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With that the gloomy God fitted his noose And forced forth from the Prince the soul of him Subtile, a thumb in length which being reft, Breath stayed, blood stopped, the body's grace was gone, And all life's warmth to stony coldness turned. Then, binding it, the Silent Presence bore Satyavan's soul away toward the South.
But Sâvitrî the Princess followed him ;
Being so bold in wifely purity,
So holy by her love ; and so upheld,
She followed him.
Presently Yama turned.
“Go back," quoth he. “Pay for him funeral dues.
Enough, O Sâvitrî, is wrought for love;
Go back! Too far already hast thou come.”
Then Sâvitrî made answer: “I must go
Where my lord goes, or where my lord is borne ;
Naught other is my duty. Nay, I think,
By reason of my vows, my services,
Done to the Gurus, and my faultless love,
Grant but thy grace, I shall unhindered go.
The sages teach that to walk seven steps
One with another, maketh good men friends ;
Beseech thee, let me say a verse to thee: -
“ Be master of thyself, if thou wilt be
Servant of Duty. Such as thou shalt see
Not self-subduing, do no deeds of good
In youth or age, in household or in wood.
But wise men know that virtue is best bliss,
And all by some one way may reach to this.
It needs not men should pass through orders four
To come to knowledge: doing right is more
Than any learning; therefore sages say
Best and most excellent is Virtue's way.”
“I give this gift," Yama replied. “Thy wish,
Blameless, shall be fulfilled. But now go back;
Already art thou wearied, and our road
Is hard and long. Turn back, lest thou, too, die.”
The Princess answered: “Weary am I not,
So I walk near my lord. Where he is borne,
Thither wend I. Most mighty of the Gods,
I follow wheresoe'er thou takest him.
A verse is writ on this, if thou wouldst hear :-
“ There is naught better than to be
With noble souls in company:
There is naught better than to wend
With good friends faithful to the end.
This is the love whose fruit is sweet,
Therefore to bide within is meet."
Spake Yama, smiling: “Beautiful! thy words
Delight me; they are excellent, and teach
Wisdom unto the wise, singing soft truth.
Look, now! Except the life of Satyavan,
Ask yet another — any — boon from me."
Sâvitrî said: “Let, then, the pious King, My husband's father, who hath lost his throne, Have back the Raj; and let him rule his realm In happy righteousness. This boon I ask.”
"He shall have back the throne,” Yama replied, “ And he shall reign in righteousness: these things Will surely fall. But thou, gaining thy wish, Return anon; so shalt thou 'scape sore ill.”
“Ah, awful God! who hold'st the world in leash,"
The Princess said, “ restraining evil men,
And leading good men — even unconscious there,
Where they attain, hear yet those famous words:
“ The constant virtues of the good are tenderness and love
To all that lives — in earth, air, sea - great, small -- be-
Compassionate of heart, they keep a gentle thought for each,
Kind in their actions, mild in will, and pitiful of speech ;
Who pitieth not, he hath not faith ; full many an one so lives,
But when an enemy seeks help, a good man gladly gives."
“ As water to the thirsty,” Yama said,
“ Princess, thy words melodious are to me.
Except the life of Satyavan, thy lord,
Ask one boon yet again, for I will grant."
Answer made Sâvitrî: “ The King, my sire,
Hath no male child. Let him see many sons
Begotten of his body, who may keep
The royal line long regnant. This I ask.”
" So shall it be," the Lord of Death replied;
“ A hundred fair preservers of his race
Thy sire shall boast. But this wish being won,
Return, dear Princess; thou hast come too far."
“ It is not far for me," quoth Sâvitrî,
“ Since I am near my husband; nay, my heart
Is set to go as far as to the end;
But hear these other verses, if thou wilt :-
“ By that sunlit name thou bearest,
Thou, Vaivaswata ! art dearest ;
Those that as their Lord proclaim thee,
King of Righteousness do name thee:
Better than themselves the wise
Trust the righteous. Each relies
Most upon the good, and makes
Friendship with them. Friendship takes
Fear from hearts; yet friends betray,
In good men we may trust alway.”
“Sweet lady," Yama said, “never were words Spoke better ; never truer heard by ear; Lo! I am pleased with thee. Except this soul, Ask one gift yet again, and get thee home.”
“I ask thee then," quickly the Princess cried, “Sons, many sons, born of my body; boys; Satyavan's children ; lovely, valiant, strong; Continuers of their line. Grant this, kind God.”
“I grant it," Yama answered; “ thou shalt bear These sons thy heart desireth, valiant, strong. Therefore go back, that years be given thee. Too long a path thou treadest, dark and rough."
But sweeter than before, the Princess sang:
“ In paths of peace and virtue
Always the good remain;
And sorrow shall not stay with them,
Nor long access of pain ;
At meeting or at parting
Joys to their bosom strike;
For good to good is friendly,
And virtue loves her like.
The great sun goes his journey
By their strong truth impelled ;
By their pure lives and penances
Is earth itself upheld ;
Of all which live and shall live
Upon its hills and fields,
Pure hearts are the protectors,
For virtue saves and shields.
“ Never are noble spirits
Poor while their like survive ;
True love has gems to render,
And virtue wealth to give.
Never is lost or wasted
The goodness of the good ;.
Never against a mercy,
Against a right, it stood ;
And seeing this, that virtue
Is always friend to all,
The virtuous and true-hearted,
Men their protectors call.”
“Line for line, Princess, as thou sangest so," Quoth Yama, "all that lovely praise of good, Grateful to hallowed minds, lofty in sound,
And couched in dulcet numbers word by word
Dearer thou grew'st to me. O thou great heart,
Perfect and firm ! ask any boon from me, –
Ask an incomparable boon!"
Swiftly, no longer stayed : “ Not Heaven I crave,
Nor heavenly joys, nor bliss incomparable,
Hard to be granted, even by thee; but him,
My sweet lord's life, without which I am dead;
Give me that gift of gifts! I will not take
Aught less without him, — not one boon — no praise,
No splendors, no rewards, – not even those sons
Whom thou didst promise. Ah, thou wilt not now
Bear hence the father of them and my hope !
Make thy free word good; give me Satyavan
Alive once more."
And thereupon the God -
The Lord of Justice, high Vaivaswata
Loosened the noose and freed the Prince's soul,
And gave it to the lady, saying this,
With eyes grown tender : "See, thou sweetest queen
Of women, brightest jewel of thy kind !
Here is thy husband. He shall live and reign
Side by side with thee, saved by thee, — in peace
And fame and wealth, and health, many long years,
For pious sacrifices world-renowned.
Boys shalt thou bear to him, as I did grant,
Kshatriya kings, fathers of kings to be,
Sustainers of thy line. Also thy sire
Shall see his name upheld by sons of sons,
Like the immortals, valiant, Mâlavas.”
Arnold: Indian Idylls.
FROM "THE GREAT JOURNEY.”
The shadow of the Great War hung over King Yudhi-sthira, whose reign was one long succession of gloomy events, culmi. nating in the death of the blind Raja and his wife in a jungle fire, and the destruction of the capital city of Krishna because of the dissipation of its inhabitants.
On tidings of the wreck of Vrishni's race,
King Yudhi-sthira of the Pandavas
Was minded to be done with earthly things,
And to Arjuna spake: “O noble prince,