Manfred Kyber - The King Travelling Entertainer

An Indian Fairy-Tale

Table of Contents
Mantao's Birth in the Lotos Flower
The Queen of the Distant Shore
The Little One with the Elephant Ears and the Little Monkey
The City of the Colorful Lights
Princess Amaranth
The City of the Extinguished Lights
The Kingdom of the Distant Shore

Mantao's Birth in the Lotos Flower

I want to tell you the story of Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, and I want to tell how he was born in a lotos flower, as the night spread its carpet of stars over the holy land of India.  It is many, many thousand years ago, and if I tell you that, it will seem to you as if many, many thousand years were a long time.  But you do not have to think that.  Many, many thousand years is a quite short time span, it is really no time at all — many, many thousand years, that is as if it had happened right now that Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, was born in a lotos flower.  You just have to think that you were sitting in a lotos flower yourself, its slender, cool petals were covering you, and the stars were looking into its wide opened calyx.  The lotus flower's calyx is a miracle calyx, do not forget that — and now, the miracle calyx begins to spin, and you are in it.  At first, it is spinning slowly, then faster and ever faster — it is as if the stars were revolving around you, and colorful pictures were going though your mind in an endless line, pictures of the life of ghosts, people and animals, of the growth of the plants and the glittering of jewels, endless lifes, peculiarly intertwined in one another and connected with you with fine threads, as if they were belonging to you, and yet at the same time separated from you, because you are rocking in the lotus flower's lap and are looking on it with eyes that have become timeless.  Look, you have to think like this — then, what are many, many thousand years?  Past, present and future silently and imperceptibly merge into one, and it is to you as if it had happened only today that Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, was born in a lotos flower.

Think that it was today.  The night spread its carpet of stars over the holy land of India, and on the star's carpet, an angel descended slowly and solemnly down to the earth, and this angel carried Mantaos' soul in the arms, to lay it cautiously and lovingly into the lotos flower's calyx.  When I say that he carried Mantao's little soul, you do not need to understand that in a way as if Mantao had had a little soul, poor of depth in feelings and weak in spiritual powers.  Mantao, the king travelling entertainer's soul, was big and strong and rich, and when it moved its pinions up above the stars, then it sounded as if bells were ringing in peace and evening.  But still, it was only a human soul — and look, when the angel, that every human soul has as its guardian, carries his entrusted soul from the world above the stars down to this world, then the human soul becomes weak and tired as a little child, because it is a long way and it takes long until the human soul becomes used to the earth and to the different ground, that bears more thorns than roses.  You all know that, because you all were born on this earth and your angel carried you down on the carpet of stars, although you have forgotten it.  But you will certainly remember if I describe it again to you.  It is as if one became very heavy as if one had had wings, sounding, supporting pinions — and these had been taken from one, so that one does not know how to move.  It is as if the air became thick and opaque and one could no more see and hear well, one had to learn all that again completely anew — one had to learn breathing and living anew, but slower, heavier and more sluggishly.  It is as thick clothes that one has put on, the lithe limbs are as if wrapped in cotton wool, and one is tired, tired and dazed.  But the lotos flower is spinning, spinning even faster and faster, so that one becomes quite giddy — and many fine threads spin from the flower's calyx over to the ground on that we shall now live and that bears more thorns than roses.  The threads hold ever tighter and tighter, and now one feels clearly that one will have to remove them all in a long, arduous work until one may again ascend to the illuminated distances from that one came, to the world above the stars.  Now, you remember, don't you, and you will now also understand why Mantao's soul was so small, that it looked as if the angel carried a little child on his arms.

Silently and cautiously, the angel laid Mantao's soul into the lotos flower's calyx.  He looked serious and sad in the course of this because he knew that he was saying goodbye to him, although he would always be around him, invisibly, and he knew that Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, would travel a heavy and lonely path until he would again find home to the world above the stars.  It is not an easy thing for an angel when he escorts his entrusted soul to the earth, especially if it is a great and strong soul, to which the others cling to — that goes its path not only for itself, but also for others and that shall hold its shield above all that breathes.  It is really better to receive this soul again when it returns home to the world above the stars.

The Sublime bless your path, the angel said, and he bless your path for all those, for which you went out, humans, animals and all life.  I will take care of the chain of the things for you, I will follow the threads of your life and hold your star above you in Brahma's temple and in the gutter's filth.  This way, I will always be with you, and yet, there is a separation, because heaven and earth are intertwined and nonetheless separated.  Now I am saying goodbye to you.  It is a hard path that you will travel.  Not often are such souls lowered into the lotus flower's calyx.  Because you will be a king travelling entertainer, and you will become very, very sad when you understand that, and yet, you will become very happy, because your path is a path on which the things merge into one another.  The Sublime bless your path.  More than others, your path needs the Sublime's blessing, because it is the path of the king travelling entertainers.

The lotos flower was spinning and spinning.  Countless threads emerged from it and clinged ever tighter and tighter to the earth' soil that bears more thorns than roses, and on that Mantao should now live and travel his path.

There, the angel bowed and said goodbye to Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.

But one of the many threads that had spun from the lotos flower to the earth, pulled Mantao towards his parental couple.  They were poor people, and they belonged to the despised caste of the Paria.  But his mother believed that she had given birth to a prince.

When I gave birth to this boy, she told her husband, it seemed to me as if I beheld one of the lotos flowers in which the angles carry the children's souls, and it seemed to me as if this child's lotos flower was bigger and more beautiful than the flowers of the children's souls usually are.  It is a prince, whom I have given birth to.

All mothers think that, the man said, I am not a king and you are a Paria.  Maybe, he will become a travelling entertainer at a king's court.

Soon afterwards, the plague came to the little village, in that Mantao lived with his parents.  It was a terrible guest.  Skinny and gauntly, it went through the lanes with hopping steps and called the people to the dance of death with its whimpering flute.  Everyone hid from it, because at whom it looked from its deep-set eyes, had to follow it until he dropped lifeless.  It did not look at everyone, because even it is a envoy of the Sublime and sees only those who it is allowed to see.  But when all to many had to follow it, the last gathered and left the village and went out on the country road, many, many days far, to search for a place through whose lanes the plague did not dance.  Among these last were also Mantao's parents.  The man pushed a little cart in front of him with his few possessions, and the woman carried the child on the arms, of whom she believed that it was a king's son.  But the plague danced after them and first called the man until he followed it and dropped lifeless.  There, the woman left the cart behind and went on, alone with her child.  But the following day, the plague looked at her and she sat down at the ditch's rim, to die.  She pressed her child to herself once more and begged the others, they shall take it with them and care for it.  But everyone feared the plague and the woman whom it had marked, and they let the dying one alone with the child in her arms.

There, the woman imploringly held out her arms to the plague and begged: Do not take me away from the child which will starve without me, let me live.

Suddenly, the plague looked different than usual.  It no longer was a skinny, gauntly skeleton with deep-set eyes — and it turned friendly to the woman in the ditch.

That, I cannot do, it said sadly, I have to call as I was given order.  But your child will not starve, you will still be alive when you give it into somebody else's arms.  But then, I will call you, as gentle as I have never before called anybody.

And the plague turned its head in love and peace and went away.  You see, life and death often have a different face and the plague was more compassionate than the people.  But as the woman looked up again, she beheld at that place where the plague had stood, an old man in the miserable clothes of the begging friars, and with a pointed, strange hat on the head, as the Lamas in Tibet wear it.

Give me your child, he said, I will carry it to my home, to the holy mountains of Tibet, and I will raise it in all wisdom of the Sublime.

Then, the woman gave him her child.

It is a king's son, she said.

I know that, the man from Tibet said.

If you know that, I will readily give you my child, the woman said, and our house's good deities may protect it.  Our house is abandoned, but there were friendly, little deities who lived in it, and certainly, they have moved with us and are standing beside my child.

Don't you see that a big, beautiful angel is standing beside your child? the old man from Tibet asked.

But the woman had closed her eyes and breathed no more.  The plague had called her, quite as it had promised, so gently as it had called no-one before.

But the old man took the child onto his arms and carried it cautiously and carefully, as any mother has ever carried a child in the arm, to his lonely home, to the holy mountains of Tibet.

They walked days and nights, and beside them, the angel was walking who had carried the child's soul over the carpet of stars, to the lotos flower.

And the old man from Tibet and the angel talked to each other about Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.


The Queen of the Distant Shore

Now, you have to imagine that you had lived many years together with Mantao and the old man, up on Tibet's plateau, where a man's foot only seldom steps upon.  It is a bleak, lonely country, ice and snow come and go on it, and the wild winds sing their laments in its crevasses.  But into the two people's little cabin, no other eyes looked than the eyes of the sun, the moon, and the stars, and they saw no other guests around them than the animals of the wilderness that were Mantao's youth playmates.  The mountain goats gave their milk and the forest bees their honey, out of brotherhood and for Brahmas blessing.  No people Mantao had met, but the old man from Tibet had introduced him into all depths of nature; he knew the arduous journey of the beetles that make a pilgrimage, and to whose weak legs, a grain of sand appeared big and eminent; and he knew the flight of the eagles that circled around the mountains in their wings' gliding flap, so high that their summits appeared small and slight to them.

Brahma is in both of them, the old man from Tibet said and took off his strange, pointed cap for the beetles in the dust and for the eagles in the ether, behold, you have to know and love the paths of both of them, and you will go the paths of both of them on the journey of your life: the path of the arduous and the path of the great that circle above the mountains' summits.  For you are Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, and you will walk the way of the Sublime.

Mantao looked on the beetles and on the eagles, and he saw how the grains of sand were small and appeared big, and how the mountains were big and appeared small, and he learned to recognize how the things are intertwined for the one who looks on big and small things with the same eyes of devotion.

When Mantao had become a beautiful youth, still not knowing what beauty is, and still unsuspecting what it means to be different than a child, the old man called for him and said to him:

Behold, you have become big and beautiful, but I have become very old and very tired.  It is about time that you go your path, and that I go away from you.

There, Mantao was frightened, because he loved the old man above all else.

Let me go with you, he begged, and for the first time, he was overcome with the feeling what it means to be no longer a child.  Take me with you to the place where you are going to.

Where I am going to, I cannot take you with me, the old man said, for, look, I am going away from this earth.

Shall that mean that you have to die? Mantao asked.

No, I do not have to die, the old man said and smiled, dying is a word of the valleys, but I am going to the mountains.  Look, I have taught you all the names of the mountains around you, in the years of your childhood — Brahma bless your childhood because it was a gift of grace for me old man —, all mountains we have known and loved together, and we have known the hours when the sun rose above their giant bodies, and when it bathed them in gold while setting.  We have observed the strange shapes that the moonlight weaved around their white firns, we have known them as we have known the beetles and the eagles.  But of all mountains, I knew and loved the Lischanna most, not because its summit looks like a crown, not because its massive limbs are as beautiful as a temple building, also not because it is great and no-one is mightier than it.  I have known and loved it above all others because I knew that, one time, I would begin the great way home on it, to the Sublime from whom I came.  I will not die up there, do not say that, you, who may also never die.  I will take off my old, tired body, as I did every night, as I often did when I was awake, when my mind was allowed to work itself loose of its bonds and when I was looking with inner eyes over mountains and valleys and on the confused wonders of this earth.  Now let us climb the Lischanna, that I may forever take off my old body, as an old garment, and behold the Sublime from face to face.

Mantao was silent.  But the old man held out his arms one more time over the slope on which his cabin stood, and blessed the beetles and the eagles and the mountain goats and the forest bees that had fed him, with Brahma's blessing.  Then, he went for his last walk with shining eyes, and Mantao followed him.

Halfway up the mountain, the old man stopped and turned to Mantao.

Behold, he said, the valleys below you in the evening sunshine, now you have to go there, because your path now is the path to the people's valleys, until you will find back onto your holy mountain some day.  These valleys are the holy land of India, that is full of confused wonders.  Colorful lights they burn in the valleys, but they are lights that will soon extinguish.  You will be strange to them, to the people in the valleys, maybe they will take you for a beggar, for a travelling entertainer, but you, do not forget that you are a king of the mountains.  Let us say goodbye now, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer, let us say goodbye for this life — and I thank you for your childhood years that have made my soul sunny.  Do not thank me, this thanks give to all that breathes, give it to those whose lights will extinguish.  The Sublime bless you, you who has not been my child and yet has been my child, the child of my soul and of my mind for a time that is over now.

With these words, the old man took off his cap, this strange pointed cap, that was still the same since the day long gone, when the old man had taken the little child into his arms, on the country road.  The cap had become a lot dirtier and more inconspicuous during these many years, but it appeared to Mantao, as if it was a crown that the old man took off, to uncover his head for goodbye to whom he had carried to his mountains as a little child.

There, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, fell on his knees and wept bitterly.

But the old man went on with firm and straight steps, out on his beloved mountain Lischanna and his white hair was flying in the evening wind.

Mantao gazed after him until he could see him no more.  Then, the sun set over the summits of Tibet's mountains.


Now, Mantao slept the last night in the cabin of his childhood.  It seemed to him as if it had been a royal palace, decorated with the pictures of his child soul and the old man's soul who also had a child soul, and who had now gone from him.  For the first time, Mantao saw that the royal palace of his childhood was a miserable cabin, and he fell asleep lonely and sadly.  But the following morning, he wanted, as the old man had told him on parting, to descend from the mountains to the valleys, to India's confused wonders to which his soul was pulling him, although he did not know it.

At midnight, he awoke, and then it appeared to him as if the walls of his cabin were strangely transformed, as if they had become slender petals of a lotos flower into whose calyx the stars were looking.  But from the lotos flower, nothing but fine, tight threads were spinning, far, far out and down to the valleys of India — and it was to him, as if he had to follow these fine threads, with which he felt interlinked, he did not know how.

That is the chain of the things, a soft voice said, I will take care of your chain of the things, as I have promised it you, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.

It was the voice of his angel who was standing at his head and was looking down on him.  But Mantao did not see him.

Mantao was looking into the stars.  And it was to him, as if in front of his eyes, the shape of a woman of unspeakable beauty was forming from the night's blue, gold-interweaved glimmer — so unreachably divine and sublime and yet so strangely intimate with all that was in him, as if all love that he had ever felt for the arduous beetles and the circling eagles, for the old man and for the mountain goats and forest bees, had become one in this female figure above the stars.

I am you, although I am now separated from you the woman above the stars said and smiled.  Look, my white limbs are built by your thoughts, my garment is weaved by your good work, and all love and all yearning that breathe in you, are my diadem.  I am you, and one day, you will be completely united with me.  Build my limbs, weave my garment, illuminate my diadem with the jewels of your love.  The more you adorn me, the more I will love you, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.

When will I be completely united with you? Mantao shouted, and it was to him, as if his whole nature was in flames that he had never known before.

If you will be completely yourself, Mantao, my sweetheart.  When you have gone though the valleys of India and though its confused wonders, when you know the city of the colorful lights and the city of the extinguished lights, when you return home again over the holy mountain in Tibet, to the kingdom of the distant shore.  For, behold, I am the queen of your distant shore, who you will search on all your ways until you have found her.

But how shall I find the kingdom of my distant shore, and you in it, queen of the distant shore? Mantao asked.

You have to wear a shield, a sword and a crown, and I will give them to you.  This sword shall protect you and those for who you are going your path.  You shall hold this shield above all that breathes and calls you for help.  But your crown, you shall wear invisibly and nobody will see it on this earth.  You will only see your crown yourself in the kingdom of the distant shore.  You will be a king with an invisible crown, and they will take you for a travelling entertainer.  The Sublime bless you, Mantao, my sweetheart, my travelling entertainer.  Think of your queen of the distant shore.

Mantao fell asleep again, and when he awoke the next morning, a shield and a sword of simple work and miserable appearance were laying beside him.  But he could not discover a crown on himself.

Then, he took up the shield and the sword, blessed the beetles and the eagles, the mountain goats and the forest bees, said goodbye to the cabin of his childhood and slowly descended the mountains down to the valleys of India.


The Little One with the Elephant Ears and the Little Monkey

As Mantao had come to India's valleys, he was astonished at the splendour and wealth of life that Brahma had poured over this land of the wonders from his divine creator bowl.  Flowers of such shape and such fragrance, and animals of such strange shape, he had not seen up in the lonely mountains of Tibet, and he did not suspect that many of these marvellous flowers contained deadly poison, and some of the beautiful animals were wild and rapacious.  He blessed them with the Sublime's blessing, and the poison flowers bent their calxyes to conceal their deadly smell from him, and the wild animals thanked him for his blessing and gave way.  Even the serpents rolled their glimmering bodies in front of him to form pleasant patterns, and the tiger, India's king cat, purred so loud that even his wife and the little tiger children unanimously assured that they had not yet heard him purring so lovely, although he was a master in purring as only very few are.

As Mantao had walked through the whole wilderness, one day, he saw a strange figure that came straight up to him and was stranger than the curiosities that he had seen up to that.  It was a quite small little man with immensely big elephant ears, and the ears were so big and the little man so small that it was completely covered by the ears.  Yes, and when it walked, the ears were still dragging a little bit on the ground, and the little one took them up like a train to protect them.

May you live long, king Mantao, the little one said, and bowed so deeply that the elephant ears swirled up the dust from the ground.

Where do you know my name from, Mantao asked, and that I am a king?

I have heard that, the little one with the elephant ears, because, with these ears, I hear everything.

He straightened up again and arranged the ears in pretty folds on his back, like a cloak.

I can imagine that you can hear a lot with these ears, Mantao said, but isn't it strange that such a small man is bearing such big ears and even elephant ears?  Isn't it very laborious to bear such ears?

Do not say that, the little one replied, look, it is a mighty grace that I have these ears.  The old and wise elephant Mammamutra gave them to me.  I once bandaged his wound.  One learns to hear better when one has bandaged the wounds of others, the elephant Mammamutra said and, out of pure favour, gave me these ears, that he had made from his own skin, thanks to a slight magic.  He had a lot of skin left, seldom have I seen someone who had the skin hanging at the body in such innumerable folds, like Mammamutra, the old and wise elephant.  He really had it left, but it was nevertheless a very big grace, because since I have these ears — the Sublime bless Mammamutra and his children and grandchildren —, since that time, I hear things as faint as a plant's sprout breaking its hull in the earth's lap.  I hear the good's thoughts and the evil's intrigues, and so I heard that Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, has come to the valleys of India.

How have you heard that? Mantao asked, doesn't one step sound like the other, unless it is well-known to you for years?

Look, I heard a lotos flower grow, the little one with the elephant ears said, and an angel laid a child's soul into the calyx.  It was your soul, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.  I heard how the lotos flower was spinning , and heard how many fine threads were spinning out of it, to the mountains of Tibet and to the valleys of India.  I need not hear your steps; because you are walking in accordance with the threads that pull you.

Don't I walk on this earth with firm steps, as I want, and where I wish?, Mantao asked proudly and hit at the sword at his hip.

That sounds so outwardly to human ears, the little one said, and rustled cheerfully with his elephant ears, but if one hears with Mammamutra's ears — the Sublime bless him and his most distant relatives —, then one hears how the threads are spun that carry the steps after them.  Look, the whole earth is interwoven with such fine threads.  There are ones, that you are free from, the others attract you, and you follow them without knowing why.  That is the chain of the things, and you are connected to it out of former lifes where you were walking on the earth in a different shape, or out of you inner nature that the angel had lowered into the lotos flower's calxy, together with all that you have been and will be.  So the whole life is like a carpet, artistically woven from fine threads, and you are in the middle of it, to weave out its pattern, to work threads lose and to connect threads, until you are free from all the threads that hold you, and you can carry your finished pattern home into your kingdom of the distant shore.

Just to this kingdom of the distant shore, I want to go, Mantao said, since I beheld my queen of the distant shore, the last night that I slept in my the cabin of my childhood.  Cannot you, who hears everything, tell me where my queen of the distant shore is now?

Your queen of the distant shore is in her and your kingdom above the stars, and she is waiting for that you give her a jewel today, that she can plait into her diadem.

How shall I find a jewel here in the wilderness? Mantao asked.

Go and weave your carpet, the little one with the elephant ears said, weave your carpet, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.  But I will wrap myself in my elephant ears and sleep, because that is what these marvellous ears are also good for.  When I wrap myself in these ears, I rest like in a blanket that warms and protects me, so that no snail's tooth can penetrate it, and no cold morning dew.  Thanks to these ears, and the Sublime bless Mammamutra and his children and grandchildren and the smallest babies of his whole elephant family.

With these words, the little one wrapped himself into his elephant ears, so that he completely disappeared in it because Mammamutra had designed these ears exceedingly generously.


Mantao had gone his path further and thought about how he could possibly weave his life's carpet, and how he may still today succeed in finding a jewel for the diadem of his queen of the distant shore.

There he heard, away from his way, a weakly crying in the bushes, similar to the weeping of a little child.  He followed the crying sounds and found a little monkey that was sitting, whimpering and wailing, next to his dead monkey mother, and looked at him imploringly, with its child eyes.  Mantao brought it fruits and water, but the little monkey neither ate nor drank anything.  It remained cowering on the ground and wailed.

Its body is not hungering, but its soul is hungering, Mantao thought, and he did not know how he should help the little creature.  There, he heard a voice talking beside him.

Think of an old woman who died in the ditch, the voice beside him said, she was a Paria, and the plague had looked at her from its deep-set eyes, and she was imploring the people to take care of her child, but nobody helped her.  Then, the old man came and took the child on his arms and carried it to the mountains of Tibet.  Think of it, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.

It was his angel who was standing beside him and was talking.  Mantao heard his voice but he did not see his angel.

There, he remembered the queen of the distant shore and his shield, and he raised his shield and held it above the little monkey.  It was the first creature, above which Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, was holding his shield.

The little monkey stopped wailing.  It let itself be taken up by Mantao and wrapped its thin, weak, fur-covered arms around his neck.

This shield of simple work and little appearance must contain a strange magic power, Mantao thought and an idea rose in him, of what a holy task it is to carry such a shield and to hold it above all that breathes.

Now, Mantao had found his companion, and he walked his path further with the little monkey.

The angel walked beside them, invisibly.

A little monkey is your companion, he said, look, now the people will laugh at you and say that you are a travelling entertainer when you are carrying a shield and sword, and a monkey accompanies you.  Let the people say it.  After all, you are a king, greater than all their kings, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.

Above the stars, a human mother and a monkey mother were shaking hands, an old man with a strange, pointed cap was glad, and the queen of the distant shore was weaving a sparkling jewel into her diadem.

But Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, left the wilderness and stepped out on the road of life, together with his little monkey.


The City of the Colorful Lights

The road of life that Mantao had stepped onto, was dusty and ugly for one who came from the Indian wilderness' velvet carpet of plants and from Tibet's snow-washed mountain paths.  Hesitatingly, Mantao put his foot on the path that thousands upon thousands had been walking before him and that he was walking now, himself only one of the thousands.  He nearly longed for the mountains' pure loneliness, but he was young and the life on the road was colored, noisy and colorful, and his youth spun threads into this strange life.  The little monkey walked beside him, curiously and a little bit frightened.

Ever more colorful and more packed the road of life became, the farer the two companions were walking.  It did not become cleaner and more beautiful, but one became gradually used to it now.  Countless people, men, women and children were running around all over the place, all of them dressed differently and of a different nature.  Many among them were of Mantao's bronze color, who silently went their way and talked seldom and softly, these were India's people.  Yellow little people with short legs were among them, who shouted and chattered; and beautiful, calm figures of whitish glimmering, ivory skin color were riding on adorned dromedaries whose heads were nodding at every step, so that the little, silvern bells at the halter were sounding together.  Those were alien travellers from the distant countries around Samarkand.  But among the silent and chattering mass, a row of oxen carts stretched like an endless chain, that, loaded with all sorts of bales of goods, were slowly and measured pushing the creaking and shrieking wheels through the road's dust.  Some were carrying colored tents with flapping pennants, covered with rugs, from which every now and then, a woman's veiled head was looking, only to disappear again quickly; or a parrot with a plumage of garish green, yellow and red appeared, and annoyedly and furiously bitched the passers-over.  That pleased the little monkey, so that it grinned and rubbed its hands of fun.  But soon, it became tired and Mantao had to take it on the arm.

Look the travelling entertainer, the people shouted, he carries shield and sword and a monkey on the arms.

That were the first words that Mantao heard from the people.

Look the travelling entertainer, travelling entertainer, travelling entertainer, a colorful parrot screeched and waggled his head funnily to and fro, like a scholar who expresses his criticism and his displeasure.

Can you tell kings and travelling entertainers apart so exactly? Mantao asked and smiled.  But his smile was not a travelling entertainer's smile.

Travelling entertainers seldom have such beautiful features and such elegantly proportioned limbs, a woman from Sarmakand said and peeked from her carpet tent.

He is talking peculiarly and he is dressed strangely, similar to the lonely wise from Tibet, someone of the crowd said, let him walk his way in peace, maybe he is a saint and his curse may strike you.

To me it seems, he is not a saint, the woman from Sarmakand said, and drew her tent's rug again.

I do not curse you, Mantao said, how shall I curse you, as you do not know if one is a king, a travelling entertainer, or a saint?  But tell me, where does this broad and dusty road lead to, on which so many people are crowding, as if it was worth to reach a marvellous goal?

You are asking while you are still walking this road yourself?, a grocer shouted, who lead his richly loaded oxen carts, possibly, you are still a travelling entertainer, that you are walking a road without purpose and goal, and without knowing where your way will lead you.

Many believe to have a goal and a purpose, but the purpose and the goal of life are not in your loaded oxen carts; many believe to walk their way and to know their way, and nevertheless wander towards where the threads are pulling them, an old begging friar said and murmured prayers to himself.

A little girl was playing with a ball and threw it right in front of Mantao's feet.

It is the city of the colorful lights, where we are going to, it said.

There, a purple glow was dipping into the fading sunset, darker and ever darker, the dusk's shadows were hastening over the land, and in the broad road's distance, the first lights were blazing up, of the city of the colorful lights.


It had become night, when they reached the city of the colorful lights.  But in the city of the colorful lights, one did not celebrate night's rest.  Though the winding, narrow lanes, people were flooding with festive lights in their hands, that they were carrying on high poles; and high above the crowded mass, baldachins of velvet and silk were swaying on the broad backs of adorned elephants.  It was if the whole broad road of life had been jumbled up in a tangle and was radiating all the flashing lights in its various being.

In front of the houses' artistically carved wooden doors, colorful lights were burning in all colors, and from the covered window openings, a subdued, veiled light came through, and the muted sound of stringed instruments.

Mantao was wandering helplessly with the little monkey on the arm though all the unknown confusion in the city of the colorful lights.  Nobody noticed him here, and he did not dare to ask someone for accommodation, because all the people seemed to him to be full of restlessness, but he was looking for tranquility and for a roof, beneath that silence and peace were.

We already wanted to leave the city of the colorful lights and sleep out in the open country, as he saw a young girl who was standing in front of her house, below a colored light, and who scrutinized him with curious eyes.  Her bronze limbs were decorated with golden jewelry and dainty chains, and in the artistically plaited hair, she wore a garland of red flowers that Mantao did not know and that gave off an overpowering smell.  The golden jewelery and the chains were clinking when the girl moved, and Mantao already wanted to turn away and walk on, because the strange one appeared to him as strange as the others in the city of the colorful lights.  Then he looked into her eyes and saw that these eyes, however loud all was around her, were silent and tranquil and deep, similar to the mountain lakes in Tibet.

Will you give me accommodation, Mantao asked, me and the monkey on the arm?

Of course, the girl said, enter my house.  I am Myramar, the dancer, and I have learned nothing but to laugh and to light the colorful lights in my house.

One day, you will learn to weep and your colorful lights will extinguish, Mantao said, look, I am Mantao, a king from the mountains of Tibet, but the people in the streets have called me a travelling entertainer.  I thank you for your accommodation, but I have no reward to give for it than Brahma's blessing.

I do not want a reward from you, the dancer said, because I love you, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.

There, it was to Mantao, as if the dancer had recognized something in him, that was in himself, when she called him by that name, and he followed her into the house.  Rugs, soft as silk, laid in it, spread on the floor so that one walked over it on silent soles; bread and fruits laid on a little table of gilded rosewood, and at the wall stood, half hidden by a heavy curtain, a crimson bed, covered with the same red flowers that the girl wore in the hair.  But above all was the subdued light of a hanging lamp, made from alabaster.

Do you want to give the monkey the same accommodation as me?, Mantao asked.

There, the dancer laughed, so that her white teeth flashed between the dark lips, took the little monkey on the lap and fed it with fruits from the table of rosewood.

For that, I will one day hold my shield above you, when your light is extinguished, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer said.

Do not talk of extinguished lights, the dancer said, look, this is the city of the colorful lights, and princess Amaranth reigns over it.  We are allowed to laugh, dance and burn out colorful lights night after night, but we are not allowed to talk of extinguished lights, that, princess Amaranth has forbidden in her kingdom.

One day, all colorful lights must extinguish, Mantao said, it is better to talk of it than to be silent.  Where do those of you go, whose lights are extinguished?

There is also a city of the extinguished lights, the dancer said, but princess Amaranth has forbidden to talk of it.  I also do not want to talk about it, because my colorful lights are burning and I want to dance and to laugh, because I have learned nothing else.

She put the little monkey in the middle of a lot of silken, embroidered cushions and started to dance, first slowly, then faster and ever faster, that the golden jewelery and the fine chains at her bronze limbs were clinking and the fragrant flowers were falling from her hair, one by one.  The little monkey was pleased and was beating the time for it with its long tail, that it alternately rolled up and unrolled, according to the melody's sounds.  But the melody was the one of an ancient Indian love song.

Fainter and ever fainter, the sounds of the old Indian love song became, that the dancer was humming for herself, and as it ended, Myramar bent and kissed Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.  Above them, the hanging lamp from alabaster was burning, and around them was the night, India's soft, velvet night with its thousand dreams and thousands upon thousands of wonders…


Around morning, Mantao awoke of a rustling in the room's corner, as if big elephant ears are moving.  There stood the little one with the elephant ears, moved the ears to and fro and was audibly rustling with them.

Look, said the little one with the elephant ears, I heard with my elephant ears — the Sublime bless Mammamutra and his children and grandchildren —, I heard how your lotos flower was spinning fine threads towards this girl in the city of the colorful lights.  She is only a dancer, not a king's companion, but she has given you accommodation out of love, she has made a bed for your little monkey in silken cushions.  Do not cut her thread completely, my travelling entertainer.

Mantao looked at the sleeping dancer.

I will hold my shield above her, when her light is extinguished, he said.

The little one with the elephant ears rustled and disappeared the same mysterious way as he had come.

The sun rose and the city of the colorful lights awoke to new life.


Princess Amaranth

Around that time, it happened that princess Amaranth was looking into her magic mirror, to find out which strangers had again come to her city of the colorful lights.  Because princess Amaranth was a sorceress, and she had inherited the mirror from her old uncle who was such an evil sorcerer that he had eventually bursted out of nothing but malice and nothing had been left over of him as only this mirror.  But the mirror was of finest, brightly polished silver, equipped with all sorts of strange signs, and when princess Amaranth looked into it, she beheld in it all that was new in the city of the colorful lights, and what was worth for her to know or even to possess.  That all she saw in small, sharp pictures and in all colors of life.

When princess Amaranth was now looking again into her magic mirror, she saw all the many people, dromedaries and oxen, who had come into the city of the colorful lights, but there was nothing among it that she wished to possess.  She ruled greater and more beautiful people than those who had come, and her draft oxen and mounts were more beautiful and nobler than the others from Hindostan and from Sarmakand.  But eventually she beheld Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, in her mirror.  She saw him lying on his crimson bed, and beside him, leaned against the wall, stood his shield and his sword.

This weapons, I must possess!, princess Amaranth shouted and turned pale with agitation.  If I have this shield, it will no more be held above all that breathes, and its protégés belong to me, and with this sword, I will expel even the last angels from the city of the colorful lights.  But if I rule this man who carries both, then I will be prouder than all queens from Hindostan to Ophir.

There princess Amaranth called her servants and sent out couriers to find out who that man was, who had taken accommodation in the dancer's house and who carried such precious weapons.

The couriers returned, laughed and reported that it was a travelling entertainer with a little monkey, and his weapons were plain and simple and not a king's ammunition belt.  But the travelling entertainer's name was Mantao.

Princess Amaranth had already read this name long ago in her secret books, and she knew its meaning.

Fools are you, she shouted, it is no travelling entertainer, but a king, and with royal honours, I will receive him.  My noble knights shall ask him to my throne, bring all riches of my palace that its vaults hold, I will adorn myself for him, as I have never adorned myself for someone!

There, the knights went to bring Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.  But princess Amaranth dressed herself with her most marvellous garment that was embroidered with pearls over and over, and put a diadem of opals on her head. 

When the envoys of Amaranth now came to the dancer's house, they bowed many times and asked Mantao, that he follow them to the princess' throne.

I have to say goodbye to you, Mantao told the dancer, princess Amaranth calls me to her throne.  Thank you for your accommodation and your love.

There, the dancer Myramar wept, who had still laughed yesterday.

Look, Mantao said, I must not belong to any man nor to any woman.  I am a shield-bearer of Brahma and have to go my way as a lonely man, to hold my shield above all that breathes.  We all follow the threads until we have worked them loose.  But the thread that my soul spun to your soul, I will not cut.  The Sublime bless you.  I will hold my shield above you when your light extinguishes.

There, Myramar, the dancer, said goodbye to Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.

But Mantao took his shield and his sword, put the little monkey on his arms and followed the envoys to princess Amaranth's palace.

When Mantao entered the royal hall, princess Amaranth descended from her throne and bowed before him.

Never before such a regal man has entered this hall, she said, but it seems to me, your weapons are not a king's weapons, but the weapons of a travelling entertainer.  Lay them down and choose from my armory what appears most beautiful to you.

Mantao looked around and behold at his feet the most marvellous weapons, shields and swords of such gleam and of such artistic work, as he had never seen before.  But the little monkey whimpered softly and hid under Mantaos shield.  Mantao held his shield and sword tighter.

I will not give away these weapons, he said, they are holy weapons, although the appear to you as the weapons of a travelling entertainer.

I will readily accept your lectures, princess Amaranth said, keep your weapons, as you wish, but stay with me in my royal castle and be my husband.  All power that is in my hands, will I give you and serve you, and you shall fashion the city of the colorful lights even more colorful and more laughing than now.

The ministers looked even more stupid than usual when they heard that the travelling entertainer in the strange, miserable garment should become their king.  Only one minister, an ugly, skinny man, with a single eye on the forehead, smiled cunningly and turned to princess Amaranth.

It won't help you, he whispered, even if he becomes your husband.  His weapons will rule you and the city of the colorful lights.  You have to separate him from the monkey above which he has held his shield first.  Then, you have disarmed him, and you will rule him and whole India.

Mantao looked at the queen and he saw that she was very beautiful.  He also knew that it was a great power that was offered to him.

Look how I have adorned myself for you, princess Amaranth said and smiled humbly.  I have donned my most beautiful diadem, and I have clothed myself in my most marvellous garment of pearls.  Never before have I adorned myself for anybody in this way, Mantao, my king!

Princess Amaranth, Mantao said, it seems to me, your diadem's pearls are cold stones in which no sunlight has got caught.  They are dull and shimmering like bodies of serpents.  I have seen more beautiful diadems than this.

There, princess Amaranth took the diadem from her hair and laid it before herself in the dust.

Princess Amaranth, Mantao said, it seems to me, your garment's pearls are tears that have been wept.  Princess Amaranth, you are only talking of a city of the colorful lights.  Isn't there also a city of the extinguished lights in your kingdom?

I don't know, princess Amaranth said and paled, but if you find the city of the extinguished lights — look, it shall belong to you, and you may make it so happy that it again becomes a city of the colorful lights.

Mantao hesitated and thought.

I am only asking you for one thing, princess Amaranth whispered, and her lips were shaking because she knew that for her, all depended on the granting of this request.

What is it that you are asking me for, princess Amaranth?

Separate yourself from the monkey.  Look, it is a small, ugly animal, and I do not want that the street urchins are running after my royal husband, that the people call him a travelling entertainer and scorn him.

Mantao paled to the lips.  He looked at the little monkey on his arm, and then, he looked into princess Amaranth's eyes, long and deeply.

It seems to me that in the monkey's eyes, there is Brahma's eternal life that knows no contempt.  It seems to me, the monkey's eyes are more beautiful than your eyes, princess Amaranth.

This way, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, turned and left the palace of princess Amaranth and the city of the colorful lights.  And nobody dared to stop him.


But princess Amaranth was mad with rage and disappointment and she called in her whole army against Mantao and his monkey. Bring me both, the travelling entertainer and his monkey, dead or alive, that I can wipe out my humiliation with his blood!

There, cavalrymen and footmen set out and hurried after Mantao and they reached him in a bleak area that laid between the city of the colorful lights and the city of the extinguished lights.  It was at night-time, and Amaranth's trumpets were piercingly calling for the battle against the travelling entertainer and his monkey.

There, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, turned around and held his shield above the little monkey.  Then, he raised his sword high above his head for the first time, and from the sword, terrible flames were jumping, and nobody dared to come near them.  A nameless horror seized the whole army, and cavalrymen and footmen chased back in wild escape to the palace of the princess Amaranth.

Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, still stood for a long time, calm and motionless.  He held his shield above the little monkey, and his sword's terrible flames blazed through the dark night.


But at the same hour when Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, had left the city of the colorful lights, the light of the dancer Myramar extinguished.


The City of the Extinguished Lights

Mantao, the king travelling entertainer walked his path further, and the nearer he came to the city of the extinguished lights, the more people were walking the same way with him.  They were silent, sad people, and in their hands, they held extinguished lights.

Where does this way lead to, that you all are going, so silently and sadly? Mantao asked his mute companions, but nobody answered him.

Finally, a little girl joined him, that carried a broken doll and was weeping silently.  It pointed with the hand towards gray gates and walls that laid in thick fog, and said: That is the city of the extinguished lights.

There, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, knew that he was walking the right way, where his lotos flower's fine threads were pulling him.

When they had arrived at in the city of the extinguished lights, Mantao was looking for accommodation for himself and his monkey.  A such one was easy to find because there was plenty of space in the city of the extinguished lights; dilapidated palaces and temples, ramshackle houses and deep, empty cellar vaults, where rich treasures may once have been stored.

Mantao put himself and the little monkey up in an old temple hall, whose pillars stood there, ramshackle and tilted, as if they carried a heavy guilt of past days, and in whose dark alcove, a statue of Brahma stood.  It was a beautiful, gilded statue but the gold was mat and the spiders spun their webs around India's God.  Mantao did not disturb the spiders because after all, Brahma himself allowed them to weave their silver threads around dull gold of his head.  They were also connected to their human brothers with fine threads, because all is connected in the great chain of the things and all interwoven in the carpet of life.

No light was burning in the city of the extinguished lights; silently and sadly, the people went about their work, and depressedly, the animals were looking for their little food.

But Mantao walked through the died lanes and consoled the silent and sad people and talked to them about their extinguished lights and how one could make them burn again some day.  He also talked to the animals, he helped them to look for their food and told them of a beautiful garden in that they would come again some day.  But for the children, he manufactured toys from fragments and small stones and told them to build with it.

Since that time, there was less weeping in the city of the extinguished lights.  The little monkey walked trustily with Mantao and also talked to the people and animals in its way, enthusiastically and with explanatory gestures of its arms, legs and its tail.  There it happened for the first time, that a child was laughing again in the city of the extinguished lights.  But the Sublime blessed Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, for the reduced tears and the little monkey for a revived laughter.  Because both things were a holy task.

But princess Amaranth's henchmen often passed through the roads, tormented and tortured the people and threatened them, they should under no circumstances give any indication of their city and of their extinguished lights, that no laments and tears would get though to the city of the colorful lights and to the princess' palace.  But when they found somebody, of whom they thought that he may tell the city of the extinguished lights and may spread tidings of it, then they fettered him and threw him into the deepest dungeon from which no more tears and laments could escape.  For there was a secret around the city of the extinguished lights, and nobody should talk about it.

But some day, it happened that the henchmen were again chasing, and they had seized a young woman who was wandering through the lanes with her extinguished light, and they wanted to fetter her in front of the old temple hall in which Mantao lived with his little monkey.  Mantao arrived and held his shield above her and the henchmen fled.

There, the woman with the extinguished light looked into Mantao's face, and the travelling entertainer recognized her.

Now your light is also extinguished, Myramar, my little dancer, he said.

My light extinguished when you left the city of the colorful lights, the dancer said and bowed before him.

But the little monkey rubbed its hands and was very pleased because it had not forgotten that it hat eaten from the dancer's table and slept on her silken cushions.

Didn't I tell you that you would learn to weep and that your light would extinguish? Mantao asked.  Now come with me to my accommodation, as I once came to you, to your accommodation.

I want to serve you, the dancer Myramar said, and her eyes were shining.

No man and no woman may serve me, Mantao said, look, I am Brahma's shield-bearer and I may not belong to any man and to any woman.  Do not serve me, but serve with me in my task in the city of the extinguished lights.

There, the dancer Myramar held out her hands to him.

But Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, kissed her on her forehead and guided her across the threshold of his dilapidated temple.

Since that hour, princess Amaranth's henchmen no longer came to the city of the extinguished lights.


From now on, Myramar, the dancer, followed Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, on all his ways to people and animals, and in the evening, when the dusk's shadows filled the dilapidated temple's hall, she crouched at his feet and held the little monkey on her lap.  The talked to each other in the darkness, because no light burned in the city of the extinguished lights.

Mantao, my sweetheart, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer, the dancer said, will we always talk to each other in the darkness?  Will the lights never again burn in this city of the extinguished lights?

Look, Myramar, my little dancer, Mantao said, this is a question that you do not have to ask me, but that you have to ask your God.  Brahma's statue stands in front of you.  Ask it.

Is a dancer allowed to ask a God? Myramar replied.

It is the same if you are a dancer or a saint, it you want to ask your God, Mantao said, Anybody is allowed to ask him, whose light is extinguished.  But I will go and leave you alone in this night in which you want to ask your god.

And Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, took the little monkey on the arm and walked away from her and left her alone.

But the dancer kneeled in front of Brahma's statue and asked her god.  Hour after hour elapsed, but there was no answer.  The night became darker and ever darker, and its terrible blackness swallowed the faded gold on the godly statue, and the dancer Myramar saw nothing than darkness around her.  Hour after hour elapsed in night and darkness.  Finally, the moonlight fell on the dilapidated temple hall and revealed the dancer's god to her.

There, she looked up and saw that the eyes in Brahma's statue were beginning to live and that its lips were smiling.


Many years had past, and Mantao had become old and tired.  The little monkey, too, played no more as usual, and though his brown fur ran the silver of the old age, and his eyes had a dull shine.

Then, there was a rustling in the air, and in front of them stood the little one with the elephant ears.  The Sublime bless Mammamutra and his children and grandchildren, the little one said, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer, you have become old and tired, and the monkey beside you is longing for the monkeys' paradise in Brahma's lap.  Look, I unfolded my mighty elephant ears and I heard how your lotos flower's threads were gently and silently spinning themselves back from this earth.  The carpet of your life is fully weaved, now go home up on your holy mountain from which you have come.

There, Mantao breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the little one with the elephant ears for his message.

I will stay one more night in the city of the extinguished lights and intercede with Brahma for it, Mantao said, but tomorrow, I will go and look for my holy mountain.

Look, I heard with my elephant ears that you have to stride though a desert before you come to your holy mountain.  Ugly daemons live in it, very unpleasant and disagreeable people, and I do not like to have to do with them.  But after all, you are strong, my king travelling entertainer.  Brahma be with you and your monkey, when you are weaving the last threads into the carpet of your life.  But I will wrap myself in my elephant ears and go to sleep.  Soft and warm are these ears — the Sublime bless Mammamutra and his children and grandchildren and the smallest babies of his whole elephant family!

With these words, the little one disappeared rustlingly in the air.

But at the following morning, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, said goodbye to the dancer Myramar.

Look, I have to say goodbye, he said, and it is a goodbye for this life.  Because I have to walk up on my holy mountain and weave the last threads at the carpet of my life.

Am I allowed to go with you? the dancer asked.

Your time has not yet come, Mantao said, look, you have to wait until your light is burning again, and you have to give the many others in this city of your light's flame.  But you will see me and my little monkey again in the kingdom of the distant shore, some day.  The Sublime bless you, Myramar, my little dancer and my great saint.

That was the first time that Mantao had called her this way, and he turned to her and kissed her many times for goodbye.

Then he took shield and sword, took the monkey on his arms, and left the city of the extinguished lights.

From a high hill in front of the town, he held his shield above it one more time.  Then he turned and left India, the land of the confused wonders, in the way as he once entered it: with a shield and a sword, with an invisible crown and a little monkey on his arm — and went into the desert.


But the dancer was laying on her knees in front of Brahma's statue in nameless longing and was weeping pitifully.

There, a small, clear flame blazed up in the dancer Myramar's extinguished light.


The Kingdom of the Distant Shore

When Mantao, the king travelling entertainer had entered the desert, it howled terribly in the air and three hideous daemons appeared in front of him.  The first one had a giant head without limbs and was staring in all directions with one hundred greedy eyes.  But the second had one hundred feet and was racing over the sand with terrible speed, but the third had one hundred hands that grasped into the air.

Follow me, the first one said, and you will see all that is in heaven and on earth.

One hundred external eyes will not see what the inner eye beholds, Mantao said.

Go with me, the second one said, and you will reach all what your eyes behold from a distance.

All feet are wandering only thither where the lotos flower's threads are pulling them.

Give me the hand, the third one said , and you will have one hundred hands and are able to grasp everything you are craving for.

I desire nothing than an invisible crown, Mantao said.

There, the daemons recognized that it was Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, and that he was carrying the secrets of life inside of him.  And they howled with rage and buried themselves in the sand of their desert.

Now, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, was alone in the limitless desert with his little monkey, and he did not know the borders of this desert.  He did not known which way to go, an unspeakable loneliness was around him, and humbly, he laid down his weapons.  But when he looked up, he beheld an angel in front of him — and for the first time on this earth, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, beheld his angel from face to face.

Take a rest, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer, the angel said, you are tired from a long journey.  Tomorrow will be your last day on this earth and you have to look for your holy mountain.

How will I find the way? Mantao asked.

I will guide you, the angel said.

There, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, laid down on the desert's sand and fell asleep.  His angel stood beside him and the little monkey.

But in the vision of this last earthly night, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, again beheld the queen of the distant shore, for the first time after long years.


The following day, the angel lead Mantao and his monkey to the plateau of Tibet, and it had become evening when they reached the top.

Behold, it has become evening, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer, the angel said, and you are again standing in front of your childhood's cabin.  It has caved in and dilapidated in the change of the years, but I will go and rebuild it for you above the stars.

With that, the angel parted from them.

But Mantao bent to Tibet's ground and drank from the clear mountain spring, from that he had drunk as a child, and the monkey with it.  His childhood's cabin had become dilapidated, but his childhood's spring was running off Tibet's mountains so clearly, so purely and immutably as once.

When Mantao had stilled his thirst at his childhood's spring, he turned away from this earth and walked up onto his holy mountain Lischanna, the same way on which he had once accompanied the old man with the strange, pointed cap.  He climbed higher and ever higher, but on the holy mountain's summit, there were ice and perpetual snow, and all land below him was covered in fog.  There, Mantao felt how the strength left him, and the little monkey in his arm was cold and wailed softly.

Now, we will die together, my little brother, Mantao said, as we have lived together and have walked together on this earth.

Dying is a word of the valleys, but you are on the mountains, a voice said beside him.

There, Mantao pulled himself up and held the shield above the little monkey for the last time.

But out of ice and snow, a big lotos flower was blooming and embraced Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, and his little monkey with its soft petals.  Painlessly and silently, their earthly bodies were sinking into the flower's calyx and were transforming themselves into its nature.  In new, illuminated bodies, the two were striding over the night's carpet of stars, and their inner eyes beheld, high above all that lives and breathes, the topaz gates and towers of the Sublime's eternal city.

Once more, Mantao looked back onto the deserted earth.  There he saw, deep below him, the city of the extinguished lights.  He heard how the people at the bottom were mentioning his name, and he saw little, clear flames blazing up in their lights.  But the dancer Myramar's light was burning most beautifully, and one after the other lit his extinguished light at her light in front of Brahma's statue.  The animals also had little lights in them, as they were carrying bluish glow-worms in the fur and the plumage.

There, Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, kneeled down on the night's carpet of stars and worshipped the Sublime.

But between the night's carpet of stars and the Sublime's eternal city, shining shores were appearing — that was the kingdom of the distant shore.  At its entrance, the angel stood and rebuilt for Mantao his childhood's cabin, and an old man with a strange, pointed cap helped him.  A human mother, who on earth once was a Paria and with whom nobody had felt compassion but the plague, was waiting for her child — and a monkey mother was waiving from the palm tree's highest top.

But the queen of the distant shore was awaiting her king in unspeakable beauty, in a holy grove of laurel and roses.

Mantao, my sweetheart, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer, she said, you have built my white limbs by your thoughts, you have weaved my garment by your work, and you have adorned my diadem with jewels on your lonely journey.  Now we are united for a long time until you set out again some day, to hold your shield above all that breathes, and to return to me anew in eternity.  Now I will put on your invisible crown, that no-one saw on earth.  Look, it is my crown that you have adorned, because I am you, Mantao, my sweetheart, Mantao, my king travelling entertainer.

There, Mantao leaned his shield and his sword against Brahma's altar, between laurel and roses.  But the queen of the distant shore kissed him with her and his crown.  The tears that he had reduced, were diamonds in it, the blood over which he had held his shield, were hanging in red drops of ruby at his diadem, and in it, the flames of the extinguished lights were sparkling, that he had lit again.  But the most beautiful jewel in his crown had been donated by a little monkey, that was again playing at his feet, in a young child's joy.

There, Mantao grasped what bliss is, and he buried his head in his queen of the distant shore's lap.


You see, that is the story of Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.  It is an old and solemn story, and it is many, many thousands years ago that it happened.  But you do not have to think that that is a long time.  Doesn't it seem to you as if Mantao, the king travelling entertainer, were born in a lotos flower only today?  Hasn't it been today that he descended from the mountains of Tibet to the wonderland of India, to the city of the extinguished lights — that he rose his flaming sword against princess Amaranth's army and held his shield above the dancer Myramar and his little monkey?  Isn't it today that his angel rebuilt his childhood's cabin above the stars and that he buried his head in his queen of the distant shore's lap?

For still today and time after time, the Sublime sends out his shield-bearers, that they hold their shield above all that breathes, and walk the same lonely way as Mantao, the king travelling entertainer.


From: Das Manfred Kyber Buch, Rowohlt, December 1985
Translation: Ulrich Messerle, February 2003
Published on:

Text version: 2003-06-21 (a)