Asian studies in Lithuania
Authors: Krėvė-Mickevičius, Vincas
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 1912, 2008
Publisher: Petro ofsetas

“Pratjekabuddha” and “Tales from the East” are a set of oriental stories written by Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius. These oriental stories are mainly about the life of a person who experiences a very deep sleep, death and awakening. The book shows us a person who, in the face of death, becomes closer to the true spiritual perfection and consciousness of the mind. This philosophical book is based on a few basic ideas of romanticism: human rebellion against the world, the power of his spirit, and the importance of ideals. The book consists of the main story “Pratjekabuddha” and four tales from the “Tales from the East”: “A pot in which the king keeps his best wine”, “Azerstan country”, “Opposite forces” and “Woman”. All stories in this book imply that a person should be open to himself, good to others, and faithful to God.

 The title “Pratjekabuddha” comes from Sanskrit and means “awakened”. In this book, the one who experiences awakening is Atepranapriya. He is the protagonist of the first story. When Atipranapriya was born, he immediately lost his mother, who had sacrificed her life to God, so that her son could be happy and grow up to be a respected [1]Kshatriya. But the destiny of him being a Kshatriya was diminished when he learned that every human being eventually has to die. In order to defeat his death, he sets off to a long journey where he hopes to find at least one great man who would have defeated death. During his journey, he discovers spiritual peace and relates to death, defeating it in the spiritual level. The main idea of ​​this story is that one has to rise above his limits, he does not have to live as if birth and death are the beginning and end of everything. A man must become a world if he wants to defeat the death. A man who denies his temptations and becomes one with the world does not lose himself, but instead awakes from the inside. Atipranapriya, who went far away from the lust and temptations of life, discovered the peace of his mind and the meaning of life. Meanwhile, the anti-protagonist of the story, Savalkiya, a great and cruel conqueror, is bound to lose his fight with the death, because his attempts to overcome death in the earth sphere are meaningless, since there is no meaning in this sphere, everything is conditional and temporary, the earth sphere is just a dream, therefore, if you spiritually can not wake up from this dream, you will not be able to overcome death. This story helps us to understand the true meaning of life and death. The book implies that we should become the world, instead of being just a small part of it. “You are not a part of the world, the world is in you”, says Atipranapriya. This story shows us the discovery of the spiritual peace and the enlightenment of the human mind.

This book also consists of four tales from Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius “Tales from the East”. The first tale “A pot, in which the king keeps his best wine” is a story about the true beauty of life. In this story, physically unattractive man tries to prove to a beautiful princess that the true beauty of a man lies in his spirit. Just like the wine, which is kept in an old and rusty barrel. Placing the wine into golden pots would cause it to go bad. Just like the wine, if people get blinded by the materialistic things, they go bad and they lose their inner beauty.

The second tale “Azerstan country” is a sad story about the enslavement of the Azerbaijani people. The main idea of ​​this story is that the human nature attracts people to do the bad things and only a strong faith in God can protect the human heart from those temptations. The people of Azerstan, who abandoned the God, were severely punished, but even when they experienced the punishment, they did not look back on their mistakes, therefore furthering the wrath of God. This story teaches us that a completely perfect world is not possible, because the human nature and various temptations are controlled by very strong and undefeatable forces.

The third tale “Opposite forces” allows you to see the troubled nature of a human and the eternal desire to find out all secrets of life. The God created a perfect world and believed that it was impossible to destroy it, but over the time, people wanted to find out what lies behind their world, thus destroying the perfect world and its order.

The last tale “Woman” retells the [2]Quran and its theory of the creation of the world. The culmination of this story is when a woman enters the world. The woman becomes the end of a perfect world, but the beginning of a new story. In this tale the woman is portrayed as a beautiful and tempting creature, which can not be resisted even by the angels. God created the world for a man and gave him strong powers, but when a woman entered that world, he decided to give up those powers in order to live together with her.”Tales from the East” brings out many existential questions: the meaning of life, self-knowledge, self-determination, the pursuit of desires, inner harmony. These stories allow you to feel the rebellious nature of the mankind, helps you to think about your own true desires and the importance of believing in God.

Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius was born on October 19, 1884 in Subartoniai village. In 1909, Krėvė-Mickevičius became a high school teacher in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan. In Baku he lectured people about Buddhism and prepared a doctoral dissertation titled “The origins of Buddha and Pratjekabuddha names”. He also studied Sanskrit, and was interested in the Eastern cultural and social life. Krėvė wanted to understand the true meanings of Buddhism and nirvana. The writer’s accumulated experience and knowledge about the Eastern world is precisely showed in the book of spiritual awakening – “Pratjekabuddha”.

[1] Kshatriya – one of the four varna (social orders) of the Hindu society, traditionally the military or ruling class.

[2] Quran – central religious text of Islam.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU