Book IV. Kishkindhya (part1)

BOOK IV.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
The princes stood by Pampá's side522
Which blooming lilies glorified.
With troubled heart and sense o'erthrown
There Ráma made his piteous moan.
As the fair flood before him lay
The reason of the chief gave way;
And tender thoughts within him woke,
As to Sumitrá's son he spoke:
522Pampá is said by the commentator to be the name both of a lake and a brook
which flows into it. The brook is said to rise in the hill Rishyamúka.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1135
“How lovely Pampá's waters show,
Where streams of lucid crystal flow!
What glorious trees o'erhang the flood
Which blooms of opening lotus stud!
Look on the banks of Pampá where
Thick groves extend divinely fair;
And piles of trees, like hills in size,
Lift their proud summits to the skies.
But thought of Bharat's523pain and toil,
And my dear spouse the giant's spoil,
Afflict my tortured heart and press
My spirit down with heaviness.
Still fair to me though sunk in woe
Bright Pampá and her forest show.
Where cool fresh waters charm the sight,
And flowers of every hue are bright.
The lotuses in close array
Their passing loveliness display,
And pard and tiger, deer and snake
Haunt every glade and dell and brake.
Those grassy spots display the hue
Of topazes and sapphires' blue,
And, gay with flowers of every dye,
With richly broidered housings vie.
What loads of bloom the high trees crown,
Or weigh the bending branches down!
And creepers tipped with bud and flower
Each spray and loaded limb o'erpower.
Now cool delicious breezes blow,
And kindle love's voluptuous glow,
When balmy sweetness fills the air,
And fruit and flowers and trees are fair.
523Who was acting as Regent for Ráma and leading an ascetic life while he
mourned for his absent brother.
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The Ramayana
Those waving woods, that shine with bloom,
Each varied tint in turn assume.
Like labouring clouds they pour their showers
In rain or ever-changing flowers.
Behold, those forest trees, that stand
High upon rock and table-land,
As the cool gales their branches bend,
Their floating blossoms downward send.
See, Lakshmaṇ, how the breezes play
With every floweret on the spray.
And sport in merry guise with all
The fallen blooms and those that fall.
See, brother, where the merry breeze
Shakes the gay boughs of flowery trees,
Disturbed amid their toil a throng
Of bees pursue him, loud in song.
The Koïls,524mad with sweet delight,
The bending trees to dance invite;
And in its joy the wild wind sings
As from the mountain cave he springs.
On speed the gales in rapid course,
And bend the woods beneath their force,
Till every branch and spray they bind
In many a tangled knot entwined.
What balmy sweets those gales dispense
With cool and sacred influence!
Fatigue and trouble vanish: such
The magic of their gentle touch.
Hark, when the gale the boughs has bent
In woods of honey redolent,
Through all their quivering sprays the trees
Are vocal with the murmuring bees.
524The Indian Cuckoo.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1137
The hills with towering summits rise,
And with their beauty charm the eyes,
Gay with the giant trees which bright
With blossom spring from every height:
And as the soft wind gently sways
The clustering blooms that load the sprays,
The very trees break forth and sing
With startled wild bees' murmuring.
Thine eyes to yonder Cassias525turn
Whose glorious clusters glow and burn.
[320]
Those trees in yellow robes behold,
Like giants decked with burnished gold.
Ah me, Sumitrá's son, the spring
Dear to sweet birds who love and sing,
Wakes in my lonely breast the flame
Of sorrow as I mourn my dame.
Love strikes me through with darts of fire,
And wakes in vain the sweet desire.
Hark, the loud Koïl swells his throat,
And mocks me with his joyful note.
I hear the happy wild-cock call
Beside the shady waterfall.
His cry of joy afflicts my breast
By love's absorbing might possessed.
My darling from our cottage heard
One morn in spring this shrill-toned bird,
And called me in her joy to hear
The happy cry that charmed her ear.
525The Cassia Fistula or Amaltás is a splendid tree like a giant laburnum
covered with a profusion of chains and tassels of gold. Dr. Roxburgh well
describes it as “uncommonly beautiful when in flower, few trees surpassing it
in the elegance of its numerous long pendulous racemes of large bright-yellow
flowers intermixed with the young lively green foliage.” It is remarkable also
for its curious cylindrical black seed-pods about two feet long, which are called
monkeys' walking-sticks.
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The Ramayana
See, birds of every varied voice
Around us in the woods rejoice,
On creeper, shrub, and plant alight,
Or wing from tree to tree their flight.
Each bird his kindly mate has found,
And loud their notes of triumph sound,
Blending in sweetest music like
The distant warblings of the shrike.
See how the river banks are lined
With birds of every hue and kind.
Here in his joy the Koïl sings,
There the glad wild-cock flaps his wings.
The blooms of bright Aśokas526where
The song of wild bees fills the air,
And the soft whisper of the boughs
Increase my longing for my spouse.
The vernal flush of flower and spray
Will burn my very soul away.
What use, what care have I for life
If I no more may see my wife
Soft speaker with the glorious hair,
And eyes with silken lashes fair?
Now is the time when all day long
526“TheJonesiaAsocaisatreeofconsiderablesize, nativeofsouthernIndia. It
blossoms in February and March with large erect compact clusters of flowers,
varying in colour from pale-orange to scarlet, almost to be mistaken, on a hasty
glance, for immense trusses of bloom of an Ixora. Mr. Fortune considered this
tree, when in full bloom, superior in beauty even to the Amherstia.
The first time I saw the Asoc in flower was on the hill where the famous
rock-cut temple of Kárlí is situated, and a large concourse of natives had
assembled for the celebration of some Hindoo festival. Before proceeding to
the temple the Mahratta women gathered from two trees, which were flowering
somewhat below, each a fine truss of blossom, and inserted it in the hair at the
back of her head.… As they moved about in groups it is impossible to imagine
a more delightful effect than the rich scarlet bunches of flowers presented on
their fine glossy jet-black hair.” FIRMINGER{FNS, Gardening for India.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1139
The Koïls fill the woods with song.
And gardens bloom at spring's sweet touch
Which my beloved loved so much.
Ah me, Sumitrá's son, the fire
Of sorrow, sprung from soft desire,
Fanned by the charms the spring time shows,
Will burn my heart and end my woes,
Whose sad eyes look on each fair tree,
But my sweet love no more may see.
Ah me, Ah me, from hour to hour
Love in my soul will wax in power,
And spring, upon whose charms I gaze,
Whose breath the heat of toil allays,
With thoughts of her for whom I strain
My hopeless eyes, increase my pain.
As fire in summer rages through
The forests thick with dry bamboo,
So will my fawn eyed love consume
My soul o'erwhelmed with thoughts of gloom.
Behold, beneath each spreading tree
The peacocks dance527in frantic glee,
And, stirred by all the gales that blow,
Their tails with jewelled windows glow,
Each bird, in happy love elate,
Rejoices with his darling mate.
But sights like these of joy and peace
My pangs of hopeless love increase.
See on the mountain slope above
The peahen languishing with love.
Behold her now in amorous dance
Close to her consort's side advance.
527No other word can express the movements of peafowl under the influence
of pleasing excitement, especially when after the long drought they hear the
welcome roar of the thunder and feel that the rain is near.
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The Ramayana
He with a laugh of joy and pride
Displays his glittering pinions wide;
And follows through the tangled dell
The partner whom he loves so well.
Ah happy bird! no giant's hate
Has robbed him of his tender mate;
And still beside his loved one he
Dances beneath the shade in glee.
Ah, in this month when flowers are fair
My widowed woe is hard to bear.
See, gentle love a home may find
In creatures of inferior kind.
See how the peahen turns to meet
Her consort now with love-drawn feet.
[321]
So, Lakshmaṇ, if my large-eyed dear,
The child of Janak still were here,
She, by love's thrilling influence led,
Upon my breast would lay her head.
These blooms I gathered from the bough
Without my love are useless now.
A thousand blossoms fair to see
With passing glory clothe each tree
That hangs its cluster-burthened head
Now that the dewy months528are fled,
But, followed by the bees that ply
Their fragrant task, they fall and die.
A thousand birds in wild delight
Their rapture-breathing notes unite;
Bird calls to bird in joyous strain,
And turns my love to frenzied pain.
O, if beneath those alien skies,
There be a spring where Sítá lies,
528The Dewy Season is one of the six ancient seasons of the Indian year,
lasting from the middle of January to the middle of March.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1141
I know my prisoned love must be
Touched with like grief, and mourn with me.
But ah, methinks that dreary clime
Knows not the touch of spring's sweet time.
How could my black eyed love sustain,
Without her lord, so dire a pain?
Or if the sweet spring come to her
In distant lands a prisoner,
How may his advent and her met
On every side with taunt and threat?
Ah, if the springtide's languor came
With soft enchantment o'er my dame,
My darling of the lotus eye,
My gently speaking love, would die;
For well my spirit knows that she
Can never live bereft of me
With love that never wavered yet
My Sítá's heart, on me is set,
Who, with a soul that ne'er can stray,
With equal love her love repay.
In vain, in vain the soft wind brings
Sweet blossoms on his balmy wings;
Delicious from his native snow,
To me like fire he seems to glow.
O, how I loved a breeze like this
When darling Sítá shared the bliss!
But now in vain for me it blows
To fan the fury of my woes.
That dark-winged bird that sought the skies
Foretelling grief with warning cries,
Sits on the tree where buds are gay,
And pours glad music from the spray.
That rover of the fields of air
Will aid my love with friendly care,
1142
The Ramayana
And me with gracious pity guide
To my large-eyed Videhan's side.529
Hark, Lakshmaṇ, how the woods around
With love-inspiring chants resound,
Where birds in every bloom-crowned tree
Pour forth their amorous minstrelsy.
As though an eager gallant wooed
A gentle maid by love subdued,
Enamoured of her flowers the bee
Darts at the wind-rocked Tila tree.530
Aśoka, brightest tree that grows,
That lends a pang to lovers' woes,
Hangs out his gorgeous bloom in scorn
And mocks me as I weep forlorn.
O Lakshmaṇ, turn thine eye and see
Each blossom-laden Mango tree,
Like a young lover gaily dressed
Whom fond desire forbids to rest.
Look, son of Queen Sumitrá through
The forest glades of varied hue,
Where blooms are bright and grass is green
The Kinnars531with their loves are seen.
See, brother, see where sweet and bright
Those crimson lilies charm the sight,
And o'er the flood a radiance throw
Fair as the morning's roseate glow.
See, Pampá, most divinely sweet,
529Ráma appears to mean that on a former occasion a crow flying high over-
head was an omen that indicated his approaching separation from Sítá; and that
now the same bird's perching on a tree near him may be regarded as a happy
augury that she will soon be restored to her husband.
530A tree with beautiful and fragrant blossoms.
531A race of semi-divine musicians attached to the service of Kuvera, repre-
sented as centaurs reversed with human figures and horses' heads.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1143
The swan's and mallard's loved retreat,
Shows her glad waters bright and clear,
Where lotuses their heads uprear
From the pure wave, and charm the view
With mingled tints of red and blue.
Each like the morning's early beams
Reflected in the crystal gleams;
And bees on their sweet toil intent
Weigh down each tender filament.
There with gay lawns the wood recedes;
There wildfowl sport amid the reeds,
There roedeer stand upon the brink,
And elephants descend to drink.
The rippling waves which winds make fleet
Against the bending lilies beat,
And opening bud and flower and stem
Gleam with the drops that hang on them.
Life has no pleasure left for me
While my dear queen I may not see,
[322]
Who loved so well those blooms that vie
With the full splendour of her eye.
O tyrant Love, who will not let
My bosom for one hour forget
The lost one whom I yearn to meet,
Whose words were ever kind and sweet.
Ah, haply might my heart endure
This hopeless love that knows not cure,
If spring with all his trees in flower
Assailed me not with ruthless power.
Each lovely scene, each sound and sight
Wherein, with her, I found delight,
Has lost the charm so sweet of yore,
And glads my widowed heart no more.
On lotus buds I seem to gaze,
1144
The Ramayana
Or blooms that deck Paláśa532sprays;533
But to my tortured memory rise
The glories of my darling's eyes.
Cool breezes through the forest stray
Gathering odours on their way,
Enriched with all the rifled scent
Of lotus flower and filament.
Their touch upon my temples falls
And Sítá's fragrant breath recalls.
Now look, dear brother, on the right
Of Pampá towers a mountain height
Where fairest Cassia trees unfold
The treasures of their burnished gold.
Proud mountain king! his woody side
With myriad ores is decked and dyed,
And as the wind-swept blossoms fall
Their fragrant dust is stained with all.
To yon high lands thy glances turn:
With pendent fire they flash and burn,
Where in their vernal glory blaze
Paláśa flowers on leafless sprays.
O Lakshmaṇ, look! on Pampá's side
What fair trees rise in blooming pride!
532Butea Frondosa. A tree that bears a profusion of brilliant red flowers which
appear before the leaves.
533I omit five ślokas which contain nothing but a list of trees for which,
with one or two exceptions, there are no equivalent names in English. The
following is Gorresio's translation of the corresponding passage in the Bengal
recension:—
“Oh come risplendono in questa stagione di primavera i vitici, le galedupe,
le bassie, le dalbergie, i diospyri … le tile, le michelie, le rottlerie, le pentaptere
ed i pterospermi, i bombaci, le grislee, gli abri, gli amaranti e le dalbergie; i
sirii, le galedupe, le barringtonie ed i palmizi, i xanthocymi, il pepebetel, le
verbosine e le ticaie, le nauclee le erythrine, gli asochi, e le tapie fanno d'ogni
intorno pompa de' lor fiori.”
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1145
What climbing plants above them show
Or hang their flowery garlands low!
See how the amorous creeper rings
The wind-rocked trees to which she clings,
As though a dame by love impelled
With clasping arms her lover held.
Drunk with the varied scents that fill
The balmy air, from hill to hill,
From grove to grove, from tree to tree,
The joyous wind is wandering free.
These gay trees wave their branches bent
By blooms, of honey redolent.
There, slowly opening to the day,
Buds with dark lustre deck the spray.
The wild bee rests a moment where
Each tempting flower is sweet and fair,
Then, coloured by the pollen dyes,
Deep in some odorous blossom lies.
Soon from his couch away he springs:
To other trees his course he wings,
And tastes the honeyed blooms that grow
Where Pampá's lucid waters flow.
See, Lakshmaṇ, see, how thickly spread
With blossoms from the trees o'erhead,
That grass the weary traveller woos
With couches of a thousand hues,
And beds on every height arrayed
With red and yellow tints are laid,
No longer winter chills the earth:
A thousand flowerets spring to birth,
And trees in rivalry assume
Their vernal garb of bud and bloom.
How fair they look, how bright and gay
With tasselled flowers on every spray!
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The Ramayana
While each to each proud challenge flings
Borne in the song the wild bee sings.
That mallard by the river edge
Has bathed amid the reeds and sedge:
Now with his mate he fondly plays
And fires my bosom as I gaze.
Mandákiní534is far renowned:
No lovelier flood on earth is found;
But all her fairest charms combined
In this sweet stream enchant the mind.
O, if my love were here to look
With me upon this lovely brook,
Never for Ayodhyá would I pine,
Or wish that Indra's lot were mine.
If by my darling's side I strayed
O'er the soft turf which decks the glade,
Each craving thought were sweetly stilled,
Each longing of my soul fulfilled.
But, now my love is far away,
Those trees which make the woods so gay,
In all their varied beauty dressed,
Wake thoughts of anguish in my breast.
That lotus-covered stream behold
Whose waters run so fresh and cold,
[323]
534A sacred stream often mentioned in the course of the poem. See Book II,
Canto XCV.
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1147
Sweet rill, the wildfowl's loved resort,
Where curlew, swan, and diver sport;
Where with his consort plays the drake,
And tall deer love their thirst to slake,
While from each woody bank is heard
The wild note of each happy bird.
The music of that joyous quire
Fills all my soul with soft desire;
And, as I hear, my sad thoughts fly
To Sítá of the lotus eye,
Whom, lovely with her moonbright cheek,
In vain mine eager glances seek.
Now turn, those chequered lawns survey
Where hart and hind together stray.
Ah, as they wander at their will
My troubled breast with grief they fill,
While torn by hopeless love I sigh
For Sítá of the fawn-like eye.
If in those glades where, touched by spring,
Gay birds their amorous ditties sing,
Mine own beloved I might see,
Then, brother, it were well with me:
If by my side she wandered still,
And this cool breeze that stirs the rill
Touched with its gentle breath the brows
Of mine own dear Videhan spouse.
For, Lakshmaṇ, O how blest are those
On whom the breath of Pampá blows,
Dispelling all their care and gloom
With sweets from where the lilies bloom!
How can my gentle love remain
Alive amid the woe and pain,
Where prisoned far away she lies,—
My darling of the lotus eyes?
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The Ramayana
How shall I dare her sire to greet
Whose lips have never known deceit?
How stand before the childless king
And meet his eager questioning?
When banished by my sire's decree,
In low estate, she followed me.
So pure, so true to every vow,
Where is my gentle darling now?
How can I bear my widowed lot,
And linger on where she is not,
Who followed when from home I fled
Distracted, disinherited?
My spirit sinks in hopeless pain
When my fond glances yearn in vain
For that dear face with whose bright eye
The worshipped lotus scarce can vie.
Ah when, my brother, shall I hear
That voice that rang so soft and clear,
When, sweetly smiling as she spoke,
From her dear lips gay laughter broke?
When worn with toil and love I strayed
With Sítá through the forest shade,
No trace of grief was seen in her,
My kind and thoughtful comforter.
How shall my faltering tongue relate
To Queen Kauśalyá Sítá's fate?
How answer when in wild despair
She questions, Where is Sítá, where?
Haste, brother, haste: to Bharat hie,
On whose fond love I still rely.
My life can be no longer borne,
Since Sítá from my side is torn.”
Canto I. Ráma's Lament.
1149
Thus like a helpless mourner, bent
By sorrow, Ráma made lament;
And with wise counsel Lakshmaṇ tried
To soothe his care, and thus replied:
“O best of men, thy grief oppose,
Nor sink beneath thy weight of woes.
Not thus despond the great and pure
And brave like thee, but still endure.
Reflect what anguish wrings the heart
When loving souls are forced to part;
And, mindful of the coming pain,
Thy love within thy breast restrain.
For earth, though cooled by wandering streams,
Lies scorched beneath the midday beams.
Rávaṇ his steps to hell may bend,
Or lower yet in flight descend;
But be thou sure, O Raghu's son,
Avenging death he shall not shun.
Rise, Ráma, rise: the search begin,
And track the giant foul with sin.
Then shall the fiend, though far he fly,
Resign his prey or surely die.
Yea, though the trembling monster hide
With Sítá close to Diti's535side,
E'en there, unless he yield the prize,
Slain by this wrathful hand he dies.
Thy heart with strength and courage stay,
And cast this weakling mood away.
Our fainting hopes in vain revive
Unless with firm resolve we strive.
The zeal that fires the toiler's breast
535A daughter of Daksha who became one of the wives of Kaśyapa and mother
of the Daityas. She is termed the general mother of Titans and malignant
beings. See Book I Cantos XLV, XLVI.
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The Ramayana
Mid earthly powers is first and best.
Zeal every check and bar defies,
And wins at length the loftiest prize,
In woe and danger, toil and care,
Zeal never yields to weak despair.
With zealous heart thy task begin,
And thou once more thy spouse shalt win.
Cast fruitless sorrow from thy soul,
Nor let this love thy heart control.
Forget not all thy sacred lore,
But be thy noble self once more.”
He heard, his bosom rent by grief,
The counsel of his brother chief;
Crushed in his heart the maddening pain,
And rose resolved and strong again.
Then forth upon his journey went
The hero on his task intent,
Nor thought of Pampá's lovely brook,
[324]
Or trees which murmuring breezes shook,
Though on dark woods his glances fell,
On waterfall and cave and dell;
And still by many a care distressed
The son of Raghu onward pressed.
As some wild elephant elate
Moves through the woods in pride,
So Lakshmaṇ with majestic gait
Strode by his brother's side.
He, for his lofty spirit famed,
Admonished and consoled;
Showed Raghu's son what duty claimed,
And bade his heart be bold.
Then as the brothers strode apace
To Rishyamúka's height,
Canto II. Sugríva's Alarm.
1151
The sovereign of the Vánar race536
Was troubled at the sight.
As on the lofty hill he strayed
He saw the chiefs draw near:
A while their glorious forms surveyed,
And mused in restless fear.
His slow majestic step he stayed
And gazed upon the pair.
And all his spirit sank dismayed
By fear too great to bear.
When in their glorious might the best
Of royal chiefs came nigh,
The Vánars in their wild unrest
Prepared to turn and fly.
They sought the hermit's sacred home537
For peace and bliss ordained,
And there, where Vánars loved to roam,
A sure asylum gained.
Canto II. Sugríva's Alarm.
Sugríva moved by wondering awe
The high-souled sons of Raghu saw,
In all their glorious arms arrayed;
And grief upon his spirit weighed.
536Sugríva, the ex-king of the Vánars, foresters, or monkeys, an exile from
his home, wandering about the mountain Rishyamúka with his four faithful
ex-ministers.
537The hermitage of the Saint Matanga which his curse prevented Báli, the
present king of the Vánars, from entering. The story is told at length in Canto
XI of this Book.
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The Ramayana
To every quarter of the sky
He turned in fear his anxious eye,
And roving still from spot to spot
With troubled steps he rested not.
He durst not, as he viewed the pair,
Resolve to stand and meet them there;
And drooping cheer and quailing breast
The terror of the chief confessed.
While the great fear his bosom shook,
Brief counsel with his lords he took;
Each gain and danger closely scanned,
What hope in flight, what power to stand,
While doubt and fear his bosom rent,
On Raghu's sons his eyes he bent,
And with a spirit ill at ease
Addressed his lords in words like these:
“Those chiefs with wandering steps invade
The shelter of our pathless shade,
And hither come in fair disguise
Of hermit garb as Báli's spies.”
Each lord beheld with troubled heart
Those masters of the bowman's art,
And left the mountain side to seek
Sure refuge on a loftier peak.
The Vánar chief in rapid flight
Found shelter on a towering height,
And all the band with one accord
Were closely gathered round their lord.
Their course the same, with desperate leap
Each made his way from steep to steep,
And speeding on in wild career
Filled every height with sudden fear.
Canto II. Sugríva's Alarm.
1153
Each heart was struck with mortal dread,
As on their course the Vánars sped,
While trees that crowned the steep were bent
And crushed beneath them as they went.
As in their eager flight they pressed
For safety to each mountain crest,
The wild confusion struck with fear
Tiger and cat and wandering deer.
The lords who watched Sugríva's will
Were gathered on the royal hill,
And all with reverent hands upraised
Upon their king and leader gazed.
Sugríva feared some evil planned,
Some train prepared by Báli's hand.
But, skilled in words that charm and teach,
Thus Hanumán538began his speech:
“Dismiss, dismiss thine idle fear,
Nor dread the power of Báli here.
For this is Malaya's glorious hill539
Where Báli's might can work no ill.
I look around but nowhere see
The hated foe who made thee flee,
Fell Báli, fierce in form and face:
Then fear not, lord of Vánar race.
Alas, in thee I clearly find
The weakness of the Vánar kind,
[325]
That loves from thought to thought to range,
Fix no belief and welcome change.
Mark well each hint and sign and scan,
Discreet and wise, thine every plan.
538Hanumán, Sugríva's chief general, was the son of the God of Wind. See
Book I, Canto XVI.
539A range of hills in Malabar; the Western Ghats in the Deccan.
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The Ramayana
How may a king, with sense denied,
The subjects of his sceptre guide?”
Hanúmán,540wise in hour of need,
Urged on the chief his prudent rede.
His listening ear Sugríva bent,
And spake in words more excellent:
“Where is the dauntless heart that free
From terror's chilling touch can see
Two stranger warriors, strong as those,
Equipped with swords and shafts and bows,
With mighty arms and large full eyes,
Like glorious children of the skies?
Báli my foe, I ween, has sent
These chiefs to aid his dark intent.
Hence doubt and fear disturb me still,
For thousands serve a monarch's will,
In borrowed garb they come, and those
Who walk disguised are counted foes.
With secret thoughts they watch their time,
And wound fond hearts that fear no crime.
My foe in state affairs is wise,
And prudent kings have searching eyes.
By other hands they strike the foe:
By meaner tools the truth they know.
Now to those stranger warriors turn,
And, less than king, their purpose learn.
Mark well the trick and look of each;
Observe his form and note his speech.
With care their mood and temper sound,
540Válmíki makes the second vowel in this name long or short to suit the
exigencies of the verse. Other Indian poets have followed his example, and the
same licence will be used in this translation.
Canto III. Hanumán's Speech.
1155
And, if their minds be friendly found,
With courteous looks and words begin
Their confidence and love to win.
Then as my friend and envoy speak,
And question what the strangers seek.
Ask why equipped with shaft and bow
Through this wild maze of wood they go.
If they, O chief, at first appear
Pure of all guile, in heart sincere,
Detect in speech and look the sin
And treachery that lurk within.”
He spoke: the Wind-God's son obeyed.
With ready zeal he sought the shade,
And reached with hasty steps the wood
Where Raghu's son and Lakshmaṇ stood.541
Canto III. Hanumán's Speech.
The envoy in his faithful breast
Pondered Sugríva's high behest.
From Rishyamúka's peak he hied
And placed him by the princes' side.
The Wind-God's son with cautious art
Had laid his Vánar form apart,
And wore, to cheat the strangers eyes,
541I omit a recapitulatory and interpolated verse in a different metre, which is
as follows:—Reverencing with the words, So be it, the speech of the greatly
terrified and unequalled monkey king, the magnanimous Hanumán then went
where (stood) the very mighty Ráma with Lakshmaṇ.
1156
The Ramayana
A wandering mendicant's disguise.542
Before the heroes' feet he bent
And did obeisance reverent,
And spoke, the glorious pair to praise,
His words of truth in courteous phrase,
High honour duly paid, the best
Of all the Vánar kind addressed,
With free accord and gentle grace,
Those glories of their warrior race:
“O hermits, blest in vows, who shine
Like royal saints or Gods divine,
O best of young ascetics, say
How to this spot you found your way,
Scaring the troops of wandering deer
And silvan things that harbour here
Searching amid the trees that grow
Where Pampá's gentle waters flow.
And lending from your brows a gleam
Of glory to the lovely stream.
Who are you, say, so brave and fair,
Clad in the bark which hermits wear?
I see you heave the frequent sigh,
I see the deer before you fly.
While you, for strength and valour dread,
The earth, like lordly lions, tread,
Each bearing in his hand a bow,
Like Indra's own, to slay the foe.
With the grand paces of a bull,
542The semi divine Hanumán possesses, like the Gods and demons, the power
of wearing all shapes at will. He is one of the Kámarúpís.
Like Milton's good and bad angels “as they please
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
Assume as likes them best, condense or rare.”
Canto III. Hanumán's Speech.
1157
So bright and young and beautiful.
The mighty arms you raise appear
Like trunks which elephants uprear,
And as you move this mountain-king543
Is glorious with the light you bring.
How have you reached, like Gods in face,
Best lords of earth, this lonely place,
[326]
With tresses coiled in hermit guise,544
And splendours of those lotus eyes?
As Gods who leave their heavenly sphere,
Alike your beauteous forms appear.
The Lords of Day and Night545might thus
Stray from the skies to visit us.
Heroic youth, so broad of chest,
Fair with the beauty of the Blest,
With lion shoulders, tall and strong,
Like bulls who lead the lowing throng,
Your arms, unmatched for grace and length,
With massive clubs may vie in strength.
Why do no gauds those limbs adorn
Where priceless gems were meetly worn?
Each noble youth is fit, I deem,
To guard this earth, as lord supreme,
With all her woods and seas, to reign
From Meru's peak to Vindhya's chain.
Your smooth bows decked with dyes and gold
Are glorious in their masters' hold,
And with the arms of Indra546vie
Which diamond splendours beautify.
543Himálaya is of course par excellence the Monarch of mountains, but the
complimentary title is frequently given to other hills as here to Malaya.
544Twisted up in a matted coil as was the custom of ascetics.
545The sun and moon.
546The rainbow.
1158
The Ramayana
Your quivers glow with golden sheen,
Well stored with arrows fleet and keen,
Each gleaming like a fiery snake
That joys the foeman's life to take.
As serpents cast their sloughs away
And all their new born sheen display,
So flash your mighty swords inlaid
With burning gold on hilt and blade.
Why are you silent, heroes? Why
My questions hear nor deign reply?
Sugríva, lord of virtuous mind,
The foremost of the Vánar kind,
An exile from his royal state,
Roams through the land disconsolate.
I, Hanumán, of Vánar race,
Sent by the king have sought this place,
For he, the pious, just, and true,
In friendly league would join with you.
Know, godlike youths, that I am one
Of his chief lords, the Wind-God's son.
With course unchecked I roam at will,
And now from Rishyamúka's hill,
To please his heart, his hope to speed,
I came disguised in beggar's weed.”
Thus Hanúmán, well trained in lore
Of language, spoke, and said no more.
The son of Raghu joyed to hear
The envoy's speech, and bright of cheer
He turned to Lakshmaṇ by his side,
And thus in words of transport cried:
Canto III. Hanumán's Speech.
1159
“The counselor we now behold
Of King Sugríva righteous-souled.
His face I long have yearned to see,
And now his envoy comes to me
With sweetest words in courteous phrase
Answer this mighty lord who slays
His foemen, by Sugríva sent,
This Vánar chief most eloquent.
For one whose words so sweetly flow
The whole Rig-veda547needs must know,
And in his well-trained memory store
The Yajush and the Sáman's lore.
He must have bent his faithful ear
All grammar's varied rules to hear.
For his long speech how well he spoke!
In all its length no rule he broke.
In eye, on brow, in all his face
The keenest look no guile could trace.
No change of hue, no pose of limb
Gave sign that aught was false in him.
Concise, unfaltering, sweet and clear,
Without a word to pain the ear.
From chest to throat, nor high nor low,
His accents came in measured flow.
How well he spoke with perfect art
That wondrous speech that charmed the heart,
With finest skill and order graced
In words that knew nor pause nor haste!
That speech, with consonants that spring
From the three seats of uttering,548
547The Vedas are four in number, the Rich or Rig-veda, the Yajush or Yajur-
veda; the Sáman or Sáma-veda, and the Atharvan or Atharva-veda. See p. 3.
Note.
548The chest, the throat, and the head.
1160
The Ramayana
Would charm the spirit of a foe
Whose sword is raised for mortal blow.
How may a ruler's plan succeed
Who lacks such envoy good at need?
How fail, if one whose mind is stored
With gifts so rare assist his lord?
What plans can fail, with wisest speech
Of envoy's lips to further each?”
Thus Ráma spoke; and Lakshmaṇ taught
In all the art that utters thought,
To King Sugríva's learned spy
Thus made his eloquent reply:
“Full well we know the gifts that grace
Sugríva, lord of Vánar race,
And hither turn our wandering feet
That we that high-souled king may meet.
So now our pleasant task shall be
To do the words he speaks by thee.”
His prudent speech the Vánar heard,
And all his heart with joy was stirred.
And hope that league with them would bring
Redress and triumph to his king.
[327]
Canto IV. Lakshman's Reply.
Canto IV. Lakshman's Reply.
1161
Cheered by the words that Ráma spoke,
Joy in the Vánar's breast awoke,
And, as his friendly mood he knew,
His thoughts to King Sugríva flew:
“Again,” he mused, “my high-souled lord
Shall rule, to kingly state restored;
Since one so mighty comes to save,
And freely gives the help we crave.”
Then joyous Hanumán, the best
Of all the Vánar kind, addressed
These words to Ráma, trained of yore
In all the arts of speakers' lore:549
“Why do your feet this forest tread
By silvan life inhabited,
This awful maze of tree and thorn
Which Pampá's flowering groves adorn?”
549“In our own metrical romances, or wherever a poem is meant not for readers
but for chanters and oral reciters, these formulæ, to meet the same recurring
case, exist by scores. Thus every woman in these metrical romances who
happens to be young, is described as ‘so bright of ble,’ or complexion; always
a man goes ‘the mountenance of a mile’ before he overtakes or is overtaken.
And so on through a vast bead-roll of cases. In the same spirit Homer has his
eternal τον δ'αρ' ὑποδρα ιδων, or τον δ'απαμειβομενος προσφη, &c.
To a reader of sensibility, such recurrences wear an air of child-like sim-
plicity, beautifully recalling the features of Homer's primitive age. But they
would have appeared faults to all commonplace critics in literary ages.”
DE QUINCEY{FNS. Homer and the Homeridæ.
1162
The Ramayana
He spoke: obedient to the eye
Of Ráma, Lakshmaṇ made reply,
The name and fortune to unfold
Of Raghu's son the lofty-souled:
“True to the law, of fame unstained,
The glorious Daśaratha reigned,
And, steadfast in his duty, long
Kept the four castes550from scathe and wrong.
Through his wide realm his will was done,
And, loved by all, he hated none.
Just to each creature great and small,
Like the Good Sire he cared for all.
The Ágnishṭom,551as priests advised,
And various rites he solemnized,
Where ample largess ever paid
The Bráhmans for their holy aid.
Here Ráma stands, his heir by birth,
Whose name is glorious in the earth:
Sure refuge he of all oppressed,
Most faithful to his sire's behest.
He, Daśaratha's eldest born
Whom gifts above the rest adorn,
Lord of each high imperial sign,552
The glory of his kingly line,
Reft of his right, expelled from home,
Came forth with me the woods to roam.
And Sítá too, his faithful dame,
Forth with her virtuous husband came,
Like the sweet light when day is done
550Bráhmans the sacerdotal caste. Kshatriyas the royal and military, Vaiśyas
the mercantile, and Śúdras the servile.
551A protracted sacrifice extending over several days. See Book I, p. 24 Note.
552Possessed of all the auspicious personal marks that indicate capacity of
universal sovereignty. See Book I. p. 2, and Note 3.
Canto IV. Lakshman's Reply.
1163
Still cleaving to her lord the sun.
And me his sweet perfections drew
To follow as his servant true.
Named Lakshmaṇ, brother of my lord
Of grateful heart with knowledge stored
Most meet is he all bliss to share,
Who makes the good of all his care.
While, power and lordship cast away,
In the wild wood he chose to stay,
A giant came,—his name unknown,—
And stole the princess left alone.
Then Diti's son553who, cursed of yore,
The semblance of a Rákshas wore,
To King Sugríva bade us turn
The robber's name and home to learn.
For he, the Vánar chief, would know
The dwelling of our secret foe.
Such words of hope spake Diti's son,
And sought the heaven his deeds had won.
Thou hast my tale. From first to last
Thine ears have heard whate'er has past.
Ráma the mighty lord and I
For refuge to Sugríva fly.
The prince whose arm bright glory gained,
O'er the whole earth as monarch reigned,
And richest gifts to others gave,
Is come Sugríva's help to crave;
Son of a king the surest friend
Of virtue, him who loved to lend
His succour to the suffering weak,
Is come Sugríva's aid to seek.
Yes, Raghu's son whose matchless hand
553Kabandha. See Book III. Canto LXXIII.
1164
The Ramayana
Protected all this sea-girt land,
The virtuous prince, my holy guide,
For refuge seeks Sugríva's side.
His favour sent on great and small
Should ever save and prosper all.
He now to win Sugríva's grace
Has sought his woodland dwelling-place.
[328]
Son of a king of glorious fame;—
Who knows not Daśaratha's name?—
From whom all princes of the earth
Received each honour due to worth;—
Heir of that best of earthly kings,
Ráma the prince whose glory rings
Through realms below and earth and skies,
For refuge to Sugríva flies.
Nor should the Vánar king refuse
The boon for which the suppliant sues,
But with his forest legions speed
To save him in his utmost need.”
Sumitrá's son, his eyes bedewed
With piteous tears, thus sighed and sued.
Then, trained in all the arts that guide
The speaker, Hanumán replied:
“Yea, lords like you of wisest thought,
Whom happy fate has hither brought,
Who vanquish ire and rule each sense,
Must of our lord have audience.
Reft of his kingdom, sad, forlorn,
Once Báli's hate now Báli's scorn,
Defeated, severed from his spouse,
Wandering under forest boughs,
Child of the Sun, our lord and king
Canto IV. Lakshman's Reply.
1165
Sugríva will his succours bring,
And all our Vánar hosts combined
Will trace the dame you long to find.”
With gentle tone and winning grace
Thus spake the chief of Vánar race,
And then to Raghu's son he cried:
“Come, haste we to Sugríva's side.”
He spoke, and for his words so sweet
Good Lakshmaṇ paid all honour meet;
Then turned and cried to Raghu's son:
“Now deem thy task already done,
Because this chief of Vánar kind,
Son of the God who rules the wind,
Declares Sugríva's self would be
Assisted in his need by thee.
Bright gleams of joy his cheek o'erspread
As each glad word of hope he said;
And ne'er will one so valiant deign
To cheer our hearts with hope in vain.”
He spoke, and Hanumán the wise
Cast off his mendicant disguise,
And took again his Vánar form,
Son of the God of wind and storm.
High on his ample back in haste
Raghu's heroic sons he placed,
And turned with rapid steps to find
The sovereign of the Vánar kind.
1166
The Ramayana
Canto V. The League.
From Rishyamúka's rugged side
To Malaya's hill the Vánar hied,
And to his royal chieftain there
Announced the coming of the pair:
“See, here with Lakshmaṇ Ráma stands
Illustrious in a hundred lands.
Whose valiant heart will never quail
Although a thousand foes assail;
King Daśaratha's son, the grace
And glory of Ikshváku's race.
Obedient to his father's will
He cleaves to sacred duty still.
With rites of royal pomp and pride
His sire the Fire-God gratified;
Ten hundred thousand kine he freed,
And priests enriched with ample meed;
And the broad land protected, famed
For truthful lips and passions tamed.
Through woman's guile his son has made
His dwelling in the forest shade,
Where, as he lived with every sense
Subdued in hermit abstinence,
Fierce Rávaṇ stole his wife, and he
Is come a suppliant, lord, to thee.
Now let all honour due be paid
To these great chiefs who seek thine aid.”
Canto V. The League.
1167
Thus spake the Vánar prince, and, stirred
With friendly thoughts, Sugríva heard.
The light of joy his face o'erspread,
And thus to Raghu's son he said:
“O Prince, in rules of duty trained,
Caring for all with love unfeigned,
Hanúmán's tongue has truly shown
The virtues that are thine alone.
My chiefest glory, gain, and bliss,
O stranger Prince, I reckon this,
That Raghu's son will condescend
To seek the Vánar for his friend.
If thou my true ally wouldst be
Accept the pledge I offer thee,
This hand in sign of friendship take,
And bind the bond we ne'er will break.”
He spoke, and joy thrilled Ráma's breast;
Sugríva's hand he seized and pressed
And, transport beaming from his eye,
Held to his heart his new ally.
In wanderer's weed disguised no more,
His proper form Hanúmán wore.
Then, wood with wood engendering,554came
Neath his deft hands the kindled flame.
554Fire for sacred purposes is produced by the attrition of two pieces of wood.
In marriage and other solemn covenants fire is regarded as the holy witness in
whose presence the agreement is made. Spenser in a description of a marriage,
has borrowed from the Roman rite what he calls the housling, or “matrimonial
rite.”
“His owne two hands the holy knots did knit
That none but death forever can divide.
His owne two hands, for such a turn most fit,
The housling fire did kindle and provide.”
Faery Queen, Book I. XII.{FNS 37.
1168
The Ramayana
Between the chiefs that fire he placed
[329]
With wreaths of flowers and worship graced.
And round its blazing glory went
The friends with slow steps reverent.
Thus each to other pledged and bound
In solemn league new transport found,
And bent upon his dear ally
The gaze he ne'er could satisfy.
“Friend of my soul art thou: we share
Each other's joy, each other's care;”
Thus in the bliss that thrilled his breast
Sugríva Raghu's son addressed.
From a high Sál a branch he tore
Which many a leaf and blossom bore,
And the fine twigs beneath them laid
A seat for him and Ráma made.
Then Hanumán with joyous mind,
Son of the God who rules the wind,
To Lakshmaṇ gave, his seat to be,
The gay branch of a Sandal tree.
Then King Sugríva with his eyes
Still trembling with the sweet surprise
Of the great joy he could not hide,
To Raghu's noblest scion cried:
“O Ráma, racked with woe and fear,
Spurned by my foes, I wander here.
Reft of my spouse, forlorn I dwell
Here in my forest citadel.
Or wild with terror and distress
Roam through the distant wilderness.
Vext by my brother Báli long
My soul has borne the scathe and wrong.
Do thou, whose virtues all revere,
Canto V. The League.
1169
Release me from my woe and fear.
From dire distress thy friend to free
Is a high task and worthy thee.”
He spoke, and Raghu's son who knew
All sacred duties men should do.
The friend of justice, void of guile,
Thus answered with a gentle smile:
“Great Vánar, friends who seek my aid
Still find their trust with fruit repaid.
Báli, thy foe, who stole away
Thy wife this vengeful hand shall slay.
These shafts which sunlike flash and burn,
Winged with the feathers of the hern,
Each swift of flight and sure and dread,
With even knot and pointed head,
Fierce as the crashing fire-bolt sent
By him who rules the firmament,555
Shall reach thy wicked foe and like
Infuriate serpents hiss and strike.
Thou, Vánar King, this day shalt see
The foe who long has injured thee
Lie, like a shattered mountain, low,
Slain by the tempest of my bow.”
Thus Ráma spake: Sugríva heard,
And mighty joy his bosom stirred:
As thus his champion he addressed:
“Now by thy favour, first and best
Of heroes, shall thy friend obtain
His realm and darling wife again
Recovered from the foe.
Check thou mine elder brother's might;
555Indra.
1170
The Ramayana
That ne'er again his deadly spite
May rob me of mine ancient right,
Or vex my soul with woe.”
The league was struck, a league to bring
To Sítá fiends, and Vánar king556
Apportioned bliss and bale.
Through her left eye quick throbbings shot,557
Glad signs the lady doubted not,
That told their hopeful tale.
The bright left eye of Báli felt
An inauspicious throb that dealt
A deadly blow that day.
The fiery left eyes of the crew
Of demons felt the throb, and knew
The herald of dismay.
Canto VI. The Tokens.
With joy that sprang from hope restored
To Ráma spake the Vánar lord:
“I know, by wise Hanúmán taught,
Why thou the lonely wood hast sought.
Where with thy brother Lakshmaṇ thou
Hast sojourned, bound by hermit vow;
Have heard how Sítá, Janak's child,
Was stolen in the pathless wild,
How by a roving Rákshas she
556Báli the king de facto.
557With the Indians, as with the ancient Greeks, the throbbing of the right eye
in a man is an auspicious sign, the throbbing of the left eye is the opposite. In
a woman the significations of signs are reversed.
Canto VI. The Tokens.
1171
Weeping was reft from him and thee;
How, bent on death, the giant slew
The vulture king, her guardian true,
And gave thy widowed breast to know
A solitary mourner's woe.
But soon, dear Prince, thy heart shall be
From every trace of sorrow free;
[330]
For I thy darling will restore,
Lost like the prize of holy lore.558
Yea, though in heaven the lady dwell,
Or prisoned in the depths of hell,
My friendly care her way shall track
And bring thy ransomed darling back.
Let this my promise soothe thy care,
Nor doubt the words I truly swear.
Saints, fiends, and dwellers of the skies
Shall find thy wife a bitter prize,
Like the rash child who rues too late
The treacherous lure of poisoned cate.
No longer, Prince, thy loss deplore:
Thy darling wife will I restore.
'Twas she I saw: my heart infers
That shrinking form was doubtless hers,
Which gaint Rávaṇ, fierce and dread,
Bore swiftly through the clouds o'erhead
Still writhing in his strict embrace
558The Vedas stolen by the demons Madhu and Kaiṭabha.
“The text has [Sanskrit text] which signifies literally ‘the lost vedic tradi-
tion.’ It seems that allusion is here made to the Vedas submerged in the depth
of the sea, but promptly recovered by Vishṇu in one of his incarnations, as the
brahmanic legend relates, with which the orthodoxy of the Bráhmans intended
perhaps to allude to the prompt restoration and uninterrupted continuity of the
ancient vedic tradition.”
GORRESIO.{FNS
1172
The Ramayana
Like helpless queen of serpent race,559
And from her lips that sad voice came
Shrieking thine own and Lakshmaṇ's name.
High on a hill she saw me stand
With comrades twain on either hand.
Her outer robe to earth she threw,
And with it sent her anklets too.
We saw the glittering tokens fall,
We found them there and kept them all.
These will I bring: perchance thine eyes
The treasured spoils will recognize.”
He ceased: then Raghu's son replied
To the glad tale, and eager cried:
“Bring them with all thy speed: delay
No more, dear friend, but haste away.”
Thus Ráma spoke. Sugríva hied
Within the mountain's caverned side,
Impelled by love that stirred each thought
The precious tokens quickly brought,
And said to Raghu's son: Behold
This garment and these rings of gold.
In Ráma's hand with friendly haste
The jewels and the robe he placed.
Then, like the moon by mist assailed,
The tear-dimmed eyes of Ráma failed;
That burst of woe unmanned his frame,
Woe sprung from passion for his dame,
And with his manly strength o'erthrown,
559Like the wife of a Nága or Serpent-God carried off by an eagle. The enmity
between the King of birds and the serpent is of very frequent occurrence. It
seems to be a modification of the strife between the Vedic Indra and the Ahi,
the serpent or drought-fiend; between Apollôn and the Python, Adam and the
Serpent.
Canto VI. The Tokens.
1173
He fell and cried, Ah me! mine own!
Again, again close to his breast
The ornaments and robe he pressed,
While the quick pants that shook his frame
As from a furious serpent came.
On his dear brother standing nigh
He turned at length his piteous eye;
And, while his tears increasing ran,
In bitter wail he thus began:
“Look, brother, and behold once more
The ornaments and robe she wore,
Dropped while the giant bore away
In cruel arras his struggling prey,
Dropped in some quiet spot, I ween,
Where the young grass was soft and green;
For still untouched by spot or stain
Their former beauty all retain.”
He spoke with many a tear and sigh,
And thus his brother made reply:
“The bracelets thou hast fondly shown,
And earrings, are to me unknown,
But by long service taught I greet
The anklets of her honoured feet.”560
Then to Sugríva Ráma, best
Of Raghu's sons, these words addressed:
560He means that he has never ventured to raise his eyes to her arms and face,
though he has ever been her devoted servant.
1174
The Ramayana
“Say to what quarter of the sky
The cruel fiend was seen to fly,
Bearing afar my captured wife,
My darling dearer than my life.
Speak, Vánar King, that I may know
Where dwells the cause of all my woe;
The fiend for whose transgression all
The giants by this hand shall fall.
He who the Maithil lady stole
And kindled fury in my soul,
Has sought his fate in senseless pride
And opened Death's dark portal wide.
Then tell me, Vánar lord, I pray,
The dwelling of my foe,
And he, beneath this hand, to-day
To Yáma's halls shall go.”
[331]
Canto VII. Ráma Consoled.
With longing love and woe oppressed
The Vánar chief he thus addressed:
And he, while sobs his utterance broke,
Raised up his reverent hands and spoke:
Canto VII. Ráma Consoled.
1175
“O Raghu's son, I cannot tell
Where now that cruel fiend may dwell,
Declare his power and might, or trace
The author of his cursed race.
Still trust the promise that I make
And let thy breast no longer ache.
So will I toil, nor toil in vain,
That thou thy consort mayst regain.
So will I work with might and skill
That joy anew thy heart shall fill:
The valour of my soul display,
And Rávaṇ and his legions slay.
Awake, awake! unmanned no more
Recall the strength was thine of yore.
Beseems not men like thee to wear
A weak heart yielding to despair.
Like troubles, too, mine eyes have seen,
Lamenting for a long-lost queen;
But, by despair unconquered yet,
My strength of mind I ne'er forget.
Far more shouldst thou of lofty soul
Thy passion and thy tears control,
When I, of Vánar's humbler strain,
Weep not for her in ceaseless pain.
Be firm, be patient, nor forget
The bounds the brave of heart have set
In loss, in woe, in strife, in fear,
When the dark hour of death is near.
Up! with thine own brave heart advise:
Not thus despond the firm and wise.
But he who gives his childish heart
To choose the coward's weakling part,
Sinks, like a foundered vessel, deep
In waves of woe that o'er him sweep.
1176
The Ramayana
See, suppliant hand to hand I lay,
And, moved by faithful love, I pray.
Give way no more to grief and gloom,
But all thy native strength resume.
No joy on earth, I ween, have they
Who yield their souls to sorrow's sway.
Their glory fades in slow decline:
'Tis not for thee to grieve and pine.
I do but hint with friendly speech
The wiser part I dare not teach.
This better path, dear friend, pursue,
And let not grief thy soul subdue.”
Sugríva thus with gentle art
And sweet words soothed the mourner's heart,
Who brushed off with his mantle's hem
Tears from the eyes bedewed with them.
Sugríva's words were not in vain,
And Ráma was himself again,
Around the king his arms he threw
And thus began his speech anew:
“Whate'er a friend most wise and true,
Who counsels for the best, should do,
Whate'er his gentle part should be,
Has been performed, dear friend, by thee.
Taught by thy counsel, O my lord,
I feel my native strength restored.
A friend like thee is hard to gain,
Most rare in time of grief and pain.
Now strain thine utmost power to trace
The Maithil lady's dwelling place,
And aid me in my search to find
Fierce Rávaṇ of the impious mind.
Canto VIII. Ráma's Promise.
1177
Trust thou, in turn, thy loyal friend,
And say what aid this arm can lend
To speed thy hopes, as fostering rain
Quickens in earth the scattered grain.
Deem not those words, that seemed to spring
From pride, are false, O Vánar King.
None from these lips has ever heard,
None e'er shall hear, one lying word.
Again I promise and declare,
Yea, by my truth, dear friend, I swear.”
Then glad was King Sugríva's breast,
And all his lords their joy confessed,
Stirred by sure hope of Ráma's aid,
And promise which the prince had made.
Canto VIII. Ráma's Promise.
Doubt from Sugríva's heart had fled,
And thus to Raghu's son he said:
“No bliss the Gods of heaven deny.
Each views me with a favouring eye,
When thou, whom all good gifts attend,
Hast sought me and become my friend.
Leagued, friend, with thee in bold emprise
My arm might win the conquered skies;
And shall our banded strength be weak
To gain the realm which now I seek?
A happy fate was mine above
My kith and kin and all I love,
When, near the witness fire, I won
1178
The Ramayana
Thy friendship, Raghu's glorious son.
Thou too in ripening time shall see
Thy friend not all unworthy thee.
What gifts I have shall thus be shown:
Not mine the tongue to make them known.
Strong is the changeless bond that binds
The friendly faith of noble minds,
In woe, in danger, firm and sure
Their constancy and love endure.
Gold, silver, jewels rich and rare
They count as wealth for friends to share.
[332]
Yea, be they rich or poor and low,
Blest with all joys or sunk in woe,
Stained with each fault or pure of blame,
Their friends the nearest place may claim;
For whom they leave, at friendship's call,
Their gold, their bliss, their homes and all.”
He spoke by generous impulse moved,
And Raghu's son his speech approved
Glancing at Lakshmaṇ by his side,
Like Indra in his beauty's pride.
The Vánar monarch saw the pair
Of mighty brothers standing there,
And turned his rapid eye to view
The forest trees that near him grew.
He saw, not far from where he stood,
A Sál tree towering o'er the wood.
Amid the thick leaves many a bee
Graced the scant blossoms of the tree,
From whose dark shade a bough, that bore
A load of leafy twigs, he tore,
Which on the grassy ground he laid
And seats for him and Ráma made.
Canto VIII. Ráma's Promise.
1179
Hanúmán saw them sit, he sought
A Sál tree's leafy bough and brought
The burthen, and with meek request
Entreated Lakshmaṇ, too, to rest.
There on the noble mountain's brow,
Strewn with the young leaves of the bough,
Sat Raghu's son in placid ease
Calm as the sea when sleeps the breeze.
Sugríva's heart with rapture swelled,
And thus, by eager love impelled,
He spoke in gracious tone, that, oft
Checked by his joy, was low and soft:
“I, by my brother's might oppressed,
By ceaseless woe and fear distressed,
Mourning my consort far away,
On Rishyamúka's mountain stray.
Expelled by Báli's cruel hate
I wander here disconsolate.
Do thou to whom all sufferers flee,
From his dread hand deliver me.”
He spoke, and Ráma, just and brave,
Whose pious soul to virtue clave,
Smiled as in conscious might he eyed
The king of Vánars, and replied:
“Best fruit of friendship is the deed
That helps the friend in hour of need;
And this mine arm in death shall lay
Thy robber ere the close of day.
For see, these feathered darts of mine
Whose points so fiercely flash and shine,
And shafts with golden emblem, came
From dark woods known by Skanda's name,561
561The wood in which Skanda or Kártikeva was brought up:
1180
The Ramayana
Winged from the pinion of the hern
Like Indra's bolts they strike and burn.
With even knots and piercing head
Each like a furious snake is sped;
With these, to-day, before thine eye
Shall, like a shattered mountain, lie
Báli, thy dread and wicked foe,
O'erwhelmed in hideous overthrow.”
He spoke: Sugríva's bosom swelled
With hope and joy unparalleled.
Then his glad voice the Vánar raised,
And thus the son of Raghu praised:
“Long have I pined in depth of grief;
Thou art the hope of all, O chief.
Now, Raghu's son, I hail thee friend,
And bid thee to my woes attend;
For, by my truth I swear it, now
Not life itself is dear as thou,
Since by the witness fire we met
And friendly hand in hand was set.
Friend communes now with friend, and hence
I tell with surest confidence,
How woes that on my spirit weigh
Consume me through the night and day.”
“The Warrior-God
Whose infant steps amid the thickets strayed
Where the reeds wave over the holy sod.”
See also Book I, Canto XXIX.
Canto VIII. Ráma's Promise.
1181
For sobs and sighs he scarce could speak,
And his sad voice came low and weak,
As, while his eyes with tears o'erflowed,
The burden of his soul he showed.
Then by strong effort, bravely made,
The torrent of his tears he stayed,
Wiped his bright eyes, his grief subdued,
And thus, more calm, his speech renewed:
“By Báli's conquering might oppressed,
Of power and kingship dispossessed,
Loaded with taunts of scorn and hate
I left my realm and royal state.
He tore away my consort: she
Was dearer than my life to me,
And many a friend to me and mine
In hopeless chains was doomed to pine.
With wicked thoughts, unsated still,
Me whom he wrongs he yearns to kill;
And spies of Vánar race, who tried
To slay me, by this hand have died.
Moved by this constant doubt and fear
I saw thee, Prince, and came not near.
When woe and peril gather round
A foe in every form is found.
Save Hanumán, O Raghu's son,
And these, no friend is left me, none.
Through their kind aid, a faithful band
Who guard their lord from hostile hand,
Rest when their chieftain rests and bend
Their steps where'er he lists to wend,—
Through them alone, in toil and pain,
My wretched life I still sustain.
[333]
1182
The Ramayana
Enough, for thou hast heard in brief
The story of my pain and grief.
His mighty strength all regions know,
My brother, but my deadly foe.
Ah, if the proud oppressor fell,
His death would all my woe dispel.
Yea, on my cruel conqueror's fall
My joy depends, my life, my all.
This were the end and sure relief,
O Ráma, of my tale of grief.
Fair be his lot or dark with woe,
No comfort like a friend I know.”
Then Ráma spoke: “O friend, relate
Whence sprang fraternal strife and hate,
That duly taught by thee, I may
Each foeman's strength and weakness weigh:
And skilled in every chance restore
The blissful state thou hadst before.
For, when I think of all the scorn
And bitter woe thou long hast borne,
My soul indignant swells with pain
Like waters flushed with furious rain.
Then, ere I string this bended bow,
Tell me the tale I long to know,
Ere from the cord my arrow fly,
And low in death thy foeman lie.”
He spoke: Sugríva joyed to hear,
Nor less his lords were glad of cheer:
And thus to Ráma mighty-souled
The cause that moved their strife he told:
Canto IX. Sugríva's Story.
1183
Canto IX. Sugríva's Story.562
“My brother, known by Báli's name,
Had won by might a conqueror's fame.
My father's eldest-born was he,
Well honoured by his sire and me.
My father died, and each sage lord
Named Báli king with one accord;
And he, by right of birth ordained,
The sovereign of the Vánars reigned.
He in his royal place controlled
The kingdom of our sires of old,
And I all faithful service lent
To aid my brother's government.
The fiend Máyáví,—him of yore
To Dundubhi563his mother bore,—
For woman's love in strife engaged,
A deadly war with Báli waged.
When sleep had chained each weary frame
To vast Kishkindhá564gates he came,
And, shouting through the shades of night,
Challenged his foeman to the fight.
My brother heard the furious shout,
And wild with rage rushed madly out,
Though fain would I and each sad wife
Detain him from the deadly strife.
He burned his demon foe to slay,
562“Sugríva's story paints in vivid colours the manners, customs and ideas
of the wild mountain tribes which inhabited Kishkindhya or the southern
hills of the Deccan, of the people whom the poem calls monkeys, tribes
altogether different in origin and civilization from the Indo-Sanskrit race.”
GORRESIO{FNS.
563A fiend slain by Báli.
564Báli's mountain city.
1184
The Ramayana
And rushed impetuous to the fray.
His weeping wives he thrust aside,
And forth, impelled by fury, hied;
While, by my love and duty led,
I followed where my brother sped.
Máyáví looked, and at the sight
Fled from his foes in wild affright.
The flying fiend we quickly viewed,
And with swift feet his steps pursued.
Then rose the moon, whose friendly ray
Cast light upon our headlong way.
By the soft beams was dimly shown
A mighty cave with grass o'ergrown.
Within its depths he sprang, and we
The demon's form no more might see.
My brother's breast was all aglow
With fury when he missed the foe,
And, turning, thus to me he said
With senses all disquieted:
“Here by the cavern's mouth remain;
Keep ear and eye upon the strain,
While I the dark recess explore
And dip my brand in foeman's gore.”
I heard his angry speech, and tried
To turn him from his plan aside.
He made me swear by both his feet,
And sped within the dark retreat.
While in the cave he stayed, and I
Watched at the mouth, a year went by.
For his return I looked in vain,
And, moved by love, believed him slain.
I mourned, by doubt and fear distressed,
And greater horror seized my breast
When from the cavern rolled a flood,
Canto IX. Sugríva's Story.
1185
A carnage stream of froth and blood;
And from the depths a sound of fear,
The roar of demons, smote mine ear;
But never rang my brother's shout
Triumphant in the battle rout.
I closed the cavern with a block,
Huge as a hill, of shattered rock.
Gave offerings due to Báli's shade,
And sought Kishkindhá, sore dismayed.
Long time with anxious care I tried
From Báli's lords his fate to hide,
But they, when once the tale was known,
Placed me as king on Báli's throne.
There for a while I justly reigned
[334]
And all with equal care ordained,
When joyous from the demon slain
My brother Báli came again.
He found me ruling in his stead,
And, fired with rage, his eyes grew red.
He slew the lords who made me king,
And spoke keen words to taunt and sting.
The kingly rank and power I held
My brother's rage with ease had quelled,
But still, restrained by old respect
For claims of birth, the thought I checked.
Thus having struck the demon down
Came Báli to his royal town.
With meek respect, with humble speech,
His haughty heart I strove to reach.
But all my arts were tried in vain,
No gentle word his lips would deign,
Though to the ground I bent and set
His feet upon my coronet:
Still Báli in his rage and pride
1186
The Ramayana
All signs of grace and love denied.”
Canto X. Sugríva's Story.
“I strove to soothe and lull to rest
The fury of his troubled breast:
“Well art thou come, dear lord,” I cried.
“By whose strong arm thy foe has died.
Forlorn I languished here, but now
My saviour and defence art thou.
Once more receive this regal shade565
Like the full moon in heaven displayed;
And let the chouries,566thus restored,
Wave glorious o'er the rightful lord.
I kept my watch, thy word obeyed,
And by the cave a year I stayed.
But when I saw that stream of blood
Rush from the cavern in a flood,
My sad heart broken with dismay,
And every wandering sense astray,
I barred the entrance with a stone,—
A crag from some high mountain thrown—
Turned from the spot I watched in vain,
And to Kishkindhá came again.
My deep distress and downcast mien
By citizen and lord were seen.
They made me king against my will:
Forgive me if the deed was ill.
565The canopy or royal umbrella, one of the usual Indian regalia.
566Whisks made of the hair of the Yak or Bos grunniers, also regal insignia.
Canto X. Sugríva's Story.
1187
True as I ever was I see
My honoured king once more in thee;
I only ruled a while the state
When thou hadst left us desolate.
This town with people, lords, and lands,
Lay as a trust in guardian hands:
And now, my gracious lord, accept
The kingdom which thy servant kept.
Forgive me, victor of the foe,
Nor let thy wrath against me glow.
See joining suppliant hands I pray,
And at thy feet my head I lay.
Believe my words: against my will
The royal seat they made me fill.
Unkinged they saw the city, hence
They made me lord for her defence.”
But Báli, though I humbly sued,
Reviled me in his furious mood:
“Out on thee, wretch!” in wrath he cried
With many a bitter taunt beside.
He summoned every lord, and all
His subjects gathered at his call.
Then forth his burning anger broke,
And thus amid his friends he spoke:
“I need not tell, for well ye know,
How fierce Máyáví, fiend and foe,
Came to Kishkindhá's gate by night,
And dared me in his wrath to fight.
I heard each word the demon said:
Forth from my royal hall I sped;
And, foe in brother's guise concealed,
Sugríva followed to the field.
The mighty demon through the shade
1188
The Ramayana
Beheld me come with one to aid:
Then shrinking from unequal fight,
He turned his back in swiftest flight.
From vengeful foes his life to save
He sought the refuge of a cave.
Then when I saw the fiend had fled
Within that cavern dark and dread,
Thus to my brother cruel-eyed,
Impatient in my wrath, I cried:
“I seek no more my royal town
Till I have struck the demon down.
Here by the cavern's mouth remain
Until my hand the foe have slain.”
Upon his faith my heart relied,
And swift within the depths I hied.
A year went by: in every spot
I sought the fiend, but found him not.
At length my foe I saw and slew,
Whom long I feared when lost to view;
And all his kinsmen by his side
Beneath my vengeful fury died.
The monster, as he reeled and fell,
Poured forth his blood with roar and yell;
And, filling all the cavern, dyed
The portal with the crimson tide.
Upon my foeman slain at last
One look, one pitying look, I cast.
I sought again the light of day:
The cave was closed and left no way.
To the barred mouth I sadly came,
And called aloud Sugríva's name.
But all was still: no voice replied,
[335]
And hope within my bosom died.
With furious efforts, vain at first,
Canto X. Sugríva's Story.
1189
Through bars of rock my way I burst.
Then, free once more, the path that brought
My feet in safety home I sought.
'Twas thus Sugríva dared despise
The claim of brothers' friendly ties.
With crags of rock he barred me in,
And for himself the realm would win.”
Thus Báli spoke in words severe;
And then, unmoved by ruth or fear,
Left me a single robe and sent
His brother forth in banishment.
He cast me out with scathe and scorn,
And from my side my wife was torn.
Now in great fear and ill at ease
I roam this land with woods and seas,
Or dwell on Rishyamúka's hill,
And sorrow for my consort still.
Thou hast the tale how first arose
This bitter hate of brother foes.
Such are the griefs neath which I pine,
And all without a fault of mine.
O swift to save in hour of fear,
My prayer who dread this Báli, hear
With gracious love assistance deign,
And mine oppressor's arm restrain.”
Then Raghu's son, the good and brave,
With a gay laugh his answer gave:
“These shafts of mine which ne'er can fail,
Before whose sheen the sun grows pale,
Winged by my fury, fleet and fierce,
The wicked Báli's heart shall pierce.
Yea, mark the words I speak, so long
1190
The Ramayana
Shall live that wretch who joys in wrong,
Until these angered eyes have seen
The robber of thy darling queen.
I, taught by equal suffering, know
What waves of grief above thee flow.
This hand thy captive wife shall free,
And give thy kingdom back to thee.”
Sugríva joyed as Ráma spoke,
And valour in his breast awoke.
His eye grew bright, his heart grew bold,
And thus his wondrous tale he told:
Canto XI. Dundubhi.
“I doubt not, Prince, thy peerless might,
Armed with these shafts so keen and bright,
Like all-destroying fires of fate,
The worlds could burn and devastate.
But lend thou first thy mind and ear
Of Báli's power and might to hear.
How bold, how firm, in battle tried,
Is Báli's heart; and then decide.
From east to west, from south to north
On restless errand hurrying forth,
From farthest sea to sea he flies
Before the sun has lit the skies.
A mountain top he oft will seek,
Tear from its root a towering peak,
Hurl it aloft, as 'twere a ball,
And catch it ere to earth it fall.
Canto XI. Dundubhi.
1191
And many a tree that long has stood
In health and vigour in the wood,
His single arm to earth will throw,
The marvels of his might to show.
Shaped like a bull, a monster bore
The name of Dundubhi of yore:
He matched in size a mountain height,
A thousand elephants in might.
By pride of wondrous gifts impelled,
And strength he deemed unparalleled,
To Ocean, lord of stream and brook,
Athirst for war, his way he took.
He reached the king of rolling waves
Whose gems are piled in sunless caves,
And threw his challenge to the sea;
“Come forth, O King, and fight with me.”
He spoke, and from his ocean bed
The righteous567monarch heaved his head,
And gave, sedate, his calm reply
To him whom fate impelled to die:
“Not mine, not mine the power,” he cried,
“To cope with thee in battle tried;
But listen to my voice, and seek
The worthier foe of whom I speak.
The Lord of Hills, where hermits live
And love the home his forests give,
Whose child is Śankar's darling queen,568
The King of Snows is he I mean.
Deep caves has he, and dark boughs shade
567Righteous because he never transgresses his bounds, and
“over his great tides
Fidelity presides.”
568Himálaya, theLordofSnow, isthefatherofUmáthewifeofŚivaorŚankar.
1192
The Ramayana
The torrent and the wild cascade.
From him expect the fierce delight
Which heroes feel in equal fight.”
He deemed that fear checked ocean's king,
And, like an arrow from the string,
To the wild woods that clothe the side
Of Lord Himálaya's hills he hied.
Then Dundubhi, with hideous roar,
Huge fragments from the summit tore
Vast as Airávat,569white with snow,
And hurled them to the plains below.
Then like a white cloud soft, serene,
The Lord of Mountains' form was seen.
It sat upon a lofty crest,
And thus the furious fiend addressed:
“Beseems thee not, O virtue's friend,
My mountain tops to rive and rend;
[336]
For I, the hermit's calm retreat,
For deeds of war am all unmeet.”
The demon's eye with rage grew red,
And thus in furious tone he said:
“If thou from fear or sloth decline
To match thy strength in war with mine,
Where shall I find a champion, say,
To meet me burning for the fray?”
He spoke: Himálaya, skilled in lore
Of eloquence, replied once more,
And, angered in his righteous mind,
Addressed the chief of demon kind:
“The Vánar Báli, brave and wise,
569Indra's celestial elephant.
Canto XI. Dundubhi.
1193
Son of the God who rules the skies,570
Sways, glorious in his high renown,
Kishkindhá his imperial town.
Well may that valiant lord who knows
Each art of war his might oppose
To thine, in equal battle set,
As Namuehi571and Indra met.
Go, if thy soul desire the fray;
To Báli's city speed away,
And that unconquered hero meet
Whose fame is high for warlike feat.”
He listened to the Lord of Snow,
And, his proud heart with rage aglow,
Sped swift away and lighted down
By vast Kishkindhá, Báli's town.
With pointed horns to strike and gore
The semblance of a bull he bore,
Huge as a cloud that downward bends
Ere the full flood of rain descends.
Impelled by pride and rage and hate,
He thundered at Kishkindhá's gate;
And with his bellowing, like the sound
Of pealing drums, he shook the ground,
He rent the earth and prostrate threw
The trees that near the portal grew.
King Báli from the bowers within
Indignant heard the roar and din.
Then, moonlike mid the stars, with all
His dames he hurried to the wall;
And to the fiend this speech, expressed
In clear and measured words, addressed:
570Báli was the son of Indra. See p. 28.
571An Asur slain by Indra. See p. 261 Note. He is, like Vritra, a form of the
demon of drought destroyed by the beneficent God of the firmament.
1194
The Ramayana
“Know me for monarch. Báli styled,
Of Vánar tribes that roam the wild.
Say why dost thou this gate molest,
And bellowing thus disturb our rest?
I know thee, mighty fiend: beware
And guard thy life with wiser care.”
He spoke: and thus the fiend returned,
While red with rage his eyeballs burned:
“What! speak when all thy dames are nigh
And hero-like thy foe defy?
Come, meet me in the fight this day,
And learn my strength by bold assay.
Or shall I spare thee, and relent
Until the coming night be spent?
Take then the respite of a night
And yield thee to each soft delight.
Then, monarch of the Vánar race
With loving arms thy friends embrace.
Gifts on thy faithful lords bestow,
Bid each and all farewell, and go.
Show in the streets once more thy face,
Install thy son to fill thy place.
Dally a while with each dear dame;
And then my strength thy pride shall tame
For, should I smite thee drunk with wine
Enamoured of those dames of thine,
Beneath diseases bowed and bent,
Or weak, unarmed, or negligent,
My deed would merit hate and scorn
As his who slays the child unborn.”
Then Báli's soul with rage was fired,
Queen Tára and the dames retired;
And slowly, with a laugh of pride,
The king of Vánars thus replied:
Canto XI. Dundubhi.
1195
“Me, fiend, thou deemest drunk with wine:
Unless thy fear the fight decline,
Come, meet me in the fray, and test
The spirit of my valiant breast.”
He spoke in wrath and high disdain;
And, laying down his golden chain,
Gift of his sire Mahendra, dared
The demon, for the fray prepared;
Seized by the horns the monster, vast
As a huge hill, and held him fast,
Then fiercely dragged him round and round,
And, shouting, hurled him to the ground.
Blood streaming from his ears, he rose,
And wild with fury strove the foes.
Then Báli, match for Indra's might,
With every arm renewed the fight.
He fought with fists, and feet, and knees,
With fragments of the rock, and trees.
At last the monster's strength, assailed
By Śakra's572conquering offspring, failed.
Him Báli raised with mighty strain
And dashed upon the ground again;
Where, bruised and shattered, in a tide
Of rushing blood, the demon died.
King Báli saw the lifeless corse,
And bending, with tremendous force
Raised the huge bulk from where it lay,
And hurled it full a league away.
As through the air the body flew,
Some blood-drops, caught by gales that blew,
Welled from his shattered jaw and fell
By Saint Matanga's hermit cell:
572Another name of Indra or Mahendra.
1196
The Ramayana
Matanga saw, illustrious sage,
Those drops defile his hermitage,
[337]
And, as he marvelled whence they came,
Fierce anger filled his soul with flame:
“Who is the villain, evil-souled,
With childish thoughts unwise and bold,
Who is the impious wretch,” he cried,
“By whom my grove with blood is dyed?”
Thus spoke Matanga in his rage,
And hastened from the hermitage,
When lo, before his wondering eyes
Lay the dead bull of mountain size.
His hermit soul was nothing slow
The doer of the deed to know,
And thus the Vánar in a burst
Of wild tempestuous wrath he cursed:
“Ne'er let that Vánar wander here,
For, if he come, his death is near,
Whose impious hand with blood has dyed
The holy place where I abide,
Who threw this demon corse and made
A ruin of the pleasant shade.
If e'er he plant his wicked feet
Within one league of my retreat;
Yea, if the villain come so nigh
That very hour he needs must die.
And let the Vánar lords who dwell
In the dark woods that skirt my cell
Obey my words, and speeding hence
Find them some meeter residence.
Here if they dare to stay, on all
The terrors of my curse shall fall.
They spoil the tender saplings, dear
Canto XI. Dundubhi.
1197
As children which I cherish here,
Mar root and branch and leaf and spray,
And steal the ripening fruit away.
One day I grant, no further hour,
To-morrow shall my curse have power,
And then each Vánar I may see
A stone through countless years shall be.”
The Vánars heard the curse and hied
From sheltering wood and mountain side.
King Báli marked their haste and dread,
And to the flying leaders said:
“Speak, Vánar chiefs, and tell me why
From Saint Matanga's grove ye fly
To gather round me: is it well
With all who in those woodlands dwell?”
He spoke: the Vánar leaders told
King Báli with his chain of gold
What curse the saint had on them laid,
Which drove them from their ancient shade.
Then royal Báli sought the sage,
With reverent hands to soothe his rage.
The holy man his suppliant spurned,
And to his cell in anger turned.
That curse on Báli sorely pressed,
And long his conscious soul distressed.
Him still the curse and terror keep
Afar from Rishyamúka's steep.
He dares not to the grove draw nigh,
Nay scarce will hither turn his eye.
We know what terrors warm him hence,
And roam these woods in confidence.
Look, Prince, before thee white and dry
The demon's bones uncovered lie,
Who, like a hill in bulk and length,
1198
The Ramayana
Fell ruind for his pride of strength.
See those high Sál trees seven in row
That droop their mighty branches low,
These at one grasp would Báli seize,
And leafless shake the trembling trees.
These tales I tell, O Prince, to show
The matchless power that arms the foe.
How canst thou hope to slay him? how
Meet Báli in the battle now?”
Sugríva spoke and sadly sighed:
And Lakshmaṇ with a laugh replied:
“What show of power, what proof and test
May still the doubts that fill thy breast?”
He spoke. Sugríva thus replied:
“See yonder Sál trees side by side.
King Báli here would take his stand
Grasping his bow with vigorous hand,
And every arrow, keen and true,
Would strike its tree and pierce it through.
If Ráma now his bow will bend,
And through one trunk an arrow send;
Or if his arm can raise and throw
Two hundred measures of his bow,
Grasped by a foot and hurled through air,
The demon bull that moulders there,
My heart will own his might and fain
Believe my foe already slain.”
Canto XI. Dundubhi.
1199
Sugríva spoke inflamed with ire,
Scanned Ráma with a glance of fire,
Pondered a while in silent mood.
And thus again his speech renewed:
“All lands with Báli's glories ring,
A valiant, strong, and mighty king;
In conscious power unused to yield,
A hero first in every field.
His wondrous deeds his might declare,
Deeds Gods might scarcely do or dare;
And on this power reflecting still
I roam on Rishyamúka's hill.
Awed by my brother's might I rove,
In doubt and fear, from grove to grove,
While Hanumán, my chosen friend,
And faithful lords my steps attend;
And now, O true to friendship's tie,
I hail in thee my best ally.
My surest refuge from my foes,
And steadfast as the Lord of Snows.
Still, when I muse how strong and bold
Is cruel Báli, evil-souled,
But ne'er, O chief of Raghu's line,
Have seen what strength in war is thine,
Though in my heart I may not dare
Doubt thy great might, despise, compare,
Thoughts of his fearful deeds will rise
And fill my soul with sad surmise.
Speech, form, and trust which naught may move
[338]
Thy secret strength and glory prove,
As smouldering ashes dimly show
The dormant fires that live below.”
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The Ramayana
He ceased: and Ráma answered, while
Played o'er his lips a gracious smile:
“Not yet convinced? This clear assay
Shall drive each lingering doubt away.”
Thus Ráma spoke his heart to cheer,
To Dundubhi's vast frame drew near:
He touched it with his foot in play
And sent it twenty leagues away.
Sugríva marked what easy force
Hurled through the air that demon's corse
Whose mighty bones were white and dried,
And to the son of Raghu cried:
“My brother Báli, when his might
Was drunk and weary from the fight,
Hurled forth the monster body, fresh
With skin and sinews, blood and flesh.
Now flesh and blood are dried away,
The crumbling bones are light as hay,
Which thou, O Raghu's son, hast sent
Flying through air in merriment.
This test alone is weak to show
If thou be stronger or the foe.
By thee a heap of mouldering bone,
By him the recent corse was thrown.
Thy strength, O Prince, is yet untried:
Come, pierce one tree: let this decide.
Prepare thy ponderous bow and bring
Close to thine ear the straining string.
On yonder Sál tree fix thine eye,
And let the mighty arrow fly,
I doubt not, chief, that I shall see
Thy pointed shaft transfix the tree.
Then come, assay the easy task,
And do for love the thing I ask.
Canto XII. The Palm Trees.
1201
Best of all lights, the Day-God fills
With glory earth and sky:
Himálaya is the lord of hills
That heave their heads on high.
The royal lion is the best
Of beasts that tread the earth;
And thou, O hero, art confessed
First in heroic worth.”
Canto XII. The Palm Trees.
Then Ráma, that his friend might know
His strength unrivalled, grasped his bow,
That mighty bow the foe's dismay,—
And on the string an arrow lay.
Next on the tree his eye he bent,
And forth the hurtling weapon went.
Loosed from the matchless hero's hold,
That arrow, decked with burning gold,
Cleft the seven palms in line, and through
The hill that rose behind them flew:
Six subterranean realms it passed,
And reached the lowest depth at last,
Whence speeding back through earth and air
It sought the quiver, and rested there.573
Upon the cloven trees amazed,
The sovereign of the Vánars gazed.
With all his chains and gold outspread
Prostrate on earth he laid his head.
573The Bengal recension makes it return in the form of a swan.
1202
The Ramayana
Then, rising, palm to palm he laid
In reverent act, obeisance made,
And joyously to Ráma, best
Of war-trained chiefs, these words addressed:
“What champion, Raghu's son, may hope
With thee in deadly fight to cope,
Whose arrow, leaping from the bow,
Cleaves tree and hill and earth below?
Scarce might the Gods, arrayed for strife
By Indra's self, escape, with life
Assailed by thy victorious hand:
And how may Báli hope to stand?
All grief and care are past away,
And joyous thoughts my bosom sway,
Who have in thee a friend, renowned,
As Varuṇ574or as Indra, found.
Then on! subdue,—'tis friendship's claim,—
My foe who bears a brother's name.
Strike Báli down beneath thy feet:
With suppliant hands I thus entreat.”
Sugríva ceased, and Ráma pressed
The grateful Vánar to his breast;
And thoughts of kindred feeling woke
In Lakshmaṇ's bosom, as he spoke:
“On to Kishkindhá, on with speed!
Thou, Vánar King, our way shalt lead,
Then challenge Báli forth to fight.
574Varuṇa is one of the oldest of the Vedic Gods, corresponding in name and
partly in character to the Οὐρανός of the Greeks and is often regarded as the
supreme deity. He upholds heaven and earth, possesses extraordinary power
and wisdom, sends his messengers through both worlds, numbers the very
winkings of men's eyes, punishes transgressors whom he seizes with his deadly
noose, and pardons the sins of those who are penitent. In later mythology he
has become the God of the sea.
Canto XII. The Palm Trees.
1203
Thy foe who scorns a brother's right.”
They sought Kishkindhá's gate and stood
Concealed by trees in densest wood,
Sugríva, to the fight addressed,
More closely drew his cinctured vest,
And raised a wild sky-piercing shout
[339]
To call the foeman Báli out.
Forth came impetuous Báli, stirred
To fury by the shout he heard.
So the great sun, ere night has ceased,
Springs up impatient to the east.
Then fierce and wild the conflict raged
As hand to hand the foes engaged,
As though in battle mid the stars
Fought Mercury and fiery Mars.575
To highest pitch of frenzy wrought
With fists like thunderbolts they fought,
While near them Ráma took his stand,
And viewed the battle, bow in hand.
Alike they stood in form and might,
Like heavenly Aśvins576paired in fight,
Nor might the son of Raghu know
Where fought the friend and where the foe;
575Budha, not to be confounded with the great reformer Buddha, is the son of
Soma or the Moon, and regent of the planet Mercury. Angára is the regent of
Mars who is called the red or the fiery planet. The encounter between Michael
and Satan is similarly said to have been as if
“Two planets rushing from aspect malign
Of fiercest opposition in midsky
Should combat, and their jarring spheres compound.”
Paradise Lost. Book VI.
576The Aśvins or Heavenly Twins, the Dioskuri or Castor and Pollux of the
Hindus, have frequently been mentioned. See p. 36, Note.
1204
The Ramayana
So, while his bow was ready bent,
No life-destroying shaft he sent.
Crushed down by Báli's mightier stroke
Sugríva's force now sank and broke,
Who, hoping naught from Ráma's aid,
To Rishyamúka fled dismayed,
Weary, and faint, and wounded sore,
His body bruised and dyed with gore,
From Báli's blows, in rage and dread,
Afar to sheltering woods he fled.
Nor Báli farther dared pursue,
The curbing curse too well he knew.
“Fled from thy death!” the victor cried,
And home the mighty warrior hied.
Hanúmán, Lakshmaṇ, Raghu's son
Beheld the conquered Vánar run,
And followed to the sheltering shade
Where yet Sugríva stood dismayed.
Near and more near the chieftains came,
Then, for intolerable shame,
Not daring yet to lift his eyes,
Sugríva spoke with burning sighs:
“Thy matchless strength I first beheld,
And dared my foe, by thee impelled.
Why hast thou tried me with deceit
And urged me to a sure defeat?
Thou shouldst have said, “I will not slay
Thy foeman in the coming fray.”
For had I then thy purpose known
I had not waged the fight alone.”
Canto XII. The Palm Trees.
1205
The Vánar sovereign, lofty-souled,
In plaintive voice his sorrows told.
Then Ráma spake: “Sugríva, list,
All anger from thy heart dismissed,
And I will tell the cause that stayed
Mine arrow, and withheld the aid.
In dress, adornment, port, and height,
In splendour, battle-shout, and might,
No shade of difference could I see
Between thy foe, O King, and thee.
So like was each, I stood at gaze,
My senses lost in wildering maze,
Nor loosened from my straining bow
A deadly arrow at the foe,
Lest in my doubt the shaft should send
To sudden death our surest friend.
O, if this hand in heedless guilt
And rash resolve thy blood had spilt,
Through every land, O Vánar King,
My wild and foolish act would ring.
Sore weight of sin on him must lie
By whom a friend is made to die;
And Lakshmaṇ, I, and Sítá, best
Of dames, on thy protection rest.
On, warrior! for the fight prepare;
Nor fear again thy foe to dare.
Within one hour thine eye shall view
My arrow strike thy foeman through;
Shall see the stricken Báli lie
Low on the earth, and gasp and die.
But come, a badge about thee bind,
O monarch of the Vánar kind,
That in the battle shock mine eyes
The friend and foe may recognize.
1206
The Ramayana
Come, Lakshmaṇ, let that creeper deck
With brightest bloom Sugríva's neck,
And be a happy token, twined
Around the chief of lofty mind.”
Upon the mountain slope there grew
A threading creeper fair to view,
And Lakshmaṇ plucked the bloom and round
Sugríva's neck a garland wound.
Graced with the flowery wreath he wore,
The Vánar chief the semblance bore
Of a dark cloud at close of day
Engarlanded with cranes at play,
In glorious light the Vánar glowed
As by his comrade's side he strode,
And, still on Ráma's word intent,
His steps to great Kishkindhá bent.
[340]
Canto XIII. The Return To Kishkindhá.
Thus with Sugríva, from the side
Of Rishyamúka, Ráma hied,
And stood before Kishkindhá's gate
Where Báli kept his regal state.
The hero in his warrior hold
Raised his great bow adorned with gold,
And drew his pointed arrow bright
As sunbeams, finisher of fight.
Strong-necked Sugríva led the way
With Lakshmaṇ mighty in the fray.
Canto XIII. The Return To Kishkindhá.
1207
Nala and Níla came behind
With Hanumán of lofty mind,
And valiant Tára, last in place,
A leader of the Vánar race.
They gazed on many a tree that showed
The glory of its pendent load,
And brook and limpid rill that made
Sweet murmurs as they seaward strayed.
They looked on caverns dark and deep,
On bower and glen and mountain steep,
And saw the opening lotus stud
With roseate cup the crystal flood,
While crane and swan and coot and drake
Made pleasant music on the lake,
And from the reedy bank was heard
The note of many a happy bird.
In open lawns, in tangled ways,
They saw the tall deer stand at gaze,
Or marked them free and fearless roam,
Fed with sweet grass, their woodland home.
At times two flashing tusks between
The wavings of the wood were seen,
And some mad elephant, alone,
Like a huge moving hill, was shown.
And scarcely less in size appeared
Great monkeys all with dust besmeared.
And various birds that roam the skies,
And silvan creatures, met their eyes,
As through the wood the chieftains sped,
And followed where Sugríva led.
Then Ráma, as their way they made,
Saw near at hand a lovely shade,
And, as he gazed upon the trees,
1208
The Ramayana
Spake to Sugríva words like these;
“Those stately trees in beauty rise,
Fair as a cloud in autumn skies.
I fain, my friend, would learn from thee
What pleasant grove is that I see.”
Thus Ráma spake, the mighty souled;
And thus his tale Sugríva told:
“That, Ráma, is a wide retreat
That brings repose to weary feet.
Bright streams and fruit and roots are there,
And shady gardens passing fair.
There, neath the roof of hanging boughs,
The sacred Seven maintained their vows.
Their heads in dust were lowly laid,
In streams their nightly beds were made.
Each seventh night they broke their fast,
But air was still their sole repast,
And when seven hundred years were spent
To homes in heaven the hermits went.
Their glory keeps the garden yet,
With walls of stately trees beset.
Scarce would the Gods and demons dare,
By Indra led, to enter there.
No beast that roams the wood is found,
No bird of air, within the bound;
Or, thither if they idly stray,
They find no more their homeward way.
You hear at times mid dulcet tones
The chime of anklets, rings, and zones.
You hear the song and music sound,
And heavenly fragrance breathes around,
Canto XIII. The Return To Kishkindhá.
1209
There duly burn the triple fires577
Where mounts the smoke in curling spires,
And, in a dun wreath, hangs above
The tall trees, like a brooding dove.
Round branch and crest the vapours close
Till every tree enveloped shows
A hill of lazulite when clouds
Hang round it with their misty shrouds.
With Lakshmaṇ, lord of Raghu's line,
In reverent guise thine head incline,
And with fixt heart and suppliant hand
Give honour to the sainted band.
They who with faithful hearts revere
The holy Seven who harboured here,
Shall never, son of Raghu, know
In all their lives an hour of woe.”
Then Ráma and his brother bent,
And did obeisance reverent
With suppliant hand and lowly head,
Then with Sugríva onward sped.
Beyond the sainted Seven's abode
Far on their way the chieftains strode,
And great Kishkindhá's portal gained,
The royal town where Báli reigned.
Then by the gate they took their stand
All ready armed a noble band,
And burning every one
To slay in battle, hand to hand,
Their foeman, Indra's son.
577Called respectively Gárhapatya, Áhavaniya, and Dakshiṇa, household,
sacrificial, and southern.
1210
The Ramayana
Canto XIV. The Challenge.
They stood where trees of densest green
Wove round their forms a veiling screen.
O'er all the garden's pleasant shade
The eyes of King Sugríva strayed,
[341]
And, as on grass and tree he gazed,
The fires of wrath within him blazed.
Then like a mighty cloud on high,
When roars the tempest through the sky,
Girt by his friends he thundered out
His dread sky-rending battle-shout
Like some proud lion in his gait,
Or as the sun begins his state,
Sugríva let his quick glance rest
On Ráma whom he thus addressed:
“There is the seat of Báli's sway,
Where flags on wall and turret play,
Which mighty bands of Vánars hold,
Rich in all arms and store of gold.
Thy promise to thy mind recall
That Báli by thy hand shall fall.
As kindly fruits adorn the bough.
So give my hopes their harvest now.”
In suppliant tone the Vánar prayed,
And Raghu's son his answer made:
“By Lakshmaṇ's hand this flowery twine
Was wound about thee for a sign.
The wreath of giant creeper throws
About thy form its brillant glows,
As though about the sun were set
The bright stars for a coronet.
One shaft of mine this day, dear friend,
Canto XIV. The Challenge.
1211
Thy sorrow and thy fear shall end.
And, from the bowstring freed, shall be
Giver of freedom, King, to thee.
Then come, Sugríva, quickly show,
Where'er he lie, thy bitter foe;
And let my glance the wretch descry
Whose deeds, a brother's name belie.
Yea, soon in dust and blood o'erthrown
Shall Báli fall and gasp and groan.
Once let this eye the foeman see,
Then, if he live to turn and flee,
Despise my puny strength, and shame
With foul opprobrium Ráma's name.
Hast thou not seen his hand, O King,
Through seven tall trees one arrow wing?
Still in that strength securely trust,
And deem thy foeman in the dust.
In all my days, though surely tried
By grief and woe, I ne'er have lied;
And still by duty's law restrained
Will ne'er with falsehood's charge be stained.
Cast doubt away: the oath I sware
Its kindly fruit shall quickly bear,
As smiles the land with golden grain
By mercy of the Lord of rain.
Oh, warrior to the gate I defy
Thy foe with shout and battle-cry,
Till Báli with his chain of gold
Come speeding from his royal hold.
Proud hearts, with warlike fire aglow,
Brook not the challenge of a foe:
Each on his power and might relies,
And most before his ladies eyes.
King Báli loves the fray too well
1212
The Ramayana
To linger in his citadel,
And, when he hears thy battle-shout,
All wild for war will hasten out.”
He spoke. Sugríva raised a cry
That shook and rent the echoing sky,
A shout so fierce and loud and dread
That stately bulls in terror fled,
Like dames who fly from threatened stain
In some ignoble monarch's reign.
The deer in wild confusion ran
Like horses turned in battle's van.
Down fell the birds, like Gods who fall
When merits fail,578at that dread call.
So fiercely, boldened for the fray,
The offspring of the Lord of Day
Sent forth his furious shout as loud
As thunder from a labouring cloud,
Or, where the gale blows fresh and free,
The roaring of the troubled sea.
Canto XV. Tárá.
578The store of merit accumulated by a holy or austere life secures only a
temporary seat in the mansion of bliss. When by the lapse of time this store is
exhausted, return to earth is unavoidable.
Canto XV. Tárá.
1213
That shout, which shook the land with fear,
In thunder smote on Báli's ear,
Where in the chamber barred and closed
The sovereign with his dame reposed.
Each amorous thought was rudely stilled,
And pride and rage his bosom filled.
His angry eyes flashed darkly red,
And all his native brightness fled,
As when, by swift eclipse assailed,
The glory of the sun has failed.
While in his fury uncontrolled
He ground his teeth, his eyeballs rolled,
He seemed a lake wherein no gem
Of blossom decks the lotus stem.
He heard, and with indignant pride
Forth from the bower the Vánar hied.
And the earth trembled at the beat
And fury of his hastening feet.
But Tárá to her consort flew,
Her loving arms around him threw,
And trembling and bewildered, gave
Wise counsel that might heal and save:
“O dear my lord, this rage control
That like a torrent floods thy soul,
And cast these idle thoughts away
Like faded wreath of yesterday,
O tarry till the morning light,
Then, if thou wilt, go forth and fight.
[342]
Think not I doubt thy valour, no;
Or deem thee weaker than thy foe,
Yet for a while would have thee stay
Nor see thee tempt the fight to-day.
Now list, my loving lord, and learn
The reason why I bid thee turn.
1214
The Ramayana
Thy foeman came in wrath and pride,
And thee to deadly fight defied.
Thou wentest out: he fought, and fled
Sore wounded and discomfited.
But yet, untaught by late defeat,
He comes his conquering foe to meet,
And calls thee forth with cry and shout:
Hence spring, my lord, this fear and doubt.
A heart so bold that will not yield,
But yearns to tempt the desperate field,
Such loud defiance, fiercely pressed,
On no uncertain hope can rest.
So lately by thine arm o'erthrown,
He comes not back, I ween, alone.
Some mightier comrade guards his side,
And spurs him to this burst of pride.
For nature made the Vánar wise:
On arms of might his hope relies;
And never will Sugríva seek
A friend whose power to save is weak.
Now listen while my lips unfold
The wondrous tale my Angad told.
Our child the distant forest sought,
And, learnt from spies, the tidings brought.
Two sons of Daśaratha, sprung
From old Ikshváku, brave and young,
Renowned in arms, in war untamed—
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ are they named—
Have with thy foe Sugríva made
A league of love and friendly aid.
Now Ráma, famed for exploit high,
Is bound thy brother's firm ally,
Canto XV. Tárá.
1215
Like fires of doom579that ruin all
He makes each foe before him fall.
He is the suppliant's sure defence,
The tree that shelters innocence.
The poor and wretched seek his feet:
In him the noblest glories meet.
With skill and knowledge vast and deep
His sire's commands he loved to keep;
With princely gifts and graces stored
As metals deck the Mountains' Lord.580
Thou canst not, O my hero, stand
Before the might of Ráma's hand;
For none may match his powers or dare
With him in deeds of war compare.
Hear, I entreat, the words I say,
Nor lightly turn my rede away.
O let fraternal discord cease,
And link you in the bonds of peace.
Let consecrating rites ordain
Sugríva partner of thy reign.
Let war and thoughts of conflict end,
And be thou his and Ráma's friend,
Each soft approach of love begin,
And to thy soul thy brother win;
For whether here or there he be,
Thy brother still, dear lord, is he.
Though far and wide these eyes I strain
A friend like him I seek in vain.
Let gentle words his heart incline,
And gifts and honours make him thine,
Till, foes no more, in love allied,
You stand as brothers side by side.
579The conflagration which destroys the world at the end of a Yuga or age.
580Himálaya.
1216
The Ramayana
Thou in high rank wast wont to hold
Sugríva, formed in massive mould;
Then come, thy brother's love regain,
For other aids are weak and vain.
If thou would please my soul, and still
Preserve me from all fear and ill,
I pray thee by thy love be wise
And do the thing which I advise.
Assuage thy fruitless wrath, and shun
The mightier arms of Raghu's son;
For Indra's peer in might is he,
A foe too strong, my lord, for thee.”
Canto XVI. The Fall Of Báli.
Thus Tárá with the starry eyes581
Her counsel gave with burning sighs.
But Báli, by her prayers unmoved,
Spurned her advice, and thus reproved:
“How may this insult, scathe, and scorn
By me, dear love, be tamely born?
My brother, yea my foe, comes nigh
And dares me forth with shout and cry.
Learn, trembler! that the valiant, they
Who yield no step in battle fray,
Will die a thousand deaths but ne'er
An unavenged dishonour bear.
Nor, O my love, be thou dismayed
581Tárá means “star.” The poet plays upon the name by comparing her beauty
to that of the Lord of stars, the Moon.
Canto XVI. The Fall Of Báli.
1217
Though Ráma lend Sugríva aid,
For one so pure and duteous, one
Who loves the right, all sin will shun,
Release me from thy soft embrace,
And with thy dames thy steps retrace:
Enough already, O mine own,
Of love and sweet devotion shown.
Drive all thy fear and doubt away;
I seek Sugríva in the fray
His boisterous rage and pride to still,
And tame the foe I would not kill.
My fury, armed with brandished trees,
Shall strike Sugríva to his knees:
[343]
Nor shall the humbled foe withstand
The blows of my avenging hand,
When, nerved by rage and pride, I beat
The traitor down beneath my feet.
Thou, love, hast lent thine own sweet aid,
And all thy tender care displayed;
Now by my life, by these who yearn
To serve thee well, I pray thee turn.
But for a while, dear dame, I go
To come triumphant o'er the foe.”
Thus Báli spake in gentlest tone:
Soft arms about his neck were thrown;
Then round her lord the lady went
With sad steps slow and reverent.
She stood in solemn guise to bless
With prayers for safety and success,
Then with her train her chamber sought
By grief and racking fear distraught.
1218
The Ramayana
With serpent's pantings fierce and fast
King Báli from the city passed.
His glance, as each quick breath he drew,
Around to find the foe he threw,
And saw where fierce Sugríva showed
His form with golden hues that glowed,
And, as a fire resplendent, stayed
To meet his foe in arms arrayed.
When Báli, long-armed chieftain, found
Sugríva stationed on the ground,
Impelled by warlike rage he braced
His warrior garb about his waist,
And with his mighty arm raised high
Rushed at Sugríva with a cry.
But when Sugríva, fierce and bold,
Saw Báli with his chain of gold,
His arm he heaved, his hand he closed,
And face to face his foe opposed.
To him whose eyes with fury shone,
In charge impetuous rushing on,
Skilled in each warlike art and plan,
Báli with hasty words began:
“My ponderous hand, to fight addressed
With fingers clenched and arm compressed
Shall on thy death doomed brow descend
And, crashing down, thy life shall end.”
He spoke; and wild with rage and pride,
The fierce Sugríva thus replied:
“Thus let my arm begin the strife
And from thy body crush the life.”
Then Báli, wounded and enraged,
With furious blows the battle waged.
Sugríva seemed, with blood-streams dyed,
Canto XVI. The Fall Of Báli.
1219
A hill with fountains in his side.
But with his native force unspent
A Sál tree from the earth he rent,
And like the bolt of Indra smote
On Báli's head and chest and throat.
Bruised by the blows he could not shield,
Half vanquished Báli sank and reeled,
As sinks a vessel with her freight
Borne down by overwhelming weight.
Swift as Suparṇa's582swiftest flight
In awful strength they rushed to fight:
So might the sun and moon on high
Encountering battle in the sky.
Fierce and more fierce, as fought the foes,
The furious rage of combat rose.
They warred with feet and arms and knees,
With nails and stones and boughs and trees,
And blows descending fast as rain
Dyed each dark form with crimson stain,
While like two thunder-clouds they met
With battle-cry and shout and threat.
Then Ráma saw Sugríva quail,
Marked his worn strength grow weak and fail.
Saw how he turned his wistful eye
To every quarter of the sky.
His friend's defeat he could not brook,
Bent on his shaft an eager look,
Then burned to slay the conquering foe,
And laid his arrow on the bow.
As to an orb the bow he drew
Forth from the string the arrow flew
Like Fate's tremendous discus hurled
582Suparṇa, the Well-winged, is another name of Garuḍa the King of Birds.
See p. 28, Note.
1220
The Ramayana
By Yáma583forth to end the world.
So loud the din that every bird
The bow-string's clans with terror heard,
And wildly fled the affrighted deer
As though the day of doom were near.
So, deadly as the serpent's fang,
Forth from the string the arrow sprang.
Like the red lightning's flash and flame
It flew unerring to its aim,
And, hissing murder through the air,
Pierced Báli's breast, and quivered there.
Struck by the shaft that flew so well
The mighty Vánar reeled and fell,
As earthward Indra's flag they pull
When Aśvíní's fair moon is full.584
Canto XVII. Báli's Speech.
Like some proud tree before the blast
Brave Báli to the ground was cast,
Where prostrate in the dust he rolled
Clad in the sheen of glistening gold,
[344]
583The God of Death.
584The flag-staff erected in honour of the God Indra is lowered when the
festival is over. Aśvíní in astronomy is the head of Aries or the first of the
twenty-eight lunar mansions or asterisms.
Canto XVII. Báli's Speech.
1221
As when uptorn the standard lies
Of the great God who rules the skies.
When low upon the earth was laid
The lord whom Vánar tribes obeyed,
Dark as a moonless sky no more
His land her joyous aspect wore.
Though low in dust and mire was rolled
The form of Báli lofty-souled,
Still life and valour, might and grace
Clung to their well-loved dwelling-place.
That golden chain with rich gems set,
The choicest gift of Sákra,585yet
Preserved his life nor let decay
Steal strength and beauty's light away.
Still from that chain divinely wrought
His dusky form a glory caught,
As a dark cloud, when day is done,
Made splendid by the dying sun.
As fell the hero, crushed in fight,
There beamed afar a triple light
From limbs, from chain, from shaft that drank
His life-blood as the warrior sank.
The never-failing shaft, impelled
By the great bow which Ráma held,
Brought bliss supreme, and lit the way
To Brahmá's worlds which ne'er decay.586
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ nearer drew
The mighty fallen foe to view,
Mahendra's son, the brave and bold,
585Indra the father of Báli.
586It is believed that every creature killed by Ráma obtained in consequence
immediate beatitude.
“And blessed the hand that gave so dear a death.”
1222
The Ramayana
The monarch with his chain of gold,
With lustrous face and tawny eyes,
Broad chest, and arms of wondrous size,
Like Lord Mahendra fierce in fight,
Or Vishṇu's never-conquered might,
Now fallen like Yayáti587sent
From heaven, his store of merit spent,
Like the bright flame that pales and dies,
Like the great sun who fires the skies,
Doomed in the general doom to fall
When time shall end and ruin all.
The wounded Báli, when he saw
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ nearer draw,
Keen words to Raghu's son, impressed
With justice' holy stamp, addressed:
“What fame, from one thou hast not slain
In front of battle, canst thou gain,
Whose secret hand has laid me low
When madly fighting with my foe?
From every tongue thy glory rings,
A scion of a line of kings,
True to thy vows, of noblest race,
With every gentle gift and grace:
Whose tender heart for woe can feel,
And joy in every creature's weal:
Whose breast with high ambition swells,
Knows duty's claim and ne'er rebels.
They praise thy valour, patience, ruth,
587“Yayáti was invited to heaven by Indra, and conveyed on the way thither
by Mátali, Indra's charioteer. He afterwards returned to earth where, by his
virtuous administration he rendered all his subjects exempt from passion and
decay.” GARRETT'S C. D. OF INDIA{FNS.
Canto XVII. Báli's Speech.
1223
Thy firmness, self-restraint, and truth:
Thy hand prepared for sin's control,
All virtues of a princely soul.
I thought of all these gifts of thine,
And glories of an ancient line,
I set my Tárá's tears at naught,
I met Sugríva and we fought.
O Ráma, till this fatal morn
I held that thou wouldst surely scorn
To strike me as I fought my foe
And thought not of a stranger's blow,
But now thine evil heart is shown,
A yawning well with grass o'ergrown.
Thou wearest virtue's badge,588but guile
And meanest sin thy soul defile.
I took thee not for treacherous fire,
A sinner clad in saint's attire;
Nor deemed thou idly wouldst profess
The show and garb of righteousness.
In fenced town, in open land,
Ne'er hast thou suffered at this hand,
Nor canst of proud contempt complain:
Then wherefore is the guiltless slain?
My harmless life in woods I lead,
On forest fruits and roots I feed.
My foeman in the field I sought,
And ne'er with thee, O Ráma, fought.
Upon thy limbs, O King, I see
The raiment of a devotee;
And how can one like thee, who springs
From a proud line of ancient kings,
Beneath fair virtue's mask, disgrace
588The ascetic's dress which he wore during his exile.
1224
The Ramayana
His lineage by a deed so base?
From Raghu is thy long descent,
For duteous deeds prëeminent:
Why, sinner clad in saintly dress,
Roamest thou through the wilderness?
Truth, valour, justice free from spot,
The hand that gives and grudges not,
The might that strikes the sinner down,
These bring a prince his best renown.
Here in the woods, O King, we live
On roots and fruit which branches give.589
[345]
Thus nature framed our harmless race:
Thou art a man supreme in place.
Silver and gold and land provoke
The fierce attack, the robber's stroke,
Canst thou desire this wild retreat,
The berries and the fruit we eat?
'Tis not for mighty kings to tread
The flowery path, by pleasure led.
Theirs be the arm that crushes sin,
Theirs the soft grace to woo and win:
The steadfast will that guides the state,
Wise favour to the good and great;
And for all time are kings renowned
Who blend these arts and ne'er confound.
But thou art weak and swift to ire,
Unstable, slave of each desire.
Thou tramplest duty in the dust,
And in thy bow is all thy trust.
589There is much inconsistency in the passages of the poem in which the
Vánars are spoken of, which seems to point to two widely different legends.
The Vánars are generally represented as semi-divine beings with preternatural
powers, living in houses and eating and drinking like men sometimes as here,
as monkeys pure and simple, living is woods and eating fruit and roots.
Canto XVII. Báli's Speech.
1225
Thou carest naught for noble gain,
And treatest virtue with disdain,
While every sense its captive draws
To follow pleasure's changing laws.
I wronged thee not in word or deed,
But by thy deadly dart I bleed.
What wilt thou, mid the virtuous, say
To purge thy lasting stain away?
All these, O King, must sink to hell,
The regicide, the infidel,
He who in blood and slaughter joys,
A Bráhman or a cow destroys,
Untimely weds in law's despite
Scorning an elder brother's right,590
Who dares his Teacher's bed ascend,
The miser, spy, and treacherous friend.
These impious wretches, one and all,
Must to the hell of sinners fall.
My skin the holy may not wear,
Useless to thee my bones and hair;
Nor may my slaughtered body be
The food of devotees like thee.
These five-toed things a man may slay
And feed upon the fallen prey;
The mailed rhinoceros may die,
And, with the hare his food supply.
Iguanas he may kill and eat,
590For a younger brother to marry before the elder is a gross violation of
Indian law and duty. The same law applied to daughters with the Hebrews: “It
must not be so done in our country to give the younger before the first-born.”
GENESIS{FNS xix. 26.
1226
The Ramayana
With porcupine and tortoise meat.591
But all the wise account it sin
To touch my bones and hair and skin.
My flesh they may not eat; and I
A useless prey, O Ráma, die.
In vain my Tárá reasoned well,
On dull deaf ears her counsel fell.
I scorned her words though sooth and sweet,
And hither rushed my fate to meet.
Ah for the land thou rulest! she
Finds no protection, lord, from thee,
Neglected like some noble dame
By a vile husband dead to shame.
Mean-hearted coward, false and vile,
Whose cruel soul delights in guile,
Could Daśaratha, noblest king,
Beget so mean and base a thing?
Alas! an elephant, in form
Of Ráma, in a maddening storm
Of passion casting to the ground
The girth of law592that clipped him round,
Too wildly passionate to feel
The prick of duty's guiding steel,593
Has charged me unawares, and dead
I fall beneath his murderous tread.
How, stained with this my base defeat,
591“The hedgehog and porcupine, the lizard, the rhinoceros, the tortoise,
and the rabbit or hare, wise legislators declare lawful food among five-toed
animals.” MANU{FNS, v. 18.
592
“He can not buckle his distempered cause
Within the belt of rule.”
MACBETH{FNS.
593The Ankuś or iron hook with which an elephant is driven and guided.
Canto XVII. Báli's Speech.
1227
How wilt thou dare, where good men meet,
To speak, when every tongue will blame
With keen reproach this deed of shame?
Such hero strength and valour, shown
Upon the innocent alone,
Thou hast not proved in manly strife
On him who robbed thee of thy wife.
Hadst thou but fought in open field
And met me boldly unconcealed,
This day had been thy fate to fall,
Slain by this hand, to Yáma's hall.
In vain I strove, and struck by thee
Fell by a hand I could not see.
Thus bites a snake, for sins of yore,
A sleeping man who wakes no more.
Sugríva's foeman thou hast killed,
And thus his heart's desire fulfilled;
But, Ráma, hadst thou sought me first,
And told the hope thy soul has nursed,
That very day had I restored
The Maithil lady to her lord;
And, binding Rávaṇ with a chain,
Had laid him at thy feet unslain.
[346]
Yea, were she sunk in deepest hell,
Or whelmed beneath the ocean's swell,
I would have followed on her track
And brought the rescued lady back,
As Hayagríva594once set free
594Hayagríva, Horse-necked, is a form of Vishṇu.
1228
The Ramayana
From hell the white Aśvatarí.595
That when my spirit wings its flight
Sugríva reign, is just and right.
But most unjust, O King, that I,
Slain by thy treacherous hand, should lie.
Be still, my heart: this earthly state
Is darkly ruled by sovereign Fate.
The realm is lost and won: defy
Thy questioners with apt reply.”596
Canto XVIII. Ráma's Reply.
He ceased: and Ráma's heart was stirred
At every keen reproach he heard.
There Báli lay, a dim dark sun,
His course of light and glory run:
Or like the bed of Ocean dried
Of his broad floods from side to side,
Or helpless, as the dying fire,
Hushed his last words of righteous ire.
Then Ráma, with his spirit moved,
The Vánar king in turn reproved:
595“Aśvatara is the name of a chief of the Nágas or serpents which inhabit the
regions under the earth; it is also the name of a Gandharva. Aśvatarí ought to
be the wife of one of the two, but I am not sure that this conjecture is right. The
commentator does not say who this Aśvatarí is, or what tradition or myth is
alluded to. Vimalabodha reads Aśvatarí in the nominative case, and explains,
Aśvatarí is the sun, and as the sun with his rays brings back the moon which
has been sunk in the ocean and the infernal regions, so will I bring back Sítá.”
GORRESIO{FNS.
596That is, “Consider what answer you can give to your accusers when they
charge you with injustice in killing me.”
Canto XVIII. Ráma's Reply.
1229
“Why dost thou, Báli, thus revile,
And castest not a glance the while
On claims of duty, love, and gain,
And customs o'er the world that reign?
Why dost thou blame me, rash and blind,
Fickle as all thy Vánar kind,
Slighting each rule of ancient days
Which all the good and prudent praise?
This land, each hill and woody chase,
Belongs to old Ikshváku's race:
With bird and beast and man, the whole
Is ours to cherish and control.
Now Bharat, prompt at duty's call,
Wise, just, and true, is lord of all.
Each claim of law, love, gain he knows,
And wrath and favour duly shows.
A king from truth who never bends,
And grace with vigour wisely blends;
With valour worthy of his race,
He knows the claims of time and place.
Now we and other kings of might,
By his ensample taught aright,
The lands of every region tread
That justice may increase and spread.
While royal Bharat, wise and just,
Rules the broad earth, his glorious trust,
Who shall attempt, while he is lord,
A deed by Justice held abhorred?
We now, as Bharat has decreed,
Let justice guide our every deed,
And toil each sinner to repress
Who scorns the way of righteousness.
Thou from that path hast turned aside,
And virtue's holy law defied,
1230
The Ramayana
Left the fair path which kings should tread,
And followed pleasure's voice instead.
The man who cleaves to duty's law
Regards these three with filial awe—
The sire, the elder brother, third
Him from whose lips his lore he heard.
Thus too, for duty's sake, the wise
Regard with fond paternal eyes
The well-loved younger brother, one
Their lore has ripened, and a son.
Fine are the laws which guide the good,
Abstruse, and hardly understood;
Only the soul, enthroned within
The breast of each, knows right from sin.
But thou art wild and weak of soul,
And spurnest, like thy race, control;
The true and right thou canst not find,
The blind consulting with the blind.
Incline thine ear and I will teach
The cause that prompts my present speech.
This tempest of thy soul assuage,
Nor blame me in thine idle rage.
On this great sin thy thoughts bestow,
The sin for which I lay thee low.
Thou, Báli, in thy brother's life
Hast robbed him of his wedded wife,
And keepest, scorning ancient right,
His Rumá for thine own delight.
Thy son's own wife should scarcely be
More sacred in thine eyes than she.
All duty thou hast scorned, and hence
Comes punishment for dire offence.
For those who blindly do amiss
There is, I ween, no way but this:
Canto XVIII. Ráma's Reply.
1231
To check the rash who dare to stray
From customs which the good obey,
I may not, sprung of Kshatriya line,
[347]
Forgive this heinous sin of thine:
The laws for those who sin like thee
The penalty of death decree.
Now Bharat rules with sovereign sway,
And we his royal word obey.
There was no hope of pardon, none,
For the vile deed that thou hast done,
That wisest monarch dooms to die
The wretch whose crimes the law defy;
And we, chastising those who err,
His righteous doom administer.
My soul accounts Sugríva dear
E'en as my brother Lakshmaṇ here.
He brings me blessing, and I swore
His wife and kingdom to restore:
A bond in solemn honour bound
When Vánar chieftains stood around.
And can a king like me forsake
His friend, and plighted promise break?
Reflect, O Vánar, on the cause,
The sanction of eternal laws,
And, justly smitten down, confess
Thou diest for thy wickedness.
By honour was I bound to lend
Assistance to a faithful friend;
And thou hast met a righteous fate
Thy former sins to expiate.
And thus wilt thou some merit win
And make atonement for thy sin.
For hear me, Vánar King, rehearse
1232
The Ramayana
What Manu597spake in ancient verse,—
This holy law, which all accept
Who honour duty, have I kept:
“Pure grow the sinners kings chastise,
And, like the virtuous, gain the skies;
By pain or full atonement freed,
They reap the fruit of righteous deed,
While kings who punish not incur
The penalties of those who err.”
Mándhátá598once, a noble king,
Light of the line from which I spring,
Punished with death a devotee
When he had stooped to sin like thee;
And many a king in ancient time
Has punished frantic sinners' crime,
And, when their impious blood was spilt,
Has washed away the stain of guilt.
Cease, Báli, cease: no more complain:
Reproaches and laments are vain,
For thou art justly punished: we
Obey our king and are not free.
Once more, O Báli, lend thine ear
Another weightiest plea to hear.
For this, when heard and pondered well,
Will all complaint and rage dispel.
My soul will ne'er this deed repent,
Nor was my shaft in anger sent.
We take the silvan tribes beset
With snare and trap and gin and net,
597Manu, Book VIII. 318. “But men who have committed offences and have
receivedfromkingsthepunishmentduetothem, gopuretoheavenandbecome
as clear as those who have done well.”
598Mándhátá was one of the earlier descendants of Ikshváku. His name is
mentioned in Ráma's genealogy, p. 81.
Canto XVIII. Ráma's Reply.
1233
And many a heedless deer we smite
From thickest shade, concealed from sight.
Wild for the slaughter of the game,
At stately stags our shafts we aim.
We strike them bounding scared away,
We strike them as they stand at bay,
When careless in the shade they lie,
Or scan the plain with watchful eye.
They turn away their heads; we aim,
And none the eager hunter blame.
Each royal saint, well trained in law
Of duty, loves his bow to draw
And strike the quarry, e'en as thou
Hast fallen by mine arrow now,
Fighting with him or unaware,—
A Vánar thou.—I little care.599
But yet, O best of Vánars, know
That kings who rule the earth bestow
Fruit of pure life and virtuous deed,
And lofty duty's hard-won meed.
Harm not thy lord the king: abstain
From act and word that cause him pain;
For kings are children of the skies
Who walk this earth in men's disguise.
But thou, in duty's claims untaught,
Thy breast with blinding passion fraught,
Assailest me who still have clung
To duty, with thy bitter tongue.”
599I cannot understand how Válmíki could put such an excuse as this into
Ráma's mouth. Ráma with all solemn ceremony, has made a league of alliance
with Báli's younger brother whom he regards as a dear friend and almost as
an equal, and now he winds up his reasons for killing Báli by coolly saying:
“Besides you are only a monkey, you know, after all, and as such I have every
right to kill you how, when, and where I like.”
1234
The Ramayana
He ceased: and Báli sore distressed
The sovereign claims of law confessed,
And freed, o'erwhelmed with woe and shame,
The lord of Raghu's race from blame.
Then, reverent palm to palm applied,
To Ráma thus the Vánar cried:
“True, best of men, is every word
That from thy lips these ears have heard,
It ill beseems a wretch like me
To bandy empty words with thee.
Forgive the angry taunts that broke
From my wild bosom as I spoke.
And lay not to my charge, O King,
[348]
My mad reproaches' idle sting.
Thou, in the truth by trial trained,
Best knowledge of the right hast gained:
And layest, just and pure within,
The meetest penalty on sin.
Through every bond of law I burst,
The boldest sinner and the worst.
O let thy right-instructing speech
Console my heart and wisely teach.”
Like some sad elephant who stands
Fast sinking in the treacherous sands,
Thus Báli raised despairing eyes;
Then spake again with sobs and sighs:
“Not for myself, O King, I grieve,
For Tárá or the friends I leave,
As for sweet Angad, my dear son,
My noble, only little one.
For, nursed in luxury and bliss,
His father he will mourn and miss,
Canto XVIII. Ráma's Reply.
1235
And like a stream whose fount is dry
Will waste away and sink and die,—
My own dear child, my only boy,
His mother Tárá's hope and joy.
Spare him, O son of Raghu, spare
The child entrusted to thy care.
My Angad and Sugríva treat
E'en as thy heart considers meet,
For thou, O chief of men, art strong
To guard the right and punish wrong.
O, if thou wilt thine ear incline
To hear these dying words of mine,
He and Sugríva will to thee
As Bharat and as Lakshmaṇ be.
Let not my Tárá, left forlorn,
Weep for Sugríva's wrathful scorn;
Nor let him, for her lord's offence,
Condemn her faithful innocence.
And well and wisely may he reign
If thy dear grace his power sustain:
If, following thee his friend and guide,
He turn not from thy hest aside:
Thus may he reign with glory, nay
Thus to the skies will win his way.
Though stayed by Tárá's fond recall,
By thy dear hand I longed to fall.
Against my brother rushed and fought,
And gained the death I long have sought.”
Then Ráma thus the prince consoled
From whose clear eyes the mists were rolled:
“Grieve not for those thou leavest thus,
Nor tremble for thyself or us,
For we will deal with thine and thee
1236
The Ramayana
As duty and the laws decree.
He who exacts and he who pays,
Is justly slain or justly slays,
Shall in the life to come have bliss;
For each has done his task in this.
Thou, wandering from the right, art made
Pure by the forfeit thou hast paid.
Thy weight of sins is cast aside,
And duty's claim is satisfied.
Then grieve no more, O Prince, but clear
Thy bosom from all doubt and fear,
For fate, inexorably stern,
Thou hast no power to move or turn.
Thy princely Angad still will share
My tender love, Sugríva's care;
And to thy offspring shall be shown
Affection that shall match thine own.”
Canto XIX. Tárá's Grief.
No answer gave the Vánar king
To Ráma's prudent counselling.
Battered and bruised by tree and stone,
By Ráma's arrow overthrown,
Fainting upon the ground he lay,
Gasping his troubled life away.
Canto XIX. Tárá's Grief.
1237
But Tárá in the Vánar's hall
Heard tidings of her husband's fall;
Heard that a shaft from Ráma's bow
Had laid the royal Báli low.
Her darling Angad by her side,
Distracted from her home she hied.
Then nigh the place of battle drew
The Vánars, Angad's retinue.
They saw the bow-armed Ráma: dread
Fell on them, and they turned and fled.
Like helpless deer, their leaders slain,
So wildly fled the startled train.
But Tárá saw, and nearer pressed,
And thus the flying band addressed:
“O Vánars, ye who ever stand
About our king, a trusty band,
Where is the lion master? why
Forsake ye thus your lord and fly?
Say, lies he dead upon the plain,
A brother by a brother slain,
Or pierced by shafts from Ráma's bow
That rain from far upon the foe?”
Thus Tárá questioned, and was still:
Then, wearers of each shape at will,
The Vánars thus with one accord
Answered the Lady of their lord:
“Turn, Tárá turn, and half undone
Save Angad thy beloved son.
There Ráma stands in death's disguise,
And conquered Báli faints and dies.
He by whose strong arm, thick and fast,
Uprooted trees and rocks were cast,
Lies smitten by a shaft that came
1238
The Ramayana
Resistless as the lightning flame.
When he, whose splendour once could vie
With Indra's, regent of the sky,
Fell by that deadly arrow, all
The Vánars fled who marked his fall.
Let all our chiefs their succours bring,
And Angad be anointed king;
[349]
For all who come of Vánar race
Will serve him set in Báli's place.
Or else our conquering foes to-day
Within our wall will force their way,
Polluting with their hostile feet
The chambers of thy loved retreat.
Great fear is on us, all and one.
Those who have wives and who have none,
They lust for power, are fierce and bold,
Or hate us for the strife of old.”
She heard their speech as, sore afraid,
Arrested in their flight, they stayed,
And gave her answer as became
The spirit of so true a dame:
“Nay, what have I to do with pelf,
With son, with kingdom, or with self,
When he, my noble lord, who leads
The Vánars like a lion, bleeds?
His high-souled victor will I meet,
And throw me prostrate at his feet.”
Canto XIX. Tárá's Grief.
1239
She hastened forth, her bosom rent
With anguish, weeping as she went,
And striking, mastered by her woes,
Her head and breast with frantic blows.
She hurried to the field and found
Her husband prostrate on the ground,
Who quelled the hostile Vánars' might,
Whose bank was never turned in flight:
Whose arm a massy rock could throw
As Indra hurls his bolts below:
Fierce as the rushing tempest, loud
As thunder from a labouring cloud:
Whene'er he roared his voice of fear
Struck terror on the boldest ear:
Now slain, as, hungry for the prey,
A tiger might a lion slay:
Or when, his serpent foe to seek,
Suparṇa600with his furious beak
Tears up a sacred hillock, long
The reverence of a village throng,
Its altar with their offerings spread,
And the gay flag that waved o'erhead.
She looked and saw the victor stand
Resting upon his bow his hand:
And fierce Sugríva she descried,
And Lakshmaṇ by his brother's side.
She passed them by, nor stayed to view,
Swift to her husband's side she flew;
Then as she looked, her strength gave way,
And in the dust she fell and lay.
Then, as if startled ere the close
Of slumber, from the earth she rose.
600A name of Garuḍa the king of birds, the great enemy of the Serpents.
1240
The Ramayana
Upon her dying husband, round
Whose soul the coils of Death were wound,
Her eyes in agony she bent
And called him with a shrill lament.
Sugríva, when he heard her cries,
And saw the queen with weeping eyes,
And youthful Angad standing there,
His load of grief could hardly bear.
Canto XX. Tárá's Lament.
Again she bent her to the ground,
Her arms about her husband wound.
Sobbed on his breast, and sick and faint
With anguish poured her wild complaint:
“Brave in the charge of battle, boast
And glory of the Vánar host,
Why on the cold earth wilt thou lie
And give no answer when I cry?
Up, warrior, from thy lowly bed!
A meeter couch for thee is spread.
It ill beseems a glorious king
On the bare ground his limbs to fling.
Ah, surely must thy love be strong
For her whom thou hast governed long,
If thou, my hero, canst recline
On her cold breast forsaking mine.
Or, famed for justice through the land,
Thou on the road to heaven hast planned
Some city fairer far than this
To be thy new metropolis.
Canto XX. Tárá's Lament.
1241
Are all our pleasures ended now,
With those delicious hours which thou
And I, dear lord, together spent
In woods that breathed the honey's scent?
Whelmed in my sorrow's boundless sea,
There is no joy, no hope, for me,
When my beloved lord, who led
The Vánars to the fight, is dead,
My widowed heart is stern and cold.
Or, at the sight mine eyes behold,
O'ermastered would it end this ache
And in a thousand fragments break.
Ah noble Vánar, doomed to pay
The penalty of all today—
Sugríva from his home expelled,
And Rumá601from his arms withheld.
Our Vánar race and thee to save,
Wise counsel for thy weal I gave;
But thou, by wildest folly stirred,
Wouldst give no credence to my word,
And now wilt woo the nymphs above,
And shake their souls with pangs of love.
Ah, never could it be that thou
Beneath Sugríva's power shouldst bow,
Thy conqueror is none but Fate
Whose mandates all who breathe await.
And does no thrill of anguish run
Through the stern breast of Raghu's son,
Whose base hand dealt a coward's blow,
And smote thee fighting with thy foe?
Reft of my lord my days, alas!
[350]
In bitter bitter woe will pass:
601Sugríva's wife.
1242
The Ramayana
And I, long blest with every good,
Must bear my dreary widowhood.
And when his uncle's brow is stern,
When his fierce eyes with fury burn,
Ah, what will be my Angad's fate,
So fair and young and delicate?
Come, darling, for the last sad sight,
Of thy dear sire who loved the right;
For soon thine eyes will long in vain
A look at that loved face to gain.
And, hero, as thy child draws near,
With tender words his spirit cheer;
Thy dying wishes gently speak,
And kiss him on the brows and cheek.
High fame, I ween, has Ráma won
By this great deed his hand has done,
His debt to brave Sugríva paid
And kept the promise that he made.
Be happy, King Sugríva, lord
Of Ramá to thine arms restored:
Enjoy uninterrupted reign,
For he, thy foe, at length is slain.
Dost thou not hear me speak, and why
Hast thou no word of soft reply?
Will thou not lift thine eyes and see
These dames who look to none but thee?”
From their sad eyes, as Tárá spoke,
The floods of bitter sorrow broke:
Then, pressing close to Angad's side,
Each lifted up her voice and cried:
Canto XXI. Hanumán's Speech.
1243
“How couldst thou leave thine Angad thus,
And go, for ever go, from us—
Thy child so dear in brave attire,
Graced with the virtues of his sire?
If e'er in want of thought, O chief,
One deed of mine have caused thee grief,
Forgive my folly, I entreat,
And with my head I touch thy feet.”
Again the hapless Tárá wept
As to her husband's side she crept,
And wild with sorrow and dismay
Sat on the ground where Báli lay.
Canto XXI. Hanumán's Speech.
There, like a fallen star, the dame
Fell by her lord's half lifeless frame;
And Hanumán drew softly near,
And strove her grieving heart to cheer:
1244
The Ramayana
“By changeless law our bliss and woe
From ancient worth and folly flow.
What fruits soe'er we cull, the seeds
Were scattered by our former deeds.602
Why mourn another's mournful fate,
And weep, thyself unfortunate?
Be calm, O thou whose heart is wise,
For none deserves another's sighs.
Look up, with idle sorrow strive:
Thy child, his heir, is yet alive.
Let needful rites be duly done,
Nor in thy woe forget thy son.
Regard the law which all obey:
They spring to life, they pass away.
Begin the task that bids thee rise,
And stay these tears, for thou art wise.
Our lord the king is doomed to die,
On whom ten million hearts rely.
Kind, liberal, patient, true, and just
Was he in whom they place their trust,
And now he seeks the land of those
Who for the right subdue their foes.
Each Vánar lord with all his train,
Each ranger of this wild domain,
And Angad here, thy darling, see
A governor and friend in thee.
These twain603whose hearts with sorrow ache
The funeral rites shall undertake,
And Angad by his mother's care
Be king, his father's rightful heir.
Now let him pay, as laws require,
602“Our deeds still follow with us from afar. And what we have been makes
us what we are.”
603Sugríva and Angad.
Canto XXII. Báli Dead.
1245
His sacred duty to his sire,
Nor one solemnity omit
Of all that mighty kings befit.
And when thy fond eye sees thine own
Dear Angad on his father's throne,
Then, lightened of its load of pain,
Thy spirit will have rest again.”
She heard his speech, she heaved her head,
Looked upon Hanumán and said:
“Sweeter my slain lord's limbs to touch,
Than Angad or a hundred such.
No rule or right, a widowed dame,
O'er Angad or the realm I claim.
Sugríva is the uncle, he
In every act supreme must be.
I pray thee, chief, this plan resign,
Nor claim from me what ne'er is mine.
The father with his tender care
Guards the dear child the mother bare,
Where'er I be, no sweeter task,
No happier joy I hope or ask
Than thus to sit with loving eyes
And watch the bed where Báli lies.
Canto XXII. Báli Dead.
There breathing still with slow faint sighs
Lay Báli on the ground: his eyes,
[351]
1246
The Ramayana
Damp with the tears of death, he raised,
On conquering Sugríva gazed,
And then in clearest speech expressed
The tender feelings of his breast:
“Not to my charge, Sugríva, lay
Thine injuries avenged to-day;
But rather blame resistless Fate
That urged me on infuriate.
Fate ne'er agreed our lives to bless
With simultaneous happiness:
To dwell like brothers side by side
In tender love was still denied.
The Vánars' realm is thine to-day:
Begin, O King, thy rightful sway;604
For I must go at Yáma's call
To sojourn in his gloomy hall;
Must part and leave this very hour
My life, my realm, my kingly power,
And go instead of these to gain
Bright glory free from spot and stain.
Now at thy hands one boon I seek
With the last words my lips shall speak,
And, though it be no easy thing,
Perform the task I give thee, King.
This son of mine, no foolish boy,
Worthy of bliss and nursed in joy,—
See, prostrate on the ground he lies,
The hot tears welling from his eyes—
The child I love so well, more sweet
Than life itself, for woe unmeet,—
To him be kindly favour shown:
O guard and keep him as thine own.
604Angad himself, being too young to govern, would be Yuvarája or heir-ap-
parent.
Canto XXII. Báli Dead.
1247
Retain him ever by thy side,
His father, helper, friend, and guide.
From fear and woe his young life save,
And give him all his father gave.
Then Tárá's son in time shall be
Brave, resolute, and famed like thee,
And march before thee to the fight
Where stricken fiends shall own his might.
While yet a tender stripling, fame
Shall bruit abroad his warrior name,
And brightly shall his glory shine
For exploits worthy of his line.
Child of Susheṇ,605my Tárá well
Obscurest lore can read and tell;
And, trained in wondrous art, divines
Each mystery of boding signs.
Her solemn warning ne'er despise,
Do boldly what her lips advise;
For things to come her eye can see,
And with her words events agree.
And for the son of Raghu's sake
The toil and danger undertake:
For breach of faith were grievous wrong,
Nor wouldst thou be unpunished long.
Now, brother, take this chain of gold,
Gift of celestial hands of old,
Or when I die its charm will flee,
And all its might be lost with me.”
The loving speech Sugríva heard,
And all his heart with woe was stirred.
Remorse and gentle pity stole
Each thought of triumph from his soul:
605Susheṇa was the son of Varuṇa the God of the sea.
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The Ramayana
Thus fades the light when Ráhu606mars
The glory of the Lord of Stars.607
All angry thoughts were stayed and stilled
And kindly love his bosom filled.
His brother's word the chief obeyed
And took the chain as Báli prayed.
On little Angad standing nigh
The dying hero fixed his eye,
And, ready from this world to part,
Spoke the fond utterance of his heart:
“Let time and place thy thoughts employ:
In woe be strong, be meek in joy.
Accept both pain and pleasure, still
Obedient to Sugríva's will.
Thou hast, my darling, from the first
With tender care been softly nursed;
But harder days, if thou wouldst win
Sugríva's love, must now begin.
To those who hate him ne'er incline,
Nor count his foe a friend of thine.
In all thy thoughts his welfare seek,
Obedient, lowly, faithful, meek.
Let no rash suit his bosom pain,
Nor yet from due requests abstain.608
Each is a grievous fault, between
The two is found the happy mean.”
606A demon with the tail of a dragon, that causes eclipses by endeavouring to
swallow the sun and moon.
607The Lord of Stars is the Moon.
608Or the passage may be interpreted: “Be neither too obsequious or affection-
ate, nor wanting in due respect or love.”
Canto XXII. Báli Dead.
1249
Then Báli ceased: his eyeballs rolled
In stress of anguish uncontrolled
His massive teeth were bared to view,
And from the frame the spirit flew.
Their lord and leader dead, the crowd
Of noblest Vánars shrieked aloud:
“Since thou, O King, hast sought the skies
All desolate Kishkindhá lies.
Her woods, where Vánars loved to rove,
Are empty now, and hill and grove.
From every eye the light is fled,
Since thou, our mighty lord, art dead.
Thine was the unwearied arm that bore
The brunt of deadly fight of yore
With Golabh the Gandharva, when,
Lasting through five long years and ten,
[352]
The dreadful conflict knew no stay
In gloom of night, in glare of day;
And when the fifteenth year had past
Thy dire opponent fell at last.
If such a foeman fell beneath
Our hero's arm and awful teeth
Who freed us from our terror, how
Is conquering Báli fallen now?”
Then when they saw their leader slain
Great anguish seized the Vánar train,
Weeping their mighty chief, as when
In pastures near a lion's den
The cows by sudden fear are stirred,
Slain the bold bull who led the herd.
And hapless Tárá sank below
The whelming waters of her woe,
Looked upon Báli's face and fell
1250
The Ramayana
Beside him whom she loved go well,
Like a young creeper clinging round
A tall tree prostrate on the ground.
Canto XXIII. Tárá's Lament.
She kissed her lifeless husband's face,
She clasped him in a close embrace,
Laid her soft lips upon his head;
Then words like these the mourner said:
“No words of mine wouldst thou regard,
And now thy bed is cold and hard.
Upon the rude rough ground o'erthrown,
Beneath thee naught but sand and stone.
To thee the earth is dearer far
Than I and my caresses are,
If thou upon her breast wilt lie,
And to my words make no reply.
Ah my beloved, good and brave,
Bold to attack and strong to save,
Fate is Sugríva's thrall, and we
In him our lord and master see.
Lo, by thy bed, a mournful band,
Thy Vánar chiefs lamenting stand.
O hear thy nobles' groans and cries,
O mark thy Angad's weeping eyes,
O list to my entreaties, break
The chains of slumber and awake.
Ah me, my lord, this lowly bed
Where rest thy limbs and fallen head,
Canto XXIII. Tárá's Lament.
1251
Is the cold couch where smitten lay
Thy foemen in the bloody fray.
O noble heart from blemish free,
Lover of war, beloved by me.
Why hast thou fled away and left
Thy Tárá of all hope bereft?
Unwise the father who allows
His child to be a warrior's spouse,
For, hero, see thy consort's fate,
A widow now most desolate,
For ever broken is my pride,
My hope of lasting bliss has died,
And sinking in the lowest deep
Of sorrow's sea I pine and weep.
Ah, surely not of earthly mould,
This stony heart is stern and cold,
Or, in a hundred pieces rent,
It had not lingered to lament.
Dead, dead! my husband, friend, and lord
In whom my loving hopes were stored,
First in the field, his foemen's dread,
My own victorious Báli, dead!
A woman when her lord has died,
Though children flourish by her side,
Though stores of gold her coffers fill,
Is called a lonely widow still.
Alas, thy bleeding gashes make
Around thy limbs a purple lake:
Thus slumbering was thy wont to lie
On cushions bright with crimson dye.
Dark streams of welling blood besmear
Thy limbs where dust and mire adhere,
Nor have I strength, weighed down by woe,
Mine arms about thy form to throw.
1252
The Ramayana
The issue of this day has brought
Sugríva all his wishes sought,
For Ráma shot one shaft and he
Is freed from fear and jeopardy.
Alas, alas, I may not rest
My head upon thy wounded breast,
Obstructed by the massive dart
Deep buried in thy bleeding heart.”
Then Níla from his bosom drew
The fatal shaft that pierced him through,
Like some tremendous serpent deep
In caverns of a hill asleep.
As from the hero's wound it came,
Shot from the shaft a gleam of flame,
Like the last flashes of the sun
Descending when his course is run.
From the wide rent in crimson flood
Rushed the full stream of Báli's blood,
Like torrents down a mountain's side
With golden ore and copper dyed.
Then Tárá brushed with tender care
The dust of battle from his hair,
While her sad eyes poured down their rain
Upon her lord untimely slain.
Once more she looked upon the dead;
Then to her bright-eyed child she said:
“Turn hither, turn thy weeping eyes
Where low in death thy father lies.
By sinful deed and bitter hate
Our lord has met his mournful fate.
Bright as the sun at early morn
To Yáma's halls is Báli borne.
Then go, my child, salute the king,
Canto XXIII. Tárá's Lament.
1253
From whom our bliss and honour spring.”
Obedient to his mother's hest
His father's feet he gently pressed
[353]
With twining arms and lingering hands:
“Father,” he cried, “here Angad stands.”
Then Tárá: “Art thou stern and mute,
Regardless of thy child's salute?
Hast thou no blessing for thy son,
No word for little Angad, none?
O, hero, at thy lifeless feet
Here with my boy I take my seat,
As some sad mother of the herd,
By the fierce lion undeterred,
Lies moaning by the grassy dell
Wherein her lord and leader fell.
How, having wrought that awful rite,
The sacrifice of deadly fight,
Wherein the shaft by Ráma sped
Supplied the place of water shed,
How hast thou bathed thee at the end
Without thy wife her aid to lend?609
Why do mine eyes no more behold
Thy bright beloved chain of gold,
Which, pleased with thee, the Immortals' King
About thy neck vouchsafed to fling?
Still lingering on thy lifeless face
I see the pride of royal race:
Thus when the sun has set, his glow
Still rests upon the Lord of Snow.
609Sacrifices and all religious rites begin and end with ablution, and the wife
of the officiating Bráhman takes an important part in the performance of the
holy ceremonies.
1254
The Ramayana
Alas my hero! undeterred
Thou wouldst not listen to my word.
With tears and prayers I sued in vain:
Thou wouldst not listen, and art slain.
Gone is my bliss, my glory: I
And Angad now with thee will die.”
Canto XXIV. Sugríva's Lament.
But when Sugríva saw her weep
O'erwhelmed in sorrow's rushing deep,
Swift through his bosom pierced the sting
Of anguish for the fallen king.
At the sad sight his eyes beheld
A flood of bitter tears outwelled,
And, with his bosom racked and rent,
To Ráma with his train he went.
He came with faltering steps and slow
Where Ráma held his mighty bow
And arrow like a venomed snake,
And to the son of Raghu spake:
“Well hast thou kept, O King, thy vow:
The promised fruit is gathered now.
But life is marred, my soul to-day
Turns sickening from all joy away.
For, while this queen laments and sighs
Amid a mourning people's cries,
And Angad weeps his father slain,
How can my heart delight to reign?
For outrage, fury, senseless pride,
My brother, doomed of yore, has died.
Canto XXIV. Sugríva's Lament.
1255
Yet, Raghu's son, in bitter woe
I mourn his fated overthrow.
Ah, better far in pain and ill
To dwell on Rishyamúka still
Than gain the heaven of Gods and all
Its pleasures by my brother's fall.
Did not he cry,—great-hearted foe,—
“Go, for I will not slay thee, Go”?
With his brave soul those words agree:
My speech, my deeds, are worthy me.
How can a brother counterweigh
His grievous loss with joys of sway,
And see with dull unpitying eye
So brave and good a brother die?
His lofty soul was nobly blind:
My death alas, he ne'er designed;
But I, urged blindly on by hate,
Sought with his life my rage to sate.
He smote me with a splintered tree:
I groaned aloud and turned to flee,
From stern reproaches he forbore,
And gently bade me sin no more.
Serene and dutiful and good
He kept the laws of brotherhood:
I, fierce and greedy, vengeful, base,
Showed all the vices of our race.
Ah me, dear friend, my brother's fate
Lays on my soul a crushing weight:
A sin no heart should e'er conceive,
But at the thought each soul should grieve:
Sin such as Indra's when his blow
Laid heavenly Viśvarúpa610low.
610Viśvarúpa, a son of Twashṭri or Viśvakarmá the heavenly architect, was a
three-headed monster slain by Indra.
1256
The Ramayana
Yet earth, the waters of the seas,
The race of women and the trees
Were fain upon themselves to take
The weight of sin for Indra's sake.
But who a Vánar's soul will free,
Or ease the load that crushes me?
Wretch that I am, I may not claim
The reverence due to royal name.
How shall I reign supreme, or dare
Affect the power I should not share?
Ah me, I sorrow for my sin,
The ruin of my race and kin,
Polluted by a hideous crime
World-hated till the end of time.
Alas, the floods of sorrow roll
With whelming force upon my soul:
So gathers the descending rain
In the deep hollow of the plain.”
[354]
Canto XXV. Ráma's Speech.
Then Raghu's son, whose feeling breast
Shared the great woe that moved the rest,
Strove with wise charm their grief to ease
And gently spoke in words like these:
Canto XXV. Ráma's Speech.
1257
“You ne'er can raise the dead to bliss
By agony of grief like this.
Cease your lament, nor leave undone
The funeral task you may not shun.
As nature orders o'er the dead.
Your tributary tears are shed,
But Fate, directing each event,
Is still the lord preëminent.
Yes, all obey the changeless laws
Of Fate the universal cause.
By Fate, the lives of all proceed,
That governs every word and deed,
None acts, none sees his hest obeyed,
But each and all by Fate are swayed.
The world its ordered course maintains,
And o'er that course Fate ever reigns.
Fate ne'er exceeds the rule of Fate:
Is ne'er too swift, is ne'er too late,
And making nature its ally
Forgets no life, nor passes by.
No kith and kin, no power and force
Can check or stay its settled course,
No friend or client, grace or charm,
That victor of the world disarm.
So all who see with prudent eyes
The hand of Fate must recognize,
For virtue rules, or love, or gain,
As Fate's unchanged decrees ordain.
Báli has died and won the meed
That waits in heaven on noble deed,
Throned in the seats the brave may reach
By liberal hand and gentle speech,
True to a warrior's duty, bold
In fight, the hero lofty-souled
1258
The Ramayana
Deigned not to guard his life: he died,
And now in heaven is glorified.
Then cease these tears and wild despair:
Turn to the task that claims your care,
For Báli's is the glorious fate
Which warriors count most fortunate.”
When Ráma's speech had found a close,
Brave Lakshmaṇ, terror of his foes,
With wise and soothing words addressed
Sugríva still with woe oppressed:
“Arise Sugríva,” thus he said,
“Perform the service of the dead.
Prepare with Tárá and her son
That Báli's rites be duly done.
A store of funeral wood provide
Which wind and sun and time have dried
And richest sandal fit to grace
The pyre of one of royal race.
With words of comfort soft and kind
Console poor Angad's troubled mind,
Nor let thy heart be thus cast down,
For thine is now the Vánars' town.
Let Angad's care a wreath supply,
And raiment rich with varied dye,
And oil and perfumes for the fire,
And all the solemn rites require.
Go, hasten to the town, O King,
And Tárá's little quickly bring.
A virtue is despatch: and speed
Is best of all in hour of need.
Go, let a chosen band prepare
The litter of the dead to bear.
For stout and tall and strong of limb
Canto XXV. Ráma's Speech.
1259
Must be the chiefs who carry him.”
He spoke,—his friends' delight and pride,—
Then stood again by Ráma's side.
When Tára611heard the words he said
Within the town he quickly sped,
And brought, on stalwart shoulders laid,
The litter for the rites arrayed,
Framed like a car for Gods, complete
With painted sides and royal seat,
With latticed windows deftly made,
And golden birds and trees inlaid:
Well joined and wrought in every part,
A marvel of ingenious art.
Where pleasure mounds in carven wood
And many a graven figure stood.
The best of jewels o'er it hung,
And wreaths of flowers around it clung,
And over all was raised on high
A canopy of saffron dye,
While like the sun of morning shone
The brilliant blooms that lay thereon.
That glorious litter Ráma eyed.
And spake to Lakshmaṇ by his side:
“Let Báli on the bier be placed
And with all funeral service graced.”
Sugríva then with many a tear
Drew Báli's body to the bier
Whereon, with weeping Angad's aid,
The relics of the chief were laid
Neath many a vesture's varied fold,
And wreaths and ornaments and gold.
Then King Sugríva bade them speed
611The Vánar chief, not to be confounded with Tárá.
1260
The Ramayana
The obsequies by law decreed:
“Let Vánars lead the way and throw
Rich gems around them as they go,
And be the chosen bearers near
Behind them laden with the bier.
No costly rite may you deny,
Used when the proudest monarchs die:
As for a king of widest sway.
Perform his obsequies to-day.”

Book IV. Kishkindhya (part 2)

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