Julian is hosting a banquet at his house. He has his friends both men and women attend the party and wine is served during the party. Julian remarks saying that the popular Gods should be denied but respected. For which Erinna replies that Julian has combined wine and women in the party. Julian replies to her saying that he invited women for wine because conversation requires both speech as well as reason. He continues to say that God gave man reason and speech to woman. Helen finds the statement amusing and adds her own thoughts. She says: “To what end has man used reason? To make Truth incredible. To what purpose has woman employed speech? To say nothing.”
Then the topic turns to the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite and the God of wine, Bacchus. Lionel responds that love is as bottomless as a sea. For which Julian replies that Plato had got many riches from that sea. Here Sri Aurobindo makes reference to Plato’s dialogue “Symposium” in which seven men are attending a banquet at Agathon’s house and each one has to speak about love. Julian feels that Agathon’s speech in the Symposium is not flawless. He says that Agathon painted the loveliness of Love but not Love himself.
Julian then proceeds to ask the guests to describe Love. Each person gives a description of Love in various ways.
Powell describes Love as slippery, mutable, multiform, amorphous and infinite. He adds that the two most essential elements of Love are: the subtle and impalpable. Indians have described Love very beautifully as the God Kama, a divine and radiant youth who sits on an emerald parrot and holds in his right hand a bow of flowers – the flowers from the shefali, the only blossom with a soul. For Love’s arrows never inflict pain while in love, but if a lover is in pain it is because he loves himself more than Love.
Now its Julian’s turn to describe Love and he says that “Love is the smile of a drunken God”.
Marc adds to the above statement saying that “Love is spiritual champagne, the best of wines if the briefest.”
Helen pitches in and says “Love is a poisonous purple flower but its chalice collects the pure wine of heaven.”
Corydon says that “Love is a song which can take the soul either heaven-ward or hell-ward”.
O’Ruark adds that love is a disease which everyone catches at a particular age – in short it is spiritual measles.
Everyone at the banquet laughs to their heart’s content hearing the above answer.
Philips says that “Love is a runner in the race of life with joy as prize”. Pattison Elly remarks that “Love is the bridegroom of Sin and father of Satiety”. Julian corrects it saying that Love is the child of Sin. Erinna asks if Love is not Sin itself? She says that Sin is the philosopher’s stone which turns life from dull lead to gold.
Julian is smiling at Erinna’s answer and asks “What is Sin?” Erinna says that sin is an invention of spiritual alchemists which turns a leaden life to gold. She adds that they lost the secret of sin in the Dark Ages and that is why the history of those times is so dull. Sin was legalised and therefore gave no pleasure. Julian responds that finally he understood why Laws exist. Erinna concludes her remark saying that they lost the secret of Love too and replaced it with chivalry and that Love is only a form of Sin. And that marriage is a monument raised over the corpse of Love.
Helen then points to Ella saying that she is the best person who could tell them about love. Ella replies that “Love is the sole motive of man’s existence”.
Thus the story ends.
#SriAurobindo #ShortStory #Love