Characteristics of Indian Literature

There are three observable characteristics of Indian Literature.

1. Indian literature is based on piety, a deeply  religious spirit.

  • The oldest know literature in India is the Vedas. According to Hindu tradition, the Vedas are apauruṣeya “not of human agency”, are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti (“what is heard”). This contains hymns and prayers for gods.
  • Indians believe that a knowledge of gods and a strong belief in Hinduism is necessary to save mankind.

2. Indian literary masterpieces are written in epic form, corresponds to the great epochs in the history of India.

  • The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the most important epics of India; the latter is the longest epic in the world.

3. Medieval Indian literature the earliest works in many of the languages were sectarian, designed to advance or to celebrate some unorthodox regional belief. 

  • Examples are theCaryapadas in Bengali, Tantric verses of the 12th century, and the Lilacaritra (circa 1280), in Marathi
 (taken from: http://mskdjindianlit.wordpress.com/indian-literature/characteristics-of-indian-literature/)

The Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese tea ceremony is called Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese. It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of the tea utensils is considered from the guests view point (angle), especially the main guests called the Shokyaku. (this post was taken from the internet)

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (ON WORK)

Then a ploughman said, “Speak to us of Work.”
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night. (this post was taken from the internet)

 

The Soul of the Great Bell by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)

The water-clock marks the hour in the Tachung sz’, in the Tower of the Great Bell: now the mallet is lifted to smite the lips of the metal monster—the vast lips inscribed with Buddhist texts from the sacred Fa-hwa-King, from the chapters of the holy Ling-yen-King! Hear the great bell responding!—how mighty her voice, though tongueless! KO-NGAI! All the little dragons on the high-tilted eaves of the green roofs shiver to the tips of their gilded tails under that deep wave of sound; all the porcelain gargoyles tremble on their carven perches; all the hundred little bells of the pagodas quiver with desire to speak. KO-NGAI—all the green-and-gold tiles of the temple are vibrating; the wooden goldfish above them are writhing against the sky; the uplifted finger of Fo shakes high over the heads of the worshippers through the blue fog of incense! KO-NGAI!—What a thunder tone was that! All the lacquered goblins on the palace cornices wriggle their fire-coloured tongues! And after each huge shock, how wondrous the multiple echo and the great golden moan, and, at last, the sudden sibilant sobbing in the ears when the immense tone faints away in broken whispers of silver, as though a woman should whisper, “Hiai!” Even so the great bell hath sounded every day for well-nigh five hundred years—Ko-Ngai: first with stupendous clang, then with immeasurable moan of gold, then with silver murmuring of “Hiai!” And there is not a child in all the many-coloured ways of the old Chinese city who does not know the story of the great bell, who cannot tell you why the great bell says Ko-Ngai and Hiai!

Now this is the story of the great bell in the Tachung sz’, as the same is related in the Pe-Hiao-Tou-Choue, written by the learned Yu-Pao-Tchen, of the City of Kwang-tchau-fu.

Nearly five hundred years ago the Celestially August, the Son of Heaven, Yong-Lo, of the “Illustrious” or Ming dynasty, commanded the worthy official Kouan-Yu that he should have a bell made of such size that the sound thereof might be heard for one hundred li. And he further ordained that the voice of the bell should be strengthened with brass, and deepened with gold, and sweetened with silver; and that the face and the great lips of it should be graven with blessed sayings from the sacred books, and that it should be suspended in the centre of the imperial capital to sound through all the many-coloured ways of the City of Pe-King.

Therefore the worthy mandarin Kouan-Yu assembled the master-moulders and the renowned bellsmiths of the empire, and all men of great repute and cunning in foundry work; and they measured the materials for the alloy, and treated them skilfully, and prepared the moulds, the fires, the instruments, and the monstrous melting-pot for fusing the metal. And they laboured exceedingly, like giants neglecting only rest and sleep and the comforts of life; toiling both night and day in obedience to Kouan-Yu, and striving in all things to do the behest of the Son of Heaven.

But when the metal had been cast, and the earthen mould separated from the glowing casting, it was discovered that, despite their great labour and ceaseless care, the result was void of worth; for the metals had rebelled one against the other—the gold had scorned alliance with the brass, the silver would not mingle with the molten iron. Therefore the moulds had to be once more prepared, and the fires rekindled, and the metal remelted, and all the work tediously and toilsomely repeated. The Son of Heaven heard and was angry, but spake nothing.

A second time the bell was cast, and the result was even worse. Still the metals obstinately refused to blend one with the other; and there was no uniformity in the bell, and the sides of it were cracked and fissured, and the lips of it were slagged and split asunder; so that all the labour had to be repeated even a third time, to the great dismay of Kouan-Yu. And when the Son of Heaven heard these things, he was angrier than before; and sent his messenger to Kouan-Yu with a letter, written upon lemon-coloured silk and sealed with the seal of the dragon, containing these words:

From the Mighty Young-Lothe Sublime Tait-Sungthe Celestial and Augustwhose reign is called ‘Ming,’ to Kouan-Yu the Fuh-yinTwice thou hast betrayed the trust we have deigned graciously to place in theeif thou fail a third time in fulfilling our commandthy head shall be severed from thy neckTrembleand obey!”

Now, Kouan-Yu had a daughter of dazzling loveliness whose name—Ko-Ngai—was ever in the mouths of poets, and whose heart was even more beautiful than her face. Ko-Ngai loved her father with such love that she had refused a hundred worthy suitors rather than make his home desolate by her absence; and when she had seen the awful yellow missive, sealed with the Dragon-Seal, she fainted away with fear for her father’s sake. And when her senses and her strength returned to her, she could not rest or sleep for thinking of her parent’s danger, until she had secretly sold some of her jewels, and with the money so obtained had hastened to an astrologer, and paid him a great price to advise her by what means her father might be saved from the peril impending over him. So the astrologer made observations of the heavens, and marked the aspect of the Silver Stream (which we call the Milky Way), and examined the signs of the Zodiac—the Hwang-tao, or Yellow Road—and consulted the table of the Five Hin, or Principles of the Universe, and the mystical books of the alchemists. And after a long silence, he made answer to her, saying: “Gold and brass will never meet in wedlock, silver and iron never will embrace, until the flesh of a maiden be melted in the crucible; until the blood of a virgin be mixed with the metals in their fusion.” So Ko-Ngai returned home sorrowful at heart; but she kept secret all that she had heard, and told no one what she had done.

At last came the awful day when the third and last effort to cast the great bell was to be made; and Ko-Ngai, together with her waiting-woman, accompanied her father to the foundry, and they took their places upon a platform overlooking the toiling of the moulders and the lava of liquefied metal. All the workmen wrought at their tasks in silence; there was no sound heard but the muttering of the fires. And the muttering deepened into a roar like the roar of typhoons approaching, and the blood-red lake of metal slowly brightened like the vermilion of a sunrise, and the vermilion was transmuted into a radiant glow of gold, and the gold whitened blindingly, like the silver face of a full moon. Then the workers ceased to feed the raving flame, and all fixed their eyes upon the eyes of Kouan-Yu; and Kouan-Yu prepared to give the signal to cast.

But ere ever he lifted his finger, a cry caused him to turn his head and all heard the voice of Ko-Ngai sounding sharply sweet as a bird’s song above the great thunder of the fires—“For thy sakeO my father!” And even as she cried, she leaped into the white flood of metal; and the lava of the furnace roared to receive her, and spattered monstrous flakes of flame to the roof, and burst over the verge of the earthen crater, and cast up a whirling fountain of many-coloured fires, and subsided quakingly, with lightnings and with thunders and with mutterings.

Then the father of Ko-Ngai, wild with his grief, would have leaped in after her, but that strong men held him back and kept firm grasp upon him until he had fainted away, and they could bear him like one dead to his home. And the serving-woman of Ko-Ngai, dizzy and speechless for pain, stood before the furnace, still holding in her hands a shoe, a tiny, dainty shoe, with embroidery of pearls and flowers—the shoe of her beautiful mistress that was. For she had sought to grasp Ko-Ngai by the foot as she leaped, but had only been able to clutch the shoe, and the pretty shoe came off in her hand; and she continued to stare at it like one gone mad.

But in spite of all these things, the command of the Celestial and August had to be obeyed, and the work of the moulders to be finished, hopeless as the result might be. Yet the glow of the metal seemed purer and whiter than before; and there was no sign of the beautiful body that had been entombed therein. So the ponderous casting was made; and lo! when the metal had become cool, it was found that the bell was beautiful to look upon and perfect in form, and wonderful in colour above all other bells. Nor was there any trace found of the body of Ko-Ngai; for it had been totally absorbed by the precious alloy, and blended with the well-blended brass and gold, with the intermingling of the silver and the iron. And when they sounded the bell, its tones were found to be deeper and mellower and mightier than the tones of any other bell, reaching even beyond the distance of one hundred li, like a pealing of summer thunder; and yet also like some vast voice uttering a name, a woman’s name, the name of Ko-Ngai.

And still, between each mighty stroke there is a long low moaning heard; and ever the moaning ends with a sound of sobbing and of complaining, as though a weeping woman should murmur, “Hiai!” And still, when the people hear that great golden moan they keep silence, but when the sharp, sweet shuddering comes in the air, and the sobbing of “Hiai!” then, indeed, do all the Chinese mothers in all the many-coloured ways of Pe-King whisper to their little ones: “Listenthat is Ko-Ngai crying for her shoeThat is Ko-Ngai calling for her shoe!” (this post was taken from the internet)

The Cricket Boy

 
 
 
 
 
 Then they heard about a hunchbacked fortune teller who was visitingthe village.Cheng Ming’s wife went to see him. The fortune teller gave her apiece of paperwith a picture on it. It was a pavilion with a jiashan (rockgarden) behind it. Onthe bushes by the jiashan sat a fat male cricket. Besideit, however, lurked alarge toad, ready to catch the insect with its long,elastic tongue. When the wifegot home, she showed the paper to herhusband. Cheng Ming sprang up and jumped to the floor, forgetting the painin his buttocks.“This is the fortune teller’shint at the location where I can find aperfect cricket to accomplish my task!” heexclaimed.“But we don’t have a pavilion in our village,” his wife re mindedhim.“Well, take a closer look and think. Doesn’t the temple on the east sideof our village have a rock garden? That must be it.” So saying, Cheng Minglimpedto the temple with the support of a make shift crutch. Sure enough,he saw thecricket, and the toad squatting nearby in the rock garden at theback of thetemple. He caught the big, black male cricket just before thetoad got hold of it.Back home, he carefully placed the cricket in a jar he hadprepared for it andstowed the jar away in a safe place. “Everything will beover tomorrow,” he gavea sigh of relief and went to tell his best friends inthe village the goodnews.Cheng Ming’s nine-year-old son was very curious. Seeing his fatherwasgone, he took the jar and wanted to have a peek at the cricket. Hewasremoving the lid carefully, when the big cricket jumped out andhoppedaway. Panicked, the boy tried to catch the fleeing cricket with his hands,butin a flurry, he accidentally squashed the insect when he finally got hold of it.“Good heavens! What’re you going to say to your father when hecomesback?” the mother said in distress and dread. Without a word, the boywent outof the room, tears in his eyes.Cheng Ming became distraught when he saw thedead cricket. Hecouldn’t believe that all his hopes had been dashed in a second.He lookedaround for his son, vowing to teach the little scoundrel a good lesson.Hesearched inside and outside the house, only to locate him in a well atthecorner of the court yard. When he fished him out, the boy was already dead. The father’s fury instantly gave way to sorrow. The grieved parents laid theirsonon the kang and lamented over his body the entire night.As Cheng Ming wasdressing his son for burial the next morning, he feltthe body still warm.Immediately he put the boy back on the kang, hopingthat he would revive.Gradually the boy came back to life, but to his parents’dismay, he wasunconscious, as if he were in a trance. The parents grieved again for the loss of their son. Suddenly theyheard a cricket chirping. The couple traced the sound toa small cricket onthe door step. The appearance of the cricket, however, dashedtheir hopes,for it was very small. “Well, it’s better than nothing,” Cheng Mingthought.He was about to catch it, when it jumped nimbly on to a wall, cheepingathim. He tip toed to ward it, but it showed no sign of fleeing. Instead,whenCheng Ming came a few steps closer, the little cricket jumped onto his
 
 
chest. Though small, the cricket looked smart and energetic. Cheng Mingplanned totake it to the village head. Uncertain of its capabilities, ChengMing could not goto sleep. He wanted to put the little cricket to the testbefore sending it to thevillage head. The next morning, Cheng Ming went to a young man from a richfamilyin his neighborhood, having heard him boasting about an “invincible”cricketthat he wanted to sell for a high price. When the young man showedhiscricket, Cheng Ming hesitated, because his little cricket seemed no matchforthis gigantic insect. To fight this monster would be to condemn his dwarf todeath.“There’s no way my little cricket could survive a confrontation withyourbig guy,” Cheng Ming said to the young man, holding his jar tight. Theyoungman goaded and taunted him. At last, Cheng Ming decided to take arisk. “Well,it won’t hurt to give a try. If the little cricket is a good-for-nothing,what’s the useof keeping it anyway?” he thought.When they put the two crickets together in a jar, Cheng Ming’s smallinsect seemed transfixed. No matter how the young manprodded it to fight,it simply would not budge. The young man burst into aguffaw, to the greatembarrassment of Cheng Ming. As the young man spurredthe little cricketon, it sud denly seemed to have run out of patience. With greatwrath, itcharged the giant opponent head on. The sudden burst of actionstunnedboth the young man and Cheng Ming. Before the little creature planteditssmall but sharp teeth into the neck of the big cricket, the terrified youngmanfished the big insect out of the jar just in time and called off the contest. Thelittle cricket chirped victoriously, and Cheng Ming felt exceedingly happyandproud.Cheng Ming and the young man were commenting on thelittlecricket’s extraordinary prowess, when a big rooster rushed over to peckatthe little cricket in the jar. The little cricket hopped out of the jar in timetododge the attack. The rooster then went for it a second time, butsuddenlybegan to shake its head violently, screaming in agony. This suddenturn of events baffled Cheng Ming and the onlookers. When they took a closerlook,they could not believe their eyes: The little cricket was gnawing ontherooster’s bloody comb. The story of a cricket fighting a rooster soonspreadthroughout the village and beyond. The next day, Cheng Ming, along withthe village head, sent the cricketto the magistrate and asked for a test fight withhis master cricket, but themagistrate re fused on the ground that Cheng Ming’scricket was too small.“I don’t think you have heard its rooster-fighting story,”Cheng Mingproclaimed with great pride. “You can’t judge it only by itsappearance.”“Nonsense, how can a cricket fight a rooster?” asked themagistrate.He ordered a big rooster brought to his office, thinking that ChengMingwould quit telling his tall tales when his cricket became the bird’s snack. Thebattle between the little cricket and the rooster ended with the same result: The rooster sped away in great pain, the little cricket chirping triumphantlyon its
 
 
heels. The magistrate was first astonished and then pleased, thinking that hefinallyhad the very insect that could win him the emperor’s favor. He had agoldencage manufactured for the little cricket. Placing it cautiously in thecage, he tookit to the emperor. The emperor pitted the little cricket against all his veterancombat antcrickets, and it defeated them one by one. What amused theemperor mostwas that the little creature could even dance to the tune of hiscourt music!Extremely pleased with the magic little creature, the emperorrewarded themagistrate liberally and promoted him to a higher position. Themagistrate,now a governor, in turn exempted Cheng Ming from his levies in cashas wellas crickets.A year later, Cheng Ming’s son came out of his stupor. He satup andrubbed his eyes, to the great surprise and joy of his parents. The firstwordshe uttered to his jubilant parents were, “I’m so tired and hungry.” After ahotmeal, he told them, “I dreamed that I had become a cricket, and I fought alotof other crickets. It was such fun! You know what? The greatest fun I hadwas myfight with a couple of roosters!

The Story of the Aged Mother

 
 
Long, long ago there lived at the foot of the mountain a poor farmer and hisaged, widowed mother. They owned a bit of land which supplied them withfood, and their humble were peaceful and happy.Shinano was governed by a despotic leader who though a warrior, had agreat and cowardly shrinking from anything suggestive of failing health andstrength. This caused him to send out a cruel proclamation. The entireprovince was given strict orders to immediately put to death all agedpeople. Those were barbarous days, and the custom of abandoning oldpeople to die was not common. The poor farmer loved his aged mother withtender reverence, and the order filled his heart with sorrow. But no one everthought a second time about obeying the mandate of the governor, so withmany deep hopeless sighs, the youth prepared for what at that time wasconsidered the kindest mode of death. Just at sundown, when his day’s work was ended, he took a quantity of unwhitened rice which is principal food for poor, cooked and dried it, andtying it in a square cloth, swung and bundle around his neck along with agourd filled with cool, sweet water. Then he lifted his helpless old mother tohis back and stated on his painful journey up the mountain. The road waslong and steep; the narrowed road was crossed and reclosed by many pathsmade by the hunters and woodcutters. In some place, they mingled in aconfused puzzled, but he gave no heed. One path or another, it matterednot. On he went, climbing blindly upward towards the high bare summit of what is know as Obatsuyama, the mountain of the “abandoning of aged”. The eyes of the old mother were not so dim but that they noted the recklesshastening from one path to another, and her loving heart grew anxious. Herson did not know the mountain’s many paths and his return might be one of danger, so she stretched forth her hand and snapping the twigs frombrushes as they passed, she quietly dropped a handful every few steps of the way so that they climbed, the narrow path behind them was dotted atfrequently intervals with tiny piles of twigs. At last the summit was reached.Weary and heart sick, the youth gently released his burden and silentlyprepared a place of comfort as his last duty to the loved one. Gatheringfallen pine needle, he made a soft cushion and tenderly lifting his oldmother therein, he wrapped her padded coat more closely about thestooping shoulders and with tearful eyes and an aching heart said farewell. The trembling mother’s voice was full of unselfish love as she gave her lastinjunction. “Let not thine eyes be blinded, my son.” She said. “The mountain
 
 
road is full of dangers. LOOK carefully and follow the path which holds thepiles of twigs. They will guide you to the familiar way farther down”. Theson’s surprised eyes looked back over the path, then at the poor old,shriveled hands all scratched and soiled by their work of love. His heartsmote him and bowing to the grounds, he cried aloud: “oh, Honorablemother, thy kindness thrusts my heart! I will not leave thee. Together wewill follow the path of twigs, and together we will die!”Once more he shouldered his burden (how light it seemed no) and hasteneddown the path, through the shadows and the moonlight, to the little hut inthe valley. Beneath the kitchen floor was a walled closet for food, which wascovered and hidden from view. There the son his mother, supplying her witheverything needful and continually watching and fearing. Time passed, andhe was beginning to feel safe when again the governor sent forth heraldsbearing an unreasonable order, seemingly as a boast of his power. Hisdemand was that his subject should present him with a rope of ashes. Theentire province trembled with dread. The order must be obeyed yet who inall Shinano could make a rope of ashes?One night, in great distress, the son whispered the news to his hiddenmother. “Wait!” she said. “I will think. I will think” On the second day shetold him what to do. “Make rope twisted straw,” she said. “Then stretch itupon a row of flat stones and burn it there on the windless night.” He calledthe people together and did as she said and when the blaze died, beholdupon the stones with every twist and fiber showing perfectly. Lay a rope of whitehead ashes. The governor was pleased at the wit of the youth and praised greatly, buthe demanded to know where he had obtained his wisdom. “Alas! Alas!”cried the farmer, “the truth must be told!” and with deep bows he relatedhis story. The governor listened and then meditated in silence. Finally helifted his head, “Shinano needs more than strength of youth,” he saidgravely. “Ah, that I should have forgotten the well-known saying, “With thecrown of snow, there cometh a wisdom!” That very hour the cruel law wasabolished, and custom drifted into as far a past that only legends remain

The Two Brothers

© Copyright 1997, Jim Loy


Note: The Two Brothers is an ancient Egyptian story. The original papyrus is in the British Museum.


There were once two brothers, Anpu was the older, Bata was the younger. Anpu had a wife, and owned a farm. Bata came to live with Anpu and his wife. Bata worked hard for his brother, plowing the fields, and harvesting the grain, and doing many other tasks. He was very good at his work. The animals would even speak to him.

One day Anpu announced that it was time to plow the fields and sow the seeds. And he instructed his brother to take sacks of seed out to the fields. They spent the next few days plowing and sowing seeds.

Then Anpu sent Bata back for more seeds. At Anpu’s house, Bata found Anpu’s wife fixing her hair. Bata said, “Get up and get me some seed, Anpu is waiting.”

Anpu’s wife replied, “Get the seed yourself. I’m busy with my hair.”

Bata found a large basket, and filled it with seed. And, he carried the basket through the house.

Anpu’s wife said, “What is the weight of that basket you carry.”

Bata replied, “There are three sacks of wheat and two of barley.”

She said, “How strong you are, and handsome. Stay with me and let us make love. And Anpu will never know.”

Bata replied in horror, “Anpu is like a father to me, and you are like a mother to me. I won’t tell anyone of the evil words that you have said. And never let me hear them again.” He picked up his basket, and rushed out into the fields.

When Anpu got back home, he realized that something was wrong. No fire had been lit, no food had been cooked, and his wife was in bed moaning and weeping. Her clothes were torn, and she seemed to be bruised. Anpu demanded that she tell him what had happened.

She replied, “When your brother came to fetch the seed, he saw me fixing my hair. He tried to make love to me. And I refused, saying, ‘Is not Anpu like a father to you? And am I not like a mother to you?’ And he became angry, and beat me. And he said that he would hurt me more if I told you what had happened. Oh Anpu, kill him for me, or I will surely die.”

Anpu was angry like a leopard. He took a spear, and hid behind the door of the cattle pen, waiting to kill his brother.

When the sun had gone down, Bata returned with the cattle. The first cow said to Bata, “Your brother hides with a spear, behind the door. And he plans to kill you. Run away while you can.”

Bata would not believe the cow. But the second cow gave him the same warning. Then he saw his brother’s feet behind the door. And he was afraid and ran away. Anpu chased him in great anger. As he ran, Bata called out to Ra, “O my good lord, who judges between the bad and the good, save me.”

And Ra heard Bata’s prayer, and caused a river to flow between them. The river was wide and full of crocodiles. The two brothers stood on opposite banks of the river. Bata shouted to Anpu, “Ra delivers the wicked to the just. But I must leave you. Why did you try to kill me, without giving me a chance to explain?” And Bata told his side of the story.

Then Bata took out his knife and cut himself, and he fell to the ground. And Anpu believed him, and was sick at heart. And he longed to be on the other side of the river, with his brother.

Bata spoke again, “I must go to the valley of cedars, to be healed. And I shall hide my heart in a cedar tree. And when the cedar tree is cut down, I will be in danger of dying. If your beer turns sour, you will know that I need your help. Come to the valley of cedars and search for my heart. Put my heart in a bowl of water. And I will come back to life again.

Anpu promised to obey his brother, and went home. He killed his wife, and threw her body to the dogs.

Bata traveled to the valley of cedars, and rested until his wound had healed. He hunted wild beasts and built a house for himself. And he hid his heart in the branches of a tree.

One day, the nine gods were walking in the valley. And they saw that Bata was lonely. And Ra ordered Khnum to make a wife for Bata, on his potters wheel. And when the gods breathed life into her, they saw that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. The seven Hathors gathered to declare her fate, and said that she would die a sudden death.

Bata loved her. And he knew that whoever saw her would desire her. Every day, as he left to hunt wild animals, he warned her, “Stay in the house, or the sea may try to carry you away. And there is little I could do to save you.”

One day, when Bata had gone out to hunt, his wife grew bored and went out for a walk. And, as she stood beneath the tree, the sea saw her, and surged up the valley to get her. She tried to flee. But the tree caught her by the hair. She escaped, leaving a lock of her hair in the tree.

The sea took the lock of hair, and carried it to Egypt, where the Nile took it. And the hair floated to where the washermen of the King were washing the King’s clothes. And the sweet-smelling hair caused the King’s clothes to smell like perfume. And the King complained of this. This happened every day.

One day the overseer of the washermen saw the lock of hair caught in the reeds. He ordered that it be brought to him. And he smelled its sweet smell.

And he took the lock of hair to the King. And the King’s advisers said, “This is a lock of hair from a daughter of Ra.” And the King wanted to make this woman his Queen.

The King sent many messengers to all lands. All returned to say that they had failed to find the woman. But one returned from the valley of the cedars to say that his companions had been killed by Bata, and that Bata’s wife was the woman that he sought.

The King sent many soldiers to fetch Bata’s wife. And with the soldiers, he sent a woman to give jewels to Bata’s wife, and to tell her that the King wanted to make her a queen. Bata’s wife told this woman that Bata’s heart was hidden in the tree, and that if the tree were cut down, Bata would die. And the soldiers cut down the tree. As the tree fell, Bata fell down dead. And the soldiers chopped up the tree and dispersed the pieces.

At the same moment that Bata died, Anpu’s beer began to bubble and turn sour. And he immediately put on his sandals, and grabbed his spear and his staff, and hastened to the valley of cedars.

There he found his brother dead, and he wept. But he remembered his brother’s instruction and searched for his heart. He searched in vain for three years. And he longed to return to Egypt. At the beginning of the fourth year, he said to himself, “If I don’t find my brother’s heart tomorrow, I will go back home.”

The next day, he searched again. And near the end of the day, he found what he thought was a seed. But it was Bata’s dried up heart. And he put it in a bowl of water, and sat down to wait. The heart grew as it absorbed water. Bata came back to life, but was very weak. Then Anpu held the bowl to Bata’s lips, and he swallowed the remaining water, and then swallowed his own heart. And his strength returned to him. And the two brothers embraced.

Bata said, “Tomorrow, I will change myself into a sacred bull. And you will ride me back to Egypt. Lead me before the King. And he will reward you. Then return to your house.”

The next day, Bata changed into a bull. And Anpu rode him to Egypt, and led him before the King. The King rewarded Anpu with gold, and silver, and land, and slaves. And there was rejoicing throughout the land. And Anpu returned to his house.

Eventually, Bata encountered his wife, who was now the Queen. And he said, “Look upon me, for I am alive.”

She asked, “And who are you?”

He replied, “I am Bata. And it was you who caused the tree to be cut down, so that I would be destroyed. But I am alive.” And she trembled in fear, and left the room.

That evening, the King sat at a feast, with his Queen. And she said to him, “Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?” The King promised that he would. The Queen said, “I desire to eat the liver of the sacred bull, for he is nothing to you.”

The king was upset at her request. But the next day, he commanded that the bull be sacrificed. And the bull was sacrificed. And its blood splattered on each side the gate of the palace.

That night, two persea trees sprang up next to the palace gate. The King was told of this miracle, and there was much rejoicing.

One day the King and Queen were standing in the shade of one of the trees. And the tree spoke to the Queen, “False woman, you are the one who caused the cedar tree to be cut down, and you made the King slaughter the bull. But, I am Bata, I am still alive.” And the Queen was afraid.

Later, when the King and Queen were feasting, the Queen said, “Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?” The King promised that he would. The Queen said, “It is my desire that those two persea trees be chopped down, to make furniture for me.”

The King was troubled by her request. But the next day the King and Queen watched as the trees were cut down. As the Queen stood watching, a chip of wood flew from one of the trees, and flew into her mouth, and she swallowed it. And it made the Queen become pregnant.

After many days, the Queen gave birth to a son. The King loved him, and made him heir to the throne.

In time the King died, and rejoined the gods. And his son succeeded him as King.

The new King (who was Bata) summoned his court, and told everyone the story of his life. And he judged that his wife, who had become his mother, should die for her crimes. And the court agreed. And she was led away to be killed.

Bata ruled Egypt for thirty years. Then he died. And his brother Anpu then ruled Egypt.