Nagananda Dramatis Personae Jimutavahana -The Prince of the Vidyadharas-Hero. Jimutaketu -The Emperor of the Vihyadharas, and father of Jimatavahana. Visvavasu -The Emperor of the Siddhas. Mitravasu -The Prince of the Siddhas and son of Visvavasu. Shankhachooda-A Naga. Garuda . Queend of the Vidyadharas - Mother of Jimutavahana. Malayavati-Daughter of Visvavasu Heroine. Mother of Shankhachooka . Friends of the Hero, the companions of the Heroine, ascetics in the hermitage, attendants, messengers and others. Nadananda Jimutavahana was a young prince of the Vidyadharas, an Order of celestial beings. His father Jimutaketu, the Emperor of the Vidyadharas, ruled over his Empire for a very long time. He enjoyed the pleasures of life in his youth and he succeeded in spreading his name and fame throughout his Empire. When he grew old her retired to a hermitage in the forest to spend his last days in penance and austerities, entrusting the work of administration to his son Jimutavahana. The son, like the father, was able to keep the subjects in ways of virtue and to bring happiness to the good people. He treated his relatives with respect and consideration, so that no one thought of coming up as a rival to the throne. There was peace and security, there was prosperity and plenty. He gave away liberally to the needy. There was no one in the realm who had not his legitimate desires satisfied. He administered the Empire in response to the wishes of his parents, not on account of ambition. He felt that he had finished his duty to his parents by accomplishing thus much, and that there was nothing more to be done by him in person in the Empire. He could have sat on a throne of imperial splendour and pomp; he could have commanded even princes to attend on him; he could have enjoyed all the pleasures of life. But he preferred to sit on the ground in front of his parents in the forest; he liked much more to serve his aged parents in the hermitage; he desired to share the austere life of his parents in the forest. A kingdom was only a burden, when his presence did not particularly benefit any one and his absence did no particular harm to the people. He could do some real good to his parents in the hermitage. When he found that his presence in the kingdom was not wanted for peace and security, he placed his chief minister in complete charge of the administration and retired to the forest to serve his aged parents. Youth was the cause of all desires and was impermanent. That was the time when men would be averse to discriminating between right and wrong. It was entirely subject to the senses. Thus youth was very despicable. Still to Jimutavahana that very youth was a source of great happiness and extreme gratification, as he devoted his youth to the service of his parents. His friends were trying to persuade him to lead a more comfortable life, befitting his age and position. They were getting weary of this life of self-sacrifice, this life of service with no enjoyment, no pleasures, this life in the solitary forests in the company of his aged parents and a few ascetics. His friend were even getting angry with him. They were wondering how he was not feeling tired even after wasting such a long time in the forests for the sake of his parents who were half dead, whether he would not be pleased to put a stop to that miserable life, to retire from the self-imposed task of attending on his parents, and to enjoy the pleasures of his kingdom to his heart's content. They knew that they could not win him over by appealing to his personal interests. They tried to persuade him to go back to his kingdom by rousing his sense of duty to the kingdom, which they declared to be exposed to the danger of attack from rival claimants to the throne. But nothing changed him; his only desire was to serve. After pending a long time in one part of the forest, Jimutaketu found that there was a scarcity of roots and fruits, of fire-wood, grass and flowers, things essential for the penance. So he desired that his son should seek another abode for them. Jimutavahana started with his friends to another part of the forest called the Malaya mountains, where he thought of arranging for the dwelling of his parents. That was a beautiful part of the forest. The gentle wind was very refreshing. The air was fragrant with the scent of sandalwood growing thick and green. The place was made cool by a rumbling brook falling over uneven rocks. Elephants were rubbing their shoulders against sandalwood trees, which discharged fragrant juice. Noices of falling trees and the roar of wild animals were being re-echoed in rocks and caves. The red paints on the tender feet of the fairy nymphs loitering leisurely in the woods were imprinted on the rocks. The whole environment created a change even in the mind of Jimutavahana. His emotions, till then vigorously repressed, began to be stirred. When he entered the forest, his right eye quivered, an omen denoting an imminent love affair. Jimutavahana was puzzled. Love in that sense was farthest from his heart. His friends were happy that after all there might be a chance of winning him over to a life of pleasure and enjoyment. The trees were thick. There were columns of smoke rising from neat little cottage. The wild animals were resting in peace in the shades of the trees. Most of the trees had their bark removed for use as robes by the ascetics. There was a small brook in which the water was clear as crystal. Grass and fibre threads thrown away after use by the ascetics lay scattered over the place. The parrots daily accustomed to hearing Vedas recited, were freely repeating Vedic passages. It was evidently a grove where the ascetics were performing penance. But even a hermitage is not an improbable place for a love romance. It happened at this time that Visvavasu the Emperor of the Siddhas, another Order of celestial beings, had a daughter named Malayavati, She was a very handsome maiden. She had already passed the age when she ought to have secured a husband; still she was unmarried, She went to a temple dedicated to the Goddess Durga close by the hermitage where Jimutavahana had decided to arrange for the abode of his parents. She was spending her days at the temple praying to the Goddess, trying to please Her by playing on a Veena. Days rolled on. The Goddess was showing no sign of favour. Her companions were getting impatient. But she was firm n her devotion. She was worshipping the Goddess, playing on her Veena as usual, when one day Jimutavahana entered the neighbouring hermitage with his friends looking for a suitable abode for his parents. The music was enchanting. The deer and the wild animal on hearing the music, stood listening, motionless, with their necks slightly bent, the half-eaten grass falling off their gently open mouths, with one ear cocked and the eyes half-closed. On hearing this enchanting music Jimutavahana's curiosity was roused. From the gentle strokes of the strings and from the prominence of particular notes, he knew that it must be a woman; he knew also from the sweetness of the notes that it must be a celestial woman. His friends tried to pursuade him to enter the temple. He decided to go to the temple more because of his desire to worship the Goddess then because of the charm of the music. He was afraid that the musician might be someone they should not see. So he decided to listen till she left the temple. Jimutavahana's heart began slowly to show signs of being moved by the charm of the music, and more by the inferred charm of the musician. He was eager to know who the musician could be. He listened with rapt attention. He could overhear the conversation within the temple. From the conversation he found out that the musician was an unmarried maiden. There is no harm in going into the temple if she is unmarried and if she is only a maiden. He wished to enter the temple and see her. But she might leave the temple on seeing them, through bashfulness. So he decided to wait sometime more, but meanwhile to peep in through some creepers. Within the temple was a maiden of heavenly beauty. She had her companions with her. Her voice was sweet to the ears; but her form was sweeter to the eyes. Who could she be? A Goddess, a Naga Maiden, a Vidyadhara damsel or a Siddha beauty? If she be a heavenly maiden, then the thousand eyes of Indra must have been ratified. If she be a Naga Maiden, then the thousand eyes of Indra must have been gratified. If she be a Naga Maiden, then the Nether world in which her face shone lost nothing through the absence of the Moon. If she be a Vidyadhara damsel, then Jimutavahana's own race was raised above all other orders of creation. If she be a Siddha, then the Siddhas were the most famous in the world. Such were the thoughts that passed through the mind of Jimutavahana when he looked at her. His friends were happy that after all his heart was being touched by love. From the conversation it transpired that she had already a dream one night, in which the Goddess appeared before her and told her how much she was pleased with her devotion and with her skill, and she assured her that soon she would be united to the Emperor of the Vidyadharas. This was the right time for Jimutavahana, the Emperor of the Vidyadharas to enter the temple, under pretence of worshipping the Goddess. He was hesitating. But all his friends dragged him in. The maiden was startled at the appearance of strangers. She desired to go away. But how could she, a maiden, leave the place without doing honour to the guests? It was her duty as a maiden. The faces of Malayavati and Jimutavahana showed signs of mutual affection. They could not stand in each other's presence; more so was it the case with the maiden. Still she could not completely retrain herself from a stealthy glance at him. They had scarcely time to seat themselves when a young ascetic intervened. It was time for her to return to the hermitage. The time was high noon. They had to part. They did know even each other's name, to say nothing of particulars regarding birth, parentage and rank. Visvavasu, the Emperor of the Siddhas, and father of Malayavati, had already an eye on Jimutavahana. He was anxious to give his daughter in marriage to him. He had heard of the fame of Jimutavahana. He was the crest jewel of the Imperial family of the Vidhayadharas, wise, loved by all, unrivalled in personal charm, rich in valour, learned and at the same time modest, young and virtuous. He was ready to sacrifice his own life to save the life of another. Visvavasu sent his son Mitravasu to Jimutavahana to offer him his daughter's hand. Meanwhile both Jimutavahana and Malayaviti was suffering the pangs of love. There was no place cool enough where she could find peace for her afflicted heart. The grove of sandalwood trees with a pavement of moon-stone could give relief to her only if she was suffering from the heat of the sun. Still she had to make some pretence of giving relief to her troubled body. Her friends who knew the real cause of her affliction knew also that the sight of the grove could only increase her sufferings. Still all of them used to retire to the beautiful grove during the hottest part of the day. They talked of the handsome youth whom they saw in the temple. They knew that he must have fallen in love with her also. But Malayavati was indifferent. Perhaps he was in love with some other maiden. How could one be sure? Jimutavahana was also full of anxieties. He was always thinking of Malayavati. He did not know who she was, where and how to meet her. What were his prospects with her? As days passed on, he began to show signs of neglect even in his duties; he was less earnest in his service of the aged parents. His friends were noting the change that had come over him. Where was all his boasted courage? Through many moonlit nights were spent, though he used to smell the fragrance of lotus, though he used to enjoy the gentle breeze of the evenings scented with jasmine flowers, though he heard the humming of the bees in lotus ponds, still he did not completely break down; this was all the strength of heart left in him of which he could boast. He found solace in dreams about her. In his fancy he would see his beloved in the sandalwood grove seated on the pavement of moonstone, sometimes angry with him, sometimes scolding him, One day he wanted to go to the grove so that he could see the place where in his fancy he used to meet his beloved, and thus find solace. He did not know that she was actually in the place. He went straight into the grove with his friends. Malayavati and her companions stealthily retired from the place and concealed themselves behind a tree Jimuavahana began to describe to his friends how he used to meet her in that grove, how she was angry when he was late, how she used to weep, and how he used to console her Malayavati was overhearing the whole conversation. He must be describing some one else. None of the incidents narrated by him were known to her. He had not even seen her in that grove. They had met only once, and that was in the temple. She could not be the object of his description. He must be certainly in love with some one else. She had no hopes. But her companions tried to console her asking her to wait till the end of the story. Perhaps he had seen her in that grove unobserved by them. After narrating various incidents which he had pictured in his dreams of her, Jimutavahana began to paint the likeness of his beloved from his memory on the rock with colours collected from the woods. It was at this time that Mitravasu went to the hermitage to see Jimutavahana. He was told that Jimutavahana was in the grove and he went to that place. Jimutavahana's friends concealed the picture with some leaves and they welcomed Mitravasu. After formal greetings Mitravasu revealed to Jimutavahana did not know that he was offered the hands of the very maiden for whose sake he was undergoing all those tribal mental pangs. This was a critical moment of Malayavati. What will Jimutavahana say? Will he accept the offer? If he is in love with somebody else, how could he? If she be not the object of his love, what hope had she? Jimutavahana was in a dilemma. He did not wish to make an unceremonious refusal of an offer coming from such a source; at the same time he could not accept it. He evaded the difficulty with the excuse that his heart was given over to another, that he was not his own master to give his heart away. He meant inwardly that he was in love with some one else, but he wanted Mitravasu to understand that he was serving his parents and as such he was not free to make the choice. Mitravasu promised to speak to Jimutavahana's parents and get their consent. Jimutavahana's heart was already given over to another. Malayavati did not take it in the sense in which Mitravasu took it. She had no hopes. It was too much for her. She swooned but she was consoled by her friends. She decided to put an end to her life. Why should she live, how could she live after hearing those words, those unmistakable words from the very mouth of Jimutavahana? She wanted to be alone so that she could hang herself from the branch of the tree then and there. She asked her friends to go and see if her brother had gone far, so that she could retire from the place unnoticed by anyone. Her friends obeyed her, but they feared that she might do something rash in her then state of mind. So they did not go far, but watched from behind the trees. Malayavati took advantage of her supposed loneliness. She put a rope round her neck and she was about to jump down. But the friends of Malayavati raised an alarm. Jimutavahana was ready at hand to save her life. Mutual explanations revealed the true facts. The picture of Malayavati pointed by Jimutavahana was enough proof to assure her that he was in love with her and no one else. Misunderstandings, suspicions, jealousy, fears and anxieties, grief and despondency, all the inevitable preliminaries a really romantic union of two lovers had vanished and true love had its reward. The marriage was celebrated on a grand scale, in accordance with the rank of the couple. There was much festivity. All the citizens of the two Empires took part in it. Roads and avenues, parks and gardens were thronged by merry crowds. The city was for the time being a virtual heaven. Sex, caste rank and position and all such differences were for the time being forgotten. The marriage of the young couple was not the end of their troubles, nor was it the end of the story. It was really the beginning of the true romance of the life of Jimutavahana Worldly enjoyments had no charm for him. His love for Malayavati was only an expression on a small scale of the higher love that he felt for the whole world. His love for Malayavati was nít the culmination of his love but only the starting point for his higher love to find true expression. The marriage did not give him peace and satisfaction. His soul was still troubled. He was longing to get an opportunity for the really big thing in life. He was able to establish order and peace in his Empire, and to that extent he had satisfaction. He was able to alleviate the misery of his parents in their old age, and to that extent his services gave him peace. He was able to respond to the love of Malayavati and to that extent it was a solace to him. Still there was sorrow in the world. That troubled his heart. He was longing for an opportunity to serve the whole world, to do the big thing in life by which sorrow could be wiped off from the world. There was trouble in his Empire as a result of his continued absence. Mitravasu reported to him soon after the marriage that his Kingdom was being attacked by a rival to the throne and that the whole host of the Siddhas in the Empire of his father Visvavasu was ready to resist and attack. Was it worth while to cause so much loss of life in a battle simply to retain his claims to the throne? His ambition was to prepared to sacrifice his body unsolicited for the sake of others. How could he be a party to perpetrate cruelty for the sake of a throne? Suffering in the world was his only enemy. He was no enemies anywhere else. He wanted to persuade Mitravasu was not the person to listen to a sermon on mercy and self-sacrifice. So Jimutavahana arranged that they should talk over the matter further and thus he postponed the decision for the time being. Jimutavahana was in a meditative mood. His choice was between the hermitage and the royal throne: He was by claim of descent the Emperor of the Vidyadharas. He was the son-in-law of the Emperor of the Siddhas. His Kingdom was secure, he had only so return to the Kingdom. He could have all the pleasures of life, all the pomp of an Empire, all the splendour of royalty. He was happily wedded. There was nothing to make him happy. His friends wondered how he could be unhappy. The throne had no charms for him. A wilderness promised him more happiness: there was the soft lawn to sleep on; rocks to sit on; cool shades of trees to live under; refreshing waters of fast torrents to drink; fresh roots and fruits to eat; wild animals for company. Thus without any effort he could have all the luxury and pleasures in the forest. There was only one thing wanting. The place was inaccessible to the needy and to the poor; thus there was no opportunity for helping. Jimuruvahana and Mitravasu met on the mountains overlooking the sea. In front of them Jimutavahana saw the valleys of the Mountains white in colour. He had heard that the valleys of the Malaya mountains were white in colour. But Mitravasu told him that the white colour that he saw in front was due to the heaps of bones of Nagas killed in that place. Jimutavahana was very much touched at the sight. Certainly numbers of Nagas must have been killed in that place. What could the occasion be for such a terrible cruelty? Mitravasu told him that they all did not die together. Then he narrated the gruesome tale. Garuda, the King of birds, was the born enemy of the Nagas, He began. He began to attack them in their native land and eat them up. The king of the Nagas was afraid that the entire race of the Nagas might be exterminated by the powerful and irresistible enemy. He came to an agreement with Garuda. Jimutavahana was shocked to hear that the king did not offer himself up to Garuda to be eaten up by him so that he Nagas could be saved. What else is a King for? But the tale was otherwise. The very sight of Garuda was a danger to the expectant mothers among the Nagas and his very name was enough to frighten infants to death. If the entire Nagas were thus exterminated, then the self- interest of Garuda himself would be affected. Let Garuda be satisfied with one Naga every day. The King undertook to send a Naga every day to the sea-shore, where Garuda could eat. The offer was accepted. According to this arrangement Garuda was eating a Naga every day in that very place, and as years rolled on the bones of these unhappy Nagas formed into an immense white heap. Jimutavahana was very much overcome with pity and anger at this tale. The King of the Nagas has two thousand tongues. Was there not one tongue at least among them that could say, "devour me to-day so that I can save the life of one of my unfortunate subjects." Is this what is meant by the protection offered to the subjects by the King? How much sin people are ready to commit merely for the sake of one's body which is the abode of all sorts of impurities, which does one little good in return and which is perishable? Is there no end to this tragic destruction of the Nagas? Jimutavahana wished so much that by giving up his body he could save the life of one Naga at least. At this time Mitravasu was summoned by his father on urgent business. Mitravasu warned Jimutavahana not to stay long in that place which was exposed to all kings of dangers. Jimutavahana was left alone. He descended from the mountain to the sea- shore. Proceeding a little he heard a pitiable cry. He descended from the mountain to the sea-shore. Proceeding a little he heard a pitiable cry. He could understand that it was the wailing of a bereaved mother. He could distinctly hear the words, "Son, how can I look on you when you will be killed?" Jimutavahana turned his steps in the direction from which the sound was heard. He wanted to know who it was, and what the cause of the distress could be. He came in sight of an elderly woman accompanied by her young son. His name was Shankhachooda. They belonged to the Naga race. To the mother the whole land of the Nagas would be immersed in darkness without the face of her son to light up the place. Garuda, the heartless Garuda would swallow up his body. His body was very tender; it had not even been exposed to the rays of the sun till then. The Officer of the Naga King was there to see that one of the Nagas presented himself on the sea-shore to be eaten up by Garuda. He was getting impatient. The time for the approach of Garuda was nearing. The aged mother deluded by her fondness for the son did not understand the gravity of the King's command. He was urging Shankhachooda to proceed. The son was very cheerful, he knew that he was sacrificing his life to do his duty to his race. He was trying to console the unhappy mother. Jimutavahana was witnessing the whole scene. He stood concealed behind a tree. He did not wish to go and intrude. He knew that the cause of the mother's woe would be clear from the conversation which he could well overhear. The scene was really touching. The heart of even the King's Officer was moved to pity. He was doing his part not because he liked it, but because it was the command of his master. He offered a scarlet robe to Shankhachooda, which he was to put on as an emblem of death and to await Garuda on a rock. From the scarlet robes from the Officer. The scarlet colour gave additional anxiety to the old mother. It was the colour of death. The fatal hour was fast approaching. The mother would not leave the son. The Officer was impatient and was urging him. The son was calm and prepared for the fate. He was trying to console her. The mother was wailing. Jimutavahana was observing all that was taking place. He pitied the honest young Naga so mercilessly thrown away by the King. He was surprised at the cruelty of Garuda. How could he take away from the mother's lap that handsome youth and eat him up in her very presence, showing no mercy at all? His mother half senseless, shedding streams of tears, wailing in pity, finding no way of saving her son, casting her looks all around in desperate sorrow, if from such a mother Garuda can snatch away her dear sou to kill him and swallow him, it must be his heart and not his back that was made of steel. If Jimutavahana could not save his life with his own body, when he was in that pitiable condition when his death was fast approaching, when he was discarded even by his relatives, of what purpose was his body to him? The mother was cursing and reproaching Providence. How could she have consolation? He was her only son, and still the Naga King did not spare him. The world is wide; still Providence could not find a substitute for him, her son alone was remembered. It was impossible to be firm of h eart in such a condition. The King of the Nagas, the very person who was to save every Naga, he himself had castaway her only son. Who else could save him? When Jimutavahana heard these words, he could bear it no longer. He revealed himself saying, "Here I am". The aged mother thought it must be Garuda. She offered her own body if that could save her son. Shankhachooda assured her that he was not Garuda. In her anxiety, she saw only Garuda everywhere. Jimutavahana told her that he was a Vidyadhara come to save her son. He had no time for words. He wanted to show his friendship by actual deeds. He wanted to take over the scarlet roves on his own body so that when Garuda would come he could offer his own body to him and thus saver her son. But she was a mother. Jimutavahana's death was as painful to her as that of her own son. Perhaps it was more, since he came unsolicited to save her son by offering his own life, when her son was discarded by her own relatives. This self sacrifice was really wonderful. Viswamitra, a sage, age the flesh of a dog like a chandala; Gautama, another sage, killed and ate the bird Nadijanagna, who had even rendered some help to the sage; Garuda, the son of the sage Kashyapa, was perpetrated for protecting one's own body; and there was a youth who placed his life at the disposal of a stranger to save him from death. Shankhachooda would not accept the offer. The offer showed beyond doubt that Jimutavahana was a friend. If either of them should die, it were better that shankhachooda should die; such ordinary creatures as he are born and perish every day. But it is rarely that a magnanimous soul like Jimutavahana is born. Though thus dissuaded by both the mother and the son, Jimutavahana persisted in his resolve to save the young son. He had been looking for an opportunity, and when the opportunity came to be of service, it were unfair that he should he deprived of it. He even fell at the feet of the mother to be allowed to die instead of her dear son. But shankhachooda too was proud of his race. He was born among the Nagas. If he saved his own life through the death of such a great soul, that would be a shame not only to him but to the whole Naga race. The only favour he would ask was that when he was dead his mother's life might be protected by Jimutavahana. But Jimutavahana asked him hew any one could possibly save her life when he was dead. She would live only if he lived; she would die when he was gone. Only Shankhachooda could save her life, not Jimutavahana. The only way to save her life was by handing over the emblem of death to him without delay. But Shanknachooda was equally firm in his resolve that no action of his should stain the fame of the Naga race. He could not be intimidated into doing anything that was cowardly or ignoble. It was nearly time for Garuda to approach. His final prayer was that in all his future births he might be born as her son. He fell at the feet of his mother. The mother knew that there was no chance for her son to be saved. She too was ready to die with him. Both retired into a temple for worship for the last time in that life. It was the greatest disappointment to Jimutavahana. He began to think of a plan for saving the life of the young Naga. How could he retain his body when he was compelled to see another person losing his life in his very presence, and that when his body could as well serve the purpose as the other person's? Garuda wanted only food. He was not particular about the body of Shankhachooda. Here was a real opportunity to serve a great cause. How could he miss it? No. He was determined to save the life of the young Naga by offering his body to Garuda. He must find out a plan. At that time a messenger from Malayavati went there with a pair of scarlet silk robes for him to wear, as was the custom after marriage. This was in the estimation of Jimutavahana the most valuable reward of his arriage with Malayavati. He could cover himself up with those scarlet robes and place himself up on the rock of death. Garuda would take him away mistaking him to be a Naga. Shankhachooda and the mother were sure to be late. He could see Garuda actually approaching. There was a terrible blast of wind which shook even the peaks of the Malaya mountains. Garuda was in view. The wings resembling the clouds at the time of the destruction of the world covered the entire sky. The waves of the ocean began to rise up on account of the wind set up by the wings, and to beat against the shore threatening to immerse the whole world. The entire world was tinged by the purple, shining body of Garuda. That was the happiest moment in the life of Jimutavahana. He stood on the rock of death. The touch of that rock gave him more pleasure than the touch even of Malayavati. Standing on that rock he felt far greater happiness than he had ever enjoyed lying on the lap of his dear mother as an infant. Garuda actually came. Jamutavahana Stood firm on the rock with his body covered with the scarlet robes. His last prayer was that just in that particulate birth he was able to save the life of the Naga youth by sacrificing his own body, so in all his future births his body might be for the help of the others. Garuda descended. He knew that the person below, whom he was to eat off soon, stood there to save the Nagas, But he did not now that in that particulate case the person standing there was literally to save the entire race of the Nagas. He picked up his prey as usual and rose up in the sky. But there were unusual omens indicating auspicious results. Flowers fell from the sky like rain. There was the sound of drums. Garuda could not understand the cause of these auspicious omens. He thought that the blast of wind set up by his wings must have shaken the trees in the celestial gardens and that it must have caused the clouds to clash against each other. In the home of Jimutavahana all was anxiety. He had not returned although it was getting late. The delay was causing anxiety to his people. There was his newly wedded wife. There were her brother and parents. His own parents were also waiting for him. Even when Jimutavahana loitered in the garden lose by the house alone, his people were anxious that some danger might befall him. Now he was alone in the mountains over-looking the sea, espoused to various dangers. His people were reasonably anxious about his safety. Envoys were sent out to get some news of him. He had not returned to his father. He had not returned to his father-in-law. Jimutavahana's newly wedded wife and his parents were waiting for him, entertaining anxious fears about his safety. Their anxiety was increased when an envoy reported that he had not returned to the father-in-law. There were bad omens also. A jewel fell in front of them at that moment. Its rays dazzled their eyes. It was a crest jewel. There were pieces of hair and blood and flesh sticking to it. Could it be the crest jewel of Jimutavahana? Flesh and blood sticking to it suggested that the owner of it must have been killed and devoured by some beast or bird. They tried to console themselves with the idea that it might be the jewel of one of the Nagas who were being killed by Garuda every day. People had very often seen such jewels falling from the sky like meteors. They thought that Jimutavahana must have returned to the father-in-law. Messengers were going from the father-in-law to the father and back again. But he was not returning. How could he? Shankhachooda and his mother finished their prayer and returned to the place where Shankhachooda was to await Garuda. But Garuda had already come and gone with his prey. The young Vidyadhara had baffled him. It was a source of extreme grief to him. That youth was an unsolicited friend to him. He was the very incarnation of mercy. To him sorrow meant only the sorrow of others. What had that reckless youth done? Shankhachooda was deprived of the honour of giving up his life for the sake of the Nagas. He could not carry out the command of the King. What a shame that a stranger lost his life to save a Naga. He was not prepared to return home casing such a shame with him. He would follow up his deliverer. There were drops of blood fallen from the body of the Vidyadhara in a line. He could trace it up to reach his deliverer. He proceeded a little and then he come to the place where Jimutavahana's parents and Malayavati were awaiting anxiously the return of Jimutavahana. Shankhachooda was shouting in despair, "Where can I find, where can I find?" They thought that he must be searching for the jewel that fell in front of them. But he was searching for a much more valuable jewel than that stone. It was not Shankhachooda's crest jewel that was lost but the crest jewel of the entire creation that was taken away from the world; that was what he was looking for. He narrated the whole story to the parents, how he was to have been eaten up by Garuda that day, how before his arrival a young Vidyadhara offered himself of Garuda in his stead and was carried away by him. There was no other Vidyadhara capable of doing such an act of self-sacrifice. Jimutavahana much have been killed by Garuda and the jewel that they got must have fallen from him when he was being snatched away. The grief was too much for the aged parents and for Malayavati. They all fell down senseless. He had them is fortune to cause the death of of the young Vidyadhara and also to report the sad news to his very parents. What more ungrateful thing could he do in retune for saving his life? Is he to take away his life at once? No. He must try to console the parents. They were determined to end their lives in fire. They had to prepare the fire from the sacred fire. How could Shankhachooda bear this terrible sight? The young Vidyadhara, his newly wedded wife, his aged parents, all were to lost their lives on his account. There was a possibility that Garuda finding him to be not a Naga might not kill Jimutavahana. In that case all these lives could be saved and he could do his duty to his race and to his king, by affirming himself to Garuda as his legitimate prey. It was worth while to proceed and search for the place where Garuda could be. The others consented to wait before taking the final step. They also agreed to follow him up; but they must take the sacred fire with them so that in case Jimutavahana was not alive they could perish themselves in the fire. He started in advance: they promised to follow him with the sacred fire. Perhaps through the favour of the Gods Jimutavahana might still be alive! Shankhachooda hastened, tracing the line of blood that had fallen from the body of Jimutavahana. After proceeding a little he could see far in front of him the great Garuda perching on a peak of the mountain. He was whetting his beak on the rocks, thus smearing the rocks with blood. The whole surrounding were illuminated with the lustre of his eyes. He was thrusting his claws into the bosom of Jimutavahana, claws hard as diamond. Garuda of his part was full of wonder. He had been cating Nagas after Nagas ever since he was born. But such a wonder as on that day he had never experienced. His prey was showing no sighs of pain, through he was tearing his body mercilessly. On the other hand he was liking gratified. He must be an ocean of bravery. Even though his blood was being sucked cut in profusion he showed no sign of fatigue. When pieces of flesh were being plucked out from his body he endured the pain with a look of joy. With gratitude he liked on Garuda who was killing him as thought he was saving him. Garusa's wonder was roused. He decided not to eat up his prey any more. He wished to know who he could be. Jimutavahana did not know why Garuda suddenly stopped eating. There was still enough blood in his body. There was still enough flesh Garuda's look did not show that his hunger was satisfied. He asked Garuda why he would not eat more. Garuda's wonder increased hundred fold that even in that condition he should speak so bold and firm. Then Garuda said: "I have sucked out with my beak only the blood from your heart; but with your courage you have been able to pluck out the very heart from me. I wish to know who you are." Jimutavahana said, "Your hunger is not yet satisfied; you are not in a mood to listen. First satisfy your hunger and thirst with my flesh and blood." It was at this stage that Shaukachooda rushed up to Garuda shouting, "Do not do any thing rash. He is nít a Naga. Leave him off. You must eat me. I am the Naga whom our King has deputed as your prey for this day." Jimutavahana was very sorry that even at that stage his plans of saving the life of the young Naga was frustrated. Garuda liked on the one and then on the other. Both had the emblem of death, the scarlet robes. Who could be the Naga? He did not know. Shankachooda told him that he alone bore the features of a Naga. Garud was satisfied that he made a mistake. Then who could this youth be, whom he had half killed? Shandachooda told him that he was a young Vidyadhara, the jewel of the whole race of the Vidyadharas, an incarnation of mercy. Thus Garuda knew that he must be Jimutavahana, the prince of the Vidyadharas whose fame he had heard being sung by the Charanas in the regions of Mere, in the caves of the Mandara mountain, in the valleys of the Himavan, on the tops of the Malaya mountains, and indeed in all places. Garuda felt that he had dragged himself into the mire of ill-fame by this mistake. There was a youth who offered his life to save another life, and the other person has come of his own accord to be eaten by Garuda as his legitimate prey. Garuda had done a great wrong. The young Vidyadhara must be a Bodhisattva, and he had killed him. The only way in which he could save his soul from that sin was by sacrificing his life in fire. Jimutavahana's parents and Malayavati, following the footsteps of Shankhachooda reached the place. Jimutavahana did not want his paents to see his mutilated body. That would give them pain. He covered himself up with a cloth and asked Shankhachooda to support him. Even in that condition, Jimutavahama was thinking of how he could avoid pain to his parents. When he was being carried away by Baruda, he was beig carried away by Garuda, he remembered his parents and threw his crest jewel in front of them. But this is the tragedy of all great souls. In order to save the life of one individual-the life of the young Naga from Garuda by sacrificing his own body-he endangered the lives of many-of his wife, parents and others. He did not stop to consider whether he should save one life or many lives. But that is the natural course which mercy takes. Marcy does not distinguish between others and oneself. Jimuytavahana was born to serve. It ought to have been a matter of joy and pride to his parents and to his wife that Jimutavahana sacrificed his life for saving the life of a stranger, and it should not have been an occasion for grief or reproach. But they were not able to rise up to his high ideals of self-sacrifice and duty, and they cared only for themselves. They reproached Jimutavahana when he had to leave them, through it was to fulfil his purpose in life that he had to leave them. Garuda could not in shame wait till the parents reached the place, though they had fire with then in which he could have perished. He wanted to create fire from the ocean. But Jimutavahana stopped him saying that that was not the way to absolve himself from the sin. Garuda prostrated before him and asked him what he should do. But Jimutavahana requested him to wait till he had dome homage to his parents. The parents were so much gratified that no only was their son alive but that Garuda was prostrating before him. They hoped to meet him with his body unhurt. But when Jimutavahana tried to rise up, he reeled. The parents and Malayavati swooned when they saw Jimutavahana in that condition. Shankhachooda even cursed his very birth. At every step there was misfortune and he was the cause of all that misfortune. Garude for his part felt that all this misfortune happened on account of his cruelty. He tried to fan Jimutavahana with his wings, and thus to bring him back to consciousness. Jimutavahana's only anxiety was about his parents. How could he console them? Shankhachooda was trying to console everybody. The parents were in turn despondent and hopeful. The mother was cursing Garuda for mutilating the beautiful body of her son. But to Jimutavahana there was no beauty in the physical body, which was made of flesh, blood and other things. Garuda was all repentance. He wanted to know from Jimutavahana what he should do to absolve himself of his sins. Jimutavahana gave him the sublime teaching: "Always desist from doing injury to life. Feel repentence for past sins. Bring together various currents of virtuous deeds, by offering protection to living beings. If you plunge yourself into that current, no sin can stain you. Compared to this mighty current, the sin of having destroyed a few lives is nothing, just as a piece of salt cannot spoil a huge lake". Garuda said: "I was awakened by you from my sleep of ignorance. From this day onwards I desist from all injury to life. The Nagas can here after roam about freely without any fear from me. May the Naga damsels wander about unmolested in sandalwood forests and sing merrily your own fame." Jimutavahana congratulated Garuda. He wished Shankhachooda to return home immediately to console his mother who must be thinking that he was eaten up by Garuda. Till then Jimutavahana was drinking the nectar of service in the cause of others, and he did not feel his own physical pain, through his body had been frightfully wounded by Garuda. Now that he had fulfilled his mission, he began to feel the pain. He was expiring. The parents and Malayavati were crying bitterly. Shankhachooda was full of grief. "With his death the world will be without Master. After his death bravery would have no abode. Where could modesty find a habitation? Who would be able to bear his Patience? Self-sacrifice would be gone for ever. Truth would be destroyed. Marcy would no more be found. The whole world would become a void," And Jumutavahana was dead. What could Garuda do? The mother was praying to the guardians of the world to sprinkle nectar from Heaven to revive her son. This word hectare reminded Garuda of what he could accomplish at that critical moment. It was in his power even at that hour to wipe away the whole shame. He would fly to heaven and pray to Indra to grant him some nectar. Perhaps Indra might not grant the request. Why, he could go and get it by force from heaven. He could save not only the life of Jimutavahana but also of all the Nagasthat he had killed till then. With this resolve Garuda flew away. The father and the mother, Malayavati and Shankhachooda were ready to follow up the path of Jimutavahana. Shankhachooda made a huge pyre and lighted it up. Why should they live? There was the young Jimutavahana who left the world without adorning the Imperial throne of the Vidyadharas. Malayavati offered her prayers to the Goddess. The Goddess had promised her that she would become the consort of the Emperor of Vidyadharas; but in the case of that unfortunate maiden, even the Goddess spoke an untruth.