Durgesa Nandini/Book 1/Chapter 13

 

CHAPTER XIII.

ASHMANI'S AMOUR.


On the door being opened, as Ashmani entered the room, Diggaja conceived that since his dearly-beloved was come, it behoved him to welcome her in a right gallant fashion. He accordingly waved his hand and exclaimed,

"ओं आयाहि वरदे देवि!"[1]
[O blessing goddess hail!]

"This is a very fine piece of poetry" said Ashmani. "Wherefrom have you procured it?"

Diggaja.   "To-day I have composed it for you."

Ashmani.   "Well have you been called the prince of gallants."

Diggaja.   "रसिकः कौषिको वासः".
                [The gallant clad in silken vest.]

"My fair one, pray, sit you down; while I wash my hand."

"Ill-starred wretch! you will wash your hand?" said Ashmani to herself. "Beshrew me if I do not make you eat the rejected meal. How's that?" she said aloud. "Why are you going to wash your hand? Eat, man."

"What do you say? Havn't I risen from my meal? Shall I eat again?"[2]

Ashmani.   "And why not? Is there not rice still left? Will you fast?"

"How can I help it?" replied Diggaja with regret. "You were in such a hurry", and he eyed the rice eagerly.

"Then you must eat again," said Ashmani.

Diggaja.   "O horrible! I have sipped the gandusha, I have risen from my meal, and shall I eat again?"

"Yes, you must. I shall see that." Saying this, Ashmani grasped the Brahmin's arm, by main force dragged him to the dish, and made him sit down.

"O fie! O fie! What have you done! What have you done! Have you not touched me with my mouth still unwashed!"[3]

Ashmani.   "And where's the harm, I pray? What is not allowable in love?"

The Brahmin was silent.

Ashmani.   "Eat, I pray you."

Diggaja.   "I have sipped the gandusha, I have risen from my seat, moreover you have touched me—shall I eat again?"

Ashmani.   "You must;—nay, you must eat after I eat of the dish." Saying this, Ashmani took up a handful from the dish, and ate a mouthful.

The Brahmin was struck dumb.

Ashmani returned into the dish the quantity of rice that remained after filling her mouth, and said,

"Come, eat."

The Brahmin was rendered speechless.

Ashmani.   "Fall to; listen", here Ashmani said something in Gajapati's ear.

The Brahmin cut a caper high in the air.

"Hey! then I must eat," exclaimed Diggaja and began to gulp down the defiled rice like a very cow. The dish vanished in a twinkling. He then demanded,

"My fair one, now?"

Ashmani.   "Confound you! In unwashed mouth?"

"Yes, yes. I'm going to wash my mouth," said he, and thereupon fell to washing his mouth in a blind hurry;—some parts of it were washed, while the others remained untouched by water. One bushel of rice remained deposited in the openings between his teeth.

"Where, my fair one, where is the nectar of your lips?"

Ashmani.   "Ill betide you! first wipe your mouth."

Hurriedly the Brahmin wiped his hands and face with the fore-part of his cloth.

"Now, my fair one?"

Ashmani.   "Come hither."

Diggaja went to Ashmani and sat down by her.

Ashmani.   "Draw your mouth near to mine."

Diggaja drew his month near to Ashmani's.

Ashmani.   "Open your mouth."

Diggaja's obedience was implicit; he parted his lips a foot asunder. Ashmani took out a betel from her handkerchief, and began to chew it, Diggaja continuing with open mouth. When her month was entirely filled with saliva mixed with betel, she discharged the whole of its contents into Diggaja's mouth. The man was in sore straits; the beloved one had favored him with the betel juice; he had not therefore the heart to throw it out, for fear of being called ungallant, nor could he bring himself to swallow it, for how could he swallow a whole mouthful of saliva immediately after taking his meal? So it remained in his mouth, like the poison in the throat of Nilakantha.[4]

Taking this opportunity, Ashmani took a tooth-pick and put it into one of Diggaja's capacious nostrils. On came the sneeze, and the next moment, his weak frame was deluged with the entire quantity of the nectarous fluid, which gushed out violently from his mouth.

Relieved from the dilemma, the Brahmin began to wash his body, reciting at the same time the following elegant line of verse:—

"दक्षिणे पश्चिमे वापि न कुर्याद्दन्तधावनं."
[Facing the south ne'er clean thy teeth:
Facing the west do it neither.]

 

 

  1. This passage occurs in the hymn, addressed to Gayatri, which itself is a hymn (personified as a goddess) in praise of Savitri or the sun.
  2. Brahmins are strictly prohibited by their Shastras to eat after rising from their meal.
  3. If a Brahmin with his face unwashed after meal, is touched by a person of an inferior caste, it causes pollution; eating in such a case is out of the question.
  4. At the far-famed churning of the ocean, there came out, along with the moon, nectar, Lakshmi, &c., poison. Siva took the poison into his month, to save Nature and her works, but could not swallow it; it remained in his throat, which in consequence turned blue. Hence, the epithet, नीलकण्ठ (the blue-throated).