Book I. Childhood (part 1)

Book I.6
Canto I. Nárad.7
OM.8
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 [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, 6 called in Sanskrit also Bála-Káṇḍa, and in Hindí Bál-Káṇḍ, i.e. the Book
describing Ráma's childhood, bála meaning a boy up to his sixteenth year.
7A divine saint, son of Brahmá. He is the eloquent messenger of the Gods,
a musician of exquisite skill, and the inventor of the víṇá or Indian lute. He
bears a strong resemblance to Hermes or Mercury.
8Thismysticsyllable,saidtotypifythesupremeDeity,theGodscollectively,
the Vedas, the three spheres of the world, the three holy fires, the three steps of
Vishṇu etc., prefaces the prayers and most venerated writings of the Hindus.
9This colloquy is supposed to have taken place about sixteen years after
Ráma's return from his wanderings and occupation of his ancestral throne.
Canto I. Nárad.
5
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's10best and dearest friend,
Whose steps her choicest gifts attend? Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
With Indra,11Vishṇu,12Fire, and Air? Grant, Saint divine,13the 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, called also Śrí and Lakshmí, the consort of Vishṇu, the Queen of Beauty as
well as the Dea Fortuna. Her birth “from the full-flushed wave” is described in
Canto XLV of this Book.
11One of the most prominent objects of worship in the Rig-veda, Indra was
superseded in later times by the more popular deities Vishṇu and Śiva. He is
the God of the firmament, and answers in many respects to the Jupiter Pluvius
of the Romans. See Additional Notes.
12The second God of the Trimúrti or Indian Trinity. Derived from the root
viś to penetrate, the meaning of the name appears to be he who penetrates or
pervades all things. An embodiment of the preserving power of nature, he is
worshipped as a Saviour who has nine times been incarnate for the good of the
world and will descend on earth once more. See Additional Notes and Muir's
Sanskrit Texts passim.
13In Sanskrit devarshi. Rishi is the general appellation of sages, and another
word is frequently prefixed to distinguish the degrees. A Brahmarshi is a
theologian or Bráhmanical sage; a Rájarshi is a royal sage or sainted king; a
Devarshi is a divine or deified sage or saint.
14Trikálajǹa. Literally knower of the three times. Both Schlegel and Gorresio
6
*The Ramayana
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's15line 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 ben 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
[003]
futurorum eventuum in unguibus atque etiam in dentibus.” Though the palmy
days of Indian chiromancy have passed away, the art is still to some extent
studied and believed in quote Homer's.
“That sacred seer, whose comprehensive view, the past, the present, and the future knew.”
The Bombay edition reads trilokajǹa, who knows the three worlds (earth,
air and heaven.) “It is by tapas (austere fervour) that rishis of subdued souls,
subsisting on roots, fruits and air, obtain a vision of the three worlds with all
things moving and stationary.” MANU{FNS, XI. 236.
15Son of Manu, the first king of Kośala and founder of the solar dynasty or
family of the Children of the Sun, the God of that luminary being the father of Manu.
16The Indians paid great attention to the art of physiognomy and believed that
character and fortune could be foretold not from the face only but from marks
upon the neck and hands. Three lines under the chin like those at the mouth of
a conch (Śańkha) were regarded as a peculiarly auspicious sign indicating, as
did also the mark of Vishṇu's discus on the hand, one born to be a chakravartin
Canto I. Nárad.
7
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 or universal emperor. In the palmistry of Europe the line of fortune, as well
as the line of life, is in the hand. Cardan says that marks on the nails and
teeth also show what is to happen to us: “Sunt etiam in nobis vestigia quædam
17Long arms were regarded as a sign of heroic strength.
8
The Ramayana
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. 18“Veda means originally knowing or knowledge, and this name is given by
the Bráhmans not to one work, but to the whole body of their most ancient
sacred literature. Veda is the same word which appears in the Greek οίδα, I
know, and in the English wise, wisdom, to wit. The name of Veda is commonly
given to four collections of hymns, which are respectively known by the names
of Rig-veda, Yajur-veda, Sáma-veda, and Atharva-veda.”
“As the language of the Veda, the Sanskrit, is the most ancient type of the
English of the present day, (Sanskrit and English are but varieties of one and
the same language,) so its thoughts and feelings contain in reality the first roots
and germs of that intellectual growth which by an unbroken chain connects our
own generation with the ancestors of the Aryan race,—with those very people
who at the rising and setting of the sun listened with trembling hearts to the
songs of the Veda, that told them of bright powers above, and of a life to come
after the sun of their own lives had set in the clouds of the evening. These men
were the true ancestors of our race, and the Veda is the oldest book we have in
which to study the first beginnings of our language, and of all that is embodied
in language. We are by nature Aryan, Indo-European, not Semitic: our spiritual
kith and kin are to be found in India, Persia, Greece, Italy, Germany: not in
Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Palestine.”
Chips from a German Workshop, Vol. I. pp. 8. 4.
19As with the ancient Persians and Scythians, Indian princes were carefully
Canto I. Nárad.
9
The joy of Queen Kauśalyá's20heart, In every virtue he has part:
Firm as Himálaya's21snowy 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 Daśaratha24willed 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.
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instructed in archery which stands for military science in general, of which,
among Hindu heroes, it was the most important branch.
20Chief of the three queens of Daśaratha and mother of Ráma.
21From hima snow, (Greek χειμ-ών, Latin hiems) and álaya abode, the mansion of snow.
22The moon (Soma, Indu, Chandra etc.) is masculine with the Indians as with the Germans.
23Kuvera, the Indian Plutus, or God of Wealth.
24The events here briefly mentioned will be related fully in the course of the
poem. The first four cantos are introductory, and are evidently the work of a
later hand than Valmiki's.
10
The Ramayana
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 downm at Śringavera's pleasant town,
Where Gangá's holy waters flow,
25“Chandra, or the Moon, is fabled to have been married to the twenty-seven
daughters of the patriarch Daksha, or Aśviní and the rest, who are in fact
personifications of the Lunar Asterisms. His favourite amongst them was
Rohiṇí to whom he so wholly devoted himself as to neglect the rest. They
complained to their father, and Daksha repeatedly interposed, till, finding his
remonstrances vain, he denounced a curse upon his son-in-law, in consequence
of which he remained childless and became affected by consumption. The
wives of Chandra having interceded in his behalf with their father, Daksha
modified an imprecation which he could not recall, and pronounced that the
decay should be periodical only, not permanent, and that it should alternate
with periods of recovery. Hence the successive wane and increase of the Moon.
Padma, Puráṇa, Swarga-Khaṇḍa, Sec. II. Rohiṇí in Astronomy is the fourth
lunar mansion, containing five stars, the principal of which is Aldebaran.”
WILSON{FNS, Specimens of the Hindu Theatre. Vol. I. p. 234.
The Bengal recension has a different reading: “Shone with her husband like the light
Attendant on the Lord of Night.”
Canto I. Nárad.
11
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's27sacred peaks that shine
With glory, when the Gods recline beneath them: Śiva's28self between
The Lord of Gold and Beauty's Queen. 26the garb prescribed for ascetics by Manu.
27“Mount Meru, situated like Kailása in the lofty regions to the north of the
Himálayas, is celebrated in the traditions and myths of India. Meru and Kailása
are the two Indian Olympi. Perhaps they were held in such veneration be-
cause the Sanskrit-speaking Indians remembered the ancient home where they
dwelt with the other primitive peoples of their family before they descended
to occupy the vast plains which extend between the Indus and the Ganges.”
GORRESIO{FNS.
28The third God of the Indian Triad, the God of destruction and reproduction.
See Additional Notes.
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The Ramayana
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-born29train.
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 sandals30in 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
[005]
29The epithet dwija, or twice-born, is usually appropriate to Bráhmans, but
is applicable to the three higher castes. Investiture with the sacred thread and
initiation of the neophyte into certain religious mysteries are regarded as his
regeneration or second birth.
30His shoes to be a memorial of the absent heir and to maintain his right.
Kálidása (Raghuvaṅśa, XII. 17.) says that they were to be adhidevate or
guardian deities of the kingdom.
Canto I. Nárad.
13
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
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The Ramayana
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 vulture31slew, and bore away
The wife of Ráma as his prey. The son of Raghu32came 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 31jaṭáyu, a semi-divine bird, the friend of Ráma, who fought in defence of Sítá.
32Raghuwas oneofthe mostcelebratedancestors ofRámawhose commonest
appellation is, therefore, Rághava or descendant of Raghu. Kálidása in the
Raghuraṇśa makes him the son of Dilípa and great-grandfather of Ráma. See
Idylls from the Sanskrit, “Aja” and “Dilípa.”
Canto I. Nárad.
15
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 fiend33by 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 leagues34away.
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.
33Dundhubi.
34Literally ten yojanas. The yojana is a measure of uncertain length variously
reckoned as equal to nine miles, five, and a little less.
16
The Ramayana
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's35town he urged his way, where Rávaṇ held his royal sway.
[006]
There pensive 'neath Aśoka36boughs 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 Brahmá37had pronounced of yore,
35Ceylon.
36The Jonesia Aśoka is a most beautiful tree bearing a profusion of red blossoms.
37Brahmá, the Creator, is usually regarded as the first God of the Indian
Trinity, although, as Kálidása says: “Of Brahmá, Vishṇu, Śhiva, each may be
First, second, third, amid the blessed Three.”
Brahmá had guaranteed Rávaṇ's life against all enemies except man.
Canto I. Nárad.
17
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,
38Ocean personified. 39The rocks lying between Ceylon and the mainland are still called Ráma's
Bridge by the Hindus.
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The Ramayana
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 Age40had 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,
40“The Bráhmans, with a system rather cosmogonical than chronological,
divide the present mundane period into four ages or yugas as they call them:
the Krita, the Tretá, the Dwápara, and the Kali. The Krita, called also the
Deva-yuga or that of the Gods, is the age of truth, the perfect age, the Tretá is
the age of the three sacred fires, domestic and sacrificial; the Dwápara is the
age of doubt; the Kali, the present age, is the age of evil.” GORRESIO.{FNS
Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
19
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 listening42ne'er shall fail
To reap advantage from the tale.43
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Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
41The ancient kings of India enjoyed lives of more than patriarchal length as
will appear in the course of the poem.
42Śúdras, men of the fourth and lowest pure caste, were not allowed to read
the poem, but might hear it recited.
43The three ślokes or distichs which these twelve lines represent are evidently
a still later and very awkward addition to the introduction.
20
The Ramayana
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's44sequestered side,
Not far remote from Gangá's tide. He stood and saw the ripples roll
Pellucid o'er a pebbly shoal. To Bharadvája45by 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.”
44There are several rivers in India of this name, now corrupted into Tonse.
The river here spoken of is that which falls into the Ganges a little below
Allahabad.
45“In Book II, Canto LIV, we meet with a saint of this name presiding
over a convent of disciples in his hermitage at the confluence of the Ganges
and the Jumna. Thence the later author of these introductory cantos has
borrowed the name and person, inconsistently indeed, but with the intention of
enhancing the dignity of the poet by ascribing to him so celebrated a disciple.”
SCHLEGEL.{FNS
Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
21
Obedient to his master's hest guick 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 with in 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
22
The Ramayana
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.
46The poet plays upon the similarity in sound of the two words: śoka, means
grief, śloka, the heroic measure in which the poem is composed. It need
scarcely be said that the derivation is fanciful.
Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
23
Then glorious Brahmá,47Lord Most High, creator of the earth and sky,
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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,48and 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:
47Brahmá, the Creator, is usually regarded as the first person of the divine
triad of India. The four heads with which he is represented are supposed to
have allusion to the four corners of the earth which he is sometimes considered
to personify. As an object of adoration Brahmá has been entirely superseded
by Śiva and Vishṇu. In the whole of India there is, I believe, but one temple
dedicated to his worship. In this point the first of the Indian triad curiously
resembles the last of the divine fraternity of Greece, Aïdes the brother of Zeus
and Poseidon. “In all Greece, says Pausanias, there is no single temple of
Aïdes, except at a single spot in Elis.” See Gladstone's Juventus Mundi, p. 253.
48The argha or arghya was a libation or offering to a deity, a Bráhman, or
other venerable personage. According to one authority it consisted of water,
milk, the points of Kúsa-grass, curds, clarified butter, rice, barley, and white
mustard, according to another, of saffron, bel, unbroken grain, flowers, curds,
dúrbá-grass, kúsa-grass, and sesamum.
24
The Ramayana
“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 child49befell 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.
49Sítá, daughter of Janak king of Míthilá.
Canto II. Brahmá's Visit
25
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 where in 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.
50“I congratulate myself,” says Schlegel in the preface to his, alas, unfinished
edition of the Rámáyan, “that, by the favour of the Supreme Deity, I have been
allowed to begin so great a work; I glory and make my boast that I too after so
many ages have helped to confirm that ancient oracle declared to Válmíki by
the Father of Gods and men:
Dum stabunt montes, campis dum flumina current,
Usque tuum toto carmen celebrabitur orbe.”
26
The Ramayana
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.
[009]
His lips with water first bedewed,51 he sate, in reverent attitude
On holy grass,52the 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,
51“The sipping of water is a requisite introduction of all rites: without it, says
the Sámha Purána, all acts of religion are vain.” COLEBROOKE.{FNS
52The darhha or kuśa (Pea cynosuroides), a kind of grass used in sacrifice by
the Hindus as cerbena was by the Romans.
53The direction in which the grass should be placed upon the ground as a seat
for the Gods, on occasion of offerings made to them.
Canto III. The Argument.
27
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 Ráma54met 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,
54Paraśuráma or Ráma with the Axe. See Canto LXXIV.
28
The Ramayana
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 Videhan55lady'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.
55Sítá. Videha was the country of which Míthilá was the capital.
Canto III. The Argument.
29
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.
[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.
30
The Ramayana
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.
31
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 Lava56came 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,57wrought with care
With melody and tone and time, and flavours58that enhance the rime;
56The twin sons of Ráma and Sítá, born after Ráma had repudiated Sítá, and
brought up in the hermitage of Válmíki. As they were the first rhapsodists
the combined name Kuśílava signifies a reciter of poems, or an improvisatore,
even to the present day.
57Perhaps the bass, tenor, and treble, or quick, slow and middle times. we
know but little of the ancient music of the Hindus.
58Eight flavours or sentiments are usually enumerated, love, mirth, tender-
ness, anger, heroism, terror, disgust, and surprise; tranquility or content, or
32
The Ramayana
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,
[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!
paternal tenderness, is sometimes considered the ninth. WILSON{FNS. See the
Sáhitya Darpaṇa or Mirror of Composition translated by Dr. Ballantyne and
Bábú Pramadádása Mittra in the Bibliotheca Indica.
Canto IV. The Rhapsodists.
33
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,
59Saccharum Munja is a plant from whose fibres is twisted the sacred string
which a Bráhman wears over one shoulder after he has been initiated by a rite
which in some respects answers to confirmation.
34
The Ramayana
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 steed 60 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,
60A description of an Aśvamedha or Horse Sacrifice is given in Canto XIII.
of this Book.
Canto V. Ayodhyá.
35
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.
61This exploit is related in Canto XL.
36
The Ramayana
On Sarjú's 62 bank, of ample size, the happy realm of Kośal lies,
[012]
With fertile length of fair champaign and flocks and herds and wealth of grain.
There, famous in her old renown, ayodhyá63stands, the royal town,
In bygone ages built and planned by sainted Manu's64princely 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,
62The Sarjú or Ghaghra, anciently called Sarayú, rises in the Himalayas, and
after flowing through the province of Oudh, falls into the Ganges.
63The ruins of the ancient capital of Ráma and the Children of the Sun may
still be traced in the present Ajudhyá near Fyzabad. Ajudhyá is the Jerusalem
or Mecca of the Hindus.
64A legislator and saint, the son of Brahmá or a personification of Brahmá
himself, the creator of the world, and progenitor of mankind. Derived from the
root man to think, the word means originally man, the thinker, and is found in
this sense in the Rig-veda.
Manu as a legislator is identified with the Cretan Minos, as progenitor of
mankindwiththeGermanMannus: “Celebrantcarminibusantiquis,quodunum
apud illos memoriæ et annalium genus est, Tuisconem deum terra editum, et
filium Mannum, originem gentis conditoresque.” TACITUS{FNS, Germania,
Cap. II.
Canto V. Ayodhyá.
37
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,
65 the Sál (Shorea Robusta) is a valuable timber tree of considerable height.
66The city of Indra is called Amarávatí or Home of the Immortals.
67Schlegel thinks that this refers to the marble of different colours with which
the houses were adorned. It seems more natural to understand it as implying
the regularity of the streets and houses.
38
The Ramayana
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.
68The Śataghní i.e. centicide, or slayer of a hundred, is generally supposed to
be a sort of fire-arms, or the ancient Indian rocket; but it is also described as a
stone set round with iron spikes.
69The Nágas (serpents) are demigods with a human face and serpent body.
They inhabit Pátála or the regions under the earth. Bhogavatí is the name of
their capital city. Serpents are still worshipped in India. See Fergusson's Tree
and Serpent Worship.
Canto VI. The King.
39
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:
[013]
Upon his kingdom's weal intent, Mmighty 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.
40
The Ramayana
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 Śúdras70served,
70The fourth and lowest pure caste whose duty was to serve the three first
Canto VI. The King.
41
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's72hills and Sindhu's73sand,
classes.
71By forbidden marriages between persons of different castes.
72Váhlí or Váhlíka is Bactriana; its name is preserved in the modern Balkh.
73The Sanskrit word Sindhu is in the singular the name of the river Indus, in
the plural of the people and territories on its banks. The name appears as Hidku
in the cuneiform inscription of Darius' son of Hystaspes, in which the nations
tributary to that king are enumerated.
The Hebrew form is Hodda (Esther, I. 1.). In Zend it appears as Hendu
in a somewhat wider sense. With the Persians later the signification of Hind
seems to have co-extended with their increasing acquaintance with the country.
The weak Ionic dialect omitted the Persian h, and we find in Hecatæus and
Herodotus Ἴνδος and ἡ Ἰνδική. In this form the Romans received the names
and transmitted them to us. The Arabian geographers in their ignorance that
Hind and Sind are two forms of the same word have made of them two brothers
and traced their decent from Noah. See Lassen's Indische Alterthumskunde
Vol. I. pp. 2, 3.
42
The Ramayana
Vanáyu74and Kámboja's land.75
[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
74The situation of Vanáyu is not exactly determined: it seems to have lain to
the north-west of India.
75Kámboja was probably still further to the north-west. Lassen thinks that
the name is etymologically connected with Cambyses which in the cuneiform
inscription of Behistun is written Ka(m)bujia.
76The elephants of Indra and other deities who preside over the four points of
the compass.
77“There are four kinds of elephants. 1 Bhaddar. It is well proportioned, has
an erect head, a broad chest, large ears, a long tail, and is bold and can bear
fatigue. 2 Mand. It is black, has yellow eyes, a uniformly sized body, and is
wild and ungovernable. 3 Mirg. It has a whitish skin, with black spots. 4 Mir.
It has a small head, and obeys readily. It gets frightened when it thunders.”
Aín-i-Akbarí.. Translated by H. Blochmann, Aín 41, The Imperial Elephant
Stables.
78Ayodhyá means not to be fought against.
Canto VII. The Ministers.
43
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:
44
The Ramayana
As sit the Vasus79round 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 ey 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.
79Attendants of Indra, eight Gods whose names signify fire, light and its
phenomena.
Canto VIII. Sumantra's Speech.
45
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 [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.
46
The Ramayana
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's80race, 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
80Kaśyap was a grandson of the God Brahmá. He is supposed to have given
his name to Kashmír = Kaśyapa-míra, Kaśyap's Lake.
Canto VIII. Sumantra's Speech.
47
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'81throne,
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.”
81The people of Anga. “Anga is said in the lexicons to be Bengal; but here
certainly another region is intended situated at the confluence of the Sarjú with
the Ganges, and not far distant from Daśaratha's dominions.” GORRESIO{FNS.
It comprised part of Behar and Bhagulpur.
48
The Ramayana
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
[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.
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
49
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;
50
The Ramayana
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,
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
51
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's82cry
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
82The Koïl or kokila (Cuculus Indicus) as the harbinger of spring and love is
a universal favourite with Indian poets. His voice when first heard in a glorious
spring morning is not unpleasant, but becomes in the hot season intolerably
wearisome to European ears.
52
The Ramayana
His modest soul with soft desire. With arch of brow, with beck and smile,
With every passion-waking wile [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
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
53
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,
54
The Ramayana
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,
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
55
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
[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,
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The Ramayana
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
Canto IX. Rishyasring.
57
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.”
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The Ramayana
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, sántá 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
Canto X. Rishyasring Invited.
59
To win him sons and Paradise,83 that he will fain prepare.
[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,
83“Sons and Paradise are intimately connected in Indian belief. A man desires
above every thing to have a son to perpetuate his race, and to assist with
sacrifices and funeral rites to make him worthy to obtain a lofty seat in heaven
or to preserve that which he has already obtained.” GORRESIO{FNS.
60
The Ramayana
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.”
Canto X. Rishyasring Invited.
61
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 impelle 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,
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The Ramayana
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 Season85came and went; the spring returned again:
Then would the king, with mind intent,
His sacrifice ordain.
[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.”
84One of the Pleiades and generally regarded as the model of wifely excel-
lence.
85The Hindu year is divided into six seasons of two months each, spring,
summer, rains, autumn, winter, and dews.
Canto XI. The Sacrifice Decreed.
63
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,
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The Ramayana
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,
86It was essential that the horse should wander free for a year before immo-
lation, as a sign that his master's paramount sovereignty was acknowledged by
all neighbouring princes.
Canto XII. The Sacrifice Begun.
65
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
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The Ramayana
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,
[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
Canto XII. The Sacrifice Begun.
67
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 Míthilá87obey.
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's88lord of gentle speech,
Who finds a pleasant word for each,
87Called also Vidcha, later Tirabhukti, corrupted into the modern Tirhut, a
province bounded on the west and east by the Gaudakí and Kauśikí rivers, on
the south by the Ganges, and on the north by the skirts of the Himálayas.
88The celebrated city of Benares. See Dr. Hall's learned and exhaustive
Monograph in the Sacred City of the Hindus, by the Rev. M. A. Sherring.
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The Ramayana
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's89realms 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's90land,
Suvíra's91realm 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:
89Kekaya is supposed to have been in the Panjáb. The name of the king was
Aśvapati (Lord of Horses), father of Daśaratha's wife Kaikeyí.
90Surat.
91Apparently in the west of India not far from the Indus.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
69
“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.
[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.
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The Ramayana
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 rites92were duly sped:
For Upasads93the flames were fed.
Then from the plant94the 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,
92“The Pravargya ceremony lasts for three days, and is always performed
twice a day, in the forenoon and afternoon. It precedes the animal and Soma
sacrifices. For without having undergone it, no one is allowed to take part in
the solemn Soma feast prepared for the gods.” Haug's Aitareya Bráhmaṇam.
Vol. II. p. 41. note q.v.
93Upasads. “TheGodssaid,LetusperformtheburntofferingscalledUpasads
(i.e. besieging). For by means of an Upasad, i.e. besieging, they conquer a
large (fortified) town.”—Ibid. p. 32.
94The Soma plant, or Asclepias Acida. Its fermented juice was drunk in
sacrifice by the priests and offered to the Gods who enjoyed the intoxicating
draught.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
71
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.
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The Ramayana
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,
[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
95“Tum in cærimoniarum intervallis Brachmanæ facundi, sollertes, crebros
sermones de rerum causis instituebant, alter alterum vincendi cupidi. This
public disputation in the assembly of Bráhmans on the nature of things, and the
almost fraternal connexion between theology and philosophy deserves some
notice; whereas the priests of some religions are generally but little inclined
to show favour to philosophers, nay, sometimes persecute them with the most
rancorous hatred, as we are taught both by history and experience.… This
śloka is found in the MSS. of different recensions of the Rámáyan, and we
have, therefore, the most trustworthy testimony to the antiquity of philosophy
among the Indians.” SCHLEGEL{FNS.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
73
But kept the vows that held him bound:
None, but the holy Vedas knew,
And all their six-fold science96too.
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 Bel97and Khádir98six and six;
Six, made of the Paláśa99tree,
Of Fig-wood one, apart to be:
Of Sleshmát100and 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.
96The Angas or appendices of the Vedas, pronunciation, prosody, grammar,
ritual, astronomy, and explanation of obscurities.
97In Sanskrit vilva, the Ægle Marmelos. “He who desires food and wishes
to grow fat, ought to make his Yúpa (sacrificial post) of Bilva wood.” Haug's
Aítareya Bráhmanam. Vol. II. p. 73.
98The Mimosa Catechu. “He who desires heaven ought to make his Yúpa of
Khádira wood.”—Ibid.
99The Butea Frondosa. “He who desires beauty and sacred knowledge ought
to make his Yúpa of Paláśa wood.”—Ibid.
100The Cardia Latifolia.
101A kind of pine. The word means literally the tree of the Gods. Compare the
Hebrew
“trees of the Lord.”
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The Ramayana
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
102The Hindus call the constellation of Ursa Major the Seven Rishis or Saints.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
75
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
[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,
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The Ramayana
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 Atirátra, literally
lasting through the night, is a division of the
service of the Jyotishṭoma.
The Abhijit, the everywhere victorious, is the name of a
sub-division of the great sacrifice of the
Gavámanaya.
The Viśvajit, or the all-conquering, is a similar sub-division.
Áyus is the name of a service forming a division of the
Abhiplava sacrifice.
The Aptoryám, is the seventh or last part of the Jyotishṭoma,
for the performance of which it is not essentially
necessary, but a voluntary sacrifice instituted for
the attainment of a specific desire. The literal
meaning of the word would be in conformity
with the Prauḍhamanoramá, “a sacrifice which
procures the attainment of the desired object.”
GOLDSTÜCKER'S DICTIONARY{FNS.
103A minute account of these ancient ceremonies would be out of place here.
“Ágnishṭoma is the name of a sacrifice, or rather a series of offerings to fire for
five days. It is the first and principal part of the Jyotishṭoma, one of the great
sacrifices in which especially the juice of the Soma plant is offered for the pur-
pose of obtaining Swarga or heaven.” GOLDSTÜCKER'S DICTIONARY{FNS.
“The Ágnishṭoma is Agni. It is called so because they (the gods) praised him
with this Stoma. They called it so to hide the proper meaning of the word: for
the gods like to hide the proper meaning of words.”
“On account of four classes of gods having praised Agni with four Stomas,
the whole was called Chatushṭoma (containing four Stomas).”
“It (the Ágnishṭoma) is called Jyotishṭoma, for they praised Agni when he
had risen up (to the sky) in the shape of a light (jyotis).”
“This (Ágnishṭoma) is a sacrificial performance which has no beginning
and no end.” HAUG'S{FNS Aitareya Bráhmaṇam.
Canto XIII. The Sacrifice Finished.
77
“The Ukthya is a slight modification of the Ágnishṭoma sac-
rifice. The noun to be supplied to it is kratu. It
is a Soma sacrifice also, and one of the seven
Saṇsthas or component parts of the Jyotishṭoma.
Its name indicates its nature. For Ukthya means
‘what refers to the Uktha,’ which is an older name
for Shástra, i.e. recitation of one of the Hotri
priests at the time of the Soma libations. Thus
this sacrifice is only a kind of supplement to the
Ágnishṭoma.” HAUG{FNS. Ai. B.
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,
104“Four classes of priests were required in India at the most solemn sacrifices.
1. The officiating priests, manual labourers, and acolytes, who had chiefly to
prepare the sacrificial ground, to dress the altar, slay the victims, and pour out
the libations. 2. The choristers, who chant the sacred hymns. 3. The reciters
or readers, who repeat certain hymns. 4. The overseers or bishops, who watch
and superintend the proceedings of the other priests, and ought to be familiar
with all the Vedas. The formulas and verses to be muttered by the first class
are contained in the Yajur-veda-sanhitá. The hymns to be sung by the second
class are in the Sama-veda-sanhitá. The Atharva-veda is said to be intended for
the Brahman or overseer, who is to watch the proceedings of the sacrifice, and
to remedy any mistake that may occur. The hymns to be recited by the third
class are contained in the Rigveda,” Chips from a German Workshop.
78
The Ramayana
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.
[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.
79
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 Maruts105for 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,
105The Maruts are the winds, deified in the religion of the Veda like other
mighty powers and phenomena of nature.
80
The Ramayana
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
Canto XIV. Rávan Doomed.
81
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.
[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:
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The Ramayana
“O Lord whose hand fierce Madhu106slew,
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's107heavenly 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.”
106A Titan or fiend whose destruction has given Vishṇu one of his well-known
titles, Mádhava.
107The garden of Indra.
Canto XIV. Rávan Doomed.
83
When thus the suppliant Gods had prayed,
His wise reply Náráyaṇ108made:
“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,
108One of the most ancient and popular of the numerous names of Vishṇu. The
word has been derived in several ways, and may mean he who moved on the
(primordial) waters, or he who pervades or influences men or their thoughts.
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The Ramayana
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
Canto XV. The Nectar.
85
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.
[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
109The Horse-Sacrifice, just described.
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The Ramayana
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
110To walk round an object keeping the right side towards it is a mark of
great respect. The Sanskrit word for the observance is pradakshiṇá, from pra
pro, and daksha right, Greek δεξίος, Latin dexter, Gaelic deas-il. A similar
ceremony is observed by the Gaels.
“In the meantime she traced around him, with wavering steps, the propitia-
tion, which some have thought has been derived from the Druidical mythology.
It consists, as is well known, in the person who makes the deasil walking three
times round the person who is the object of the ceremony, taking care to move
according to the course of the sun.”
SCOTT{FNS. The Two Drovers.
Canto XV. The Nectar.
87
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.
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The Ramayana
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
[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.”
111The Amrit, the nectar of the Indian Gods.
Canto XVI. The Vánars.
89
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,113of children strong and good
Whose feet should roam the hill and wood.
Snakes, bards,114and spirits,115serpents bold
Had sons too numerous to be told.
Báli, the woodland hosts who led,
High as Mahendra's116lofty 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.
112Gandharvas (Southey's Glendoveers) are celestial musicians inhabiting In-
dra's heaven and forming the orchestra at all the banquets of the principal
deities.
113Yakshas, demigods attendant especially on Kuvera, and employed by him
in the care of his garden and treasures.
114Kimpurushas, demigods attached also to the service of Kuvera, celestial
musicians, represented like centaurs reversed with human figures and horses'
heads.
115Siddhas, demigods or spirits of undefined attributes, occupying with the
Vidyádharas the middle air or region between the earth and the sun.
Schlegel translates: “Divi, Sapientes, Fidicines, Præpetes, illustres Genii,
Præconesque procrearunt natos, masculos, silvicolas; angues porro, Hip-
pocephali Beati, Aligeri, Serpentesque frequentes alacriter generavere prolem
innumerabilem.”
116A mountain in the south of India.
117The preceptor of the Gods and regent of the planet Jupiter.
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The Ramayana
Nala the mighty, dear to fame,
Of skilful Viśvakarmá118came.
From Agni,119Nila bright as flame,
Who in his splendour, might, and worth,
Surpassed the sire who gave him birth.
The heavenly Aśvins,120swift and fair,
Were fathers of a noble pair,
Who, Dwivida and Mainda named,
For beauty like their sires were famed,
Varuṇ121was 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's123self 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.
118The celestial architect, the Indian Hephæstus, Mulciber, or Vulcan.
119The God of Fire.
120Twin children of the Sun, the physicians of Swarga or Indra's heaven.
121The deity of the waters.
122Parjanya, sometimes confounded with Indra.
123The bird and vehicle of Vishṇu. He is generally represented as a being
something between a man and a bird and considered as the sovereign of the
feathered race. He may be compared with the Simurgh of the Persians, the
'Anká of the Arabs, the Griffin of chivalry, the Phœnix of Egypt, and the bird
that sits upon the ash Yggdrasil of the Edda.
Canto XVI. The Vánars.
91
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,
[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,
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The Ramayana
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,
124This Canto will appear ridiculous to the European reader. But it should
be remembered that the monkeys of an Indian forest, the “bough-deer” as the
poets call them, are very different animals from the “turpissima bestia” that
accompanies the itinerant organ-grinder or grins in the Zoological Gardens of
London. Milton has made his hero, Satan, assume the forms of a cormorant, a
toad, and a serpent, and I cannot see that this creation of semi-divine Vánars,
or monkeys, is more ridiculous or undignified.
Canto XVII. Rishyasring's Return.
93
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.
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The Ramayana
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's125self 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
125The consort of Indra, called also Śachí and Indráṇí.
Canto XVII. Rishyasring's Return.
95
While they lingered blithe and gay.
Then, duly honoured, went their way.
The glorious hermit Rishyaśring
Drew near and thus besought the king:
[030]
“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.
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The Ramayana
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,
Canto XVIII. Rishyasring's Departure.
97
Wreathed with her Champacs'126leafy 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.
126The Michelia champaca. It bears a scented yellow blossom:
“The maid of India blest again to hold
In her full lap the Champac's leaves of gold.”
Lallah Rookh.
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The Ramayana
The monarch called a Bráhman near
And said, “Now speed away
To Kaśyap's son,127the 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.
[031]
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,
127Vibháṇdak, the father of Rishyaśring
Canto XVIII. Rishyasring's Departure.
99
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
128A hemiśloka is wanting in Schlegel's text, which he thus fills up in his Latin
translation.
100
The Ramayana
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.
129Rishyaśring, a Bráhman, had married Śántá who was of the Kshatriya or
Warrior caste and an expiatory ceremony was necessary on account of this
violation of the law.
Canto XIX. The Birth Of The Princes.
101
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,
Vṛihaspati131with 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 Immortals132bore,
The thunder-wielding deity.
[032]
130“The poet no doubt intended to indicate the vernal equinox as the birthday
of Ráma. For the month Chaitra is the first of the two months assigned to the
spring; it corresponds with the latter half of March and the former half of April
in our division of the year. Aditi, the mother of the Gods, is lady of the seventh
lunar mansion which is called Punarvasu. The five planets and their positions
in the Zodiac are thus enumerated by both commentators: the Sun in Aries,
Mars in Capricorn, Saturn in Libra, Jupiter in Cancer, Venus in Pisces.… I
leave to astronomers to examine whether the parts of the description agree with
one another, and, if this be the case, thence to deduce the date. The Indians
place the nativity of Ráma in the confines of the second age (tretá) and the third
(dwápara): but it seems that this should be taken in an allegorical sense.… We
may consider that the poet had an eye to the time in which, immediately before
his own age, the aspects of the heavenly bodies were such as he has described.”
SCHLEGEL{FNS.
131The regent of the planet Jupiter.
132Indra = Jupiter Tonans.
102
The Ramayana
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's133mansion, Mina's134sign,
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's135four-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.
133“Pushya is the name of a month; but here it means the eighth mansion. The
ninth is called Asleshá, or the snake. It is evident from this that Bharat, though
his birth is mentioned before that of the twins, was the youngest of the four
brothers and Ráma's junior by eleven months.” SCHLEGEL{FNS.
134A fish, the Zodiacal sign Pisces.
135One of the constellations, containing stars in the wing of Pegasus.
Canto XIX. The Birth Of The Princes.
103
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 Śatrughna136one
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.
136Ráma means the Delight (of the World); Bharat, the Supporter; Lakshmaṇ,
the Auspicious; Śatrughna, the Slayer of Foes.
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The Ramayana
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
137Schlegel, in the Indische Bibliothek, remarks that the proficiency of the
Indians in this art early attracted the attention of Alexander's successors, and
natives of India were so long exclusively employed in this service that the
name Indian was applied to any elephant-driver, to whatever country he might
belong.
Canto XX. Visvámitra's Visit.
105
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;
[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 Viśvámitra138came.
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.”
138The story of this famous saint is given at sufficient length in Cantos LI-LV.
This saint has given his name to the district and city to the east of Benares.
The original name, preserved in a land-grant on copper now in the Museum of
the Benares College, has been Moslemized into Ghazeepore (the City of the
Soldier-martyr).
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The Ramayana
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 Kuśik139bade 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 smile140addressed,
And asked him of his welfare too,
Showing him honour as was due.
139The son of Kuśik is Viśvámitra.
140At the recollection of their former enmity, to be described hereafter.
Canto XX. Visvámitra's Visit.
107
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 amrit141by 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.
141The Indian nectar or drink of the Gods.
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The Ramayana
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
[034]
142Great joy, according to the Hindu belief, has this effect, not causing each
particular hair to stand on end, but gently raising all the down upon the body.
Canto XXI. Visvámitra's Speech.
109
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.
143The Rákshasas, giants, or fiends who are represented as disturbing the
sacrifice, signify here, as often elsewhere, merely the savage tribes which
placed themselves in hostile opposition to Bráhmanical institutions.
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The Ramayana
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.
Canto XXII. Dasaratha's Speech.
111
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
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The Ramayana
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.
[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 army144all complete.
What is the demons' might, O Sage?
144Consisting of horse, foot, chariots, and elephants.
Canto XXII. Dasaratha's Speech.
113
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
145“The Gandharvas, or heavenly bards, had originally a warlike character
but were afterwards reduced to the office of celestial musicians cheering the
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The Ramayana
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.
banquets of the Gods. Dr. Kuhn has shown their identity with the Centaurs in
name, origin and attributes.” GORRESIO{FNS.
Canto XXIII. Vasishtha's Speech.
115
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
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The Ramayana
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.
[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;
146These mysterious animated weapons are enumerated in Cantos XXIX and
XXX. Daksha was the son of Brahmá and one of the Prajápatis, Demiurgi, or
secondary authors of creation.
Canto XXIV. The Spells.
117
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,
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The Ramayana
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,149heavenly 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 (part 1)
s.

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