here is a fiction story of the ancient india i started to write last year and finished a while ago.
In the montains in the northeastern part of india in a vally surrounded by tea plants and other trees a little village was nestled. It was neither very poor nor rich. People lived fairly good and were happy with what they had and didn’t except more.
At the open end of the vally on a hight, surrounded by trees, was a tower from which the whole vally to all sides could be overseen. Deeper down a river was flowing. In the rainyseason it was a big and mighty streem. The rest of the time it was so small and quiet that even children could cross it.
on the other side of the river was a meadow and the childern of the poorer families went there with the cows almost every day.
Two of them were called sarani, a girl who was about 6 and a half and a boy yesuddhi who had just become 7 years old. They were neighbors and best friends, spent most of theire time together, either herding the cows – each family had one – or on the tower or just strolling aroud.
Sarani was the smarter one of both but she was the girl and so she tried not to show her cleverness. her mother had said, one day she will become yessuddhi’s wife and he probabely wouldn’t want her more intelligent then he himself is.
They grow up knowing that they will be husband and wife one day.
Yesuddhi loved the cow. It had been there when he was born, it gave them milk and dung and once they had a calf from it. It was the most valuable good his family owned. it had a very good heart and listened to everything that he told her carefully.
The villige had a priest and seer. He was a very goodhearded old man and he understood a lot of religious affairs and sience but nothing at all in predicting the weather. Every year he was ask about the beginning of the rainyseason but he alwas failed.
Yesuddhi wanted to be like him one day and was looking forward to be old enough to study with him.
the priest instead preferred sarani and he already taught her things because she understood and could memorize better than some of the adults. He knew it was an affront to teach a girl but he could not let such a talent undeveloped.
In the beginning not even yesuddhi knew that she did not clean but study when she went to the priests house.
The earth was dry and dusty and everybody waited for the rain higher in the mountains it must have started, the heavy rainclouds would be over the piecs in some days. the priest’s forecast for the beginning of the rainyseason was wrong, it should have started already with very heavy rains. His own prediction was that it would statt in 4 days.
One of these days yesuddhi went alone with his cow to the other side of the river. He was playing with stones and thinking of his job as weatherforcaster when he heard a known sound. The sound of a flud rushing down the mountains into the vallyriverbed.
As quick as he could he run to the cow which didn’t want to move. But she had to because once the water was there they could not get home together anymore. He yelled, screemed, cried, beggedand beated her even. It started to rain and the sky went black. Then she moved, finally. The waterlevel was already going up but it was notyet a food. So yesuddhi pulled the cow on it’s string which was tight on a nosering. He didn’t like to do that because he was afraid to hurt the nose. He could hardly get out of the water on the edge, it was slippery already. The cow was trying now to get out but couldn’t get any hold on the groundthe streem of the river became stronger with every second now and the sound of the flood came closer. The cow must get out now! I must climb higher to a save place!
The cow was terryfied and her eyes were rolling in panic. He stared at her, she could not get ground. He pulled, screamed, screamed. Climbed higher, string in his hand, the cow knew the way and tried to follow but was more lifted by the rising waterlevel and held by the string then by own power. Climbing higher yesuddhi turned aroundto look for the cow and then there was a second of silence between them. they looked in each other’s eyes. And then she was gone.
Yesuddhi reached the place, where the water could not get him. He was stunned and speechless. A wild sad scream was sticking in his throut and took his breath. He had lost everything his family had. All wealth, the calf to pay his studies, the calf to his own family when he would marry sarani, his friend, his listener, his strength and pride, his future as weatherforecaster, hisrespect and his future.
Not really believeing what had happend he went home. his mother saw him first. She had heard his screaming from far. when she realized that he came back without cow, she just closed her eyes for a second and got pale, no word was spoken when they were about to enter the house together.
Yesuddhis father came running before they could get in and calm down. He yelled: where is the cow? where is the cow? All neighbors came out of their houses to see what had happend.
Yesuddhi could not yet speak and suddenly, for the first time in his life the father raised his hand against his son. His thin scinny arm was not used to beat it flew around uncontrolled. the father didn’t want to hurt the son, he more wanted to make undone what he, of what he saw and heard came to understand.
Yesuddhi saw his fathers dispair and saw sarani watching the scene – and run away.
He had been running for long, since before lunch, now it was already dark.
He sat down, not knowing where he was. He had been running trough a forest and a village, fields, forest.
Here it was very quiet, somehow peaceful and he slept before he could catch a clear thought.
When he next opend his eyes he looked into a face , painted white with red stripes surrounded by many long hair. He was not very shoked seeing a sadhu, more then by the fact, that he had woken up on a cemetery inhabited by a sadhu who was washing his face softly with water instead of being one of the dead. In his village he saw once one or two.
The sadhu never asked what happend and yesuddhi never told.
Yesuddhi must have spent a lot of years with him. First they shared the grave until the boy became to tall and found one for himself. People either came to bring food or they went to get some. The rememberance of sarani, his parents, the cow was very faint, as in a dream. He was a sadhu, living a holy life, telling fortune, practicing yoga, copying his master in everything, good or bad. He learnd reading and writing, calculating and drawing with his master, learned how to do cerimonys and prayers, how to overcome lustful thoughts. It was actually easy, he saw them as something different, disgusting, foul, smelling, stupid, uncontrollable and unworthy. Good that he had escaped that trap to marry sarani.
She, in the meantime, studied more and more with the priest and grew up always a little sad, always missing something.
One day a man in a beige orange robe, without hair came to their village. She was fascinated. He was a young buddhist monk, some years older than sarani, with perfect manners, humbleness and wisdome. Even the priest did like him and the villagers had him to stay and teach for a while before he let him go.
Sarani wanted to go with him because she wanted to live like him study what he studied. but she could not. She was a young woman. Her parents wanted to marry her soon. She didn’t agree in that and said she will only marry if yesuddhi comes back and still wants her as a wife. Her parents still waited if she changes her mind, presenting her carefully and patiently young men. She had to marry anyway, that was shure.
yesuddhis parents had left the village in search oh their son, first coming back regularly. Then the father found a job and another woman, he had 3 more sons and forgot about yesuddhi. The mother could not bear the pain to see her husband with new sons and left. She almost died. Then she met some teaching buddhist monks. once they gave her of their meal. She wished to live like them but that was not possilbleand she decided to stay around them anyway. One of their donaters gave her a cleaning job and so she survived, could donate to the bhikkhus and sometimes catch some teaching they gave to the men.
Once, before she died she met sarani again and they stayed together for a while. That was after her parents gave up to want to marry her and she had left the village to look in the world if she could find any women to join like these buddhist monks. She dressed like a man, worked mens works and went to listen to the dhamma.
but somehow other’s found out that she was a women and had to go home, where she took over her father’s place in the fields.
One day yesuddhi was sent off from his master to get some experience outside of the cemetery. You’re strong enough now, go and come back in one year.
After walking throug villages and a fost he came to his homevillage. With the smell of the trees and fields came back the memory of his childhood.
He went to see his home and found it empty. He decidet to find the priest and sarani to show them what he is now, a holy man. Maybe he could convince them and make them his followers. His body was asketic but well trained and he knew a lot.
Next morning he went for alms. Nobody so far knew who he was.
Sarani had already worked in the kitchen before she saw this ascet and waited to offer him some food.
They knew eachother rightaway when he approached her. Her heart jumed higher. He looked awful and smelled as if he never washed his body [what was fact].
He saw this proper young woman and his heart as well jumped, but then rememberd the master’s teaching and it worked, yes, even beloved sarani was disgusting, foul, – a woman.
Later that day they met at the priest’s. They were discussing religious aspects. Sarani listend for a while and then joined in she had learnd and understood a lot of the buddhas dhamma. The 3 had a long discussion until the priest said that she had to go before she with her female chareme could convince them of “her” buddhism.
That was the first day yesuddhi heard of it. He was interested to know more.
Next day they met, she told him, she was waiting for him all this years. She would give him house, fields and all knowledge if he’d marry her. He refused. “we were promised to eachother, can’t we stay together here?”, she asked. “not in this life, maybe if you come back as a man”, he said.
She was upset, but strong in practice and was not carried away by here first sadness. And studied and practiced until she became a streamenterer.
He left the village, found a group of bhikkhus, shaved his head and ordained.
but he never could get over it, how beautiful, proper and knowledgable sarani had been. He thought of her everyday, trying to push away his thoughts by repeating his old masters mantra about women. Once he went to visit sarani, ready to desrobe if she still wanted him. When he saw her from far, she was more beautiful than ever.
he asked her to marry him. She refused.
He remained in robes and became a badmooded monk who hated women and treated them as he was thought from his first master, bad, ignorant, not willing to teach or somehow respect them.
He did practice a lot and understood some, but was too caught in his views, although at the end of his life he, as well, became a sotapana.
One of his next birth’s probabely was that of a woman … :o)