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Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE RITE OF TRUTHAT THAT TIME I always spent the first hours of
the night on the Terrace of the Sorrowless, either
alone or with Medinī.
Then my father came forward, and behind him Sātāgira.
A couple of soldiers armed to the teeth followed, and after
them came a man who towered a full head above the
others. Finally, yet other soldiers brought up the rear of
this strange, not to say inexplicable, procession. Two of
the latter remained to guard the door, whilst all the others
came directly towards me. At the same time I noticed that
the giant in their midst walked with great difficulty, and
that at every step there resounded a dismal clanking and
rattling.The group now advanced from the shadow of the
wall into the moonlight and then I saw with horror that the
giant figure was loaded with chains. His hands were
fettered at his back, about his ankles clanked heavy iron
rings which were linked to either end of a huge rod and
were connected by double chains of iron with a similar
ring around his neck. As is usual in the case of a prisoner
who is being conducted to the scaffold, around his neck and
on his hairy breast there hung a wreath of the red Kanavera blossoms;
and the reddish‐yellow brick‐dust with which his head was powdered
caused the hair hanging down over his forehead, and the beard which
reached almost to his eyes, to appear yet more ferocious.
As to who stood before me I should not have needed to inquire, even
if the Kanavera blossoms had concealed the symbol of his terrible name
— the necklace of human fingers."Now, Angulimāla," Sātāgira broke the silence,
"repeat in the presence of this noble maiden what you
have confessed on the rack regarding the murder of the
young merchant Kāmanīta of Ujjenī."
"Kāmanīta was not murdered," answered the
robber gruffly, "but taken prisoner and made away with,
according to our customs."
And he now related to me in a few words what my
father had already told me of the matter.
I stood, meanwhile, with my back to the Asoka
tree, and supported myself by clutching the trunk with
both hands, burying my finger‐nails convulsively in the
bark in order to keep myself from falling.He came a step nearer.
"Well then, maiden, be witness now to the Rite of
Once again the lightning of his glance struck me as
it swept upward and fixed itself upon the moon in such a
way that, in the midst of the tangle of his discoloured hair
and beard, only the whites of his eyes were still visible.
His breast heaved, so that the red flowers moved as in a
dance, and with a voice like that of thunder rolling among
the clouds, he called aloud:
"You who tame the tiger, snake‐crowned Goddess
of Night! You who dance by moonlight on the pinnacles of
the mountains, your necklace of skulls swaying and
crashing, gnashing your teeth, swinging your blood‐filled
skull‐cup! Mother Kālī! Mistress of the robbers! You who
have led me through a thousand dangers, hear me! Truly
as I have never withheld a sacrifice from you; truly as I
have ever loyally observed your laws; truly as I did deal
with this Kāmanīta according to our statute — the statute
which commands us Senders when the ransom does not
arrive by the appointed hour, to saw the prisoner through
the middle and cast his remains on the public road —
just as truly stand by me now in my direst need, rend my
chains, and free me from the hands of my enemies."As he said this he made a mighty effort — the
chains rattled and shattered, arms and legs were free, the
two soldiers who held him lay prone on the earth, a third
he struck down with the iron links which hung at his wrists
and before any one of us clearly understood what was
happening, Angulimāla had swung himself over the
parapet. With a fierce shout Sātāgira gave chase.
That was the last I saw or heard.
Afterwards I learned that Angulimāla had fallen,
broken a foot and had been captured by the guard; that he
had later died in prison under torture, and that his head
had been placed over the east gate of the town where
Medinī and Somadatta had seen it.With Angulimāla's Rite of Truth my last doubt and
my last hope left me. For I knew well that even the fear‐
some Goddess Kālī could not have worked a miracle to
rescue him if he had not had the strength which truth lent
to his side.
As to what should now become of me I troubled
myself little, for on this earth everything good was hence‐
forth lost. Only in the Paradise of the West could we two
meet again. You had gone before me and I would, as I
ardently hoped, soon follow. Only there could happiness
blossom — all else was a matter of indifference.As Sātāgira now continued to press his suit, and my mother,
always wailing and weeping, kept on saying that she would die
of a broken heart. Little by little my resistance weakened.
Thus, after almost another year had passed, I sadly
became the bride of Sātāgira.
**********to be continued************
Edited by yawares
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