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p. 245



A RISHI lived in the hills near Benares. Under strange circumstances 1 a roe bore him a son whose form was human, save that a single horn grew on his forehead, and that he had stag's hoofs instead of feet. He was given the name Ekashringa, "One-horn."

One day it was raining in the hills. Ekashringa slipped and hurt himself, for his hoofs were ill-suited to his human frame. He cursed the rain, and owing to his great merit and piety his prayer was answered. No rain fell for many months.

The King of Benares saw that the drought would soon bring famine. He called together his counsellors, and one of them told him the cause of the disaster. The King published a proclamation promising half of his kingdom to any who could break the Rishi's spell. Then the harlot Shāntā came to the King and said, "I will bring you this Rishi riding him pickaback!"

She set out for the mountains, carrying fruit and wine. Having seduced the Rishi, she persuaded him to follow her to Benares. Just outside the town she lay down, saying that she was too tired to go a step further. "Then I will carry you pickaback," said the Rishi.

And so Shāntā fulfilled her promise.


In the Nō play (which is by Komparu Zembō Motoyasu 1453-1532) the Rishi has overpowered the Rain-dragons, and shut them up in a cave. Shāntā, a noble lady of Benares, is sent to tempt him. The Rishi yields to her and loses his magic power. There comes a mighty rumbling from the cave.


Down blows the mountain wind with a wild gust,
The sky grows dark,
The rock-cave quakes,
Huge boulders crash on, every side;
The dragons' forms appear.

p. 246


Then the Rishi in great alarm--


Then the Rishi in great alarm
Pursued them with a sharp sword.
And the Dragon King
Girt with the armour of wrath,
Waving a demon blade,
Fought with him for a little while.
But the Rishi had lost his magic.
Weaker and weaker he grew, till at last he lay upon the ground.
Then the Dragon King joyfully
Pierced the dark clouds.
Thunder and lightning filled
The pools of Heaven, and fast
The great rain fell; the wide floods were loosed.
Over the white waves flying,
The white waves that rise,
Homeward he hastens
To the Dragon City of the sea.



245:1 'Il aperçut un cerf et une biche qui s'accouplaient. La passion impure s'excita en lui. . . . La biche . . . se trouva grosse." Péri, Les Femmes de Çakyamouni, p. 24.

Next: Yamauba (The Dame of the Mountains)