Page images
PDF
EPUB

"the lake is much below the level of the Mediterranean. M. Linant is not, however, reported as having referred to the supposed destruction of villages, and in speaking of the plain as formerly a fertile district, he perhaps really alluded to a period from which we are separated by some eight or ten centuries.

Henry C. Kay.

[Since these pages were written, and on the eve of my departure from England, I have read in the Times of the 17th of January, the interesting letter of its special correspondent in Egypt, by whom, for the first time, the general facts are indicated to which it has been my desire to direct the attention of the English public, now so largely responsible for the future destinies of the Egyptian people.—H. C. K.]

[merged small][ocr errors]

[The following curious episode (now for the first time translated) occurs at the close of the Third Book of the Great Sanskrit Epic; and is, perhaps, chiefly remarkable for anticipating the classical fable of the Sphinx, as well as for containing probably the most ancient conundrums recorded. There are thirty-four in all of these propounded by the " Yaksha," or Spirit of the Lake, but some of them are here omitted. The Yakshas of Hindoo mythology are a kind of fairies, generally benignant and harmless,and commonly called, indeed, "Punyajanas," or "good people,"but possessed of great power and knowledge.

In the preceding section the five Pandu Princes have been wandering in the forest, greatly distressed for want of water. The concluding portion of the translation illustrates a passage in my previously published version of the "Swargarohana," where the god Dharma praises the King Yudhisthira for his equity and self-denial]

THEN Yudhisthira spake to Nakula:
"Thou Son of Madri ! climb upon a tree,
And look to all ten quarters, if, by chance
"Water be nigh, or plants which love the pool;
Thy brothers faint with thirst."

So Nakula
Clomb a tall tree; and looking, cried aloud,
"Green leaves and water plants I see, which love
The marish and the pool; also, I hear
The cry of cranes; yonder will water lie!"

"Go!" said the King, "and fetch for us to drink,
Filling thy quiver."

Then sped Nakula,
Obeying Yudhisthira with swift feet,
And found a crystal pool brimmed to the bank:
The great red-crested cranes stalked on its marge.
And down he flung to drink; but a Voice cried,
"Beware to drink, rash youth! ere thou hast made
Answers to such things as I ask of thee;
The law of this fair water standeth thus.
Arise, and hear, and speak; afterwards drink,
And fill thy quiver."

But the eager Prince
Being so parched, quaffed deep, not heeding him,
The Yaksha of the place, and thereupon
Fell lifeless in the reeds.

So, when they looked
To see him coming, and he tarried long,
Again spake Yudhisthira: "Nakula
Lingers too much, my brothers!—Sahadev!
Go thou; and bring him back, and bring to drink."

"I go," quoth Sahadev; and sought the pool,
And saw the water, and saw Nakula
Prone on the earth. Then mightily he grieved,
Spying the Prince outstretched; yet, all so fierce
His drouth was, that he ran and flung him down,
Making to quaff; when, once again, the Voice
Sounded, " Beware to drink, ere thou dost give *

Answer to what things I will ask of thee;
This is the law of me, who am the Lord
Of the fair water; rise, and hear, and speak;
Then thou shalt drink, and draw."

Yet, so the stress
Of thirst o'ercame him, that he heeded not,
But drank, and rose, and—reeled among the reeds
Lifeless.

Then, once again, great Kunti's son
Spake, saying: " Oh, Arjuna, Fear of foes!
These, our twain brethren, tarry: go thyself,
And speed, and bring them back, and bring to drink;
Our trust thou art, for we are sore distressed."

"Which hearing, Gudakeia* seized his bow

And arrows, and with drawn sword sought the pool.

"PrniTSl '. "He of the knotted looks," a name of Arjuna.

But coming thither, saw those heroes stretched—
His brethren, best of men,—in deadly swoon,
Or dead indeed; and deep distraught he stood,
Seeing them thus. All round the wood he gazed,
With lifted bow, and arrow on the string,
Seeking some foe; but when none came in sight,
So wild his thirst was, and the pool so clear,
He bent his knee to drink, but bending, heard
That Voice cry, " Dost thou this without my leave?
Despite me, Kunti's son! thou canst not drink,
And shalt not, till thou makest answers good
Unto my asking; then may'st thou be free,
Oh, born of Bharata! to drink and draw."

Thus sternly stayed, the Prince exclaimed in wrath:
"Come forth and show thyself, and fight with me!
Pierced by my arrows thou shalt yield the pool."
Then shot he shafts this way and that; aud spoke
Those spells which make a feathered barb fly straight;
And darts he flung, of magic might, which find
Th' escaping foe, tracking his winding feet;
Karnis, Nardchas, Ndlikas he threw,
That angry Prince, covering the sky and wood
With searching steel. Thereat the Voice anew
Mock'd him, low-laughing : " Son of Pritha ! vain
Thine anger is; answer me fair, and drink;
But if thou drinkest ere thou answerest,
Thou shalt not live." Yet was his throat so parched
The Prince regarded not, and stooped, and drank,
And fell down dead.

Then Yudhisthira spake:
"Bhima! thou Terror of thy foes! see now!
Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadev are gone
To fetch us water; but they come not back.
Seek them, and bring to drink."

And Bhima said,
"So be it;" and he went unto the place
Where those, his mighty-hearted brethren, lay.
But when he saw them—all three—dead and stark,
Sore grieved that long-armed Lord, and gazed around,
Deeming some Yaksha or some Rakshasa
Had wrought their doom, and chafing for the fight.

"But first," quoth he, " 'twere good to drink,"—so sore
The drouth oppressed,—and to the pool he sped,
Thinking to quaff, when yet again that Voice
Echoed, " Dare not to drink—so stands the law
Of this fair water; answer first—then drink \"
But Bhima, parched and haughty, answered naught,
Lapping the sweet wave, and in lapping fell.

Then, long time left alone, Kunti's wise son
Uprose—great Yudhisthira—sorrowful,
Perplexed in thought; and strode into the wood:
A leafy depth, where never foot was heard
Of man, but shy deer roamed, and shaggy bears
Rustled, and jungle hens clucked in the shade;
With tall trees crowded, in whose crown the bees
Swarmed buzzing, and strange birds buiided their nests.
Through this green darkness wending, Yudhisthir
Passed to the pool, and marked its silver face
Shine in the light, rimmed round with golden cups
Of lotus blossoms, all as if 'twere made
By Viswakarma, Architect divine;
And all its gleaming shallows and bright bays
With water-plants were broken, lilies, reeds;
And framed about with Ketuk-groves,* and clumps
Of sweet rose-laurel and the sacred fig;
Insomuch that the King stood wondering there,
Albeit heart-sorrowful.

For there he saw, Stretched dead together—as the World's Lords die, Indra and all, at every Yuga's end— His warrior brethren. There Arjuna lay, Beside his bow and arrow; Bhima there, With Nakula and Sahadev; each void Of life and motion; and, beholding these, His soul sank, and he fetched a grievous sigh. Bitterly at that sight lamented he, Saying, "Ah, Bhima! oh, my brother! named From the grim wolf ;f vain is the vow thou mad'st To break the thigh of fell Duryodhana In battle with thy mace. Dead art thou now, And those words wind. Brother and faithful Friend!

* The randanui odoratissimus. t "^fY^"^ "Vrikodara," i.e., "Wolf■ belly."

« EelmineJätka »