John Nisbet.

Burma under British rule--and before; (Volume 2) online

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get some slave to do work of this kind. Poor and
unable to work, he asked how he could possibly afford to
buy a slave, and at once received the reply that if he
went to Wethandaya, living in the Winga hills, and
asked for a slave, he would be sure to get one. Zuzaga
then reasoned with his wife, and said his going to the
Winga hills was out of the question, for it was a far journey,
and he was already old and infirm. Then she flung coarse
taunts at him, threatening to leave him and go to a
younger husband. Stung by her taunts and insults,
Zuzaga, though stricken in years and bent with infirmity,
toothless, white-headed and grey-bearded, hollow-
cheeked, and standing near the threshold of death,
resolved to perform the journey for love of his young
wife. So, while she prepared food for his long absence,
he repaired the flooring and walls of his hut, saw to the
fastenings of the door, and laid in supplies of fuel and of
water. Then he put on his mendicant garb and his
sandals, slung the bag of provisions over his shoulder,
grasped his pilgrim's staff, weepingly bade farewell to his
wife, and set forth on his tedious journey.

On arriving at the prosperous country of Saduttaya he
inquired for Prince Wethandaya, but was hooted and
pelted with stones by the people, who attributed the loss
of their Prince to the importunities of just such greedy
old Brahmin mendicants. Running away in great fright,
he was guided by the spirits who watched over the
Payalaung's attainment of perfection, and was thus led
in the direction of the Winga hills. In passing through
the forest at the foot of the hills he came near the man
who had acted as the Payalaung's guide and was pur-
sued by the pack of savage dogs with which this fellow
was then ranging the woods in pursuit of game. The
old man ran for his life ; but, seeing neither path nor help,
he soon had to take refuge in a tree, while the hounds
yelped and kept guard below.

Here he had time to meditate on the evil deeds, com-



mitted long since, whose influence had now brought
upon him the ridicule of his neighbours, the taunts of his
wife, the undertaking of a journey unsuitable to his time
of life, the maltreatment at Saduttaya, and the flight
from the fangs of a savage hunting- pack of dogs.
Bewailinof his fate, he cried aloud askings where We-
thandaya, the refuge of mendicant Brahmins and the
haven of rest to the weary traveller, might be found.

The guide, happening to pass near by, heard these
lamentations. Reflecting that the Brahmin's visit prob-
ably meant no good to the Paydlaung, as the Prince
would give away anything, even his wife and children, if
such a gift were desired, and would then be left quite
alone in the forest, he made up his mind to kill the
Brahmin. Stringing his bow and fixing a poisoned
arrow, he reviled the mendicant, setting forth that it was
owing to him and his like that the Prince was now an
exile. Then he bade the Brahmin prepare to die, as his
heart and liver would be torn out and ofifered to the
guardian spirits of the forest and of fire as soon as his
breast had been cleft by an arrow.

The wretched old Brahmin summoned courage for
making one effort to save his life. First he pointed out
that religious recluses and Brahmins should not be put
to death, and that the same protection should apply to
ambassadors sent by kings in charge of affairs relating to
their countries. Reciting this as an ancient maxim, he
forthwith declared he had been sent by King Thainsi
to inform Wethandaya that the wrath of the people of
Saduttaya had passed away, so that they were now
sorrowful about his exile and wished him to return to
them. Therefore he wished to know where the Prince
could be found.

Pleased to hear such good news the simple hunter
called off his dogs, tied them up, made the old man
descend from his perch in the tree, and gave him a good
meal, together with gifts of honey and dried meat, before
pointing out to him the path he must follow and giving
minute details as to the trees he would pass and the
birds he would see before arriving at the Prince's abode.
The Brahmin was also told that on the way he would

VOL. II. 337 z


pass ihe cell of a dust-smeared hermit who could give
him further information.

Resuming his journey full of hope Zuzaga duly-
arrived at the hermit's cell, and asked if he were well,
found plenty of roots and fruits, and were free from
trouble by insects, reptiles, and wild animals. Being
replied to in the affirmative, water was given him to
wash his feet and to drink, and fruits were offered him
to eat. Making homage to the hermit Zuzaga returned
the fruit, explained that he had come to do obeisance
before the exiled Prince W^thandayd, and asked to be
directed to the Prince's abode. Guessing that the true
object of his guest was to beg the gift of Princess Madi
and her two children, the hermit asked what advantage
there was to be gained by such a visit, and was told that
Zuzaga had formerly been the Prince's religious teacher,
and that he was now desirous of again seeing and con-
versing with his beloved pupil. Otherwise, he added,
he had no object in view ; and he had no intention of
asking for any gift. Zuzaga's plausibility thus deceived
the hermit, as it had previously deceived the hunter.
The recluse invited him to abide in the hut for the night,
and promised to put him on the proper track early next
morning, and to tell him about the birds and trees to be
met with on the way.

So Zuzaga journeyed on, arriving at his destination
towards nightfall. Saying to himself that women were
naturally jealous and suspicious, and thinking that
although the Prince might be ready to grant the gift
he asked yet Madi might interfere and prevent him, he
resolved to wait till the next morning and then, while
Madi was absent gathering wild fruits for food, approach
the Prince to beg a gift of the two children and carry them
off before their mother's return.

Now, Madi felt vaguely conscious of some impending
danger. Just before day dawned she dreamed that a
dark, ugly, armed man, wearing a dyed robe and having
his ears bedecked with red flowers, had forced his way
into her hut, caught hold of her by the hair of her head,
thrown her on the ground, torn out her eyes, cut off her
hands, and then plucked out her heart. Awaking in



terror and knowing there was no one at hand except the
Prince who could interpret her dream, she hastened to
his hut and knocked at the door. Rebuking her for this
seeming desire to break through their ceHbate resolves,
he was told the cause of her trouble, and knew at once
that the dawn would bring to him a call for the exercise
of his unbounded charity. To save Madi trouble and
sadness, however, he kept this knowledge to himself, and
tried to soothe her by saying that agitated dreams were
not necessarily a foreshadowing of misfortune. Her
fears being thus quieted, she returned to her couch. When
the morning broke, Madi performed her usual duties,
kissed her children and told them to be very careful of
themselves as she had had a bad dream, took them to
their father and asked him to watch over them during
her absence, and then went forth with her spade and
basket to gather roots and fruits as usual for the house-
hold wants.

Descending from a neighbouring hill, where he had
spent the night, Zuzaga went to where the Paydlaung
was sitting like a golden image in front of his hut while
the children played near him. Seeing the Brahmin at a
distance pleasure took possession of the Prince's soul,
who rejoiced once more, after seven long years of
exile and of abeyance of charitable gifts, at being able to
make an offering. Calling to him his son Zali, he asked
if a Brahmin mendicant were not approaching. The
boy ran towards the stranger and offered to carry his
burden for him, but was harshly thrust aside. Wonder-
ing at this rough discourtesy, the boy looked carefully at
the old Brahmin, and at once noted in him the ten
characteristics of a vile man.

Drawing near to the Prince, Zuzaga greeted him with
the usual inquiries about his health, the abundance of
his food, and immunity from annoyance by insects and
other animals. Replying suitably to these courtesies and
saying that no one had visited him during these last
seven years of exile, he invited the old man to enter his
hut, wash his feet, and partake of fruits and water.
Then he asked him the reason of his visit, and was told
that its object was to ask a gift of the Prince's two



children. Bursting- into joyful song-, the Pay^launcT
offered his son and daughter to the Brahmin, to be his
slaves, but entreated him to abide there that night and
not to depart till the following morning, as Madi, the
children's mother, would not return before nightfall with
the fruits she was then collecting in the forest. Zuzaga
artfully replied that women are full of artifice and not to
be relied on, so he would rather depart with his gift
before Madi's return. The Prince was willing to permit
this if the Brahmin would promise to take the two
children to their grandfather, King Thainsi, who would
be exceedingly glad and would bestow great gifts on the
mendicant. But to this the cunning old man raised the
objections that the King- on seeing the children without
their parents might punish him, even with death, or sell
him as a slave, and that in any case he could not be sure
of getting a large gift ; while if he went back without
slaves he would certainly have to bear the scorn and
abuse of his wife, Ameitta. The Prince assured him that
King Thainsi must rejoice greatly at seeing his grand-
children, and grant him rich gifts. But Zuzaga replied
that he desired not wealth, and only wished to take
away the two children, so that they might be slaves
to work for and wait upon his Ameitta. •

Hearing these harsh words the children were sore
afraid, and went and hid themselves in a clump of bushes
behind the hut. Unable to feel safe even there, they
ran about hither and thither, and finally fled to the
waters of the pond, immersing their bodies in this and
keeping their heads hidden among the leaves of the
water-lilies. Then Zuzaga reviled the Prince, accusing
him of having winked to the children to run and hide
themselves, and declaring him to be the greatest deceiver
in the whole world.

Perceiving that the children had run away and con-
cealed themselves through fear, the Prince traced them
to the little lake and bade Zali come forth that his
father's gift of charity might be made complete, and
might lead him further onwards towards the attainment
of Neikban (Nirvana), for the rescue of all the Nat in
spirit-land as well as of all mankind on earth.



On hearing his father's words ZaH, filled with filial
piety, resolved to bear whatever treatment the Brahmin
chose to give him, and came up out of the pond, falling
in tears at his father's right foot. Addressed in similar
manner, Gahnazaing also came weeping and threw her-
self at her father's left foot. Mingling his tears with
those of his weeping children, the Prince bade them rise,
assuring them that they would not for long be the slaves
of the vile Brahmin. Then the Payalaung told Zali that if
any one wished to redeem him whilst he was the Brah-
min's slave, his price should not be less than one thousand
pieces of silver, and that if any one wished to espouse
Gahnazaing, her ransom should not be less than one
hundred male slaves, one hundred female slaves, one
hundred elephants, one hundred horses, one hundred
bullocks, and one hundred pieces of silver. Returning
to his hut with the children, the Prince gave them to the
Brahmin, at the same time pouring out water from
a water-pot, and repeating the pious wish that this
charitable deed might promote his attainment of

As the water fell to the ground the whole earth shook
violently and resounded with a great noise, while all
mankind was made to shiver. The mighty waters of
the ocean became white with waves, and the great
Mount Myinmo bent towards the Winga hills, like a
green cane roasted on one side by fire. The Thagya
applauded, slapping his arms, while the King of the
Brahmas and all the spirits joined in a chorus of praise,
the sound of which ascended even to the highest heaven.
The heavens resounded with the noise of the quaking
earth, and heavy rain fell. Lightning flashed from thick
clouds, while all the guardian spirits of the earth and the
trees cried aloud, and the wild beasts of the forest roared
with a great noise. Thus, for the fifth time, the mighty
earth quaked while the Payalaung gave his children to
the Brahmin and sat gazing on them as Zuzaga bound
them together by the wrists with a tough creeping-plant
and, beating and goading them, led them off bleeding
and trembling into slavery.

Old and infirm, the Brahmin tottered and fell while



showering blows on the unfortunate and unhappy
children. Undoing their bonds, they ran back to their
father, and Zali narrated how he had noted in Zuzaga
the various evil characteristics which showed he must
surely be no human being, but some wicked ogre who
meant to eat them. He implored his father not to allow
him and his sister to be taken away before Madi, their
mother, had come back from the forest, or at any rate
only to send him away, and allow his tender little sister
to remain behind. He pleaded touchingly that the
little girl must die of grief if taken away from her
mother, and that each of their parents, but especially
their mother, must feel the heavy burden of grief if
deprived of both their children.

Just then the Brahmin returned and took possession of
the children again, tying them with creepers and beating
them as he dragged them off. As they were forced
away, Zali told his father not to be unhappy, but to say
to their mother they were quite well and to give her
their toy elephants, horses, and oxen to remind her of
them in her sorrow. Then the Payalaung was shaken
with deep grief and trembled violently. Tears welling
to his eyes, he entered his hut and gave way to great
lamentation. Knowino- that his tender children would
suffer hunger and hardships on their long journey with
the pitiless, cruel Brahmin, he was of a mind to follow
the dirty old mendicant in order to slay him and bring
them back.

Then he communed with himself, and saw that per-
fect knowledge could only be attained by the performance
of great sacrifices as to property, human ties of all sorts,
and even life itself. Should he therefore now repent of
his gift, or strive onwards for the supreme attainment ?
Resolving to overcome prudence by wisdom, and anxiety
by steadfastness of purpose, his mind once more became
tranquil and he went forth from his hut.

A second time the old Brahmin slipped and fell, and
the children untied their bonds and ran back to their
father ; but Zuzaga followed them, bound them to-
gether again, and beat them severely. As they were
for the third time being dragged away under blows,



Gahnazainof turned and asked her father how he could
remain unmoved when he saw how shamelessly the old
ogre was abusing them. Then poignant grief seized
hold of the Payalaung. His heart grew like red-hot iron,
his breath came and went so that his nostrils seemed too
small for its passage, and he wept tears of blood. But
the thought still sustained him that it was his duty to
rise superior to mere human affection ; so he controlled
his natural feelings and his mind became suffused with a
pious calm, while in tears and sorrow his children pursued
their weary way across the Winga hills.

When Madi went forth into the forest, she was haunted
by her evil dreams of the past night and made up her
mind to return home Ions: before sunset. Even as she
thought thus within herself, she became filled with vague
feelings of dread, her right eye twitched violently, and
she became giddy. So she determined to return home at
once, fearing lest some mishap had befallen her children.

Now, the Nat in spirit-land, who had heard the quak-
ing of the earth at the Prince's last great gift as well as
the cries and lamentations of the two children, foresaw
that if Madi returned early to her hut she would learn
what had taken place, would follow her children, and
would be lost or devoured by wild beasts in the forest.
So three guardian spirits were directed to assume the
forms of a lion, a tiger, and a leopard, and were made
to guard certain tracks till after sundown.

As Madi attempted to get back to her hut she found
every path blocked by one of these wild animals. Which-
ever way she went, a savage brute seemed to threaten
her destruction. Coaxingly she spoke, making lowly
obeisance and offering a share of the roots and fruits she
had collected ; but all further progress was barred till the
sun had sunk behind the hill-tops (this being the day of
the full moon), when the three great beasts of the forest
stood aside and departed to their own home. Then
Madi continued her way. As she came near the hut
she wondered why the children did not come running to
meet her, as was their wont. Approaching nearer, the
ominous silence filled her heart with awe ; and when she
saw the Payalaung sitting alone and silent, her soul was



overcome with grief. In vain she asked if the children
had been killed by wild beasts, or carried off by eagles,
or if they had perhaps been sent to their grandfather, or
were asleep within the Prince's hut. But she received
no answer, the Payalaung remaining silent notwithstand-
ing all her grief and lamentation.

At last she appealed to him, by the love which had
sustained them happy even in banishment and exile, not
to add to the pain of losing her children the still greater
sorrow of her husband not speaking to her. To do this,
she said, would be like beating a man who was dying
from the bite of a serpent or through falling from the top
of a lofty palm-tree, or like irritating a deep wound with
a sharp thorn. Tortured thus, she added, it would be
impossible for her to live through the coming night.

Then the Payalaung broke silence. Seeking to divert
her thoughts from her children, he spoke harshly to her,
as if piercing her heart with a needle, upbraiding her for
having remained out so long in the forest. Endeavour-
ing to justify herself against these cruel insinuations, she
narrated all that had befallen her in the way of evil
dreams, of omens such as she had never before known
during their seven years' exile in the forest, and of hin-
drances delaying her return before dark, and besought
her husband not to be angry with her. As he remained
silent, she then resumed her supplications, detailing all that
she had done to try and make her husband and children
happy, and ending by asking him to give to Zali a lotus
flower she had brought from the pond and to Gahnazaing
a brown lily, to bedeck themselves with. But still the
Paydlaung remained silent, offering no word of explana-
tion to his sorrowing wife. Retiring to her own hut,
Madi beheld the toy animals with which her children
used to play, and broke into grief so loud that even the
beasts of the forest slunk away in fear and the birds flew
off trembling. Weeping, she hastened from place to
place seeking and calling on the children ; but in vain.
Then she returned to the Payalaung and upbraided him,
though gently and lovingly. But still he spoke no word,
and she withdrew trembling. All night long she wan-
dered throuo^h the forest seeking' her lost loved ones.



When the next day dawned in sorrow she again sought
the Payalaung, telHng him how she had wandered to and
fro all through the night without finding any trace of her
children, who must certainly be dead. Saying this, she
fell into a deep faint. Thinking she was indeed dead,
the Prince trembled violently and lamented that she had
died in exile far away from all her own kith and kin.
Placing his hand upon her breast, thus touching her for
the first time during seven long years, he became filled
with the hope that life was not yet extinct : so he made
haste to bring a pitcher of water, and to bathe her face
and head while chafingf her bosom in tearful efforts to
restore her to consciousness. Soon regaining her senses,
she started up in confusion, made obeisance before the
Payalaung, and asked what had become of the children.
Then she was told how a Brahmin had begged a gift of
them, and they had been given to him. Chiding her
husband, she asked how he could have been so cruel as
to allow her to wander about in sorrow all night long
looking for the children. In reply the Payalaung said
that as even he, a man, felt deeply grieved about their
loss, he feared that she, a woman, would break her heart
on learning what had happened. Then he tried to comfort
her, saying that though it was true he had given the
children to be slaves to the old Brahmin, yet when these
passed through the country of Saduttaya the glory of the
gift would become known, and they would be recalled
from exile, their children and all their former possessions
and prosperity being restored to them.

Thus he encouraged her and endeavoured to obtain
her acquiescence in the offering he had made. Then she
congratulated him at having quite set his mind at ease and
freed himself from wavering, and hoped that he might
even make some still greater sacrifice yet, while he related
to her the wonderful signs given by the earth in token of
approbation at the time of the great offering being accom-

Whilst they were thus conversing, the Thagyd, from
his ruling seat in spirit-land, bethought him how he might
prevent any vile person demanding a gift of the peerless
Madi ; for if this gift were demanded of the Paydlaung it



would surely be uiade, and then he would be left help-
less and alone in the forest without anyone to minister to
his wants. So the Thagyd resolved to himself adopt the
form of a mendicant Brahmin and be^^ the mh of Madi,
in order that the Payalaun^ might thus have the oppor-
tunity of ultimately attaining supreme knowledge ; and
when this attainment was achieved, Madi would be re-
stored to the Prince.

Next day at dawn the Thagya assumed the form of a
mendicant Brahmin and appeared before the hut of the
Payalaung, making the usual inquiries if he were well,
if his wants were easily supplied, and if he were free of
trouble from insects and other animals; and he was invited
to enter the hut, wash his feet, and refresh himself with
sweet fruit and cold water. Then the object of the
visit was asked, the Brahmin being informed that during
the last seven years this was but the second time any
stranger had come to their abode. The pretended
Brahmin at once said that, hearing of the inexhaustible
charity of the Prince which resembled the never dying
source of a great river, he had come to beg the gift of
Madi. Giving no heed to the thought that this meant
loneliness and solitude in the forest, the Payalaung
became filled with the quintessence of charity and
benevolence and led forward Madi by the hand, while the
forest and the hills resounded with a tjreat noise. In
making the gift of the peerless Madi, the Payalaung said
that his yesterday's gift of his children and the gift now
of his beloved Princess had not been made because he
loved them little, but solely in order that he might
thereby attain the great omniscience. Pouring forth an
offering of water he gave Madi to the Brahmin, while the
earth shook and for the sixth time showed wondrous
signs of approbation.

Silent, Madi stood gazing at the Paydlaung's face.
She neither wept, nor cast angry looks at him. Knowing
herself to be beautiful in all respects and a true subject to
her husband's will, she felt assured that his giving her
away could only be to attain some great object ; so in
place of appearing unhappy, she endeavoured to help him
to attain this supreme wish. Recounting how, all through



their married life, her one desire had been to please him,
she bade him do with her as he will, and said she would
not be vexed whatever he did.

Perceiving the excellent disposition of the peerless
Madi, the Brahmin congratulated the Paydlaung on
having overcome the human desires for the luxuries and
comforts of prosperity, and told him that while the whole

Online LibraryJohn NisbetBurma under British rule--and before; (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 41)