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V. Nightwalker

And then as a black bee roves from flower to flower he wandered from city to city, and from one country to another: and he went north and east and west and south, till the elephants of the eight quarters knew him as it were by sight. Yet he never found anyone who could tell him his way, or had ever heard the name of the Land of the Lotus of the Sun. And meanwhile the suns

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of the hot seasons burned him like a furnace, and the cold seasons froze the blood in his veins, and the rains roared over his head like a wild-elephant, and at the last, he said to himself: Now for thrice six seasons have I been seeking, and yet I know no more of my way to the Land of the Lotus than I did before. And undoubtedly, if such a Land exists in the world, it can be known only to the birds of the air. Therefore now I will abandon the dwellings of men, and enter the Great Forest, for only in this way will it ever be possible for me to discover a land of which no human being has ever heard.

So he went into the forest and proceeded onward, turning his face to the south. Then as he went the trees grew thicker and thicker, and taller and taller, till they shut out the light of the sun. And at last there came a day when he looked before him, and saw only a darkness like that of the mouth of death: and he looked behind him, and saw the light of evening glimmering a great way off, as if afraid to keep him company. And as he went on slowly, feeling his way with the point of his sword, suddenly in the darkness another face peered into his own, and stuck out at him a long red tongue. And Umra-Singh started back, and looked, and saw before

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him a root-eating Wairágí y clad in a coat of bark, with long hair, and nails like the claws of a bird, and his legs and arms were bare, and his skin like that on the foot of an elephant:

Then said Umra-Singh: Father, what art thou doing here, and why dost thou stick out at me thy tongue? The Wairágí said: Son, what art thou doing here, in a wood full of nothing but trees and Rákshasas z, and dark as the Hair of the Great God, of which it is an earthly copy? Umra-Singh said: I am a Rajpoot who has quarrelled with his relations, and I am looking for the Land of the Lotus of the Sun. Then said the Wairágí: They are very few that wish to find that Lotus Land; and fewer still who find it; fewest of all those, that having found it ever return. Then Umra-Singh said, in astonishment: And dost thou know that Lotus Land? Tell me how I must go to reach it. Then the Wairágí laughed, and said: Ha! ha! Thou art

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one more ready to ask than to answer questions: but I give nothing for nothing. Know, that I also have all my life been looking, not for one way only, but for three. And now, if thou wilt tell me my three ways, I will tell thee thine.

Then said Umra-Singh: One for three is no bargain; but what, then, are thy lost ways? The Wairágí said: All my life I have tried to discover the Way of the World, and the Way of Woman, and the Way of Emancipation a, and yet could never hit on the truth as to any one of them. And this is a wonderful thing. For anything characteristic of multitudes must be very common: and yet how can that which is common escape the notice of all? Tell me, then, the Way of the World, and I will tell thee in return a third of thy way to the Land of the Lotus of the Sun.

Then said Umra-Singh: Thou puttest a knotty question, and drivest a hard bargain; nevertheless, I will give thee an answer, for the sake of my own way and the blue eyes of Shrí. Know, that this is the Way of the World. There was formerly, on

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the banks of Ganges, an old empty temple of Shiwa. And one night, in the rainy season, an old female ascetic entered the temple, to shelter herself from the storm. And just after her there came in an owl for the same purpose. Now in the roof of that temple there lived a number of the caste b of bats, that never left the temple precincts. And seeing the owl, they said to the old woman: Who art thou, and what kind of animal is this? Then the old woman said: I am the Goddess Saraswatí, and this is the peacock on which I ride c. Then, the storm being over, that old impostor went away. But the owl, being pleased with the temple as a place of residence, remained; and the bats paid it divine honours. Then some years afterwards, it happened, that a real peacock entered the temple. And the bats said to it: What kind of animal art thou? The peacock said: I am a peacock. The bats replied: Out on thee, thou impostor! what is this folly? The peacock said: I am a peacock, the son of a peacock, and the carriage of the Goddess Saraswatí is a hereditary office in our caste. The bats said: Thou art a liar, and the

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son of a liar; dost thou know better than the Goddess herself? And they drove the peacock out of the temple, and paid, as formerly, worship to the owl.

Then said the Wairágí: Rajpoot, thou hast opened my eyes. Learn now from me a portion of thy own way. And he lay down on the ground, and suddenly abandoning the form of a hermit, became a weasel, which stuck out at Umra-Singh a long red tongue, and entered the ground by a hole, and disappeared. And as Umra-Singh stooped down to examine the hole, he saw the Wairágí again beside him in his old shape, save that he continued to stick out of his mouth the weasel's tongue, And he said, angrily: What is this delusion of a weasel, and why dost thou stick out thy tongue? Then said the Wairágí: Ho! ho! I have shown thee a way for a way, and one riddle for another. And now, tell me the Way of a Woman, and learn yet another third of thy own road.

Then Umra-Singh said to himself: Surely this is no hermit, but a vile Rákshasa, who only seeks to delude me. Nevertheless, I will give him an answer, for the sake of my way, and the blue light in the eyes of Shrí. And he said to the Wairágí: Know, then, that the Way of a Woman is this: There dwelt

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long ago, in the Windhya forest, an old Rishi. And the gods, being jealous of his austerities, sent to interrupt his devotions a heavenly nymph. Then that old Rishi, overcome by her beauty, yielded to the temptation, and had by her a daughter. But afterwards, repenting of his fall, he burned out his eyes with a fiery cane, saying: Perish, ye causes of perishable illusions: and so became blind. Then his daughter grew up alone with that old blind sage in the forest. And she was more beautiful than any woman in the three worlds. Verily, had the God of Love seen .her, he would instantly have abandoned Rati and Príti d, counting them but as her domestic servants. And she dressed in bark garments, with no mirror but the pools of the forest. Then one day a crow that was acquainted with cities came to her and said: Why dost thou live here, with no companion but an old blind father, who cannot even see thee, and does not know the value of his pearl? The whole world does not contain a beauty equal to thine. Go and show thyself in cities, and I tell thee, the Kings of the earth would quit their kingdoms, and follow thee about like a swarm of bees. Then said the Rishí's daughter: And who,

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then, would fetch for my father his sacrificial fuel, or water to cook his cakes of rice and milk? And she drove away the crow, and lived on in the forest, serving her father, and at the last became old, and died in the forest, and no man ever saw her face.

Then said the Wairágí: Thou foolish Rajpoot, I asked thee for the Way of a Woman, and thou hast told me the Way of Emancipation. Then said Umra-Singh: Thou miserable root-eater, since the creation every woman has sacrificed herself for another, or else she was not a woman, for this is the nature of them all. Then said the Wairágí: Learn now from me, another portion of thy own way. And as Umra-Singh watched him, suddenly that deceitful Wairágí became a bat, and stuck out at him again his tongue, and flew away through the trees. And Umra-Singh said to himself: Beyond a doubt this is no ascetic, but the very King of Rákshasas; nevertheless, he shall tell me my road, if he comes again, or it shall be the worse for him. And suddenly again he saw the Wairágí standing by his side, and sticking out at him, as before, his tongue. And he said to Umra-Singh: Now thou hast only to tell me the Way of Salvation, and thy own way will be clear before thee.

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Then said Umra-Singh: Thou art but an old Rákshasa; nevertheless, once more will I give thee an answer, for the sake of my way, and the colour of the eyes of Shrí. Know, that the Way of Emancipation is this: There was formerly a King of the race of the Sun, and he was very old, and all his hair was as white as the uppermost peak of the Snowy mountain. And one day he looked from his palace window, and saw in the street a child, drawing behind it a toycart. And the cart fell, and was broken, and the child cried over its broken toy. Now it happened, by the ordinance of fate, that long ago, when he was himself a child, exactly the same thing had happened to that old King. And as he looked at the child, suddenly the years were annihilated, and became as nothing. And like a picture he saw before him, the image of himself, a child. And seized with grief, and an unutterable longing for the repetition of his life, he exclaimed: O Maheshwara, Maheshwara, let me live my life again. Then suddenly Maheshwara stood before him, and laughed, and said: Remember thy former births. And suddenly memory came upon that old King, and out of the darkness of the past there rose before him the series of his former lives. And Maheshwara said: See, nine

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and ninety times, in nine and ninety births, thou hast made of me the same request, and now this is a hundred. And every time I have given thee thy wish, in vain. For every time thou hast forgotten, and hast known the value of thy youth only after becoming old. Then said the old King: How, then, can emancipation be obtained? Maheshwara said: It depends not on time, but knowledge: and even an instant can bring it when ten thousand years have failed. And thou hast but a little left of life, yet even to thee knowledge may come before the end. Then he disappeared. Now that old King had a daughter whom he loved better than his own soul. And, even while he spoke with Maheshwara, she was bitten by a snake and died, and he did not know it, for they feared to tell him. So he went as usual to see his daughter. And when he entered her room, he looked, and saw her lying still. And as he watched her, there came a fly, which buzzed about her, and settled on her lips. Then horror came on that old King, and illusion fell suddenly from his eyes, and the desire of life was destroyed in him at its root. And he turned, and went without waiting to the Ganges, and remained there a few years washing away his crimes, like one to whom life and death

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are the same, and at last entered the river, and it drowned him, and carried his body out to sea.

Then said the Wairágí: Now shalt thou have emancipation from thy own ignorance, as to thy way to the Land of the Lotus of the Sun. And he stuck out at Umra-Singh his tongue. But Umra-Singh suddenly struck at him a blow of his sword, and as luck would have it, he cut off the end of his tongue. And he said to him: Beware lest I kill thee, thou old impostor. I will waste no more time expecting to hear from thee my way to the Land of the Lotus, but find it in spite of thee. Then the Wairágí suddenly assumed a terrific form, and exclaimed: Woe to thee, thou unlucky Rajpoot. For thou art now in the land, not of lotuses, but of Rákshasas, of whom I am the chief. And my subjects shall beset thee with illusions, like the sins of thy former birth in visible form; and there wait for thee the Night-walkers, Ulupí, and the Cow-killer, and the Hairy Grabber, and the Icy Chiller, and the Flap-eared Buzzer, and the awful Watcher in his pits of sand, and others without number e:

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and even shouldst thou escape them all, and reach the Lotus Land, thou hast still to return. And he vanished with a shout of laughter, and Umra-Singh was left alone.


47:y This term denotes one who has turned his back on the world, and become free from passion. Its meaning can best be learned from the third section of the Centuries of Bhartrihari, devoted to it. (wair- rhymes with fire.)

47:z Jinn, ogres, vampires, goblins, &c., are all but differentiations of the Hindoo Rákskasa, which is what the geologist calls a 'synthetic type' of evil being, whose special feature is its power of changing its shape at will (Kámarupa).

48:a There is here an untranslateable play on the word tripathagá, the three-way-goer, i.e. the Ganges, which flows in three Ways--in heaven, earth, and hell. The hermit asks, as we might say, for the source of the Nile.

49:b The proper word for caste is játi, gens.

49:c Every Hindoo god or goddess has his or her peculiar animal vehicle (wáhana).

51:d Pleasure and Joy, the two wives of the God of Love.

55:e These names, which recall certain passages in the Rámayan, lose much of their effect in translation. goghna, 'cow-killer,' has a curious history. Because of old a cow p. 56 could be killed only for a guest of great honour, a word of the most horrible signification actually acquired one honourable meaning, i.e. a guest of a high order.

Next: VI. A Lotus of the Night