Book III. Forest (part1)

BOOK III.
Canto I. The Hermitage.
When Ráma, valiant hero, stood
In the vast shade of Daṇḍak wood,
His eyes on every side he bent
And saw a hermit settlement,
Where coats of bark were hung around,
And holy grass bestrewed the ground.
Bright with Bráhmanic lustre glowed
That circle where the saints abode:
Like the hot sun in heaven it shone,
Too dazzling to be looked upon.
Wild creatures found a refuge where
The court, well-swept, was bright and fair,
And countless birds and roedeer made
Their dwelling in the friendly shade.
Beneath the boughs of well-loved trees
Oft danced the gay Apsarases.401
Around was many an ample shed
Wherein the holy fire was fed;
With sacred grass and skins of deer,
Ladles and sacrificial gear,
And roots and fruit, and wood to burn,
401Heavenly nymphs.
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And many a brimming water-urn.
Tall trees their hallowed branches spread,
Laden with pleasant fruit, o'erhead;
And gifts which holy laws require,402
And solemn offerings burnt with fire,403
And Veda chants on every side
That home of hermits sanctified.
There many a flower its odour shed,
And lotus blooms the lake o'erspred.
There, clad in coats of bark and hide,—
Their food by roots and fruit supplied,—
Dwelt many an old and reverend sire
Bright as the sun or Lord of Fire,
All with each worldly sense subdued,
A pure and saintly multitude.
The Veda chants, the saints who trod
The sacred ground and mused on God,
Made that delightful grove appear
Like Brahmá's own most glorious sphere.
As Raghu's splendid son surveyed
That hermit home and tranquil shade,
He loosed his mighty bow-string, then
Drew nearer to the holy men.
[230]
With keen celestial sight endued
Those mighty saints the chieftain viewed,
With joy to meet the prince they came,
And gentle Sítá dear to fame.
They looked on virtuous Ráma, fair
As Soma404in the evening air,
And Lakshmaṇ by his brother's side,
402The ball or present of food to all created beings.
403The clarified butter &c. cast into the sacred fire.
404The Moon-God: “he is,” says the commentator, “the special deity of
Bráhmans.”
Canto I. The Hermitage.
809
And Sítá long in duty tried,
And with glad blessings every sage
Received them in the hermitage.
Then Ráma's form and stature tall
Entranced the wondering eyes of all,—
His youthful grace, his strength of limb,
And garb that nobly sat on him.
To Lakshmaṇ too their looks they raised,
And upon Sítá's beauty gazed
With eyes that closed not lest their sight
Should miss the vision of delight.
Then the pure hermits of the wood,
Rejoicing in all creatures' good,
Their guest, the glorious Ráma, led
Within a cot with leaves o'erhead.
With highest honour all the best
Of radiant saints received their guest,
With kind observance, as is meet,
And gave him water for his feet.
To highest pitch of rapture wrought
Their stores of roots and fruit they brought.
They poured their blessings on his head,
And “All we have is thine,” they said.
Then, reverent hand to hand applied,405
Each duty-loving hermit cried:
“The king is our protector, bright
In fame, maintainer of the right.
He bears the awful sword, and hence
Deserves an elder's reverence.
One fourth of Indra's essence, he
Preserves his realm from danger free,
405“Because he was an incarnation of the deity,” says the commentator, “oth-
erwise such honour paid by men of the sacerdotal caste to one of the military
would be improper.”
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The Ramayana
Hence honoured by the world of right
The king enjoys each choice delight.
Thou shouldst to us protection give,
For in thy realm, dear lord, we live:
Whether in town or wood thou be,
Thou art our king, thy people we.
Our wordly aims are laid aside,
Our hearts are tamed and purified.
To thee our guardian, we who earn
Our only wealth by penance turn.”
Then the pure dwellers in the shade
To Raghu's son due honour paid,
And Lakshmaṇ, bringing store of roots,
And many a flower, and woodland fruits.
And others strove the prince to please
With all attentive courtesies.
Canto II. Virádha.
Thus entertained he passed the night,
Then, with the morning's early light,
To all the hermits bade adieu
And sought his onward way anew.
He pierced the mighty forest where
Roamed many a deer and pard and bear:
Its ruined pools he scarce could see.
For creeper rent and prostrate tree,
Where shrill cicada's cries were heard,
And plaintive notes of many a bird.
Deep in the thickets of the wood
Canto II. Virádha.
811
With Lakshmaṇ and his spouse he stood,
There in the horrid shade he saw
A giant passing nature's law:
Vast as some mountain-peak in size,
With mighty voice and sunken eyes,
Huge, hideous, tall, with monstrous face,
Most ghastly of his giant race.
A tiger's hide the Rákshas wore
Still reeking with the fat and gore:
Huge-faced, like Him who rules the dead,
All living things he struck with dread.
Three lions, tigers four, ten deer
He carried on his iron spear,
Two wolves, an elephant's head beside
With mighty tusks which blood-drops dyed.
When on the three his fierce eye fell,
He charged them with a roar and yell
As furious as the grisly King
When stricken worlds are perishing.
Then with a mighty roar that shook
The earth beneath their feet, he took
The trembling Sítá to his side.
Withdrew a little space, and cried:
“Ha, short lived wretches, ye who dare,
In hermit dress with matted hair,
Armed each with arrows, sword, and bow,
Through Daṇḍak's pathless wood to go:
How with one dame, I bid you tell,
Can you among ascetics dwell?
Who are ye, sinners, who despise
The right, in holy men's disguise?
The great Virádha, day by day
Through this deep-tangled wood I stray,
And ever, armed with trusty steel,
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I seize a saint to make my meal.
This woman young and fair of frame
Shall be the conquering giant's dame:
Your blood, ye things of evil life,
My lips shall quaff in battle strife.”
He spoke: and Janak's hapless child,
Scared by his speech so fierce and wild,
[231]
Trembled for terror, as a frail
Young plantain shivers in the gale.
When Ráma saw Virádha clasp
Fair Sítá in his mighty grasp,
Thus with pale lips that terror dried
The hero to his brother cried:
“O see Virádha's arm enfold
My darling in its cursed hold,—
The child of Janak best of kings,
My spouse whose soul to virtue clings,
Sweet princess, with pure glory bright,
Nursed in the lap of soft delight.
Now falls the blow Kaikeyí meant,
Successful in her dark intent:
This day her cruel soul will be
Triumphant over thee and me.
Though Bharat on the throne is set,
Her greedy eyes look farther yet:
Me from my home she dared expel,
Me whom all creatures loved so well.
This fatal day at length, I ween,
Brings triumph to the younger queen.
I see with bitterest grief and shame
Another touch the Maithil dame.
Not loss of sire and royal power
So grieves me as this mournful hour.”
Canto III. Virádha Attacked.
813
Thus in his anguish cried the chief:
Then drowned in tears, o'erwhelmed by grief,
Thus Lakshmaṇ in his anger spake,
Quick panting like a spell-bound snake:
“Canst thou, my brother, Indra's peer,
When I thy minister am near,
Thus grieve like some forsaken thing,
Thou, every creature's lord and king?
My vengeful shaft the fiend shall slay,
And earth shall drink his blood to-day.
The fury which my soul at first
Upon usurping Bharat nursed,
On this Virádha will I wreak
As Indra splits the mountain peak.
Winged by this arm's impetuous might
My shaft with deadly force
The monster in the chest shall smite,
And fell his shattered corse.”
Canto III. Virádha Attacked.
Virádha with a fearful shout
That echoed through the wood, cried out:
“What men are ye, I bid you say,
And whither would ye bend your way?”
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To him whose mouth shot fiery flame
The hero told his race and name:
“Two Warriors, nobly bred, are we,
And through this wood we wander free.
But who art thou, how born and styled,
Who roamest here in Daṇḍak's wild?”
To Ráma, bravest of the brave,
His answer thus Virádha gave:
“Hear, Raghu's son, and mark me well,
And I my name and race will tell.
Of Śatahradá born, I spring
From Java as my sire, O King:
Me, of this lofty lineage, all
Giants on earth Virádha call.
The rites austere I long maintained
From Brahmá's grace the boon have gained
To bear a charmed frame which ne'er
Weapon or shaft may pierce or tear.
Go as ye came, untouched by fear,
And leave with me this woman here:
Go, swiftly from my presence fly,
Or by this hand ye both shall die.”
Then Ráma with his fierce eyes red
With fury to the giant said:
“Woe to thee, sinner, fond and weak,
Who madly thus thy death wilt seek!
Stand, for it waits thee in the fray:
With life thou ne'er shalt flee away.”
Canto III. Virádha Attacked.
815
He spoke, and raised the cord whereon
A pointed arrow flashed and shone,
Then, wild with anger, from his bow,
He launched the weapon on the foe.
Seven times the fatal cord he drew,
And forth seven rapid arrows flew,
Shafts winged with gold that left the wind
And e'en Suparṇa's406self behind.
Full on the giant's breast they smote,
And purpled like the peacock's throat,
Passed through his mighty bulk and came
To earth again like flakes of flame.
The fiend the Maithil dame unclasped;
In his fierce hand his spear he grasped,
And wild with rage, pierced through and through,
At Ráma and his brother flew.
So loud the roar which chilled with fear,
So massy was the monster's spear,
He seemed, like Indra's flagstaff, dread
As the dark God who rules the dead.
On huge Virádha fierce as He407
Who smites, and worlds have ceased to be,
The princely brothers poured amain
Their fiery flood of arrowy rain.
Unmoved he stood, and opening wide
His dire mouth laughed unterrified,
And ever as the monster gaped
Those arrows from his jaws escaped.
Preserving still his life unharmed,
By Brahmá's saving promise charmed,
His mighty spear aloft in air
He raised, and rushed upon the pair.
406The king of birds.
407Kálántakayamopamam, resembling Yáma the destroyer.
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From Ráma's bow two arrows flew
And cleft that massive spear in two,
[232]
Dire as the flaming levin sent
From out the cloudy firmament.
Cut by the shafts he guided well
To earth the giant's weapon fell:
As when from Meru's summit, riven
By fiery bolts, a rock is driven.
Then swift his sword each warrior drew,
Like a dread serpent black of hue,
And gathering fury for the blow
Rushed fiercely on the giant foe.
Around each prince an arm he cast,
And held the dauntless heroes fast:
Then, though his gashes gaped and bled,
Bearing the twain he turned and fled.
Then Ráma saw the giant's plan,
And to his brother thus began:
“O Lakshmaṇ, let Virádha still
Hurry us onward as he will,
For look, Sumitrá's son, he goes
Along the path we freely chose.”
He spoke: the rover of the night
Upraised them with terrific might,
Till, to his lofty shoulders swung,
Like children to his neck they clung.
Then sending far his fearful roar,
The princes through the wood he bore,—
A wood like some vast cloud to view,
Where birds of every plumage flew,
And mighty trees o'erarching threw
Dark shadows on the ground;
Canto IV. Virádha's Death.
817
Where snakes and silvan creatures made
Their dwelling, and the jackal strayed
Through tangled brakes around.
Canto IV. Virádha's Death.
But Sítá viewed with wild affright
The heroes hurried from her sight.
She tossed her shapely arms on high,
And shrieked aloud her bitter cry:
“Ah, the dread giant bears away
The princely Ráma as his prey,
Truthful and pure, and good and great,
And Lakshmaṇ shares his brother's fate.
The brindled tiger and the bear
My mangled limbs for food will tear.
Take me, O best of giants, me,
And leave the sons of Raghu free.”
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Then, by avenging fury spurred,
Her mournful cry the heroes heard,
And hastened, for the lady's sake,
The wicked monster's life to take.
Then Lakshmaṇ with resistless stroke
The foe's left arm that held him broke,
And Ráma too, as swift to smite,
Smashed with his heavy hand the right.
With broken arms and tortured frame
To earth the fainting giant came,
Like a huge cloud, or mighty rock
Rent, sundered by the levin's shock.
Then rushed they on, and crushed and beat
Their foe with arms and fists and feet,
And nerved each mighty limb to pound
And bray him on the level ground.
Keen arrows and each biting blade
Wide rents in breast and side had made;
But crushed and torn and mangled, still
The monster lived they could not kill.
When Ráma saw no arms might slay
The fiend who like a mountain lay,
The glorious hero, swift to save
In danger, thus his counsel gave:
“O Prince of men, his charmed life
No arms may take in battle strife:
Now dig we in this grove a pit
His elephantine bulk to fit,
And let the hollowed earth enfold
The monster of gigantic mould.”
This said, the son of Raghu pressed
His foot upon the giant's breast.
With joy the prostrate monster heard
Canto IV. Virádha's Death.
819
Victorious Ráma's welcome word,
And straight Kakutstha's son, the best
Of men, in words like these addressed:
“I yield, O chieftain, overthrown
By might that vies with Indra's own.
Till now my folly-blinded eyes
Thee, hero, failed to recognize.
Happy Kauśalyá! blest to be
The mother of a son like thee!
I know thee well, O chieftain, now:
Ráma, the prince of men, art thou.
There stands the high-born Maithil dame,
There Lakshmaṇ, lord of mighty fame.
My name was Tumburu,408for song
Renowned among the minstrel throng:
Cursed by Kuvera's stern decree
I wear the hideous shape you see.
But when I sued, his grace to crave,
The glorious God this answer gave:
“When Ráma, Daśaratha's son,
Destroys thee and the fight is won,
Thy proper shape once more assume,
And heaven again shall give thee room.”
When thus the angry God replied,
No prayers could turn his wrath aside,
And thus on me his fury fell
For loving Rambhá's409charms too well.
Now through thy favour am I freed
From the stern fate the God decreed,
And saved, O tamer of the foe,
[233]
408SomewhatinconsistentlywiththispartofthestoryTumburuismentionedin
Book II, Canto XII as one of the Gandharvas or heavenly minstrels summoned
to perform at Bharadvája's feast.
409Rambhá appears in Book I Canto LXIV as the temptress of Viśvámitra.
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By thee, to heaven again shall go.
A league, O Prince, beyond this spot
Stands holy Śarabhanga's cot:
The very sun is not more bright
Than that most glorious anchorite:
To him, O Ráma, quickly turn,
And blessings from the hermit earn.
First under earth my body throw,
Then on thy way rejoicing go.
Such is the law ordained of old
For giants when their days are told:
Their bodies laid in earth, they rise
To homes eternal in the skies.”
Thus, by the rankling dart oppressed,
Kakutstha's offspring he addressed:
In earth his mighty body lay,
His spirit fled to heaven away.
Thus spake Virádha ere he died;
And Ráma to his brother cried:
“Now dig we in this grove a pit
His elephantine bulk to fit.
And let the hollowed earth enfold
This mighty giant fierce and bold.”
Canto IV. Virádha's Death.
821
This said, the valiant hero put
Upon the giant's neck his foot.
His spade obedient Lakshmaṇ plied,
And dug a pit both deep and wide
By lofty souled Virádha's side.
Then Raghu's son his foot withdrew,
And down the mighty form they threw;
One awful shout of joy he gave
And sank into the open grave.
The heroes, to their purpose true,
In fight the cruel demon slew,
And radiant with delight
Deep in the hollowed earth they cast
The monster roaring to the last,
In their resistless might.
Thus when they saw the warrior's steel
No life-destroying blow might deal,
The pair, for lore renowned,
Deep in the pit their hands had made
The unresisting giant laid,
And killed him neath the ground.
Upon himself the monster brought
From Ráma's hand the death he sought
With strong desire to gain:
And thus the rover of the night
Told Ráma, as they strove in fight,
That swords might rend and arrows smite
Upon his breast in vain.
Thus Ráma, when his speech he heard,
The giant's mighty form interred,
Which mortal arms defied.
With thundering crash the giant fell,
And rock and cave and forest dell
With echoing roar replied.
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The princes, when their task was done
And freedom from the peril won,
Rejoiced to see him die.
Then in the boundless wood they strayed,
Like the great sun and moon displayed
Triumphant in the sky.410
Canto V. Sarabhanga.
Then Ráma, having slain in fight
Virádha of terrific might,
With gentle words his spouse consoled,
And clasped her in his loving hold.
Then to his brother nobly brave
The valiant prince his counsel gave:
“Wild are these woods around us spread;
And hard and rough the ground to tread:
We, O my brother, ne'er have viewed
So dark and drear a solitude:
To Śarabhanga let us haste,
Whom wealth of holy works has graced.”
410The conclusion of this Canto is all a vain repetition: it is manifestly spurious
and a very feeble imitation of Válmíki's style. See Additional Notes.
Canto V. Sarabhanga.
823
Thus Ráma spoke, and took the road
To Śarabhanga's pure abode.
But near that saint whose lustre vied
With Gods, by penance purified,
With startled eyes the prince beheld
A wondrous sight unparalleled.
In splendour like the fire and sun
He saw a great and glorious one.
Upon a noble car he rode,
And many a God behind him glowed:
And earth beneath his feet unpressed411
The monarch of the skies confessed.
Ablaze with gems, no dust might dim
The bright attire that covered him.
Arrayed like him, on every side
High saints their master glorified.
Near, borne in air, appeared in view
His car which tawny coursers drew,
Like silver cloud, the moon, or sun
Ere yet the day is well begun.
Wreathed with gay garlands, o'er his head
A pure white canopy was spread,
And lovely nymphs stood nigh to hold
Fair chouris with their sticks of gold,
Which, waving in each gentle hand,
The forehead of their monarch fanned.
God, saint, and bard, a radiant ring,
Sang glory to their heavenly King:
Forth into joyful lauds they burst
As Indra with the sage conversed.
Then Ráma, when his wondering eyes
Beheld the monarch of the skies,
[234]
411“Even when he had alighted,” says the commentator: The feet of Gods do
not touch the ground.
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The Ramayana
To Lakshmaṇ quickly called, and showed
The car wherein Lord Indra rode:
“See, brother, see that air-borne car,
Whose wondrous glory shines afar:
Wherefrom so bright a lustre streams
That like a falling sun it seems:
These are the steeds whose fame we know,
Of heavenly race through heaven they go:
These are the steeds who bear the yoke
Of Śakra,412Him whom all invoke.
Behold these youths, a glorious band,
Toward every wind a hundred stand:
A sword in each right hand is borne,
And rings of gold their arms adorn.
What might in every broad deep chest
And club-like arm is manifest!
Clothed in attire of crimson hue
They show like tigers fierce to view.
Great chains of gold each warder deck,
Gleaming like fire beneath his neck.
The age of each fair youth appears
Some score and five of human years:
The ever-blooming prime which they
Who live in heaven retain for aye:
Such mien these lordly beings wear,
Heroic youths, most bright and fair.
Now, brother, in this spot, I pray,
With the Videhan lady stay,
Till I have certain knowledge who
This being is, so bright to view.”
412A name of Indra.
Canto V. Sarabhanga.
825
He spoke, and turning from the spot
Sought Śarabhanga's hermit cot.
But when the lord of Śachí413saw
The son of Raghu near him draw,
He hastened of the sage to take
His leave, and to his followers spake:
“See, Ráma bends his steps this way,
But ere he yet a word can say,
Come, fly to our celestial sphere;
It is not meet he see me here.
Soon victor and triumphant he
In fitter time shall look on me.
Before him still a great emprise,
A task too hard for others, lies.”
Then with all marks of honour high
The Thunderer bade the saint good-bye,
And in his car which coursers drew
Away to heaven the conqueror flew.
Then Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, and the dame,
To Śarabhanga nearer came,
Who sat beside the holy flame.
Before the ancient sage they bent,
And clasped his feet most reverent;
Then at his invitation found
A seat beside him on the ground.
Then Ráma prayed the sage would deign
Lord Indra's visit to explain;
And thus at length the holy man
In answer to his prayer began:
413Śachí is the consort of Indra.
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“This Lord of boons has sought me here
To waft me hence to Brahmá's sphere,
Won by my penance long and stern,—
A home the lawless ne'er can earn.
But when I knew that thou wast nigh,
To Brahmá's world I could not fly
Until these longing eyes were blest
With seeing thee, mine honoured guest.
Since thou, O Prince, hast cheered my sight,
Great-hearted lover of the right,
To heavenly spheres will I repair
And bliss supreme that waits me there.
For I have won, dear Prince, my way
To those fair worlds which ne'er decay,
Celestial seat of Brahmá's reign:
Be thine, with me, those worlds to gain.”
Then master of all sacred lore,
Spake Ráma to the saint once more:
“I, even I, illustrious sage,
Will make those worlds mine heritage:
But now, I pray, some home assign
Within this holy grove of thine.”
Thus Ráma, Indra's peer in might,
Addressed the aged anchorite:
And he, with wisdom well endued,
To Raghu's son his speech renewed:
Canto V. Sarabhanga.
827
“Sutíkshṇa's woodland home is near,
A glorious saint of life austere,
True to the path of duty; he
With highest bliss will prosper thee.
Against the stream thy course must be
Of this fair brook Mandákiní,
Whereon light rafts like blossoms glide;
Then to his cottage turn aside.
There lies thy path: but ere thou go,
Look on me, dear one, till I throw
Aside this mould that girds me in,
As casts the snake his withered skin.”
He spoke, the fire in order laid
With holy oil due offerings made,
And Śarabhanga, glorious sire,
Laid down his body in the fire.
Then rose the flame above his head,
On skin, blood, flesh, and bones it fed,
Till forth, transformed, with radiant hue
Of tender youth, he rose anew,
Far-shining in his bright attire
Came Śarabhanga from the pyre:
Above the home of saints, and those
Who feed the quenchless flame,414he rose:
Beyond the seat of Gods he passed,
And Brahmá's sphere was gained at last.
[235]
The noblest of the twice-born race,
For holy works supreme in place,
The Mighty Father there beheld
Girt round by hosts unparalleled;
414The spheres or mansions gained by those who have duly performed the
sacrifices required of them. Different situations are assigned to these spheres,
some placing them near the sun, others near the moon.
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The Ramayana
And Brahmá joying at the sight
Welcomed the glorious anchorite.
Canto VI. Ráma's Promise.
When he his heavenly home had found,
The holy men who dwelt around
To Ráma flocked, whose martial fame
Shone glorious as the kindled flame:
Vaikhánasas415who love the wild,
Pure hermits Bálakhilyas416styled,
Good Samprakshálas,417saints who live
On rays which moon and daystar give:
Those who with leaves their lives sustain
And those who pound with stones their grain:
And they who lie in pools, and those
Whose corn, save teeth, no winnow knows:
Those who for beds the cold earth use,
And those who every couch refuse:
And those condemned to ceaseless pains,
Whose single foot their weight sustains:
And those who sleep neath open skies,
Whose food the wave or air supplies,
And hermits pure who spend their nights
415Hermits who live upon roots which they dig out of the earth: literally
diggers, derived from the prefix vi and khan to dig.
416Generally, divine personages of the height of a man's thumb, produced
from Brahmá's hair: here, according to the commentator followed by Gorresio,
hermits who when they have obtained fresh food throw away what they had
laid up before.
417Sprung from the washings of Vishṇuu's feet.
Canto VI. Ráma's Promise.
829
On ground prepared for sacred rites;
Those who on hills their vigil hold,
Or dripping clothes around them fold:
The devotees who live for prayer,
Or the five fires418unflinching bear.
On contemplation all intent,
With light that heavenly knowledge lent,
They came to Ráma, saint and sage,
In Śarabhanga's hermitage.
The hermit crowd around him pressed,
And thus the virtuous chief addressed:
“The lordship of the earth is thine,
O Prince of old Ikshváku's line.
Lord of the Gods is Indra, so
Thou art our lord and guide below.
Thy name, the glory of thy might,
Throughout the triple world are bright:
Thy filial love so nobly shown,
Thy truth and virtue well are known.
To thee, O lord, for help we fly,
And on thy love of right rely:
With kindly patience hear us speak,
And grant the boon we humbly seek.
That lord of earth were most unjust,
Foul traitor to his solemn trust,
Who should a sixth of all419require,
Nor guard his people like a sire.
But he who ever watchful strives
To guard his subjects' wealth and lives,
Dear as himself or, dearer still,
His sons, with earnest heart and will,—
That king, O Raghu's son, secures
418Four fires burning round them, and the sun above.
419The tax allowed to the king by the Laws of Manu.
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The Ramayana
High fame that endless years endures,
And he to Brahmá's world shall rise,
Made glorious in the eternal skies.
Whate'er, by duty won, the meed
Of saints whom roots and berries feed,
One fourth thereof, for tender care
Of subjects, is the monarch's share.
These, mostly of the Bráhman race,
Who make the wood their dwelling-place,
Although a friend in thee they view,
Fall friendless neath the giant crew.
Come, Ráma, come, and see hard by
The holy hermits' corpses lie,
Where many a tangled pathway shows
The murderous work of cruel foes.
These wicked fiends the hermits kill—
Who live on Chitrakúṭa's hill,
And blood of slaughtered saints has dyed
Mandákiní and Pampá's side.
No longer can we bear to see
The death of saint and devotee
Whom through the forest day by day
These Rákshasas unpitying slay.
To thee, O Prince, we flee, and crave
Thy guardian help our lives to save.
From these fierce rovers of the night
Defend each stricken anchorite.
Throughout the world 'twere vain to seek
An arm like thine to aid the weak.
O Prince, we pray thee hear our call,
And from these fiends preserve us all.”
The son of Raghu heard the plaint
Of penance-loving sage and saint,
Canto VII. Sutíkshna.
831
And the good prince his speech renewed
To all the hermit multitude:
“To me, O saints, ye need not sue:
I wait the hests of all of you.
I by mine own occasion led
This mighty forest needs must tread,
[236]
And while I keep my sire's decree
Your lives from threatening foes will free.
I hither came of free accord
To lend the aid by you implored,
And richest meed my toil shall pay,
While here in forest shades I stay.
I long in battle strife to close.
And slay these fiends, the hermits' foes,
That saint and sage may learn aright
My prowess and my brother's might.”
Thus to the saints his promise gave
That prince who still to virtue clave
With never-wandering thought:
And then with Lakshmaṇ by his side,
With penance-wealthy men to guide,
Sutíkshṇa's home he sought.
Canto VII. Sutíkshna.
832
The Ramayana
So Raghu's son, his foemen's dread,
With Sítá and his brother sped,
Girt round by many a twice-born sage,
To good Sutíkshṇa's hermitage.420
Through woods for many a league he passed,
O'er rushing rivers full and fast,
Until a mountain fair and bright
As lofty Meru rose in sight.
Within its belt of varied wood
Ikshváku's sons and Sítá stood,
Where trees of every foliage bore
Blossom and fruit in endless store.
There coats of bark, like garlands strung,
Before a lonely cottage hung,
And there a hermit, dust-besmeared,
A lotus on his breast, appeared.
Then Ráma with obeisance due
Addressed the sage, as near he drew:
“My name is Ráma, lord; I seek
Thy presence, saint, with thee to speak.
O sage, whose merits ne'er decay,
Some word unto thy servant say.”
The sage his eyes on Ráma bent,
Of virtue's friends preëminent;
Then words like these he spoke, and pressed
The son of Raghu to his breast:
“Welcome to thee, illustrious youth,
Best champion of the rights of truth!
By thine approach this holy ground
A worthy lord this day has found.
I could not quit this mortal frame
420Near the celebrated Rámagiri or Ráma's Hill, now Rám-ṭek, near Nag-
pore—the scene of the Yaksha's exile in the Messenger Cloud.
Canto VII. Sutíkshna.
833
Till thou shouldst come, O dear to fame:
To heavenly spheres I would not rise,
Expecting thee with eager eyes.
I knew that thou, unkinged, hadst made
Thy home in Chitrakúṭa's shade.
E'en now, O Ráma, Indra, lord
Supreme by all the Gods adored,
King of the Hundred Offerings,421said,
When he my dwelling visited,
That the good works that I have done
My choice of all the worlds have won.
Accept this meed of holy vows,
And with thy brother and thy spouse,
Roam, through my favour, in the sky
Which saints celestial glorify.”
To that bright sage, of penance stern,
The high-souled Ráma spake in turn,
As Vásava422who rules the skies
To Brahmá's gracious speech replies:
“I of myself those worlds will win,
O mighty hermit pure from sin:
But now, O saint, I pray thee tell
Where I within this wood may dwell:
For I by Śarabhanga old,
The son of Gautama, was told
That thou in every lore art wise,
And seest all with loving eyes.”
421A hundred Aśvamedhas or sacrifices of a horse raise the sacrificer to the
dignity of Indra.
422Indra.
834
The Ramayana
Thus to the saint, whose glories high
Filled all the world, he made reply:
And thus again the holy man
His pleasant speech with joy began:
“This calm retreat, O Prince, is blest
With many a charm: here take thy rest.
Here roots and kindly fruits abound,
And hermits love the holy ground.
Fair silvan beasts and gentle deer
In herds unnumbered wander here:
And as they roam, secure from harm,
Our eyes with grace and beauty charm:
Except the beasts in thickets bred,
This grove of ours has naught to dread.”
The hermit's speech when Ráma heard,—
The hero ne'er by terror stirred,—
On his great bow his hand he laid,
And thus in turn his answer made:
“O saint, my darts of keenest steel,
Armed with their murderous barbs, would deal
Destruction mid the silvan race
That flocks around thy dwelling-place.
Most wretched then my fate would be
For such dishonour shown to thee:
And only for the briefest stay
Would I within this grove delay.”
He spoke and ceased. With pious care
He turned him to his evening prayer,
Performed each customary rite,
And sought his lodging for the night,
With Sítá and his brother laid
[237]
Canto VIII. The Hermitage.
835
Beneath the grove's delightful shade,
First good Sutíkshṇa, as elsewhere, when he saw
The shades of night around them draw,
With hospitable care
The princely chieftains entertained
With store of choicest food ordained
For holy hermit's fare.
Canto VIII. The Hermitage.
So Ráma and Sumitrá's son,
When every honour due was done,
Slept through the night. When morning broke,
The heroes from their rest awoke.
Betimes the son of Raghu rose,
With gentle Sítá, from repose,
And sipped the cool delicious wave
Sweet with the scent the lotus gave,
Then to the Gods and sacred flame
The heroes and the lady came,
And bent their heads in honour meet
Within the hermit's pure retreat.
When every stain was purged away,
They saw the rising Lord of Day:
Then to Sutíkshṇa's side they went,
And softly spoke, most reverent:
836
The Ramayana
“Well have we slept, O holy lord,
Honoured of thee by all adored:
Now leave to journey forth we pray:
These hermits urge us on our way.
We haste to visit, wandering by,
The ascetics' homes that round you lie,
And roaming Daṇḍak's mighty wood
To view each saintly brotherhood,
For thy permission now we sue,
With these high saints to duty true,
By penance taught each sense to tame,—
In lustre like the smokeless flame.
Ere on our brows the sun can beat
With fierce intolerable heat.
Like some unworthy lord who wins
His power by tyranny and sins,
O saint, we fain would part.” The three
Bent humbly to the devotee.
He raised the princes as they pressed
His feet, and strained them to his breast;
And then the chief of devotees
Bespake them both in words like these:
“Go with thy brother, Ráma, go,
Pursue thy path untouched by woe:
Go with thy faithful Sítá, she
Still like a shadow follows thee.
Roam Daṇḍak wood observing well
The pleasant homes where hermits dwell,—
Pure saints whose ordered souls adhere
To penance rites and vows austere.
There plenteous roots and berries grow,
And noble trees their blossoms show,
And gentle deer and birds of air
In peaceful troops are gathered there.
Canto VIII. The Hermitage.
837
There see the full-blown lotus stud
The bosom of the lucid flood,
And watch the joyous mallard shake
The reeds that fringe the pool and lake.
See with delighted eye the rill
Leap sparkling from her parent hill,
And hear the woods that round thee lie
Reëcho to the peacock's cry.
And as I bid thy brother, so,
Sumitrá's child, I bid thee go.
Go forth, these varied beauties see,
And then once more return to me.”
Thus spake the sage Sutíkshṇa: both
The chiefs assented, nothing loth,
Round him with circling steps they paced,
Then for the road prepared with haste.
There Sítá stood, the dame long-eyed,
Fair quivers round their waists she tied,
And gave each prince his trusty bow,
And sword which ne'er a spot might know.
Each took his quiver from her hand.
And clanging bow and gleaming brand:
Then from the hermits' home the two
Went forth each woodland scene to view.
Each beauteous in the bloom of age,
Dismissed by that illustrious sage,
With bow and sword accoutred, hied
Away, and Sítá by their side.
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The Ramayana
Canto IX. Sítá's Speech.
Blest by the sage, when Raghu's son
His onward journey had begun,
Thus in her soft tone Sítá, meek
With modest fear, began to speak:
“One little slip the great may lead
To shame that follows lawless deed:
Such shame, my lord, as still must cling
To faults from low desire that spring.
Three several sins defile the soul,
Born of desire that spurns control:
First, utterance of a lying word,
Then, viler both, the next, and third:
The lawless love of other's wife,
The thirst of blood uncaused by strife.
The first, O Raghu's son, in thee
None yet has found, none e'er shall see.
Love of another's dame destroys
All merit, lost for guilty joys:
Ráma, such crime in thee, I ween,
Has ne'er been found, shall ne'er be seen:
The very thought, my princely lord,
Is in thy secret soul abhorred.
[238]
For thou hast ever been the same
Fond lover of thine own dear dame,
Content with faithful heart to do
Thy father's will, most just and true:
Justice, and faith, and many a grace
In thee have found a resting-place.
Such virtues, Prince, the good may gain
Who empire o'er each sense retain;
And well canst thou, with loving view
Regarding all, each sense subdue.
Canto IX. Sítá's Speech.
839
But for the third, the lust that strives,
Insatiate still, for others' lives,—
Fond thirst of blood where hate is none,—
This, O my lord, thou wilt not shun.
Thou hast but now a promise made,
The saints of Daṇḍak wood to aid:
And to protect their lives from ill
The giants' blood in tight wilt spill:
And from thy promise lasting fame
Will glorify the forest's name.
Armed with thy bow and arrows thou
Forth with thy brother journeyest now,
While as I think how true thou art
Fears for thy bliss assail my heart,
And all my spirit at the sight
Is troubled with a strange affright.
I like it not—it seems not good—
Thy going thus to Daṇḍak wood:
And I, if thou wilt mark me well,
The reason of my fear will tell.
Thou with thy brother, bow in hand,
Beneath those ancient trees wilt stand,
And thy keen arrows will not spare
Wood-rovers who will meet thee there.
For as the fuel food supplies
That bids the dormant flame arise,
Thus when the warrior grasps his bow
He feels his breast with ardour glow.
Deep in a holy grove, of yore,
Where bird and beast from strife forbore,
Śuchi beneath the sheltering boughs,
A truthful hermit kept his vows.
Then Indra, Śachí's heavenly lord,
Armed like a warrior with a sword,
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The Ramayana
Came to his tranquil home to spoil
The hermit of his holy toil,
And left the glorious weapon there
Entrusted to the hermit's care,
A pledge for him to keep, whose mind
To fervent zeal was all resigned.
He took the brand: with utmost heed
He kept it for the warrior's need:
To keep his trust he fondly strove
When roaming in the neighbouring grove:
Whene'er for roots and fruit he strayed
Still by his side he bore the blade:
Still on his sacred charge intent,
He took his treasure when he went.
As day by day that brand he wore,
The hermit, rich in merit's store
From penance rites each thought withdrew,
And fierce and wild his spirit grew.
With heedless soul he spurned the right,
And found in cruel deeds delight.
So, living with the sword, he fell,
A ruined hermit, down to hell.
This tale applies to those who deal
Too closely with the warrior's steel:
The steel to warriors is the same
As fuel to the smouldering flame.
Sincere affection prompts my speech:
I honour where I fain would teach.
Mayst thou, thus armed with shaft and bow,
So dire a longing never know
As, when no hatred prompts the fray,
These giants of the wood to slay:
For he who kills without offence
Shall win but little glory thence.
Canto IX. Sítá's Speech.
841
The bow the warrior joys to bend
Is lent him for a nobler end,
That he may save and succour those
Who watch in woods when pressed by foes.
What, matched with woods, is bow or steel?
What, warrior's arm with hermit's zeal?
We with such might have naught to do:
The forest rule should guide us too.
But when Ayodhyá hails thee lord,
Be then thy warrior life restored:
So shall thy sire423and mother joy
In bliss that naught may e'er destroy.
And if, resigning empire, thou
Submit thee to the hermit's vow,
The noblest gain from virtue springs,
And virtue joy unending brings.
All earthly blessings virtue sends:
On virtue all the world depends.
Those who with vow and fasting tame
To due restraint the mind and frame,
Win by their labour, nobly wise,
The highest virtue for their prize.
Pure in the hermit's grove remain,
True to thy duty, free from stain.
But the three worlds are open thrown
To thee, by whom all things are known.
Who gave me power that I should dare
His duty to my lord declare?
'Tis woman's fancy, light as air,
That moves my foolish breast.
423Gorresio observes that Daśaratha was dead and that Sítá had been informed
of his death. In his translation he substitutes for the words of the text “thy
relations and mine.” This is quite superfluous. Daśaratha though in heaven still
took a loving interest in the fortunes of his son.
842
The Ramayana
Now with thy brother counsel take,
Reflect, thy choice with judgment make,
And do what seems the best.”
[239]
Canto X. Ráma's Reply.
The words that Sítá uttered, spurred
By truest love, the hero heard:
Then he who ne'er from virtue strayed
To Janak's child his answer made:
“In thy wise speech, sweet love, I find
True impress of thy gentle mind,
Well skilled the warrior's path to trace,
Thou pride of Janak's ancient race.
What fitting answer shall I frame
To thy good words, my honoured dame?
Thou sayst the warrior bears the bow
That misery's tears may cease to flow;
And those pure saints who love the shade
Of Daṇḍak wood are sore dismayed.
They sought me of their own accord,
With suppliant prayers my aid implored:
They, fed on roots and fruit, who spend
Their lives where bosky wilds extend,
My timid love, enjoy no rest
By these malignant fiends distressed.
These make the flesh of man their meat:
The helpless saints they kill and eat.
The hermits sought my side, the chief
Canto X. Ráma's Reply.
843
Of Bráhman race declared their grief.
I heard, and from my lips there fell
The words which thou rememberest well:
I listened as the hermits cried,
And to their prayers I thus replied:
“Your favour, gracious lords, I claim,
O'erwhelmed with this enormous shame
That Bráhmans, great and pure as you,
Who should be sought, to me should sue.”
And then before the saintly crowd,
“What can I do?” I cried aloud.
Then from the trembling hermits broke
One long sad cry, and thus they spoke:
“Fiends of the wood, who wear at will
Each varied shape, afflict us still.
To thee in our distress we fly:
O help us, Ráma, or we die.
When sacred rites of fire are due,
When changing moons are full or new,
These fiends who bleeding flesh devour
Assail us with resistless power.
They with their cruel might torment
The hermits on their vows intent:
We look around for help and see
Our surest refuge, Prince, in thee.
We, armed with powers of penance, might
Destroy the rovers of the night:
But loth were we to bring to naught
The merit years of toil have bought.
Our penance rites are grown too hard,
By many a check and trouble barred,
But though our saints for food are slain
The withering curse we yet restrain.
844
The Ramayana
Thus many a weary day distressed
By giants who this wood infest,
We see at length deliverance, thou
With Lakshmaṇ art our guardian now.”
As thus the troubled hermits prayed,
I promised, dame, my ready aid,
And now—for truth I hold most dear—
Still to my word must I adhere.
My love, I might endure to be
Deprived of Lakshmaṇ, life, and thee,
But ne'er deny my promise, ne'er
To Bráhmans break the oath I sware.
I must, enforced by high constraint,
Protect them all. Each suffering saint
In me, unasked, his help had found;
Still more in one by promise bound.
I know thy words, mine own dear dame,
From thy sweet heart's affection came:
I thank thee for thy gentle speech,
For those we love are those we teach.
'Tis like thyself, O fair of face,
'Tis worthy of thy noble race:
Dearer than life, thy feet are set
In righteous paths they ne'er forget.”
Thus to the Maithil monarch's child,
His own dear wife, in accents mild
The high-souled hero said:
Then to the holy groves which lay
Beyond them fair to see, their way
The bow-armed chieftain led.
Canto XI. Agastya.
845
Canto XI. Agastya.
Ráma went foremost of the three,
Next Sítá, followed, fair to see,
And Lakshmaṇ with his bow in hand
Walked hindmost of the little band.
As onward through the wood they went,
With great delight their eyes were bent
On rocky heights beside the way
And lofty trees with blossoms gay;
And streamlets running fair and fast
The royal youths with Sítá passed.
They watched the sáras and the drake
On islets of the stream and lake,
And gazed delighted on the floods
Bright with gay birds and lotus buds.
They saw in startled herds the roes,
The passion-frenzied buffaloes,
Wild elephants who fiercely tore
The tender trees, and many a boar.
A length of woodland way they passed,
And when the sun was low at last
A lovely stream-fed lake they spied,
Two leagues across from side to side.
Tall elephants fresh beauty gave
To grassy bank and lilied wave,
[240]
By many a swan and sáras stirred,
Mallard, and gay-winged water-bird.
From those sweet waters, loud and long,
Though none was seen to wake the song,
Swelled high the singer's music blent
With each melodious instrument.
Ráma and car-borne Lakshmaṇ heard
The charming strain, with wonder stirred,
846
The Ramayana
Turned on the margent of the lake
To Dharmabhrit424the sage, and spake:
“Our longing souls, O hermit, burn
This music of the lake to learn:
We pray thee, noblest sage, explain
The cause of the mysterious strain.”
He, as the son of Raghu prayed,
With swift accord his answer made,
And thus the hermit, virtuous-souled,
The story of the fair lake told:
“Through every age 'tis known to fame,
Panchápsaras425its glorious name,
By holy Máṇḍakarṇi wrought
With power his rites austere had bought.
For he, great votarist, intent
On strictest rule his stern life spent.
Ten thousand years the stream his bed,
Ten thousand years on air he fed.
Then on the blessed Gods who dwell
In heavenly homes great terror fell:
They gathered all, by Agni led,
And counselled thus disquieted:
“The hermit by ascetic pain
The seat of one of us would gain.”
Thus with their hearts by fear oppressed
In full assembly spoke the Blest,
And bade five loveliest nymphs, as fair
As lightning in the evening air,
Armed with their winning wiles, seduce
From his stern vows the great recluse.
424One of the hermits who had followed Ráma.
425The lake of the five nymphs.
Canto XI. Agastya.
847
Though lore of earth and heaven he knew,
The hermit from his task they drew,
And made the great ascetic slave
To conquering love, the Gods to save.
Each of the heavenly five became,
Bound to the sage, his wedded dame;
And he, for his beloved's sake,
Formed a fair palace neath the lake.
Under the flood the ladies live,
To joy and ease their days they give,
And lap in bliss the hermit wooed
From penance rites to youth renewed.
So when the sportive nymphs within
Those secret bowers their play begin,
You hear the singers' dulcet tones
Blend sweetly with their tinkling zones.”
“How wondrous are these words of thine!”
Cried the famed chiefs of Raghu's line,
As thus they heard the sage unfold
The marvels of the tale he told.
As Ráma spake, his eyes were bent
Upon a hermit settlement
With light of heavenly lore endued,
With sacred grass and vesture strewed.
His wife and brother by his side,
Within the holy bounds he hied,
And there, with honour entertained
By all the saints, a while remained.
In time, by due succession led,
Each votary's cot he visited,
And then the lord of martial lore,
Returned where he had lodged before.
848
The Ramayana
Here for the months, content, he stayed,
There for a year his visit paid:
Here for four months his home would fix,
There, as it chanced, for five or six.
Here for eight months and there for three
The son of Raghu's stay would be:
Here weeks, there fortnights, more or less,
He spent in tranquil happiness.
As there the hero dwelt at ease
Among those holy devotees,
In days untroubled o'er his head
Ten circling years of pleasure fled.
So Raghu's son in duty trained
A while in every cot remained,
Then with his dame retraced the road
To good Sutíkshṇa's calm abode.
Hailed by the saints with honours due
Near to the hermit's home he drew,
And there the tamer of his foes
Dwelt for a time in sweet repose.
One day within that holy wood
By saint Sutíkshṇa Ráma stood,
And thus the prince with reverence meek
To that high sage began to speak:
“In the wide woodlands that extend
Around us, lord most reverend,
As frequent voice of rumour tells,
Agastya, saintliest hermit, dwells.
So vast the wood, I cannot trace
The path to reach his dwelling place,
Nor, searching unassisted, find
That hermit of the thoughtful mind.
I with my wife and brother fain
Canto XI. Agastya.
849
Would go, his favour to obtain,
Would seek him in his lone retreat
And the great saint with reverence greet.
This one desire, O Master, long
Cherished within my heart, is strong,
That I may pay of free accord
My duty to that hermit lord.”
As thus the prince whose heart was bent
On virtue told his firm intent,
The good Sutíkshṇa's joy rose high,
And thus in turn he made reply:
“The very thing, O Prince, which thou
Hast sought, I wished to urge but now,
Bid thee with wife and brother see
[241]
Agastya, glorious devotee.
I count this thing an omen fair
That thou shouldst thus thy wish declare,
And I, my Prince, will gladly teach
The way Agastya's home to reach.
Southward, dear son, direct thy feet
Eight leagues beyond this still retreat:
Agastya's hermit brother there
Dwells in a home most bright and fair.
'Tis on a knoll of woody ground,
With many a branching Pippal426crowned:
There sweet birds' voices ne'er are mute,
And trees are gay with flower and fruit.
There many a lake gleams bright and cool,
And lilies deck each pleasant pool,
While swan, and crane, and mallard's wings
Are lovely in the water-springs.
There for one night, O Ráma, stay,
426The holy fig-tree.
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The Ramayana
And with the dawn pursue thy way.
Still farther, bending southward, by
The thicket's edge the course must lie,
And thou wilt see, two leagues from thence
Agastya's lovely residence,
Set in the woodland's fairest spot,
All varied foliage decks the cot:
There Sítá, Lakshmaṇ thou, at ease
May spend sweet hours neath shady trees,
For all of noblest growth are found
Luxuriant on that bosky ground.
If it be still thy firm intent
To see that saint preëminent,
O mighty counsellor, this day
Depart upon thine onward way.”
The hermit spake, and Ráma bent
His head, with Lakshmaṇ, reverent,
And then with him and Janak's child
Set out to trace the forest wild.
He saw dark woods that fringed the road,
And distant hills like clouds that showed,
And, as the way he followed, met
With many a lake and rivulet.
So passing on with ease where led
The path Sutíkshṇa bade him tread,
The hero with exulting breast
His brother in these words addressed:
“Here, surely, is the home, in sight,
Of that illustrious anchorite:
Here great Agastya's brother leads
A life intent on holy deeds.
Warned of each guiding mark and sign,
Canto XI. Agastya.
851
I see them all herein combine:
I see the branches bending low
Beneath the flowers and fruit they show.
A soft air from the forest springs,
Fresh from the odorous grass, and brings
A spicy fragrance as it flees
O'er the ripe fruit of Pippal trees.
See, here and there around us high
Piled up in heaps cleft billets lie,
And holy grass is gathered, bright
As strips of shining lazulite.
Full in the centre of the shade
The hermits' holy fire is laid:
I see its smoke the pure heaven streak
Dense as a big cloud's dusky peak.
The twice-born men their steps retrace
From each sequestered bathing-place,
And each his sacred gift has brought
Of blossoms which his hands have sought.
Of all these signs, dear brother, each
Agrees with good Sutíkshṇa's speech,
And doubtless in this holy bound
Agastya's brother will be found.
Agastya once, the worlds who viewed
With love, a Deathlike fiend subdued,
And armed with mighty power, obtained
By holy works, this grove ordained
To be a refuge and defence
From all oppressors' violence.
In days of yore within this place
Two brothers fierce of demon race,
Vátápi dire and Ilval, dwelt,
And slaughter mid the Bráhmans dealt.
A Bráhman's form, the fiend to cloak,
852
The Ramayana
Fierce Ilval wore, and Sanskrit spoke,
And twice-born sages would invite
To solemnize some funeral rite.
His brother's flesh, concealed within
A ram's false shape and borrowed skin,—
As men are wont at funeral feasts,—
He dressed and fed those gathered priests.
The holy men, unweeting ill,
Took of the food and ate their fill.
Then Ilval with a mighty shout
Exclaimed “Vátápi, issue out.”
Soon as his brother's voice he heard,
The fiend with ram-like bleating stirred:
Rending in pieces every frame,
Forth from the dying priests he came.
So they who changed their forms at will
Thousands of Bráhmans dared to kill,—
Fierce fiends who loved each cruel deed,
And joyed on bleeding flesh to feed.
Agastya, mighty hermit, pressed
To funeral banquet like the rest,
Obedient to the Gods' appeal
Ate up the monster at a meal.
“'Tis done, 'tis done,” fierce Ilval cried,
And water for his hands supplied:
Then lifting up his voice he spake:
“Forth, brother, from thy prison break.”
Then him who called the fiend, who long
Had wrought the suffering Bráhmans wrong,
Thus thoughtful-souled Agastya, best
Of hermits, with a smile addressed:
“How, Rákshas, is the fiend empowered
To issue forth whom I devoured?
Thy brother in a ram's disguise
Canto XI. Agastya.
853
Is gone where Yáma's kingdom lies.”
[242]
When from the words Agastya said
He knew his brother fiend was dead,
His soul on fire with vengeful rage,
Rushed the night-rover at the sage.
One lightning glance of fury, hot
As fire, the glorious hermit shot,
As the fiend neared him in his stride,
And straight, consumed to dust, he died.
In pity for the Bráhmans' plight
Agastya wrought this deed of might:
This grove which lakes and fair trees grace
In his great brother's dwelling place.”
As Ráma thus the tale rehearsed,
And with Sumitrá's son conversed,
The setting sun his last rays shed,
And evening o'er the land was spread.
A while the princely brothers stayed
And even rites in order paid,
Then to the holy grove they drew
And hailed the saint with honour due.
With courtesy was Ráma met
By that illustrious anchoret,
And for one night he rested there
Regaled with fruit and hermit fare.
But when the night had reached its close,
And the sun's glorious circle rose,
The son of Raghu left his bed
And to the hermit's brother said:
“Well rested in thy hermit cell,
I stand, O saint, to bid farewell;
For with thy leave I journey hence
Thy brother saint to reverence.”
854
The Ramayana
“Go, Ráma go,” the sage replied:
Then from the cot the chieftain hied.
And while the pleasant grove he viewed,
The path the hermit showed, pursued.
Of every leaf, of changing hue.
Plants, trees by hundreds round him grew,
With joyous eyes he looked on all,
Then Jak,427the wild rice, and Sál;428
He saw the red Hibiscus glow,
He saw the flower-tipped creeper throw
The glory of her clusters o'er
Tall trees that loads of blossom bore.
Some, elephants had prostrate laid,
In some the monkeys leapt and played,
And through the whole wide forest rang
The charm of gay birds as they sang.
Then Ráma of the lotus eye
To Lakshmaṇ turned who followed nigh,
And thus the hero youth impressed
With Fortune's favouring signs, addressed:
“How soft the leaves of every tree,
How tame each bird and beast we see!
Soon the fair home shall we behold
Of that great hermit tranquil-souled.
The deed the good Agastya wrought
High fame throughout the world has bought:
I see, I see his calm retreat
That balms the pain of weary feet.
Where white clouds rise from flames beneath,
Where bark-coats lie with many a wreath,
Where silvan things, made gentle, throng,
427The bread-fruit tree, Artocarpus integrifolia.
428A fine timber tree, Shorea robusta.
Canto XI. Agastya.
855
And every bird is loud in song.
With ruth for suffering creatures filled,
A deathlike fiend with might he killed,
And gave this southern realm to be
A refuge, from oppression free.
There stands his home, whose dreaded might
Has put the giant crew to flight,
Who view with envious eyes afar
The peaceful shades they cannot mar.
Since that most holy saint has made
His dwelling in this lovely shade,
Checked by his might the giant brood
Have dwelt in peace with souls subdued.
And all this southern realm, within
Whose bounds no fiend may entrance win,
Now bears a name which naught may dim,
Made glorious through the worlds by him.
When Vindhya, best of hills, would stay
The journey of the Lord of Day,
Obedient to the saint's behest
He bowed for aye his humbled crest.
That hoary hermit, world-renowned
For holy deeds, within this ground
Has set his pure and blessed home,
Where gentle silvan creatures roam.
Agastya, whom the worlds revere,
Pure saint to whom the good are dear,
To us his guests all grace will show,
Enriched with blessings ere we go.
I to this aim each thought will turn,
The favour of the saint to earn,
That here in comfort may be spent
The last years of our banishment.
Here sanctities and high saints stand,
856
The Ramayana
Gods, minstrels of the heavenly band;
Upon Agastya's will they wait,
And serve him, pure and temperate.
The liar's tongue, the tyrant's mind
Within these bounds no home may find:
No cheat, no sinner here can be:
So holy and so good is he.
Here birds and lords of serpent race,
Spirits and Gods who haunt the place,
Content with scanty fare remain,
As merit's meed they strive to gain.
Made perfect here, the saints supreme,
On cars that mock the Day-God's gleam,—
Their mortal bodies cast aside,—
Sought heaven transformed and glorified,
Here Gods to living things, who win
Their favour, pure from cruel sin,
Give royal rule and many a good,
[243]
Immortal life and spirithood.
Now, Lakshmaṇ, we are near the place:
Do thou precede a little space,
And tell the mighty saint that I
With Sítá at my side am nigh.”
Canto XII. The Heavenly Bow.
He spoke: the younger prince obeyed:
Within the bounds his way he made,
And thus addressed, whom first he met,
A pupil of the anchoret:
Canto XII. The Heavenly Bow.
857
“Brave Ráma, eldest born, who springs,
From Daśaratha, hither brings
His wife the lady Sítá: he
Would fain the holy hermit see.
Lakshmaṇ am I—if happy fame
E'er to thine ears has brought the name—
His younger brother, prompt to do
His will, devoted, fond, and true.
We, through our royal sire's decree,
To the dread woods were forced to flee.
Tell the great Master, I entreat,
Our earnest wish our lord to greet.”
He spoke: the hermit rich in store
Of fervid zeal and sacred lore,
Sought the pure shrine which held the fire,
To bear his message to the sire.
Soon as he reached the saint most bright
In sanctity's surpassing might,
He cried, uplifting reverent hands:
“Lord Ráma near thy cottage stands.”
Then spoke Agastya's pupil dear
The message for his lord to hear:
“Ráma and Lakshmaṇ, chiefs who spring
From Daśaratha, glorious king,
Thy hermitage e'en now have sought,
And lady Sítá with them brought.
The tamers of the foe are here
To see thee, Master, and revere.
'Tis thine thy further will to say:
Deign to command, and we obey.”
858
The Ramayana
When from his pupil's lips he knew
The presence of the princely two,
And Sítá born to fortune high.
The glorious hermit made reply:
“Great joy at last is mine this day
That Ráma hither finds his way,
For long my soul has yearned to see
The prince who comes to visit me.
Go forth, go forth, and hither bring
The royal three with welcoming:
Lead Ráma in and place him near:
Why stands he not already here?”
Thus ordered by the hermit, who,
Lord of his thought, all duty knew,
His reverent hands together laid,
The pupil answered and obeyed.
Forth from the place with speed he ran,
To Lakshmaṇ came and thus began:
“Where is he? let not Ráma wait,
But speed, the sage to venerate.”
Then with the pupil Lakshmaṇ went
Across the hermit settlement,
And showed him Ráma where he stood
With Janak's daughter in the wood.
The pupil then his message spake
Which the kind hermit bade him take;
Then led the honoured Ráma thence
And brought him in with reverence.
As nigh the royal Ráma came
With Lakshmaṇ and the Maithil dame,
He viewed the herds of gentle deer
Roaming the garden free from fear.
Canto XII. The Heavenly Bow.
859
As through the sacred grove he trod
He viewed the seat of many a God,
Brahmá and Agni,429Sun and Moon,
And His who sends each golden boon;430
Here Vishṇu's stood, there Bhaga's431shrine,
And there Mahendra's, Lord divine;
Here His who formed this earthly frame,432
His there from whom all beings came.433
Váyu's,434and His who loves to hold
The great noose, Varuṇ435mighty-souled:
Here was the Vasus'436shrine to see,
Here that of sacred Gáyatrí,437
The king of serpents438here had place,
And he who rules the feathered race.439
Here Kártikeya,440warrior lord,
And there was Justice King adored.
Then with disciples girt about
The mighty saint himself came out:
Through fierce devotion bright as flame
Before the rest the Master came:
And then to Lakshmaṇ, fortune blest,
Ráma these hasty words addressed:
“Behold, Agastya's self draws near,
429The God of fire.
430Kuvera, the God of riches.
431The Sun.
432Brahmá, the creator.
433Śiva.
434The Wind-God.
435The God of the sea.
436A class of demi-gods, eight in number.
437The holiest text of the Vedas, deified.
438Vásuki.
439Garuḍ.
440The War-God.
860
The Ramayana
The mighty saint, whom all revere:
With spirit raised I meet my lord
With richest wealth of penance stored.”
The strong-armed hero spake, and ran
Forward to meet the sunbright man.
Before him, as he came, he bent
And clasped his feet most reverent,
Then rearing up his stately height
Stood suppliant by the anchorite,
While Lakshmaṇ's strength and Sítá's grace
Stood by the pride of Raghu's race.
[244]
The sage his arms round Ráma threw
And welcomed him with honours due,
Asked, was all well, with question sweet,
And bade the hero to a seat.
With holy oil he fed the flame,
He brought the gifts which strangers claim,
And kindly waiting on the three
With honours due to high degree,
He gave with hospitable care
A simple hermit's woodland fare.
Then sat the reverend father, first
Of hermits, deep in duty versed.
And thus to suppliant Ráma, bred
In all the lore of virtue, said:
“Did the false hermit, Prince, neglect
To hail his guest with due respect,
He must,—the doom the perjured meet,—
His proper flesh hereafter eat.
A car-borne king, a lord who sways
The earth, and virtue's law obeys,
Worthy of highest honour, thou
Hast sought, dear guest, my cottage now.”
Canto XII. The Heavenly Bow.
861
He spoke: with fruit and hermit fare,
With every bloom the branches bare,
Agastya graced his honoured guest,
And thus with gentle words addressed:
“Accept this mighty bow, divine,
Whereon red gold and diamonds shine;
'Twas by the Heavenly Artist planned
For Vishṇu's own almighty hand;
This God-sent shaft of sunbright hue,
Whose deadly flight is ever true,
By Lord Mahendra given of yore:
This quiver with its endless store.
Keen arrows hurtling to their aim
Like kindled fires that flash and flame:
Accept, in golden sheath encased,
This sword with hilt of rich gold graced.
Armed with this best of bows
Lord Vishṇu slew his demon foes,
And mid the dwellers in the skies
Won brilliant glory for his prize.
The bow, the quivers, shaft, and sword
Received from me, O glorious lord:
These conquest to thine arm shall bring,
As thunder to the thunder's King.”
The splendid hermit bade him take
The noble weapons as he spake,
And as the prince accepted each
In words like these renewed his speech:
862
The Ramayana
Canto XIII. Agastya's Counsel.
“O Ráma, great delight I feel,
Pleased, Lakshmaṇ, with thy faithful zeal,
That you within these shades I see
With Sítá come to honour me.
But wandering through the rough rude wild
Has wearied Janak's gentle child:
With labours of the way oppressed
The Maithil lady longs for rest.
Young, delicate, and soft, and fair,
Such toils as these untrained to bear,
Her wifely love the dame has led
The forest's troubled ways to tread.
Here, Ráma, see that naught annoy
Her easy hours of tranquil joy:
A glorious task has she assayed,
To follow thee through woodland shade.
Since first from Nature's hand she came,
A woman's mood is still the same,
When Fortune smiles, her love to show,
And leave her lord in want and woe.
No pity then her heart can feel,
She arms her soul with warrior's steel,
Swift as the storm or Feathered King,
Uncertain as the lightning's wing.
Not so thy spouse: her purer mind
Shrinks from the faults of womankind;
Like chaste Arundhatí441above,
A paragon of faithful love.
Let these blest shades, dear Ráma, be
A home for Lakshmaṇ, her, and thee.”
441One of the Pleiades generally regarded as the model of wifely excellence.
Canto XIII. Agastya's Counsel.
863
With raised hands reverently meek
He heard the holy hermit speak,
And humbly thus addressed the sire
Whose glory shone like kindled fire:
“How blest am I, what thanks I owe
That our great Master deigns to show
His favour, that his heart can be
Content with Lakshmaṇ, Sítá, me.
Show me, I pray, some spot of ground
Where thick trees wave and springs abound,
That I may raise my hermit cell
And there in tranquil pleasure dwell.”
Then thus replied Agastya, best
Of hermits, to the chief's request:
When for a little he had bent
His thoughts, upon that prayer intent:
“Beloved son, four leagues away
Is Panchavaṭí bright and gay:
Thronged with its deer, most fair it looks
With berries, fruit, and water-brooks.
There build thee with thy brother's aid
A cottage in the quiet shade,
And faithful to thy sire's behest,
Obedient to the sentence, rest.
For well, O sinless chieftain, well
I know thy tale, how all befell:
Stern penance and the love I bore
Thy royal sire supply the lore.
To me long rites and fervid zeal
The wish that stirs thy heart reveal,
And hence my guest I bade thee be,
That this pure grove might shelter thee.
[245]
864
The Ramayana
So now, thereafter, thus I speak:
The shades of Panchavaṭí seek;
That tranquil spot is bright and fair,
And Sítá will be happy there.
Not far remote from here it lies,
A grove to charm thy loving eyes,
Godávarí's pure stream is nigh:
There Sítá's days will sweetly fly.
Pure, lovely, rich in many a charm,
O hero of the mighty arm,
'Tis gay with every plant and fruit,
And throngs of gay buds never mute.
Thou, true to virtue's path, hast might
To screen each trusting anchorite,
And wilt from thy new home defend
The hermits who on thee depend.
Now yonder, Prince, direct thine eyes
Where dense Madhúka442woods arise:
Pierce their dark shade, and issuing forth
Turn to a fig-tree on the north:
Then onward up a sloping mead
Flanked by a hill the way will lead:
There Panchavaṭí, ever gay
With ceaseless bloom, thy steps will stay.”
The hermit ceased: the princely two
With seemly honours bade adieu:
With reverential awe each youth
Bowed to the saint whose word was truth,
And then, dismissed with Sítá, they
To Panchavaṭí took their way.
Thus when each royal prince had grasped
442The Madhúka, or, as it is now called, Mahuwá, is the Bassia latifolia, a tree
from whose blossoms a spirit is extracted.
Canto XIV. Jatáyus.
865
His warrior's mighty bow, and clasped
His quiver to his side,
With watchful eyes along the road
The glorious saint Agastya showed,
Dauntless in fight the brothers strode,
And Sítá with them hied.
Canto XIV. Jatáyus.
Then as the son of Raghu made
His way to Panchavaṭí's shade,
A mighty vulture he beheld
Of size and strength unparalleled.
The princes, when the bird they saw,
Approached with reverence and awe,
And as his giant form they eyed,
“Tell who thou art,” in wonder cried.
The bird, as though their hearts to gain,
Addressed them thus in gentlest strain;
“In me, dear sons, the friend behold
Your royal father loved of old.”
He spoke: nor long did Ráma wait
His sire's dear friend to venerate:
He bade the bird declare his name
And the high race of which he came.
When Raghu's son had spoken, he
Declared his name and pedigree,
His words prolonging to disclose
How all the things that be arose:
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The Ramayana
“List while I tell, O Raghu's son,
The first-born Fathers, one by one,
Great Lords of Life, whence all in earth
And all in heaven derive their birth.
First Kardam heads the glorious race
Where Vikrit holds the second place,
With Śesha, Sanśray next in line,
And Bahuputra's might divine.
Then Stháṇu and Maríchi came,
Atri, and Kratu's forceful frame.
Pulastya followed, next to him
Angiras' name shall ne'er be dim.
Prachetas, Pulah next, and then
Daksha, Vivasvat praised of men:
Aríshṭanemi next, and last
Kaśyap in glory unsurpassed.
From Daksha,—fame the tale has told—:
Three-score bright daughters sprang of old.
Of these fair-waisted nymphs the great
Lord Kaśyap sought and wedded eight,
Aditi, Diti, Kálaká,
Támrá, Danú, and Analá,
And Krodhavasá swift to ire,
And Manu443glorious as her sire.
443“I should have doubted whether Manu could have been the right reading
here, but that it occurs again in verse 29, where it is in like manner followed
in verse 31 by Analá, so that it would certainly seem that the name Manu is
intended to stand for a female, the daughter of Daksha. The Gauḍa recension,
followed by Signor Gorresio (III 20, 12), adopts an entirely different reading at
theendoftheline,viz. BalámAtibalámapi,‘BaláandAtibilá,’insteadofManu
and Analá. I see that Professor Roth s.v. adduces the authority of the Amara
Kosha and of the Commentator on Páṇini for stating that the word sometimes
means ‘the wife of Manu.’ In the following text of the Mahábhárata I. 2553.
also, Manu appears to be the name of a female: ‘Anaradyam, Manum, Vañsám,
Asurám, Márgaṇapriyám, Anúpám, Subhagám, Bhásím iti, Prádhá vyajayata.
Canto XIV. Jatáyus.
867
Then when the mighty Kaśyap cried
Delighted to each tender bride:
“Sons shalt thou bear, to rule the three
Great worlds, in might resembling me.”
[246]
Aditi, Diti, and Danú
Obeyed his will as consorts true,
And Kálaká; but all the rest
Refused to hear their lord's behest.
First Aditi conceived, and she,
Mother of thirty Gods and three,
The Vasus and Ádityas bare,
Rudras, and Aśvins, heavenly pair.
Of Diti sprang the Daityas: fame
Delights to laud their ancient name.
In days of yore their empire dread
O'er earth and woods and ocean spread.
Danú was mother of a child,
O hero, Aśvagríva styled,
And Narak next and Kálak came
Of Kálaká, celestial dame.
Of Támrá, too, five daughters bright
In deathless glory sprang to light.
Ennobling fame still keeps alive
The titles of the lovely five:
Immortal honour still she claims
For Kraunchí, Bhasí, Śyení's names.
And wills not that the world forget
Śukí or Dhritaráshtrí yet.
Then Kraunchí bare the crane and owl,
And Bhásí tribes of water fowl:
Vultures and hawks that race through air
With storm-fleet pinions Śyení bare.
Prádhá (daughter of Daksha) bore Anavadyá, Manu, Vanśá, Márgaṇapriyá,
Anúpá, Subhagá. and Bhásí.’” Muir's Sanskrit Text, Vol. I. p. 116.
868
The Ramayana
All swans and geese on mere and brook
Their birth from Dhritaráshtrí took,
And all the river-haunting brood
Of ducks, a countless multitude.
From Śukí Nalá sprang, who bare
Dame Vinatá surpassing fair.
From fiery Krodhavaśá, ten
Bright daughters sprang, O King of men:
Mrigí and Mrigamandá named,
Hari and Bhadramadá famed,
Śárdúlí, Śvetá fair to see,
Mátangí bright, and Surabhí,
Surasá marked with each fair sign,
And Kadrumá, all maids divine.
Mrigí, O Prince without a peer,
Was mother of the herds of deer,
The bear, the yak, the mountain roe
Their birth to Mrigamandá owe;
And Bhadramadá joyed to be
Mother of fair Irávatí,
Who bare Airávat,444huge of mould,
Mid warders of the earth enrolled,
From Harí lordly lions trace,
With monkeys of the wild, their race.
From the great dame Śárdúlí styled
Sprung pards, Lángúrs,445and tigers wild.
Mátangí, Prince, gave birth to all
Mátangas, elephants strong and tall,
And Śvetá bore the beasts who stand
One at each wind, earth's warder band.446
444The elephant of Indra.
445Golángúlas, described as a kind of monkey, of a black colour, and having
a tail like a cow.
446Eight elephants attached to the four quarters and intermediate points of the
Canto XIV. Jatáyus.
869
Next Surabhí the Goddess bore
Two heavenly maids, O Prince, of yore,
Gandharví—dear to fame is she—
And her sweet sister Rohiṇí.
With kine this daughter filled each mead,
And bright Gandharví bore the steed.447
Surasá bore the serpents:448all
The snakes Kadrú their mother call.
Then Manu, high-souled Kaśyap's449wife,
To all the race of men gave life,
The Bráhmans first, the Kshatriya caste,
Then Vaiśyas, and the Śúdras last.
Sprang from her mouth the Bráhman race;
Her chest the Kshatriyas' natal place:
The Vaiśyas from her thighs, 'tis said,
The Śúdras from her feet were bred.
From Analá all trees that hang
Their fair fruit-laden branches sprang.
The child of beauteous Śukí bore
Vinatá, as I taught before:
And Surasá and Kadrú were
Born of one dame, a noble pair.
Kadrú gave birth to countless snakes
That roam the earth in woods and brakes.
Aruṇ and Garuḍ swift of flight
compass, to support and guard the earth.
447Some scholars identify the centaurs with the Gandharvas.
448The hooded serpents, says the commentator Tírtha, were the offspring of
Surasá: all others of Kadrú.
449The text reads Kaśyapa, “a descendant of Kaśyapa,” who according to Rám.
II. l0, 6, ought to be Vivasvat. But as it is stated in the preceding part of this
passageIII.14, 11f. thatManuwasoneofKaśyapa'seightwives, wemusthere
read Kaśyap. The Ganda recension reads (III, 20, 30) Manur manushyáms cha
tatha janayámása Rághana, instead of the corresponding line in the Bombay
edition. Muir's Sanskrit Text, Vol I, p. 117.
870
The Ramayana
By Vinatá were given to light,
And sons of Aruṇ red as morn
Sampati first, then I was born,
Me then, O tamer of the foe,
Jaṭáyus, son of Śyení, know.
Thy ready helper will I be,
And guard thy house, if thou agree:
When thou and Lakshmaṇ urge the chase
By Sítá's side shall be my place.”
With courteous thanks for promised aid,
The prince, to rapture stirred,
Bent low, and due obeisance paid,
Embraced the royal bird.
[247]
He often in the days gone by
Had heard his father tell
How, linked with him in friendship's tie,
He loved Jaṭáyus well.
He hastened to his trusted friend
His darling to confide,
And through the wood his steps to bend
By strong Jaṭáyus' side.
On to the grove, with Lakshmaṇ near,
The prince his way pursued
To free those pleasant shades from fear
And slay the giant brood.
Canto XV. Panchavatí.
Canto XV. Panchavatí.
871
Arrived at Panchavaṭí's shade
Where silvan life and serpents strayed,
Ráma in words like these addressed
Lakshmaṇ of vigour unrepressed:
“Brother, our home is here: behold
The grove of which the hermit told:
The bowers of Panchavaṭí see
Made fair by every blooming tree.
Now, brother, bend thine eyes around;
With skilful glance survey the ground:
Here be some spot selected, best
Approved for gentle hermits' rest,
Where thou, the Maithil dame, and I
May dwell while seasons sweetly fly.
Some pleasant spot be chosen where
Pure waters gleam and trees are fair,
Some nook where flowers and wood are found
And sacred grass and springs abound.”
Then Lakshmaṇ, Sítá standing by,
Raised reverent hands, and made reply:
“A hundred years shall flee, and still
Will I obey my brother's will:
Select thyself a pleasant spot;
Be mine the care to rear the cot.”
The glorious chieftain, pleased to hear
That loving speech that soothed his ear,
Selected with observant care
A spot with every charm most fair.
He stood within that calm retreat,
A shade for hermits' home most meet,
And thus Sumitrá's son addressed,
While his dear hand in his he pressed:
872
The Ramayana
“See, see this smooth and lovely glade
Which flowery trees encircling shade:
Do thou, beloved Lakshmaṇ rear
A pleasant cot to lodge us here.
I see beyond that feathery brake
The gleaming of a lilied lake,
Where flowers in sunlike glory throw
Fresh odours from the wave below.
Agastya's words now find we true,
He told the charms which here we view:
Here are the trees that blossom o'er
Godávarí's most lovely shore.
Whose pleasant flood from side to side
With swans and geese is beautified,
And fair banks crowded with the deer
That steal from every covert near.
The peacock's cry is loud and shrill
From many a tall and lovely hill,
Green-belted by the trees that wave
Full blossoms o'er the rock and cave.
Like elephants whose huge fronts glow
With painted streaks, the mountains show
Long lines of gold and silver sheen
With copper's darker hues between.
With every tree each hill is graced,
Where creepers blossom interlaced.
Look where the Sál's long branches sway,
And palms their fanlike leaves display;
The date-tree and the Jak are near,
And their long stems Tamálas rear.
See the tall Mango lift his head,
Aśokas all their glory spread,
The Ketak her sweet buds unfold,
Canto XV. Panchavatí.
873
And Champacs hang their cups of gold.450
The spot is pure and pleasant: here
Are multitudes of birds and deer.
O Lakshmaṇ, with our father's friend
What happy hours we here shall spend!”
He spoke: the conquering Lakshmaṇ heard,
Obedient to his brother's word.
Raised by his toil a cottage stood
To shelter Ráma in the wood,
Of ample size, with leaves o'erlaid,
Of hardened earth the walls were made.
The strong bamboos his hands had felled
For pillars fair the roof upheld,
And rafter, beam, and lath supplied
Well interwrought from side to side.
Then Śamí451boughs he deftly spread
Enlaced with knotted cord o'erhead,
Well thatched above from ridge to eaves
With holy grass, and reed, and leaves.
The mighty chief with careful toil
Had cleared the ground and smoothed the soil
[248]
Where now, his loving labour done,
Rose a fair home for Raghu's son.
Then when his work was duly wrought,
Godávarís sweet stream he sought,
Bathed, plucked the lilies, and a store
450The original verses merely name the trees. I have been obliged to amplify
slightly and to omit some quas versu dicere non est; e.g. the tiniśa (Dalber-
gia ougeiniensis), punnága (Rottleria tinctoria), tilaka (not named), syandana
(Dalbergiaougeiniensisagain), vandana(unknown), nípa(NaucleaKadamba),
lakucha (Artœarpus lacucha), dhava (Grislea tomentosa), Aśvakarna (another
name for the Sál), Śamí (Acacia Suma), khadira (Mimosa catechu), kinśuka
(Butea frondosa), pátala (Bignonia suaveolens).
451Acacia Suma.
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The Ramayana
Of fruit and berries homeward bore.
Then sacrifice he duly paid,
And wooed the Gods their hopes to aid,
And then to Ráma proudly showed
The cot prepared for his abode.
Then Raghu's son with Sítá gazed
Upon the home his hands had raised,
And transport thrilled his bosom through
His leafy hermitage to view.
The glorious son of Raghu round
His brother's neck his arms enwound,
And thus began his sweet address
Of deep-felt joy and gentleness:
“Well pleased am I, dear lord, to see
This noble work performed by thee.
For this,—sole grace I can bestow,—
About thy neck mine arms I throw.
So wise art thou, thy breast is filled
With grateful thoughts, in duty skilled,
Our mighty father, free from stain,
In thee, his offspring, lives again.”
Thus spoke the prince, who lent a grace
To fortune, pride of Raghu's race;
Then in that spot whose pleasant shade
Gave store of fruit, content he stayed.
With Lakshmaṇ and his Maithil spouse
He spent his day's neath sheltering boughs,
As happy as a God on high
Lives in his mansion in the sky.
Canto XVI. Winter.
875
Canto XVI. Winter.
While there the high-souled hero spent
His tranquil hours in sweet content,
The glowing autumn passed, and then
Came winter so beloved of men.
One morn, to bathe, at break of day
To the fair stream he took his way.
Behind him, with the Maithil dame
Bearing a pitcher Lakshmaṇ came,
And as he went the mighty man
Thus to his brother chief began:
“The time is come, to thee more dear
Than all the months that mark the year:
The gracious seasons' joy and pride,
By which the rest are glorified.
A robe of hoary rime is spread
O'er earth, with corn engarlanded.
The streams we loved no longer please,
But near the fire we take our ease.
Now pious men to God and shade
Offer young corn's fresh sprouted blade,
And purge away their sins with rice
Bestowed in humble sacrifice.
Rich stores of milk delight the swain,
And hearts are cheered that longed for gain,
Proud kings whose breasts for conquests glow
Lead bannered troops to smite the foe.
Dark is the north: the Lord of Day
To Yáma's south452has turned away:
452The south is supposed to be the residence of the departed.
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The Ramayana
And she—sad widow—shines no more,
Reft of the bridal mark453she wore.
Himálaya's hill, ordained of old
The treasure-house of frost and cold,
Scarce conscious of the feebler glow,
Is truly now the Lord of Snow.
Warmed by the noontide's genial rays
Delightful are the glorious days:
But how we shudder at the chill
Of evening shadows and the rill!
How weak the sun, how cold the breeze!
How white the rime on grass and trees!
The leaves are sere, the woods have lost
Their blossoms killed by nipping frost.
Neath open skies we sleep no more:
December's nights with rime are hoar:
Their triple watch454in length extends
With hours the shortened daylight lends.
No more the moon's sun-borrowed rays
Are bright, involved in misty haze,
As when upon the mirror's sheen
The breath's obscuring cloud is seen.
E'en at the full the faint beams fail
To struggle through the darksome veil:
Changed like her hue, they want the grace
That parts not yet from Sítá's face.
Cold is the western wind, but how
Its piercing chill is heightened now,
Blowing at early morning twice
As furious with its breath of ice!
See how the dewy tears they weep
The barley, wheat, and woodland steep,
453The sun.
454The night is divided into three watches of four hours each.
Canto XVI. Winter.
877
Where, as the sun goes up the sky,
The curlew and the sáras cry.
See where the rice plants scarce uphold
Their full ears tinged with paly gold,
Bending their ripe heads slowly down
Fair as the date tree's flowery crown.
Though now the sun has mounted high
Seeking the forehead of the sky,
Such mist obscures his struggling beams,
No bigger than the moon he seems.
Though weak at first, his rays at length
Grow pleasant in their noonday strength,
And where a while they chance to fall
Fling a faint splendour over all.
[249]
See, o'er the woods where grass is wet
With hoary drops that cling there yet,
With soft light clothing earth and bough
There steals a tender glory now.
Yon elephant who longs to drink,
Still standing on the river's brink,
Plucks back his trunk in shivering haste
From the cold wave he fain would taste.
The very fowl that haunt the mere
Stand doubtful on the bank, and fear
To dip them in the wintry wave
As cowards dread to meet the brave.
The frost of night, the rime of dawn
Bind flowerless trees and glades of lawn:
Benumbed in apathetic chill
Of icy chains they slumber still.
You hear the hidden sáras cry
From floods that wrapped in vapour lie,
And frosty-shining sands reveal
Where the unnoticed rivers steal.
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The Ramayana
The hoary rime of dewy night,
And suns that glow with tempered light
Lend fresh cool flavours to the rill
That sparkles from the topmost hill.
The cold has killed the lily's pride:
Leaf, filament, and flower have died:
With chilling breath rude winds have blown,
The withered stalk is left alone.
At this gay time, O noblest chief,
The faithful Bharat, worn by grief,
Lives in the royal town where he
Spends weary hours for love of thee.
From titles, honour, kingly sway,
From every joy he turns away:
Couched on cold earth, his days are passed
With scanty fare and hermit's fast.
This moment from his humble bed
He lifts, perhaps, his weary head,
And girt by many a follower goes
To bathe where silver Sarjú flows.
How, when the frosty morn is dim,
Shall Sarjú be a bath for him
Nursed with all love and tender care,
So delicate and young and fair.
How bright his hue! his brilliant eye
With the broad lotus leaf may vie.
By fortune stamped for happy fate,
His graceful form is tall and straight.
In duty skilled, his words are truth:
He proudly rules each lust of youth.
Though his strong arm smites down the foe,
In gentle speech his accents flow.
Yet every joy has he resigned
And cleaves to thee with heart and mind.
Canto XVI. Winter.
879
Thus by the deeds that he has done
A name in heaven has Bharat won,
For in his life he follows yet
Thy steps, O banished anchoret.
Thus faithful Bharat, nobly wise,
The proverb of the world belies:
“No men, by mothers' guidance led,
The footsteps of their fathers tread.”
How could Kaikeyí, blest to be
Spouse of the king our sire, and see
A son like virtuous Bharat, blot
Her glory with so foul a plot!”
Thus in fraternal love he spoke,
And from his lips reproaches broke:
But Ráma grieved to hear him chide
The absent mother, and replied:
“Cease, O beloved, cease to blame
Our royal father's second dame.
Still speak of Bharat first in place
Of old Ikshváku's princely race.
My heart, so firmly bent but now
To dwell in woods and keep my vow,
Half melting as I hear thee speak
Of Bharat's love, grows soft and weak,
With tender joy I bring to mind
His speeches ever sweet and kind.
That dear as Amrit took the sense
With most enchanting influence.
Ah, when shall I, no more to part,
Meet Bharat of the mighty heart?
When, O my brother, when shall we
The good and brave Śatrughna see?”
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The Ramayana
Thus as he poured his fond lament
The son of Raghu onward went:
They reached the river, and the three
Bathed them in fair Godávarí.
Libations of the stream they paid
To every deity and shade,
With hymns of praise, the Sun on high
And sinless Gods to glorify.
Fresh from the purifying tide
Resplendent Ráma came,
With Lakshmaṇ ever by his side,
And the sweet Maithil dame.
So Rudra shines by worlds adored,
In glory undefiled,
When Nandi455stands beside his lord,
And King Himálaya's child.456
Canto XVII. Súrpanakhá.
The bathing and the prayer were o'er;
He turned him from the grassy shore,
And with his brother and his spouse
Sought his fair home beneath the boughs.
Sítá and Lakshmaṇ by his side,
On to his cot the hero hied,
And after rites at morning due
Within the leafy shade withdrew.
[250]
455The chief chamberlain and attendant of Śiva or Rudra.
456Umá or Párvati, the consort of Śiva.
Canto XVII. Súrpanakhá.
881
Then, honoured by the devotees,
As royal Ráma sat at ease,
With Sítá near him, o'er his head
A canopy of green boughs spread,
He shone as shines the Lord of Night
By Chitrá's457side, his dear delight.
With Lakshmaṇ there he sat and told
Sweet stories of the days of old,
And as the pleasant time he spent
With heart upon each tale intent,
A giantess, by fancy led,
Came wandering to his leafy shed.
Fierce Śúrpaṇakhá,—her of yore
The Ten-necked tyrant's mother bore,—
Saw Ráma with his noble mien
Bright as the Gods in heaven are seen;
Him from whose brow a glory gleamed,
Like lotus leaves his full eyes beamed:
Long-armed, of elephantine gait,
With hair close coiled in hermit plait:
In youthful vigour, nobly framed,
By glorious marks a king proclaimed:
Like some bright lotus lustrous-hued,
With young Kandarpa's458grace endued:
As there like Indra's self he shone,
She loved the youth she gazed upon.
She grim of eye and foul of face
Loved his sweet glance and forehead's grace:
She of unlovely figure, him
Of stately form and shapely limb:
She whose dim locks disordered hung,
Him whose bright hair on high brows clung:
457A star, one of the favourites of the Moon.
458The God of love.
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The Ramayana
She whose fierce accents counselled fear,
Him whose soft tones were sweet to hear:
She whose dire form with age was dried,
Him radiant in his youthful pride:
She whose false lips maintained the wrong,
Him in the words of virtue strong:
She cruel-hearted, stained with sin,
Him just in deed and pure within.
She, hideous fiend, a thing to hate,
Him formed each eye to captivate:
Fierce passion in her bosom woke,
And thus to Raghu's son she spoke:
“With matted hair above thy brows,
With bow and shaft and this thy spouse,
How hast thou sought in hermit dress
The giant-haunted wilderness?
What dost thou here? The cause explain:
Why art thou come, and what to gain?”
As Śúrpaṇakhá questioned so,
Ráma, the terror of the foe,
In answer to the monster's call,
With fearless candour told her all.
“King Daśaratha reigned of old,
Like Gods celestial brave and bold.
I am his eldest son and heir,
And Ráma is the name I bear.
This brother, Lakshmaṇ, younger born,
Most faithful love to me has sworn.
My wife, this princess, dear to fame,
Is Sitá the Videhan dame.
Obedient to my sire's behest
And by the queen my mother pressed,
To keep the law and merit win,
Canto XVII. Súrpanakhá.
883
I sought this wood to harbour in.
But speak, for I of thee in turn
Thy name, and race, and sire would learn.
Thou art of giant race, I ween.
Changing at will thy form and mien.
Speak truly, and the cause declare
That bids thee to these shades repair.”
Thus Ráma spoke: the demon heard,
And thus replied by passion spurred:
“Of giant race, what form soe'er
My fancy wills, 'tis mine to wear.
Named Śúrpaṇakhá here I stray,
And where I walk spread wild dismay.
King Rávaṇ is my brother: fame
Has taught perchance his dreaded name,
Strong Kumbhakarṇa slumbering deep
In chains of never-ending sleep:
Vibhíshaṇ of the duteous mind,
In needs unlike his giant kind:
Dúshaṇ and Khara, brave and bold
Whose fame by every tongue is told:
Their might by mine is far surpassed;
But when, O best of men, I cast
These fond eyes on thy form, I see
My chosen love and lord in thee.
Endowed with wondrous might am I:
Where'er my fancy leads I fly.
The poor misshapen Sítá leave,
And me, thy worthier bride receive.
Look on my beauty, and prefer
A spouse more meet than one like her:
I'll eat that ill-formed woman there:
Thy brother too her fate shall share.
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The Ramayana
But come, beloved, thou shalt roam
With me through all our woodland home;
Each varied grove with me shalt seek,
And gaze upon each mountain peak.”
As thus she spoke, the monster gazed
With sparkling eyes where passion blazed:
Then he, in lore of language learned,
This answer eloquent returned:
Canto XVIII. The Mutilation.
On her ensnared in Káma's net
His eyes the royal Ráma set,
[251]
And thus, her passion to beguile,
Addressed her with a gentle smile:
“I have a wife: behold her here,
My Sítá ever true and dear:
And one like thee will never brook
Upon a rival spouse to look.
But there my brother Lakshmaṇ stands:
Unchained is he by nuptial bands:
A youth heroic, loved of all,
Gracious and gallant, fair and tall.
With winning looks, most nobly bred,
Unmatched till now, he longs to wed.
Meet to enjoy thy youthful charms,
O take him to thy loving arms.
Enamoured on his bosom lie,
Fair damsel of the radiant eye,
As the warm sunlight loves to rest
Upon her darling Meru's breast.”
Canto XVIII. The Mutilation.
885
The hero spoke, the monster heard,
While passion still her bosom stirred.
Away from Ráma's side she broke,
And thus in turn to Lakshmaṇ spoke:
“Come, for thy bride take me who shine
In fairest grace that suits with thine.
Thou by my side from grove to grove
Of Daṇḍak's wild in bliss shalt rove.”
Then Lakshmaṇ, skilled in soft address,
Wooed by the amorous giantess,
With art to turn her love aside,
To Śúrpaṇakhá thus replied:
“And can so high a dame agree
The slave-wife of a slave to be?
I, lotus-hued! in good and ill
Am bondsman to my brother's will.
Be thou, fair creature radiant-eyed,
My honoured brother's younger bride:
With faultless tint and dainty limb,
A happy wife, bring joy to him.
He from his spouse grown old and grey,
Deformed, untrue, will turn away,
Her withered charms will gladly leave,
And to his fair young darling cleave.
For who could be so fond and blind,
O loveliest of all female kind,
To love another dame and slight
Thy beauties rich in all delight?”
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The Ramayana
Thus Lakshmaṇ praised in scornful jest
The long-toothed fiend with loathly breast,
Who fondly heard his speech, nor knew
His mocking words were aught but true.
Again inflamed with love she fled
To Ráma, in his leafy shed
Where Sítá rested by his side,
And to the mighty victor cried:
“What, Ráma, canst thou blindly cling
To this old false misshapen thing?
Wilt thou refuse the charms of youth
For withered breast and grinning tooth!
Canst thou this wretched creature prize
And look on me with scornful eyes?
This aged crone this very hour
Before thy face will I devour:
Then joyous, from all rivals free.
Through Daṇḍak will I stray with thee.”
She spoke, and with a glance of flame
Rushed on the fawn-eyed Maithil dame:
So would a horrid meteor mar
Fair Rohiṇí's soft beaming star.
But as the furious fiend drew near,
Like Death's dire noose which chills with fear,
The mighty chief her purpose stayed,
And spoke, his brother to upbraid:
“Ne'er should we jest with creatures rude,
Of savage race and wrathful mood.
Think, Lakshmaṇ, think how nearly slain
My dear Videhan breathes again.
Let not the hideous wretch escape
Without a mark to mar her shape.
Canto XVIII. The Mutilation.
887
Strike, lord of men, the monstrous fiend,
Deformed, and foul, and evil-miened.”
He spoke: then Lakshmaṇ's wrath rose high,
And there before his brother's eye,
He drew that sword which none could stay,
And cleft her nose and ears away.
Noseless and earless, torn and maimed,
With fearful shrieks the fiend exclaimed,
And frantic in her wild distress
Resought the distant wilderness.
Deformed, terrific, huge, and dread,
As on she moved, her gashes bled,
And groan succeeded groan as loud
As roars, ere rain, the thunder cloud.
Still on the fearful monster passed,
While streams of blood kept falling fast,
And with a roar, and arms outspread
Within the boundless wood she fled.
To Janasthán the monster flew;
Fierce Khara there she found,
With chieftains of the giant crew
In thousands ranged around.
Before his awful feet she bent
And fell with piercing cries,
As when a bolt in swift descent
Comes flashing from the skies.
There for a while with senses dazed
Silent she lay and scared:
At length her drooping head she raised,
And all the tale declared,
How Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, and the dame
Had reached that lonely place:
Then told her injuries and shame,
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The Ramayana
And showed her bleeding face.
Canto XIX. The Rousing Of Khara.
When Khara saw his sister lie
With blood-stained limbs and troubled eye,
[252]
Wild fury in his bosom woke,
And thus the monstrous giant spoke;
“Arise, my sister; cast away
This numbing terror and dismay,
And straight the impious hand declare
That marred those features once so fair.
For who his finger tip will lay
On the black snake in childish play,
And unattacked, with idle stroke
His poison-laden fang provoke?
Ill-fated fool, he little knows
Death's noose around his neck he throws,
Who rashly met thee, and a draught
Of life-destroying poison quaffed.
Strong, fierce as death, 'twas thine to choose
Thy way at will, each shape to use;
In power and might like one of us:
What hand has maimed and marred thee thus?
What God or fiend this deed has wrought,
What bard or sage of lofty thought
Was armed with power supremely great
Thy form to mar and mutilate?
In all the worlds not one I see
Would dare a deed to anger me:
Canto XIX. The Rousing Of Khara.
889
Not Indra's self, the Thousand-eyed,
Beneath whose hand fierce Páka459died.
My life-destroying darts this day
His guilty breath shall rend away,
E'en as the thirsty wild swan drains
Each milk-drop that the wave retains.
Whose blood in foaming streams shall burst
O'er the dry ground which lies athirst,
When by my shafts transfixed and slain
He falls upon the battle plain?
From whose dead corpse shall birds of air
The mangled flesh and sinews tear,
And in their gory feast delight,
When I have slain him in the fight?
Not God or bard or wandering ghost,
No giant of our mighty host
Shall step between us, or avail
To save the wretch when I assail.
Collect each scattered sense, recall
Thy troubled thoughts, and tell me all.
What wretch attacked thee in the way,
And quelled thee in victorious fray?”
His breast with burning fury fired,
Thus Khara of the fiend inquired:
And then with many a tear and sigh
Thus Śúrpaṇakhá made reply:
“'Tis Daśaratha's sons, a pair
Strong, resolute, and young, and fair:
In coats of dark and blackdeer's hide,
And like the radiant lotus eyed:
On berries roots and fruit they feed,
And lives of saintly virtue lead:
459A demon slain by Indra.
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The Ramayana
With ordered senses undefiled,
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ are they styled.
Fair as the Minstrels' King460are they,
And stamped with signs of regal sway.
I know not if the heroes trace
Their line from Gods or Dánav461race.
There by these wondering eyes between
The noble youths a dame was seen,
Fair, blooming, young, with dainty waist,
And all her bright apparel graced.
For her with ready heart and mind
The royal pair their strength combined,
And brought me to this last distress,
Like some lost woman, comfortless.
Perfidious wretch! my soul is fain
Her foaming blood and theirs to drain.
O let me head the vengeful fight,
And with this hand my murderers smite.
Come, brother, hasten to fulfil
This longing of my eager will.
On to the battle! Let me drink
Their lifeblood as to earth they sink.”
Then Khara, by his sister pressed,
Inflamed with fury, gave his hest
To twice seven giants of his crew,
Fierce as the God of death to view:
460Chitraratha, King of the Gandharvas.
461Titanic.
Canto XX. The Giants' Death.
891
'Two men equipped with arms, who wear
Deerskin and bark and matted hair,
Leading a beauteous dame, have strayed
To the wild gloom of Daṇḍak's shade.
These men, this cursed woman slay,
And hasten back without delay,
That this my sister's lips may be
Red with the lifeblood of the three.
Giants, my wounded sister longs
To take this vengeance for her wrongs.
With speed her dearest wish fulfil,
And with your might these creatures kill.
Soon as your matchless strength shall lay
These brothers dead in battle fray,
She in triumphant joy will laugh,
And their hearts' blood delighted quaff.”
The giants heard the words he said,
And forth with Śúrpaṇakhá sped,
As mighty clouds in autumn fly
Urged by the wind along the sky.
Canto XX. The Giants' Death.
Fierce Śúrpaṇakhá with her train
To Ráma's dwelling came again,
And to the eager giants showed
Where Sítá and the youths abode.
Within the leafy cot they spied
The hero by his consort's side,
And faithful Lakshmaṇ ready still
To wait upon his brother's will.
[253]
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The Ramayana
Then noble Ráma raised his eye
And saw the giants standing nigh,
And then, as nearer still they pressed.
His glorious brother thus addressed,
“Be thine a while, my brother dear,
To watch o'er Sítá's safety here,
And I will slay these creatures who
The footsteps of my spouse pursue.”
He spoke, and reverent Lakshmaṇ heard
Submissive to his brother's word.
The son of Raghu, virtuous-souled,
Strung his great bow adorned with gold,
And, with the weapon in his hand,
Addressed him to the giant band:
“Ráma and Lakshmaṇ we, who spring
From Daśaratha, mighty king;
We dwell a while with Sítá here
In Daṇḍak forest wild and drear.
On woodland roots and fruit we feed,
And lives of strictest rule we lead.
Say why would ye our lives oppress
Who sojourn in the wilderness.
Sent hither by the hermits' prayer
With bow and darts unused to spare,
For vengeance am I come to slay
Your sinful band in battle fray.
Rest as ye are: remain content,
Nor try the battle's dire event.
Unless your offered lives ye spurn,
O rovers of the night, return.”
Canto XX. The Giants' Death.
893
They listened while the hero spoke,
And fury in each breast awoke.
The Bráhman-slayers raised on high
Their mighty spears and made reply:
They spoke with eyes aglow with ire,
While Ráma's burnt with vengeful tire,
And answered thus, in fury wild,
That peerless chief whose tones were mild:
“Nay thou hast angered, overbold,
Khara our lord, the mighty-souled,
And for thy sin, in battle strife
Shalt yield to us thy forfeit life.
No power hast thou alone to stand
Against the numbers of our band.
'Twere vain to match thy single might
Against us in the front of fight.
When we equipped for fight advance
With brandished pike and mace and lance,
Thou, vanquished in the desperate field,
Thy bow, thy strength, thy life shalt yield.”
With bitter words and threatening mien
Thus furious spoke the fierce fourteen,
And raising scimitar and spear
On Ráma rushed in wild career.
Their levelled spears the giant crew
Against the matchless hero threw.
His bow the son of Raghu bent,
And twice seven shafts to meet them sent,
And every javelin sundered fell
By the bright darts he aimed so well.
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The Ramayana
The hero saw: his anger grew
To fury: from his side he drew
Fresh sunbright arrows pointed keen,
In number, like his foes, fourteen.
His bow he grasped, the string he drew,
And gazing on the giant crew,
As Indra casts the levin, so
Shot forth his arrows at the foe.
The hurtling arrows, stained with gore,
Through the fiends' breasts a passage tore,
And in the earth lay buried deep
As serpents through an ant-hill creep
Like trees uptorn by stormy blast
The shattered fiends to earth were cast,
And there with mangled bodies they,
Bathed in their blood and breathless, lay.
With fainting heart and furious eye
The demon saw her champions die.
With drying wounds that scarcely bled
Back to her brother's home she fled.
Oppressed with pain, with loud lament
At Khara's feet the monster bent.
There like a plant whence slowly come
The trickling drops of oozy gum,
With her grim features pale with pain
She poured her tears in ceaseless rain,
There routed Śúrpaṇakhá lay,
And told her brother all,
The issue of the bloody fray,
Her giant champions' fall.
Canto XXI. The Rousing Of Khara.
895
Canto XXI. The Rousing Of Khara.
Low in the dust he saw her lie,
And Khara's wrath grew fierce and high.
Aloud he cried to her who came
Disgracefully with baffled aim:
“I sent with thee at thy request
The bravest of my giants, best
Of all who feed upon the slain:
Why art thou weeping here again?
Still to their master's interest true,
My faithful, noble, loyal crew,
Though slaughtered in the bloody fray,
Would yet their monarch's word obey.
Now I, my sister, fain would know
The cause of this thy fear and woe,
Why like a snake thou writhest there,
Calling for aid in wild despair.
Nay, lie not thus in lowly guise:
Cast off thy weakness and arise!”
With soothing words the giant chief
Assuaged the fury of her grief.
Her weeping eyes she slowly dried
And to her brother thus replied:
“I sought thee in my shame and fear
With severed nose and mangled ear:
My gashes like a river bled,
I sought thee and was comforted.
[254]
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The Ramayana
Those twice seven giants, brave and strong,
Thou sentest to avenge the wrong,
To lay the savage Ráma low,
And Lakshmaṇ who misused me so.
But ah, the shafts of Ráma through
The bodies of my champions flew:
Though madly fierce their spears they plied,
Beneath his conquering might they died.
I saw them, famed for strength and speed,
I saw my heroes fall and bleed:
Great trembling seized my every limb
At the great deed achieved by him.
In trouble, horror, doubt, and dread,
Again to thee for help I fled.
While terror haunts my troubled sight,
I seek thee, rover of the night.
And canst thou not thy sister free
From this wide waste of troublous sea
Whose sharks are doubt and terror, where
Each wreathing wave is dark despair?
Low lie on earth thy giant train
By ruthless Ráma's arrows slain,
And all the mighty demons, fed
On blood, who followed me are dead.
Now if within thy breast may be
Pity for them and love for me,
If thou, O rover of the night,
Have valour and with him can fight,
Subdue the giants' cruel foe
Who dwells where Daṇḍak's thickets grow.
But if thine arm in vain assay
This queller of his foes to slay,
Now surely here before thine eyes,
Wronged and ashamed thy sister dies.
Canto XXII. Khara's Wrath.
897
Too well, alas, too well I see
That, strong in war as thou mayst be,
Thou canst not in the battle stand
When Ráma meets thee hand to hand.
Go forth, thou hero but in name,
Assuming might thou canst not claim;
Call friend and kin, no longer stay:
Away from Janasthán, away!
Shame of thy race! the weak alone
Beneath thine arm may sink o'erthrown:
Fly Ráma and his brother: they
Are men too strong for thee to slay.
How canst thou hope, O weak and base,
To make this grove thy dwelling-place?
With Ráma's might unmeet to vie,
O'ermastered thou wilt quickly die.
A hero strong in valorous deed
Is Ráma, Daśaratha's seed:
And scarce of weaker might than he
His brother chief who mangled me.”
Thus wept and wailed in deep distress
The grim misshapen giantess:
Before her brother's feet she lay
O'erwhelmed with grief, and swooned away.
Canto XXII. Khara's Wrath.
Roused by the taunting words she spoke,
The mighty Khara's wrath awoke,
And there, while giants girt him round,
In these fierce words an utterance found:
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“I cannot, peerless one, contain
Mine anger at this high disdain,
Galling as salt when sprinkled o'er
The rawness of a bleeding sore.
Ráma in little count I hold,
Weak man whose days are quickly told.
The caitiff with his life to-day
For all his evil deeds shall pay.
Dry, sister, dry each needless tear,
Stint thy lament and banish fear,
For Ráma and his brother go
This day to Yáma's realm below.
My warrior's axe shall stretch him slain,
Ere set of sun, upon the plain,
Then shall thy sated lips be red
With his warm blood in torrents shed.”
As Khara's speech the demon heard,
With sudden joy her heart was stirred:
She fondly praised him as the boast
And glory of the giant host.
First moved to ire by taunts and stings,
Now soothed by gentle flatterings,
To Dúshaṇ, who his armies led,
The demon Khara spoke, and said:
“Friend, from the host of giants call
Full fourteen thousand, best of all,
Slaves of my will, of fearful might,
Who never turn their backs in fight:
Fiends who rejoice to slay and mar,
Dark as the clouds of autumn are:
Make ready quickly, O my friend,
My chariot and the bows I bend.
Canto XXII. Khara's Wrath.
899
My swords, my shafts of brilliant sheen,
My divers lances long and keen.
On to the battle will I lead
These heroes of Pulastya's seed,
And thus, O famed for warlike skill,
Ráma my wicked foeman kill.”
He spoke, and ere his speech was done,
His chariot glittering like the sun,
Yoked and announced, by Dúshan's care,
With dappled steeds was ready there.
High as a peak from Meru rent
It burned with golden ornament:
The pole of lazulite, of gold
Were the bright wheels whereon it rolled.
With gold and moonstone blazoned o'er,
Fish, flowers, trees, rocks, the panels bore;
Auspicious birds embossed thereon,
And stars in costly emblem shone.
O'er flashing swords his banner hung,
And sweet bells, ever tinkling, swung.
[255]
That mighty host with sword and shield
And oar was ready for the field:
And Khara saw, and Dúshan cried,
“Forth to the fight, ye giants, ride.”
Then banners waved, and shield and sword
Flashed as the host obeyed its lord.
From Janasthán they sallied out
With eager speed, and din, and shout,
Armed with the mace for close attacks,
The bill, the spear, the battle-axe,
Steel quoit and club that flashed afar,
Huge bow and sword and scimitar,
The dart to pierce, the bolt to strike,
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The Ramayana
The murderous bludgeon, lance, and pike.
So forth from Janasthán, intent
On Khara's will, the monsters went.
He saw their awful march: not far
Behind the host he drove his car.
Ware of his master's will, to speed
The driver urged each gold-decked steed.
Then forth the warrior's coursers sprang,
And with tumultuous murmur rang
Each distant quarter of the sky
And realms that intermediate lie.
High and more high within his breast
His pride triumphant rose,
While terrible as Death he pressed
Onward to slay his foes,
“More swiftly yet,” as on they fled,
He cried in thundering tones
Loud as a cloud that overhead
Hails down a flood of stones.
Canto XXIII. The Omens.
As forth upon its errand went
That huge ferocious armament,
An awful cloud, in dust and gloom,
With threatening thunders from its womb
Poured in sad augury a flood
Of rushing water mixt with blood.
The monarch's steeds, though strong and fleet,
Stumbled and fell: and yet their feet
Passed o'er the bed of flowers that lay
Canto XXIII. The Omens.
901
Fresh gathered on the royal way.
No gleam of sunlight struggled through
The sombre pall of midnight hue,
Edged with a line of bloody red,
Like whirling torches overhead.
A vulture, fierce, of mighty size.
Terrific with his cruel eyes,
Perched on the staff enriched with gold,
Whence hung the flag in many a fold.
Each ravening bird, each beast of prey
Where Janasthán's wild thickets lay,
Rose with a long discordant cry
And gathered as the host went by.
And from the south long, wild, and shrill,
Came spirit voices boding ill.
Like elephants in frantic mood,
Vast clouds terrific, sable-hued,
Hid all the sky where'er they bore
Their load of water mixt with gore.
Above, below, around were spread
Thick shades of darkness strange and dread,
Nor could the wildered glance descry
A point or quarter of the sky.
Then came o'er heaven a sanguine hue,
Though evening's flush not yet was due,
While each ill-omened bird that flies
Assailed the king with harshest cries.
There screamed the vulture and the crane,
And the loud jackal shrieked again.
Each hideous thing that bodes aright
Disaster in the coming fight,
With gaping mouth that hissed and flamed,
The ruin of the host proclaimed.
Eclipse untimely reft away
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The Ramayana
The brightness of the Lord of Day,
And near his side was seen to glow
A mace-like comet boding woe.
Then while the sun was lost to view
A mighty wind arose and blew,
And stars like fireflies shed their light,
Nor waited for the distant night.
The lilies drooped, the brooks were dried,
The fish and birds that swam them died,
And every tree that was so fair
With flower and fruit was stripped and bare.
The wild wind ceased, yet, raised on high,
Dark clouds of dust involved the sky.
In doleful twitter long sustained
The restless Sárikás462complained,
And from the heavens with flash and flame
Terrific meteors roaring came.
Earth to her deep foundation shook
With rock and tree and plain and brook,
As Khara with triumphant shout,
Borne in his chariot, sallied out.
His left arm throbbed: he knew full well
That omen, and his visage fell.
Each awful sign the giant viewed,
And sudden tears his eye bedewed.
Care on his brow sat chill and black,
Yet mad with wrath he turned not back.
Upon each fearful sight that raised
The shuddering hair the chieftain gazed,
And laughing in his senseless pride
Thus to his giant legions cried:
“By sense of mightiest strength upborne,
462The Sáriká is the Maina, a bird like a starling.
Canto XXIII. The Omens.
903
These feeble signs I laugh to scorn.
I could bring down the stars that shine
In heaven with these keen shafts of mine.
Impelled by warlike fury I
Could cause e'en Death himself to die.
[256]
I will not seek my home again
Until my pointed shafts have slain
This Raghu's son so fierce in pride,
And Lakshmaṇ by his brother's side.
And she, my sister, she for whom
These sons of Raghu meet their doom,
She with delighted lips shall drain
The lifeblood of her foemen slain.
Fear not for me: I ne'er have known
Defeat, in battle overthrown.
Fear not for me, O giants; true
Are the proud words I speak to you.
The king of Gods who rules on high,
If wild Airávat bore him nigh,
Should fall before me bolt in hand:
And shall these two my wrath withstand!”
He ended and the giant host
Who heard their chief's triumphant boast,
Rejoiced with equal pride elate,
Entangled in the noose of Fate.
Then met on high in bright array,
With eyes that longed to see the fray,
God and Gandharva, sage and saint,
With beings pure from earthly taint.
Blest for good works aforetime wrought,
Thus each to other spake his thought:
“Now joy to Bráhmans, joy to kine,
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The Ramayana
And all whom world count half divine!
May Raghu's offspring slay in fight
Pulastya's sons who roam by night!”
In words like these and more, the best
Of high-souled saints their hopes expressed,
Bending their eager eyes from where
Car-borne with Gods they rode in air.
Beneath them stretching far, they viewed
The giants' death-doomed multitude.
They saw where, urged with fury, far
Before the host rolled Khara's car,
And close beside their leader came
Twelve giant peers of might and fame.
Four other chiefs463before the rest
Behind their leader Dúshaṇ pressed.
Impetuous, cruel, dark, and dread,
All thirsting for the fray,
The hosts of giant warriors sped
Onward upon their way.
With eager speed they reached the spot
Where dwelt the princely two,—
Like planets in a league to blot
The sun and moon from view.
Canto XXIV. The Host In Sight.
463Mahákapála, Sthúláksha, Pramátha, Triśiras.
Canto XXIV. The Host In Sight.
905
While Khara, urged by valiant rage,
Drew near that little hermitage,
Those wondrous signs in earth and sky
Smote on each prince's watchful eye.
When Ráma saw those signs of woe
Fraught with destruction to the foe,
With bold impatience scarce repressed
His brother chief he thus addressed:
“These fearful signs, my brother bold,
Which threaten all our foes, behold:
All laden, as they strike the view,
With ruin to the fiendish crew.
The angry clouds are gathering fast,
Their skirts with dusty gloom o'ercast,
And harsh with loud-voiced thunder, rain
Thick drops of blood upon the plain.
See, burning for the coming fight,
My shafts with wreaths of smoke are white,
And my great bow embossed with gold
Throbs eager for the master's hold.
Each bird that through the forest flies
Sends out its melancholy cries.
All signs foretell the dangerous strife,
The jeopardy of limb and life.
Each sight, each sound gives warning clear
That foemen meet and death is near.
But courage, valiant brother! well
The throbbings of mine arm foretell
That ruin waits the hostile powers,
And triumph in the fight is ours.
I hail the welcome omen: thou
Art bright of face and clear of brow.
For Lakshmaṇ, when the eye can trace
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The Ramayana
A cloud upon the warrior's face
Stealing the cheerful light away,
His life is doomed in battle fray.
List, brother, to that awful cry:
With shout and roar the fiends draw nigh.
With thundering beat of many a drum
The savage-hearted giants come.
The wise who value safety know
To meet, prepared, the coming blow:
In paths of prudence trained aright
They watch the stroke before it smite.
Take thou thine arrows and thy bow,
And with the Maithil lady go
For shelter to the mountain cave
Where thickest trees their branches wave.
I will not have thee, Lakshmaṇ, say
One word in answer, but obey.
By all thy honour for these feet
Of mine, dear brother, I entreat.
Thy warlike arm, I know could, smite
To death these rovers of the night;
But I this day would fight alone
Till all the fiends be overthrown.”
[257]
He spake: and Lakshmaṇ answered naught:
His arrows and his bow he brought,
And then with Sítá following hied
For shelter to the mountain side.
As Lakshmaṇ and the lady through
The forest to the cave withdrew,
“'Tis well,” cried Ráma. Then he braced
His coat of mail around his waist.
When, bright as blazing fire, upon
His mighty limbs that armour shone,
The hero stood like some great light
Canto XXIV. The Host In Sight.
907
Uprising in the dark of night.
His dreadful shafts were by his side;
His trusty bow he bent and plied,
Prepared he stood: the bowstring rang,
Filling the welkin with the clang.
The high-souled Gods together drew
The wonder of the fight to view,
The saints made free from spot and stain,
And bright Gandharvas' heavenly train.
Each glorious sage the assembly sought,
Each saint divine of loftiest thought,
And filled with zeal for Ráma's sake.
Thus they whose deeds were holy spake:
“Now be it well with Bráhmans, now
Well with the worlds and every cow!
Let Ráma in the deadly fray
The fiends who walk in darkness slay,
As He who bears the discus464slew
The chieftains of the Asur crew.”
Then each with anxious glances viewed
His fellow and his speech renewed:
“There twice seven thousand giants stand
With impious heart and cruel hand:
Here Ráma stands, by virtue known:
How can the hero fight alone?”
464Vishṇu, who bears a chakra or discus.
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The Ramayana
Thus royal sage and Bráhman saint,
Spirit, and Virtue free from taint,
And all the Gods of heaven who rode
On golden cars, their longing showed.
Their hearts with doubt and terror rent,
They saw the giants' armament,
And Ráma clothed in warrior might,
Forth standing in the front of fight.
Lord of the arm no toil might tire,
He stood majestic in his ire,
Matchless in form as Rudra465when
His wrath is fierce on Gods or men.
While Gods and saints in close array
Held converse of the coming fray,
The army of the fiends drew near
With sight and sound that counselled fear.
Long, loud and deep their war-cry pealed,
As on they rushed with flag and shield,
Each, of his proper valour proud,
Urging to fight the demon crowd.
His ponderous bow each warrior tried,
And swelled his bulk with martial pride.
'Mid shout and roar and trampling feet,
And thunder of the drums they beat,
Loud and more loud the tumult went
Throughout the forest's vast extent,
And all the life that moved within
The woodland trembled at the din.
In eager haste all fled to find
Some tranquil spot, nor looked behind.
465Śiva.
Canto XXIV. The Host In Sight.
909
With every arm of war supplied,
On-rushing wildly like the tide
Of some deep sea, the giant host
Approached where Ráma kept his post.
Then he, in battle skilled and tried,
Bent his keen eye on every side,
And viewed the host of Khara face
To face before his dwelling-place.
He drew his arrows forth, and reared
And strained that bow which foemen feared,
And yielded to the vengeful sway
Of fierce desire that host to slay.
Terrific as the ruinous fire
That ends the worlds, he glowed in ire,
And his tremendous form dismayed
The Gods who roam the forest shade.
For in the furious wrath that glowed
Within his soul the hero showed
Like Śiva when his angry might
Stayed Daksha's sacrificial rite.466
Like some great cloud at dawn of day
When first the sun upsprings,
And o'er the gloomy mass each ray
A golden radiance flings:
Thus showed the children of the night,
Whose mail and chariots threw,
With gleam of bows and armlets bright,
Flashes of flamy hue.
466See Additional Notes—DAKSHA'S SACRIFICE{FNS.
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The Ramayana
Canto XXV. The Battle.
When Khara with the hosts he led
Drew near to Ráma's leafy shed,
He saw that queller of the foe
Stand ready with his ordered bow.
He saw, and burning at the view
His clanging bow he raised and drew,
And bade his driver urge apace
His car to meet him face to face.
Obedient to his master's hest
His eager steeds the driver pressed
On to the spot where, none to aid,
The strong-armed chief his weapon swayed.
Soon as the children of the night
Saw Khara rushing to the fight,
[258]
His lords with loud unearthly cry
Followed their chief and gathered nigh.
As in his car the leader rode
With all his lords around, he showed
Like the red planet fiery Mars
Surrounded by the lesser stars.
Then with a horrid yell that rent
The air, the giant chieftain sent
A thousand darts in rapid shower
On Ráma matchless in his power.
The rovers of the night, impelled
By fiery rage which naught withheld,
Upon the unconquered prince, who strained
His fearful bow, their arrows rained.
With sword and club, with mace and pike,
With spear and axe to pierce and strike,
Those furious fiends on every side
The unconquerable hero plied.
Canto XXV. The Battle.
911
The giant legions huge and strong,
Like clouds the tempest drives along,
Rushed upon Ráma with the speed
Of whirling car, and mounted steed,
And hill-like elephant, to slay
The matchless prince in battle fray.
Then upon Ráma thick and fast
The rain of mortal steel they cast,
As labouring clouds their torrents shed
Upon the mountain-monarch's467head.
As near and nearer round him drew
The warriors of the giant crew,
He showed like Śiva girt by all
His spirits when night's shadows fall.
As the great deep receives each rill
And river rushing from the hill,
He bore that flood of darts, and broke
With well-aimed shaft each murderous stroke.
By stress of arrowy storm assailed,
And wounded sore, he never failed,
Like some high mountain which defies
The red bolts flashing from the skies.
With ruddy streams each limb was dyed
From gaping wounds in breast and side,
Showing the hero like the sun
'Mid crimson clouds ere day is done.
Then, at that sight of terror, faint
Grew God, Gandharva, sage, and saint,
Trembling to see the prince oppose
His single might to myriad foes.
But waxing wroth, with force unspent,
He strained his bow to utmost bent,
467Himálaya.
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The Ramayana
And forth his arrows keen and true
In hundreds, yea in thousands flew,—
Shafts none could ward, and none endure:
Death's fatal noose was scarce so sure.
As 'twere in playful ease he shot
His gilded shafts, and rested not.
With swiftest flight and truest aim
Upon the giant hosts they came.
Each smote, each stayed a foeman's breath
As fatal as the coil of Death.
Each arrow through a giant tore
A passage, and besmeared with gore,
Pursued its onward way and through
The air with flamy brilliance flew.
Unnumbered were the arrows sent
From the great bow which Ráma bent,
And every shaft with iron head
The lifeblood of a giant shed.
Their pennoned bows were cleft, nor mail
Nor shield of hide could aught avail.
For Ráma's myriad arrows tore
Through arms, and bracelets which they wore,
And severed mighty warriors' thighs
Like trunks of elephants in size,
And cut resistless passage sheer
Through gold-decked horse and charioteer,
Slew elephant and rider, slew
The horseman and the charger too,
And infantry unnumbered sent
To dwell 'neath Yáma's government.
Then rose on high a fearful yell
Of rovers of the night, who fell
Beneath that iron torrent, sore
Wounded by shafts that rent and tore.
Canto XXV. The Battle.
913
So mangled by the ceaseless storm
Of shafts of every kind and form,
Such joy they found, as forests feel
When scorched by flame, from Ráma's steel.
The mightiest still the fight maintained,
And furious upon Ráma rained
Dart, arrow, spear, with wild attacks
Of mace, and club, and battle-axe.
But the great chief, unconquered yet,
Their weapons with his arrows met,
Which severed many a giant's head,
And all the plain with corpses spread.
With sundered bow and shattered shield
Headless they sank upon the field,
As the tall trees, that felt the blast
Of Garuḍ's wing, to earth were cast.
The giants left unslaughtered there
Where filled with terror and despair,
And to their leader Khara fled
Faint, wounded, and discomfited.
These fiery Dúshaṇ strove to cheer,
And poised his bow to calm their fear;
Then fierce as He who rules the dead,
When wroth, on angered Ráma sped.
By Dúshaṇ cheered, the demons cast
Their dread aside and rallied fast
With Sáls, rocks, palm-trees in their hands
With nooses, maces, pikes, and brands,
Again upon the godlike man
The mighty fiends infuriate ran,
These casting rocks like hail, and these
A whelming shower of leafy trees.
Wild, wondrous fight, the eye to scare,
And raise on end each shuddering hair,
[259]
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The Ramayana
As with the fiends who loved to rove
By night heroic Ráma strove!
The giants in their fury plied
Ráma with darts on every side.
Then, by the gathering demons pressed
From north and south and east and west,
By showers of deadly darts assailed
From every quarter fiercely hailed,
Girt by the foes who swarmed around,
He raised a mighty shout whose sound
Struck terror. On the giant crew
His great Gandharva468arrow flew.
A thousand mortal shafts were rained
From the orbed bow the hero strained,
Till east and west and south and north
Were filled with arrows volleyed forth.
They heard the fearful shout: they saw
His mighty hand the bowstring draw,
Yet could no wounded giant's eye
See the swift storm of arrows fly.
Still firm the warrior stood and cast
His deadly missiles thick and fast.
Dark grew the air with arrowy hail
Which hid the sun as with a veil.
Fiends wounded, falling, fallen, slain,
All in a moment, spread the plain,
And thousands scarce alive were left
Mangled, and gashed, and torn, and cleft.
Dire was the sight, the plain o'erspread
With trophies of the mangled dead.
There lay, by Ráma's missiles rent,
Full many a priceless ornament,
468One of the mysterious weapons given to Ráma.
Canto XXVI. Dúshan's Death.
915
With severed limb and broken gem,
Hauberk and helm and diadem.
There lay the shattered car, the steed,
The elephant of noblest breed,
The splintered spear, the shivered mace,
Chouris and screens to shade the face.
The giants saw with bitterest pain
Their warriors weltering on the plain,
Nor dared again his might oppose
Who scourged the cities of his foes.
Canto XXVI. Dúshan's Death.
When Dúshaṇ saw his giant band
Slaughtered by Ráma's conquering hand,
He called five thousand fiends, and gave
His orders. Bravest of the brave,
Invincible, of furious might,
Ne'er had they turned their backs in flight.
They, as their leader bade them seize
Spears, swords, and clubs, and rocks, and trees,
Poured on the dauntless prince again
A ceaseless shower of deadly rain.
The virtuous Ráma, undismayed,
Their missiles with his arrows stayed,
And weakened, ere it fell, the shock
Of that dire hail of tree and rock,
And like a bull with eyelids closed,
The pelting of the storm opposed.
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The Ramayana
Then blazed his ire: he longed to smite
To earth the rovers of the night.
The wrath that o'er his spirit came
Clothed him with splendour as of flame,
While showers of mortal darts he poured
Fierce on the giants and their lord.
Dúshaṇ, the foeman's dusky dread,
By frenzied rage inspirited,
On Raghu's son his missiles cast
Like Indra's bolts which rend and blast.
But Ráma with a trenchant dart
Cleft Dúshaṇ's ponderous bow apart.
And then the gold-decked steeds who drew
The chariot, with four shafts he slew.
One crescent dart he aimed which shred
Clean from his neck the driver's head;
Three more with deadly skill addressed
Stood quivering in the giant's breast.
Hurled from his car, steeds, driver slain,
The bow he trusted cleft in twain,
He seized his mace, strong, heavy, dread,
High as a mountain's towering head.
With plates of gold adorned and bound,
Embattled Gods it crushed and ground.
Its iron spikes yet bore the stains
Of mangled foemen's blood and brains.
Its heavy mass of jagged steel
Was like a thunderbolt to feel.
It shattered, as on foes it fell,
The city where the senses dwell.469
Fierce Dúshaṇ seized that ponderous mace
Like monstrous form of serpent race,
469A periphrasis for the body.
Canto XXVI. Dúshan's Death.
917
And all his savage soul aglow
With fury, rushed upon the foe.
But Raghu's son took steady aim,
And as the rushing giant came,
Shore with two shafts the arms whereon
The demon's glittering bracelets shone.
His arm at each huge shoulder lopped,
The mighty body reeled and dropped,
And the great mace to earth was thrown
Like Indra's staff when storms have blown.
As some vast elephant who lies
Shorn of his tusks, and bleeding dies,
So, when his arms were rent away,
Low on the ground the giant lay.
The spirits saw the monster die,
And loudly rang their joyful cry,
“Honour to Ráma! nobly done!
Well hast thou fought, Kakutstha's son!”
[260]
But the great three, the host who led,
Enraged to see their chieftain dead,
As though Death's toils were round them cast,
Rushed upon Ráma fierce and fast,
Mahákapála seized, to strike
His foeman down, a ponderous pike:
Sthúláksha charged with spear to fling,
Pramáthi with his axe to swing.
When Ráma saw, with keen darts he
Received the onset of the three,
As calm as though he hailed a guest
In each, who came for shade and rest.
Mahákapála's monstrous head
Fell with the trenchant dart he sped.
His good right hand in battle skilled
Sthúláksha's eyes with arrows filled,
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The Ramayana
And trusting still his ready bow
He laid the fierce Pramáthi low,
Who sank as some tall tree falls down
With bough and branch and leafy crown.
Then with five thousand shafts he slew
The rest of Dúshaṇ's giant crew:
Five thousand demons, torn and rent,
To Yáma's gloomy realm he sent.
When Khara knew the fate of all
The giant band and Dúshaṇ's fall,
He called the mighty chiefs who led
His army, and in fury said:
“Now Dúshaṇ and his armèd train
Lie prostrate on the battle plain.
Lead forth an army mightier still,
Ráma this wretched man, to kill.
Fight ye with darts of every shape,
Nor let him from your wrath escape.”
Thus spoke the fiend, by rage impelled,
And straight his course toward Ráma held.
With Śyenagámí and the rest
Of his twelve chiefs he onward pressed,
And every giant as he went
A storm of well-wrought arrows sent.
Then with his pointed shafts that came
With gold and diamond bright as flame,
Dead to the earth the hero threw
The remnant of the demon crew.
Those shafts with feathers bright as gold,
Like flames which wreaths of smoke enfold,
Smote down the fiends like tall trees rent
By red bolts from the firmament.
Canto XXVI. Dúshan's Death.
919
A hundred shafts he pointed well:
By their keen barbs a hundred fell:
A thousand,—and a thousand more
In battle's front lay drenched in gore.
Of all defence and guard bereft,
With sundered bows and harness cleft.
Their bodies red with bloody stain
Fell the night-rovers on the plain,
Which, covered with the loosened hair
Of bleeding giants prostrate there,
Like some great altar showed, arrayed
For holy rites with grass o'erlaid.
The darksome wood, each glade and dell
Where the wild demons fought and fell
Was like an awful hell whose floor
Is thick with mire and flesh and gore.
Thus twice seven thousand fiends, a band
With impious heart and bloody hand,
By Raghu's son were overthrown,
A man, on foot, and all alone.
Of all who met on that fierce day,
Khara, great chief, survived the fray,
The monster of the triple head,470
And Raghu's son, the foeman's dread.
The other demon warriors, all
Skilful and brave and strong and tall,
In front of battle, side by side,
Struck down by Lakshmaṇ's brother died.
When Khara saw the host he led
Triumphant forth to fight
Stretched on the earth, all smitten dead,
By Ráma's nobler might,
470Triśirás.
920
The Ramayana
Upon his foe he fiercely glared,
And drove against him fast,
Like Indra when his arm is bared
His thundering bolt to cast.
Canto XXVII. The Death Of Trisirás.
But Triśirás,471a chieftain dread,
Marked Khara as he onward sped.
And met his car and cried, to stay
The giant from the purposed fray:
“Mine be the charge: let me attack,
And turn thee from the contest back.
Let me go forth, and thou shalt see
The strong-armed Ráma slain by me.
True are the words I speak, my lord:
I swear it as I touch my sword:
That I this Ráma's blood will spill,
Whom every giant's hand should kill.
This Ráma will I slay, or he
In battle fray shall conquer me.
Restrain thy spirit: check thy car,
And view the combat from afar.
Thou, joying o'er the prostrate foe,
To Janasthán again shalt go,
Or, if I fall in battle's chance,
Against my conqueror advance.”
471The Three-headed.
Canto XXVII. The Death Of Trisirás.
921
Thus Triśirás for death who yearned:
And Khara from the conflict turned,
“Go forth to battle,” Khara cried;
And toward his foe the giant hied.
Borne on a car of glittering hue
Which harnessed coursers fleetly drew,
Like some huge hill with triple peak
He onward rushed the prince to seek.
[261]
Still, like a big cloud, sending out
His arrowy rain with many a shout
Like the deep sullen roars that come
Discordant from a moistened drum.
But Raghu's son, whose watchful eye
Beheld the demon rushing nigh,
From the great bow he raised and bent
A shower of shafts to meet him sent.
Wild grew the fight and wilder yet
As fiend and man in combat met,
As when in some dark wood's retreat
An elephant and a lion meet.
The giant bent his bow, and true
To Ráma's brow three arrows flew.
Then, raging as he felt the stroke,
These words in anger Ráma spoke:
“Heroic chief! is such the power
Of fiends who rove at midnight hour?
Soft as the touch of flowers I feel
The gentle blows thine arrows deal.
Receive in turn my shafts, and know
What arrows fly from Ráma's bow.”
Thus as he spoke his wrath grew hot,
And twice seven deadly shafts he shot,
Which, dire as serpent's deadly fang,
922
The Ramayana
Straight to the giant's bosom sprang.
Four arrows more,—each shaped to deal
A mortal wound with barbèd steel,—
The glorious hero shot, and slew
The four good steeds the car that drew.
Eight other shafts flew straight and fleet,
And hurled the driver from his seat,
And in the dust the banner laid
That proudly o'er the chariot played.
Then as the fiend prepared to bound
Forth from his useless car to ground,
The hero smote him to the heart,
And numbed his arm with deadly smart.
Again the chieftain, peerless-souled,
Sent forth three rapid darts, and rolled
With each keen arrow, deftly sped,
Low in the dust a monstrous head.
Then yielding to each deadly stroke,
Forth spouting streams of blood and smoke,
The headless trunk bedrenched with gore
Fell to the ground and moved no more.
The fiends who yet were left with life,
Routed and crushed in battle strife,
To Khara's side, like trembling deer
Scared by the hunter, fled in fear.
King Khara saw with furious eye
His scattered giants turn and fly;
Then rallying his broken train
At Raghu's son he drove amain,
Like Ráhu472when his deadly might
Comes rushing on the Lord of Night.
472The demon who causes eclipses.
Canto XXVIII. Khara Dismounted.
923
Canto XXVIII. Khara Dismounted.
But when he turned his eye where bled
Both Triśirás and Dúshaṇ dead,
Fear o'er the giant's spirit came
Of Ráma's might which naught could tame.
He saw his savage legions, those
Whose force no creature dared oppose,—
He saw the leader of his train
By Ráma's single prowess slain.
With burning grief he marked the few
Still left him of his giant crew.
As Namuchi473on Indra, so
Rushed the dread demon on his foe.
His mighty bow the monster strained,
And angrily on Ráma rained
His mortal arrows in a flood,
Like serpent fangs athirst for blood.
Skilled in the bowman's warlike art,
He plied the string and poised the dart.
Here, on his car, and there, he rode,
And passages of battle showed,
While all the skyey regions grew
Dark with his arrows as they flew.
Then Ráma seized his ponderous bow,
And straight the heaven was all aglow
With shafts whose stroke no life might bear
That filled with flash and flame the air,
473“This Asura was a friend of Indra, and taking advantage of his friend's
confidence, he drank up Indra's strength along with a draught of wine and
Soma. Indra then told the Aśvins and Sarasvatí that Namuchi had drunk up
his strength. The Aśvins in consequence gave Indra a thunderbolt in the form
of a foam, with which he smote off the head of Namuchi.” GARRETT'S{FNS
Classical Dictionary of India. See also Book I. p. 39.
924
The Ramayana
Thick as the blinding torrents sent
Down from Parjanya's474firmament.
In space itself no space remained,
But all was filled with arrows rained
Incessantly from each great bow
Wielded by Ráma and his foe.
As thus in furious combat, wrought
To mortal hate, the warriors fought,
The sun himself grew faint and pale,
Obscured behind that arrowy veil.
As when beneath the driver's steel
An elephant is forced to kneel,
So from the hard and pointed head
Of many an arrow Ráma bled.
High on his car the giant rose
Prepared in deadly strife to close,
[262]
And all the spirits saw him stand
Like Yáma with his noose in hand.
For Khara deemed in senseless pride
That he, beneath whose hand had died
The giant legions, failed at length
Slow sinking with exhausted strength.
But Ráma, like a lion, when
A trembling deer comes nigh his den,
Feared not the demon mad with hate,—
Of lion might and lion gait.
Then in his lofty car that glowed
With sunlike brilliance Khara rode
At Ráma: madly on he came
Like a poor moth that seeks the flame.
His archer skill the fiend displayed,
And at the place where Ráma laid
474Indra.
Canto XXVIII. Khara Dismounted.
925
His hand, an arrow cleft in two
The mighty bow the hero drew.
Seven arrows by the giant sent,
Bright as the bolts of Indra, rent
Their way through mail and harness joints,
And pierced him with their iron points.
On Ráma, hero unsurpassed,
A thousand shafts smote thick and fast,
While as each missile struck, rang out
The giant's awful battle-shout.
His knotted arrows pierced and tore
The sunbright mail the hero wore,
Till, band and buckle rent away,
Glittering on the ground it lay.
Then pierced in shoulder, breast, and side,
Till every limb with blood was dyed,
The chieftain in majestic ire
Shone glorious as the smokeless fire.
Then loud and long the war-cry rose
Of Ráma, terror of his foes,
As, on the giant's death intent,
A ponderous bow he strung and bent,—
Lord Vishṇu's own, of wondrous size,—
Agastya gave the heavenly prize.
Then rushing on the demon foe,
He raised on high that mighty bow,
And with his well-wrought shafts, whereon
Bright gold between the feathers shone,
He struck the pennon fluttering o'er
The chariot, and it waved no more.
That glorious flag whose every fold
Was rich with blazonry and gold,
Fell as the sun himself by all
The Gods' decree might earthward fall.
926
The Ramayana
From wrathful Khara's hand, whose art
Well knew each vulnerable part,
Four keenly-piercing arrows flew,
And blood in Ráma's bosom drew,
With every limb distained with gore
From deadly shafts which rent and tore,
From Khara's clanging bowstring shots,
The prince's wrath waxed wondrous hot.
His hand upon his bow that best
Of mighty archers firmly pressed,
And from the well-drawn bowstring, true
Each to its mark, six arrows flew.
One quivered in the giant's head,
With two his brawny shoulders bled;
Three, with the crescent heads they bore,
Deep in his breast a passage tore.
Thirteen, to which the stone had lent
The keenest point, were swiftly sent
On the fierce giant, every one
Destructive, gleaming like the sun.
With four the dappled steeds he slew;
One cleft the chariot yoke in two,
One, in the heat of battle sped,
Smote from the neck the driver's head.
The poles were rent apart by three;
Two broke the splintered axle-tree.
Then from the hand of Ráma, while
Across his lips there came a smile,
The twelfth, like thunderbolt impelled,
Cut the great hand and bow it held.
Then, scarce by Indra's self surpassed,
He pierced the giant with the last.
The bow he trusted cleft in twain,
His driver and his horses slain,
Canto XXIX. Khara's Defeat.
927
Down sprang the giant, mace in hand,
On foot against the foe to stand.
The Gods and saints in bright array
Close gathered in the skies,
The prince's might in battle-fray
Beheld with joyful eyes.
Uprising from their golden seats,
Their hands in honour raised,
They looked on Ráma's noble feats,
And blessed him as they praised.
Canto XXIX. Khara's Defeat.
When Ráma saw the giant nigh,
On foot, alone, with mace reared high,
In mild reproof at first he spoke,
Then forth his threatening anger broke:
“Thou with the host 'twas thine to lead,
With elephant and car and steed,
Hast wrought an act of sin and shame,
An act which all who live must blame.
Know that the wretch whose evil mind
Joys in the grief of human kind,
Though the three worlds confess him lord,
Must perish dreaded and abhorred.
Night-rover, when a villain's deeds
Distress the world he little heeds,
Each hand is armed his life to take,
And crush him like a deadly snake.
The end is near when men begin
Through greed or lust a life of sin,
928
The Ramayana
E'en as a Bráhman's dame, unwise,
Eats of the fallen hail475and dies.
[263]
Thy hand has slain the pure and good,
The hermit saints of Daṇḍak wood,
Of holy life, the heirs of bliss;
And thou shalt reap the fruit of this.
Not long shall they whose cruel breasts
Joy in the sin the world detests
Retain their guilty power and pride,
But fade like trees whose roots are dried.
Yes, as the seasons come and go,
Each tree its kindly fruit must show,
And sinners reap in fitting time
The harvest of each earlier crime.
As those must surely die who eat
Unwittingly of poisoned meat,
They too whose lives in sin are spent
Receive ere long the punishment.
And know, thou rover of the night,
That I, a king, am sent to smite
The wicked down, who court the hate
Of men whose laws they violate.
This day my vengeful hand shall send
Shafts bright with gold to tear and rend,
And pass with fury through thy breast
As serpents pierce an emmet's nest.
Thou with thy host this day shalt be
Among the dead below, and see
The saints beneath thy hand who bled,
Whose flesh thy cruel maw has fed.
They, glorious on their seats of gold,
Their slayer shall in hell behold.
475Popularly supposed to cause death.
Canto XXIX. Khara's Defeat.
929
Fight with all strength thou callest thine,
Mean scion of ignoble line,
Still, like the palm-tree's fruit, this day
My shafts thy head in dust shall lay.”
Such were the words that Ráma said:
Then Khara's eyes with wrath glowed red,
Who, maddened by the rage that burned
Within him, with a smile returned:
“Thou Daśaratha's son, hast slain
The meaner giants of my train:
And canst thou idly vaunt thy might
And claim the praise not thine by right?
Not thus in self-laudation rave
The truly great, the nobly brave:
No empty boasts like thine disgrace
The foremost of the human race.
The mean of soul, unknown to fame,
Who taint their warrior race with shame,
Thus speak in senseless pride as thou,
O Raghu's son, hast boasted now.
What hero, when the war-cry rings,
Vaunts the high race from which he springs,
Or seeks, when warriors meet and die,
His own descent to glorify?
Weakness and folly show confessed
In every vaunt thou utterest,
As when the flames fed high with grass
Detect the simulating brass.
Dost thou not see me standing here
Armed with the mighty mace I rear,
Firm as an earth upholding hill
Whose summit veins of metal fill?
930
The Ramayana
Lo, here I stand before thy face
To slay thee with my murderous mace,
As Death, the universal lord,
Stands threatening with his fatal cord.
Enough of this. Much more remains
That should be said: but time constrains.
Ere to his rest the sun descend,
And shades of night the combat end,
The twice seven thousand of my band
Who fell beneath thy bloody hand
Shall have their tears all wiped away
And triumph in thy fall to-day.”
He spoke, and loosing from his hold
His mighty mace ringed round with gold,
Like some red bolt alive with fire
Hurled it at Ráma, mad with ire.
The ponderous mace which Khara threw
Sent fiery flashes as it flew.
Trees, shrubs were scorched beneath the blast,
As onward to its aim it passed.
But Ráma, watching as it sped
Dire as His noose who rules the dead,
Cleft it with arrows as it came
On rushing with a hiss and flame.
Its fury spent and burnt away,
Harmless upon the ground it lay
Like a great snake in furious mood
By herbs of numbing power subdued.
Canto XXX. Khara's Death.
931
Canto XXX. Khara's Death.
When Ráma, pride of Raghu's race,
Virtue's dear son, had cleft the mace,
Thus with superior smile the best
Of chiefs the furious fiend addressed:
“Thou, worst of giant blood, at length
Hast shown the utmost of thy strength,
And forced by greater might to bow,
Thy vaunting threats are idle now.
My shafts have cut thy club in twain:
Useless it lies upon the plain,
And all thy pride and haughty trust
Lie with it levelled in the dust.
The words that thou hast said to-day,
That thou wouldst wipe the tears away
Of all the giants I have slain,
My deeds shall render void and vain.
Thou meanest of the giants' breed,
Evil in thought and word and deed,
My hand shall take that life of thine
As Garuḍ476seized the juice divine.
[264]
Thou, rent by shafts, this day shalt die:
Low on the ground thy corse shall lie,
And bubbles from the cloven neck
With froth and blood thy skin shall deck.
With dust and mire all rudely dyed,
Thy torn arms lying by thy side,
While streams of blood each limb shall steep,
Thou on earth's breast shalt take thy sleep
476Garuḍ, the King of Birds, carried off the Amrit or drink of Paradise from
Indra's custody.
932
The Ramayana
Like a fond lover when he strains
The beauty whom at length he gains.
Now when thy heavy eyelids close
For ever in thy deep repose,
Again shall Daṇḍak forest be
Safe refuge for the devotee.
Thou slain, and all thy race who held
The realm of Janasthán expelled,
Again shall happy hermits rove,
Fearing no danger, through the grove.
Within those bounds, their brethren slain,
No giant shall this day remain,
But all shall fly with many a tear
And fearing, rid the saints of fear.
This bitter day shall misery bring
On all the race that calls thee king.
Fierce as their lord, thy dames shall know,
Bereft of joys, the taste of woe.
Base, cruel wretch, of evil mind,
Plaguer of Bráhmans and mankind,
With trembling hands each devotee
Feeds holy fires in dread of thee.”
Thus with wild fury unrepressed
Raghu's brave son the fiend addressed;
And Khara, as his wrath grew high,
Thus thundered forth his fierce reply:
“By senseless pride to madness wrought,
By danger girt thou fearest naught,
Nor heedest, numbered with the dead,
What thou shouldst say and leave unsaid.
When Fate's tremendous coils enfold
The captive in resistless hold,
Canto XXX. Khara's Death.
933
He knows not right from wrong, each sense
Numbed by that deadly influence.”
He spoke, and when his speech was done
Bent his fierce brows on Raghu's son.
With eager eyes he looked around
If lethal arms might yet be found.
Not far away and full in view
A Sál-tree towering upward grew.
His lips in mighty strain compressed,
He tore it up with root and crest,
With huge arms waved it o'er his head
And hurled it shouting, Thou art dead.
But Ráma, unsurpassed in might,
Stayed with his shafts its onward flight,
And furious longing seized his soul
The giant in the dust to roll.
Great drops of sweat each limb bedewed,
His red eyes showed his wrathful mood.
A thousand arrows, swiftly sent,
The giant's bosom tore and rent.
From every gash his body showed
The blood in foamy torrents flowed,
As springing from their caverns leap
Swift rivers down the mountain steep.
When Khara felt each deadened power
Yielding beneath that murderous shower,
He charged, infuriate with the scent
Of blood, in dire bewilderment.
But Ráma watched, with ready bow,
The onset of his bleeding foe,
And ere the monster reached him, drew
Backward in haste a yard or two.
Then from his side a shaft he took
934
The Ramayana
Whose mortal stroke no life might brook:
Of peerless might, it bore the name
Of Brahmá's staff, and glowed with flame:
Lord Indra, ruler of the skies,
Himself had given the glorious prize.
His bow the virtuous hero drew,
And at the fiend the arrow flew.
Hissing and roaring like the blast
Of tempest through the air it passed,
And fixed, by Ráma's vigour sped,
In the foe's breast its pointed head.
Then fell the fiend: the quenchless flame
Burnt furious in his wounded frame.
So burnt by Rudra Andhak477fell
In Śvetáraṇya's silvery dell:
So Namuchi and Vritra478died
By steaming bolts that tamed their pride:
So Bala479fell by lightning sent
By Him who rules the firmament.
Then all the Gods in close array
With the bright hosts who sing and play,
Filled full of rapture and amaze,
Sang hymns of joy in Ráma's praise,
Beat their celestial drums and shed
Rain of sweet flowers upon his head.
For three short hours had scarcely flown,
And by his pointed shafts o'erthrown
The twice seven thousand fiends, whose will
477A demon, son of Kaśyap and Diti, slain by Rudra or Śiva when he attempted
to carry off the tree of Paradise.
478Namuchi and Vritra were two demons slain by Indra. Vritra personifies
drought, the enemy of Indra, who imprisons the rain in the cloud.
479Another demon slain by Indra.
Canto XXX. Khara's Death.
935
Could change their shapes, in death were still,
With Triśirás and Dúshaṇ slain,
And Khara, leader of the train.
“O wondrous deed,” the bards began,
“The noblest deed of virtuous man!
Heroic strength that stood alone,
And firmness e'en as Vishṇu's own!”
Thus having sung, the shining train
Turned to their heavenly homes again.
[265]
Then the high saints of royal race
And loftiest station sought the place,
And by the great Agastya led,
With reverence to Ráma said:
“For this, Lord Indra, glorious sire,
Majestic as the burning fire,
Who crushes cities in his rage,
Sought Śarabhanga's hermitage.
Thou wast, this great design to aid,
Led by the saints to seek this shade,
And with thy mighty arm to kill
The giants who delight in ill.
Thou Daśaratha's noble son,
The battle for our sake hast won,
And saints in Daṇḍak's wild who live
Their days to holy tasks can give.”
936
The Ramayana
Forth from the mountain cavern came
The hero Lakshmaṇ with the dame.
And rapture beaming from his face,
Resought the hermit dwelling-place.
Then when the mighty saints had paid
Due honour for the victor's aid,
The glorious Ráma honoured too
By Lakshmaṇ to his cot withdrew.
When Sítá looked upon her lord,
His foemen slain, the saints restored,
In pride and rapture uncontrolled
She clasped him in her loving hold.
On the dead fiends her glances fell:
She saw her lord alive and well,
Victorious after toil and pain,
And Janak's child was blest again.
Once more, once more with new delight
Her tender arms she threw
Round Ráma whose victorious might
Had crushed the demon crew.
Then as his grateful reverence paid
Each saint of lofty soul,
O'er her sweet face, all fears allayed,
The flush of transport stole.
Canto XXXI. Rávan.
But of the host of giants one,
Akampan, from the field had run
And sped to Lanká480to relate
480The capital of the giant king Rávaṇ.
Canto XXXI. Rávan.
937
In Rávaṇ's ear the demons' fate:
“King, many a giant from the shade
Of Janasthán in death is laid:
Khara the chief is slain, and I
Could scarcely from the battle fly.”
Fierce anger, as the monarch heard,
Inflamed his look, his bosom stirred,
And while with scorching glance he eyed
The messenger, he thus replied:
“What fool has dared, already dead,
Strike Janasthán, the general dread?
Who is the wretch shall vainly try
In earth, heaven, hell, from me to fly?
Vaiśravaṇ,481Indra, Vishṇu, He
Who rules the dead, must reverence me;
For not the mightiest lord of these
Can brave my will and live at ease.
Fate finds in me a mightier fate
To burn the fires that devastate.
With unresisted influence I
Can force e'en Death himself to die,
With all-surpassing might restrain
The fury of the hurricane,
And burn in my tremendous ire
The glory of the sun and fire.”
481Kuvera, the God of gold.
938
The Ramayana
As thus the fiend's hot fury blazed,
His trembling hands Akampan raised,
And with a voice which fear made weak,
Permission craved his tale to speak.
King Rávaṇ gave the leave he sought,
And bade him tell the news he brought.
His courage rose, his voice grew bold,
And thus his mournful tale he told:
“A prince with mighty shoulders, sprung
From Daśaratha, brave and young,
With arms well moulded, bears the name
Of Ráma with a lion's frame.
Renowned, successful, dark of limb,
Earth has no warrior equals him.
He fought in Janasthán and slew
Dúshaṇ the fierce and Khara too.”
Rávaṇ the giants' royal chief.
Received Akampan's tale of grief.
Then, panting like an angry snake,
These words in turn the monarch spake:
“Say quick, did Ráma seek the shade
Of Janasthán with Indra's aid,
And all the dwellers in the skies
To back his hardy enterprise?”
Akampan heard, and straight obeyed
His master, and his answer made.
Then thus the power and might he told
Of Raghu's son the lofty-souled:
Canto XXXI. Rávan.
939
“Best is that chief of all who know
With deftest art to draw the bow.
His are strange arms of heavenly might,
And none can match him in the fight.
His brother Lakshmaṇ brave as he,
Fair as the rounded moon to see,
With eyes like night and voice that comes
Deep as the roll of beaten drums,
By Ráma's side stands ever near,
Like wind that aids the flame's career.
That glorious chief, that prince of kings,
On Janasthán this ruin brings.
No Gods were there,—dismiss the thought
No heavenly legions came and fought.
His swift-winged arrows Ráma sent,
Each bright with gold and ornament.
To serpents many-faced they turned:
[266]
The giant hosts they ate and burned.
Where'er these fled in wild dismay
Ráma was there to strike and slay.
By him O King of high estate,
Is Janasthán left desolate.”
Akampan ceased: in angry pride
The giant monarch thus replied:
“To Janasthán myself will go
And lay these daring brothers low.”
Thus spoke the king in furious mood:
Akampan then his speech renewed:
“O listen while I tell at length
The terror of the hero's strength.
No power can check, no might can tame
Ráma, a chief of noblest fame.
940
The Ramayana
He with resistless shafts can stay
The torrent foaming on its way.
Sky, stars, and constellations, all
To his fierce might would yield and fall.
His power could earth itself uphold
Down sinking as it sank of old.482
Or all its plains and cities drown,
Breaking the wild sea's barrier down;
Crush the great deep's impetuous will,
Or bid the furious wind be still.
He glorious in his high estate
The triple world could devastate,
And there, supreme of men, could place
His creatures of a new-born race.
Never can mighty Ráma be
O'ercome in fight, my King, by thee.
Thy giant host the day might win
From him, if heaven were gained by sin.
If Gods were joined with demons, they
Could ne'er, I ween, that hero slay,
But guile may kill the wondrous man;
Attend while I disclose the plan.
His wife, above all women graced,
Is Sítá of the dainty waist,
With limbs to fair proportion true,
And a soft skin of lustrous hue,
Round neck and arm rich gems are twined:
She is the gem of womankind.
With her no bright Gandharví vies,
No nymph or Goddess in the skies;
And none to rival her would dare
'Mid dames who part the long black hair.
482In the great deluge.
Canto XXXI. Rávan.
941
That hero in the wood beguile,
And steal his lovely spouse the while.
Reft of his darling wife, be sure,
Brief days the mourner will endure.”
With flattering hope of triumph moved
The giant king that plan approved,
Pondered the counsel in his breast,
And then Akampan thus addressed:
“Forth in my car I go at morn,
None but the driver with me borne,
And this fair Sítá will I bring
Back to my city triumphing.”
Forth in his car by asses drawn
The giant monarch sped at dawn,
Bright as the sun, the chariot cast
Light through the sky as on it passed.
Then high in air that best of cars
Traversed the path of lunar stars,
Sending a fitful radiance pale
As moonbeams shot through cloudy veil.
Far on his airy way he flew:
Near Táḍakeya's483grove he drew.
Márícha welcomed him, and placed
Before him food which giants taste,
With honour led him to a seat,
And brought him water for his feet;
And then with timely words addressed
Such question to his royal guest:
483The giant Márícha, son of Táḍaká. Táḍaká was slain by Ráma. See p. 39.
942
The Ramayana
“Speak, is it well with thee whose sway
The giant multitudes obey?
I know not all, and ask in fear
The cause, O King, why thou art here.”
Ráva, the giants' mighty king,
Heard wise Márícha's questioning,
And told with ready answer, taught
In eloquence, the cause he sought:
“My guards, the bravest of my band,
Are slain by Ráma's vigorous hand,
And Janasthán, that feared no hate
Of foes, is rendered desolate.
Come, aid me in the plan I lay
To steal the conqueror's wife away.”
Márícha heard the king's request,
And thus the giant chief addressed:
“What foe in friendly guise is he
Who spoke of Sítá's name to thee?
Who is the wretch whose thought would bring
Destruction on the giants' king?
Whose is the evil counsel, say,
That bids thee bear his wife away,
And careless of thy life provoke
Earth's loftiest with threatening stroke?
A foe is he who dared suggest
This hopeless folly to thy breast,
Whose ill advice would bid thee draw
The venomed fang from serpent's jaw.
By whose unwise suggestion led
Wilt thou the path of ruin tread?
Whence falls the blow that would destroy
Thy gentle sleep of ease and joy?
Canto XXXI. Rávan.
943
Like some wild elephant is he
That rears his trunk on high,
Lord of an ancient pedigree,
Huge tusks, and furious eye.
Rávaṇ, no rover of the night
With bravest heart can brook,
Met in the front of deadly fight,
On Raghu's son to look.
[267]
The giant hosts were brave and strong,
Good at the bow and spear:
But Ráma slew the routed throng,
A lion 'mid the deer.
No lion's tooth can match his sword,
Or arrows fiercely shot:
He sleeps, he sleeps—the lion lord;
Be wise and rouse him not.
O Monarch of the giants, well
Upon my counsel think,
Lest thou for ever in the hell
Of Ráma's vengeance sink:
A hell, where deadly shafts are sent
From his tremendous-bow,
While his great arms all flight prevent,
Like deepest mire below:
Where the wild floods of battle rave
Above the foeman's head,
And each with many a feathery wave
Of shafts is garlanded.
O, quench the flames that in thy breast
With raging fury burn;
And pacified and self-possessed
To Lanká's town return.
Rest thou in her imperial bowers
With thine own wives content,
944
The Ramayana
And in the wood let Ráma's hours
With Sítá still be spent.”
The lord of Lanká's isle obeyed
The counsel, and his purpose stayed.
Borne on his car he parted thence
And gained his royal residence.
Canto XXXII. Rávan Roused.
But Śúrpaṇakhá saw the plain
Spread with the fourteen thousand slain,
Doers of cruel deeds o'erthrown
By Ráma's mighty arm alone,
Add Triśirás and Dúshaṇ dead,
And Khara, with the hosts they led.
Their death she saw, and mad with pain,
Roared like a cloud that brings the rain,
And fled in anger and dismay
To Lanká, seat of Rávaṇ's sway.
There on a throne of royal state
Exalted sat the potentate,
Begirt with counsellor and peer,
Like Indra with the Storm Gods near.
Bright as the sun's full splendour shone
The glorious throne he sat upon,
As when the blazing fire is red
Upon a golden altar fed.
Wide gaped his mouth at every breath,
Tremendous as the jaws of Death.
With him high saints of lofty thought,
Canto XXXII. Rávan Roused.
945
Gandharvas, Gods, had vainly fought.
The wounds were on his body yet
From wars where Gods and demons met.
And scars still marked his ample chest
By fierce Airávat's484tusk impressed.
A score of arms, ten necks, had he,
His royal gear was brave to see.
His massive form displayed each sign
That marks the heir of kingly line.
In stature like a mountain height,
His arms were strong, his teeth were white,
And all his frame of massive mould
Seemed lazulite adorned with gold.
A hundred seams impressed each limp
Where Vishṇu's arm had wounded him,
And chest and shoulder bore the print
Of sword and spear and arrow dint,
Where every God had struck a blow
In battle with the giant foe.
His might to wildest rage could wake
The sea whose faith naught else can shake,
Hurl towering mountains to the earth,
And crush e'en foes of heavenly birth.
The bonds of law and right he spurned:
To others' wives his fancy turned.
Celestial arms he used in fight,
And loved to mar each holy rite.
He went to Bhogavatí's town,485
Where Vásuki was beaten down,
And stole, victorious in the strife,
Lord Takshaka's beloved wife.
484Indra's elephant.
485Bhogavatí, in Pátála in the regions under the earth, is the capital of the
serpent race whose king is Vásuki.
946
The Ramayana
Kailása's lofty crest he sought,
And when in vain Kuvera fought,
Stole Pushpak thence, the car that through
The air, as willed the master, flew.
Impelled by furious anger, he
Spoiled Nandan's486shade and Naliní,
And Chaitraratha's heavenly grove,
The haunts where Gods delight to rove.
Tall as a hill that cleaves the sky,
He raised his mighty arms on high
To check the blessed moon, and stay
The rising of the Lord of Day.
Ten thousand years the giant spent
On dire austerities intent,
And of his heads an offering, laid
Before the Self-existent, made.
No God or fiend his life could take,
Gandharva, goblin, bird, or snake:
Safe from all fears of death, except
From human arm, that life was kept.
Oft when the priests began to raise
Their consecrating hymns of praise,
He spoiled the Soma's sacred juice
Poured forth by them in solemn use.
[268]
The sacrifice his hands o'erthrew,
And cruelly the Bráhmans slew.
His was a heart that naught could melt,
Joying in woes which others felt.
She saw the ruthless monster there,
Dread of the worlds, unused to spare.
In robes of heavenly texture dressed,
Celestial wreaths adorned his breast.
486the grove of Indra.
Canto XXXIII. Súrpanakhá's Speech.
947
He sat a shape of terror, like
Destruction ere the worlds it strike.
She saw him in his pride of place,
The joy of old Pulastya's487race,
Begirt by counsellor and peer,
Rávaṇ, the foeman's mortal fear,
And terror in her features shown,
The giantess approached the throne.
Then Śúrpaṇakhá bearing yet
Each deeply printed trace
Where the great-hearted chief had set
A mark upon her face,
Impelled by terror and desire,
Still fierce, no longer bold,
To Rávaṇ of the eyes of fire
Her tale, infuriate, told.
Canto XXXIII. Súrpanakhá's Speech.
Burning with anger, in the ring
Of counsellors who girt their king,
To Rávaṇ, ravener of man,
With bitter words she thus began:
487Pulastya is considered as the ancestor of the Rakshases or giants, as he is
the father of Viśravas, the father of Rávaṇ and his brethren.
948
The Ramayana
“Wilt thou absorbed in pleasure, still
Pursue unchecked thy selfish will:
Nor turn thy heedless eyes to see
The coming fate which threatens thee?
The king who days and hours employs
In base pursuit of vulgar joys
Must in his people's sight be vile
As fire that smokes on funeral pile.
He who when duty calls him spares
No time for thought of royal cares,
Must with his realm and people all
Involved in fatal ruin fall.
As elephants in terror shrink
From the false river's miry brink,
Thus subjects from a monarch flee
Whose face their eyes may seldom see,
Who spends the hours for toil ordained
In evil courses unrestrained.
He who neglects to guard and hold
His kingdom by himself controlled,
Sinks nameless like a hill whose head
Is buried in the ocean's bed.
Thy foes are calm and strong and wise,
Fiends, Gods, and warriors of the skies,—
How, heedless, wicked, weak, and vain,
Wilt thou thy kingly state maintain?
Thou, lord of giants, void of sense,
Slave of each changing influence,
Heedless of all that makes a king,
Destruction on thy head wilt bring.
O conquering chief, the prince, who boasts,
Of treasury and rule and hosts,
By others led, though lord of all,
Is meaner than the lowest thrall.
Canto XXXIII. Súrpanakhá's Speech.
949
For this are monarchs said to be
Long-sighted, having power to see
Things far away by faithful eyes
Of messengers and loyal spies.
But aid from such thou wilt not seek:
Thy counsellors are blind and weak,
Or thou from these hadst surely known
Thy legions and thy realm o'erthrown.
Know, twice seven thousand, fierce in might,
Are slain by Ráma in the fight,
And they, the giant host who led,
Khara and Dúshaṇ, both are dead.
Know, Ráma with his conquering arm
Has freed the saints from dread of harm,
Has smitten Janasthán and made
Asylum safe in Daṇḍak's shade.
Enslaved and dull, of blinded sight,
Intoxicate with vain delight,
Thou closest still thy heedless eyes
To dangers in thy realm that rise.
A king besotted, mean, unkind,
Of niggard hand and slavish mind.
Will find no faithful followers heed
Their master in his hour of need.
The friend on whom he most relies,
In danger, from a monarch flies,
Imperious in his high estate,
Conceited, proud, and passionate;
Who ne'er to state affairs attends
With wholesome fear when woe impends
Most weak and worthless as the grass,
Soon from his sway the realm will pass.
For rotting wood a use is found,
For clods and dust that strew the ground,
950
The Ramayana
But when a king has lost his sway,
Useless he falls, and sinks for aye.
As raiment by another worn,
As faded garland crushed and torn,
So is, unthroned, the proudest king,
Though mighty once, a useless thing.
But he who every sense subdues
And each event observant views,
Rewards the good and keeps from wrong,
Shall reign secure and flourish long.
Though lulled in sleep his senses lie
He watches with a ruler's eye,
Untouched by favour, ire, and hate,
And him the people celebrate.
O weak of mind, without a trace
[269]
Of virtues that a king should grace,
Who hast not learnt from watchful spy
That low in death the giants lie.
Scorner of others, but enchained
By every base desire,
By thee each duty is disdained
Which time and place require.
Soon wilt thou, if thou canst not learn,
Ere yet it be too late,
The good from evil to discern,
Fall from thy high estate.”
As thus she ceased not to upbraid
The king with cutting speech,
And every fault to view displayed,
Naming and marking each,
The monarch of the sons of night,
Of wealth and power possessed,
And proud of his imperial might,
Long pondered in his breast.
Canto XXXIV. Súrpanakhá's Speech.
951
Canto XXXIV. Súrpanakhá's Speech.
Then forth the giant's fury broke
As Śúrpaṇakhá harshly spoke.
Girt by his lords the demon king
Looked on her, fiercely questioning:
“Who is this Ráma, whence, and where?
His form, his might, his deeds declare.
His wandering steps what purpose led
To Daṇḍak forest, hard to tread?
What arms are his that he could smite
In fray the rovers of the night,
And Triśirás and Dúshaṇ lay
Low on the earth, and Khara slay?
Tell all, my sister, and declare
Who maimed thee thus, of form most fair.”
Thus by the giant king addressed,
While burnt her fury unrepressed,
The giantess declared at length
The hero's form and deeds and strength:
952
The Ramayana
“Long are his arms and large his eyes:
A black deer's skin his dress supplies.
King Daśaratha's son is he,
Fair as Kandarpa's self to see.
Adorned with many a golden band,
A bow, like Indra's, arms his hand,
And shoots a flood of arrows fierce
As venomed snakes to burn and pierce.
I looked, I looked, but never saw
His mighty hand the bowstring draw
That sent the deadly arrows out,
While rang through air his battle-shout.
I looked, I looked, and saw too well
How with that hail the giants fell,
As falls to earth the golden grain,
Struck by the blows of Indra's rain.
He fought, and twice seven thousand, all
Terrific giants, strong and tall,
Fell by the pointed shafts o'erthrown
Which Ráma shot on foot, alone.
Three little hours had scarcely fled,—
Khara and Dúshaṇ both were dead,
And he had freed the saints and made
Asylum sure in Daṇḍak's shade.
Me of his grace the victor spared,
Or I the giants' fate had shared.
The high-souled Ráma would not deign
His hand with woman's blood to stain.
The glorious Lakshmaṇ, justly dear,
In gifts and warrior might his peer,
Serves his great brother with the whole
Devotion of his faithful soul:
Impetuous victor, bold and wise,
First in each hardy enterprise,
Canto XXXIV. Súrpanakhá's Speech.
953
Still ready by his side to stand,
A second self or better hand.
And Ráma has a large-eyed spouse,
Pure as the moon her cheek and brows,
Dearer than life in Ráma's sight,
Whose happiness is her delight.
With beauteous hair and nose the dame
From head to foot has naught to blame.
She shines the wood's bright Goddess, Queen
Of beauty with her noble mien.
First in the ranks of women placed
Is Sítá of the dainty waist.
In all the earth mine eyes have ne'er
Seen female form so sweetly fair.
Goddess nor nymph can vie with her,
Nor bride of heavenly chorister.
He who might call this dame his own,
Her eager arms about him thrown,
Would live more blest in Sítá's love
Than Indra in the world above.
She, peerless in her form and face
And rich in every gentle grace,
Is worthy bride, O King, for thee,
As thou art meet her lord to be.
I even I, will bring the bride
In triumph to her lover's side—
This beauty fairer than the rest,
With rounded limb and heaving breast.
Each wound upon my face I owe
To cruel Lakshmaṇ's savage blow.
But thou, O brother, shalt survey
Her moonlike loveliness to-day,
And Káma's piercing shafts shall smite
Thine amorous bosom at the sight.
954
The Ramayana
If in thy breast the longing rise
To make thine own the beauteous prize,
Up, let thy better foot begin
The journey and the treasure win.
If, giant Lord, thy favouring eyes
Regard the plan which I advise,
Up, cast all fear and doubt away
And execute the words I say
Come, giant King, this treasure seek,
For thou art strong and they are weak.
[270]
Let Sítá of the faultless frame
Be borne away and be thy dame.
Thy host in Janasthán who dwelt
Forth to the battle hied.
And by the shafts which Ráma dealt
They perished in their pride.
Dúshaṇ and Khara breathe no more,
Laid low upon the plain.
Arise, and ere the day be o'er
Take vengeance for the slain.”
Canto XXXV. Rávan's Journey.
When Rávaṇ, by her fury spurred,
That terrible advice had heard,
He bade his nobles quit his side,
And to the work his thought applied.
He turned his anxious mind to scan
On every side the hardy plan:
The gain against the risk he laid,
Each hope and fear with care surveyed,
Canto XXXV. Rávan's Journey.
955
And in his heart at length decreed
To try performance of the deed.
Then steady in his dire intent
The giant to the courtyard went.
There to his charioteer he cried,
“Bring forth the car whereon I ride.”
Aye ready at his master's word
The charioteer the order heard,
And yoked with active zeal the best
Of chariots at his lord's behest.
Asses with heads of goblins drew
That wondrous car where'er it flew.
Obedient to the will it rolled
Adorned with gems and glistering gold.
Then mounting, with a roar as loud
As thunder from a labouring cloud,
The mighty monarch to the tide
Of Ocean, lord of rivers, hied.
White was the shade above him spread,
White chouris waved around his head,
And he with gold and jewels bright
Shone like the glossy lazulite.
Ten necks and twenty arms had he:
His royal gear was good to see.
The heavenly Gods' insatiate foe,
Who made the blood of hermits flow,
He like the Lord of Hills appeared
With ten huge heads to heaven upreared.
In the great car whereon he rode,
Like some dark cloud the giant showed,
When round it in their close array
The cranes 'mid wreaths of lightning play.
He looked, and saw, from realms of air,
The rocky shore of ocean, where
956
The Ramayana
Unnumbered trees delightful grew
With flower and fruit of every hue.
He looked on many a lilied pool
With silvery waters fresh and cool,
And shores like spacious altars meet
For holy hermits' lone retreat.
The graceful palm adorned the scene,
The plantain waved her glossy green.
There grew the sál and betel, there
On bending boughs the flowers were fair.
There hermits dwelt who tamed each sense
By strictest rule of abstinence:
Gandharvas, Kinnars,488thronged the place,
Nágas and birds of heavenly race.
Bright minstrels of the ethereal quire,
And saints exempt from low desire,
With Ájas, sons of Brahmá's line,
Maríchipas of seed divine,
Vaikhánasas and Máshas strayed,
And Bálakhilyas489in the shade.
The lovely nymphs of heaven were there,
Celestial wreaths confined their hair,
And to each form new grace was lent
By wealth of heavenly ornament.
Well skilled was each in play and dance
And gentle arts of dalliance.
The glorious wife of many a God
Those beautiful recesses trod,
There Gods and Dánavs, all who eat
The food of heaven, rejoiced to meet.
The swan and Sáras thronged each bay
488Beings with the body of a man and the head of a horse.
489Ájas, Maríchipas, Vaikhánasas, Máshas, and Bálakhilyas are classes of
supernatural beings who lead the lives of hermits.
Canto XXXV. Rávan's Journey.
957
With curlews, ducks, and divers gay,
Where the sea spray rose soft and white
O'er rocks of glossy lazulite.
As his swift way the fiend pursued
Pale chariots of the Gods he viewed,
Bearing each lord whose rites austere
Had raised him to the heavenly sphere.
Thereon celestial garlands hung,
There music played and songs were sung.
Then bright Gandharvas met his view,
And heavenly nymphs, as on he flew.
He saw the sandal woods below,
And precious trees of odorous flow,
That to the air around them lent
Their riches of delightful scent;
Nor failed his roving eye to mark
Tall aloe trees in grove and park.
He looked on wood with cassias filled,
And plants which balmy sweets distilled,
Where her fair flowers the betel showed
And the bright pods of pepper glowed.
The pearls in many a silvery heap
Lay on the margin of the deep.
And grey rocks rose amid the red
Of coral washed from ocean's bed.
[271]
High soared the mountain peaks that bore
Treasures of gold and silver ore,
And leaping down the rocky walls
Came wild and glorious waterfalls.
Fair towns which grain and treasure held,
And dames who every gem excelled,
He saw outspread beneath him far,
With steed, and elephant, and car.
That ocean shore he viewed that showed
958
The Ramayana
Fair as the blessed Gods' abode
Where cool delightful breezes played
O'er levels in the freshest shade.
He saw a fig-tree like a cloud
With mighty branches earthward bowed.
It stretched a hundred leagues and made
For hermit bands a welcome shade.
Thither the feathered king of yore
An elephant and tortoise bore,
And lighted on a bough to eat
The captives of his taloned feet.
The bough unable to sustain
The crushing weight and sudden strain,
Loaded with sprays and leaves of spring
Gave way beneath the feathered king.
Under the shadow of the tree
Dwelt many a saint and devotee,
Ájas, the sons of Brahmá's line,
Máshas, Maríchipas divine.
Vaikhánasas, and all the race
Of Bálakhilyas, loved the place.
But pitying their sad estate
The feathered monarch raised the weight
Of the huge bough, and bore away
The loosened load and captured prey.
A hundred leagues away he sped,
Then on his monstrous booty fed,
And with the bough he smote the lands
Where dwell the wild Nisháda bands.
High joy was his because his deed
From jeopardy the hermits freed.
That pride for great deliverance wrought
A double share of valour brought.
His soul conceived the high emprise
Canto XXXV. Rávan's Journey.
959
To snatch the Amrit from the skies.
He rent the nets of iron first,
Then through the jewel chamber burst,
And bore the drink of heaven away
That watched in Indra's palace lay.
Such was the hermit-sheltering tree
Which Rávaṇ turned his eye to see.
Still marked where Garuḍ sought to rest,
The fig-tree bore the name of Blest.
When Rávaṇ stayed his chariot o'er
The ocean's heart-enchanting shore,
He saw a hermitage that stood
Sequestered in the holy wood.
He saw the fiend Márícha there
With deerskin garb, and matted hair
Coiled up in hermit guise, who spent
His days by rule most abstinent.
As guest and host are wont to meet,
They met within that lone retreat.
Before the king Márícha placed
Food never known to human taste.
He entertained his guest with meat
And gave him water for his feet,
And then addressed the giant king
With timely words of questioning:
“Lord, is it well with thee, and well
With those in Lanká's town who dwell?
What sudden thought, what urgent need
Has brought thee with impetuous speed?”
960
The Ramayana
The fiend Márícha thus addressed
Rávaṇ the king, his mighty guest,
And he, well skilled in arts that guide
The eloquent, in turn replied:
Canto XXXVI. Rávan's Speech.
“Hear me, Márícha, while I speak,
And tell thee why thy home I seek.
Sick and distressed am I, and see
My surest hope and help in thee.
Of Janasthán I need not tell,
Where Śúrpaṇakhá, Khara, dwell,
And Dúshaṇ with the arm of might,
And Triśirás, the fierce in fight,
Who feeds on human flesh and gore,
And many noble giants more,
Who roam in dark of midnight through
The forest, brave and strong and true.
By my command they live at ease
And slaughter saints and devotees.
Those twice seven thousand giants, all
Obedient to their captain's call,
Joying in war and ruthless deeds
Follow where mighty Khara leads.
Those fearless warrior bands who roam
Through Janasthán their forest home,
In all their terrible array
Met Ráma in the battle fray.
Girt with all weapons forth they sped
With Khara at the army's head.
Canto XXXVI. Rávan's Speech.
961
The front of battle Ráma held:
With furious wrath his bosom swelled.
Without a word his hate to show
He launched the arrows from his bow.
On the fierce hosts the missiles came,
Each burning with destructive flame,
The twice seven thousand fell o'erthrown
By him, a man, on foot, alone.
Khara the army's chief and pride,
And Dúshaṇ, fearless warrior, died,
And Triśirás the fierce was slain,
And Daṇḍak wood was free again.
He, banished by his angry sire,
Roams with his wife in mean attire.
This wretch, his Warrior tribe's disgrace
Has slain the best of giant race.
[272]
Harsh, wicked, fierce and greedy-souled,
A fool, with senses uncontrolled,
No thought of duty stirs his breast:
He joys to see the world distressed.
He sought the wood with fair pretence
Of truthful life and innocence,
But his false hand my sister left
Mangled, of nose and ears bereft.
This Ráma's wife who bears the name
Of Sítá, in her face and frame
Fair as a daughter of the skies,—
Her will I seize and bring the prize
Triumphant from the forest shade:
For this I seek thy willing aid.
If thou, O mighty one, wilt lend
Thy help and stand beside thy friend,
I with my brothers may defy
962
The Ramayana
All Gods embattled in the sky.
Come, aid me now, for thine the power
To succour in the doubtful hour.
Thou art in war and time of fear,
For heart and hand, without a peer.
For thou art skilled in art and wile,
A warrior brave and trained in guile.
With this one hope, this only aim,
O Rover of the Night, I came.
Now let me tell what aid I ask
To back me in my purposed task.
In semblance of a golden deer
Adorned with silver spots appear.
Go, seek his dwelling: in the way
Of Ráma and his consort stray.
Doubt not the lady, when she sees
The wondrous deer amid the trees,
Will bid her lord and Lakshmaṇ take
The creature for its beauty's sake.
Then when the chiefs have parted thence,
And left her lone, without defence,
As Ráhu storms the moonlight, I
Will seize the lovely dame and fly.
Her lord will waste away and weep
For her his valour could not keep.
Then boldly will I strike the blow
And wreak my vengeance on the foe.”
When wise Márícha heard the tale
His heart grew faint, his cheek was pale,
He stared with open orbs, and tried
To moisten lips which terror dried,
And grief, like death, his bosom rent
As on the king his look he bent.
Canto XXXVII. Márícha's Speech.
963
The monarch's will he strove to stay,
Distracted with alarm,
For well he knew the might that lay
In Ráma's matchless arm.
With suppliant hands Márícha stood
And thus began to tell
His counsel for the tyrant's good,
And for his own as well:
Canto XXXVII. Márícha's Speech.
Márícha gave attentive ear
The ruler of the fiends to hear:
Then, trained in all the rules that teach
The eloquent, began his speech:
“'Tis easy task, O King, to find
Smooth speakers who delight the mind.
But they who urge and they who do
Distasteful things and wise, are few.
Thou hast not learnt, by proof untaught,
And borne away by eager thought,
That Ráma, formed for high emprise,
With Varuṇ or with Indra vies.
Still let thy people live in peace,
Nor let their name and lineage cease,
For Ráma with his vengeful hand
Can sweep the giants from the land.
O, let not Janak's daughter bring
Destruction on the giant king.
Let not the lady Sítá wake
A tempest, on thy head to break.
964
The Ramayana
Still let the dame, by care untried,
Be happy by her husband's side,
Lest swift avenging ruin fall
On glorious Lanká, thee, and all.
Men such as thou with wills unchained,
Advised by sin and unrestrained,
Destroy themselves, the king, the state,
And leave the people desolate.
Ráma, in bonds of duty held,
Was never by his sire expelled.
He is no wretch of greedy mind,
Dishonour of his Warrior kind.
Free from all touch of rancorous spite,
All creatures' good is his delight.
He saw his sire of truthful heart
Deceived by Queen Kaikeyí's art,
And said, a true and duteous son,
“What thou hast promised shall be done.”
To gratify the lady's will,
His father's promise to fulfil,
He left his realm and all delight
For Daṇḍak wood, an anchorite.
No cruel wretch, no senseless fool
Is Ráma, unrestrained by rule.
This groundless charge has ne'er been heard,
Nor shouldst thou speak the slanderous word.
Ráma in truth and goodness bold
Is Virtue's self in human mould,
The sovereign of the world confessed
As Indra rules among the Blest.
And dost thou plot from him to rend
The darling whom his arms defend?
Less vain the hope to steal away
The glory of the Lord of Day.
[273]
Canto XXXVII. Márícha's Speech.
965
O Rávaṇ, guard thee from the fire
Of vengeful Ráma's kindled ire,—
Each spark a shaft with deadly aim,
While bow and falchion feed the flame.
Cast not away in hopeless strife
Thy realm, thy bliss, thine own dear life.
O Rávaṇ of his might beware,
A God of Death who will not spare.
That bow he knows so well to draw
Is the destroyer's flaming jaw,
And with his shafts which flash and glow
He slays the armies of the foe.
Thou ne'er canst win—the thought forego—
From the safe guard of shaft and bow
King Janak's child, the dear delight
Of Ráma unapproached in might.
The spouse of Raghu's son, confessed
Lion of men with lion chest,—
Dearer than life, through good and ill
Devoted to her husband's will,
The slender-waisted, still must be
From thy polluting touches free.
Far better grasp with venturous hand
The flame to wildest fury fanned.
What, King of giants, canst thou gain
From this attempt so wild and vain?
If in the fight his eye he bend
Upon thee, Lord, thy days must end,
So life and bliss and royal sway,
Lost beyond hope, will pass away.
Summon each lord of high estate,
And chief, Vibhishaṇ490to debate.
490“The younger brother of the giant Rávaṇ; when he and his brother had
practiced austerities for a long series of years, Brahmá appeared to offer
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The Ramayana
With peers in lore of counsel tried
Consider, reason, and decide
Scan strength and weakness, count the cost,
What may be gained and what be lost.
Examine and compare aright
Thy proper power and Ráma's might,
Then if thy weal be still thy care,
Thou wilt be prudent and forbear.
O giant King, the contest shun,
Thy force is all too weak
The lord of Kosál's mighty son
In deadly fray to seek.
King of the hosts that rove at night,
O hear what I advise:
My prudent counsel do not slight;
Be patient and be wise.”
Canto XXXVIII. Márícha's Speech.
them boons: Vibhishaṇa asked that he might never meditate any unrighteous-
ness.… On the death of Rávaṇ Vibhishaṇa was installed as Rája of Lanká.”
GARRETT'S{FNS Classical Dictionary of India.
Canto XXXVIII. Márícha's Speech.
967
“Once in my strength and vigour's pride
I roamed this earth from side to side,
And towering like a mountain's crest,
A thousand Nágas'491might possessed.
Like some vast sable cloud I showed:
My golden armlets flashed and glowed.
A crown I wore, an axe I swayed,
And all I met were sore afraid.
I roved where Daṇḍak wood is spread;
On flesh of slaughtered saints I fed.
Then Viśvámitra, sage revered,
Holy of heart, my fury feared.
To Daśaratha's court he sped
And went before the king and said:492
“With me, my lord, thy Ráma send
On holy days his aid to lend.
Márícha fills my soul with dread
And keeps me sore disquieted.”
The monarch heard the saint's request
And thus the glorious sage addressed:
“My boy as yet in arms untrained
The age of twelve has scarce attained.
But I myself a host will lead
To guard thee in the hour of need.
My host with fourfold troops complete,
The rover of the night shall meet,
And I, O best of saints, will kill
Thy foeman and thy prayer fulfil.”
The king vouchsafed his willing aid:
The saint again this answer made:
491Serpent-gods.
492See p. 33.
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The Ramayana
“By Ráma's might, and his alone,
Can this great fiend be overthrown.
I know in days of yore the Blest
Thy saving help in fight confessed.
Still of thy famous deeds they tell
In heaven above, in earth, and hell,
A mighty host obeys thy hest:
Here let it still, I pray thee, rest.
Thy glorious son, though yet a boy,
Will in the fight that fiend destroy.
Ráma alone with me shall go:
Be happy, victor of the foe.”
He spoke: the monarch gave assent,
And Ráma to the hermit lent.
So to his woodland home in joy
Went Viśvámitra with the boy.
With ready bow the champion stood
To guard the rites in Daṇḍak wood.
With glorious eyes, most bright to view,
Beardless as yet and dark of hue;
A single robe his only wear,
His temples veiled with waving hair,
[274]
Around his neck a chain of gold,
He grasped the bow he loved to hold;
And the young hero's presence made
A glory in the forest shade.
Thus Ráma with his beauteous mien,
Like the young rising moon was seen,
I, like a cloud which tempest brings,
My arms adorned with golden rings,
Proud of the boon which lent me might,
Approached where dwelt the anchorite.
But Ráma saw me venturing nigh,
Canto XXXVIII. Márícha's Speech.
969
Raising my murderous axe on high;
He saw, and fearless of the foe,
Strung with calm hand his trusty bow.
By pride of conscious strength beguiled,
I scorned him as a feeble child,
And rushed with an impetuous bound
On Viśvámitra's holy ground.
A keen swift shaft he pointed well,
The foeman's rage to check and quell,
And hurled a hundred leagues away
Deep in the ocean waves I lay.
He would not kill, but, nobly brave,
My forfeit life he chose to save.
So there I lay with wandering sense
Dazed by that arrow's violence.
Long in the sea I lay: at length
Slowly returned my sense and strength,
And rising from my watery bed
To Lanká's town again I sped.
Thus was I spared, but all my band
Fell slain by Ráma's conquering hand,—
A boy, untrained in warrior's skill,
Of iron arm and dauntless will.
If thou with Ráma still, in spite
Of warning and of prayer, wilt fight,
I see terrific woes impend,
And dire defeat thy days will end.
Thy giants all will feel the blow
And share the fatal overthrow,
Who love the taste of joy and play,
The banquet and the festal day.
Thine eyes will see destruction take
Thy Lanká, lost for Sítá's sake,
And stately pile and palace fall
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The Ramayana
With terrace, dome, and jewelled wall.
The good will die: the crime of kings
Destruction on the people brings:
The sinless die, as in the lake
The fish must perish with the snake.
The prostrate giants thou wilt see
Slain for this folly wrought by thee,
Their bodies bright with precious scent
And sheen of heavenly ornament;
Or see the remnant of thy train
Seek refuge far, when help is vain
And with their wives, or widowed, fly
To every quarter of the sky;
Thy mournful eyes, where'er they turn,
Will see thy stately city burn,
When royal homes with fire are red,
And arrowy nets around are spread.
A sin that tops all sins in shame
Is outrage to another's dame,
A thousand wives thy palace fill,
And countless beauties wait thy will.
O rest contented with thine own,
Nor let thy race be overthrown.
If thou, O King, hast still delight
In rank and wealth and power and might,
In noble wives, in troops of friends,
In all that royal state attends,
I warn thee, cast not all away,
Nor challenge Ráma to the fray.
If deaf to every friendly prayer,
Thou still wilt seek the strife,
And from the side of Ráma tear
His lovely Maithil wife,
Soon will thy life and empire end
Canto XXXIX. Márícha's Speech.
971
Destroyed by Ráma's bow,
And thou, with kith and kin and friend,
To Yáma's realm must go.”
Canto XXXIX. Márícha's Speech.
“I told thee of that dreadful day
When Ráma smote and spared to slay.
Now hear me, Rávaṇ, while I tell
What in the after time befell.
At length, restored to strength and pride,
I and two mighty fiends beside
Assumed the forms of deer and strayed
Through Daṇḍak wood in lawn and glade,
I reared terrific horns: beneath
Were flaming tongue and pointed teeth.
I roamed where'er my fancy led,
And on the flesh of hermits fed,
In sacred haunt, by hallowed tree,
Where'er the ritual fires might be.
A fearful shape, I wandered through
The wood, and many a hermit slew.
With ruthless rage the saints I killed
Who in the grove their tasks fulfilled.
When smitten to the earth they sank,
Their flesh I ate, their blood I drank,
And with my cruel deeds dismayed
All dwellers in the forest shade,
Spoiling their rites in bitter hate,
With human blood inebriate.
Once in the wood I chanced to see
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The Ramayana
Ráma again, a devotee,
A hermit, fed on scanty fare,
Who made the good of all his care.
His noble wife was by his side,
And Lakshmaṇ in the battle tried.
In senseless pride I scorned the might
Of that illustrious anchorite,
And heedless of a hermit foe,
Recalled my earlier overthrow.
[275]
I charged him in my rage and scorn
To slay him with my pointed horn,
In heedless haste, to fury wrought
As on my former wounds I thought.
Then from the mighty bow he drew
Three foe-destroying arrows flew,
Keen-pointed, leaping from the string,
Swift as the wind or feathered king.
Dire shafts, on flesh of foemen fed,
Like rushing thunderbolts they sped,
With knots well smoothed and barbs well bent,
Shot e'en as one, the arrows went.
But I who Ráma's might had felt,
And knew the blows the hero dealt,
Escaped by rapid flight. The two
Who lingered on the spot, he slew.
I fled from mortal danger, freed
From the dire shaft by timely speed.
Now to deep thought my days I give,
And as a humble hermit live.
In every shrub, in every tree
I view that noblest devotee.
In every knotted trunk I mark
His deerskin and his coat of bark,
And see the bow-armed Ráma stand
Canto XXXIX. Márícha's Speech.
973
Like Yáma with his noose in hand.
I tell thee Rávaṇ, in my fright
A thousand Rámas mock my sight,
This wood with every bush and bough
Seems all one fearful Ráma now.
Throughout the grove there is no spot
So lonely where I see him not.
He haunts me in my dreams by night,
And wakes me with the wild affright.
The letter that begins his name
Sends terror through my startled frame.
The rapid cars whereon we ride,
The rich rare jewels, once my pride,
Have names493that strike upon mine ear
With hated sound that counsels fear.
His mighty strength too well I know,
Nor art thou match for such a foe.
Too strong were Raghus's son in fight
For Namuchi or Bali's might.
Then Ráma to the battle dare,
Or else be patient and forbear;
But, wouldst thou see me live in peace,
Let mention of the hero cease.
The good whose holy lives were spent
In deepest thought, most innocent,
With all their people many a time
Have perished through another's crime.
So in the common ruin, I
Must for another's folly die,
Do all thy strength and courage can,
But ne'er will I approve the plan.
For he, in might supremely great,
493The Sanskrit words for car and jewels begin with ra.
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The Ramayana
The giant world could extirpate,
Since, when impetuous Khara sought
The grove of Janasthán and fought
For Śúrpaṇakhá's sake, he died
By Ráma's hand in battle tried.
How has he wronged thee? Soothly swear,
And Ráma's fault and sin declare.
I warn thee, and my words are wise,
I seek thy people's weal:
But if this rede thou wilt despise,
Nor hear my last appeal,
Thou with thy kin and all thy friends
In fight this day wilt die,
When his great bow the hero bends,
And shafts unerring fly.”
Canto XL. Rávan's Speech.
But Rávaṇ scorned the rede he gave
In timely words to warn and save,
E'en as the wretch who hates to live
Rejects the herb the leeches give.
By fate to sin and ruin spurred,
That sage advice the giant heard,
Then in reproaches hard and stern
Thus to Márícha spoke in turn:
Canto XL. Rávan's Speech.

Book III. Forest (part 2)

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