Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE BLOSSOMS OF PARADISE WITHER
YES, MY FRIEND," added Vāsitthī, "I heard those
words, which appear so destructive of all hope to you,
without disappointment — in the same way that now,
without pain and indeed even with joy, I perceive how
round about us here the truth of these words is establi‐
shed in what we see taking place."
During Vāsitthī's narration, the process of decay
had gone on, slowly but relentlessly, and there could no
longer be the least doubt but that all these beings and
their surroundings sickened and were fading away to their
full and complete dissolution.
The lotus flowers had already shed more than half
their crown‐petals and the waters only sparkled sparingly
forth from between these gay‐coloured little vessels,
which were set trembling every other instant as a fresh
one fell. On their flower‐thrones, divested of all adorn‐
ment now, sat the once‐happy inhabitants of the Paradise
of the West in positions more or less indicative of utter
breakdown. The head of one hung down upon her breast,
that of another sideways on his shoulder, and a shiver as
of fever ran through them every time an icy blast shook
the already thinning tops of the groves, causing blossoms
and leaves to rain to earth. The music of the gandharvas
sounded woefully subdued and more and more frequently
was interwoven with painful discords; with it were
blended deep sighs and anxious groans. All that had been
so luminous — the faces and robes of the devas and
gandharvas, no less than the clouds and flowers — all
gradually lost brightness and a blue twilight haze ap‐
peared to weave its threads about the distances. The fresh
fragrance of the flowers too, which had formerly been
such a vitalising breath to everything, had gradually
become a soporific odour, at once distressing to the body
and stupefying to the senses.
Kāmanīta indicated the things about him with a
tired movement of the hand: "How could you possibly
feel pleasure at such a sight, Vāsitthī?"
"For this reason, my friend," she replied, "it is
possible to feel pleasure in such a sight: that if all this were
lasting and did not pass away, there could be nothing
higher. But there is something higher; for this does pass,
and beyond it there is that which knows neither genesis
nor decay. Just this quality is what the Master calls 'joy in
the transient'; and for that reason he says: 'If you have
discerned the ephemeral nature of all created things, then
truly you know that which is Uncreated.'"
At these confident words, Kāmanīta's features grew
animated, as a flower that is withering for want of water
revives beneath the falling rain."Blessings on you, Vāsitthī! For you have given me
my liberation. Yes, I feel it. We have erred only in one
particular — our longings did not aim high enough. We
desired for ourselves this life in a paradise of flowers and
assuredly flowers must wither, in accordance with their
. The stars, however, are eternal; according to
changeless laws they keep their courses. And look there,
Vāsitthī; while all else shows the pale traces of decay, that
little river — a tributary of the Heavenly Gangā — that
flows into our lake, its water is just as star‐like in its purity
and just as plentiful as ever, and all because it comes from
the world of stars. One who should succeed in entering
into existence again among the gods of the stars, would be
raised above the sphere of mortality."
"Why should we not be able to succeed in that?"
asked Vāsitthī. "For I have certainly heard of samanas who
fixed heart and mind upon returning to existence in the
kingdom of the Hundred‐thousandfold Brahmā. And even
now it cannot be too late, if the ancient words of the
Bhagavad Gītā be true:
"'Longings for a future being, filling heart and
mind at death,
To the life that follows this one, will give
character and breath.'""Vāsitthī! You have given me super‐human courage!
Come, let us turn our whole hearts to entering again
into existence in the kingdom of the Hundred‐thousand‐
Scarcely had they come to this decision when a
violent hurricane swept through the groves and over the
lakes. Blossoms and leaves were whirled away in heaps;
the beings throned on the lotus flowers cowered before
the storm and, moaning pitifully, drew their filmy robes
ever closer about their trembling limbs.
But like one who, all but suffocated in the close
and perfume‐laden atmosphere of a room, breathes deep
and feels themselves renewed when the fresh sea‐breezes,
salt‐laden from the floods of the ocean, blow in through
the open window, so it was with Kāmanīta and Vāsitthī
when a breath of that absolute purity, which they had
once inhaled on the shores of the Heavenly Gangā, came
streaming now towards them.
"Do you notice anything?" asked Vāsitthī.
"A greeting from the Gangā," said Kāmanīta. "And
listen, She calls"
As he spoke, the wailing death‐song of the gandharvas
was silenced by the solemn, thundering sounds
that they both remembered from their journey long since
"Good that we already know the way!" exulted
Vāsitthī. "Are you still afraid, my friend?"
"How could I fear? Come!"
And like a pair of birds that dash from the nest and
fly into the teeth of the wind, so they flew thence towards
the Heavenly Gangā.
All stared after them, amazed that there were still
beings there who had the strength and courage necessary
for flight.But as they thus breasted the storm there arose a
whirlwind behind them which left everything bereft of leaf
and life alike, and made an end of the slowly fading
domain of Sukhavatī.
Soon they had reached the forest of palms and
soon passed over it. Before them the silvery expanse of
the Stream of the Universe stretched far away to the blue‐
black border of the heavens.
They swept out over its floods, and were instantly
caught in the current of air prevailing there and were
borne away with the swiftness of the tempest. Overpow‐
ered by the speed of their flight — and by the frightful
crashing that seemed like thunder mingled with the ring‐
ing of a myriad bells — their senses finally forsook them.Their mutual life of bliss in the Paradise of the
West thus drew to its final close — during this time tens of
thousands of years had passed by on earth below.
************to be continued***********
Edited by yawares