear the perfume of the Coral Tree for long, and
the instinct of self‐preservation bears everyone away from
there at the first sign of dizziness.
As he, by and by, moved more quietly through the
open valley, Kāmanīta pondered — "Now I understand
why the white‐robed one said she imagined I had not yet
been to the Coral Tree. For I certainly could not imagine
then what they had meant by 'dream‐pictures'; but now I
know, for in that other life I have seen such. And I also
know now why I am here. I wanted to visit the Buddha in
the Mango Grove near Rājagaha. Of course that intention
was frustrated by my sudden and violent death, but my
good intentions have been looked on favourably and so I
have reached this place of bliss as though I had indeed sat
at his feet and had died in his blessèd Teaching. So my
pilgrimage has not been in vain." At this realisation a great
glad sigh issued forth from his heart, and he flew on.
Very soon Kāmanīta reached the lake again, where
he let himself down upon his red lotus flower like a bird
that returns to its nest.
***********to be continued*************
Edited by yawares