Chapter 107 — Life among the Tribals

The king continued:—

What more shall I say of those festivities that had quite subdued my soul? From then on, my fellows called me Pushta-Pukkusha or cherished tribal. After a week long celebration, and after I had spent a full eight months at that place, my wife discharged blood and then her child also. She delivered a daughter which is the cause of sorrow as danger is the spring of disasters. This daughter grew up as quickly as the cares and sorrows of the ignorant. In another three years she again brought forth, this time a black boy, just like the fruit of folly raises false expectations of fruition. She gave birth to another daughter, then another boy, and thus I became an old tribal with a large family in that forest land.

In this manner many years passed in that place with these shoots of my sorrow, like one who murders a brahmin has to pass long years of torment in hellfire. I had to undergo all the pains of heat and cold and chill winds and frost without any help in that dreary forest, like an old tortoise is constrained to move about in the mud of a pool forever. Being burdened with the cares of my family and troubled by anxieties of my mind, I saw my increasing afflictions like a fire burning all around me.

Clad in bark and wrapped in old and ragged cloths, with a covering of grass and a straw hat on my head, I bore loads of logs from the woods, like we bear the burden of sins on our backs and heads. 10 I had to pass many a long year under the shade of dhavali trees with no other cloth or covering on me than an old tattered, dirty and stinking kaupina loincloth beset by flees and leeches. 11 I was exposed to chill cold winds during all my toils to support my family. I lay like a frog in some cave in the woods under the sharp blasts of winter.

12 The many quarrels, bickering, sorrows and wailings to which I was often exposed at home and abroad made my blood gush out in tears from my weeping eyes. 13 We passed nights on marshy grounds in the jungle, and being drenched by raining clouds, we took shelter in mountain caves with no food other than the roasted flesh of bears.

14 After the rainy season of sowing was over and the dark drizzling clouds dispersed, I was driven from my house by the unkindness of my relations and continued quarrelling with others. 15 Being thus in dread of everybody in the neighborhood, I moved to the house of another man where I lived with my wife and prattling children for some years. 16 Then vexed by the scolding of the quarrelsome tribal woman and the threats of the villainous tribals, my face became as pale as the waning moon under the shadow of Rahu. 17 My wife bit and scratched me as if a tigress had torn and gnawed upon my flesh and muscles. I was like a slave caught and sold to a hellish fiend. I thought that I had become changed into an infernal being.

18 I suffered under the torrents of snow thrown out of the caves of the Himalayas. I was exposed to showers of frost that fell continually in the dewy season. 19 I felt the iron shafts of rain on my naked body, like arrows fired from the bow of death. In my sickly and decrepit old age, I had to live upon the roots of withered vegetables. 20 I dug them out plentifully from the woodland grounds and ate them with a zest, like a fortunate man has tasting his dainty dishes of well cooked meat. 21 I took my food apart and untouched by anybody for fear of being polluted by the touch of a vile and base born family, and because the pungency of my unsavory diet made my mouth scowl at every morsel.

22 While I was famishing in this manner, I saw others eating animal flesh and sheep’s flesh bought from other places, and who pampered their bodies with the flesh they cut out from other living animals and devoured raw with great zest. 23 They bought animal flesh sold in iron pots and stuck in spits, earning rebirths into as many thousand bodies as they have killed and fed upon. 24 I often went with my spade and basket in the cool of the evening to the tribals’ gardens in order to collect the raw flesh that had been cast in the dirt for my food of them.

25 But when I was about to be cast into hell, time seemed to turn favorable by leading me to take refuge in mountain caves to seek my food there from the roots and plants growing there. 26 In this state and by my good luck, I met some tribals driving away village dogs with their clubs. 27 They gave my wife and children some bad rice like the villagers used to take, and we passed the night under the shade of a palm tree whose withered leaves rattled with the raindrops that fell in showers upon them. 28 We passed the night in company with these woodland apes, our teeth clattering with cold and the hairs of our bodies standing on their ends from the cold like a thousand thorns. 29 Raindrops decorated our bodies like granules of vivid pearls. From our hunger and lack of food, our bellies were as lean and lank as an empty cloud.

30 Then my wife and I began to quarrel in this dreadful forest. We kept shouting at each another with our clattering teeth and eyes ruddy from the cold. 31 My foul and dirty body resembled that of a dark black demon, and we roved about the borders of rivers and brooks to fish with a rod and hook in my hand. 32 I also wandered with a trap in my hand, like Yama with his noose at the desolation of the earth, and caught, killed and drank the heart blood of deer in my hunger and thirst. 33 I sucked the warm heart blood like milk from my mother’s breast. Smeared in blood, I stood like a blood sucking demon in the cemetery. 34 The vetala ghosts of the woods fled before me, as they do from the furies of the forests.

I set my snares and nets in the woods for catching deer and birds of the air. 35 As people spread the nets of their wives and children, only to be entangled in them in the false hope of happiness, so did I spread my net of thread to beguile the birds to their destruction. 36 Though worried and worn out in the nets of worldly cares and surrounded on every side by the miseries of our vicious lives, yet our minds still take delight in cruel and foul acts (to the injury of others).

37 Our wishes are stretched as far and wide as a running river overflows its banks in the rainy season. But the objects of our desires fly far away from us, like snakes through their own wisdom hide themselves from the snake-eating weasel. 38 We have cast kindness off from our hearts, like the snake leaves off his skin, and take delight letting the hissing arrows of our malice fly, just as a thunderstorm falls on all animals. 39 Men delight at the sight of cooling clouds at the end of the hot season, but they avoid at a distance the rough briny shore spreading wide before them.

40 I underwent many difficulties that multiplied as thickly upon me as weeds growing in valleys. During my destined time, I moved about all corners of that hellish spot. 41 I have sown the seeds of sin under the rainwater of my ignorance to grow speedily as thorns on my way. I have laid hidden snares for the unwary innocent to bind myself in the mountain caves. 42 I have caught and killed innocent deer in traps to feed upon its flesh. I have killed the fly-whisk cow to lay my head on the hair hanging down their necks. 43 I slept unconscious of myself in my ignorance, as Vishnu lay on his huge hydra. I laid with my outstretched legs and limbs in the brown cell, resounding to the yell of wild beasts outside. 44 I also laid my body on the frost of a cave in the marshy ground of Vindhya, and wrapped my swarthy form in a tattered quilt full of fleas and hanging down my neck. 45 I bore it on my back, as a bear carries the long bristles upon him even in the hot season. I suffered the heat of wildfires that burned many wild animals that perished in groups like in the last conflagration of the world.

46 My wife bore her young ones, both for our pleasure as well as pain, like a glutton’s food serves both his gratification and sickness, and like the influence of planets is for both our good and evil. 47 Thus I, the only son of a king, had to pass sixty painful years of my life as so many kalpa ages of long duration.

48 I raved sometimes in my rage, and wept at others in my bitter grief. I lived on coarse meals and dwelt, alas, in the houses of vulgar tribals. Thus I passed so many years of my misery at that place, as one fastened to the chains of his insatiable desires is doomed to toil and moil for nothing until his death.