On the fortieth day after the death of King Avenir, Iosaph called together, in memory of his father, all the statesmen, counselors and commanders of the armies and told them his great secret and that he intended to leave this earthly kingdom and everything of the world, and wished to go into the desert and lead the life of a monk. All became saddened and wept because they loved him for his benevolence, humility and charity. And every one begged Iosaph not to leave them. But at night he addressed a decree to the entire council and to all the commanders. And leaving this decree in his bedroom, he departed secretly into the desert. In the morning the news of his flight spread and the people became deeply depressed and troubled. Many wept. Then all the inhabitants of the city decided to go and search for him and verily they found him near a dried stream, lifting his hands to heaven in prayer. The people surrounded him, fell on their knees before him and beseeched him with tears and sobs, to return to his palace. But he asked them not to cause him grief and to leave him free, for his decision was final. And he walked on into the wilderness. Then the people, weeping bitterly, had to turn home, but a few followed him at a distance until sunset, when the darkness set in and prevented them from following him further.
In the desert Iosaph led a life of hardship, for food was scarce, and even the grass was dry and the ground gave little fruit. But his spiritual achievements were great. And once again, in his sleep, he beheld a dream. The same strangers took him and led him again through the beautiful field, and he again saw the brilliant city. When they arrived at its gates, they were met by Divine Angels, who carried two wreaths of undescribable beauty, losaph asked: “Whose are these wreaths?” “Both are yours,” replied the angels, “one for the saving of many souls and the other for departing the earthly kingdom and beginning the spiritual life.” . . .
In such an original way the old book “Life of the Saints —Chetyi Minei” relates the life of the Buddha. Behind the ancient Slavonic ecclesiastic language, one perceives clearly the original narrative of the Life of the Blessed Buddha. And the vision of the prince, before his withdrawal into the desert, clearly corresponds to the enlightenment of the Buddha.
At the end of the narrative is added a prayer to the Indian prince which says: “And leaving his kingdom, he reached the desert… Pray for the saving of our souls.” There is added still another prayer, stating that Iosaph “now has, as his home, the shining hills of Jerusalem,” and asking that he may “pray for all those who have faith in Thee.” Thus the followers of Christ pray and approach the Blessed Buddha.
In November, in all churches, the name of the saintly Indian prince, losaph, is mentioned, and the gray-bearded Old Believer on the Altai Mountain sings the ancient sacred verse devoted to the blessed Indian prince. It is deeply touching, on the heights of the Altai, to hear the words of the prince addressing himself to the desert:
“Oh, receive me and accept me, Thou silent desert!”— “How can I receive Thee, Prince, I have no palaces nor royal chambers to shelter Thee?” “But I need no palaces and royal chambers!”
Thus on the Altai heights sings the gray-bearded Old Believer. And on the mountain near by a little shepherd, like ancient Lelor the blessed Krishna, weaving wreaths of marigold, ringingly proclaims another version dedicated to the same sacred memory:
Oh, my Beloved Master!
Why hast Thou left me so soon?
Thou hast left me orphaned!
Grieving through all my days.
Oh, thou desert, the beautiful!
Accept me in thy embrace.
Into thy chosen palace,
Peaceful and silent.
I flee, as if from a serpent,
From earthly fame and splendor,
From wealth and resplendent mansions.
My desert, beloved, accept me!
I shall reach thy meadows.
To rejoice at your wondrous flowers.
Here to dwell my approaching years.
Until the end of my days…