Kopal-Kundala/A Second Meeting

Chapter VII.

A Second Meeting.

The Kapálik took a seat, and showed his two arms to Nobokumar, who saw that both arms were broken.

The reader may remember that on the night when Nobokumar fled with Kopal-Kundala from the sea-shore, the Kapálik, in his search for them, had fallen from the summit of a sand-hill. He saved his body by holding out his hands, but his two arms were thereby broken. The Kapálik told all this to Nobokumar, and said, "The performance of my rites and ceremonies has not been much hindered by this, but I no longer have any strength in them; it hurts me even to collect wood."

Then he continued, "Not that I knew when I fell that my hands were broken, and my other limbs safe. When I fell I became unconscious. At first I remained in a senseless state; then for a moment I was conscious, and then became senseless again. I cannot say how long I remained in this state; I think it must have been two nights and one day. At morning my consciousness entirely returned, and just before it did so, I had a dream. It seemed to me that Bhobani"—and as he spoke the Kapálik's body quivered—"it seemed as if Bhobani came and appeared to me in person. She frowned and chid me; she was saying, 'O wicked one, the impurity of your heart has caused this hindrance to my worship. You have been a slave to your passions so long, and therefore have not worshipped me with the blood of this virgin. This virgin shall destroy the fruits of your former worship; I will never accept any more worship from you.' Then when I cried and rolled at the mother's feet she was appeased, and said, 'Good man! I will give you but one means of atonement. Offer up that Kopal-Kundala as a sacrifice to me; and until you do so, do not worship me any more!'

"It is not necessary for me to relate after how long or how I recovered. Yesterday I had entirely recovered, and began my endeavour to carry out the order of the goddess. I saw that my two arms had not even the strength of a child. Without a strong arm, my efforts were not likely to be successful. Therefore it became necessary to get a companion. But men are little inclined for religion—by the strength of the iron age[1] a Mussulman is king, and through fear of his wicked rule none was willing to aid me in such a work. After much search I have found out the dwelling of the wicked one; but, through the weakness of my arms, I am unable to obey Bhobani's order. Only for the accomplishment of my will I perform ceremonies according to the rules of the Tantras. Last night I was performing the Hom sacrifice in an adjacent jungle, and with my own eyes I saw Kopal-Kundala meet a young Brahman. To-day she is going to meet him. If you want to see, come with me, and I will show you.

"Child! Kopal-Kundala is fit to be sacrificed. At Bhobani's order I will slay her. She too has abused your trust, she should be slain by you too; therefore give me your aid in this. Seize this faithless one, and bring her with me to the place of sacrifice. There sacrifice her with your own hand. By this means the offence, which you have committed against the goddess, will be pardoned; by a holy deed you will gain imperishable virtue, and the faithless one will be punished; there will be an end of vengeance."

The Kapálik finished speaking. Nobokumar made no reply. Seeing his silence, the Kapálik said, "Child! now come and see what I promised to show you."

Nobokumar, with his body bathed in perspiration, went with the Kapálik.

  1. Iron Age. The káli-yuga or fourth age of the world is supposed to commence at the death of Krishna. The Hindu idea of a succession of four yugas or ages, in which a gradual deterioration of the human race takes place, has its counterpart among the Romans in the Golden, Silver, Brazen, and Iron Ages, as described in Ovid's Metamorphoses (I. 89, &c.). The names of the four ages are connected with throws of dice; krita being the best throw; treta, the next best; dwapara, the throw of two; and kali being the throw of one only, or the worst throw.