« הקודםהמשך »
Chap. I. verse 1.--" There was a man in the land of Uz,
whose name was Job, and that man was PERFECT and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed
evil.” The Hindoos have an account of a PERFECT man, called Ara-Chandran, who was sovereign of a large kingdom, and whose history has furnished materials for a beautiful and popular drama. *
Indran, the king of heaven, and the assembled gods and genii, were once disputing as to whether a PERFECT man could be found on the earth. At last, a divine sage said, “ There is one, and his name is Ara-Chandran; at which an EVIL GENIUS, called Visumā-Mitaran, started up, and determined to try all his malignant powers on the holy monarch. He therefore sent two priests to the perfect Ara-Chandran, to request him to grant a large sum of money to enable them to offer burnt-offerings to the gods. On their wishes being complied with, they returned to the evil genius, and mentioned the piety, and the readiness with which their demands had been granted. Disappointed in this, he went himself to the king, and told him that the heap of gold required for the sacrifices must be as high as a man could throw a stone out of a sling ! when standing on the back of an elephant. The good man acceded to the demand, and said, “ Take it now;" but the genius replied, “ I will leave it in your possession till it be required.” He then went away and created numerous cruel beasts to ravage and destroy the kingdom of Ara-Chandran. The inhabitants, on seeing the devastation made by the savage animals, went to their sovereign to request him to join with
• I only give the principal facts of the history.
them to go out to hunt and destroy them. He, therefore, and his queen, went forth to the chase; and after they had made great havoc amongst their foes, the king, through fatigue, laid down and slept on the ground. When he awoke, he said, “I have had a dream, in which I lost my riches, my country, my wife, and child :” at which she replied, “Siva (the supreme) will not allow this evil to come upon us; he will take care of us." Shortly after this, the evil genius sent two courtesans to the good man, and charged them to use all their arts to induce him to utter a falsehood, or in any way to cause him to sin. They accordingly went to their task, and danced and sang before Ara-Chandran in the most fascinating
He then gave them some money, and told them to depart; but they refused, stating, they had been so captivated with his person they wished to have further intercourse with him: at which he became exceedingly angry, and ordered them to be dismissed from his presence. They then returned to the genius, and told him they had been used exceedingly ill, that their clothes had been torn, that they had been beaten with sandals! and driven from the presence of Ara-Chandran. Enraged at this, he went to the king, and enquired why he had treated the females with so much indignity. The good man replied, “ They came and danced before me: I rewarded them; and because they made improper intimations, I turned them away.” The genius then replied, “ This is all false; I do not believe you. Give me instantly the money for the sacrifices; also your fortress and dominions, according to your promise.” The king then replied, “I never made any such promise:” at which the genius responded, “You did, you did.” Permission was then given for him to take possession of all the good man's property: after which he went again, and demanded the money for the sacrifices. AraChandran said, “ How can I do this? You have taken my all; the gold is in the fortress; what can I do more?” The genius replied, “ The whole of that is mine; I will have the money for the offerings to the gods in addition, or you have
uttered a falsehood. The king, knowing the power of the genius, became greatly embarrassed, and at last promised to pay that also : asking only for forty days to be allowed to collect the amount. The genius then enquired, “ Whither will you go ?” he replied, “ To Kāsi” (on the Ganges). A dwarf was then called, and directed to accompany Ara-Chandran on his journey, to afflict him in every possible way, and to compel him to utter a falsehood. The king, his wife, and child, accompanied by Nat-Chestran, the dwarf, commenced their travels. They had not gone far, before the dwarf began to exercise his malignant power: sometimes he forced them to remain for a long time in the burning sun; then, if they came near a shade, he ordered them to push on; again he pretended he could not walk any further, and demanded the money without any delay. The king asked, “How can I pay
the money in this desert? forty days have not yet elapsed; give me the time, and you shall have the full amount.” But the dwarf determined to spend as much of the time as possible on the journey, that the good man might not be able to keep his word: he therefore said, “I cannot walk any further, you must now carry me.” After this, the genius sent a fiend to make a river of fire to alarm and impede the travellers in their progress; at the sight of which they became greatly distressed, and the dwarf asked, “ Have you brought me hither to be destroyed ? give me the money and I will be gone.” Ara-Chandran asked, “ Can this be a trial from Siva ? at no time have I seen any thing like this. Ah! what shall I do?” His wife then arose and went towards the river of fire, and said, “ Follow me.” No sooner had she entered, than her purity quenched the flames, and they all went through unhurt. Again the dwarf began to trouble them, saying, “ I cannot proceed; I cannot walk : only say you did not make the promise to the genius, and I will go.” The good man exclaimed, “ Ah! king of Kāsi, I never, even in a DREAM, uttered a falsehood; I will give the gold.” They then came within the limits of Kāsi, and saw its towering flag-staff, at which the dwarf said, “ We are now at the end of our journey; give me the money." Ara-Chandran was greatly troubled, and knew not what to do; at which his wife said, “O king, sell me and the child to pay the evil genius, and should there be any deficiency, you can borrow the sum at interest.” The good man was now plunged into the deepest sorrow, and said, “ What shall I do? what shall I do? my tali-vithe, my tali-vithe*, my fate, my fate !” The queen, however, persisted in her resolution, and at last prevailed on him to offer her for sale. He then published, this woman and child are to be sold. A Brahmin, on hearing this, came up and enquired, “What is the price ? and what can she do?” Ara-Chandran replied, “ She can separate pearls, and is well acquainted with the nature of precious stones.” At which the Brahmin said, “I want a slave to sweep and smear my house; to pound my paddy, and prepare my curry and rice.” The king said, “Only teach her, and she will soon learn,” When he heard that her price was to be a heap of gold so high as a man could throw a stone from a sling when standing on the back of an elephant, he treated them with derision, and asked, “ What! am I to give so much for such a blockhead ? if you will take forty thousand pieces of gold, you may have them.” The bargain was therefore made, and the money given to the dwarf; who then said, “ Recollect, this is for my wages, and not for the genius.” After disputing some time, they went before the civil authorities, by whom the case was decided in favour of the dwarf. AraChandran again exclaimed, “Ah! why is this? why have these things come upon me?” The dwarf, seeing his misery, said, “Only utter a small falsehood, and I will let you go.” “ No,” said he, “I will pay the money ;” and then proclaimed himself in the streets, saying, “ I am to be sold, who will buy me?” On hearing this, a Pariah + came and asked, “ What is your price?” The king replied, “ A heap of gold so high as a man can sling a stone, when standing on the
back of an elephant.” The amount was paid, and handed to the dwarf with a request from Ara-Chandran to forgive him any offence he might have committed. The agent of the evil genius returned to him, and produced the money, saying, “ You will never conquer that man, he has given me more than you demanded;" but the genius said, “I will yet prevail, he shall still utter a falsehood.”
The Pariah then ordered the king his slave to go to the place of burning, and remain there as a watchman, to take the toll from those who came to burn their dead. For each corpse he was to receive one cubit of cloth, one pice* in money, and a quarter of a measure of rice; the latter of which was to be his own perquisite.
The Brahmin who purchased the wife and the child was angry one day, and asked, “Why is this boy here idle ?” and he sent him into the jungle to cut firewood. As the child went to his task, a poisonous serpent bit him, and he died : on hearing of which, the mother was in great misery, and requested her master to allow her to go and perform the funeral ceremonies. He, however, said, “Finish your work, and then you may go.” After that she went to the spot, found the body of her son, and placed him in her lap, saying, “ Ah ! my child, have the birds been your musicians ?t have they lamented you? Have the beasts been your companions ? Has the grass been your couch ? Have the stones been your pillow ? Has the fire-fly been your lamp?” and again she gave vent to her sorrow. After this, she took the
corpse the place of burning, and was making ready the funeral pile, when a man came up, and asked, “ Who is this? What fellow is here, trying to cheat me of my fee?” She replied, “I am a destitute woman: for charity, allow me to burn the body.” He then said, “Give me your tāli (marriage jewel), and you may do it.” At which she exclaimed, “ This was tied on by my husband : has it come to this, that a Pariah asks me for
* A small copper coin. + Alluding to the funeral rites.