The Meditation of Parvati
George William Russell - A.E.

Parvata rose up from his seat under the banyan tree. He passed his hand unsteadily over his brow. Throughout the day the young ascetic had been plunged in profound meditation, and now, returning from heaven to earth, he was dazed like one who awakens in darkness and knows not where he is.  All day long before his inner eye burned the light of the Lokas, until he was wearied and exhausted with their splendours; space glowed like a diamond with intolerable lustre, and there was no end to the dazzling processions of figures. He had seen the fiery dreams of the dead in Swargam. He had been tormented by the sweet singing of the Gandharvas, whose choral song reflected in its ripples the rhythmic pulse of Being. He saw how the orbs, which held them, were set within luminous orbs still of wider circuit, and vaster and vaster grew the vistas, and smaller seemed the soul at gaze, until at last, a mere speck of life, he bore the burden of innumerable worlds.  Seeking for Brahma, he found only the great illusion as infinite as Brahma's being.

If these things were shadows, the earth and the forests he returned to, viewed at evening, seemed still more unreal, the mere dusky flutter of a moth's wings in space.  Filmy and evanescent, if he had sunk down as through a transparency into the void, it would not have been wonderful. Parvati turned homeward, still half in trance: as he threaded the dim alleys he noticed not the flaming eyes that regarded him from the gloom; the serpents rustling amid the undergrowths; the lizards, fire-flies, insects, the innumerable lives of which the Indian forest was rumourous; they also were but shadows. He paused half unconsciously at the village, hearing the sound of human voices, of children at play. He felt a throb of pity for these tiny being who struggled and shouted, rolling over each other in ecstasies of joy; the great illusion had indeed devoured them before whom the Devas once were worshipers. Then close beside him he heard a voice; its low tones, its reverence soothed him: there was something akin to his own nature in it; it awakened him fully. A little crowd of five or six people were listening silently to an old man who read from a palm-leaf manuscript. Parvati knew his order by the orange-coloured robes he wore; a Bhikshu of the new faith. What was his delusion?

The old man lifted his head for a moment as the ascetic came closer, and then he continued as before. He was reading the "Legend of the Great King of Glory." Parvati listened to it, comprehending with the swift intuition and subtlety of a mystic the inner meaning of the Wonderful Wheel, the elephant Treasure, the Lake and palace of Righteousness. He followed the speaker, understanding all until he came to the meditation of the King: then he heard with vibrating heart, how "the Great King of Glory entered the golden chamber, and set himself down on the silver couch. And he let his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of Love: and so the second quarter, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above below, around and everywhere, did he continue to pervade with heart of Love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure." When the old Bhikshu had ended, Parvati rose up, and went back again into the forest. He had found the secret of the True - to leave behind the vistas, and enter into the Being. Another legend rose up in his mind, a fairy legend of righteousness, expanding and filling the universe, a vision beautiful and full of old enchantment; his heart sang within him. He seated himself again under the banyan tree; he rose up in soul; he saw before him images, long-forgotten, of those who suffer in the sorrowful old earth; he saw the desolation and loneliness of old age, the insults to the captive, the misery of the leper and outcast, the chill horror and darkness of life in a dungeon. He drank in all their sorrow. For his heart he went out to them. Love, a fierce and tender flame arose; pity, a breath from the vast; sympathy, born of unity. This triple fire sent forth its rays; they surrounded those dark souls; they pervaded them; they beat down oppression.

While Parvati, with spiritual magic, sent forth the healing powers, far away at that moment, in his hall, a king sat enthroned. A captive was bound before him; bound, but proud, defiant, unconquerable of soul. There was silence in the hall until the king spake the doom, the torture, for this ancient enemy. The king spake: "I had thought to do some fierce thing to thee, and so end thy days, my enemy. But, I remember with sorrow, the great wrongs we have done to each other, and the hearts made sore by our hatred. I shall do no more wrong to thee. Thou art free to depart.  Do what thou wilt. I will make restitution to thee as far as may be for thy ruined state." Then the soul no might could conquer was conquered, and the knees were bowed; his pride was overcome. "My brother!" he said, and could say no more.

To watch for years a little narrow slit high up in the dark cell, so high that he could not reach up and look out; and there to see daily a little change from blue to dark in the sky had withered that prisoner's soul. The bitter tears came no more; hardly even sorrow; only a dull, dead feeling. But that day a great groan burst from him: he heard outside the laugh of a child who was playing and gathering flowers under the high, grey walls: then it all came over him, the divine things missed, the light, the glory, and the beauty that the earth puts forth for her children. The narrow slit was darkened:  half of a little bronze face appeared.

"Who are you down there in the darkness who sigh so? Are you all alone there? For so many years! Ah, poor man! I would come down to you if I could, but I will sit here and talk to you for a while. Here are flowers for you," and a little arm showered them in handfuls; the room was full of the intoxicating fragrance of summer. Day after day the child came, and the dull heart entered into human love once more.

At twilight, by a deep and wide river, sat an old woman alone, dreamy, and full of memories.  The lights of the swift passing boats, and the lights of the stars, were just as in childhood and the old love-time. Old, feeble, it was time for her to hurry away from the place which changed not with her sorrow.

"Do you see our old neighbour there?" said Ayesha to her lover. "They say she once was as beautiful as you would make me think I am now. How lonely she must be! Let us come near and speak to her"; and the lover went gladly. Though they spoke to each other rather than to her, yet something of the past - which never dies when love, the immortal, has pervaded it -rose up again as she heard their voices. She smiled, thinking of years of burning beauty.

A teacher, accompanied by his chelas, was passing by the wayside where a leper was sitting.  The teacher said, "Here is our brother whom we may not touch. But he need not be shut out from truth. We may sit down where he can listen." He sat down on the wayside beside the leper, and his chelas stood around him. He spoke words full of love, kindliness, and pity, the eternal truths which make the soul grow full of sweetness and youth. A small old spot began to glow in the heart of the leper, and the tears ran down his withered cheeks.

All these were the deeds of Parvati, the ascetic; and the Watcher who was over him from all eternity made a great stride towards that soul.

Irish Theosophist, November 15, 1893

Present article was scanned and proofread and made available for publication by Mr. Jake Jaqua.

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