In low spirits, meanwhile
– With his master gone thus,
with no sense of me and mine, to the forest –
He whose sphere was horses
made on the road an effort to suppress his sorrow.
And surely enough, while also being thus,
he failed to banish his tears.
But the road which at his master's behest
He with that warhorse had travelled in one night –
That same road, pondering the master's desertion,
[or reflecting on the separateness of a master,]
He now travelled in eight days.
And the horse Kanthaka moved himself
by an effort of physical strength;
He panted; he was, through his whole being, devoid of ebullience;
Again, decked though he was in decorative trappings,
He seemed, without the one in question, to lack any lustre.
And yet, having turned back,
so that he was fronting the woods of painful practice,
Loudly he neighed, piteously, again and again.
However hungry he was, he neither rejoiced at nor partook of,
As before, grass or water on the road.
And so, the city called after Kapila,
The city forsaken by that mighty soul
whose soul was given to the welfare of the world,
The two approached, step by gradual step,
as if approaching emptiness –
An emptiness like the sky bereft of the day-making sun.
The city's park,
though graced by lotus-covered waters,
Though adorned by flower-bearing plants,
Being nothing but that park itself, was like the woods –
It no longer exuded lordly splendour,
now that the citizens' exuberant joy was gone.
Thus, as though being slowed down,
by men wandering in their direction,
men with dispirited minds,
Men no longer blazing,
men whose eyes tears had knocked out,
The two together approached the city –
As silently as if going to a funeral bath.
And seeing the pair with disjointed gaits,
their bodies hanging loosely,
Coming back without the bull of the Śākya herd,
The people of the city let their tears fall on the road –
Like in ancient times when the chariot of Rāma,
son of 'Ten Chariots' Daśa-ratha,
came back without Rāma.
There again, speaking tensely,
Common folk afflicted by distress
addressed Chandaka on the road –
“Where is the Child of the King,
the joy of the city and of the kingdom?
You have stolen away that child!” they said,
from the rear, following behind.
Then he said to those devout folk:
“No neglecter am I of the child of a lord among men.
On the contrary, by that child in the folk-free forest, the weeping I,
And the clothes of a householder, are both cast off together.”
When those common folk heard this utterance of his,
Because of its very great difficulty, they were dismayed;
For the eye-born flood of falling tears they had not averted,
And their own minds, taking account of karmic retribution,
they did blame.
Or else they said: “Right now let us go into that forest,
Where he is, whose stride is the stride of a king of elephants;
For without him we have no wish to live on,
Like the sense organs when the embodied soul has departed.
[Or like embodied beings when the power of the senses has departed.]
This city without Him is the woods,
And those woods in his presence are a city.
For in his absence our city does not shine –
Like heaven without marut-attended Indra, at the slaying of Vṛtra
[Or like the sky, without the Almighty and his storm-gods,
at the break-up of a thunder-cloud].”
“The prince has come back again!” said the women,
As now they appeared in the rows of round windows.
But seeing the horse's empty back,
They closed the windows again and wailed.
Whereas, having undertaken complete dedication,
with a view to getting a son,
His mind exhausted by observance and by sorrow,
The ruler of men spoke in whispers in the temple,
And performed, as he felt fit, various acts.
Then, with eyes filled with tears,
The horse-servant betook to himself the horse
And, beaten by sorrow, he entered the abode of a protector of men –
As though his master had been spirited away by an enemy warrior.
[Or like when a master has been reeled in by a deceitful combatant.]
Also entering the royal stable
[Or immersing himself in the place of stillness of the best of men],
Looking, with an eye containing tears,
Kanthaka roared in a full-sounding voice,
As if making his suffering known to the people
[Or as if causing the people to know suffering]
[Or as if, for the benefit of humanity, causing suffering to be known].
Then the birds whose feeding place was in the middle of the dwelling,
[Those movers in empty space whose range, in loss, is the middle,]
And the well-treated horses tethered nearby,
[And those venerated movers in readiness
who are bound to immediacy,]
Echoed the sound of that horse,
In anticipation of the prince's approach.
[With the intuitive sense of getting close
which belongs to a son or daughter of the best of men].
Over-exuberance, again, deceived the common folk
Who moved in the vicinity of the battlements of their overlord.
“Since the horse Kanthaka is here neighing,” they thought,
“It must be that the prince is on his way!”
And so in their exuberant joy,
the women who had been insensible with grief,
Their darting eyes now eager for a sight of the prince,
Stepped forth from their homes full of hope –
Like flashes of lightning from an autumn cloud.
Their hair having dropped down, wearing garments of dirty cloth,
With unrouged faces whose eyes had been marred by tears,
Bereft of cosmetic embellishment, they manifested themselves as colourless –
Like stars in the sky when red dawn is dispelling dark night.
Their unornamented feet were not painted red;
[Their unembellished practices were not reddened by passion;]
Their faces were flanked by plain ears, ears without ear-rings;
[Their mouths were connected with ears of frankness,
Their hips and thighs, without girdles, were naturally full;
[Their hips and thighs, ungirt of the belts that signified social rank,
expanded by themselves;]
Their female breasts, without their ropes of pearls,
seemed to have been stripped naked.
[Their breasts, without any attachment to stripping away,
seemed to have been laid bare.]
Looking through tearful eyes
At the destitute Chandaka-and-horse,
having nothing to depend upon,
Those beautiful women wept, with downcast faces,
Like cows in the woods abandoned by the bull.
Then the king's queen, Gautamī,
Tearful as a doting water buffalo that had lost her calf,
Abducted her arms and fell,
Fronds shuddering, like a golden banana plant.
Other women, being bereft of sparkle,
being flaccid in their core and in their arms,
[Individual women, being different, being free of fury,
being relaxed in their souls and loose in their arms,]
Women who seemed by their languor to be almost insensible,
Neither cried out, nor shed tears; they neither audibly breathed,
Nor moved a muscle: As if in a painting, they stayed still.
Other women, losing control, dizzied by sorrow for their lord,
[They, as individuals who were different, not in a fixed manner,
but as masters caused through sorrow to grow,]
Wetted with streaming faces, whose wellsprings were eyes,
Bare breasts bereft of sandal paste –
Like mountains with their wellsprings wetting rocks.
And in the presence of the tear-stricken faces of those individuals,
That lair of kings, in that moment, was bathed in splendour –
Like a lake at the time of the first rains
When clouds with their raindrops are striking its dripping lotuses.
With hands whose gapless fingers were beautifully round and full,
With unadorned hands whose blood-vessels were invisible,
With their hands resembling lotuses,
the most beautiful of women beat their breasts –
Like wind-blown creepers beating themselves with their own tendrils.
Again, as their conjoined and upturned breasts
trembled under the barrage from their hands,
Those women also resembled rivers
Whose lotuses, sent whirling by the forest wind,
shook into movement
Pairs of rathaṅga geese – geese called after a wheel.
Insofar as they goaded their bosoms with their hands,
To that same degree they goaded their hands with their bosoms;
Those in that loop whose strength was not in strength,
their compassion being inactive,
Made bosoms, and the tips of doing hands, antagonize each other.
But then, with eyes reddened by fury,
Stammering with the emotion that belongs to despondent love,
Up spoke a bearer of glory,
whose milk-bearers heaved as she sighed –
Bearing tears of grief running deep as the Earth,
“Leaving me helplessly asleep in the night,
Where, Chandaka, has the joy of my heart gone?
Seeing you and Kanthaka come back,
When three departed, my mind, in all honesty, wavers.
It is an ignoble and ungentle action, the action of a non-friend,
That you, O dealer in others' pain, have done to me.
Why now do you weep?
Stop the tears! Let your mind be satisfied!
Tears, and that action of yours, do not chime well together.
For, thanks to you, a devoted mate
– willing, well-meaning, and straight,
A doer of what was necessary –
That noble son is gone, never to return.
How wonderful for you, that your effort was fruitful!
It is better for a man to have an insightful enemy,
Rather than a friend of no wisdom, skilled in no method;
For thanks to you,
one versed in nothing who calls himself a friend,
Great misfortune has befallen this noble house.
These women are deeply to be commiserated,
who have shed embellishments,
Whose bloodshot eyes are clouded by tears of lasting devotion,
Who – though their master is still there,
standing firm on those flat Himalayan uplands
[or remaining as constant as the Himalayas or the Earth]
[or being the same as the Himalayas and the earth]
[or being as even as the snow-clad earth]
[or being as even as the ground in the Himalayas] –
Are like widows who lost their former lustre.
These rows of palaces too,
flinging the dove-cots of their arms up and out,
Their long calls being the cooing of devoted doves,
Seem when bereft of him,
along with the women of the inner apartments,
Mightily to weep and wail.
This here horse Kanthaka, also, is constantly desirous that I,
In every way, should come to naught.
For thus, from here, he took away my everything –
Like a jewel thief who steals in the night, while people are fast asleep.
When he is well able to defy even incoming arrows,
To say nothing of whips,
How could fear of a whip's goading
have caused this [fast-goer] to go,
Snatching away, in equal measure,
my royal pomp and my heart?
Now the doer of un-āryan deeds is neighing loudly,
As if filling with sound the seat of a first among men;
But when he carried away my love,
Then the low-down donkey was dumb.
For if he had whinnied, waking people up,
Or else had made a noise with his hoofs on the ground,
– Or had he made the loudest sound he could with his jaws
[had he sounded the ultimate warning of death and disease] –
I would not have experienced suffering like this.”
When thus he had heard, here in this world,
the lament-laden words of the queen,
Whose every syllable had been punctuated with a tear,
Chandaka, face turned down,
tongue-tied by his own tearfulness,
and hands held like a beggar's,
Softly voiced the following response:
“Please do not blame Kanthaka, O godly queen,
Nor show anger towards me.
Know us both as blameless in every way,
For that god among men, O royal goddess, departed like a god.
For, knowing full-well the instruction of the king,
As though I were compelled by gods of some description,
I swiftly brought this swift horse
And in that effortless manner followed, on the road.
This royal war-horse, also, as he went, did not touch the ground,
The tips of his hooves seeming to dangle separately in midair.
His mouth was sealed as if, again, by a divine force;
He neither neighed nor made a sound with his jaws
[neither neighed nor sounded the warning of death and disease].
The moment that the prince moved outwards
The way out spontaneously became open
And the darkness of night was broken as if by the sun –
Hence, again, let this be grasped as action in the presence of the gods.
In accordance with the instruction of the best of men,
People in their thousands, in house and town,
were leaving nothing unattended;
In that moment all were seized by repose
and not roused to wakefulness –
Hence, again, let this be grasped as action in the zone of the gods.
And since, in that most opportune of moments,
the robe approved for living the forest life
Was bestowed on him by a sky dweller,
And that headdress which he launched into the sky
was borne away –
Hence, again, let this be grasped as action in the lap of the gods.
Therefore, O royal goddess!,
Do not blame the two of us for his departure.
It was neither my nor this horse's own doing;
For he went with the gods in his train.”
When thus the women heard of the starting out,
Which was in so many ways miraculous, of that mighty man,
They felt such amazement that the flame of sorrow seemed to go out.
And yet they conceived, following on from the going forth,
fever of the mind.
Then, her eyes swimming in despondency,
The grief-stricken Gautamī, like an osprey who had lost her chicks,
Gave up all semblance of composure and squealed.
Tearful-faced, she gasped for the breath in which she said:
“Flowing in great waves, soft, black and beautiful,
[Flowing in great waves, soft, beautiful, and not white,]
Each hair rising up singly, growing from its own root:
[Each thought emerging singly, springing up from the fundamental:]
Have those locks of his, born from his head,
been cast upon the ground? –
[Those thoughts of his, born from the summit,
have been cast upon the act of becoming – ]
Locks of hair which are fit to be encircled by a king's crown!
[Thoughts which are fit to encase the cranium of the best of men!]
Does he with his long hanging arms and lion's stride,
With his great bull-like eyes, and his splendid golden lustre,
With his broad chest and thunderous resonance –
Does such a man deserve a life in an ashram?
Shall this treasure-bearing earth not claim as her possessor
That peerless man of noble action?
For such a protector of men,
endowed as that one is in all respects with virtues,
Is born to her by the merits that her offspring accrue.
How will his soft feet,
with the web of the perfectly formed spreading between the toes,
Feet which, with their ankles concealed,
have the tincture of the blue lotus ('the poison flower'),
How will those feet tread the hard forest ground?
Those two feet, bearing a wheel in the middle: how will they go?
How will his body,
a body used to lying down and sitting up in the palace heights
[or sitting in a state risen above disrespect],
A body honoured with the most valuable of garments
and with the finest a-guru fragrance,
How will his body subsist when cold and heat and rain come in?
That body so possessed of vitality: how, in the forest, will it be?
How will a man so proud of his family, character,
strength and shining splendour,
So proud of his learning, prosperity, and power,
A man so up for giving, not for taking:
How will he go around begging from others?
How will he who, having slept on a pure golden bed
[after lying down in a pure golden act of lying down],
Is awakened in the night by sounds of musical instruments
[Is caused to expand in the night by sounds in the fourth state]:
How now will my vow-keeper drop off,
On the surface of the earth, with a single piece of cloth in between?”
Having heard this piteous lament,
[Having listened with compassion to this garbled discourse,]
The women entwined each other with their arms
And let the tears drop from their eyes –
Like shaken creepers dropping beads of nectar from their flowers.
Then Yaśodharā, “Bearer of Glory,” dropped to the bearing earth
Like a goose named, for her circular call, rathaṅga,
without the circle-making gander.
And, in dismay, she stuttered bit by bit this and that lament,
Her voice by sobbing gagged and gagged again.
“If he wishes to perform dharma, the Law,
having left me widowed,
Having cast aside his partner in dharma, his lawful wife,
Then where is his dharma?
Where is the dharma of one who, without his partner in dharma,
Wishes to go ahead before her and taste ascetic practice?
He surely has never heard of the earth-lords of ancient times,
Such as 'Very Beautiful to Behold' Mahā-su-darśa
and other ancestors,
Who went into the woods accompanied by their wives –
Since thus he wishes, without me, to perform dharma.
Or else he fails to see that, during sacrificial oblations,
Both husband and wife are consecrated,
both being sanctified through Vedic rites,
And both wishing thereafter to enjoy together
the fruit of that sanctification –
Out of such blindness is born
the besotted stinginess with dharma that he has shown towards me.
Evidently, as dharma's beloved, he left me suddenly and in secret,
Knowing that my mind would be violently jealous
where he, my own darling, was concerned.
Having so easily and fearlessly deserted me in my anger,
He is wishing to obtain heavenly nymphs in the world of Great Indra!
But this concern I do have –
What kind of physical excellence
do those women possess who are there?
On which account he undergoes austerities in the forest,
Having abandoned not only royal power but also my loving devotion.
This longing in me is truly not for the happiness of paradise
(Nor is that happiness hard to achieve for a man possessed of himself),
But how might I never be deserted by what I hold most dear?
– That is the chariot of my mind.
Even if I am not to be blessed with the good fortune
To behold the brightly smiling face, with its long eyes, of my husband;
[To look up to the brightly smiling face, with its long eyes, of a master;]
Does this poor unfortunate Rāhula deserve
Never to roll around in his father's lap?
[Never to be reborn in the lap of ancestors?]
O how terribly hard and cruel is the mind
Of him, so full of mind, whose light is so gentle!
An infant son,
whose burbling would gladden even an enemy,
He leaves in such a manner, just as he likes.
My heart too must be very hard
– Made of stone or else wrought of iron –
In that, left like an orphan,
now that its protector,
who was accustomed to comfort, has gone,
shorn of his royal glory, to the forest,
It does not split apart.”
Thus did a goddess here in this world,
being insensible with grief for her husband,
[being insensible with the sorrow of a master]
Repeatedly weep, reflect, and lament.
For, steadfast as she was by nature,
she in her pain
Was not mindful of constancy and made no show of modesty.
Then, seeing her thus undone by grief and lamentation,
Seeing Yaśodharā alighting on the ground,
– the Bearer of Glory on the treasure-bearing Earth –
with tearful faces like big lotuses battered by raindrops,
Vented their sorrow.
The protector of men, however,
having finished with muttering of prayers,
being through with oblations and benedictions,
Had got out from the temple, the abode of gods;
And yet, struck by that sound of people suffering,
He trembled like an elephant struck by the sound of a thunderbolt.
Having observed the two, Chandaka and Kanthaka,
While being well informed
as to the steadfast unity of purpose of a son,
A lord of the earth had fallen down, toppled by sorrow,
Like the flag of Indra, Lord of Might, when the carnival is over.
And so, momentarily stupefied in filial grief,
Buttressed by people of like ancestry,
A lord of the earth, with a view that was full to overflowing,
eyeballed a horse,
Whereupon, standing on the surface of the earth,
the earth-lord lamented:
“After doing for me in battle many acts of love,
You, Kanthaka, have done one great act of non-love;
For the lover of merit whom I love,
Your beloved friend though he is,
you have cast – lovelessly – into the woods.
Therefore either take me today to the place where he is,
Or else go quickly and bring him back here;
For without him there is no life for me,
As for a gravely ill man without good medicine.
When 'Gold-Spitting' Suvarṇa-niṣṭhīvin was borne away by death,
It was a miracle that Saṁjaya 'The Victorious' did not die.
I, however, am wishing, with the passing of a dharma-loving son,
To be rid of myself, as if I were not in possession of myself.
For, though Manu is the mighty lord of living creatures,
maker of ten dominions,
Knower of former and latter things, son of the shining Sun,
When dispossessed of a beloved true son,
How could the mind of even Manu not be bewildered?
That wise son of King Aja,
Ruler of men and friend of Indra: I envy him,
Who, when his son Rāma went to the forest, went himself to heaven,
He did not live a miserable life of shedding tears in vain.
[I envy a wise son of a non-hereditary king,
A son who was sovereign among men, and a friend of Indra –
A son who, when a son retired to the forest, was in heaven,
A son who did not live a pitiable life of shedding tears in vain.]
Describe for me, O friend of benign nature, the hermit's arena,
That place where he, my cupped hands for the fluid of forefathers,
has been taken by you.
For these lifebreaths of mine are thirsty, wishing to gain their end,
Wishing to go the way of the departed.”
Thus, suffering the pain born of a son's loss,
A protector of men threw away the constancy,
akin to the earth, which was his natural birth-right;
And like Daśaratha in the grip of grief for Rāma
– Like he was unconscious – he lamented profusely.
Then he was addressed by a counsellor,
a knowing friend possessed of learning, discipline and virtue,
And by the family priest, a man advanced in years;
The two spoke fittingly these equally-weighted words,
Neither showing agonized faces nor being nonchalant.
“Abandon sorrow, O best of men, and come back to constancy;
You should not shed tears, O stout soul, like a man who lacked grit.
For, flinging away their fortune like a crushed garland,
Many rulers of men on this earth have gone into the forests.
Moreover, this orientation of mind was predestined in him –
Remember those words long ago of the seer Asita,
'the Not White One.'
For neither in heaven nor in the domain of a wheel-rolling king
Could he, even for a moment, be made happily to dwell.
But if, O best of men, an effort is emphatically to be made,
Quickly say the word, and we two will go to it at once.
Let the battle take place, right here right now, on many fronts,
Between a son of yours and the various rules
[or the various prescriptions of fate].”
“On those grounds,” the lord of men then ordered them,
“Go quickly you two to battle, starting right here;
For my heart no more goes to quiet,
Than does the heart of a bird of the forest
when it longs for a missing nestling.”
“Agreed!” the two said,
in accordance with the order of the first among men.
And to that forest went the two of them,
close advisor and family priest.
“Enough said!” said the lord of men.
And along with daughters and queen,
He got on and did what remained to be done.
The 8th canto, titled Lamenting Within the Battlements,
in an epic tale of awakened action.