“Drawer of water, I down to the stream,
Even in winter, went in fear of blows,
Harassed by fear of blame from mistresses.
‘What, brahmin, fearest thou that ever thus
Thou goest down into the river? Why
With shiv’ring limbs dost suffer bitter cold?’
“‘Well know’st thou, damsel Puṇṇikā, why ask
One who by righteous karma thus annuls
Effect of evil karma? Who in youth,
Or age ill deeds hath wrought, by baptism
Of water from that karma is released.’
‘Nay now, who, ignorant to the ignorant,
Hath told thee this: that water-baptism
From evil karma can avail to free?
Why then the fishes and the tortoises,
The frogs, the watersnakes, the crocodiles
And all that haunt the water straight to heaven
Will go. Yea, all who evil karma work—
Butchers of sheep and swine, hunters of game,
Thieves, murderers—so they but splash themselves
With water, are from evil karma free!
And if these streams could bear away what erst
Of evil thou hast wrought, they’d bear away
Thy merit too, leaving thee stripped and bare.
That, dreading which, thou, brahmin, comest e’er
To bathe and shiver here, that, even that
Leave thou undone, and save thy skin from frost.’
‘Men who in error’s ways had gone aside
Thou leadest now into the Ariyan Path.
Damsel, my bathing raiment give I thee.’
‘Keep thou thy raiment! Raiment seek I none.
If ill thou fearest, if thou like it not,
Do thou no open, nor no hidden wrong.
But if thou shalt do evil, or hast done,
Then is there no escape for thee from ill,
E’en tho’ thou see it come, and flee away.
If thou fear ill, if ill delight thee not,
Go thou and seek the Buddha and the Norm
And Order for thy refuge; learn of them
To keep the Precepts. Thus shalt thou find good.’
‘Lo! to the Buddha I for refuge go,
And to the Norm and Order. I will learn
Of them to take upon myself and keep
The Precepts; so shall I indeed find good.
Once but a son of brahmins born was I,
To-day I stand brahmin in very deed.
The nobler Threefold Wisdom have I won,
Won the true Veda-lore, and graduate
Am I, from better Sacrament returned,
Cleansed by the inward spiritual bath.’”