Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales | Annotated Tale

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Vikramâditja Makes the Silent Speak


WIHILE now Vikramâditja reigned over all his people in justice and equity complaint was brought before him against one of his ministers, that he oppressed the people and dealt fraudulently with them; and Vikramâditja, having tried his cause, judged him worthy of death. But when he was brought before him to receive sentence he pleaded for life so earnestly that the magnanimous King answered him, "Why should the life of the most abject be taken? Let him but be driven forth from the habitation of men."

               So they drove him forth from the habitation of men. Now it had been the minister's custom, in pursuance of a vow, to observe three fast-days every month (1). And so it happened, that one day after they had driven him forth from the habitations of men, on the day succeeding one of his fasts, he found himself quite without any thing to eat; nor could he discover any fruit or any herb which could serve as a means of subsistence. Recollecting, then, that one day he had made four little offering-tapers out of wax and bread crumbs, he went and searched out the shrine where he had offered them, that he might take them to eat. But see! when he stretched forth his hand to take one of them it glided away from before him and hid itself behind another of the offering-tapers; and when he would have taken that one, they both hid themselves behind the third. And when he stretched forth his hand to have taken the third, the three together, in like manner, glided behind the fourth. And when he stretched forth his hand to have taken the four together, they all glided away together from off the altar and out of the shrine altogether, and so swiftly that it was as much as he could do to follow after them and keep them in sight. Going on steadily behind them he came at last to a cave of a rock, and brushwood growing over it. Herein they disappeared. Then when he would have crept in after them into the cave of the rock, two he-goats, standing over the portal of the cave, sculptured in stone, spoke to him, saying, "Beware, and enter not! for this is a place of bad omen. Within this cave sits the beauteous Dâkinî (2) Tegrijin Nâran (3) sunk in deep contemplation and speaketh never. Whoso can make her open her lips twice to speak to man, to him is the joy given to bear her home for his own. But let it not occur to thee to make the bold attempt of inducing her to open her lips to speak, for already five hundred sons of kings have tried and failed; and behold they all languish in interminable prison at the feet of the Silent Haughty One, sunk in deep contemplation."

               And as they spoke they bent low their heads, and pointed their horns at him, to forbid him the entrance.

               The minister, however, had no mind to try the issue, but rather seized with a great panic he turned him and fled without so much as heeding whither his steps led him. Thus running he chanced to come with his head at full butt against the magnanimous King Vikramâditja, just then taking his walk abroad.

               "How now, evil man?" exclaimed the magnanimous King. "Whence comest thou, fleeing as from an evil conscience?"

               Then the minister prostrated himself before him, and told him all he had learnt from the two he-goats sculptured in stone, concerning Naran-Dâkinî.

               When Vikramâditja had heard the story, he commanded that the evil minister should be guarded, to see whether the event proved that he had spoken the truth; but, taking with him Schalû and three far-sighted and experienced ministers, he went on till he came to the cave and saw the two he-goats sculptured in stone standing over the portal. The he-goats would have made the same discourse to him as to the evil minister, but he commanded them silence. Then he transformed Schalû into an aramâlâ (4) in his hand, but the three ministers into the altar that stood before the Dâkinî, and the lamp that burned thereon, and the granite vessel for burning incense placed at the foot of the same (5); laying this charge upon them: "I will come in," said he, "as though a wayfarer who knew you not, and sitting down I will tell a saga of olden time. Then all of you four give an interpretation of my saga quite perverse from the real meaning, and if the Dâkinî be prudent and full of understanding she will open her lips to speak to vindicate the right meaning of the story."

               Presently, therefore, after he had completed the transformation of Schalû and the three far-seeing and experienced ministers, and having himself assumed the appearance of a king on his travels, he entered the cave and sat down over against the altar which stood before the Dâkinî Naran, the Silent Haughty One, sunk in deep contemplation. Then said he, "In that it was told me in this place dwells the all-fair Tegrijin Naran-Dâkinî, I, who am King of Gambudvîpa, am come hither to visit her;" and as he spoke he looked furtively up towards the Dâkinî, to see whether he had moved her to open her lips to speak.

               But the all-beauteous Naran-Dâkinî, the Silent Haughty One, sat still and gave forth no sign.

               Then spoke the King again, saying, "On occasion of this my coming, O Naran-Dâkinî, tell thou me one of the sagas of old; or else, if thou prefer to hold thy peace, then will I tell one to thee!"

               Again he looked up, but Naran-Dâkinî Tegrijin, the Silent Haughty One, sat sunk in deep contemplation and gave forth no sign.

               As the King paused, one of the far-seeing and experienced ministers, even the one whom he had transformed into the altar that stood before the Dâkinî, spoke, saying,--

               "While from the lips of the all-beauteous Naran-Chatun (6) no word of answer proceeds, how should it beseem me, the Altar, a non-souled object, to speak. Nevertheless, seeing that so great and magnanimous a King has come hither and has propounded a question, I will yet dare, even I, to answer him. For, seeing that Naran-Chatun is so immersed in her own contemplations, she cannot give ear to the words of the King, I who, standing all the day before her in silence, and hearing no word of wisdom in any of the sagas of old, even I would fain be instructed by the words of the King."

               And as the altar thus spoke, Naran Tegrijin Dâkinî cast a glance of scorn upon it, but the Silent Haughty One opened never her lips to speak.

               Then the King took up his parable and poured forth one of the sagas of old after this manner, saying,--[WHO INVENTED WOMAN?]


(1) The Kalmucks make the 8th, 15th, and 30th of every month fast-days; the Mongolians, the 13th, 14th, and 15th. (Köppen, i. 564-566; ii. 307-316, quoted by Jülg.)

(2) Dakini. See note 2, Tale XIV., infra.

(3) Dakini Tegrijin Naran = the Dakini sun of the gods. (Jülg.)

(4) Aramâlâ, a string of beads used by Buddhists in their devotions.

(5) Abbé Huc mentions frequently meeting with such wayside shrines, furnished just as here described.

(6) Chatun. See note 1 to "Vikramâditja's Birth."

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Vikramâditja Makes the Silent Speak
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Griffith and Farran
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Mongolia & Russia
Classification: unclassified

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