The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Light of Asia, by Edwin Arnold This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Light of Asia Author: Edwin Arnold Release Date: September, 2005 [EBook #8920] This file was first posted on August 25, 2003 Last Updated: May 16, 2013 Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE LIGHT OF ASIA *** Produced by Jake Jaqua and David Widger
This volume is dutifully inscribed to the Sovereign, Grand Master, and Companions of The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India by The Author.
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The Scripture of the Saviour of the World, Lord Buddha—Prince Siddartha styled on earth In Earth and Heavens and Hells Incomparable, All-honoured, Wisest, Best, most Pitiful; The Teacher of Nirvana and the Law. Then came he to be born again for men. Below the highest sphere four Regents sit Who rule our world, and under them are zones Nearer, but high, where saintliest spirits dead Wait thrice ten thousand years, then live again; And on Lord Buddha, waiting in that sky, Came for our sakes the five sure signs of birth So that the Devas knew the signs, and said "Buddha will go again to help the World." "Yea!" spake He, "now I go to help the World. This last of many times; for birth and death End hence for me and those who learn my Law. I will go down among the Sakyas, Under the southward snows of Himalay, Where pious people live and a just King." That night the wife of King Suddhodana, Maya the Queen, asleep beside her Lord, Dreamed a strange dream; dreamed that a star from heaven— Splendid, six-rayed, in colour rosy-pearl, Whereof the token was an Elephant Six-tusked and whiter than Vahuka's milk— Shot through the void and, shining into her, Entered her womb upon the right. Awaked, Bliss beyond mortal mother's filled her breast, And over half the earth a lovely light Forewent the morn. The strong hills shook; the waves Sank lulled; all flowers that blow by day came forth As 't were high noon; down to the farthest hells Passed the Queen's joy, as when warm sunshine thrills Wood-glooms to gold, and into all the deeps A tender whisper pierced. "Oh ye," it said, "The dead that are to live, the live who die, Uprise, and hear, and hope! Buddha is come!" Whereat in Limbos numberless much peace Spread, and the world's heart throbbed, and a wind blew With unknown freshness over lands and seas. And when the morning dawned, and this was told, The grey dream-readers said "The dream is good! The Crab is in conjunction with the Sun; The Queen shall bear a boy, a holy child Of wondrous wisdom, profiting all flesh, Who shall deliver men from ignorance, Or rule the world, if he will deign to rule." In this wise was the holy Buddha born. Queen Maya stood at noon, her days fulfilled, Under a Palsa in the Palace-grounds, A stately trunk, straight as a temple-shaft, With crown of glossy leaves and fragrant blooms; And, knowing the time some—for all things knew— The conscious tree bent down its boughs to make A bower above Queen Maya's majesty, And Earth put forth a thousand sudden flowers To spread a couch, while, ready for the bath, The rock hard by gave out a limpid stream Of crystal flow. So brought she forth her child Pangless—he having on his perfect form The marks, thirty and two, of blessed birth; Of which the great news to the Palace came. But when they brought the painted palanquin To fetch him home, the bearers of the poles Were the four Regents of the Earth, come down From Mount Sumeru—they who write men's deeds On brazen plates—the Angel of the East, Whose hosts are clad in silver robes, and bear Targets of pearl: the Angel of the South, Whose horsemen, the Kumbhandas, ride blue steeds, With sapphire shields: the Angel of the West, By Nagas followed, riding steeds blood-red, With coral shields: the Angel of the North, Environed by his Yakshas, all in gold, On yellow horses, bearing shields of gold. These, with their pomp invisible, came down And took the poles, in caste and outward garb Like bearers, yet most mighty gods; and gods Walked free with men that day, though men knew not For Heaven was filled with gladness for Earth's sake, Knowing Lord Buddha thus was come again. But King Suddhodana wist not of this; The portents troubled, till his dream-readers Augured a Prince of earthly dominance, A Chakravartin, such as rise to rule Once in each thousand years; seven gifts he has The Chakra-ratna, disc divine; the gem; The horse, the Aswa-ratna, that proud steed Which tramps the clouds; a snow-white elephant, The Hasti-ratna, born to bear his King; The crafty Minister, the General Unconquered, and the wife of peerless grace, The Istri-ratna, lovelier than the Dawn. For which gifts looking with this wondrous boy, The King gave order that his town should keep High festival; therefore the ways were swept, Rose-odours sprinkled in the street, the trees Were hung with lamps and flags, while merry crowds Gaped on the sword-players and posturers, The jugglers, charmers, swingers, rope-walkers, The nautch-girls in their spangled skirts and bells That chime light laughter round their restless feet; The masquers wrapped in skins of bear and deer. The tiger-tamers, wrestlers, quail-fighters, Beaters of drum and twanglers of the wire, Who made the people happy by command. Moreover from afar came merchant-men, Bringing, on tidings of this birth, rich gifts In golden trays; goat-shawls, and nard and jade, Turkises, "evening-sky" tint, woven webs— So fine twelve folds hide not a modest face— Waist-cloths sewn thick with pearls, and sandalwood; Homage from tribute cities; so they called Their Prince Svarthasiddh, "All-Prospering," Briefer, Siddartha. 'Mongst the strangers came A grey-haired saint, Asita, one whose ears, Long closed to earthly things, caught heavenly sounds, And heard at prayer beneath his peepul-tree The Devas singing songs at Buddha's birth. Wondrous in lore he was by age and fasts; Him, drawing nigh, seeming so reverend, The King saluted, and Queen Maya made To lay her babe before such holy feet; But when he saw the Prince the old man cried "Ah, Queen, not so!" and thereupon he touched Eight times the dust, laid his waste visage there, Saying, "O Babe! I worship! Thou art He! I see the rosy light, the foot-sole marks, The soft curled tendril of the Swastika, The sacred primal signs thirty and two, The eighty lesser tokens. Thou art Buddh, And thou wilt preach the Law and save all flesh Who learn the Law, though I shall never hear, Dying too soon, who lately longed to die; Howbeit I have seen Thee. Know, O King! This is that Blossom on our human tree Which opens once in many myriad years— But opened, fills the world with Wisdom's scent And Love's dropped honey; from thy royal root A Heavenly Lotus springs: Ah, happy House! Yet not all-happy, for a sword must pierce Thy bowels for this boy—whilst thou, sweet Queen! Dear to all gods and men for this great birth, Henceforth art grown too sacred for more woe, And life is woe, therefore in seven days Painless thou shalt attain the close of pain." Which fell: for on the seventh evening Queen Maya smiling slept, and waked no more, Passing content to Trayastrinshas-Heaven, Where countless Devas worship her and wait Attendant on that radiant Motherhead. But for the Babe they found a foster-nurse, Princess Mahaprajapati—her breast Nourished with noble milk the lips of Him Whose lips comfort the Worlds. When th' eighth year passed The careful King bethought to teach his son All that a Prince should learn, for still he shunned The too vast presage of those miracles, The glories and the sufferings of a Buddh. So, in full council of his Ministers, "Who is the wisest man, great sirs," he asked, "To teach my Prince that which a Prince should know?" Whereto gave answer each with instant voice "King! Viswamitra is the wisest one, The farthest-seen in Scriptures, and the best In learning, and the manual arts, and all." Thus Viswamitra came and heard commands; And, on a day found fortunate, the Prince Took up his slate of ox-red sandal-wood, All-beautified by gems around the rim, And sprinkled smooth with dust of emery, These took he, and his writing-stick, and stood With eyes bent down before the Sage, who said, "Child, write this Scripture, speaking slow the verse 'Gayatri' named, which only High-born hear:— "Om, tatsaviturvarenyam Bhargo devasya dhimahi Dhiyo yo na prachodayat." "Acharya, I write," meekly replied The Prince, and quickly on the dust he drew— Not in one script, but many characters The sacred verse; Nagri and Dakshin, Ni, Mangal, Parusha, Yava, Tirthi, Uk, Darad, Sikhyani, Mana, Madhyachar, The pictured writings and the speech of signs, Tokens of cave-men and the sea-peoples, Of those who worship snakes beneath the earth, And those who flame adore and the sun's orb, The Magians and the dwellers on the mounds; Of all the nations all strange scripts he traced One after other with his writing-stick. Reading the master's verse in every tongue; And Viswamitra said, "It is enough, Let us to numbers. "After me repeat Your numeration till we reach the Lakh, One, two, three, four, to ten, and then by tens To hundreds, thousands." After him the child Named digits, decads, centuries; nor paused, The round Lakh reached, but softly murmured on "Then comes the koti, nahut, ninnahut, Khamba, viskhamba, abab, attata, To kumuds, gundhikas, and utpalas, By pundarikas unto padumas, Which last is how you count the utmost grains Of Hastagiri ground to finest dust; But beyond that a numeration is, The Katha, used to count the stars of night; The Koti-Katha, for the ocean drops; Ingga, the calculus of circulars; Sarvanikchepa, by the which you deal With all the sands of Gunga, till we come To Antah-Kalpas, where the unit is The sands of ten crore Gungas. If one seeks More comprehensive scale, th' arithmic mounts By the Asankya, which is the tale Of all the drops that in ten thousand years Would fall on all the worlds by daily rain; Thence unto Maha Kalpas, by the which The Gods compute their future and their past." "'Tis good," the Sage rejoined, "Most noble Prince, If these thou know'st, needs it that I should teach The mensuration of the lineal?" Humbly the boy replied, "Acharya!" "Be pleased to hear me. Paramanus ten A parasukshma make; ten of those build The trasarene, and seven trasarenes One mote's-length floating in the beam, seven motes The whisker-point of mouse, and ten of these One likhya; likhyas ten a yuka, ten Yukas a heart of barley, which is held Seven times a wasp-waist; so unto the grain Of mung and mustard and the barley-corn, Whereof ten give the finger joint, twelve joints The span, wherefrom we reach the cubit, staff, Bow-length, lance-length; while twenty lengths of lance Mete what is named a 'breath,' which is to say Such space as man may stride with lungs once filled, Whereof a gow is forty, four times that A yojana; and, Master! if it please, I shall recite how many sun-motes lie From end to end within a yojana." Thereat, with instant skill, the little Prince Pronounced the total of the atoms true. But Viswamitra heard it on his face Prostrate before the boy; "For thou," he cried, "Art Teacher of thy teachers—thou, not I, Art Guru. Oh, I worship thee, sweet Prince! That comest to my school only to show Thou knowest all without the books, and know'st Fair reverence besides." Which reverence Lord Buddha kept to all his schoolmasters, Albeit beyond their learning taught; in speech Right gentle, yet so wise; princely of mien, Yet softly-mannered; modest, deferent, And tender-hearted, though of fearless blood; No bolder horseman in the youthful band E'er rode in gay chase of the shy gazelles; No keener driver of the chariot In mimic contest scoured the Palace-courts; Yet in mid-play the boy would ofttimes pause, Letting the deer pass free; would ofttimes yield His half-won race because the labouring steeds Fetched painful breath; or if his princely mates Saddened to lose, or if some wistful dream Swept o'er his thoughts. And ever with the years Waxed this compassionateness of our Lord, Even as a great tree grows from two soft leaves To spread its shade afar; but hardly yet Knew the young child of sorrow, pain, or tears, Save as strange names for things not felt by kings, Nor ever to be felt. But it befell In the Royal garden on a day of spring, A flock of wild swans passed, voyaging north To their nest-places on Himala's breast. Calling in love-notes down their snowy line The bright birds flew, by fond love piloted; And Devadatta, cousin of the Prince, Pointed his bow, and loosed a wilful shaft Which found the wide wing of the foremost swan Broad-spread to glide upon the free blue road, So that it fell, the bitter arrow fixed, Bright scarlet blood-gouts staining the pure plumes. Which seeing, Prince Siddartha took the bird Tenderly up, rested it in his lap Sitting with knees crossed, as Lord Buddha sits And, soothing with a touch the wild thing's fright, Composed its ruffled vans, calmed its quick heart, Caressed it into peace with light kind palms As soft as plantain-leaves an hour unrolled; And while the left hand held, the right hand drew The cruel steel forth from the wound and laid Cool leaves and healing honey on the smart. Yet all so little knew the boy of pain That curiously into his wrist he pressed The arrow's barb, and winced to feel it sting, And turned with tears to soothe his bird again. Then some one came who said, "My Prince hath shot A swan, which fell among the roses here, He bids me pray you send it. Will you send?" "Nay," quoth Siddartha, "if the bird were dead To send it to the slayer might be well, But the swan lives; my cousin hath but killed The god-like speed which throbbed in this white wing." And Devadatta answered, "The wild thing, Living or dead, is his who fetched it down; 'T was no man's in the clouds, but fall'n 't is mine, Give me my prize, fair Cousin." Then our Lord Laid the swan's neck beside his own smooth cheek And gravely spake, "Say no! the bird is mine, The first of myriad things which shall be mine By right of mercy and love's lordliness. For now I know, by what within me stirs, That I shall teach compassion unto men And be a speechless world's interpreter, Abating this accursed flood of woe, Not man's alone; but, if the Prince disputes, Let him submit this matter to the wise And we will wait their word." So was it done; In full divan the business had debate, And many thought this thing and many that, Till there arose an unknown priest who said, "If life be aught, the saviour of a life Owns more the living thing than he can own Who sought to slay—the slayer spoils and wastes, The cherisher sustains, give him the bird:" Which judgment all found just; but when the King Sought out the sage for honour, he was gone; And some one saw a hooded snake glide forth,— The gods come ofttimes thus! So our Lord Buddh Began his works of mercy. Yet not more Knew he as yet of grief than that one bird's, Which, being healed, went joyous to its kind. But on another day the King said, "Come, Sweet son! and see the pleasaunce of the spring, And how the fruitful earth is wooed to yield Its riches to the reaper; how my realm— Which shall be thine when the pile flames for me— Feeds all its mouths and keeps the King's chest filled. Fair is the season with new leaves, bright blooms, Green grass, and cries of plough-time." So they rode Into a lane of wells and gardens, where, All up and down the rich red loam, the steers Strained their strong shoulders in the creaking yoke Dragging the ploughs; the fat soil rose and rolled In smooth dark waves back from the plough; who drove Planted both feet upon the leaping share To make the furrow deep; among the palms The tinkle of the rippling water rang, And where it ran the glad earth 'broidered it With balsams and the spears of lemon-grass. Elsewhere were sowers who went forth to sow; And all the jungle laughed with nesting-songs, And all the thickets rustled with small life Of lizard, bee, beetle, and creeping things Pleased at the spring-time. In the mango-sprays The sun-birds flashed; alone at his green forge Toiled the loud coppersmith; bee-eaters hawked Chasing the purple butterflies; beneath, Striped squirrels raced, the mynas perked and picked, The nine brown sisters chattered in the thorn, The pied fish-tiger hung above the pool, The egrets stalked among the buffaloes, The kites sailed circles in the golden air; About the painted temple peacocks flew, The blue doves cooed from every well, far off The village drums beat for some marriage-feast; All things spoke peace and plenty, and the Prince Saw and rejoiced. But, looking deep, he saw The thorns which grow upon this rose of life How the sweat peasant sweated for his wage, Toiling for leave to live; and how he urged The great-eyed oxen through the flaming hours, Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too, How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him, And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed The fish-tiger of that which it had seized; The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did chase The jewelled butterflies; till everywhere Each slew a slayer and in turn was slain, Life living upon death. So the fair show Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy Of mutual murder, from the worm to man, Who himself kills his fellow; seeing which— The hungry ploughman and his labouring kine, Their dewlaps blistered with the bitter yoke, The rage to live which makes all living strife— The Prince Siddartha sighed. "In this," he said, "That happy earth they brought me forth to see? How salt with sweat the peasant's bread! how hard The oxen's service! in the brake how fierce The war of weak and strong! i' th' air what plots! No refuge e'en in water. Go aside A space, and let me muse on what ye show." So saying, the good Lord Buddha seated him Under a jambu-tree, with ankles crossed— As holy statues sit—and first began To meditate this deep disease of life, What its far source and whence its remedy. So vast a pity filled him, such wide love For living things, such passion to heal pain, That by their stress his princely spirit passed To ecstasy, and, purged from mortal taint Of sense and self, the boy attained thereat Dhyana, first step of "the path." There flew High overhead that hour five holy ones, Whose free wings faltered as they passed the tree. "What power superior draws us from our flight?" They asked, for spirits feel all force divine, And know the sacred presence of the pure. Then, looking downward, they beheld the Buddh Crowned with a rose-hued aureole, intent On thoughts to save; while from the grove a voice Cried, "Rishis! this is He shall help the world, Descend and worship." So the Bright Ones came And sang a song of praise, folding their wings, Then journeyed on, taking good news to Gods. But certain from the King seeking the Prince Found him still musing, though the noon was past, And the sun hastened to the western hills Yet, while all shadows moved, the jambu-tree's Stayed in one quarter, overspreading him, Lest the sloped rays should strike that sacred head; And he who saw this sight heard a voice say, Amid the blossoms of the rose-apple, "Let be the King's son! till the shadow goes Forth from his heart my shadow will not shift."
Now, when our Lord was come to eighteen years, The King commanded that there should be built Three stately houses, one of hewn square beams With cedar lining, warm for winter days; One of veined marbles, cool for summer heat; And one of burned bricks, with blue tiles bedecked, Pleasant at seed-time, when the champaks bud— Subha, Suramma, Ramma, were their names. Delicious gardens round about them bloomed, Streams wandered wild and musky thickets stretched, With many a bright pavilion and fair lawn In midst of which Siddartha strayed at will, Some new delight provided every hour; And happy hours he knew, for life was rich, With youthful blood at quickest; yet still came The shadows of his meditation back, As the lake's silver dulls with driving clouds. Which the King marking, called his Ministers: "Bethink ye, sirs I how the old Rishi spake," He said, "and what my dream-readers foretold. This boy, more dear to me than mine heart's blood, Shall be of universal dominance, Trampling the neck of all his enemies, A King of kings—and this is in my heart;— Or he shall tread the sad and lowly path Of self-denial and of pious pains, Gaining who knows what good, when all is lost Worth keeping; and to this his wistful eyes Do still incline amid my palaces. But ye are sage, and ye will counsel me; How may his feet be turned to that proud road Where they should walk, and all fair signs come true Which gave him Earth to rule, if he would rule?" The eldest answered, "Maharaja! love Will cure these thin distempers; weave the spell Of woman's wiles about his idle heart. What knows this noble boy of beauty yet, Eyes that make heaven forgot, and lips of balm? Find him soft wives and pretty playfellows; The thoughts ye cannot stay with brazen chains A girl's hair lightly binds." And all thought good, But the King answered, "if we seek him wives, Love chooseth ofttimes with another eye; And if we bid range Beauty's garden round, To pluck what blossom pleases, he will smile And sweetly shun the joy he knows not of." Then said another, "Roams the barasingh Until the fated arrow flies; for him, As for less lordly spirits, some one charms, Some face will seem a Paradise, some form Fairer than pale Dawn when she wakes the world. This do, my King! Command a festival Where the realm's maids shall be competitors In youth and grace, and sports that Sakyas use. Let the Prince give the prizes to the fair, And, when the lovely victors pass his seat, There shall be those who mark if one or two Change the fixed sadness of his tender cheek; So we may choose for Love with Love's own eyes, And cheat his Highness into happiness." This thing seemed good; wherefore upon a day The criers bade the young and beautiful Pass to the palace, for 't was in command To hold a court of pleasure, and the Prince Would give the prizes, something rich for all, The richest for the fairest judged. So flocked Kapilavastu's maidens to the gate, Each with her dark hair newly smoothed and bound, Eyelashes lustred with the soorma-stick, Fresh-bathed and scented; all in shawls and cloths Of gayest; slender hands and feet new-stained With crimson, and the tilka-spots stamped bright. Fair show it was of all those Indian girls Slow-pacing past the throne with large black eyes Fixed on the ground, for when they saw the Prince More than the awe of Majesty made beat Their fluttering hearts, he sate so passionless, Gentle, but so beyond them. Each maid took With down-dropped lids her gift, afraid to gaze; And if the people hailed some lovelier one Beyond her rivals worthy royal smiles, She stood like a scared antelope to touch The gracious hand, then fled to join her mates Trembling at favour, so divine he seemed, So high and saint-like and above her world. Thus filed they, one bright maid after another, The city's flowers, and all this beauteous march Was ending and the prizes spent, when last Came young Yasodhara, and they that stood Nearest Siddartha saw the princely boy Start, as the radiant girl approached. A form Of heavenly mould; a gait like Parvati's; the Eyes like a hind's in love-time, face so fair Words cannot paint its spell; and she alone Gazed full-folding her palms across her breasts On the boy's gaze, her stately neck unbent. "Is there a gift for me?" she asked, and smiled. "The gifts are gone," the Prince replied, "yet take This for amends, dear sister, of whose grace Our happy city boasts;" therewith he loosed The emerald necklet from his throat, and clasped Its green beads round her dark and silk-soft waist; And their eyes mixed, and from the look sprang love. Long after—when enlightenment was full— Lord Buddha—being prayed why thus his heart Took fire at first glance of the Sakya girl, Answered, "We were not strangers, as to us And all it seemed; in ages long gone by A hunter's son, playing with forest girls By Yamun's spring, where Nandadevi stands, Sate umpire while they raced beneath the firs Like hares at eve that run their playful rings; One with flower-stars crowned he, one with long plumes Plucked from eyed pheasant and the junglecock, One with fir-apples; but who ran the last Came first for him, and unto her the boy Gave a tame fawn and his heart's love beside. And in the wood they lived many glad years, And in the wood they undivided died. Lo! as hid seed shoots after rainless years, So good and evil, pains and pleasures, hates And loves, and all dead deeds, come forth again Bearing bright leaves or dark, sweet fruit or sour. Thus I was he and she Yasodhara; And while the wheel of birth and death turns round, That which hath been must be between us two." But they who watched the Prince at prize-giving Saw and heard all, and told the careful King How sate Sidddrtha heedless till there passed Great Suprabuddha's child, Yasodhara; And how—at sudden sight of her—he changed, And how she gazed on him and he on her, And of the jewel-gift, and what beside Passed in their speaking glance. The fond King smiled: "Look! we have found a lure; take counsel now To fetch therewith our falcon from the clouds. Let messengers be sent to ask the maid In marriage for my son." But it was law With Sakyas, when any asked a maid Of noble house, fair and desirable, He must make good his skill in martial arts Against all suitors who should challenge it; Nor might this custom break itself for kings. Therefore her father spake: "Say to the King, The child is sought by princes far and near; If thy most gentle son can bend the bow, Sway sword, and back a horse better than they, Best would he be in all and best to us But how shall this be, with his cloistered ways?" Then the King's heart was sore, for now the Prince Begged sweet Yasodhara for wife—in vain, With Devadatta foremost at the bow, Ardjuna master of all fiery steeds, And Nanda chief in sword-play; but the Prince Laughed low and said, "These things, too, I have learned; Make proclamation that thy son will meet All comers at their chosen games. I think I shall not lose my love for such as these." So 't was given forth that on the seventh day The Prince Siddartha summoned whoso would To match with him in feats of manliness, The victor's crown to be Yasodhara. Therefore, upon the seventh day, there went The Sakya lords and town and country round Unto the maidan; and the maid went too Amid her kinsfolk, carried as a bride, With music, and with litters gaily dight, And gold-horned oxen, flower-caparisoned. Whom Devadatta claimed, of royal line, And Nanda and Ardjuna, noble both, The flower of all youths there, till the Prince came Riding his white horse Kantaka, which neighed, Astonished at this great strange world without Also Siddartha gazed with wondering eyes On all those people born beneath the throne, Otherwise housed than kings, otherwise fed, And yet so like—perchance—in joys and griefs. But when the Prince saw sweet Yasodhara, Brightly he smiled, and drew his silken rein, Leaped to the earth from Kantaka's broad back, And cried, "He is not worthy of this pearl Who is not worthiest; let my rivals prove If I have dared too much in seeking her." Then Nanda challenged for the arrow-test And set a brazen drum six gows away, Ardjuna six and Devadatta eight; But Prince Siddartha bade them set his drum Ten gows from off the line, until it seemed A cowry-shell for target. Then they loosed, And Nanda pierced his drum, Ardjuna his, And Devadatta drove a well-aimed shaft Through both sides of his mark, so that the crowd Marvelled and cried; and sweet Yasodhara Dropped the gold sari o'er her fearful eyes, Lest she should see her Prince's arrow fail. But he, taking their bow of lacquered cane, With sinews bound, and strung with silver wire, Which none but stalwart arms could draw a span, Thrummed it—low laughing—drew the twisted string Till the horns kissed, and the thick belly snapped "That is for play, not love," he said; "hath none A bow more fit for Sakya lords to use?" And one said, "There is Sinhahanu's bow, Kept in the temple since we know not when, Which none can string, nor draw if it be strung." "Fetch me," he cried, "that weapon of a man!" They brought the ancient bow, wrought of black steel, Laid with gold tendrils on its branching curves Like bison-horns; and twice Siddartha tried Its strength across his knee, then spake "Shoot now With this, my cousins!" but they could not bring The stubborn arms a hand's-breadth nigher use; Then the Prince, lightly leaning, bent the bow, Slipped home the eye upon the notch, and twanged Sharply the cord, which, like an eagle's wing Thrilling the air, sang forth so clear and loud That feeble folk at home that day inquired "What is this sound?" and people answered them, "It is the sound of Sinhahanu's bow, Which the King's son has strung and goes to shoot;" Then fitting fair a shaft, he drew and loosed, And the keen arrow clove the sky, and drave Right through that farthest drum, nor stayed its flight, But skimmed the plain beyond, past reach of eye. Then Devadatta challenged with the sword, And clove a Talas-tree six fingers thick; Ardjuna seven; and Nanda cut through nine; But two such stems together grew, and both Siddartha's blade shred at one flashing stroke, Keen, but so smooth that the straight trunks upstood, And Nanda cried, "His edge turned!" and the maid Trembled anew seeing the trees erect, Until the Devas of the air, who watched, Blew light breaths from the south, and both green crowns Crashed in the sand, clean-felled. Then brought they steeds, High-mettled, nobly-bred, and three times scoured Around the maidan, but white Kantaka Left even the fleetest far behind—so swift, That ere the foam fell from his mouth to earth Twenty spear-lengths he flew; but Nanda said, "We too might win with such as Kantaka; Bring an unbroken horse, and let men see Who best can back him." So the syces brought A stallion dark as night, led by three chains, Fierce-eyed, with nostrils wide and tossing mane, Unshod, unsaddled, for no rider yet Had crossed him. Three times each young Sakya Sprang to his mighty back, but the hot steed Furiously reared, and flung them to the plain In dust and shame; only Ardjuna held His seat awhile, and, bidding loose the chains, Lashed the black flank, and shook the bit, and held The proud jaws fast with grasp of master-hand, So that in storms of wrath and rage and fear The savage stallion circled once the plain Half-tamed; but sudden turned with naked teeth, Gripped by the foot Ardjuna, tore him down, And would have slain him, but the grooms ran in, Fettering the maddened beast. Then all men cried, "Let not Siddartha meddle with this Bhut, Whose liver is a tempest, and his blood Red flame;" but the Prince said, "Let go the chains, Give me his forelock only," which he held With quiet grasp, and, speaking some low word, Laid his right palm across the stallion's eyes, And drew it gently down the angry face, And all along the neck and panting flanks, Till men astonished saw the night-black horse Sink his fierce crest and stand subdued and meek, As though he knew our Lord and worshipped him. Nor stirred he while Siddartha mounted, then Went soberly to touch of knee and rein Before all eyes, so that the people said, "Strive no more, for Siddartha is the best." And all the suitors answered "He is best!" And Suprabuddha, father of the maid, Said, "It was in our hearts to find thee best, Being dearest, yet what magic taught thee more Of manhood 'mid thy rose-bowers and thy dreams Than war and chase and world's work bring to these? But wear, fair Prince, the treasure thou halt won." Then at a word the lovely Indian girl Rose from her place above the throng, and took A crown of mogra-flowers and lightly drew The veil of black and gold across her brow, Proud pacing past the youths, until she came To where Siddartha stood in grace divine, New lighted from the night-dark steed, which bent Its strong neck meekly underneath his arm. Before the Prince lowly she bowed, and bared Her face celestial beaming with glad love; Then on his neck she hung the fragrant wreath, And on his breast she laid her perfect head, And stooped to touch his feet with proud glad eyes, Saying, "Dear Prince, behold me, who am thine!" And all the throng rejoiced, seeing them pass Hand fast in hand, and heart beating with heart, The veil of black and gold drawn close again. Long after—when enlightenment was come— They prayed Lord Buddha touching all, and why She wore this black and gold, and stepped so proud. And the World-honoured answered, "Unto me This was unknown, albeit it seemed half known; For while the wheel of birth and death turns round, Past things and thoughts, and buried lives come back. I now remember, myriad rains ago, What time I roamed Himala's hanging woods, A tiger, with my striped and hungry kind; I, who am Buddh, couched in the kusa grass Gazing with green blinked eyes upon the herds Which pastured near and nearer to their death Round my day-lair; or underneath the stars I roamed for prey, savage, insatiable, Sniffing the paths for track of man and deer. Amid the beasts that were my fellows then, Met in deep jungle or by reedy jheel, A tigress, comeliest of the forest, set The males at war; her hide was lit with gold, Black-broidered like the veil Yasodhara Wore for me; hot the strife waged in that wood With tooth and claw, while underneath a neem The fair beast watched us bleed, thus fiercely wooed. And I remember, at the end she came Snarling past this and that torn forest-lord Which I had conquered, and with fawning jaws Licked my quick-heaving flank, and with me went Into the wild with proud steps, amorously. The wheel of birth and death turns low and high." Therefore the maid was given unto the Prince A willing spoil; and when the stars were good— Mesha, the Red Ram, being Lord of heaven— The marriage feast was kept, as Sakyas use, The golden gadi set, the carpet spread, The wedding garlands hung, the arm-threads tied, The sweet cake broke, the rice and attar thrown, The two straws floated on the reddened milk, Which, coming close, betokened "love till death;" The seven steps taken thrice around the fire, The gifts bestowed on holy men, the alms And temple offerings made, the mantras sung, The garments of the bride and bridegroom tied. Then the grey father spake: "Worshipful Prince, She that was ours henceforth is only thine; Be good to her, who hath her life in thee." Wherewith they brought home sweet Yasodhara, With songs and trumpets, to the Prince's arms, And love was all in all. Yet not to love Alone trusted the King; love's prison-house Stately and beautiful he bade them build, So that in all the earth no marvel was Like Vishramvan, the Prince's pleasure-place. Midway in those wide palace-grounds there rose A verdant hill whose base Rohini bathed, Murmuring adown from Himalay's broad feet, To bear its tribute into Gunga's waves. Southward a growth of tamarind trees and sal, Thick set with pale sky-coloured ganthi flowers, Shut out the world, save if the city's hum Came on the wind no harsher than when bees Hum out of sight in thickets. Northward soared The stainless ramps of huge Hamala's wall, Ranged in white ranks against the blue-untrod Infinite, wonderful—whose uplands vast, And lifted universe of crest and crag, Shoulder and shelf, green slope and icy horn, Riven ravine, and splintered precipice Led climbing thought higher and higher, until It seemed to stand in heaven and speak with gods. Beneath the snows dark forests spread, sharp laced With leaping cataracts and veiled with clouds Lower grew rose-oaks and the great fir groves Where echoed pheasant's call and panther's cry Clatter of wild sheep on the stones, and scream Of circling eagles: under these the plain Gleamed like a praying-carpet at the foot Of those divinest altars. 'Fronting this The builders set the bright pavilion up, 'Fair-planted on the terraced hill, with towers On either flank and pillared cloisters round. Its beams were carved with stories of old time— Radha and Krishna and the sylvan girls— Sita and Hanuman and Draupadi; And on the middle porch God Ganesha, With disc and hook—to bring wisdom and wealth— Propitious sate, wreathing his sidelong trunk. By winding ways of garden and of court The inner gate was reached, of marble wrought, White with pink veins; the lintel lazuli, The threshold alabaster, and the doors Sandalwood, cut in pictured panelling; Whereby to lofty halls and shadowy bowers Passed the delighted foot, on stately stairs, Through latticed galleries, 'neath painted roofs And clustering columns, where cool fountains—fringed With lotus and nelumbo—danced, and fish Gleamed through their crystal, scarlet, gold, and blue. Great-eyed gazelles in sunny alcoves browsed The blown red roses; birds of rainbow wing Fluttered among the palms; doves, green and grey, Built their safe nests on gilded cornices; Over the shining pavements peacocks drew The splendours of their trains, sedately watched By milk-white herons and the small house-owls. The plum-necked parrots swung from fruit to fruit; The yellow sunbirds whirred from bloom to bloom, The timid lizards on the lattice basked Fearless, the squirrels ran to feed from hand, For all was peace: the shy black snake, that gives Fortune to households, sunned his sleepy coils Under the moon-flowers, where the musk-deer played, And brown-eyed monkeys chattered to the crows. And all this house of love was peopled fair With sweet attendance, so that in each part With lovely sights were gentle faces found, Soft speech and willing service, each one glad To gladden, pleased at pleasure, proud to obey; Till life glided beguiled, like a smooth stream Banked by perpetual flowers, Yasodhara Queen of the enchanting Court. But innermost, Beyond the richness of those hundred halls, A secret chamber lurked, where skill had spent All lovely fantasies to lull the mind. The entrance of it was a cloistered square— Roofed by the sky, and in the midst a tank— Of milky marble built, and laid with slabs Of milk-white marble; bordered round the tank And on the steps, and all along the frieze With tender inlaid work of agate-stones. Cool as to tread in summer-time on snows It was to loiter there; the sunbeams dropped Their gold, and, passing into porch and niche, Softened to shadows, silvery, pale, and dim, As if the very Day paused and grew Eve. In love and silence at that bower's gate; For there beyond the gate the chamber was, Beautiful, sweet; a wonder of the world! Soft light from perfumed lamps through windows fell Of nakre and stained stars of lucent film On golden cloths outspread, and silken beds, And heavy splendour of the purdah's fringe, Lifted to take only the loveliest in. Here, whether it was night or day none knew, For always streamed that softened light, more bright Than sunrise, but as tender as the eve's; And always breathed sweet airs, more joy-giving Than morning's, but as cool as midnight's breath; And night and day lutes sighed, and night and day Delicious foods were spread, and dewy fruits, Sherbets new chilled with snows of Himalay, And sweetmeats made of subtle daintiness, With sweet tree-milk in its own ivory cup. And night and day served there a chosen band Of nautch girls, cup-bearers, and cymballers, Delicate, dark-browed ministers of love, Who fanned the sleeping eyes of the happy Prince, And when he waked, led back his thoughts to bliss With music whispering through the blooms, and charm Of amorous songs and dreamy dances, linked By chime of ankle-bells and wave of arms And silver vina-strings; while essences Of musk and champak and the blue haze spread From burning spices soothed his soul again To drowse by sweet Yasodhara; and thus Siddartha lived forgetting. Furthermore, The King commanded that within those walls No mention should be made of death or age, Sorrow, or pain, or sickness. If one drooped In the lovely Court—her dark glance dim, her feet Faint in the dance—the guiltless criminal Passed forth an exile from that Paradise, Lest he should see and suffer at her woe. Bright-eyed intendants watched to execute Sentence on such as spake of the harsh world Without, where aches and plagues were, tears and fears, And wail of mourners, and grim fume of pyres. `T was treason if a thread of silver strayed In tress of singing-girl or nautch-dancer; And every dawn the dying rose was plucked, The dead leaves hid, all evil sights removed For said the King, "If he shall pass his youth Far from such things as move to wistfulness, And brooding on the empty eggs of thought, The shadow of this fate, too vast for man, May fade, belike, and I shall see him grow To that great stature of fair sovereignty When he shall rule all lands—if he will rule— The King of kings and glory of his time." Wherefore, around that pleasant prison house Where love was gaoler and delights its bars, But far removed from sight—the King bade build A massive wall, and in the wall a gate With brazen folding-doors, which but to roll Back on their hinges asked a hundred arms; Also the noise of that prodigious gate Opening was heard full half a yojana. And inside this another gate he made, And yet within another—through the three Must one pass if he quit that pleasure-house. Three mighty gates there were, bolted and barred, And over each was set a faithful watch; And the King's order said, "Suffer no man To pass the gates, though he should be the Prince This on your lives—even though it be my son."
In which calm home of happy life and love Ligged our Lord Buddha, knowing not of woe, Nor want, nor pain, nor plague, nor age, nor death, Save as when sleepers roam dim seas in dreams, And land awearied on the shores of day, Bringing strange merchandise from that black voyage. Thus ofttimes when he lay with gentle head Lulled on the dark breasts of Yasodhara, Her fond hands fanning slow his sleeping lids, He would start up and cry, "My world! Oh, world! I hear! I know! I come!" And she would ask, "What ails my Lord?" with large eyes terrorstruck; For at such times the pity in his look Was awful, and his visage like a god's. Then would he smile again to stay her tears, And bid the vinas sound; but once they set A stringed gourd on the sill, there where the wind Could linger o'er its notes and play at will— Wild music makes the wind on silver strings— And those who lay around heard only that; But Prince Siddartha heard the Devas play, And to his ears they sang such words as these:— We are the voices of the wandering wind, Which moan for rest and rest can never find; Lo! as the wind is so is mortal life, A moan, a sigh, a sob, a storm, a strife. Wherefore and whence we are ye cannot know, Nor where life springs nor whither life doth go; We are as ye are, ghosts from the inane, What pleasure have we of our changeful pain? What pleasure hast thou of thy changeless bliss? Nay, if love lasted, there were joy in this; But life's way is the wind's way, all these things Are but brief voices breathed on shifting strings. O Maya's son! because we roam the earth Moan we upon these strings; we make no mirth, So many woes we see in many lands, So many streaming eyes and wringing hands. Yet mock we while we wail, for, could they know, This life they cling to is but empty show; 'Twere all as well to bid a cloud to stand, Or hold a running river with the hand. But thou that art to save, thine hour is nigh! The sad world waileth in its misery, The blind world stumbleth on its round of pain; Rise, Maya's child! wake! slumber not again! We are the voices of the wandering wind Wander thou, too, O Prince, thy rest to find; Leave love for love of lovers, for woe's sake Quit state for sorrow, and deliverance make. So sigh we, passing o'er the silver strings, To thee who know'st not yet of earthly things; So say we; mocking, as we pass away, These lovely shadows wherewith thou dost play. Thereafter it befell he sate at eve Amid his beauteous Court, holding the hand Of sweet Yasodhara, and some maid told— With breaks of music when her rich voice dropped— An ancient tale to speed the hour of dusk, Of love, and of a magic horse, and lands Wonderful, distant, where pale peoples dwelled And where the sun at night sank into seas. Then spake he, sighing, "Chitra brings me back. The wind's song in the strings with that fair tale. Give her, Yasodhara, thy pearl for thanks. But thou, my pearl! is there so wide a world? Is there a land which sees the great sun roll Into the waves, and are there hearts like ours, Countless, unknown, not happy—it may be— Whom we might succour if we knew of them? Ofttimes I marvel, as the Lord of day Treads from the east his kingly road of gold, Who first on the world's edge hath hailed his beam, The children of the morning; oftentimes, Even in thine arms and on thy breasts, bright wife, Sore have I panted, at the sun's decline, To pass with him into that crimson west And see the peoples of the evening. There must be many we should love—how else? Now have I in this hour an ache, at last, Thy soft lips cannot kiss away: oh, girl! O Chitra! you that know of fairyland! Where tether they that swift steed of the tale? My palace for one day upon his back, To ride and ride and see the spread of the earth! Nay, if I had yon callow vulture's plumes— The carrion heir of wider realms than mine— How would I stretch for topmost Himalay, Light where the rose-gleam lingers on those snows, And strain my gaze with searching what is round! Why have I never seen and never sought? Tell me what lies beyond our brazen gates." Then one replied, "The city first, fair Prince! The temples, and the gardens, and the groves, And then the fields, and afterwards fresh fields, With nullahs, maidans, jungle, koss on koss; And next King Bimbasara's realm, and then The vast flat world, with crores on crores of folk." "Good," said Siddartha, "let the word be sent That Channa yoke my chariot—at noon Tomorrow I shall ride and see beyond." Whereof they told the King: "Our Lord, thy son, Wills that his chariot be yoked at noon, That he may ride abroad and see mankind." "Yea!" spake the careful King, "'tis time he see! But let the criers go about and bid My city deck itself, so there be met No noisome sight; and let none blind or maimed, None that is sick or stricken deep in years, No leper, and no feeble folk come forth." Therefore the stones were swept, and up and down The water-carriers sprinkled all the streets From spirting skins, the housewives scattered fresh Red powder on their thresholds, strung new wreaths, And trimmed the tulsi-bush before their doors. The paintings on the walls were heightened up With liberal brush, the trees set thick with flags, The idols gilded; in the four-went ways Suryadeva and the great gods shone 'Mid shrines of leaves; so that the city seemed A capital of some enchanted land. Also the criers passed, with drum and gong, Proclaiming loudly, "Ho! all citizens, The King commands that there be seen today No evil sight: let no one blind or maimed, None that is sick or stricken deep in years, No leper, and no feeble folk go forth. Let none, too, burn his dead nor bring them out Till nightfall. Thus Suddhodana commands." So all was comely and the houses trim Throughout Kapilavastu, while the Prince Came forth in painted car, which two steers drew, Snow-white, with swinging dewlaps and huge humps Wrinkled against the carved and lacquered yoke. Goodly it was to mark the people's joy Greeting their Prince; and glad. Siddartha waxed At sight of all those liege and friendly folk Bright-clad and laughing as if life were good. "Fair is the world," he said, "it likes me well! And light and kind these men that are not kings, And sweet my sisters here, who toil and tend; What have I done for these to make them thus? Why, if I love them, should those children know? I pray take up yon pretty Sakya boy Who flung us flowers, and let him ride with me. How good it is to reign in realms like this! How simple pleasure is, if these be pleased Because I come abroad! How many things I need not if such little households hold Enough to make our city full of smiles! Drive, Channa! through the gates, and let me see More of this gracious world I have not known." So passed they through the gates, a joyous crowd Thronging about the wheels, whereof some ran Before the oxen, throwing wreaths, some stroked Their silken flanks, some brought them rice and cakes, All crying, "Jai! jai! for our noble Prince!" Thus all the path was kept with gladsome looks And filled with fair sights—for the King's word was That such should be—when midway in the road, Slow tottering from the hovel where he hid, Crept forth a wretch in rags, haggard and foul, An old, old man, whose shrivelled skin, suntanned, Clung like a beast's hide to his fleshless bones. Bent was his back with load of many days, His eyepits red with rust of ancient tears, His dim orbs blear with rheum, his toothless jaws Wagging with palsy and the fright to see So many and such joy. One skinny hand Clutched a worn staff to prop his quavering limbs, And one was pressed upon the ridge of ribs Whence came in gasps the heavy painful breath. "Alms!" moaned he, "give, good people! for I die Tomorrow or the next day!" then the cough Choked him, but still he stretched his palm, and stood Blinking, and groaning 'mid his spasms, "Alms!" Then those around had wrenched his feeble feet Aside, and thrust him from the road again, Saying, "The Prince! dost see? get to thy lair!" But that Siddartha cried, "Let be! let be! Channa! what thing is this who seems a man, Yet surely only seems, being so bowed, So miserable, so horrible, so sad? Are men born sometimes thus? What meaneth he Moaning 'tomorrow or next day I die?' Finds he no food that so his bones jut forth? What woe hath happened to this piteous one?" Then answer made the charioteer, "Sweet Prince! This is no other than an aged man. Some fourscore years ago his back was straight, His eye bright, and his body goodly: now The thievish years have sucked his sap away, Pillaged his strength and filched his will and wit; His lamp has lost its oil, the wick burns black; What life he keeps is one poor lingering spark Which flickers for the finish: such is age; Why should your Highness heed?" Then spake the Prince "But shall this come to others, or to all, Or is it rare that one should be as he?" "Most noble," answered Channa, "even as he, Will all these grow if they shall live so long." "But," quoth the Prince, "if I shall live as long Shall I be thus; and if Yasodhara Live fourscore years, is this old age for her, Jalini, little Hasta, Gautami, And Gunga, and the others?" "Yea, great Sir!" The charioteer replied. Then spake the Prince "Turn back, and drive me to my house again! I have seen that I did not think to see." Which pondering, to his beauteous Court returned Wistful Siddartha, sad of mien and mood; Nor tasted he the white cakes nor the fruits Spread for the evening feast, nor once looked up While the best palace-dancers strove to charm Nor spake—save one sad thing—when wofully Yasodhara sank to his feet and wept, Sighing, "Hath not my Lord comfort in me?" "Ah, Sweet!" he said, "such comfort that my soul Aches, thinking it must end, for it will end, And we shall both grow old, Yasodhara! Loveless, unlovely, weak, and old, and bowed. Nay, though we locked up love and life with lips So close that night and day our breaths grew one Time would thrust in between to filch away My passion and thy grace, as black Night steals The rose-gleams from you peak, which fade to grey And are not seen to fade. This have I found, And all my heart is darkened with its dread, And all my heart is fixed to think how Love Might save its sweetness from the slayer, Time, Who makes men old." So through that night he sate Sleepless, uncomforted. And all that night The King Suddhodana dreamed troublous dreams. The first fear of his vision was a flag Broad, glorious, glistening with a golden sun, The mark of Indra; but a strong wind blew, Rending its folds divine, and dashing it Into the dust; whereat a concourse came Of shadowy Ones, who took the spoiled silk up And bore it eastward from the city gates. The second fear was ten huge elephants, With silver tusks and feet that shook the earth, Trampling the southern road in mighty march; And he who sate upon the foremost beast Was the King's son—the others followed him. The third fear of the vision was a car, Shining with blinding light, which four steeds drew, Snorting white smoke and champing fiery foam; And in the car the Prince Siddhartha sate. The fourth fear was a wheel which turned and turned, With nave of burning gold and jewelled spokes, And strange things written on the binding tire, Which seemed both fire and music as it whirled. The fifth fear was a mighty drum, set down Midway between the city and the hills, On which the Prince beat with an iron mace, So that the sound pealed like a thunderstorm, Rolling around the sky and far away. The sixth fear was a tower, which rose and rose High o'er the city till its stately head Shone crowned with clouds, and on the top the Prince Stood, scattering from both hands, this way and that, Gems of most lovely light, as if it rained Jacynths and rubies; and the whole world came, Striving to seize those treasures as they fell Towards the four quarters. But the seventh fear was A noise of wailing, and behold six men Who wept and gnashed their teeth, and laid their palms Upon their mouths, walking disconsolate. These seven fears made the vision of his sleep, But none of all his wisest dream-readers Could tell their meaning. Then the King was wroth, Saying, "There cometh evil to my house, And none of ye have wit to help me know What the great gods portend sending me this." So in the city men went sorrowful Because the King had dreamed seven signs of fear Which none could read; but to the gate there came An aged man, in robe of deer-skin clad, By guise a hermit, known to none; he cried, "Bring me before the King, for I can read The vision of his sleep"; who, when he heard The sevenfold mysteries of the midnight dream, Bowed reverent and said: "O Maharaj! I hail this favoured House, whence shall arise A wider-reaching splendour than the sun's! Lo! all these seven fears are seven joys, Whereof the first, where thou didst see a flag— Broad, glorious, gilt with Indra's badge—cast down And carried out, did signify the end Of old faiths and beginning of the new, For there is change with gods not less than men, And as the days pass kalpas pass at length. The ten great elephants that shook the earth The ten great gifts of wisdom signify, In strength whereof the Prince shall quit his state And shake the world with passage of the Truth. The four flame-breathing horses of the car Are those four fearless virtues which shall bring Thy son from doubt and gloom to gladsome light; The wheel that turned with nave of burning gold Was that most precious Wheel of perfect Law Which he shall turn in sight of all the world. The mighty drum whereon the Prince did beat, Till the sound filled all lands, doth signify The thunder of the preaching of the Word Which he shall preach; the tower that grew to heaven The growing of the Gospel of this Buddh Sets forth; and those rare jewels scattered thence The untold treasures are of that good Law To gods and men dear and desirable. Such is the interpretation of the tower; But for those six men weeping with shut mouths, They are the six chief teachers whom thy son Shall, with bright truth and speech unanswerable, Convince of foolishness. O King! rejoice; The fortune of my Lord the Prince is more Than kingdoms, and his hermit-rags will be Beyond fine cloths of gold. This was thy dream! And in seven nights and days these things shall fall." So spake the holy man, and lowly made The eight prostrations, touching thrice the ground; Then turned and passed; but when the King bade send A rich gift after him, the messengers Brought word, "We came to where he entered in At Chandra's temple, but within was none Save a grey owl which fluttered from the shrine." The gods come sometimes thus. But the sad King Marvelled, and gave command that new delights Be compassed to enthrall Siddartha's heart Amid those dancers of his pleasure-house, Also he set at all the brazen doors A doubled guard. Yet who shall shut out Fate? For once again the spirit of the Prince Was moved to see this world beyond his gates, This life of man, so pleasant if its waves Ran not to waste and woful finishing In Time's dry sands. "I pray you let me view Our city as it is," such was his prayer To King Suddhodana. "Your Majesty In tender heed hath warned the folk before To put away ill things and common sights, And make their faces glad to gladden me, And all the causeways gay; yet have I learned This is not daily life, and if I stand Nearest, my father, to the realm and thee, Fain would I know the people and the streets, Their simple usual ways, and workday deeds, And lives which those men live who are not kings. Give me good leave, dear Lord, to pass unknown Beyond my happy gardens; I shall come The more contented to their peace again, Or wiser, father, if not well content. Therefore, I pray thee, let me go at will Tomorrow, with my servants, through the streets." And the King said, among his Ministers "Belike this second flight may mend the first. Note how the falcon starts at every sight New from his hood, but what a quiet eye Cometh of freedom; let my son see all, And bid them bring me tidings of his mind." Thus on the morrow, when the noon was come, The Prince and Channa passed beyond the gates, Which opened to the signet of the King, Yet knew not they who rolled the great doors back It was the King's son in that merchant's robe, And in the clerkly dress his charioteer. Forth fared they by the common way afoot, Mingling with all the Sakya citizens, Seeing the glad and sad things of the town: The painted streets alive with hum of noon, The traders cross-legged 'mid their spice and grain, The buyers with their money in the cloth, The war of words to cheapen this or that, The shout to clear the road, the huge stone wheels, The strong slow oxen and their rustling loads, The singing bearers with the palanquins, The broad-necked hamals sweating in the sun, The housewives bearing water from the well With balanced chatties, and athwart their hips The black-eyed babes; the fly-swarmed sweetmeat shops, The weaver at his loom, the cotton-bow Twangling, the millstones grinding meal, the dogs Prowling for orts, the skilful armourer With tong and hammer linking shirts of mail, The blacksmith with a mattock and a spear Reddening together in his coals, the school Where round their Guru, in a grave half-moon, The Sakya children sang the mantra through, And learned the greater and the lesser gods; The dyers stretching waistcloths in the sun Wet from the vats—orange, and rose, and green; The soldiers clanking past with swords and shields, The camel-drivers rocking on the humps, The Brahman proud, the martial Kshatriya, The humble toiling Sudra; here a throng Gathered to watch some chattering snake-tamer Wind round his wrist the living jewellery Of asp and nag, or charm the hooded death To angry dance with drone of beaded gourd; There a long line of drums and horns, which went, With steeds gay painted and silk canopies, To bring the young bride home; and here a wife Stealing with cakes and garlands to the god To pray her husband's safe return from trade, Or beg a boy next birth; hard by the booths Where the sweat potters beat the noisy brass For lamps and lotas; thence, by temple walls And gateways, to the river and the bridge Under the city walls. These had they passed When from the roadside moaned a mournful voice, "Help, masters! lift me to my feet; oh, help! Or I shall die before I reach my house!" A stricken wretch it was, whose quivering frame, Caught by some deadly plague, lay in the dust Writhing, with fiery purple blotches specked; The chill sweat beaded on his brow, his mouth Was dragged awry with twichings of sore pain, The wild eyes swam with inward agony. Gasping, he clutched the grass to rise, and rose Half-way, then sank, with quaking feeble limbs And scream of terror, crying, "Ah, the pain! Good people, help!" whereon Siddartha ran, Lifted the woful man with tender hands, With sweet looks laid the sick head on his knee, And while his soft touch comforted the wretch, Asked: "Brother, what is ill with thee? what harm Hath fallen? wherefore canst thou not arise? Why is it, Channa, that he pants and moans, And gasps to speak and sighs so pitiful?" Then spake the charioteer: "Great Prince! this man Is smitten with some pest; his elements Are all confounded; in his veins the blood, Which ran a wholesome river, leaps and boils A fiery flood; his heart, which kept good time, Beats like an ill-played drum-skin, quick and slow; His sinews slacken like a bow-string slipped; The strength is gone from ham, and loin, and neck, And all the grace and joy of manhood fled; This is a sick man with the fit upon him. See how be plucks and plucks to seize his grief, And rolls his bloodshot orbs and grinds his teeth, And draws his breath as if 'twere choking smoke. Lo! now he would be dead, but shall not die Until the plague hath had its work in him, Killing the nerves which die before the life; Then, when his strings have cracked with agony And all his bones are empty of the sense To ache, the plague will quit and light elsewhere. Oh, sir! it is not good to hold him so! The harm may pass, and strike thee, even thee." But spake the Prince, still comforting the man, "And are there others, are there many thus? Or might it be to me as now with him?" "Great Lord!" answered the charioteer, "this comes In many forms to all men; griefs and wounds, Sickness and tetters, palsies, leprosies, Hot fevers, watery wastings, issues, blains Befall all flesh and enter everywhere." "Come such ills unobserved?" the Prince inquired. And Channa said: "Like the sly snake they come That stings unseen; like the striped murderer, Who waits to spring from the Karunda bush, Hiding beside the jungle path; or like The lightning, striking these and sparing those, As chance may send." "Then all men live in fear?" "So live they, Prince!" "And none can say, `I sleep Happy and whole tonight, and so shall wake'?" "None say it." "And the end of many aches, Which come unseen, and will come when they come, Is this, a broken body and sad mind, And so old age?" "Yea, if men last as long." "But if they cannot bear their agonies, Or if they will not bear, and seek a term; Or if they bear, and be, as this man is, Too weak except for groans, and so still live, And growing old, grow older, then what end?" "They die, Prince." "Die?" "Yea, at the last comes death, In whatsoever way, whatever hour. Some few grow old, most suffer and fall sick, But all must die—behold, where comes the Dead!" Then did Siddartha raise his eyes, and see Fast pacing towards the river brink a band Of wailing people, foremost one who swung An earthen bowl with lighted coals, behind The kinsmen shorn, with mourning marks, ungirt, Crying aloud, "O Rama, Rama, hear! Call upon Rama, brothers"; next the bier, Knit of four poles with bamboos interlaced, Whereon lay, stark and stiff, feet foremost, lean, Chapfallen, sightless, hollow-flanked, a-grin, Sprinkled with red and yellow dust—the Dead, Whom at the four-went ways they turned head first, And crying "Rama, Rama!" carried on To where a pile was reared beside the stream; Thereon they laid him, building fuel up— Good sleep hath one that slumbers on that bed! He shall not wake for cold albeit he lies Naked to all the airs—for soon they set The red flame to the corners four, which crept, And licked, and flickered, finding out his flesh And feeding on it with swift hissing tongues, And crackle of parched skin, and snap of joint; Till the fat smoke thinned and the ashes sank Scarlet and grey, with here and there a bone White midst the grey—the total of the man. Then spake the Prince, "Is this the end which comes To all who live?" "This is the end that comes To all," quoth Channa; "he upon the pyre— Whose remnants are so petty that the crows Caw hungrily, then quit the fruitless feast— Ate, drank, laughed, loved, and lived, and liked life well. Then came—who knows?—some gust of junglewind, A stumble on the path, a taint in the tank, A snake's nip, half a span of angry steel, A chill, a fishbone, or a falling tile, And life was over and the man is dead. No appetites, no pleasures, and no pains Hath such; the kiss upon his lips is nought, The fire-scorch nought; he smelleth not his flesh A-roast, nor yet the sandal and the spice They burn; the taste is emptied from his mouth, The hearing of his ears is clogged, the sight Is blinded in his eyes; those whom he loved Wail desolate, for even that must go, The body, which was lamp unto the life, Or worms will have a horrid feast of it. Here is the common destiny of flesh. The high and low, the good and bad, must die, And then, 't is taught, begin anew and live Somewhere, somehow,—who knows?—and so again The pangs, the parting, and the lighted pile— Such is man's round." But lo! Siddartha turned Eyes gleaming with divine tears to the sky, Eyes lit with heavenly pity to the earth; From sky to earth he looked, from earth to sky, As if his spirit sought in lonely flight Some far-off vision, linking this and that, Lost, past, but searchable, but seen, but known. Then cried he, while his lifted countenance Glowed with the burning passion of a love Unspeakable, the ardour of a hope Boundless, insatiate: "Oh! suffering world, Oh! known and unknown of my common flesh, Caught in this common net of death and woe, And life which binds to both! I see, I feel The vastness of the agony of earth, The vainness of its joys, the mockery Of all its best, the anguish of its worst; Since pleasures end in pain, and youth in age, And love in loss, and life in hateful death, And death in unknown lives, which will but yoke Men to their wheel again to whirl the round Of false delights and woes that are not false. Me too this lure hath cheated, so it seemed Lovely to live, and life a sunlit stream For ever flowing in a changeless peace; Whereas the foolish ripple of the flood Dances so lightly down by bloom and lawn Only to pour its crystal quicklier Into the foul salt sea. The veil is rent Which blinded me! I am as all these men Who cry upon their gods and are not heard Or are not heeded—yet there must be aid! For them and me and all there must be help! Perchance the gods have need of help themselves Being so feeble that when sad lips cry They cannot save! I would not let one cry Whom I could save! How can it be that Brahm Would make a world and keep it miserable, Since, if all-powerful, he leaves it so, He is not good, and if not powerful, He is not God?—Channa! lead home again! It is enough I mine eyes have seen enough!" Which when the King heard, at the gates he set A triple guard, and bade no man should pass By day or night, issuing or entering in, Until the days were numbered of that dream.
But when the days were numbered, then befell The parting of our Lord—which was to be— Whereby came wailing in the Golden Home, Woe to the King and sorrow o'er the land, But for all flesh deliverance, and that Law Which whoso hears, the same shall make him free. Softly the Indian night sinks on the plains At full moon in the month of Chaitra Shud, When mangoes redden and the asoka buds Sweeten the breeze, and Rama's birthday comes, And all the fields are glad and all the towns. Softly that night fell over Vishramvan, Fragrant with blooms and jewelled thick with stars, And cool with mountain airs sighing adown From snow-flats on Himala high-outspread; For the moon swung above the eastern peaks, Climbing the spangled vault, and lighting clear Robini's ripples and the hills and plains, And all the sleeping land, and near at hand Silvering those roof-tops of the pleasure-house, Where nothing stirred nor sign of watching was, Save at the outer gates, whose warders cried Mudra, the watchword, and the countersign Angana, and the watch-drums beat a round; Whereat the earth lay still, except for call Of prowling jackals, and the ceaseless trill Of crickets on the garden grounds. Within— Where the moon glittered through the laceworked stone, Lighting the walls of pearl-shell and the floors Paved with veined marble—softly fell her beams On such rare company of Indian girls, It seemed some chamber sweet in Paradise Where Devis rested. All the chosen ones Of Prince Siddartha's pleasure-home were there, The brightest and most faithful of the Court, Each form so lovely in the peace of sleep, That you had said "This is the pearl of all!" Save that beside her or beyond her lay Fairer and fairer, till the pleasured gaze Roamed o'er that feast of beauty as it roams From gem to gem in some great goldsmith-work, Caught by each colour till the next is seen. With careless grace they lay, their soft brown limbs Part hidden, part revealed; their glossy hair Bound back with gold or flowers, or flowing loose In black waves down the shapely nape and neck. Lulled into pleasant dreams by happy toils, They slept, no wearier than jewelled birds Which sing and love all day, then under wing Fold head till morn bids sing and love again. Lamps of chased silver swinging from the roof In silver chains, and fed with perfumed oils, Made with the moonbeams tender lights and shades, Whereby were seen the perfect lines of grace, The bosom's placid heave, the soft stained palms Drooping or clasped, the faces fair and dark, The great arched brows, the parted lips, the teeth Like pearls a merchant picks to make a string, The satin-lidded eyes, with lashes dropped Sweeping the delicate cheeks, the rounded wrists The smooth small feet with bells and bangles decked, Tinkling low music where some sleeper moved, Breaking her smiling dream of some new dance Praised by the Prince, some magic ring to find, Some fairy love-gift. Here one lay full-length, Her vina by her cheek, and in its strings The little fingers still all interlaced As when the last notes of her light song played Those radiant eyes to sleep and sealed her own. Another slumbered folding in her arms A desert-antelope, its slender head Buried with back-sloped horns between her breasts Soft nestling; it was eating—when both drowsed— Red roses, and her loosening hand still held A rose half-mumbled, while a rose-leaf curled Between the deer's lips. Here two friends had dozed Together, wearing mogra-buds, which bound Their sister-sweetness in a starry chain, Linking them limb to limb and heart to heart, One pillowed on the blossoms, one on her. Another, ere she slept, was stringing stones To make a necklet—agate, onyx, sard, Coral, and moonstone—round her wrist it gleamed A coil of splendid colour, while she held, Unthreaded yet, the bead to close it up Green turkis, carved with golden gods and scripts. Lulled by the cadence of the garden stream, Thus lay they on the clustered carpets, each A girlish rose with shut leaves, waiting dawn To open and make daylight beautiful. This was the antechamber of the Prince; But at the purdah's fringe the sweetest slept— Gunga and Gotami—chief ministers In that still house of love. The purdah hung, Crimson and blue, with broidered threads of gold, Across a portal carved in sandal-wood, Whence by three steps the way was to the bower Of inmost splendour, and the marriage-couch Set on a dais soft with silver cloths, Where the foot fell as though it trod on piles Of neem-blooms. All the walls, were plates of pearl, Cut shapely from the shells of Lanka's wave; And o'er the alabaster roof there ran Rich inlayings of lotus and of bird, Wrought in skilled work of lazulite and jade, Jacynth and jasper; woven round the dome, And down the sides, and all about the frames Wherein were set the fretted lattices, Through which there breathed, with moonlight and cool airs, Scents from the shell-flowers and the jasmine sprays; Not bringing thither grace or tenderness Sweeter than shed from those fair presences Within the place—the beauteous Sakya Prince, And hers, the stately, bright Yasodhara. Half risen from her soft nest at his side, The chuddah fallen to her waist, her brow Laid in both palms, the lovely Princess leaned With heaving bosom and fast falling tears. Thrice with her lips she touched Siddartha's hand, And at the third kiss moaned: "Awake, my Lord! Give me the comfort of thy speech!" Then he— "What is with thee, O my life?" but still She moaned anew before the words would come; Then spake: "'Alas, my Prince! I sank to sleep Most happy, for the babe I bear of thee Quickened this eve, and at my heart there beat That double pulse of life and joy and love Whose happy music lulled me, but—aho!— In slumber I beheld three sights of dread, With thought whereof my heart is throbbing yet. I saw a white bull with wide branching horns, A lord of pastures, pacing through the streets, Bearing upon his front a gem which shone As if some star had dropped to glitter there, Or like the kantha-stone the great Snake keeps To make bright daylight underneath the earth. Slow through the streets toward the gates he paced, And none could stay him, though there came a voice From Indra's temple, 'If ye stay him not, The glory of the city goeth forth. Yet none could stay him. Then I wept aloud, And locked my arms about his neck, and strove, And bade them bar the gates; but that ox-king Bellowed, and, lightly tossing free his crest, Broke from my clasp, and bursting through the bars, Trampled the warders down and passed away. The neat strange dream was this: Four Presences Splendid with shining eyes, so beautiful They seemed the Regents of the Earth who dwell On Mount Sumeru, lighting from the sky With retinue of countless heavenly ones, Swift swept unto our city, where I saw The golden flag of Indra on the gate Flutter and fall; and lo! there rose instead A glorious banner, all the folds whereof Rippled with flashing fire of rubies sewn Thick on the silver threads, the rays wherefrom Set forth new words and weighty sentences Whose message made all living creatures glad; And from the east the wind of sunrise blew With tender waft, opening those jewelled scrolls So that all flesh might read; and wondrous blooms Plucked in what clime I know not-fell in showers, Coloured as none are coloured in our groves." Then spake the Prince: "All this, my Lotus-flower! Was good to see." "Ay, Lord," the Princess said, "Save that it ended with a voice of fear Crying, `The time is nigh! the time is nigh!' Thereat the third dream came; for when I sought Thy side, sweet Lord! ah, on our bed there lay An unpressed pillow and an empty robe— Nothing of thee but those!—-nothing of thee, Who art my life and light, my king, my world! And sleeping still I rose, and sleeping saw Thy belt of pearls, tied here below my breasts, Change to a stinging snake; my ankle-rings Fall off, my golden bangles part and fall; The jasmines in my hair wither to dust; While this our bridal-couch sank to the ground, And something rent the crimson purdah down; Then far away I heard the white bull low, And far away the embroidered banner flap, And once again that cry, 'The time is come!' But with that cry—which shakes my spirit still— I woke! O Prince! what may such visions mean Except I die, or—worse than any death— Thou shouldst forsake me or be taken?" Sweet As the last smile of sunset was the look Siddartha bent upon his weeping wife. "Comfort thee, dear!" he said, "if comfort lives In changeless love; for though thy dreams may be Shadows of things to come, and though the gods Are shaken in their seats, and though the world Stands nigh, perchance, to know some way of help, Yet, whatsoever fall to thee and me, Be sure I loved and love Yasodhara. Thou knowest how I muse these many moons, Seeking to save the sad earth I have seen; And when the time comes, that which will be will. But if my soul yearns sore for souls unknown, And if I grieve for griefs which are not mine, Judge how my high-winged thoughts must hover here O'er all these lives that share and sweeten mine So dear! and thine the dearest, gentlest, best, And nearest. Ah, thou mother of my babe! Whose body mixed with mine for this fair hope, When most my spirit wanders, ranging round The lands and seas—as full of ruth for men As the far-flying dove is full of ruth For her twin nestlings—ever it has come Home with glad wing and passionate plumes to thee, Who art the sweetness of my kind best seen, The utmost of their good, the tenderest Of all their tenderness, mine most of all. Therefore, whatever after this betide, Bethink thee of that lordly bull which lowed, That jewelled banner in thy dreams which waved Its folds departing, and of this be sure, Always I loved and always love thee well, And what I sought for all sought most for thee. But thou, take comfort; and, if sorrow falls, Take comfort still in deeming there may be A way of peace on earth by woes of ours; And have with this embrace what faithful love Can think of thanks or frame for benison— Too little, seeing love's strong self is weak— Yet kiss me on the mouth, and drink these words From heart to heart therewith, that thou mayst know— What others will not—that I loved thee most Because I loved so well all living souls. Now, Princess! rest, for I will rise and watch." Then in her tears she slept, but sleeping sighed— As if that vision passed again—"The time! The time is come!" Whereat Siddartha turned, And, lo! the moon shone by the Crab! the stars In that same silver order long foretold Stood ranged to say: "This is the night!—choose thou The way of greatness or the way of good To reign a King of kings, or wander lone, Crownless and homeless, that the world be helped." Moreover, with the whispers of the gloom Came to his ears again that warning song, As when the Devas spoke upon the wind: And surely gods were round about the place Watching our Lord, who watched the shining stars. "I will depart," he spake; "the hour is come! Thy tender lips, dear sleeper, summon me To that which saves the earth but sunders us; And in the silence of yon sky I read My fated message flashing. Unto this Came I, and unto this all nights and days Have led me; for I will not have that crown Which may be mine: I lay aside those realms Which wait the gleaming of my naked sword My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels From victory to victory, till earth Wears the red record of my name. I choose To tread its paths with patient, stainless feet, Making its dust my bed, its loneliest wastes My dwelling, and its meanest things my mates: Clad in no prouder garb than outcasts wear, Fed with no meats save what the charitable Give of their will, sheltered by no more pomp Than the dim cave lends or the jungle-bush, This will I do because the woful cry Of life and all flesh living cometh up Into my ears, and all my soul is full Of pity for the sickness of this world; Which I will heal, if healing may be found By uttermost renouncing and strong strife. For which of all the great and lesser gods Have power or pity? Who hath seen them—who? What have they wrought to help their worshippers? How hath it steaded man to pray, and pay Tithes of the corn and oil, to chant the charms, To slay the shrieking sacrifice, to rear The stately fane, to feed the priests, and call On Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, who save None—not the worthiest—from the griefs that teach Those litanies of flattery and fear Ascending day by day, like wasted smoke? Hath any of my brothers 'scaped thereby The aches of life, the stings of love and loss, The fiery fever and the ague-shake, The slow, dull sinking into withered age, The horrible dark death—and what beyond Waits—till the whirling wheel comes up again, And new lives bring new sorrows to be borne, New generations for the new desires Which have their end in the old mockeries? Hath any of my tender sisters found Fruit of the fast or harvest of the hymn, Or bought one pang the less at bearing-time For white curds offered and trim tulsi-leaves? Nay; it may be some of the gods are good And evil some, but all in action weak; Both pitiful and pitiless, and both As men are—bound upon this wheel of change, Knowing the former and the after lives. For so our scriptures truly seem to teach, That—once, and wheresoe'er, and whence begun— Life runs its rounds of living, climbing up From mote, and gnat, and worm, reptile, and fish, Bird and shagged beast, man, demon, Deva, God, To clod and mote again; so are we kin To all that is; and thus, if one might save Man from his curse, the whole wide world should share The lightened horror of this ignorance Whose shadow is chill fear, and cruelty Its bitter pastime. Yea, if one might save! And means must be! There must be refuge!" "Men Perished in winter-winds till one smote fire From flint-stones coldly hiding what they held, The red spark treasured from the kindling sun. They gorged on flesh like wolves, till one sowed corn, Which grew a weed, yet makes the life of man; They mowed and babbled till some tongue struck speech, And patient fingers framed the lettered sound. What good gift have my brothers but it came From search and strife and loving sacrifice? If one, then, being great and fortunate, Rich, dowered with health and ease, from birth designed To rule—if he would rule—a King of kings; If one, not tired with life's long day, but glad I' the freshness of its morning, one not cloyed With love's delicious feasts, but hungry still; If one not worn and wrinkled, sadly sage, But joyous in the glory and the grace That mix with evils here, and free to choose Earth's loveliest at his will: one even as I, Who ache not, lack not, grieve not, save with griefs Which are not mine, except as I am man;— If such a one, having so much to give, Gave all, laying it down for love of men. And thenceforth spent himself to search for truth, Wringing the secret of deliverance forth, Whether it lurk in hells or hide in heavens, Or hover, unrevealed, nigh unto all: Surely at last, far off, sometime, somewhere, The veil would lift for his deep-searching eyes, The road would open for his painful feet, That should be won for which he lost the world, And Death might find him conqueror of death. This will I do, who have a realm to lose, Because I love my realm, because my heart Beats with each throb of all the hearts that ache, Known and unknown, these that are mine and those Which shall be mine, a thousand million more Saved by this sacrifice I offer now. Oh, summoning stars! Oh, mournful earth For thee and thine I lay aside my youth, My throne, my joys, my golden days, my nights, My happy palace—and thine arms, sweet Queen! Harder to put aside than all the rest! Yet thee, too, I shall save, saving this earth; And that which stirs within thy tender womb, My child, the hidden blossom of our loves, Whom if I wait to bless my mind will fail. Wife! child! father! and people! ye must share A little while the anguish of this hour That light may break and all flesh learn the Law. Now am I fixed, and now I will depart, Never to come again till what I seek Be found—if fervent search and strife avail." So with his brow he touched her feet, and bent The farewell of fond eyes, unutterable, Upon her sleeping face, still wet with tears; And thrice around the bed in reverence, As though it were an altar, softly stepped With clasped hands laid upon his beating heart, "For never," spake he, "lie I there again!" And thrice he made to go, but thrice came back, So strong her beauty was, so large his love Then, o'er his head drawing his cloth, he turned And raised the purdah's edge. There drooped, close-hushed, In such sealed sleep as water-lilies know, The lovely garden of his Indian girls; Those twin dark-petalled lotus-buds of all— Gunga and Gotami—on either side, And those, their silk-leaved sisterhood, beyond. "Pleasant ye are to me, sweet friends!" he said, "And dear to leave; yet if I leave ye not What else will come to all of us save eld Without assuage and death without avail? Lo! as ye lie asleep so must ye lie A-dead; and when the rose dies where are gone Its scent and splendour? when the lamp is drained Whither is fled the flame? Press heavy, Night! Upon their down-dropped lids and seal their lips, That no tear stay me and no faithful voice. For all the brighter that these made my life, The bitterer it is that they and I, And all, should live as trees do—so much spring, Such and such rains and frosts, such wintertimes, And then dead leaves, with maybe spring again, Or axe-stroke at the root. This will not I, Whose life here was a god's!—this would not I, Though all my days were godlike, while men moan Under their darkness. Therefore farewell, friends! While life is good to give, I give, and go To seek deliverance and that unknown Light!" Then, lightly treading where those sleepers lay, Into the night Siddartha passed: its eyes, The watchful stars, looked love on him: its breath, The wandering wind, kissed his robe's fluttered fringe; The garden-blossoms, folded for the dawn, Opened their velvet hearts to waft him scents From pink and purple censers: o'er the land, From Himalay unto the Indian Sea, A tremor spread, as if earth's soul beneath Stirred with an unknown hope; and holy books— Which tell the story of our Lord—say, too, That rich celestial musics thrilled the air From hosts on hosts of shining ones, who thronged Eastward and westward, making bright the night Northward and southward, making glad the ground. Also those four dread Regents of the Earth, Descending at the doorway, two by two,— With their bright legions of Invisibles In arms of sapphire, silver, gold, and pearl— Watched with joined hands the Indian Prince, who stood, His tearful eyes raised to the stars, and lips Close-set with purpose of prodigious love. Then strode he forth into the gloom and cried, "Channa, awake! and bring out Kantaka!" "What would my Lord?" the charioteer replied— Slow-rising from his place beside the gate "To ride at night when all the ways are dark?" "Speak low," Siddartha said, "and bring my horse, For now the hour is come when I should quit This golden prison where my heart lives caged To find the truth; which henceforth I will seek, For all men's sake, until the truth be found." "Alas! dear Prince," answered the charioteer, "Spake then for nought those wise and holy men Who cast the stars and bade us wait the time When King Suddhodana's great son should rule Realms upon realms, and be a Lord of lords? Wilt thou ride hence and let the rich world slip Out of thy grasp, to hold a beggar's bowl? Wilt thou go forth into the friendless waste That hast this Paradise of pleasures here?" The Prince made answer: "Unto this I came, And not for thrones: the kingdom that I crave Is more than many realms, and all things pass To change and death. Bring me forth Kantaka!" "Most honored," spake again the charioteer, "Bethink thee of their woe whose bliss thou art— How shalt thou help them, first undoing them?" Siddartha answered: "Friend, that love is false Which clings to love for selfish sweets of love; But I, who love these more than joys of mine— Yea, more than joy of theirs—depart to save Them and all flesh, if utmost love avail. Go, bring me Kantaka!" Then Channa said, "Master, I go!" and forthwith, mournfully, Unto the stall he passed, and from the rack Took down the silver bit and bridle-chains, Breast-cord and curb, and knitted fast the straps, And linked the hooks, and led out Kantaka Whom tethering to the ring, he combed and dressed, Stroking the snowy coat to silken gloss; Next on the steed he laid the numdah square, Fitted the saddle-cloth across, and set The saddle fair, drew tight the jewelled girths, Buckled the breech-bands and the martingale, And made fall both the stirrups of worked gold. Then over all he cast a golden net, With tassels of seed-pearl and silken strings, And led the great horse to the palace door, Where stood the Prince; but when he saw his Lord, Right glad he waxed and joyously he neighed, Spreading his scarlet nostrils; and the books Write, "Surely all had heard Kantaka's neigh, And that strong trampling of his iron heels, Save that the Devas laid their unseen wings Over their ears and kept the sleepers deaf." Fondly Siddartha drew the proud head down, Patted the shining neck, and said, "Be still, White Kantaka! be still, and bear me now The farthest journey ever rider rode; For this night take I horse to find the truth, And where my quest will end yet know I not, Save that it shall not end until I find. Therefore tonight, good steed, be fierce and bold! Let nothing stay thee, though a thousand blades Deny the road! let neither wall nor moat Forbid our flight! Look! if I touch thy flank And cry, `On, Kantaka! I let whirlwinds lag Behind thy course! Be fire and air, my horse! To stead thy Lord, so shalt thou share with him The greatness of this deed which helps the world; For therefore ride I, not for men alone, But for all things which, speechless, share our pain And have no hope, nor wit to ask for hope. Now, therefore, bear thy master valorously!" Then to the saddle lightly leaping, he Touched the arched crest, and Kantaka sprang forth With armed hoofs sparkling on the stones and ring Of champing bit; but none did hear that sound, For that the Suddha Devas, gathering near, Plucked the red mohra-flowers and strewed them thick Under his tread, while hands invisible Muffled the ringing bit and bridle chains. Moreover, it is written when they came Upon the pavement near the inner gates, The Yakshas of the air laid magic cloths Under the stallion's feet, so that he went Softly and still. But when they reached the gate Of tripled brass—which hardly fivescore men Served to unbar and open—lo! the doors Rolled back all silently, though one might hear In daytime two koss off the thunderous roar Of those grim hinges and unwieldy plates. Also the middle and the outer gates Unfolded each their monstrous portals thus In silence as Siddartha and his steed Drew near; while underneath their shadow lay. Silent as dead men, all those chosen guards— The lance and sword let fall, the shields unbraced, Captains and soldiers—for there came a wind, Drowsier than blows o'er Malwa's fields of sleep Before the Prince's path, which, being breathed, Lulled every sense aswoon: and so he passed Free from the palace. When the morning star Stood half a spear's length from the eastern rim, And o'er the earth the breath of morning sighed Rippling Anoma's wave, the border-stream, Then drew he rein, and leaped to earth and kissed White Kantaka betwixt the ears, and spake Full sweet to Channa: "This which thou hast done Shall bring thee good and bring all creatures good. Be sure I love thee always for thy love. Lead back my horse and take my crest-pearl here, My princely robes, which henceforth stead me not, My jewelled sword-belt and my sword, and these The long locks by its bright edge severed thus From off my brows. Give the King all, and say Siddartha prays forget him till he come Ten times a prince, with royal wisdom won From lonely searchings and the strife for light; Where, if I conquer, lo! all earth is mine— Mine by chief service!—tell him—mine by love! Since there is hope for man only in man, And none hath sought for this as I will seek, Who cast away my world to save my world."
Round Rajagriha five fair hills arose, Guarding King Bimbasara's sylvan town; Baibhara, green with lemon-grass and palms; Bipulla, at whose foot thin Sarsuti Steals with warm ripple; shadowy Tapovan, Whose steaming pools mirror black rocks, which ooze Sovereign earth-butter from their rugged roofs; South-east the vulture-peak Sailagiri; And eastward Ratnagiri, hill of gems. A winding track, paven with footworn slabs, Leads thee by safflower fields and bamboo tufts Under dark mangoes and the jujube-trees, Past milk-white veins of rock and jasper crags, Low cliff and flats of jungle-flowers, to where The shoulder of that mountain, sloping west, O'erhangs a cave with wild figs canopied. Lo! thou who comest thither, bare thy feet And bow thy head! for all this spacious earth Hath not a spot more dear and hallowed. Here Lord Buddha sate the scorching summers through, The driving rains, the chilly dawns and eves; Wearing for all men's sakes the yellow robe, Eating in beggar's guise the scanty meal Chance-gathered from the charitable; at night Crouched on the grass, homeless, alone; while yelped The sleepless jackals round his cave, or coughs Of famished tiger from the thicket broke. By day and night here dwelt the World-honoured, Subduing that fair body born for bliss With fast and frequent watch and search intense Of silent meditation, so prolonged That ofttimes while he mused—as motionless As the fixed rock his seat—the squirrel leaped Upon his knee, the timid quail led forth Her brood between his feet, and blue doves pecked The rice-grains from the bowl beside his hand. Thus would he muse from noontide—when the land Shimmered with heat, and walls and temples danced In the reeking air—till sunset, noting not The blazing globe roll down, nor evening glide, Purple and swift, across the softened fields; Nor the still coming of the stars, nor throb Of drum-skins in the busy town, nor screech Of owl and night jar; wholly wrapt from self In keen unraveling of the threads of thought And steadfast pacing of life's labyrinths. Thus would he sit till midnight hushed the world, Save where the beasts of darkness in the brake Crept and cried out, as fear and hatred cry, As lust and avarice and anger creep In the black jungles of man's ignorance. Then slept he for what space the fleet moon asks To swim a tenth part of her cloudy sea; But rose ere the false-dawn, and stood again Wistful on some dark platform of his hill, Watching the sleeping earth with ardent eyes And thoughts embracing all its living things, While o'er the waving fields that murmur moved Which is the kiss of Morn waking the lands, And in the east that miracle of Day Gathered and grew: at first a dusk so dim Night seems still unaware of whispered dawn, But soon—before the jungle-cock crows twice— A white verge clear, a widening, brightening white, High as the herald-star, which fades in floods Of silver, warming into pale gold, caught By topmost clouds, and flaming on their rims To fervent golden glow, flushed from the brink With saffron, scarlet, crimson, amethyst; Whereat the sky burns splendid to the blue, And, robed in raiment of glad light, the Song Of Life and Glory cometh! Then our Lord, After the manner of a Rishi, hailed The rising orb, and went—ablutions made— Down by the winding path unto the town; And in the fashion of a Rishi passed From street to street, with begging-bowl in hand, Gathering the little pittance of his needs. Soon was it filled, for all the townsmen cried, "Take of our store, great sir!" and "Take of ours!" Marking his godlike face and eyes enwrapt; And mothers, when they saw our Lord go by, Would bid their children fall to kiss his feet, And lift his robe's hem to their brows, or run To fill his jar, and fetch him milk and cakes. And ofttimes as he paced, gentle and slow, Radiant with heavenly pity, lost in care For those he knew not, save as fellow lives, The dark surprised eyes of some Indian maid Would dwell in sudden love and worship deep On that majestic form, as if she saw Her dreams of tenderest thought made true, and grace Fairer than mortal fire her breast. But he Passed onward with the bowl and yellow robe, By mild speech paying all those gifts of hearts, Wending his way back to the solitudes To sit upon his hill with holy men, And hear and ask of wisdom and its roads. Midway on Ratnagiri's groves of calm, Beyond the city, but below the caves, Lodged such as hold the body foe to soul, And flesh a beast which men must chain and tame With bitter pains, till sense of pain is killed, And tortured nerves vex torturer no more— Yogis and Brahmacharis, Bhikshus, all— A gaunt and mournful band, dwelling apart. Some day and night had stood with lifted arms, Till—drained of blood and withered by disease Their slowly-wasting joints and stiffened limbs Jutted from sapless shoulders like dead forks from forest trunks. Others had clenched their hands So long and with so fierce a fortitude, The claw-like nails grew through the festered palm. Some walked on sandals spiked; some with sharp flints Gashed breast and brow and thigh, scarred these with fire, Threaded their flesh with jungle thorns and spits, Besmeared with mud and ashes, crouching foul In rags of dead men wrapped about their loins. Certain there were inhabited the spots Where death pyres smouldered, cowering defiled With corpses for their company, and kites Screaming around them o'er the funeral-spoils; Certain who cried five hundred times a day The names of Shiva, wound with darting snakes About their sun-tanned necks and hollow flanks, One palsied foot drawn up against the ham. So gathered they, a grievous company; Crowns blistered by the blazing heat, eyes bleared, Sinews and muscles shrivelled, visages Haggard and wan as slain men's, five days dead; Here crouched one in the dust who noon by noon Meted a thousand grains of millet out, Ate it with famished patience, seed by seed, And so starved on; there one who bruised his pulse With bitter leaves lest palate should be pleased; And next, a miserable saint self-maimed, Eyeless and tongueless, sexless, crippled, deaf; The body by the mind being thus stripped For glory of much suffering, and the bliss Which they shall win—say holy books—whose woe Shames gods that send us woe, and makes men gods Stronger to suffer than hell is to harm. Whom sadly eyeing spake our Lord to one, Chief of the woe-begones: "Much-suffering sir These many moons I dwell upon the hill— Who am a seeker of the Truth—and see My brothers here, and thee, so piteously Self-anguished; wherefore add ye ills to life Which is so evil?" Answer made the sage "'T is written if a man shall mortify His flesh, till pain be grown the life he lives And death voluptuous rest, such woes shall purge Sin's dross away, and the soul, purified, Soar from the furnace of its sorrow, winged For glorious spheres and splendour past all thought." "Yon cloud which floats in heaven," the Prince replied, "Wreathed like gold cloth around your Indra's throne, Rose thither from the tempest-driven sea; But it must fall again in tearful drops, Trickling through rough and painful water-ways By cleft and nullah and the muddy flood, To Gunga and the sea, wherefrom it sprang. Know'st thou, my brother, if it be not thus, After their many pains, with saints in bliss? Since that which rises falls, and that which buys Is spent; and if ye buy heaven with your blood In hell's hard market, when the bargain's through The toil begins again!" "It may begin," The hermit moaned. "Alas! we know not this, Nor surely anything; yet after night Day comes, and after turmoil peace, and we Hate this accursed flesh which clogs the soul That fain would rise; so, for the sake of soul, We stake brief agonies in game with Gods To gain the larger joys." "Yet if they last A myriad years," he said, "they fade at length, Those joys; or if not, is there then some life Below, above, beyond, so unlike life it will not change? Speak! do your Gods endure For ever, brothers?" "Nay," the Yogis said, "Only great Brahm endures: the Gods but live." Then spake Lord Buddha: "Will ye, being wise, As ye seem holy and strong-hearted ones, Throw these sore dice, which are your groans and moans, For gains which may be dreams, and must have end? Will ye, for love of soul, so loathe your flesh, So scourge and maim it, that it shall not serve To bear the spirit on, searching for home, But founder on the track before nightfall, Like willing steed o'er-spurred? Will ye, sad sirs, Dismantle and dismember this fair house, Where we have come to dwell by painful pasts; Whose windows give us light—the little light Whereby we gaze abroad to know if dawn Will break, and whither winds the better road?" Then cried they, "We have chosen this for road And tread it, Rajaputra, till the close— Though all its stones were fire—in trust of death. Speak, if thou know'st a way more excellent; If not, peace go with thee!" Onward he passed, Exceeding sorrowful, seeing how men Fear so to die they are afraid to fear, Lust so to live they dare not love their life, But plague it with fierce penances, belike To please the Gods who grudge pleasure to man; Belike to balk hell by self-kindled hells; Belike in holy madness, hoping soul May break the better through their wasted flesh. "Oh, flowerets of the field!" Siddartha said, "Who turn your tender faces to the sun— Glad of the light, and grateful with sweet breath Of fragrance and these robes of reverence donned Silver and gold and purple—none of ye Miss perfect living, none of ye despoil Your happy beauty. O, ye palms, which rise Eager to pierce the sky and drink the wind Blown from Malaya and the cool blue seas, What secret know ye that ye grow content, From time of tender shoot to time of fruit, Murmuring such sun-songs from your feathered crowns? Ye, too, who dwell so merry in the trees— Quick-darting parrots, bee-birds, bulbuls, doves— None of ye hate your life, none of ye deem To strain to better by foregoing needs! But man, who slays ye—being lord—is wise, And wisdom, nursed on blood, cometh thus forth In self-tormentings!" While the Master spake Blew down the mount the dust of pattering feet, White goats and black sheep winding slow their way, With many a lingering nibble at the tufts, And wanderings from the path, where water gleamed Or wild figs hung. But always as they strayed The herdsman cried, or slung his sling, and kept The silly crowd still moving to the plain. A ewe with couplets in the flock there was. Some hurt had lamed one lamb, which toiled behind Bleeding, while in the front its fellow skipped, And the vexed dam hither and thither ran, Fearful to lose this little one or that; Which when our Lord did mark, full tenderly He took the limping lamb upon his neck, Saying: "Poor woolly mother, be at peace! Whither thou goest I will bear thy care; 'T were all as good to ease one beast of grief As sit and watch the sorrows of the world In yonder caverns with the priests who pray." "But," spake he to the herdsmen, "wherefore, friends, Drive ye the flocks adown under high noon, Since 't is at evening that men fold their sheep?" And answer gave the peasants: "We are sent To fetch a sacrifice of goats five score, And five score sheep, the which our Lord the King Slayeth this night in worship of his gods." Then said the Master, "I will also go." So paced he patiently, bearing the lamb Beside the herdsmen in the dust and sun, The wistful ewe low-bleating at his feet. Whom, when they came unto the river-side, A woman—dove-eyed, young, with tearful face And lifted hands—saluted, bending low "Lord! thou art he," she said, "who yesterday Had pity on me in the fig-grove here, Where I live lone and reared my child; but he Straying amid the blossoms found a snake, Which twined about his wrist, while he did laugh And tease the quick forked tongue and opened mouth Of that cold playmate. But, alas! ere long He turned so pale and still, I could not think Why he should cease to play, and let my breast Fall from his lips. And one said, 'He is sick Of poison'; and another, 'He will die.' But I, who could not lose my precious boy, Prayed of them physic, which might bring the light Back to his eyes; it was so very small That kiss-mark of the serpent, and I think It could not hate him, gracious as he was, Nor hurt him in his sport. And some one said, 'There is a holy man upon the hill Lo! now he passeth in the yellow robe Ask of the Rishi if there be a cure For that which ails thy son.' Whereon I came Trembling to thee, whose brow is like a god's, And wept and drew the face cloth from my babe, Praying thee tell what simples might be good. And thou, great sir, did'st spurn me not, but gaze With gentle eyes and touch with patient hand; Then draw the face cloth back, saying to me, 'Yea, little sister, there is that might heal Thee first, and him, if thou couldst fetch the thing; For they who seek physicians bring to them What is ordained. Therefore, I pray thee, find Black mustard-seed, a tola; only mark Thou take it not from any hand or house Where father, mother, child, or slave hath died; It shall be well if thou canst find such seed.' Thus didst thou speak, my Lord!" The Master smiled Exceeding tenderly. "Yea, I spake thus, Dear Kisagotami! But didst thou find The seed?" "I went, Lord, clasping to my breast The babe, grown colder, asking at each hut— Here in the jungle and towards the town— 'I pray you, give me mustard, of your grace, A tola-black'; and each who had it gave, For all the poor are piteous to the poor; But when I asked, 'In my friend's household here Hath any peradventure ever died Husband or wife, or child, or slave?' they said: 'O sister! what is this you ask? the dead Are very many, and the living few!' So with sad thanks I gave the mustard back, And prayed of others; but the others said, Here is the seed, but we have lost our slave.' 'Here is the seed, but our good man is dead!' 'Here is some seed, but he that sowed it died Between the rain-time and the harvesting!' Ah, sir! I could not find a single house Where there was mustard-seed and none had died! Therefore I left my child—who would not suck Nor smile—beneath the wild vines by the stream, To seek thy face and kiss thy feet, and pray Where I might find this seed and find no death, If now, indeed, my baby be not dead, As I do fear, and as they said to me." "My sister! thou hast found," the Master said, "Searching for what none finds—that bitter balm I had to give thee. He thou lovest slept Dead on thy bosom yesterday: today Thou know'st the whole wide world weeps with thy woe The grief which all hearts share grows less for one. Lo! I would pour my blood if it could stay Thy tears and win the secret of that curse Which makes sweet love our anguish, and which drives O'er flowers and pastures to the sacrifice As these dumb beasts are driven—men their lords. I seek that secret: bury thou thy child!" So entered they the city side by side, The herdsmen and the Prince, what time the sun Gilded slow Sona's distant stream, and threw Long shadows down the street and through the gate Where the King's men kept watch. But when they saw Our Lord bearing the lamb, the guards stood back, The market-people drew their wains aside, In the bazaar buyers and sellers stayed The war of tongues to gaze on that mild face; The smith, with lifted hammer in his hand, Forgot to strike; the weaver left his web, The scribe his scroll, the money-changer lost His count of cowries; from the unwatched rice Shiva's white bull fed free; the wasted milk Ran o'er the lota while the milkers watched The passage of our Lord moving so meek, With yet so beautiful a majesty. But most the women gathering in the doors Asked: "Who is this that brings the sacrifice, So graceful and peace-giving as he goes? What is his caste? whence hath he eyes so sweet? Can he be Sakra or the Devaraj?" And others said, "It is the holy man Who dwelleth with the Rishis on the hill." But the Lord paced, in meditation lost, Thinking, "Alas! for all my sheep which have No shepherd; wandering in the night with none To guide them; bleating blindly towards the knife Of Death, as these dumb beasts which are their kin." Then some one told the King, "There cometh here A holy hermit, bringing down the flock Which thou didst bid to crown the sacrifice." The King stood in his hall of offering. On either hand, the white-robed Brahmans ranged Muttered their mantras, feeding still the fire Which roared upon the midmost altar. There From scented woods flickered bright tongues of flame, Hissing and curling as they licked the gifts Of ghee and spices and the soma juice, The joy of Iudra. Round about the pile A slow, thick, scarlet streamlet smoked and ran, Sucked by the sand, but ever rolling down, The blood of bleating victims. One such lay, A spotted goat, long-horned, its head bound back With munja grass; at its stretched throat the knife Pressed by a priest, who murmured: "This, dread gods, Of many yajnas cometh as the crown From Bimbasara: take ye joy to see The spirted blood, and pleasure in the scent Of rich flesh roasting 'mid the fragrant flames; Let the King's sins be laid upon this goat, And let the fire consume them burning it, For now I strike." But Buddha softly said, "Let him not strike, great King!" and therewith loosed The victim's bonds, none staying him, so great His presence was. Then, craving leave, he spake Of life, which all can take but none can give, Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep, Wonderful, dear and pleasant unto each, Even to the meanest; yea, a boon to all Where pity is, for pity makes the world Soft to the weak and noble for the strong. Unto the dumb lips of his flock he lent Sad pleading words, showing how man, who prays For mercy to the gods, is merciless, Being as god to those; albeit all life Is linked and kin, and what we slay have given Meek tribute of the milk and wool, and set Fast trust upon the hands which murder them. Also he spake of what the holy books Do surely teach, how that at death some sink To bird and beast, and these rise up to man In wanderings of the spark which grows purged flame. So were the sacrifice new sin, if so The fated passage of a soul be stayed. Nor, spake he, shall one wash his spirit clean By blood; nor gladden gods, being good, with blood; Nor bribe them, being evil; nay, nor lay Upon the brow of innocent bound beasts One hair's weight of that answer all must give For all things done amiss or wrongfully, Alone, each for himself, reckoning with that The fixed arithmic of the universe, Which meteth good for good and ill for ill, Measure for measure, unto deeds, words, thoughts; Watchful, aware, implacable, unmoved; Making all futures fruits of all the pasts. Thus spake he, breathing words so piteous With such high lordliness of ruth and right, The priests drew back their garments o'er the hands Crimsoned with slaughter, and the King came near, Standing with clasped palms reverencing Buddh; While still our Lord went on, teaching how fair This earth were if all living things be linked In friendliness, and common use of foods Bloodless and pure; the golden grain, bright fruits, Sweet herbs which grow for all, the waters wan, Sufficient drinks and meats. Which when these heard, The might of gentleness so conquered them, The priests themselves scattered their altar-flames And flung away the steel of sacrifice; And through the land next day passed a decree Proclaimed by criers, and in this wise graved On rock and column: "Thus the King's will is: There hath been slaughter for the sacrifice, And slaying for the meat, but henceforth none Shall spill the blood of life nor taste of flesh, Seeing that knowledge grows, and life is one, And mercy cometh to the merciful." So ran the edict, and from those days forth Sweet peace hath spread between all living kind, Man and the beasts which serve him, and the birds, On all those banks of Gunga where our Lord Taught with his saintly pity and soft speech. For aye so piteous was the Master's heart To all that breathe this breath of fleeting life, Yoked in one fellowship of joys and pains, That it is written in the holy books How, in an ancient age—when Buddha wore A Brahman's form, dwelling upon the rock Named Munda, by the village of Dalidd— Drought withered all the land: the young rice died Ere it could hide a quail; in forest glades A fierce sun sucked the pools; grasses and herbs Sickened, and all the woodland creatures fled Scattering for sustenance. At such a time, Between the hot walls of a nullah, stretched On naked stones, our Lord spied, as he passed, A starving tigress. Hunger in her orbs Glared with green flame; her dry tongue lolled a span Beyond the gasping jaws and shrivelled jowl; Her painted hide hung wrinkled on her ribs, As when between the rafters sinks a thatch Rotten with rains; and at the poor lean dugs Two cubs, whining with famine, tugged and sucked, Mumbling those milkless teats which rendered nought, While she, their gaunt dam, licked full motherly The clamorous twins, yielding her flank to them With moaning throat, and love stronger than want, Softening the first of that wild cry wherewith She laid her famished muzzle to the sand And roared a savage thunder-peal of woe. Seeing which bitter strait, and heeding nought Save the immense compassion of a Buddh, Our Lord bethought, "There is no other way To help this murdress of the woods but one. By sunset these will die, having no meat: There is no living heart will pity her, Bloody with ravin, lean for lack of blood. Lo! if I feed her, who shall lose but I, And how can love lose doing of its kind Even to the uttermost?" So saying, Buddh Silently laid aside sandals and staff, His sacred thread, turban, and cloth, and came Forth from behind the milk-bush on the sand, Saying, "Ho! mother, here is meat for thee!" Whereat the perishing beast yelped hoarse and shrill, Sprang from her cubs, and, hurling to the earth That willing victim, had her feast of him With all the crooked daggers of her claws Rending his flesh, and all her yellow fangs Bathed in his blood: the great cat's burning breath Mixed with the last sigh of such fearless love. Thus large the Master's heart was long ago, Not only now, when with his gracious ruth He bade cease cruel worship of the gods. And much King Bimbasara prayed our Lord— Learning his royal birth and holy search— To tarry in that city, saying oft "Thy princely state may not abide such fasts; Thy hands were made for sceptres, not for alms. Sojourn with me, who have no son to rule, And teach my kingdom wisdom, till I die, Lodged in my palace with a beauteous bride." But ever spake Siddartha, of set mind "These things I had, most noble King, and left, Seeking the Truth; which still I seek, and shall; Not to be stayed though Sakra's palace ope'd Its doors of pearl and Devis wooed me in. I go to build the Kingdom of the Law, journeying to Gaya and the forest shades, Where, as I think, the light will come to me; For nowise here among the Rishis comes That light, nor from the Shasters, nor from fasts Borne till the body faints, starved by the soul. Yet there is light to reach and truth to win; And surely, O true Friend, if I attain I will return and quit thy love." Thereat Thrice round the Prince King Bimbasara paced, Reverently bending to the Master's feet, And bade him speed. So passed our Lord away Towards Uravilva, not yet comforted, And wan of face, and weak with six years' quest. But they upon the hill and in the grove— Alara, Udra, and the ascetics five— Had stayed him, saying all was written clear In holy Shasters, and that none might win Higher than Sruti and than Smriti—nay, Not the chief saints!—for how should mortal man Be wiser than the Jnana-Kand, which tells How Brahm is bodiless and actionless, Passionless, calm, unqualified, unchanged, Pure life, pure thought, pure joy? Or how should man Its better than the Karmma-Kand, which shows How he may strip passion and action off, Break from the bond of self, and so, unsphered, Be God, and melt into the vast divine, Flying from false to true, from wars of sense To peace eternal, where the silence lives? But the prince heard them, not yet comforted.
Thou who wouldst see where dawned the light at last, North-westwards from the "Thousand Gardens" go By Gunga's valley till thy steps be set On the green hills where those twin streamlets spring Nilajan and Mohana; follow them, Winding beneath broad-leaved mahua-trees, 'Mid thickets of the sansar and the bir, Till on the plain the shining sisters meet In Phalgu's bed, flowing by rocky banks To Gaya and the red Barabar hills. Hard by that river spreads a thorny waste, Uruwelaya named in ancient days, With sandhills broken; on its verge a wood Waves sea-green plumes and tassels 'thwart the sky, With undergrowth wherethrough a still flood steals, Dappled with lotus-blossoms, blue and white, And peopled with quick fish and tortoises. Near it the village of Senani reared Its roofs of grass, nestled amid the palms, Peaceful with simple folk and pastoral toils. There in the sylvan solitudes once more Lord Buddha lived, musing the woes of men, The ways of fate, the doctrines of the books, The lessons of the creatures of the brake, The secrets of the silence whence all come, The secrets of the gloom whereto all go, The life which lies between, like that arch flung From cloud to cloud across the sky, which hath Mists for its masonry and vapoury piers, Melting to void again which was so fair With sapphire hues, garnet, and chrysoprase. Moon after moon our Lord sate in the wood, So meditating these that he forgot Ofttimes the hour of food, rising from thoughts Prolonged beyond the sunrise and the noon To see his bowl unfilled, and eat perforce Of wild fruit fallen from the boughs o'erhead, Shaken to earth by chattering ape or plucked By purple parokeet. Therefore his grace Faded; his body, worn by stress of soul, Lost day by day the marks, thirty and two, Which testify the Buddha. Scarce that leaf, Fluttering so dry and withered to his feet From off the sal-branch, bore less likeliness Of spring's soft greenery than he of him Who was the princely flower of all his land. And once at such a time the o'erwrought Prince Fell to the earth in deadly swoon, all spent, Even as one slain, who hath no longer breath Nor any stir of blood; so wan he was, So motionless. But there came by that way A shepherd-boy, who saw Siddartha lie With lids fast-closed, and lines of nameless pain Fixed on his lips—the fiery noonday sun Beating upon his head—who, plucking boughs From wild rose-apple trees, knitted them thick Into a bower to shade the sacred face. Also he poured upon the Master's lips Drops of warm milk, pressed from his she-goat's bag, Lest, being of low caste, he do wrong to one So high and holy seeming. But the books Tell how the jambu-branches, planted thus, Shot with quick life in wealth of leaf and flower And glowing fruitage interlaced and close, So that the bower grew like a tent of silk Pitched for a king at hunting, decked with studs Of silver-work and bosses of red gold. And the boy worshipped, deeming him some God; But our Lord, gaining breath, arose and asked Milk in the shepherd's lots. "Ah, my Lord, I cannot give thee," quoth the lad; "thou seest I am a Sudra, and my touch defiles!" Then the World-honoured spake: "Pity and need Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood, Which runneth of one hue, nor caste in tears, Which trickle salt with all; neither comes man To birth with tilka-mark stamped on the brow, Nor sacred thread on neck. Who doth right deeds Is twice-born, and who doeth ill deeds vile. Give me to drink, my brother; when I come Unto my quest it shall be good for thee." Thereat the peasant's heart was glad, and gave. And on another day there passed that road A band of tinselled, girls, the nautch-dancers Of Indra's temple in the town, with those Who made their music—one that beat a drum Set round with peacock-feathers, one that blew The piping bansuli, and one that twitched A three-string sitar. Lightly tripped they down From ledge to ledge and through the chequered paths To some gay festival, the silver bells Chiming soft peals about the small brown feet, Armlets and wrist-rings tattling answer shrill; While he that bore the sitar thrummed and twanged His threads of brass, and she beside him sang— "Fair goes the dancing when the sitar's tuned; Tune us the sitar neither low nor high, And we will dance away the hearts of men. "The string o'erstretched breaks, and the music flies, The string o'erslack is dumb, and music dies; Tune us the sitar neither low nor high." "So sang the nautch-girl to the pipe and wires, Fluttering like some vain, painted butterfly From glade to glade along the forest path, Nor dreamed her light words echoed on the ear Of him, that holy man, who sate so rapt Under the fig-tree by the path. But Buddh Lifted his great brow as the wantons passed, And spake: 'The foolish ofttimes teach the wise; I strain too much this string of life, belike, Meaning to make such music as shall save. Mine eyes are dim now that they see the truth, My strength is waned now that my need is most; Would that I had such help as man must have, For I shall die, whose life was all men's hope.'" Now, by that river dwelt a landholder Pious and rich, master of many herds, A goodly chief, the friend of all the poor; And from his house the village drew its name— "Senani." Pleasant and in peace he lived, Having for wife Sujata, loveliest Of all the dark-eyed daughters of the plain; Gentle and true, simple and kind was she, Noble of mien, with gracious speech to all And gladsome looks—a pearl of womanhood— Passing calm years of household happiness Beside her lord in that still Indian home, Save that no male child blessed their wedded love. Wherefore with many prayers she had besought Lukshmi, and many nights at full-moon gone Round the great Lingam, nine times nine, with gifts Of rice and jasmine wreaths and sandal oil, Praying a boy; also Sujata vowed— If this should be—an offering of food Unto the Wood-God, plenteous, delicate, Set in a bowl of gold under his tree, Such as the lips of Devs may taste and take. And this had been: for there was born to her A beauteous boy, now three months old, who lay Between Sujata's breasts, while she did pace With grateful footsteps to the Wood-God's shrine, One arm clasping her crimson sari close To wrap the babe, that jewel of her joys, The other lifted high in comely curve To steady on her head the bowl and dish Which held the dainty victuals for the God. But Radha, sent before to sweep the ground And tie the scarlet threads around the tree, Came eager, crying, "Ah, dear Mistress! look! There is the Wood-God sitting in his place, Revealed, with folded hands upon his knees. See how the light shines round about his brow! How mild and great he seems, with heavenly eyes! Good fortune is it thus to meet the gods." So,—thinking him divine,—Sujata drew Tremblingly nigh, and kissed the earth and said, With sweet face bent: "Would that the Holy One Inhabiting his grove, Giver of good, Merciful unto me his handmaiden, Vouchsafing now his presence, might accept These our poor gifts of snowy curds, fresh made, With milk as white as new-carved ivory!" Therewith into the golden bowl she poured The curds and milk, and on the hands of Buddh Dropped attar from a crystal flask-distilled Out of the hearts of roses; and he ate, Speaking no word, while the glad mother stood In reverence apart. But of that meal So wondrous was the virtue that our Lord Felt strength and life return as though the nights Of watching and the days of fast had passed In dream, as though the spirit with the flesh Shared that fine meat and plumed its wings anew, Like some delighted bird at sudden streams Weary with flight o'er endless wastes of sand, Which laves the desert dust from neck and crest— And more Sujata worshipped, seeing our Lord Grow fairer and his countenance more bright: "Art thou indeed the God?" she lowly asked, "And hath my gift found favour?" But Buddh said, "What is it thou dost bring me?" "Holy one!" Answered Sujata, "from our droves I took Milk of a hundred mothers newly-calved, And with that milk I fed fifty white cows, And with their milk twenty-and-five, and then With theirs twelve more, and yet again with theirs The six noblest and best of all our herds, That yield I boiled with sandal and fine spice In silver lotas, adding rice, well grown From chosen seed, set in new-broken ground, So picked that every grain was like a pearl. This did I of true heart, because I vowed, Under thy tree, if I should bear a boy I would make offering for my joy, and now I have my son and all my life is bliss!" Softly our Lord drew down the crimson fold, And, laying on the little head those hands Which help the world, he said: "Long be thy bliss! And lightly fall on him the load of life! For thou hast holpen me who am no God, But one thy Brother; heretofore a Prince And now a wanderer, seeking night and day These six hard years that light which somewhere shines To lighten all men's darkness, if they knew! And I shall find the light; yea, now it dawned Glorious and helpful, when my weak flesh failed Which this pure food, fair Sister, hath restored, Drawn manifold through lives to quicken life As life itself passes by many births To happier heights and purging off of sins. Yet dost thou truly find it sweet enough Only to live? Can life and love suffice?" Answered Sujata: "Worshipful! my heart Is little, and a little rain will fill The lily's cup which hardly moists the field. It is enough for me to feel life's sun Shine in my lord's grace and my baby's smile, Making the loving summer of our home. Pleasant my days pass filled with household cares From sunrise when I wake to praise the gods, And give forth grain, and trim the tulsi-plant, And set my handmaids to their tasks, till noon When my lord lays his head upon my lap Lulled by soft songs and wavings of the fan; And so to supper-time at quiet eve, When by his side I stand and serve the cakes. Then the stars light their silver lamps for sleep, After the temple and the talk with friends. How should I not be happy, blest so much, And bearing him this boy whose tiny hand Shall lead his soul to Swerga, if it need? For holy books teach when a man shall plant Trees for the travelers' shade, and dig a well For the folks' comfort, and beget a son, It shall be good for such after their death; And what the books say, that I humbly take, Being not wiser than those great of old Who spake with gods, and knew the hymns and charms, And all the ways of virtue and of peace. Also I think that good must come of good And ill of evil—surely—unto all— In every place and time—seeing sweet fruit Groweth from wholesome roots, and bitter things From poison-stocks; yea, seeing, too, how spite Breeds hate, and kindness friends, and patience peace Even while we live; and when 't is willed we die Shall there not be as good a `Then' as `Now'? Haply much better! since one grain of rice Shoots a green feather gemmed with fifty pearls, And all the starry champak's white and gold Lurks in those little, naked, grey spring-buds. Ah, Sir! I know there might be woes to bear Would lay fond Patience with her face in dust; If this my babe pass first I think my heart Would break—almost I hope my heart would break! That I might clasp him dead and wait my lord In whatsoever world holds faithful wives— Duteous, attending till his hour should come. But if Death called Senani, I should mount The pile and lay that dear head in my lap, My daily way, rejoicing when the torch Lit the quick flame and rolled the choking smoke. For it is written if an Indian wife Die so, her love shall give her husband's soul For every hair upon her head a crore Of years in Swerga. Therefore fear I not. And therefore, Holy Sir! my life is glad, Nowise forgetting yet those other lives Painful and poor, wicked and miserable, Whereon the gods grant pity! but for me, What good I see humbly I seek to do, And live obedient to the law, in trust That what will come, and must come, shall come well." Then spake our Lord: "Thou teachest them who teach, Wiser than wisdom in thy simple lore. Be thou content to know not, knowing thus Thy way of right and duty: grow, thou flower With thy sweet kind in peaceful shade—the light Of Truth's high noon is not for tender leaves Which must spread broad in other suns and lift In later lives a crowned head to the sky. Thou who hast worshipped me, I worship thee! Excellent heart! learned unknowingly, As the dove is which flieth home by love. In thee is seen why there is hope for man And where we hold the wheel of life at will. Peace go with thee, and comfort all thy days! As thou accomplishest, may I achieve! He whom thou thoughtest God bids thee wish this." "May'st thou achieve," she said, with earnest eyes Bent on her babe, who reached its tender hands To Buddh—knowing, belike, as children know, More than we deem, and reverencing our Lord; But he arose—made strong with that pure meat— And bent his footsteps where a great Tree grew, The Bodhi-tree (thenceforward in all years Never to fade, and ever to be kept In homage of the world), beneath whose leaves It was ordained that Truth should come to Buddh Which now the Master knew; wherefore he went With measured pace, steadfast, majestical, Unto the Tree of Wisdom. Oh, ye Worlds! Rejoice! our Lord wended unto the Tree! Whom—as he passed into its ample shade, Cloistered with columned dropping stems, and roofed With vaults of glistening green—the conscious earth Worshipped with waving grass and sudden flush Of flowers about his feet. The forest-boughs Bent down to shade him; from the river sighed Cool wafts of wind laden with lotus-scents Breathed by the water-gods. Large wondering eyes Of woodland creatures—panther, boar, and deer— At peace that eve, gazed on his face benign From cave and thicket. From its cold cleft wound The mottled deadly snake, dancing its hood In honour of our Lord; bright butterflies Fluttered their vans, azure and green and gold, To be his fan-bearers; the fierce kite dropped Its prey and screamed; the striped palm-squirrel raced From stem to stem to see; the weaver-bird Chirped from her swinging nest; the lizard ran; The koil sang her hymn; the doves flocked round; Even the creeping things were 'ware and glad. Voices of earth and air joined in one song, Which unto ears that hear said: "Lord and Friend! Lover and Saviour! Thou who hast subdued Angers and prides, desires and fears and doubts, Thou that for each and all hast given thyself, Pass to the Tree! The sad world blesseth thee Who art the Buddh that shall assuage her woes. Pass, Hailed and Honoured! strive thy last for us, King and high Conqueror! thine hour is come; This is the Night the ages waited for!" Then fell the night even as our Master sate Under that Tree. But he who is the Prince Of Darkness, Mara—knowing this was Buddh Who should deliver men, and now the hour When he should find the Truth and save the worlds— Gave unto all his evil powers command. Wherefore there trooped from every deepest pit The fiends who war with Wisdom and the Light, Arati, Trishna, Raga, and their crew Of passions, horrors, ignorances, lusts. The brood of gloom and dread; all hating Buddh, Seeking to shake his mind; nor knoweth one, Not even the wisest, how those fiends of Hell Battled that night to keep the Truth from Buddh: Sometimes with terrors of the tempest, blasts Of demon-armies clouding all the wind, With thunder, and with blinding lightning flung In jagged javelins of purple wrath From splitting skies; sometimes with wiles and words Fair-sounding, 'mid hushed leaves and softened airs From shapes of witching beauty; wanton songs, Whispers of love; sometimes with royal allures Of proffered rule; sometimes with mocking doubts, Making truth vain. But whether these befell Without and visible, or whether Buddh Strove with fell spirits in his inmost heart, Judge ye:—I write what ancient books have writ. The ten chief Sins came—Mara's mighty ones, Angels of evil—Attavada first, The Sin of Self, who in the Universe As in a mirror sees her fond face shown, And crying "I" would have the world say "I," And all things perish so if she endure. "If thou be'st Buddh," she said, "let others grope Lightless; it is enough that thou art Thou Changelessly; rise and take the bliss of gods Who change not, heed not, strive not." But Buddh spake, "The right in thee is base, the wrong a curse; Cheat such as love themselves." Then came wan Doubt, He that denies—the mocking Sin—and this Hissed in the Master's ear: "All things are shows, And vain the knowledge of their vanity; Thou dost but chase the shadow of thyself; Rise and go hence, there is no better way Than patient scorn, nor any help for man, Nor any staying of his whirling wheel." But quoth our Lord, "Thou hast no part with me, False Visikitcha, subtlest of man's foes." And third came she who gives dark creeds their power, Silabbat-paramasa, sorceress, Draped fair in many lands as lowly Faith, But ever juggling souls with rites and prayers; The keeper of those keys which lock up Hells And open Heavens. "Wilt thou dare," she said, "Put by our sacred books, dethrone our gods, Unpeople all the temples, shaking down That law which feeds the priests and props the realms?" But Buddha answered, "What thou bidd'st me keep Is form which passes, but the free Truth stands; Get thee unto thy darkness." Next there drew Gallantly nigh a braver Tempter, he, Kama, the King of passions, who hath sway Over the gods themselves, lord of all loves, Ruler of Pleasure's realm. Laughing he came Unto the Tree, bearing his bow of gold Wreathed with red blooms, and arrows of desire Pointed with five-tongued delicate flame which stings The heart it smites sharper than poisoned barb. And round him came into that lonely place Bands of bright shapes with heavenly eyes and lips Singing in lovely words the praise of Love To music of invisible sweet chords, So witching, that it seemed the night stood still To hear them, and the listening stars and moon, Paused in their orbits while these hymned to Buddh Of lost delights, and how a mortal man Findeth nought dearer in the three wide worlds Than are the yielded loving fragrant breasts Of Beauty and the rosy breast-blossoms, Love's rubies; nay, and toucheth nought more high Than is that dulcet harmony of form Seen in the lines and charms of loveliness Unspeakable, yet speaking, soul to soul, Owned by the bounding blood, worshipped by will Which leaps to seize it, knowing this is best, This the true heaven where mortals are like gods, Makers and Masters, this the gift of gifts Ever renewed and worth a thousand woes. For who hath grieved when soft arms shut him safe, And all life melted to a happy sigh, And all the world was given in one warm kiss? So sang, they with soft float of beckoning hands, Eyes lighted with love-flames, alluring smiles; In dainty dance their supple sides and limbs Revealing and concealing like burst buds Which tell their colour, but hide yet their hearts. Never so matchless grace delighted eye As troop by troop these midnight-dancers swept Nearer the Tree, each daintier than the last, Murmuring, "O great Siddartha! I am thine, Taste of my mouth and see if youth is sweet!" Also, when nothing moved our Master's mind, Lo! Kama waved his magic bow, and lo! The band of dancers opened, and a shape Fairest and stateliest of the throng came forth Wearing the guise of sweet Yasodhara. Tender the passion of those dark eyes seemed Brimming with tears; yearning those outspread arms Opened towards him; musical that moan Wherewith the beauteous shadow named his name, Sighing: "My Prince! I die for lack of thee! What heaven hast thou found like that we knew By bright Rohini in the Pleasure-house, Where all these weary years I weep for thee? Return, Siddartha! ah, return! But touch My lips again, but let me to thy breast Once, and these fruitless dreams will end! Ah, look! Am I not she thou lovedst?" But Buddh said: "For that sweet sake of her thou playest thus Fair and false Shadow, is thy playing vain; I curse thee not who wear'st a form so dear, Yet as thou art, so are all earthly shows. Melt to thy void again!" Thereat a cry Thrilled through the grove, and all that comely rout Faded with flickering wafts of flame, and trail Of vaporous ropes. Next under darkening skies And noise of rising storm came fiercer Sins The rearmost of the Ten, Patigha—Hate— With serpents coiled about her waist, which suck Poisonous milk from both her hanging dugs, And with her curses mix their angry hiss. Little wrought she upon that Holy One Who with his calm eyes dumbed her bitter lips And made her black snakes writhe to hide their fangs. Then followed Ruparaga—Lust of days— That sensual Sin which out of greed for life Forgets to live; and next him Lust of Fame, Nobler Aruparaga, she whose spell Beguiles the wise, mother of daring deeds, Battles and toils. And haughty Mano came, The Fiend of Pride; and smooth Self-Righteousness. Uddhachcha; and—with many a hideous band Of vile and formless things, which crept and flapped Toad-like and bat-like—Ignorance, the Dam Of Fear and Wrong, Avidya, hideous hag, Whose footsteps left the midnight darker, while The rooted mountains shook, the wild winds howled, The broken clouds shed from their caverns streams Of levin-lighted rain; stars shot from heaven, The solid earth shuddered as if one laid Flame to her gaping wounds; the torn black air Was full of whistling wings, of screams and yells, Of evil faces peering, of vast fronts Terrible and majestic, Lords of Hell Who from a thousand Limbos led their troops To tempt the Master. But Buddh heeded not, Sitting serene, with perfect virtue walled As is a stronghold by its gates and ramps; Also the Sacred Tree—the Bodhi-tree— Amid that tumult stirred not, but each leaf Glistened as still as when on moonlit eves No zephyr spills the glittering gems of dew; For all this clamour raged outside the shade Spread by those cloistered stems. In the third watch, The earth being still, the hellish legions fled, A soft air breathing from the sinking moon, Our Lord attained samma-sambuddh; he saw By light which shines beyond our mortal ken The line of all his lives in all the worlds, Far back and farther back and farthest yet, Five hundred lives and fifty. Even as one, At rest upon a mountain-summit, marks His path wind up by precipice and crag Past thick-set woods shrunk to a patch; through bogs Glittering false-green; down hollows where he toiled Breathless; on dizzy ridges where his feet Had well-nigh slipped; beyond the sunny lawns, The cataract and the cavern and the pool, Backward to those dim flats wherefrom he sprang To reach the blue—thus Buddha did behold Life's upward steps long-linked, from levels low Where breath is base, to higher slopes and higher Whereon the ten great Virtues wait to lead The climber skyward. Also, Buddha saw How new life reaps what the old life did sow; How where its march breaks off its march begins; Holding the gain and answering for the loss; And how in each life good begets more good, Evil fresh evil; Death but casting up Debit or credit, whereupon th' account In merits or demerits stamps itself By sure arithmic—where no tittle drops— Certain and just, on some new-springing life; Wherein are packed and scored past thoughts and deeds, Strivings and triumphs, memories and marks Of lives foregone: And in the middle watch, Our Lord attained Abhidjna—insight vast Ranging beyond this sphere to spheres unnamed, System on system, countless worlds and suns Moving in splendid measures, band by band Linked in division, one yet separate, The silver islands of a sapphire sea Shoreless, unfathomed, undiminished, stirred With waves which roll in restless tides of change. He saw those Lords of Light who hold their worlds By bonds invisible, how they themselves Circle obedient round mightier orbs Which serve profounder splendours, star to star Flashing the ceaseless radiance of life From centres ever shifting unto cirques Knowing no uttermost. These he beheld With unsealed vision, and of all those worlds, Cycle on epicycle, all their tale Of Kalpas, Mahakalpas—terms of time Which no man grasps, yea, though he knew to count The drops in Gunga from her springs to the sea, Measureless unto speech—whereby these wax And wane; whereby each of this heavenly host Fulfils its shining life and darkling dies. Sakwal by Sakwal, depths and heights be passed Transported through the blue infinitudes, Marking—behind all modes, above all spheres, Beyond the burning impulse of each orb— That fixed decree at silent work which wills Evolve the dark to light, the dead to life, To fulness void, to form the yet unformed, Good unto better, better unto best, By wordless edict; having none to bid, None to forbid; for this is past all gods Immutable, unspeakable, supreme, A Power which builds, unbuilds, and builds again, Ruling all things accordant to the rule Of virtue, which is beauty, truth, and use. So that all things do well which serve the Power, And ill which hinder; nay, the worm does well Obedient to its kind; the hawk does well Which carries bleeding quarries to its young; The dewdrop and the star shine sisterly, Globing together in the common work; And man, who lives to die, dies to live well So if he guide his ways by blamelessness And earnest will to hinder not but help All things both great and small which suffer life. These did our Lord see in the middle watch. But when the fourth watch came the secret came Of Sorrow, which with evil mars the law, As damp and dross hold back the goldsmith's fire. Then was the Dukha-satya opened him First of the "Noble Truths"; how Sorrow is Shadow to life, moving where life doth move; Not to be laid aside until one lays Living aside, with all its changing states, Birth, growth, decay, love, hatred, pleasure, pain, Being and doing. How that none strips off These sad delights and pleasant griefs who lacks Knowledge to know them snares; but he who knows Avidya—Delusion—sets those snares, Loves life no longer but ensues escape. The eyes of such a one are wide; he sees Delusion breeds Sankhara, Tendency Perverse: Tendency Energy—Vidnnan— Whereby comes Namarupa, local form And name and bodiment, bringing the man With senses naked to the sensible, A helpless mirror of all shows which pass Across his heart; and so Vendana grows— "Sense-life "—false in its gladness, fell in sadness, But sad or glad, the Mother of Desire, Trishna, that thirst which makes the living drink Deeper and deeper of the false salt waves Whereon they float—pleasures, ambitions, wealth, Praise, fame, or domination, conquest, love; Rich meats and robes, and fair abodes, and pride Of ancient lines, and lust of days, and strife To live, and sins that flow from strife, some sweet, Some bitter. Thus Life's thirst quenches itself With draughts which double thirst; but who is wise Tears from his soul this Trishna, feeds his sense No longer on false shows, fills his firm mind To seek not, strive not, wrong not; bearing meek All ills which flow from foregone wrongfulness, And so constraining passions that they die Famished; till all the sum of ended life— The Karma—all that total of a soul Which is the things it did, the thoughts it had, The "Self" it wove—with woof of viewless time, Crossed on the warp invisible of acts— The outcome of him on the Universe, Grows pure and sinless; either never more Needing to find a body and a place, Or so informing what fresh frame it takes In new existence that the new toils prove Lighter and lighter not to be at all, Thus "finishing the Path"; free from Earth's cheats; Released from all the skandhas of the flesh; Broken from ties—from Upandanas—saved From whirling on the wheel; aroused and sane As is a man wakened from hateful dreams; Until—greater than Kings, than Gods more glad!— The aching craze to live ends, and life glides— Lifeless—to nameless quiet, nameless joy, Blessed NIRVANA—sinless, stirless rest That change which never changes! Lo! the Dawn Sprang with Buddh's Victory! lo! in the East Flamed the first fires of beauteous day, poured forth Through fleeting folds of Night's black drapery. High in the widening blue the herald-star Faded to paler silver as there shot Brighter and brighter bars of rosy gleam Across the grey. Far off the shadowy hills Saw the great Sun, before the world was 'ware, And donned their crowns of crimson; flower by flower Felt the warm breath of Morn and 'gan unfold Their tender lids. Over the spangled grass Swept the swift footsteps of the lovely Light, Turning the tears of Night to joyous gems, Decking the earth with radiance, 'broidering The sinking storm-clouds with a golden fringe; Gilding the feathers of the palms, which waved Glad salutation; darting beams of gold Into the glades; touching with magic wand The stream to rippled ruby; in the brake Finding the mild eyes of the antelopes And saying, "It is day"; in nested sleep Touching the small heads under many a wing And whispering, "Children, praise the light of day!" Whereat there piped anthems of all the birds! The koil's fluted song, the bulbul's hymn, The "morning, morning" of the painted thrush, The twitter of the sunbirds starting forth To find the honey ere the bees be out, The grey crow's caw, the parrot's scream, the strokes Of the green hammersmith, the myna's chirp, The never finished love-talk of the doves Yea! and so holy was the influence Of that high Dawn which came with victory That, far and near, in homes of men there spread An unknown peace. The slayer hid his knife; The robber laid his plunder back; the shroff Counted full tale of coins; all evil hearts Grew gentle, kind hearts gentler, as the balm Of that divinest Daybreak lightened Earth. Kings at fierce war called truce; the sick men leaped Laughing from beds of pain; the dying smiled As though they knew that happy Morn was sprung From fountains farther than the utmost East; And o'er the heart of sad Yasodhara, Sitting forlorn at Prince Siddartha's bed, Came sudden bliss, as if love should not fail Nor such vast sorrow miss to end in joy. So glad the World was—though it wist not why— That over desolate wastes went swooning songs Of mirth, the voice of bodiless Prets and Bhuts Foreseeing Buddh; and Devas in the air Cried, "It is finished, finished!" and the priests Stood with the wondering people in the streets Watching those golden splendours flood the sky And saying, "There hath happed some mighty thing." Also in Ran and jungle grew that day Friendship amongst the creatures: spotted deer Browsed fearless where the tigress fed her cubs, And cheetahs lapped the pool beside the bucks; Under the eagle's rock the brown hares scoured While his fierce beak but preened an idle wing; The snake sunned all his jewels in the beam With deadly fangs in sheath; the shrike let pass The nestling finch; the emerald halcyons Sate dreaming while the fishes played beneath, Nor hawked the merops, though the butterflies— Crimson and blue and amber-flitted thick Around his perch; the Spirit of our Lord Lay potent upon man and bird and beast, Even while he mused under that Bodhi-tree, Glorified with the Conquest gained for all And lightened by a Light greater than Day's. Then he arose—radiant, rejoicing, strong— Beneath the Tree, and lifting high his voice Spake this, in hearing of all Times and Worlds: Anekajatisangsarang Sandhawissang anibhisang Gahakarakangawesanto Dukkhajatipunappunang. Gahakarakadithosi; Punagehang nakahasi; Sabhatephasukhabhagga, Gahakutangwisang Khitang; Wisangkharagatang chittang, Janhanangknayamajhaga. Many a House of Life Held me—Seeking Ever Him Wrought These Prisons of the Senses, Sorrow-Fraught; Sore was My Ceaseless Strife! But Now, Thou Builder of this Tabernacle—Thou! I Know Thee! Never Shalt Thou Build Again These Walls of Pain, Nor Raise the Roof-Tree of Deceits, Nor Lay Fresh Rafters on the Clay: Broken Thy House is, and the Ridge-Pole Split! Delusion Fashioned it! Safe Pass I Thence—Deliverance to Obtain.
Sorrowful dwelt the King Suddhodana All those long years among the Sakya Lords Lacking the speech and presence of his Son; Sorrowful sate the sweet Yasodhara All those long years, knowing no joy of life, Widowed of him her living Liege and Prince. And ever, on the news of some recluse Seen far away by pasturing camel-men Or traders threading devious paths for gain, Messengers from the King had gone and come Bringing account of many a holy sage Lonely and lost to home; but nought of him The crown of white Kapilavastu's line, The glory of her monarch and his hope, The heart's content of sweet Yasodhara, Far-wandered now, forgetful, changed, or dead. But on a day in the Wasanta-time, When silver sprays swing on the mango-trees And all the earth is clad with garb of spring, The Princess sate by that bright garden-stream Whose gliding glass, bordered with lotus-cups, Mirrored so often in the bliss gone by Their clinging hands and meeting lips. Her lids Were wan with tears, her tender cheeks had thinned; Her lips' delicious curves were drawn with grief The lustrous glory of her hair was hid— Close-bound as widows use; no ornament She wore, nor any jewel clasped the cloth— Coarse, and of mourning-white—crossed on her breast. Slow moved and painfully those small fine feet Which had the roe's gait and the rose-leaf's fall In old years at the loving voice of him. Her eyes, those lamps of love,—which were as if Sunlight should shine from out the deepest dark, Illumining Night's peace with Daytime's glow— Unlighted now, and roving aimlessly, Scarce marked the clustering signs of coming Spring So the silk lashes drooped over their orbs. In one hand was a girdle thick with pearls, Siddartha's—treasured since that night he fled. (Ah, bitter Night! mother of weeping days! When was fond Love so pitiless to love Save that this scorned to limit love by life?) The other led her little son, a boy Divinely fair, the pledge Siddartha left— Named Rahula—now seven years old, who tripped Gladsome beside his mother, light of heart To see the spring-blooms burgeon o'er the world. So while they lingered by the lotus-pools And, lightly laughing, Rahula flung rice To feed the blue and purple fish, and she With sad eyes watched the swiftly-flying cranes, Sighing, "O creatures of the wandering wing, If ye shall light where my dear Lord is hid, Say that Yasodhara lives nigh to death For one word of his mouth, one touch of him."— So, as they played and sighed, mother and child, Came some among the damsels of the Court Saying: "Great Princess! there have entered in At the south gate merchants of Hastinpur Tripusha called and Bhalluk, men of worth, Long traveled from the loud sea's edge, who bring Marvellous lovely webs pictured with gold, Waved blades of gilded steel, wrought bowls in brass, Cut ivories, spice, simples, and unknown birds Treasures of far-off peoples; but they bring That which doth beggar these, for He is seen! Thy Lord,—our Lord,—the hope of all the land Siddartha! they have seen him face to face Yea, and have worshipped him with knees and brows, And offered offerings; for he is become All which was shown, a teacher of the wise, World-honoured, holy, wonderful; a Buddh Who doth deliver men and save all flesh By sweetest speech and pity vast as Heaven And, lo! he journeyeth hither, these do say." Then—while the glad blood bounded in her veins As Gunga leaps when first the mountain snows Melt at her springs—uprose Yasodhara And clapped her palms, and laughed, with brimming tears Beading her lashes. "Oh! call quick," she cried, "These merchants to my purdah, for mine ears Thirst like parched throats to drink their blessed news. Go bring them in,—but if their tale be true, Say I will fill their girdles with much gold, With gems that kings shall envy; come ye too, My girls, for ye shall have guerdon of this If there be gifts to speak my grateful heart." So went those merchants to the Pleasure House, Full softly pacing through its golden ways With naked feet, amid the peering maids, Much wondering at the glories of the Court. Whom, when they came without the purdah's folds, A voice, tender and eager, filled and charmed With trembling music, saying: "Ye are come From far, fair Sirs! and ye have seen my Lord— Yea, worshipped—for he is become a Buddh, World-honoured, holy, and delivers men, And journeyeth hither. Speak! for, if this be, Friends are ye of my House, welcome and dear." Then answer made Tripusha: "We have seen That sacred Master, Princess! we have bowed Before his feet; for who was lost a Prince Is found a greater than the King of kings. Under the Bodhi-tree by Phalgu's bank That which shall save the world hath late been wrought By him—the Friend of all, the Prince of all— Thine most, High Lady! from whose tears men win The comfort of this Word the Master speaks. Lo! he is well, as one beyond all ills, Uplifted as a god from earthly woes, Shining with risen Truth, golden and clear. Moreover as he entereth town by town, Preaching those noble ways which lead to peace, The hearts of men follow his path as leaves Troop to wind or sheep draw after one Who knows the pastures. We ourselves have heard By Gaya in the green Tchirnika grove Those wondrous lips and done them reverence. He cometh hither ere the first rains fall." Thus spake he, and Yasodhara, for joy, Scarce mastered breath to answer: "Be it well Now and at all times with ye, worthy friends, Who bring good tidings; but of this great thing Wist ye how it befell?" Then Bhalluk told Such as the people of the valleys knew Of that dread night of conflict, when the air Darkened with fiendish shadows, and the earth Quaked, and the waters swelled with Mara's wrath. Also how gloriously that morning broke Radiant with rising hopes for man, and how The Lord was found rejoicing 'neath his Tree. But many days the burden of release— To be escaped beyond all storms of doubt, Safe on Truth's shore—lay, spake he, on that heart A golden load; for how shall men—Buddh mused— Who love their sins and cleave to cheats of sense, And drink of error from a thousand springs— Having no mind to see, nor strength to break The fleshly snare which binds them—how should such Receive the Twelve Nidanas and the Law Redeeming all, yet strange to profit by, As the caged bird oft shuns its open door? So had we missed the helpful victory If, in this earth without a refuge, Buddh Winning the way had deemed it all too hard For mortal feet, and passed, none following him. Yet pondered the compassion of our Lord, But in that hour there rang a voice as sharp As cry of travail, so as if the earth Moaned in birth-throe "Nasyami aham bhu Nasyati loka! Surely I Am Lost, I And My Creatures:" then a pause, and next A pleading sigh borne on the western wind, "Sruyatam dharma, Bhagwat!" Oh, Supreme Let Thy Great Law Be Uttered! Whereupon The Master cast his vision forth on flesh, Saw who should hear and who must wait to hear, As the keen Sun gilding the lotus-lakes Seeth which buds will open to his beams And which are not yet risen from their roots; Then spake, divinely smiling, "Yea, I preach! Whoso will listen let him learn the Law." Afterwards passed he, said they, by the hills Unto Benares, where he taught the Five, Showing how birth and death should be destroyed, And how man hath no fate except past deeds, No Hell but what he makes, no Heaven too high For those to reach whose passions sleep subdued. This was the fifteenth day of Vaishya Mid-afternoon and that night was full moon. But, of the Rishis, first Kaundinya Owned the Four Truths and entered on the Paths; And after him Bhadraka, Asvajit, Bassav, Mahanama; also there Within the Deer-park, at the feet of Buddh, Yasad the Prince with nobles fifty-four Hearing the blessed word our Master spake Worshipped and followed; for there sprang up peace And knowledge of a new time come for men In all who heard, as spring the flowers and grass When water sparkles through a sandy plain. These sixty—said they—did our Lord send forth, Made perfect in restraint and passion-free, To teach the Way; but the World-honoured turned South from the Deer-park and Isipatan To Yashti and King Bimbasara's realm, Where many days he taught; and after these King Bimbasara and his folk believed, Learning the law of love and ordered life. Also he gave the Master, of free gift— Pouring forth water on the hands of Buddh— The Bamboo-Garden, named Weluvana, Wherein are streams and caves and lovely glades; And the King set a stone there, carved with this: "Ye dharma hetuppabhawa Yesan hetun Tathagato; Aha yesan cha yo nirodho Ewan wadi Maha samano. "What life's course and cause sustain These Tathagato made plain; What delivers from life's woe That our Lord hath made us know." And, in that Garden—said they—there was held A high Assembly, where the Teacher spake Wisdom and power, winning all souls which heard, So that nine hundred took the yellow robe— Such as the Master wears,—and spread his Law; And this the gatha was wherewith he closed: Sabba papassa akaranan; Kusalassa upasampada; Sa chitta pariyodapanan; Etan Budhanusasanan. "Evil swells the debts to pay, Good delivers and acquits; Shun evil, follow good; hold sway Over thyself. This is the Way." Whom, when they ended, speaking so of him, With gifts, and thanks which made the jewels dull, The Princess recompensed. "But by what road Wendeth my Lord?" she asked: the merchants said, "Yojans threescore stretch from the city-walls To Rajagriha, whence the easy path Passeth by Sona hither and the hills. Our oxen, treading eight slow koss a day, Came in one moon." Then the King hearing word, Sent nobles of the Court—well-mounted lords— Nine separate messengers, each embassy Bidden to say: "The King Suddhodana— Nearer the pyre by seven long years of lack, Wherethrough he hath not ceased to seek for thee— Prays of his son to come unto his own, The Throne and people of this longing Realm, Lest he shall die and see thy face no more." Also nine horsemen sent Yasodhara Bidden to say, "The Princess of thy House— Rahula's mother—craves to see thy face As the night-blowing moon-flower's swelling heart Pines for the moon, as pale asoka-buds Wait for a woman's foot: if thou hast found More than was lost, she prays her part in this, Rahula's part, but most of all thyself." So sped the Sakya Lords, but it befell That each one, with the message in his mouth, Entered the Bamboo-Garden in that hour When Buddha taught his Law; and—hearing—each Forgot to speak, lost thought of King and quest, Of the sad Princess even; only gazed Eye-rapt upon the Master; only hung Heart-caught upon the speech, compassionate, Commanding, perfect, pure, enlightening all, Poured from those sacred lips. Look! like a bee Winged for the hive, who sees the mogras spread And scents their utter sweetness on the air, If he be honey-filled, it matters not; If night be nigh, or rain, he will not heed; Needs must he light on those delicious blooms And drain their nectar; so these messengers One with another, hearing Buddha's words, Let go the purpose of their speed, and mixed, Heedless of all, amid the Master's train. Wherefore the King bade that Udayi go— Chiefest in all the Court, and faithfullest, Siddartha's playmate in the happier days— Who, as he drew anear the garden, plucked Blown tufts of tree-wool from the grove and sealed The entrance of his hearing; thus he came Safe through the lofty peril of the place And told the message of the King, and hers. Then meekly bowed his head and spake our Lord Before the people: "Surely I shall go! It is my duty as it was my will; Let no man miss to render reverence To those who lend him life, whereby come means To live and die no more, but safe attain Blissful Nirvana, if ye keep the Law, Purging past wrongs and adding nought thereto, Complete in love and lovely charities. Let the King know and let the Princess hear I take the way forthwith." This told, the folk Of white Kapilavastu and its fields Made ready for the entrance of their Prince. At the south gate a bright pavilion rose With flower-wreathed pillars and the walls of silk Wrought on their red and green with woven gold. Also the roads were laid with scented boughs Of neem and mango, and full mussuks shed Sandal and jasmine on the dust, and flags Fluttered; and on the day when he should come It was ordained how many elephants— With silver howdahs and their tusks gold-tipped— Should wait beyond the ford, and where the drums Should boom "Siddartha cometh!" where the lords Should light and worship, and the dancing-girls Where they should strew their flowers with dance and song So that the steed he rode might tramp knee-deep In rose and balsam, and the ways be fair; While the town rang with music and high joy. This was ordained and all men's ears were pricked Dawn after dawn to catch the first drum's beat Announcing, "Now he cometh!" But it fell Eager to be before—Yasodhara Rode in her litter to the city-walls Where soared the bright pavilion. All around A beauteous garden smiled—Nigrodha named— Shaded with bel-trees and the green-plumed dates, New-trimmed and gay with winding walks and banks Of fruits and flowers; for the southern road Skirted its lawns, on this hand leaf and bloom, On that the suburb-huts where base-borns dwelt Outside the gates, a patient folk and poor, Whose touch for Kshatriya and priest of Brahm Were sore defilement. Yet those, too, were quick With expectation, rising ere the dawn To peer along the road, to climb the trees At far-off trumpet of some elephant, Or stir of temple-drum; and when none came, Busied with lowly chores to please the Prince; Sweeping their door-stones, setting forth their flags, Stringing the fruited fig-leaves into chains, New furbishing the Lingam, decking new Yesterday's faded arc of boughs, but aye Questioning wayfarers if any noise Be on the road of great Siddartha. These The Princess marked with lovely languid eyes, Watching, as they, the southward plain and bent Like them to listen if the passers gave News of the path. So fell it she beheld One slow approaching with his head close shorn, A yellow cloth over his shoulder cast, Girt as the hermits are, and in his hand An earthen bowl, shaped melonwise, the which Meekly at each hut-door he held a space, Taking the granted dole with gentle thanks And all as gently passing where none gave. Two followed him wearing the yellow robe, But he who bore the bowl so lordly seemed, So reverend, and with such a passage moved, With so commanding presence filled the air, With such sweet eyes of holiness smote all, That as they reached him alms the givers gazed Awestruck upon his face, and some bent down In worship, and some ran to fetch fresh gifts, Grieved to be poor; till slowly, group by group, Children and men and women drew behind Into his steps, whispering with covered lips, "Who is he? who? when looked a Rishi thus?" But as he came with quiet footfall on Nigh the pavilion, lo! the silken door Lifted, and, all unveiled, Yasodhara Stood in his path crying, "Siddartha! Lord!" With wide eyes streaming and with close-clasped hands, Then sobbing fell upon his feet, and lay. Afterwards, when this weeping lady passed Into the Noble Paths, and one had prayed Answer from Buddha wherefore-being vowed Quit of all mortal passion and the touch, Flower-soft and conquering, of a woman's hands— He suffered such embrace, the Master said "The greater beareth with the lesser love So it may raise it unto easier heights. Take heed that no man, being 'soaped from bonds, Vexeth bound souls with boasts of liberty. Free are ye rather that your freedom spread By patient winning and sweet wisdom's skill. Three eras of long toil bring Bodhisats— Who will be guides and help this darkling world— Unto deliverance, and the first is named Of deep 'Resolve,' the second of 'Attempt,' The third of 'Nomination.' Lo! I lived In era of Resolve, desiring good, Searching for wisdom, but mine eyes were sealed. Count the grey seeds on yonder castor-clump— So many rains it is since I was Ram, A merchant of the coast which looketh south To Lanka and the hiding-place of pearls. Also in that far time Yasodhara Dwelt with me in our village by the sea, Tender as now, and Lukshmi was her name. And I remember how I journeyed thence Seeking our gain, for poor the household was And lowly. Not the less with wistful tears She prayed me that I should not part, nor tempt Perils by land and water. 'How could love Leave what it loved?' she wailed; yet, venturing, I Passed to the Straits, and after storm and toil And deadly strife with creatures of the deep, And woes beneath the midnight and the noon, Searching the wave I won therefrom a pearl Moonlike and glorious, such as kings might buy Emptying their treasury. Then came I glad Unto mine hills, but over all that land Famine spread sore; ill was I stead to live In journey home, and hardly reached my door— Aching for food—with that white wealth of the sea Tied in my girdle. Yet no food was there; And on the threshold she for whom I toiled— More than myself—lay with her speechless lips Nigh unto death for one small gift of grain. Then cried I, 'If there be who hath of grain, Here is a kingdom's ransom for one life Give Lukshmi bread and take my moonlight pearl.' Whereat one brought the last of all his hoard, Millet—three seers—and clutched the beauteous thing. But Lukshmi lived and sighed with gathered life, 'Lo! thou didst love indeed!' I spent my pearl Well in that life to comfort heart and mind Else quite uncomforted; but these pure pearls, My last large gain, won from a deeper wave— The Twelve Nidanas and the Law of Good— Cannot be spent, nor dimmed, and most fulfil Their perfect beauty being freeliest given. For like as is to Meru yonder hill Heaped by the little ants, and like as dew Dropped in the footmark of a bounding roe Unto the shoreless seas, so was that gift Unto my present giving; and so love— Vaster in being free from toils of sense— Was wisest stooping to the weaker heart; And so the feet of sweet Yasodhara Passed into peace and bliss, being softly led." But when the King heard how Siddartha came Shorn, with the mendicant's sad-coloured cloth, And stretching out a bowl to gather orts From base-borns' leavings, wrathful sorrow drove Love from his heart. Thrice on the ground he spat, Plucked at his silvered beard, and strode straight forth Lackeyed by trembling lords. Frowning he clomb Upon his war-horse, drove the spurs, and dashed, Angered, through wondering streets and lanes of folk. Scarce finding breath to say, "The King! bow down!" Ere the loud cavalcade had clattered by: Which—at the turning by the Temple-wall Where the south gate was seen—encountered full A mighty crowd; to every edge of it Poured fast more people, till the roads were lost, Blotted by that huge company which thronged And grew, close following him whose look serene Met the old King's. Nor lived the father's wrath Longer than while the gentle eyes of Buddh Lingered in worship on his troubled brows, Then downcast sank, with his true knee, to earth In proud humility. So dear it seemed To see the Prince, to know him whole, to mark That glory greater than of earthly state Crowning his head, that majesty which brought All men, so awed and silent, in his steps. Nathless the King broke forth: "Ends it in this, That great Siddartha steals into his realm, Wrapped in a clout, shorn, sandalled, craving food Of low-borns, he whose life was as a god's, My son! heir of this spacious power, and heir Of Kings who did but clap their palms to have What earth could give or eager service bring? Thou should'st have come apparelled in thy rank, With shining spears and tramp of horse and foot. Lo! all my soldiers camped upon the road, And all my city waited at the gates; Where hast thou sojourned through these evil years Whilst thy crowned father mourned? and she, too, there Lived as the widows use, foregoing joys; Never once hearing sound of song or string, Nor wearing once the festal robe, till now When in her cloth of gold she welcomes home A beggar spouse in yellow remnants clad. Son! why is this?" "My father!" came reply, "It is the custom of my race." "Thy race," Answered the King "counteth a hundred thrones From Maha Sammat, but no deed like this." "Not of a mortal line," the Master said, "I spake, but of descent invisible, The Buddhas who have been and who shall be: Of these am I, and what they did I do, And this which now befalls so fell before, That at his gate a King in warrior-mail Should meet his son, a Prince in hermit-weeds; And that, by love and self-control, being more Than mightiest Kings in all their puissance, The appointed Helper of the Worlds should bow— As now do I—and with all lowly love Proffer, where it is owed for tender debts, The first-fruits of the treasure he hath brought; Which now I proffer." Then the King amazed Inquired "What treasure?" and the Teacher took Meekly the royal palm, and while they paced Through worshipping streets—the Princess and the King On either side—he told the things which make For peace and pureness, those Four noble Truths Which hold all wisdom as shores shut the seas, Those Eight right Rules whereby who will may walk— Monarch or slave—upon the perfect Path That hath its Stages Four and Precepts Eight, Whereby whoso will live—mighty or mean Wise or unlearned, man, woman, young or old Shall soon or late break from the wheels of life, Attaining blest Nirvana. So they came Into the Palace-porch, Suddhodana With brows unknit drinking the mighty words, And in his own hand carrying Buddha's bowl, Whilst a new light brightened the lovely eyes Of sweet Yasodhara and sunned her tears; And that night entered they the Way of Peace.
A broad mead spreads by swift Kohana's bank At Nagara; five days shall bring a man In ox-wain thither from Benares' shrines Eastward and northward journeying. The horns Of white Himala look upon the place, Which all the year is glad with blooms and girt By groves made green from that bright streamlet's wave. Soft are its slopes and cool its fragrant shades, And holy all the spirit of the spot Unto this time: the breath of eve comes hushed Over the tangled thickets, and high heaps Of carved red stones cloven by root and stem Of creeping fig, and clad with waving veil Of leaf and grass. The still snake glistens forth From crumbled work of lac and cedar-beams To coil his folds there on deep-graven slabs; The lizard dwells and darts o'er painted floors Where kings have paced; the grey fox litters safe Under the broken thrones; only the peaks, And stream, and sloping lawns, and gentle air Abide unchanged. All else, like all fair shows Of life, are fled—for this is where it stood, The city of Suddhodana, the hill Whereon, upon an eve of gold and blue At sinking sun Lord Buddha set himself To teach the Law in hearing of his own. Lo! ye shall read it in the Sacred Books How, being met in that glad pleasaunce-place— A garden in old days with hanging walks, Fountains, and tanks, and rose-banked terraces Girdled by gay pavilions and the sweep Of stately palace-fronts—the Master sate Eminent, worshipped, all the earnest throng Catching the opening of his lips to learn That wisdom which hath made our Asia mild; Whereto four hundred crores of living souls Witness this day. Upon the King's right hand He sate, and round were ranged the Sakya Lords Ananda, Devadatta—all the Court. Behind stood Seriyut and Mugallan, chiefs Of the calm brethren in the yellow garb, A goodly company. Between his knees Rahula smiled with wondering childish eyes Bent on the awful face, while at his feet Sate sweet Yasodhara, her heartaches gone, Foreseeing that fair love which doth not feed On fleeting sense, that life which knows no age, That blessed last of deaths when Death is dead, His victory and hers. Wherefore she laid Her hand upon his hands, folding around Her silver shoulder-cloth his yellow robe, Nearest in all the world to him whose words The Three Worlds waited for. I cannot tell A small part of the splendid lore which broke From Buddha's lips: I am a late-come scribe Who love the Master and his love of men, And tell this legend, knowing he was wise, But have not wit to speak beyond the books; And time hath blurred their script and ancient sense, Which once was new and mighty, moving all. A little of that large discourse I know Which Buddha spake on the soft Indian eve. Also I know it writ that they who heard Were more—lakhs more—crores more—than could be seen, For all the Devas and the Dead thronged there, Till Heaven was emptied to the seventh zone And uttermost dark Hells opened their bars; Also the daylight lingered past its time In rose-leaf radiance on the watching peaks, So that it seemed night listened in the glens, And noon upon the mountains; yea! they write, The evening stood between them like some maid Celestial, love-struck, rapt; the smooth-rolled clouds Her braided hair; the studded stars the pearls And diamonds of her coronal; the moon Her forehead jewel, and the deepening dark Her woven garments. 'T was her close-held breath Which came in scented sighs across the lawns While our Lord taught, and, while he taught, who heard— Though he were stranger in the land, or slave, High caste or low, come of the Aryan blood, Or Mlech or Jungle-dweller—seemed to hear What tongue his fellows talked. Nay, outside those Who crowded by the river, great and small, The birds and beasts and creeping things—'t is writ— Had sense of Buddha's vast embracing love And took the promise of his piteous speech; So that their lives—prisoned in shape of ape, Tiger, or deer, shagged bear, jackal, or wolf, Foul-feeding kite, pearled dove, or peacock gemmed, Squat toad, or speckled serpent, lizard, bat, Yea, or of fish fanning the river waves— Touched meekly at the skirts of brotherhood With man who hath less innocence than these; And in mute gladness knew their bondage broke Whilst Buddha spake these things before the King: Om, Amitaya! measure not with words Th' Immeasurable; nor sink the string of thought Into the Fathomless. Who asks doth err, Who answers, errs. Say nought! The Books teach Darkness was, at first of all, And Brahm, sole meditating in that Night; Look not for Brahm and the Beginning there! Nor him, nor any light Shall any gazer see with mortal eyes, Or any searcher know by mortal mind, Veil after veil will lift—but there must be Veil upon veil behind. Stars sweep and question not. This is enough That life and death and joy and woe abide; And cause and sequence, and the course of time, And Being's ceaseless tide, Which, ever-changing, runs, linked like a river By ripples following ripples, fast or slow— The same yet not the same—from far-off fountain To where its waters flow Into the seas. These, steaming to the Sun, Give the lost wavelets back in cloudy fleece To trickle down the hills, and glide again; Having no pause or peace. This is enough to know, the phantasms are; The Heavens, Earths, Worlds, and changes changing them A mighty whirling wheel of strife and stress Which none can stay or stem. Pray not! the Darkness will not brighten! Ask Nought from the Silence, for it cannot speak! Vex not your mournful minds with pious pains! Ah! Brothers, Sisters! seek Nought from the helpless gods by gift and hymn, Nor bribe with blood, nor feed with fruit and cakes; Within yourselves deliverance must be sought; Each man his prison makes. Each hath such lordship as the loftiest ones; Nay, for with Powers above, around, below, As with all flesh and whatsoever lives, Act maketh joy and woe. What hath been bringeth what shall be, and is, Worse—better—last for first and first for last; The Angels in the Heavens of Gladness reap Fruits of a holy past. The devils in the underworlds wear out Deeds that were wicked in an age gone by. Nothing endures: fair virtues waste with time, Foul sins grow purged thereby. Who toiled a slave may come anew a Prince For gentle worthiness and merit won; Who ruled a King may wander earth in rags For things done and undone. Higher than Indra's ye may lift your lot, And sink it lower than the worm or gnat; The end of many myriad lives is this, The end of myriads that. Only, while turns this wheel invisible, No pause, no peace, no staying-place can be; Who mounts will fall, who falls may mount; the spokes Go round unceasingly!
If ye lay bound upon the wheel of change, And no way were of breaking from the chain, The Heart of boundless Being is a curse, The Soul of Things fell Pain. Ye are not bound! the Soul of Things is sweet, The Heart of Being is celestial rest; Stronger than woe is will: that which was Good Doth pass to Better—Best. I, Buddh, who wept with all my brothers' tears, Whose heart was broken by a whole world's woe, Laugh and am glad, for there is Liberty Ho! ye who suffer! know Ye suffer from yourselves. None else compels None other holds you that ye live and die, And whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss Its spokes of agony, Its tire of tears, its nave of nothingness. Behold, I show you Truth! Lower than hell, Higher than heaven, outside the utmost stars, Farther than Brahm doth dwell, Before beginning, and without an end, As space eternal and as surety sure, Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good, Only its laws endure. This is its touch upon the blossomed rose, The fashion of its hand shaped lotus-leaves; In dark soil and the silence of the seeds The robe of Spring it weaves; That is its painting on the glorious clouds, And these its emeralds on the peacock's train; It hath its stations in the stars; Its slaves in lightning, wind, and rain. Out of the dark it wrought the heart of man, Out of dull shells the pheasant's pencilled neck; Ever at toil, it brings to loveliness All ancient wrath and wreck. The grey eggs in the golden sun-bird's nest Its treasures are, the bees' six-sided cell Its honey-pot; the ant wots of its ways, The white doves know them well. It spreadeth forth for flight the eagle's wings What time she beareth home her prey; it sends The she-wolf to her cubs; for unloved things It findeth food and friends. It is not marred nor stayed in any use, All liketh it; the sweet white milk it brings To mothers' breasts; it brings the white drops, too, Wherewith the young snake stings. The ordered music of the marching orbs It makes in viewless canopy of sky; In deep abyss of earth it hides up gold, Sards, sapphires, lazuli. Ever and ever bringing secrets forth, It sitteth in the green of forest-glades Nursing strange seedlings at the cedar's root, Devising leaves, blooms, blades. It slayeth and it saveth, nowise moved Except unto the working out of doom; Its threads are Love and Life; and Death and Pain The shuttles of its loom. It maketh and unmaketh, mending all; What it hath wrought is better than hath been; Slow grows the splendid pattern that it plans Its wistful hands between. This is its work upon the things ye see, The unseen things are more; men's hearts and minds, The thoughts of peoples and their ways and wills, Those, too, the great Law binds. Unseen it helpeth ye with faithful hands, Unheard it speaketh stronger than the storm. Pity and Love are man's because long stress Moulded blind mass to form. It will not be contemned of any one; Who thwarts it loses, and who serves it gains; The hidden good it pays with peace and bliss, The hidden ill with pains. It seeth everywhere and marketh all Do right—it recompenseth! do one wrong— The equal retribution must be made, Though DHARMA tarry long. It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter-true Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs; Times are as nought, tomorrow it will judge, Or after many days. By this the slayer's knife did stab himself; The unjust judge hath lost his own defender; The false tongue dooms its lie; the creeping thief And spoiler rob, to render. Such is the Law which moves to righteousness, Which none at last can turn aside or stay; The heart of it is Love, the end of it Is Peace and Consummation sweet. Obey!
The Books say well, my Brothers! each man's life The outcome of his former living is; The bygone wrongs bring forth sorrows and woes The bygone right breeds bliss. That which ye sow ye reap. See yonder fields The sesamum was sesamum, the corn Was corn. The Silence and the Darkness knew! So is a man's fate born. He cometh, reaper of the things he sowed, Sesamum, corn, so much cast in past birth; And so much weed and poison-stuff, which mar Him and the aching earth. If he shall labour rightly, rooting these, And planting wholesome seedlings where they grew, Fruitful and fair and clean the ground shall be, And rich the harvest due. If he who liveth, learning whence woe springs, Endureth patiently, striving to pay His utmost debt for ancient evils done In Love and Truth alway; If making none to lack, he throughly purge The lie and lust of self forth from his blood; Suffering all meekly, rendering for offence Nothing but grace and good; If he shall day by day dwell merciful, Holy and just and kind and true; and rend Desire from where it clings with bleeding roots, Till love of life have end: He—dying—leaveth as the sum of him A life-count closed, whose ills are dead and quit, Whose good is quick and mighty, far and near, So that fruits follow it. No need hath such to live as ye name life; That which began in him when he began Is finished: he hath wrought the purpose through Of what did make him Man. Never shall yearnings torture him, nor sins Stain him, nor ache of earthly joys and woes Invade his safe eternal peace; nor deaths And lives recur. He goes Unto NIRVANA! He is one with life Yet lives not. He is blest, ceasing to be. OM, MANI PADME, OM! the Dewdrop slips Into the shining sea!
This is the doctrine of the KARMA. Learn! Only when all the dross of sin is quit, Only when life dies like a white flame spent Death dies along with it. Say not "I am," "I was," or "I shall be," Think not ye pass from house to house of flesh Like travelers who remember and forget, Ill-lodged or well-lodged. Fresh Issues upon the Universe that sum Which is the lattermost of lives. It makes Its habitation as the worm spins silk And dwells therein. It takes Function and substance as the snake's egg hatched Takes scale and fang; as feathered reedseeds fly O'er rock and loam and sand, until they find Their marsh and multiply. Also it issues forth to help or hurt. When Death the bitter murderer doth smite, Red roams the unpurged fragment of him, driven On wings of plague and blight. But when the mild and just die, sweet airs breathe; The world grows richer, as if desert-stream Should sink away to sparkle up again Purer, with broader gleam. So merit won winneth the happier age Which by demerit halteth short of end; Yet must this Law of Love reign King of all Before the Kalpas end. What lets?—Brothers? the Darkness lets! which breeds Ignorance, mazed whereby ye take these shows For true, and thirst to have, and, having, cling To lusts which work you woes. Ye that will tread the Middle Road, whose course Bright Reason traces and soft Quiet smoothes; Ye who will take the high Nirvana-way, List the Four Noble Truths. The First Truth is of Sorrow. Be not mocked! Life which ye prize is long-drawn agony: Only its pains abide; its pleasures are As birds which light and fly, Ache of the birth, ache of the helpless days, Ache of hot youth and ache of manhood's prime; Ache of the chill grey years and choking death, These fill your piteous time. Sweet is fond Love, but funeral-flames must kiss The breasts which pillow and the lips which cling; Gallant is warlike Might, but vultures pick The joints of chief and King. Beauteous is Earth, but all its forest-broods Plot mutual slaughter, hungering to live; Of sapphire are the skies, but when men cry Famished, no drops they give. Ask of the sick, the mourners, ask of him Who tottereth on his staff, lone and forlorn, "Liketh thee life?"—these say the babe is wise That weepeth, being born. The Second Truth is Sorrow's Cause. What grief Springs of itself and springs not of Desire? Senses and things perceived mingle and light Passion's quick spark of fire: So flameth Trishna, lust and thirst of things. Eager ye cleave to shadows, dote on dreams. A false Self in the midst ye plant, and make A world around which seems; Blind to the height beyond, deaf to the sound Of sweet airs breathed from far past Indra's sky; Dumb to the summons of the true life kept For him who false puts by. So grow the strifes and lusts which make earth's war, So grieve poor cheated hearts and flow salt tears; So wag the passions, envies, angers, hates; So years chase blood-stained years With wild red feet. So, where the grain should grow, Spreads the biran-weed with its evil root And poisonous blossoms; hardly good seeds find Soil where to fall and shoot; And drugged with poisonous drink the soul departs, And fierce with thirst to drink Karma returns; Sense-struck again the sodden self begins, And new deceits it earns The Third is Sorrow's Ceasing. This is peace— To conquer love of self and lust of life, To tear deep-rooted passion from the breast, To still the inward strife; For love, to clasp Eternal Beauty close; For glory, to be lord of self; for pleasure, To live beyond the gods; for countless wealth, To lay up lasting treasure Of perfect service rendered, duties done In charity, soft speech, and stainless days These riches shall not fade away in life, Nor any death dispraise. Then Sorrow ends, for Life and Death have ceased; How should lamps flicker when their oil is spent? The old sad count is clear, the new is clean; Thus hath a man content.
The Fourth Truth is The Way. It openeth wide, Plain for all feet to tread, easy and near, The Noble Eightfold Path; it goeth straight To peace and refuge. Hear! Manifold tracks lead to yon sister-peaks Around whose snows the gilded clouds are curled By steep or gentle slopes the climber comes Where breaks that other world. Strong limbs may dare the rugged road which storms, Soaring and perilous, the mountain's breast; The weak must wind from slower ledge to ledge With many a place of rest. So is the Eightfold Path which brings to peace; By lower or by upper heights it goes. The firm soul hastes, the feeble tarries. All Will reach the sunlit snows. The First good Level is Right Doctrine. Walk In fear of Dharma, shunning all offence; In heed of Karma, which doth make man's fate; In lordship over sense. The Second is Right Purpose. Have good-will To all that lives, letting unkindness die And greed and wrath; so that your lives be made Like soft airs passing by. The Third is Right Discourse. Govern the lips As they were palace-doors, the King within; Tranquil and fair and courteous be all words Which from that presence win. The Fourth is Right Behavior. Let each act Assoil a fault or help a merit grow; Like threads of silver seen through crystal beads Let love through good deeds show. Four higher roadways be. Only those feet May tread them which have done with earthly things— Right Purity, Right Thought, Right Loneliness, Right Rapture. Spread no wings For sunward flight, thou soul with unplumed vans Sweet is the lower air and safe, and known The homely levels: only strong ones leave The nest each makes his own. Dear is the love, I know, of Wife and Child; Pleasant the friends and pastimes of your years; Fruitful of good Life's gentle charities; False, though firm-set, its fears. Live—ye who must—such lives as live on these; Make golden stair-ways of your weakness; rise By daily sojourn with those phantasies To lovelier verities. So shall ye pass to clearer heights and find Easier ascents and lighter loads of sins, And larger will to burst the bonds of sense, Entering the Path. Who wins To such commencement hath the First Stage touched; He knows the Noble Truths, the Eightfold Road; By few or many steps such shall attain NIRVANA's blest abode. Who standeth at the Second Stage, made free From doubts, delusions, and the inward strife, Lord of all lusts, quit of the priests and books, Shall live but one more life. Yet onward lies the Third Stage: purged and pure Hath grown the stately spirit here, hath risen To love all living things in perfect peace. His life at end, life's prison Is broken. Nay, there are who surely pass Living and visible to utmost goal By Fourth Stage of the Holy ones—the Buddhs— And they of stainless soul. Lo! like fierce foes slain by some warrior, Ten sins along these Stages lie in dust, The Love of Self, False Faith, and Doubt are three, Two more, Hatred and Lust. Who of these Five is conqueror hath trod Three stages out of Four: yet there abide The Love of Life on earth, Desire for Heaven, Self-Praise, Error, and Pride. As one who stands on yonder snowy horn Having nought o'er him but the boundless blue, So, these sins being slain, the man is come NIRVANA's verge unto. Him the Gods envy from their lower seats; Him the Three Worlds in ruin should not shake; All life is lived for him, all deaths are dead; Karma will no more make New houses. Seeking nothing, he gains all; Foregoing self, the Universe grows "I": If any teach NIRVANA is to cease, Say unto such they lie. If any teach NIRVANA is to live, Say unto such they err; not knowing this, Nor what light shines beyond their broken lamps, Nor lifeless, timeless bliss. Enter the Path! There is no grief like Hate! No pains like passions, no deceit like sense! Enter the Path! far hath he gone whose foot Treads down one fond offence. Enter the Path! There spring the healing streams Quenching all thirst! there bloom th' immortal flowers Carpeting all the way with joy! there throng, Swiftest and sweetest hours!
More is the treasure of the Law than gems; Sweeter than comb its sweetness; its delights Delightful past compare. Thereby to live Hear the Five Rules aright:— Kill not—for Pity's sake—and lest ye slay The meanest thing upon its upward way. Give freely and receive, but take from none By greed, or force, or fraud, what is his own. Bear not false witness, slander not, nor lie; Truth is the speech of inward purity. Shun drugs and drinks which work the wit abuse; Clear minds, clean bodies, need no soma juice. Touch not thy neighbour's wife, neither commit Sins of the flesh unlawful and unfit. These words the Master spake of duties due To father, mother, children, fellows, friends; Teaching how such as may not swiftly break The clinging chains of sense—whose feet are weak To tread the higher road—should order so This life of flesh that all their hither days Pass blameless in discharge of charities And first true footfalls in the Eightfold Path; Living pure, reverent, patient, pitiful, Loving all things which live even as themselves; Because what falls for ill is fruit of ill Wrought in the past, and what falls well of good; And that by howsomuch the householder Purgeth himself of self and helps the world, By so much happier comes he to next stage, In so much bettered being. This he spake, As also long before, when our Lord walked By Rajagriha in the Bamboo-Grove For on a dawn he walked there and beheld The householder Singala, newly bathed, Bowing himself with bare head to the earth, To Heaven, and all four quarters; while he threw Rice, red and white, from both hands. "Wherefore thus Bowest thou, Brother?" said the Lord; and he, "It is the way, Great Sir! our fathers taught At every dawn, before the toil begins, To hold off evil from the sky above And earth beneath, and all the winds which blow." Then the World-honoured spake: "Scatter not rice, But offer loving thoughts and acts to all. To parents as the East where rises light; To teachers as the South whence rich gifts come; To wife and children as the West where gleam Colours of love and calm, and all days end; To friends and kinsmen and all men as North; To humblest living things beneath, to Saints And Angels and the blessed Dead above So shall all evil be shut off, and so The six main quarters will be safely kept." But to his own, them of the yellow robe They who, as wakened eagles, soar with scorn From life's low vale, and wing towards the Sun To these he taught the Ten Observances The Dasa-Sil, and how a mendicant Must know the Three Doors and the Triple Thoughts; The Sixfold States of Mind; the Fivefold Powers; The Eight High Gates of Purity; the Modes Of Understanding; Iddhi; Upeksha; The Five Great Meditations, which are food Sweeter than Amrit for the holy soul; The Jhana's and the Three Chief Refuges. Also he taught his own how they should dwell; How live, free from the snares of love and wealth; What eat and drink and carry—three plain cloths, Yellow, of stitched stuff, worn with shoulder bare A girdle, almsbowl, strainer. Thus he laid The great foundations of our Sangha well, That noble Order of the Yellow Robe Which to this day standeth to help the World. So all that night he spake, teaching the Law And on no eyes fell sleep—for they who heard Rejoiced with tireless joy. Also the King, When this was finished, rose upon his throne And with bared feet bowed low before his Son Kissing his hem; and said, "Take me, O Son! Lowest and least of all thy Company." And sweet Yasodhara, all happy now,— Cried "Give to Rahula—thou Blessed One! The Treasure of the Kingdom of thy Word For his inheritance." Thus passed these Three Into the Path. —————— Here endeth what I write Who love the Master for his love of us, A little knowing, little have I told Touching the Teacher and the Ways of Peace. Forty-five rains thereafter showed he those In many lands and many tongues and gave Our Asia light, that still is beautiful, Conquering the world with spirit of strong grace All which is written in the holy Books, And where he passed and what proud Emperors Carved his sweet words upon the rocks and caves: And how—in fulness of the times—it fell The Buddha died, the great Tathagato, Even as a man 'mongst men, fulfilling all And how a thousand thousand crores since then Have trod the Path which leads whither he went Unto NIRVANA where the Silence lives. Ah! Blessed Lord! Oh, High Deliverer! Forgive this feeble script, which doth thee wrong. Measuring with little wit thy lofty love. Ah! Lover! Brother! Guide! Lamp of the law! I take my refuge in they name and thee! I take my refuge in they order! OM! The dew is on the lotus!—Rise, Great Sun! And lift my leaf and mix me with the wave. Om Mani Padme Hum, the sunrise comes! The Dewdrop Slips Into The Shining Sea!