Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part6/Chapter 1



WHAT I have omitted in the foregoing narrative, I shall now tell in brief. That Chandrashekhar is the ascetic alluded to before must be clear enough to the reader.

The day Amyatt left Monghyr, accompanied with Foster, Ramananda Swami came to know in the course of his enquiries, that the latter along with Dalani Begum and others had gone with Amyatt. On the bank of the Ganges, Ramananda Swami met Chandrashekhar. After imparting this news to him he said, “What’s the good of your staying here any longer? You had better go back to your home. I will send Shaibalini to Benares. Now begin to act according to your vow of living for others. This daughter of Islam is virtuous; she is now in danger, you had better follow her. Don’t lose any opportunity of rescuing her. Protap is also related to you in some sort and is your well-wisher; it is only foryour sake that he is in this miserable plight. You shouldn’t forsake him now; go, follow them.” Chandrashekhar wanted to inform the Nawab, but Ramananda Swami advised him not to do it and said, “I will see to that myself.” The behest of his spiritual guide left Chandrashekhar no choice, and taking a small skiff he followed Amyatt. Ramananda Swami also went about in search of a reliable disciple for sending Shaibalini to Benares. Quite unexpectedly it came to his knowledge that Shaibalini was going after the Englishmen in a separate boat. Ramananda Swami found himself in a fix. Whom was this wretched woman following-Foster or Chandrashekhar? “I am afraid,” thought Ramananda Swami, “I shall have to mix myself up with the affairs of the world for Chandrashekhar's sake.” Having made up his mind he also went the same way.

Ramananda Swami had travelled in various countries all his life on foot, consequently he was an excellent pedestrian. Walking along the bank he soon left Shaibalini behind. As a rule, he never allowed the cravings for food and sleep to get the upperhand of him, for by constant habit he had succeeded in bringing them under control. By degrees he overtook Chandrashekhar. When the latter found him going along the river-bank he went up to him and made his obeisance.

“I have a mind to visit the Pundits at Nadia,” said Ramananda Swami, “hence I have decided to go to Bengal. I think it is hetter I should go with you.” With these words he got into Chandrashekhar’s boat.

When they came across the line of the English flotilla they conducted their own skiff to a hidden recess and went on the shore. They found Shaibalini’s boat also glide up and occupy a similar position. Both of them remained hidden on the shore and began to watch. They saw Protap and Shaibalini swim away and effect their escape. They further saw them take a boat and get off. Then they got into their own boat and began to follow. When Protap and Shaibalini brought their boat to a stand, they also did the same at a little distance. Ramananda Swami was a man of infinite resource, and addressing Chandrashekhar said,

“Could you hear what conversation went on between Protap and,Shaibalini while they were swimming?"

“No, I could not.”

“Then don’t sleep tonight. Keep an eye on them.”

Both kept awake, and towards morning they found Shaibalini quietly leave the boat, dip into a thicket on the bank and vanish. It now came close upon dawn, yet Shaibalini did not return. Then addressing Chandrashekhar, Ramananda Swami said, “I do not quite understand this. VVho knows what she has got in her mind! come, let us follow her.”

Then both cautiously went after her. At nightfall when Ramananda Swami saw the clouds massing together he asked,

“How much strength do you carry in your arms?”

Chandrashekhar smiled and taking up a big stone with one hand flung it to a distance.

“Good,” said Ramananda Swami. “Now go to Shaibalini and keep close to her unperceived. In the coming storm if she does not get any help, she is sure to be killed. Not far there is a cave; I know the way to it. On a hint from me, you shall take her in your arms and follow me.”

“Presently there will be great darkness, how shall I be able to find my way?”

“I will be at hand. You will hold one end of my staff in your hand and the other end will remain in mine.”

After Chandrashekhar had come out of the cave, leaving Shaibalini there, Ramananda Swami began to muse : “I have studied the shastras ever so long, I have mixed with all manner of people, but all to no purpose. This girl's mind baffles me altogether—has this sea no bottom?” Then he said to Chandrashekhar, “You will find a hill-monastery close by, go there and rest for the night. After you have done your duty by Shaibalini you shall again follow the Mussalman lady. Remember, you have no other duty than serving your fellow-creatures. Don’t be anxious about Shaibalini, I will be here to look after her. But take care, do not see her without my permission. If you follow my advice, the chances are she will be highly benefited.”

After the above conversation, Chandrashekhar took his leave; Ramananda Swami then entered the cave in the darkness unseen.

The reader knows all that happened afterwards. Chandrashekhar took the raving Shaibalini to the monastery before Ramananda Swami and with tears in his eyes said,

“O my spiritual guide! what hast thou done?”

Ramananda Swami closely observed Shaibalini’s condition and replied with a slight smile, “That’s all right. Don’t be anxious. Rest here for a day or two and then go back to your home with her. You should keep her in the same house where she used to live. See that her old companions keep constantly about her. Ask Protap also to see her now and again. I will follow later on.”

Chandrashekhar took Shaihalini home according to the instructions of his spiritual guide.