Thursday, June 3, 2010


Once upon a time Kuber, the god of wealth, grew wrath with one of his Yakshas, the immortal beings who guarded the gates of Chaitraratha, the beautiful garden, that stretched out beyond the god’s celestial city. Alaka, Some say that the cause of the god’s anger was this. But a few weeks before, the Yaksha had taken to himself a young and lovely wife. In his haste to go back home, he forgot one night to close the gates of Chaitraratha. They stayed open all night and Airavat the sacred elephant that Indra won when the gold churned the Ocean, entered the garden and trod down all the beautiful flower-beds within. Next morning Kuber, on waking, saw the havoc done and threw the Yaksha into prison, Others say that Kuber had bidden the Yaksha rise at dawn and bring him every morning a nosegay of flowers with which to worship the God of Gods, Maheshvar. The Yaksha could not bear to leave his wife so early; so he gathered overnight the nosegay of flowers that the god needed. Now a bee had been sucking the honey of one of the lotuses that the Yaksha picked. So sweet was the honey, that the bee was loth to leave it. As darkness fell, the lotus closed and the bee was caught inside its petals and kept there all night. Next morning, when Kuber handled the nosegay, the lotus opened in the sun. The bee came out and, in its folly, thinking that Kuber was to blame for its captivity, flew at him and stung his finger. Kuber, maddened with pain, sent for the Yaksha and punished him. But, whatever the cause of the god’s anger may have been, this is certain; Kuber sent his servant, the Yaksha, to prison for a whole year.

Now if the Yaksha had felt loth to leave but for a few hours his lovely girl-wife, he was in despair at the thought of a whole year’s separation from her. The spot where Kuber imprisoned the Yaksha was the Ramagiri mountain, where Rama and Sita had passed a part of their exile. After some months of captivity, the poor Yaksha saw a great cloud that hung upon the mountain side. The cloud, in some strange way, gave him a thrill of hope, and he offered to it fresh forest flowers, that he might win its sympathy. After he had worshipped it and prayed to it, the cloud seemed to his despairing eyes to smile at him. So he thought that he would beg it, as it journeyed, to give to his wife in their home at Alaka a token and a message. He bade the cloud go north until it reached Amarakuta mountain on whose summit it should pause so that the peak of the dark hill, doming through the cloud's snow-white fleeces, would Seem to be one of the breasts of the broad earth. It should next pass over Dasharna land and Vidisha, on the banks of the rippling Vetravati, and then in turn over Ujjain, Avanti, Devagiri, and Brahmavarta, until at last it reached Kailas mountain. In Kailas mountain dwell Maheshvar and Parvati. The cloud, therefore, should test on Kailas and do homage to its dwellers by dropping on them a cooling shower. It should renew itself in lake Manas, on whose surface grow the golden lotuses. and then move onward until it reached Alaka city. ‘There, at Alaka,’ said the Yaksha, ‘the trees are ever in blossom and round their flowers the bees hum always. The pools are Say with lotuses and with the plumage of the pink flamingoes and the peacocks along their banks All night long and every night shines the moon, and it lights up the endless gardens that are spread around that celestial city. Therein, to the north of the god Kuber’s palace, is my home. It has a porch arched like a rainbow and by it stands a young mandara tree that must now be in flower. Near the tree is a well with a flight of stone steps that lead down to its clear waters. By the well are a red asoka tree and a bakula tree. On the doorway 2ire painted pictures of Kuber’s war horn and lotus. By these signs, dear Cloud,’ continued the Yaksha ‘you will know my home. My beloved will be sitting in an inner room. Her lute will be lying neglected in her lap or she will be trying, with a voice broken with sobs, to sing my favourite music. Perhaps she may be counting one by one, by means of wild flowers, the days that still remain of my captivity; or she may be talking to her maina and asking it if it still keeps any memory of its master. Tell her then that her husband lies a captive in far-off Ramagiri and that he is torn with grief and longing. All that he sees around him recalls to him his beloved. The shyama is ever remind him of the waving graces of her form, the eyes of the startled fawn recall to him her timid graces, the ,ripples that play upon the waters bring back to him the happy smiles that once played over her features. But, dear Cloud, although my beloved will listen to your message with the same rapture with which Sita heard Rama’s from the lips: of Hanuman, she will ask you for a token: Say to her this. "Once you lay asleep with your arms round your husband’s neck and you woke up with a scream. He asked you the cause of your fright. For a long time you were silent, but at last you owned that in a dream you had seen your husband wooing another."

Such was the depth of the Yaksha’s grief and such the tenderness of his words, that the cloud took pity on him and, drifting loose from the peak of Ramagiri, it took the course of which the Yaksha had spoken. It flew at lightning speed through tire sky until it reached Alaka. There it found the Yaksha’s house and inside it the beautiful girl who mourned her absent husband. Speaking with human voice, the cloud gave to her the token and the messages, and they gave her courage to endure the months of separation that still remained. But the cloud could not rest - so deeply had it been moved by the Yaksha’s sorrow. It passed from the Yaksha’s home td the palace of the god Kuber and repeated to him all that had passed. That god, in his turn, was as moved as the cloud had been, and, long before the year was over, he had set the Yaksha free and had bidden him return to the arms of his beloved.

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