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

III. Water-Lily

But in the meanwhile, the gods i were aware of what had occurred. For they had heard the abuse that Ranga showered upon them in his despair. And when they saw that by the assistance of Water-lily he had obtained Wanawallarí for his wife, they were very angry both with the goddess and with him. And they met in Indra's hall, to discuss the matter and determine what was to be done. But I was not there, for I bore no grudge against Ranga, knowing his youth and the provocation which had occasioned his outburst, and forgiving it. And Nárayana j also was absent, for so far from being angry with Ranga, he was pleased with him for heaping praises on his wife, who is a part of himself,

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as thou art of me k. So having met, they said indignantly to one another: This alone would be scandalous and intolerable, that a mortal should insolently load us with abuse for not being at his beck and call as if we were nothing but the slaves of our worshippers. But worse than all, here has Water-lily actually rewarded the rascal, by giving him the most beautiful woman in the three worlds for a wife: so that instead of being punished for his bad behaviour, he has actually received a prize. And if this continues, we are wholly undone, and the established constitution of the universe will be destroyed. For it all depends on praise, worship and sacrifice l: but if men get our favours without these, who will be at the pains of propitiating us at all? Thus though the conduct of this mortal is bad, that of Water-lily is infinitely worse. For she has taken the part of a mortal, siding against the gods, merely because she was caught by the cunning fellow's flattery.

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Then Water-lily laughed, looking at them all askance out of the corner of her long eyes that reached nearly to her ears. And she said: Surely I have done little worthy of blame, if I have rewarded my worshipper for his praises, as all you ought long ago to have done before. For if we pay no attention to them, these mortals will leave us and laugh at us, and then we shall perish for want of our proper sustenance. And so it is not I, but rather you yourselves, that are to blame for leaving him alone. Moreover, after all, he is quite right in considering my power and divinity as stronger than all others, for so in fact it is.

But hearing her words, the gods were enraged, and exclaimed: Fie! fie! And they determined to show her that she was mistaken, and punish her protégé: and they arranged that Indra should descend to the earth, and find him, and make an example of him. But that crafty Water-lily said to herself: Now will I show all these foolish gods, and especially Indra, that beauty and fortune are enemies hard even for gods to overcome. And she played the hypocrite, and said to them, with an illusive smile on her beautiful lips: When a fault has been committed, it is for the guilty person to make reparation. Let Indra go down: but I will myself help to bring the

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sinner to justice and undo my own mischief, by causing the King to discover the whereabouts of Ranga and his wife.

Then the gods were pleased, for she threw them all off their guard by her apparent submission. And they said: She is very young, and moreover, she is a woman, and doubtless she was caught by this rascal's beauty of person, and his flattery: but now she has changed her mind, which is variable as the sea out of which she arose, So we must not be angry with her.


24:i When the gods are spoken of collectively they are generally understood not to include the great gods, Brahma, Wishnu and Shiwa, each of whom has a claim to be considered the greatest.

24:j Wishnu, of whom Water-Lily is the wife.

25:k Maheshwara is speaking to his wife.

25:l Plato's idea, that the relation between gods and men is one of commercial reciprocity (ἐμπορικὴ) is precisely that of the Hindoos, who lay it down in a hundred places as the essence of the stithi, or established constitution of things.

Next: IV. A God and a Mortal