22.HOW RAJA RASALU BECAME A MONK

Then, after a time, Rasalu went to Hodinagari. When he reached the house of the beautiful famed Queen Sundrân, he saw an old monk sitting at the gate, by the side of his sacred fire.

‘Why do you sit there?’ asked Raja Rasalu.

‘My son,’ returned the monk, ‘for twenty years have I waited here to see the beautiful Sundrân, yet have I never seen her!’

‘Make me your pupil,’ said Rasalu, ‘and I will wait too.’

Raja Rasalu would not be denied, so the monk made him a monk. Then the new disciple took off his shining armour, and sat by the fire in a monk’s robe, waiting to see Queen Sundrân.

Then, at night, the old Monk went and begged alms from four houses, and half of what he got he gave to Rasalu and half he ate himself. Now Raja Rasalu, being a very holy man, and a hero besides, did not care for food, and was well content with his half share, but the Monk felt starved.

The next day the same thing happened, and still Rasalu sat by the fire waiting to see the beautiful Queen Sundrân.

Then the Monk lost patience, and said, ‘Oh my disciple, I made you a pupil in order that you might beg, and feed me but it is I who have to starve to feed you!’

‘You gave no orders!’ said Rasalu, laughing. ‘How can a disciple beg without his master’s permission?’

‘I order you now!’ replied the Monk. ‘Go and beg enough for you and for me.’

So Raja Rasalu went, and stood at the gate of Queen Sundrân’s palace, in his monk’s robe, and sang,

  ‘At your door I stand,
    Come from far by the fame of your charms;
  Fair Sundrân, with generous hand,
    Give the monk some alms!’

Now when Queen Sundrân, from inside, heard Rasalu’s voice, its sweetness pierced her heart, so that she immediately sent out alms by her maid-servant. But when the maiden came to the gate, and saw the great beauty of Rasalu, standing outside she fainted away, dropping the alms upon the ground.

Then once more Rasalu sang, and again his voice fell so sweetly on Queen Sundrân’s ears, that she sent out more alms by another maiden. But she also fainted away at the sight of Rasalu’s marvelous beauty.

Then Queen Sundrân came out herself.She scolded the maidens, gathered up the alms, and setting the food aside, filled the plate with jewels and put it herself into Rasalu’s hands, saying proudly—­

  ‘Since when have you been a monk? What do you want here? Do you beg from all women you see, or only from me?’

Rasalu, in his Monk’s habit, bent his head towards her, saying softly—­

  ‘I have only been a monk for a day. But yesterday, Love’s arrow struck me. I seek nothing here!
    I beg nothing from others I see. But only fair Sundrân, from you!’

Now, when Rasalu returned to his master with the plate full of jewels, the old monk was astonished, and told him take them back, and ask for food instead. So Rasalu returned to the gate, and sang—­

  ‘At your door I stand,
    Come from far by the fame of your charms;
  Fair Sundrân, with generous hand,
    Give the monk some alms!’

Then Queen Sundrân took back the jewels, and told the beautiful Monk to wait an hour till the food was cooked. Nevertheless, she learnt no more of him, for he sat by the gate and said never a word. Queen Sundrân gave him a plate piled up with sweets, and looked at him sadly, saying—­

  ‘What King’s son are you? And where do you come from?  What is your name monk, and where is your home?’

Then Raja Rasalu, taking the alms, replied—­

  ‘I am Lona’s son. My father’s name is Great Sâlbâhan, who reigns at Sialkot.
  I am Rasalu. I became a monk just to see your beauty and now that I have seen it I am leaving

Then Rasalu returned to his master with the sweets, and after that he went away from the place, for he feared the Queen, knowing who he was, might try to keep him prisoner.

Beautiful Sundrân waited for the Monk’s cry, and when none came, she went to ask the old Monk where his pupil had gone.

Now he, angry that she should come to ask about a stranger, when he had sat at her gates for twenty years with never a word or sign, answered back, ‘My pupil? I was hungry, and I ate him, because he did not bring me enough alms.’

‘Oh, monster!’ cried Queen Sundrân. ‘Did I not send you jewels and sweets? Did not these satisfy you, that you had to feast on beauty also?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the Monk; ‘ I only know this —I put the youth on a spit, roasted him, and ate him up. He tasted good!’

‘Then roast and eat me too!’ cried poor Queen Sundrân. And with those words she threw herself into the sacred fire and became a sacrifice for the love of the beautiful monk Rasalu.

Raja Rasalu never gave her another thought, but fancying he would like to be king a while, he snatched the throne from Raja Hari Chand, and reigned in his stead.