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In the Great God's Hair, by F. W. Bain, [1905], at

VIII. The Illusion of Beauty

Then said Indra: O lady of large eyes and heavy lashes, thou arguest like a partisan in thy own favour: yet is thy action only the result of

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sudden passion, which made thee forget thy maiden modesty, and like an abhisáriká hasten to thy husband's arms, moving not like a woman of good family, but by self-will and independence, attracted by the beauty of thy husband.

Then said Wanawallarí: O Brahman, in this I have done nothing unbecoming a maiden of my caste. For the daughters of kings have had from the beginning the privilege of choosing their own husbands. But they show their family in this, that when once they have chosen, they abide by their decision, and cling to their husband with a grasp that laughs at the endeavours of even death to break its hold. And if I have done wrong in yielding to the fascination of my husband, I will make amends for it hereafter. And yet the fault is rather that of the Creator than my own. Wouldst thou blame the lotus for intoxicating bees? Or why did the Creator give beauty to women or to men, but to snare each other's souls? And even the gods come under thy reproof, for which of them is not subdued by the beauty of his wife? Nay, there are some who have even gone astray, bewildered by the infatuation of beauty in a sex other than their own r. Why dost thou blame me

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for obeying the nature of a woman, and worshipping that masculine beauty which is my goal? For the three worlds are only an incarnation of action such as mine, and thy accusation would rob this universe of motion and life, which subsist only by virtue of reciprocal attraction. For beauty dazzles and allures, and being itself only an illusion draws every creature after it, like a cunning piper, into that vain revolving dance which sages call the world; and which without its object would vanish like a dream when the dreamer is awake. And we all move in an everlasting round, like the drops of water in a waterfall, leaving an impression of permanence upon the eye of the observer; yet is this permanence only an illusion, and due to the perpetual flow of its fleeting and fantastic atoms. And in our momentary life, one thing only is essential, to taste if we can a single drop of the nectar of true love, which is possible, for every atom, only if it can catch a glimpse of that peculiar beauty which is the proper object of its soul. And therefore, O Brahman, I am not ashamed of adoring the beauty of my husband, but I glory and rejoice in it, like one who has found the fruit of her birth. And like a moth, I flew into his candle, and be came a willing victim. And I am ready to endure all the consequences of my choice. And when I

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waver in my allegiance to my lord, I will acknowledge the justice of thy reproof.


41:r This, though she knew it not, was a home-thrust: for of Indra, as of Zeus, there is a scandalous chronicle.

Next: IX. The Two Kings