The Sannyasi Brought Us Also A Nosegay From The Swami, A Nosegay
Of The Most Extraordinary Flowers, Which Are Totally Unknown In Europe.
They Grow Only In Certain Himalayan Valleys; They Possess The
Wonderful Capacity Of Changing Their Color After Midday, And Do
Not Look Dead Even When Faded.
The Latin name of this charming
plant is Hibiscus mutabilis.
At night they are nothing but a large
knot of pressed green leaves, but from dawn till ten o'clock the
flowers open and look like large snow-white roses; then, towards
twelve o'clock, they begin to redden, and later in the afternoon
they look as crimson as a peony. These flowers are sacred to the
Asuras, a kind of fallen angels in Hindu mythology, and to the
sun-god Surya. The latter deity fell in love with an Asuri at
the beginning of creation, and since then is constantly caught
whispering words of fiery love to the flower that shelters her.
But the Asura is a virgin; she gives herself entirely to the
service of the goddess Chastity, who is the patroness of all the
ascetic brotherhoods. The love of Surya is vain, Asura will not
listen to him. But under the flaming arrows of the enamoured god
she blushes and in appearance loses her purity. The natives call
this plant lajjalu, the modest one.
We were spending the night by a brook, under a shadowy fig-tree.
The Sannyasi, who had made a wide circuit to fulfil Dayanand's request,
made friends with us; and we sat up late in the night, listening
whilst he talked about his travels, the wonders of his native country,
once so great, and about the heroic deeds of old Runjit-Sing, the
Lion of the Punjab.
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