A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
Pratapnagar Palace is perched on a lofty mountain ridge in a
region as solitary as my present abode. It is little used, for there are
more conveniently situated palaces farther south in Tehri township
and in Narendranagar. I am assured that the surrounding country
is exceedingly beautiful, but, alas, my rambles must perforce come
to an end with the coming of the monsoon. They will have to be
continued in the mind, amongst the peaks of high ideas and the
valleys of mild meditations. In any case I have a growing dis-
inclination to go out of doors. According to Yogic standards I have
had more than enough exercise to suit the period of my stay. I
want to explore the outer world less, to keep quiet, and to explore
the inner world more. Thus, during the monsoon, my new house at
Pratapnagar with its superior accommodation will be better for
this purpose than the bleak forest bungalow which I am now
So now, not long after sunrise, I must go to bid a last farewell to
the deodar, for so long my admonitory guardian and kindly if
aristocratic mentor. My conversations with it must come to an end.
My meditations underneath its drooping needled branches shall
reach their finale.
With stick in hand I climb the rugged height whose tree-girt
top holds my sanctuary. It is not pleasant, this valedictory task of
mine, and I do not know how the deodar will take my unexpected
When at last I emerge from the thorny undergrowth and
scattered stones of the slope and cross the open space of the sanctuary,
I halt to catch my breath. One swift glance at the deodar, one
accusing frown upon its mossy face, one melancholy sigh of its low-
sagging soughing branches, and I realize that it reads my thoughts.
Why is its face so sad? It knows. I hang my head in shame.
I squat down on the leaves in the old familiar spot, still averting
my gaze from the tree. I feel the blood flushing my cheeks. Then I
too become sad. The wrench of parting affects me.
But eventually I look up. Forgive me, dear deodar! This is life,
you know. Acquaintance, friendship, farewell. The caravan must
wind on across the desert of worldly existence, its halts arc but
for a night. Yet it is sweeter to have built up what shall be, for me, a
beautiful memory than not.
Dear, friendly deodar! Such is the transitoriness of life; We need
but to part; we come to friendship and love only to lose both again.
Yet our spirits shall not part; they can wing their way through
space, drawn to each other by love.
There is a curious brooding hush in the air.
And then a butterfly, so surprisingly common and so beautiful