Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

side is a dry reservoir, eighty paces in circuit, called both the Saviour-Reservoir (Jivakahrada ?) and the Hero's-Reservoir (Tyágihrada ?). Here is what is read on this subject, in the ancient descriptions (of this kingdom)

“Several hundred years ago, a recluse abode near this reservoir. He had built a hut, that he might live apart from the world. He had studied magic, and fathomed the science of the gods. He was able to transform small pieces of brick into precious stone, and to metamorphose animals; but, nevertheless, he was not able to cause himself to be conveyed by the winds and clouds, and to follow, through the air, the chariot of the immortals. He pored over mysterious diagrams, and explored the secrets of the ancients, to discover, withal, the science of the Rishis. Their books informed him, that the Rishis, endowed with a divine power, possess the art of living eternally. If you wish to acquire this science, it is necessary, first of all, to form an immovable resolution, to erect an altar six feet in circuit, and to cause that a hero, renowned for his fidelity and courage, should arm himself with a long sabre, and stand guard at the corner of the altar, to suppress his breathing, and to remain speechless from evening till morning. He who seeks to become a ķishi must seat himself on the middle of the altar, must hold in his band a long sabre, must recite magical prayers, and must concentrate within himself his faculties of seeing and hearing. On the approach of morning, he will rise to the rank of a Rishi. The sharp sabre which he holds in his hand will be changed into a valuable sword; he will dart up into the heavens, and pass through the air; he will become the king of the company of Rishis. Brandishing his sword, he will issue his orders; and he will be gratified in all his desires. He will never more be liable to feebleness, to old age, to sickness, or to death.'

" When the recluse had learned the secret of becoming a Rishi, he undertook a journey, with the object of discovering a man of heroic character, and spent long years in active search, without finding the object of his desire. In the course of time, he met with a man, in a certain city, who walked along uttering plaintive cries. The recluse, observing his appearance, experienced a lively feeling of joy. Then, drawing near, he questioned him softly, and said: •What has reduced you to utter these rending moans ?"

**Being poor and needy,' he replied, 'I was working for wages, for the relief of my necessities. My master, seeing my sad condition, employed me with entire confidence, promising, at the end of five years, to reward me most liberally. On this, I laboured diligently, forgetting pain and fatigue. But, when the fifth year had almost expired, having one day committed an offence, I was shamefully beaten, and could obtain nothing. Thinking on this misfortune, I am consumed with chagrin, (and I ask myself) who will take pity on me?'

“The recluse directed him to accompany him. On their arriving at his hut, by the aid of a metamorphosis, wrought by his magical power, he obtained for him, in an instant, an excellent repast. Then he made him bathe in the reservoir, clothed him with new garments, and gave him five hundred pieces of gold, adding: When you shall have spent them, you must come and ask me for more. I beg it of you not to scorn me.'

“From that time, he often gave him valuable presents, secretly lavished great kindness upon him, and filled his heart with gratitude. The valiant champion asked that he might sacrifice his life to repay

all these favours. "I was seeking for a brave champion,' said the recluse to him, and now, after a great number of years, I have had the good fortune to find him in you; and your remarkablo aspect answers to the image of him which I had pictured to myself. I have only one thing to ask of you, which is, simply not to utter a word during an entire night.'

Why do you speak,' answered the champion, of merely keeping silence ? I would not refuse even to die for you.'

“On this, he constructed an altar; and, in order to acquire the divine art of the Rishis, he did everything according to the prescribed formula. He sat down, waiting for the setting of the sun. As night drew on, each acquitted himself of his respective duty. The recluse recited magical prayers; and the brave champion held his sharp sabre in his hand. But, a little before dawn, suddenly he uttered piercing cries. At this moment, a mass of fire desconded from heaven, and volumes of flame and smoke rose like clouds. The recluse forthwith carried away the man, and

[ocr errors]

made him enter the reservoir, that he might escape death; and then he questioned him thus: 'I admonished you to maintain silence. Why did you utter cries of terror ?'

The champion replied: 'After I had received your orders, and the middle of the night had arrived, my spirit was troubled, as though in a dream; and wondrous portents appeared, one after another, to my eyes. I saw my old master, who came and accosted me with kind words. Although I cherished lively gratitude for his kindnesses, yet' I controlled myself, without answering him a single word. The man became angry. I was immediately put to death, and remained, for some time, in that sad condition. On beholding my own corpse, I heaved deep sighs; and I also resolved not to speak for ages, in acknowledgement of your generosity. Shortly after, I was born again, in the house of a Brahman, in Central India. When my new mother had conceived me, and brought me into the world, I endured all sorts of pains and hardships. Always impressed with a sense of your goodness, I never uttered a single word. When I had finished my studies, put on the cap of manhood, and contracted marriage, I lost my father and mother, and my wife presented me with a son. On thinking, day by day, of your bygone kindnesses, I still controlled myself, and refrained from speaking. All my relations and neighbours were astonished at my silence. When I had passed the age of sixty-five years, my wife said to me: “You must speak; and, if you persist in your silence, I will kill your son.”

« I then said to myself: “I am well advanced in years, and I already see myself broken by old age; this infant is my only child." If I uttered those cries, it was only to disarm my wife, and to prevent her from killing it.'

It is my fault,' replied the recluse. •All this perturbation was only the work of Mára (the demon).'

“The brave champion testified his gratitude to him. He groaned bitterly at the failure of his design, and died of indignation and anger. As he had escaped the disaster of the fire, the reservoir was called the Saviour-Reservoir (Jivakabrada ?); and, inasmuch as this man perished for wishing to display his gratitude, - also, the Reservoir of the Hero (Tyágihrada ?)."

To the west of the “Reservoir of the Hero” (Tyágihrada ?), is

the Stúpa of the three quadrupeds. In the age when Jou-lai (the Tathágata) was leading the life of a Pou-sa (Bodhisattwa), it was at this place that he burnt his body. In the beginning of the kalpas (ages) there were, in this forest, a fox, a hare, and a monkey, who, although of different species, were united by a close friendship. At that time, Chi (Sakra), the master of the gods, wished to make proof of those who were leading the life of a Bodhisattwa. He descended upon the earth, and, assuming the appearance of an old man, spoke thus to these three animals : “My children, do you take pleasure in this peaceful and retired spot? Do you feel no fear?"

“We tread upon the tufted herbage,” they replied ; “we roam in a thick forest; and, although we are of different species, we take pleasure together; we are tranquil and happy."

“Having learned," rejoined the old man," that you were bound in a close friendship, forgetting the burthen of age, I have come from a great distance expressly to find you out. To-day I am oppressed with hunger. What will you give me to eat?”

“Be so good," said they, “as to remain here a little, while we run and make search."

On this, forgetting their own interests, and animated with a common spirit, they went away, each apart from the rest, in quest of food. The fox, having skirted a river, brought between his teeth a fresh carp; the monkey gathered fruits and flowers, of great rarity, from the depth of the forest. Then they reassembled at the place where the old man had halted, and presented them to him. But the hare returned empty-handed, and began to gambol from right to left.

“From what I see,” remarked the old man to him, “you have not shared in the sentiments of the monkey and the fox. Each of them has given me proof of his devotion; but the bare has returned empty, and he alone has not given me food. These words suffice for making him understood.”

The hare, on hearing these severe reproaches, spoke thus to the fox and the monkey: “Gather together a quantity of wood and grass; and I will then do something."

At these words, the fox and monkey ran, emulously, and brought grass and branches. When they had made a high heap of them, and a strong fire was about to be kindled, the hare said: “O man, full of humanity, I am small and feeble; and, as I was unable to find what I sought after, I venture to offer my humble body to furnish a repast for you."

Scarcely had he ceased speaking, when he cast himself into the fire, and there died immediately.

At that instant, the old man resumed his form of king of the gods (Sakra), collected the bones of the hare, and, having for a long time heaved sorrowful sighs, said to the fox and the monkey: “How is it that he was the only one able to make such a sacrifice ? I am powerfully affected by his devotion; and, not to let the memory of it perish, I will place him in the disk of the moon, so that his name may go down to posterity."

Hence, all the natives of India say, that it is since this event occurred that a hare has been seen in the moon.

In after times, a Stúpa was erected at this spot.

« PreviousContinue »