As a young man, Amaru had become very dissatisfied with life; he felt useless and bored, and finally he decided to end it all. He took a very sharp knife from his house and went to a lonely place he knew not far from the village.
When he arrived at his chosen spot, he came upon a pillar of stones. But Amaru was astonished and dropped his knife--for he saw, not a pile of rocks, but a most beautiful woman! Amaru had never seen such a beautiful woman, and he promptly fell in love with her.
He went closer and fell on his knees. “Beautiful one,” he said, “you are like a glowing lotus flower. One smile from you would make me happy!”
But she just stared silently at a spot somewhere above Amaru’s head. And what else could be expected from a pillar of stones? But Amaru was of course deluded.
He thought for a while. He said to himself, “I will bring her some sweets. Then she will notice me.”
So he ran to his house and made up a basket of all the sweet things he could find. Then he ran back as fast as he could, hoping she would still be there. Of course she was, but still she would not even look at him. Amaru removed his special clay dish, one that he had made and decorated himself, from the basket, put the sweets in it, and set it at her feet.
“Beautiful lady,” he said, “please accept my offering, and smile at me!”
Just then a green snake emerged from a hole in the base of the pillar. “Foolish boy,” hissed the snake, “this is no woman, but simply a pile of stones. I should know. I have been living here all my life! Now go home and leave me in peace!” And the snake extended his head to the dish, ate up all the sweets, and returned to the depths of the earth.
Amaru completely ignored the snake. But he noticed that his offerings were now gone, and that the beautiful lady still stared with no expression at something in the far distance. He sat down and thought. And he worked out a plan.
For several weeks, Amaru did everything he could to attract his lady’s attention. He quickly learned to play a few simple melodies on the wooden flute, and he serenaded her for several hours every day. He wrote pages and pages of poetry, some of it rather good, and laid them at her feet. He brought gifts of every size and colour. (And, when Amaru went home at night, the green snake enriched himself with them.) Amaru had never been so busy! Without noticing it, he now had a purpose in life.
Finally, he began to suspect that all this was simply not enough. So, one day he knelt at her feet, touching his head to the ground, and said, “O wonderful creature, from this day hence you will be my God. No more shall I worship at the temple, but I shall offer all my prayers to you!”
Just then a holy man happened to be walking by, and, overhearing Amaru’s declaration, said to Amaru, “Foolish boy, you are speaking to a pillar made of stones!” But Amaru ignored him, and looked up at his lady instead. And she had turned her head and was smiling at the holy man!
“O, Swami, she smiles at you!” cried Amaru. But the holy man just turned to walk on. Amaru, frustrated, began to cry, the tears falling to the ground at her feet. But the pillar of stones was unmoved.
Then he knew what he must do. He scrabbled about in the bushes, looking for the knife that he had discarded weeks ago. With an exclamation of joy, he caught it up and ran over to his lady. His eyes flashed with fervour as he slashed his wrists and held them so that the blood flowed at her feet.
Then, a strange thing happened. Amaru no longer saw a beautiful woman standing there, but simply a pillar made of stones. And suddenly he remembered the green snake and the holy man.
Amaru began to laugh--weakly, because he had lost much blood. But as he laughed, the blood began to flow back into his veins, and then he laughed all the harder, and finally the cuts in his wrists healed up, and still he laughed. He lay on his back and beat the ground with his arms and laughed and laughed until he cried and the tears flowed all over the grass.
Finally, he picked himself up, still chuckling, kicked the knife into the bushes, and went home.