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Story of the Sheikh and the Brahmin, followed by a conversation between Ganges and Himalayas to the effect that the continuation of social life depends on firm attachment to the characteristic traditions of the community



AT Benares lived a venerable Brahmin.
Whose head was deep in the ocean of Being and Not-being.
He had a large knowledge of philosophy
But was well-disposed to the seekers after God.
His mind was eager to explore new problems, 1235
His intellect moved on a level with the Pleiades;
His nest was as high as that of the Anka;93
Sun and moon were cast, like rue, on the flame of his thought.94
For a long time he laboured and sweated,
But philosophy brought no wine to his cup 1240
Although he set many a snare in the gardens of learning,
His snares never caught a glimpse of the Ideal bird;
And notwithstanding that the nails of his thought were dabbled with blood,
The knot of Being and Not-being remained united.
The sighs on his lips bore witness to his despair, 1245
His countenance told tales of his distraction.
One day he visited an excellent Sheikh,
A man who bad in his breast a heart of gold.
The Brahmin laid the seal of silence on his lips.
And lent his ear to the Sage's discourse. 1250
Then said the Sheikh; "O wanderer in the lofty sky!
Pledge thyself to be true, for a little, to the earth;
Thou hast lost thy way in wildernesses of speculation,
Thy fearless thought hath passed beyond Heaven.
Be reconciled with -earth, O sky-traveller! 1255
Do not. wander in quest of the essence of the stars;
I do not abandon thine idols.
Art thou an unbeliever; Then be worthy of the badge of unbelief !95
O inheritor of ancient culture,
Turn not thy back on the path thy fathers trod; 1260
If a people's life is derived from unity,
Unbelief too is source of unity.
Thou that art not even a perfect infidel,
Art unfit to worship at the shrine-of the spirit.
We both are far astray from the road of devotion: 1265
Thou art far from Azar, and I from Abraham.96
Our Majnun hath not fallen into melancholy for his Laila's sake;
I He hath not become perfect in the madness of love.
When the lamp of Self-expires,
What is the use of heaven surveying imagination ?" 1270
Once on a time, laying hold of the skirt of the mountain,
Ganges said to Himalaya:
"O thou mantled in snow since the morn of creation,
Thou whose form is girdled with streams,
God made thee a partner in the secrets of heaven. 1275
But deprived thy foot of graceful gait.
He took away from thee the power to walk:
What avails this sublimity and stateliness?
Life springs from perpetual movement;
Motion constitutes the wave's whole existence," 1280
When the mountain heard this taunt from the river,
He puffed angrily like a sea of fire,
And answered: "Thy wide waters are my looking-glass;
Within my bosom are a hundred rivers like thee.
This graceful gait of thine is an instrument', of death: 1285
Whoso goeth from Self is meet to die.
Thou hast no knowledge of thine own case,
Thou exultest in thy misfortune: thou art a fool!
O born of the womb of the revolving sky,
A fallen-in bank is better than thou! 1290
Thou hast made thine existence an offering to the ocean,
Thou hast thrown the rich purse of thy life to the highway man.
Be self-contained like the rose in the garden,
Do not 'go to the florist in order to spread thy perfume!
To live is to grow in thyself 1295
And gather roses from thine own flower bed.
Ages have gone by and my foot is fast on earth,
Dost thou fancy that I am far from my goal?
My being grew and reached the sky,
The Pleiads sank to rest under my skirts; 1300
Thy being vanishes in the ocean,
But on my crest the stars bow their heads.
Mine eye sees the mysteries of heaven,
Mine ear is familiar with angels' wings.
Since I glowed with the heat of unceasing toil, 1305
I amassed rubies, diamonds, and other gems.
I am stone within, and in the stone is fire:
Water cannot pass over my fire I"
Art thou a drop, of water? Do not break at. thine own feet,
But endeavour to surge and wrestle with the sea. 1310
Desire the water of a jewel, become a jewel!
Be an ear-drop, adorn a beauty
Oh, expand thyself! Move swiftly!
Be a cloud that shoots lightning and sheds a flood of rain!
Let the ocean sue for thy storms as a beggar, 1315
Let it complain of the straitness of its skirts
Let it deem itself less -than a wave
And glide along at thy feet!


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