History of Literature








Ramayana



Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, M.A.



Illustrations by Raja Ravi Varma



 


Ramayana

Shorter of the two great epic poems of India, the other being the Mahābhārata (“Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty”). The Rāmāyana was composed in Sanskrit, probably not before 300 bc, by the poet Vālmīki, and in its present form consists of some 24,000 couplets divided into seven books.

The poem describes the royal birth of Rāma in the kingdom of Ayodhyā (Oudh), his tutelage under the sage Viśvāmitra, and his success in bending Śiva’s (Shiva’s) mighty bow at the bridegroom tournament of Sītā, the daughter of King Janaka, thus winning her for his wife. After Rāma is banished from his position as heir by an intrigue, he retreats to the forest with his wife and his favourite half brother, Laksmana, to spend 14 years in exile. There Rāvana, the demon-king of Lankā, carries off Sītā to his capital, while her two protectors are busy pursuing a golden deer sent to the forest to mislead them. Sītā resolutely rejects Rāvana’s attentions, and Rāma and his brother set about to rescue her. After numerous adventures they enter into alliance with Sugrīva, king of the monkeys; and with the assistance of the monkey-general Hanumān and Rāvana’s own brother, Vibhīnana, they attack Lankā. Rāma slays Rāvana and rescues Sītā, who in a later version undergoes an ordeal by fire in order to clear herself of the suspicions of infidelity. When they return to Ayodhyā, however, Rāma learns that the people still question the queen’s chastity, and he banishes her to the forest. There she meets the sage Vālmīki (the reputed author of the Rāmāyana) and at his hermitage gives birth to Rāma’s two sons. The family is reunited when the sons become of age, but Sītā, after again protesting her innocence, asks to be received by the earth, which swallows her up.

The poem enjoys immense popularity in India, where its recitation is considered an act of great merit. Many of its translations into the vernacular languages are themselves works of great literary merit, including the Tamil version of Kampan, the Bengali version of Krttibās, and the Hindi version, Rāmcaritmānas, of Tulsīdās. Throughout North India the events of the poem are enacted in an annual pageant, the Rām Līlā, and in South India the two epics, the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata, even today make up the story repertoire of the kathākali dance-drama of Malabar. The Rāmāyana was popular even during the Mughal period (16th century), and it was a favourite subject of Rājasthānī and Pahārī painters of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The story also spread in various forms throughout Southeast Asia (especially Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand); and its heroes, together with the Pāndava brothers of the Mahābhārata, were the heroes of traditional Javanese-Balinese theatre, dance, and shadow plays. Incidents from the Rāmāyana are carved in bas-relief on many Indonesian monuments—for example, at Panataran in eastern Java.





Rama



One of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities, the embodiment of chivalry and virtue. Although there are three Ramas mentioned in Indian tradition (Parashurama, Balarama, and Ramacandra), the name is specifically associated with Ramacandra, the seventh incarnation (avatara) of Lord Vishnu. It is possible that Rama was an actual historical figure, a tribal hero of ancient India who was later deified. His story is told briefly in the Mahabharata (“Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty”) and at great length in the Ramayana (“Romance of Rama”).

References to Rama as an incarnation of Vishnu appear in the early centuries ce; there was, however, probably no special worship of him before the 11th century, and it was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that distinct sects appeared venerating him as the supreme god (notably that of the followers of the Brahman Ramananda). Rama’s popularity was increased greatly by the retelling of the Sanskrit epics in the vernaculars, such as Tulsidas’s celebrated Hindi version, the Ramcaritmanas (“Sacred Lake of the Acts of Rama”).

Rama and Krishna (also an incarnation of Vishnu) were the two most popular recipients of adoration from the bhakti (devotional) cults that swept the country during that time. Whereas Krishna is adored for his mischievous pranks and amorous dalliances, Rama is conceived as a model of reason, right action, and desirable virtues. Temples to Rama faced by shrines to his monkey devotee Hanuman are widespread throughout India. Rama’s name is a popular form of greeting among friends (“Ram! Ram!”), and Rama is the deity most invoked at death.

In sculpture, Rama is represented as a standing figure, holding an arrow in his right hand and a bow in his left. His image in a shrine or temple is almost invariably attended by figures of his wife, Sita, his favourite half-brother, Lakshmana, and his monkey devotee, Hanuman. In painting, he is depicted dark in colour (indicating his affinity with Lord Vishnu), with princely adornments and the kirita-makuta (tall conical cap) on his head indicating his royal status. Rama’s exploits were depicted with great sympathy by the Rajasthani and Pahari schools of painting in the 17th and 18th centuries.





Shiva





also spelled Śiwa or Śiva

One of the main deities of Hinduism, whom Shaivas worship as the supreme god (see Shaivism). Among his common epithets are Shambhu (“Benign”), Shankara (“Beneficent”), Mahesha (“Great Lord”), and Mahadeva (“Great God”).

Shiva is represented in a variety of forms: in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati and son Skanda, as the cosmic dancer (Nataraja), as a naked ascetic, as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi, and as the androgynous union of Shiva and his consort in one body, half-male and half-female (Ardhanarishvara). As Bhairava, he is often depicted as a Dalit (formerly called an untouchable) and accompanied by a dog. He is both the great ascetic and the master of fertility, and he is the master of both poison and medicine, through his ambivalent power over snakes. As Lord of Beasts (Pashupati), he is the benevolent herdsman—or, at times, the merciless slaughterer of the “beasts” that are the human souls in his care. Although some of the combinations of roles may be explained by Shiva’s identification with earlier mythological figures, they arise primarily from a tendency in Hinduism to see complementary qualities in a single ambiguous figure.

Shiva’s female consort is known under various manifestations as Uma, Sati, Parvati, Durga, and Kali; Shiva is also sometimes paired with Shakti, the embodiment of power. The divine couple, together with their sons—Skanda and the elephant-headed Ganesha—are said to dwell on Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas. The six-headed Skanda is said to have been born of Shiva’s seed, which was shed in the mouth of the god of fire, Agni, and transferred first to the river Ganges and then to six of the stars in the constellation of the Pleiades. According to another well-known myth, Ganesha was born when Parvati created him out of the dirt she rubbed off during a bath, and he received his elephant head from Shiva, who was responsible for beheading him. Shiva’s vehicle in the world, his vahana, is the bull Nandi; a sculpture of Nandi sits opposite the main sanctuary of many Shiva temples. In temples and in private shrines, Shiva is also worshipped in the form of the lingam, a cylindrical votary object that is often embedded in a yoni, or spouted dish. Together they symbolize the eternal process of creation and regeneration. Since the late 19th century some scholars have interpreted the lingam and yoni as being aniconic representations of the male and female sexual organs, respectively.

Shiva is usually depicted in painting and sculpture as white (from the ashes of corpses that are smeared on his body) with a blue neck (from holding in his throat the poison that emerged at the churning of the cosmic ocean, which threatened to destroy the world), his hair arranged in a coil of matted locks (jatamakuta) and adorned with the crescent moon and the Ganges (according to legend, he brought the Ganges River to earth from the sky, where she is the Milky Way, by allowing the river to trickle through his hair, thus breaking her fall). Shiva has three eyes, the third eye bestowing inward vision but capable of burning destruction when focused outward. He wears a garland of skulls and a serpent around his neck and carries in his two (sometimes four) hands a deerskin, a trident, a small hand drum, or a club with a skull at the end. This skull identifies Shiva as a Kapalika (“Skull-Bearer”) and refers to a time when he cut off the fifth head of Brahma. The head stuck to his hand until he reached Varanasi (now in Uttar Pradesh, India), a city sacred to Shiva. It then fell away, and a shrine for the cleansing of all sins was later established in the place where it landed.

Wendy Doniger






Sita




also called Jānakī,

In Hindu mythology, the consort of Rāma and the embodiment of wifely devotion and self-surrender. Her abduction by the demon king Rāvana and subsequent rescue are the central incidents in the great Hindu epic Rāmāyana (“Romance of Rāma”). Sītā was raised by King Janaka; she was not his natural daughter but sprang from a furrow when he was ploughing his field. Rāma won her as his bride by bending Śiva’s bow, and she accompanied her husband when he went into exile. Though carried away to Lankā by Rāvana, she kept herself chaste by concentrating her heart on Rāma throughout her long imprisonment. On her return she asserted her purity and also proved it by voluntarily undergoing an ordeal by fire. Rāma, however, banished her to the forest in deference to public opinion. There she gave birth to their two children, Kuśa and Lava. After they reached maturity and were acknowledged by Rāma to be his sons, she called upon her mother, Earth, to swallow her up.

Sītā is worshiped as the incarnation of Laksmī, the consort of Vishnu. She is frequently depicted in Indian miniature paintings of the Rāmāyana, and her images in bronze are among the finest achievements of South Indian art. These usually form a group, with images of Rāma, his brother Laksmana, and his devotee, the monkey Hanumān; the iconographic texts instruct the artist to show Sītā looking at her husband with supreme happiness.




Ravana



 

In Hindu mythology, the 10-headed king of the demons (rāknasas). His abduction of Sītā and eventual defeat by her husband Rāma are the central incidents of the popular epic the Rāmāyana (“Romance of Rāma”). Rāvana ruled in the kingdom of Lankā, believed by some to be modern Sri Lanka, from which he had expelled his brother Kubera. The Rām Līlā festival, an annual pageant popular particularly in northern India, is climaxed with the defeat of Rāvaṇa and the burning of huge effigies of the demons.

Rāvaṇa is described as having 10 heads and 20 arms and is vividly portrayed in Rājasthānī painting of incidents of the Rāmāyana, flying away with Sītā, fighting with Rāma, and sitting with his demon councillors. In sculpture, a favourite incident depicted is his shaking of Mount Kailāsa. Śiva (Shiva) stopped him by pressing the mountain down with his toe and kept him imprisoned beneath for 1,000 years. Notable examples of this representation can be seen at Ellora in Mahārāshtra state, India. Glorification of Rāvana is not unknown. According to a minor tradition, the demons of Vishnu are successive reincarnations of his attendants, who take this form in order to be near him.

In modern times, Tamil groups who oppose what they believe to be the political domination of southern India by the north view the story of Rāma as an example of the Aryan invasion of the south and express their sympathies for Rāvana and against Rāma.






Krishna


 

one of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities, worshipped as the eighth incarnation (avatar, or avatara) of the Hindu god Vishnu and also as a supreme god in his own right. Krishna became the focus of numerous bhakti (devotional) cults, which over the centuries have produced a wealth of religious poetry, music, and painting. The basic sources of Krishna’s mythology are the epic Mahabharata and its 5th-century-ce appendix, the Harivamsha, and the Puranas, particularly Books 10 and 11 of the Bhagavata-purana. They relate how Krishna (literally “black,” or “dark as a cloud”) was born into the Yadava clan, the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, sister of Kamsa, the wicked king of Mathura (in modern Uttar Pradesh). Kamsa, hearing a prophecy that he should be destroyed by Devaki’s child, tried to slay her children, but Krishna was smuggled across the Yamuna River to Gokula (or Vraja, modern Gokul), where he was raised by the leader of the cowherds, Nanda, and his wife Yashoda.

The child Krishna was adored for his mischievous pranks; he also performed many miracles and slew demons. As a youth, the cowherd Krishna became renowned as a lover, the sound of his flute prompting the gopis (wives and daughters of the cowherds) to leave their homes to dance ecstatically with him in the forests. His favourite among them was the beautiful Radha. At length Krishna and his brother Balarama returned to Mathura to slay the wicked Kamsa. Afterward, finding the kingdom unsafe, he led the Yadavas to the western coast of Kathiawar and established his court at Dvaraka (modern Dwarka, Gujarat). He married the princess Rukmini and took other wives as well.

Krishna refused to bear arms in the great war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas but offered a choice of his personal attendance to one side and the loan of his army to the other. The Pandavas chose the former, and Krishna thus served as charioteer for Arjuna. On his return to Dvaraka, a brawl broke out one day among the Yadava chiefs in which Krishna’s brother and son were slain. As the god sat in the forest lamenting, a huntsman mistaking him for a deer shot him in his one vulnerable spot, the heel, killing him.

Krishna’s personality is clearly a syncretic one, though the different elements are not easily separated. Vasudeva-Krishna, a Vrishni prince who was presumably also a religious leader, was elevated to the godhead by the 5th century bce. The cowherd Krishna is obviously the god of a pastoral community that turned away from the Indra-dominated Vedic religion. The Krishna who emerged from the blending of these ideologies was ultimately identified with the supreme god Vishnu-Narayana and, hence, considered his avatar. His cult preserved distinctive traits, chief among them an exploration of the analogies between divine love and human love. Thus, Krishna’s youthful dalliances with the gopis are interpreted as symbolic of the loving interplay between God and the human soul.

The rich variety of legends associated with Krishna’s life led to an abundance of representation in painting and sculpture. The child Krishna (Balakrishna) is depicted crawling on his hands and knees or dancing with joy, a ball of butter held in his hands. The divine lover (the most common representation) is shown playing the flute, surrounded by adoring gopis. In 17th- and 18th-century Rajasthani and Pahari painting, Krishna is characteristically depicted with blue-black skin, wearing a yellow dhoti (loincloth) and a crown of peacock feathers.

 

 
 







THE RAMAYAN OF VALMIKI


 

Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, M.A.

1870-1874


Illustrations by Raja Ravi Varma


 

 
 


 

 
 

Invocation.

Book I.

Canto I. Nárad.
Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
Canto III. The Argument.
Canto IV. The Rhapsodists.
Canto V. Ayodhyá.
Canto VI. The King.
Canto VII. The Ministers.
Canto VIII. Sumantra's Speech.
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
Canto X. Rishyasring Invited.
Canto XI. The Sacrifice Decreed.
Canto XII. The Sacrifice Begun.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
Canto XIV. Rávan Doomed.
Canto XV. The Nectar.
Canto XVI. The Vánars.
Canto XVII. Rishyasring's Return.
Canto XVIII. Rishyasring's Departure.
Canto XIX. The Birth Of The Princes.
Canto XX. Visvámitra's Visit.
Canto XXI. Visvámitra's Speech.
Canto XXII. Dasaratha's Speech.
Canto XXIII. Vasishtha's Speech.
Canto XXIV. The Spells.
Canto XXV. The Hermitage Of Love.
Canto XXVI. The Forest Of Tádaká.
Canto XXVII. The Birth Of Tádaká.
Canto XXVIII. The Death Of Tádaká.
Canto XXIX. The Celestial Arms.

Canto XXX. The Mysterious Powers.
Canto XXXI. The Perfect Hermitage.
Canto XXXII. Visvámitra's Sacrifice.
Canto XXXIII. The Sone.
Canto XXXIV. Brahmadatta.
Canto XXXV. Visvámitra's Lineage.
Canto XXXVI. The Birth Of Gangá.
Canto XXXIX. The Sons Of Sagar.
Canto XL. The Cleaving Of The Earth.
Canto XLI. Kapil.
Canto XLII. Sagar's Sacrifice.
Canto XLIII. Bhagírath.
Canto XLIV. The Descent Of Gangá.
Canto XLV. The Quest Of The Amrit.
Canto XLVI. Diti's Hope.
Canto XLVII. Sumati.
Canto XLVIII. Indra And Ahalyá
Canto XLIX. Ahalyá Freed.
Canto L. Janak.
Canto LI. Visvámitra.
Canto LII. Vasishtha's Feast.
Canto LIII. Visvámitra's Request.
Canto LIV. The Battle.
Canto LV. The Hermitage Burnt.
Canto LVI. Visvámitra's Vow.
Canto LVII. Trisanku.
Canto LVIII. Trisanku Cursed.
Canto LIX. The Sons Of Vasishtha.
Canto LX. Trisanku's Ascension.

Canto LXI. Sunahsepha.
Canto LXII. Ambarísha's Sacrifice.
Canto LXIII. Menaká.
Canto LXIV. Rambhá.
Canto LXV. Visvámitra's Triumph
Canto LXVI. Janak's Speech.
Canto LXVII. The Breaking Of The Bow.
Canto LXVIII. The Envoys' Speech.
Canto LXIX. Dasaratha's Visit.
Canto LXX. The Maidens Sought.
Canto LXXI. Janak's Pedigree.
Canto LXXII. The Gift Of Kine.
Canto LXXIII. The Nuptials.
Canto LXXIV. Ráma With The Axe.
Canto LXXV. The Parle.
Canto LXXVI. Debarred From Heaven.
Canto LXXVII. Bharat's Departure.

 
 



 

 
 

Invocation.

Praise to Válmíki,2bird of charming song,3
Who mounts on Poesy's sublimest spray,
And sweetly sings with accent clear and strong
Ráma, aye Ráma, in his deathless lay.
Where breathes the man can listen to the strain
That flows in music from Válmíki's tongue,
Nor feel his feet the path of bliss attain
When Ráma's glory by the saint is sung!
The stream Rámáyan leaves its sacred fount
The whole wide world from sin and stain to free.4
The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount,
The lordly Ráma is the darling sea.
Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!
Glory to him, Prachetas'5holy son!
Whose pure lips quaff with ever new delight
The nectar-sea of deeds by Ráma done.
Hail, arch-ascetic, pious, good, and kind!
Hail, Saint Válmíki, lord of every lore!
Hail, holy Hermit, calm and pure of mind!
Hail, First of Bards, Válmíki, hail once more!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------





 

Book I.



Canto I. Nárad.
To sainted Nárad, prince of those
Whose lore in words of wisdom flows.
Whose constant care and chief delight
Were Scripture and ascetic rite,
The good Válmíki, first and best
[pg 002]
Of hermit saints, these words addressed:9
“In all this world, I pray thee, who
Is virtuous, heroic, true?
Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,
To every creature good and kind?
Bounteous, and holy, just, and wise,
Alone most fair to all men's eyes?
Devoid of envy, firm, and sage,
Whose tranquil soul ne'er yields to rage?
Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,
Do Gods embattled fear and fly?
Whose noble might and gentle skill
The triple world can guard from ill?
Who is the best of princes, he
Who loves his people's good to see?
The store of bliss, the living mine
Where brightest joys and virtues shine?
Queen Fortune's10 best and dearest friend,
Whose steps her choicest gifts attend?
Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
With Indra,11 Vishṇu,12 Fire, and Air?
Grant, Saint divine,13 the boon I ask,
For thee, I ween, an easy task,
To whom the power is given to know
If such a man breathe here below.”
Then Nárad, clear before whose eye
The present, past, and future lie,14
Made ready answer: “Hermit, where
Are graces found so high and rare?
Yet listen, and my tongue shall tell
In whom alone these virtues dwell.
From old Ikshváku's15 line he came,
Known to the world by Ráma's name:
With soul subdued, a chief of might,
In Scripture versed, in glory bright,
His steps in virtue's paths are bent,
Obedient, pure, and eloquent.
In each emprise he wins success,
And dying foes his power confess.
Tall and broad-shouldered, strong of limb,
Fortune has set her mark on him.
Graced with a conch-shell's triple line,
His throat displays the auspicious sign.16
[pg 003]
High destiny is clear impressed
On massive jaw and ample chest,
His mighty shafts he truly aims,
And foemen in the battle tames.
Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown,
Embedded lies his collar-bone.
His lordly steps are firm and free,
His strong arms reach below his knee;17
All fairest graces join to deck
His head, his brow, his stately neck,
And limbs in fair proportion set:
The manliest form e'er fashioned yet.
Graced with each high imperial mark,
His skin is soft and lustrous dark.
Large are his eyes that sweetly shine
With majesty almost divine.
His plighted word he ne'er forgets;
On erring sense a watch he sets.
By nature wise, his teacher's skill
Has trained him to subdue his will.
Good, resolute and pure, and strong,
He guards mankind from scathe and wrong,
And lends his aid, and ne'er in vain,
The cause of justice to maintain.
Well has he studied o'er and o'er
The Vedas18and their kindred lore.
Well skilled is he the bow to draw,19
Well trained in arts and versed in law;
High-souled and meet for happy fate,
Most tender and compassionate;
The noblest of all lordly givers,
Whom good men follow, as the rivers
Follow the King of Floods, the sea:
So liberal, so just is he.
The joy of Queen Kauśalyá's20heart,
In every virtue he has part:
Firm as Himálaya's21 snowy steep,
Unfathomed like the mighty deep:
The peer of Vishṇu's power and might,
And lovely as the Lord of Night;22
Patient as Earth, but, roused to ire,
Fierce as the world-destroying fire;
In bounty like the Lord of Gold,23
And Justice self in human mould.
With him, his best and eldest son,
By all his princely virtues won
King Daśaratha24 willed to share
His kingdom as the Regent Heir.
But when Kaikeyí, youngest queen,
With eyes of envious hate had seen
The solemn pomp and regal state
Prepared the prince to consecrate,
She bade the hapless king bestow
Two gifts he promised long ago,
That Ráma to the woods should flee,
And that her child the heir should be.
By chains of duty firmly tied,
The wretched king perforce complied.
[pg 004]
Ráma, to please Kaikeyí went
Obedient forth to banishment.
Then Lakshmaṇ's truth was nobly shown,
Then were his love and courage known,
When for his brother's sake he dared
All perils, and his exile shared.
And Sítá, Ráma's darling wife,
Loved even as he loved his life,
Whom happy marks combined to bless,
A miracle of loveliness,
Of Janak's royal lineage sprung,
Most excellent of women, clung
To her dear lord, like Rohiṇí
Rejoicing with the Moon to be.25
The King and people, sad of mood,
The hero's car awhile pursued.
But when Prince Ráma lighted down
At Śringavera's pleasant town,
Where Gangá's holy waters flow,
He bade his driver turn and go.
Guha, Nishádas' king, he met,
And on the farther bank was set.
Then on from wood to wood they strayed,
O'er many a stream, through constant shade,
As Bharadvája bade them, till
They came to Chitrakúṭa's hill.
And Ráma there, with Lakshmaṇ's aid,
A pleasant little cottage made,
And spent his days with Sítá, dressed
In coat of bark and deerskin vest.26
And Chitrakúṭa grew to be
As bright with those illustrious three
As Meru's27 sacred peaks that shine
With glory, when the Gods recline
Beneath them: Śiva's28 self between
The Lord of Gold and Beauty's Queen.
The aged king for Ráma pined,
And for the skies the earth resigned.
Bharat, his son, refused to reign,
Though urged by all the twice-born29 train.
Forth to the woods he fared to meet
His brother, fell before his feet,
And cried, “Thy claim all men allow:
O come, our lord and king be thou.”
But Ráma nobly chose to be
Observant of his sire's decree.
He placed his sandals30 in his hand
A pledge that he would rule the land:
And bade his brother turn again.
Then Bharat, finding prayer was vain,
The sandals took and went away;
Nor in Ayodhyá would he stay.
But turned to Nandigráma, where
He ruled the realm with watchful care,
Still longing eagerly to learn
Tidings of Ráma's safe return.
Then lest the people should repeat
Their visit to his calm retreat,
Away from Chitrakúṭa's hill
Fared Ráma ever onward till
[pg 005]
Beneath the shady trees he stood
Of Daṇḍaká's primeval wood,
Virádha, giant fiend, he slew,
And then Agastya's friendship knew.
Counselled by him he gained the sword
And bow of Indra, heavenly lord:
A pair of quivers too, that bore
Of arrows an exhaustless store.
While there he dwelt in greenwood shade
The trembling hermits sought his aid,
And bade him with his sword and bow
Destroy the fiends who worked them woe:
To come like Indra strong and brave,
A guardian God to help and save.
And Ráma's falchion left its trace
Deep cut on Śúrpaṇakhá's face:
A hideous giantess who came
Burning for him with lawless flame.
Their sister's cries the giants heard.
And vengeance in each bosom stirred:
The monster of the triple head.
And Dúshaṇ to the contest sped.
But they and myriad fiends beside
Beneath the might of Ráma died.
When Rávaṇ, dreaded warrior, knew
The slaughter of his giant crew:
Rávaṇ, the king, whose name of fear
Earth, hell, and heaven all shook to hear:
He bade the fiend Márícha aid
The vengeful plot his fury laid.
In vain the wise Márícha tried
To turn him from his course aside:
Not Rávaṇ's self, he said, might hope
With Ráma and his strength to cope.
Impelled by fate and blind with rage
He came to Ráma's hermitage.
There, by Márícha's magic art,
He wiled the princely youths apart,
The vulture31 slew, and bore away
The wife of Ráma as his prey.
The son of Raghu32 came and found
Jaṭáyu slain upon the ground.
He rushed within his leafy cot;
He sought his wife, but found her not.
Then, then the hero's senses failed;
In mad despair he wept and wailed.
Upon the pile that bird he laid,
And still in quest of Sítá strayed.
A hideous giant then he saw,
Kabandha named, a shape of awe.
The monstrous fiend he smote and slew,
And in the flame the body threw;
When straight from out the funeral flame
In lovely form Kabandha came,
And bade him seek in his distress
A wise and holy hermitess.
By counsel of this saintly dame
To Pampá's pleasant flood he came,
And there the steadfast friendship won
Of Hanumán the Wind-God's son.
Counselled by him he told his grief
To great Sugríva, Vánar chief,
Who, knowing all the tale, before
The sacred flame alliance swore.
Sugríva to his new-found friend
Told his own story to the end:
His hate of Báli for the wrong
And insult he had borne so long.
And Ráma lent a willing ear
And promised to allay his fear.
Sugríva warned him of the might
Of Báli, matchless in the fight,
And, credence for his tale to gain,
Showed the huge fiend33 by Báli slain.
The prostrate corse of mountain size
Seemed nothing in the hero's eyes;
He lightly kicked it, as it lay,
And cast it twenty leagues34 away.
To prove his might his arrows through
Seven palms in line, uninjured, flew.
He cleft a mighty hill apart,
And down to hell he hurled his dart.
Then high Sugríva's spirit rose,
Assured of conquest o'er his foes.
With his new champion by his side
To vast Kishkindhá's cave he hied.
Then, summoned by his awful shout,
King Báli came in fury out,
First comforted his trembling wife,
Then sought Sugríva in the strife.
One shaft from Ráma's deadly bow
The monarch in the dust laid low.
Then Ráma bade Sugríva reign
In place of royal Báli slain.
Then speedy envoys hurried forth
Eastward and westward, south and north,
Commanded by the grateful king
Tidings of Ráma's spouse to bring.
Then by Sampáti's counsel led,
Brave Hanumán, who mocked at dread,
Sprang at one wild tremendous leap
Two hundred leagues across the deep.
To Lanká's35 town he urged his way,
Where Rávaṇ held his royal sway.
[pg 006]
There pensive 'neath Aśoka36 boughs
He found poor Sítá, Ráma's spouse.
He gave the hapless girl a ring,
A token from her lord and king.
A pledge from her fair hand he bore;
Then battered down the garden door.
Five captains of the host he slew,
Seven sons of councillors o'erthrew;
Crushed youthful Aksha on the field,
Then to his captors chose to yield.
Soon from their bonds his limbs were free,
But honouring the high decree
Which Brahmá37 had pronounced of yore,
He calmly all their insults bore.
The town he burnt with hostile flame,
And spoke again with Ráma's dame,
Then swiftly back to Ráma flew
With tidings of the interview.
Then with Sugríva for his guide,
Came Ráma to the ocean side.
He smote the sea with shafts as bright
As sunbeams in their summer height,
And quick appeared the Rivers' King38
Obedient to the summoning.
A bridge was thrown by Nala o'er
The narrow sea from shore to shore.39
They crossed to Lanká's golden town,
Where Ráma's hand smote Rávaṇ down.
Vibhishaṇ there was left to reign
Over his brother's wide domain.
To meet her husband Sítá came;
But Ráma, stung with ire and shame,
With bitter words his wife addressed
Before the crowd that round her pressed.
But Sítá, touched with noble ire,
Gave her fair body to the fire.
Then straight the God of Wind appeared,
And words from heaven her honour cleared.
And Ráma clasped his wife again,
Uninjured, pure from spot and stain,
Obedient to the Lord of Fire
And the high mandate of his sire.
Led by the Lord who rules the sky,
The Gods and heavenly saints drew nigh,
And honoured him with worthy meed,
Rejoicing in each glorious deed.
His task achieved, his foe removed,
He triumphed, by the Gods approved.
By grace of Heaven he raised to life
The chieftains slain in mortal strife;
Then in the magic chariot through
The clouds to Nandigráma flew.
Met by his faithful brothers there,
He loosed his votive coil of hair:
Thence fair Ayodhyá's town he gained,
And o'er his father's kingdom reigned.
Disease or famine ne'er oppressed
His happy people, richly blest
With all the joys of ample wealth,
Of sweet content and perfect health.
No widow mourned her well-loved mate,
No sire his son's untimely fate.
They feared not storm or robber's hand;
No fire or flood laid waste the land:
The Golden Age40 had come again
To bless the days of Ráma's reign.
From him, the great and glorious king,
Shall many a princely scion spring.
And he shall rule, beloved by men,
Ten thousand years and hundreds ten,41
And when his life on earth is past
To Brahmá's world shall go at last.”
Whoe'er this noble poem reads
That tells the tale of Ráma's deeds,
Good as the Scriptures, he shall be
From every sin and blemish free.
Whoever reads the saving strain,
With all his kin the heavens shall gain.
Bráhmans who read shall gather hence
The highest praise for eloquence.
The warrior, o'er the land shall reign,
The merchant, luck in trade obtain;
And Śúdras listening42 ne'er shall fail
To reap advantage from the tale.43
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Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
Válmíki, graceful speaker, heard,
To highest admiration stirred.
To him whose fame the tale rehearsed
He paid his mental worship first;
Then with his pupil humbly bent
Before the saint most eloquent.
Thus honoured and dismissed the seer
Departed to his heavenly sphere.
Then from his cot Válmíki hied
To Tamasá's44 sequestered side,
Not far remote from Gangá's tide.
He stood and saw the ripples roll
Pellucid o'er a pebbly shoal.
To Bharadvája45 by his side
He turned in ecstasy, and cried:
“See, pupil dear, this lovely sight,
The smooth-floored shallow, pure and bright,
With not a speck or shade to mar,
And clear as good men's bosoms are.
Here on the brink thy pitcher lay,
And bring my zone of bark, I pray.
Here will I bathe: the rill has not,
To lave the limbs, a fairer spot.
Do quickly as I bid, nor waste
The precious time; away, and haste.”
Obedient to his master's hest
Quick from the cot he brought the vest;
The hermit took it from his hand,
And tightened round his waist the band;
Then duly dipped and bathed him there,
And muttered low his secret prayer.
To spirits and to Gods he made
Libation of the stream, and strayed
Viewing the forest deep and wide
That spread its shade on every side.
Close by the bank he saw a pair
Of curlews sporting fearless there.
But suddenly with evil mind
An outcast fowler stole behind,
And, with an aim too sure and true,
The male bird near the hermit slew.
The wretched hen in wild despair
With fluttering pinions beat the air,
And shrieked a long and bitter cry
When low on earth she saw him lie,
Her loved companion, quivering, dead,
His dear wings with his lifeblood red;
And for her golden crested mate
She mourned, and was disconsolate.
The hermit saw the slaughtered bird,
And all his heart with ruth was stirred.
The fowler's impious deed distressed
His gentle sympathetic breast,
And while the curlew's sad cries rang
Within his ears, the hermit sang:
“No fame be thine for endless time,
Because, base outcast, of thy crime,
Whose cruel hand was fain to slay
One of this gentle pair at play!”
E'en as he spoke his bosom wrought
And laboured with the wondering thought
What was the speech his ready tongue
Had uttered when his heart was wrung.
He pondered long upon the speech,
Recalled the words and measured each,
And thus exclaimed the saintly guide
To Bharadvája by his side:
“With equal lines of even feet,
With rhythm and time and tone complete,
The measured form of words I spoke
In shock of grief be termed a śloke.”46
And Bharadvája, nothing slow
His faithful love and zeal to show,
Answered those words of wisdom, “Be
The name, my lord, as pleases thee.”
As rules prescribe the hermit took
Some lustral water from the brook.
But still on this his constant thought
Kept brooding, as his home he sought;
While Bharadvája paced behind,
A pupil sage of lowly mind,
And in his hand a pitcher bore
With pure fresh water brimming o'er.
Soon as they reached their calm retreat
The holy hermit took his seat;
His mind from worldly cares recalled,
And mused in deepest thought enthralled.
Then glorious Brahmá,47 Lord Most High,
Creator of the earth and sky,
[pg 008]
The four-faced God, to meet the sage
Came to Válmíki's hermitage.
Soon as the mighty God he saw,
Up sprang the saint in wondering awe.
Mute, with clasped hands, his head he bent,
And stood before him reverent.
His honoured guest he greeted well,
Who bade him of his welfare tell;
Gave water for his blessed feet,
Brought offerings,48 and prepared a seat.
In honoured place the God Most High
Sate down, and bade the saint sit nigh.
There sate before Válmíki's eyes
The Father of the earth and skies;
But still the hermit's thoughts were bent
On one thing only, all intent
On that poor curlew's mournful fate
Lamenting for her slaughtered mate;
And still his lips, in absent mood,
The verse that told his grief, renewed:
“Woe to the fowler's impious hand
That did the deed that folly planned;
That could to needless death devote
The curlew of the tuneful throat!”
The heavenly Father smiled in glee,
And said, “O best of hermits, see,
A verse, unconscious, thou hast made;
No longer be the task delayed.
Seek not to trace, with labour vain,
The unpremeditated strain.
The tuneful lines thy lips rehearsed
Spontaneous from thy bosom burst.
Then come, O best of seers, relate
The life of Ráma good and great,
The tale that saintly Nárad told,
In all its glorious length unfold.
Of all the deeds his arm has done
Upon this earth, omit not one,
And thus the noble life record
Of that wise, brave, and virtuous lord.
His every act to day displayed,
His secret life to none betrayed:
How Lakshmaṇ, how the giants fought;
With high emprise and hidden thought:
And all that Janak's child49 befell
Where all could see, where none could tell.
The whole of this shall truly be
Made known, O best of saints, to thee.
In all thy poem, through my grace,
No word of falsehood shall have place.
Begin the story, and rehearse
The tale divine in charming verse.
As long as in this firm-set land
The streams shall flow, the mountains stand,
So long throughout the world, be sure,
The great Rámáyan shall endure.50
While the Rámáyan's ancient strain
Shall glorious in the earth remain,
To higher spheres shalt thou arise
And dwell with me above the skies.”
He spoke, and vanished into air,
And left Válmíki wondering there.
The pupils of the holy man,
Moved by their love of him, began
To chant that verse, and ever more
They marvelled as they sang it o'er:
“Behold, the four-lined balanced rime,
Repeated over many a time,
In words that from the hermit broke
In shock of grief, becomes a śloke.”
This measure now Válmíki chose
Wherein his story to compose.
In hundreds of such verses, sweet
With equal lines and even feet,
The saintly poet, lofty-souled,
The glorious deeds of Ráma told.
Canto III. The Argument.
The hermit thus with watchful heed
Received the poem's pregnant seed,
And looked with eager thought around
If fuller knowledge might be found.
[pg 009]
His lips with water first bedewed,51
He sate, in reverent attitude
On holy grass,52 the points all bent
Together toward the orient;53
And thus in meditation he
Entered the path of poesy.
Then clearly, through his virtue's might,
All lay discovered to his sight,
Whate'er befell, through all their life,
Ráma, his brother, and his wife:
And Daśaratha and each queen
At every time, in every scene:
His people too, of every sort;
The nobles of his princely court:
Whate'er was said, whate'er decreed,
Each time they sate each plan and deed:
For holy thought and fervent rite
Had so refined his keener sight
That by his sanctity his view
The present, past, and future knew,
And he with mental eye could grasp,
Like fruit within his fingers clasp,
The life of Ráma, great and good,
Roaming with Sítá in the wood.
He told, with secret-piercing eyes,
The tale of Ráma's high emprise,
Each listening ear that shall entice,
A sea of pearls of highest price.
Thus good Válmíki, sage divine,
Rehearsed the tale of Raghu's line,
As Nárad, heavenly saint, before
Had traced the story's outline o'er.
He sang of Ráma's princely birth,
His kindness and heroic worth;
His love for all, his patient youth,
His gentleness and constant truth,
And many a tale and legend old
By holy Viśvámitra told.
How Janak's child he wooed and won,
And broke the bow that bent to none.
How he with every virtue fraught
His namesake Ráma54 met and fought.
The choice of Ráma for the throne;
The malice by Kaikeyí shown,
Whose evil counsel marred the plan
And drove him forth a banisht man.
How the king grieved and groaned, and cried,
And swooned away and pining died.
The subjects' woe when thus bereft;
And how the following crowds he left:
With Guha talked, and firmly stern
Ordered his driver to return.
How Gangá's farther shore he gained;
By Bharadvája entertained,
By whose advice he journeyed still
And came to Chitrakúṭa's hill.
How there he dwelt and built a cot;
How Bharat journeyed to the spot;
His earnest supplication made;
Drink-offerings to their father paid;
The sandals given by Ráma's hand,
As emblems of his right, to stand:
How from his presence Bharat went
And years in Nandigráma spent.
How Ráma entered Daṇḍak wood
And in Sutíkhṇa's presence stood.
The favour Anasúyá showed,
The wondrous balsam she bestowed.
How Śarabhanga's dwelling-place
They sought; saw Indra face to face;
The meeting with Agastya gained;
The heavenly bow from him obtained.
How Ráma with Virádha met;
Their home in Panchavaṭa set.
How Śúrpaṇakhá underwent
The mockery and disfigurement.
Of Triśirá's and Khara's fall,
Of Rávaṇ roused at vengeance call,
Márícha doomed, without escape;
The fair Videhan55 lady's rape.
How Ráma wept and raved in vain,
And how the Vulture-king was slain.
How Ráma fierce Kabandha slew;
Then to the side of Pampá drew,
Met Hanumán, and her whose vows
Were kept beneath the greenwood boughs.
How Raghu's son, the lofty-souled,
On Pampá's bank wept uncontrolled,
Then journeyed, Rishyamúk to reach,
And of Sugríva then had speech.
The friendship made, which both had sought:
How Báli and Sugríva fought.
How Báli in the strife was slain,
And how Sugríva came to reign.
The treaty, Tára's wild lament;
The rainy nights in watching spent.
The wrath of Raghu's lion son;
The gathering of the hosts in one.
The sending of the spies about,
And all the regions pointed out.
The ring by Ráma's hand bestowed;
The cave wherein the bear abode.
The fast proposed, their lives to end;
Sampati gained to be their friend.
[pg 010]
The scaling of the hill, the leap
Of Hanumán across the deep.
Ocean's command that bade them seek
Maináka of the lofty peak.
The death of Sinhiká, the sight
Of Lanká with her palace bright
How Hanumán stole in at eve;
His plan the giants to deceive.
How through the square he made his way
To chambers where the women lay,
Within the Aśoka garden came
And there found Ráma's captive dame.
His colloquy with her he sought,
And giving of the ring he brought.
How Sítá gave a gem o'erjoyed;
How Hanumán the grove destroyed.
How giantesses trembling fled,
And servant fiends were smitten dead.
How Hanumán was seized; their ire
When Lanká blazed with hostile fire.
His leap across the sea once more;
The eating of the honey store.
How Ráma he consoled, and how
He showed the gem from Sítá's brow.
With Ocean, Ráma's interview;
The bridge that Nala o'er it threw.
The crossing, and the sitting down
At night round Lanká's royal town.
The treaty with Vibhíshaṇ made:
The plan for Rávaṇ's slaughter laid.
How Kumbhakarṇa in his pride
And Meghanáda fought and died.
How Rávaṇ in the fight was slain,
And captive Sítá brought again.
Vibhíshaṇ set upon the throne;
The flying chariot Pushpak shown.
How Brahmá and the Gods appeared,
And Sítá's doubted honour cleared.
How in the flying car they rode
To Bharadvája's cabin abode.
The Wind-God's son sent on afar;
How Bharat met the flying car.
How Ráma then was king ordained;
The legions their discharge obtained.
How Ráma cast his queen away;
How grew the people's love each day.
Thus did the saint Válmíki tell
Whate'er in Ráma's life befell,
And in the closing verses all
That yet to come will once befall.
Canto IV. The Rhapsodists.
When to the end the tale was brought,
Rose in the sage's mind the thought;
“Now who throughout this earth will go,
And tell it forth that all may know?”
As thus he mused with anxious breast,
Behold, in hermit's raiment dressed,
Kuśá and Lava56 came to greet
Their master and embrace his feet.
The twins he saw, that princely pair
Sweet-voiced, who dwelt beside him there
None for the task could be more fit,
For skilled were they in Holy Writ;
And so the great Rámáyan, fraught
With lore divine, to these he taught:
The lay whose verses sweet and clear
Take with delight the listening ear,
That tell of Sítá's noble life
And Rávaṇ's fall in battle strife.
Great joy to all who hear they bring,
Sweet to recite and sweet to sing.
For music's sevenfold notes are there,
And triple measure,57 wrought with care
With melody and tone and time,
And flavours58 that enhance the rime;
Heroic might has ample place,
And loathing of the false and base,
With anger, mirth, and terror, blent
With tenderness, surprise, content.
When, half the hermit's grace to gain,
And half because they loved the strain,
The youth within their hearts had stored
The poem that his lips outpoured,
Válmíki kissed them on the head,
As at his feet they bowed, and said;
“Recite ye this heroic song
In tranquil shades where sages throng:
Recite it where the good resort,
In lowly home and royal court.”
The hermit ceased. The tuneful pair,
Like heavenly minstrels sweet and fair,
In music's art divinely skilled,
Their saintly master's word fulfilled.
Like Ráma's self, from whom they came,
They showed their sire in face and frame,
[pg 011]
As though from some fair sculptured stone
Two selfsame images had grown.
Sometimes the pair rose up to sing,
Surrounded by a holy ring,
Where seated on the grass had met
Full many a musing anchoret.
Then tears bedimmed those gentle eyes,
As transport took them and surprise,
And as they listened every one
Cried in delight, Well done! Well done!
Those sages versed in holy lore
Praised the sweet minstrels more and more:
And wondered at the singers' skill,
And the bard's verses sweeter still,
Which laid so clear before the eye
The glorious deeds of days gone by.
Thus by the virtuous hermits praised,
Inspirited their voice they raised.
Pleased with the song this holy man
Would give the youths a water-can;
One gave a fair ascetic dress,
Or sweet fruit from the wilderness.
One saint a black-deer's hide would bring,
And one a sacrificial string:
One, a clay pitcher from his hoard,
And one, a twisted munja cord.59
One in his joy an axe would find,
One braid, their plaited locks to bind.
One gave a sacrificial cup,
One rope to tie their fagots up;
While fuel at their feet was laid,
Or hermit's stool of fig-tree made.
All gave, or if they gave not, none
Forgot at least a benison.
Some saints, delighted with their lays,
Would promise health and length of days;
Others with surest words would add
Some boon to make their spirit glad.
In such degree of honour then
That song was held by holy men:
That living song which life can give,
By which shall many a minstrel live.
In seat of kings, in crowded hall,
They sang the poem, praised of all.
And Ráma chanced to hear their lay,
While he the votive steed60 would slay,
And sent fit messengers to bring
The minstrel pair before the king.
They came, and found the monarch high
Enthroned in gold, his brothers nigh;
While many a minister below,
And noble, sate in lengthened row.
The youthful pair awhile he viewed
Graceful in modest attitude,
And then in words like these addressed
His brother Lakshmaṇ and the rest:
“Come, listen to the wondrous strain
Recited by these godlike twain,
Sweet singers of a story fraught
With melody and lofty thought.”
The pair, with voices sweet and strong,
Rolled the full tide of noble song,
With tone and accent deftly blent
To suit the changing argument.
Mid that assembly loud and clear
Rang forth that lay so sweet to hear,
That universal rapture stole
Through each man's frame and heart and soul.
“These minstrels, blest with every sign
That marks a high and princely line,
In holy shades who dwell,
Enshrined in Saint Válmíki's lay,
A monument to live for aye,
My deeds in song shall tell.”
Thus Ráma spoke: their breasts were fired,
And the great tale, as if inspired,
The youths began to sing,
While every heart with transport swelled,
And mute and rapt attention held
The concourse and the king.
Canto V. Ayodhyá.
“Ikshváku's sons from days of old
Were ever brave and mighty-souled.
The land their arms had made their own
Was bounded by the sea alone.
Their holy works have won them praise,
Through countless years, from Manu's days.
Their ancient sire was Sagar, he
Whose high command dug out the sea:61
With sixty thousand sons to throng
Around him as he marched along.
From them this glorious tale proceeds:
The great Rámáyan tells their deeds.
This noble song whose lines contain
Lessons of duty, love, and gain,
We two will now at length recite,
While good men listen with delight.
On Sarjú's62 bank, of ample size,
The happy realm of Kośal lies,
[pg 012]
With fertile length of fair champaign
And flocks and herds and wealth of grain.
There, famous in her old renown,
Ayodhyá63 stands, the royal town,
In bygone ages built and planned
By sainted Manu's64 princely hand.
Imperial seat! her walls extend
Twelve measured leagues from end to end,
And three in width from side to side,
With square and palace beautified.
Her gates at even distance stand;
Her ample roads are wisely planned.
Right glorious is her royal street
Where streams allay the dust and heat.
On level ground in even row
Her houses rise in goodly show:
Terrace and palace, arch and gate
The queenly city decorate.
High are her ramparts, strong and vast,
By ways at even distance passed,
With circling moat, both deep and wide,
And store of weapons fortified.
King Daśaratha, lofty-souled,
That city guarded and controlled,
With towering Sál trees belted round,65
And many a grove and pleasure ground,
As royal Indra, throned on high,
Rules his fair city in the sky.66
She seems a painted city, fair
With chess-board line and even square.67
And cool boughs shade the lovely lake
Where weary men their thirst may slake.
There gilded chariots gleam and shine,
And stately piles the Gods enshrine.
There gay sleek people ever throng
To festival and dance and song.
A mine is she of gems and sheen,
The darling home of Fortune's Queen.
With noblest sort of drink and meat,
The fairest rice and golden wheat,
And fragrant with the chaplet's scent
With holy oil and incense blent.
With many an elephant and steed,
And wains for draught and cars for speed.
With envoys sent by distant kings,
And merchants with their precious things
With banners o'er her roofs that play,
And weapons that a hundred slay;68
All warlike engines framed by man,
And every class of artisan.
A city rich beyond compare
With bards and minstrels gathered there,
And men and damsels who entrance
The soul with play and song and dance.
In every street is heard the lute,
The drum, the tabret, and the flute,
The Veda chanted soft and low,
The ringing of the archer's bow;
With bands of godlike heroes skilled
In every warlike weapon, filled,
And kept by warriors from the foe,
As Nágas guard their home below.69
There wisest Bráhmans evermore
The flame of worship feed,
And versed in all the Vedas' lore,
Their lives of virtue lead.
Truthful and pure, they freely give;
They keep each sense controlled,
And in their holy fervour live
Like the great saints of old.
Canto VI. The King.
There reigned a king of name revered,
To country and to town endeared,
Great Daśaratha, good and sage,
Well read in Scripture's holy page:
[pg 013]
Upon his kingdom's weal intent,
Mighty and brave and provident;
The pride of old Ikshváku's seed
For lofty thought and righteous deed.
Peer of the saints, for virtues famed,
For foes subdued and passions tamed:
A rival in his wealth untold
Of Indra and the Lord of Gold.
Like Manu first of kings, he reigned,
And worthily his state maintained.
For firm and just and ever true
Love, duty, gain he kept in view,
And ruled his city rich and free,
Like Indra's Amarávatí.
And worthy of so fair a place
There dwelt a just and happy race
With troops of children blest.
Each man contented sought no more,
Nor longed with envy for the store
By richer friends possessed.
For poverty was there unknown,
And each man counted as his own
Kine, steeds, and gold, and grain.
All dressed in raiment bright and clean,
And every townsman might be seen
With earrings, wreath, or chain.
None deigned to feed on broken fare,
And none was false or stingy there.
A piece of gold, the smallest pay,
Was earned by labour for a day.
On every arm were bracelets worn,
And none was faithless or forsworn,
A braggart or unkind.
None lived upon another's wealth,
None pined with dread or broken health,
Or dark disease of mind.
High-souled were all. The slanderous word,
The boastful lie, were never heard.
Each man was constant to his vows,
And lived devoted to his spouse.
No other love his fancy knew,
And she was tender, kind, and true.
Her dames were fair of form and face,
With charm of wit and gentle grace,
With modest raiment simply neat,
And winning manners soft and sweet.
The twice-born sages, whose delight
Was Scripture's page and holy rite,
Their calm and settled course pursued,
Nor sought the menial multitude.
In many a Scripture each was versed,
And each the flame of worship nursed,
And gave with lavish hand.
Each paid to Heaven the offerings due,
And none was godless or untrue
In all that holy band.
To Bráhmans, as the laws ordain,
The Warrior caste were ever fain
The reverence due to pay;
And these the Vaiśyas' peaceful crowd,
Who trade and toil for gain, were proud
To honour and obey;
And all were by the Śúdras70 served,
Who never from their duty swerved,
Their proper worship all addressed
To Bráhman, spirits, God, and guest.
Pure and unmixt their rites remained,
Their race's honour ne'er was stained.71
Cheered by his grandsons, sons, and wife,
Each passed a long and happy life.
Thus was that famous city held
By one who all his race excelled,
Blest in his gentle reign,
As the whole land aforetime swayed
By Manu, prince of men, obeyed
Her king from main to main.
And heroes kept her, strong and brave,
As lions guard their mountain cave:
Fierce as devouring flame they burned,
And fought till death, but never turned.
Horses had she of noblest breed,
Like Indra's for their form and speed,
From Váhlí's72 hills and Sindhu's73 sand,
Vanáyu74 and Kámboja's land.75
[pg 014]
Her noble elephants had strayed
Through Vindhyan and Himálayan shade,
Gigantic in their bulk and height,
Yet gentle in their matchless might.
They rivalled well the world-spread fame
Of the great stock from which they came,
Of Váman, vast of size,
Of Mahápadma's glorious line,
Thine, Anjan, and, Airávat, thine.76
Upholders of the skies.
With those, enrolled in fourfold class,
Who all their mighty kin surpass,
Whom men Matangas name,
And Mrigas spotted black and white,
And Bhadras of unwearied might,
And Mandras hard to tame.77
Thus, worthy of the name she bore,78
Ayodhyá for a league or more
Cast a bright glory round,
Where Daśaratha wise and great
Governed his fair ancestral state,
With every virtue crowned.
Like Indra in the skies he reigned
In that good town whose wall contained
High domes and turrets proud,
With gates and arcs of triumph decked,
And sturdy barriers to protect
Her gay and countless crowd.
Canto VII. The Ministers.
Two sages, holy saints, had he,
His ministers and priests to be:
Vaśishṭha, faithful to advise,
And Vámadeva, Scripture-wise.
Eight other lords around him stood,
All skilled to counsel, wise and good:
Jayanta, Vijay, Dhrishṭi bold
In fight, affairs of war controlled:
Siddhárth and Arthasádhak true
Watched o'er expense and revenue,
And Dharmapál and wise Aśok
Of right and law and justice spoke.
With these the sage Sumantra, skilled
To urge the car, high station filled.
All these in knowledge duly trained
Each passion and each sense restrained:
With modest manners, nobly bred
Each plan and nod and look they read,
Upon their neighbours' good intent,
Most active and benevolent:
As sit the Vasus79 round their king,
They sate around him counselling.
They ne'er in virtue's loftier pride
Another's lowly gifts decried.
In fair and seemly garb arrayed,
No weak uncertain plans they made.
Well skilled in business, fair and just,
They gained the people's love and trust,
And thus without oppression stored
The swelling treasury of their lord.
Bound in sweet friendship each to each,
They spoke kind thoughts in gentle speech.
They looked alike with equal eye
On every caste, on low and high.
Devoted to their king, they sought,
Ere his tongue spoke, to learn his thought,
And knew, as each occasion rose,
To hide their counsel or disclose.
In foreign lands or in their own
Whatever passed, to them was known.
By secret spies they timely knew
What men were doing or would do.
Skilled in the grounds of war and peace
They saw the monarch's state increase,
Watching his weal with conquering eye
That never let occasion by,
While nature lent her aid to bless
Their labours with unbought success.
Never for anger, lust, or gain,
Would they their lips with falsehood stain.
Inclined to mercy they could scan
The weakness and the strength of man.
They fairly judged both high and low,
And ne'er would wrong a guiltless foe;
Yet if a fault were proved, each one
Would punish e'en his own dear son.
But there and in the kingdom's bound
No thief or man impure was found:
None of loose life or evil fame,
No tempter of another's dame.
Contented with their lot each caste
[pg 015]
Calm days in blissful quiet passed;
And, all in fitting tasks employed,
Country and town deep rest enjoyed,
With these wise lords around his throne
The monarch justly reigned,
And making every heart his own
The love of all men gained.
With trusty agents, as beseems,
Each distant realm he scanned,
As the sun visits with his beams
Each corner of the land.
Ne'er would he on a mightier foe
With hostile troops advance,
Nor at an equal strike a blow
In war's delusive chance.
These lords in council bore their part
With ready brain and faithful heart,
With skill and knowledge, sense and tact,
Good to advise and bold to act.
And high and endless fame he won
With these to guide his schemes,
As, risen in his might, the sun
Wins glory with his beams.
Canto VIII. Sumantra's Speech.
But splendid, just, and great of mind,
The childless king for offspring pined.
No son had he his name to grace,
Transmitter of his royal race.
Long had his anxious bosom wrought,
And as he pondered rose the thought:
“A votive steed 'twere good to slay,
So might a son the gift repay.”
Before his lords his plan he laid,
And bade them with their wisdom aid:
Then with these words Sumantra, best
Of royal counsellors, addressed:
“Hither, Vaśishṭha at their head,
Let all my priestly guides be led.”
To him Sumantra made reply:
“Hear, Sire, a tale of days gone by.
To many a sage in time of old,
Sanatkumár, the saint, foretold
How from thine ancient line, O King,
A son, when years came round, should spring.
“Here dwells,” 'twas thus the seer began,
“Of Kaśyap's80 race, a holy man,
Vibháṇdak named: to him shall spring
A son, the famous Rishyaśring.
Bred with the deer that round him roam,
The wood shall be that hermit's home.
To him no mortal shall be known
Except his holy sire alone.
Still by those laws shall he abide
Which lives of youthful Bráhmans guide,
Obedient to the strictest rule
That forms the young ascetic's school:
And all the wondering world shall hear
Of his stern life and penance drear;
His care to nurse the holy fire
And do the bidding of his sire.
Then, seated on the Angas'81 throne,
Shall Lomapád to fame be known.
But folly wrought by that great king
A plague upon the land shall bring;
No rain for many a year shall fall
And grievous drought shall ruin all.
The troubled king with many a prayer
Shall bid the priests some cure declare:
“The lore of Heaven 'tis yours to know,
Nor are ye blind to things below:
Declare, O holy men, the way
This plague to expiate and stay.”
Those best of Bráhmans shall reply:
“By every art, O Monarch, try
Hither to bring Vibháṇdak's child,
Persuaded, captured, or beguiled.
And when the boy is hither led
To him thy daughter duly wed.”
But how to bring that wondrous boy
His troubled thoughts will long employ,
And hopeless to achieve the task
He counsel of his lords will ask,
And bid his priests and servants bring
With honour saintly Rishyaśring.
But when they hear the monarch's speech,
All these their master will beseech,
With trembling hearts and looks of woe,
To spare them, for they fear to go.
And many a plan will they declare
And crafty plots will frame,
And promise fair to show him there,
Unforced, with none to blame.
On every word his lords shall say,
The king will meditate,
And on the third returning day
Recall them to debate.
Then this shall be the plan agreed,
That damsels shall be sent
Attired in holy hermits' weed,
And skilled in blandishment,
That they the hermit may beguile
With every art and amorous wile
[pg 016]
Whose use they know so well,
And by their witcheries seduce
The unsuspecting young recluse
To leave his father's cell.
Then when the boy with willing feet
Shall wander from his calm retreat
And in that city stand,
The troubles of the king shall end,
And streams of blessed rain descend
Upon the thirsty land.
Thus shall the holy Rishyaśring
To Lomapád, the mighty king,
By wedlock be allied;
For Śántá, fairest of the fair,
In mind and grace beyond compare,
Shall be his royal bride.
He, at the Offering of the Steed,
The flames with holy oil shall feed,
And for King Daśaratha gain
Sons whom his prayers have begged in vain.”
“I have repeated, Sire, thus far,
The words of old Sanatkumár,
In order as he spoke them then
Amid the crowd of holy men.”
Then Daśaratha cried with joy,
“Say how they brought the hermit boy.”
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
The wise Sumantra, thus addressed,
Unfolded at the king's behest
The plan the lords in council laid
To draw the hermit from the shade:
“The priest, amid the lordly crowd,
To Lomapád thus spoke aloud:
“Hear, King, the plot our thoughts have framed,
A harmless trick by all unblamed.
Far from the world that hermit's child
Lives lonely in the distant wild:
A stranger to the joys of sense,
His bliss is pain and abstinence;
And all unknown are women yet
To him, a holy anchoret.
The gentle passions we will wake
That with resistless influence shake
The hearts of men; and he
Drawn by enchantment strong and sweet
Shall follow from his lone retreat,
And come and visit thee.
Let ships be formed with utmost care
That artificial trees may bear,
And sweet fruit deftly made;
Let goodly raiment, rich and rare,
And flowers, and many a bird be there
Beneath the leafy shade.
Upon the ships thus decked a band
Of young and lovely girls shall stand,
Rich in each charm that wakes desire,
And eyes that burn with amorous fire;
Well skilled to sing, and play, and dance
And ply their trade with smile and glance
Let these, attired in hermits' dress,
Betake them to the wilderness,
And bring the boy of life austere
A voluntary captive here.”
He ended; and the king agreed,
By the priest's counsel won.
And all the ministers took heed
To see his bidding done.
In ships with wondrous art prepared
Away the lovely women fared,
And soon beneath the shade they stood
Of the wild, lonely, dreary wood.
And there the leafy cot they found
Where dwelt the devotee,
And looked with eager eyes around
The hermit's son to see.
Still, of Vibháṇdak sore afraid,
They hid behind the creepers' shade.
But when by careful watch they knew
The elder saint was far from view,
With bolder steps they ventured nigh
To catch the youthful hermit's eye.
Then all the damsels, blithe and gay,
At various games began to play.
They tossed the flying ball about
With dance and song and merry shout,
And moved, their scented tresses bound
With wreaths, in mazy motion round.
Some girls as if by love possessed,
Sank to the earth in feigned unrest,
Up starting quickly to pursue
Their intermitted game anew.
It was a lovely sight to see
Those fair ones, as they played,
While fragrant robes were floating free,
And bracelets clashing in their glee
A pleasant tinkling made.
The anklet's chime, the Koïl's82 cry
With music filled the place
As 'twere some city in the sky
Which heavenly minstrels grace.
With each voluptuous art they strove
To win the tenant of the grove,
And with their graceful forms inspire
His modest soul with soft desire.
With arch of brow, with beck and smile,
With every passion-waking wile
[pg 017]
Of glance and lotus hand,
With all enticements that excite
The longing for unknown delight
Which boys in vain withstand.
Forth came the hermit's son to view
The wondrous sight to him so new,
And gazed in rapt surprise,
For from his natal hour till then
On woman or the sons of men
He ne'er had cast his eyes.
He saw them with their waists so slim,
With fairest shape and faultless limb,
In variegated robes arrayed,
And sweetly singing as they played.
Near and more near the hermit drew,
And watched them at their game,
And stronger still the impulse grew
To question whence they came.
They marked the young ascetic gaze
With curious eye and wild amaze,
And sweet the long-eyed damsels sang,
And shrill their merry laughter rang.
Then came they nearer to his side,
And languishing with passion cried:
“Whose son, O youth, and who art thou,
Come suddenly to join us now?
And why dost thou all lonely dwell
In the wild wood? We pray thee, tell,
We wish to know thee, gentle youth;
Come, tell us, if thou wilt, the truth.”
He gazed upon that sight he ne'er
Had seen before, of girls so fair,
And out of love a longing rose
His sire and lineage to disclose:
“My father,” thus he made reply,
“Is Kaśyap's son, a saint most high,
Vibháṇdak styled; from him I came,
And Rishyaśring he calls my name.
Our hermit cot is near this place:
Come thither, O ye fair of face;
There be it mine, with honour due,
Ye gentle youths, to welcome you.”
They heard his speech, and gave consent,
And gladly to his cottage went.
Vibháṇdak's son received them well
Beneath the shelter of his cell
With guest-gift, water for their feet,
And woodland fruit and roots to eat,
They smiled, and spoke sweet words like these,
Delighted with his courtesies:
“We too have goodly fruit in store,
Grown on the trees that shade our door;
Come, if thou wilt, kind Hermit, haste
The produce of our grove to taste;
And let, O good Ascetic, first
This holy water quench thy thirst.”
They spoke, and gave him comfits sweet
Prepared ripe fruits to counterfeit;
And many a dainty cate beside
And luscious mead their stores supplied.
The seeming fruits, in taste and look,
The unsuspecting hermit took,
For, strange to him, their form beguiled
The dweller in the lonely wild.
Then round his neck fair arms were flung,
And there the laughing damsels clung,
And pressing nearer and more near
With sweet lips whispered at his ear;
While rounded limb and swelling breast
The youthful hermit softly pressed.
The pleasing charm of that strange bowl,
The touch of a tender limb,
Over his yielding spirit stole
And sweetly vanquished him.
But vows, they said, must now be paid;
They bade the boy farewell,
And, of the aged saint afraid,
Prepared to leave the dell.
With ready guile they told him where
Their hermit dwelling lay:
Then, lest the sire should find them there,
Sped by wild paths away.
They fled and left him there alone
By longing love possessed;
And with a heart no more his own
He roamed about distressed.
The aged saint came home, to find
The hermit boy distraught,
Revolving in his troubled mind
One solitary thought.
“Why dost thou not, my son,” he cried,
“Thy due obeisance pay?
Why do I see thee in the tide
Of whelming thought to-day?
A devotee should never wear
A mien so sad and strange.
Come, quickly, dearest child, declare
The reason of the change.”
And Rishyaśring, when questioned thus,
Made answer in this wise:
“O sire, there came to visit us
Some men with lovely eyes.
About my neck soft arms they wound
And kept me tightly held
To tender breasts so soft and round,
That strangely heaved and swelled.
They sing more sweetly as they dance
Than e'er I heard till now,
And play with many a sidelong glance
And arching of the brow.”
“My son,” said he, “thus giants roam
Where holy hermits are,
And wander round their peaceful home
Their rites austere to mar.
I charge thee, thou must never lay
Thy trust in them, dear boy:
They seek thee only to betray,
And woo but to destroy.”
Thus having warned him of his foes
That night at home he spent.
And when the morrow's sun arose
[pg 018]
Forth to the forest went.
But Rishyaśring with eager pace
Sped forth and hurried to the place
Where he those visitants had seen
Of daintly waist and charming mien.
When from afar they saw the son
Of Saint Vibháṇdak toward them run,
To meet the hermit boy they hied,
And hailed him with a smile, and cried:
“O come, we pray, dear lord, behold
Our lovely home of which we told
Due honour there to thee we'll pay,
And speed thee on thy homeward way.”
Pleased with the gracious words they said
He followed where the damsels led.
As with his guides his steps he bent,
That Bráhman high of worth,
A flood of rain from heaven was sent
That gladdened all the earth.
Vibháṇdak took his homeward road,
And wearied by the heavy load
Of roots and woodland fruit he bore
Entered at last his cottage door.
Fain for his son he looked around,
But desolate the cell he found.
He stayed not then to bathe his feet,
Though fainting with the toil and heat,
But hurried forth and roamed about
Calling the boy with cry and shout,
He searched the wood, but all in vain;
Nor tidings of his son could gain.
One day beyond the forest's bound
The wandering saint a village found,
And asked the swains and neatherds there
Who owned the land so rich and fair,
With all the hamlets of the plain,
And herds of kine and fields of grain.
They listened to the hermit's words,
And all the guardians of the herds,
With suppliant hands together pressed,
This answer to the saint addressed:
“The Angas' lord who bears the name
Of Lomapád, renowned by fame,
Bestowed these hamlets with their kine
And all their riches, as a sign
Of grace, on Rishyaśring: and he
Vibháṇdak's son is said to be.”
The hermit with exulting breast
The mighty will of fate confessed,
By meditation's eye discerned;
And cheerful to his home returned.
A stately ship, at early morn,
The hermit's son away had borne.
Loud roared the clouds, as on he sped,
The sky grew blacker overhead;
Till, as he reached the royal town,
A mighty flood of rain came down.
By the great rain the monarch's mind
The coming of his guest divined.
To meet the honoured youth he went,
And low to earth his head he bent.
With his own priest to lead the train,
He gave the gift high guests obtain.
And sought, with all who dwelt within
The city walls, his grace to win.
He fed him with the daintiest fare,
He served him with unceasing care,
And ministered with anxious eyes
Lest anger in his breast should rise;
And gave to be the Bráhman's bride
His own fair daughter, lotus-eyed.
Thus loved and honoured by the king,
The glorious Bráhman Rishyaśring
Passed in that royal town his life
With Śántá his beloved wife.”
Canto X. Rishyasring Invited.
“Again, O best of kings, give ear:
My saving words attentive hear,
And listen to the tale of old
By that illustrious Bráhman told.
“Of famed Ikshváku's line shall spring
('Twas thus he spoke) a pious king,
Named Daśaratha, good and great,
True to his word and fortunate.
He with the Angas' mighty lord
Shall ever live in sweet accord,
And his a daughter fair shall be,
Śántá of happy destiny.
But Lomapád, the Angas' chief,
Still pining in his childless grief,
To Daśaratha thus shall say:
“Give me thy daughter, friend, I pray,
Thy Śántá of the tranquil mind,
The noblest one of womankind.”
The father, swift to feel for woe,
Shall on his friend his child bestow;
And he shall take her and depart
To his own town with joyous heart.
The maiden home in triumph led,
To Rishyaśring the king shall wed.
And he with loving joy and pride
Shall take her for his honoured bride.
And Daśaratha to a rite
That best of Bráhmans shall invite
With supplicating prayer,
To celebrate the sacrifice
To win him sons and Paradise,83
That he will fain prepare.
[pg 019]
From him the lord of men at length
The boon he seeks shall gain,
And see four sons of boundless strength
His royal line maintain.”
“Thus did the godlike saint of old
The will of fate declare,
And all that should befall unfold
Amid the sages there.
O Prince supreme of men, go thou,
Consult thy holy guide,
And win, to aid thee in thy vow,
This Bráhman to thy side.”
Sumantra's counsel, wise and good,
King Daśaratha heard,
Then by Vaśishṭha's side he stood
And thus with him conferred:
“Sumantra counsels thus: do thou
My priestly guide, the plan allow.”
Vaśishṭha gave his glad consent,
And forth the happy monarch went
With lords and servants on the road
That led to Rishyaśring's abode.
Forests and rivers duly past,
He reached the distant town at last
Of Lomapád the Angas' king,
And entered it with welcoming.
On through the crowded streets he came,
And, radiant as the kindled flame,
He saw within the monarch's house
The hermit's son most glorious.
There Lomapád, with joyful breast,
To him all honour paid,
For friendship for his royal guest
His faithful bosom swayed.
Thus entertained with utmost care
Seven days, or eight, he tarried there,
And then that best of men thus broke
His purpose to the king, and spoke:
“O King of men, mine ancient friend,
(Thus Daśaratha prayed)
Thy Śántá with her husband send
My sacrifice to aid.”
Said he who ruled the Angas, Yea,
And his consent was won:
And then at once he turned away
To warn the hermit's son.
He told him of their ties beyond
Their old affection's faithful bond:
“This king,” he said, “from days of old
A well beloved friend I hold.
To me this pearl of dames he gave
From childless woe mine age to save,
The daughter whom he loved so much,
Moved by compassion's gentle touch.
In him thy Śántás father see:
As I am even so is he.
For sons the childless monarch yearns:
To thee alone for help he turns.
Go thou, the sacred rite ordain
To win the sons he prays to gain:
Go, with thy wife thy succour lend,
And give his vows a blissful end.”
The hermit's son with quick accord
Obeyed the Angas' mighty lord,
And with fair Śántá at his side
To Daśaratha's city hied.
Each king, with suppliant hands upheld,
Gazed on the other's face:
And then by mutual love impelled
Met in a close embrace.
Then Daśaratha's thoughtful care,
Before he parted thence,
Bade trusty servants homeward bear
The glad intelligence:
“Let all the town be bright and gay
With burning incense sweet;
Let banners wave, and water lay
The dust in every street.”
Glad were the citizens to learn
The tidings of their lord's return,
And through the city every man
Obediently his task began.
And fair and bright Ayodhyá showed,
As following his guest he rode
Through the full streets where shell and drum
Proclaimed aloud the king was come.
And all the people with delight
Kept gazing on their king,
Attended by that youth so bright,
The glorious Rishyaśring.
When to his home the king had brought
The hermit's saintly son,
He deemed that all his task was wrought,
And all he prayed for won.
And lords who saw that stranger dame
So beautiful to view,
Rejoiced within their hearts, and came
And paid her honour too.
There Rishyaśring passed blissful days,
Graced like the king with love and praise
And shone in glorious light with her,
Sweet Śántá, for his minister,
As Brahmá's son Vaśishṭha, he
Who wedded Saint Arundhatí.84
Canto XI. The Sacrifice Decreed.
The Dewy Season85 came and went;
The spring returned again:
Then would the king, with mind intent,
His sacrifice ordain.
[pg 020]
He came to Rishyaśring, and bowed
To him of look divine,
And bade him aid his offering vowed
For heirs, to save his line.
Nor would the youth his aid deny:
He spake the monarch fair,
And prayed him for that rite so high
All requisites prepare.
The king to wise Sumantra cried
Who stood aye ready near;
“Go summon quick each holy guide,
To counsel and to hear.”
Obedient to his lord's behest
Away Sumantra sped,
And brought Vaśishṭha and the rest,
In Scripture deeply read.
Suyajǹa, Vámadeva came,
Jávali, Kaśyap's son,
And old Vaśishṭha, dear to fame,
Obedient every one.
King Daśaratha met them there
And duly honoured each,
And spoke in pleasant words his fair
And salutary speech:
“In childless longing doomed to pine,
No happiness, O lords, is mine.
So have I for this cause decreed
To slay the sacrificial steed.
Fain would I pay that offering high
Wherein the horse is doomed to die,
With Rishyaśring his aid to lend,
And with your glory to befriend.”
With loud applause each holy man
Received his speech, approved the plan,
And, by the wise Vaśishṭha led,
Gave praises to the king, and said:
“The sons thou cravest shalt thou see,
Of fairest glory, born to thee,
Whose holy feelings bid thee take
This righteous course for offspring's sake.”
Cheered by the ready praise of those
Whose aid he sought, his spirits rose,
And thus the king his speech renewed
With looks of joy and gratitude:
“Let what the coming rites require
Be ready as the priests desire,
And let the horse, ordained to bleed,
With fitting guard and priest, be freed,86
Yonder on Sarjú's northern side
The sacrificial ground provide;
And let the saving rites, that naught
Ill-omened may occur, be wrought.
The offering I announce to-day
Each lord of earth may claim to pay,
Provided that his care can guard
The holy rite by flaws unmarred.
For wandering fiends, whose watchful spite
Waits eagerly to spoil each rite,
Hunting with keenest eye detect
The slightest slip, the least neglect;
And when the sacred work is crossed
The workman is that moment lost.
Let preparation due be made:
Your powers the charge can meet:
That so the noble rite be paid
In every point complete.”
And all the Bráhmans answered, Yea,
His mandate honouring,
And gladly promised to obey
The order of the king.
They cried with voices raised aloud:
“Success attend thine aim!”
Then bade farewell, and lowly bowed,
And hastened whence they came.
King Daśaratha went within,
His well loved wives to see:
And said: “Your lustral rites begin,
For these shall prosper me.
A glorious offering I prepare
That precious fruit of sons may bear.”
Their lily faces brightened fast
Those pleasant words to hear,
As lilies, when the winter's past,
In lovelier hues appear.
Canto XII. The Sacrifice Begun.
Again the spring with genial heat
Returning made the year complete.
To win him sons, without delay
His vow the king resolved to pay:
And to Vaśishṭha, saintly man,
In modest words this speech began:
“Prepare the rite with all things fit
As is ordained in Holy Writ,
And keep with utmost care afar
Whate'er its sacred forms might mar.
Thou art, my lord, my trustiest guide,
Kind-hearted, and my friend beside;
So is it meet thou undertake
This heavy task for duty's sake.”
Then he, of twice-born men the best,
His glad assent at once expressed:
“Fain will I do whate'er may be
Desired, O honoured King, by thee.”
To ancient priests he spoke, who, trained
In holy rites, deep skill had gained:
“Here guards be stationed, good and sage
Religious men of trusted age.
And various workmen send and call,
Who frame the door and build the wall:
With men of every art and trade,
Who read the stars and ply the spade,
[pg 021]
And mimes and minstrels hither bring,
And damsels trained to dance and sing.”
Then to the learned men he said,
In many a page of Scripture read:
“Be yours each rite performed to see
According to the king's decree.
And stranger Bráhmans quickly call
To this great rite that welcomes all.
Pavilions for the princes, decked
With art and ornament, erect,
And handsome booths by thousands made
The Bráhman visitors to shade,
Arranged in order side by side,
With meat and drink and all supplied.
And ample stables we shall need
For many an elephant and steed:
And chambers where the men may lie,
And vast apartments, broad and high,
Fit to receive the countless bands
Of warriors come from distant lands.
For our own people too provide
Sufficient tents, extended wide,
And stores of meat and drink prepare,
And all that can be needed there.
And food in plenty must be found
For guests from all the country round.
Of various viands presents make,
For honour, not for pity's sake,
That fit regard and worship be
Paid to each caste in due degree.
And let not wish or wrath excite
Your hearts the meanest guest to slight;
But still observe with special grace
Those who obtain the foremost place,
Whether for happier skill in art
Or bearing in the rite their part.
Do you, I pray, with friendly mind
Perform the task to you assigned,
And work the rite, as bids the law,
Without omission, slip, or flaw”
They answered: “As thou seest fit
So will we do and naught omit.”
The sage Vaśiṣṭha then addressed
Sumantra called at his behest:
“The princes of the earth invite,
And famous lords who guard the rite,
Priest, Warrior, Merchant, lowly thrall,
In countless thousands summon all.
Where'er their home be, far or near,
Gather the good with honour here,
And Janak, whose imperial sway
The men of Míthilá87 obey.
The firm of vow, the dread of foes,
Who all the lore of Scripture knows,
Invite him here with honour high,
King Daśaratha's old ally.
And Káśi's88 lord of gentle speech,
Who finds a pleasant word for each,
In length of days our monarch's peer,
Illustrious king, invite him here.
The father of our ruler's bride,
Known for his virtues far and wide,
The king whom Kekaya's89 realms obey,
Him with his son invite, I pray.
And Lomapád the Angas' king,
True to his vows and godlike, bring.
For be thine invitations sent
To west and south and orient.
Call those who rule Suráshṭra's90 land,
Suvíra's91 realm and Sindhu's strand,
And all the kings of earth beside
In friendship's bonds with us allied:
Invite them all to hasten in
With retinue and kith and kin.”
Vaśishṭha's speech without delay
Sumantra bent him to obey.
And sent his trusty envoys forth
Eastward and westward, south and north.
Obedient to the saint's request
Himself he hurried forth, and pressed
Each nobler chief and lord and king
To hasten to the gathering.
Before the saint Vaśishṭha stood
All those who wrought with stone and wood,
And showed the work which every one
In furtherance of the rite had done,
Rejoiced their ready zeal to see,
Thus to the craftsmen all said he:
“I charge ye, masters, see to this,
That there be nothing done amiss,
And this, I pray, in mind be borne,
That not one gift ye give in scorn:
Whenever scorn a gift attends
Great sin is his who thus offends.”
And now some days and nights had past,
And kings began to gather fast,
And precious gems in liberal store
As gifts to Daśaratha bore.
Then joy thrilled through Vaśishṭha's breast
As thus the monarch he addressed:
“Obedient to thy high decree
The kings, my lord, are come to thee.
[pg 022]
And it has been my care to greet
And honour all with reverence meet.
Thy servants' task is ended quite,
And all is ready for the rite.
Come forth then to the sacred ground
Where all in order will be found.”
Then Rishyaśring confirmed the tale:
Nor did their words to move him fail.
The stars propitious influence lent
When forth the world's great ruler went.
Then by the sage Vaśishṭha led
The priest begun to speed
Those glorious rites wherein is shed
The lifeblood of the steed.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
The circling year had filled its course,
And back was brought the wandering horse:
Then upon Sarjú's northern strand
Began the rite the king had planned.
With Rishyaśring the forms to guide,
The Bráhmans to their task applied,
At that great offering of the steed
Their lofty-minded king decreed.
The priests, who all the Scripture knew,
Performed their part in order due,
And circled round in solemn train
As precepts of the law ordain.
Pravargya rites92 were duly sped:
For Upasads93 the flames were fed.
Then from the plant94 the juice was squeezed,
And those high saints with minds well pleased
Performed the mystic rites begun
With bathing ere the rise of sun
They gave the portion Indra's claim,
And hymned the King whom none can blame.
The mid-day bathing followed next,
Observed as bids the holy text.
Then the good priests with utmost care,
In form that Scripture's rules declare,
For the third time pure water shed
On high souled Daśaratha's head.
Then Rishyaśring and all the rest
To Indra and the Gods addressed
Their sweet-toned hymn of praise and prayer,
And called them in the rite to share.
With sweetest song and hymn entoned
They gave the Gods in heaven enthroned,
As duty bids, the gifts they claim,
The holy oil that feeds the flame.
And many an offering there was paid,
And not one slip in all was made.
For with most careful heed they saw
That all was done by Veda law.
None, all those days, was seen oppressed
By hunger or by toil distressed.
Why speak of human kind? No beast
Was there that lacked an ample feast.
For there was store for all who came,
For orphan child and lonely dame;
The old and young were well supplied,
The poor and hungry satisfied.
Throughout the day ascetics fed,
And those who roam to beg their bread:
While all around the cry was still,
“Give forth, give forth,” and “Eat your fill.”
“Give forth with liberal hand the meal,
And various robes in largess deal.”
Urged by these cries on every side
Unweariedly their task they plied:
And heaps of food like hills in size
In boundless plenty met the eyes:
And lakes of sauce, each day renewed,
Refreshed the weary multitude.
And strangers there from distant lands,
And women folk in crowded bands
The best of food and drink obtained
At the great rite the king ordained.
Apart from all, the Bráhmans there,
Thousands on thousands, took their share
Of various dainties sweet to taste,
On plates of gold and silver placed,
All ready set, as, when they willed,
The twice-born men their places filled.
And servants in fair garments dressed
Waited upon each Bráhman guest.
Of cheerful mind and mien were they,
With gold and jewelled earrings gay.
The best of Bráhmans praised the fare
Of countless sorts, of flavour rare:
And thus to Raghu's son they cried:
“We bless thee, and are satisfied.”
Between the rites some Bráhmans spent
The time in learned argument,
[pg 023]
With ready flow of speech, sedate,
And keen to vanquish in debate.95
There day by day the holy train
Performed all rites as rules ordain.
No priest in all that host was found
But kept the vows that held him bound:
None, but the holy Vedas knew,
And all their six-fold science96 too.
No Bráhman there was found unfit
To speak with eloquence and wit.
And now the appointed time came near
The sacrificial posts to rear.
They brought them, and prepared to fix
Of Bel97 and Khádir98 six and six;
Six, made of the Paláśa99 tree,
Of Fig-wood one, apart to be:
Of Sleshmát100 and of Devadár101
One column each, the mightiest far:
So thick the two, the arms of man
Their ample girth would fail to span.
All these with utmost care were wrought
By hand of priests in Scripture taught,
And all with gold were gilded bright
To add new splendour to the rite:
Twenty-and-one those stakes in all,
Each one-and-twenty cubits tall:
And one-and-twenty ribbons there
Hung on the pillars, bright and fair.
Firm in the earth they stood at last,
Where cunning craftsmen fixed them fast;
And there unshaken each remained,
Octagonal and smoothly planed.
Then ribbons over all were hung,
And flowers and scent around them flung.
Thus decked they cast a glory forth
Like the great saints who star the north.102
The sacrificial altar then
Was raised by skilful twice-born men,
In shape and figure to behold
An eagle with his wings of gold,
With twice nine pits and formed three-fold
Each for some special God, beside
The pillars were the victims tied;
The birds that roam the wood, the air,
The water, and the land were there,
And snakes and things of reptile birth,
And healing herbs that spring from earth:
As texts prescribe, in Scripture found,
Three hundred victims there were bound.
The steed devoted to the host
Of Gods, the gem they honour most,
Was duly sprinkled. Then the Queen
Kauśalyá, with delighted mien,
With reverent steps around him paced,
And with sweet wreaths the victim graced;
Then with three swords in order due
She smote the steed with joy, and slew.
That night the queen, a son to gain,
With calm and steady heart was fain
By the dead charger's side to stay
From evening till the break of day.
Then came three priests, their care to lead
The other queens to touch the steed,
Upon Kauśalyá to attend,
Their company and aid to lend.
As by the horse she still reclined,
With happy mien and cheerful mind,
With Rishyaśring the twice-born came
And praised and blessed the royal dame.
The priest who well his duty knew,
And every sense could well subdue,
From out the bony chambers freed
And boiled the marrow of the steed.
Above the steam the monarch bent,
And, as he smelt the fragrant scent,
In time and order drove afar
All error that his hopes could mar.
Then sixteen priests together came
And cast into the sacred flame
The severed members of the horse,
Made ready all in ordered course.
On piles of holy Fig-tree raised
[pg 024]
The meaner victims' bodies blazed:
The steed, of all the creatures slain,
Alone required a pile of cane.
Three days, as is by law decreed,
Lasted that Offering of the Steed.
The Chatushṭom began the rite,
And when the sun renewed his light,
The Ukthya followed: after came
The Atirátra's holy flame.
These were the rites, and many more
Arranged by light of holy lore,
The Aptoryám of mighty power,
And, each performed in proper hour,
The Abhijit and Viśvajit
With every form and service fit;
And with the sacrifice at night
The Jyotishṭom and Áyus rite.103
The task was done, as laws prescribe:
The monarch, glory of his tribe,
Bestowed the land in liberal grants
Upon the sacred ministrants.
He gave the region of the east,
His conquest, to the Hotri priest.
The west, the celebrant obtained:
The south, the priest presiding gained:
The northern region was the share
Of him who chanted forth the prayer,104
Thus did each priest obtain his meed
At the great Slaughter of the Steed,
Ordained, the best of all to be,
By self-existent deity.
Ikshváku's son with joyful mind
This noble fee to each assigned,
But all the priests with one accord
Addressed that unpolluted lord:
“Tis thine alone to keep the whole
Of this broad earth in firm control.
[pg 025]
No gift of lands from thee we seek:
To guard these realms our hands were weak.
On sacred lore our days are spent:
Let other gifts our wants content.”
The chief of old Ikshváku's line
Gave them ten hundred thousand kine,
A hundred millions of fine gold,
The same in silver four times told.
But every priest in presence there
With one accord resigned his share.
To Saint Vaśishṭha, high of soul,
And Rishyaśring they gave the whole.
That largess pleased those Bráhmans well,
Who bade the prince his wishes tell.
Then Daśaratha, mighty king,
Made answer thus to Rishyaśring:
“O holy Hermit, of thy grace,
Vouchsafe the increase of my race.”
He spoke; nor was his prayer denied:
The best of Bráhmans thus replied:
“Four sons, O Monarch, shall be thine,
Upholders of thy royal line.”
Canto XIV. Rávan Doomed.
The saint, well read in holy lore,
Pondered awhile his answer o'er,
And thus again addressed the king,
His wandering thoughts regathering:
“Another rite will I begin
Which shall the sons thou cravest win,
Where all things shall be duly sped
And first Atharva texts be read.”
Then by Vibháṇdak's gentle son
Was that high sacrifice begun,
The king's advantage seeking still
And zealous to perform his will.
Now all the Gods had gathered there,
Each one for his allotted share:
Brahmá, the ruler of the sky,
Stháṇu, Náráyaṇ, Lord most high,
And holy Indra men might view
With Maruts105 for his retinue;
The heavenly chorister, and saint,
And spirit pure from earthly taint,
With one accord had sought the place
The high-souled monarch's rite to grace.
Then to the Gods who came to take
Their proper share the hermit spake:
“For you has Daśaratha slain
The votive steed, a son to gain;
Stern penance-rites the king has tried,
And in firm faith on you relied,
And now with undiminished care
A second rite would fain prepare.
But, O ye Gods, consent to grant
The longing of your supplicant.
For him beseeching hands I lift,
And pray you all to grant the gift,
That four fair sons of high renown
The offerings of the king may crown.”
They to the hermit's son replied:
“His longing shall be gratified.
For, Bráhman, in most high degree
We love the king and honour thee.”
These words the Gods in answer said,
And vanished thence by Indra led.
Thus to the Lord, the worlds who made,
The Immortals all assembled prayed:
“O Brahmá, mighty by thy grace,
Rávaṇ, who rules the giant race,
Torments us in his senseless pride,
And penance-loving saints beside.
For thou well pleased in days of old
Gavest the boon that makes him bold,
That God nor demon e'er should kill
His charmed life, for so thy will.
We, honouring that high behest,
Bear all his rage though sore distressed.
That lord of giants fierce and fell
Scourges the earth and heaven and hell.
Mad with thy boon, his impious rage
Smites saint and bard and God and sage.
The sun himself withholds his glow,
The wind in fear forbears to blow;
The fire restrains his wonted heat
Where stand the dreaded Rávaṇ's feet,
And, necklaced with the wandering wave,
The sea before him fears to rave.
Kuvera's self in sad defeat
Is driven from his blissful seat.
We see, we feel the giant's might,
And woe comes o'er us and affright.
To thee, O Lord, thy suppliants pray
To find some cure this plague to stay.”
Thus by the gathered Gods addressed
He pondered in his secret breast,
And said: “One only way I find
To slay this fiend of evil mind.
He prayed me once his life to guard
From demon, God, and heavenly bard,
And spirits of the earth and air,
And I consenting heard his prayer.
But the proud giant in his scorn
Recked not of man of woman born.
None else may take his life away,
But only man the fiend may slay.”
The Gods, with Indra at their head,
Rejoiced to hear the words he said.
Then crowned with glory like a flame,
Lord Vishṇu to the council came;
His hands shell, mace, and discus bore,
And saffron were the robes he wore.
[pg 026]
Riding his eagle through the crowd,
As the sun rides upon a cloud,
With bracelets of fine gold, he came
Loud welcomed by the Gods' acclaim.
His praise they sang with one consent,
And cried, in lowly reverence bent:
“O Lord whose hand fierce Madhu106 slew,
Be thou our refuge, firm and true;
Friend of the suffering worlds art thou,
We pray thee help thy suppliants now.”
Then Vishṇu spake: “Ye Gods, declare,
What may I do to grant your prayer?”
“King Daśaratha,” thus cried they,
“Fervent in penance many a day,
The sacrificial steed has slain,
Longing for sons, but all in vain.
Now, at the cry of us forlorn,
Incarnate as his seed be born.
Three queens has he: each lovely dame
Like Beauty, Modesty, or Fame.
Divide thyself in four, and be
His offspring by these noble three.
Man's nature take, and slay in fight
Rávaṇ who laughs at heavenly might:
This common scourge, this rankling thorn
Whom the three worlds too long have borne
For Rávaṇ in the senseless pride
Of might unequalled has defied
The host of heaven, and plagues with woe
Angel and bard and saint below,
Crushing each spirit and each maid
Who plays in Nandan's107 heavenly shade.
O conquering Lord, to thee we bow;
Our surest hope and trust art thou.
Regard the world of men below,
And slay the Gods' tremendous foe.”
When thus the suppliant Gods had prayed,
His wise reply Náráyaṇ108 made:
“What task demands my presence there,
And whence this dread, ye Gods declare.”
The Gods replied: “We fear, O Lord,
Fierce Rávaṇ, ravener abhorred.
Be thine the glorious task, we pray,
In human form this fiend to slay.
By thee of all the Blest alone
This sinner may be overthrown.
He gained by penance long and dire
The favour of the mighty Sire.
Then He who every gift bestows
Guarded the fiend from heavenly foes,
And gave a pledge his life that kept
From all things living, man except.
On him thus armed no other foe
Than man may deal the deadly blow.
Assume, O King, a mortal birth,
And strike the demon to the earth.”
Then Vishṇu, God of Gods, the Lord
Supreme by all the worlds adored,
To Brahmá and the suppliants spake:
“Dismiss your fear: for your dear sake
In battle will I smite him dead,
The cruel fiend, the Immortal's dread.
And lords and ministers and all
His kith and kin with him shall fall.
Then, in the world of mortal men,
Ten thousand years and hundreds ten
I as a human king will reign,
And guard the earth as my domain.”
God, saint, and nymph, and minstrel throng
With heavenly voices raised their song
In hymns of triumph to the God
Whose conquering feet on Madhu trod:
“Champion of Gods, as man appear,
This cruel Rávaṇ slay,
The thorn that saints and hermits fear,
The plague that none can stay.
In savage fury uncontrolled
His pride for ever grows:
He dares the Lord of Gods to hold
Among his deadly foes.”
Canto XV. The Nectar.
When wisest Vishṇu thus had given
His promise to the Gods of heaven,
He pondered in his secret mind
A suited place of birth to find,
Then he decreed, the lotus-eyed,
In four his being to divide,
And Daśaratha, gracious king,
He chose as sire from whom to spring.
That childless prince of high renown,
Who smote in war his foemen down,
At that same time with utmost care
Prepared the rite that wins an heir.109
Then Vishṇu, fain on earth to dwell,
Bade the Almighty Sire farewell,
And vanished while a reverent crowd
Of Gods and saints in worship bowed.
The monarch watched the sacred rite,
When a vast form of awful might,
Of matchless splendour, strength, and size
Was manifest before his eyes.
[pg 027]
From forth the sacrificial flame,
Dark, robed in red, the being came.
His voice was drumlike, loud and low,
His face suffused with rosy glow.
Like a huge lion's mane appeared
The long locks of his hair and beard.
He shone with many a lucky sign,
And many an ornament divine;
A towering mountain in his height,
A tiger in his gait and might.
No precious mine more rich could be,
No burning flame more bright than he.
His arms embraced in loving hold,
Like a dear wife, a vase of gold
Whose silver lining held a draught
Of nectar as in heaven is quaffed:
A vase so vast, so bright to view,
They scarce could count the vision true.
Upon the king his eyes he bent,
And said: “The Lord of life has sent
His servant down, O Prince, to be
A messenger from heaven to thee.”
The king with all his nobles by
Raised reverent hands and made reply:
“Welcome, O glorious being! Say
How can my care thy grace repay.”
Envoy of Him whom all adore
Thus to the king he spake once more:
“The Gods accept thy worship: they
Give thee the blessed fruit to-day.
Approach and take, O glorious King,
This heavenly nectar which I bring,
For it shall give thee sons and wealth,
And bless thee with a store of health.
Give it to those fair queens of thine,
And bid them quaff the drink divine:
And they the princely sons shall bear
Long sought by sacrifice and prayer.”
“Yea, O my lord,” the monarch said,
And took the vase upon his head,
The gift of Gods, of fine gold wrought,
With store of heavenly liquor fraught.
He honoured, filled with transport new,
That wondrous being, fair to view,
As round the envoy of the God
With reverential steps he trod.110
His errand done, that form of light
Arose and vanished from the sight.
High rapture filled the monarch's soul,
Possessed of that celestial bowl,
As when a man by want distressed
With unexpected wealth is blest.
And rays of transport seemed to fall
Illuminating bower and hall,
As when the autumn moon rides high,
And floods with lovely light the sky.
Quick to the ladies' bower he sped,
And thus to Queen Kauśalyá said:
“This genial nectar take and quaff,”
He spoke, and gave the lady half.
Part of the nectar that remained
Sumitrá from his hand obtained.
He gave, to make her fruitful too,
Kaikeyí half the residue.
A portion yet remaining there,
He paused awhile to think.
Then gave Sumitrá, with her share.
The remnant of the drink.
Thus on each queen of those fair three
A part the king bestowed,
And with sweet hope a child to see
Their yearning bosoms glowed.
The heavenly bowl the king supplied
Their longing souls relieved,
And soon, with rapture and with pride,
Each royal dame conceived.
He gazed upon each lady's face,
And triumphed as he gazed,
As Indra in his royal place
By Gods and spirits praised.
Canto XVI. The Vánars.
When Vishṇu thus had gone on earth,
From the great king to take his birth,
The self-existent Lord of all
Addressed the Gods who heard his call:
“For Vishṇu's sake, the strong and true,
Who seeks the good of all of you,
Make helps, in war to lend him aid,
In forms that change at will, arrayed,
Of wizard skill and hero might,
Outstrippers of the wind in flight,
Skilled in the arts of counsel, wise,
And Vishṇu's peers in bold emprise;
With heavenly arts and prudence fraught,
By no devices to be caught;
Skilled in all weapon's lore and use
As they who drink the immortal juice.111
[pg 028]
And let the nymphs supreme in grace,
And maidens of the minstrel race,
Monkeys and snakes, and those who rove
Free spirits of the hill and grove,
And wandering Daughters of the Air,
In monkey form brave children bear.
So erst the lord of bears I shaped,
Born from my mouth as wide I gaped.”
Thus by the mighty Sire addressed
They all obeyed his high behest,
And thus begot in countless swarms
Brave sons disguised in sylvan forms.
Each God, each sage became a sire,
Each minstrel of the heavenly quire,112
Each faun,113 of children strong and good
Whose feet should roam the hill and wood.
Snakes, bards,114 and spirits,115 serpents bold
Had sons too numerous to be told.
Báli, the woodland hosts who led,
High as Mahendra's116 lofty head,
Was Indra's child. That noblest fire,
The Sun, was great Sugríva's sire,
Tára, the mighty monkey, he
Was offspring of Vṛihaspati:117
Tára the matchless chieftain, boast
For wisdom of the Vánar host.
Of Gandhamádan brave and bold
The father was the Lord of Gold.
Nala the mighty, dear to fame,
Of skilful Viśvakarmá118 came.
From Agni,119 Nila bright as flame,
Who in his splendour, might, and worth,
Surpassed the sire who gave him birth.
The heavenly Aśvins,120 swift and fair,
Were fathers of a noble pair,
Who, Dwivida and Mainda named,
For beauty like their sires were famed,
Varuṇ121 was father of Susheṇ,
Of Sarabh, he who sends the rain,122
Hanúmán, best of monkey kind,
Was son of him who breathes the wind:
Like thunderbolt in frame was he,
And swift as Garuḍ's123 self could flee.
These thousands did the Gods create
Endowed with might that none could mate,
In monkey forms that changed at will;
So strong their wish the fiend to kill.
In mountain size, like lions thewed,
Up sprang the wondrous multitude,
Auxiliar hosts in every shape,
Monkey and bear and highland ape.
In each the strength, the might, the mien
Of his own parent God were seen.
Some chiefs of Vánar mothers came,
Some of she-bear and minstrel dame,
Skilled in all arms in battle's shock;
The brandished tree, the loosened rock;
And prompt, should other weapons fail,
To fight and slay with tooth and nail.
Their strength could shake the hills amain,
And rend the rooted trees in twain,
Disturb with their impetuous sweep
The Rivers' Lord, the Ocean deep,
Rend with their feet the seated ground,
And pass wide floods with airy bound,
Or forcing through the sky their way
The very clouds by force could stay.
Mad elephants that wander through
The forest wilds, could they subdue,
And with their furious shout could scare
Dead upon earth the birds of air.
So were the sylvan chieftains formed;
Thousands on thousands still they swarmed.
These were the leaders honoured most,
The captains of the Vánar host,
And to each lord and chief and guide
Was monkey offspring born beside.
Then by the bears' great monarch stood
The other roamers of the wood,
[pg 029]
And turned, their pathless homes to seek,
To forest and to mountain peak.
The leaders of the monkey band
By the two brothers took their stand,
Sugríva, offspring of the Sun
And Báli, Indra's mighty one.
They both endowed with Garuḍ's might,
And skilled in all the arts of fight,
Wandered in arms the forest through,
And lions, snakes, and tigers, slew.
But every monkey, ape, and bear
Ever was Báli's special care;
With his vast strength and mighty arm
He kept them from all scathe and harm.
And so the earth with hill, wood, seas,
Was filled with mighty ones like these,
Of various shape and race and kind,
With proper homes to each assigned,
With Ráma's champions fierce and strong
The earth was overspread,
High as the hills and clouds, a throng
With bodies vast and dread.124
Canto XVII. Rishyasring's Return.
Now when the high-souled monarch's rite,
The Aśvamedh, was finished quite,
Their sacrificial dues obtained,
The Gods their heavenly homes regained.
The lofty-minded saints withdrew,
Each to his place, with honour due,
And kings and chieftains, one and all,
Who came to grace the festival.
And Daśaratha, ere they went,
Addressed them thus benevolent:
“Now may you, each with joyful heart,
To your own realms, O Kings, depart.
Peace and good luck attend you there,
And blessing, is my friendly prayer;
Let cares of state each mind engage
To guard his royal heritage.
A monarch from his throne expelled
No better than the dead is held.
So he who cares for power and might
Must guard his realm and royal right.
Such care a meed in heaven will bring
Better than rites and offering.
Such care a king his country owes
As man upon himself bestows,
When for his body he provides
Raiment and every need besides.
For future days should kings foresee,
And keep the present error-free.”
Thus did the king the kings exhort:
They heard, and turned them from the court
And, each to each in friendship bound,
Went forth to all the realms around.
The rites were o'er, the guests were sped:
The train the best of Bráhmans led,
In which the king with joyful soul,
With his dear wives, and with the whole
Of his imperial host and train
Of cars and servants turned again,
And, as a monarch dear to fame,
Within his royal city came.
Next, Rishyaśring, well-honoured sage,
And Śántá, sought their hermitage.
The king himself, of prudent mind,
Attended him, with troops behind.
And all her men the town outpoured
With Saint Vaśishṭha and their lord.
High mounted on a car of state,
O'er canopied fair Śántá sate.
Drawn by white oxen, while a band
Of servants marched on either hand.
Great gifts of countless price she bore,
With sheep and goats and gems in store.
Like Beauty's self the lady shone
With all the jewels she had on,
As, happy in her sweet content,
Peerless amid the fair she went.
Not Queen Paulomí's125 self could be
More loving to her lord than she.
She who had lived in happy ease,
Honoured with all her heart could please,
While dames and kinsfolk ever vied
To see her wishes gratified,
Soon as she knew her husband's will
Again to seek the forest, still
Was ready for the hermit's cot,
Nor murmured at her altered lot.
The king attended to the wild
That hermit and his own dear child,
And in the centre of a throng
Of noble courtiers rode along.
The sage's son had let prepare
A lodge within the wood, and there
While they lingered blithe and gay.
Then, duly honoured, went their way.
The glorious hermit Rishyaśring
Drew near and thus besought the king:
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“Return, my honoured lord, I pray,
Return, upon thy homeward way.”
The monarch, with the waiting crowd,
Lifted his voice and wept aloud,
And with eyes dripping still to each
Of his good queens he spake this speech:
“Kauśalyá and Sumitrá dear,
And thou, my sweet Kaikeyí, hear.
All upon Śántá feast your gaze,
The last time for a length of days.”
To Śántá's arms the ladies leapt,
And hung about her neck and wept,
And cried, “O, happy be the life
Of this great Bráhman and his wife.
The Wind, the Fire, the Moon on high,
The Earth, the Streams, the circling Sky,
Preserve thee in the wood, true spouse,
Devoted to thy husband's vows.
And O dear Śántá, ne'er neglect
To pay the dues of meek respect
To the great saint, thy husband's sire,
With all observance and with fire.
And, sweet one, pure of spot and blame,
Forget not thou thy husband's claim;
In every change, in good and ill,
Let thy sweet words delight him still,
And let thy worship constant be:
Her lord is woman's deity.
To learn thy welfare, dearest friend,
The king will many a Bráhman send.
Let happy thoughts thy spirit cheer,
And be not troubled, daughter dear.”
These soothing words the ladies said.
And pressed their lips upon her head.
Each gave with sighs her last adieu,
Then at the king's command withdrew.
The king around the hermit went
With circling footsteps reverent,
And placed at Rishyaśring's command
Some soldiers of his royal band.
The Bráhman bowed in turn and cried,
“May fortune never leave thy side.
O mighty King, with justice reign,
And still thy people's love retain.”
He spoke, and turned away his face,
And, as the hermit went,
The monarch, rooted to the place,
Pursued with eyes intent.
But when the sage had past from view
King Daśaratha turned him too,
Still fixing on his friend each thought.
With such deep love his breast was fraught.
Amid his people's loud acclaim
Home to his royal seat he came,
And lived delighted there,
Expecting when each queenly dame,
Upholder of his ancient fame,
Her promised son should bear.
The glorious sage his way pursued
Till close before his eyes he viewed
Sweet Champá, Lomapád's fair town,
Wreathed with her Champacs'126 leafy crown.
Soon as the saint's approach he knew,
The king, to yield him honour due,
Went forth to meet him with a band
Of priests and nobles of the land:
“Hail, Sage,” he cried, “O joy to me!
What bliss it is, my lord, to see
Thee with thy wife and all thy train
Returning to my town again.
Thy father, honoured Sage, is well,
Who hither from his woodland cell
Has sent full many a messenger
For tidings both of thee and her.”
Then joyfully, for due respect,
The monarch bade the town be decked.
The king and Rishyaśring elate
Entered the royal city's gate:
In front the chaplain rode.
Then, loved and honoured with all care
By monarch and by courtier, there
The glorious saint abode.
Canto XVIII. Rishyasring's Departure.
The monarch called a Bráhman near
And said, “Now speed away
To Kaśyap's son,127 the mighty seer,
And with all reverence say
The holy child he holds so dear,
The hermit of the noble mind,
Whose equal it were hard to find,
Returned, is dwelling here.
Go, and instead of me do thou
Before that best of hermits bow,
That still he may, for his dear son,
Show me the favour I have won.”
Soon as the king these words had said,
To Kaśyap's son the Bráhman sped.
Before the hermit low he bent
And did obeisance, reverent;
Then with meek words his grace to crave
The message of his lord he gave:
“The high-souled father of his bride
Had called thy son his rites to guide:
Those rites are o'er, the steed is slain;
Thy noble child is come again.”
Soon as the saint that speech had heard
His spirit with desire was stirred
To seek the city of the king
And to his cot his son to bring.
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With young disciples at his side
Forth on his way the hermit hied,
While peasants from their hamlets ran
To reverence the holy man.
Each with his little gift of food,
Forth came the village multitude,
And, as they humbly bowed the head,
“What may we do for thee?” they said.
Then he, of Bráhmans first and best,
The gathered people thus addressed:
“Now tell me for I fain would know,
Why is it I am honoured so?”
They to the high-souled saint replied:
“Our ruler is with thee allied.
Our master's order we fulfil;
O Bráhman, let thy mind be still.”
With joy the saintly hermit heard
Each pleasant and delightful word,
And poured a benediction down
On king and ministers and town.
Glad at the words of that high saint
Some servants hastened to acquaint
Their king, rejoicing to impart
The tidings that would cheer his heart.
Soon as the joyful tale he knew
To meet the saint the monarch flew,
The guest-gift in his hand he brought,
And bowed before him and besought:
“This day by seeing thee I gain
Not to have lived my life in vain,
Now be not wroth with me, I pray,
“Because I wiled thy son away.128
The best of Bráhmans answer made:
“Be not, great lord of kings, afraid.
Thy virtues have not failed to win
My favour, O thou pure of sin.”
Then in the front the saint was placed,
The king came next in joyous haste,
And with him entered his abode,
Mid glad acclaim as on they rode.
To greet the sage the reverent crowd
Raised suppliant hands and humbly bowed.
Then from the palace many a dame
Following well-dressed Śántá came,
Stood by the mighty saint and cried:
“See, honour's source, thy son's dear bride.”
The saint, who every virtue knew,
His arms around his daughter threw,
And with a father's rapture pressed
The lady to his wondering breast.
Arising from the saint's embrace
She bowed her low before his face,
And then, with palm to palm applied,
Stood by her hermit father's side.
He for his son, as laws ordain,
Performed the rite that frees from stain,129
And, honoured by the wise and good,
With him departed to the wood.
Canto XIX. The Birth Of The Princes.
The seasons six in rapid flight
Had circled since that glorious rite.
Eleven months had passed away;
'Twas Chaitra's ninth returning day.130
The moon within that mansion shone
Which Aditi looks kindly on.
Raised to their apex in the sky
Five brilliant planets beamed on high.
Shone with the moon, in Cancer's sign,
Vṛihaspati131 with light divine.
Kauśalyá bore an infant blest
With heavenly marks of grace impressed;
Ráma, the universe's lord,
A prince by all the worlds adored.
New glory Queen Kauśalyá won
Reflected from her splendid son.
So Aditi shone more and more,
The Mother of the Gods, when she
The King of the Immortals132 bore,
The thunder-wielding deity.
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The lotus-eyed, the beauteous boy,
He came fierce Rávaṇ to destroy;
From half of Vishṇu's vigour born,
He came to help the worlds forlorn.
And Queen Kaikeyí bore a child
Of truest valour, Bharat styled,
With every princely virtue blest,
One fourth of Vishṇu manifest.
Sumitrá too a noble pair,
Called Lakshmaṇ and Śatrughna, bare,
Of high emprise, devoted, true,
Sharers in Vishṇu's essence too.
'Neath Pushya's133 mansion, Mina's134 sign,
Was Bharat born, of soul benign.
The sun had reached the Crab at morn
When Queen Sumitrá's babes were born,
What time the moon had gone to make
His nightly dwelling with the Snake.
The high-souled monarch's consorts bore
At different times those glorious four,
Like to himself and virtuous, bright
As Proshṭhapadá's135 four-fold light.
Then danced the nymphs' celestial throng,
The minstrels raised their strain;
The drums of heaven pealed loud and long,
And flowers came down in rain.
Within Ayodhyá, blithe and gay,
All kept the joyous holiday.
The spacious square, the ample road
With mimes and dancers overflowed,
And with the voice of music rang
Where minstrels played and singers sang,
And shone, a wonder to behold,
With dazzling show of gems and gold.
Nor did the king his largess spare,
For minstrel, driver, bard, to share;
Much wealth the Bráhmans bore away,
And many thousand dine that day.
Soon as each babe was twelve days old
'Twas time the naming rite to hold.
When Saint Vaśishṭha, rapt with joy,
Assigned a name to every boy.
Ráma, to him the high-souled heir,
Bharat, to him Kaikeyí bare:
Of Queen Sumitrá one fair son
Was Lakshmaṇ, and Śatrughna136 one
Ráma, his sire's supreme delight,
Like some proud banner cheered his sight,
And to all creatures seemed to be
The self-existent deity.
All heroes, versed in holy lore,
To all mankind great love they bore.
Fair stores of wisdom all possessed,
With princely graces all were blest.
But mid those youths of high descent,
With lordly light preëminent.
Like the full moon unclouded, shone
Ráma, the world's dear paragon.
He best the elephant could guide.137
Urge the fleet car, the charger ride:
A master he of bowman's skill,
Joying to do his father's will.
The world's delight and darling, he
Loved Lakshmaṇ best from infancy
And Lakshmaṇ, lord of lofty fate,
Upon his elder joyed to wait,
Striving his second self to please
With friendship's sweet observances.
His limbs the hero ne'er would rest
Unless the couch his brother pressed;
Except beloved Ráma shared
He could not taste the meal prepared.
When Ráma, pride of Reghu's race,
Sprang on his steed to urge the chase,
Behind him Lakshmaṇ loved to go
And guard him with his trusty bow.
As Ráma was to Lakshmaṇ dear
More than his life and ever near,
So fond Śatrughna prized above
His very life his Bharat's love.
Illustrious heroes, nobly kind
In mutual love they all combined,
And gave their royal sire delight
With modest grace and warrior might:
Supported by the glorious four
Shone Daśaratha more and more,
As though, with every guardian God
Who keeps the land and skies,
The Father of all creatures trod
The earth before men's eyes.
Canto XX. Visvámitra's Visit.
Now Daśaratha's pious mind
Meet wedlock for his sons designed;
[pg 033]
With priests and friends the king began
To counsel and prepare his plan.
Such thoughts engaged his bosom, when,
To see Ayodhyá's lord of men,
A mighty saint of glorious fame,
The hermit Viśvámitra138 came.
For evil fiends that roam by night
Disturbed him in each holy rite,
And in their strength and frantic rage
Assailed with witcheries the sage.
He came to seek the monarch's aid
To guard the rites the demons stayed,
Unable to a close to bring
One unpolluted offering.
Seeking the king in this dire strait
He said to those who kept the gate:
“Haste, warders, to your master run,
And say that here stands Gádhi's son.”
Soon as they heard the holy man,
To the king's chamber swift they ran
With minds disordered all, and spurred
To wildest zeal by what they heard.
On to the royal hall they sped,
There stood and lowly bowed the head,
And made the lord of men aware
That the great saint was waiting there.
The king with priest and peer arose
And ran the sage to meet,
As Indra from his palace goes
Lord Brahmá's self to greet.
When glowing with celestial light
The pious hermit was in sight,
The king, whose mien his transport showed,
The honoured gift for guests bestowed.
Nor did the saint that gift despise,
Offered as holy texts advise;
He kindly asked the earth's great king
How all with him was prospering.
The son of Kuśik139 bade him tell
If all in town and field were well,
All well with friends, and kith and kin,
And royal treasure stored within:
“Do all thy neighbours own thy sway?
Thy foes confess thee yet?
Dost thou continue still to pay
To Gods and men each debt?”
Then he, of hermits first and best,
Vaśishṭha with a smile140 addressed,
And asked him of his welfare too,
Showing him honour as was due.
Then with the sainted hermit all
Went joyous to the monarch's hall,
And sate them down by due degree,
Each one, of rank and dignity.
Joy filled the noble prince's breast
Who thus bespoke the honoured guest:
“As amrit141 by a mortal found,
As rain upon the thirsty ground,
As to an heirless man a son
Born to him of his precious one,
As gain of what we sorely miss,
As sudden dawn of mighty bliss,
So is thy coming here to me:
All welcome, mighty Saint, to thee.
What wish within thy heart hast thou?
If I can please thee, tell me how.
Hail, Saint, from whom all honours flow,
Worthy of all I can bestow.
Blest is my birth with fruit to-day,
Nor has my life been thrown away.
I see the best of Bráhman race
And night to glorious morn gives place.
Thou, holy Sage, in days of old
Among the royal saints enrolled,
Didst, penance-glorified, within
The Bráhman caste high station win.
'Tis meet and right in many a way
That I to thee should honour pay.
This seems a marvel to mine eyes:
All sin thy visit purifies;
And I by seeing thee, O Sage,
Have reaped the fruit of pilgrimage.
Then say what thou wouldst have me do,
That thou hast sought this interview.
Favoured by thee, my wish is still,
O Hermit, to perform thy will.
Nor needest thou at length explain
The object that thy heart would gain.
Without reserve I grant it now:
My deity, O Lord, art thou.”
The glorious hermit, far renowned,
With highest fame and virtue crowned,
Rejoiced these modest words to hear
Delightful to the mind and ear.
Canto XXI. Visvámitra's Speech.
The hermit heard with high content
That speech so wondrous eloquent,
And while each hair with joy arose,142
[pg 034]
He thus made answer at the close:
“Good is thy speech O noble King,
And like thyself in everything.
So should their lips be wisdom-fraught
Whom kings begot, Vaśishṭha taught.
The favour which I came to seek
Thou grantest ere my tongue can speak.
But let my tale attention claim,
And hear the need for which I came.
O King, as Scripture texts allow,
A holy rite employs me now.
Two fiends who change their forms at will
Impede that rite with cursed skill.143
Oft when the task is nigh complete,
These worst of fiends my toil defeat,
Throw bits of bleeding flesh, and o'er
The altar shed a stream of gore.
When thus the rite is mocked and stayed,
And all my pious hopes delayed,
Cast down in heart the spot I leave,
And spent with fruitless labour grieve.
Nor can I, checked by prudence, dare
Let loose my fury on them there:
The muttered curse, the threatening word,
In such a rite must ne'er be heard.
Thy grace the rite from check can free.
And yield the fruit I long to see.
Thy duty bids thee, King, defend
The suffering guest, the suppliant friend.
Give me thy son, thine eldest born,
Whom locks like raven's wings adorn.
That hero youth, the truly brave,
Of thee, O glorious King, I crave.
For he can lay those demons low
Who mar my rites and work me woe:
My power shall shield the youth from harm,
And heavenly might shall nerve his arm.
And on my champion will I shower
Unnumbered gifts of varied power,
Such gifts as shall ensure his fame
And spread through all the worlds his name.
Be sure those fiends can never stand
Before the might of Ráma's hand,
And mid the best and bravest none
Can slay that pair but Raghu's son.
Entangled in the toils of Fate
Those sinners, proud and obstinate,
Are, in their fury overbold,
No match for Ráma mighty-souled.
Nor let a father's breast give way
Too far to fond affection's sway.
Count thou the fiends already slain:
My word is pledged, nor pledged in vain.
I know the hero Ráma well
In whom high thoughts and valour dwell;
So does Vaśishṭha, so do these
Engaged in long austerities.
If thou would do the righteous deed,
And win high fame, thy virtue's meed,
Fame that on earth shall last and live,
To me, great King, thy Ráma give.
If to the words that I have said,
With Saint Vaśishṭha at their head
Thy holy men, O King, agree,
Then let thy Ráma go with me.
Ten nights my sacrifice will last,
And ere the stated time be past
Those wicked fiends, those impious twain,
Must fall by wondrous Ráma slain.
Let not the hours, I warn thee, fly,
Fixt for the rite, unheeded by;
Good luck have thou, O royal Chief,
Nor give thy heart to needless grief.”
Thus in fair words with virtue fraught
The pious glorious saint besought.
But the good speech with poignant sting
Pierced ear and bosom of the king,
Who, stabbed with pangs too sharp to bear,
Fell prostrate and lay fainting there.
Canto XXII. Dasaratha's Speech.
His tortured senses all astray,
While the hapless monarch lay,
Then slowly gathering thought and strength
To Viśvámitra spoke at length:
“My son is but a child, I ween;
This year he will be just sixteen.
How is he fit for such emprise,
My darling with the lotus eyes?
A mighty army will I bring
That calls me master, lord, and king,
And with its countless squadrons fight
Against these rovers of the night.
My faithful heroes skilled to wield
The arms of war will take the field;
Their skill the demons' might may break:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
I, even I, my bow in hand,
Will in the van of battle stand,
And, while my soul is left alive,
With the night-roaming demons strive.
Thy guarded sacrifice shall be
Completed, from all hindrance free.
Thither will I my journey make:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
A boy unskilled, he knows not yet
The bounds to strength and weakness set.
No match is he for demon foes
Who magic arts to arms oppose.
[pg 035]
O chief of saints, I have no power,
Of Ráma reft, to live one hour:
Mine aged heart at once would break:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
Nine thousand circling years have fled
With all their seasons o'er my head,
And as a hard-won boon, O sage,
These sons have come to cheer mine age.
My dearest love amid the four
Is he whom first his mother bore,
Still dearer for his virtues' sake:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
But if, unmoved by all I say,
Thou needs must bear my son away,
Let me lead with him, I entreat,
A four-fold army144 all complete.
What is the demons' might, O Sage?
Who are they? What their parentage?
What is their size? What beings lend
Their power to guard them and befriend?
How can my son their arts withstand?
Or I or all my armed band?
Tell me the whole that I may know
To meet in war each evil foe
Whom conscious might inspires with pride.”
And Viśvámitra thus replied:
“Sprung from Pulastya's race there came
A giant known by Rávaṇ's name.
Once favoured by the Eternal Sire
He plagues the worlds in ceaseless ire,
For peerless power and might renowned,
By giant bands encompassed round.
Viśravas for his sire they hold,
His brother is the Lord of Gold.
King of the giant hosts is he,
And worst of all in cruelty.
This Rávaṇ's dread commands impel
Two demons who in might excel,
Márícha and Suváhu hight,
To trouble and impede the rite.”
Then thus the king addressed the sage:
“No power have I, my lord, to wage
War with this evil-minded foe;
Now pity on my darling show,
And upon me of hapless fate,
For thee as God I venerate.
Gods, spirits, bards of heavenly birth,145
The birds of air, the snakes of earth
Before the might of Rávaṇ quail,
Much less can mortal man avail.
He draws, I hear, from out the breast
The valour of the mightiest.
No, ne'er can I with him contend,
Or with the forces he may send.
How can I then my darling lend,
Godlike, unskilled in battle? No,
I will not let my young child go.
Foes of thy rite, those mighty ones,
Sunda and Upasunda's sons,
Are fierce as Fate to overthrow:
I will not let my young child go.
Márícha and Suváhu fell
Are valiant and instructed well.
One of the twain I might attack.
With all my friends their lord to back.”
Canto XXIII. Vasishtha's Speech.
While thus the hapless monarch spoke,
Paternal love his utterance broke.
Then words like these the saint returned,
And fury in his bosom burned:
“Didst thou, O King, a promise make,
And wishest now thy word to break?
A son of Raghu's line should scorn
To fail in faith, a man forsworn.
But if thy soul can bear the shame
I will return e'en as I came.
Live with thy sons, and joy be thine,
False scion of Kakutstha's line.”
As Viśvámitra, mighty sage,
Was moved with this tempestuous rage,
Earth rocked and reeled throughout her frame,
And fear upon the Immortals came.
But Saint Vaśishṭha, wisest seer,
Observant of his vows austere,
Saw the whole world convulsed with dread,
And thus unto the monarch said:
“Thou, born of old Ikshváku's seed,
Art Justice' self in mortal weed.
Constant and pious, blest by fate,
The right thou must not violate.
Thou, Raghu's son, so famous through
The triple world as just and true,
Perform thy bounden duty still,
Nor stain thy race by deed of ill.
If thou have sworn and now refuse
Thou must thy store of merit lose.
Then, Monarch, let thy Ráma go,
Nor fear for him the demon foe.
The fiends shall have no power to hurt
Him trained to war or inexpert,
Nor vanquish him in battle field,
For Kuśik's son the youth will shield.
He is incarnate Justice, he
The best of men for bravery.
Embodied love of penance drear,
Among the wise without a peer.
[pg 036]
Full well he knows, great Kuśik's son,
The arms celestial, every one,
Arms from the Gods themselves concealed,
Far less to other men revealed.
These arms to him, when earth he swayed,
Mighty Kriśáśva, pleased, conveyed.
Kriśáśva's sons they are indeed,
Brought forth by Daksha's lovely seed,146
Heralds of conquest, strong and bold,
Brilliant, of semblance manifold.
Jayá and Vijayá, most fair,
And hundred splendid weapons bare.
Of Jayá, glorious as the morn,
First fifty noble sons were born,
Boundless in size yet viewless too,
They came the demons to subdue.
And fifty children also came
Of Vijayá the beauteous dame,
Sanháras named, of mighty force,
Hard to assail or check in course.
Of these the hermit knows the use,
And weapons new can he produce.
All these the mighty saint will yield
To Ráma's hand, to own and wield;
And armed with these, beyond a doubt
Shall Ráma put those fiends to rout.
For Ráma and the people's sake,
For thine own good my counsel take,
Nor seek, O King, with fond delay,
The parting of thy son to stay.”
Canto XXIV. The Spells.
Vaśishṭha thus was speaking still:
The monarch, of his own free will,
Bade with quick zeal and joyful cheer
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ hasten near.
Mother and sire in loving care
Sped their dear son with rite and prayer:
Vaśishṭha blessed him ere he went;
O'er his loved head the father bent,
And then to Kuśik's son resigned
Ráma with Lakshmaṇ close behind.
Standing by Viśvámitra's side,
The youthful hero, lotus-eyed,
The Wind-God saw, and sent a breeze
Whose sweet pure touch just waved the trees.
There fell from heaven a flowery rain,
And with the song and dance the strain
Of shell and tambour sweetly blent
As forth the son of Raghu went.
The hermit led: behind him came
The bow-armed Ráma, dear to fame,
Whose locks were like the raven's wing:147
Then Lakshmaṇ, closely following.
The Gods and Indra, filled with joy,
Looked down upon the royal boy,
And much they longed the death to see
Of their ten-headed enemy.148
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ paced behind
That hermit of the lofty mind,
As the young Aśvins,149 heavenly pair,
Follow Lord Indra through the air.
On arm and hand the guard they wore,
Quiver and bow and sword they bore;
Two fire-born Gods of War seemed they.150
He, Śiva's self who led the way.
Upon fair Sarjú's southern shore
They now had walked a league and more,
When thus the sage in accents mild
To Ráma said: “Beloved child,
This lustral water duly touch:
My counsel will avail thee much.
Forget not all the words I say,
Nor let the occasion slip away.
Lo, with two spells I thee invest,
The mighty and the mightiest.
O'er thee fatigue shall ne'er prevail,
Nor age or change thy limbs assail.
Thee powers of darkness ne'er shall smite
In tranquil sleep or wild delight.
No one is there in all the land
Thine equal for the vigorous hand.
[pg 037]
Thou, when thy lips pronounce the spell,
Shalt have no peer in heaven or hell.
None in the world with thee shall vie,
O sinless one, in apt reply,
In fortune, knowledge, wit, and tact,
Wisdom to plan and skill to act.
This double science take, and gain
Glory that shall for aye remain.
Wisdom and judgment spring from each
Of these fair spells whose use I teach.
Hunger and thirst unknown to thee,
High in the worlds thy rank shall be.
For these two spells with might endued,
Are the Great Father's heavenly brood,
And thee, O Chief, may fitly grace,
Thou glory of Kakutstha's race.
Virtues which none can match are thine,
Lord, from thy birth, of gifts divine,
And now these spells of might shall cast
Fresh radiance o'er the gifts thou hast.”
Then Ráma duly touched the wave,
Raised suppliant hands, bowed low his head,
And took the spells the hermit gave,
Whose soul on contemplation fed.
From him whose might these gifts enhanced,
A brighter beam of glory glanced:
So shines in all his autumn blaze
The Day-God of the thousand rays.
The hermit's wants those youths supplied,
As pupils use to holy guide.
And then the night in sweet content
On Sarjú's pleasant bank they spent.
Canto XXV. The Hermitage Of Love.
Soon as appeared the morning light
Up rose the mighty anchorite,
And thus to youthful Ráma said,
Who lay upon his leafy bed:
“High fate is hers who calls thee son:
Arise, 'tis break of day;
Rise, Chief, and let those rites be done
Due at the morning's ray.”151
At that great sage's high behest
Up sprang the princely pair,
To bathing rites themselves addressed,
And breathed the holiest prayer.
Their morning task completed, they
To Viśvámitra came
That store of holy works, to pay
The worship saints may claim.
Then to the hallowed spot they went
Along fair Sarjú's side
Where mix her waters confluent
With three-pathed Gangá's tide.152
There was a sacred hermitage
Where saints devout of mind
Their lives through many a lengthened age
To penance had resigned.
That pure abode the princes eyed
With unrestrained delight,
And thus unto the saint they cried,
Rejoicing at the sight:
“Whose is that hermitage we see?
Who makes his dwelling there?
Full of desire to hear are we:
O Saint, the truth declare.”
The hermit smiling made reply
To the two boys' request:
“Hear, Ráma, who in days gone by
This calm retreat possessed.
Kandarpa in apparent form,
Called Káma153 by the wise,
Dared Umá's154 new-wed lord to storm
And make the God his prize.
'Gainst Stháṇu's155 self, on rites austere
And vows intent,156 they say,
His bold rash hand he dared to rear,
Though Stháṇu cried, Away!
But the God's eye with scornful glare
Fell terrible on him.
Dissolved the shape that was so fair
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And burnt up every limb.
Since the great God's terrific rage
Destroyed his form and frame,
Káma in each succeeding age
Has borne Ananga's157 name.
So, where his lovely form decayed,
This land is Anga styled:
Sacred to him of old this shade,
And hermits undefiled.
Here Scripture-talking elders sway
Each sense with firm control,
And penance-rites have washed away
All sin from every soul.
One night, fair boy, we here will spend,
A pure stream on each hand,
And with to-morrow's light will bend
Our steps to yonder strand.
Here let us bathe, and free from stain
To that pure grove repair,
Sacred to Káma, and remain
One night in comfort there.”
With penance' far-discerning eye
The saintly men beheld
Their coming, and with transport high
Each holy bosom swelled.
To Kuśik's son the gift they gave
That honoured guest should greet,
Water they brought his feet to lave,
And showed him honor meet.
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ next obtained
In due degree their share.
Then with sweet talk the guests remained,
And charmed each listener there.
The evening prayers were duly said
With voices calm and low:
Then on the ground each laid his head
And slept till morning's glow.
Canto XXVI. The Forest Of Tádaká.
When the fair light of morning rose
The princely tamers of their foes
Followed, his morning worship o'er,
The hermit to the river's shore.
The high-souled men with thoughtful care
A pretty barge had stationed there.
All cried, “O lord, this barge ascend,
And with thy princely followers bend
To yonder side thy prosperous way
With naught to check thee or delay.”
Nor did the saint their rede reject:
He bade farewell with due respect,
And crossed, attended by the twain,
That river rushing to the main.
When now the bark was half way o'er,
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ heard the roar,
That louder grew and louder yet,
Of waves by dashing waters met.
Then Ráma asked the mighty seer:
“What is the tumult that I hear
Of waters cleft in mid career?”
Soon as the speech of Ráma, stirred
By deep desire to know, he heard,
The pious saint began to tell
What paused the waters' roar and swell:
“On high Kailása's distant hill
There lies a noble lake
Whose waters, born from Brahmá's will,
The name of Mánas158 take.
Thence, hallowing where'er they flow,
The streams of Sarjú fall,
And wandering through the plains below
Embrace Ayodhyá's wall.
Still, still preserved in Sarjú's name
Sarovar's159 fame we trace.
The flood of Brahma whence she came
To run her holy race.
To meet great Gangá here she hies
With tributary wave:
Hence the loud roar ye hear arise,
Of floods that swell and rave.
Here, pride of Raghu's line, do thou
In humble adoration bow.”
He spoke. The princes both obeyed,
And reverence to each river paid.160
They reached the southern shore at last,
And gaily on their journey passed.
A little space beyond there stood
A gloomy awe-inspiring wood.
The monarch's noble son began
To question thus the holy man:
“Whose gloomy forest meets mine eye
Like some vast cloud that fills the sky?
Pathless and dark it seems to be,
Where birds in thousands wander free;
Where shrill cicadas' cries resound,
[pg 039]
And fowl of dismal note abound.
Lion, rhinoceros, and bear,
Boar, tiger, elephant, are there,
There shrubs and thorns run wild:
Dháo, Sál, Bignonia, Bel,161 are found,
And every tree that grows on ground.
How is the forest styled?”
The glorious saint this answer made:
“Dear child of Raghu, hear
Who dwells within the horrid shade
That looks so dark and drear.
Where now is wood, long ere this day
Two broad and fertile lands,
Malaja and Karúsha lay,
Adorned by heavenly hands.
Here, mourning friendship's broken ties,
Lord Indra of the thousand eyes
Hungered and sorrowed many a day,
His brightness soiled with mud and clay,
When in a storm of passion he
Had slain his dear friend Namuchi.
Then came the Gods and saints who bore
Their golden pitchers brimming o'er
With holy streams that banish stain,
And bathed Lord Indra pure again.
When in this land the God was freed
From spot and stain of impious deed
For that his own dear friend he slew,
High transport thrilled his bosom through.
Then in his joy the lands he blessed,
And gave a boon they long possessed:
“Because these fertile lands retain
The washings of the blot and stain,”
'Twas thus Lord Indra sware,
“Malaja and Karúsha's name
Shall celebrate with deathless fame
My malady and care.”162
“So be it,” all the Immortals cried,
When Indra's speech they heard,
And with acclaim they ratified
The names his lips conferred.
Long time, O victor of thy foes,
These happy lands had sweet repose,
And higher still in fortune rose.
At length a spirit, loving ill,
Táḍaká, wearing shapes at will,
Whose mighty strength, exceeding vast,
A thousand elephants, surpassed,
Was to fierce Sunda, lord and head
Of all the demon armies, wed.
From her, Lord Indra's peer in might
Giant Márícha sprang to light:
And she, a constant plague and pest,
These two fair realms has long distressed.
Now dwelling in her dark abode
A league away she bars the road:
And we, O Ráma, hence must go
Where lies the forest of the foe.
Now on thine own right arm rely,
And my command obey:
Smite the foul monster that she die,
And take the plague away.
To reach this country none may dare
Fallen from its old estate,
Which she, whose fury naught can bear,
Has left so desolate.
And now my truthful tale is told
How with accursed sway
The spirit plagued this wood of old,
And ceases not to-day.”
Canto XXVII. The Birth Of Tádaká.
When thus the sage without a peer
Had closed that story strange to hear,
Ráma again the saint addressed
To set one lingering doubt at rest:
“O holy man, 'tis said by all
That spirits' strength is weak and small:
How can she match, of power so slight,
A thousand elephants in might?”
And Viśvámitra thus replied
To Raghu's son the glorified:
“Listen, and I will tell thee how
She gained the strength that arms her now.
A mighty spirit lived of yore;
Suketu was the name he bore.
Childless was he, and free from crime
In rites austere he passed his time.
The mighty Sire was pleased to show
His favour, and a child bestow.
Táḍaká named, most fair to see,
A pearl among the maids was she,
And matched, for such was Brahmá's dower,
A thousand elephants in power.
Nor would the Eternal Sire, although
The spirit longed, a son bestow
That maid in beauty's youthful pride
Was given to Sunda for a bride.
Her son, Márícha was his name,
A giant, through a curse, became.
She, widowed, dared with him molest
[pg 040]
Agastya,163 of all saints the best.
Inflamed with hunger's wildest rage,
Roaring she rushed upon the sage.
When the great hermit saw her near,
On speeding in her fierce career,
He thus pronounced Márícha's doom:
“A giant's form and shape assume.”
And then, by mighty anger swayed,
On Táḍaká this curse he laid:
“Thy present form and semblance quit,
And wear a shape thy mood to fit;
Changed form and feature by my ban,
A fearful thing that feeds on man.”
She, by his awful curse possessed,
And mad with rage that fills her breast,
Has on this land her fury dealt
Where once the saint Agastya dwelt.
Go, Ráma, smite this monster dead,
The wicked plague, of power so dread,
And further by this deed of thine
The good of Bráhmans and of kine.
Thy hand alone can overthrow,
In all the worlds, this impious foe.
Nor let compassion lead thy mind
To shrink from blood of womankind;
A monarch's son must ever count
The people's welfare paramount,
And whether pain or joy he deal
Dare all things for his subjects' weal;
Yea, if the deed bring praise or guilt,
If life be saved or blood be spilt:
Such, through all time, should be the care
Of those a kingdom's weight who bear.
Slay, Ráma, slay this impious fiend,
For by no law her life is screened.
So Manthará, as bards have told,
Virochan's child, was slain of old
By Indra, when in furious hate
She longed the earth to devastate.
So Kávya's mother, Bhrigu's wife,
Who loved her husband as her life,
When Indra's throne she sought to gain,
By Vishṇu's hand of yore was slain.
By these and high-souled kings beside,
Struck down, have lawless women died.”
Canto XXVIII. The Death Of Tádaká.
Thus spoke the saint. Each vigorous word
The noble monarch's offspring heard,
And, reverent hands together laid,
His answer to the hermit made:
“My sire and mother bade me aye
Thy word, O mighty Saint, obey
So will I, O most glorious, kill
This Táḍaká who joys in ill,
For such my sire's, and such thy will.
To aid with mine avenging hand
The Bráhmans, kine, and all the land,
Obedient, heart and soul, I stand.”
Thus spoke the tamer of the foe,
And by the middle grasped his bow.
Strongly he drew the sounding string
That made the distant welkin ring.
Scared by the mighty clang the deer
That roamed the forest shook with fear,
And Táḍaká the echo heard,
And rose in haste from slumber stirred.
In wild amaze, her soul aflame
With fury toward the spot she came.
When that foul shape of evil mien
And stature vast as e'er was seen
The wrathful son of Raghu eyed,
He thus unto his brother cried:
“Her dreadful shape, O Lakshmaṇ, see,
A form to shudder at and flee.
The hideous monster's very view
Would cleave a timid heart in two.
Behold the demon hard to smite,
Defended by her magic might.
My hand shall stay her course to-day,
And shear her nose and ears away.
No heart have I her life to take:
I spare it for her sex's sake.
My will is but, with minished force,
To check her in her evil course.”
While thus he spoke, by rage impelled
Roaring as she came nigh,
The fiend her course at Ráma held
With huge arms tossed on high.
Her, rushing on, the seer assailed
With a loud cry of hate;
And thus the sons of Raghu hailed:
“Fight, and be fortunate.”
Then from the earth a horrid cloud
Of dust the demon raised,
And for awhile in darkling shroud
Wrapt Raghu's sons amazed.
Then calling on her magic power
The fearful fight to wage,
She smote him with a stony shower,
Till Ráma burned with rage.
Then pouring forth his arrowy rain
That stony flood to stay,
[pg 041]
With winged darts, as she charged amain,
He shore her hands away.
As Táḍaká still thundered near
Thus maimed by Ráma's blows,
Lakshmaṇ in fury severed sheer
The monster's ears and nose.
Assuming by her magic skill
A fresh and fresh disguise,
She tried a thousand shapes at will,
Then vanished from their eyes.
When Gádhi's son of high renown
Still saw the stony rain pour down
Upon each princely warrior's head,
With words of wisdom thus he said:
“Enough of mercy, Ráma, lest
This sinful evil-working pest,
Disturber of each holy rite,
Repair by magic arts her might.
Without delay the fiend should die,
For, see, the twilight hour is nigh.
And at the joints of night and day
Such giant foes are hard to slay.”
Then Ráma, skilful to direct
His arrow to the sound,
With shafts the mighty demon checked
Who rained her stones around.
She sore impeded and beset
By Ráma and his arrowy net,
Though skilled in guile and magic lore,
Rushed on the brothers with a roar.
Deformed, terrific, murderous, dread,
Swift as the levin on she sped,
Like cloudy pile in autumn's sky,
Lifting her two vast arms on high,
When Ráma smote her with a dart,
Shaped like a crescent, to the heart.
Sore wounded by the shaft that came
With lightning speed and surest aim,
Blood spouting from her mouth and side,
She fell upon the earth and died.
Soon as the Lord who rules the sky
Saw the dread monster lifeless lie,
He called aloud, Well done! well done!
And the Gods honoured Raghu's son.
Standing in heaven the Thousand-eyed,
With all the Immortals, joying cried:
“Lift up thine eyes, O Saint, and see
The Gods and Indra nigh to thee.
This deed of Ráma's boundless might
Has filled our bosoms with delight,
Now, for our will would have it so,
To Raghu's son some favour show.
Invest him with the power which naught
But penance gains and holy thought,
Those heavenly arms on him bestow
To thee entrusted long ago
By great Kriśáśva best of kings,
Son of the Lord of living things.
More fit recipient none can be
Than he who joys it following thee;
And for our sakes the monarch's seed
Has yet to do a mighty deed.”
He spoke; and all the heavenly train
Rejoicing sought their homes again,
While honour to the saint they paid.
Then came the evening's twilight shade,
The best of hermits overjoyed
To know the monstrous fiend destroyed,
His lips on Ráma's forehead pressed,
And thus the conquering chief addressed:
“O Ráma gracious to the sight.
Here will we pass the present night,
And with the morrow's earliest ray
Bend to my hermitage our way.”
The son of Daśaratha heard,
Delighted, Viśvámitra's word,
And as he bade, that night he spent
In Táḍaká's wild wood, content.
And the grove shone that happy day,
Freed from the curse that on it lay,
Like Chaitraratha164 fair and gay.
Canto XXIX. The Celestial Arms.
That night they slept and took their rest;
And then the mighty saint addressed,
With pleasant smile and accents mild
These words to Raghu's princely child:
“Well pleased am I. High fate be thine,
Thou scion of a royal line.
Now will I, for I love thee so,
All heavenly arms on thee bestow.
Victor with these, whoe'er oppose,
Thy hand shall conquer all thy foes,
Though Gods and spirits of the air,
Serpents and fiends, the conflict dare.
I'll give thee as a pledge of love
The mystic arms they use above,
For worthy thou to have revealed
The weapons I have learnt to wield.165
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First, son of Raghu, shall be thine
The arm of Vengeance, strong, divine:
The arm of Fate, the arm of Right,
And Vishṇu's arm of awful might:
That, before which no foe can stand,
The thunderbolt of Indra's hand;
And Śiva's trident, sharp and dread,
And that dire weapon Brahmá's Head.
And two fair clubs, O royal child,
One Charmer and one Pointed styled
With flame of lambent fire aglow,
On thee, O Chieftain, I bestow.
And Fate's dread net and Justice' noose
That none may conquer, for thy use:
And the great cord, renowned of old,
Which Varuṇ ever loves to hold.
Take these two thunderbolts, which I
Have got for thee, the Moist and Dry.
Here Śiva's dart to thee I yield,
And that which Vishṇu wont to wield.
I give to thee the arm of Fire,
Desired by all and named the Spire.
To thee I grant the Wind-God's dart,
Named Crusher, O thou pure of heart,
This arm, the Horse's Head, accept,
And this, the Curlew's Bill yclept,
And these two spears, the best e'er flew,
Named the Invincible and True.
And arms of fiends I make thine own,
Skull-wreath and mace that smashes bone.
And Joyous, which the spirits bear,
Great weapon of the sons of air.
Brave offspring of the best of lords,
I give thee now the Gem of swords,
And offer next, thine hand to arm,
The heavenly bards' beloved charm.
Now with two arms I thee invest
Of never-ending Sleep and Rest,
With weapons of the Sun and Rain,
And those that dry and burn amain;
And strong Desire with conquering touch,
The dart that Káma prizes much.
I give the arm of shadowy powers
That bleeding flesh of men devours.
I give the arms the God of Gold
And giant fiends exult to hold.
This smites the foe in battle-strife,
And takes his fortune, strength, and life.
I give the arms called False and True,
And great Illusion give I too;
The hero's arm called Strong and Bright
That spoils the foeman's strength in fight.
I give thee as a priceless boon
The Dew, the weapon of the Moon,
And add the weapon, deftly planned,
That strengthens Viśvakarmá's hand.
The Mortal dart whose point is chill,
And Slaughter, ever sure to kill;
All these and other arms, for thou
Art very dear, I give thee now.
Receive these weapons from my hand,
Son of the noblest in the land.”
Facing the east, the glorious saint
Pure from all spot of earthly taint,
To Ráma, with delighted mind,
That noble host of spells consigned.
He taught the arms, whose lore is won
Hardly by Gods, to Raghu's son.
He muttered low the spell whose call
Summons those arms and rules them all
And, each in visible form and frame,
Before the monarch's son they came.
They stood and spoke in reverent guise
To Ráma with exulting cries:
“O noblest child of Raghu, see,
Thy ministers and thralls are we.”
With joyful heart and eager hand
Ráma received the wondrous band,
And thus with words of welcome cried:
“Aye present to my will abide.”
Then hasted to the saint to pay
Due reverence, and pursued his way.
Canto XXX. The Mysterious Powers.166
Pure, with glad cheer and joyful breast,
Of those mysterious arms possessed,
Ráma, now passing on his way,
Thus to the saint began to say:
“Lord of these mighty weapons, I
Can scarce be harmed by Gods on high;
Now, best of saints, I long to gain
The powers that can these arms restrain.”
Thus spoke the prince. The sage austere,
True to his vows, from evil clear,
Called forth the names of those great charms
Whose powers restrain the deadly arms.
“Receive thou True and Truly famed,
And Bold and Fleet: the weapons named
[pg 043]
Warder and Progress, swift of pace,
Averted-head and Drooping-face;
The Seen, and that which Secret flies;
The weapon of the thousand eyes;
Ten-headed, and the Hundred-faced,
Star-gazer and the Layer-waste:
The Omen-bird, the Pure-from-spot,
The pair that wake and slumber not:
The Fiendish, that which shakes amain,
The Strong-of-Hand, the Rich-in-Gain:
The Guardian, and the Close-allied,
The Gaper, Love, and Golden-side:
O Raghu's son receive all these,
Bright ones that wear what forms they please;
Kriśáśva's mystic sons are they,
And worthy thou their might to sway.”
With joy the pride of Raghu's race
Received the hermit's proffered grace,
Mysterious arms, to check and stay,
Or smite the foeman in the fray.
Then, all with heavenly forms endued,
Nigh came the wondrous multitude.
Celestial in their bright attire
Some shone like coals of burning fire;
Some were like clouds of dusky smoke;
And suppliant thus they sweetly spoke:
“Thy thralls, O Ráma, here we stand:
Command, we pray, thy faithful band”
“Depart,” he cried, “where each may list,
But when I call you to assist,
Be present to my mind with speed,
And aid me in the hour of need.”
To Ráma then they lowly bent,
And round him in due reverence went,
To his command, they answered, Yea,
And as they came so went away.
When thus the arms had homeward flown,
With pleasant words and modest tone,
E'en as he walked, the prince began
To question thus the holy man:
“What cloudlike wood is that which near
The mountain's side I see appear?
O tell me, for I long to know;
Its pleasant aspect charms me so.
Its glades are full of deer at play,
And sweet birds sing on every spray,
Past is the hideous wild; I feel
So sweet a tremor o'er me steal,
And hail with transport fresh and new
A land that is so fair to view.
Then tell me all, thou holy Sage,
And whose this pleasant hermitage
In which those wicked ones delight
To mar and kill each holy rite.
And with foul heart and evil deed
Thy sacrifice, great Saint, impede.
To whom, O Sage, belongs this land
In which thine altars ready stand!
'Tis mine to guard them, and to slay
The giants who the rites would stay.
All this, O best of saints, I burn
From thine own lips, my lord, to learn.”
Canto XXXI. The Perfect Hermitage.
Thus spoke the prince of boundless might,
And thus replied the anchorite:
“Chief of the mighty arm, of yore
Lord Vishṇu whom the Gods adore,
For holy thought and rites austere
Of penance made his dwelling here.
This ancient wood was called of old
Grove of the Dwarf, the mighty-souled,
And when perfection he attained
The grove the name of Perfect gained.
Bali of yore, Virochan's son,
Dominion over Indra won,
And when with power his proud heart swelled,
O'er the three worlds his empire held.
When Bali then began a rite,
The Gods and Indra in affright
Sought Vishṇu in this place of rest,
And thus with prayers the God addressed:
“Bali. Virochan's mighty son,
His sacrifice has now begun:
Of boundless wealth, that demon king
Is bounteous to each living thing.
Though suppliants flock from every side
The suit of none is e'er denied.
Whate'er, where'er howe'er the call,
He hears the suit and gives to all.
Now with thine own illusive art
Perform, O Lord, the helper's part:
Assume a dwarfish form, and thus
From fear and danger rescue us.”167
Thus in their dread the Immortals sued:
The God a dwarflike shape indued:168
Before Virochan's son he came,
Three steps of land his only claim.
The boon obtained, in wondrous wise
Lord Vishṇu's form increased in size;
Through all the worlds, tremendous, vast,
God of the Triple Step, he passed.169
The whole broad earth from side to side
He measured with one mighty stride,
Spanned with the next the firmament,
And with the third through heaven he went.
[pg 044]
Thus was the king of demons hurled
By Vishṇu to the nether world,
And thus the universe restored
To Indra's rule, its ancient lord.
And now because the immortal God
This spot in dwarflike semblance trod,
The grove has aye been loved by me
For reverence of the devotee.
But demons haunt it, prompt to stay
Each holy offering I would pay.
Be thine, O lion-lord, to kill
These giants that delight in ill.
This day, beloved child, our feet
Shall rest within the calm retreat:
And know, thou chief of Raghu's line,
My hermitage is also thine.”
He spoke; and soon the anchorite,
With joyous looks that beamed delight,
With Ráma and his brother stood
Within the consecrated wood.
Soon as they saw the holy man,
With one accord together ran
The dwellers in the sacred shade,
And to the saint their reverence paid,
And offered water for his feet,
The gift of honour and a seat;
And next with hospitable care
They entertained the princely pair.
The royal tamers of their foes
Rested awhile in sweet repose:
Then to the chief of hermits sued
Standing in suppliant attitude:
“Begin, O best of saints, we pray,
Initiatory rites to-day.
This Perfect Grove shall be anew
Made perfect, and thy words be true.”
Then, thus addressed, the holy man,
The very glorious sage, began
The high preliminary rite.
Restraining sense and appetite.
Calmly the youths that night reposed,
And rose when morn her light disclosed,
Their morning worship paid, and took
Of lustral water from the brook.
Thus purified they breathed the prayer,
Then greeted Viśvámitra where
As celebrant he sate beside
The flame with sacred oil supplied.
Canto XXXII. Visvámitra's Sacrifice.
That conquering pair, of royal race,
Skilled to observe due time and place,
To Kuśik's hermit son addressed,
In timely words, their meet request:
“When must we, lord, we pray thee tell,
Those Rovers of the Night repel?
Speak, lest we let the moment fly,
And pass the due occasion by.”
Thus longing for the strife, they prayed,
And thus the hermits answer made:
“Till the fifth day be come and past,
O Raghu's sons, your watch must last.
The saint his Dikshá170 has begun,
And all that time will speak to none.”
Soon as the steadfast devotees
Had made reply in words like these,
The youths began, disdaining sleep,
Six days and nights their watch to keep.
The warrior pair who tamed the foe,
Unrivalled benders of the bow,
Kept watch and ward unwearied still
To guard the saint from scathe and ill.
'Twas now the sixth returning day,
The hour foretold had past away.
Then Ráma cried: “O Lakshmaṇ, now
Firm, watchful, resolute be thou.
The fiends as yet have kept afar
From the pure grove in which we are:
Yet waits us, ere the day shall close,
Dire battle with the demon foes.”
While thus spoke Ráma borne away
By longing for the deadly fray,
See! bursting from the altar came
The sudden glory of the flame.
Round priest and deacon, and upon
Grass, ladles, flowers, the splendour shone,
And the high rite, in order due,
With sacred texts began anew.
But then a loud and fearful roar
Re-echoed through the sky;
And like vast clouds that shadow o'er
The heavens in dark July,
Involved in gloom of magic might
Two fiends rushed on amain,
Márícha, Rover of the Night,
Suváhu, and their train.
As on they came in wild career
Thick blood in rain they shed;
And Ráma saw those things of fear
Impending overhead.
Then soon as those accursed two
Who showered down blood be spied,
Thus to his brother brave and true
Spoke Ráma lotus-eyed:
“Now, Lakshmaṇ, thou these fiends shalt see,
Man-eaters, foul of mind,
Before my mortal weapon flee
Like clouds before the wind.”
He spoke. An arrow, swift as thought,
Upon his bow he pressed,
And smote, to utmost fury wrought,
Márícha on the breast.
Deep in his flesh the weapon lay
Winged by the mystic spell,
[pg 045]
And, hurled a hundred leagues away,
In ocean's flood he fell.
Then Ráma, when he saw the foe
Convulsed and mad with pain
Neath the chill-pointed weapon's blow,
To Lakshmaṇ spoke again:
“See, Lakshmaṇ, see! this mortal dart
That strikes a numbing chill,
Hath struck him senseless with the smart,
But left him breathing still.
But these who love the evil way,
And drink the blood they spill,
Rejoicing holy rites to stay,
Fierce plagues, my hand shall kill.”
He seized another shaft, the best,
Aglow with living flame;
It struck Suváhu on the chest,
And dead to earth he came.
Again a dart, the Wind-God's own,
Upon his string he laid,
And all the demons were o'erthrown,
The saints no more afraid.
When thus the fiends were slain in fight,
Disturbers of each holy rite,
Due honour by the saints was paid
To Ráma for his wondrous aid:
So Indra is adored when he
Has won some glorious victory.
Success at last the rite had crowned,
And Viśvámitra gazed around,
And seeing every side at rest,
The son of Raghu thus addressed:
“My joy, O Prince, is now complete:
Thou hast obeyed my will:
Perfect before, this calm retreat
Is now more perfect still.”
Canto XXXIII. The Sone.
Their task achieved, the princes spent
That night with joy and full content.
Ere yet the dawn was well displayed
Their morning rites they duly paid,
And sought, while yet the light was faint,
The hermits and the mighty saint.
They greeted first that holy sire
Resplendent like the burning fire,
And then with noble words began
Their sweet speech to the sainted man:
“Here stand, O Lord, thy servants true:
Command what thou wouldst have us do.”
The saints, by Viśvámitra led,
To Ráma thus in answer said:
“Janak the king who rules the land
Of fertile Míthilá has planned
A noble sacrifice, and we
Will thither go the rite to see.
Thou, Prince of men, with us shalt go,
And there behold the wondrous bow,
Terrific, vast, of matchless might,
Which, splendid at the famous rite,
The Gods assembled gave the king.
No giant, fiend, or God can string
That gem of bows, no heavenly bard:
Then, sure, for man the task were hard.
When lords of earth have longed to know
The virtue of that wondrous bow,
The strongest sons of kings in vain
Have tried the mighty cord to strain.
This famous bow thou there shalt view,
And wondrous rites shalt witness too.
The high-souled king who lords it o'er
The realm of Míthilá of yore
Gained from the Gods this bow, the price
Of his imperial sacrifice.
Won by the rite the glorious prize
Still in the royal palace lies,
Laid up in oil of precious scent
With aloe-wood and incense blent.”
Then Ráma answering, Be it so,
Made ready with the rest to go.
The saint himself was now prepared,
But ere beyond the grove he fared,
He turned him and in words like these
Addressed the sylvan deities:
“Farewell! each holy rite complete,
I leave the hermits' perfect seat:
To Gangá's northern shore I go
Beneath Himálaya's peaks of snow.”
With reverent steps he paced around
The limits of the holy ground,
And then the mighty saint set forth
And took his journey to the north.
His pupils, deep in Scripture's page,
Followed behind the holy sage,
And servants from the sacred grove
A hundred wains for convoy drove.
The very birds that winged that air,
The very deer that harboured there,
Forsook the glade and leafy brake
And followed for the hermit's sake.
They travelled far, till in the west
The sun was speeding to his rest,
And made, their portioned journey o'er,
Their halt on Śona's171 distant shore.
The hermits bathed when sank the sun,
And every rite was duly done,
Oblations paid to Fire, and then
Sate round their chief the holy men.
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ lowly bowed
In reverence to the hermit crowd,
And Ráma, having sate him down
Before the saint of pure renown,
[pg 046]
With humble palms together laid
His eager supplication made:
“What country, O my lord, is this,
Fair-smiling in her wealth and bliss?
Deign fully, O thou mighty Seer,
To tell me, for I long to hear.”
Moved by the prayer of Ráma, he
Told forth the country's history.
Canto XXXIV. Brahmadatta.
“A king of Brahmá's seed who bore
The name of Kuśa reigned of yore.
Just, faithful to his vows, and true,
He held the good in honour due.
His bride, a queen of noble name,
Of old Vidarbha's172 monarchs came.
Like their own father, children four,
All valiant boys, the lady bore.
In glorious deeds each nerve they strained,
And well their Warrior part sustained.
To them most just, and true, and brave,
Their father thus his counsel gave:
“Beloved children, ne'er forget
Protection is a prince's debt:
The noble work at once begin,
High virtue and her fruits to win.”
The youths, to all the people dear,
Received his speech with willing ear;
And each went forth his several way,
Foundations of a town to lay.
Kuśámba, prince of high renown,
Was builder of Kauśámbí's town,
And Kuśanábha, just and wise,
Bade high Mahodaya's towers arise.
Amúrtarajas chose to dwell
In Dharmáraṇya's citadel,
And Vasu bade his city fair
The name of Girivraja bear.173
This fertile spot whereon we stand
Was once the high-souled Vasu's land.
Behold! as round we turn our eyes,
Five lofty mountain peaks arise.
See! bursting from her parent hill,
Sumágadhí, a lovely rill,
Bright gleaming as she flows between
The mountains, like a wreath is seen,
And then through Magadh's plains and groves
With many a fair mæander roves.
And this was Vasu's old domain,
The fertile Magadh's broad champaign,
Which smiling fields of tilth adorn
And diadem with golden corn.
The queen Ghritáchí, nymph most fair,
Married to Kuśanábha, bare
A hundred daughters, lovely-faced,
With every charm and beauty graced.
It chanced the maidens, bright and gay
As lightning-flashes on a day
Of rain time, to the garden went
With song and play and merriment,
And there in gay attire they strayed,
And danced, and laughed, and sang, and played.
The God of Wind who roves at will
All places, as he lists, to fill,
Saw the young maidens dancing there,
Of faultless shape and mien most fair.
“I love you all, sweet girls,” he cried,
“And each shall be my darling bride.
Forsake, forsake your mortal lot,
And gain a life that withers not.
A fickle thing is youth's brief span,
And more than all in mortal man.
Receive unending youth, and be
Immortal, O my loves, with me.”
The hundred girls, to wonder stirred,
The wooing of the Wind-God heard,
Laughed, as a jest, his suit aside,
And with one voice they thus replied:
“O mighty Wind, free spirit who
All life pervadest, through and through,
Thy wondrous power we maidens know;
Then wherefore wilt thou mock us so?
Our sire is Kuśanábha, King;
And we, forsooth, have charms to bring
A God to woo us from the skies;
But honour first we maidens prize.
Far may the hour, we pray, be hence,
When we, O thou of little sense,
Our truthful father's choice refuse,
And for ourselves our husbands choose.
Our honoured sire our lord we deem,
He is to us a God supreme,
And they to whom his high decree
May give us shall our husbands be.”
He heard the answer they returned,
And mighty rage within him burned.
On each fair maid a blast he sent:
Each stately form he bowed and bent.
Bent double by the Wind-God's ire
They sought the palace of their sire,
[pg 047]
There fell upon the ground with sighs,
While tears and shame were in their eyes.
The king himself, with troubled brow,
Saw his dear girls so fair but now,
A mournful sight all bent and bowed,
And grieving thus he cried aloud:
“What fate is this, and what the cause?
What wretch has scorned all heavenly laws?
Who thus your forms could curve and break?
You struggle, but no answer make.”
They heard the speech of that wise king
Of their misfortune questioning.
Again the hundred maidens sighed,
Touched with their heads his feet, and cried:
“The God of Wind, pervading space,
Would bring on us a foul disgrace,
And choosing folly's evil way
From virtue's path in scorn would stray.
But we in words like these reproved
The God of Wind whom passion moved:
“Farewell, O Lord! A sire have we,
No women uncontrolled and free.
Go, and our sire's consent obtain
If thou our maiden hands wouldst gain.
No self-dependent life we live:
If we offend, our fault forgive.”
But led by folly as a slave,
He would not hear the rede we gave,
And even as we gently spoke
We felt the Wind-God's crushing stroke.”
The pious king, with grief distressed,
The noble hundred thus addressed:
“With patience, daughters, bear your fate,
Yours was a deed supremely great
When with one mind you kept from shame
The honour of your father's name.
Patience, when men their anger vent,
Is woman's praise and ornament;
Yet when the Gods inflict the blow
Hard is it to support the woe.
Patience, my girls, exceeds all price:
'Tis alms, and truth, and sacrifice.
Patience is virtue, patience fame:
Patience upholds this earthly frame.
And now, I think, is come the time
To wed you in your maiden prime.
Now, daughters, go where'er you will:
Thoughts for your good my mind shall fill.”
The maidens went, consoled, away:
The best of kings, that very day,
Summoned his ministers of state
About their marriage to debate.
Since then, because the Wind-God bent
The damsels' forms for punishment,
That royal town is known to fame
By Kanyákubja's174 borrowed name.
There lived a sage called Chúli then,
Devoutest of the sons of men;
His days in penance rites he spent,
A glorious saint, most continent.
To him absorbed in tasks austere
The child of Urmilá drew near,
Sweet Somadá, the heavenly maid
And lent the saint her pious aid.
Long time near him the maiden spent,
And served him meek and reverent,
Till the great hermit, pleased with her,
Thus spoke unto his minister:
“Grateful am I for all thy care:
Blest maiden, speak, thy wish declare.”
The sweet-voiced nymph rejoiced to see
The favour of the devotee,
And to that eloquent old man,
Most eloquent she thus began:
“Thou hast, by heavenly grace sustained,
Close union with the Godhead gained.
I long, O Saint, to see a son
By force of holy penance won.
Unwed, a maiden life I live:
A son to me, thy suppliant, give.”
The saint with favour heard her prayer,
And gave a son exceeding fair.
Him, Chúli's spiritual child,
His mother Brahmadatta175 styled.
King Brahmadatta, rich and great,
In Kámpilí maintained his state,
Ruling, like Indra in his bliss,
His fortunate metropolis.
King Kuśanábha planned that he
His hundred daughters' lord should be.
To him, obedient to his call,
The happy monarch gave them all.
Like Indra then he took the hand
Of every maiden of the band.
Soon as the hand of each young maid
In Brahmadatta's palm was laid,
Deformity and cares away,
She shone in beauty bright and gay.
Their freedom from the Wind-God's might
Saw Kuśanábha with delight.
Each glance that on their forms he threw
Filled him with raptures ever new.
Then when the rites were all complete,
With highest marks of honour meet
The bridegroom with his brides he sent
To his great seat of government.
The nymph received with pleasant speech
Her daughters; and, embracing each,
Upon their forms she fondly gazed,
And royal Kuśanábha praised.
[pg 048]
Canto XXXV. Visvámitra's Lineage.
“The rites were o'er, the maids were wed,
The bridegroom to his home was sped.
The sonless monarch bade prepare
A sacrifice to gain an heir.
Then Kuśa, Brahmá's son, appeared,
And thus King Kuśanábha cheered:
“Thou shalt, my child, obtain a son
Like thine own self, O holy one.
Through him for ever, Gádhi named,
Shalt thou in all the worlds be famed.”
He spoke, and vanished from the sight
To Brahmá's world of endless light.
Time fled, and, as the saint foretold,
Gádhi was born, the holy-souled.
My sire was he; through him I trace
My line from royal Kuśa's race.
My sister—elder-born was she—
The pure and good Satyavatí,176
Was to the great Richíka wed.
Still faithful to her husband dead,
She followed him, most noble dame,
And, raised to heaven in human frame,
A pure celestial stream became.
Down from Himálaya's snowy height,
In floods for ever fair and bright,
My sister's holy waves are hurled
To purify and glad the world.
Now on Himálaya's side I dwell
Because I love my sister well.
She, for her faith and truth renowned,
Most loving to her husband found,
High-fated, firm in each pure vow,
Is queen of all the rivers now.
Bound by a vow I left her side
And to the Perfect convent hied.
There, by the aid 'twas thine to lend,
Made perfect, all my labours end.
Thus, mighty Prince, I now have told
My race and lineage, high and old,
And local tales of long ago
Which thou, O Ráma, fain wouldst know.
As I have sate rehearsing thus
The midnight hour is come on us.
Now, Ráma, sleep, that nothing may
Our journey of to-morrow stay.
No leaf on any tree is stirred:
Hushed in repose are beast and bird:
Where'er you turn, on every side,
Dense shades of night the landscape hide,
The light of eve is fled: the skies,
Thick-studded with their host of eyes,
Seem a star-forest overhead,
Where signs and constellations spread.
Now rises, with his pure cold ray,
The moon that drives the shades away,
And with his gentle influence brings
Joy to the hearts of living things.
Now, stealing from their lairs, appear
The beasts to whom the night is dear.
Now spirits walk, and every power
That revels in the midnight hour.”
The mighty hermit's tale was o'er,
He closed his lips and spoke no more.
The holy men on every side,
“Well done! well done,” with reverence cried;
“The mighty men of Kuśa's seed
Were ever famed for righteous deed.
Like Brahmá's self in glory shine
The high-souled lords of Kuśa's line,
And thy great name is sounded most,
O Saint, amid the noble host.
And thy dear sister—fairest she
Of streams, the high-born Kauśikí—
Diffusing virtue where she flows,
New splendour on thy lineage throws.”
Thus by the chief of saints addressed
The son of Gádhi turned to rest;
So, when his daily course is done,
Sinks to his rest the beaming sun.
Ráma with Lakshmaṇ, somewhat stirred
To marvel by the tales they heard,
Turned also to his couch, to close
His eyelids in desired repose.
Canto XXXVI. The Birth Of Gangá.
The hours of night now waning fast
On Śona's pleasant shore they passed.
Then, when the dawn began to break,
To Ráma thus the hermit spake:
“The light of dawn is breaking clear,
The hour of morning rites is near.
Rise, Ráma, rise, dear son, I pray,
And make thee ready for the way.”
Then Ráma rose, and finished all
His duties at the hermit's call,
Prepared with joy the road to take,
And thus again in question spake:
“Here fair and deep the Śona flows,
And many an isle its bosom shows:
What way, O Saint, will lead us o'er
And land us on the farther shore?”
The saint replied: “The way I choose
Is that which pious hermits use.”
[pg 049]
For many a league they journeyed on
Till, when the sun of mid-day shone,
The hermit-haunted flood was seen
Of Jáhnaví,177 the Rivers' Queen.
Soon as the holy stream they viewed,
Thronged with a white-winged multitude
Of sárases178 and swans,179 delight
Possessed them at the lovely sight;
And then prepared the hermit band
To halt upon that holy strand.
They bathed as Scripture bids, and paid
Oblations due to God and shade.
To Fire they burnt the offerings meet,
And sipped the oil, like Amrit sweet.
Then pure and pleased they sate around
Saint Viśvámitra on the ground.
The holy men of lesser note,
In due degree, sate more remote,
While Raghu's sons took nearer place
By virtue of their rank and race.
Then Ráma said: “O Saint, I yearn
The three-pathed Gangá's tale to learn.”
Thus urged, the sage recounted both
The birth of Gangá and her growth:
“The mighty hill with metals stored,
Himálaya, is the mountains' lord,
The father of a lovely pair
Of daughters fairest of the fair:
Their mother, offspring of the will
Of Meru, everlasting hill,
Mená, Himálaya's darling, graced
With beauty of her dainty waist.
Gangá was elder-born: then came
The fair one known by Umá's name.
Then all the Gods of heaven, in need
Of Gangá's help their vows to speed,
To great Himálaya came and prayed
The mountain King to yield the maid.
He, not regardless of the weal
Of the three worlds, with holy zeal
His daughter to the Immortals gave,
Gangá whose waters cleanse and save,
Who roams at pleasure, fair and free,
Purging all sinners, to the sea.
The three-pathed Gangá thus obtained,
The Gods their heavenly homes regained.
Long time the sister Umá passed
In vows austere and rigid fast,
And the king gave the devotee
Immortal Rudra's180 bride to be,
Matching with that unequalled Lord
His Umá through the worlds adored.
So now a glorious station fills
Each daughter of the King of Hills:
One honoured as the noblest stream,
One mid the Goddesses supreme.
Thus Gangá, King Himálaya's child,
The heavenly river, undefiled,
Rose bearing with her to the sky
Her waves that bless and purify.”
[I am compelled to omit Cantos XXXVII and XXXVIII, The Glory of Umá, and the Birth of Kártikeya, as both in subject and language offensive to modern taste. They will be found in Schlegel's Latin translation.]

Canto XXXIX. The Sons Of Sagar.
The saint in accents sweet and clear
Thus told his tale for Ráma's ear,
And thus anew the holy man
A legend to the prince began:
“There reigned a pious monarch o'er
Ayodhyá in the days of yore:
Sagar his name: no child had he,
And children much he longed to see.
His honoured consort, fair of face,
Sprang from Vidarbha's royal race,
Keśini, famed from early youth
For piety and love of truth.
Aríshṭanemi's daughter fair,
With whom no maiden might compare
In beauty, though the earth is wide,
Sumati, was his second bride.
With his two queens afar he went,
And weary days in penance spent,
Fervent, upon Himálaya's hill
Where springs the stream called Bhrigu' rill.
Nor did he fail that saint to please
With his devout austerities.
And, when a hundred years had fled,
Thus the most truthful Bhrigu said:
“From thee, O Sagar, blameless King,
A mighty host of sons shall spring,
And thou shalt win a glorious name
Which none, O Chief, but thou shall claim.
One of thy queens a son shall bear,
Maintainer of thy race and heir;
And of the other there shall be
Sons sixty thousand born to thee.”
Thus as he spake, with one accord,
To win the grace of that high lord,
The queens, with palms together laid,
In humble supplication prayed:
“Which queen, O Bráhman, of the pair,
The many, or the one shall bear?
Most eager, Lord, are we to know,
And as thou sayest be it so.”
[pg 050]
With his sweet speech the saint replied:
“Yourselves, O Queens, the choice decide.
Your own discretion freely use
Which shall the one or many choose:
One shall the race and name uphold,
The host be famous, strong, and bold.
Which will have which?” Then Keśini
The mother of one heir would be.
Sumati, sister of the king181
Of all the birds that ply the wing,
To that illustrious Bráhman sued
That she might bear the multitude
Whose fame throughout the world should sound
For mighty enterprise renowned.
Around the saint the monarch went,
Bowing his head, most reverent.
Then with his wives, with willing feet,
Resought his own imperial seat.
Time passed. The elder consort bare
A son called Asamanj, the heir.
Then Sumati, the younger, gave
Birth to a gourd,182 O hero brave,
Whose rind, when burst and cleft in two,
Gave sixty thousand babes to view.
All these with care the nurses laid
In jars of oil; and there they stayed,
Till, youthful age and strength complete,
Forth speeding from each dark retreat,
All peers in valour, years, and might,
The sixty thousand came to light.
Prince Asamanj, brought up with care,
Scourge of his foes, was made the heir.
But liegemen's boys he used to cast
To Sarjú's waves that hurried past,
Laughing the while in cruel glee
Their dying agonies to see.
This wicked prince who aye withstood
The counsel of the wise and good,
Who plagued the people in his hate,
His father banished from the state.
His son, kind-spoken, brave, and tall,
Was Anśumán, beloved of all.
Long years flew by. The king decreed
To slay a sacrificial steed.
Consulting with his priestly band
He vowed the rite his soul had planned,
And, Veda skilled, by their advice
Made ready for the sacrifice.
Canto XL. The Cleaving Of The Earth.
The hermit ceased: the tale was done:
Then in a transport Raghu's son
Again addressed the ancient sire
Resplendent as a burning fire:
“O holy man, I fain would hear
The tale repeated full and clear
How he from whom my sires descend
Brought the great rite to happy end.”
The hermit answered with a smile:
“Then listen, son of Raghu, while
My legendary tale proceeds
To tell of high-souled Sagar's deeds.
Within the spacious plain that lies
From where Himálaya's heights arise
To where proud Vindhya's rival chain
Looks down upon the subject plain—
A land the best for rites declared183—
His sacrifice the king prepared.
And Anśumán the prince—for so
Sagar advised—with ready bow
Was borne upon a mighty car
To watch the steed who roamed afar.
But Indra, monarch of the skies,
Veiling his form in demon guise,
Came down upon the appointed day
And drove the victim horse away.
Reft of the steed the priests, distressed,
The master of the rite addressed:
“Upon the sacred day by force
A robber takes the victim horse.
Haste, King! now let the thief be slain;
Bring thou the charger back again:
The sacred rite prevented thus
Brings scathe and woe to all of us.
Rise, monarch, and provide with speed
That naught its happy course impede.”
King Sagar in his crowded court
Gave ear unto the priests' report.
He summoned straightway to his side
His sixty thousand sons, and cried:
“Brave sons of mine, I knew not how
These demons are so mighty now:
The priests began the rite so well
All sanctified with prayer and spell.
If in the depths of earth he hide,
Or lurk beneath the ocean's tide,
[pg 051]
Pursue, dear sons, the robber's track;
Slay him and bring the charger back.
The whole of this broad earth explore,
Sea-garlanded, from shore to shore:
Yea, dig her up with might and main
Until you see the horse again.
Deep let your searching labour reach,
A league in depth dug out by each.
The robber of our horse pursue,
And please your sire who orders you.
My grandson, I, this priestly train,
Till the steed comes, will here remain.”
Their eager hearts with transport burned
As to their task the heroes turned.
Obedient to their father, they
Through earth's recesses forced their way.
With iron arms' unflinching toil
Each dug a league beneath the soil.
Earth, cleft asunder, groaned in pain,
As emulous they plied amain
Sharp-pointed coulter, pick, and bar,
Hard as the bolts of Indra are.
Then loud the horrid clamour rose
Of monsters dying neath their blows,
Giant and demon, fiend and snake,
That in earth's core their dwelling make.
They dug, in ire that naught could stay,
Through sixty thousand leagues their way,
Cleaving the earth with matchless strength
Till hell itself they reached at length.
Thus digging searched they Jambudvip184
With all its hills and mountains steep.
Then a great fear began to shake
The heart of God, bard, fiend, and snake,
And all distressed in spirit went
Before the Sire Omnipotent.
With signs of woe in every face
They sought the mighty Father's grace,
And trembling still and ill at ease
Addressed their Lord in words like these:
“The sons of Sagar, Sire benign,
Pierce the whole earth with mine on mine,
And as their ruthless work they ply
Innumerable creatures die.
“This is the thief,” the princes say,
“Who stole our victim steed away.
This marred the rite, and caused us ill,
And so their guiltless blood they spill.”
Canto XLI. Kapil.
The father lent a gracious ear
And listened to their tale of fear,
And kindly to the Gods replied
Whom woe and death had terrified:
“The wisest Vásudeva,185 who
The Immortals' foe, fierce Madhu, slew,
Regards broad Earth with love and pride
And guards, in Kapil's form, his bride.186
His kindled wrath will quickly fall
On the king's sons and burn them all.
This cleaving of the earth his eye
Foresaw in ages long gone by:
He knew with prescient soul the fate
That Sagar's children should await.”
The Three-and-thirty,187 freed from fear,
Sought their bright homes with hopeful cheer.
Still rose the great tempestuous sound
As Sagar's children pierced the ground.
When thus the whole broad earth was cleft,
And not a spot unsearched was left,
Back to their home the princes sped,
And thus unto their father said:
“We searched the earth from side to side,
While countless hosts of creatures died.
Our conquering feet in triumph trod
On snake and demon, fiend and God;
But yet we failed, with all our toil,
To find the robber and the spoil.
What can we more? If more we can,
Devise, O King, and tell thy plan.”
His children's speech King Sagar heard,
And answered thus, to anger stirred:
“Dig on, and ne'er your labour stay
Till through earth's depths you force your way.
Then smite the robber dead, and bring
The charger back with triumphing.”
[pg 052]
The sixty thousand chiefs obeyed:
Deep through the earth their way they made.
Deep as they dug and deeper yet
The immortal elephant they met,
Famed Vírúpáksha188 vast of size,
Upon whose head the broad earth lies:
The mighty beast who earth sustains
With shaggy hills and wooded plains.
When, with the changing moon, distressed,
And longing for a moment's rest,
His mighty head the monster shakes,
Earth to the bottom reels and quakes.
Around that warder strong and vast
With reverential steps they passed.
Nor, when the honour due was paid,
Their downward search through earth delayed.
But turning from the east aside
Southward again their task they plied.
There Mahápadma held his place,
The best of all his mighty race,
Like some huge hill, of monstrous girth,
Upholding on his head the earth.
When the vast beast the princes saw,
They marvelled and were filled with awe.
The sons of high-souled Sagar round
That elephant in reverence wound.
Then in the western region they
With might unwearied cleft their way.
There saw they with astonisht eyes
Saumanas, beast of mountain size.
Round him with circling steps they went
With greetings kind and reverent.
On, on—no thought of rest or stay—
They reached the seat of Soma's sway.
There saw they Bhadra, white as snow,
With lucky marks that fortune show,
Bearing the earth upon his head.
Round him they paced with solemn tread,
And honoured him with greetings kind,
Then downward yet their way they mined.
They gained the tract 'twixt east and north
Whose fame is ever blazoned forth,189
And by a storm of rage impelled,
Digging through earth their course they held.
Then all the princes, lofty-souled,
Of wondrous vigour, strong and bold,
Saw Vásudeva190 standing there
In Kapil's form he loved to wear,
And near the everlasting God
The victim charger cropped the sod.
They saw with joy and eager eyes
The fancied robber and the prize,
And on him rushed the furious band
Crying aloud, Stand, villain! stand!
“Avaunt! avaunt!” great Kapil cried,
His bosom flusht with passion's tide;
Then by his might that proud array
All scorcht to heaps of ashes lay.191
Canto XLII. Sagar's Sacrifice.
Then to the prince his grandson, bright
With his own fame's unborrowed light,
King Sagar thus began to say,
Marvelling at his sons' delay:
“Thou art a warrior skilled and bold,
Match for the mighty men of old.
Now follow on thine uncles' course
And track the robber of the horse.
[pg 053]
To guard thee take thy sword and bow,
for huge and strong are beasts below.
There to the reverend reverence pay,
And kill the foes who check thy way;
Then turn successful home and see
My sacrifice complete through thee.”
Obedient to the high-souled lord
Grasped Anśumán his bow and sword,
And hurried forth the way to trace
With youth and valour's eager pace.
On sped he by the path he found
Dug by his uncles underground.
The warder elephant he saw
Whose size and strength pass Nature's law,
Who bears the world's tremendous weight,
Whom God, fiend, giant venerate,
Bird, serpent, and each flitting shade,
To him the honour meet he paid
With circling steps and greeting due,
And further prayed him, if he knew,
To tell him of his uncles' weal,
And who had dared the horse to steal.
To him in war and council tried
The warder elephant replied:
“Thou, son of Asamanj, shalt lead
In triumph back the rescued steed.”
As to each warder beast he came
And questioned all, his words the same,
The honoured youth with gentle speech
Drew eloquent reply from each,
That fortune should his steps attend,
And with the horse he home should wend.
Cheered with the grateful answer, he
Passed on with step more light and free,
And reached with careless heart the place
Where lay in ashes Sagar's race.
Then sank the spirit of the chief
Beneath that shock of sudden grief,
And with a bitter cry of woe
He mourned his kinsmen fallen so.
He saw, weighed down by woe and care,
The victim charger roaming there.
Yet would the pious chieftain fain
Oblations offer to the slain:
But, needing water for the rite,
He looked and there was none in sight
His quick eye searching all around
The uncle of his kinsmen found,
King Garuḍ, best beyond compare
Of birds who wing the fields of air.
Then thus unto the weeping man
The son of Vinatá192 began:
“Grieve not, O hero, for their fall
Who died a death approved of all.
Of mighty strength, they met their fate
By Kapil's hand whom none can mate.
Pour forth for them no earthly wave,
A holier flood their spirits crave.
If, daughter of the Lord of Snow,
Gangá would turn her stream below,
Her waves that cleanse all mortal stain
Would wash their ashes pure again.
Yea, when her flood whom all revere
Rolls o'er the dust that moulders here,
The sixty thousand, freed from sin,
A home in Indra's heaven shall win.
Go, and with ceaseless labour try
To draw the Goddess from the sky.
Return, and with thee take the steed;
So shall thy grandsire's rite succeed.”
Prince Anśumán the strong and brave
Followed the rede Suparṇa193 gave.
The glorious hero took the horse,
And homeward quickly bent his course.
Straight to the anxious king he hied,
Whom lustral rites had purified,
The mournful story to unfold
And all the king of birds had told.
The tale of woe the monarch heard,
Nor longer was the rite deferred:
With care and just observance he
Accomplished all, as texts decree.
The rites performed, with brighter fame,
Mighty in counsel, home he came.
He longed to bring the river down,
But found no plan his wish to crown.
He pondered long with anxious thought
But saw no way to what he sought.
Thus thirty thousand years he spent,
And then to heaven the monarch went.
Canto XLIII. Bhagírath.
When Sagar thus had bowed to fate,
The lords and commons of the state
Approved with ready heart and will
Prince Anśumán his throne to fill.
He ruled, a mighty king, unblamed,
Sire of Dilípa justly famed.
To him, his child and worthy heir,
The king resigned his kingdom's care,
And on Himálaya's pleasant side
His task austere of penance plied.
Bright as a God in clear renown
He planned to bring pure Gangá down.
There on his fruitless hope intent
Twice sixteen thousand years he spent,
And in the grove of hermits stayed
Till bliss in heaven his rites repaid.
Dilípa then, the good and great,
Soon as he learnt his kinsmen's fate,
Bowed down by woe, with troubled mind,
[pg 054]
Pondering long no cure could find.
“How can I bring,” the mourner sighed,
“To cleanse their dust, the heavenly tide?
How can I give them rest, and save
Their spirits with the offered wave?”
Long with this thought his bosom skilled
In holy discipline was filled.
A son was born, Bhagírath named,
Above all men for virtue famed.
Dilípa many a rite ordained,
And thirty thousand seasons reigned.
But when no hope the king could see
His kinsmen from their woe to free,
The lord of men, by sickness tried,
Obeyed the law of fate, and died;
He left the kingdom to his son,
And gained the heaven his deeds had won.
The good Bhagírath, royal sage,
Had no fair son to cheer his age.
He, great in glory, pure in will,
Longing for sons was childless still.
Then on one wish, one thought intent,
Planning the heavenly stream's descent,
Leaving his ministers the care
And burden of his state to bear,
Dwelling in far Gokarna194 he
Engaged in long austerity.
With senses checked, with arms upraised,
Five fires195 around and o'er him blazed.
Each weary month the hermit passed
Breaking but once his awful fast.
In winter's chill the brook his bed,
In rain, the clouds to screen his head.
Thousands of years he thus endured
Till Brahmá's favour was assured,
And the high Lord of living things
Looked kindly on his sufferings.
With trooping Gods the Sire came near
The king who plied his task austere:
“Blest Monarch, of a glorious race,
Thy fervent rites have won my grace.
Well hast thou wrought thine awful task:
Some boon in turn, O Hermit, ask.”
Bhagírath, rich in glory's light,
The hero with the arm of might,
Thus to the Lord of earth and sky
Raised suppliant hands and made reply:
“If the great God his favour deigns,
And my long toil its fruit obtains,
Let Sagar's sons receive from me
Libations that they long to see.
Let Gangá with her holy wave
The ashes of the heroes lave,
That so my kinsmen may ascend
To heavenly bliss that ne'er shall end.
And give, I pray, O God, a son,
Nor let my house be all undone.
Sire of the worlds! be this the grace
Bestowed upon Ikshváku's race.”
The Sire, when thus the king had prayed,
In sweet kind words his answer made.
“High, high thy thought and wishes are,
Bhagírath of the mighty car!
Ikshváku's line is blest in thee,
And as thou prayest it shall be.
Gangá, whose waves in Swarga196 flow,
Is daughter of the Lord of Snow.
Win Śiva that his aid be lent
To hold her in her mid descent,
For earth alone will never bear
Those torrents hurled from upper air;
And none may hold her weight but He,
The Trident wielding deity.”
Thus having said, the Lord supreme
Addressed him to the heavenly stream;
And then with Gods and Maruts197 went
To heaven above the firmament.
Canto XLIV. The Descent Of Gangá.
The Lord of life the skies regained:
The fervent king a year remained
With arms upraised, refusing rest
While with one toe the earth he pressed,
Still as a post, with sleepless eye,
The air his food, his roof the sky.
The year had past. Then Umá's lord,198
King of creation, world adored,
Thus spoke to great Bhagírath: “I,
Well pleased thy wish will gratify,
And on my head her waves shall fling
The daughter of the Mountains' King!”
He stood upon the lofty crest
That crowns the Lord of Snow,
And bade the river of the Blest
Descend on earth below.
Himálaya's child, adored of all,
The haughty mandate heard,
And her proud bosom, at the call,
With furious wrath was stirred.
Down from her channel in the skies
With awful might she sped
With a giant's rush, in a giant's size,
On Śiva's holy head.
“He calls me,” in her wrath she cried,
“And all my flood shall sweep
And whirl him in its whelming tide
To hell's profoundest deep.”
He held the river on his head,
And kept her wandering, where,
Dense as Himálaya's woods, were spread
The tangles of his hair.
[pg 055]
No way to earth she found, ashamed,
Though long and sore she strove,
Condemned, until her pride were tamed,
Amid his locks to rove.
There, many lengthening seasons through,
The wildered river ran:
Bhagírath saw it, and anew
His penance dire began.
Then Śiva, for the hermit's sake,
Bade her long wanderings end,
And sinking into Vindu's lake
Her weary waves descend.
From Gangá, by the God set free,
Seven noble rivers came;
Hládiní, Pávaní, and she
Called Naliní by name:
These rolled their lucid waves along
And sought the eastern side.
Suchakshu, Sítá fair and strong,
And Sindhu's mighty tide—199
These to the region of the west
With joyful waters sped:
The seventh, the brightest and the best,
Flowed where Bhagírath led.
On Śiva's head descending first
A rest the torrents found:
Then down in all their might they burst
And roared along the ground.
On countless glittering scales the beam
Of rosy morning flashed,
Where fish and dolphins through the stream
Fallen and falling dashed.
Then bards who chant celestial lays
And nymphs of heavenly birth
Flocked round upon that flood to gaze
That streamed from sky to earth.
The Gods themselves from every sphere,
Incomparably bright,
Borne in their golden cars drew near
To see the wondrous sight.
The cloudless sky was all aflame
With the light of a hundred suns
Where'er the shining chariots came
That bore those holy ones.
So flashed the air with crested snakes
And fish of every hue
As when the lightning's glory breaks
Through fields of summer blue.
And white foam-clouds and silver spray
Were wildly tossed on high,
Like swans that urge their homeward way
Across the autumn sky.
Now ran the river calm and clear
With current strong and deep:
Now slowly broadened to a mere,
Or scarcely seemed to creep.
Now o'er a length of sandy plain
Her tranquil course she held;
Now rose her waves and sank again,
By refluent waves repelled.
So falling first on Śiva's head,
Thence rushing to their earthly bed,
In ceaseless fall the waters streamed,
And pure with holy lustre gleamed.
Then every spirit, sage, and bard,
Condemned to earth by sentence hard,
Pressed eagerly around the tide
That Śiva's touch had sanctified.
Then they whom heavenly doom had hurled,
Accursed, to this lower world,
Touched the pure wave, and freed from sin
Resought the skies and entered in.
And all the world was glad, whereon
The glorious water flowed and shone,
For sin and stain were banished thence
By the sweet river's influence.
First, in a car of heavenly frame,
The royal saint of deathless name,
Bhagírath, very glorious rode,
And after him fair Gangá flowed.
God, sage, and bard, the chief in place
Of spirits and the Nága race,
Nymph, giant, fiend, in long array
Sped where Bhagírath led the way;
And all the hosts the flood that swim
Followed the stream that followed him.
Where'er the great Bhagírath led,
There ever glorious Gangá fled,
The best of floods, the rivers' queen,
Whose waters wash the wicked clean.
It chanced that Jahnu, great and good,
Engaged with holy offerings stood;
The river spread her waves around
Flooding his sacrificial ground.
The saint in anger marked her pride,
And at one draught her stream he dried.
Then God, and sage, and bard, afraid,
To noble high-souled Jahnu prayed,
And begged that he would kindly deem
His own dear child that holy stream.
Moved by their suit, he soothed their fears
And loosed her waters from his ears.
Hence Gangá through the world is styled
Both Jáhnavi and Jahnu's child.
Then onward still she followed fast,
And reached the great sea bank at last.
Thence deep below her way she made
To end those rites so long delayed.
The monarch reached the Ocean's side,
And still behind him Gangá hied.
He sought the depths which open lay
Where Sagar's sons had dug their way.
So leading through earth's nether caves
The river's purifying waves,
[pg 056]
Over his kinsmen's dust the lord
His funeral libation poured.
Soon as the flood their dust bedewed,
Their spirits gained beatitude,
And all in heavenly bodies dressed
Rose to the skies' eternal rest.
Then thus to King Bhagírath said
Brahmá, when, coming at the head
Of all his bright celestial train,
He saw those spirits freed from stain:
“Well done! great Prince of men, well done!
Thy kinsmen bliss and heaven have won.
The sons of Sagar mighty-souled,
Are with the Blest, as Gods, enrolled,
Long as the Ocean's flood shall stand
Upon the border of the land,
So long shall Sagar's sons remain,
And, godlike, rank in heaven retain.
Gangá thine eldest child shall be,
Called from thy name Bhágirathí;
Named also—for her waters fell
From heaven and flow through earth and hell—
Tripathagá, stream of the skies,
Because three paths she glorifies.
And, mighty King, 'tis given thee now
To free thee and perform thy vow.
No longer, happy Prince, delay
Drink-offerings to thy kin to pay.
For this the holiest Sagar sighed,
But mourned the boon he sought denied.
Then Anśumán, dear Prince! although
No brighter name the world could show,
Strove long the heavenly flood to gain
To visit earth, but strove in vain.
Nor was she by the sages' peer,
Blest with all virtues, most austere,
Thy sire Dilípa, hither brought,
Though with fierce prayers the boon he sought.
But thou, O King, earned success,
And won high fame which God will bless.
Through thee, O victor of thy foes,
On earth this heavenly Gangá flows,
And thou hast gained the meed divine
That waits on virtue such as thine.
Now in her ever holy wave
Thyself, O best of heroes, lave:
So shalt thou, pure from every sin,
The blessed fruit of merit win.
Now for thy kin who died of yore
The meet libations duly pour.
Above the heavens I now ascend:
Depart, and bliss thy steps attend.”
Thus to the mighty king who broke
His foemens' might, Lord Brahmá spoke,
And with his Gods around him rose
To his own heaven of blest repose.
The royal sage no more delayed,
But, the libation duly paid,
Home to his regal city hied
With water cleansed and purified.
There ruled he his ancestral state,
Best of all men, most fortunate.
And all the people joyed again
In good Bhagírath's gentle reign.
Rich, prosperous, and blest were they,
And grief and sickness fled away.
Thus, Ráma, I at length have told
How Gangá came from heaven of old.
Now, for the evening passes swift,
I wish thee each auspicious gift.
This story of the flood's descent
Will give—for 'tis most excellent—
Wealth, purity, fame, length of days,
And to the skies its hearers raise”
Canto XLV. The Quest Of The Amrit.
High and more high their wonder rose
As the strange story reached its close,
And thus, with Lakshmaṇ, Ráma, best
Of Raghu's sons, the saint addressed:
“Most wondrous is the tale which thou
Hast told of heavenly Gangá, how
From realms above descending she
Flowed through the land and filled the sea.
In thinking o'er what thou hast said
The night has like a moment fled,
Whose hours in musing have been spent
Upon thy words most excellent:
So much, O holy Sage, thy lore
Has charmed us with this tale of yore.”
Day dawned. The morning rites were done
And the victorious Raghu's son
Addressed the sage in words like these,
Rich in his long austerities:
“The night is past: the morn is clear;
Told is the tale so good to hear:
Now o'er that river let us go,
Three-pathed, the best of all that flow.
This boat stands ready on the shore
To bear the holy hermits o'er,
Who of thy coming warned, in haste,
The barge upon the bank have placed.”
And Kuśik's son approved his speech,
And moving to the sandy beach,
Placed in the boat the hermit band,
And reached the river's further strand.
On the north bank their feet they set,
And greeted all the saints they met.
On Gangá's shore they lighted down,
And saw Viśálá's lovely town.
Thither, the princes by his side,
The best of holy hermits hied.
It was a town exceeding fair
[pg 057]
That might with heaven itself compare.
Then, suppliant palm to palm applied,
Famed Ráma asked his holy guide:
“O best of hermits, say what race
Of monarchs rules this lovely place.
Dear master, let my prayer prevail,
For much I long to hear the tale.”
Moved by his words, the saintly man
Viśálá's ancient tale began:
“List, Ráma, list, with closest heed
The tale of Indra's wondrous deed,
And mark me as I truly tell
What here in ancient days befell.
Ere Krita's famous Age200 had fled,
Strong were the sons of Diti201 bred;
And Aditi's brave children too
Were very mighty, good, and true.
The rival brothers fierce and bold
Were sons of Kaśyap lofty-souled.
Of sister mothers born, they vied,
Brood against brood, in jealous pride.
Once, as they say, band met with band,
And, joined in awful council, planned
To live, unharmed by age and time,
Immortal in their youthful prime.
Then this was, after due debate,
The counsel of the wise and great,
To churn with might the milky sea202
The life-bestowing drink to free.
This planned, they seized the Serpent King,
Vásuki, for their churning-string,
And Mandar's mountain for their pole,
And churned with all their heart and soul.
As thus, a thousand seasons through,
This way and that the snake they drew,
Biting the rocks, each tortured head,
A very deadly venom shed.
Thence, bursting like a mighty flame,
A pestilential poison came,
Consuming, as it onward ran,
The home of God, and fiend, and man.
Then all the suppliant Gods in fear
To Śankar,203 mighty lord, drew near.
To Rudra, King of Herds, dismayed,
“Save us, O save us, Lord!” they prayed.
Then Vishṇu, bearing shell, and mace,
And discus, showed his radiant face,
And thus addressed in smiling glee
The Trident wielding deity:
“What treasure first the Gods upturn
From troubled Ocean, as they churn,
Should—for thou art the eldest—be
Conferred, O best of Gods, on thee.
Then come, and for thy birthright's sake,
This venom as thy first fruits take.”
He spoke, and vanished from their sight,
When Śiva saw their wild affright,
And heard his speech by whom is borne
The mighty bow of bending horn,204
The poisoned flood at once he quaffed
As 'twere the Amrit's heavenly draught.
Then from the Gods departing went
Śiva, the Lord pre-eminent.
The host of Gods and Asurs still
Kept churning with one heart and will.
But Mandar's mountain, whirling round,
Pierced to the depths below the ground.
Then Gods and bards in terror flew
To him who mighty Madhu slew.
“Help of all beings! more than all,
The Gods on thee for aid may call.
Ward off, O mighty-armed! our fate,
And bear up Mandar's threatening weight.”
Then Vishṇu, as their need was sore,
The semblance of a tortoise wore,
And in the bed of Ocean lay
The mountain on his back to stay.
Then he, the soul pervading all,
Whose locks in radiant tresses fall,
One mighty arm extended still,
And grasped the summit of the hill.
So ranged among the Immortals, he
Joined in the churning of the sea.
A thousand years had reached their close,
When calmly from the ocean rose
The gentle sage205 with staff and can,
Lord of the art of healing man.
Then as the waters foamed and boiled,
As churning still the Immortals toiled,
Of winning face and lovely frame,
Forth sixty million fair ones came.
Born of the foam and water, these
Were aptly named Apsarases.206
[pg 058]
Each had her maids. The tongue would fail—
So vast the throng—to count the tale.
But when no God or Titan wooed
A wife from all that multitude,
Refused by all, they gave their love
In common to the Gods above.
Then from the sea still vext and wild
Rose Surá,207 Varuṇ's maiden child.
A fitting match she sought to find:
But Diti's sons her love declined,
Their kinsmen of the rival brood
To the pure maid in honour sued.
Hence those who loved that nymph so fair
The hallowed name of Suras bear.
And Asurs are the Titan crowd
Her gentle claims who disallowed.
Then from the foamy sea was freed
Uchchaihśravas,208 the generous steed,
And Kaustubha, of gems the gem,209
And Soma, Moon God, after them.
At length when many a year had fled,
Up floated, on her lotus bed,
A maiden fair and tender-eyed,
In the young flush of beauty's pride.
She shone with pearl and golden sheen,
And seals of glory stamped her queen,
On each round arm glowed many a gem,
On her smooth brows, a diadem.
Rolling in waves beneath her crown
The glory of her hair flowed down,
Pearls on her neck of price untold,
The lady shone like burnisht gold.
Queen of the Gods, she leapt to land,
A lotus in her perfect hand,
And fondly, of the lotus-sprung,
To lotus-bearing Vishṇu clung.
Her Gods above and men below
As Beauty's Queen and Fortune know.210
Gods, Titans, and the minstrel train
Still churned and wrought the troubled main.
At length the prize so madly sought,
The Amrit, to their sight was brought.
For the rich spoil, 'twixt these and those
A fratricidal war arose,
And, host 'gainst host in battle, set,
Aditi's sons and Diti's met.
United, with the giants' aid,
Their fierce attack the Titans made,
And wildly raged for many a day
That universe-astounding fray.
When wearied arms were faint to strike,
And ruin threatened all alike,
Vishṇu, with art's illusive aid,
The Amrit from their sight conveyed.
That Best of Beings smote his foes
Who dared his deathless arm oppose:
Yea, Vishṇu, all-pervading God,
Beneath his feet the Titans trod
Aditi's race, the sons of light,
slew Diti's brood in cruel fight.
Then town-destroying211 Indra gained
His empire, and in glory reigned
O'er the three worlds with bard and sage
Rejoicing in his heritage.
Canto XLVI. Diti's Hope.
But Diti, when her sons were slain,
Wild with a childless mother's pain,
To Kaśyap spake, Marícha's son,
Her husband: “O thou glorious one!
[pg 059]
Dead are the children, mine no more,
The mighty sons to thee I bore.
Long fervour's meed, I crave a boy
Whose arm may Indra's life destroy.
The toil and pain my care shall be:
To bless my hope depends on thee.
Give me a mighty son to slay
Fierce Indra, gracious lord! I pray.”
Then glorious Kaśyap thus replied
To Diti, as she wept and sighed:
“Thy prayer is heard, dear saint! Remain
Pure from all spot, and thou shalt gain
A son whose arm shall take the life
Of Indra in the battle strife.
For full a thousand years endure
Free from all stain, supremely pure;
Then shall thy son and mine appear,
Whom the three worlds shall serve with fear.”
These words the glorious Kaśyap said,
Then gently stroked his consort's head,
Blessed her, and bade a kind adieu,
And turned him to his rites anew.
Soon as her lord had left her side,
Her bosom swelled with joy and pride.
She sought the shade of holy boughs,
And there began her awful vows.
While yet she wrought her rites austere,
Indra, unbidden, hastened near,
With sweet observance tending her,
A reverential minister.
Wood, water, fire, and grass he brought,
Sweet roots and woodland fruit he sought,
And all her wants, the Thousand-eyed,
With never-failing care, supplied,
With tender love and soft caress
Removing pain and weariness.
When, of the thousand years ordained,
Ten only unfulfilled remained,
Thus to her son, the Thousand-eyed,
The Goddess in her triumph cried:
“Best of the mighty! there remain
But ten short years of toil and pain;
These years of penance soon will flee,
And a new brother thou shalt see.
Him for thy sake I'll nobly breed,
And lust of war his soul shall feed;
Then free from care and sorrow thou
Shalt see the worlds before him bow.”212
Canto XLVII. Sumati.
Thus to Lord Indra, Thousand-eyed,
Softly beseeching Diti sighed.
When but a blighted bud was left,
Which Indra's hand in seven had cleft:213
“No fault, O Lord of Gods, is thine;
The blame herein is only mine.
But for one grace I fain would pray,
As thou hast reft this hope away.
This bud, O Indra, which a blight
Has withered ere it saw the light—
From this may seven fair spirits rise
To rule the regions of the skies.
Be theirs through heaven's unbounded space
On shoulders of the winds to race,
My children, drest in heavenly forms,
Far-famed as Maruts, Gods of storms.
One God to Brahmá's sphere assign,
Let one, O Indra, watch o'er thine;
And ranging through the lower air,
The third the name of Váyu214 bear.
Gods let the four remaining be,
And roam through space, obeying thee.”
The Town-destroyer, Thousand-eyed,
Who smote fierce Bali till he died,
Joined suppliant hands, and thus replied:
“Thy children heavenly forms shall wear;
The names devised by thee shall bear,
And, Maruts called by my decree,
Shall Amrit drink and wait on me.
From fear and age and sickness freed,
Through the three worlds their wings shall speed.”
Thus in the hermits' holy shade
Mother and son their compact made,
And then, as fame relates, content,
Home to the happy skies they went.
This is the spot—so men have told—
Where Lord Mahendra215 dwelt of old,
This is the blessed region where
His votaress mother claimed his care.
Here gentle Alambúshá bare
To old Ikshváku, king and sage,
Viśála, glory of his age,
By whom, a monarch void of guilt,
Was this fair town Viśálá built.
[pg 060]
His son was Hemachandra, still
Renowned for might and warlike skill.
From him the great Suchandra came;
His son, Dhúmráśva, dear to fame.
Next followed royal Srinjay; then
Famed Sahadeva, lord of men.
Next came Kuśáśva, good and mild,
Whose son was Somadatta styled,
And Sumati, his heir, the peer
Of Gods above, now governs here.
And ever through Ikshváku's grace,
Viśálá's kings, his noble race,
Are lofty-souled, and blest with length
Of days, with virtue, and with strength.
This night, O prince, we here will sleep;
And when the day begins to peep,
Our onward way will take with thee,
The king of Míthilá to see.”
Then Sumati, the king, aware
Of Viśvámitra's advent there,
Came quickly forth with honour meet
The lofty-minded sage to greet.
Girt with his priest and lords the king
Did low obeisance, worshipping,
With suppliant hands, with head inclined,
Thus spoke he after question kind;
“Since thou hast deigned to bless my sight,
And grace awhile thy servant's seat,
High fate is mine, great Anchorite,
And none may with my bliss compete.”
Canto XLVIII. Indra And Ahalyá
When mutual courtesies had past,
Viśálá's ruler spoke at last:
“These princely youths, O Sage, who vie
In might with children of the sky,
Heroic, born for happy fate,
With elephants' or lions' gait,
Bold as the tiger or the bull,
With lotus eyes so large and full,
Armed with the quiver, sword, and bow,
Whose figures like the Aśvins216 show,
Like children of the deathless Powers,
Come freely to these shades of ours,217—
How have they reached on foot this place?
What do they seek, and what their race?
As sun and moon adorn the sky,
This spot the heroes glorify.
Alike in stature, port, and mien,
The same fair form in each is seen,”
He spoke; and at the monarch's call
The best of hermits told him all,
How in the grove with him they dwelt,
And slaughter to the demons dealt.
Then wonder filled the monarch's breast,
Who tended well each royal guest.
Thus entertained, the princely pair
Remained that night and rested there,
And with the morn's returning ray
To Mithilá pursued their way.
When Janak's lovely city first
Upon their sight, yet distant, burst,
The hermits all with joyful cries
Hailed the fair town that met their eyes.
Then Ráma saw a holy wood,
Close, in the city's neighbourhood,
O'ergrown, deserted, marked by age,
And thus addressed the mighty sage:
“O reverend lord. I long to know
What hermit dwelt here long ago.”
Then to the prince his holy guide,
Most eloquent of men, replied:
“O Ráma, listen while I tell
Whose was this grove, and what befell
When in the fury of his rage
The high saint cursed the hermitage.
This was the grove—most lovely then—
Of Gautam, O thou best of men,
Like heaven itself, most honoured by
The Gods who dwell above the sky.
Here with Ahalyá at his side
His fervid task the ascetic plied.
Years fled in thousands. On a day
It chanced the saint had gone away,
When Town-destroying Indra came,
And saw the beauty of the dame.
The sage's form the God endued,
And thus the fair Ahalyá wooed:
“Love, sweet! should brook no dull delay
But snatch the moments when he may.”
She knew him in the saint's disguise,
Lord Indra of the Thousand Eyes,
But touched by love's unholy fire,
She yielded to the God's desire.
“Now, Lord of Gods!” she whispered, “flee,
From Gautam save thyself and me.”
Trembling with doubt and wild with dread
Lord Indra from the cottage fled;
But fleeing in the grove he met
The home-returning anchoret,
Whose wrath the Gods and fiends would shun,
Such power his fervent rites had won.
Fresh from the lustral flood he came,
In splendour like the burning flame,
With fuel for his sacred rites,
And grass, the best of eremites.
The Lord of Gods was sad of cheer
To see the mighty saint so near,
And when the holy hermit spied
In hermit's garb the Thousand-eyed,
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He knew the whole, his fury broke
Forth on the sinner as he spoke:
“Because my form thou hast assumed,
And wrought this folly, thou art doomed,
For this my curse to thee shall cling,
Henceforth a sad and sexless thing.”
No empty threat that sentence came,
It chilled his soul and marred his frame,
His might and godlike vigour fled,
And every nerve was cold and dead.
Then on his wife his fury burst,
And thus the guilty dame he cursed:
“For countless years, disloyal spouse,
Devoted to severest vows,
Thy bed the ashes, air thy food,
Here shalt thou live in solitude.
This lonely grove thy home shall be,
And not an eye thy form shall see.
When Ráma, Daśaratha's child,
Shall seek these shades then drear and wild,
His coming shall remove thy stain,
And make the sinner pure again.
Due honour paid to him, thy guest,
Shall cleanse thy fond and erring breast,
Thee to my side in bliss restore,
And give thy proper shape once more.”218
Thus to his guilty wife he said,
Then far the holy Gautam fled,
And on Himálaya's lovely heights
Spent the long years in sternest rites.”
Canto XLIX. Ahalyá Freed.
Then Ráma, following still his guide,
Within the grove, with Lakshmaṇ, hied,
Her vows a wondrous light had lent
To that illustrious penitent.
He saw the glorious lady, screened
From eye of man, and God, and fiend,
Like some bright portent which the care
Of Brahmá launches through the air,
Designed by his illusive art
To flash a moment and depart:
Or like the flame that leaps on high
To sink involved in smoke and die:
Or like the full moon shining through
The wintry mist, then lost to view:
Or like the sun's reflection, cast
Upon the flood, too bright to last:
So was the glorious dame till then
Removed from Gods' and mortals' ken,
Till—such was Gautam's high decree—
Prince Ráma came to set her free.
Then, with great joy that dame to meet,
The sons of Raghu clapped her feet;
And she, remembering Gautam's oath,
With gentle grace received them both;
Then water for their feet she gave,
Guest-gift, and all that strangers crave.
The prince, of courteous rule aware,
Received, as meet, the lady's care.
Then flowers came down in copious rain,
And moving to the heavenly strain
Of music in the skies that rang,
The nymphs and minstrels danced and sang:
And all the Gods with one glad voice
Praised the great dame, and cried, “Rejoice!
Through fervid rites no more defiled,
But with thy husband reconciled.”
Gautam, the holy hermit knew—
For naught escaped his godlike view—
That Ráma lodged beneath that shade,
And hasting there his homage paid.
He took Ahalyá to his side,
From sin and folly purified,
And let his new-found consort bear
In his austerities a share.
Then Ráma, pride of Raghu's race,
Welcomed by Gautam, face to face,
Who every highest honour showed,
To Mithilá pursued his road.
Canto L. Janak.
The sons of Raghu journeyed forth,
Bending their steps 'twixt east and north.
Soon, guided by the sage, they found,
Enclosed, a sacrificial ground.
Then to the best of saints, his guide,
In admiration Ráma cried:
“The high-souled king no toil has spared,
But nobly for his rite prepared,
How many thousand Bráhmans here,
From every region, far and near,
Well read in holy lore, appear!
How many tents, that sages screen,
With wains in hundreds, here are seen!
Great Bráhman, let us find a place
Where we may stay and rest a space.”
The hermit did as Ráma prayed,
And in a spot his lodging made,
[pg 062]
Far from the crowd, sequestered, clear,
With copious water flowing near.
Then Janak, best of kings, aware
Of Viśvámitra lodging there,
With Śatánanda for his guide—
The priest on whom he most relied,
His chaplain void of guile and stain—
And others of his priestly train,
Bearing the gift that greets the guest,
To meet him with all honour pressed.
The saint received with gladsome mind
Each honour and observance kind:
Then of his health he asked the king,
And how his rites were prospering,
Janak, with chaplain and with priest,
Addressed the hermits, chief and least,
Accosting all, in due degree,
With proper words of courtesy.
Then, with his palms together laid,
The king his supplication made:
“Deign, reverend lord, to sit thee down
With these good saints of high renown.”
Then sate the chief of hermits there,
Obedient to the monarch's prayer.
Chaplain and priest, and king and peer,
Sate in their order, far or near.
Then thus the king began to say:
“The Gods have blest my rite to-day,
And with the sight of thee repaid
The preparations I have made.
Grateful am I, so highly blest,
That thou, of saints the holiest,
Hast come, O Bráhman, here with all
These hermits to the festival.
Twelve days, O Bráhman Sage, remain—
For so the learned priests ordain—
And then, O heir of Kuśik's name,
The Gods will come their dues to claim.”
With looks that testified delight
Thus spake he to the anchorite,
Then with his suppliant hands upraised,
He asked, as earnestly he gazed:
“These princely youths, O Sage, who vie
In might with children of the sky,
Heroic, born for happy fate,
With elephants' or lions' gait,
Bold as the tiger and the bull,
With lotus eyes so large and full,
Armed with the quiver, sword and bow,
Whose figures like the Aśvins show,
Like children of the heavenly Powers,
Come freely to these shades of ours,—
How have they reached on foot this place?
What do they seek, and what their race?
As sun and moon adorn the sky,
This spot the heroes glorify:
Alike in stature, port, and mien,
The same fair form in each is seen.”219
Thus spoke the monarch, lofty-souled,
The saint, of heart unfathomed, told
How, sons of Daśaratha, they
Accompanied his homeward way,
How in the hermitage they dwelt,
And slaughter to the demons dealt:
Their journey till the spot they neared
Whence fair Viśálá's towers appeared:
Ahalyá seen and freed from taint;
Their meeting with her lord the saint;
And how they thither came, to know
The virtue of the famous bow.
Thus Viśvámitra spoke the whole
To royal Janak, great of soul,
And when this wondrous tale was o'er,
The glorious hermit said no more.
Canto LI. Visvámitra.
Wise Viśvámitra's tale was done:
Then sainted Gautam's eldest son,
Great Śatánanda, far-renowned,
Whom long austerities had crowned
With glory—as the news he heard
The down upon his body stirred,—
Filled full of wonder at the sight
Of Ráma, felt supreme delight.
When Śatánanda saw the pair
Of youthful princes seated there,
He turned him to the holy man
Who sate at ease, and thus began:
“And didst thou, mighty Sage, in truth
Show clearly to this royal youth
My mother, glorious far and wide,
Whom penance-rites have sanctified?
And did my glorious mother—she,
Heiress of noble destiny—
Serve her great guest with woodland store,
Whom all should honour evermore?
Didst thou the tale to Ráma tell
Of what in ancient days befell,
The sin, the misery, and the shame
Of guilty God and faithless dame?
And, O thou best of hermits, say,
Did Ráma's healing presence stay
Her trial? was the wife restored
Again to him, my sire and lord?
Say, Hermit, did that sire of mine
Receive her with a soul benign,
When long austerities in time
Had cleansed her from the taint of crime?
[pg 063]
And, son of Kuśik, let me know,
Did my great-minded father show
Honour to Ráma, and regard,
Before he journeyed hitherward?”
The hermit with attentive ear
Marked all the questions of the seer:
To him for eloquence far-famed,
His eloquent reply he framed:
“Yea, 'twas my care no task to shun,
And all I had to do was done;
As Reṇuká and Bhrigu's child,
The saint and dame were reconciled.”
When the great sage had thus replied,
To Ráma Śatánanda cried:
“A welcome visit, Prince, is thine,
Thou scion of King Raghu's line.
With him to guide thy way aright,
This sage invincible in might,
This Bráhman sage, most glorious-bright,
By long austerities has wrought
A wondrous deed, exceeding thought:
Thou knowest well, O strong of arm,
This sure defence from scathe and harm.
None, Ráma, none is living now
In all the earth more blest than thou,
That thou hast won a saint so tried
In fervid rites thy life to guide.
Now listen, Prince, while I relate
His lofty deeds and wondrous fate.
He was a monarch pious-souled.
His foemen in the dust he rolled;
Most learned, prompt at duty's claim,
His people's good his joy and aim.
Of old the Lord of Life gave birth
To mighty Kuśa, king of earth.
His son was Kuśanábha, strong,
Friend of the right, the foe of wrong.
Gádhi, whose fame no time shall dim,
Heir of his throne was born to him,
And Viśvámitra, Gádhi's heir,
Governed the land with kingly care.
While years unnumbered rolled away
The monarch reigned with equal sway.
At length, assembling many a band,
He led his warriors round the land—
Complete in tale, a mighty force,
Cars, elephants, and foot, and horse.
Through cities, groves, and floods he passed,
O'er lofty hills, through regions vast.
He reached Vaśishṭha's pure abode,
Where trees, and flowers, and creepers glowed,
Where troops of sylvan creatures fed;
Which saints and angels visited.
Gods, fauns, and bards of heavenly race,
And spirits, glorified the place;
The deer their timid ways forgot,
And holy Bráhmans thronged the spot.
Bright in their souls, like fire, were these,
Made pure by long austerities,
Bound by the rule of vows severe,
And each in glory Brahmá's peer.
Some fed on water, some on air,
Some on the leaves that withered there.
Roots and wild fruit were others' food;
All rage was checked, each sense subdued,
There Bálakhilyas220 went and came,
Now breathed the prayer, now fed the flame:
These, and ascetic bands beside,
The sweet retirement beautified.
Such was Vaśishṭha's blest retreat,
Like Brahmá's own celestial seat,
Which gladdened Viśvámitra's eyes,
Peerless for warlike enterprise.
Canto LII. Vasishtha's Feast.
Right glad was Viśvámitra when
He saw the prince of saintly men.
Low at his feet the hero bent,
And did obeisance, reverent.
The king was welcomed in, and shown
A seat beside the hermit's own,
Who offered him, when resting there,
Fruit in due course, and woodland fare.
And Viśvámitra, noblest king,
Received Vaśishṭha's welcoming,
Turned to his host, and prayed him tell
That he and all with him were well.
Vaśishṭha to the king replied
That all was well on every side,
That fire, and vows, and pupils throve,
And all the trees within the grove.
And then the son of Brahmá, best
Of all who pray with voice suppressed,
Questioned with pleasant words like these
The mighty king who sate at ease:
“And is it well with thee? I pray;
And dost thou win by virtuous sway
Thy people's love, discharging all
The duties on a king that fall?
Are all thy servants fostered well?
Do all obey, and none rebel?
Hast thou, destroyer of the foe,
No enemies to overthrow?
Does fortune, conqueror! still attend
Thy treasure, host, and every friend?
Is it all well? Does happy fate
On sons and children's children wait?”
He spoke. The modest king replied
That all was prosperous far and wide.
[pg 064]
Thus for awhile the two conversed,
As each to each his tale rehearsed,
And as the happy moments flew,
Their joy and friendship stronger grew.
When such discourse had reached an end,
Thus spoke the saint most reverend
To royal Viśvámitra, while
His features brightened with a smile:
“O mighty lord of men. I fain
Would banquet thee and all thy train
In mode that suits thy station high:
And do not thou my prayer deny.
Let my good lord with favour take
The offering that I fain would make,
And let me honour, ere we part,
My royal guest with loving heart.”
Him Viśvámitra thus addressed:
“Why make, O Saint, this new request?
Thy welcome and each gracious word
Sufficient honour have conferred.
Thou gavest roots and fruit to eat,
The treasures of this pure retreat,
And water for my mouth and feet;
And—boon I prize above the rest—
Thy presence has mine eyesight blest.
Honoured by thee in every way,
To whom all honour all should pay,
I now will go. My lord, Good-bye!
Regard me with a friendly eye.”
Him speaking thus Vaśishṭha stayed,
And still to share his banquet prayed.
The will of Gádhi's son he bent,
And won the monarch to consent,
Who spoke in answer. “Let it be,
Great Hermit, as it pleases thee.”
When, best of those who breathe the prayer,
He heard the king his will declare,
He called the cow of spotted skin,
All spot without, all pure within.
“Come, Dapple-skin,” he cried, “with speed;
Hear thou my words and help at need.
My heart is set to entertain
This monarch and his mighty train
With sumptuous meal and worthy fare;
Be thine the banquet to prepare.
Each dainty cate, each goodly dish,
Of six-fold taste221 as each may wish—
All these, O cow of heavenly power,
Rain down for me in copious shower:
Viands and drink for tooth and lip,
To eat, to suck, to quaff, to sip—
Of these sufficient, and to spare,
O plenty-giving cow, prepare.”
Canto LIII. Visvámitra's Request.
Thus charged, O slayer of thy foes,
The cow from whom all plenty flows,
Obedient to her saintly lord,
Viands to suit each taste, outpoured.
Honey she gave, and roasted grain,
Mead sweet with flowers, and sugar-cane.
Each beverage of flavour rare,
An food of every sort, were there:
Hills of hot rice, and sweetened cakes,
And curdled milk and soup in lakes.
Vast beakers foaming to the brim
With sugared drink prepared for him,
And dainty sweetmeats, deftly made,
Before the hermit's guests were laid.
So well regaled, so nobly fed,
The mighty army banqueted,
And all the train, from chief to least,
Delighted in Vaśishṭha's feast.
Then Viśvámitra, royal sage,
Surrounded by his vassalage,
Prince, peer, and counsellor, and all
From highest lord to lowest thrall,
Thus feasted, to Vaśishṭha cried
With joy, supremely gratified:
“Rich honour I, thus entertained,
Most honourable lord, have gained:
Now hear, before I journey hence,
My words, O skilled in eloquence.
Bought for a hundred thousand kine,
Let Dapple-skin, O Saint, be mine.
A wondrous jewel is thy cow,
And gems are for the monarch's brow.222
To me her rightful lord resign
This Dapple-skin thou callest thine.”
The great Vaśishṭha, thus addressed,
Arch-hermit of the holy breast,
To Viśvámitra answer made,
The king whom all the land obeyed:
“Not for a hundred thousand,—nay,
Not if ten million thou wouldst pay,
With silver heaps the price to swell,—
Will I my cow, O Monarch, sell.
Unmeet for her is such a fate.
That I my friend should alienate.
As glory with the virtuous, she
For ever makes her home with me.
On her mine offerings which ascend
To Gods and spirits all depend:
My very life is due to her,
My guardian, friend, and minister.
[pg 065]
The feeding of the sacred flame,223
The dole which living creatures claim.224
The mighty sacrifice by fire,
Each formula the rites require,225
And various saving lore beside,
Are by her aid, in sooth, supplied.
The banquet which thy host has shared,
Believe it, was by her prepared,
In her mine only treasures lie,
She cheers mine heart and charms mine eye.
And reasons more could I assign
Why Dapple-skin can ne'er be thine.”
The royal sage, his suit denied,
With eloquence more earnest cried:
“Tusked elephants, a goodly train,
Each with a golden girth and chain,
Whose goads with gold well fashioned shine—
Of these be twice seven thousand thine.
And four-horse cars with gold made bright,
With steeds most beautifully white,
Whose bells make music as they go,
Eight hundred, Saint, will I bestow.
Eleven thousand mettled steeds
From famous lands, of noble breeds—
These will I gladly give, O thou
Devoted to each holy vow.
Ten million heifers, fair to view,
Whose sides are marked with every hue—
These in exchange will I assign;
But let thy Dapple-skin be mine.
Ask what thou wilt, and piles untold
Of priceless gems and gleaming gold,
O best of Bráhmans, shall be thine;
But let thy Dapple-skin be mine.”
The great Vaśishṭha, thus addressed,
Made answer to the king's request:
“Ne'er will I give my cow away,
My gem, my wealth, my life and stay.
My worship at the moon's first show,
And at the full, to her I owe;
And sacrifices small and great,
Which largess due and gifts await.
From her alone, their root, O King,
My rites and holy service spring.
What boots it further words to say?
I will not give my cow away
Who yields me what I ask each day.”
Canto LIV. The Battle.
As Saint Vaśishṭha answered so,
Nor let the cow of plenty go,
The monarch, as a last resource,
Began to drag her off by force.
While the king's servants tore away
Their moaning, miserable prey,
Sad, sick at heart, and sore distressed,
She pondered thus within her breast:
“Why am I thus forsaken? why
Betrayed by him of soul most high.
Vaśishṭha, ravished by the hands
Of soldiers of the monarch's bands?
Ah me! what evil have I done
Against the lofty-minded one,
That he, so pious, can expose
The innocent whose love he knows?”
In her sad breast as thus she thought,
And heaved deep sighs with anguish fraught,
With wondrous speed away she fled,
And back to Saint Vaśishṭha sped.
She hurled by hundreds to the ground
The menial crew that hemmed her round,
And flying swifter than the blast
Before the saint herself she cast.
There Dapple-skin before the saint
Stood moaning forth her sad complaint,
And wept and lowed: such tones as come
From wandering cloud or distant drum.
“O son of Brahmá,” thus cried she,
“Why hast thou thus forsaken me,
That the king's men, before thy face,
Bear off thy servant from her place?”
Then thus the Bráhman saint replied
To her whose heart with woe was tried,
And grieving for his favourite's sake,
As to a suffering sister spake:
“I leave thee not: dismiss the thought;
Nor, duteous, hast thou failed in aught.
This king, o'erweening in the pride
Of power, has reft thee from my side.
Little, I ween, my strength could do
'Gainst him, a mighty warrior too.
Strong, as a soldier born and bred,—
Great, as a king whom regions dread.
See! what a host the conqueror leads,
With elephants, and cars, and steeds.
O'er countless bands his pennons fly;
So is he mightier far than I.”
[pg 066]
He spoke. Then she, in lowly mood,
To that high saint her speech renewed:
“So judge not they who wisest are:
The Bráhman's might is mightier far.
For Bráhmans strength from Heaven derive,
And warriors bow when Bráhmans strive.
A boundless power 'tis thine to wield:
To such a king thou shouldst not yield,
Who, very mighty though he be,—
So fierce thy strength,—must bow to thee.
Command me, Saint. Thy power divine
Has brought me here and made me thine;
And I, howe'er the tyrant boast,
Will tame his pride and slay his host.”
Then cried the glorious sage: “Create
A mighty force the foe to mate.”
She lowed, and quickened into life,
Pahlavas,226 burning for the strife,
King Viśvámitra's army slew
Before the very leader's view.
The monarch in excessive ire,
His eyes with fury darting fire,
Rained every missile on the foe
Till all the Pahlavas were low.
She, seeing all her champions slain,
Lying by thousands on the plain.
Created, by her mere desire,
Yavans and Śakas, fierce and dire.
And all the ground was overspread
With Yavans and with Śakas dread:
A host of warriors bright and strong,
And numberless in closest throng:
The threads within the lotus stem,
So densely packed, might equal them.
In gold-hued mail 'against war's attacks,
Each bore a sword and battle-axe,
The royal host, where'er these came,
Fell as if burnt with ravening flame.
The monarch, famous through the world
Again his fearful weapons hurled,
That made Kámbojas,227 Barbars,228 all,
With Yavans, troubled, flee and fall.
Canto LV. The Hermitage Burnt.
So o'er the field that host lay strown,
By Viśvámitra's darts o'erthrown.
Then thus Vaśishṭha charged the cow:
“Create with all thy vigour now.”
Forth sprang Kámbojas, as she lowed;
Bright as the sun their faces glowed,
Forth from her udder Barbars poured,—
Soldiers who brandished spear and sword,—
And Yavans with their shafts and darts,
And Śakas from her hinder parts.
And every pore upon her fell,
And every hair-producing cell,
With Mlechchhas229 and Kirátas230 teemed,
And forth with them Hárítas streamed.
And Viśvámitra's mighty force,
Car, elephant, and foot, and horse,
Fell in a moment's time, subdued
By that tremendous multitude.
The monarch's hundred sons, whose eyes
Beheld the rout in wild surprise,
Armed with all weapons, mad with rage,
Rushed fiercely on the holy sage.
One cry he raised, one glance he shot,
And all fell scorched upon the spot:
Burnt by the sage to ashes, they
With horse, and foot, and chariot, lay.
The monarch mourned, with shame and pain,
His army lost, his children slain,
Like Ocean when his roar is hushed,
Or some great snake whose fangs are crushed:
[pg 067]
Or as in swift eclipse the Sun
Dark with the doom he cannot shun:
Or a poor bird with mangled wing—
So, reft of sons and host, the king
No longer, by ambition fired,
The pride of war his breast inspired.
He gave his empire to his son—
Of all he had, the only one:
And bade him rule as kings are taught
Then straight a hermit-grove he sought.
Far to Himálaya's side he fled,
Which bards and Nágas visited,
And, Mahádeva's231 grace to earn,
He gave his life to penance stern.
A lengthened season thus passed by,
When Śiva's self, the Lord most High,
Whose banner shows the pictured bull,232
Appeared, the God most bountiful:
“Why fervent thus in toil and pain?
What brings thee here? what boon to gain?
Thy heart's desire, O Monarch, speak:
I grant the boons which mortals seek.”
The king, his adoration paid,
To Mahádeva answer made:
“If thou hast deemed me fit to win
Thy favour, O thou void of sin,
On me, O mighty God, bestow
The wondrous science of the bow,
All mine, complete in every part,
With secret spell and mystic art.
To me be all the arms revealed
That Gods, and saints, and Titans wield,
And every dart that arms the hands
Of spirits, fiends and minstrel bands,
Be mine, O Lord supreme in place,
This token of thy boundless grace.”
The Lord of Gods then gave consent,
And to his heavenly mansion went.
Triumphant in the arms he held,
The monarch's breast with glory swelled.
So swells the ocean, when upon
His breast the full moon's beams have shone.
Already in his mind he viewed
Vaśishṭha at his feet subdued.
He sought that hermit's grove, and there
Launched his dire weapons through the air,
Till scorched by might that none could stay
The hermitage in ashes lay.
Where'er the inmates saw, aghast,
The dart that Viśvámitra cast,
To every side they turned and fled
In hundreds forth disquieted.
Vaśishṭha's pupils caught the fear,
And every bird and every deer,
And fled in wild confusion forth
Eastward and westward, south and north,
And so Vaśishṭha's holy shade
A solitary wild was made,
Silent awhile, for not a sound
Disturbed the hush that was around.
Vaśishṭha then, with eager cry,
Called, “Fear not, friends, nor seek to fly.
This son of Gádhi dies to-day,
Like hoar-frost in the morning's ray.”
Thus having said, the glorious sage
Spoke to the king in words of rage:
“Because thou hast destroyed this grove
Which long in holy quiet throve,
By folly urged to senseless crime,
Now shalt thou die before thy time.”
Canto LVI. Visvámitra's Vow.
But Viśvámitra, at the threat
Of that illustrious anchoret,
Cried, as he launched with ready hand
A fiery weapon, “Stand, O Stand!”
Vaśishṭha, wild with rage and hate,
Raising, as 'twere the Rod of Fate,
His mighty Bráhman wand on high,
To Viśvámitra made reply:
“Nay, stand, O Warrior thou, and show
What soldier can, 'gainst Bráhman foe.
O Gádhi's son, thy days are told;
Thy pride is tamed, thy dart is cold.
How shall a warrior's puissance dare
With Bráhman's awful strength compare?
To-day, base Warrior, shall thou feel
That God-sent might is more than steel.”
He raised his Bráhman staff, nor missed
The fiery dart that near him hissed:
And quenched the fearful weapon fell,
As flame beneath the billow's swell.
Then Gádhi's son in fury threw
Lord Varuṇ's arm and Rudra's too:
Indra's fierce bolt that all destroys;
That which the Lord of Herds employs:
The Human, that which minstrels keep,
The deadly Lure, the endless Sleep:
The Yawner, and the dart which charms;
Lament and Torture, fearful arms:
The Terrible, the dart which dries,
The Thunderbolt which quenchless flies,
And Fate's dread net, and Brahmá's noose,
And that which waits for Varuṇ's use:
The dart he loves who wields the bow
Pináka, and twin bolts that glow
With fury as they flash and fly,
The quenchless Liquid and the Dry:
The dart of Vengeance, swift to kill:
The Goblins' dart, the Curlew's Bill:
[pg 068]
The discus both of Fate and Right,
And Vishṇu's, of unerring flight:
The Wind-God's dart, the Troubler dread,
The weapon named the Horse's Head.
From his fierce hand two spears were thrown,
And the great mace that smashes bone;
The dart of spirits of the air,
And that which Fate exults to bear:
The Trident dart which slaughters foes,
And that which hanging skulls compose:233
These fearful darts in fiery rain
He hurled upon the saint amain,
An awful miracle to view.
But as the ceaseless tempest flew,
The sage with wand of God-sent power
Still swallowed up that fiery shower.
Then Gádhi's son, when these had failed,
With Brahmá's dart his foe assailed.
The Gods, with Indra at their head,
And Nágas, quailed disquieted,
And saints and minstrels, when they saw
The king that awful weapon draw;
And the three worlds were filled with dread,
And trembled as the missile sped.
The saint, with Bráhman wand, empowered
By lore divine that dart devoured.
Nor could the triple world withdraw
Rapt gazes from that sight of awe;
For as he swallowed down the dart
Of Brahmá, sparks from every part,
From finest pore and hair-cell, broke
Enveloped in a veil of smoke.
The staff he waved was all aglow
Like Yáma's sceptre, King below,
Or like the lurid fire of Fate
Whose rage the worlds will desolate.
The hermits, whom that sight had awed,
Extolled the saint, with hymn and laud:
“Thy power, O Sage, is ne'er in vain:
Now with thy might thy might restrain.
Be gracious, Master, and allow
The worlds to rest from trouble now;
For Viśvámitra, strong and dread,
By thee has been discomfited.”
Then, thus addressed, the saint, well pleased,
The fury of his wrath appeased.
The king, o'erpowered and ashamed,
With many a deep-drawn sigh exclaimed:
“Ah! Warriors' strength is poor and slight;
A Bráhman's power is truly might.
This Bráhman staff the hermit held
The fury of my darts has quelled.
This truth within my heart impressed,
With senses ruled and tranquil breast
My task austere will I begin,
And Bráhmanhood will strive to win.”
Canto LVII. Trisanku.
Then with his heart consumed with woe,
Still brooding on his overthrow
By the great saint he had defied,
At every breath the monarch sighed.
Forth from his home his queen he led,
And to a land far southward fled.
There, fruit and roots his only food,
He practised penance, sense-subdued,
And in that solitary spot
Four virtuous sons the king begot:
Havishyand, from the offering named,
And Madhushyand, for sweetness famed,
Mahárath, chariot-borne in fight,
And Driḍhanetra strong of sight.
A thousand years had passed away,
When Brahmá, Sire whom all obey,
Addressed in pleasant words like these
Him rich in long austerities:
“Thou by the penance, Kuśik's son,
A place 'mid royal saints hast won.
Pleased with thy constant penance, we
This lofty rank assign to thee.”
Thus spoke the glorious Lord most High
Father of earth and air and sky,
And with the Gods around him spread
Home to his changeless sphere he sped.
But Viśvámitra scorned the grace,
And bent in shame his angry face.
Burning with rage, o'erwhelmed with grief,
Thus in his heart exclaimed the chief:
“No fruit, I ween, have I secured
By strictest penance long endured,
If Gods and all the saints decree
To make but royal saint of me.”
Thus pondering, he with sense subdued,
With sternest zeal his vows renewed.
[pg 069]
Then reigned a monarch, true of soul,
Who kept each sense in firm control;
Of old Ikshváku's line he came,
That glories in Triśanku's234 name.
Within his breast, O Raghu's child,
Arose a longing, strong and wild,
Great offerings to the Gods to pay,
And win, alive, to heaven his way.
His priest Vaśishṭha's aid he sought,
And told him of his secret thought.
But wise Vaśishṭha showed the hope
Was far beyond the monarch's scope.
Triśanku then, his suit denied,
Far to the southern region hied,
To beg Vaśishṭha's sons to aid
The mighty plan his soul had made.
There King Triśanku, far renowned,
Vaśishṭha's hundred children found,
Each on his fervent vows intent,
For mind and fame preëminent.
To these the famous king applied,
Wise children of his holy guide.
Saluting each in order due.
His eyes, for shame, he downward threw,
And reverent hands together pressed,
The glorious company addressed:
“I as a humble suppliant seek
Succour of you who aid the weak.
A mighty offering I would pay,
But sage Vaśishṭha answered, Nay.
Be yours permission to accord,
And to my rites your help afford.
Sons of my guide, to each of you
With lowly reverence here I sue;
To each, intent on penance-vow,
O Bráhmans, low my head I bow,
And pray you each with ready heart
In my great rite to bear a part,
That in the body I may rise
And dwell with Gods within the skies.
Sons of my guide, none else I see
Can give what he refuses me.
Ikshváku's children still depend
Upon their guide most reverend;
And you, as nearest in degree
To him, my deities shall be!”
Canto LVIII. Trisanku Cursed.
Triśanku's speech the hundred heard,
And thus replied, to anger stirred:
“Why foolish King, by him denied,
Whose truthful lips have never lied,
Dost thou transgress his prudent rule,
And seek, for aid, another school?235
Ikshváku's sons have aye relied
Most surely on their holy guide:
Then how dost thou, fond Monarch, dare
Transgress the rule his lips declare?
“Thy wish is vain,” the saint replied,
And bade thee cast the plan aside.
Then how can we, his sons, pretend
In such a rite our aid to lend?
O Monarch, of the childish heart,
Home to thy royal town depart.
That mighty saint, thy priest and guide,
At noblest rites may well preside:
The worlds for sacrifice combined
A worthier priest could never find.”
Such speech of theirs the monarch heard,
Though rage distorted every word,
And to the hermits made reply:
“You, like your sire, my suit deny.
For other aid I turn from you:
So, rich in penance, Saints, adieu!”
Vaśishṭha's children heard, and guessed
His evil purpose scarce expressed,
And cried, while rage their bosoms burned,
“Be to a vile Chaṇḍála236 turned!”
[pg 070]
This said, with lofty thoughts inspired,
Each to his own retreat retired.
That night Triśanku underwent
Sad change in shape and lineament.
Next morn, an outcast swart of hue,
His dusky cloth he round him drew.
His hair had fallen from his head,
And roughness o'er his skin was spread.
Such wreaths adorned him as are found
To flourish on the funeral ground.
Each armlet was an iron ring:
Such was the figure of the king,
That every counsellor and peer,
And following townsman, fled in fear.
Alone, unyielding to dismay,
Though burnt by anguish night and day,
Great Viśvámitra's side he sought,
Whose treasures were by penance bought.
The hermit with his tender eyes
Looked on Triśanku's altered guise,
And grieving at his ruined state
Addressed him thus, compassionate:
“Great King,” the pious hermit said,
“What cause thy steps has hither led,
Ayodhyá's mighty Sovereign, whom
A curse has plagued with outcast's doom?”
In vile Chaṇḍála237 shape, the king
Heard Viśvámitra's questioning,
And, suppliant palm to palm applied,
With answering eloquence he cried:
“My priest and all his sons refused
To aid the plan on which I mused.
Failing to win the boon I sought,
To this condition I was brought.
I, in the body, Saint, would fain
A mansion in the skies obtain.
I planned a hundred rites for this,
But still was doomed the fruit to miss.
Pure are my lips from falsehood's stain,
And pure they ever shall remain,—
Yea, by a Warrior's faith I swear,—
Though I be tried with grief and care.
Unnumbered rites to Heaven I paid,
With righteous care the sceptre swayed;
And holy priest and high-souled guide
My modest conduct gratified.
But, O thou best of hermits, they
Oppose my wish these rites to pay;
They one and all refuse consent,
Nor aid me in my high intent.
Fate is, I ween, the power supreme,
Man's effort but an idle dream,
Fate whirls our plans, our all away;
Fate is our only hope and stay;
Now deign, O blessed Saint, to aid
Me, even me by Fate betrayed,
Who come, a suppliant, sore distressed,
One grace, O Hermit, to request.
No other hope or way I see:
No other refuge waits for me.
Oh, aid me in my fallen state,
And human will shall conquer Fate.”
Canto LIX. The Sons Of Vasishtha.
Then Kuśik's son, by pity warmed,
Spoke sweetly to the king transformed:
“Hail! glory of Ikshváku's line:
I know how bright thy virtues shine.
Dismiss thy fear, O noblest Chief,
For I myself will bring relief.
The holiest saints will I invite
To celebrate thy purposed rite:
So shall thy vow, O King, succeed,
And from thy cares shalt thou be freed.
Thou in the form which now thou hast,
Transfigured by the curse they cast,—
Yea, in the body, King, shalt flee,
Transported, where thou fain wouldst be.
O Lord of men, I ween that thou
Hast heaven within thy hand e'en now,
For very wisely hast thou done,
And refuge sought with Kuśik's son.”
Thus having said, the sage addressed
His sons, of men the holiest,
And bade the prudent saints whate'er
Was needed for the rite prepare.
The pupils he was wont to teach
He summoned next, and spoke this speech:
“Go bid Vaśishṭha'a sons appear,
And all the saints be gathered here.
And what they one and all reply
When summoned by this mandate high,
To me with faithful care report,
Omit no word and none distort.”
The pupils heard, and prompt obeyed,
To every side their way they made.
Then swift from every quarter sped
The sages in the Vedas read.
Back to that saint the envoys came,
Whose glory shone like burning flame,
And told him in their faithful speech
The answer that they bore from each:
“Submissive to thy word, O Seer,
The holy men are gathering here.
By all was meet obedience shown:
Mahodaya238 refused alone.
[pg 071]
And now, O Chief of hermits, hear
What answer, chilling us with fear,
Vaśishṭha's hundred sons returned,
Thick-speaking as with rage they burned:
“How will the Gods and saints partake
The offerings that the prince would make,
And he a vile and outcast thing,
His ministrant one born a king?
Can we, great Bráhmans, eat his food,
And think to win beatitude,
By Viśvámitra purified?”
Thus sire and sons in scorn replied,
And as these bitter words they said,
Wild fury made their eyeballs red.
Their answer when the arch-hermit heard,
His tranquil eyes with rage were blurred;
Great fury in his bosom woke,
And thus unto the youths he spoke:
“Me, blameless me they dare to blame,
And disallow the righteous claim
My fierce austerities have earned:
To ashes be the sinners turned.
Caught in the noose of Fate shall they
To Yáma's kingdom sink to-day.
Seven hundred times shall they be born
To wear the clothes the dead have worn.
Dregs of the dregs, too vile to hate,
The flesh of dogs their maws shall sate.
In hideous form, in loathsome weed,
A sad existence each shall lead.
Mahodaya too, the fool who fain
My stainless life would try to stain,
Stained in the world with long disgrace
Shall sink into a fowler's place.
Rejoicing guiltless blood to spill,
No pity through his breast shall thrill.
Cursed by my wrath for many a day,
His wretched life for sin shall pay.”
Thus, girt with hermit, saint, and priest,
Great Viśvámitra spoke—and ceased.
Canto LX. Trisanku's Ascension.
So with ascetic might, in ire,
He smote the children and the sire.
Then Viśvámitra, far-renowned,
Addressed the saints who gathered round:
“See by my side Triśanku stand,
Ikshváku's son, of liberal hand.
Most virtuous and gentle, he
Seeks refuge in his woe with me.
Now, holy men, with me unite,
And order so his purposed rite
That in the body he may rise
And win a mansion in the skies.”
They heard his speech with ready ear
And, every bosom filled with fear
Of Viśvámitra, wise and great,
Spoke each to each in brief debate:
“The breast of Kuśik's son, we know,
With furious wrath is quick to glow.
Whate'er the words he wills to say,
We must, be very sure, obey.
Fierce is our lord as fire, and straight
May curse us all infuriate.
So let us in these rites engage,
As ordered by the holy sage.
And with our best endeavour strive
That King Ikshváku's son, alive,
In body to the skies may go
By his great might who wills it so.”
Then was the rite begun with care:
All requisites and means were there:
And glorious Viśvámitra lent
His willing aid as president.
And all the sacred rites were done
By rule and use, omitting none.
By chaplain-priest, the hymns who knew,
In decent form and order due.
Some time in sacrifice had past,
And Viśvámitra made, at last,
The solemn offering with the prayer
That all the Gods might come and share.
But the Immortals, one and all,
Refused to hear the hermit's call.
Then red with rage his eyeballs blazed:
The sacred ladle high he raised,
And cried to King Ikshváku's son:
“Behold my power, by penance won:
Now by the might my merits lend,
Ikshváku's child, to heaven ascend.
In living frame the skies attain,
Which mortals thus can scarcely gain.
My vows austere, so long endured,
Have, as I ween, some fruit assured.
Upon its virtue, King, rely,
And in thy body reach the sky.”
His speech had scarcely reached its close,
When, as he stood, the sovereign rose,
And mounted swiftly to the skies
Before the wondering hermits' eyes.
But Indra, when he saw the king
His blissful regions entering,
With all the army of the Blest
Thus cried unto the unbidden guest:
“With thy best speed, Triśanku, flee:
Here is no home prepared for thee.
By thy great master's curse brought low,
Go, falling headlong, earthward go.”
Thus by the Lord of Gods addressed,
Triśanku fell from fancied rest,
And screaming in his swift descent,
“O, save me, Hermit!” down he went.
And Viśvámitra heard his cry,
And marked him falling from the sky,
And giving all his passion sway,
Cried out in fury, “Stay, O stay!”
[pg 072]
By penance-power and holy lore,
Like Him who framed the worlds of yore,
Seven other saints he fixed on high
To star with light the southern sky.
Girt with his sages forth he went,
And southward in the firmament
New wreathed stars prepared to set
In many a sparkling coronet.
He threatened, blind with rage and hate,
Another Indra to create,
Or, from his throne the ruler hurled,
All Indraless to leave the world.
Yea, borne away by passion's storm,
The sage began new Gods to form.
But then each Titan, God, and saint,
Confused with terror, sick and faint,
To high souled Viśvámitra hied,
And with soft words to soothe him tried:
“Lord of high destiny, this king,
To whom his master's curses cling,
No heavenly home deserves to gain,
Unpurified from curse and stain.”
The son of Kuśik, undeterred,
The pleading of the Immortals heard,
And thus in haughty words expressed
The changeless purpose of his breast:
“Content ye, Gods: I soothly sware
Triśanku to the skies to bear
Clothed in his body, nor can I
My promise cancel or deny.
Embodied let the king ascend
To life in heaven that ne'er shall end.
And let these new-made stars of mine
Firm and secure for ever shine.
Let these, my work, remain secure
Long as the earth and heaven endure.
This, all ye Gods, I crave: do you
Allow the boon for which I sue.”
Then all the Gods their answer made:
“So be it, Saint, as thou hast prayed.
Beyond the sun's diurnal way
Thy countless stars in heaven shall stay:
And 'mid them hung, as one divine,
Head downward shall Triśanku shine;
And all thy stars shall ever fling
Their rays attendant on the king.”239
The mighty saint, with glory crowned,
With all the sages compassed round,
Praised by the Gods, gave full assent,
And Gods and sages homeward went.
Canto LXI. Sunahsepha.
Then Viśvámitra, when the Blest
Had sought their homes of heavenly rest,
Thus, mighty Prince, his counsel laid
Before the dwellers of the shade:
“The southern land where now we are
Offers this check our rites to bar:240
To other regions let us speed,
And ply our tasks from trouble freed.
Now turn we to the distant west.
To Pushkar's241 wood where hermits rest,
And there to rites austere apply,
For not a grove with that can vie.”
The saint, in glory's light arrayed,
In Pushkar's wood his dwelling made,
And living there on roots and fruit
Did penance stern and resolute.
The king who filled Ayodhyá's throne,
By Ambarísha's name far known,
At that same time, it chanced, began
A sacrificial rite to plan.
But Indra took by force away
The charger that the king would slay.
The victim lost, the Bráhman sped
To Ambarísha's side, and said:
“Gone is the steed, O King, and this
Is due to thee, in care remiss.
[pg 073]
Such heedless faults will kings destroy
Who fail to guard what they enjoy.
The flaw is desperate: we need
The charger, or a man to bleed.
Quick! bring a man if not the horse,
That so the rite may have its course.”
The glory of Ikshváku's line
Made offer of a thousand kine,
And sought to buy at lordly price
A victim for the sacrifice.
To many a distant land he drove,
To many a people, town, and grove,
And holy shades where hermits rest,
Pursuing still his eager quest.
At length on Bhrigu's sacred height
The saint Richíka met his sight
Sitting beneath the holy boughs.
His children near him, and his spouse.
The mighty lord drew near, assayed
To win his grace, and reverence paid;
And then the sainted king addressed
The Bráhman saint with this request:
“Bought with a hundred thousand kine,
Give me, O Sage, a son of thine
To be a victim in the rite,
And thanks the favour shall requite.
For I have roamed all countries round,
Nor sacrificial victim found.
Then, gentle Hermit, deign to spare
One child amid the number there.”
Then to the monarch's speech replied
The hermit, penance-glorified:
“For countless kine, for hills of gold,
Mine eldest son shall ne'er be sold.”
But, when she heard the saint's reply,
The children's mother, standing nigh,
Words such as these in answer said
To Ambarísha, monarch dread:
“My lord, the saint, has spoken well:
His eldest child he will not sell.
And know, great Monarch, that above
The rest my youngest born I love.
'Tis ever thus: the father's joy
Is centred in his eldest boy.
The mother loves her darling best
Whom last she rocked upon her breast:
My youngest I will ne'er forsake.”
As thus the sire and mother spake,
Young Śunahśepha, of the three
The midmost, cried unurged and free:
“My sire withholds his eldest son,
My mother keeps her youngest one:
Then take me with thee, King: I ween
The son is sold who comes between.”
The king with joy his home resought,
And took the prize his kine had bought.
He bade the youth his car ascend,
And hastened back the rites to end.242
Canto LXII. Ambarísha's Sacrifice.
As thus the king that youth conveyed,
His weary steeds at length he stayed
At height of noon their rest to take
Upon the bank of Pushkar's lake.
There while the king enjoyed repose
The captive Śunahśepha rose,
And hasting to the water's side
His uncle Viśvámitra spied,
With many a hermit 'neath the trees
Engaged in stern austerities.
Distracted with the toil and thirst,
With woeful mien, away he burst,
Swift to the hermit's breast he flew,
And weeping thus began to sue:
“No sire have I, no mother dear,
No kith or kin my heart to cheer:
As justice bids, O Hermit, deign
To save me from the threatened pain.
O thou to whom the wretched flee,
And find a saviour, Saint, in thee,
Now let the king obtain his will,
And me my length of days fulfil,
That rites austere I too may share,
May rise to heaven and rest me there.
With tender soul and gentle brow
Be guardian of the orphan thou,
And as a father pities, so
Preserve me from my fear and woe.”
When Viśvámitra, glorious saint,
Had heard the boy's heart-rending plaint.
He soothed his grief, his tears he dried,
[pg 074]
Then called his sons to him, and cried:
“The time is come for you to show
The duty and the aid bestow
For which, regarding future life,
A man gives children to his wife.
This hermit's son, whom here you see
A suppliant, refuge seeks with me.
O sons, the friendless youth befriend,
And, pleasing me, his life defend.
For holy works you all have wrought,
True to the virtuous life I taught.
Go, and as victims doomed to bleed,
Die, and Lord Agni's hunger feed.
So shall the rite completed end,
This orphan gain a saving friend,
Due offerings to the Gods be paid,
And your own father's voice obeyed.”
Then Madhushyand and all the rest
Answered their sire with scorn and jest:
“What! aid to others' sons afford,
And leave thine own to die, my lord!
To us it seems a horrid deed,
As 'twere on one's own flesh to feed.”
The hermit heard his sons' reply,
And burning rage inflamed his eye.
Then forth his words of fury burst:
“Audacious speech, by virtue cursed!
It lifts on end each shuddering hair—
My charge to scorn! my wrath to dare!
You, like Vaśishṭha's evil brood,
Shall make the flesh of dogs your food
A thousand years in many a birth,
And punished thus shall dwell on earth.”
Thus on his sons his curse he laid.
Then calmed again that youth dismayed,
And blessed him with his saving aid:
“When in the sacred fetters bound,
And with a purple garland crowned,
At Vishṇu's post thou standest tied,
With lauds be Agni glorified.
And these two hymns of holy praise
Forget not, Hermit's son, to raise
In the king's rite, and thou shalt be
Lord of thy wish, preserved, and free.”
He learnt the hymns with mind intent,
And from the hermit's presence went.
To Ambarísha thus he spake:
“Let us our onward journey take.
Haste to thy home, O King, nor stay
The lustral rites with slow delay.”
The boy's address the monarch cheered,
And soon the sacred ground he neared.
The convocation's high decree
Declared the youth from blemish free;
Clothed in red raiment he was tied
A victim at the pillar's side.
There bound, the Fire-God's hymn he raised,
And Indra and Upendra praised.
Thousand-eyed Vishṇu, pleased to hear
The mystic laud, inclined his ear,
And won by worship, swift to save,
Long life to Śunahśepha gave.
The king in bounteous measure gained
The fruit of sacrifice ordained,
By grace of Him who rules the skies,
Lord Indra of the thousand eyes.
And Viśvámitra evermore.
Pursued his task on Pushkar's shore
Until a thousand years had past
In fierce austerity and fast.
Canto LXIII. Menaká.
A thousand years had thus flown by
When all the Gods within the sky,
Eager that he the fruit might gain
Of fervent rite and holy pain,
Approached the great ascetic, now
Bathed after toil and ended vow.
Then Brahmá speaking for the rest
With sweetest words the sage addressed:
“Hail, Saint! This high and holy name
Thy rites have won, thy merits claim.”
Thus spoke the Lord whom Gods revere,
And sought again his heavenly sphere.
But Viśvámitra, more intent,
His mind to sterner penance bent.
So many a season rolled away,
When Menaká, fair nymph, one day
Came down from Paradise to lave
Her perfect limbs in Pushkar's wave,
The glorious son of Kuśik saw
That peerless shape without a flaw
Flash through the flood's translucent shroud
Like lightning gleaming through a cloud.
He saw her in that lone retreat,
Most beautiful from head to feet,
And by Kandarpa's243 might subdued
He thus addressed her as he viewed:
“Welcome, sweet nymph! O deign, I pray,
In these calm shades awhile to stay.
To me some gracious favour show,
For love has set my breast aglow.”
He spoke. The fairest of the fair
Made for awhile her dwelling there,
While day by day the wild delight
Stayed vow austere and fervent rite
There as the winsome charmer wove
Her spells around him in the grove,
And bound him in a golden chain,
Five sweet years fled, and five again.
Then Viśvámitra woke to shame,
And, fraught with anguish, memory came
For quick he knew, with anger fired,
That all the Immortals had conspired
[pg 075]
To lap his careless soul in ease,
And mar his long austerities.
“Ten years have past, each day and night
Unheeded in delusive flight.
So long my fervent rites were stayed,
While thus I lay by love betrayed.”
As thus long sighs the hermit heaved,
And, touched with deep repentance, grieved,
He saw the fair one standing nigh
With suppliant hands and trembling eye.
With gentle words he bade her go,
Then sought the northern hills of snow.
With firm resolve he vowed to beat
The might of love beneath his feet.
Still northward to the distant side
Of Kauśikí244, the hermit hide,
And gave his life to penance there
With rites austere most hard to bear.
A thousand years went by, and still
He laboured on the northern hill
With pains so terrible and drear
That all the Gods were chilled with fear,
And Gods and saints, for swift advice,
Met in the halls of Paradise.
“Let Kuśik's son,” they counselled, “be
A Mighty saint by just decree.”
His ear to hear their counsel lent
The Sire of worlds, omnipotent.
To him enriched by rites severe
He spoke in accents sweet to hear:
“Hail, Mighty Saint! dear son, all hail!
Thy fervour wins, thy toils prevail.
Won by thy vows and zeal intense
I give this high preëminence.”
He to the General Sire replied,
Not sad, nor wholly satisfied:
“When thou, O Brahmá, shalt declare
The title, great beyond compare,
Of Bráhman saint my worthy meed,
Hard earned by many a holy deed,
Then may I deem in sooth I hold
Each sense of body well controlled.”
Then Brahmá cried, “Not yet, not yet:
Toil on awhile O Anchoret!”
Thus having said to heaven he went,
The saint, upon his task intent,
Began his labours to renew,
Which sterner yet and fiercer grew.
His arms upraised, without a rest,
With but one foot the earth he pressed;
The air his food, the hermit stood
Still as a pillar hewn from wood.
Around him in the summer days
Five mighty fires combined to blaze.
In floods of rain no veil was spread
Save clouds, to canopy his head.
In the dank dews both night and day
Couched in the stream the hermit lay.
Thus, till a thousand years had fled,
He plied his task of penance dread.
Then Vishṇu and the Gods with awe
The labours of the hermit saw,
And Śakra, in his troubled breast,
Lord of the skies, his fear confessed.
And brooded on a plan to spoil
The merits of the hermit's toil.
Encompassed by his Gods of Storm
He summoned Rambhá, fair of form,
And spoke a speech for woe and weal,
The saint to mar, the God to heal.
Canto LXIV. Rambhá.
“A great emprise, O lovely maid,
To save the Gods, awaits thine aid:
To bind the son of Kuśik sure,
And take his soul with love's sweet lure.”
Thus order'd by the Thousand-eyed
The suppliant nymph in fear replied:
“O Lord of Gods, this mighty sage
Is very fierce and swift to rage.
I doubt not, he so dread and stern
On me his scorching wrath will turn.
Of this, my lord, am I afraid:
Have mercy on a timid maid.”
Her suppliant hands began to shake,
When thus again Lord Indra spake:
“O Rambhá, drive thy fears away,
And as I bid do thou obey.
In Koïl's form, who takes the heart
When trees in spring to blossom start,
I, with Kandarpa for my friend,
Close to thy side mine aid will lend.
[pg 076]
Do thou thy beauteous splendour arm
With every grace and winsome charm,
And from his awful rites seduce
This Kuśik's son, the stern recluse.”
Lord Indra ceased. The nymph obeyed:
In all her loveliest charms arrayed,
With winning ways and witching smile
She sought the hermit to beguile.
The sweet note of that tuneful bird
The saint with ravished bosom heard,
And on his heart a rapture passed
As on the nymph a look he cast.
But when he heard the bird prolong
His sweet incomparable song,
And saw the nymph with winning smile,
The hermit's heart perceived the wile.
And straight he knew the Thousand-eyed
A plot against his peace had tried.
Then Kuśik's son indignant laid
His curse upon the heavenly maid:
“Because thou wouldst my soul engage
Who fight to conquer love and rage,
Stand, till ten thousand years have flown,
Ill-fated maid, transformed to stone.
A Bráhman then, in glory strong,
Mighty through penance stern and long,
Shall free thee from thine altered shape;
Thou from my curse shalt then escape.”
But when the saint had cursed her so,
His breast was burnt with fires of woe,
Grieved that long effort to restrain
His mighty wrath was all in vain.
Cursed by the angry sage's power,
She stood in stone that selfsame hour.
Kandarpa heard the words he said,
And quickly from his presence fled.
His fall beneath his passion's sway
Had reft the hermit's meed away.
Unconquered yet his secret foes,
The humbled saint refused repose:
“No more shall rage my bosom till,
Sealed be my lips, my tongue be still.
My very breath henceforth I hold
Until a thousand years are told:
Victorious o'er each erring sense,
I'll dry my frame with abstinence,
Until by penance duly done
A Bráhman's rank be bought and won.
For countless years, as still as death,
I taste no food, I draw no breath,
And as I toil my frame shall stand
Unharmed by time's destroying hand.”
Canto LXV. Visvámitra's Triumph
Then from Himálaya's heights of snow,
The glorious saint prepared to go,
And dwelling in the distant east
His penance and his toil increased.
A thousand years his lips he held
Closed by a vow unparalleled,
And other marvels passing thought,
Unrivalled in the world, he wrought.
In all the thousand years his frame
Dry as a log of wood became.
By many a cross and check beset,
Rage had not stormed his bosom yet.
With iron will that naught could bend
He plied his labour till the end.
So when the weary years were o'er,
Freed from his vow so stern and sore,
The hermit, all his penance sped,
Sate down to eat his meal of bread.
Then Indra, clad in Bráhman guise,
Asked him for food with hungry eyes.
The mighty saint, with steadfast soul,
To the false Bráhman gave the whole,
And when no scrap for him remained,
Fasting and faint, from speech refrained.
His silent vow he would not break:
No breath he heaved, no word he spake,
Then as he checked his breath, behold!
Around his brow thick smoke-clouds rolled
And the three worlds, as if o'erspread
With ravening flames, were filled with dread.
Then God and saint and bard, convened,
And Nága lord, and snake, and fiend,
Thus to the General Father cried,
Distracted, sad, and terrified:
“Against the hermit, sore assailed,
Lure, scathe, and scorn have naught availed,
Proof against rage and treacherous art
He keeps his vow with constant heart.
Now if his toils assist him naught
To gain the boon his soul has sought,
He through the worlds will ruin send
That fixt and moving things shall end,
The regions now are dark with doom,
No friendly ray relieves the gloom.
Each ocean foams with maddened tide,
The shrinking hills in fear subside.
Trembles the earth with feverous throe
The wind in fitful tempest blows.
No cure we see with troubled eyes:
And atheist brood on earth may rise.
The triple world is wild with care,
Or spiritless in dull despair.
Before that saint the sun is dim,
His blessed light eclipsed by him.
Now ere the saint resolve to bring
Destruction on each living thing,
Let us appease, while yet we may,
Him bright as fire, like fire to slay.
Yea, as the fiery flood of Fate
Lays all creation desolate,
He o'er the conquered Gods may reign:
O, grant him what he longs to gain.”
[pg 077]
Then all the Blest, by Brahmá led,
Approached the saint and sweetly said:
“Hail, Bráhman Saint! for such thy place:
Thy vows austere have won our grace.
A Bráhman's rank thy penance stern
And ceaseless labour richly earn.
I with the Gods of Storm decree
Long life, O Bráhman Saint, to thee.
May peace and joy thy soul possess:
Go where thou wilt in happiness.”
Thus by the General Sire addressed,
Joy and high triumph filled his breast.
His head in adoration bowed,
Thus spoke he to the Immortal crowd:
“If I, ye Gods, have gained at last
Both length of days and Bráhman caste,
Grant that the high mysterious name,
And holy Vedas, own my claim,
And that the formula to bless
The sacrifice, its lord confess.
And let Vaśishṭha, who excels
In Warriors' art and mystic spells,
In love of God without a peer,
Confirm the boon you promise here.”
With Brahmá's son Vaśishṭha, best
Of those who pray with voice repressed,
The Gods by earnest prayer prevailed,
And thus his new-made friend he hailed:
“Thy title now is sure and good
To rights of saintly Bráhmanhood.”
Thus spake the sage. The Gods, content,
Back to their heavenly mansions went.
And Viśvámitra, pious-souled,
Among the Bráhman saints enrolled,
On reverend Vaśishṭha pressed
The honours due to holy guest.
Successful in his high pursuit,
The sage, in penance resolute,
Walked in his pilgrim wanderings o'er
The whole broad land from shore to shore.
'Twas thus the saint, O Raghu's son,
His rank among the Bráhmans won.
Best of all hermits, Prince, is he;
In him incarnate Penance see.
Friend of the right, who shrinks from ill,
Heroic powers attend him still.”
The Bráhman, versed in ancient lore,
Thus closed his tale, and said no more,
To Śatánanda Kuśik's son
Cried in delight, Well done! well done!
Then Janak, at the tale amazed,
Spoke thus with suppliant hands upraised:
“High fate is mine, O Sage, I deem,
And thanks I owe for bliss supreme,
That thou and Raghu's children too
Have come my sacrifice to view.
To look on thee with blessed eyes
Exalts my soul and purifies.
Yea, thus to see thee face to face
Enriches me with store of grace.
Thy holy labours wrought of old,
And mighty penance, fully told,
Ráma and I with great delight
Have heard, O glorious Anchorite.
Unrivalled thine ascetic deeds:
Thy might, O Saint, all might exceeds.
No thought may scan, no limit bound
The virtues that in thee are found.
The story of thy wondrous fate
My thirsty ears can never sate.
The hour of evening rites is near:
The sun declines in swift career.
At early dawn, O Hermit, deign
To let me see thy face again.
Best of ascetics, part in bliss:
Do thou thy servant now dismiss.”
The saint approved, and glad and kind
Dismissed the king with joyful mind
Around the sage King Janak went
With priests and kinsmen reverent.
Then Viśvámitra, honoured so,
By those high-minded, rose to go,
And with the princes took his way
To seek the lodging where they lay.
Canto LXVI. Janak's Speech.
With cloudless lustre rose the sun;
The king, his morning worship done,
Ordered his heralds to invite
The princes and the anchorite.
With honour, as the laws decree,
The monarch entertained the three.
Then to the youths and saintly man
Videha's lord this speech began:
“O blameless Saint, most welcome thou!
If I may please thee tell me how.
Speak, mighty lord, whom all revere,
'Tis thine to order, mine to hear.”
Thus he on mighty thoughts intent;
Then thus the sage most eloquent:
“King Daśaratha's sons, this pair
Of warriors famous everywhere,
Are come that best of bows to see
That lies a treasure stored by thee.
This, mighty Janak, deign to show,
That they may look upon the bow,
And then, contented, homeward go.”
Then royal Janak spoke in turn:
“O best of Saints, the story learn
Why this famed bow, a noble prize,
A treasure in my palace lies.
A monarch, Devarát by name,
Who sixth from ancient Nimi came,
Held it as ruler of the land,
A pledge in his successive hand.
This bow the mighty Rudra bore
[pg 078]
At Daksha's245 sacrifice of yore,
When carnage of the Immortals stained
The rite that Daksha had ordained.
Then as the Gods sore wounded fled,
Victorious Rudra, mocking, said:
“Because, O Gods, ye gave me naught
When I my rightful portion sought,
Your dearest parts I will not spare,
But with my bow your frames will tear.”
The Sons of Heaven, in wild alarm,
Soft flatteries tried his rage to charm.
Then Bhava, Lord whom Gods adore,
Grew kind and friendly as before,
And every torn and mangled limb
Was safe and sound restored by him.
Thenceforth this bow, the gem of bows,
That freed the God of Gods from foes,
Stored by our great forefathers lay
A treasure and a pride for aye.
Once, as it chanced, I ploughed the ground,
When sudden, 'neath the share was found
An infant springing from the earth,
Named Sítá from her secret birth.246
In strength and grace the maiden grew,
My cherished daughter, fair to view.
I vowed her, of no mortal birth,
Meet prize for noblest hero's worth.
In strength and grace the maiden grew,
And many a monarch came to woo.
To all the princely suitors I
Gave, mighty Saint, the same reply:
“I give not thus my daughter, she
Prize of heroic worth shall be.247
To Míthilá the suitors pressed
Their power and might to manifest.
To all who came with hearts aglow
I offered Śiva's wondrous bow.
Not one of all the royal band
Could raise or take the bow in hand.
The suitors' puny might I spurned,
And back the feeble princes turned.
Enraged thereat, the warriors met,
With force combined my town beset.
Stung to the heart with scorn and shame,
With war and threats they madly came,
Besieged my peaceful walls, and long
To Míthilá did grievous wrong.
There, wasting all, a year they lay,
And brought my treasures to decay,
Filling my soul, O Hermit chief,
With bitter woe and hopeless grief.
At last by long-wrought penance I
Won favour with the Gods on high,
Who with my labours well content
A four-fold host to aid me sent.
Then swift the baffled heroes fled
To all the winds discomfited—
Wrong-doers, with their lords and host,
And all their valour's idle boast.
This heavenly bow, exceeding bright,
These youths shall see, O Anchorite.
Then if young Ráma's hand can string
The bow that baffled lord and king,
To him I give, as I have sworn,
My Sítá, not of woman born.”
Canto LXVII. The Breaking Of The Bow.
Then spoke again the great recluse:
“This mighty bow, O King, produce.”
King Janak, at the saint's request,
This order to his train addressed:
“Let the great bow be hither borne,
Which flowery wreaths and scents adorn.”
Soon as the monarch's words were said,
His servants to the city sped,
Five thousand youths in number, all
Of manly strength and stature tall,
The ponderous eight-wheeled chest that held
The heavenly bow, with toil propelled.
At length they brought that iron chest,
And thus the godlike king addressed:
“This best of bows, O lord, we bring,
Respected by each chief and king,
And place it for these youths to see,
If, Sovereign, such thy pleasure be.”
With suppliant palm to palm applied
King Janak to the strangers cried:
“This gem of bows, O Bráhman Sage,
Our race has prized from age to age,
Too strong for those who yet have reigned,
Though great in might each nerve they strained.
[pg 079]
Titan and fiend its strength defies,
God, spirit, minstrel of the skies.
And bard above and snake below
Are baffled by this glorious bow.
Then how may human prowess hope
With such a bow as this to cope?
What man with valour's choicest gift
This bow can draw, or string, or lift?
Yet let the princes, holy Seer,
Behold it: it is present here.”
Then spoke the hermit pious-souled:
“Ráma, dear son, the bow behold.”
Then Ráma at his word unclosed
The chest wherein its might reposed,
Thus crying, as he viewed it: “Lo!
I lay mine hand upon the bow:
May happy luck my hope attend
Its heavenly strength to lift or bend.”
“Good luck be thine,” the hermit cried:
“Assay the task!” the king replied.
Then Raghu's son, as if in sport,
Before the thousands of the court,
The weapon by the middle raised
That all the crowd in wonder gazed.
With steady arm the string he drew
Till burst the mighty bow in two.
As snapped the bow, an awful clang,
Loud as the shriek of tempests, rang.
The earth, affrighted, shook amain
As when a hill is rent in twain.
Then, senseless at the fearful sound,
The people fell upon the ground:
None save the king, the princely pair,
And the great saint, the shock could bear.
When woke to sense the stricken train,
And Janak's soul was calm again,
With suppliant hands and reverent head,
These words, most eloquent, he said:
“O Saint, Prince Ráma stands alone:
His peerless might he well has shown.
A marvel has the hero wrought
Beyond belief, surpassing thought.
My child, to royal Ráma wed,
New glory on our line will shed:
And true my promise will remain
That hero's worth the bride should gain.
Dearer to me than light and life,
My Sítá shall be Ráma's wife.
If thou, O Bráhman, leave concede,
My counsellors, with eager speed,
Borne in their flying cars, to fair
Ayodhyá's town the news shall bear,
With courteous message to entreat
The king to grace my royal seat.
This to the monarch shall they tell,
The bride is his who won her well:
And his two sons are resting here
Protected by the holy seer.
So, at his pleasure, let them lead
The sovereign to my town with speed.”
The hermit to his prayer inclined
And Janak, lord of virtuous mind,
With charges, to Ayodhyá sent
His ministers: and forth they went.
Canto LXVIII. The Envoys' Speech.
Three nights upon the road they passed
To rest the steeds that bore them fast,
And reached Ayodhyá's town at last.
Then straight at Daśaratha's call
They stood within the royal hall,
Where, like a God, inspiring awe,
The venerable king they saw.
With suppliant palm to palm applied,
And all their terror laid aside,
They spoke to him upon the throne
With modest words, in gentle tone:
“Janak, Videha's king, O Sire,
Has sent us hither to inquire
The health of thee his friend most dear,
Of all thy priests and every peer.
Next Kuśik's son consenting, thus
King Janak speaks, dread liege, by us:
“I made a promise and decree
That valour's prize my child should be.
Kings, worthless found in worth's assay,
With mien dejected turned away.
Thy sons, by Viśvámitra led,
Unurged, my city visited,
And peerless in their might have gained
My daughter, as my vow ordained.
Full in a vast assembly's view
Thy hero Ráma broke in two
The gem of bows, of monstrous size,
That came a treasure from the skies.
Ordained the prize of hero's might,
Sítá my child is his by right.
Fain would I keep my promise made,
If thou, O King, approve and aid.
Come to my town thy son to see:
Bring holy guide and priest with thee.
O lord of kings, my suit allow,
And let me keep my promised vow.
So joying for thy children's sake
Their triumph too shalt thou partake,
With Viśvámitra's high consent.”
Such words with friendship eloquent
Spoke Janak, fair Videha's king,
By Śatánanda's counselling.”
The envoys thus the king addressed,
And mighty joy his heart possessed.
To Vámadeva quick he cried,
Vaśishṭha, and his lords beside:
“Lakshmaṇ, and he, my princely boy
Who fills Kauśalyá's soul with joy,
By Viśvámitra guarded well
Among the good Videhans dwell.
[pg 080]
Their ruler Janak, prompt to own
The peerless might my child has shown,
To him would knit in holy ties
His daughter, valour's lovely prize.
If Janak's plan seem good to you,
Come, speed we to his city too,
Nor let occasion idly by.”
He ceased. There came a glad reply
From priest and mighty saint and all
The councillors who thronged the hall.
Then cried the king with joyous heart:
“To-morrow let us all depart.”
That night the envoys entertained
With honour and all care remained.
Canto LXIX. Dasaratha's Visit.
Soon as the shades of night had fled,
Thus to the wise Sumantra said
The happy king, while priest and peer,
Each in his place, were standing near:
“Let all my treasurers to-day,
Set foremost in the long array,
With gold and precious gems supplied
In bounteous store, together ride.
And send you out a mighty force,
Foot, chariot, elephant, and horse.
Besides, let many a car of state,
And noblest steeds, my will await.
Vaśishṭha, Vámadeva sage,
And Márkaṇdeya's reverend age,
Jáváli, Kaśyap's godlike seed,
And wise Kátyáyana, shall lead.
Thy care, Sumantra, let it be
To yoke a chariot now for me,
That so we part without delay:
These envoys hasten me away.”
So fared he forth. That host, with speed,
Quadruple, as the king decreed,
With priests to head the bright array,
Followed the monarch on his way.
Four days they travelled on the road,
And eve Videha's kingdom showed.
Janak had left his royal seat
The venerable king to greet,
And, noblest, with these words addressed
That noblest lord, his happy guest:
“Hail, best of kings: a blessed fate
Has led thee, Monarch, to my state.
Thy sons, supreme in high emprise,
Will gladden now their father's eyes.
And high my fate, that hither leads
Vaśishṭha, bright with holy deeds,
Girt with these sages far-renowned,
Like Indra with the Gods around.
Joy! joy! for vanquished are my foes:
Joy! for my house in glory grows,
With Raghu's noblest sons allied,
Supreme in strength and valour's pride.
To-morrow with its early light
Will shine on my completed rite.
Then, sanctioned by the saints and thee,
The marriage of thy Ráma see.”
Then Daśaratha, best of those
Whose speech in graceful order flows,
With gathered saints on every side,
Thus to the lord of earth replied:
“A truth is this I long have known,
A favour is the giver's own.
What thou shalt bid, O good and true,
We, as our power permits, will do.”
That answer of the truthful lord,
With virtuous worth and honour stored,
Janak, Videha's noble king,
Heard gladly, greatly marvelling.
With bosoms filled with pleasure met
Long-parted saint and anchoret,
And linked in friendship's tie they spent
The peaceful night in great content.
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ thither sped,
By sainted Viśvámitra led,
And bent in filial love to greet
Their father, and embraced his feet.
The aged king, rejoiced to hear
And see again his children dear,
Honoured by Janak's thoughtful care,
With great enjoyment rested there.
King Janak, with attentive heed,
Consulted first his daughters' need,
And ordered all to speed the rite;
Then rested also for the night.
Canto LXX. The Maidens Sought.
Then with the morn's returning sun.
King Janak, when his rites were done,
Skilled all the charms of speech to know,
Spoke to wise Śatánanda so:
“My brother, lord of glorious fame,
My younger, Kuśadhwaj by name,
Whose virtuous life has won renown,
Has settled in a lovely town,
Sánkáśyá, decked with grace divine,
Whose glories bright as Pushpak's shine,
While Ikshumatí rolls her wave
Her lofty rampart's foot to lave.
Him, holy priest, I long to see:
The guardian of my rite is he:
That my dear brother may not miss
A share of mine expected bliss.”
Thus in the presence of the priest
The royal Janak spoke, and ceased.
Then came his henchmen, prompt and brave,
[pg 081]
To whom his charge the monarch gave.
Soon as they heard his will, in haste
With fleetest steeds away they raced,
To lead with them that lord of kings,
As Indra's call Lord Vishṇu brings.
Sánkáśyá's walls they duly gained,
And audience of the king obtained.
To him they told the news they brought
Of marvels past and Janak's thought.
Soon as the king the story knew
From those good envoys swift and true,
To Janak's wish he gave assent,
And swift to Míthilá he went.
He paid to Janak reverence due,
And holy Śatánanda too,
Then sate him on a glorious seat
For kings or Gods celestial meet.
Soon as the brothers, noble pair
Peerless in might, were seated there,
They gave the wise Sudáman, best
Of councillors, their high behest:
“Go, noble councillor,” they cried,
“And hither to our presence guide
Ikshváku's son, Ayodhyá's lord,
Invincible by foeman's sword,
With both his sons, each holy seer,
And every minister and peer.”
Sudáman to the palace flew,
And saw the mighty king who threw
Splendour on Raghu's splendid race,
Then bowed his head with seemly grace:
“O King, whose hand Ayodhyá sways,
My lord, whom Míthilá obeys,
Yearns with desire, if thou agree,
Thee with thy guide and priest to see.”
Soon as the councillor had ceased,
The king, with saint and peer and priest,
Sought, speeding through the palace gate,
The hall where Janak held his state.
There, with his nobles round him spread,
Thus to Videha's lord be said:
“Thou knowest, King, whose aid divine
Protects Ikshváku's royal line.
In every need, whate'er befall,
The saint Vaśishṭha speaks for all.
If Viśvámitra so allow,
And all the saints around me now,
The sage will speak, at my desire,
As order and the truth require.”
Soon as the king his lips had stilled,
Up rose Vaśishṭha, speaker skilled.
And to Videha's lord began
In flowing words that holy man:
“From viewless Nature Brahmá rose,
No change, no end, no waste he knows.
A son had he Maríchi styled,
And Kaśyap was Maríchi's child.
From him Vivasvat sprang: from him
Manu whose fame shall ne'er be dim.
Manu, who life to mortals gave,
Begot Ikshváku good and brave.
First of Ayodhyá's kings was he,
Pride of her famous dynasty.
From him the glorious Kukshi sprang,
Whose fame through all the regions rang.
Rival of Kukshi's ancient fame,
His heir, the great Vikukshi, came,
His son was Váṇa, lord of might;
His Anaraṇya, strong to fight.
His son was Prithu, glorious name;
From him the good Triśanku came.
He left a son renowned afar,
Known by the name of Dhundhumár.
His son, who drove the mighty car,
Was Yuvanáśva, feared in war.
He passed away. Him followed then
His son Mándhátá, king of men.
His son was blest in high emprise,
Susandhi, fortunate and wise.
Two noble sons had he, to wit
Dhruvasandhi and Prasenajit.
Bharat was Dhruvasandhi's son,
And glorious fame that monarch won.
The warrior Asit he begot.
Asit had warfare, fierce and hot,
With rival kings in many a spot,
Haihayas, Tálajanghas styled,
And Śaśivindus, strong and wild.
Long time he strove, but forced to yield
Fled from his kingdom and the field.
With his two wives away he fled
Where high Himálaya lifts his head,
And, all his wealth and glory past,
He paid the dues of Fate at last.
The wives he left had both conceived—
So is the ancient tale believed—
One, of her rival's hopes afraid
Fell poison in her viands laid.
It chanced that Chyavan, Bhrigu's child,
Had wandered to that pathless wild,
And there Himálaya's lovely height
Detained him with a strange delight.
There came the other widowed queen,
With lotus eyes and beauteous mien,
Longing a noble son to bear,
And wooed the saint with earnest prayer.
When thus Kálindi,248 fairest dame,
With reverent supplication came,
To her the holy sage replied:
“Born with the poison from thy side,
O happy Queen, shall spring ere long
An infant fortunate and strong.
Then weep no more, and check thy sighs,
Sweet lady of the lotus eyes.”
The queen, who loved her perished lord,
For meet reply, the saint adored,
And, of her husband long bereaved,
She bore a son by him conceived.
Because her rival mixed the bane
[pg 082]
To render her conception vain,
And fruit unripened to destroy,
Sagar249 she called her darling boy.
To Sagar Asamanj was heir:
Bright Anśumán his consort bare.
Anśumán's son, Dilípa famed,
Begot a son Bhagírath named.
From him the great Kakutstha rose:
From him came Raghu, feared by foes,
Of him sprang Purushádak bold,
Fierce hero of gigantic mould:
Kalmáshapáda's name he bore,
Because his feet were spotted o'er.250
From him came Śankaṇ, and from him
Sudarśan, fair in face and limb.
From beautiful Sudarśan came
Prince Agnivarṇa, bright as flame.
His son was Śíghraga, for speed
Unmatched; and Maru was his seed.
Praśuśruka was Maru's child;
His son was Ambarísha styled.
Nahush was Ambarísha's heir,
The mighty lord of regions fair:
Nahush begot Yayáti: he,
Nábhág of happy destiny.
Son of Nábhág was Aja: his,
The glorious Daśaratha is,
Whose noble children boast to be
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ, whom we see.
Thus do those kings of purest race
Their lineage from Ikshváku trace:
Their hero lives the right maintained,
Their lips with falsehood ne'er were stained.
In Ráma's and in Lakshmaṇ's name
Thy daughters as their wives I claim,
So shall in equal bands be tied
Each peerless youth with peerless bride.”
Canto LXXI. Janak's Pedigree.
Then to the saint supremely wise
King Janak spoke in suppliant guise:
“Deign, Hermit, with attentive ear,
Mv race's origin to hear.
When kings a daughter's hand bestow,
'Tis right their line and fame to show.
There was a king whose deeds and worth
Spread wide his name through heaven and earth,
Nimi, most virtuous e'en from youth,
The best of all who love the truth.
His son and heir was Mithi, and
His Janak, first who ruled this land.
He left a son Udávasu,
Blest with all virtues, good and true.
His son was Nandivardhan, dear
For pious heart and worth sincere.
His son Suketu, hero brave,
To Devarát, existence gave.
King Devarát, a royal sage,
For virtue, glory of the age,
Begot Vrihadratha; and he
Begot, his worthy heir to be,
The splendid hero Mahábír
Who long in glory governed here.
His son was Sudhriti, a youth
Firm in his purpose, brave in sooth,
His son was Dhrisṭaketu, blest
With pious will and holy breast.
The fame of royal saint he won:
Haryaśva was his princely son.
Haryaśva's son was Maru, who
Begot Pratíndhak, wise and true.
Next Kírtiratha held the throne,
His son, for gentle virtues known.
Then followed Devamidha, then
Vibudh, Mahándhrak, kings of men.
Mahándhrak's son, of boundless might,
Was Kírtirát, who loved the right.
He passed away, a sainted king,
And Maháromá following
To Swarṇaromá left the state.
Then Hraśvaromá, good and great,
Succeeded, and to him a pair
Of sons his royal consort bare,
Elder of these I boast to be:
Brave Kuśadhwaj is next to me.251
Me then, the elder of the twain,
My sire anointed here to reign.
He bade me tend my brother well,
Then to the forest went to dwell.
He sought the heavens, and I sustained
The burden as by law ordained,
And noble Kuśadhwaj, the peer
Of Gods, I ever held most dear.
Then came Sánkáśyá's mighty lord,
Sudhanvá, threatening siege and sword,
And bade me swift on him bestow
Śiva's incomparable bow,
[pg 083]
And Sítá of the lotus eyes:
But I refused each peerless prize.
Then, host to host, we met the foes,
And fierce the din of battle rose,
Sudhanvá, foremost of his band,
Fell smitten by my single hand.
When thus Sánkáśyá's lord was slain,
I sanctified, as laws ordain,
My brother in his stead to reign,
Thus are we brothers, Saint most high
The younger he, the elder I.
Now, mighty Sage, my spirit joys
To give these maidens to the boys.
Let Sítá be to Ráma tied.
And Urmilá be Lakshmaṇ's bride.
First give, O King, the gift of cows,
As dowry of each royal spouse,
Due offerings to the spirits pay,
And solemnize the wedding-day.
The moon tonight, O royal Sage,
In Maghá's252 House takes harbourage;
On the third night his rays benign
In second Phálguni253 will shine:
Be that the day, with prosperous fate,
The nuptial rites to celebrate.”
Canto LXXII. The Gift Of Kine.
When royal Janak's words were done,
Joined with Vaśishṭha Kuśik's son,
The mighty sage began his speech:
“No mind may soar, no thought can reach
The glories of Ikshváku's line,
Or, great Videha's King, of thine:
None in the whole wide world may vie
With them in fame and honours high.
Well matched, I ween, in holy bands,
These peerless pairs will join their hands.
But hear me as I speak once more;
Thy brother, skilled in duty's lore,
Has at his home a royal pair
Of daughters most divinely fair.
I for the hands of these sweet two
For Bharat and Śatrughna sue,
Both princes of heroic mould,
Wise, fair of form, and lofty-souled.
All Daśaratha's sons, I ween,
Own each young grace of form and mien:
Brave as the Gods are they, nor yield
To the great Lords the worlds who shield.
By these, good Prince of merits high,
Ikshváku's house with thine ally.”
The suit the holy sage preferred,
With willing ear the monarch heard:
Vaśishṭha's lips the counsel praised:
Then spake the king with hands upraised:
“Now blest indeed my race I deem,
Which your high will, O Saints supreme,
With Daśaratha's house unites
In bonds of love and marriage rites.
So be it done. My nieces twain
Let Bharat and Śatrughna gain,
And the four youths the selfsame day
Four maiden hands in theirs shall lay.
No day so lucky may compare,
For marriage—so the wise declare—
With the last day of Phálguni
Ruled by the genial deity.”
Then with raised hands in reverence due
To those arch-saints he spoke anew:
“I am your pupil, ever true:
To me high favour have ye shown;
Come, sit ye on my royal throne,
For Daśaratha rules these towers
E'en as Ayodhyá now is ours.
Do with your own whate'er ye choose:
Your lordship here will none refuse.”
He spoke, and to Videha's king
Thus Daśaratha, answering:
“Boundless your virtues, lords, whose sway
The realms of Mithilá obey.
With honouring care you entertain.
Both holy sage and royal train.
Now to my house my steps I bend—
May blessings still on you at end—
Due offerings to the shades to pay.”
Thus spoke the king, and turned away:
To Janak first he bade adieu,
Then followed fast those holy two.
The monarch reached his palace where
The rites were paid with solemn care.
When the next sun began to shine
He rose and made his gift of kine.
A hundred thousand cows prepared
For each young prince the Bráhmans shared.
Each had her horns adorned with gold;
And duly was the number told,
Four hundred thousand perfect tale:
Each brought a calf, each filled a pail.
And when that glorious task was o'er,
The monarch with his children four,
Showed like the Lord of Life divine
When the worlds' guardians round him shine.
[pg 084]
Canto LXXIII. The Nuptials.
On that same day that saw the king
His gift of kine distributing,
The lord of Kekaya's son, by name
Yudhájit, Bharat's uncle, came,
Asked of the monarch's health, and then
Addressed the reverend king of men:
“The lord of Kekaya's realm by me
Sends greeting, noble King, to thee:
Asks if the friends thy prayers would bless
Uninterrupted health possess.
Right anxious, mighty King, is he
My sister's princely boy to see.
For this I sought Ayodhyá fair
The message of my sire to bear.
There learning, O my liege, that thou
With sons and noble kinsmen now
Wast resting here, I sought the place
Longing to see my nephew's face.”
The king with kind observance cheered
His friend by tender ties endeared,
And every choicest honour pressed
Upon his honourable guest.
That night with all his children spent,
At morn King Daśaratha went,
Behind Vaśishṭha and the rest,
To the fair ground for rites addressed.
Then when the lucky hour was nigh
Called Victory, of omen high,
Came Ráma, after vow and prayer
For nuptial bliss and fortune fair,
With the three youths in bright attire,
And stood beside his royal sire.
To Janak then Vaśishṭha sped,
And to Videha's monarch said:
“O King, Ayodhyá's ruler now
Has breathed the prayer and vowed the vow,
And with his sons expecting stands
The giver of the maidens' hands.
The giver and the taker both
Must ratify a mutual oath.
Perform the part for which we wait,
And rites of marriage celebrate.”
Skilled in the laws which Scriptures teach,
He answered thus Vaśishṭha's speech:
“O Saint, what warder bars the gate?
Whose bidding can the king await?
In one's own house what doubt is shown?
This kingdom, Sage, is all thine own.
E'en now the maidens may be found
Within the sacrificial ground:
Each vow is vowed and prayed each prayer,
And they, like fire, are shining there.
Here by the shrine my place I took
Expecting thee with eager look,
No bar the nuptial rites should stay:
What cause have we for more delay?”
When Janak's speech the monarch heard,
To sons and saints he gave the word,
And set them in the holy ring,
Then to Vaśishṭha spoke the king
Of Mithilá: “O mighty Sage,
Now let this task thy care engage,
And lend thine aid and counsel wise
The nuptial rites to solemnize.”
The saint Vaśishṭha gave assent,
And quickly to the task he went,
With Viśvámitra, nothing loth,
And Śatánanda aiding both.
Then, as the rules prescribe, they made
An altar in the midst, and laid
Fresh wreaths of fragrant flowers thereon.
The golden ladles round it shone;
And many a vase, which branches hid
Fixed in the perforated lid,
And sprays, and cups, and censers there
Stood filled with incense rich and rare;
Shell-bowls, and spoons, and salvers dressed
With gifts that greet the honoured guest;
Piles of parched rice some dishes bore,
Others with corn prepared ran o'er;
And holy grass was duly spread
In equal lengths, while prayers were said.
Next chief of saints, Vaśishṭha came
And laid the offering in the flame.
Then by the hand King Janak drew
His Sítá, beautiful to view,
And placed her, bright in rich attire,
Ráma to face, before the fire,
Thus speaking to the royal boy
Who filled Kauśalyá's heart with joy:
“Here Sítá stands, my daughter fair,
The duties of thy life to share.
Take from her father, take thy bride;
Join hand to hand, and bliss betide!
A faithful wife, most blest is she,
And as thy shade will follow thee.”
Thus as he spoke the monarch threw
O'er her young limbs the holy dew,
While Gods and saints were heard to swell
The joyous cry, 'Tis well! 'Tis well!
His daughter Sítá thus bestowed,
O'er whom the sacred drops had flowed.
King Janak's heart with rapture glowed.
Then to Prince Lakshmaṇ thus he cried:
“Take Urmilá thine offered bride,
And clasp her hand within thine own
Ere yet the lucky hour be flown.”
Then to Prince Bharat thus cried he;
“Come, take the hand of Mándavi.”
Then to Śatrughna: “In thy grasp
The hand of Srutakírti clasp.
Now, Raghu's sons, may all of you
Be gentle to your wives and true;
[pg 085]
Keep well the vows you make to-day,
Nor let occasion slip away.”
King Janak's word the youths obeyed;
The maidens' hands in theirs they laid.
Then with their brides the princes went
With ordered steps and reverent
Round both the fire and Janak, round
The sages and the sacred ground.
A flowery flood of lucid dyes
In rain descended from the skies,
While with celestial voices blent
Sweet strains from many an instrument,
And the nymphs danced in joyous throng
Responsive to the minstrel's song.
Such signs of exultation they
Saw on the princes' wedding day.
Still rang the heavenly music's sound
When Raghu's sons thrice circled round
The fire, each one with reverent head,
And homeward then their brides they led.
They to the sumptuous palace hied
That Janak's care had seen supplied.
The monarch girt with saint and peer
Still fondly gazing followed near.
Canto LXXIV. Ráma With The Axe.254
Soon as the night had reached its close
The hermit Viśvámitra rose;
To both the kings he bade adieu
And to the northern hill withdrew.
Ayodhyá's lord of high renown
Received farewell, and sought his town.
Then as each daughter left her bower
King Janak gave a splendid dower,
Rugs, precious silks, a warrior force,
Cars, elephants, and foot, and horse,
Divine to see and well arrayed;
And many a skilful tiring-maid,
And many a young and trusty slave
The father of the ladies gave.
Silver and coral, gold and pearls
He gave to his beloved girls.
These precious gifts the king bestowed
And sped his guest upon his road.
The lord of Mithilá's sweet town
Rode to his court and lighted down.
Ayodhyá's monarch, glad and gay,
Led by the seers pursued his way
With his dear sons of lofty mind:
The royal army marched behind.
As on he fared the voice he heard
Around of many a dismal bird,
And every beast in wild affright
Began to hurry to the right.
The monarch to Vaśishṭha cried:
“What strange misfortune will betide?
Why do the beasts in terror fly,
And birds of evil omen cry?
What is it shakes my heart with dread?
Why is my soul disquieted?”
Soon as he heard, the mighty saint
Thus answered Daśaratha's plaint
In sweetest tone: “Now, Monarch, mark,
And learn from me the meaning dark.
The voices of the birds of air
Great peril to the host declare:
The moving beasts the dread allay,
So drive thy whelming fear away,”
As he and Daśaratha spoke
A tempest from the welkin broke,
That shook the spacious earth amain
And hurled high trees upon the plain.
The sun grew dark with murky cloud,
And o'er the skies was cast a shroud,
While o'er the army, faint with dread,
A veil of dust and ashes spread.
King, princes, saints their sense retained,
Fear-stupefied the rest remained.
At length, their wits returning, all
Beneath the gloom and ashy pall
Saw Jamadagni's son with dread,
His long hair twisted round his head,
Who, sprung from Bhrigu, loved to beat
The proudest kings beneath his feet.
Firm as Kailása's hill he showed,
Fierce as the fire of doom he glowed.
His axe upon his shoulder lay,
His bow was ready for the fray,
With thirsty arrows wont to fly
Like Lightnings from the angry sky.
A long keen arrow forth he drew,
Invincible like those which flew
From Śiva's ever-conquering bow
And Tripura in death laid low.
When his wild form, that struck with awe,
Fearful as ravening flame, they saw,
Vaśishṭha and the saints whose care
Was sacrifice and muttered prayer,
Drew close together, each to each,
And questioned thus with bated speech:
“Indignant at his father's fate
Will he on warriors vent his hate,
The slayers of his father slay,
And sweep the loathed race away?
But when of old his fury raged
Seas of their blood his wrath assuaged:
[pg 086]
So doubtless now he has not planned
To slay all warriors in the land.”
Then with a gift the saints drew near
To Bhrigu's son whose look was fear,
And Ráma! Ráma! soft they cried.
The gift he took, no word replied.
Then Bhrigu's son his silence broke
And thus to Ráma Ráma spoke:
Canto LXXV. The Parle.
“Heroic Ráma, men proclaim
The marvels of thy matchless fame,
And I from loud-voiced rumour know
The exploit of the broken bow,
Yea, bent and broken, mighty Chief,
A feat most wondrous, past belief.
Stirred by thy fame thy face I sought:
A peerless bow I too have brought.
This mighty weapon, strong and dire,
Great Jamadagni owned, my sire.
Draw with its shaft my father's bow,
And thus thy might, O Ráma, show.
This proof of prowess let me see—
The weapon bent and drawn by thee;
Then single fight our strength shall try,
And this shall raise thy glory high.”
King Daśaratha heard with dread
The boastful speech, and thus he said;
Raising his hands in suppliant guise,
With pallid cheek and timid eyes:
“Forgetful of the bloody feud
Ascetic toils hast thou pursued;
Then, Bráhman, let thy children be
Untroubled and from danger free.
Sprung of the race of Bhrigu, who
Read holy lore, to vows most true,
Thou swarest to the Thousand-eyed
And thy fierce axe was cast aside.
Thou turnedst to thy rites away
Leaving the earth to Kaśyap's sway,
And wentest far a grove to seek
Beneath Mahendra's255 mountain peak.
Now, mighty Hermit, art thou here
To slay us all with doom severe?
For if alone my Ráma fall,
We share his fate and perish all.”
As thus the aged sire complained
The mighty chief no answer deigned.
To Ráma only thus he cried:
“Two bows, the Heavenly Artist's pride,
Celestial, peerless, vast, and strong,
By all the worlds were honoured long.
One to the Three-eyed God256 was given,
By glory to the conflict driven,
Thus armed fierce Tripura he slew:
And then by thee 'twas burst in two.
The second bow, which few may brave,
The highest Gods to Vishṇu gave.
This bow I hold; before it fall
The foeman's fenced tower and wall.
Then prayed the Gods the Sire Most High
By some unerring proof to try
Were praise for might Lord Vishṇu's due,
Or his whose Neck is stained with Blue.257
The mighty Sire their wishes knew,
And he whose lips are ever true
Caused the two Gods to meet as foes.
Then fierce the rage of battle rose:
Bristled in dread each starting hair
As Śiva strove with Vishṇu there.
But Vishṇu raised his voice amain.
And Śiva's bowstring twanged in vain;
Its master of the Three bright Eyes
Stood fixt in fury and surprise.
Then all the dwellers in the sky,
Minstrel, and saint, and God drew nigh,
And prayed them that the strife might cease,
And the great rivals met in peace.
'Twas seen how Śiva's bow has failed
Unnerved, when Vishṇu's might assailed,
And Gods and heavenly sages thence
To Vishnu gave preëminence.
Then glorious Śiva in his rage
Gave it to Devarát the sage
Who ruled Videha's fertile land,
To pass it down from hand to hand.
But this my bow, whose shafts smite down
The foeman's fenced tower and town,
To great Richíka Vishṇu lent
To be a pledge and ornament,
Then Jamadagni, Bráhman dread,
My sire, the bow inherited.
But Arjun stooped to treachery vile
And slew my noble sire by guile,
Whose penance awful strength had gained,
Whose hand the God-given bow retained.
[pg 087]
I heard indignant how he fell
By mournful fate, too sad to tell.
My vengeful fury since that time
Scourges all Warriors for the crime.
As generations spring to life
I war them down in endless strife.
All earth I brought beneath my sway,
And gave it for his meed and pay
To holy Kaśyap, when of yore
The rites performed by him were o'er.
Then to Mahendra's hill I turned
Strong in the strength that penance earned,
And toiled upon his lofty head
By Gods immortal visited.
The breaking of the bow I knew
From startled Gods conversing, through
The airy regions, of thy deed,
And hither came with swiftest speed.
Now, for thy Warrior's honour sake,
This best of bows, O Ráma, take:
This, owned by Vishṇu's self of old,
My sire and grandsire loved to hold.
Drawn to its head upon the string,
One town-destroying arrow bring;
If this thou can, O hero, I
In single fight thy strength will try.”
Canto LXXVI. Debarred From Heaven.
The haughty challenge, undeterred
The son of Daśaratha heard,
And cried, while reverence for his sire
Checked the full torrent of his ire:
“Before this day have I been told
The deed that stained thy hands of old.
But pity bids my soul forget:
Thy father, murdered, claimed the debt.
My strength, O Chief, thou deemest slight,
Too feeble for a Warrior's might.
Now will I show thy wondering eyes
The prowess which they dare despise.”
He hastened then with graceful ease
That mighty bow and shaft to seize.
His hand the weapon strung and swayed:
The arrow on the string was laid.
Then Jamadagni's son he eyed,
And thus in words of fury cried:
“Thou art a Bráhman, still to be
Most highly honoured, Chief, by me.
For Viśvámitra's sake beside
Shall reverence due be ne'er denied.
Though mine the power, I would not send
A dart at thee thy life to end.
But thy great power to wander free,
Which penance-rites have won for thee,
Or glorious worlds from thee to wrest,
Is the firm purpose of my breast,
And Vishṇu's dart which now I strain
Can ne'er be shot to fall in vain:
It strikes the mighty, and it stuns
The madness of the haughty ones.”
Then Gods, and saints and heavenly choir
Preceded by the General Sire,
Met in the air and gazed below
On Ráma with that wondrous bow.
Nymph, minstrel, angel, all were there,
Snake-God, and spirit of the air,
Giant, and bard, and gryphon, met,
Their eyes upon the marvel set.
In senseless hush the world was chained
While Ráma's hand the bow retained,
And Jamadagni's son amazed
And powerless on the hero gazed.
Then when his swelling heart had shrunk,
And his proud strength in torpor sunk,
Scarce his voice ventured, low and weak,
To Ráma lotus-eyed, to speak:
“When long ago I gave away
The whole broad land to Kaśyap's sway
He charged me never to remain
Within the limits of his reign.
Obedient to my guide's behest
On earth by night I never rest.
My choice is made, I will not dim
Mine honour and be false to him.
So, son of Raghu, leave me still
The power to wander where I will,
And swifter than the thought my flight
Shall place me on Mahendra's height.
My mansions of eternal joy,
By penance won, thou mayst destroy,
My path to these thy shaft may stay.
Now to the work! No more delay!
I know thee Lord of Gods; I know
Thy changeless might laid Madhu low.
All other hands would surely fail
To bend this bow. All hail! all hail!
See! all the Gods have left the skies
To bend on thee their eager eyes,
With whose achievements none compete,
Whose arm in war no God can meet.
No shame is mine, I ween, for thou,
Lord of the Worlds, hast dimmed my brow.
Now, pious Ráma, 'tis thy part
To shoot afar that glorious dart:
I, when the fatal shaft is shot,
Will seek that hill and tarry not.”
He ceased. The wondrous arrow flew,
And Jamadagni's offspring knew
Those glorious worlds to him were barred,
Once gained by penance long and hard.
Then straight the airy quarters cleared,
And the mid regions bright appeared,
While Gods and saints unnumbered praised
Ráma, the mighty bow who raised.
And Jamadagni's son, o'erawed.
Extolled his name with highest laud,
[pg 088]
With reverent steps around him strode,
Then hastened on his airy road.
Far from the sight of all he fled,
And rested on Mahendra's head.
Canto LXXVII. Bharat's Departure.
Then Ráma with a cheerful mind
The bow to Varuṇ's hand resigned.
Due reverence to the saints he paid,
And thus addressed his sire dismayed:
“As Bhrigu's son is far from view,
Now let the host its march pursue,
And to Ayodhyá's town proceed
In four-fold bands, with thee to lead.”
King Daśaratha thus addressed
His lips to Ráma's forehead pressed,
And held him to his aged breast.
Rejoiced in sooth was he to know
That Bhrigu's son had parted so,
And hailed a second life begun
For him and his victorious son.
He urged the host to speed renewed,
And soon Ayodhyá's gates he viewed.
High o'er the roofs gay pennons played;
Tabour and drum loud music made;
Fresh water cooled the royal road,
And flowers in bright profusion glowed.
Glad crowds with garlands thronged the ways
Rejoicing on their king to gaze
And all the town was bright and gay
Exalting in the festive day.
People and Bráhmans flocked to meet
Their monarch ere he gained the street.
The glorious king amid the throng
Rode with his glorious sons along,
And passed within his dear abode
That like Himálaya's mountain showed.
And there Kauśalyá, noble queen,
Sumitrá with her lovely mien,
Kaikeyí of the dainty waist,
And other dames his bowers who graced,
Stood in the palace side by side
And welcomed home each youthful bride:
Fair Sítá, lofty-fated dame,
Urmilá of the glorious fame,
And Kuśadhwaj's children fair,
With joyous greeting and with prayer,
As all in linen robes arrayed
With offerings at the altars prayed.
Due reverence paid to God above,
Each princess gave her soul to love,
And hidden in her inmost bower
Passed with her lord each blissful hour.
The royal youths, of spirit high,
With whom in valor none could vie,
Lived each within his palace bounds
Bright as Kuvera's pleasure-grounds,
With riches, troops of faithful friends,
And bliss that wedded life attends:
Brave princes trained in warlike skill,
And duteous to their father's will.
At length the monarch called one morn
Prince Bharat, of Kaikeyí born,
And cried: “My son, within our gates
Lord Yudhájit thine uncle waits.
The son of Kekaya's king is he,
And came, my child, to summon thee.”
Then Bharat for the road prepared,
And with Śatrughna forth he fared.
First to his sire he bade adieu,
Brave Ráma, and his mothers too.
Lord Yudhájit with joyful pride
Went forth, the brothers by his side,
And reached the city where he dwelt:
And mighty joy his father felt.
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ honoured still
Their godlike sire with duteous will.
Two constant guides for Ráma stood,
His father's wish, the people's good.
Attentive to the general weal
He thought and wrought to please and heal.
His mothers too he strove to please
With love and sonly courtesies.
At every time, in every spot,
His holy guides he ne'er forgot.
So for his virtues kind and true
Dearer and dearer Ráma grew
To Daśaratha, Bráhmans, all
In town and country, great and small.
And Ráma by his darling's side
Saw many a blissful season glide,
Lodged in her soul, each thought on her,
Lover, and friend, and worshipper.
He loved her for his father's voice
Had given her and approved the choice:
He loved her for each charm she wore
And her sweet virtues more and more.
So he her lord and second life
Dwelt in the bosom of his wife,
In double form, that, e'en apart,
Each heart could commune free with heart.
Still grew that child of Janak's race,
More goddess-fair in form and face,
The loveliest wife that e'er was seen,
In mortal mould sweet Beauty's Queen.
Then shone the son Kauśalyá bore,
With this bright dame allied,
Like Vishṇu whom the Gods adore,
With Lakshmi by his side.


 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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