196 The Glyphce Bhatteh.
peculiar to the ' initiated.' The pagoda of Juthia is more celebrated for its
sacredness than its size, or the splendor of its architecture. It is, nevertheless,
a building of some very striking features. It is situated without the city, upon
a broad and commanding terrace, elevated considerably above the level of the
river-plains. It is approached from the city by a long, brick-paved avenue, wide,
straight, and imposing.
" ADMIT ONE.
" Soondatch and "Woun-Tajac, each holding me by an arm, now directed me
toward one of the doorways of the temple. It was guarded by two men, with
drawn swords, and very fierce aspect, who stood in front of a heavy drapery of
red cloth that concealed the interior of the temple from outside eyes. At a triple
password these men admitted my companions, but crossed their swords before my
breast. Soondatch whispered in the ear of the elder of the two; he started,
gazed at me intently, but did not withdraw his barrier. Woun showed him a
signet. He took it, and reverently placed it upon his forehead; yet still he
refused to admit me. There was a controversy between the doorkeeper and my
Companions; and, at last, the elder guardian whistled shrilly upon a bone-pipe
tied about his neck with a strand of silk. A tall man suddenly appeared, I could
not see from whence. He was middle-aged, athletic, and had a most peculiar.
cunning, self-possessed look of person and intelligence.
exclaimed both of my companions at once; but the man, who was naked, except
for a breech-clout, took no notice of them. He put hi* .hand heavily, but not un¬
kindly, upon my breast, gave me a piercing, long look, and said in excellent
French, * Are you a brave man?'—' Try me !' I said. Instantly, without another
word, he bandaged my eyes with a part of the long white robe I wore; he
snapped his fingers suddenly, whispering in my ears, 'Not a word, for your life !'
and the next moment I found myself seized in the hands of several strong men,
and borne some distance along a devious way, ascending and descending several
times. At last I was put down; the bandage was quietly removed ; and I found
myself squatted on a stone-floor, between Soondatch and Woun-Tajac, who, with
bowed heads, and faces partly shrouded in their white robes, squatted like statues
of Buddha, their knees and shins close to the ground, their haunches resting
upon their heels, their hands spread palms downward upon their knees, their eyes
deflected, and a look of devout reverence and abstracted meditation in their
countenances. The light was dim to my unaccustomed eyes, but all around, as
far as I could see, were white-robed worshippers crouched in the same attitude
of silent reverence.
"a weird scene.
" By degrees, as my eyes grew used to the dim gloom, I began to look about
me. The place was a square vault, so lofty that I could not see the ceiling, and
I should say not less than a hundred paces long and wide. All around the sides
rose gigantic columns, carved into images of Buddha always, yet with a thousand
variations from the central plan, a thousand freaks of fancy, a thousand gro-
tesqueries, through which shone, the more effectively for the departures, the
eternal calm, the stagnant, imperturbed ecstasy of apathy of Buddha's remarkable
face, with the great pendant ears, and the eyes looking out beyond you into the
supreme wistlessness of Nieban— a face that once seen can never be forgotten.
By degrees I came to see the plan of this evidently subterranean vault, and to
look with wonder upon the simple grandeur of its massive architecture, which
was severely plain, except so far as the carving of the great columns went. At
the farthest end of the hall, resting against the columns, was a raised dais or plat¬
form, covered with red cloth. This stage was raised between three and four feet
above the floor of the vault, and was about thirty-five or forty feet deep and one
hundred and fifty broad. Behind it a curtain of red cloth hung down from the
capitals of the towering columns. In front of the stage, just about the spot