Kisagotami

90-Aug-Kisagotami-ImageOnA woman — dove-eyed, young, with tearful face and lifted hands — saluted, bending low, ‘Lord! you are he,’ she said, ‘who yesterday had pity on me in the fig-grove here, where I live alone and reared my child. But he straying amid the blossoms found a snake which twined about his wrist, whilst he laughed and teased the quick-forked tongue and opened mouth of that cold playmate.
Kisagotami
But, alas! before long he turned so pale and still, I could not think why he should cease to play and let my breast fall from his lips. And one said, “He is sick of poison;” and another, “He will die.”
Kisagotami
But I, who could not lose my precious boy, asked for medicine which might bring the light back to his eyes; it was so very small, that kiss-mark of the serpent, and I think it could not hate him, gracious as he was, nor hurt him in his sport.
Kisagotami
And someone said, “There is a holy man upon the hill. Look! now he passes in the yellow robe. Ask of the Rishi if there be a cure for that which ails your son. “So I came trembling to you, whose brow is like a god’s and wept and drew the face-cloth from my babe, asking you to tell me what medicines might be good.
Kisagotami
And you, great sir! did not spurn me, but gazed with gentle eyes, saying to me, “Yes little sister, there is that which might heal — you first, and him, if you could fetch the thing; for they who seek physicians bring to them what is needed. “Therefore, I ask you, find black mustard-seed, a tola; only do not take it from any hand or house where father, mother, child, or slave has died. It will be well if you can find such seed.” Thus did you speak, my Lord!’ The Master smiled tenderly. ‘Yes I said that dear Kisagotami! But did you find the seed?’
Kisagotami
‘I went, Lord, clasping the baby to my breast, grown colder, asking at each hut — here in the jungle and towards the town — ‘I pray you, give me mustard, of your grace, a tola — black.’ And each who had it gave, for all the poor are piteous to the poor. But when I asked, ‘In my friend’s house-hold here have any by chance died — husband, or wife, or child, or slave?’ they said, ‘O Sister! what is this you ask? The dead are very many, and the living few!’
Kisagotami
So with sad thanks I gave the mustard back and asked of others; but the others said, ‘Here is the seed, but we have lost our slave!’ ‘Here is the seed, but our good man is dead!’ ‘Here is some seed, but he that sowed it died between the rain-time and the harvesting!’
Kisagotami
‘Ah, sir! I could not find a single house where there was mustard-seed and none had died! ‘Therefore I left my child — who would not suck nor smile — beneath the wild-vines by the stream, to seek your face and kiss your feet, and ask where I might find this seed and find no death, if now, indeed, my baby is not dead, as I do fear, and as they said to me.’
Kisagotami
Kisagotami‘My sister! you have found,’ the Master said, ‘searching for what none finds — that bitter balm I had to give you. He you loved slept dead on your bosom yesterday. Today you know the whole wide world weeps with your woe. The grief which all hearts share grows less for one. I would pour my blood if it could stay your tears and win the secret of that curse which makes sweet love our anguish. I seek that secret — bury your child!’

Illustrations by Marcelle Hanselaar
Story adapted from Sir Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia

From the August 1990 Buddhism Now.

3 Responses

  1. trembling we all come to you,the greatest person to be born on this earth.the grief which all hearts share has become less for one.

  2. The unassuming medicine for the grief of the whole world, was found by you my great Teacher, It may be bitter, but it heals the agony. ..[Comment edited by moderator]…

  3. Interesting Read

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