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shadow across it, is the face of nature; more intense is human lovethrilled by diffusive dread' into 'finer tenderness.' Nor is this all. He feels the stings of new ambition,' and is strong in the force which springs from passion beating on the shores of fate.' 'Come,' he exclaims to his fellows, with him menaced by this coming night of helplessness
Come, let us fashion acts that are to be
We must not look for this noble moral vitality in the mystical absorption of the Aryan visionary. Our modern poet has painted the eager Western character beneath the influence of a suddenly darkened hope in personal immortality, thrown back upon itself, as it were, and concentrated in energy; the instinctive love of life and delight in action not quenched, but transformed by an impulse of spiritual will from selfish instinct into religious passion.
But in the more languid Eastern temperament there is not this passionate attachment to life for its own sake, and apart from its conditions. The mere sense of existence in itself is rather a physical weariness than a physical delight. Anticipation of its extinction, then, touches life with no anguish, with no intensity of pain, but at most with a subdued and quiet melancholy, resembling sorrow only as the mists resemble the rain.' And hence we have here no passion beating on the shores of fate,' no clutching haste' making work eager, and stirring men to nobler ambition. The natural inclination is towards a life of contemplation, rather than a life of action; and this mood is heightened by the belief that all action belongs to the illusive world of sense, which is but a passing vision. The wise man, then, will take his stand by the one reality-the soul-and choose to be rather a spectator of the world-vision than an actor in it. He will not, indeed, hate the world, nor look forth upon it without compassion and love, the love a dreamer may feel for his dream; but he will seek to emancipate himself from its illusions; he will withdraw himself from pain and pleasure, from action and desire, preserving the native tranquillity of the soul, that, uncoloured by illusion and untroubled by passion, it may be, as in the past and in the future, so in the present, one with Eternal Brahm.
Having, after this strange and sympathetic fashion, journeyed thus far together, must we-who are heirs of this nineteenth century, followers after a new ideal-part with the poet-mystic of ancient Brahmanism, taking separate paths that can have no meetingplace? Before us lies the world-in which we would store living memories, ere we vanish hence and are no more seen; before the Brahman is stretched the desert, where, in quietude and contemplation, he seeks to unite his soul with Brahm. How should this great gulf be bridged? or can it be bridged at all? Let us follow our Brahman, driven forth of the spirit into the wilderness, and see.
And first we are the children of this world, terræ filii, as Mr.
Matthew Arnold has somewhere scornfully called us, having our portion in this life, in its stress, storm, and fever-not able to postpone living to any season more perfect, or more picturesque, but accepting our own age, our own day, as the one upon which shines the fertilising sun ; whilst on yesterday the sun has set, and to-morrow means, for us, the night in which no man can work. This is so: but the world which we claim as our portion includes the desert also. This life of action in the present, and for the present, this need to
feel, create, bestow,' to 'bear our part, whilst the one spirit's plastic stress sweeps through the dull dense world,' expresses what may be called the moral enthusiasm of the modern spirit; and for any such moral impulse we shall of course seek vainly in old Indian poetry, or indeed throughout the ancient world. But the religious, or ideal, enthusiasm, which is no less a part of our higher nature, does not allow men to rest contented with being associated in the energies and moving forces of the universe: it leads them to conceive themselves also as one with the purpose, or soul, of the universe. "Man's thought takes fight for the centre, where through it bath part in the whole, says our great poet (who surely, in his moments of higher inspiration, must be called, before Heine, the poet of the modern spirit).
The abysses forbid it not enter : the stars make room for the soul.
place ? Is the body not more than the vesture ? the life not more than the meat? The will, than the word and the gesture, the heart, than the hands and
the feet? Is the tongue not more than the speech ? is the head not more than
the crown? And if higher than is heaven be the reach of the soul, shall not heaven
But what, now, if it should prove that this sense of the soul's supremacy, this foretaste of immortality, not by any hope of a prolonged association with mortal conditions and accidents, but by an exaltation of the soul above all conditions--this putting off of self, to enter into the life of the human spirit-what if this, or something strangely like this, were to our Eastern dreamer emancipation of the soul from Maya, illusion and its reunion with Eternal Brahm? Of course, if this were so, it would only be in rare and precious moments of spiritual exaltation that the modern idealist would breathe the hypermundane atmosphere in which the Brahman mystic would alone exist. But this is of the essence of modern feeling; our morality we always have with us, a lamp to our feet; but our religion, at least in its highest moods, not always, lest haply it should cease to be a religion; cease to be a something sacred and secret during the hours of labour and
research, to shine out when toil is suspended and the world has fallen quiet, a star in Heaven.
To some readers we may seem to have been assuming this spiritual relationship between modern thought and ancient mysticism upon somewhat insufficient grounds. We may then give as an illustration what we should, perhaps, have commenced with as our text-the story of the final . emancipation of Rajah Yayati from earthly affections and desires, and his further deliverance from spiritual pride and an undue longing after celestial beatitude ; until at length the Swarga itself cannot disturb his soul's tranquillity: he has conquered a higher good than Swarga, “a mind not to be changed by place or time.'
We have selected Rajah Yayati from amongst the numberless anchorites and religious penitents who are familiar figures in these immense forests of Valmiki and Vyasa, because the story of his call to a life of contemplation and spiritual absorption resembles somewhat the sudden awakening of the sons of Lamech to love of the world and labour for its sake. Yayati has no natural inclination towards the life of a recluse; he is not one of those stern and gloomy hermits who rejoice in hard penances much as worldly men delight in luxury and self-indulgence; nor does he become an ascetic in the same way as the famous Rajah Visvamitra and other heroes of Indian story, to obtain supernatural power and annihilate his enemies. Yayati, when we first meet with him, is a brave young rajah, famous for his good looks and generosity, and (which proves sufficiently how far removed he then is from perfection, according to the Brahman standard) for his skill as a hunter. Rajah Yayati, then, is one day pursuing a gazelle through a deep forest, when he hears a maiden's voice imploring his aid, proceeding from an old well by the wayside. The distressed damsel is Devayani, the beautiful daughter of a famous Brahman, who is the guru or spiritual adviser of the rajah of the Asuras.? Devayani has been bathing with other young maidens, amongst whom is Sarmitha, the daughter of the rajah of the Asuras, in a stream flowing through the forests, and on coming out of the water there has been a girlish quarrel. Sarmitha has taken Devayani's “chuddah’or mantle, instead of her own, and the proud daughter of a Brahman is indignant beyond measure that her dress should be defiled by the touch of even a princess of the despised race of the Asuras. “Yes, yes,' retorts Sarmitha, 'you say well, Devayani, that I should not wear the dress of the daughter of one of my father's hired servants ! Upon that, Devayani's rage is beyond control; she rushes at Sarmitha and beats her, and Sarmitha in return pushes her into the well by the wayside; and then, frightened at her own act, runs away and leaves her companion to her fate. Luckily for Devayani the well is an old one, and nearly dry; but the proud maiden is of course covered with mud and disfigured with weeping, when the gallant
· Genii, wood-demons-probably robber tribes infesting the forests,
young rajah rescues her; and so, with true Oriental courtesy, he averts his eyes from her, and, saluting her respectfully, goes his way, without even asking her name. But Devayani has fallen in love with the handsome young rajah, who has taken her hand to raise ber out of the well. No other man, she vows, shall touch her band. She will marry no one else. But first she has to be revenged upon Sarmitha, for the rajah of the Asuras would not offend his guru to save many daughters. A Brahman's wrath, he knows, is as terrible as a Brahman's favour is precious; and so, whatever compensation Devayani claims for the insult offered her by Sarmitha, he promises shall be gladly paid. Devayani demands that the Princess Sarmitha and all her serving maidens may become her, Devayani's, slaves. And now, a few days later, the proud and beautiful Devayani, waited on by Sarmitha and her maidens, returns to the same part of the forest; and she bids Sarmitha pick wild flowers for her, and weave her a wreath, whilst she sits in state near the old well by the wayside. And, once again, the young Rajah Yayati, in pursuit of a gazelle, chances to pass that way. He is astonished to see in this lonely place so many beautiful maidens; and, above all, he wishes to know how Sarmitha, whose beauty and rich apparel show that she is of noble birth, bas become a slave. Devayani answers this question somewhat coldly; but as the young rajah is about to continue his road, she steps down from her forest throne and, raising her clasped hands to her brow, makes herself known to him as the distressed maiden whom he rescued from the well. And now,' she says, 'I and my maidens are your servants. I have chosen you for my lord, and indeed this is appointed by destiny; for did not you take my hand in yours?' Rajah Yayati, at first, seeks to excuse himself: he is not of the Brahman caste, he is not worthy of the noble Devayani; and he fears lest he may provoke her father's wrath by consenting to accept her love. Devayani, however, will take no refusal; and the end of the matter is that her father raises Yayati to the Brahman caste, by virtue of miraculous privileges bestowed on him by the gods; and so all difficulties are smoothed away, and the marriage of Rajah Yayati and Devayani is celebrated with great rejoicings. But it must be supposed that the jealous Devayani has noticed in her lord a somewhat too warm admiration for the beauty of the unfortunate Sarmitha. In any case, ere Rajah Yayati leaves with his bride, his saintly father-in-law gives him in parting a sacred charge: “Let nothing induce you, Rajah Yayati, to give the second place in your love to Sarmitha, the daughter of the rajah of the Asuras. You must honour this young slave as one who, but for an evil destiny, would have been a princess; but let her be to you no nearer than a sister.' ... Rajah Yayati, however, at the early part of his career, is plainly not possessed of any miraculous gift of self-control. He does give Sarmitha the second if not the first place in his love; and a more mortal injury in a land where a wife's supreme honour is in her position as the mother of sons—whereas Devayani has only two sons, she discovers that her detested rival, Sarmitha, is the
mother of three princely boys, whom Rajah Yayati cannot but acknowledge as his children. Here, then, we have the preliminary episode, which, at the risk of appearing to have wandered from our theme, we have given as briefly as possible, because it shows sufficiently that Rajah Yayati, who is to rise to be a type of a soul emancipated from selfish desire and from love of pleasure and fear of pain, is at the outset, to say the least, as much bound about and blinded by illusions of the senses and the fever of desire as are ordinary mortals.
But now that we have come to Rajah Yayati's punishment, we pass at once from an atmosphere of pleasant comedy into one of deep and tragic earnestness. The jealous and outraged Devayani rushes to her father, and demands vengeance upon her treacherous husband. The Brahman, looking sternly upon Yayati, who, like Adam in the garden, seeks to pass on the burthen of guilt to the woman who tempted him,' curses him, standing now in the full vigour and prime of manhood, with the decrepitude of premature old age. And Rajah Yayati cries out that his punishment is greater than he can bear—as yet. Like the sons of Lamech, he exclaims that he had never loved life and the joy of life enough; let him but say farewell to these delights ere they are withdrawn from him for ever. He will not rebel against his sentence; but give him but a few brief years of youth, that it may not be said the cup of life was withdrawn from his lips ere he had tasted it. His entreaties are so far successful, that he is permitted to exchange his hideous and infirm old age for the youth of anyone whom he can persuade to bear his punishment for him for a brief term of years. When the appointed time has expired, Rajah Yayati must restore the loan of youth, and take upon his own shoulders the punishment of old age. And now the unhappy rajah wanders forth amongst outcasts and starving wretches who are only less miserable than himself—they are less miserable, for not one of them, even when bribed by a kingdom, will consent to give their youth even for a few years in exchange for the repulsive infirmities of old age. At length, after many wanderings, Rajah Yayati comes to his own palace. By this time his sons have grown to men's estate, and Yayati thinks, surely those born of my heart will lend me the life they received from me? But Rajah Yayati sees his children shudder as they look upon him; and first one, and then another, refuses his request. Why did you offend this holy Brahman, my father? asks the eldest. “I am not attached to the pleasures of youth, but I desire wisdom; and old age deadens the mind. The second son is a skilful hunter; can an old man hold the bow ? The third is in love; and what smiles has a maiden for hideous age? The fourth would be a famous warrior. The fifth is proud, and cannot brook the scorn with which menials and children insult the aged. But Yayati, like Lear, has at least one devoted child. Puru, the youngest born of Sarmitha, will freely and gladly bear the burthen of his father's punishment : and give his youth, and strength, and ardour, not for a term of years only, but for so long as destiny may have allotted them to him. We