The Light of Asia

Edwin Arnold

First published in 1879.

This online edition was created and published by Global Grey on the 2nd November 2021.

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Table of Contents

Book The First

Book The Second

Book The Third

Book The Fourth

Book The Fifth

Book The Sixth

Book The Seventh

Book The Eighth

Book The First

The Scripture of the Saviour of the World,

Lord Buddha—Prince Siddartha styled on earth

In Earth and Heavens and Hells Incomparable,

All-honoured, Wisest, Best, most Pitiful;

The Teacher of Nirvana and the Law.


Then came he to be born again for men.


Below the highest sphere four Regents sit

Who rule our world, and under them are zones

Nearer, but high, where saintliest spirits dead

Wait thrice ten thousand years, then live again;

And on Lord Buddha, waiting in that sky,

Came for our sakes the five sure signs of birth

So that the Devas knew the signs, and said

"Buddha will go again to help the World."

"Yea!" spake He, "now I go to help the World.

This last of many times; for birth and death

End hence for me and those who learn my Law.

I will go down among the Sakyas,

Under the southward snows of Himalay,

Where pious people live and a just King."


That night the wife of King Suddhodana,

Maya the Queen, asleep beside her Lord,

Dreamed a strange dream; dreamed that a star

from heaven—

Splendid, six-rayed, in colour rosy-pearl,

Whereof the token was an Elephant

Six-tusked and whiter than Vahuka's milk—

Shot through the void and, shining into her,

Entered her womb upon the right. Awaked,

Bliss beyond mortal mother's filled her breast,

And over half the earth a lovely light

Forewent the morn. The strong hills shook; the waves

Sank lulled; all flowers that blow by day came forth

As 't were high noon; down to the farthest hells

Passed the Queen's joy, as when warm sunshine thrills

Wood-glooms to gold, and into all the deeps

A tender whisper pierced. "Oh ye," it said,

"The dead that are to live, the live who die,

Uprise, and hear, and hope! Buddha is come!"

Whereat in Limbos numberless much peace

Spread, and the world's heart throbbed, and a wind blew

With unknown freshness over lands and seas.

And when the morning dawned, and this was told,

The grey dream-readers said "The dream is good!

The Crab is in conjunction with the Sun;

The Queen shall bear a boy, a holy child

Of wondrous wisdom, profiting all flesh,

Who shall deliver men from ignorance,

Or rule the world, if he will deign to rule."


In this wise was the holy Buddha born.


Queen Maya stood at noon, her days fulfilled,

Under a Palsa in the Palace-grounds,

A stately trunk, straight as a temple-shaft,

With crown of glossy leaves and fragrant blooms;

And, knowing the time some—for all things knew—

The conscious tree bent down its boughs to make

A bower above Queen Maya's majesty,

And Earth put forth a thousand sudden flowers

To spread a couch, while, ready for the bath,

The rock hard by gave out a limpid stream

Of crystal flow. So brought she forth her child

Pangless—he having on his perfect form

The marks, thirty and two, of blessed birth;

Of which the great news to the Palace came.

But when they brought the painted palanquin

To fetch him home, the bearers of the poles

Were the four Regents of the Earth, come down

From Mount Sumeru—they who write men's deeds

On brazen plates—the Angel of the East,

Whose hosts are clad in silver robes, and bear

Targets of pearl: the Angel of the South,

Whose horsemen, the Kumbhandas, ride blue steeds,

With sapphire shields: the Angel of the West,

By Nagas followed, riding steeds blood-red,

With coral shields: the Angel of the North,

Environed by his Yakshas, all in gold,

On yellow horses, bearing shields of gold.

These, with their pomp invisible, came down

And took the poles, in caste and outward garb

Like bearers, yet most mighty gods; and gods

Walked free with men that day, though men knew not

For Heaven was filled with gladness for Earth's sake,

Knowing Lord Buddha thus was come again.


But King Suddhodana wist not of this;

The portents troubled, till his dream-readers

Augured a Prince of earthly dominance,

A Chakravartin, such as rise to rule

Once in each thousand years; seven gifts he has

The Chakra-ratna, disc divine; the gem;

The horse, the Aswa-ratna, that proud steed

Which tramps the clouds; a snow-white elephant,

The Hasti-ratna, born to bear his King;

The crafty Minister, the General

Unconquered, and the wife of peerless grace,

The Istri-ratna, lovelier than the Dawn.

For which gifts looking with this wondrous boy,

The King gave order that his town should keep

High festival; therefore the ways were swept,

Rose-odours sprinkled in the street, the trees

Were hung with lamps and flags, while merry crowds

Gaped on the sword-players and posturers,

The jugglers, charmers, swingers, rope-walkers,

The nautch-girls in their spangled skirts and bells

That chime light laughter round their restless feet;

The masquers wrapped in skins of bear and deer.

The tiger-tamers, wrestlers, quail-fighters,

Beaters of drum and twanglers of the wire,

Who made the people happy by command.

Moreover from afar came merchant-men,

Bringing, on tidings of this birth, rich gifts

In golden trays; goat-shawls, and nard and jade,

Turkises, "evening-sky" tint, woven webs—

So fine twelve folds hide not a modest face—

Waist-cloths sewn thick with pearls, and sandalwood;

Homage from tribute cities; so they called

Their Prince Svarthasiddh, "All-Prospering,"

Briefer, Siddartha.


'Mongst the strangers came

A grey-haired saint, Asita, one whose ears,

Long closed to earthly things, caught heavenly sounds,

And heard at prayer beneath his peepul-tree

The Devas singing songs at Buddha's birth.

Wondrous in lore he was by age and fasts;

Him, drawing nigh, seeming so reverend,

The King saluted, and Queen Maya made

To lay her babe before such holy feet;

But when he saw the Prince the old man cried

"Ah, Queen, not so!" and thereupon he touched

Eight times the dust, laid his waste visage there,

Saying, "O Babe! I worship! Thou art He!

I see the rosy light, the foot-sole marks,

The soft curled tendril of the Swastika,

The sacred primal signs thirty and two,

The eighty lesser tokens. Thou art Buddh,

And thou wilt preach the Law and save all flesh

Who learn the Law, though I shall never hear,

Dying too soon, who lately longed to die;

Howbeit I have seen Thee. Know, O King!

This is that Blossom on our human tree

Which opens once in many myriad years—

But opened, fills the world with Wisdom's scent

And Love's dropped honey; from thy royal root

A Heavenly Lotus springs: Ah, happy House!

Yet not all-happy, for a sword must pierce

Thy bowels for this boy—whilst thou, sweet Queen!

Dear to all gods and men for this great birth,

Henceforth art grown too sacred for more woe,

And life is woe, therefore in seven days

Painless thou shalt attain the close of pain."


Which fell: for on the seventh evening

Queen Maya smiling slept, and waked no more,

Passing content to Trayastrinshas-Heaven,

Where countless Devas worship her and wait

Attendant on that radiant Motherhead.

But for the Babe they found a foster-nurse,

Princess Mahaprajapati—her breast

Nourished with noble milk the lips of

Him Whose lips comfort the Worlds.


When th' eighth year passed

The careful King bethought to teach his son

All that a Prince should learn, for still he shunned

The too vast presage of those miracles,

The glories and the sufferings of a Buddh.

So, in full council of his Ministers,

"Who is the wisest man, great sirs," he asked,

"To teach my Prince that which a Prince should know?"

Whereto gave answer each with instant voice

"King! Viswamitra is the wisest one,

The farthest-seen in Scriptures, and the best

In learning, and the manual arts, and all."

Thus Viswamitra came and heard commands;

And, on a day found fortunate, the Prince

Took up his slate of ox-red sandal-wood,

All-beautified by gems around the rim,

And sprinkled smooth with dust of emery,

These took he, and his writing-stick, and stood

With eyes bent down before the Sage, who said,

"Child, write this Scripture, speaking slow the verse

'Gayatri' named, which only High-born hear:—


 "Om, tatsaviturvarenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

Dhiyo yo na prachodayat."


"Acharya, I write," meekly replied

The Prince, and quickly on the dust he drew—

Not in one script, but many characters

The sacred verse; Nagri and Dakshin, Ni,

Mangal, Parusha, Yava, Tirthi, Uk,

Darad, Sikhyani, Mana, Madhyachar,

The pictured writings and the speech of signs,

Tokens of cave-men and the sea-peoples,

Of those who worship snakes beneath the earth,

And those who flame adore and the sun's orb,

The Magians and the dwellers on the mounds;

Of all the nations all strange scripts he traced

One after other with his writing-stick.

Reading the master's verse in every tongue;

And Viswamitra said, "It is enough,

Let us to numbers.


"After me repeat

Your numeration till we reach the Lakh,

One, two, three, four, to ten, and then by tens

To hundreds, thousands.” After him the child

Named digits, decades, centuries; nor paused,

The round Lakh reached, but softly murmured on

"Then comes the koti, nahut, ninnahut,

Khamba, viskhamba, abab, attata,

To kumuds, gundhikas, and utpalas,

By pundarikas unto padumas,

Which last is how you count the utmost grains

Of Hastagiri ground to finest dust;

But beyond that a numeration is,

The Katha, used to count the stars of night;

The Koti-Katha, for the ocean drops;

Ingga, the calculus of circulars;

Sarvanikchepa, by the which you deal

With all the sands of Gunga, till we come

To Antah-Kalpas, where the unit is

The sands of ten crore Gungas. If one seeks

More comprehensive scale, th' arithmic mounts

By the Asankya, which is the tale

Of all the drops that in ten thousand years

Would fall on all the worlds by daily rain;

Thence unto Maha Kalpas, by the which

The Gods compute their future and their past."


"'Tis good," the Sage rejoined, "Most noble Prince,

If these thou know'st, needs it that I should teach

The mensuration of the lineal?"

Humbly the boy replied, "Acharya!"

"Be pleased to hear me. Paramanus ten

A parasukshma make; ten of those build

The trasarene, and seven trasarenes

One mote's-length floating in the beam, seven motes

The whisker-point of mouse, and ten of these

One likhya; likhyas ten a yuka, ten

Yukas a heart of barley, which is held

Seven times a wasp-waist; so unto the grain

Of mung and mustard and the barley-corn,

Whereof ten give the finger joint, twelve joints

The span, wherefrom we reach the cubit, staff,

Bow-length, lance-length; while twenty lengths of lance

Mete what is named a 'breath,' which is to say

Such space as man may stride with lungs once filled,

Whereof a gow is forty, four times that

A yojana; and, Master! if it please,

I shall recite how many sun-motes lie

From end to end within a yojana."

Thereat, with instant skill, the little Prince

Pronounced the total of the atoms true.

But Viswamitra heard it on his face

Prostrate before the boy; "For thou," he cried,

"Art Teacher of thy teachers—thou, not I,

Art Guru. Oh, I worship thee, sweet Prince!

That comest to my school only to show

Thou knowest all without the books, and know'st

Fair reverence besides."


 Which reverence

Lord Buddha kept to all his schoolmasters,

Albeit beyond their learning taught; in speech

Right gentle, yet so wise; princely of mien,

Yet softly-mannered; modest, deferent,

And tender-hearted, though of fearless blood;

No bolder horseman in the youthful band

E'er rode in gay chase of the shy gazelles;

No keener driver of the chariot

In mimic contest scoured the Palace-courts;

Yet in mid-play the boy would ofttimes pause,

Letting the deer pass free; would ofttimes yield

His half-won race because the labouring steeds

Fetched painful breath; or if his princely mates

Saddened to lose, or if some wistful dream

Swept o'er his thoughts. And ever with the years

Waxed this compassionateness of our Lord,

Even as a great tree grows from two soft leaves

To spread its shade afar; but hardly yet

Knew the young child of sorrow, pain, or tears,

Save as strange names for things not felt by kings,

Nor ever to be felt. But it befell

In the Royal garden on a day of spring,

A flock of wild swans passed, voyaging north

To their nest-places on Himala's breast.

Calling in love-notes down their snowy line

The bright birds flew, by fond love piloted;

And Devadatta, cousin of the Prince,

Pointed his bow, and loosed a wilful shaft

Which found the wide wing of the foremost swan

Broad-spread to glide upon the free blue road,

So that it fell, the bitter arrow fixed,

Bright scarlet blood-gouts staining the pure plumes.

Which seeing, Prince Siddartha took the bird

Tenderly up, rested it in his lap

Sitting with knees crossed, as Lord Buddha sits

And, soothing with a touch the wild thing's fright,

Composed its ruffled vans, calmed its quick heart,

Caressed it into peace with light kind palms

As soft as plantain-leaves an hour unrolled;

And while the left hand held, the right hand drew

The cruel steel forth from the wound and laid

Cool leaves and healing honey on the smart.

Yet all so little knew the boy of pain

That curiously into his wrist he pressed

The arrow's barb, and winced to feel it sting,

And turned with tears to soothe his bird again.


 Then some one came who said, "My Prince hath shot

A swan, which fell among the roses here,

He bids me pray you send it. Will you send?"

"Nay," quoth Siddartha, "if the bird were dead

To send it to the slayer might be well,

But the swan lives; my cousin hath but killed

The god-like speed which throbbed in this white wing."

And Devadatta answered, "The wild thing,

Living or dead, is his who fetched it down;

'T was no man's in the clouds, but fall'n 't is mine,

Give me my prize, fair Cousin.” Then our Lord

Laid the swan's neck beside his own smooth cheek

And gravely spake, "Say no! the bird is mine,

The first of myriad things which shall be mine

By right of mercy and love's lordliness.

For now I know, by what within me stirs,

That I shall teach compassion unto men

And be a speechless world's interpreter,

Abating this accursed flood of woe,

Not man's alone; but, if the Prince disputes,

Let him submit this matter to the wise

And we will wait their word.” So was it done;

In full divan the business had debate,

And many thought this thing and many that,

Till there arose an unknown priest who said,

"If life be aught, the saviour of a life

Owns more the living thing than he can own

Who sought to slay—the slayer spoils and wastes,

The cherisher sustains, give him the bird:"

Which judgment all found just; but when the King

Sought out the sage for honour, he was gone;

And some one saw a hooded snake glide forth,—

The gods come ofttimes thus! So our Lord Buddh

Began his works of mercy.


Yet not more

Knew he as yet of grief than that one bird's,

Which, being healed, went joyous to its kind.

But on another day the King said, "Come,

Sweet son! and see the pleasance of the spring,

And how the fruitful earth is wooed to yield

Its riches to the reaper; how my realm—

Which shall be thine when the pile flames for me—

Feeds all its mouths and keeps the King's chest filled.

Fair is the season with new leaves, bright blooms,

Green grass, and cries of plough-time.” So they rode

Into a lane of wells and gardens, where,

All up and down the rich red loam, the steers

Strained their strong shoulders in the creaking yoke

Dragging the ploughs; the fat soil rose and rolled

In smooth dark waves back from the plough; who drove

Planted both feet upon the leaping share

To make the furrow deep; among the palms

The tinkle of the rippling water rang,

And where it ran the glad earth 'broidered it

With balsams and the spears of lemon-grass.

Elsewhere were sowers who went forth to sow;

And all the jungle laughed with nesting-songs,

And all the thickets rustled with small life

Of lizard, bee, beetle, and creeping things

Pleased at the spring-time. In the mango-sprays

The sun-birds flashed; alone at his green forge

Toiled the loud coppersmith; bee-eaters hawked

Chasing the purple butterflies; beneath,

Striped squirrels raced, the mynas perked and picked,

The nine brown sisters chattered in the thorn,

The pied fish-tiger hung above the pool,

The egrets stalked among the buffaloes,

The kites sailed circles in the golden air;

About the painted temple peacocks flew,

The blue doves cooed from every well, far off

The village drums beat for some marriage-feast;

All things spoke peace and plenty, and the Prince

Saw and rejoiced. But, looking deep, he saw

The thorns which grow upon this rose of life

How the sweat peasant sweated for his wage,

Toiling for leave to live; and how he urged

The great-eyed oxen through the flaming hours,

Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too,

How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him,

And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed

The fish-tiger of that which it had seized;

The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did chase

The jewelled butterflies; till everywhere

Each slew a slayer and in turn was slain,

Life living upon death. So the fair show

Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy

Of mutual murder, from the worm to man,

Who himself kills his fellow; seeing which—

The hungry ploughman and his labouring kine,

Their dewlaps blistered with the bitter yoke,

The rage to live which makes all living strife—

The Prince Siddartha sighed. “In this," he said,

"That happy earth they brought me forth to see?

How salt with sweat the peasant's bread! How hard

The oxen's service! In the brake how fierce

The war of weak and strong! I' th' air what plots!

No refuge e'en in water. Go aside

A space, and let me muse on what ye show."

So saying, the good Lord Buddha seated him

Under a jambu-tree, with ankles crossed—

As holy statues sit—and first began

To meditate this deep disease of life,

What its far source and whence its remedy.

So vast a pity filled him, such wide love

For living things, such passion to heal pain,

That by their stress his princely spirit passed

To ecstasy, and, purged from mortal taint

Of sense and self, the boy attained thereat

Dhyana, first step of "the path."


 There flew

High overhead that hour five holy ones,

Whose free wings faltered as they passed the tree.

"What power superior draws us from our flight?"

They asked, for spirits feel all force divine,

And know the sacred presence of the pure.

Then, looking downward, they beheld the Buddh

Crowned with a rose-hued aureole, intent

On thoughts to save; while from the grove a voice

Cried, "Rishis! this is He shall help the world,

Descend and worship.” So the Bright Ones came

And sang a song of praise, folding their wings,

Then journeyed on, taking good news to Gods.


But certain from the King seeking the Prince

Found him still musing, though the noon was past,

And the sun hastened to the western hills

Yet, while all shadows moved, the jambu-tree's

Stayed in one quarter, overspreading him,

Lest the sloped rays should strike that sacred head;

And he who saw this sight heard a voice say,

Amid the blossoms of the rose-apple,

"Let be the King's son! Till the shadow goes

Forth from his heart my shadow will not shift."

Book The Second

Now, when our Lord was come to eighteen years,

The King commanded that there should be built

Three stately houses, one of hewn square beams

With cedar lining, warm for winter days;

One of veined marbles, cool for summer heat;

And one of burned bricks, with blue tiles bedecked,

Pleasant at seed-time, when the champaks bud—

Subha, Suramma, Ramma, were their names.

Delicious gardens round about them bloomed,

Streams wandered wild and musky thickets stretched,

With many a bright pavilion and fair lawn

In midst of which Siddartha strayed at will,

Some new delight provided every hour;

And happy hours he knew, for life was rich,

With youthful blood at quickest; yet still came

The shadows of his meditation back,

As the lake's silver dulls with driving clouds.


Which the King marking, called his Ministers:

"Bethink ye, sirs I how the old Rishi spake,"

He said, "and what my dream-readers foretold.

This boy, more dear to me than mine heart's blood,

Shall be of universal dominance,

Trampling the neck of all his enemies,

A King of kings—and this is in my heart;—

Or he shall tread the sad and lowly path

Of self-denial and of pious pains,

Gaining who knows what good, when all is lost

Worth keeping; and to this his wistful eyes

Do still incline amid my palaces.

But ye are sage, and ye will counsel me;

How may his feet be turned to that proud road

Where they should walk, and all fair signs come true

Which gave him Earth to rule, if he would rule?"


The eldest answered, "Maharaja! Love

Will cure these thin distempers; weave the spell

Of woman's wiles about his idle heart.

What knows this noble boy of beauty yet,

Eyes that make heaven forgot, and lips of balm?

Find him soft wives and pretty playfellows;

The thoughts ye cannot stay with brazen chains

A girl's hair lightly binds."


And all thought good,

But the King answered, "if we seek him wives,

Love chooseth ofttimes with another eye;

And if we bid range Beauty's garden round,

To pluck what blossom pleases, he will smile

And sweetly shun the joy he knows not of."

Then said another, "Roams the barasingh

Until the fated arrow flies; for him,

As for less lordly spirits, some one charms,

Some face will seem a Paradise, some form

Fairer than pale Dawn when she wakes the world.

This do, my King! Command a festival

Where the realm's maids shall be competitors

In youth and grace, and sports that Sakyas use.

Let the Prince give the prizes to the fair,

And, when the lovely victors pass his seat,

There shall be those who mark if one or two

Change the fixed sadness of his tender cheek;

So we may choose for Love with Love's own eyes,

And cheat his Highness into happiness."

This thing seemed good; wherefore upon a day

The criers bade the young and beautiful

Pass to the palace, for 't was in command

To hold a court of pleasure, and the Prince

Would give the prizes, something rich for all,

The richest for the fairest judged. So flocked

Kapilavastu's maidens to the gate,

Each with her dark hair newly smoothed and bound,

Eyelashes lustred with the soorma-stick,

Fresh-bathed and scented; all in shawls and cloths

Of gayest; slender hands and feet new-stained

With crimson, and the tilka-spots stamped bright.

Fair show it was of all those Indian girls

Slow-pacing past the throne with large black eyes

Fixed on the ground, for when they saw the Prince

More than the awe of Majesty made beat

Their fluttering hearts, he sate so passionless,

Gentle, but so beyond them. Each maid took

With down-dropped lids her gift, afraid to gaze;

And if the people hailed some lovelier one

Beyond her rivals worthy royal smiles,

She stood like a scared antelope to touch

The gracious hand, then fled to join her mates

Trembling at favour, so divine he seemed,

So high and saint-like and above her world.

Thus filed they, one bright maid after another,

The city's flowers, and all this beauteous march

Was ending and the prizes spent, when last

Came young Yasodhara, and they that stood

Nearest Siddartha saw the princely boy

Start, as the radiant girl approached. A form

Of heavenly mould; a gait like Parvati's; the

Eyes like a hind's in love-time, face so fair

Words cannot paint its spell; and she alone

Gazed full-folding her palms across her breasts

On the boy's gaze, her stately neck unbent.

"Is there a gift for me?" she asked, and smiled.

"The gifts are gone," the Prince replied, "yet take

This for amends, dear sister, of whose grace

Our happy city boasts;" therewith he loosed

The emerald necklet from his throat, and clasped

Its green beads round her dark and silk-soft waist;

And their eyes mixed, and from the look sprang love.


Long after—when enlightenment was full—

Lord Buddha—being prayed why thus his heart

Took fire at first glance of the Sakya girl,

Answered, "We were not strangers, as to us

And all it seemed; in ages long gone by

A hunter's son, playing with forest girls

By Yamun's spring, where Nandadevi stands,

Sate umpire while they raced beneath the firs

Like hares at eve that run their playful rings;

One with flower-stars crowned he, one with long plumes

Plucked from eyed pheasant and the junglecock,

One with fir-apples; but who ran the last

Came first for him, and unto her the boy

Gave a tame fawn and his heart's love beside.

And in the wood they lived many glad years,

And in the wood they undivided died.

Lo! as hid seed shoots after rainless years,

So good and evil, pains and pleasures, hates

And loves, and all dead deeds, come forth again

Bearing bright leaves or dark, sweet fruit or sour.

Thus I was he and she Yasodhara;

And while the wheel of birth and death turns round,

That which hath been must be between us two."


But they who watched the Prince at prize-giving

Saw and heard all, and told the careful King

How sate Siddartha heedless till there passed

Great Suprabuddha's child, Yasodhara;

And how—at sudden sight of her—he changed,

And how she gazed on him and he on her,

And of the jewel-gift, and what beside

Passed in their speaking glance.


The fond King smiled:

"Look! we have found a lure; take counsel now

To fetch therewith our falcon from the clouds.

Let messengers be sent to ask the maid

In marriage for my son.” But it was law

With Sakyas, when any asked a maid

Of noble house, fair and desirable,

He must make good his skill in martial arts

Against all suitors who should challenge it;

Nor might this custom break itself for kings.

Therefore her father spake: "Say to the King,

The child is sought by princes far and near;

If thy most gentle son can bend the bow,

Sway sword, and back a horse better than they,

Best would he be in all and best to us

But how shall this be, with his cloistered ways?"

Then the King's heart was sore, for now the Prince

Begged sweet Yasodhara for wife—in vain,

With Devadatta foremost at the bow,

Ardjuna master of all fiery steeds,

And Nanda chief in sword-play; but the Prince

Laughed low and said, "These things, too, I

have learned;

Make proclamation that thy son will meet

All comers at their chosen games. I think

I shall not lose my love for such as these."

So 't was given forth that on the seventh day

The Prince Siddartha summoned whoso would

To match with him in feats of manliness,

The victor's crown to be Yasodhara.


Therefore, upon the seventh day, there went

The Sakya lords and town and country round

Unto the maidan; and the maid went too

Amid her kinsfolk, carried as a bride,

With music, and with litters gaily dight,

And gold-horned oxen, flower-caparisoned.

Whom Devadatta claimed, of royal line,

And Nanda and Ardjuna, noble both,

The flower of all youths there, till the Prince came

Riding his white horse Kantaka, which neighed,

Astonished at this great strange world without

Also Siddartha gazed with wondering eyes

On all those people born beneath the throne,

Otherwise housed than kings, otherwise fed,

And yet so like—perchance—in joys and griefs.

But when the Prince saw sweet Yasodhara,

Brightly he smiled, and drew his silken rein,

Leaped to the earth from Kantaka's broad back,

And cried, "He is not worthy of this pearl

Who is not worthiest; let my rivals prove

If I have dared too much in seeking her."

Then Nanda challenged for the arrow-test

And set a brazen drum six gows away,

Ardjuna six and Devadatta eight;

But Prince Siddartha bade them set his drum

Ten gows from off the line, until it seemed

A cowry-shell for target. Then they loosed,

And Nanda pierced his drum, Ardjuna his,

And Devadatta drove a well-aimed shaft

Through both sides of his mark, so that the crowd

Marvelled and cried; and sweet Yasodhara

Dropped the gold sari o'er her fearful eyes,

Lest she should see her Prince's arrow fail.

But he, taking their bow of lacquered cane,

With sinews bound, and strung with silver wire,

Which none but stalwart arms could draw a span,

Thrummed it—low laughing—drew the twisted string

Till the horns kissed, and the thick belly snapped

"That is for play, not love," he said; "hath none

A bow more fit for Sakya lords to use?"

And one said, "There is Sinhahanu's bow,

Kept in the temple since we know not when,

Which none can string, nor draw if it be strung."

"Fetch me," he cried, "that weapon of a man!"

They brought the ancient bow, wrought of black steel,

Laid with gold tendrils on its branching curves

Like bison-horns; and twice Siddartha tried

Its strength across his knee, then spake "Shoot now

With this, my cousins!" but they could not bring

The stubborn arms a hand's-breadth nigher use;

Then the Prince, lightly leaning, bent the bow,

Slipped home the eye upon the notch, and twanged

Sharply the cord, which, like an eagle's wing

Thrilling the air, sang forth so clear and loud

That feeble folk at home that day inquired

"What is this sound?" and people answered them,

"It is the sound of Sinhahanu's bow,

Which the King's son has strung and goes to shoot;"

Then fitting fair a shaft, he drew and loosed,

And the keen arrow clove the sky, and drave

Right through that farthest drum, nor stayed its flight,

But skimmed the plain beyond, past reach of eye.


Then Devadatta challenged with the sword,

And clove a Talas-tree six fingers thick;

Ardjuna seven; and Nanda cut through nine;

But two such stems together grew, and both

Siddartha's blade shred at one flashing stroke,

Keen, but so smooth that the straight trunks upstood,

And Nanda cried, "His edge turned!" and the maid

Trembled anew seeing the trees erect,

Until the Devas of the air, who watched,

Blew light breaths from the south, and both green crowns

Crashed in the sand, clean-felled.


Then brought they steeds,

High-mettled, nobly-bred, and three times scoured

Around the maidan, but white Kantaka

Left even the fleetest far behind—so swift,

That ere the foam fell from his mouth to earth

Twenty spear-lengths he flew; but Nanda said,

"We too might win with such as Kantaka;

Bring an unbroken horse, and let men see

Who best can back him.” So the syces brought

A stallion dark as night, led by three chains,

Fierce-eyed, with nostrils wide and tossing mane,

Unshod, unsaddled, for no rider yet

Had crossed him. Three times each young Sakya

Sprang to his mighty back, but the hot steed

Furiously reared, and flung them to the plain

In dust and shame; only Ardjuna held

His seat awhile, and, bidding loose the chains,

Lashed the black flank, and shook the bit, and held

The proud jaws fast with grasp of master-hand,

So that in storms of wrath and rage and fear

The savage stallion circled once the plain

Half-tamed; but sudden turned with naked teeth,

Gripped by the foot Ardjuna, tore him down,

And would have slain him, but the grooms ran in,

Fettering the maddened beast. Then all men cried,

"Let not Siddartha meddle with this Bhut,

Whose liver is a tempest, and his blood

Red flame;” but the Prince said, "Let go the chains,

Give me his forelock only," which he held

With quiet grasp, and, speaking some low word,

Laid his right palm across the stallion's eyes,

And drew it gently down the angry face,

And all along the neck and panting flanks,

Till men astonished saw the night-black horse

Sink his fierce crest and stand subdued and meek,

As though he knew our Lord and worshipped him.

Nor stirred he while Siddartha mounted, then

Went soberly to touch of knee and rein

Before all eyes, so that the people said,

"Strive no more, for Siddartha is the best."


And all the suitors answered "He is best!"

And Suprabuddha, father of the maid,

Said, "It was in our hearts to find thee best,

Being dearest, yet what magic taught thee more

Of manhood 'mid thy rose-bowers and thy dreams

Than war and chase and world's work bring to these?

But wear, fair Prince, the treasure thou halt won."

Then at a word the lovely Indian girl

Rose from her place above the throng, and took

A crown of mogra-flowers and lightly drew

The veil of black and gold across her brow,

Proud pacing past the youths, until she came

To where Siddartha stood in grace divine,

New lighted from the night-dark steed, which bent

Its strong neck meekly underneath his arm.

Before the Prince lowly she bowed, and bared

Her face celestial beaming with glad love;

Then on his neck she hung the fragrant wreath,

And on his breast she laid her perfect head,

And stooped to touch his feet with proud glad eyes,

Saying, "Dear Prince, behold me, who am thine!"

And all the throng rejoiced, seeing them pass

Hand fast in hand, and heart beating with heart,

The veil of black and gold drawn close again.


Long after—when enlightenment was come—

They prayed Lord Buddha touching all, and why

She wore this black and gold, and stepped so proud.

And the World-honoured answered, "Unto me

This was unknown, albeit it seemed half known;

For while the wheel of birth and death turns round,

Past things and thoughts, and buried lives come back.

I now remember, myriad rains ago,

What time I roamed Himala's hanging woods,

A tiger, with my striped and hungry kind;

I, who am Buddh, couched in the kusa grass

Gazing with green blinked eyes upon the herds

Which pastured near and nearer to their death

Round my day-lair; or underneath the stars

I roamed for prey, savage, insatiable,

Sniffing the paths for track of man and deer.

Amid the beasts that were my fellows then,

Met in deep jungle or by reedy jheel,

A tigress, comeliest of the forest, set

The males at war; her hide was lit with gold,

Black-broidered like the veil Yasodhara

Wore for me; hot the strife waged in that wood

With tooth and claw, while underneath a neem

The fair beast watched us bleed, thus fiercely wooed.

And I remember, at the end she came

Snarling past this and that torn forest-lord

Which I had conquered, and with fawning jaws

Licked my quick-heaving flank, and with me went

Into the wild with proud steps, amorously.

The wheel of birth and death turns low and high."


Therefore the maid was given unto the Prince

A willing spoil; and when the stars were good—

Mesha, the Red Ram, being Lord of heaven—

The marriage feast was kept, as Sakyas use,

The golden gadi set, the carpet spread,

The wedding garlands hung, the arm-threads tied,

The sweet cake broke, the rice and attar thrown,

The two straws floated on the reddened milk,

Which, coming close, betokened "love till death;"

The seven steps taken thrice around the fire,

The gifts bestowed on holy men, the alms

And temple offerings made, the mantras sung,

The garments of the bride and bridegroom tied.

Then the grey father spake: "Worshipful Prince,

She that was ours henceforth is only thine;

Be good to her, who hath her life in thee."

Wherewith they brought home sweet Yasodhara,

With songs and trumpets, to the Prince's arms,

And love was all in all.


Yet not to love

Alone trusted the King; love's prison-house

Stately and beautiful he bade them build,

So that in all the earth no marvel was

Like Vishramvan, the Prince's pleasure-place.

Midway in those wide palace-grounds there rose

A verdant hill whose base Rohini bathed,

Murmuring adown from Himalay's broad feet,

To bear its tribute into Gunga's waves.

Southward a growth of tamarind trees and sal,

Thick set with pale sky-coloured ganthi flowers,

Shut out the world, save if the city's hum

Came on the wind no harsher than when bees

Hum out of sight in thickets. Northward soared

The stainless ramps of huge Hamala's wall,

Ranged in white ranks against the blue-untrod

Infinite, wonderful—whose uplands vast,

And lifted universe of crest and crag,

Shoulder and shelf, green slope and icy horn,

Riven ravine, and splintered precipice

Led climbing thought higher and higher, until

It seemed to stand in heaven and speak with gods.

Beneath the snows dark forests spread, sharp laced

With leaping cataracts and veiled with clouds

Lower grew rose-oaks and the great fir groves

Where echoed pheasant's call and panther's cry

Clatter of wild sheep on the stones, and scream

Of circling eagles: under these the plain

Gleamed like a praying-carpet at the foot

Of those divinest altars. ‘Fronting this

The builders set the bright pavilion up,

'Fair-planted on the terraced hill, with towers

On either flank and pillared cloisters round.

Its beams were carved with stories of old time—

Radha and Krishna and the sylvan girls—

Sita and Hanuman and Draupadi;

And on the middle porch God Ganesha,

With disc and hook—to bring wisdom and wealth—

Propitious sate, wreathing his sidelong trunk.

By winding ways of garden and of court

The inner gate was reached, of marble wrought,

White with pink veins; the lintel lazuli,

The threshold alabaster, and the doors

Sandalwood, cut in pictured panelling;

Whereby to lofty halls and shadowy bowers

Passed the delighted foot, on stately stairs,

Through latticed galleries, 'neath painted roofs

And clustering columns, where cool fountains—fringed

With lotus and nelumbo—danced, and fish

Gleamed through their crystal, scarlet, gold, and blue.

Great-eyed gazelles in sunny alcoves browsed

The blown red roses; birds of rainbow wing

Fluttered among the palms; doves, green and grey,

Built their safe nests on gilded cornices;

Over the shining pavements peacocks drew

The splendours of their trains, sedately watched

By milk-white herons and the small house-owls.

The plum-necked parrots swung from fruit to fruit;

The yellow sunbirds whirred from bloom to bloom,

The timid lizards on the lattice basked

Fearless, the squirrels ran to feed from hand,

For all was peace: the shy black snake, that gives

Fortune to households, sunned his sleepy coils

Under the moon-flowers, where the musk-deer played,

And brown-eyed monkeys chattered to the crows.

And all this house of love was peopled fair

With sweet attendance, so that in each part

With lovely sights were gentle faces found,

Soft speech and willing service, each one glad

To gladden, pleased at pleasure, proud to obey;

Till life glided beguiled, like a smooth stream

Banked by perpetual flowers, Yasodhara

Queen of the enchanting Court.


But innermost,

Beyond the richness of those hundred halls,

A secret chamber lurked, where skill had spent

All lovely fantasies to lull the mind.

The entrance of it was a cloistered square—

Roofed by the sky, and in the midst a tank—

Of milky marble built, and laid with slabs

Of milk-white marble; bordered round the tank

And on the steps, and all along the frieze

With tender inlaid work of agate-stones.

Cool as to tread in summer-time on snows

It was to loiter there; the sunbeams dropped

Their gold, and, passing into porch and niche,

Softened to shadows, silvery, pale, and dim,

As if the very Day paused and grew Eve.

In love and silence at that bower's gate;

For there beyond the gate the chamber was,

Beautiful, sweet; a wonder of the world!

Soft light from perfumed lamps through windows fell

Of nakre and stained stars of lucent film

On golden cloths outspread, and silken beds,

And heavy splendour of the purdah's fringe,

Lifted to take only the loveliest in.

Here, whether it was night or day none knew,

For always streamed that softened light, more bright

Than sunrise, but as tender as the eve's;

And always breathed sweet airs, more joy-giving

Than morning's, but as cool as midnight's breath;

And night and day lutes sighed, and night and day

Delicious foods were spread, and dewy fruits,

Sherbets new chilled with snows of Himalay,

And sweetmeats made of subtle daintiness,

With sweet tree-milk in its own ivory cup.

And night and day served there a chosen band

Of nautch girls, cup-bearers, and cymballers,

Delicate, dark-browed ministers of love,

Who fanned the sleeping eyes of the happy Prince,

And when he waked, led back his thoughts to bliss

With music whispering through the blooms, and charm

Of amorous songs and dreamy dances, linked

By chime of ankle-bells and wave of arms

And silver vina-strings; while essences

Of musk and champak and the blue haze spread

From burning spices soothed his soul again

To drowse by sweet Yasodhara; and thus

Siddartha lived forgetting.



The King commanded that within those walls

No mention should be made of death or age,

Sorrow, or pain, or sickness. If one drooped

In the lovely Court—her dark glance dim, her feet

Faint in the dance—the guiltless criminal

Passed forth an exile from that Paradise,

Lest he should see and suffer at her woe.

Bright-eyed intendants watched to execute

Sentence on such as spake of the harsh world

Without, where aches and plagues were, tears

and fears,

And wail of mourners, and grim fume of pyres.

`T was treason if a thread of silver strayed

In tress of singing-girl or nautch-dancer;

And every dawn the dying rose was plucked,

The dead leaves hid, all evil sights removed

For said the King, "If he shall pass his youth

Far from such things as move to wistfulness,

And brooding on the empty eggs of thought,

The shadow of this fate, too vast for man,

May fade, belike, and I shall see him grow

To that great stature of fair sovereignty

When he shall rule all lands—if he will rule—

The King of kings and glory of his time."


Wherefore, around that pleasant prison house

Where love was gaoler and delights its bars,

But far removed from sight—the King bade build

A massive wall, and in the wall a gate

With brazen folding-doors, which but to roll

Back on their hinges asked a hundred arms;

Also the noise of that prodigious gate

Opening was heard full half a yojana.

And inside this another gate he made,

And yet within another—through the three

Must one pass if he quit that pleasure-house.

Three mighty gates there were, bolted and barred,

And over each was set a faithful watch;

And the King's order said, "Suffer no man

To pass the gates, though he should be the Prince

This on your lives—even though it be my son."

Book The Third

In which calm home of happy life and love

Lived our Lord Buddha, knowing not of woe,

Nor want, nor pain, nor plague, nor age, nor death,

Save as when sleepers roam dim seas in dreams,

And land awearied on the shores of day,

Bringing strange merchandise from that black voyage.

Thus ofttimes when he lay with gentle head

Lulled on the dark breasts of Yasodhara,

Her fond hands fanning slow his sleeping lids,

He would start up and cry, "My world! Oh, world!

I hear! I know! I come!" And she would ask,

"What ails my Lord?" with large eyes terrorstruck;

For at such times the pity in his look

Was awful, and his visage like a god's.

Then would he smile again to stay her tears,

And bid the vinas sound; but once they set

A stringed gourd on the sill, there where the wind

Could linger o'er its notes and play at will—

Wild music makes the wind on silver strings—

And those who lay around heard only that;

But Prince Siddartha heard the Devas play,

And to his ears they sang such words as these:—


We are the voices of the wandering wind,

Which moan for rest and rest can never find;

Lo! as the wind is so is mortal life,

A moan, a sigh, a sob, a storm, a strife.


Wherefore and whence we are ye cannot know,

Nor where life springs nor whither life doth go;

We are as ye are, ghosts from the inane,

What pleasure have we of our changeful pain?


What pleasure hast thou of thy changeless bliss?

Nay, if love lasted, there were joy in this;

But life's way is the wind's way, all these things

Are but brief voices breathed on shifting strings.


O Maya's son! Because we roam the earth

Moan we upon these strings; we make no mirth,

So many woes we see in many lands,

So many streaming eyes and wringing hands.


Yet mock we while we wail, for, could they know,

This life they cling to is but empty show;

'Twere all as well to bid a cloud to stand,

Or hold a running river with the hand.


But thou that art to save, thine hour is nigh!

The sad world waileth in its misery,

The blind world stumbleth on its round of pain;

Rise, Maya's child! wake! slumber not again!


We are the voices of the wandering wind

Wander thou, too, O Prince, thy rest to find;

Leave love for love of lovers, for woe's sake

Quit state for sorrow, and deliverance make.


So sigh we, passing o'er the silver strings,

To thee who know'st not yet of earthly things;

So say we; mocking, as we pass away,

These lovely shadows wherewith thou dost play.


Thereafter it befell he sate at eve

Amid his beauteous Court, holding the hand

Of sweet Yasodhara, and some maid told—

With breaks of music when her rich voice dropped—

An ancient tale to speed the hour of dusk,

Of love, and of a magic horse, and lands

Wonderful, distant, where pale peoples dwelled

And where the sun at night sank into seas.

Then spake he, sighing, "Chitra brings me back.

The wind's song in the strings with that fair tale.

Give her, Yasodhara, thy pearl for thanks.

But thou, my pearl! is there so wide a world?

Is there a land which sees the great sun roll

Into the waves, and are there hearts like ours,

Countless, unknown, not happy—it may be—

Whom we might succour if we knew of them?

Ofttimes I marvel, as the Lord of day

Treads from the east his kingly road of gold,

Who first on the world's edge hath hailed his beam,

The children of the morning; oftentimes,

Even in thine arms and on thy breasts, bright wife,

Sore have I panted, at the sun's decline,

To pass with him into that crimson west

And see the peoples of the evening.

There must be many we should love—how else?

Now have I in this hour an ache, at last,

Thy soft lips cannot kiss away: oh, girl!

O Chitra! you that know of fairyland!

Where tether they that swift steed of the tale?

My palace for one day upon his back,

To ride and ride and see the spread of the earth!

Nay, if I had yon callow vulture's plumes—

The carrion heir of wider realms than mine—

How would I stretch for topmost Himalay,

Light where the rose-gleam lingers on those snows,

And strain my gaze with searching what is round!

Why have I never seen and never sought?

Tell me what lies beyond our brazen gates."


Then one replied, "The city first, fair Prince!

The temples, and the gardens, and the groves,

And then the fields, and afterwards fresh fields,

With nullahs, maidans, jungle, koss on koss;

And next King Bimbasara's realm, and then

The vast flat world, with crores on crores of folk."

"Good," said Siddartha, "let the word be sent

That Channa yoke my chariot—at noon

Tomorrow I shall ride and see beyond."


Whereof they told the King: "Our Lord, thy son,

Wills that his chariot be yoked at noon,

That he may ride abroad and see mankind."


"Yea!" spake the careful King, "'tis time he see!

But let the criers go about and bid

My city deck itself, so there be met

No noisome sight; and let none blind or maimed,

None that is sick or stricken deep in years,

No leper, and no feeble folk come forth."

Therefore the stones were swept, and up and down

The water-carriers sprinkled all the streets

From spirting skins, the housewives scattered fresh

Red powder on their thresholds, strung new wreaths,

And trimmed the tulsi-bush before their doors.

The paintings on the walls were heightened up

With liberal brush, the trees set thick with flags,

The idols gilded; in the four-went ways

Suryadeva and the great gods shone

'Mid shrines of leaves; so that the city seemed

A capital of some enchanted land.

Also the criers passed, with drum and gong,

Proclaiming loudly, "Ho! all citizens,

The King commands that there be seen today

No evil sight: let no one blind or maimed,

None that is sick or stricken deep in years,

No leper, and no feeble folk go forth.

Let none, too, burn his dead nor bring them out

Till nightfall. Thus Suddhodana commands."


So all was comely and the houses trim

Throughout Kapilavastu, while the Prince

Came forth in painted car, which two steers drew,

Snow-white, with swinging dewlaps and huge humps

Wrinkled against the carved and lacquered yoke.

Goodly it was to mark the people's joy

Greeting their Prince; and glad. Siddartha waxed

At sight of all those liege and friendly folk

Bright-clad and laughing as if life were good.

"Fair is the world," he said, "it likes me well!

And light and kind these men that are not kings,

And sweet my sisters here, who toil and tend;

What have I done for these to make them thus?

Why, if I love them, should those children know?

I pray take up yon pretty Sakya boy

Who flung us flowers, and let him ride with me.

How good it is to reign in realms like this!

How simple pleasure is, if these be pleased

Because I come abroad! How many things

I need not if such little households hold

Enough to make our city full of smiles!

Drive, Channa! through the gates, and let me see

More of this gracious world I have not known."


So passed they through the gates, a joyous crowd

Thronging about the wheels, whereof some ran

Before the oxen, throwing wreaths, some stroked

Their silken flanks, some brought them rice and cakes,

All crying, "Jai! jai! for our noble Prince!"

Thus all the path was kept with gladsome looks

And filled with fair sights—for the King's word was

That such should be—when midway in the road,

Slow tottering from the hovel where he hid,

Crept forth a wretch in rags, haggard and foul,

An old, old man, whose shrivelled skin, suntanned,

Clung like a beast's hide to his fleshless bones.

Bent was his back with load of many days,

His eyepits red with rust of ancient tears,

His dim orbs blear with rheum, his toothless jaws

Wagging with palsy and the fright to see

So many and such joy. One skinny hand

Clutched a worn staff to prop his quavering limbs,

And one was pressed upon the ridge of ribs

Whence came in gasps the heavy painful breath.

"Alms!" moaned he, "give, good people! for I die

Tomorrow or the next day!" then the cough

Choked him, but still he stretched his palm, and stood

Blinking, and groaning 'mid his spasms, "Alms!"

Then those around had wrenched his feeble feet

Aside, and thrust him from the road again,

Saying, "The Prince! dost see? get to thy lair!"

But that Siddartha cried, "Let be! let be!

Channa! what thing is this who seems a man,

Yet surely only seems, being so bowed,

So miserable, so horrible, so sad?

Are men born sometimes thus? What meaneth he

Moaning 'tomorrow or next day I die?'

Finds he no food that so his bones jut forth?

What woe hath happened to this piteous one?"

Then answer made the charioteer, "Sweet Prince!

This is no other than an aged man.

Some fourscore years ago his back was straight,

His eye bright, and his body goodly: now

The thievish years have sucked his sap away,

Pillaged his strength and filched his will and wit;

His lamp has lost its oil, the wick burns black;

What life he keeps is one poor lingering spark

Which flickers for the finish: such is age;

Why should your Highness heed?"

Then spake the Prince

"But shall this come to others, or to all,

Or is it rare that one should be as he?"

"Most noble," answered Channa, "even as he,

Will all these grow if they shall live so long."

"But," quoth the Prince, "if I shall live as long

Shall I be thus; and if Yasodhara

Live fourscore years, is this old age for her,

Jalini, little Hasta, Gautami,

And Gunga, and the others?" "Yea, great Sir!"

The charioteer replied. Then spake the Prince

"Turn back, and drive me to my house again!

I have seen that I did not think to see."


Which pondering, to his beauteous Court returned

Wistful Siddartha, sad of mien and mood;

Nor tasted he the white cakes nor the fruits

Spread for the evening feast, nor once looked up

While the best palace-dancers strove to charm

Nor spake—save one sad thing—when wofully

Yasodhara sank to his feet and wept,

Sighing, "Hath not my Lord comfort in me?"

"Ah, Sweet!" he said, "such comfort that my soul

Aches, thinking it must end, for it will end,

And we shall both grow old, Yasodhara!

Loveless, unlovely, weak, and old, and bowed.

Nay, though we locked up love and life with lips

So close that night and day our breaths grew one

Time would thrust in between to filch away

My passion and thy grace, as black Night steals

The rose-gleams from you peak, which fade to grey

And are not seen to fade. This have I found,

And all my heart is darkened with its dread,

And all my heart is fixed to think how Love

Might save its sweetness from the slayer, Time,

Who makes men old.” So through that night he sate

Sleepless, uncomforted.


And all that night

The King Suddhodana dreamed troublous dreams.

The first fear of his vision was a flag

Broad, glorious, glistening with a golden sun,

The mark of Indra; but a strong wind blew,

Rending its folds divine, and dashing it

Into the dust; whereat a concourse came

Of shadowy Ones, who took the spoiled silk up

And bore it eastward from the city gates.

The second fear was ten huge elephants,

With silver tusks and feet that shook the earth,

Trampling the southern road in mighty march;

And he who sate upon the foremost beast

Was the King's son—the others followed him.

The third fear of the vision was a car,

Shining with blinding light, which four steeds drew,

Snorting white smoke and champing fiery foam;

And in the car the Prince Siddhartha sate.

The fourth fear was a wheel which turned and turned,

With nave of burning gold and jewelled spokes,

And strange things written on the binding tire,

Which seemed both fire and music as it whirled.

The fifth fear was a mighty drum, set down

Midway between the city and the hills,

On which the Prince beat with an iron mace,

So that the sound pealed like a thunderstorm,

Rolling around the sky and far away.

The sixth fear was a tower, which rose and rose

High o'er the city till its stately head

Shone crowned with clouds, and on the top the Prince

Stood, scattering from both hands, this way and that,

Gems of most lovely light, as if it rained

Jacynths and rubies; and the whole world came,

Striving to seize those treasures as they fell

Towards the four quarters. But the seventh fear was

A noise of wailing, and behold six men

Who wept and gnashed their teeth, and laid their palms

Upon their mouths, walking disconsolate.


These seven fears made the vision of his sleep,

But none of all his wisest dream-readers

Could tell their meaning. Then the King was wroth,

Saying, "There cometh evil to my house,

And none of ye have wit to help me know

What the great gods portend sending me this."

So in the city men went sorrowful

Because the King had dreamed seven signs of fear

Which none could read; but to the gate there came

An aged man, in robe of deer-skin clad,

By guise a hermit, known to none; he cried,

"Bring me before the King, for I can read

The vision of his sleep"; who, when he heard

The sevenfold mysteries of the midnight dream,

Bowed reverent and said: "O Maharaj!

I hail this favoured House, whence shall arise

A wider-reaching splendour than the sun's!

Lo! all these seven fears are seven joys,

Whereof the first, where thou didst see a flag—

Broad, glorious, gilt with Indra's badge—cast down

And carried out, did signify the end

Of old faiths and beginning of the new,

For there is change with gods not less than men,

And as the days pass kalpas pass at length.

The ten great elephants that shook the earth

The ten great gifts of wisdom signify,

In strength whereof the Prince shall quit his state

And shake the world with passage of the Truth.

The four flame-breathing horses of the car

Are those four fearless virtues which shall bring

Thy son from doubt and gloom to gladsome light;

The wheel that turned with nave of burning gold

Was that most precious Wheel of perfect Law

Which he shall turn in sight of all the world.

The mighty drum whereon the Prince did beat,

Till the sound filled all lands, doth signify

The thunder of the preaching of the Word

Which he shall preach; the tower that grew to heaven

The growing of the Gospel of this Buddh

Sets forth; and those rare jewels scattered thence

The untold treasures are of that good Law

To gods and men dear and desirable.

Such is the interpretation of the tower;

But for those six men weeping with shut mouths,

They are the six chief teachers whom thy son

Shall, with bright truth and speech unanswerable,

Convince of foolishness. O King! rejoice;

The fortune of my Lord the Prince is more

Than kingdoms, and his hermit-rags will be

Beyond fine cloths of gold. This was thy dream!

And in seven nights and days these things shall fall."

So spake the holy man, and lowly made

The eight prostrations, touching thrice the ground;

Then turned and passed; but when the King bade send


A rich gift after him, the messengers

Brought word, "We came to where he entered in

At Chandra's temple, but within was none

Save a grey owl which fluttered from the shrine."

The gods come sometimes thus.


But the sad King

Marvelled, and gave command that new delights

Be compassed to enthrall Siddartha's heart

Amid those dancers of his pleasure-house,

Also he set at all the brazen doors

A doubled guard.


Yet who shall shut out Fate?


For once again the spirit of the Prince

Was moved to see this world beyond his gates,

This life of man, so pleasant if its waves

Ran not to waste and woful finishing

In Time's dry sands. “I pray you let me view

Our city as it is," such was his prayer

To King Suddhodana. “Your Majesty

In tender heed hath warned the folk before

To put away ill things and common sights,

And make their faces glad to gladden me,

And all the causeways gay; yet have I learned

This is not daily life, and if I stand

Nearest, my father, to the realm and thee,

Fain would I know the people and the streets,

Their simple usual ways, and workday deeds,

And lives which those men live who are not kings.

Give me good leave, dear Lord, to pass unknown

Beyond my happy gardens; I shall come

The more contented to their peace again,

Or wiser, father, if not well content.

Therefore, I pray thee, let me go at will

Tomorrow, with my servants, through the streets."

And the King said, among his Ministers

"Belike this second flight may mend the first.

Note how the falcon starts at every sight

New from his hood, but what a quiet eye

Cometh of freedom; let my son see all,

And bid them bring me tidings of his mind."


Thus on the morrow, when the noon was come,

The Prince and Channa passed beyond the gates,

Which opened to the signet of the King,

Yet knew not they who rolled the great doors back

It was the King's son in that merchant's robe,

And in the clerkly dress his charioteer.

Forth fared they by the common way afoot,

Mingling with all the Sakya citizens,

Seeing the glad and sad things of the town:

The painted streets alive with hum of noon,

The traders cross-legged 'mid their spice and grain,

The buyers with their money in the cloth,

The war of words to cheapen this or that,

The shout to clear the road, the huge stone wheels,

The strong slow oxen and their rustling loads,

The singing bearers with the palanquins,

The broad-necked hamals sweating in the sun,

The housewives bearing water from the well

With balanced chatties, and athwart their hips

The black-eyed babes; the fly-swarmed sweetmeat shops,

The weaver at his loom, the cotton-bow

Twangling, the millstones grinding meal, the dogs

Prowling for orts, the skilful armourer

With tong and hammer linking shirts of mail,

The blacksmith with a mattock and a spear

Reddening together in his coals, the school

Where round their Guru, in a grave half-moon,

The Sakya children sang the mantra through,

And learned the greater and the lesser gods;

The dyers stretching waistcloths in the sun

Wet from the vats—orange, and rose, and green;

The soldiers clanking past with swords and shields,

The camel-drivers rocking on the humps,

The Brahman proud, the martial Kshatriya,

The humble toiling Sudra; here a throng

Gathered to watch some chattering snake-tamer

Wind round his wrist the living jewellery

Of asp and nag, or charm the hooded death

To angry dance with drone of beaded gourd;

There a long line of drums and horns, which went,

With steeds gay painted and silk canopies,

To bring the young bride home; and here a wife

Stealing with cakes and garlands to the god

To pray her husband's safe return from trade,

Or beg a boy next birth; hard by the booths

Where the sweat potters beat the noisy brass

For lamps and lotas; thence, by temple walls

And gateways, to the river and the bridge

Under the city walls.


These had they passed

When from the roadside moaned a mournful voice,

"Help, masters! lift me to my feet; oh, help!

Or I shall die before I reach my house!"

A stricken wretch it was, whose quivering frame,

Caught by some deadly plague, lay in the dust

Writhing, with fiery purple blotches specked;

The chill sweat beaded on his brow, his mouth

Was dragged awry with twitching’s of sore pain,

The wild eyes swam with inward agony.

Gasping, he clutched the grass to rise, and rose

Half-way, then sank, with quaking feeble limbs

And scream of terror, crying, "Ah, the pain!

Good people, help!" whereon Siddartha ran,

Lifted the woful man with tender hands,

With sweet looks laid the sick head on his knee,

And while his soft touch comforted the wretch,

Asked: "Brother, what is ill with thee? what harm

Hath fallen? wherefore canst thou not arise?

Why is it, Channa, that he pants and moans,

And gasps to speak and sighs so pitiful?"

Then spake the charioteer: "Great Prince! this man

Is smitten with some pest; his elements

Are all confounded; in his veins the blood,

Which ran a wholesome river, leaps and boils

A fiery flood; his heart, which kept good time,

Beats like an ill-played drum-skin, quick and slow;

His sinews slacken like a bow-string slipped;

The strength is gone from ham, and loin, and neck,

And all the grace and joy of manhood fled;

This is a sick man with the fit upon him.

See how be plucks and plucks to seize his grief,

And rolls his bloodshot orbs and grinds his teeth,

And draws his breath as if 'twere choking smoke.

Lo! now he would be dead, but shall not die

Until the plague hath had its work in him,

Killing the nerves which die before the life;

Then, when his strings have cracked with agony

And all his bones are empty of the sense

To ache, the plague will quit and light elsewhere.

Oh, sir! it is not good to hold him so!

The harm may pass, and strike thee, even thee."

But spake the Prince, still comforting the man,

"And are there others, are there many thus?

Or might it be to me as now with him?"

"Great Lord!" answered the charioteer, "this comes

In many forms to all men; griefs and wounds,

Sickness and tetters, palsies, leprosies,

Hot fevers, watery wastings, issues, blains

Befall all flesh and enter everywhere."

"Come such ills unobserved?" the Prince inquired.

And Channa said: "Like the sly snake they come

That stings unseen; like the striped murderer,

Who waits to spring from the Karunda bush,

Hiding beside the jungle path; or like

The lightning, striking these and sparing those,

As chance may send."


 "Then all men live in fear?"

"So live they, Prince!"


"And none can say, `I sleep

Happy and whole tonight, and so shall wake'?"

"None say it."


"And the end of many aches,

Which come unseen, and will come when they come,

Is this, a broken body and sad mind,

And so old age?"


 "Yea, if men last as long."


"But if they cannot bear their agonies,

Or if they will not bear, and seek a term;

Or if they bear, and be, as this man is,

Too weak except for groans, and so still live,

And growing old, grow older, then what end?"


"They die, Prince."




"Yea, at the last comes death,

In whatsoever way, whatever hour.

Some few grow old, most suffer and fall sick,

But all must die—behold, where comes the Dead!"


Then did Siddartha raise his eyes, and see

Fast pacing towards the river brink a band

Of wailing people, foremost one who swung

An earthen bowl with lighted coals, behind

The kinsmen shorn, with mourning marks, ungirt,

Crying aloud, "O Rama, Rama, hear!

Call upon Rama, brothers"; next the bier,

Knit of four poles with bamboos interlaced,

Whereon lay, stark and stiff, feet foremost, lean,

Chapfallen, sightless, hollow-flanked, a-grin,

Sprinkled with red and yellow dust—the Dead,

Whom at the four-went ways they turned head first,

And crying "Rama, Rama!" carried on

To where a pile was reared beside the stream;

Thereon they laid him, building fuel up—

Good sleep hath one that slumbers on that bed!

He shall not wake for cold albeit he lies

Naked to all the airs—for soon they set

The red flame to the corners four, which crept,

And licked, and flickered, finding out his flesh

And feeding on it with swift hissing tongues,

And crackle of parched skin, and snap of joint;

Till the fat smoke thinned and the ashes sank

Scarlet and grey, with here and there a bone

White midst the grey—the total of the man.


Then spake the Prince, "Is this the end which comes

To all who live?"


"This is the end that comes

To all," quoth Channa; "he upon the pyre—

Whose remnants are so petty that the crows

Caw hungrily, then quit the fruitless feast—

Ate, drank, laughed, loved, and lived, and liked

life well.

Then came—who knows?—some gust of junglewind,

A stumble on the path, a taint in the tank,

A snake's nip, half a span of angry steel,

A chill, a fishbone, or a falling tile,

And life was over and the man is dead.

No appetites, no pleasures, and no pains

Hath such; the kiss upon his lips is nought,

The fire-scorch nought; he smelleth not his flesh

A-roast, nor yet the sandal and the spice

They burn; the taste is emptied from his mouth,

The hearing of his ears is clogged, the sight

Is blinded in his eyes; those whom he loved

Wail desolate, for even that must go,

The body, which was lamp unto the life,

Or worms will have a horrid feast of it.

Here is the common destiny of flesh.

The high and low, the good and bad, must die,

And then, 't is taught, begin anew and live

Somewhere, somehow,—who knows?—and so again

The pangs, the parting, and the lighted pile—

Such is man's round."


But lo! Siddartha turned

Eyes gleaming with divine tears to the sky,

Eyes lit with heavenly pity to the earth;

From sky to earth he looked, from earth to sky,

As if his spirit sought in lonely flight

Some far-off vision, linking this and that,

Lost, past, but searchable, but seen, but known.

Then cried he, while his lifted countenance

Glowed with the burning passion of a love

Unspeakable, the ardour of a hope

Boundless, insatiate: "Oh! suffering world,

Oh! known and unknown of my common flesh,

Caught in this common net of death and woe,

And life which binds to both! I see, I feel

The vastness of the agony of earth,

The vainness of its joys, the mockery

Of all its best, the anguish of its worst;

Since pleasures end in pain, and youth in age,

And love in loss, and life in hateful death,

And death in unknown lives, which will but yoke

Men to their wheel again to whirl the round

Of false delights and woes that are not false.

Me too this lure hath cheated, so it seemed

Lovely to live, and life a sunlit stream

For ever flowing in a changeless peace;

Whereas the foolish ripple of the flood

Dances so lightly down by bloom and lawn

Only to pour its crystal quicklier

Into the foul salt sea. The veil is rent

Which blinded me! I am as all these men

Who cry upon their gods and are not heard

Or are not heeded—yet there must be aid!

For them and me and all there must be help!

Perchance the gods have need of help themselves

Being so feeble that when sad lips cry

They cannot save! I would not let one cry

Whom I could save! How can it be that Brahm

Would make a world and keep it miserable,

Since, if all-powerful, he leaves it so,

He is not good, and if not powerful,

He is not God?—Channa! lead home again!

It is enough I mine eyes have seen enough!"


 Which when the King heard, at the gates he set

A triple guard, and bade no man should pass

By day or night, issuing or entering in,

Until the days were numbered of that dream.

Book The Fourth

But when the days were numbered, then befell

The parting of our Lord—which was to be—

Whereby came wailing in the Golden Home,

Woe to the King and sorrow o'er the land,

But for all flesh deliverance, and that Law

Which whoso hears, the same shall make him free.


Softly the Indian night sinks on the plains

At full moon in the month of Chaitra Shud,

When mangoes redden and the asoka buds

Sweeten the breeze, and Rama's birthday comes,

And all the fields are glad and all the towns.

Softly that night fell over Vishramvan,

Fragrant with blooms and jewelled thick with stars,

And cool with mountain airs sighing adown

From snow-flats on Himala high-outspread;

For the moon swung above the eastern peaks,

Climbing the spangled vault, and lighting clear

Robini's ripples and the hills and plains,

And all the sleeping land, and near at hand

Silvering those roof-tops of the pleasure-house,

Where nothing stirred nor sign of watching was,

Save at the outer gates, whose warders cried

Mudra, the watchword, and the countersign

Angana, and the watch-drums beat a round;

Whereat the earth lay still, except for call

Of prowling jackals, and the ceaseless trill

Of crickets on the garden grounds.



Where the moon glittered through the laceworked stone,

Lighting the walls of pearl-shell and the floors

Paved with veined marble—softly fell her beams

On such rare company of Indian girls,

It seemed some chamber sweet in Paradise

Where Devis rested. All the chosen ones

Of Prince Siddartha's pleasure-home were there,

The brightest and most faithful of the Court,

Each form so lovely in the peace of sleep,

That you had said "This is the pearl of all!"

Save that beside her or beyond her lay

Fairer and fairer, till the pleasured gaze

Roamed o'er that feast of beauty as it roams

From gem to gem in some great goldsmith-work,

Caught by each colour till the next is seen.

With careless grace they lay, their soft brown limbs

Part hidden, part revealed; their glossy hair

Bound back with gold or flowers, or flowing loose

In black waves down the shapely nape and neck.

Lulled into pleasant dreams by happy toils,

They slept, no wearier than jewelled birds

Which sing and love all day, then under wing

Fold head till morn bids sing and love again.

Lamps of chased silver swinging from the roof

In silver chains, and fed with perfumed oils,

Made with the moonbeams tender lights and shades,

Whereby were seen the perfect lines of grace,

The bosom's placid heave, the soft stained palms

Drooping or clasped, the faces fair and dark,

The great arched brows, the parted lips, the teeth

Like pearls a merchant picks to make a string,

The satin-lidded eyes, with lashes dropped

Sweeping the delicate cheeks, the rounded wrists

The smooth small feet with bells and bangles decked,

Tinkling low music where some sleeper moved,

Breaking her smiling dream of some new dance

Praised by the Prince, some magic ring to find,

Some fairy love-gift. Here one lay full-length,

Her vina by her cheek, and in its strings

The little fingers still all interlaced

As when the last notes of her light song played

Those radiant eyes to sleep and sealed her own.

Another slumbered folding in her arms

A desert-antelope, its slender head

Buried with back-sloped horns between her breasts

Soft nestling; it was eating—when both drowsed—

Red roses, and her loosening hand still held

A rose half-mumbled, while a rose-leaf curled

Between the deer's lips. Here two friends had dozed

Together, wearing mogra-buds, which bound

Their sister-sweetness in a starry chain,

Linking them limb to limb and heart to heart,

One pillowed on the blossoms, one on her.

Another, ere she slept, was stringing stones

To make a necklet—agate, onyx, sard,

Coral, and moonstone—round her wrist it gleamed

A coil of splendid colour, while she held,

Unthreaded yet, the bead to close it up

Green turkis, carved with golden gods and scripts.

Lulled by the cadence of the garden stream,

Thus lay they on the clustered carpets, each

A girlish rose with shut leaves, waiting dawn

To open and make daylight beautiful.

This was the antechamber of the Prince;

But at the purdah's fringe the sweetest slept—

Gunga and Gotami—chief ministers

In that still house of love.


 The purdah hung,

Crimson and blue, with broidered threads of gold,

Across a portal carved in sandal-wood,

Whence by three steps the way was to the bower

Of inmost splendour, and the marriage-couch

Set on a dais soft with silver cloths,

Where the foot fell as though it trod on piles

Of neem-blooms. All the walls, were plates of pearl,

Cut shapely from the shells of Lanka's wave;

And o'er the alabaster roof there ran

Rich inlayings of lotus and of bird,

Wrought in skilled work of lazulite and jade,

Jacynth and jasper; woven round the dome,

And down the sides, and all about the frames

Wherein were set the fretted lattices,

Through which there breathed, with moonlight and

cool airs,

Scents from the shell-flowers and the jasmine sprays;

Not bringing thither grace or tenderness

Sweeter than shed from those fair presences

Within the place—the beauteous Sakya Prince,

And hers, the stately, bright Yasodhara.


Half risen from her soft nest at his side,

The chuddah fallen to her waist, her brow

Laid in both palms, the lovely Princess leaned

With heaving bosom and fast falling tears.

Thrice with her lips she touched Siddartha's hand,

And at the third kiss moaned: "Awake, my Lord!

Give me the comfort of thy speech!” Then he—

"What is with thee, O my life?" but still

She moaned anew before the words would come;

Then spake: "'Alas, my Prince! I sank to sleep

Most happy, for the babe I bear of thee

Quickened this eve, and at my heart there beat

That double pulse of life and joy and love

Whose happy music lulled me, but—aho!—

In slumber I beheld three sights of dread,

With thought whereof my heart is throbbing yet.

I saw a white bull with wide branching horns,

A lord of pastures, pacing through the streets,

Bearing upon his front a gem which shone

As if some star had dropped to glitter there,

Or like the kantha-stone the great Snake keeps

To make bright daylight underneath the earth.

Slow through the streets toward the gates he paced,

And none could stay him, though there came a voice

From Indra's temple, 'If ye stay him not,

The glory of the city goeth forth.

Yet none could stay him. Then I wept aloud,

And locked my arms about his neck, and strove,

And bade them bar the gates; but that ox-king

Bellowed, and, lightly tossing free his crest,

Broke from my clasp, and bursting through the bars,

Trampled the warders down and passed away.

The next strange dream was this: Four Presences

Splendid with shining eyes, so beautiful

They seemed the Regents of the Earth who dwell

On Mount Sumeru, lighting from the sky

With retinue of countless heavenly ones,

Swift swept unto our city, where I saw

The golden flag of Indra on the gate

Flutter and fall; and lo! there rose instead

A glorious banner, all the folds whereof

Rippled with flashing fire of rubies sewn

Thick on the silver threads, the rays wherefrom

Set forth new words and weighty sentences

Whose message made all living creatures glad;

And from the east the wind of sunrise blew

With tender waft, opening those jewelled scrolls

So that all flesh might read; and wondrous blooms

Plucked in what clime I know not-fell in showers,

Coloured as none are coloured in our groves."


Then spake the Prince: "All this, my Lotus-flower!

Was good to see."


"Ay, Lord," the Princess said,

"Save that it ended with a voice of fear

Crying, `The time is nigh! the time is nigh!'

Thereat the third dream came; for when I sought

Thy side, sweet Lord! ah, on our bed there lay

An unpressed pillow and an empty robe—

Nothing of thee but those!—-nothing of thee,

Who art my life and light, my king, my world!

And sleeping still I rose, and sleeping saw

Thy belt of pearls, tied here below my breasts,

Change to a stinging snake; my ankle-rings

Fall off, my golden bangles part and fall;

The jasmines in my hair wither to dust;

While this our bridal-couch sank to the ground,

And something rent the crimson purdah down;

Then far away I heard the white bull low,

And far away the embroidered banner flap,

And once again that cry, 'The time is come!'

But with that cry—which shakes my spirit still—

I woke! O Prince! what may such visions mean

Except I die, or—worse than any death—

Thou shouldst forsake me or be taken?"



As the last smile of sunset was the look

Siddartha bent upon his weeping wife.

"Comfort thee, dear!" he said, "if comfort lives

In changeless love; for though thy dreams may be

Shadows of things to come, and though the gods

Are shaken in their seats, and though the world

Stands nigh, perchance, to know some way of help,

Yet, whatsoever fall to thee and me,

Be sure I loved and love Yasodhara.

Thou knowest how I muse these many moons,

Seeking to save the sad earth I have seen;

And when the time comes, that which will be will.

But if my soul yearns sore for souls unknown,

And if I grieve for griefs which are not mine,

Judge how my high-winged thoughts must hover here

O'er all these lives that share and sweeten mine

So dear! and thine the dearest, gentlest, best,

And nearest. Ah, thou mother of my babe!

Whose body mixed with mine for this fair hope,

When most my spirit wanders, ranging round

The lands and seas—as full of ruth for men

As the far-flying dove is full of ruth

For her twin nestlings—ever it has come

Home with glad wing and passionate plumes to thee,

Who art the sweetness of my kind best seen,

The utmost of their good, the tenderest

Of all their tenderness, mine most of all.

Therefore, whatever after this betide,

Bethink thee of that lordly bull which lowed,

That jewelled banner in thy dreams which waved

Its folds departing, and of this be sure,

Always I loved and always love thee well,

And what I sought for all sought most for thee.

But thou, take comfort; and, if sorrow falls,

Take comfort still in deeming there may be

A way of peace on earth by woes of ours;

And have with this embrace what faithful love

Can think of thanks or frame for benison—

Too little, seeing love's strong self is weak—

Yet kiss me on the mouth, and drink these words

From heart to heart therewith, that thou mayst know—

What others will not—that I loved thee most

Because I loved so well all living souls.

Now, Princess! rest, for I will rise and watch."


Then in her tears she slept, but sleeping sighed—

As if that vision passed again—"The time!

The time is come!” Whereat Siddartha turned,

And, lo! the moon shone by the Crab! the stars

In that same silver order long foretold

Stood ranged to say: "This is the night!—choose thou

The way of greatness or the way of good

To reign a King of kings, or wander lone,

Crownless and homeless, that the world be helped."

Moreover, with the whispers of the gloom

Came to his ears again that warning song,

As when the Devas spoke upon the wind:

And surely gods were round about the place

Watching our Lord, who watched the shining stars.


"I will depart," he spake; "the hour is come!

Thy tender lips, dear sleeper, summon me

To that which saves the earth but sunders us;

And in the silence of yon sky I read

My fated message flashing. Unto this

Came I, and unto this all nights and days

Have led me; for I will not have that crown

Which may be mine: I lay aside those realms

Which wait the gleaming of my naked sword

My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels

From victory to victory, till earth

Wears the red record of my name. I choose

To tread its paths with patient, stainless feet,

Making its dust my bed, its loneliest wastes

My dwelling, and its meanest things my mates:

Clad in no prouder garb than outcasts wear,

Fed with no meats save what the charitable

Give of their will, sheltered by no more pomp

Than the dim cave lends or the jungle-bush,

This will I do because the woful cry

Of life and all flesh living cometh up

Into my ears, and all my soul is full

Of pity for the sickness of this world;

Which I will heal, if healing may be found

By uttermost renouncing and strong strife.

For which of all the great and lesser gods

Have power or pity? Who hath seen them—who?

What have they wrought to help their worshippers?

How hath it steaded man to pray, and pay

Tithes of the corn and oil, to chant the charms,

To slay the shrieking sacrifice, to rear

The stately fane, to feed the priests, and call

On Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, who save

None—not the worthiest—from the griefs that teach

Those litanies of flattery and fear

Ascending day by day, like wasted smoke?

Hath any of my brothers 'scaped thereby

The aches of life, the stings of love and loss,

The fiery fever and the ague-shake,

The slow, dull sinking into withered age,

The horrible dark death—and what beyond

Waits—till the whirling wheel comes up again,

And new lives bring new sorrows to be borne,

New generations for the new desires

Which have their end in the old mockeries?

Hath any of my tender sisters found

Fruit of the fast or harvest of the hymn,

Or bought one pang the less at bearing-time

For white curds offered and trim tulsi-leaves?

Nay; it may be some of the gods are good

And evil some, but all in action weak;

Both pitiful and pitiless, and both

As men are—bound upon this wheel of change,

Knowing the former and the after lives.

For so our scriptures truly seem to teach,

That—once, and wheresoe'er, and whence begun—

Life runs its rounds of living, climbing up

From mote, and gnat, and worm, reptile, and fish,

Bird and shagged beast, man, demon, Deva, God,

To clod and mote again; so are we kin

To all that is; and thus, if one might save

Man from his curse, the whole wide world should share

The lightened horror of this ignorance

Whose shadow is chill fear, and cruelty

Its bitter pastime. Yea, if one might save!

And means must be! There must be refuge!"



Perished in winter-winds till one smote fire

From flint-stones coldly hiding what they held,

The red spark treasured from the kindling sun.

They gorged on flesh like wolves, till one sowed corn,

Which grew a weed, yet makes the life of man;

They mowed and babbled till some tongue struck speech,

And patient fingers framed the lettered sound.

What good gift have my brothers but it came

From search and strife and loving sacrifice?

If one, then, being great and fortunate,

Rich, dowered with health and ease, from birth designed

To rule—if he would rule—a King of kings;

If one, not tired with life's long day, but glad

I' the freshness of its morning, one not cloyed

With love's delicious feasts, but hungry still;

If one not worn and wrinkled, sadly sage,

But joyous in the glory and the grace

That mix with evils here, and free to choose

Earth's loveliest at his will: one even as I,

Who ache not, lack not, grieve not, save with griefs

Which are not mine, except as I am man;—

If such a one, having so much to give,

Gave all, laying it down for love of men.

And thenceforth spent himself to search for truth,

Wringing the secret of deliverance forth,

Whether it lurk in hells or hide in heavens,

Or hover, unrevealed, nigh unto all:

Surely at last, far off, sometime, somewhere,

The veil would lift for his deep-searching eyes,

The road would open for his painful feet,

That should be won for which he lost the world,

And Death might find him conqueror of death.

This will I do, who have a realm to lose,

Because I love my realm, because my heart

Beats with each throb of all the hearts that ache,

Known and unknown, these that are mine and those

Which shall be mine, a thousand million more

Saved by this sacrifice I offer now.

Oh, summoning stars! Oh, mournful earth

For thee and thine I lay aside my youth,

My throne, my joys, my golden days, my nights,

My happy palace—and thine arms, sweet Queen!

Harder to put aside than all the rest!

Yet thee, too, I shall save, saving this earth;

And that which stirs within thy tender womb,

My child, the hidden blossom of our loves,

Whom if I wait to bless my mind will fail.

Wife! child! father! and people! ye must share

A little while the anguish of this hour

That light may break and all flesh learn the Law.

Now am I fixed, and now I will depart,

Never to come again till what I seek

Be found—if fervent search and strife avail."


So with his brow he touched her feet, and bent

The farewell of fond eyes, unutterable,

Upon her sleeping face, still wet with tears;

And thrice around the bed in reverence,

As though it were an altar, softly stepped

With clasped hands laid upon his beating heart,

"For never," spake he, "lie I there again!"

And thrice he made to go, but thrice came back,

So strong her beauty was, so large his love

Then, o'er his head drawing his cloth, he turned

And raised the purdah's edge.


 There drooped, close-hushed,

In such sealed sleep as water-lilies know,

The lovely garden of his Indian girls;

Those twin dark-petalled lotus-buds of all—

Gunga and Gotami—on either side,

And those, their silk-leaved sisterhood, beyond.

"Pleasant ye are to me, sweet friends!" he said,

"And dear to leave; yet if I leave ye not

What else will come to all of us save eld

Without assuage and death without avail?

Lo! as ye lie asleep so must ye lie

A-dead; and when the rose dies where are gone

Its scent and splendour? when the lamp is drained

Whither is fled the flame? Press heavy, Night!

Upon their down-dropped lids and seal their lips,

That no tear stay me and no faithful voice.

For all the brighter that these made my life,

The bitterer it is that they and I,

And all, should live as trees do—so much spring,

Such and such rains and frosts, such wintertimes,

And then dead leaves, with maybe spring again,

Or axe-stroke at the root. This will not I,

Whose life here was a god's!—this would not I,

Though all my days were godlike, while men moan

Under their darkness. Therefore farewell, friends!

While life is good to give, I give, and go

To seek deliverance and that unknown Light!"


 Then, lightly treading where those sleepers lay,

Into the night Siddartha passed: its eyes,

The watchful stars, looked love on him: its breath,

The wandering wind, kissed his robe's fluttered fringe;

The garden-blossoms, folded for the dawn,

Opened their velvet hearts to waft him scents

From pink and purple censers: o'er the land,

From Himalay unto the Indian Sea,

A tremor spread, as if earth's soul beneath

Stirred with an unknown hope; and holy books—

Which tell the story of our Lord—say, too,

That rich celestial musics thrilled the air

From hosts on hosts of shining ones, who thronged

Eastward and westward, making bright the night

Northward and southward, making glad the ground.

Also those four dread Regents of the Earth,

Descending at the doorway, two by two,—

With their bright legions of Invisibles

In arms of sapphire, silver, gold, and pearl—

Watched with joined hands the Indian Prince, who stood,

His tearful eyes raised to the stars, and lips

Close-set with purpose of prodigious love.


Then strode he forth into the gloom and cried,

"Channa, awake! and bring out Kantaka!"


"What would my Lord?" the charioteer replied—

Slow-rising from his place beside the gate

"To ride at night when all the ways are dark?"


"Speak low," Siddartha said, "and bring my horse,

For now the hour is come when I should quit

This golden prison where my heart lives caged

To find the truth; which henceforth I will seek,

For all men's sake, until the truth be found."


"Alas! dear Prince," answered the charioteer,

"Spake then for nought those wise and holy men

Who cast the stars and bade us wait the time

When King Suddhodana's great son should rule

Realms upon realms, and be a Lord of lords?

Wilt thou ride hence and let the rich world slip

Out of thy grasp, to hold a beggar's bowl?

Wilt thou go forth into the friendless waste

That hast this Paradise of pleasures here?"


The Prince made answer: "Unto this I came,

And not for thrones: the kingdom that I crave

Is more than many realms, and all things pass

To change and death. Bring me forth Kantaka!"


"Most honored," spake again the charioteer,


"Bethink thee of their woe whose bliss thou art—

How shalt thou help them, first undoing them?"


Siddartha answered: "Friend, that love is false

Which clings to love for selfish sweets of love;

But I, who love these more than joys of mine—

Yea, more than joy of theirs—depart to save

Them and all flesh, if utmost love avail.

Go, bring me Kantaka!"


Then Channa said,

"Master, I go!" and forthwith, mournfully,

Unto the stall he passed, and from the rack

Took down the silver bit and bridle-chains,

Breast-cord and curb, and knitted fast the straps,

And linked the hooks, and led out Kantaka

Whom tethering to the ring, he combed and dressed,

Stroking the snowy coat to silken gloss;

Next on the steed he laid the numdah square,

Fitted the saddle-cloth across, and set

The saddle fair, drew tight the jewelled girths,

Buckled the breech-bands and the martingale,

And made fall both the stirrups of worked gold.

Then over all he cast a golden net,

With tassels of seed-pearl and silken strings,

And led the great horse to the palace door,

Where stood the Prince; but when he saw his Lord,

Right glad he waxed and joyously he neighed,

Spreading his scarlet nostrils; and the books

Write, "Surely all had heard Kantaka's neigh,

And that strong trampling of his iron heels,

Save that the Devas laid their unseen wings

Over their ears and kept the sleepers deaf."


Fondly Siddartha drew the proud head down,

Patted the shining neck, and said, "Be still,

White Kantaka! be still, and bear me now

The farthest journey ever rider rode;

For this night take I horse to find the truth,

And where my quest will end yet know I not,

Save that it shall not end until I find.

Therefore tonight, good steed, be fierce and bold!

Let nothing stay thee, though a thousand blades

Deny the road! let neither wall nor moat

Forbid our flight! Look! if I touch thy flank

And cry, `On, Kantaka! I let whirlwinds lag

Behind thy course! Be fire and air, my horse!

To stead thy Lord, so shalt thou share with him

The greatness of this deed which helps the world;

For therefore ride I, not for men alone,

But for all things which, speechless, share our pain

And have no hope, nor wit to ask for hope.

Now, therefore, bear thy master valorously!"


Then to the saddle lightly leaping, he

Touched the arched crest, and Kantaka sprang forth

With armed hoofs sparkling on the stones and ring

Of champing bit; but none did hear that sound,

For that the Suddha Devas, gathering near,

Plucked the red mohra-flowers and strewed them thick

Under his tread, while hands invisible

Muffled the ringing bit and bridle chains.

Moreover, it is written when they came

Upon the pavement near the inner gates,

The Yakshas of the air laid magic cloths

Under the stallion's feet, so that he went

Softly and still.


But when they reached the gate

Of tripled brass—which hardly fivescore men

Served to unbar and open—lo! the doors

Rolled back all silently, though one might hear

In daytime two koss off the thunderous roar

Of those grim hinges and unwieldy plates.


Also the middle and the outer gates

Unfolded each their monstrous portals thus

In silence as Siddartha and his steed

Drew near; while underneath their shadow lay.

Silent as dead men, all those chosen guards—

The lance and sword let fall, the shields unbraced,

Captains and soldiers—for there came a wind,

Drowsier than blows o'er Malwa's fields of sleep

Before the Prince's path, which, being breathed,

Lulled every sense aswoon: and so he passed

Free from the palace.


 When the morning star

Stood half a spear's length from the eastern rim,

And o'er the earth the breath of morning sighed

Rippling Anoma's wave, the border-stream,

Then drew he rein, and leaped to earth and kissed

White Kantaka betwixt the ears, and spake

Full sweet to Channa: "This which thou hast done

Shall bring thee good and bring all creatures good.

Be sure I love thee always for thy love.

Lead back my horse and take my crest-pearl here,

My princely robes, which henceforth stead me not,

My jewelled sword-belt and my sword, and these

The long locks by its bright edge severed thus

From off my brows. Give the King all, and say

Siddartha prays forget him till he come

Ten times a prince, with royal wisdom won

From lonely searchings and the strife for light;

Where, if I conquer, lo! all earth is mine—

Mine by chief service!—tell him—mine by love!

Since there is hope for man only in man,

And none hath sought for this as I will seek,

Who cast away my world to save my world."

Book The Fifth

Round Rajagriha five fair hills arose,

Guarding King Bimbasara's sylvan town;

Baibhara, green with lemon-grass and palms;

Bipulla, at whose foot thin Sarsuti

Steals with warm ripple; shadowy Tapovan,

Whose steaming pools mirror black rocks, which ooze

Sovereign earth-butter from their rugged roofs;

South-east the vulture-peak Sailagiri;

And eastward Ratnagiri, hill of gems.

A winding track, paven with footworn slabs,

Leads thee by safflower fields and bamboo tufts

Under dark mangoes and the jujube-trees,

Past milk-white veins of rock and jasper crags,

Low cliff and flats of jungle-flowers, to where

The shoulder of that mountain, sloping west,

O'erhangs a cave with wild figs canopied.

Lo! thou who comest thither, bare thy feet

And bow thy head! for all this spacious earth

Hath not a spot more dear and hallowed.

Here Lord Buddha sate the scorching summers through,

The driving rains, the chilly dawns and eves;

Wearing for all men's sakes the yellow robe,

Eating in beggar's guise the scanty meal

Chance-gathered from the charitable; at night

Crouched on the grass, homeless, alone; while yelped

The sleepless jackals round his cave, or coughs

Of famished tiger from the thicket broke.

By day and night here dwelt the World-honoured,

Subduing that fair body born for bliss

With fast and frequent watch and search intense

Of silent meditation, so prolonged

That ofttimes while he mused—as motionless

As the fixed rock his seat—the squirrel leaped

Upon his knee, the timid quail led forth

Her brood between his feet, and blue doves pecked

The rice-grains from the bowl beside his hand.


Thus would he muse from noontide—when the land

Shimmered with heat, and walls and temples danced

In the reeking air—till sunset, noting not

The blazing globe roll down, nor evening glide,

Purple and swift, across the softened fields;

Nor the still coming of the stars, nor throb

Of drum-skins in the busy town, nor screech

Of owl and night jar; wholly wrapt from self

In keen unraveling of the threads of thought

And steadfast pacing of life's labyrinths.

Thus would he sit till midnight hushed the world,

Save where the beasts of darkness in the brake

Crept and cried out, as fear and hatred cry,

As lust and avarice and anger creep

In the black jungles of man's ignorance.

Then slept he for what space the fleet moon asks

To swim a tenth part of her cloudy sea;

But rose ere the false-dawn, and stood again

Wistful on some dark platform of his hill,

Watching the sleeping earth with ardent eyes

And thoughts embracing all its living things,

While o'er the waving fields that murmur moved

Which is the kiss of Morn waking the lands,

And in the east that miracle of Day

Gathered and grew: at first a dusk so dim

Night seems still unaware of whispered dawn,

But soon—before the jungle-cock crows twice—

A white verge clear, a widening, brightening white,

High as the herald-star, which fades in floods

Of silver, warming into pale gold, caught

By topmost clouds, and flaming on their rims

To fervent golden glow, flushed from the brink

With saffron, scarlet, crimson, amethyst;

Whereat the sky burns splendid to the blue,

And, robed in raiment of glad light, the

Song Of Life and Glory cometh!


Then our Lord,

After the manner of a Rishi, hailed

The rising orb, and went—ablutions made—

Down by the winding path unto the town;

And in the fashion of a Rishi passed

From street to street, with begging-bowl in hand,

Gathering the little pittance of his needs.

Soon was it filled, for all the townsmen cried,

"Take of our store, great sir!" and "Take of ours!"

Marking his godlike face and eyes enwrapt;

And mothers, when they saw our Lord go by,

Would bid their children fall to kiss his feet,

And lift his robe's hem to their brows, or run

To fill his jar, and fetch him milk and cakes.

And ofttimes as he paced, gentle and slow,

Radiant with heavenly pity, lost in care

For those he knew not, save as fellow lives,

The dark surprised eyes of some Indian maid

Would dwell in sudden love and worship deep

On that majestic form, as if she saw

Her dreams of tenderest thought made true, and grace

Fairer than mortal fire her breast. But he

Passed onward with the bowl and yellow robe,

By mild speech paying all those gifts of hearts,

Wending his way back to the solitudes

To sit upon his hill with holy men,

And hear and ask of wisdom and its roads.


Midway on Ratnagiri's groves of calm,

Beyond the city, but below the caves,

Lodged such as hold the body foe to soul,

And flesh a beast which men must chain and tame

With bitter pains, till sense of pain is killed,

And tortured nerves vex torturer no more—

Yogis and Brahmacharis, Bhikshus, all—

A gaunt and mournful band, dwelling apart.

Some day and night had stood with lifted arms,

Till—drained of blood and withered by disease

Their slowly-wasting joints and stiffened limbs

Jutted from sapless shoulders like dead forks

from forest trunks.

Others had clenched their hands

So long and with so fierce a fortitude,

The claw-like nails grew through the festered palm.

Some walked on sandals spiked; some with sharp flints

Gashed breast and brow and thigh, scarred these

with fire,

Threaded their flesh with jungle thorns and spits,

Besmeared with mud and ashes, crouching foul

In rags of dead men wrapped about their loins.

Certain there were inhabited the spots

Where death pyres smouldered, cowering defiled

With corpses for their company, and kites

Screaming around them o'er the funeral-spoils;

Certain who cried five hundred times a day

The names of Shiva, wound with darting snakes

About their sun-tanned necks and hollow flanks,

One palsied foot drawn up against the ham.

So gathered they, a grievous company;

Crowns blistered by the blazing heat, eyes bleared,

Sinews and muscles shrivelled, visages

Haggard and wan as slain men's, five days dead;

Here crouched one in the dust who noon by noon

Meted a thousand grains of millet out,

Ate it with famished patience, seed by seed,

And so starved on; there one who bruised his pulse

With bitter leaves lest palate should be pleased;

And next, a miserable saint self-maimed,

Eyeless and tongueless, sexless, crippled, deaf;

The body by the mind being thus stripped

For glory of much suffering, and the bliss

Which they shall win—say holy books—whose woe

Shames gods that send us woe, and makes men gods

Stronger to suffer than hell is to harm.


Whom sadly eyeing spake our Lord to one,

Chief of the woe-begones: "Much-suffering sir

These many moons I dwell upon the hill—

Who am a seeker of the Truth—and see

My brothers here, and thee, so piteously

Self-anguished; wherefore add ye ills to life

Which is so evil?"


 Answer made the sage

"'T is written if a man shall mortify

His flesh, till pain be grown the life he lives

And death voluptuous rest, such woes shall purge

Sin's dross away, and the soul, purified,

Soar from the furnace of its sorrow, winged

For glorious spheres and splendour past all thought."


"Yon cloud which floats in heaven," the Prince replied,

"Wreathed like gold cloth around your Indra's throne,

Rose thither from the tempest-driven sea;

But it must fall again in tearful drops,

Trickling through rough and painful water-ways

By cleft and nullah and the muddy flood,

To Gunga and the sea, wherefrom it sprang.

Know'st thou, my brother, if it be not thus,

After their many pains, with saints in bliss?

Since that which rises falls, and that which buys

Is spent; and if ye buy heaven with your blood

In hell's hard market, when the bargain's through

The toil begins again!"


"It may begin,"

The hermit moaned. “Alas! we know not this,

Nor surely anything; yet after night

Day comes, and after turmoil peace, and we

Hate this accursed flesh which clogs the soul

That fain would rise; so, for the sake of soul,

We stake brief agonies in game with Gods

To gain the larger joys."


 "Yet if they last

A myriad years," he said, "they fade at length,

Those joys; or if not, is there then some life

Below, above, beyond, so unlike life it will not change?

Speak! do your Gods endure

For ever, brothers?"


"Nay," the Yogis said,

"Only great Brahm endures: the Gods but live."


Then spake Lord Buddha: "Will ye, being wise,

As ye seem holy and strong-hearted ones,

Throw these sore dice, which are your groans and moans,

For gains which may be dreams, and must have end?

Will ye, for love of soul, so loathe your flesh,

So scourge and maim it, that it shall not serve

To bear the spirit on, searching for home,

But founder on the track before nightfall,

Like willing steed o’er-spurred? Will ye, sad sirs,

Dismantle and dismember this fair house,

Where we have come to dwell by painful pasts;

Whose windows give us light—the little light

Whereby we gaze abroad to know if dawn

Will break, and whither winds the better road?"


Then cried they, "We have chosen this for road

And tread it, Rajaputra, till the close—

Though all its stones were fire—in trust of death.

Speak, if thou know'st a way more excellent;

If not, peace go with thee!"


 Onward he passed,

Exceeding sorrowful, seeing how men

Fear so to die they are afraid to fear,

Lust so to live they dare not love their life,

But plague it with fierce penances, belike

To please the Gods who grudge pleasure to man;

Belike to balk hell by self-kindled hells;

Belike in holy madness, hoping soul

May break the better through their wasted flesh.

"Oh, flowerets of the field!" Siddartha said,

"Who turn your tender faces to the sun—

Glad of the light, and grateful with sweet breath

Of fragrance and these robes of reverence donned

Silver and gold and purple—none of ye

Miss perfect living, none of ye despoil

Your happy beauty. O, ye palms, which rise

Eager to pierce the sky and drink the wind

Blown from Malaya and the cool blue seas,

What secret know ye that ye grow content,

From time of tender shoot to time of fruit,

Murmuring such sun-songs from your feathered crowns?

Ye, too, who dwell so merry in the trees—

Quick-darting parrots, bee-birds, bulbuls, doves—

None of ye hate your life, none of ye deem

To strain to better by foregoing needs!

But man, who slays ye—being lord—is wise,

And wisdom, nursed on blood, cometh thus forth

In self-tormentings!"


While the Master spake

Blew down the mount the dust of pattering feet,

White goats and black sheep winding slow their way,

With many a lingering nibble at the tufts,

And wanderings from the path, where water gleamed

Or wild figs hung. But always as they strayed

The herdsman cried, or slung his sling, and kept

The silly crowd still moving to the plain.

A ewe with couplets in the flock there was.

Some hurt had lamed one lamb, which toiled behind

Bleeding, while in the front its fellow skipped,

And the vexed dam hither and thither ran,

Fearful to lose this little one or that;

Which when our Lord did mark, full tenderly

He took the limping lamb upon his neck,

Saying: "Poor woolly mother, be at peace!

Whither thou goest I will bear thy care;

'T were all as good to ease one beast of grief

As sit and watch the sorrows of the world

In yonder caverns with the priests who pray."


"But," spake he to the herdsmen, "wherefore, friends,

Drive ye the flocks adown under high noon,

Since 't is at evening that men fold their sheep?"


And answer gave the peasants: "We are sent

To fetch a sacrifice of goats five score,

And five score sheep, the which our Lord the King

Slayeth this night in worship of his gods."


Then said the Master, "I will also go."

So paced he patiently, bearing the lamb

Beside the herdsmen in the dust and sun,

The wistful ewe low-bleating at his feet.


Whom, when they came unto the river-side,

A woman—dove-eyed, young, with tearful face

And lifted hands—saluted, bending low

"Lord! thou art he," she said, "who yesterday

Had pity on me in the fig-grove here,

Where I live lone and reared my child; but he

Straying amid the blossoms found a snake,

Which twined about his wrist, while he did laugh

And tease the quick forked tongue and opened mouth

Of that cold playmate. But, alas! ere long

He turned so pale and still, I could not think

Why he should cease to play, and let my breast

Fall from his lips. And one said, 'He is sick

Of poison'; and another, 'He will die.'

But I, who could not lose my precious boy,

Prayed of them physic, which might bring the light

Back to his eyes; it was so very small

That kiss-mark of the serpent, and I think

It could not hate him, gracious as he was,

Nor hurt him in his sport. And some one said,

'There is a holy man upon the hill

Lo! now he passeth in the yellow robe

Ask of the Rishi if there be a cure

For that which ails thy son. ‘Whereon I came

Trembling to thee, whose brow is like a god's,

And wept and drew the face cloth from my babe,

Praying thee tell what simples might be good.

And thou, great sir, did'st spurn me not, but gaze

With gentle eyes and touch with patient hand;

Then draw the face cloth back, saying to me,

'Yea, little sister, there is that might heal

Thee first, and him, if thou couldst fetch the thing;

For they who seek physicians bring to them

What is ordained. Therefore, I pray thee, find

Black mustard-seed, a tola; only mark

Thou take it not from any hand or house

Where father, mother, child, or slave hath died;

It shall be well if thou canst find such seed.'

Thus didst thou speak, my Lord!"


 The Master smiled

Exceeding tenderly. “Yea, I spake thus,

Dear Kisagotami! But didst thou find The seed?"


"I went, Lord, clasping to my breast

The babe, grown colder, asking at each hut—

Here in the jungle and towards the town—

'I pray you, give me mustard, of your grace,

A tola-black'; and each who had it gave,

For all the poor are piteous to the poor;

But when I asked, 'In my friend's household here

Hath any peradventure ever died

Husband or wife, or child, or slave?' they said:

'O sister! what is this you ask? the dead

Are very many, and the living few!'

So with sad thanks I gave the mustard back,

And prayed of others; but the others said,

Here is the seed, but we have lost our slave.'

'Here is the seed, but our good man is dead!'

'Here is some seed, but he that sowed it died

Between the rain-time and the harvesting!'

Ah, sir! I could not find a single house

Where there was mustard-seed and none had died!

Therefore I left my child—who would not suck

Nor smile—beneath the wild vines by the stream,

To seek thy face and kiss thy feet, and pray

Where I might find this seed and find no death,

If now, indeed, my baby be not dead,

As I do fear, and as they said to me."


"My sister! thou hast found," the Master said,

"Searching for what none finds—that bitter balm

I had to give thee. He thou lovest slept

Dead on thy bosom yesterday: today

Thou know'st the whole wide world weeps with thy woe

The grief which all hearts share grows less for one.

Lo! I would pour my blood if it could stay

Thy tears and win the secret of that curse

Which makes sweet love our anguish, and which drives

O'er flowers and pastures to the sacrifice

As these dumb beasts are driven—men their lords.

I seek that secret: bury thou thy child!"


So entered they the city side by side,

The herdsmen and the Prince, what time the sun

Gilded slow Sona's distant stream, and threw

Long shadows down the street and through the gate

Where the King's men kept watch. But when they saw

Our Lord bearing the lamb, the guards stood back,

The market-people drew their wains aside,

In the bazaar buyers and sellers stayed

The war of tongues to gaze on that mild face;

The smith, with lifted hammer in his hand,

Forgot to strike; the weaver left his web,

The scribe his scroll, the money-changer lost

His count of cowries; from the unwatched rice

Shiva's white bull fed free; the wasted milk

Ran o'er the lota while the milkers watched

The passage of our Lord moving so meek,

With yet so beautiful a majesty.

But most the women gathering in the doors

Asked: "Who is this that brings the sacrifice,

So graceful and peace-giving as he goes?

What is his caste? whence hath he eyes so sweet?

Can he be Sakra or the Devaraj?"

And others said, "It is the holy man

Who dwelleth with the Rishis on the hill."

But the Lord paced, in meditation lost,

Thinking, "Alas! for all my sheep which have

No shepherd; wandering in the night with none

To guide them; bleating blindly towards the knife

Of Death, as these dumb beasts which are their kin."


Then some one told the King, "There cometh here

A holy hermit, bringing down the flock

Which thou didst bid to crown the sacrifice."


The King stood in his hall of offering.

On either hand, the white-robed Brahmans ranged

Muttered their mantras, feeding still the fire

Which roared upon the midmost altar. There

From scented woods flickered bright tongues of flame,

Hissing and curling as they licked the gifts

Of ghee and spices and the soma juice,

The joy of Iudra. Round about the pile

A slow, thick, scarlet streamlet smoked and ran,

Sucked by the sand, but ever rolling down,

The blood of bleating victims. One such lay,

A spotted goat, long-horned, its head bound back

With munja grass; at its stretched throat the knife

Pressed by a priest, who murmured: "This, dread gods,

Of many yajnas cometh as the crown

From Bimbasara: take ye joy to see

The spirted blood, and pleasure in the scent

Of rich flesh roasting 'mid the fragrant flames;

Let the King's sins be laid upon this goat,

And let the fire consume them burning it,

For now I strike."


But Buddha softly said,

"Let him not strike, great King!" and therewith loosed

The victim's bonds, none staying him, so great

His presence was. Then, craving leave, he spake

Of life, which all can take but none can give,

Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep,

Wonderful, dear and pleasant unto each,

Even to the meanest; yea, a boon to all

Where pity is, for pity makes the world

Soft to the weak and noble for the strong.

Unto the dumb lips of his flock he lent

Sad pleading words, showing how man, who prays

For mercy to the gods, is merciless,

Being as god to those; albeit all life

Is linked and kin, and what we slay have given

Meek tribute of the milk and wool, and set

Fast trust upon the hands which murder them.

Also he spake of what the holy books

Do surely teach, how that at death some sink

To bird and beast, and these rise up to man

In wanderings of the spark which grows purged flame.

So were the sacrifice new sin, if so

The fated passage of a soul be stayed.

Nor, spake he, shall one wash his spirit clean

By blood; nor gladden gods, being good, with blood;

Nor bribe them, being evil; nay, nor lay

Upon the brow of innocent bound beasts

One hair's weight of that answer all must give

For all things done amiss or wrongfully,

Alone, each for himself, reckoning with that

The fixed arithmic of the universe,

Which meteth good for good and ill for ill,

Measure for measure, unto deeds, words, thoughts;

Watchful, aware, implacable, unmoved;

Making all futures fruits of all the pasts.

Thus spake he, breathing words so piteous

With such high lordliness of ruth and right,

The priests drew back their garments o'er the hands

Crimsoned with slaughter, and the King came near,

Standing with clasped palms reverencing Buddh;

While still our Lord went on, teaching how fair

This earth were if all living things be linked

In friendliness, and common use of foods

Bloodless and pure; the golden grain, bright fruits,

Sweet herbs which grow for all, the waters wan,

Sufficient drinks and meats. Which when these heard,

The might of gentleness so conquered them,

The priests themselves scattered their altar-flames

And flung away the steel of sacrifice;

And through the land next day passed a decree

Proclaimed by criers, and in this wise graved

On rock and column: "Thus the King's will is:

There hath been slaughter for the sacrifice,

And slaying for the meat, but henceforth none

Shall spill the blood of life nor taste of flesh,

Seeing that knowledge grows, and life is one,

And mercy cometh to the merciful."

So ran the edict, and from those days forth

Sweet peace hath spread between all living kind,

Man and the beasts which serve him, and the birds,

On all those banks of Gunga where our Lord

Taught with his saintly pity and soft speech.


For aye so piteous was the Master's heart

To all that breathe this breath of fleeting life,

Yoked in one fellowship of joys and pains,

That it is written in the holy books

How, in an ancient age—when Buddha wore

A Brahman's form, dwelling upon the rock

Named Munda, by the village of Dalidd—

Drought withered all the land: the young rice died

Ere it could hide a quail; in forest glades

A fierce sun sucked the pools; grasses and herbs

Sickened, and all the woodland creatures fled

Scattering for sustenance. At such a time,

Between the hot walls of a nullah, stretched

On naked stones, our Lord spied, as he passed,

A starving tigress. Hunger in her orbs

Glared with green flame; her dry tongue lolled a span

Beyond the gasping jaws and shrivelled jowl;

Her painted hide hung wrinkled on her ribs,

As when between the rafters sinks a thatch

Rotten with rains; and at the poor lean dugs

Two cubs, whining with famine, tugged and sucked,

Mumbling those milkless teats which rendered nought,

While she, their gaunt dam, licked full motherly

The clamorous twins, yielding her flank to them

With moaning throat, and love stronger than want,

Softening the first of that wild cry wherewith

She laid her famished muzzle to the sand

And roared a savage thunder-peal of woe.

Seeing which bitter strait, and heeding nought

Save the immense compassion of a Buddh,

Our Lord bethought, "There is no other way

To help this murdress of the woods but one.

By sunset these will die, having no meat:

There is no living heart will pity her,

Bloody with ravin, lean for lack of blood.

Lo! if I feed her, who shall lose but I,

And how can love lose doing of its kind

Even to the uttermost?” So saying, Buddh

Silently laid aside sandals and staff,

His sacred thread, turban, and cloth, and came

Forth from behind the milk-bush on the sand,

Saying, "Ho! mother, here is meat for thee!"

Whereat the perishing beast yelped hoarse and shrill,

Sprang from her cubs, and, hurling to the earth

That willing victim, had her feast of him

With all the crooked daggers of her claws

Rending his flesh, and all her yellow fangs

Bathed in his blood: the great cat's burning breath

Mixed with the last sigh of such fearless love.


Thus large the Master's heart was long ago,

Not only now, when with his gracious ruth

He bade cease cruel worship of the gods.

And much King Bimbasara prayed our Lord—

Learning his royal birth and holy search—

To tarry in that city, saying oft

"Thy princely state may not abide such fasts;

Thy hands were made for sceptres, not for alms.

Sojourn with me, who have no son to rule,

And teach my kingdom wisdom, till I die,

Lodged in my palace with a beauteous bride."

But ever spake Siddartha, of set mind

"These things I had, most noble King, and left,

Seeking the Truth; which still I seek, and shall;

Not to be stayed though Sakra's palace ope'd

Its doors of pearl and Devis wooed me in.

I go to build the Kingdom of the Law, journeying to

Gaya and the forest shades,

Where, as I think, the light will come to me;

For nowise here among the Rishis comes

That light, nor from the Shasters, nor from fasts

Borne till the body faints, starved by the soul.

Yet there is light to reach and truth to win;

And surely, O true Friend, if I attain

I will return and quit thy love."



Thrice round the Prince King Bimbasara paced,

Reverently bending to the Master's feet,

And bade him speed. So passed our Lord away

Towards Uravilva, not yet comforted,

And wan of face, and weak with six years' quest.

But they upon the hill and in the grove—

Alara, Udra, and the ascetics five—

Had stayed him, saying all was written clear

In holy Shasters, and that none might win

Higher than Sruti and than Smriti—nay,

Not the chief saints!—for how should mortal man

Be wiser than the Jnana-Kand, which tells

How Brahm is bodiless and actionless,

Passionless, calm, unqualified, unchanged,

Pure life, pure thought, pure joy? Or how should man

Its better than the Karmma-Kand, which shows

How he may strip passion and action off,

Break from the bond of self, and so, unsphered,

Be God, and melt into the vast divine,

Flying from false to true, from wars of sense

To peace eternal, where the silence lives?


But the prince heard them, not yet comforted.

Book The Sixth

Thou who wouldst see where dawned the light at last,

North-westwards from the "Thousand Gardens" go

By Gunga's valley till thy steps be set

On the green hills where those twin streamlets spring

Nilajan and Mohana; follow them,

Winding beneath broad-leaved mahua-trees,

'Mid thickets of the sansar and the bir,

Till on the plain the shining sisters meet

In Phalgu's bed, flowing by rocky banks

To Gaya and the red Barabar hills.

Hard by that river spreads a thorny waste,

Uruwelaya named in ancient days,

With sandhills broken; on its verge a wood

Waves sea-green plumes and tassels 'thwart the sky,

With undergrowth wherethrough a still flood steals,

Dappled with lotus-blossoms, blue and white,

And peopled with quick fish and tortoises.

Near it the village of Senani reared

Its roofs of grass, nestled amid the palms,

Peaceful with simple folk and pastoral toils.


There in the sylvan solitudes once more

Lord Buddha lived, musing the woes of men,

The ways of fate, the doctrines of the books,

The lessons of the creatures of the brake,

The secrets of the silence whence all come,

The secrets of the gloom whereto all go,

The life which lies between, like that arch flung

From cloud to cloud across the sky, which hath

Mists for its masonry and vapoury piers,

Melting to void again which was so fair

With sapphire hues, garnet, and chrysoprase.

Moon after moon our Lord sate in the wood,

So meditating these that he forgot

Ofttimes the hour of food, rising from thoughts

Prolonged beyond the sunrise and the noon

To see his bowl unfilled, and eat perforce

Of wild fruit fallen from the boughs o'erhead,

Shaken to earth by chattering ape or plucked

By purple parokeet. Therefore his grace

Faded; his body, worn by stress of soul,

Lost day by day the marks, thirty and two,

Which testify the Buddha. Scarce that leaf,

Fluttering so dry and withered to his feet

From off the sal-branch, bore less likeliness

Of spring's soft greenery than he of him

Who was the princely flower of all his land.


And once at such a time the o'erwrought Prince

Fell to the earth in deadly swoon, all spent,

Even as one slain, who hath no longer breath

Nor any stir of blood; so wan he was,

So motionless. But there came by that way

A shepherd-boy, who saw Siddartha lie

With lids fast-closed, and lines of nameless pain

Fixed on his lips—the fiery noonday sun

Beating upon his head—who, plucking boughs

From wild rose-apple trees, knitted them thick

Into a bower to shade the sacred face.

Also he poured upon the Master's lips

Drops of warm milk, pressed from his she-goat's bag,

Lest, being of low caste, he do wrong to one

So high and holy seeming. But the books

Tell how the jambu-branches, planted thus,

Shot with quick life in wealth of leaf and flower

And glowing fruitage interlaced and close,

So that the bower grew like a tent of silk

Pitched for a king at hunting, decked with studs

Of silver-work and bosses of red gold.

And the boy worshipped, deeming him some God;

But our Lord, gaining breath, arose and asked

Milk in the shepherd's lots. "Ah, my Lord,

I cannot give thee," quoth the lad; "thou seest

I am a Sudra, and my touch defiles!"

Then the World-honoured spake: "Pity and need

Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood,

Which runneth of one hue, nor caste in tears,

Which trickle salt with all; neither comes man

To birth with tilka-mark stamped on the brow,

Nor sacred thread on neck. Who doth right deeds

Is twice-born, and who doeth ill deeds vile.

Give me to drink, my brother; when I come

Unto my quest it shall be good for thee."

Thereat the peasant's heart was glad, and gave.


And on another day there passed that road

A band of tinselled, girls, the nautch-dancers

Of Indra's temple in the town, with those

Who made their music—one that beat a drum

Set round with peacock-feathers, one that blew

The piping bansuli, and one that twitched

A three-string sitar. Lightly tripped they down

From ledge to ledge and through the chequered paths

To some gay festival, the silver bells

Chiming soft peals about the small brown feet,

Armlets and wrist-rings tattling answer shrill;

While he that bore the sitar thrummed and twanged

His threads of brass, and she beside him sang—


"Fair goes the dancing when the sitar's tuned;

Tune us the sitar neither low nor high,

And we will dance away the hearts of men.


"The string o'erstretched breaks, and the music flies,

The string o'erslack is dumb, and music dies;

Tune us the sitar neither low nor high."


"So sang the nautch-girl to the pipe and wires,

Fluttering like some vain, painted butterfly

From glade to glade along the forest path,

Nor dreamed her light words echoed on the ear

Of him, that holy man, who sate so rapt

Under the fig-tree by the path. But Buddh

Lifted his great brow as the wantons passed,

And spake: 'The foolish ofttimes teach the wise;

I strain too much this string of life, belike,

Meaning to make such music as shall save.

Mine eyes are dim now that they see the truth,

My strength is waned now that my need is most;

Would that I had such help as man must have,

For I shall die, whose life was all men's hope.'"


Now, by that river dwelt a landholder

Pious and rich, master of many herds,

A goodly chief, the friend of all the poor;

And from his house the village drew its name—

"Senani." Pleasant and in peace he lived,

Having for wife Sujata, loveliest

Of all the dark-eyed daughters of the plain;

Gentle and true, simple and kind was she,

Noble of mien, with gracious speech to all

And gladsome looks—a pearl of womanhood—

Passing calm years of household happiness

Beside her lord in that still Indian home,

Save that no male child blessed their wedded love.

Wherefore with many prayers she had besought

Lukshmi, and many nights at full-moon gone

Round the great Lingam, nine times nine, with gifts

Of rice and jasmine wreaths and sandal oil,

Praying a boy; also Sujata vowed—

If this should be—an offering of food

Unto the Wood-God, plenteous, delicate,

Set in a bowl of gold under his tree,

Such as the lips of Devs may taste and take.

And this had been: for there was born to her

A beauteous boy, now three months old, who lay

Between Sujata's breasts, while she did pace

With grateful footsteps to the Wood-God's shrine,

One arm clasping her crimson sari close

To wrap the babe, that jewel of her joys,

The other lifted high in comely curve

To steady on her head the bowl and dish

Which held the dainty victuals for the God.


But Radha, sent before to sweep the ground

And tie the scarlet threads around the tree,

Came eager, crying, "Ah, dear Mistress! look!

There is the Wood-God sitting in his place,

Revealed, with folded hands upon his knees.

See how the light shines round about his brow!

How mild and great he seems, with heavenly eyes!

Good fortune is it thus to meet the gods."


So,—thinking him divine,—Sujata drew

Tremblingly nigh, and kissed the earth and said,

With sweet face bent: "Would that the Holy One

Inhabiting his grove, Giver of good,

Merciful unto me his handmaiden,

Vouchsafing now his presence, might accept

These our poor gifts of snowy curds, fresh made,

With milk as white as new-carved ivory!"


Therewith into the golden bowl she poured

The curds and milk, and on the hands of Buddh

Dropped attar from a crystal flask-distilled

Out of the hearts of roses; and he ate,

Speaking no word, while the glad mother stood

In reverence apart. But of that meal

So wondrous was the virtue that our Lord

Felt strength and life return as though the nights

Of watching and the days of fast had passed

In dream, as though the spirit with the flesh

Shared that fine meat and plumed its wings anew,

Like some delighted bird at sudden streams

Weary with flight o'er endless wastes of sand,

Which laves the desert dust from neck and crest—

And more Sujata worshipped, seeing our Lord

Grow fairer and his countenance more bright:

"Art thou indeed the God?" she lowly asked,

"And hath my gift found favour?"


But Buddh said, "What is it thou dost bring me?"


"Holy one!"

Answered Sujata, "from our droves I took

Milk of a hundred mothers newly-calved,

And with that milk I fed fifty white cows,

And with their milk twenty-and-five, and then

With theirs twelve more, and yet again with theirs

The six noblest and best of all our herds,

That yield I boiled with sandal and fine spice

In silver lotas, adding rice, well grown

From chosen seed, set in new-broken ground,

So picked that every grain was like a pearl.

This did I of true heart, because I vowed,

Under thy tree, if I should bear a boy

I would make offering for my joy, and now

I have my son and all my life is bliss!"


Softly our Lord drew down the crimson fold,

And, laying on the little head those hands

Which help the world, he said: "Long be thy bliss!

And lightly fall on him the load of life!

For thou hast holpen me who am no God,

But one thy Brother; heretofore a Prince

And now a wanderer, seeking night and day

These six hard years that light which somewhere shines

To lighten all men's darkness, if they knew!

And I shall find the light; yea, now it dawned

Glorious and helpful, when my weak flesh failed

Which this pure food, fair Sister, hath restored,

Drawn manifold through lives to quicken life

As life itself passes by many births

To happier heights and purging off of sins.

Yet dost thou truly find it sweet enough

Only to live? Can life and love suffice?"


Answered Sujata: "Worshipful! my heart

Is little, and a little rain will fill

The lily's cup which hardly moists the field.

It is enough for me to feel life's sun

Shine in my lord's grace and my baby's smile,

Making the loving summer of our home.

Pleasant my days pass filled with household cares

From sunrise when I wake to praise the gods,

And give forth grain, and trim the tulsi-plant,

And set my handmaids to their tasks, till noon

When my lord lays his head upon my lap

Lulled by soft songs and wavings of the fan;

And so to supper-time at quiet eve,

When by his side I stand and serve the cakes.

Then the stars light their silver lamps for sleep,

After the temple and the talk with friends.

How should I not be happy, blest so much,

And bearing him this boy whose tiny hand

Shall lead his soul to Swerga, if it need?

For holy books teach when a man shall plant

Trees for the travelers' shade, and dig a well

For the folks' comfort, and beget a son,

It shall be good for such after their death;

And what the books say, that I humbly take,

Being not wiser than those great of old

Who spake with gods, and knew the hymns and charms,

And all the ways of virtue and of peace.

Also I think that good must come of good

And ill of evil—surely—unto all—

In every place and time—seeing sweet fruit

Groweth from wholesome roots, and bitter things

From poison-stocks; yea, seeing, too, how spite

Breeds hate, and kindness friends, and patience peace

Even while we live; and when 't is willed we die

Shall there not be as good a `Then' as `Now'?

Haply much better! since one grain of rice

Shoots a green feather gemmed with fifty pearls,

And all the starry champak's white and gold

Lurks in those little, naked, grey spring-buds.

Ah, Sir! I know there might be woes to bear

Would lay fond Patience with her face in dust;

If this my babe pass first I think my heart

Would break—almost I hope my heart would break!

That I might clasp him dead and wait my lord

In whatsoever world holds faithful wives—

Duteous, attending till his hour should come.

But if Death called Senani, I should mount

The pile and lay that dear head in my lap,

My daily way, rejoicing when the torch

Lit the quick flame and rolled the choking smoke.

For it is written if an Indian wife

Die so, her love shall give her husband's soul

For every hair upon her head a crore

Of years in Swerga. Therefore fear I not.

And therefore, Holy Sir! my life is glad,

Nowise forgetting yet those other lives

Painful and poor, wicked and miserable,

Whereon the gods grant pity! but for me,

What good I see humbly I seek to do,

And live obedient to the law, in trust

That what will come, and must come, shall come well."


Then spake our Lord: "Thou teachest them who teach,

Wiser than wisdom in thy simple lore.

Be thou content to know not, knowing thus

Thy way of right and duty: grow, thou flower

With thy sweet kind in peaceful shade—the light

Of Truth's high noon is not for tender leaves

Which must spread broad in other suns and lift

In later lives a crowned head to the sky.

Thou who hast worshipped me, I worship thee!

Excellent heart! learned unknowingly,

As the dove is which flieth home by love.

In thee is seen why there is hope for man

And where we hold the wheel of life at will.

Peace go with thee, and comfort all thy days!

As thou accomplishest, may I achieve!

He whom thou thoughtest God bids thee wish this."


"May'st thou achieve," she said, with earnest eyes

Bent on her babe, who reached its tender hands

To Buddh—knowing, belike, as children know,

More than we deem, and reverencing our Lord;

But he arose—made strong with that pure meat—

And bent his footsteps where a great Tree grew,

The Bodhi-tree (thenceforward in all years

Never to fade, and ever to be kept

In homage of the world), beneath whose leaves

It was ordained that Truth should come to Buddh

Which now the Master knew; wherefore he went

With measured pace, steadfast, majestical,

Unto the Tree of Wisdom. Oh, ye Worlds!

Rejoice! our Lord wended unto the Tree!


Whom—as he passed into its ample shade,

Cloistered with columned dropping stems, and roofed

With vaults of glistening green—the conscious earth

Worshipped with waving grass and sudden flush

Of flowers about his feet. The forest-boughs

Bent down to shade him; from the river sighed

Cool wafts of wind laden with lotus-scents

Breathed by the water-gods. Large wondering eyes

Of woodland creatures—panther, boar, and deer—

At peace that eve, gazed on his face benign

From cave and thicket. From its cold cleft wound

The mottled deadly snake, dancing its hood

In honour of our Lord; bright butterflies

Fluttered their vans, azure and green and gold,

To be his fan-bearers; the fierce kite dropped

Its prey and screamed; the striped palm-squirrel raced

From stem to stem to see; the weaver-bird

Chirped from her swinging nest; the lizard ran;

The koil sang her hymn; the doves flocked round;

Even the creeping things were 'ware and glad.

Voices of earth and air joined in one song,

Which unto ears that hear said: "Lord and Friend!

Lover and Saviour! Thou who hast subdued

Angers and prides, desires and fears and doubts,

Thou that for each and all hast given thyself,

Pass to the Tree! The sad world blesseth thee

Who art the Buddh that shall assuage her woes.

Pass, Hailed and Honoured! strive thy last for us,

King and high Conqueror! thine hour is come;

This is the Night the ages waited for!"


Then fell the night even as our Master sate

Under that Tree. But he who is the Prince

Of Darkness, Mara—knowing this was Buddh

Who should deliver men, and now the hour

When he should find the Truth and save the worlds—

Gave unto all his evil powers command.

Wherefore there trooped from every deepest pit

The fiends who war with Wisdom and the Light,

Arati, Trishna, Raga, and their crew

Of passions, horrors, ignorances, lusts.

The brood of gloom and dread; all hating Buddh,

Seeking to shake his mind; nor knoweth one,

Not even the wisest, how those fiends of Hell

Battled that night to keep the Truth from Buddh:

Sometimes with terrors of the tempest, blasts

Of demon-armies clouding all the wind,

With thunder, and with blinding lightning flung

In jagged javelins of purple wrath

From splitting skies; sometimes with wiles and words

Fair-sounding, 'mid hushed leaves and softened airs

From shapes of witching beauty; wanton songs,

Whispers of love; sometimes with royal allures

Of proffered rule; sometimes with mocking doubts,

Making truth vain. But whether these befell

Without and visible, or whether Buddh

Strove with fell spirits in his inmost heart,

Judge ye:—I write what ancient books have writ.


The ten chief Sins came—Mara's mighty ones,

Angels of evil—Attavada first,

The Sin of Self, who in the Universe

As in a mirror sees her fond face shown,

And crying "I" would have the world say "I,"

And all things perish so if she endure.

"If thou be'st Buddh," she said, "let others grope

Lightless; it is enough that thou art Thou

Changelessly; rise and take the bliss of gods

Who change not, heed not, strive not."

But Buddh spake,

"The right in thee is base, the wrong a curse;

Cheat such as love themselves.” Then came wan Doubt,

He that denies—the mocking Sin—and this

Hissed in the Master's ear: "All things are shows,

And vain the knowledge of their vanity;

Thou dost but chase the shadow of thyself;

Rise and go hence, there is no better way

Than patient scorn, nor any help for man,

Nor any staying of his whirling wheel."

But quoth our Lord, "Thou hast no part with me,

False Visikitcha, subtlest of man's foes."

And third came she who gives dark creeds their power,

Silabbat-paramasa, sorceress,

Draped fair in many lands as lowly Faith,

But ever juggling souls with rites and prayers;

The keeper of those keys which lock up Hells

And open Heavens.

"Wilt thou dare," she said,

"Put by our sacred books, dethrone our gods,

Unpeople all the temples, shaking down

That law which feeds the priests and props the realms?"

But Buddha answered, "What thou bidd'st me keep

Is form which passes, but the free Truth stands;

Get thee unto thy darkness."

Next there drew

Gallantly nigh a braver Tempter, he,

Kama, the King of passions, who hath sway

Over the gods themselves, lord of all loves,

Ruler of Pleasure's realm. Laughing he came

Unto the Tree, bearing his bow of gold

Wreathed with red blooms, and arrows of desire

Pointed with five-tongued delicate flame which stings

The heart it smites sharper than poisoned barb.

And round him came into that lonely place

Bands of bright shapes with heavenly eyes and lips

Singing in lovely words the praise of Love

To music of invisible sweet chords,

So witching, that it seemed the night stood still

To hear them, and the listening stars and moon,

Paused in their orbits while these hymned to Buddh

Of lost delights, and how a mortal man

Findeth nought dearer in the three wide worlds

Than are the yielded loving fragrant breasts

Of Beauty and the rosy breast-blossoms,

Love's rubies; nay, and toucheth nought more high

Than is that dulcet harmony of form

Seen in the lines and charms of loveliness

Unspeakable, yet speaking, soul to soul,

Owned by the bounding blood, worshipped by will

Which leaps to seize it, knowing this is best,

This the true heaven where mortals are like gods,

Makers and Masters, this the gift of gifts

Ever renewed and worth a thousand woes.

For who hath grieved when soft arms shut him safe,

And all life melted to a happy sigh,

And all the world was given in one warm kiss?

So sang, they with soft float of beckoning hands,

Eyes lighted with love-flames, alluring smiles;

In dainty dance their supple sides and limbs

Revealing and concealing like burst buds

Which tell their colour, but hide yet their hearts.

Never so matchless grace delighted eye

As troop by troop these midnight-dancers swept

Nearer the Tree, each daintier than the last,

Murmuring, "O great Siddartha! I am thine,

Taste of my mouth and see if youth is sweet!"

Also, when nothing moved our Master's mind,

Lo! Kama waved his magic bow, and lo!

The band of dancers opened, and a shape

Fairest and stateliest of the throng came forth

Wearing the guise of sweet Yasodhara.

Tender the passion of those dark eyes seemed

Brimming with tears; yearning those outspread arms

Opened towards him; musical that moan

Wherewith the beauteous shadow named his name,

Sighing: "My Prince! I die for lack of thee!

What heaven hast thou found like that we knew

By bright Rohini in the Pleasure-house,

Where all these weary years I weep for thee?

Return, Siddartha! ah, return! But touch

My lips again, but let me to thy breast

Once, and these fruitless dreams will end! Ah, look!

Am I not she thou lovedst?” But Buddh said:

"For that sweet sake of her thou playest thus

Fair and false Shadow, is thy playing vain;

I curse thee not who wear'st a form so dear,

Yet as thou art, so are all earthly shows.

Melt to thy void again!" Thereat a cry

Thrilled through the grove, and all that comely rout

Faded with flickering wafts of flame, and trail

Of vaporous ropes.


Next under darkening skies

And noise of rising storm came fiercer Sins

The rearmost of the Ten, Patigha—Hate—

With serpents coiled about her waist, which suck

Poisonous milk from both her hanging dugs,

And with her curses mix their angry hiss.

Little wrought she upon that Holy One

Who with his calm eyes dumbed her bitter lips

And made her black snakes writhe to hide their fangs.

Then followed Ruparaga—Lust of days—

That sensual Sin which out of greed for life

Forgets to live; and next him Lust of Fame,

Nobler Aruparaga, she whose spell

Beguiles the wise, mother of daring deeds,

Battles and toils. And haughty Mano came,

The Fiend of Pride; and smooth Self-Righteousness.

Uddhachcha; and—with many a hideous band

Of vile and formless things, which crept and flapped

Toad-like and bat-like—Ignorance, the Dam

Of Fear and Wrong, Avidya, hideous hag,

Whose footsteps left the midnight darker, while

The rooted mountains shook, the wild winds howled,

The broken clouds shed from their caverns streams

Of levin-lighted rain; stars shot from heaven,

The solid earth shuddered as if one laid

Flame to her gaping wounds; the torn black air

Was full of whistling wings, of screams and yells,

Of evil faces peering, of vast fronts

Terrible and majestic, Lords of Hell

Who from a thousand Limbos led their troops

To tempt the Master.


But Buddh heeded not,

Sitting serene, with perfect virtue walled

As is a stronghold by its gates and ramps;

Also the Sacred Tree—the Bodhi-tree—

Amid that tumult stirred not, but each leaf

Glistened as still as when on moonlit eves

No zephyr spills the glittering gems of dew;

For all this clamour raged outside the shade

Spread by those cloistered stems.


 In the third watch,

The earth being still, the hellish legions fled,

A soft air breathing from the sinking moon,

Our Lord attained samma-sambuddh; he saw

By light which shines beyond our mortal ken

The line of all his lives in all the worlds,

Far back and farther back and farthest yet,

Five hundred lives and fifty. Even as one,

At rest upon a mountain-summit, marks

His path wind up by precipice and crag

Past thick-set woods shrunk to a patch; through bogs

Glittering false-green; down hollows where he toiled

Breathless; on dizzy ridges where his feet

Had well-nigh slipped; beyond the sunny lawns,

The cataract and the cavern and the pool,

Backward to those dim flats wherefrom he sprang

To reach the blue—thus Buddha did behold

Life's upward steps long-linked, from levels low

Where breath is base, to higher slopes and higher

Whereon the ten great Virtues wait to lead

The climber skyward. Also, Buddha saw

How new life reaps what the old life did sow;

How where its march breaks off its march begins;

Holding the gain and answering for the loss;

And how in each life good begets more good,

Evil fresh evil; Death but casting up

Debit or credit, whereupon th' account

In merits or demerits stamps itself

By sure arithmic—where no tittle drops—

Certain and just, on some new-springing life;

Wherein are packed and scored past thoughts and deeds,

Strivings and triumphs, memories and marks

Of lives foregone:


 And in the middle watch,

Our Lord attained Abhidjna—insight vast

Ranging beyond this sphere to spheres unnamed,

System on system, countless worlds and suns

Moving in splendid measures, band by band

Linked in division, one yet separate,

The silver islands of a sapphire sea

Shoreless, unfathomed, undiminished, stirred

With waves which roll in restless tides of change.

He saw those Lords of Light who hold their worlds

By bonds invisible, how they themselves

Circle obedient round mightier orbs

Which serve profounder splendours, star to star

Flashing the ceaseless radiance of life

From centres ever shifting unto cirques

Knowing no uttermost. These he beheld

With unsealed vision, and of all those worlds,

Cycle on epicycle, all their tale

Of Kalpas, Mahakalpas—terms of time

Which no man grasps, yea, though he knew to count

The drops in Gunga from her springs to the sea,

Measureless unto speech—whereby these wax

And wane; whereby each of this heavenly host

Fulfils its shining life and darkling dies.

Sakwal by Sakwal, depths and heights be passed

Transported through the blue infinitudes,

Marking—behind all modes, above all spheres,

Beyond the burning impulse of each orb—

That fixed decree at silent work which wills

Evolve the dark to light, the dead to life,

To fulness void, to form the yet unformed,

Good unto better, better unto best,

By wordless edict; having none to bid,

None to forbid; for this is past all gods

Immutable, unspeakable, supreme,

A Power which builds, unbuilds, and builds again,

Ruling all things accordant to the rule

Of virtue, which is beauty, truth, and use.

So that all things do well which serve the Power,

And ill which hinder; nay, the worm does well

Obedient to its kind; the hawk does well

Which carries bleeding quarries to its young;

The dewdrop and the star shine sisterly,

Globing together in the common work;

And man, who lives to die, dies to live well

So if he guide his ways by blamelessness

And earnest will to hinder not but help

All things both great and small which suffer life.

These did our Lord see in the middle watch.


But when the fourth watch came the secret came

Of Sorrow, which with evil mars the law,

As damp and dross hold back the goldsmith's fire.

Then was the Dukha-satya opened him

First of the "Noble Truths"; how Sorrow is

Shadow to life, moving where life doth move;

Not to be laid aside until one lays

Living aside, with all its changing states,

Birth, growth, decay, love, hatred, pleasure, pain,

Being and doing. How that none strips off

These sad delights and pleasant griefs who lacks

Knowledge to know them snares; but he who knows

Avidya—Delusion—sets those snares,

Loves life no longer but ensues escape.

The eyes of such a one are wide; he sees

Delusion breeds Sankhara, Tendency

Perverse: Tendency Energy—Vidnnan—

Whereby comes Namarupa, local form

And name and bodiment, bringing the man

With senses naked to the sensible,

A helpless mirror of all shows which pass

Across his heart; and so Vendana grows—

"Sense-life "—false in its gladness, fell in sadness,

But sad or glad, the Mother of Desire,

Trishna, that thirst which makes the living drink

Deeper and deeper of the false salt waves

Whereon they float—pleasures, ambitions, wealth,

Praise, fame, or domination, conquest, love;

Rich meats and robes, and fair abodes, and pride

Of ancient lines, and lust of days, and strife

To live, and sins that flow from strife, some sweet,

Some bitter. Thus Life's thirst quenches itself

With draughts which double thirst; but who is wise

Tears from his soul this Trishna, feeds his sense

No longer on false shows, fills his firm mind

To seek not, strive not, wrong not; bearing meek

All ills which flow from foregone wrongfulness,

And so constraining passions that they die

Famished; till all the sum of ended life—

The Karma—all that total of a soul

Which is the things it did, the thoughts it had,

The "Self" it wove—with woof of viewless time,

Crossed on the warp invisible of acts—

The outcome of him on the Universe,

Grows pure and sinless; either never more

Needing to find a body and a place,

Or so informing what fresh frame it takes

In new existence that the new toils prove

Lighter and lighter not to be at all,

Thus "finishing the Path"; free from Earth's cheats;

Released from all the skandhas of the flesh;

Broken from ties—from Upandanas—saved

From whirling on the wheel; aroused and sane

As is a man wakened from hateful dreams;

Until—greater than Kings, than Gods more glad!—

The aching craze to live ends, and life glides—

Lifeless—to nameless quiet, nameless joy,

Blessed NIRVANA—sinless, stirless rest

That change which never changes!


 Lo! the Dawn

Sprang with Buddh's Victory! lo! in the East

Flamed the first fires of beauteous day, poured forth

Through fleeting folds of Night's black drapery.

High in the widening blue the herald-star

Faded to paler silver as there shot

Brighter and brighter bars of rosy gleam

Across the grey. Far off the shadowy hills

Saw the great Sun, before the world was 'ware,

And donned their crowns of crimson; flower by flower

Felt the warm breath of Morn and 'gan unfold

Their tender lids. Over the spangled grass

Swept the swift footsteps of the lovely Light,

Turning the tears of Night to joyous gems,

Decking the earth with radiance, 'broidering

The sinking storm-clouds with a golden fringe;

Gilding the feathers of the palms, which waved

Glad salutation; darting beams of gold

Into the glades; touching with magic wand

The stream to rippled ruby; in the brake

Finding the mild eyes of the antelopes

And saying, "It is day"; in nested sleep

Touching the small heads under many a wing

And whispering, "Children, praise the light of day!"

Whereat there piped anthems of all the birds!

The koil's fluted song, the bulbul's hymn,

The "morning, morning" of the painted thrush,

The twitter of the sunbirds starting forth

To find the honey ere the bees be out,

The grey crow's caw, the parrot's scream, the strokes

Of the green hammersmith, the myna's chirp,

The never finished love-talk of the doves

Yea! and so holy was the influence

Of that high Dawn which came with victory

That, far and near, in homes of men there spread

An unknown peace. The slayer hid his knife;

The robber laid his plunder back; the shroff

Counted full tale of coins; all evil hearts

Grew gentle, kind hearts gentler, as the balm

Of that divinest Daybreak lightened Earth.

Kings at fierce war called truce; the sick men leaped

Laughing from beds of pain; the dying smiled

As though they knew that happy Morn was sprung

From fountains farther than the utmost East;

And o'er the heart of sad Yasodhara,

Sitting forlorn at Prince Siddartha's bed,

Came sudden bliss, as if love should not fail

Nor such vast sorrow miss to end in joy.

So glad the World was—though it wist not why—

That over desolate wastes went swooning songs

Of mirth, the voice of bodiless Prets and Bhuts

Foreseeing Buddh; and Devas in the air Cried,

"It is finished, finished!" and the priests

Stood with the wondering people in the streets

Watching those golden splendours flood the sky

And saying, "There hath happed some mighty thing."

Also in Ran and jungle grew that day

Friendship amongst the creatures: spotted deer

Browsed fearless where the tigress fed her cubs,

And cheetahs lapped the pool beside the bucks;

Under the eagle's rock the brown hares scoured

While his fierce beak but preened an idle wing;

The snake sunned all his jewels in the beam

With deadly fangs in sheath; the shrike let pass

The nestling finch; the emerald halcyons

Sate dreaming while the fishes played beneath,

Nor hawked the merops, though the butterflies—

Crimson and blue and amber-flitted thick

Around his perch; the Spirit of our Lord

Lay potent upon man and bird and beast,

Even while he mused under that Bodhi-tree,

Glorified with the Conquest gained for all

And lightened by a Light greater than Day's.


Then he arose—radiant, rejoicing, strong—

Beneath the Tree, and lifting high his voice

Spake this, in hearing of all Times and Worlds:














Many a House of Life

Held me—Seeking Ever Him Wrought

These Prisons of the Senses, Sorrow-Fraught;

Sore was My Ceaseless Strife!


But Now,

Thou Builder of this Tabernacle—Thou!

I Know Thee! Never Shalt Thou Build Again

These Walls of Pain,


Nor Raise the Roof-Tree of Deceits, Nor Lay

Fresh Rafters on the Clay:

Broken Thy House is, and the Ridge-Pole Split!

Delusion Fashioned it!

Safe Pass I Thence—Deliverance to Obtain.

Book The Seventh

Sorrowful dwelt the King Suddhodana

All those long years among the Sakya Lords

Lacking the speech and presence of his Son;

Sorrowful sate the sweet Yasodhara

All those long years, knowing no joy of life,

Widowed of him her living Liege and Prince.

And ever, on the news of some recluse

Seen far away by pasturing camel-men

Or traders threading devious paths for gain,

Messengers from the King had gone and come

Bringing account of many a holy sage

Lonely and lost to home; but nought of him

The crown of white Kapilavastu's line,

The glory of her monarch and his hope,

The heart's content of sweet Yasodhara,

Far-wandered now, forgetful, changed, or dead.


But on a day in the Wasanta-time,

When silver sprays swing on the mango-trees

And all the earth is clad with garb of spring,

The Princess sate by that bright garden-stream

Whose gliding glass, bordered with lotus-cups,

Mirrored so often in the bliss gone by

Their clinging hands and meeting lips. Her lids

Were wan with tears, her tender cheeks had thinned;

Her lips' delicious curves were drawn with grief

The lustrous glory of her hair was hid—

Close-bound as widows use; no ornament

She wore, nor any jewel clasped the cloth—

Coarse, and of mourning-white—crossed on her breast.

Slow moved and painfully those small fine feet

Which had the roe's gait and the rose-leaf's fall

In old years at the loving voice of him.

Her eyes, those lamps of love,—which were as if

Sunlight should shine from out the deepest dark,

Illumining Night's peace with Daytime's glow—

Unlighted now, and roving aimlessly,

Scarce marked the clustering signs of coming Spring

So the silk lashes drooped over their orbs.

In one hand was a girdle thick with pearls,

Siddartha's—treasured since that night he fled.

(Ah, bitter Night! mother of weeping days!

When was fond Love so pitiless to love

Save that this scorned to limit love by life?)

The other led her little son, a boy

Divinely fair, the pledge Siddartha left—

Named Rahula—now seven years old, who tripped

Gladsome beside his mother, light of heart

To see the spring-blooms burgeon o'er the world.


So while they lingered by the lotus-pools

And, lightly laughing, Rahula flung rice

To feed the blue and purple fish, and she

With sad eyes watched the swiftly-flying cranes,

Sighing, "O creatures of the wandering wing,

If ye shall light where my dear Lord is hid,

Say that Yasodhara lives nigh to death

For one word of his mouth, one touch of him."—

So, as they played and sighed, mother and child,

Came some among the damsels of the Court

Saying: "Great Princess! there have entered in

At the south gate merchants of Hastinpur

Tripusha called and Bhalluk, men of worth,

Long traveled from the loud sea's edge, who bring

Marvellous lovely webs pictured with gold,

Waved blades of gilded steel, wrought bowls in brass,

Cut ivories, spice, simples, and unknown birds

Treasures of far-off peoples; but they bring

That which doth beggar these, for He is seen!

Thy Lord,—our Lord,—the hope of all the land

Siddartha! They have seen him face to face

Yea, and have worshipped him with knees and brows,

And offered offerings; for he is become

All which was shown, a teacher of the wise,

World-honoured, holy, wonderful; a Buddh

Who doth deliver men and save all flesh

By sweetest speech and pity vast as Heaven

And, lo! he journeyeth hither, these do say."


Then—while the glad blood bounded in her veins

As Gunga leaps when first the mountain snows

Melt at her springs—uprose Yasodhara

And clapped her palms, and laughed, with brimming tears

Beading her lashes. “Oh! call quick," she cried,

"These merchants to my purdah, for mine ears

Thirst like parched throats to drink their blessed news.

Go bring them in,—but if their tale be true,

Say I will fill their girdles with much gold,

With gems that kings shall envy; come ye too,

My girls, for ye shall have guerdon of this

If there be gifts to speak my grateful heart."


So went those merchants to the Pleasure House,

Full softly pacing through its golden ways

With naked feet, amid the peering maids,

Much wondering at the glories of the Court.

Whom, when they came without the purdah's folds,

A voice, tender and eager, filled and charmed

With trembling music, saying: "Ye are come

From far, fair Sirs! and ye have seen my Lord—

Yea, worshipped—for he is become a Buddh,

World-honoured, holy, and delivers men,

And journeyeth hither. Speak! for, if this be,

Friends are ye of my House, welcome and dear."


Then answer made Tripusha: "We have seen

That sacred Master, Princess! we have bowed

Before his feet; for who was lost a Prince

Is found a greater than the King of kings.

Under the Bodhi-tree by Phalgu's bank

That which shall save the world hath late been wrought

By him—the Friend of all, the Prince of all—

Thine most, High Lady! from whose tears men win

The comfort of this Word the Master speaks.

Lo! he is well, as one beyond all ills,

Uplifted as a god from earthly woes,

Shining with risen Truth, golden and clear.

Moreover as he entereth town by town,

Preaching those noble ways which lead to peace,

The hearts of men follow his path as leaves

Troop to wind or sheep draw after one

Who knows the pastures. We ourselves have heard

By Gaya in the green Tchirnika grove

Those wondrous lips and done them reverence.

He cometh hither ere the first rains fall."


Thus spake he, and Yasodhara, for joy,

Scarce mastered breath to answer: "Be it well

Now and at all times with ye, worthy friends,

Who bring good tidings; but of this great thing

Wist ye how it befell?"


Then Bhalluk told

Such as the people of the valleys knew

Of that dread night of conflict, when the air

Darkened with fiendish shadows, and the earth

Quaked, and the waters swelled with Mara's wrath.

Also how gloriously that morning broke

Radiant with rising hopes for man, and how

The Lord was found rejoicing 'neath his Tree.

But many days the burden of release—

To be escaped beyond all storms of doubt,

Safe on Truth's shore—lay, spake he, on that heart

A golden load; for how shall men—Buddh mused—

Who love their sins and cleave to cheats of sense,

And drink of error from a thousand springs—

Having no mind to see, nor strength to break

The fleshly snare which binds them—how should such

Receive the Twelve Nidanas and the Law

Redeeming all, yet strange to profit by,

As the caged bird oft shuns its open door?

So had we missed the helpful victory

If, in this earth without a refuge, Buddh

Winning the way had deemed it all too hard

For mortal feet, and passed, none following him.

Yet pondered the compassion of our Lord,

But in that hour there rang a voice as sharp

As cry of travail, so as if the earth

Moaned in birth-throe "Nasyami aham bhu

Nasyati loka! Surely I Am Lost,

I And My Creatures:" then a pause, and next

A pleading sigh borne on the western wind,

"Sruyatam dharma, Bhagwat!" Oh, Supreme

Let Thy Great Law Be Uttered! Whereupon

The Master cast his vision forth on flesh,

Saw who should hear and who must wait to hear,

As the keen Sun gilding the lotus-lakes

Seeth which buds will open to his beams

And which are not yet risen from their roots;

Then spake, divinely smiling, "Yea, I preach!

Whoso will listen let him learn the Law."


Afterwards passed he, said they, by the hills

Unto Benares, where he taught the Five,

Showing how birth and death should be destroyed,

And how man hath no fate except past deeds,

No Hell but what he makes, no Heaven too high

For those to reach whose passions sleep subdued.

This was the fifteenth day of Vaishya

Mid-afternoon and that night was full moon.


But, of the Rishis, first Kaundinya

Owned the Four Truths and entered on the Paths;

And after him Bhadraka, Asvajit, Bassav, Mahanama;

also there

Within the Deer-park, at the feet of Buddh,

Yasad the Prince with nobles fifty-four

Hearing the blessed word our Master spake

Worshipped and followed; for there sprang up peace

And knowledge of a new time come for men

In all who heard, as spring the flowers and grass

When water sparkles through a sandy plain.


These sixty—said they—did our Lord send forth,

Made perfect in restraint and passion-free,

To teach the Way; but the World-honoured turned

South from the Deer-park and Isipatan

To Yashti and King Bimbasara's realm,

Where many days he taught; and after these

King Bimbasara and his folk believed,

Learning the law of love and ordered life.

Also he gave the Master, of free gift—

Pouring forth water on the hands of Buddh—

The Bamboo-Garden, named Weluvana,

Wherein are streams and caves and lovely glades;

And the King set a stone there, carved with this:


"Ye dharma hetuppabhawa

Yesan hetun Tathagato;

Aha yesan cha yo nirodho

Ewan wadi Maha samano.


"What life's course and cause sustain

These Tathagato made plain;

What delivers from life's woe

That our Lord hath made us know."


And, in that Garden—said they—there was held

A high Assembly, where the Teacher spake

Wisdom and power, winning all souls which heard,

So that nine hundred took the yellow robe—

Such as the Master wears,—and spread his Law;

And this the gatha was wherewith he closed:


Sabba papassa akaranan;

Kusalassa upasampada;

Sa chitta pariyodapanan;

Etan Budhanusasanan.


"Evil swells the debts to pay,

Good delivers and acquits;

Shun evil, follow good; hold sway

Over thyself. This is the Way."


Whom, when they ended, speaking so of him,

With gifts, and thanks which made the jewels dull,

The Princess recompensed. "But by what road

Wendeth my Lord?" she asked: the merchants said,

"Yojans threescore stretch from the city-walls

To Rajagriha, whence the easy path

Passeth by Sona hither and the hills.

Our oxen, treading eight slow koss a day,

Came in one moon."


Then the King hearing word,

Sent nobles of the Court—well-mounted lords—

Nine separate messengers, each embassy

Bidden to say: "The King Suddhodana—

Nearer the pyre by seven long years of lack,

Wherethrough he hath not ceased to seek for thee—

Prays of his son to come unto his own,

The Throne and people of this longing Realm,

Lest he shall die and see thy face no more."

Also nine horsemen sent Yasodhara

Bidden to say, "The Princess of thy House—

Rahula's mother—craves to see thy face

As the night-blowing moon-flower's swelling heart

Pines for the moon, as pale asoka-buds

Wait for a woman's foot: if thou hast found

More than was lost, she prays her part in this,

Rahula's part, but most of all thyself."

So sped the Sakya Lords, but it befell

That each one, with the message in his mouth,

Entered the Bamboo-Garden in that hour

When Buddha taught his Law; and—hearing—each

Forgot to speak, lost thought of King and quest,

Of the sad Princess even; only gazed

Eye-rapt upon the Master; only hung

Heart-caught upon the speech, compassionate,

Commanding, perfect, pure, enlightening all,

Poured from those sacred lips. Look! like a bee

Winged for the hive, who sees the mogras spread

And scents their utter sweetness on the air,

If he be honey-filled, it matters not;

If night be nigh, or rain, he will not heed;

Needs must he light on those delicious blooms

And drain their nectar; so these messengers

One with another, hearing Buddha's words,

Let go the purpose of their speed, and mixed,

Heedless of all, amid the Master's train.

Wherefore the King bade that Udayi go—

Chiefest in all the Court, and faithfullest,

Siddartha's playmate in the happier days—

Who, as he drew anear the garden, plucked

Blown tufts of tree-wool from the grove and sealed

The entrance of his hearing; thus he came

Safe through the lofty peril of the place

And told the message of the King, and hers.


Then meekly bowed his head and spake our Lord

Before the people: "Surely I shall go!

It is my duty as it was my will;

Let no man miss to render reverence

To those who lend him life, whereby come means

To live and die no more, but safe attain

Blissful Nirvana, if ye keep the Law,

Purging past wrongs and adding nought thereto,

Complete in love and lovely charities.

Let the King know and let the Princess hear

I take the way forthwith.” This told, the folk

Of white Kapilavastu and its fields

Made ready for the entrance of their Prince.

At the south gate a bright pavilion rose

With flower-wreathed pillars and the walls of silk

Wrought on their red and green with woven gold.

Also the roads were laid with scented boughs

Of neem and mango, and full mussuks shed

Sandal and jasmine on the dust, and flags

Fluttered; and on the day when he should come

It was ordained how many elephants—

With silver howdahs and their tusks gold-tipped—

Should wait beyond the ford, and where the drums

Should boom "Siddartha cometh!" where the lords

Should light and worship, and the dancing-girls

Where they should strew their flowers with dance and song

So that the steed he rode might tramp knee-deep

In rose and balsam, and the ways be fair;

While the town rang with music and high joy.

This was ordained and all men's ears were pricked

Dawn after dawn to catch the first drum's beat

Announcing, "Now he cometh!"

But it fell Eager to be before—Yasodhara

Rode in her litter to the city-walls

Where soared the bright pavilion. All around

A beauteous garden smiled—Nigrodha named—

Shaded with bel-trees and the green-plumed dates,

New-trimmed and gay with winding walks and banks

Of fruits and flowers; for the southern road

Skirted its lawns, on this hand leaf and bloom,

On that the suburb-huts where base-borns dwelt

Outside the gates, a patient folk and poor,

Whose touch for Kshatriya and priest of Brahm

Were sore defilement. Yet those, too, were quick

With expectation, rising ere the dawn

To peer along the road, to climb the trees

At far-off trumpet of some elephant,

Or stir of temple-drum; and when none came,

Busied with lowly chores to please the Prince;

Sweeping their door-stones, setting forth their flags,

Stringing the fruited fig-leaves into chains,

New furbishing the Lingam, decking new

Yesterday's faded arc of boughs, but aye

Questioning wayfarers if any noise

Be on the road of great Siddartha. These

The Princess marked with lovely languid eyes,

Watching, as they, the southward plain and bent

Like them to listen if the passers gave

News of the path. So fell it she beheld

One slow approaching with his head close shorn,

A yellow cloth over his shoulder cast,

Girt as the hermits are, and in his hand

An earthen bowl, shaped melonwise, the which

Meekly at each hut-door he held a space,

Taking the granted dole with gentle thanks

And all as gently passing where none gave.

Two followed him wearing the yellow robe,

But he who bore the bowl so lordly seemed,

So reverend, and with such a passage moved,

With so commanding presence filled the air,

With such sweet eyes of holiness smote all,

That as they reached him alms the givers gazed

Awestruck upon his face, and some bent down

In worship, and some ran to fetch fresh gifts,

Grieved to be poor; till slowly, group by group,

Children and men and women drew behind

Into his steps, whispering with covered lips,

"Who is he? who? when looked a Rishi thus?"

But as he came with quiet footfall on

Nigh the pavilion, lo! the silken door

Lifted, and, all unveiled, Yasodhara

Stood in his path crying, "Siddartha! Lord!"

With wide eyes streaming and with close-clasped hands,

Then sobbing fell upon his feet, and lay.


Afterwards, when this weeping lady passed

Into the Noble Paths, and one had prayed

Answer from Buddha wherefore-being vowed

Quit of all mortal passion and the touch,

Flower-soft and conquering, of a woman's hands—

He suffered such embrace, the Master said

"The greater beareth with the lesser love

So it may raise it unto easier heights.

Take heed that no man, being 'soaped from bonds,

Vexeth bound souls with boasts of liberty.

Free are ye rather that your freedom spread

By patient winning and sweet wisdom's skill.

Three eras of long toil bring Bodhisats—

Who will be guides and help this darkling world—

Unto deliverance, and the first is named

Of deep 'Resolve,' the second of 'Attempt,'

The third of 'Nomination.' Lo! I lived

In era of Resolve, desiring good,

Searching for wisdom, but mine eyes were sealed.

Count the grey seeds on yonder castor-clump—

So many rains it is since I was Ram,

A merchant of the coast which looketh south

To Lanka and the hiding-place of pearls.

Also in that far time Yasodhara

Dwelt with me in our village by the sea,

Tender as now, and Lukshmi was her name.

And I remember how I journeyed thence

Seeking our gain, for poor the household was

And lowly. Not the less with wistful tears

She prayed me that I should not part, nor tempt

Perils by land and water.' How could love

Leave what it loved?' she wailed; yet, venturing, I

Passed to the Straits, and after storm and toil

And deadly strife with creatures of the deep,

And woes beneath the midnight and the noon,

Searching the wave I won therefrom a pearl

Moonlike and glorious, such as kings might buy

Emptying their treasury. Then came I glad

Unto mine hills, but over all that land

Famine spread sore; ill was I stead to live

In journey home, and hardly reached my door—

Aching for food—with that white wealth of the sea

Tied in my girdle. Yet no food was there;

And on the threshold she for whom I toiled—

More than myself—lay with her speechless lips

Nigh unto death for one small gift of grain.

Then cried I, 'If there be who hath of grain,

Here is a kingdom's ransom for one life

Give Lukshmi bread and take my moonlight pearl.'

Whereat one brought the last of all his hoard,

Millet—three seers—and clutched the beauteous thing.

But Lukshmi lived and sighed with gathered life,

'Lo! thou didst love indeed!' I spent my pearl

Well in that life to comfort heart and mind

Else quite uncomforted; but these pure pearls,

My last large gain, won from a deeper wave—

The Twelve Nidanas and the Law of Good—

Cannot be spent, nor dimmed, and most fulfil

Their perfect beauty being freeliest given.

For like as is to Meru yonder hill

Heaped by the little ants, and like as dew

Dropped in the footmark of a bounding roe

Unto the shoreless seas, so was that gift

Unto my present giving; and so love—

Vaster in being free from toils of sense—

Was wisest stooping to the weaker heart;

And so the feet of sweet Yasodhara

Passed into peace and bliss, being softly led."


But when the King heard how Siddartha came

Shorn, with the mendicant's sad-coloured cloth,

And stretching out a bowl to gather orts

From base-borns' leavings, wrathful sorrow drove

Love from his heart. Thrice on the ground he spat,

Plucked at his silvered beard, and strode straight forth

Lackeyed by trembling lords. Frowning he clomb

Upon his war-horse, drove the spurs, and dashed,

Angered, through wondering streets and lanes of folk.

Scarce finding breath to say, "The King! bow down!"

Ere the loud cavalcade had clattered by:

Which—at the turning by the Temple-wall

Where the south gate was seen—encountered full

A mighty crowd; to every edge of it

Poured fast more people, till the roads were lost,

Blotted by that huge company which thronged

And grew, close following him whose look serene

Met the old King’s. Nor lived the father's wrath

Longer than while the gentle eyes of Buddh

Lingered in worship on his troubled brows,

Then downcast sank, with his true knee, to earth

In proud humility. So dear it seemed

To see the Prince, to know him whole, to mark

That glory greater than of earthly state

Crowning his head, that majesty which brought

All men, so awed and silent, in his steps.

Nathless the King broke forth: "Ends it in this,

That great Siddartha steals into his realm,

Wrapped in a clout, shorn, sandalled, craving food

Of low-borns, he whose life was as a god's,

My son! heir of this spacious power, and heir

Of Kings who did but clap their palms to have

What earth could give or eager service bring?

Thou should'st have come apparelled in thy rank,

With shining spears and tramp of horse and foot.

Lo! all my soldiers camped upon the road,

And all my city waited at the gates;

Where hast thou sojourned through these evil years

Whilst thy crowned father mourned? and she, too, there

Lived as the widows use, foregoing joys;

Never once hearing sound of song or string,

Nor wearing once the festal robe, till now

When in her cloth of gold she welcomes home

A beggar spouse in yellow remnants clad.

Son! why is this?"


 "My father!" came reply,

"It is the custom of my race."


 "Thy race,"

Answered the King "counteth a hundred thrones

From Maha Sammat, but no deed like this."


"Not of a mortal line," the Master said,

"I spake, but of descent invisible,

The Buddhas who have been and who shall be:

Of these am I, and what they did I do,

And this which now befalls so fell before,

That at his gate a King in warrior-mail

Should meet his son, a Prince in hermit-weeds;

And that, by love and self-control, being more

Than mightiest Kings in all their puissance,

The appointed Helper of the Worlds should bow—

As now do I—and with all lowly love

Proffer, where it is owed for tender debts,

The first-fruits of the treasure he hath brought;

Which now I proffer."


 Then the King amazed

Inquired "What treasure?" and the Teacher took

Meekly the royal palm, and while they paced

Through worshipping streets—the Princess and the King

On either side—he told the things which make

For peace and pureness, those Four noble Truths

Which hold all wisdom as shores shut the seas,

Those Eight right Rules whereby who will may walk—

Monarch or slave—upon the perfect Path

That hath its Stages Four and Precepts Eight,

Whereby whoso will live—mighty or mean

Wise or unlearned, man, woman, young or old

Shall soon or late break from the wheels of life,

Attaining blest Nirvana. So they came

Into the Palace-porch, Suddhodana

With brows unknit drinking the mighty words,

And in his own hand carrying Buddha's bowl,

Whilst a new light brightened the lovely eyes

Of sweet Yasodhara and sunned her tears;

And that night entered they the Way of Peace.

Book The Eighth

A broad mead spreads by swift Kohana's bank

At Nagara; five days shall bring a man

In ox-wain thither from Benares' shrines

Eastward and northward journeying. The horns

Of white Himala look upon the place,

Which all the year is glad with blooms and girt

By groves made green from that bright streamlet's wave.

Soft are its slopes and cool its fragrant shades,

And holy all the spirit of the spot

Unto this time: the breath of eve comes hushed

Over the tangled thickets, and high heaps

Of carved red stones cloven by root and stem

Of creeping fig, and clad with waving veil

Of leaf and grass. The still snake glistens forth

From crumbled work of lac and cedar-beams

To coil his folds there on deep-graven slabs;

The lizard dwells and darts o'er painted floors

Where kings have paced; the grey fox litters safe

Under the broken thrones; only the peaks,

And stream, and sloping lawns, and gentle air

Abide unchanged. All else, like all fair shows

Of life, are fled—for this is where it stood,

The city of Suddhodana, the hill

Whereon, upon an eve of gold and blue

At sinking sun Lord Buddha set himself

To teach the Law in hearing of his own.


Lo! ye shall read it in the Sacred Books

How, being met in that glad pleasaunce-place—

A garden in old days with hanging walks,

Fountains, and tanks, and rose-banked terraces

Girdled by gay pavilions and the sweep

Of stately palace-fronts—the Master sate

Eminent, worshipped, all the earnest throng

Catching the opening of his lips to learn

That wisdom which hath made our Asia mild;

Whereto four hundred crores of living souls

Witness this day. Upon the King's right hand

He sate, and round were ranged the Sakya Lords

Ananda, Devadatta—all the Court.

Behind stood Seriyut and Mugallan, chiefs

Of the calm brethren in the yellow garb,

A goodly company. Between his knees

Rahula smiled with wondering childish eyes

Bent on the awful face, while at his feet

Sate sweet Yasodhara, her heartaches gone,

Foreseeing that fair love which doth not feed

On fleeting sense, that life which knows no age,

That blessed last of deaths when Death is dead,

His victory and hers. Wherefore she laid

Her hand upon his hands, folding around

Her silver shoulder-cloth his yellow robe,

Nearest in all the world to him whose words

The Three Worlds waited for. I cannot tell

A small part of the splendid lore which broke

From Buddha's lips: I am a late-come scribe

Who love the Master and his love of men,

And tell this legend, knowing he was wise,

But have not wit to speak beyond the books;

And time hath blurred their script and ancient sense,

Which once was new and mighty, moving all.

A little of that large discourse I know

Which Buddha spake on the soft Indian eve.

Also I know it writ that they who heard

Were more—lakhs more—crores more—than could be seen,

For all the Devas and the Dead thronged there,

Till Heaven was emptied to the seventh zone

And uttermost dark Hells opened their bars;

Also the daylight lingered past its time

In rose-leaf radiance on the watching peaks,

So that it seemed night listened in the glens,

And noon upon the mountains; yea! they write,

The evening stood between them like some maid

Celestial, love-struck, rapt; the smooth-rolled clouds

Her braided hair; the studded stars the pearls

And diamonds of her coronal; the moon

Her forehead jewel, and the deepening dark

Her woven garments. 'Twas her close-held breath

Which came in scented sighs across the lawns

While our Lord taught, and, while he taught, who heard—

Though he were stranger in the land, or slave,

High caste or low, come of the Aryan blood,

Or Mlech or Jungle-dweller—seemed to hear

What tongue his fellows talked. Nay, outside those

Who crowded by the river, great and small,

The birds and beasts and creeping things—'t is writ—

Had sense of Buddha's vast embracing love

And took the promise of his piteous speech;

So that their lives—prisoned in shape of ape,

Tiger, or deer, shagged bear, jackal, or wolf,

Foul-feeding kite, pearled dove, or peacock gemmed,

Squat toad, or speckled serpent, lizard, bat,

Yea, or of fish fanning the river waves—

Touched meekly at the skirts of brotherhood

With man who hath less innocence than these;

And in mute gladness knew their bondage broke

Whilst Buddha spake these things before the King:


Om, Amitaya! measure not with words

Th' Immeasurable; nor sink the string of thought

Into the Fathomless. Who asks doth err,

Who answers, errs. Say nought!


The Books teach Darkness was, at first of all,

And Brahm, sole meditating in that Night;

Look not for Brahm and the Beginning there!

Nor him, nor any light


Shall any gazer see with mortal eyes,

Or any searcher know by mortal mind,

Veil after veil will lift—but there must be

Veil upon veil behind.


Stars sweep and question not. This is enough

That life and death and joy and woe abide;

And cause and sequence, and the course of time,

And Being's ceaseless tide,


Which, ever-changing, runs, linked like a river

By ripples following ripples, fast or slow—

The same yet not the same—from far-off fountain

To where its waters flow


Into the seas. These, steaming to the Sun,

Give the lost wavelets back in cloudy fleece

To trickle down the hills, and glide again;

Having no pause or peace.


This is enough to know, the phantasms are;

The Heavens, Earths, Worlds, and changes changing them

A mighty whirling wheel of strife and stress

Which none can stay or stem.


Pray not! the Darkness will not brighten!

Ask Nought from the Silence, for it cannot speak!

Vex not your mournful minds with pious pains!

Ah! Brothers, Sisters! seek


Nought from the helpless gods by gift and hymn,

Nor bribe with blood, nor feed with fruit and cakes;

Within yourselves deliverance must be sought;

Each man his prison makes.


Each hath such lordship as the loftiest ones;

 Nay, for with Powers above, around, below,

As with all flesh and whatsoever lives,

 Act maketh joy and woe.


What hath been bringeth what shall be, and is,

 Worse—better—last for first and first for last;

The Angels in the Heavens of Gladness reap

 Fruits of a holy past.


The devils in the underworlds wear out

Deeds that were wicked in an age gone by.

Nothing endures: fair virtues waste with time,

Foul sins grow purged thereby.


Who toiled a slave may come anew a Prince

For gentle worthiness and merit won;

Who ruled a King may wander earth in rags

For things done and undone.


Higher than Indra's ye may lift your lot,

And sink it lower than the worm or gnat;

The end of many myriad lives is this,

The end of myriads that.


Only, while turns this wheel invisible,

No pause, no peace, no staying-place can be;

Who mounts will fall, who falls may mount; the spokes

Go round unceasingly!

If ye lay bound upon the wheel of change,

And no way were of breaking from the chain,

The Heart of boundless Being is a curse,

The Soul of Things fell Pain.


Ye are not bound! the Soul of Things is sweet,

The Heart of Being is celestial rest;

Stronger than woe is will: that which was Good

Doth pass to Better—Best.


I, Buddh, who wept with all my brothers' tears,

Whose heart was broken by a whole world's woe,

Laugh and am glad, for there is Liberty

Ho! ye who suffer! know


Ye suffer from yourselves. None else compels

None other holds you that ye live and die,

And whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss

Its spokes of agony,


Its tire of tears, its nave of nothingness.

Behold, I show you Truth! Lower than hell,

Higher than heaven, outside the utmost stars,

Farther than Brahm doth dwell,


Before beginning, and without an end,

As space eternal and as surety sure,

Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good,

Only its laws endure.


This is its touch upon the blossomed rose,

The fashion of its hand shaped lotus-leaves;

In dark soil and the silence of the seeds

The robe of Spring it weaves;


That is its painting on the glorious clouds,

And these its emeralds on the peacock's train;

It hath its stations in the stars;

Its slaves in lightning, wind, and rain.


Out of the dark it wrought the heart of man,

Out of dull shells the pheasant's pencilled neck;

Ever at toil, it brings to loveliness

All ancient wrath and wreck.


The grey eggs in the golden sun-bird's nest

Its treasures are, the bees' six-sided cell

Its honey-pot; the ant wots of its ways,

The white doves know them well.


It spreadeth forth for flight the eagle's wings

What time she beareth home her prey; it sends

The she-wolf to her cubs; for unloved things

It findeth food and friends.


It is not marred nor stayed in any use,

All liketh it; the sweet white milk it brings

To mothers' breasts; it brings the white drops, too,

Wherewith the young snake stings.


The ordered music of the marching orbs

It makes in viewless canopy of sky;

In deep abyss of earth it hides up gold,

Sards, sapphires, lazuli.


Ever and ever bringing secrets forth,

It sitteth in the green of forest-glades

Nursing strange seedlings at the cedar's root,

Devising leaves, blooms, blades.


It slayeth and it saveth, nowise moved

Except unto the working out of doom;

Its threads are Love and Life; and Death and Pain

The shuttles of its loom.


It maketh and unmaketh, mending all;

What it hath wrought is better than hath been;

Slow grows the splendid pattern that it plans

Its wistful hands between.


This is its work upon the things ye see,

The unseen things are more; men's hearts and minds,

The thoughts of peoples and their ways and wills,

Those, too, the great Law binds.


Unseen it helpeth ye with faithful hands,

Unheard it speaketh stronger than the storm.

Pity and Love are man's because long stress

Moulded blind mass to form.


It will not be contemned of any one;

Who thwarts it loses, and who serves it gains;

The hidden good it pays with peace and bliss,

The hidden ill with pains.


It seeth everywhere and marketh all

Do right—it recompenseth! do one wrong—

The equal retribution must be made,

Though DHARMA tarry long.


It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter-true

Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs;

Times are as nought, tomorrow it will judge,

Or after many days.


By this the slayer's knife did stab himself;

The unjust judge hath lost his own defender;

The false tongue dooms its lie; the creeping thief

And spoiler rob, to render.


Such is the Law which moves to righteousness,

Which none at last can turn aside or stay;

The heart of it is Love, the end of it

Is Peace and Consummation sweet. Obey!

The Books say well, my Brothers! each man's life

The outcome of his former living is;

The bygone wrongs bring forth sorrows and woes

The bygone right breeds bliss.


That which ye sow ye reap. See yonder fields

The sesamum was sesamum, the corn

Was corn. The Silence and the Darkness knew!

So is a man's fate born.


He cometh, reaper of the things he sowed,

Sesamum, corn, so much cast in past birth;

And so much weed and poison-stuff, which mar

Him and the aching earth.


If he shall labour rightly, rooting these,

And planting wholesome seedlings where they grew,

Fruitful and fair and clean the ground shall be,

And rich the harvest due.


If he who liveth, learning whence woe springs,

Endureth patiently, striving to pay

His utmost debt for ancient evils done

In Love and Truth always;


If making none to lack, he thoroughly purge

The lie and lust of self forth from his blood;

Suffering all meekly, rendering for offence

Nothing but grace and good;


If he shall day by day dwell merciful,

Holy and just and kind and true; and rend

Desire from where it clings with bleeding roots,

Till love of life have end:


He—dying—leaveth as the sum of him

A life-count closed, whose ills are dead and quit,

Whose good is quick and mighty, far and near,

So that fruits follow it.


No need hath such to live as ye name life;

That which began in him when he began

Is finished: he hath wrought the purpose through

Of what did make him Man.


Never shall yearnings torture him, nor sins

Stain him, nor ache of earthly joys and woes

Invade his safe eternal peace; nor deaths

And lives recur. He goes


Unto NIRVANA! He is one with life

Yet lives not. He is blest, ceasing to be.

OM, MANI PADME, OM! the Dewdrop slips

Into the shining sea!

This is the doctrine of the KARMA. Learn!

Only when all the dross of sin is quit,

Only when life dies like a white flame spent

Death dies along with it.


Say not "I am," "I was," or "I shall be,"

Think not ye pass from house to house of flesh

Like travelers who remember and forget,

Ill-lodged or well-lodged. Fresh


Issues upon the Universe that sum

Which is the lattermost of lives.

It makes Its habitation as the worm spins silk

And dwells therein. It takes


Function and substance as the snake's egg hatched

Takes scale and fang; as feathered reedseeds fly

O'er rock and loam and sand, until they find

Their marsh and multiply.


Also it issues forth to help or hurt.

When Death the bitter murderer doth smite,

Red roams the unpurged fragment of him, driven

On wings of plague and blight.


But when the mild and just die, sweet airs breathe;

The world grows richer, as if desert-stream

Should sink away to sparkle up again

Purer, with broader gleam.


So merit won winneth the happier age

Which by demerit halteth short of end;

Yet must this Law of Love reign King of all

Before the Kalpas end.


What lets?—Brothers? The Darkness lets! which breeds

Ignorance, mazed whereby ye take these shows

For true, and thirst to have, and, having, cling

To lusts which work you woes.


Ye that will tread the Middle Road, whose course

Bright Reason traces and soft

Quiet smoothes; Ye who will take the high Nirvana-way,

List the Four Noble Truths.


The First Truth is of Sorrow. Be not mocked!

Life which ye prize is long-drawn agony:

Only its pains abide; its pleasures are

As birds which light and fly,


Ache of the birth, ache of the helpless days,

Ache of hot youth and ache of manhood's prime;

Ache of the chill grey years and choking death,

These fill your piteous time.


Sweet is fond Love, but funeral-flames must kiss

The breasts which pillow and the lips which cling;

Gallant is warlike Might, but vultures pick

The joints of chief and King.


Beauteous is Earth, but all its forest-broods

Plot mutual slaughter, hungering to live;

Of sapphire are the skies, but when men cry

Famished, no drops they give.


Ask of the sick, the mourners, ask of him

Who tottereth on his staff, lone and forlorn,

"Liketh thee life?"—these say the babe is wise

That weepeth, being born.


The Second Truth is Sorrow's Cause. What grief

Springs of itself and springs not of Desire?

Senses and things perceived mingle and light

Passion's quick spark of fire:


So flameth Trishna, lust and thirst of things.

Eager ye cleave to shadows, dote on dreams.

A false Self in the midst ye plant, and make

A world around which seems;


Blind to the height beyond, deaf to the sound

Of sweet airs breathed from far past Indra's sky;

Dumb to the summons of the true life kept

For him who false puts by.


So grow the strifes and lusts which make earth's war,

So grieve poor cheated hearts and flow salt tears;

So wag the passions, envies, angers, hates;

So years chase blood-stained years


With wild red feet. So, where the grain should grow,

Spreads the biran-weed with its evil root

And poisonous blossoms; hardly good seeds find

Soil where to fall and shoot;


And drugged with poisonous drink the soul departs,

And fierce with thirst to drink Karma returns;

Sense-struck again the sodden self begins,

And new deceits it earns


The Third is Sorrow's Ceasing. This is peace—

To conquer love of self and lust of life,

To tear deep-rooted passion from the breast,

To still the inward strife;


For love, to clasp Eternal Beauty close;

For glory, to be lord of self; for pleasure,

To live beyond the gods; for countless wealth,

To lay up lasting treasure


Of perfect service rendered, duties done

In charity, soft speech, and stainless days

These riches shall not fade away in life,

Nor any death dispraise.


Then Sorrow ends, for Life and Death have ceased;

How should lamps flicker when their oil is spent?

The old sad count is clear, the new is clean;

Thus hath a man content.

The Fourth Truth is The Way. It openeth wide,

Plain for all feet to tread, easy and near,

The Noble Eightfold Path; it goeth straight

To peace and refuge. Hear!


Manifold tracks lead to yon sister-peaks

Around whose snows the gilded clouds are curled

By steep or gentle slopes the climber comes

Where breaks that other world.


Strong limbs may dare the rugged road which storms,

Soaring and perilous, the mountain's breast;

The weak must wind from slower ledge to ledge

With many a place of rest.


So is the Eightfold Path which brings to peace;

By lower or by upper heights it goes.

The firm soul hastes, the feeble tarries. All

Will reach the sunlit snows.


The First good Level is Right Doctrine.

Walk In fear of Dharma, shunning all offence;

In heed of Karma, which doth make man's fate;

In lordship over sense.


The Second is Right Purpose. Have good-will

To all that lives, letting unkindness die

And greed and wrath; so that your lives be made

Like soft airs passing by.


The Third is Right Discourse. Govern the lips

As they were palace-doors, the King within;

Tranquil and fair and courteous be all words

Which from that presence win.


The Fourth is Right Behaviouralist each act

Assoil a fault or help a merit grow;

Like threads of silver seen through crystal beads

Let love through good deeds show.


Four higher roadways be. Only those feet

May tread them which have done with earthly things—

Right Purity, Right Thought, Right Loneliness,

Right Rapture. Spread no wings


For sunward flight, thou soul with unplumed vans

Sweet is the lower air and safe, and known

The homely levels: only strong ones leave

The nest each makes his own.


Dear is the love, I know, of Wife and Child;

Pleasant the friends and pastimes of your years;

Fruitful of good Life's gentle charities;

False, though firm-set, its fears.


Live—ye who must—such lives as live on these;

Make golden stair-ways of your weakness; rise

By daily sojourn with those phantasies

To lovelier verities.


So shall ye pass to clearer heights and find

Easier ascents and lighter loads of sins,

And larger will to burst the bonds of sense,

Entering the Path. Who wins


To such commencement hath the First Stage touched;

He knows the Noble Truths, the Eightfold Road;

By few or many steps such shall attain

NIRVANA's blest abode.


Who standeth at the Second Stage, made free

From doubts, delusions, and the inward strife,

Lord of all lusts, quit of the priests and books,

Shall live but one more life.


Yet onward lies the Third Stage: purged and pure

Hath grown the stately spirit here, hath risen

To love all living things in perfect peace.

 His life at end, life's prison


Is broken. Nay, there are who surely pass

Living and visible to utmost goal

By Fourth Stage of the Holy ones—the Buddhs—

And they of stainless soul.


Lo! like fierce foes slain by some warrior,

Ten sins along these Stages lie in dust,

The Love of Self, False Faith, and Doubt are three,

Two more, Hatred and Lust.


Who of these Five is conqueror hath trod

Three stages out of Four: yet there abide

The Love of Life on earth, Desire for Heaven,

Self-Praise, Error, and Pride.


As one who stands on yonder snowy horn

Having nought o'er him but the boundless blue,

So, these sins being slain, the man is come

NIRVANA's verge unto.


Him the Gods envy from their lower seats;

Him the Three Worlds in ruin should not shake;

All life is lived for him, all deaths are dead;

Karma will no more make


New houses. Seeking nothing, he gains all;

Foregoing self, the Universe grows "I":

If any teach NIRVANA is to cease,

Say unto such they lie.


If any teach NIRVANA is to live,

Say unto such they err; not knowing this,

Nor what light shines beyond their broken lamps,

Nor lifeless, timeless bliss.


Enter the Path! There is no grief like Hate!

No pains like passions, no deceit like sense!

Enter the Path! far hath he gone whose foot

Treads down one fond offence.


Enter the Path! There spring the healing streams

Quenching all thirst! there bloom th' immortal flowers

Carpeting all the way with joy! there throng,

Swiftest and sweetest hours!

More is the treasure of the Law than gems;

Sweeter than comb its sweetness; its delights

Delightful past compare. Thereby to live

Hear the Five Rules aright:—


Kill not—for Pity's sake—and lest ye slay

The meanest thing upon its upward way.


Give freely and receive, but take from none

By greed, or force, or fraud, what is his own.


Bear not false witness, slander not, nor lie;

Truth is the speech of inward purity.


Shun drugs and drinks which work the wit abuse;

Clear minds, clean bodies, need no soma juice.


Touch not thy neighbour's wife, neither commit

Sins of the flesh unlawful and unfit.


These words the Master spake of duties due

To father, mother, children, fellows, friends;

Teaching how such as may not swiftly break

The clinging chains of sense—whose feet are weak

To tread the higher road—should order so

This life of flesh that all their hither days

Pass blameless in discharge of charities

And first true footfalls in the Eightfold Path;

Living pure, reverent, patient, pitiful,

Loving all things which live even as themselves;

Because what falls for ill is fruit of ill

Wrought in the past, and what falls well of good;

And that by howsomuch the householder

Purgeth himself of self and helps the world,

By so much happier comes he to next stage,

In so much bettered being. This he spake,

As also long before, when our Lord walked

By Rajagriha in the Bamboo-Grove

For on a dawn he walked there and beheld

The householder Singala, newly bathed,

Bowing himself with bare head to the earth,

To Heaven, and all four quarters; while he threw

Rice, red and white, from both hands. “Wherefore thus

Bowest thou, Brother?" said the Lord; and he,

"It is the way, Great Sir! our fathers taught

At every dawn, before the toil begins,

To hold off evil from the sky above

And earth beneath, and all the winds which blow."

Then the World-honoured spake: "Scatter not rice,

But offer loving thoughts and acts to all.

To parents as the East where rises light;

To teachers as the South whence rich gifts come;

To wife and children as the West where gleam

Colours of love and calm, and all days end;

To friends and kinsmen and all men as North;

To humblest living things beneath, to Saints

And Angels and the blessed Dead above

So shall all evil be shut off, and so

The six main quarters will be safely kept."


But to his own, them of the yellow robe

They who, as wakened eagles, soar with scorn

From life's low vale, and wing towards the Sun

To these he taught the Ten Observances

The Dasa-Sil, and how a mendicant

Must know the Three Doors and the Triple Thoughts;

The Sixfold States of Mind; the Fivefold Powers;

The Eight High Gates of Purity; the Modes

Of Understanding; Iddhi; Upeksha;

The Five Great Meditations, which are food

Sweeter than Amrit for the holy soul;

The Jhana's and the Three Chief Refuges.

Also he taught his own how they should dwell;

How live, free from the snares of love and wealth;

What eat and drink and carry—three plain cloths,

Yellow, of stitched stuff, worn with shoulder bare

A girdle, almsbowl, strainer. Thus he laid

The great foundations of our Sangha well,

That noble Order of the Yellow Robe

Which to this day standeth to help the World.


So all that night he spake, teaching the Law

And on no eyes fell sleep—for they who heard

Rejoiced with tireless joy. Also the King,

When this was finished, rose upon his throne

And with bared feet bowed low before his Son

Kissing his hem; and said, "Take me, O Son!

Lowest and least of all thy Company."

And sweet Yasodhara, all happy now,—

Cried "Give to Rahula—thou Blessed One!

The Treasure of the Kingdom of thy Word

For his inheritance. “Thus passed these Three

Into the Path.



Here endeth what I write

Who love the Master for his love of us,

A little knowing, little have I told

Touching the Teacher and the Ways of Peace.

Forty-five rains thereafter showed he those

In many lands and many tongues and gave

Our Asia light, that still is beautiful,

Conquering the world with spirit of strong grace

All which is written in the holy Books,

And where he passed and what proud Emperors

Carved his sweet words upon the rocks and caves:

And how—in fulness of the times—it fell

The Buddha died, the great Tathagato,

Even as a man 'mongst men, fulfilling all

And how a thousand crores since then

Have trod the Path which leads whither he went

Unto NIRVANA where the Silence lives.


Ah! Blessed Lord! Oh, High Deliverer!

Forgive this feeble script, which doth thee wrong.

Measuring with little wit thy lofty love.

Ah! Lover! Brother! Guide! Lamp of the law!

I take my refuge in they name and thee!

I take my refuge in they order! OM!

The dew is on the lotus!—Rise, Great Sun!

And lift my leaf and mix me with the wave.

Om Mani Padme Hum, the sunrise comes!

The Dewdrop Slips Into The Shining Sea!

The End