ALL SWEETNESS, says the Rig Weda, IS COLLECTED IN THE HEIFER a: the Red One of the Dawn. And the Oriental use of the word, heifer, to signify a wife or queen, is familiar to every reader of the Hebrew Bible. If ye had not ploughed with my heifer, said Samson, ye had not found out my riddle. Thus the meaning of the title of this little story is at once clear: the collected sweetness of the heifer: i.e., the ambrosia b of the early morning, in a feminine form.
All know it, the nectar of dawn, who are wise enough to rise, like the hero of this story, before the sun. And yet, perhaps it is necessary to live in the East, properly to appreciate the meaning of morning. Love, for example, is a very old God: as some of the ancient Greeks
told us, even the very oldest of all c. Why is that? Because he comes out of the East: he belongs to the Dawn. EROS, EOS, AURORA, USHAS, ARUSHA. First comes Night, and Chaos: and then, out of the black there arises, silently, imperceptibly, irresistibly, the glorious, the blushing, the beautiful, amber-clouded, opal-shredded, amethyst-bedappled Dawn. O Dawn, how I do love thee! how, after a night of blackness and distress, has thy delicious fragrance raised me from the dead, with its colour and its camphor and the nectar touch of its rosy finger, softer than flowers, cooler than sandal-wood. Yes, it is necessary to be a dweller in the East, to taste and understand the religion of the Dawn.
And the heifer? What is the secret of the rooted affection of the Aryan and Iranian, the Weda and Awesta, for the Cow?
Partly, no doubt, its utilitarian value. But they are deceived, who think that this is all. There is religion d in it, mysticism, æsthetic affection. The Cow is an Idea. This was first brought home to the translator in the following way.
Passing through Rajputána, he came to Jeypore. And it happened, on a hot afternoon, that he was rambling
in its outskirts, ankle-deep in white dust, for Jeypore stands on the edge of Marústhalí, 'the region of death,'--and suddenly he came upon a cluster of chattris, yellow marble memorial tombs of old Kings, and he lay down to rest in their shade. And there as he lay, blessing the old rájá whose umbrella afforded a refuge for the suppliant even after his death--there came along the blinding, glaring white way, with noiseless footfall, a little mouse-coloured heifer, bowing its head from side to side, as it stepped on daintily in the dust, with great, wise, black, lustrous, beautiful eyes. On its back was a pile of red clothing: on that again, a great bowl or basin of brass: and in the bowl sat, like a little deity, sucking its thumb, and crooning to itself some monotonous ditty, a tiny Hindoo child. The fierce furious glare of the sun was collected as it were into a focus of white light on its bare head, and glinted from its glossy, jet-black hair. Moved to adoration, the spectator seized his opportunity as they wandered by, and offered tribute and homage to the Mother and the Child. A pair of great eyes stared at him with alarm, but the slender little brown fingers shut down instinctively over the silver rupee. Then they passed on, the little deity and its tutelary 'vehicle' e moving delicately with that undulating hesitation which the Creator has bestowed only upon women and cows, reached the black jaws
of a street narrow as a door, rounded the corner, and disappeared.
Since then, every heifer, and for the sake of the heifer, also even every ox, has possessed for the writer a touch of divinity. The roast beef of old England savours of cannibalism, as often as he looks into their great reproachful eyes: eyes, out of which look back at you the infinite patience, the imperturbable repose, and the stubborn intractability of the inscrutable East.
POONA, Dec. 17, 1903.
vii:a iii. 3O, 14. (The translation is literally exact: wishwam swádma sambhritam usriyáyam.)
vii:b The feminine form, amritá, is the name of one of the digits of the moon. And apropos: could we penetrate into the darkness of mythological origins, we might perhaps discover, that the half-moon on the forehead of Maheshwara is related to the horns of his bull. And similarly, Isis, the hornèd moon = Io, the heifer.
viii:c As also in Rig Weda, 10. 129. 4.
viii:d If you like, superstition. But it is not growing weaker. I have repeatedly suggested, to comparatively emancipated Hindoos, that cows might be killed. The very possibility was always repudiated with horror and disgust.
ix:e Every Hindoo deity has his (or her) 'vehicle,' or wáhana.