(The hunter in the wilderness of sansara):
Chapter1 :(Part 4)
Stories of internment
No thoughts of death whatsoever entered the mind of the hunter. The
Hamuduruwo appeared to be at absolute peace, eyes closed and in the
majestic manner of a lion.
Over the infinite years that the hunter had lived in this jungle he
had encountered an infinite number of deaths. How many funerals of how
many creatures had he witnessed as he wandered among the trees? How many
robust and seemingly healthy animals had he seen leap with full
confidence and drop dead upon reaching the earth once more? How many who
had suffered what seemed to be an insignificant scratch but whose
festering enveloped the entire body, gradually weakening
death? How many creatures had seen days stretch to months and years,
suffering the inevitable and daily decay that is common to all things
and perishing as is the order of life, some before their time, as they
say, and some consequent to old age?
The hunter knew that those who died by receiving claw or tooth would
quickly turn into morsels of food in another’s stomach. He had also
perceived a distinct pattern in the event of natural deaths. The changes
in the immediate environs surrounding death were clearly visible to the
entirety of his senses.
The first change occurs in the air surrounding the carcass. This
change is then first detected by the smallest ants and other insects.
The tiniest ants approach and invade the mortal remains slowly; the
flies are quicker. The change in the air is later perceived by
carnivorous birds that inhabit the far off skies. Then the quadrupeds.
Some sniff and turn away in the manner of having recorded some fact
about impermanence. Carnivores such as foxes and wild dogs then surround
the carcass with the intention of satisfying hunger and persuaded by the
need to keep the jungle clean.
Not having perceived any such changes, it is not surprising that the
hunter did not entertain thoughts of death. What he did feel was
strange. By this time it was well past noon and the time that the
Hamuduruwo took his midday alms. The Hamuduruwo remained under the Esatu
tree, as calm as ever. The difference was the disruption of diurnal
pattern. Unlike on any other day, the Hamuduruwo was stretched out in
the open air, seemingly fast asleep. Thoughts of slumber nagged the
hunter time and again. And so he went a distance that took him out of
the Hamururuwo’s circle of vision and fell asleep.
He who had for years fallen asleep while sitting and while walking,
had for the first time fallen asleep stretched out on the rock, just
like the Hamuduruwo.
The hunter did not know how long he had slept. However, he remembered
one thing clearly before the drug of sleep gradually entered him from
the ends of his limps and envelop him completely.
There was complete silence; this he remembered. All the creatures
given to making calls during the day were silent. Not even the flapping
of a bird’s wing could be heard. No birdsong either. Even the trees
seemed to have kept the winds at a fair distance.
During the long hours of his slumber the hunter did not even dream.
When the usual post-death activity of the air, ants, insects and other
creatures was not forthcoming, a different class of being approached the
mortal remains of the Hamuduruwo. The first was the tree spirit who had
made a home among the vast branches of the Esatu tree.
It had been this tree spirit who had first brought the hunter to this
He climbed down the tree and performed all such rites that a loyal
servant would in the event that his master died.
He first sprayed the body with sandalwood water. There not being
another garment to drape the body with, he covered it with the dried
leaves of the Esatu tree and dried grass stuck among fallen branches and
In this manner did he attempt to decorate the Hamuduruwo’s lifeless
body to the best of his ability.
Having completed all this over several days, the tree spirit sat down
and spent another few days reflecting on the work he had done. He
realised that he was neither content nor happy.
He went into the temple and picked up the conch shell held in the
hand of God Vishnu who stood in one corner of the chamber. Thereafter he
went to the far end of the rock and blew it to the full extent of his
It was akin to a thunderclap, as loud as an earthquake and like the
roar of the sea as it crashed around the rock Yugandara.
The great god Vishnu awoke with concern and burning anger at someone
else using his conch shell.
His consequent eruption shook the very heavens. The gods and
goddesses quickly made their way to the Mullegama Galkanda, realizing
that they had been remiss in their duties.
The sky around the rock was lit for many leagues by thousands upon
thousands of flower-trays, wrought-iron lamps and massive banners in the
The delay of the gods was a direct result of a certain sloth in that
They could not be faulted for there had been no occasion since the
passing of Arahat Maliyadeva when the incomparable festival where
attainment of enlightenment coincided with the parinirvana. It was as
though they had forgotten the earth all this time.
Before civilisation went into decay, the gods have very little time
to enjoy paradisial pleasure for they were required to attend numerous
festivals pertaining to the high incidence of enlightenment.