Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
ON THE SHORES OF THE HEAVENLY GANGĀ
WHEN KĀMANĪTA PERCEIVED that even here
in the abode of bliss these memories overshadowed,
with dark and forbidding wings, the still delicate,
newly awakened spirit of his belovèd, he took her
by the hand and led her away — guiding their flight to
the soft green hill on whose slope he had recently lain
and watched the games of the floating dancers.
Here they sought a resting‐place. Already groves
and shrubberies, meadows and hill‐slopes were filled with
countless floating figures, red, blue and white. Group after
group surrounded them to greet the newly awakened one.
And the two mingled joyfully amongst the ranks of the
players. They were suddenly met by the white‐robed companion
who had formerly called upon Kāmanīta to take the journey to
the Gangā with her.She asked, with a sunny smile:
"Well, have you been to the shores of the Gangā yet?
You now have a companion, I see."
"Not yet," answered Kāmanīta.
"What is that?" asked Vāsitthī.
And Kāmanīta told her.
"Let us go there," said Vāsitthī. "Oh, how often
have I, down in the sad valleys of earth, looked up to the
distant reflection of the heavenly stream and thought of
the blessèd plains that are enfolded and watered by it, and
asked myself if we should really one day be united in this
place of bliss. Now I feel myself irresistibly drawn there, to
linger with you on its shores."
They withdrew from the chain of dancers and
turned their flight in a direction which led them far from
their own lake. After some time they saw no more lotus
pools, nor the resplendent flowers bearing happy beings.
The wealth of blossoms decreased perceptibly and more
and more rarely did they meet the figures of the Blessèd.
Herds of gazelles and antelopes here gave life to the
plains and swans glided along on the lakes, drawing trains
of glistening waves behind them over the dark waters. The
hills, which in the beginning had grown ever steeper and
more rocky, disappeared entirely.
They floated over a flat, desert‐like plain covered
with tiger‐grass and thorny shrubs, and before them lay
stretched the endless curves of a forest of palms.
They reached the forest. More and more deeply
did the shadows close in around them. The ringed trunks
gleamed like bronze. High above them the tree‐tops
resounded with a clang as of metal.
In front, glistening points and streaks of light
began to dance. And suddenly there streamed towards
them such a blaze of light that they were obliged to hold
their hands over their eyes. It seemed as though there
stood a gigantic colonnade of burnished silver pillars in
the forest, flashing back the light of the rising sun.
When they ventured again to remove their hands
from their faces, they were just floating out between the
last of the forest palms.
Before them lay the Heavenly Gangā, its silvery
expanse reaching out to the far horizon; at their feet wave‐
lets of liquid starlight lapped the pearl‐grey sand of the
shore, as if with tongues of flame both cool and argentine.
As a rule the sky begins to grow gradually clearer
down towards the horizon, but here the order was re‐
versed; the azure blue passed into indigo, and finally
deepened to an all but absolutely black border, which
rested heavily upon the silver waters.
*Of the perfume of the blossoms of Paradise there
was nothing left. And, whereas in the malachite valley that
memory‐laden perfume of perfumes lay dense around the
Coral Tree, here there blew along the Stream of the Uni‐
verse, a cool and fresh breath which took for its perfume
the absence of all perfume — perfect purity. And Vāsitthī
seemed to quaff it greedily as a refreshing draught, while it
took Kāmanīta's breath away.
Here also, one did not catch the faintest note of the
music of the gandharvas. But from the stream itself there
seemed to rise up mighty sounds like the deep booming
"Listen," whispered Vāsitthī, and raised her hand.
"Strange," said Kāmanīta, "once on my journeyings
I had found lodgings in a hut which stood at the entrance
to a mountain ravine, and past the hut there flowed a little
rivulet with clear water in which I washed my feet after
my long day's walk. During the night a violent rain fell
and, as I lay awake in my hut, I heard the rivulet, which in
the evening had rippled softly by, rush and rage with
ever‐increasing vehemence. At the same time my attention
was caught by a banging, thundering sound which I could
not explain to myself at all. The next morning, however, I
saw that the clear brook had become a raging mountain
torrent, with waters brown and foaming in which huge
stones rolled and bounded as they dashed onward. And it
was these that had caused the uproar. Why do you sup‐
pose that just here, when listening to these sounds, this
memory out of the time of my pilgrimage should rise
"It comes from this," answered Vāsitthī, "the
sounds are analogous; though in that mountain stream you
were merely hearing the collision of stones, here in the
stream of the Heavenly Gangā, worlds are rolled and
propelled along. It is these from which the booming
sounds like thunder arise."
"Vāsitthī!" exclaimed Kāmanīta, becoming truly
alarmed. "I wish I had never led you here! Come, love,
And, even more anxiously than from the Coral
Tree, he drew her away from there.
She followed him willingly, but turned her head at
the first palms as she did so, casting a last glance back‐
ward at the heavenly stream.
*********to be continued**********
Edited by yawares