Kopal-Kundala/In the House of God
In the House of God.
At morning the Adhikari came to Nobokumar's side, and saw that even now he was not asleep. He asked him what was to be done. Nobokumar said, "From to-day Kopal-Kundala is my holy wife. For her sake I will forsake the world, if necessary. Who will give away the maiden?"
The face of the star of ghataks expanded with joy. He thought, "After so long a time by the mercy of Juggadumba my goddess has found a way." Then he said, "I will give her away."
The Adhikari again entered his own bedchamber. He had some very worn and faded palm-leaves in a box, on which were written his lunar days, stars, &c. He examined them all carefully, and came back and said, "Though to-day is not a marriage-day, still there is no obstacle to marriage. I will give away the girl at evening. To-day you will simply remain fasting, and when you get home you can perform all the ceremonies customary in your family. I have a place to conceal you in for one day. If he comes to-day, he will not be able to find you. To-morrow, after the marriage, go home with your wife."
Nobokumar agreed to this. The ceremony was performed, as far as the circumstances permitted, in accordance with the Shastres; at evening Nobokumar was married to the young Kapálik-nurtured devotee.
There was no news of the Kapálik. The next morning all three prepared to start, as the Adhikari was to put them on the road to Midnapur. Before starting Kopal-Kundala went to make her obeisance to Káli. Having bowed low with reverence, she took an entire bael-leaf from a vessel of flowers, and placed it at the feet of the image, and intently watched it. The leaf fell down.
Kopal-Kundala was exceedingly superstitious. Seeing the bael-leaf fall down from the feet of the image she was alarmed, and told the Adhikari. He, too, was grieved, and said, "It is too late to go back; now your husband only is your religion. If your husband goes to the burying-ground, you will have to go with him. So go quietly."
All went quietly. Very late they arrived at the Midnapur road, and there the Adhikari took leave of them. Kopal-Kundala began to cry. She was taking leave of the one good friend she had in the world.
The Adhikari, too, began to cry. Wiping away his tears, he whispered to Kopal-Kundala, "Mother! you know that, by God's favour, your child has plenty of money. All in Hidgellee, high and low, worship through him. Give your husband what I have tied in your cloth, and tell him to get a palki for you. Think of me as your child."
With these words the Adhikari went away weeping; Kopal-Kundala, too, went on her way weeping.
END OF THE FIRST PART.
- The word for evening in the original is a word meaning "the dust of cows," i.e. the time when cows, returning from the grazing-ground, stir up dust with their feet.
- This refers to the practice of suttee, which was abolished by a law passed during the viceroyalty of Lord Bentinck. At the present time the Hindoos regard such a practice with horror, though at the time the opposition to the bill was most keen and determined, and it was said the measure was only the prelude to a systematic scheme for the destruction of the Hindoo religion. As Bentham has well remarked, "Morality and legislation have the same centre, though not the same circumference. Morality quickly follows in the footsteps of legislation."