The Quest of Ruru

Section Five — The Double Five or Decad



(Now regard each Chapter as the dual triplicity of the Unit)

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Chapter 19 — Māiāvatī

Thus have I heard:

THAT night Ruru slept the sleep of one who—with the aid of the Lord who overcomes all obstacles—has avoided the pitfalls of the Spirit's Destiny; and the silver Moon—the Lord of Herbs—sent down his rays of incarnation upon the Hermit's home, as if to protect it with a holy shield of white and shining benediction; keeping away all shadows. And Tryambaka, the sweet-scented increaser of prosperity, whose other name is Shīva, looked down from his Heavenly Abode and added Blessings.

The blushful dawn found Ruru and Narāda by the lotus pool where they had first met, and walking up and down beside it they discussed Ruru's experiences of the last three nights and days.

Narāda said: "When the higher senses penetrate the infinite blue they must attune with the conditions in the azure depths of Wisdom-Power; that is why you raised your spirit to the heights after your descent into the lower regions. We can only rise upwards from below, for when we have reached the top of the mystic Mountain there is no further ascent possible whilst the body is still on earth. This is the great difficulty for every seeker. Many cannot realise that although their Souls are always free and are always able to visit every region of the Spirit, their Higher Minds are still connected with the body, from which they can only soar completely free when that body dies. But the Higher Mind may hear the Soul's whisper, and it may behold all things material and conditions spiritual with the aid of the Soul, who, as it were, will lend its eyes and ears to those who are worthy."

After saying this Narāda presented Ruru with a garland made from the undying leaves of the Pārijāta tree, which is one of the five trees of Paradise.

"Guard this garland well, my Son," he said. "It is one of the greatest treasures it is possible to possess. To all men it is invisible, except they are of our own rank; and it is one of the signs whereby the Initiates may know one another."

The dawn had now opened her fragrant gateways wide, perfumed with all the attars of the flowers that rejoice in her benevolence; and bowers of ruby-red roses as well as all the other blooms, were luminous with dew. The shālas were a mass of blossom, filling the air with an incarnation of the very essence of the perfume of nectar; and their huge leaves and great white chalices are so beautiful that they bewilder the eyes of the dryads, who live in the trunks and roots of the nyagrodhas.

And taking Ruru back to his Hermitage, Narāda said: "In further memory of your Victory I want you to accept this incense bowl, which is one of the few things I still treasure for the sake of One Unforgotten. It is made of Murrhine, which is a stone of which costly vessels were made by the ancients. It was made for a great Adept many thousands of years ago, and it has always passed from one Initiate to another, so that no vulgar hands have ever touched it. Keep it in memory of me too and never let it fall into unworthy hands, but pass it on in turn to one who is virtuous and deserving."

Ruru thanked him, not knowing how to express his gratitude adequately. After they had finished their simple repast, Narāda said: "And now, my Son, I want to ask you a favour."

"A favour, dear Master!" cried Ruru, "nay, there cannot be such a thing from me to thee; but I will render you any service you may command, and that with the utmost happiness, whatever it be."

"Three days' journey from this place," said Narāda, "there lies a big city. Near the city is a small forest, and in the forest there lives a Brāhman whose name is Mahāsena.

Anyone in the city will direct you to his dwelling-place, for he is well known as a very holy man who sanctifies that place by means of good works and the spreading of Wisdom to all who come to ask for true enlightenment in the proper manner.

"He exists wholly on alms and on the sacrifices the devout make to the Gods of a Temple of which he is the officiating Priest. His home is in the precincts of that Temple, which is completely surrounded by a great and lovely garden within the wood.

"Now that Brāhman has in his possession my greatest treasure; and I ask you to go to him and demand it in my name after showing him your garland. He will understand, for he is one of us.

"When he has delivered my treasure to you I should like you to bring it to me here; I could entrust it to none other."

So Ruru set out that same morning, bearing in mind all the directions Narāda had given him, and glad to go once more on a pleasant journey after all his studies; although he did not guess of what the treasure consisted.

The boisterous bees were wooing the delicious-scented blossom-laden bushes as Ruru walked along; his Sarungi strapped on his shoulder and hanging by his side. The champak's candle-sticks held each a pale-bodied flower-cup within their fingers, bare of leaves. And all nature seemed to be rejoicing in its beauties beneath the golden sun in the sparkling air and in wood and glade. Dim sweet shadows gave relief from the heat within the pathless solitudes, yet full of whispering sounds and greeny splendour, with here and there a brook, fair and pure as Yu-tin, Brahmā's wife, or a silent meditative pool, which lay amidst the shadows of the trees as if it were asleep and listening to the voice of its Guardian Angel, as Sakaya did in his dream. And the wood seemed to murmur to itself within the shades, and the trees were sending out thoughts of happiness which was on the way to the youth with the joyful mien who strode along so buoyantly between the rising stems and boles of wise and ancient giants and youngly saplings: all striving towards the light.

And stretched out full length upon the springy moss to rest for a while, he viewed the dancing leaves and watched the birds and little creeping things and marked the structure of each flower and plant as in the past he used to do; a past which seemed so far away as if it were another incarnation. Thoughts of his beloved father and mother and his happy childhood's home; memories of old friends and teachers; scenes and incidents that drifted like cloudy panoramas before the eye of recollection; thus he dreamt away an hour or so in restful, silent meditation.

And it seemed to him that in the far distance he heard the tinkling ring of tiny golden bells and the sounds of silvery voices; calling, calling to his inner ear and hinting at delightful hours the future had in store; and it was as if a bird with velvet wings were floating in the silent air, shedding feathery wafts of benediction on his brow amidst the jingling of aureate, minute campanulas.

Songs exquisite sang in the Sarungi, that magic lute, and chanted of the wonders of the morn, the noon, of eve, midnight, in cadent modes; again in eerie mood of silver Moon, whose rays play in the branches and the leaves of mystic trees in listening woods and dance nocturnal Sarabands and somnial Passacaglias to the accompaniment of shrilling Shalms and bantering Tabors, exercised by capricious Fays, and serenading breezes . . .

At last he reached the city, asking for directions to the Temple where dwelt the Brāhman priest. And smiles of pleasure shone upon the faces when he told the name of him he sought, and willing, eager guides led him along the paths towards that habitation.

The Brāhman lived in a little hut of bark over which the creepers grew so thickly that only the entrance was visible. From the flowers of his garden came a perfume so strong that it pervaded Ruru's senses like a flame of delight. Blue smoke rose up from the altars by the Temple near which Mahāsena lived in utter simplicity.

Softly Ruru approached the hut and stood outside it in respectful silence until the Brāhman should appear. Anon there was a slight stirring within the hut, and the Priest came forth. He was very old and grey, his face interlaced with delicately woven masses of fine lines, but his eyes shone with a strong inner fire, and kindness and benevolence issued from him in an unending stream of goodness; and his brow was the habitation of true Wisdom.

Ruru made himself known, and the Brāhman, instantly beholding the secret garland with the eye of his spirit, stepped forward and saluted Ruru with the kiss of Brotherhood. After asking about his friend, Narāda, and making enquiries of all sorts, he remarked: "So you have been entrusted with the honour of receiving from my hands Narāda's treasure, eh? Do you know what it is?"

"No," said Ruru, "but whatever it may be I shall take the greatest care of it; of that you may be sure!"

The Brāhman chuckled to himself and said: "Well, I am quite certain that you will look vigilantly after the treasure, my friend; but you have had a long journey and must be tired; come inside my humble home to rest and refresh yourself."

Ruru was only too glad to accept the invitation, and he followed his host inside where he found everything most cosy, neat and clean; as if the hand of a woman had taken charge of the small establishment, animating it with that delicate essence which enables one of her sex to turn the meanest hut into a real home, infusing into it some of her own sweetness. The Priest observed Ruru with twinkling eyes, reading his thoughts as if they were written upon the pages of an open book.

And Ruru told Mahāsena about all Narāda had done to help him forward on the Path to the Light, from Light to greater Light, from Glory to Glory, and he spoke with enthusiasm and gratitude of his Master's goodness to him, a stranger, and that all Eternity would be too short to repay the debt incurred in this way.

"No, my Son," said the Priest. "Those who belong to the great Brotherhood of the Spirit are never strangers, and it is probably true that Narāda only passed on that which he had received himself before in a similar way."

Ruru remembered this saying a short while afterward, but could not see what it implied there and then. And he remarked: "But there is one thing I have never been able to explain to myself, nor have I dared to question my Master about it. When I first beheld my beloved Teacher, he was standing on the surface of the lotus pool, preaching a Sermon to Nature, and when he had finished he walked across the water without causing the slightest ripple! How was that done, reverend Sir?"

"Ah," asked the Brāhman in turn, "and why have you not demanded an explanation from Narāda?"

"I did not like to do so," replied Ruru, "in case it was a presumption on my part."

"That is an excellent reason," rejoindered the Priest, "though my friend would not have minded such a question. Tell me—when you saw the crystal pillar, filled with bees: what did you think that represented?"

"I was too overcome to think of anything at all," replied Ruru, "but later I thought that it was a symbol, created in my mind by the magic power of my Master, which meant that the bees truly represented our higher Principles which must fight and overcome the lower mind. But the Master had made that clear already at the end of his speech after he showed me the pillar . . . and I do not know how you can be aware of the pillar either, for I have not mentioned it to you."

The Priest smiled and said: "In the same manner was the illusion that Narāda was standing on the water a symbol for you, a symbol created by his will. It meant that he had risen above the waters of mundane existence and could henceforth proceed in all directions without causing the slightest ripple or disturbance upon or within the vastnesses of those waters, which some call the 'Waters of Life': which they are not, for this is but another name for the deceptive Veils of the Material. The true Water of Life is the Spiritual Æther, beyond which lies the Divine Æther, the great Unknown and Unknowable!"

When Ruru had finished his meal and sat back at ease, talking leisurely to the Brāhman about various things, he gradually became aware of a strange inner sensation, indescribable, as if there had been added to the atmosphere some subtle, new vibration, impossible to define, but wholly delightful, and suddenly he sat bolt upright and listened with a tense expression upon his face, straining his sense of hearing to the utmost. Approaching from the distance he could hear the faint, musical tinkling of golden anklets, like little bells in a holy shrine, announcing the advent of a divine Goddess, gliding along on snow-white and rosy little feet. Momentarily the golden sounds came nearer, and Ruru gripped the arms of his chair until his knuckles stood out like white marbles and his breath was caught with the excitement of the apprehension of an unbelievable miracle which was about to occur; and everything else was forgotten in the perturbation of his senses. All he could think of was the sound of those golden bells he had heard with his inner ear in the forest, and added to that there was the instinctive foreknowledge of the coming of the greatest moment in all his life. And then . . . there entered the most divine Being he had ever beheld, gliding into the room like a strain of music, utterly bewitching, as if it were borne along on rose-petal wings: delectable.

Great blue eyes looked at Ruru in faint surprise, and all feelings of fatigue fled from him before her loveliness, which was like that of the goddess of a heavenly garden, appearing in visible form before her deity. Her long lashes threw shadows upon her peach-down cheeks which blushed with the bloom of a damask rose as she looked shyly at Ruru from out of the corners of her eyes, which were of the utmost sapphirine splendour and as long as the leaf of the lotus; and she looked as pure as a well of liquid crystal. She was as it were a Universe of Loveliness and fascination, entirely distinct from all other women, her own especial attribute, for nothing like it was ever seen; and Ruru's Soul was filled to overflowing with her sweetness.

He stared at her with a look of such intensity that it seemed as if his Soul was struggling to fly away from his body, unable to bear the ecstasy of her beauty any longer.

The golden hem of her sari ran round her fragile frame like a vine around a graceful tree. And as she beheld Ruru that first unforgettable moment she saw him as glorious as Shambu, the lordly swan, dwelling in the pure Mānasa lake.

And even the Sarungi felt her divine influence, for it rang with brilliant tunes, as if red, blue, green and yellow sparks sprang from a great diamond.

Thus they beheld one another in utter amazement, as if after a long parting they had met once more.

At last the Brāhman broke the silence, and taking her by the hand he said: "This is Ruru, an Initiated Adept, a pupil and friend of your father. He has come to claim you, who are your father's greatest Treasure, and to lead you back to him."

And turning to Ruru he said: "You have heard my words; this is Māiāvatī, your Master's daughter. She is a very mine of sacred Wisdom and resembles nothing but herself. She is as wise as the chosen Bride of Science, and her name is nectar in the ears of the world. Wherever she dwells—that place becomes a white and shining Palace in an emerald garden where golden lotuses bloom in silver lakes, full of rose-red swans. And soft winds seem there to blow, straight from Paradise, and laden with the aroma of its scented flowers; and the music of tonal trees blends with that perfume, and the air is filled with songs divine."

And Ruru, in his bewilderment and confusion, murmured some words, he knew not what, and she answered with a voice that was as melodious as the tone of a lute. And she regarded him with wondering eyes, pure and deep as those of a fawn; innocent; softer than the eyes of a dove as it gazes upon its mate.

"Oh," thought Ruru, "her beauty can be compared only to Tilottamā, whom the Creator made by taking one atom from each of the noblest beings; and she was so lovely that even Shīva was disturbed in his heart when he beheld that most perfect maiden."

The good Brāhman had understood in a flash that here had occurred one of those very rare meetings of two who had belonged to one another from all Eternity; and even his usual serenity was shaken to the core by the magnetic currents that circulated rapidly within that small room, the air pulsating with that electric, rousing stir which heralds momentous events.

"How rarily does this happen, and how overcome they are by the suddenness of their unexpected re-union," he thought; and he sought within his mind for some pretext to place a cloak around these two wherewith to cover their confusion. And he bustled round and spoke at random on any subject he could think of, to give a simulation of naturalness to it all, donning the mask of non-perception.

And after a while he succeeded partly, and he thought: "The best thing to do is to send them out for a while so that they may recover their equilibrium," and he said to Māiāvatī: "You should take our guest outside and let him see the garden; there is nothing like the glories of nature to entertain the wise."

So they went out; and Māiāvatī led Ruru along the flower-bordered paths towards the bee-haunted, fleurescent trees and bushes; and delicious fragrance dripped from every painted bloom.

Oh, the glories of that bee-booming garden!

Oh, the bliss of the bursting bud of sudden Love, alive with ardency within the heart of youth! Within a second of the first blue flash of her eyes she had wound herself around his inner Self like a creeper of adoration; and the cunning god of the flowery bow had pierced the soft lotus of her affection with his florid arrow.

And Ruru thought: "The beauty of all other women must have descended upon her, for else how could they appear so ugly in comparison with her matchless glory? Her body is the reflection of the golden Soul within which blazes with a delirium of bliss when it beholds the treasure-house in which it dwells."

At last they returned to the Brāhman's hut, and a semblance of composure lay upon their countenances. And now the Priest suggested that Māiāvatī should prepare for the journey which was to commence on the morrow, and she went back to the city where she lived with friends, promising to return early next day.

After she had left, the hut and the fair gardens seemed deserted to Ruru, as if their very souls had gone away with the maiden to keep her company, being utterly unable to exist without her. Soon the evening fell, and the Priest led Ruru to a couch of grass, giving him his blessing for the coming night.

And Ruru tossed about restlessly in the dark, for when he found himself alone in the silence there came to him with a shock of remembrance the vision of the two blue eyes he had so often seen before. Startled with the surprise of his realisation he sat upright and thought: "It is SHE, Māiāvatī; she has heard my call and answered it; why did I not know the moment I saw her? Oh, my Belovèd! You are to me like a pleasance full of roses in which roam Angels dressed in golden raiment, mantling their radiant forms, irradiating all with happy smiles. Oh, may God bless you in all Eternity!" Thus he raved in the fever of his sudden, overwhelming enlightenment.

And just before the dawn he fell asleep, and no sooner had he closed his eyes, it seemed, than the clear and silvery voice of Māiāvatī sounded outside, answered by the deeper tones of the Brāhman's utterance. Ruru jumped up, still half stupefied with sleep, and ran to the brook to make ablution. And then, half ashamed of his tardiness, he appeared before the maiden who laughingly chided him, thus establishing at once an atmosphere of comradeship in the manner of all maidens, who have ever a greater control of such circumstances than a mere man!

She looked as fresh and lovely as the Spring and was clad in simple garments of bark, as becomes the daughter of an ascetic, when living at her father's hermitage. And with her incomparable grace she resembled the horns of the new moon in her youth and beauty. Her eyes shone with crystal-blue reflections, her laughing lips were like twin branches of winged coral, deep red, as it blooms in the ocean's jewelled gardens, and in her hair she wore a mango flower.

After they had eaten an early meal, Ruru and the maiden said good-bye to the Brāhman and commenced their three days' journey to Narāda's eremitic habitation. And during those days they became better acquainted and learned to understand the golden virtues of each other and to appreciate the purity and gentleness of their minds. It was, in a way, a double initiation in which their hearts and souls were knit together once again in unbreakable bonds as it were; their minds never again losing conscious memory of one another in life here on earth or elsewhere.

As Māiāvatī was the Creator's supreme achievement and the quintessence of extreme virtue, uprightness and simplicity in Wisdom, and the spell of her enchanting sex was a gem beyond comparison, so was Ruru her peer in fineness, cleanness, honesty and truthfulness; and both were modest and chaste.

And as they went forward they gathered flowers and fruits and roamed along the leafy paths together; hand in hand, side by side, shoulder to shoulder in the mystic charm of the twilight, the golden noon or the happy morn.

And when Ruru rose earlier than usual one morning, he beheld her asleep like the beauty of the moon in the daytime. And seeing her matchless glory, the flame of love blazed up within his heart with still greater intensity and soared as high as a fire that is fanned by the wind. And when the last evening of their excursion in the woods arrived, they found a bladed arbour amidst the trees, and there they retired for the night under the protective petals, spreading beneath the boreal moon like silvery wings above the pair: lost in the contemplation of the Soul of each behind the splendid lustre of their luminous eyes in that arcane, ecstatic bower.

Next: Chapter 20 — Golden Days

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