Chapter 21 — Consummation
Thus have I heard:
THE next day Narāda asked Ruru and Māiāvatī to wait a few moments before starting out on their usual excursion. And anon he emerged from his room, carrying an ebony box, inlaid with ivory, gold and turquoise, and he said: "Follow me outside under the light of the sun, for I have something to show unto you two." And when he opened the box there issued from it such a sea of coruscating light that it dazzled the eyes of the lovers.
"Here is Māiāvatī's marriage gift," he said. "When my Belovèd left her father's court she was covered with great jewels which flashed with jealousy for being outshone by the splendour of her beauty. And when our little daughter was born she told me that it was her wish that our child should inherit these jewels when she met the Lord of her heart, but not before. I therefore deem that now the time is ripe, and they will help you to set up your own house if you sell some of them."
"Never," cried Ruru impulsively; "I have a bag full of gold and another full of jewels, and those latter I will sell, and I have also all the money I received when I was the Court Poet; thanks to my dear teacher, the gnani.
"Māiāvatī must keep her mother's inheritance and never part with it. And we shall go to live in the town near Mahāsena, where I will write books and poems and teach the Mysteries to those who wish to advance to the higher knowledge; and I shall train young poets and writers; and you, our beloved father, shall come and dwell with us and never part."
The Master smiled at Ruru's exuberance and said: "I agree to all you have spoken . . . except the last part. In the first place you should not have an interloper in your home" (stopping Ruru and Māiāvatī when they both burst out in indignant protestations at the word 'interloper'), "and more than even that, I do not wish to leave this place which is sacred to me for its associations."
"But you will at least come to our wedding?" said Ruru anxiously.
"Yes, of course I will," was the reply, "and I shall stay perhaps for a few days with my old friend Mahāsena. But then I wish to return here, and you may come to visit me sometimes, if you will. Tell me, my dear children, when shall the wedding be?"
"Oh, soon, soon; as soon as possible," cried Ruru.
"And what has my sweet daughter to say to all this haste?" asked her father, his eyes a-twinkle.
"I must do as my future Lord and Master tells me, and I agree with him in every way," she replied demurely.
"Very well, then," said the Sage; "shall we start in three days' time?"
"Now, if you like," said Ruru quickly; but in the end they agreed to Narāda's suggestion. And the lovers went forth, hand in hand, to talk about all the things lovers have always said to one another for as long as there were such.
And standing in contemplation by the lotus pool, Narāda heard their happy voices getting fainter and fainter in the distance, and then he heard in the smiling sky a sound as of liquid laughter, as if Hīrā herself, accompanied by her court of fortunate attendants, was passing by. And he looked up and sighed deeply when with the eye of memory he saw again that perfect beauty who was his wife, and with his inner ear he heard her silvery voice—far away, but yet discernable to him—and its darling cadences poured balm upon his longing, and he knew that he had reached Shānta, and that all passions were quelled within so that he had attained the Peace, under Shīva, his Lord, and that his Soul rejoiced in its eternal freedom; for the Soul is never born and never dies. And he dwelt in Content and was girt with Patience; he, the Muni, the man of Silence, which is not only the absence of earthly noise and strife, but a deeper and holier Silence, which can be won only by those whose inner principles are in complete equilibrium.
And as the lovers wandered on they gazed at one another with thirsty eyes, like the sun-flower and the Sun, drinking each other's beauty and treasuring every word. And Ruru's eager eyes were like magnets that drew Māiāvatī's with irresistible attraction. And the honey of her delight was as heavenly balsamine, and the syrup of her kisses filled him with fire. Her smile was like the opening of the fragrant bakula blossom, and it seemed as if all the world were full of its aroma. Within the rhythmic motion of her dainty feet he could discern divinest airs and songs melodious; full of graceful Poesy.
And they crept into a little arbour and spent the time in each other's arms, like a pair of bees in a nectared rose.
"Listen, slender one," said Ruru after a while. "I want to tell you some things about myself, for you have never asked me."
"Why should I, Belovèd?" asked Māiāvatī. "Thou art my chosen husband, and the first and last who shall claim and receive my love. The past, whatever it is, is done with, and we now commence life as if it were a book with unwrit pages wherein we shall only write of our love and the joys of our union."
"But I have committed many errors," replied Ruru, "for they who mix with the world are tainted with bad associations, whilst the child of nature, such as you are, my Mārishā, thou nursling of the trees and lovely daughter of the summer breeze and Moon, is pure and sweet, oh, treasure-house of glory. I am a very sea of faults, and it will need an ocean of thy love to wash me clean."
"I will not believe it," said Māiāvatī, "and is it not said that Love is all the greater and more true for forgiveness of past errors? For false love cannot forgive—being only self-love. A tiger is kept an unwilling prisoner in a cage, but a loving woman is the willing captive in the heart of her lover and husband." And her voice was a compound of melodies and overtones and rose direct to Heaven for the delectation of the gods, when thus she spoke to Ruru.
"Whatever you have done," she continued, "in our case love, trust and loyalty are the rules without exceptions; for where there are exceptions there can be no true rule."
"My love," said Ruru, "is for all Eternity."
"And so is mine for you, Belovèd," she replied.
"Time is naught," remarked Ruru, "but provided it is spent with thee: one day of life is enough if you do but remain with me for ever should we have to return to the Heaven-world your father mentioned."
"And if we lived together in love for a thousand years," added Māiāvatī, "it would seem no longer than a day; for days of happiness speed by with the swiftness of a thought and disappear in the depths of the unknown, as if they never were!" And the melodies of adoration sang in her Lakshmi eyes amidst the ever-changing lumen of her lustrous glances.
"Thou art," said Ruru, "the female form of the ravishment of beauty that beats within my heart, and my Soul beholds Paradise. Thy great blue eyes deprive me of all reason, and I do not know any more what I am saying," he exclaimed, his veins filled with fire.
The bloom of happy dreams lay sleeping on their breasts; she, the adorable sister of the rose, he, crowned with eglantine and ivy, as the fairies crown the god. There was no further need for speech; every thought that arose within their minds was immediately apprehended by the other, and it was as if they were couched upon the soft down of royal swans.
And as the three short days, and yet so long, flew by, they roamed within the beauties of the forest that spread around the Hermitage, and they loved to watch the lustre of the Moon and the great shining Suns and Planets that glitter in the azurite night-sky, noiselessly casting their silvery beams across the woods, the hills, the valleys. And they found a little hill, where, seated on the herbous sward, they watched the sunset, lost in the glories of the painted sky; close together; drifting as it were in a heavenly canoe upon the rivers of pastel colours and amid the fiery flames the Devas strew upon the clouds in careless mastery with their Angel touch.
And then came the morning when the three commenced their journey to the city; the Master with his Pilgrim's Staff, and his two beloved children by his side. Straight they went to Mahāsena, who received them with his kindly smiles of welcome, and Māiāvatī went on to her friends in town, accompanied by Ruru to see her safely on the way, so that the preparations for the wedding could be made.
And when he returned that night to the Brāhman's little hut, to wait until the next day when Māiāvatī would return with some of her chosen friends and Mahāsena would conduct the rites, it seemed to Ruru as if he were in a great and empty void, utterly alone, in spite of the presence of his Master and the Priest who talked to him about he knew not what, their voices coming from a great distance, seemingly speaking in a strange language heard in a dream; and his heart ached for his bride. And when they all went to rest it was as if he were carried away on a rosy cloud, and the lovely shining eyes of blue were everywhere, caressing him with their sapphirine purity.
When morning came, Ruru imagined that he had not slept at all but spent the night in converse with many Angels; all speaking with the voice of Māiāvatī, all having great blue eyes like Shrī, the sacred Lotus, which is the twelfth digit of the Moon with her divine lustre; and those eyes were like the mirrors of the Creators themselves, full of the reflection of Heavenly Glory. And he knew in his dream that the Moon is the symbol of the lower worlds, but that the light of love which shone within those lovely eyes would be transformed into the golden, blazing light of the Sun, the Lord of the Higher Realms. And with this knowledge firmly fixed in his mind he awaited the coming of his Lady.
And then there was heard a noise as if a multitude of cooing doves were in the distance, coming nearer, apace. And he beheld a throng of happy, smiling, and excited people, dressed in pure white clothes. There were several maidens with their male friends and in the midst of them he saw his bride: the roses of Tridivam luminous upon her cheeks. Her face was as pure and undefiled as the new young bud of the delicate jasmine, bedewed with the bloom of innocence.
And Mahāsena and his helpers conducted the marriage rites, and, trembling, Ruru led his bride around the fire, and after all the congratulations had been received and the pair had said good-bye to Narāda and Mahāsena, he took Māiāvatī to their temporary home in the city, until such time as their own house would be ready, which henceforth would be Paradise. And surrounded by Māiāvatī's friends, which had already become Ruru's too, for all admired his manly bearing, his fine presence, and the light that shone forth from his countenance, they proceeded to the city; a very joyous group.
And during the short time since the early morning the news of the wedding had spread everywhere, for Māiāvatī was beloved by the people on account of her great beauty, her goodness to the poor, and her wisdom and practical attributes, so that when they arrived at the Walls and passed through the Gate they were received by the laughter of the happy drums and the smiling banners from the house-tops. Their friends blew the conch to declare the marriage, and the doors of every house were decorated with gay festoons of leaves and flowers; and trumpets were blown from the towers of the city-walls, for Mahāsena had sent word to some friends the night before.
The pair were greeted with a storm of sound in the form of blessings, and they were given rice and gold and other presents which their friends carried for them to their abode. And the people sprinkled each other with red powder as a token of their pleasure. The Lord Ganesha trumpeted with gladness in the sky, and his encrimsoned trunk shone like a pillar of festive flame within the white glories of heaven which stretched like a canopy of nuptial bliss above the lovers.
And Māiāvatī clung to Ruru like the creeper clings to the tree amidst it all; and then they reached their domicile and entered with the cheers and benedictions of the multitude resounding outside . . . and they were alone.
Shyly she looked at her Belovèd who appeared to her as if he were a second Moon in the night, giving a feast to her eyes that beheld him. And to Ruru she was as perfect as the first digit of Soma when she rises over the sea's horizon, agitating the silvery waves with dancing gleams of light.
"At last, my sweetest Lady," he murmured; and, sitting down, he placed her upon his left knee, and the two embraced each other like Shīva and Pārvatī, when the God roams in the sky with his divine Spouse in his arms.
"Oh, my Aryaputra," she whispered at last, addressing him with that dear name which only the wife gives to her husband, "Oh, my Belovèd, my Lord and Master, I have no other god but thee."
And Ruru replied: "From your glorious hair to your tiny feet you are like a fountain of nectar, filling me with unbelievable agitation; and I drink in your loveliness as if I were a desert, ever thirsting for the live-giving rain of your blue glances. All other women's voices sound like rasps to me, but the music of yours rings forth like golden melodies; soft, and thrilling in my heart; beautiful beyond imagination, Belovèd. If I can sit beside you, listening to your voice and warming myself in the radiant shafts of blue from your darling eyes, I'll count the rest of the world as grass. The Music of the Spheres is but a dull and murmuring discord, void of meaning, when compared with the transcendental descantry of your harmonious grace. You have liberated me from loneliness like Galāva was freed by Satyavrata. You are more beautiful than Lopāmudrā, who was possessed of all perfection; and all bethorned and labyrinthean paths you deign to look upon become straight lanes and smooth, and full of flowers. The five Apsarases Indra sent to Manda-Karni to beguile him from his penance, become burlesque caricatures when compared with the burnished, golden sceptre of your purity; and the Sun-splendour of Amaravātī, Indra's capital in heaven, a dubious, drab and dismal heap of rubble if the light that shines from within you ceases to cast its beams upon it: spurring its aridity into renewed existence. I feel like Kārta-Vīrya with his thousand arms and his power to restrain wrong by justice, reigning justly upon the earth; and like Krishna I could slay Muru's seven thousand demon sons like moths with the flame of the edge of my discus, if only you gave me one sign of encouragement and approval and if it were your wish that I should do so.
"My previous life was but a dream of longing for you from which you awakened me when first we met. You are more than my Self, and much better; more to me than my very Soul; and without you I should be lost and dead, perishing in the icy cold of the lowest world of ghosts that have lost all hope of gaining Heaven.
"By gazing into the blue depths of your Soul I have found the Peace that dwelleth in the hidden forest pool in the Highest Realm."
Love shone in their hearts like two holy lamps in a sacred Temple, blending into One great flaming delight as thus they talked together on their wedding day.
And when that night the Polar Star stood in the sky, the symbol of marriage and the emblem of a bride, they celebrated the nuptial rites of heavenly union; a melting fusion of two lambent flames; a flawless fire that flamed in incandescent ecstasy in that transcendent hour.
In front of Mahāsena's creeper-covered hut there sat the ancient Priest that night, together with Narāda, deep in wise discourse.
"My work is done," said Narāda at the end of their talk, "and I have attained the fruit of my birth; to-morrow, early, I return to my Hermitage, and the world shall see me no more. Look after those two children, old friend, for the sake of She who awaits me as impatiently as I am waiting for the release from the shackles that bind me still to earth."
"I will," said his friend simply, and the two wise Initiates clasped hands.
And to the lovers time was lost, as if it had ended before it began, and glorious days and nights of love fled with alarming swiftness and sank into the depths of the fathomless abyss of reminiscence.
And when Māiāvatī attended on her husband, her slender rounded arms coming forth from her silken robe like two incomparable curves of alabaster, and she looked at him with the tender caress of her smiling eyes of deepest blue, he was completely lost in the contemplation of her immaculate grace and beauty; and he felt as if he were floating in a far away world of unbelievable bliss; all earth forgotten in the beatitudes of true love of body, mind and spirit.
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