Source of oriental tale

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YAVASS.USR.PU.RU
Tue Nov 25 20:07:57 UTC 1997

Paolo Magnone wrote (Nov. 25):

<A colleague of mine has brought to my notice a "morgenl ndischen
<M< rchen" from Wackenroder's *Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden
<Klosterbruders* about a naked hermit living in a mountain hole. This
<hermit was obsessed by the frightful whirring of the wheel of time that
<relentlessly echoed in his ears, driving him on the brink of madness,
<until he chanced to see and hear a couple of lovers singing in the
<moonlight. No sooner did the first notes resound than the human body and

<wheel were dissolved, and the captive heavenly ghost that had been the
<hermit could finally reascend to his heavenly home.

<Assuming die "morgenl ndische Heimat" hinted at is India, as it would
<appear from the mention of naked saints (a stereotype since Alexander
<meeting with the so-called gymnosofists), does anybody have an idea,
<what the Indian source could be?

        Not only the nakedness of the hermit, but the very image of the wheel
of Time whirring (and whirling) IN THE CAVE with absolute certainty points
to India. See. e.g., the so called "Uttanka's Vision" (Mahabharata I.3.147-149,
174) where the Wheel of Time whirls in a cave (here also two gods of Fate,
Dhata and Vidhata, in the guise of two female weavers, weave the destinies
of the world), and Mbh XII.237.32, where again the Wheel of Time whirls
in a cave, but this time probably the "cave of the heart", the depth of
human psyche is meant. Not so the symbolism of the wheel of time, but the
symbolism of the cave in both these pictures is specifically Indian, quite
distinct from European symbolism of the cave in all its varieties
("Plato's cave" and so on).
        But unfortunately I have no idea what the Indian source of
Wackenroder's tale could be and am eagerly waiting, together with Paolo
Magnone, for an opinion of the erudites.
                                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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