Siddhartha

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Part Two

Kamala

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This page was last updated: February 04, 2003


 

Contents
The Brahmin's Son
With the Samanas
Gautam
Awakening
Kamala
Amongst the People
Sansara
By the River
The Ferryman
The Son
Om
Govinda

Siddhartha learned something new on every step of his path, for the world was transformed and he was enthralled. He saw the sun rise over forest and mountains and set over the distant palm shore. At night he saw the stars in the heavens and the sickle-shaped moon floating like a boat in the blue. He saw trees, stars, animals, clouds, rainbows, rocks, weeds, flowers, brook and river, the sparkle of dew on bushes in the morning, distant high mountains blue and pale; birds sang, bees hummed, the wind blew gently across the rice fields. All this, coloured and in a thousand different forms, had always been there. The sun and moon had always shone; the rivers had always flowed and the bees had hummed, but in previous times all this had been nothing to Siddhartha but a fleeting and illusive veil before his eyes, regarded with distrust, condemned to be disregarded and ostracized from the thoughts, because it was not reality, because reality lay on the other side of the visible. But now his eyes lingered on this side; he saw and recognized the visible and he sought his place in this world. He did not seek reality; his goal was not on any other side. The world was beautiful when looked at in this way without any seeking, so simple, so childlike. The moon and the stars were beautiful, the brook, the shore, the forest and rock, the goat and the golden beetle, the flower and butterfly were beautiful. It was beautiful and pleasant to go through the world like that, so childlike, so awakened, so concerned with the immediate, without any distrust. Elsewhere the sun burned fiercely, elsewhere there was cool in the forest shade; elsewhere there were pumpkins and bananas. The days and nights were short, every hour passed quickly like full of joy. Siddhartha saw a group of monkeys in the depths of the forest, moving about high in the branches, and heard their wild eager cries. Siddhartha saw a ram follow a sheep and mate. In a lake of rushes he saw the pike making chase in evening hunger. Swarms of young fishes, fluttering and glistening, moved anxiously away from it. Strength and desire were reflected in the swiftly moving whirls of water by the raging pursuer.

All this had always been and he had never seen it; he was never present. Now he was present and belonged to it. Through his eyes he saw light and shadows; through his mind he was aware for moon and stars.

On the way, Siddhartha remembered all that he had experienced in the garden of Jetavan, the teachings that he had heard there from the holy Buddha, the parting from Govinda and the conversation with the Illustrious One. He remembered each word that he had said to the Illustrious One, and he was astonished that he had said things which he did not then really know. What he had said to the Buddha that the Buddha's wisdom and secret was not teachable, that it was inexpressible and incommunicable and which he had once experienced in an hour of enlightenment, was just what he had now set off to experience, what he was now beginning to experience. He must gain experience himself. He had known for a long time that his Self was Atman, of the same eternal nature as Brahman, but he had never really found his Self, because he had wanted to trap it in the net of thoughts. The body was certainly not the Self, nor the play of sense, nor thought, nor understanding, nor acquired wisdom or art with which to draw conclusions and from already existing thoughts to spin new thoughts. No, this world of thought was still on this side, and it led to no goal when one destroyed the senses of the incidental Self but fed it with thoughts and erudition. Both thought and the senses were fine things, behind both of them lay hidden the last meaning; it was worth while listening to them both, to play with both, neither to despise nor overrate either of them, but to listen intently to both voices. He would only strive after whatever the inward voice commanded him, nor tarry anywhere but where the voice advised him. Why did Gautam once sit down beneath the bo tree in his greatest hour when he received enlightenment? He had heard a voice, a voice in his own heart which commanded him to seek rest under this tree, and he had not taken recourse to mortification of the flesh, sacrifices, bathings or prayers, eating or drinking, sleeping or dreaming; he had listened to the voice. To obey no other external command, only the voice, to be prepared that was good, that was necessary. Nothing else was necessary.

During the night as he slept in a ferryman's straw hut, Siddhartha had a dream. he dreamt that Govinda stood before him, in the yellow robe of the ascetic. Govinda looked sad and asked him, 'Why did you leave me?' Thereupon he embraced Govinda, put his arm round him, and as he drew him to his breast and kissed him, he was Govinda no longer, but a woman and out of the woman's gown emerged a full breast, and Siddhartha lay there and drank; sweet and strong tasted the milk from this breast. It tasted of woman and man, of sun and forest, of animal and flower, of every fruit of every pleasure. It was intoxicating. When Siddhartha awoke, the pale river shimmered past the door of the hut, and in the forest the cry of an owl rang out, deep and clear.

As the day began, Siddhartha asked his host, the ferryman, to take him across the river. The ferryman took him across on his bamboo raft. The broad sheet of water glimmered pink in the light of the morning.

'It is a beautiful river,' he said to his companion.

'Yes,' said the ferryman, 'it is very beautiful river. I love it above everything. I have often listened to it, gazed at it, and I have always learned something from it. One can learn much from a river.'

'Thank you, good man,' said Siddhartha, as he landed on the other side. 'I am afraid I have no gift to give you, nor any payment. I am homeless, a Brahmin's son and a Samana.'

'I could see that,' said the ferryman, 'and I did not expect any payment or gift from you. You will give it to me some other time.'

'Do you think so?' asked Siddhartha merrily.

'Certainly. I have learned that from the river too; everything comes back. You, too, Samana, will come back. Now farewell, may your friendship be my payment! May you think of me when you sacrifice to the gods!'

Smiling, they parted from each other. Siddhartha was pleased at the ferryman's friendliness. He is like Govinda, he thought, smiling. All whom I meet on the way are like Govinda. All are grateful, although they themselves deserve thanks. All are subservient, all wish to be my friend, to obey and to think little. People are children.

At midday he passed through a village. Children danced about in the lane in front of the clay huts. They played with pumpkin-stones and mussels. They shouted and wrestled with each other, but ran away timidly when the strange Samana appeared. At the end of the village, the path went alongside a brook, and at the edge of the brook a young woman was kneeling and washing clothes. When Siddhartha greeted her, she raised her head and looked at him with a smile, so that he could see the whites of her eyes shining. He called across a benediction, as is customary among travellers, and asked how far the road still was to the large town. Thereupon she stood up and came towards him, her moist lips gleaming attractively in her young face. She exchanged light remarks with him, asked him if he had yet eaten, and whether it was true that the Samanas slept alone in the forest at night and were not allowed to have any women with them. She then placed her left foot on his right and made a gesture, such as a woman makes when she invites a man to that kind of enjoyment of love which the holy books call 'ascending the tree'. Siddhartha felt his blood kindle, and as he recognized his dream again at that moment, he stopped a little towards the woman and kissed the brown tip of her breast. Looking up he saw her face smiling, full of desire, and her half-closed eyes pleaded with longing.

Siddhartha also felt a longing and the stir of sex in him but as he had never yet touched a woman, he hesitated a moment, although his hands were ready to seize her. At that moment he heard his inward voice and the voice said 'No!' Then all the magic disappeared from the young woman's smiling face; he saw nothing but the ardent glance of a passionate young woman. Gently he stroked her cheek and quickly disappeared from the disappointed woman into the bamboo wood.

Before evening of that day he reached a large town and he was glad, because he had a desire to be with people. He had lived in the woods for a long time and the ferryman's straw hut, in which he had slept the previous night, was the first roof he had had over him for a long time.

Outside the town, by a beautiful unfenced grove, the wanderer met a small train of men and women servants loaded with baskets. In the middle, in an ornamented sedan chair carried by four people, sat a woman, the mistress, on red cushions beneath a colourful awning. Siddhartha stood still at the entrance to the grove and watched the procession, the men servants, the maids and the baskets. He looked at the sedan chair and the lady in it. Beneath heaped-up black hair he saw a bright, very sweet, very clever face, a bright red mouth like a freshly cut fig, artful eyebrows painted in a high arch, dark eyes, clever and observant, and a clear slender neck above her green and gold gown. The woman's hands were firm and smooth, long and slender, with broad gold bangles on her wrists.

Siddhartha saw how beautiful she was and his heart rejoiced. He bowed low as the sedan chair passed close by him, and raising himself again, gazed at the bright fair face, and for a moment into the clever arched eyes, and inhaled the fragrance of a perfume which he did not recognize.

For a moment the beautiful woman nodded and smiled, then disappeared into the grove, followed by her servants.

And so, thought Siddhartha, I enter this town under a lucky star. He felt the urge to enter the grove immediately, but he thought it over, for it had just occurred to him how the men servants and maids had looked at him at the entrance, so scornfully, so distrustfully, so dismissing in their glance.

I am still a Samana, he thought, still an ascetic and a beggar. I cannot remain one. I cannot enter the grove like this. And he laughed.

He inquire from the first people that he met about he grove about the woman's name, and learned that it was the grove of Kamala, the well-known courtesan, and that besides the grove she owned a house in the town.

Then he entered the town. He had only one goal. Pursuing it, he surveyed the town, wandered about in the maze of streets, stood still in places, and rested on the stone steps to the river.

Towards evening he made friends with a barber's assistant, whom he had seen working in the shade of an arch. He found him again at prayer in the temple of Vishnus, where he related to him stories about Vishnus and Lakshmi. During the night he slept among the boats on the river, and early in the morning, before the first customers arrived in the shop, he had his beard shaved off by the barber's assistant. He also had his hair combed and rubbed with fine oil. Then he went to bathe in the river.

When the beautiful Kamala was approaching her grove late in the afternoon in her sedan chair, Siddhartha was at the entrance. He bowed and received the courtesan's greeting. He beckoned the servant who was last in the procession, and asked him to announce to his mistress that a young Brahmin desired to speak to her. After a time the servant returned, asked Siddhartha to follow him, conducted him silently into a pavilion, where Kamala lay on a couch, and left him.

'Did you not stand outside yesterday and greet me?' asked Kamala.

'Yes indeed. I saw you yesterday and greeted you.'

'But did you not have a beard and long hair yesterday, and dust in your hair?'

'You have observed well, you have seen everything. You have seen Siddhartha, the Brahmin's son, who left his home in order to become a Samana, and who was a Samana for three years. Now, however, I have left that path and have come to this town, and the first person I met before I reached the town was you. I have come here to tell you, O Kamala, that you are the first woman to whom Siddhartha has spoken without lowered eyes. Never again will I lower my eyes when I meet a beautiful woman.'

Kamala smiled and played with her fan made of peacocks' feathers, and asked, 'Is that all that Siddhartha has come to tell me?'

'I have come to tell you this and to thank you because you are so beautiful. And if it does not displease you, Kamala, I would like to ask you to be my friend and teacher, for I do not know anything of the art of which you are mistress.'

Thereupon Kamala laughed aloud.

'It has never been my experience that a Samana from the woods should come to me and desire to learn from me. Never has a Samana with long hair and an old torn loincloth come to me. Many young men come to me, including Brahmins' sons, but they come to me in fine clothes, in fine shoes; there is scent in their hair and money in their purses. That is how these young men come to me, O Samana.'

Siddhartha said: 'I am already beginning to learn from you. I already learned something yesterday. Already I have got rid of my beard, I have combed and oiled my hair. There is not much more that is lacking, most excellent lady: fine clothes, fine shoes and money in my purse. Siddhartha has undertaken to achieve more difficult things than these trifles and has attained them. Why should I not attain what I decided to undertake yesterday? to be your friend and to learn the pleasures of love from you. You will find me an apt pupil, Kamala. I have learned more difficult things than what you have to teach me. So Siddhartha is not good enough for you as he is, with oil in his hair, but without good clothes, without shoes and without money.!'

Kamala laughed and said: 'No, he is not yet good enough. He must have clothes, fine clothes, and shoes, fine shoes, and plenty of money in his purse and presents for Kamala. Do you know now, Samana from the woods? Do you understand?'

'I understand very well,' cried Siddhartha. 'How could I fail to understand when it comes from such a mouth? Your mouth is like a freshly cut fig, Kamala. My lips are also red and fresh, and will fit yours well, you will see. But tell me, fair Kamala, are you not at all afraid of the Samanas from the forest, who has come to learn about love?'

'Why should I be afraid of a Samana, a stupid Samana fromt he forest, who comes fromt he jackals and does not know anything about women?'

'Oh, the Samana is strong and afraid of nothing. He could force you, fair maiden, he could rob you, he could hurt you.'

'No, Samana, I am not afraid. Has a Samana or a Brahmin ever feared that someone could come and strike him and rob him of his knowledge, of his piety, of his power for depth of thought? No, because they belong to himself, and he can only give of them what he wishes, and if he wishes. That is exactly how it is with Kamala and with the pleasures of love. Fair and red are Kamala's lips, but try to kiss them against Kamala's will, and not one drop of sweetness will you obtain from them although they know well how to give sweetness. You are an apt pupil, Siddhartha, so learn also this. One can beg, buy, be presented with and find love in the streets, but it can never be stolen. You have misunderstood. Yes, it would be a pity if a fine young man like you misunderstood.'

Siddhartha bowed and smiled. 'You are right, Kamala, it would be a pity. It would be a very great pity. No, no drops of sweetness must be lost from your lips, nor from mine. So Siddhartha will come again when he has what he is lacking in clothes, shoes, money. But tell me, fair Kamala, can you not give me a little advice?'

'Advice? Why not? Who would not willingly give advice to a poor, ignorant Samana who comes from the jackals in the forest?'

'Dear Kamala, where can I go in order to obtain these three things as quickly as possible?'

'My friend, many people want to know that. You must do what you have learned and obtain money, clothes and shoes for it. A poor man cannot obtain money otherwise.'

'I can think, I can wait, I can fast.'

'Nothing else?'

'Nothing. O yes, I can compose poetry. WIll you give me a kiss for a poem?'

'I will do so if your poem pleases me. What is it called?'

After thinking a moment, Siddhartha recited this verse:

Into her grove went the fair Kamala,

At the entrance to the grove stood the brown Samana.

As he saw the lotus flower,

Deeply he bowed.

Smiling, acknowledged Kamala,

Better, though the young Samana,

To make sacrifices to the fair Kamala

Than to offer sacrifices to the gods.

 

Kamala clapped her hands loudly, so that the golden bangles tinkled.

'Your poetry is very good, brown Samana, and truly there is nothing to lose if I give you a kiss for it.'

She drew him to her with her eyes. He put his face against hers, placed his lips against hers, which were like a freshly ct fig. Kamala kissed him deeply, and to Siddhartha's great excitement he felt how much she taught him, how clever she was, how she mastered him, repulsed him, lured him, and how after this long kiss, a long series of other kisses, all different, awaited him. He stood still, breathing deeply. At that moment he was like a child astonished at the fullness of Knowledge and learning which unfolded itself before his eyes.

'Your poetry is very good,' said Kamala. 'If I were rich I would give you money for it. But it will be hard for you to earn as much money as you want with poetry. For yuo will need much money if you want to be Kamala's friend.'

'How you can kiss, Kamala!' stammered Siddhartha.

'Yes, indeed, that is why I am not lacking in clothes, shoes, bangles and all sorts of pretty things. But what are you going to do? Cannot you do anything else besides think, fast and compose poetry?'

'I also know the sacrificial songs,' said Siddhartha, 'but I will not sing them any more. I also know incantations but I will not pronounce them any more. I have read the scriptures...'

'Wait,' interrupted Kamala, 'you can read and write.'

'Certainly I can. Many people can do that.'

'Not most people. I cannot. It is very good that you know how to read and write, very good. You might even need the incantations.'

At that moment a servant entered and whispered something in his mistress' ear.

'I have a visitor,' said Kamala. 'Hurry and disappear, Siddhartha, nobody must see you here. I will see you again tomorrow.'

However, she ordered the servant to give the holy Brahmin a white gown. Without quite knowing what was happening, Siddhartha was led away by the servant, conducted by a circuitous route to a garden house, presented with a gown, let into the thicket and expressly instructed to leave the grove unseen, as quickly as possible.

Contentedly, he did what he was told. Accustomed to the forest, he made his way silently out of the grove and over the hedge. Contentedly, he returned to the town, carrying his rolled-up gown under his arm. He stood at the door of an inn where travellers met, silently begged for food and silently accepted a piece of rice cake. Perhaps, tomorrow, he thought, I will not need to beg for food.

He was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of pride. He was a Samana no longer; it was no longer fitting that he should beg.

He gave the rice cake to a dog and remained without food.

The life that is lived here is simple, thought Siddhartha. It has no difficulties. Everything was difficult, irksome and finally hopeless when I was a Samana. Now everything is easy, as easy as the instruction in kissing which Kamala gives. I require clothes and money, that is all. These are easy goals which do not disturb one's sleep.

He had long since inquired about Kamala's town house and called there the next day.

'Things are going well,' she called across to him. 'Kamaswami expects you to call on him; he is the richest merchant in the tow. If you please him, he will take you into his service. Be clever, brown Samana! I had your name mentioned to him through others. Be friendly towards him; he is very powerful, but do not be too modest. I do not want you to be his servant, but his equal, otherwise I shall not be pleased with you. Kamaswami is beginning to grow old and indolent. If you please him, he will place great confidence in you.'

Siddhartha thanked her and laughed, and when she learned that he had not eaten that day nor the previous day, she ordered bread and fruit to be brought to him and attended him.

'You have been lucky,' she said to him on parting; 'one door after the other is being opened to you. How does that come about? Have you a charm?'

Siddhartha said: 'Yesterday I told you I knew how to think, to wait and to fast, but you did not consider these useful. But you will see that they are very useful, Kamala. You will see that the stupid Samanas in the forest learn and know many useful things. The day before yesterday I was still an unkempt beggar; yesterday I already kissed Kamala and soon I will be a merchant and have money and all those things which you value.'

'Quite,' she agreed, 'but how would you have fared without me? Where would you be if Kamala did not help you?'

'My dear Kamala,' said Siddhartha, 'when I came to you in your grove I made the first step. It was my intention to learn about love from the most beautiful woman. From the moment I made that resolution I also knew that I would execute it. I knew that you would help me; I knew it from your first glance at the entrance to the grove.'

'And if I had not wanted?'

'But you did want. Listen, Kamala, when you throw a stone into the water, it finds the quickest way to the bottom of the water, without doing anything, without bestirring himself; he is drawn by his goal, for he does not allow anything to enter his mind which opposes his goal. That is what Siddhartha learned from the Samanas. It is what fools call magic and what they think is caused by demons. Nothing is caused by demons; there are no demons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goad, if he can think, wait and fast.'

Kamala listened to him. She loved his voice, she loved the look in his eyes.

'Perhaps it is as you say, my friend,' she said softly, 'and perhaps it is also because Siddhartha is a handsome man, because his glance pleases women, that he is lucky.'

Siddhartha kissed her and said goodbye. 'May it be so, my teacher. May my glance always please you, may good fortune always come to me from you!'

 

 

 

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