The Harsha-carita of Bana, Chapter II
IT is with a king of profound wisdom for those who have no means of access to him as it is with a well for those who have no way of descending into it, - virtuous royal intercessors, secure the desired success; the day plants within the susceptible lotus the beauty given by the sun; to help others, without regarding their virtues or faults, is the passion of the good.
There Bana roamed about happily in the homes of his kindred seen after a long absence, - resonant as they were with the noise of continual recitation, - filled with young students attracted by the sacrifices, running about like so many fires with their long tawny braids of hair, and their foreheads white with sectorial marks made of ashes, - with the terraces in front of the doors green with little beds of soma plants all fresh from recent watering, - with the rice and panicum for the sacrificial cakes laid out to dry, scattered on the skins of the black antelope, - with the ablations of wild rice strewed by the young maidens, - with the fuel, leaves, and bundles of green Kusha grass brought by hundreds of pure disciples, - filled with heaps of cow-dung and fuel - with the covered terraces in their courts marked by the round hoofs of the cows as they came in for the daily offerings, dropping the milk which was to be used for preparing the curds, - with troops of ascetics busied in pounding the clay for making pots, - with the sacred limits purified by heaps of udumbara branches bought to make pegs to mark out the altars for the three sacrificial fires, - with the ground white with lines of offerings to the Vishve Devah, - with the sprays of the trees in the courts grey with the smoke of the oblations, - with the wanton calves sporting about, caressed by the young cowherds, - with the succession of animal sacrifices clearly suggested by the young spotted goats playing about, - all peaceful through the cessation of the labours of the Brahman teachers, while busy repetitions were now commenced by the parrots and mainas, - like so many hermitages for the incarnate Three Vedas.
While he stayed there, Time in his character of Summer, with his smile white with the jasmines in full flower, yawned and swallowed up the two flowery months. At first he was gentle and showed compassion to the thirsty young gardens, as if they were the young children left behind by the spring when it was conquered and had passed away; and at its first rising by its warmth the hot season unloosed all the imprisoned blossoms throughout the earth. The tresses of the fair [damp after bathing] were seized by the god of love as if they were chowries used at the coronation of the Spring, the King of Seasons [and so still wet with the waters of installation]; and the Sun made his expedition against the North as if in wrath for the lotus beds which the winter frosts had burned.
As the forehead-burning sun grew hot, the moons of the women's foreheads undertook vows of paying homage to him, being decorated with sandal-lines on their foreheads as sectarial marks, and wearing their curls as the ragged garments of ascetics, and bearing rosaries with the pearly drops of perspiration for beads. The women themselves slept away the day, grey with sandal-wood applications, like the night- lotuses unable to bear the sight of the sun; their eyes, heavy with sleep, could not bear the light of their jewels, far less the cruel sunshine. In the sultry season the moon-light nights grew less and less, like the rivers, which cheered by the diminishing distance the parted pairs of cakravakas on their banks. The fierce heat of the sun made people long not only to drink water perfumed with the strong scent of the trumpet-flower, but even to drink up the very wind.
But as the season's childhood passed away and the sun's rays became hotter, the lakes grew dry, the streams sank lower, the waterfalls ebbed away, the din of the crickets increased, every thing was deafened by the continued cooing of the distressed doves. Then the other birds grew audacious, the wind swept away the refuse, the shrubs grew less dense, the hard clusters of the grislea tomentosa were licked by the young lions in their blind thirst for blood, the sides of the mountains were wet with the water spouted from the fainting elephant-herds, and the bees were dumb, as they lay in the dark patches of the dried ichor of the heat-distressed elephants. The season appeared with its borders painted red with the blushing Mandara flowers, while the splitting crystal rocks were marked by the horns of the buffaloes as they were bewildered in the doubt whether what they saw was a flowing stream of water, - the dry creepers rustled in the sultry heat, the scratching wild cocks were frightened at the straw-conflagrations in the heated dust, the porcupines took shelter in their holes, while the pools were dried down to their muddy bottoms which were discoloured by the fishes as they lay rolling on their backs, disturbed by the troops of ospreys hovering in the arjuna trees on the banks; and the world lighted its forest conflagrations like a solemn lustration ceremony, and the nights fell into a consumption as the days lengthened.
The winds raged madly, leaping up in every direction in the waste places and openly carrying off masses of the roofs of the watering-sheds, - rubbing against the rough stony places as if they were itching with the irritating prickings of the ripe stinging bushes of Mucuna pruritus - gathering a material outline and scattering powder as they went, and bearing the sharp shoots of the mucukunda as their teeth, - moistened by the drops in the mouths of the noisy flying grasshoppers, - plunging into the false waters of the mirage as it trembled as with waves in the heat of the young sun, - hurrying through the desolate tracks rustling with the dry shami-trees, - actors in the wild miracle-play with its passionate circular dances, and the uproar of the hurrying hither and thither of the dust whirlwinds, - blackened with the ashes of the sites of old forest conflagrations and gathering up the scattered peacocks' feathers as if they had learned the ways of wandering mendicants, - carrying bunches of the rattling dry seeds of old karanja trees as if they had marching drums, - bursting out with the panting snorts of the buffaloes faint with the heat, - followed as by their children by the long lines of swift deer springing up, - frowning with their curls of smoke-like chaff, rising as from burning threshing-floors, - spreading the waves of hell by their hot mists, - shaggy as with hair by the threads of the bursting silk-cotton pods, - covered with dry leaves as with a cutaneous eruption, - bearing the long lines of grass like a sick man's exposed veins, - shaking the points of the barley-awns as if they were a beard, - taking the shed quills of the porcupines for their teeth, and the flames of fire for their tongues, - whirling up the snakes' cast-off skins as their crests, - practising on the hot lotus-juices as a preparation for the future task of swallowing the liquids of the whole world, - alarming the three worlds by the shrill sound of rattling the dry bamboo-thickets as if they were the drums to proclaim the imminent drying up of the entire watery element. Their path was variegated with the scattered feathers of the darting blue jays, - they seemed coloured by the live coals and sparks of the bursting red gunja-berries, as if they had caught the varied hues from the scorching torch of the sun's rays; waking up as they wandered the wild sounds of the mountain caves, - skilled in preparing a magic potion to reduce the world to dust, - propitiating the forest-fires with showers of the coral-tree's flowers as with offerings of blood, - with their course bestarred with burning sand, and bedewed with melted bitumen from the heated rocks; and scented, as they blew, with the strong smell of the insects in the hollows of the trees, which were baked in the fragments of the sparrows' eggs which had exploded as they grew hot in the forest-conflagration.
Dreadful forest-conflagrations appeared on every side, - raging as if fanned to fury by a thousand bellows, like exhalations blowing from the cavern-like jaws of old dragons, - sometimes like deer quietly eating up the grass at their will, - sometimes like tawny-coloured ichneumons creeping in the holes at the bottom of the trees, - sometimes like followers of the Muni Kapila, wearing matted locks, - sometimes like hawks destroying the nests of the birds, - sometimes like women's lower lips red with melted lac, - sometimes like arrows, gaining their speed by the wings of the birds which they have overtaken, - sometimes like those who attain nirvana, burning up all the causes which produced them, - sometimes like lovers, veiled in garments scented with flowers, - sometimes as if languid with indigestion, heavy with fumes, - sometimes with an insatiable craving desiring to devour the whole world, - sometimes like very old men, leaning on the top of a bamboo, - sometimes like a consumptive patient, indulging in a long course of bitumen, - sometimes fat as feasting on every kind of food - sometimes burning fragrant gums like the worshippers of Rudra, - sometimes standing on the bare stems, with the thorny madana trees burned entirely, roots and branches and flowers, - actors in the wild dance with their quivering flame-locks outspread, - worshipping the Sun with their opened flame-hands, which shower down the dry bursting grains of parched wild-rice and make a way through the dried tanks, - longing without disgust for the smell of the raw flesh of the fullgrown tortoises as they are suddenly offered up as in sacrifice, and consuming even their own smoke lest it should rise up and become clouds - with quantities of massed insects crackling in the dry grass like oblations of mustard seed, - with the white shells in the dried lakes breaking into pieces through the heat like the skins of leprous patients; - raining beeswax in the woods from the bee-hives full of melting honey, as if they were covered with sweat, - with their curls of flames now all dying away in the salt was if they were bald, - and again, swallowing apparently mouthfuls of rocks amidst crags which seemed built up of the fragments of the blazing sun-crystals.
One day during that terrible hot season as he was in his house, after having eaten the afternoon meal, Candrasena, his half-brother by a Shudra mother, entered, saying, - "A renowned courier is waiting at the door, sent to you by Krishna, the brother of Shiharsa, the king of kings, the lord of the four oceans, whose toenails are burnished by the crest gems of all other monarchs, the leader of all emperors." He replied, "Introduce him without delay."
Then he beheld the messenger entering as he was brought before him, - his legs tired and heavy with the long journey, with his tunic girt up tightly by a mud-stained strip of cloth, the knot hanging loose and fastened up by a ragged clout swinging behind him, and having his head wrapped with a bundle of letters, which had a deep division pressed into it by a very thick thread that bound it; and he said to him, while he was yet some way off, "Is all well with my honoured friend Krishna, who is the disinterested friend of all the world?" He answered, "All is well"; and then making his obeisance he sat down at some distance and said, after resting awhile, "This letter has been sent by our honoured lord," and he unloosed it and gave it. Bana took it respectfully and read it to himself. "'When they have once learned the news from Mekhalaka, the wise will avoid all delay as hindering success"; this is the real essence of the writing, - all else is mere rhetorical compliment.' Having mastered the contents of the letter and sent away his attendants, he asked for the message. Mekhalaka replied, "My lord thus addresses thee in thy wisdom, 'Your honour knows that the belonging to one gotra, or to one caste, or the being brought up together or the dwelling in one place or the constantly seeing each other, or the hearing of each other's mutual affection, or the conferring of benefits when absent, or a similarity of disposition can all be causes of affection; but without any cause my heart is tenderly affected with a firm love towards thee, even though thou art not seen by me and as though thou wert a relation near at hand when thou art really afar off, just as the moon feels towards the lotus-bed, however distant it may be. In thy absence the king was on various occasions prejudiced against thee by the malevolent; but it was not a true report. There are none so situated, but, even if they are good, they will have friends, neutrals, and enemies. Some unworthy remark was uttered concerning thee by some envious wretch through thy mind being not wholly averse to the levity of childhood, and others caught it up and repeated it. The minds of the unreflecting toss a-bout, rolling to and fro like water. What now shall the lord of the earth do, when he comes to a settled decision after hearing many different suggestions? Though thou wast far away, yet thou, wast immediately represented by us who sought to know the real truth. The sovereign had been reminded regard to thee that 'every one's youth in the opening of life is usually guilty of some levities,' and he at once assented to the excuse. Therefore your highness must repair to the palace without delay. I cannot approve of thy habits, living as thou dost away from the king amidst thine own friends like a tree without fruit away from the sun's beams. Nor shouldst thou shrink from the toil of court-attendance or feel any fear of waiting upon him; for although it may be true enough, 'Alas ! he who is unskilled in waiting upon a king is like Kama, - he cannot speak out his request, although the opportunity is come exactly as he had wished, - he gives pain (to his patron) by hundreds of ill-timed petitions for favours, - and by his folly he throws away his livelihood in a moment;' - yet these other common kings are one thing, and our ambrosial lord is quite another, who puts to shame such ancient heroes as Nriga, Nala, Nisadha, Nabusa, Ambarisa, Dasharatha, Dilipa, Nabhaga, Bharata, Bhagiratha, and Yayati. His eyes are not stained by the deadly poison of pride; his voice is not choked by the convulsive effects of the baneful drug of conceit; his postures do not lose their natural dignity through any sudden epileptic fit of forgetfulness caused by the heat of arrogance; his changes of feeling are not exaggerated by the fevered outbursts of ungovernable self-will; his gait is not agitated by the unnatural movements of an access of self-conceit; his voice is not rendered harsh by the words being uttered under a tetanus of hauteur which distorts his lips. Thus his idea of jewels attaches to men of pure virtues, not to bits of rock, - his taste delights in pearl-like qualities, not in heaps of ornaments, - his judgement as to proper means is versed in deeds of bounty, not in the ichor-flowing temples of poor worms of elephants, - his highest love is for preeminent glory, not for the withering stubble of this life, - his magnificence is devoted to adorning the different quarters of the earth whose tribute he seizes, not the dolls which he calls his wives, - his notion of bosom friendship belongs to his well-strung bow, not to the courtiers who live on the crumbs of his board. His natural instinct is to help his friends, sovereignty means to him helping his dependents, learning at once suggests helping the learned and success helping his kinsfolk, power means helping the unfortunate and wealth helping the brahmans; his heart's main occupation is to remember benefits and his life's sole employment is to assist virtue, his body's one use is to carry out the dictates of courage, and the earth's to be an arena for his sword, attendant kings are wanted to amuse him, and enemies to help his majesty to shew itself. It could have been by no common merits in former births that he attained this glorious preeminence so that the shadow of his feet diffuses an all-excelling ambrosia of happiness round him."
Having heard this, he said to Candrasena, "Refresh the messenger with food and clothing, and then let him rest". When he was gone and the day had come to a close, and the afternoon sunshine, crimson like a young crow's beak, was fading away as if drunk up by the cups of the closely joined red lotuses, and when the sun, as the speed of his horses was relaxed, - pale-pink like a garland of China roses, - seemed to limp as if he stumbled on the western mountain, as though his feet had been pierced by the (fancied) thorns of the lotus-beds, - he offered his evening prayers and retired to his couch, as the early night was hurrying on in the east, her long locks of scattered darkness seeming to hang dangling in the air, and her face as it were dark with sorrow for the moon's absence. He pondered by himself, "What shall I do? I have indeed been misunderstood by the king, and this advice has been given by my disinterested kinsman Krishna; but all service is hateful, and attendance is full of evils, and a court is full of dangers. My ancestors never had any love for it, I have no hereditary connection with it, - nor is mine the consideration from remembering former benefits, nor the affection caused by service rendered when a child, nor family dignity, nor the kindness of old acquaintance, nor the allurement of mutually imparting information, nor the desire of more knowledge, nor the respect paid to one's fine appearance, nor practice in all the turns of voice fit for inferiors, nor the cleverness needed in the circles of the learned, nor the skill to win friends by the expenditure of wealth, nor long intercourse with royal favourites. Still I must certainly go. Purarati, the venerable guru of the world, will do everything that is proper when I am away." Thus having considered, he made tip his mind for the journey.
The next day, having risen and bathed betimes, and put on a dress of white silk and seized his rosary and repeatedly recited the hymns and sacred texts fit for one starting on a journey, - after washing the image with milk, he offered worship to Shiva, with lighted lamps, ointments, oblations, banners, perfumes, incense and sweet flowers. Then, having offered a libation with profound reverence to the holy fire, whose right flame was kindled by a profuse pouring of ghi, and whose fiery crest was noisily crackling with the splitting husks of the restless mustard seeds, which had been previously offered, he distributed wealth according to his means to the brahmans, and walked solemnly round a sacred cow which faced the east, himself decked with white unguents, and wearing white garlands and white garments, and having his ears adorned with giri-karnika flowers, fastened with the ends of durva-grass, and covered with yellow rocana-paint, - and having white mustard put on his topknot. All the rites necessary at starting on a journey were performed for him as by a mother by his father's younger sister Malati, clad in white garments and with her heart overflowing with tenderness, as if she were the impersonate goddess Sarasvati; he was greeted with blessings by the aged women of the family, applauded by the old female attendants, dismissed with good wishes by the, gurus whose feet he worshipped, kissed on the head by the elders whom he himself saluted, while the birds by their omens increased his eagerness for starting and the astrologers wished their utmost to secure favourable constellations. So in a favourable moment, - looking upon a full water-jar that was set in the court-yard which was daubed with brown cow-dung, - with a mango-spray placed on its month, itself white with five finger-breadths of flour, and with its neck encircled by a garland of white flowers; - having paid his homage to the family deities and being followed by his own brahmans with their hands holding flowers and fruits and muttering the apratiratha hymn, - he went out from the village of Pritikuta, setting his right foot first.
On the first day, having slowly passed through a grove sacred to Candika which was parched and waterless from the hot season, and ugly with leafless trees, - with figures of the goddess carved on the trees at the entrance, which received the homage of passing travellers, - though dried up, yet seeming to be sprouting with the thousands of red tongues which hung lolling from the months of the thirsty wild beasts, - all astir with the swarms of bees flying out of the masses of honeycomb as they were licked by the monkeys and bears, - and bristling with the hundreds of new shoots of stout asparagus which had sprung up luxuriantly from the burned soil, - he arrived at last at the village Mallakuta. There he stayed happily, hospitably received by his brother and his friend Jagatpati who was just like his own heart. The next day, having crossed the holy Bhagirathi, he passed the night in a forest-village named Yastigrahaka, and the next be arrived at the royal camp, which was pitched near Manitara along the Ajiravati river; and he stopped near the royal residence.
Having bathed and eaten his meal and rested, when only one watch of three hours remained of the day, and when the king had dined, he proceeded leisurely with Mekhalaka to the royal gate, one by one observing the many camps of the renowned subject kings. Here the royal gate was all dark with crowds of elephants, - some brought to carry turbans of honour, others to bear drums, some newly bound, others acquired as tribute or as presents, some sent by the rangers of the elephants' district, or brought in the excitement of a first visit to the court or sent at the time of an embassy or presented by the lord of a wild settlement or demanded for the spectacle of a mimic battle, or given or taken by force, or let loose, or set ready for a watch, or collected to conquer all continents like so many mountains to make a bridge over the ocean, - all gay with banners, cloths, kettledrums, conchs, chowries, and unguents, like so many ready-made festival-days for the royal ceremonies when the moon enters the asterism Pushya. The place seemed all in waves with the plunging horses as they leaped up to the sky in anger against the horses of the sun's chariot, with their chowries and ornaments serving as wings, and challenged Indra's horse to a contest by their joyous neigh, and mocked the whole race of deer as too laggard of foot, with the foam curling round the corners of their mouths like a scornful laugh, and set the Royal Prosperity herself a-dancing as the drum of the ground was struck by their ceaselessly prancing hoofs.
In another part it was tawny with troops of camels sent or being sent as presents or brought back in return for others which had been sent, tawny like monkeys' cheeks, - like pieces of evening-glow spangled with stars, for their mouths were ornamented with lines of cowries which were like so many marks left in counting the number of leagues which they had travelled, - or like red rice-fields covered with red lotuses, for their ears were gay with red chowries; or like old karanja forests with hundreds of dry pods cracking, for they were decked with strings of ever-jingling golden ornaments; having long tufts of hair and variegated threads of wool of five colours hanging near their ears; all tawny-red as monkeys' cheeks.
In another part it was all white with its masses of white umbrellas, like autumnal clouds white through having just emptied themselves of their water-stores, or like trees of paradise whose circles of shade are annihilated by the splendour of their masses of pearls, or like the lotuses on Narayana's navel with Garuda's (jewelled) wings resting close to them, or like tracts of the Milky Ocean with huge masses of coral shining in them, or like the surface of the serpent Shesa's hoods with large rubies sparkling upon it, or like islands in the White Ganges covered with flamingoes, - overpowering the summer-brilliance, and mocking the splendour of the sun, and drinking up the sunshine,-they turned the earth into a moon, time into a world of white lotuses, the day into moonlight, and the sky into a mass of foam, and they seemed to create a thousand moonlights out of due time and to laugh to scorn all the pomp of Indra.
In another part it was waving with thousands of stirring chowries bright like moonbeams, which seemed to spread a firmament of white lotus-fibres, and to make an autumn in every direction with forests of kaca grass, blossoming everywhere, and to abolish the rule of the demon of ill-luck, dark as the disgrace of a coward king, and to turn the day into continual vicissitudes of going and returning by their uplifting and lowering, and seemed to steal away the world as its eight regions were seen for a moment and then lost.
It seemed like a flock of white geese from the shell-amulets in the elephants' ears, or a forest of heavenly trees from the elephants' banners, or a grove of ruby trees from the umbrellas of peacocks' feathers, or the stream of the heavenly Ganges from the muslin dresses, or the Milky Ocean from the linen robes, or a grove of plantains from the flashing emeralds; - it created as it were a second day by the morning-rays of the rubies, and made a new sky by the sapphires, and caused an unprecedented night by the dark-violet of the mahanila stones. A thousand Yamunas seemed to be flowing from the radiance of the emeralds, while the flashes of the rubies gleamed like charcoal.
The camp was filled on every side with conquered hostile vassal-chiefs, - some who could not find admission hung down their heads and seemed in their shame to sink into their own bodies through the reflections of their faces which fell on their toe-nails, - others seemed to present chowries in obsequious service tinder the form of the rays issuing from their nails, which were thrown back from the ground which was scratched by their bare fingers, - others with the flashing sapphires hanging on their breasts seemed to be carrying sword-blades suspended from their necks to propitiate their lord's anger; - others with their faces darkened by the swarms of bees which flocked attracted by their perfumed breath were as if they wore their beards long as in mourning for their lost prosperity, - others with circles of bees flying up round their crests as if their topknots were flying away afraid of the common mortification of paying homage, - honoured even in being conquered, and destitute of every other refuge, - continually asking the servants of the different domestic porters who at intervals made their exits and their entrances, and whose track was followed by thousands of various suppliants, - "Good sir, will it be to-day ? will the great lord give an audience in the hall after he has dined ? or will he come out into the outer court ?" and thus spending the day in the hope of an audience.
Other kings too were there, come from the desire of seeing his glory, natives of various countries, who were waiting for the time when he would be visible. There were also seated by themselves Jains, Arhatas, Pashupatas, mendicants of the school of Paracarya, Brahman students, natives of every land, and savages from every forest that fringes the ocean-shore, and ambassadors from every foreign country. It seemed like a creation-ground where the Prajapatis practised their skill, or a fourth world made out of the choicest parts of the other three; its glory could not be described in hundreds of Mahabharatas, - it must have been put together in a thousand golden ages, and its perfection constructed with millions of svargas, and it seemed watched over by crores of tutelary royal deities.
In his astonishment he thought to himself, "Surely such a vast multitude of living beings as this must have involved to the creating Principles a destruction of the elements or a lack of atoms or a failure of time or a cessation of vital power or an exhaustion of possible forms!" But Mekhalaka, being recognised from afar by the doorkeepers, asked him to wait a while, and himself pressed forward unrepelled and entered.
Then in a moment he came out, followed by a tall man fair like a karnikara flower, clothed in a clean jacket, with his waist tightly bound by a girdle ornamented with a quantity of flashing rubies,-with his chest broad like a rock of Mount Himalaya, and having his shoulder rising over it like the hump of Shiva's bull, - and carrying on his breast a string of pearls like a noose to tame the whole restless race of deer, - and gleaming with two jewelled ear-rings at his ear, as if they were the sun and moon brought to be asked whether even a king of the solar or lunar race were such as our king? - while the sunbeams seemed to give place to him through respect for his office, as though they were rebuked before the stream of beauty which flowed from his face. He greeted Bana from afar with his long eye as if it were a wreath of full-blossomed lotuses taken up as an offering, - set in the very centre of stern discipline and yet, with his topknot bent down to the ground, lifting his white turban as a token of respect, and grasping in his left hand his sword, its handle rough with the pearls which thickly studded it, and in his right his burnished golden staff of office like a lightning-flash suddenly become motionless. Having come out, Mekhalaka said to him, "This is the chief of all the doorkeepers, the king's special favourite Pariyatra; let him who pursues success treat him with suitable ceremony." The doorkeeper, having come up and saluted him, addressed him respectfully in a gentle voice, "Approach and enter, his highness is willing to see you." Then Bana entered, as he directed, saying, "I am indeed happy that he thinks me worthy of this honour."
He next beheld a stable filled with the king's favourite horses from Vanayu, Aratta, Kamboja, Bharadvaja, Sindh, and Persia, - red, dark, white, bay, chestnut, dappled like partridges, marked with the five auspicious kinds of marks, with eyes spotted with white, or marked with light yellow spots in groups like the Pleiads; with long thin jaws and short ears, and round delicate well-proportioned throats, with long upraised curved necks like sacrificial posts, with their shoulders stout and robust at the joints, their chests full and projecting, their legs thin and straight, and their round hoofs hard like masses of iron; their round bellies seemed solid, as if they had no entrails within them, lest they should be broken by their excessive swiftness, and their broad flanks were divided by a long depression, with the hairs like new shoots swaying about in the wind. They were with difficulty restrained by the ropes fixed tightly in the ground on both sides, and they seemed to grow longer as they struggled with one foot thrust out of the ropes' confinement, and the studs on their necks were ornamented with cords of many strings, - their eyes were closed, and they kept moving their mouths, which were flecked with bits of foam dark with the juice of durva grass, while the skin itched and twitched about and was bitten for a moment and then let go by the teeth. Some stood, lazily moving their tails, with one side of their loins drooping as they rested on one hoof, seeming to ponder in sleep, and slowly uttering interrupted neighs, while the ground was marked by their hoofs, whose foreparts rattled with the noise of their foot-rests as they struck upon them; others sought for food, having their longing excited by the stray morsels of fodder scattered about, while the pupils of their eyes trembled for fear at the yells of the angry Candalas who guarded them. They seemed to have a lustration-fire always near to protect them, from their bodies being yellow with a saffron unguent rubbed on them, while an awning was spread over them and the tutelary deity (Govinda) was worshipped before them. As he looked, his mind was filled with curious wonder, and he entered a little further within, and saw on his left hand an elephant-stable indistinct owing to the distance, but regaling the nostrils with an odour as of groves of vakula trees, in full bloom which diffused itself far and wide, while the stable was filled with streams of ichor covered with bees, and its outskirts were surrounded by a grove of plantain-trees, and its height seemed to crowd the very sky.
He asked "What does the king do here?" The other replied, "This is his majesty's favourite elephant, his external heart, his very self in another birth, his vital airs gone outside from him, his friend in battle and in sport, rightly named Darpashata, a lord of elephants - this is his special pavilion." He replied, "O my friend, if he is called Darpashata and he has no faults, I may surely see this lord of elephants, - will you take me to him, for I am overcome by curiosity?" "Be it so," he answered, "draw near by all means, what harm is there in it ? have a good look at the lord of elephants."
So he went forward in that direction, and there while he was still at a distance he saw the elephant Darpashata surrounded by the troops of cataka birds uttering their loud notes in the sky as they were excited by the deep sound issuing from his throat (which suggested clouds), and the domestic peacocks which made the ground resound with their cries, - filling the surrounding space with the spirituous scent of the ichor which rivalled the full-blown kadamba flowers, - like a rainy season out of its time wearing an embodied form, - throwing off the fourth period of life by an outburst of red spots on his skin like a lake covered with lotuses brown with thick drops of honey, - chanting as it were a tune for his auspicious entrance upon the fifth period with his shell-ornaments as they mingled with the deep sound of his flapping ears, - seeming as if for fear of bursting the earth he tried to lighten his weight by swinging his long huge body with sportive oscillations on his three feet as they kept varying in constant motion, as though he were rubbing his body against the walls of the world, - challenging the world-bearing elephants of the various regions as he threw up his trunk in defiance, and seeming to be, cleaving the pillar of the world with a saw armed with thick sharp teeth. It was as though the world could not contain him and he was striving to force a passage out, while his drivers tried to shew him every service which could alleviate the hot season, some like clouds with long-accumulated stores, hurrying up with fresh juicy shoots and creepers, others like lakes whose waters are variegated with heaps of Vallisneria plants and lotus fibres scattered on them. He threatened to block up the whole world with all its mountain-ranges, seas, continents and forests, with his huge bar of a trunk, which was all wavy with thin lines of wrinkles running round it as if they were marks to reckon up the number of past victories which he had won in battle, while it was held aloft as if he scented the ichor of some rival elephant approaching, - one of his tusks had its root wet with spray from a thick piece of plaintain covered with leaves which was enclosed in the trunk, the other seemed to have dropped its bough and was as it were all horripilated with the joy of battle from a quantity of lotus fibres which hung from it in play. He appeared to vomit whole beds of lotuses which he had eaten in his gambols in the lake, through the bright colour of the two tusks together, and spread his own glory through the four quarters of space; and he seemed to laugh to scorn the lions who vaunted their rough play with some poor scarecrows of elephants whom they had worsted, while he appropriated for himself a silken veil which might have been taken direct from the heavenly tree. When he lifted up in play his huge trunk, he seemed to drop a shower of red lotuses which he had eaten, or to vomit a quantity of fresh shoots, as he then displayed his palate which was soft to the touch like red silk. His bright tawny eyes seemed to emit a stream of honey which he had drunk up with the mouthfuls of lotuses, while his cheeks poured out under the guise of ichor a rich mixture of perfumes if he had been eating groves of the parijata tree of heaven, together with mangoes, campakas, lavalis, cloves, kakkolas, cardamoms, and sahakaras, and perfumed with abundance of camphor. He seemed to be busy, night and day, bestowing all the woods on the other elephants by royal inscriptions of donation made vocal with the swarms of bees which hummed round them as if reading them, and scratched by the half-cut branches of red sugar-cane as by a graver, and which seemed by a mistake to stay on hand instead of being dispersed abroad; he was constantly cooled by a trickling garland of ornaments cut out of the moongem in the shape of the constellations, and he carried his head high as if it had been crowned with the tiara of universal empire over all his compeers; he stood as though he were loyally fanning the Guardian deity of the royal family who lay pillowed on his tusks, with his huge ears, which, as they flapped, seemed alternately to conceal and reveal the wide world; while his tail waved like some flyflapper marked with the signs of elephant-empire and handed down through a long succession of hereditary rulers. He seemed to pour out again from his mouth the rivers which he had drunk up in his triumphal progress of conquest, in the form of the clear cold water which he spouted forth; and he displayed his sensitiveness to insult by loud trumpetings which followed various movements of his body as he heard the drums borne by other elephants, while all his limbs had been motionless for a moment as he listened attentively. He seemed to pity himself for not being in the thick of the fray, and as if ashamed of the humiliation of bearing a driver he poured out streams of ichor and scratched the ground with the tip of his trunk; his eyes were a third closed as with the languor of intoxication, when his driver shouted angrily, as he scornfully took up and dropped the mouthfuls of food, and finally took them slowly and reluctantly, while the juice issued from his mouth discoloured, like a stream of ichor, by the dark juice of the tamala boughs which he had eaten. He moved restlessly with pride, he snorted with repressed energy, he swelled with intoxication, he staggered with youth, he flowed freely with ichor, he leaped about with conscious strength, he was drunk with arrogance, he seemed to be ever seeking the highest place with ambition, he gasped with excitement, he affected all with his gracefulness, he rained influence on every side by his beauty.
His nails were smooth, his hair was rough, - he was reverend in face but a gentle disciple in deportment; soft as to his head, but firm in his friendships; his neck was short but his life was long; he was stinted in his belly but lavishly bounteous in ichor; a very Balarama in his wild exploits, but like a highborn wife in his devotedness; a Jina in patience, a shower of fire in his storms of anger; he was Garuda in his power to lift nagas, he was Narada in his love of quarrels, a thunderbolt without rain in his sudden attacks, a Makara in his power to disturb armies, a serpent in the might of his teeth, Varuna in the noose which he held in his hand, he was Yama's net in entangling his enemies, he was Time in his buttings, Rahu in his grip, Mars in his crooked movements, a circling torch in his rapid rounds. He was to valour, a very mountain of the jewel which gives all desires; to chivalrous feeling, a palace-home with his tusks for two pillars of pearl; to magnanimity, a heavenly chariot, moving at will, and gay with ornaments, chowries, and bells; to anger, a shower-bath of scented water, dark with a constant raincloud of ichor; to ambition, a temple with a golden image within; to pride, a pleasure-hill with streams running down its sides; to arrogance, a diamond house with an arch of ivory; to royalty, a moving hill-fort with its high frontal-globes as so many towers; to the earth, an iron wall indented with thousands of arrows; to the king, a tree of heaven, resonant with hundreds of bees. Thus he was a music-hall for the dancing of his flapping ears, a drinking-saloon for the swarms of bees, a gynęceum for the display of paint and decorations, a festival of Kama for the sportive gambols of intoxication, a faultless evening for the sight of all the constellations; a rainy season out of season, for the overflowing rivers of ichor; a deceptive autumn for the perfume of the saptaparna trees, an unprecedented cold-season for the showers of dew, and a fictitious cloud for the trumpeting thunders.
As he wondered, thinking to himself, "Surely in his creation the mountains were used up as atoms, how else could this astonishing majesty have been produced? It is indeed a marvel, - a Vindhya with tusks, the primeval Boar with a trunk!" - the doorkeeper addressed him; "See ! when his enemies, wandering in the forests, would vainly try by a hundred wishes to paint again their old glory done without leaving a rack behind, and when their minds are bewildered with devising means to express their imaginations, this lord of elephants, if he comes by chance into their recollection as they listlessly muse in despondency, cannot endure as rivals even the world-supporting elephants in the Manasa lake. - But come, you will have another opportunity of seeing him; you shall now see my lord himself!"
On hearing these words he with an effort drew away his eyes which had fallen on the elephant's ichor-bedewed cheek and were half closed as if intoxicated with the sweet odour; and, following the path indicated by the doorkeeper, he passed through three courts crowded with subject-kings, and in the fourth he saw King Harsa, in an open space in front of a pavilion where he used to give audience after eating, surrounded at a distance by his attendants in a line, all six feet in height, fair like karnikara flowers, armed and of old families, like so many golden pillars, - with his special favourites seated near him. He was sitting on a throne made of a stone clear like a pearl, washed with sandalwood water, and bright as the moon with its feet of ivory and its surface cool to the touch like snow-water, - he rested the weight of his body on his arm which was placed on the end of the seat, and he seemed to be sporting with his subject-kings under the far-shining canopy of the brightness of his body with the rays of his jewels diffused round, as if it were in a lake delightful in the hot season, the water of which was tangled with clusters of the long soft lotus-roots; and he seemed made as it were out of the pure atoms of light. He was embraced by the goddess of the Royal Prosperity, who took him in her arms and, seizing him by all the royal marks on all his limbs, forced him, however reluctant, to mount the throne, - and this though he had taken a vow of austerity and did not swerve from his vow, hard like grasping the edge of a sword: clinging closely to duty through fear of stumbling in the uneven path of kings, and attended with all her heart by Truth who had been abandoned by all other kings, but had obtained his promise of protection, - and waited on reverentially by the reflected images of a fair handmaid standing near, which fell on his toe-nails, as if they were the ten directions of space impersonate. With his long glances which penetrated space he seemed to examine what the Regents of the different quarters had done or left undone, while the sun seemed to seek his permission to rise, as its beams rested on the back of his footstool supported by jewelled feet, - the day made its reverential march round him, while a clear space was kept in the centre, marked out by the splendour emitted from his ornaments; he burned with vexation when even the mountains did not bow before him, and so displayed the ocean of his beauty which was white like sandal-wood, boiling as it were into foam through the heat of his heroic passion, - in his isolated sovereignty feeling indignant that his own image should be repeated even in the reflections on the crest jewels of the prostrate kings round his feet, and keeping his Royal Glory continually sighing under the guise of the wind of his chowries as she sat fuming with vexed pride; he was embraced by the Goddess Shri who came to him after spoiling all the four oceans of their beauty: though he gave away thousands of rainbows from the coruscations of his ornaments and sent them as a present to Indra, yet he still in his seeming penury rained ambrosia in his interviews with other monarchs; in poetical contests he poured out a nectar of his own which he had not received from any foreign source; he ever shewed his heart in his confidential intercourse even when it was not sought; when he shewed favour, he seemed to place Glory, though herself immoveable, in various positions by his patronage; in the parleys of Heroes he seemed listening to the whispered kindly counsels of the Goddess of battles with his cheek horripilated in joy; during the recital of the past conflicts of heroes, he ever turned his eye like a shower of soft cleansing oil on the loved sword; in easy jests flashing from his bright teeth his clear meaning to the circle of kings standing awed by his majesty: abiding in the hearts of all the world and yet never leaving his own proper place; in his greatness, he was beyond the sphere of all good qualities, out of the range of ordinary successes, outside of common benefactions, beyond the possibility of blessing, out of the reach of desires, far removed from fortune, not within the scope of comparisons, out of the influence of fate, and beyond the past experience of prosperity. He displayed an avatara of all the gods united in one, as he had the lost delicate feet of Aruna, the slow-moving thighs of Buddha, the brawny forearm of the Thunderer (Indra), the shoulder of Justice, the round lip of the sun, the mild look of Avalokita, the face of the moon and the hair of Krishna. His left foot was playfully placed on a large costly footstool made of sapphires, girt round with a band of rubies, - as if it were the (dark) head of Kali the demon of the iron age, - while the surface of the ground was dyed by the rays which fell on it; like the youthful Krishna when he planted his foot on the circle of hoods of the serpent Kaliya, he dignified the earth by the spreading rays of his toe-nails, white like fine linen, as with the tiara of his chief queen. His feet were very red as with wrath at unsubmissive kings, and they shed a very bright ruby-light on the crowded crests of the prostrate monarchs, and caused a sunset of all the fierce luminaries of war and poured streams of honey from the flowers of the crest garlands of the local kings, and were never even for one moment unattended, as by the heads of slain enemies, by swarms of bees which fluttered bewildered at the sweet odour of the chaplets on the heads of all the feudal chiefs; and they formed as it were sylvan summer-houses of full-blown red lotuses for the Goddess Shri to shelter in as she acted as his shampooer, and bore signs which told of his sovereignty over the four oceans in their auspicious marks, such as the lotus, the shell, the fish and the makara. His two thighs were like two ruby pillars, set to bear the weight of the earth which rested on his heart; like two sandal-trees with their roots shining with the rays from the crest-jewels of the serpents clustered round them, or like two streams from the ocean of beauty overflowing and all covered with foam, or like two huge tusks of a world-bearing elephant, bent through being used to block up a yawning makara's mouth. He shone, like the mountain Mandara with Vasuki's skin at the churning of the ocean, with his lower garment which was radiant with shot silk-threads, washed in pure water, clinging closely to his loins, ornamented with the rays of the jewels of his girdle, and white like a mass of ambrosial foam, - while he appeared girt with his thin upper garment spangled with worked stars like the round world with its surrounding ether cloudless and fall of stars. He shone with his broad chest, like Kailasa with a cliff of crystal, - able to bear the shock of various armies, too sturdy to be confined within the limits of its garment, and made smooth in spite of its hardness by the thousands of elephants' tusks which had collided against it. His neck was encircled by a necklace of pearls like the serpent Shesa, now sleeping peacefully in the sense of relief at depositing the burden of the whole earth on his stalwart arm, or like the dividing-line which draws the boundary between the respective empires of Shri and Sarasvati over his bosom and face. His breast was wrapped in a fold of rays from the pearls in his necklace as if it were a strip of cloth put on to signify the solemn conferring as a special gift of all the property gained during one's whole life; he was like a jewel mountain, with its outstretched wings of jewels, spread on both sides, - with the red rays of the bracelets as if they were the paths for the passage of the glory produced by his arm or the continued streams of honey from the lotuses in the ears of Shri as she lay on the pillow of his arm, or as if they were other arms newly budding forth in rivalry of Vishnu's four arms. He at once destroyed the greatness of the four regions of space and their rulers by his two long arms, which were as the bolts to blockade the path through the world-encircling Lokaloka, and as the rock-walls built outside the moats of the four oceans, and as a cage of adamant to confine all illustrious kings, and as a jewelled triumphal arch for the festal entrance of the world's goddess of Victory. The redness of his lip bedewed all the regions of space like the exudation of a branch of the heavenly tree, and the lip itself seemed as if it were the Kaustubha gem, taking its place as a feature of his face in its desire to kiss its sister Laksmi who sat enthroned there. He displayed at intervals a sudden flash of illumination to the Goddess of Empire who was somewhat dull and bewildered by nature, through the gleaming flashes of his teeth as he laughed at the sportive sallies of his companions; (when he smiled) he seemed to be sending away the lotuses which had come to him in uncertainty whether it was his face or the moon - and was dismissing the autumnal moonlight which had entered under the illusion that the flash of his line of bright teeth was a bed of lotuses; and he made a new anniversary of the churning the ocean by the odour which exhaled from his mouth perfumed by the mingled scent of wine, ambrosia, and parijata flowers, which filled all the regions of space, - while the perfume of his breath was continually inhaled by his overhanging nose which rose like a bud on his expanded lotus-face. With the brightness of his milk-white eye he deluged the regions of space as with a full tide of the milky ocean at the rising of his unparalleled moon-face, - and the chowrie-woman, as reflected in his stainless cheeks, seemed to be Sarasvati who inhabited his mouth taking bodily shape; while his broad forehead was reddened by the pink hue of his crest-ornament, as if it were the lac dye of Laksmi's feet which had clung to it, when he sought by prostration to appease her jealousy at the preference shewn to Sarasvati. He was listening, like one skilled in music to lute-players, to the tribes of bees in his ear-rings, which with restless feet played a tiny lyre consisting of the end of his ear-ring jewel with the web of its rosy rays for strings; while his locks were encircled by a wreath of white jasmine flowers mimicking Durga's wreath of sculls, and serving as a halo round his moon-face, like a circle of moonlight from the nails of the Goddess of Empire, which had remained behind as she grasped his hair in amorous play. He was consecrated by the light of the pearls in his top-knot and the dark rays of the emeralds, as they crossed in their intermingling, as if the braid-like streams of the united Yamuna and Ganges had come of their own accord from Prayaga.
His imperial splendour was however eclipsed by the women, as their foreheads became blackened by the darkness produced through the ornamental tilaka of black agallochum being melted by the drops of perspiration, as if it were a dark mark produced by their repeated prostrations at his feet to incline him to grant their coaxing requests, - propped up, as they were, by their flashing pearl-necklaces which were like so many waves rising from the tossed Manasa lake, - seeming in jealousy to rebuke Shri herself by the action of their creeper-like eyebrows, tremulous with a playful motion, - dragging him captive as with bonds by their long sweet-scented sighs which seemed made of the Malaya wind, - with their great jar-like bosoms, encircled with bands of large Vakula flowers, drawing from him every drop of contentment with his own proper spouse, - violently dragging him into their hearts, by the attraction of the rays of the trembling jewels of the necklaces which were set in motion by the trembling of their bosoms, - embracing him, as with many outstretched arms, with the rays of their far-flashing ornaments, - keeping their minds back, as it were, which had started off too impetuously, with their open hands which served as a covering over their mouths which wore an additional grace from a languid yawn, - skillfully moving their eyes which were half-closed as fainting at the arrows of Kama and had their corners contracted on account of the pollen of the flowers in their ears, shaken by the bees which flew about blinded by intoxication, - striking the lotuses in their own ears with the sidelong glances of their eyes shot from under the play of their frowns through their mutual jealousy, - carrying the king reflected in their soft cheeks, as if he had been drunk up by their eyes whose lashes were motionless with the flood of joy born of their unblinking gaze, - creating for love's assistance new moon-rises by their involuntary smiles through the playfulness of desire, - and seeming as in anger to break ever so many of Kama's useless bows in the form of the rays of the curved nails as the joints of their fingers gave a loud crack when their twined hands, as they gesticulated, came into close contact in the rapid bendings of their limbs. He lay smiling, while he languidly struck on the head with the bow of a lute the shampooing attendant, as his lotus feet dropped from her spray-like hands which were trembling in her perspiring emotion; while he taught the Goddess of Empire as well as the lute (both equally dear) while each had its kona firmly grasped in his hand. Single as he lay there, he was viewed in very different lights by different spectators, - riches called him cold, all faults turned from him as inaccessible, the senses felt awed at his love of self-control, the genius of the iron age said 'he is beyond my reach,' all vices pronounced him as passionless, dishonour looked on him as timid; Love said, 'the workings of his mind are hard to be understood'; Sarasvati complained that 'he is uxorious', other men's wives that 'he is impotent'; ascetics said that 'he is a seer of the highest order,' harlots that 'he is a deceiver'; his friends thought that 'he is easily led by others': Brahmans that 'he is our ready servant'; and his enemies' soldiers that 'he has faithful allies.' More truly the lord of Vahini than Shantanu, more illustrious for victory than Bhisma, more delighting in the bow than Drona, more unerring with the arrow than Ashvatthaman, dearer to Mitra than Karna, more forbearing than Yudhisthira, possessing the might of more elephants than Bhima, more worthy of figuring in the war of the Mahabharata than Arjuna. He was as it were the cause of the Golden Age, the source of the creation of the Gods, the native land of pride, the home of compassion, the close neighbour of Purusottama, the mine-mountain of valour, the assembly-room for all sciences to Sarasvati, an anniversary of the churning of the Ocean for ambrosia to Lakshmi, an exhibition of power to Dexterity, a common meetingplace of the proprieties, a valuation of her treasures to Beauty, final perfection to the creation of the atoms of form, an expiation of all past evil deeds to Empire, a challenge against all opposing power to Kama, a means for displaying Indra to all men as 'the city-stormer,' a visible return of ideal justice, the seraglio of the fine arts all together, the ultimate authority for defining good fortune, the final bath which completes the rites of installation to all monarchs, - the grave and gracious, the awe-inspiring and affable, at the same moment a holiday and a holy day, the universal Monarch.
Having seen him, - feeling, as it were, at once welcomed and checked, full of desire and yet satisfied, with his face horripilated with awe, and with tears of joy falling from his eyes, he stood at a distance smiling in wonder and pondered, "This then is the Emperor Shri Harsa, that union of separate glories, - noble in birth and of well-chosen name, - the lord of the field bounded by the four oceans, - the enjoyer of all the fruits of Brahma's pillar, the world, - the surpasser of all the victories won by all the kings of ancient times. Through him the earth does indeed possess a true King! His youthful exploits, unlike Krishna's, transgress not right; his freaks of power cause no offence to the man of refinement as did those of Shiva; his boasts lead to no destruction of families as did those of Indra to that of the cowpens; unlike Yama, he is not too fond of wielding the rod of punishment; unlike Varuna, his treasure-houses are not guarded by thousands of pitiless sea-monsters; unlike Kuvera, seeking an interview with him is never fruitless; unlike Jina, the sight of him is never without solid result; unlike the Moon, his glories do not wane. Wonderful is his royalty, surpassing the gods! His liberality cannot find range enough in suppliants, nor his knowledge in doctrines to be learned; his poetical skill finds words fail, as his valour lacks opportunities to exercise it; his energy wants scope and his fame sighs for a wider horizon, his kindly nature seeks in vain more hearts to win, his virtues exhaust the powers of number, and all the fine arts are too narrow a field for his genius.
Under this monarch are found only the cloths worn by devotees in meditation, and not forged documents; the royal figures of sculptors and not the vulgar disputes with kings; only bees quarrel in collecting dews (dues) - the only feet ever cut off are those in metre; only chessboards teach the positions of the four 'members,' there is no cutting off the four principal limbs of condemned criminals; only snakes hate Garuda the king of birds (dvija-guru), no one hates Brahmans or gurus; and the followers of the Mimamsa alone have to ponder problems in administering justice (adhikarana), while they examine the several adhikaranas or 'cases for discussion' in their system."
So approaching, wearing the sacred thread, he uttered his good wishes.
Then on the north not far from the royal palace the attendant on the elephant chanted this sweet couplet in the aparavaktra metre;
"O young elephant, dismiss thy playful restlessness, follow the rules of good behaviour, with bent head; the heavy hook, crooked like a lion's claws, held aloft, does not spare thee."
But when the king heard it and saw him, he asked, filling the sky with his voice deep like the roar of a lion in a mountain cave, "Is that Bana?" The doorkeeper replied, "As my Lord commands; it is he." "I will not see him yet, as he has not as yet offered his tribute of respect," so saying, he turned the long brilliance of his eye, whose pupil trembled as it inclined to the corner of the eye, as if he was shaking a curtain variegated across with white and dark silk, and said to his favourite, the son of the king of Malwa, who was sitting behind, "He is a thorough petit-maitre." But when the other paused for a moment in silence at this unexplained speech of the king and the courtiers were all dumb, Bana replied, "Why, my lord, do you thus address me, as if you did not know my character and did not believe me, as if you depended on others for guidance and did not understand the ways of the world yourself? The nature and talk of people will always be wilful and various; but the great ought to see things as they are. You surely will not regard me with prejudice as if I had no special claims. I am a Brahman born in the family of the Soma-drinking Vitsyayanas. Every ceremony was duly performed, as its time came, beginning with the investiture with the sacred cord; I have thoroughly studied the Veda with its six angas, and as far as I was able I have heard lectures on the shastras, and from my marriage I have been a diligent householder; what signs have I of being a petit-maitre? My youth indeed was not without those follies which are not directly inconsistent with either world, - so far I will not deny; and my heart on this point will confess a feeling of repentance. But now-a-days, when your highness, - calm in mind like Buddha himself, one who carries out all the rules for the castes and orders like Manu, and bears the rod of punishment as visibly as Yama, - governs the whole earth girdled by the seven oceans, and bearing all the continents as its garland, - who would venture without fear even to act in his own mind the character of indecorum, that bosom-friend of open profligacy? I will not dwell on human beings, - in consequence of your power even the bees drink honey in fear, even the ruddy-geese are ashamed of their too great fondness, - the very monkeys are alarmed when they play their wanton tricks, and even all the destructive animals eat flesh with compassion. Your highness will in time know me thoroughly by yourself, for it is the nature of the wise that their minds never act perversely." Having said this, he was silent.
The king also, after simply saying, "So we have heard," was silent; but he did not welcome him with any signs of favour such as friendly conversation, inviting him to sit down, etc.; he only revealed his inward pleasure by a gracious glance which seemed to bedew him with a shower of ambrosia; and as the setting sun was verging to the west, he dismissed his courtiers and entered his private apartments. Bana also went out, and retired to his place of abode. The day was now calm and its fierce blaze soft like polished brass, and the sun, the diadem of the western mountain's crest, as he left the sky, was letting fall his rays like the sprays of the Nicula tree; the deserted cow-stations in the forests had their patches of tender grass covered with families of deer lazily ruminating; the river-banks resounded plaintively with the cooing of the melancholy female ruddy-geese; in the pleasure-groves near the house all the waterpots were being turned over to fill the basins near the trees, while the troops of chattering sparrows were sitting on the boughs which formed their home; the companies of hungry calves were drinking their mothers' flowing udders, after they had returned from wandering during the day; the sun's round goblet for drinking the evening libation of the western ocean was sinking covered with a red glow as if it were plunged into a stream of mineral veins in the western mountain; the religious mendicants were intent on worshipping the shrines, having washed their feet and hands in the outpour of their water-pots; the fire, with the sacred grass spread round it, was blazing up, with its hands purified by the sacrificial vessels; the devout sacrificers were duly offering their libations; the trees of the groves stood with their monkeys resting from all their tricks, and with the nests of the crows crowded with their inmates fast asleep; the owls, settled in their huts in the hollow trunks of old trees, were preparing to go out on an expedition; a thicker host of stars was indenting the expanse of the sky, like a quantity of water-drops scattered at the time of the evening worship by the thousand hands of the sages; the crest of night floated over the sky like a mountaineer-woman's topknot; the young avatar of evening, dark like Shiva's neck, was devouring all that remained of the daylight; the lines of the lamps shone out as if they were the ray-fingers of the sun which had entered into the earthly fire at night and had come forth to point in scorn at the darkness; the gates seemed to announce their closure by the creaking of the folding leaves; the children were beginning to long to go to sleep, having enjoyed a good lying in bed while listening to the long stories of the old nurse; the dreadful mouth of early night was beginning to yawn, with its darkness as black as ink or an old buffalo, and waking up 'the good people.' Kama with his twanging bow-string was raining a continual succession of arrows and stealing the intellect of all the world, the ladies had their loins jingling with the girdles of many woven threads tied by their tire-women, while romantic heroines started on their wanderings in the empty roads, following the guidance of love; the pleasant chatter of the geese in the ponds became rare, as it was dulled by the tinkling of the anklets of the women, and the notes of the cranes, as these grew longer as they became deeper asleep, melted the hearts of separated lovers; and a number of lamps were scattered about like the seeds beginning to shoot of the coming day.
He reflected to himself, "King Harsa is very gracious, since he is still fond of me, though he is vexed at the rumours which have naturally spread about my many youthful follies; if I had been really under his displeasure, he would not have honoured me with an audience. He wishes me to be virtuous; for lords teach proper behaviour to their dependents even without words by granting them an appropriate reception. Shame on me, thus blinded in my mind by my own faults, and crushed by neglect, - that I venture to indulge in various fancies concerning this most excellent monarch. Verily I will endeavour so to act that he may recognise me in time in my real character."
Having made this resolve, he went out the next day from the royal camp and remained for a while in the houses of his friends and relations, until the king of himself learned his true character and became favourably inclined to him. Then he reentered again to visit the royal abode; and in the course of a very few days he was received by his gracious majesty into the highest degree of honour springing from kindness, of affection, and of confidence, and shared with him in his wealth, his hours of unbending, and his state dignity.
Here ends the second chapter - entitled The Visit to the King - of the Harsa-Carita composed by Sri Bana Bhatta.
From: The Harsa-Carita of Bana. Translated by E. B. Cowell and F. W. Thomas. London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1897, 35-69.