Siddhartha saw how beautiful she was, and his heart rejoiced. He bowed deeply, when the sedan-chair came closer, and straightening up again, he looked at the fair, charming face, read for a moment in the smart eyes with the high arcs above, breathed in a slight fragrant, he did not know. With a smile, the beautiful women nodded for a moment and disappeared into the grove, and then the servant as well.
Thus I am entering this city, Siddhartha thought, with a charming omen. He instantly felt drawn into the grove, but he thought about it, and only now he became aware of how the servants and maids had looked at him at the entrance, how despicable, how distrustful, how rejecting.
I am still a Samana, he thought, I am still an ascetic and beggar. I must not remain like this, I will not be able to enter the grove like this. And he laughed.
The next person who came along this path he asked about the grove and for the name of the woman, and was told that this was the grove of Kamala, the famous courtesan, and that, aside from the grove, she owned a house in the city.
Then, he entered the city. Now he had a goal.
Pursuing his goal, he allowed the city to suck him in, drifted through the flow of the streets, stood still on the squares, rested on the stairs of stone by the river. When the evening came, he made friends with barber’s assistant, whom he had seen working in the shade of an arch in a building, whom he found again praying in a temple of Vishnu, whom he told about stories of Vishnu and the Lakshmi. Among the boats by the river, he slept this night, and early in the morning, before the first customers came into his shop, he had the barber’s assistant shave his beard and cut his hair, comb his hair and anoint it with fine oil. Then he went to take his bath in the river.
When late in the afternoon, beautiful Kamala approached her grove in her sedan-chair, Siddhartha was standing at the entrance, made a bow and received the courtesan’s greeting. But that servant who walked at the very end of her train he motioned to him and asked him to inform his mistress that a young Brahman would wish to talk to her. After a while, the servant returned, asked him, who had been waiting, to follow him conducted him, who was following him, without a word into a pavilion, where Kamala was lying on a couch, and left him alone with her.
“Weren’t you already standing out there yesterday, greeting me?” asked Kamala.
“It’s true that I’ve already seen and greeted you yesterday.”
“But didn’t you yesterday wear a beard, and long hair, and dust in your hair?”
“You have observed well, you have seen everything. You have seen Siddhartha, the son of a Brahman, who has left his home to become a Samana, and who has been a Samana for three years. But now, I have left that path and came into this city, and the first one I met, even before I had entered the city, was you. To say this, I have come to you, oh Kamala! You are the first woman whom Siddhartha is not addressing with his eyes turned to the ground. Never again I want to turn my eyes to the ground, when I’m coming across a beautiful woman.”
Kamala smiled and played with her fan of peacocks’ feathers. And asked: “And only to tell me this, Siddhartha has come to me?”
“To tell you this and to thank you for being so beautiful. And if it doesn’t displease you, Kamala, I would like to ask you to be my friend and teacher, for I know nothing yet of that art which you have mastered in the highest degree.”
At this, Kamala laughed aloud.
“Never before this has happened to me, my friend, that a Samana from the forest came to me and wanted to learn from me! Never before this has happened to me, that a Samana came to me with long hair and an old, torn loin-cloth! Many young men come to me, and there are also sons of Brahmans among them, but they come in beautiful clothes, they come in fine shoes, they have perfume in their hair and money in their pouches. This is, oh Samana, how the young men are like who come to me.”
Quoth Siddhartha: “Already I am starting to learn from you. Even yesterday, I was already learning. I have already taken off my beard, have combed the hair, have oil in my hair. There is little which is still missing in me, oh excellent one: fine clothes, fine shoes, money in my pouch. You shall know, Siddhartha has set harder goals for himself than such trifles, and he has reached them. How shouldn’t I reach that goal, which I have set for myself yesterday: to be your friend and to learn the joys of love from you! You’ll see that I’ll learn quickly, Kamala, I have already learned harder things than what you’re supposed to teach me. And now let’s get to it: You aren’t satisfied with Siddhartha as he is, with oil in his hair, but without clothes, without shoes, without money?”