Book II (part2)

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The Ramayana
Dire is the toil thou wilt not shun,
Far to the lonely wood to flee,
And leave thy friends for love of me.
I swear it by my truth, believe,
For thee, my son, I deeply grieve,
Misguided by the traitress dame
With hidden guile like smouldering flame.
Now, by her wicked counsel stirred,
Thou fain wouldst keep my plighted word.
No marvel that my eldest born
Would hold me true when I have sworn.”
Then Ráma having calmly heard
His wretched father speak each word,
With Lakshmaṇ standing by his side
Thus, humbly, to the King replied:
“If dainties now my taste regale,
To-morrow must those dainties fail.
This day departure I prefer
To all that wealth can minister.
O'er this fair land, no longer mine,
Which I, with all her realms, resign,
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Her multitudes of men, her grain,
Her stores of wealth, let Bharat reign.
And let the promised boon which thou
Wast pleased to grant the queen ere now,
Be hers in full. Be true, O King,
Kind giver of each precious thing.
Thy spoken word I still will heed,
Obeying all thy lips decreed:
And fourteen years in woods will dwell
With those who live in glade and dell.
No hopes of power my heart can touch,
No selfish joys attract so much
Canto XXXIV. Ráma In The Palace.
471
As son of Raghu, to fulfil
With heart and soul my father's will.
Dismiss, dismiss thy needless woe,
Nor let those drowning torrents flow:
The Lord of Rivers in his pride
Keeps to the banks that bar his tide.
Here in thy presence I declare;
By thy good deeds, thy truth, I swear;
Nor lordship, joy, nor lands I prize;
Life, heaven, all blessings I despise.
I wish to see thee still remain
Most true, O King, and free from stain.
It must not, Sire, it must not be:
I cannot rest one hour with thee.
Then bring this sorrow to an end,
For naught my settled will can bend.
I gave a pledge that binds me too,
And to that pledge I still am true.
Kaikeyí bade me speed away:
She prayed me, and I answered yea.
Pine not for me, and weep no more;
The wood for us has joy in store,
Filled with the wild deer's peaceful herds
And voices of a thousand birds.
A father is the God of each,
Yea, e'en of Gods, so Scriptures teach:
And I will keep my sire's decree,
For as a God I honour thee.
O best of men, the time is nigh,
The fourteen years will soon pass by
And to thine eyes thy son restore:
Be comforted, and weep no more.
Thou with thy firmness shouldst support
These weeping crowds who throng the court;
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Then why, O chief of high renown,
So troubled, and thy soul cast down?”
Canto XXXV. Kaikeyí Reproached.
Wild with the rage he could not calm,
Sumantra, grinding palm on palm,
His head in quick impatience shook,
And sighed with woe he could not brook.
He gnashed his teeth, his eyes were red,
From his changed face the colour fled.
In rage and grief that knew no law,
The temper of the king he saw.
With his word-arrows swift and keen
He shook the bosom of the queen.
With scorn, as though its lightning stroke
Would blast her body, thus he spoke:
“Thou, who, of no dread sin afraid,
Hast Daśaratha's self betrayed,
Lord of the world, whose might sustains
Each thing that moves or fixed remains,
What direr crime is left thee now?
Death to thy lord and house art thou,
Whose cruel deeds the king distress,
Mahendra's peer in mightiness,
Firm as the mountain's rooted steep,
Enduring as the Ocean's deep.
Despise not Daśaratha, he
Is a kind lord and friend to thee.
A loving wife in worth outruns
The mother of ten million sons.
Canto XXXV. Kaikeyí Reproached.
473
Kings, when their sires have passed away,
Succeed by birthright to the sway.
Ikshváku's son still rules the state,
Yet thou this rule wouldst violate.
Yea, let thy son, Kaikeyí, reign,
Let Bharat rule his sire's domain.
Thy will, O Queen, shall none oppose:
We all will go where Ráma goes.
No Bráhman, scorning thee, will rest
Within the realm thou governest,
But all will fly indignant hence:
So great thy trespass and offence.
I marvel, when thy crime I see,
Earth yawns not quick to swallow thee;
And that the Bráhman saints prepare
No burning scourge thy soul to scare,
With cries of shame to smite thee, bent
Upon our Ráma's banishment.
The Mango tree with axes fell,
And tend instead the Neem tree well,
Still watered with all care the tree
Will never sweet and pleasant be.
Thy mother's faults to thee descend,
And with thy borrowed nature blend.
True is the ancient saw: the Neem
Can ne'er distil a honeyed stream.
Taught by the tale of long ago
Thy mother's hateful sin we know.
A bounteous saint, as all have heard,
A boon upon thy sire conferred,
And all the eloquence revealed
That fills the wood, the flood, the field.
No creature walked, or swam, or flew,
But he its varied language knew.
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One morn upon his couch he heard
The chattering of a gorgeous bird.
And as he marked its close intent
He laughed aloud in merriment.
Thy mother furious with her lord,
And fain to perish by the cord,
Said to her husband: “I would know,
O Monarch, why thou laughest so.”
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The king in answer spake again:
“If I this laughter should explain,
This very hour would be my last,
For death, be sure would follow fast.”
Again thy mother, flushed with ire,
To Kekaya spake, thy royal sire:
“Tell me the cause; then live or die:
I will not brook thy laugh, not I.”
Thus by his darling wife addressed,
The king whose might all earth confessed,
To that kind saint his story told
Who gave the wondrous gift of old.
He listened to the king's complaint,
And thus in answer spoke the saint:
“King, let her quit thy home or die,
But never with her prayer comply.”
The saint's reply his trouble stilled,
And all his heart with pleasure filled.
Thy mother from his home he sent,
And days like Lord Kuvera's spent.
So thou wouldst force the king, misled
By thee, in evil paths to tread,
And bent on evil wouldst begin,
Through folly, this career of sin.
Most true, methinks, in thee is shown
The ancient saw so widely known:
Canto XXXV. Kaikeyí Reproached.
475
The sons their fathers' worth declare
And girls their mothers' nature share.
So be not thou. For pity's sake
Accept the word the monarch spake.
Thy husband's will, O Queen, obey,
And be the people's hope and stay,
O, do not, urged by folly, draw
The king to tread on duty's law.
The lord who all the world sustains,
Bright as the God o'er Gods who reigns.
Our glorious king, by sin unstained,
Will never grant what fraud obtained;
No shade of fault in him is seen:
Let Ráma be anointed, Queen.
Remember, Queen, undying shame
Will through the world pursue thy name,
If Ráma leave the king his sire,
And, banished, to the wood retire.
Come, from thy breast this fever fling:
Of his own realm be Ráma king.
None in this city e'er can dwell
To tend and love thee half so well.
When Ráma sits in royal place,
True to the custom of his race
Our monarch of the mighty bow
A hermit to the woods will go.”310
310It was the custom of the kings of the solar dynasty to resign in their extreme
old age the kingdom to the heir, and spend the remainder of their days in holy
meditation in the forest:
“For such through ages in their life's decline
Is the good custom of Ikshváku's line.”
Raghuraṅśa.
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Sumantra thus, palm joined to palm,
Poured forth his words of bane and balm,
With keen reproach, with pleading kind,
Striving to move Kaikeyí's mind.
In vain he prayed, in vain reproved,
She heard unsoftened and unmoved.
Nor could the eyes that watched her view
One yielding look, one change of hue.
Canto XXXVI. Siddhárth's Speech.
Ikshváku's son with anguish torn
For the great oath his lips had sworn,
With tears and sighs of sharpest pain
Thus to Sumantra spake again:
“Prepare thou quick a perfect force,
Cars, elephants, and foot, and horse,
To follow Raghu's scion hence
Equipped with all magnificence.
Let traders with the wealth they sell,
And those who charming stories tell,
And dancing-women fair of face,
The prince's ample chariots grace.
On all the train who throng his courts,
And those who share his manly sports,
Great gifts of precious wealth bestow,
And bid them with their master go.
Let noble arms, and many a wain,
And townsmen swell the prince's train;
And hunters best for woodland skill
Their places in the concourse fill.
Canto XXXVI. Siddhárth's Speech.
477
While elephants and deer he slays,
Drinking wood honey as he strays,
And looks on streams each fairer yet,
His kingdom he may chance forget.
Let all my gold and wealth of corn
With Ráma to the wilds be borne;
For it will soothe the exile's lot
To sacrifice in each pure spot,
Deal ample largess forth, and meet
Each hermit in his calm retreat.
The wealth shall Ráma with him bear,
Ayodhyá shall be Bharat's share.”
As thus Kakutstha's offspring spoke,
Fear in Kaikeyí's breast awoke.
The freshness of her face was dried,
Her trembling tongue was terror-tied.
Alarmed and sad, with bloodless cheek,
She turned to him and scarce could speak:
“Nay, Sire, but Bharat shall not gain
An empty realm where none remain.
My Bharat shall not rule a waste
Reft of all sweets to charm the taste—
The wine-cup's dregs, all dull and dead,
Whence the light foam and life are fled.”
Thus in her rage the long-eyed dame
Spoke her dire speech untouched by shame.
[138]
Then, answering, Daśaratha spoke:
“Why, having bowed me to the yoke,
Dost thou, must cruel, spur and goad
Me who am struggling with the load?
Why didst thou not oppose at first
This hope, vile Queen, so fondly nursed?”
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The Ramayana
Scarce could the monarch's angry speech
The ears of the fair lady reach,
When thus, with double wrath inflamed,
Kaikeyí to the king exclaimed:
“Sagar, from whom thy line is traced,
Drove forth his eldest son disgraced,
Called Asamanj, whose fate we know:
Thus should thy son to exile go.”
“Fie on thee, dame!” the monarch said;
Each of her people bent his head,
And stood in shame and sorrow mute:
She marked not, bold and resolute.
Then great Siddhárth, inflamed with rage,
The good old councillor and sage
On whose wise rede the king relied,
To Queen Kaikeyí thus replied:
“But Asamanj the cruel laid
His hands on infants as they played,
Cast them to Sarjú's flood, and smiled
For pleasure when he drowned a child.”311
The people saw, and, furious, sped
Straight the the king his sire and said:
“Choose us, O glory of the throne,
Choose us, or Asamanj alone.”
311See Book I, Canto XXXIX. An Indian prince in more modern times appears
to have diverted himself in a similar way.
It is still reported in Belgaum that Appay Deasy was wont to amuse himself
“by making several young and beautiful women stand side by side on a narrow
balcony, without a parapet, overhanging the deep reservoir at the new palace
in Nipani. He used then to pass along the line of trembling creatures, and
suddenly thrusting one of them headlong into the water below, he used to
watch her drowning, and derive pleasure from her dying agonies.”—History
of the Belgaum District. By H. J. Stokes, M. S. C.
Canto XXXVI. Siddhárth's Speech.
479
“Whence comes this dread?” the monarch cried;
And all the people thus replied:
“In folly, King, he loves to lay
Fierce hands upon our babes at play,
Casts them to Sarjú's flood and joys
To murder our bewildered boys.”
With heedful ear the king of men
Heard each complaining citizen.
To please their troubled minds he strove,
And from the state his son he drove.
With wife and gear upon a car
He placed him quick, and sent him far.
And thus he gave commandment, “He
Shall all his days an exile be.”
With basket and with plough he strayed
O'er mountain heights, through pathless shade,
Roaming all lands a weary time,
An outcast wretch defiled with crime.
Sagar, the righteous path who held,
His wicked offspring thus expelled.
But what has Ráma done to blame?
Why should his sentence be the same?
No sin his stainless name can dim;
We see no fault at all in him.
Pure as the moon, no darkening blot
On his sweet life has left a spot.
If thou canst see one fault, e'en one,
To dim the fame of Raghu's son,
That fault this hour, O lady, show,
And Ráma to the wood shall go.
To drive the guiltless to the wild,
Truth's constant lover, undefiled,
Would, by defiance of the right,
The glory e'en of Indra blight.
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Then cease, O lady, and dismiss
Thy hope to ruin Ráma's bliss,
Or all thy gain, O fair of face,
Will be men's hatred, and disgrace.”
Canto XXXVII. The Coats Of Bark.
Thus spake the virtuous sage: and then
Ráma addressed the king of men.
In laws of meek behaviour bred,
Thus to his sire he meekly said:
“King, I renounce all earthly care,
And live in woods on woodland fare.
What, dead to joys, have I to do
With lordly train and retinue!
Who gives his elephant and yet
Upon the girths his heart will set?
How can a cord attract his eyes
Who gives away the nobler prize?
Best of the good, with me be led
No host, my King with banners spread.
All wealth, all lordship I resign:
The hermit's dress alone be mine.
Before I go, have here conveyed
A little basket and a spade.
With these alone I go, content,
For fourteen years of banishment.”
Canto XXXVII. The Coats Of Bark.
481
With her own hands Kaikeyí took
The hermit coats of bark, and, “Look,”
She cried with bold unblushing brow
Before the concourse, “Dress thee now.”
That lion leader of the brave
Took from her hand the dress she gave,
Cast his fine raiment on the ground,
[139]
And round his waist the vesture bound.
Then quick the hero Lakshmaṇ too
His garment from his shoulders threw,
And, in the presence of his sire,
Indued the ascetic's rough attire.
But Sítá, in her silks arrayed,
Threw glances, trembling and afraid,
On the bark coat she had to wear,
Like a shy doe that eyes the snare.
Ashamed and weeping for distress
From the queen's hand she took the dress.
The fair one, by her husband's side
Who matched heaven's minstrel monarch,312cried:
“How bind they on their woodland dress,
Those hermits of the wilderness?”
There stood the pride of Janak's race
Perplexed, with sad appealing face.
One coat the lady's fingers grasped,
One round her neck she feebly clasped,
But failed again, again, confused
By the wild garb she ne'er had used.
Then quickly hastening Ráma, pride
Of all who cherish virtue, tied
The rough bark mantle on her, o'er
The silken raiment that she wore.
312Chitraratha, King of the celestial choristers.
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Then the sad women when they saw
Ráma the choice bark round her draw,
Rained water from each tender eye,
And cried aloud with bitter cry:
“O, not on her, beloved, not
On Sítá falls thy mournful lot.
If, faithful to thy father's will,
Thou must go forth, leave Sítá still.
Let Sítá still remaining here
Our hearts with her loved presence cheer.
With Lakshmaṇ by thy side to aid
Seek thou, dear son, the lonely shade.
Unmeet, one good and fair as she
Should dwell in woods a devotee.
Let not our prayers be prayed in vain:
Let beauteous Sítá yet remain;
For by thy love of duty tied
Thou wilt not here thyself abide.”
Then the king's venerable guide
Vaśishṭha, when he saw each coat
Enclose the lady's waist and throat,
Her zeal with gentle words repressed,
And Queen Kaikeyí thus addressed:
“O evil-hearted sinner, shame
Of royal Kekaya's race and name;
Who matchless in thy sin couldst cheat
Thy lord the king with vile deceit;
Lost to all sense of duty, know
Sítá to exile shall not go.
Sítá shall guard, as 'twere her own,
The precious trust of Ráma's throne.
Those joined by wedlock's sweet control
Have but one self and common soul.
Canto XXXVII. The Coats Of Bark.
483
Thus Sítá shall our empress be,
For Ráma's self and soul is she.
Or if she still to Ráma cleave
And for the woods the kingdom leave:
If naught her loving heart deter,
We and this town will follow her.
The warders of the queen shall take
Their wives and go for Ráma's sake,
The nation with its stores of grain,
The city's wealth shall swell his train.
Bharat, Śatrughna both will wear
Bark mantles, and his lodging share,
Still with their elder brother dwell
In the wild wood, and serve him well.
Rest here alone, and rule thy state
Unpeopled, barren, desolate;
Be empress of the land and trees,
Thou sinner whom our sorrows please.
The land which Ráma reigns not o'er
Shall bear the kingdom's name no more:
The woods which Ráma wanders through
Shall be our home and kingdom too.
Bharat, be sure, will never deign
O'er realms his father yields, to reign.
Nay, if the king's true son he be,
He will not, sonlike, dwell with thee.
Nay, shouldst thou from the earth arise,
And send thy message from the skies,
To his forefathers' custom true
No erring course would he pursue.
So hast thou, by thy grievous fault,
Offended him thou wouldst exalt.
In all the world none draws his breath
Who loves not Ráma, true to death.
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This day, O Queen, shalt thou behold
Birds, deer, and beasts from lea and fold
Turn to the woods in Ráma's train.
And naught save longing trees remain.”
Canto XXXVIII. Care For Kausalyá
Then when the people wroth and sad
Saw Sítá in bark vesture clad,
Though wedded, like some widowed thing,
They cried out, “Shame upon thee, King!”
Grieved by their cry and angry look
The lord of earth at once forsook
All hope in life that still remained,
In duty, self, and fame unstained.
Ikshváku's son with burning sighs
On Queen Kaikeyí bent his eyes,
And said: “But Sítá must not flee
In garments of a devotee.
My holy guide has spoken truth:
Unfit is she in tender youth,
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So gently nurtured, soft and fair,
The hardships of the wood to share.
How has she sinned, devout and true,
The noblest monarch's child,
That she should garb of bark indue
And journey to the wild?
That she should spend her youthful days
Amid a hermit band,
Like some poor mendicant who strays
Sore troubled, through the land?
Canto XXXVIII. Care For Kausalyá
485
Ah, let the child of Janak throw
Her dress of bark aside,
And let the royal lady go
With royal wealth supplied.
Not such the pledge I gave before,
Unfit to linger here:
The oath, which I the sinner swore
Is kept, and leaves her clear.
Won from her childlike love this too
My instant death would be,
As blossoms on the old bamboo
Destroy the parent tree.313
If aught amiss by Ráma done
Offend thee, O thou wicked one,
What least transgression canst thou find
In her, thou worst of womankind?
What shade of fault in her appears,
Whose full soft eye is like the deer's?
What canst thou blame in Janak's child,
So gentle, modest, true, and mild?
Is not one crime complete, that sent
My Ráma forth to banishment?
And wilt thou other sins commit,
Thou wicked one, to double it?
This is the pledge and oath I swore,
What thou besoughtest, and no more,
Of Ráma—for I heard thee, dame—
When he for consecration came.
Now with this limit not content,
In hell should be thy punishment,
Who fain the Maithil bride wouldst press
To clothe her limbs with hermit dress.”
313It is said that the bamboo dies after flowering.
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Thus spake the father in his woe;
And Ráma, still prepared to go,
To him who sat with drooping head
Spake in return these words and said:
“Just King, here stands my mother dear,
Kauśalyá, one whom all revere.
Submissive, gentle, old is she,
And keeps her lips from blame of thee,
For her, kind lord, of me bereft
A sea of whelming woe is left.
O, show her in her new distress
Still fonder love and tenderness.
Well honoured by thine honoured hand
Her grief for me let her withstand,
Who wrapt in constant thought of me
In me would live a devotee.
Peer of Mahendra, O, to her be kind,
And treat I pray, my gentle mother so,
That, when I dwell afar, her life resigned,
She may not pass to Yáma's realm for woe.”
Canto XXXIX. Counsel To Sítá.
Scarce had the sire, with each dear queen,
Heard Ráma's pleading voice, and seen
His darling in his hermit dress
Ere failed his senses for distress.
Convulsed with woe, his soul that shook,
On Raghu's son he could not look;
Or if he looked with failing eye
Canto XXXIX. Counsel To Sítá.
487
He could not to the chief reply.
By pangs of bitter grief assailed,
The long-armed monarch wept and wailed,
Half dead a while and sore distraught,
While Ráma filled his every thought.
“This hand of mine in days ere now
Has reft her young from many a cow,
Or living things has idly slain:
Hence comes, I ween, this hour of pain.
Not till the hour is come to die
Can from its shell the spirit fly.
Death comes not, and Kaikeyí still
Torments the wretch she cannot kill,
Who sees his son before him quit
The fine soft robes his rank that fit,
And, glorious as the burning fire,
In hermit garb his limbs attire.
Now all the people grieve and groan
Through Queen Kaikeyí's deed alone,
Who, having dared this deed of sin,
Strives for herself the gain to win.”
He spoke. With tears his eyes grew dim,
His senses all deserted him.
He cried, O Ráma, once, then weak
And fainting could no further speak.
Unconscious there he lay: at length
Regathering his sense and strength,
While his full eyes their torrents shed,
To wise Sumantra thus he said:
“Yoke the light car, and hither lead
Fleet coursers of the noblest breed,
And drive this heir of lofty fate
Beyond the limit of the state.
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This seems the fruit that virtues bear,
The meed of worth which texts declare—
The sending of the brave and good
By sire and mother to the wood.'”
He heard the monarch, and obeyed,
With ready feet that ne'er delayed,
And brought before the palace gate
The horses and the car of state.
Then to the monarch's son he sped,
And raising hands of reverence said
[141]
That the light car which gold made fair,
With best of steeds, was standing there.
King Daśaratha called in haste
The lord o'er all his treasures placed.
And spoke, well skilled in place and time,
His will to him devoid of crime:
“Count all the years she has to live
Afar in forest wilds, and give
To Sítá robes and gems of price
As for the time may well suffice.”
Quick to the treasure-room he went,
Charged by that king most excellent,
Brought the rich stores, and gave them all
To Sítá in the monarch's hall.
The Maithil dame of high descent
Received each robe and ornament,
And tricked those limbs, whose lines foretold
High destiny, with gems and gold.
So well adorned, so fair to view,
A glory through the hall she threw:
So, when the Lord of Light upsprings,
His radiance o'er the sky he flings.
Then Queen Kauśalyá spake at last,
Canto XXXIX. Counsel To Sítá.
489
With loving arms about her cast,
Pressed lingering kisses on her head,
And to the high-souled lady said:
“Ah, in this faithless world below
When dark misfortune comes and woe,
Wives, loved and cherished every day,
Neglect their lords and disobey.
Yes, woman's nature still is this:—
After long days of calm and bliss
When some light grief her spirit tries,
She changes all her love, or flies.
Young wives are thankless, false in soul,
With roving hearts that spurn control.
Brooding on sin and quickly changed,
In one short hour their love estranged.
Not glorious deed or lineage fair,
Not knowledge, gift, or tender care
In chains of lasting love can bind
A woman's light inconstant mind.
But those good dames who still maintain
What right, truth, Scripture, rule ordain—
No holy thing in their pure eyes
With one beloved husband vies.
Nor let thy lord my son, condemned
To exile, be by thee contemned,
For be he poor or wealthy, he
Is as a God, dear child, to thee.”
When Sítá heard Kauśalyá's speech
Her duty and her gain to teach,
She joined her palms with reverent grace
And gave her answer face to face:
“All will I do, forgetting naught,
Which thou, O honoured Queen, hast taught.
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I know, have heard, and deep have stored
The rules of duty to my lord.
Not me, good Queen, shouldst thou include
Among the faithless multitude.
Its own sweet light the moon shall leave
Ere I to duty cease to cleave.
The stringless lute gives forth no strain,
The wheelless car is urged in vain;
No joy a lordless dame, although
Blest with a hundred sons, can know.
From father, brother, and from son
A measured share of joy is won:
Who would not honour, love, and bless
Her lord, whose gifts are measureless?
Thus trained to think, I hold in awe
Scripture's command and duty's law.
Him can I hold in slight esteem?
Her lord is woman's God, I deem.”
Kauśalyá heard the lady's speech,
Nor failed those words her heart to reach.
Then, pure in mind, she gave to flow
The tear that sprang of joy and woe.
Then duteous Ráma forward came
And stood before the honoured dame,
And joining reverent hands addressed
The queen in rank above the rest:
“O mother, from these tears refrain;
Look on my sire and still thy pain.
To thee my days afar shall fly
As if sweet slumber closed thine eye,
And fourteen years of exile seem
To thee, dear mother, like a dream.
On me returning safe and well,
Girt by my friends, thine eyes shall dwell.”
Canto XL. Ráma's Departure.
491
Thus for their deep affection's sake
The hero to his mother spake,
Then to the half seven hundred too,
Wives of his sire, paid reverence due.
Thus Daśaratha's son addressed
That crowd of matrons sore distressed:
“If from these lips, while here I dwelt,
One heedless taunt you e'er have felt,
Forgive me, pray. And now adieu,
I bid good-bye to all of you.”
Then straight, like curlews' cries, upwent
The voices of their wild lament,
While, as he bade farewell, the crowd
Of royal women wept aloud,
And through the ample hall's extent.
Where erst the sound of tabour, blent
With drum and shrill-toned instrument,
In joyous concert rose,
Now rang the sound of wailing high,
The lamentation and the cry,
The shriek, the choking sob, the sigh
That told the ladies' woes.
Canto XL. Ráma's Departure.
Then Ráma, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ bent
At the king's feet, and sadly went
[142]
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The Ramayana
Round him with slow steps reverent.
When Ráma of the duteous heart
Had gained his sire's consent to part,
With Sítá by his side he paid
Due reverence to the queen dismayed.
And Lakshmaṇ, with affection meet,
Bowed down and clasped his mother's feet.
Sumitrá viewed him as he pressed
Her feet, and thus her son addressed:
“Neglect not Ráma wandering there,
But tend him with thy faithful care.
In hours of wealth, in time of woe,
Him, sinless son, thy refuge know.
From this good law the just ne'er swerve,
That younger sons the eldest serve,
And to this righteous rule incline
All children of thine ancient line—
Freely to give, reward each rite,
Nor spare their bodies in the fight.
Let Ráma Daśaratha be,
Look upon Sítá as on me,
And let the cot wherein you dwell
Be thine Ayodhyá. Fare thee well.”
Her blessing thus Sumitrá gave
To him whose soul to Ráma clave,
Exclaiming, when her speech was done,
“Go forth, O Lakshmaṇ, go, my son.
Go forth, my son to win success,
High victory and happiness.
Go forth thy foemen to destroy,
And turn again at last with joy.”
As Mátali his charioteer
Speaks for the Lord of Gods to hear,
Canto XL. Ráma's Departure.
493
Sumantra, palm to palm applied,
In reverence trained, to Ráma cried:
“O famous Prince, my car ascend,—
May blessings on thy course attend,—
And swiftly shall my horses flee
And place thee where thou biddest me.
The fourteen years thou hast to stay
Far in the wilds, begin to-day;
For Oueen Kaikeyí cries, Away.”
Then Sítá, best of womankind,
Ascended, with a tranquil mind,
Soon as her toilet task was done,
That chariot brilliant as the sun.
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ true and bold
Sprang on the car adorned with gold.
The king those years had counted o'er,
And given Sítá robes and store
Of precious ornaments to wear
When following her husband there.
The brothers in the car found place
For nets and weapons of the chase,
There warlike arms and mail they laid,
A leathern basket and a spade.
Soon as Sumantra saw the three
Were seated in the chariot, he
Urged on each horse of noble breed,
Who matched the rushing wind in speed.
As thus the son of Raghu went
Forth for his dreary banishment,
Chill numbing grief the town assailed,
All strength grew weak, all spirit failed,
Ayodhyá through her wide extent
Was filled with tumult and lament:
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Steeds neighed and shook the bells they bore,
Each elephant returned a roar.
Then all the city, young and old,
Wild with their sorrow uncontrolled,
Rushed to the car, as, from the sun
The panting herds to water run.
Before the car, behind, they clung,
And there as eagerly they hung,
With torrents streaming from their eyes,
Called loudly with repeated cries:
“Listen, Sumantra: draw thy rein;
Drive gently, and thy steeds restrain.
Once more on Ráma will we gaze,
Now to be lost for many days.
The queen his mother has, be sure,
A heart of iron, to endure
To see her godlike Ráma go,
Nor feel it shattered by the blow.
Sítá, well done! Videha's pride,
Still like his shadow by his side;
Rejoicing in thy duty still
As sunlight cleaves to Meru's hill.
Thou, Lakshmaṇ, too, hast well deserved,
Who from thy duty hast not swerved,
Tending the peer of Gods above,
Whose lips speak naught but words of love.
Thy firm resolve is nobly great,
And high success on thee shall wait.
Yea, thou shalt win a priceless meed—
Thy path with him to heaven shall lead.”
As thus they spake, they could not hold
The tears that down their faces rolled,
While still they followed for a space
Their darling of Ikshváku's race.
Canto XL. Ráma's Departure.
495
There stood surrounded by a ring
Of mournful wives the mournful king;
For, “I will see once more,” he cried,
“Mine own dear son,” and forth he hied.
As he came near, there rose the sound
Of weeping, as the dames stood round.
So the she-elephants complain
When their great lord and guide is slain.
Kakutstha's son, the king of men,
The glorious sire, looked troubled then,
As the full moon is when dismayed
By dark eclipse's threatening shade.
Then Daśaratha's son, designed
For highest fate of lofty mind,
Urged to more speed the charioteer,
“Away, away! why linger here?
Urge on thy horses,” Rama cried,
And “Stay, O stay,” the people sighed.
Sumantra, urged to speed away,
The townsmen's call must disobey,
Forth as the long-armed hero went,
[143]
The dust his chariot wheels up sent
Was laid by streams that ever flowed
From their sad eyes who filled the road.
Then, sprung of woe, from eyes of all
The women drops began to fall,
As from each lotus on the lake
The darting fish the water shake.
When he, the king of high renown,
Saw that one thought held all the town,
Like some tall tree he fell and lay,
Whose root the axe has hewn away.
Then straight a mighty cry from those
Who followed Ráma's car arose,
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Who saw their monarch fainting there
Beneath that grief too great to bear.
Then “Ráma, Ráma!” with the cry
Of “Ah, his mother!” sounded high,
As all the people wept aloud
Around the ladies' sorrowing crowd.
When Ráma backward turned his eye,
And saw the king his father lie
With troubled sense and failing limb,
And the sad queen, who followed him,
Like some young creature in the net,
That will not, in its misery, let
Its wild eyes on its mother rest,
So, by the bonds of duty pressed,
His mother's look he could not meet.
He saw them with their weary feet,
Who, used to bliss, in cars should ride,
Who ne'er by sorrow should be tried,
And, as one mournful look he cast,
“Drive on,” he cried, “Sumantra, fast.”
As when the driver's torturing hook
Goads on an elephant, the look
Of sire and mother in despair
Was more than Ráma's heart could bear.
As mother kine to stalls return
Which hold the calves for whom they yearn,
So to the car she tried to run
As a cow seeks her little one.
Once and again the hero's eyes
Looked on his mother, as with cries
Of woe she called and gestures wild,
“O Sítá, Lakshmaṇ, O my child!”
“Stay,” cried the king, “thy chariot stay:”
“On, on,” cried Ráma, “speed away.”
Canto XLI. The Citizens' Lament.
497
As one between two hosts, inclined
To neither was Sumantra's mind.
But Ráma spake these words again:
“A lengthened woe is bitterest pain.
On, on; and if his wrath grow hot,
Thine answer be, ‘I heard thee not.’”
Sumantra, at the chief's behest,
Dismissed the crowd that toward him pressed,
And, as he bade, to swiftest speed
Urged on his way each willing steed.
The king's attendants parted thence,
And paid him heart-felt reverence:
In mind, and with the tears he wept,
Each still his place near Ráma kept.
As swift away the horses sped,
His lords to Daśaratha said:
“To follow him whom thou again
Wouldst see returning home is vain.”
With failing limb and drooping mien
He heard their counsel wise:
Still on their son the king and queen
Kept fast their lingering eyes.314
Canto XLI. The Citizens' Lament.
314“Thirtycenturieshavepassedsincehebeganthismemorablejourney. Every
step of it is known and is annually traversed by thousands: hero worship is not
extinct. What can Faith do! How strong are the ties of religion when entwined
with the legends of a country! How many a cart creeps creaking and weary
along the road from Ayodhyá to Chitrakúṭ. It is this that gives the Rámáyan a
strange interest, the story still lives.” Calcutta Review: Vol. XXIII.
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The Ramayana
The lion chief with hands upraised
Was born from eyes that fondly gazed.
But then the ladies' bower was rent
With cries of weeping and lament:
“Where goes he now, our lord, the sure
Protector of the friendless poor,
In whom the wretched and the weak
Defence and aid were wont to seek?
All words of wrath he turned aside,
And ne'er, when cursed, in ire replied.
He shared his people's woe, and stilled
The troubled breast which rage had filled.
Our chief, on lofty thoughts intent,
In glorious fame preëminent:
As on his own dear mother, thus
He ever looked on each of us.
Where goes he now? His sire's behest,
By Queen Kaikeyí's guile distressed,
Has banished to the forest hence
Him who was all the world's defence.
Ah, senseless King, to drive away
The hope of men, their guard and stay,
To banish to the distant wood
Ráma the duteous, true, and good!”
The royal dames, like cows bereaved
Of their young calves, thus sadly grieved.
The monarch heard them as they wailed,
And by the fire of grief assailed
For his dear son, he bowed his head,
And all his sense and memory fled.
Then were no fires of worship fed,
Thick darkness o'er the sun was spread.
The cows their thirsty calves denied,
Canto XLI. The Citizens' Lament.
499
And elephants flung their food aside.
[144]
Triśanku,315Jupiter looked dread,
And Mercury and Mars the red,
In direful opposition met,
The glory of the moon beset.
The lunar stars withheld their light,
The planets were no longer bright,
But meteors with their horrid glare,
And dire Viśákhás316lit the air.
As troubled Ocean heaves and raves
When Doom's wild tempest sweeps the waves,
Thus all Ayodhyá reeled and bent
When Ráma to the forest went.
And chilling grief and dark despair
Fell suddenly on all men there.
Their wonted pastime all forgot,
Nor thought of food, or touched it not.
Crowds in the royal street were seen
With weeping eye and troubled mien:
No more a people gay and glad,
Each head and heart was sick and sad.
No more the cool wind softly blew,
The moon no more was fair to view,
No more the sun with genial glow
Cherished the world now plunged in woe.
Sons, brothers, husbands, wedded wives
Forgot the ties that joined their lives;
No thought for kith and kin was spared,
But all for only Ráma cared.
And Ráma's friends who loved him best,
Their minds disordered and distressed.
By the great burthen of their woes
315See p. 72.
316Four stars of the sixteenth lunar asterism.
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The Ramayana
Turned not to slumber or repose.
Like Earth with all her hills bereft
Of Indra's guiding care.
Ayodhyá in her sorrow left
By him, the high souled heir,
Was bowed by fear and sorrow's force,
And shook with many a throe,
While warrior, elephant, and horse
Sent up the cry of woe.
Canto XLII. Dasaratha's Lament.
While yet the dust was seen afar
That marked the course of Ráma's car,
The glory of Ikshváku's race
Turned not away his eager face.
While yet his duteous son he saw
He could not once his gaze withdraw,
But rooted to the spot remained
With eyes that after Ráma strained.
But when that dust no more he viewed,
Fainting he fell by grief subdued.
To his right hand Kauśalyá went,
And ready aid the lady lent,
While Bharat's loving mother tried
To raise him on the other side.
The king, within whose ordered soul
Justice and virtue held control,
To Queen Kaikeyí turned and said,
With every sense disquieted:
“Touch me not, thou whose soul can plot
Canto XLII. Dasaratha's Lament.
501
All sin. Kaikeyí, touch me not.
No loving wife, no friend to me,
I ne'er again would look on thee;
Ne'er from this day have aught to do
With thee and all thy retinue;
Thee whom no virtuous thoughts restrain,
Whose selfish heart seeks only gain.
The hand I laid in mine, O dame,
The steps we took around the flame,317
And all that links thy life to mine
Here and hereafter I resign.
If Bharat too, thy darling son,
Joy in the rule thy art has won,
Ne'er may the funeral offerings paid
By his false hand approach my shade.”
Then while the dust upon him hung,
The monarch to Kauśalyá clung,
And she with mournful steps and slow
Turned to the palace, worn with woe.
As one whose hand has touched the fire,
Or slain a Bráhman in his ire,
He felt his heart with sorrow torn
Still thinking of his son forlorn.
Each step was torture, as the road
The traces of the chariot showed,
And as the shadowed sun grows dim
So care and anguish darkened him.
He raised a cry, by woe distraught,
As of his son again he thought.
And judging that the car had sped
Beyond the city, thus he said:
“I still behold the foot-prints made
317In the marriage service.
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The Ramayana
By the good horses that conveyed
My son afar: these marks I see,
But high-souled Ráma, where is he?
Ah me, my son! my first and best,
On pleasant couches wont to rest,
With limbs perfumed with sandal, fanned
By many a beauty's tender hand:
Where will he lie with log or stone
Beneath him for a pillow thrown,
To leave at morn his earthy bed,
Neglected, and with dust o'erspread,
As from the flood with sigh and pant
Comes forth the husband elephant?
The men who make the woods their home
Shall see the long-armed hero roam
Roused from his bed, though lord of all,
In semblance of a friendless thrall.
Janak's dear child who ne'er has met
[145]
With aught save joy and comfort yet,
Will reach to-day the forest, worn
And wearied with the brakes of thorn.
Ah, gentle girl, of woods unskilled,
How will her heart with dread be filled
At the wild beasts' deep roaring there,
Whose voices lift the shuddering hair!
Kaikeyí, glory in thy gain,
And, widow queen, begin to reign:
No will, no power to live have I
When my brave son no more is nigh.”
Thus pouring forth laments, the king
Girt by the people's crowded ring,
Entered the noble bower like one
New-bathed when funeral rites are done.
Canto XLII. Dasaratha's Lament.
503
Where'er he looked naught met his gaze
But empty houses, courts, and ways.
Closed were the temples: countless feet
No longer trod the royal street,
And thinking of his son he viewed
Men weak and worn and woe-subdued.
As sinks the sun into a cloud,
So passed he on, and wept aloud,
Within that house no more to be
The dwelling of the banished three,
Brave Ráma, his Vedehan bride,
And Lakshmaṇ by his brother's side:
Like broad still waters, when the king
Of all the birds that ply the wing
Has swooped from heaven and borne away
The glittering snakes that made them gay.
With choking sobs and voice half spent
The king renewed his sad lament:
With broken utterance faint and low
Scarce could he speak these words of woe:
“My steps to Ráma's mother guide,
And place me by Kauśalyá's side:
There, only there my heart may know
Some little respite from my woe.”
The warders of the palace led
The monarch, when his words were said,
To Queen Kauśalyá's bower, and there
Laid him with reverential care.
But while he rested on the bed
Still was his soul disquieted.
In grief he tossed his arms on high
Lamenting with a piteous cry:
“O Ráma, Ráma,” thus said he,
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The Ramayana
“My son, thou hast forsaken me.
High bliss awaits those favoured men
Left living in Ayodhyá then,
Whose eyes shall see my son once more
Returning when the time is o'er.”
Then came the night, whose hated gloom
Fell on him like the night of doom.
At midnight Daśaratha cried
To Queen Kauśalyá by his side:
“I see thee not, Kauśalyá; lay
Thy gentle hand in mine, I pray.
When Ráma left his home my sight
Went with him, nor returns to-night.”
Canto XLIII. Kausalyá's Lament.
Kauśalyá saw the monarch lie
With drooping frame and failing eye,
And for her banished son distressed
With these sad words her lord addressed:
“Kaikeyí, cruel, false, and vile
Has cast the venom of her guile
On Ráma lord of men, and she
Will ravage like a snake set free;
And more and more my soul alarm,
Like a dire serpent bent on harm,
For triumph crowns each dark intent,
And Ráma to the wild is sent.
Ah, were he doomed but here to stray
Begging his food from day to day,
Or do, enslaved, Kaikeyí's will,
Canto XLIII. Kausalyá's Lament.
505
This were a boon, a comfort still.
But she, as chose her cruel hate,
Has hurled him from his high estate,
As Bráhmans when the moon is new
Cast to the ground the demons' due.318
The long-armed hero, like the lord
Of Nágas, with his bow and sword
Begins, I ween, his forest life
With Lakshmaṇ and his faithful wife.
Ah, how will fare the exiles now,
Whom, moved by Queen Kaikeyí, thou
Hast sent in forests to abide,
Bred in delights, by woe untried?
Far banished when their lives are young,
With the fair fruit before them hung,
Deprived of all their rank that suits,
How will they live on grain and roots?
O, that my years of woe were passed,
And the glad hour were come at last
When I shall see my children dear,
Ráma, his wife, and Lakshmaṇ here!
When shall Ayodhyá, wild with glee,
Again those mighty heroes see,
And decked with wreaths her banners wave
To welcome home the true and brave?
When will the beautiful city view
With happy eyes the lordly two
Returning, joyful as the main
When the dear moon is full again?
When, like some mighty bull who leads
The cow exulting through the meads,
Will Ráma through the city ride,
318The husks and chaff of the rice offered to the Gods.
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The Ramayana
Strong-armed, with Sítá at his side?
When will ten thousand thousand meet
And crowd Ayodhyá's royal street,
And grain in joyous welcome throw
Upon my sons who tame the foe?
When with delight shall youthful bands
Of Bráhman maidens in their hands
[146]
Bear fruit and flowers in goodly show,
And circling round Ayodhyá go?
With ripened judgment of a sage,
And godlike in his blooming age,
When shall my virtuous son appear,
Like kindly rain, our hearts to cheer?
Ah, in a former life, I ween,
This hand of mine, most base and mean,
Has dried the udders of the kine
And left the thirsty calves to pine.
Hence, as the lion robs the cow,
Kaikeyí makes me childless now,
Exulting from her feebler foe
To rend the son she cherished so.
I had but him, in Scripture skilled,
With every grace his soul was filled.
Now not a joy has life to give,
And robbed of him I would not live:
Yea, all my days are dark and drear
If he, my darling, be not near,
And Lakshmaṇ brave, my heart to cheer.
As for my son I mourn and yearn,
The quenchless flames of anguish burn
And kill me with the pain,
As in the summer's noontide blaze
The glorious Day-God with his rays
Consumes the parching plain.”
Canto XLIV. Sumitrá's Speech.
507
Canto XLIV. Sumitrá's Speech.
Kauśalyá ceased her sad lament,
Of beauteous dames most excellent.
Sumitrá who to duty clave,
In righteous words this answer gave:
“Dear Queen, all noble virtues grace
Thy son, of men the first in place.
Why dost thou shed these tears of woe
With bitter grief lamenting so?
If Ráma, leaving royal sway
Has hastened to the woods away,
'Tis for his high-souled father's sake
That he his premise may not break.
He to the path of duty clings
Which lordly fruit hereafter brings—
The path to which the righteous cleave—
For him, dear Queen, thou shouldst not grieve.
And Lakshmaṇ too, the blameless-souled,
The same high course with him will hold,
And mighty bliss on him shall wait,
So tenderly compassionate.
And Sítá, bred with tender care,
Well knows what toils await her there,
But in her love she will not part
From Ráma of the virtuous heart.
Now has thy son through all the world
The banner of his fame unfurled;
True, modest, careful of his vow,
What has he left to aim at now?
The sun will mark his mighty soul,
His wisdom, sweetness, self-control,
Will spare from pain his face and limb,
And with soft radiance shine for him.
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The Ramayana
For him through forest glades shall spring
A soft auspicious breeze, and bring
Its tempered heat and cold to play
Around him ever night and day.
The pure cold moonbeams shall delight
The hero as he sleeps at night,
And soothe him with the soft caress
Of a fond parent's tenderness.
To him, the bravest of the brave,
His heavenly arms the Bráhman gave,
When fierce Suváhu dyed the plain
With his life-blood by Ráma slain.
Still trusting to his own right arm
Thy hero son will fear no harm:
As in his father's palace, he
In the wild woods will dauntless be.
Whene'er he lets his arrows fly
His stricken foemen fall and die:
And is that prince of peerless worth
Too weak to keep and sway the earth?
His sweet pure soul, his beauty's charm,
His hero heart, his warlike arm,
Will soon redeem his rightful reign
When from the woods he comes again.
The Bráhmans on the prince's head
King-making drops shall quickly shed,
And Sítá, Earth, and Fortune share
The glories which await the heir.
For him, when forth his chariot swept,
The crowd that thronged Ayodhyá wept,
With agonizing woe distressed.
With him in hermít's mantle dressed
In guise of Sítá Lakshmí went,
And none his glory may prevent.
Canto XLIV. Sumitrá's Speech.
509
Yea, naught to him is high or hard,
Before whose steps, to be his guard,
Lakshmaṇ, the best who draws the bow,
With spear, shaft, sword rejoiced to go.
His wanderings in the forest o'er,
Thine eyes shall see thy son once more,
Quit thy faint heart, thy grief dispel,
For this, O Queen, is truth I tell.
Thy son returning, moonlike, thence,
Shall at thy feet do reverence,
And, blest and blameless lady, thou
Shalt see his head to touch them bow,
Yea, thou shalt see thy son made king
When he returns with triumphing,
And how thy happy eyes will brim
With tears of joy to look on him!
Thou, blameless lady, shouldst the whole
Of the sad people here console:
Why in thy tender heart allow
This bitter grief to harbour now?
As the long banks of cloud distil
Their water when they see the hill,
[147]
So shall the drops of rapture run
From thy glad eyes to see thy son
Returning, as he lowly bends
To greet thee, girt by all his friends.”
Thus soothing, kindly eloquent,
With every hopeful argument
Kauśalyá's heart by sorrow rent,
Fair Queen Sumitrá ceased.
Kauśalyá heard each pleasant plea,
And grief began to leave her free,
As the light clouds of autumn flee,
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The Ramayana
Their watery stores decreased.
Canto XLV. The Tamasá.
Their tender love the people drew
To follow Ráma brave and true,
The high-souled hero, as he went
Forth from his home to banishment.
The king himself his friends obeyed,
And turned him homeward as they prayed.
But yet the people turned not back,
Still close on Ráma's chariot track.
For they who in Ayodhyá dwelt
For him such fond affection felt,
Decked with all grace and glories high,
The dear full moon of every eye.
Though much his people prayed and wept,
Kakutstha's son his purpose kept,
And still his journey would pursue
To keep the king his father true.
Deep in the hero's bosom sank
Their love, whose signs his glad eye drank.
He spoke to cheer them, as his own
Dear children, in a loving tone:
“If ye would grant my fond desire,
Give Bharat now that love entire
And reverence shown to me by all
Who dwell within Ayodhyá's wall.
For he, Kaikeyí's darling son,
His virtuous career will run,
And ever bound by duty's chain
Canto XLV. The Tamasá.
511
Consult your weal and bliss and gain.
In judgment old, in years a child,
With hero virtues meek and mild,
A fitting lord is he to cheer
His people and remove their fear.
In him all kingly gifts abound,
More noble than in me are found:
Imperial prince, well proved and tried—
Obey him as your lord and guide.
And grant, I pray, the boon I ask:
To please the king be still your task,
That his fond heart, while I remain
Far in the wood, may feel no pain.”
The more he showed his will to tread
The path where filial duty led,
The more the people, round him thronged,
For their dear Ráma's empire longed.
Still more attached his followers grew,
As Ráma, with his brother, drew
The people with his virtues' ties,
Lamenting all with tear-dimmed eyes.
The saintly twice-born, triply old
In glory, knowledge, seasons told,
With hoary heads that shook and bowed,
Their voices raised and spake aloud:
“O steeds, who best and noblest are,
Who whirl so swiftly Ráma's car,
Go not, return: we call on you:
Be to your master kind and true.
For speechless things are swift to hear,
And naught can match a horse's ear,
O generous steeds, return, when thus
You hear the cry of all of us.
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The Ramayana
Each vow he keeps most firm and sure,
And duty makes his spirit pure.
Back with our chief! not wood-ward hence;
Back to his royal residence!”
Soon as he saw the aged band.
Exclaiming in their misery, stand,
And their sad cries around him rang,
Swift from his chariot Ráma sprang.
Then, still upon his journey bent,
With Sítá and with Lakshmaṇ went
The hero by the old men's side
Suiting to theirs his shortened stride.
He could not pass the twice-born throng
As weariedly they walked along:
With pitying heart, with tender eye,
He could not in his chariot fly.
When the steps of Ráma viewed
That still his onward course pursued,
Woe shook the troubled heart of each,
And burnt with grief they spoke this speech—
“With thee, O Ráma, to the wood
All Bráhmans go and Bráhmanhood:
Borne on our aged shoulders, see,
Our fires of worship go with thee.
Bright canopies that lend their shade
In Vájapeya319rites displayed,
In plenteous store are borne behind
Like cloudlets in the autumn wind.
No shelter from the sun hast thou,
And, lest his fury burn thy brow,
These sacrificial shades we bear
319An important sacrifice at which seventeen victims were immolated.
Canto XLV. The Tamasá.
513
Shall aid thee in the noontide glare.
Our hearts, who ever loved to pore
On sacred text and Vedic lore,
Now all to thee, beloved, turn,
And for a life in forests yearn.
Deep in our aged bosoms lies
The Vedas' lore, the wealth we prize,
There still, like wives at home, shall dwell,
Whose love and truth protect them well.
[148]
To follow thee our hearts are bent;
We need not plan or argument.
All else in duty's law we slight,
For following thee is following right.
O noble Prince, retrace thy way:
O, hear us, Ráma, as we lay,
With many tears and many prayers,
Our aged heads and swan-white hairs
Low in the dust before thy feet;
O, hear us, Ráma, we entreat.
Full many of these who with thee run,
Their sacred rites had just begun.
Unfinished yet those rites remain;
But finished if thou turn again.
All rooted life and things that move
To thee their deep affection prove.
To them, when warmed by love, they glow
And sue to thee, some favour show,
Each lowly bush, each towering tree
Would follow too for love of thee.
Bound by its root it must remain;
But—all it can—its boughs complain,
As when the wild wind rushes by
It tells its woe in groan and sigh.
No more through air the gay birds flit,
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The Ramayana
But, foodless, melancholy sit
Together on the branch and call
To thee whose kind heart feels for all.”
As wailed the aged Bráhmans, bent
To turn him back, with wild lament,
Seemed Tamasá herself to aid,
Checking his progress, as they prayed.
Sumantra from the chariot freed
With ready hand each weary steed;
He groomed them with the utmost heed,
Their limbs he bathed and dried,
Then led them forth to drink and feed
At pleasure in the grassy mead
That fringed the river side.
Canto XLVI. The Halt.
When Ráma, chief of Raghu's race,
Arrived at that delightful place,
He looked on Sítá first, and then
To Lakshmaṇ spake the lord of men:
“Now first the shades of night descend
Since to the wilds our steps we bend.
Joy to thee, brother! do not grieve
For our dear home and all we leave.
The woods unpeopled seem to weep
Around us, as their tenants creep
Or fly to lair and den and nest,
Both bird and beast, to seek their rest.
Canto XLVI. The Halt.
515
Methinks Ayodhyá's royal town
Where dwells my sire of high renown,
With all her men and dames to-night
Will mourn us vanished from their sight.
For, by his virtues won, they cling
In fond affection to their king,
And thee and me, O brave and true,
And Bharat and Śatrughna too.
I for my sire and mother feel
Deep sorrow o'er my bosom steal,
Lest mourning us, oppressed with fears,
They blind their eyes with endless tears.
Yet Bharat's duteous love will show
Sweet comfort in their hours of woe,
And with kind words their hearts sustain,
Suggesting duty, bliss, and gain.
I mourn my parents now no more:
I count dear Bharat's virtues o'er,
And his kind love and care dispel
The doubts I had, and all is well.
And thou thy duty wouldst not shun,
And, following me, hast nobly done;
Else, bravest, I should need a band
Around my wife as guard to stand.
On this first night, my thirst to slake,
Some water only will I take:
Thus, brother, thus my will decides,
Though varied store the wood provides.”
Thus having said to Lakshmaṇ, he
Addressed in turn Sumantra: “Be
Most diligent to-night, my friend,
And with due care thy horses tend.”
The sun had set: Sumantra tied
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The Ramayana
His noble horses side by side,
Gave store of grass with liberal hand,
And rested near them on the strand.
Each paid the holy evening rite,
And when around them fell the night,
The charioteer, with Lakshmaṇ's aid,
A lowly bed for Ráma laid.
To Lakshmaṇ Ráma bade adieu,
And then by Sítá's side he threw
His limbs upon the leafy bed
Their care upon the bank had spread.
When Lakshmaṇ saw the couple slept,
Still on the strand his watch he kept,
Still with Sumantra there conversed,
And Ráma's varied gifts rehearsed.
All night he watched, nor sought repose,
Till on the earth the sun arose:
With him Sumantra stayed awake,
And still of Ráma's virtues spake.
Thus, near the river's grassy shore
Which herds unnumbered wandered o'er,
Repose, untroubled, Ráma found,
And all the people lay around.
The glorious hero left his bed,
Looked on the sleeping crowd, and said
To Lakshmaṇ, whom each lucky line
Marked out for bliss with surest sign:
“O brother Lakshmaṇ, look on these
Reclining at the roots of trees;
All care of house and home resigned,
Caring for us with heart and mind,
These people of the city yearn
[149]
Canto XLVI. The Halt.
517
To see us to our home return:
To quit their lives will they consent,
But never leave their firm intent.
Come, while they all unconscious sleep,
Let us upon the chariot leap,
And swiftly on our journey speed
Where naught our progress may impede,
That these fond citizens who roam
Far from Ikshváku's ancient home,
No more may sleep 'neath bush and tree,
Following still for love of me.
A prince with tender care should heal
The self-brought woes his people feel,
And never let his subjects share
The burthen he is forced to bear.”
Then Lakshmaṇ to the chief replied,
Who stood like Justice by his side:
“Thy rede, O sage, I well commend:
Without delay the car ascend.”
Then Ráma to Sumantra spoke:
“Thy rapid steeds, I pray thee, yoke.
Hence to the forest will I go:
Away, my lord, and be not slow.”
Sumantra, urged to utmost speed,
Yoked to the car each generous steed,
And then, with hand to hand applied,
He came before the chief and cried:
“Hail, Prince, whom mighty arms adorn,
Hail, bravest of the chariot-borne!
With Sítá and thy brother thou
Mayst mount: the car is ready now.”
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The Ramayana
The hero clomb the car with haste:
His bow and gear within were placed,
And quick the eddying flood he passed
Of Tamasá whose waves run fast.
Soon as he touched the farther side,
That strong-armed hero, glorified,
He found a road both wide and clear,
Where e'en the timid naught could fear.
Then, that the crowd might be misled,
Thus Ráma to Sumantra said:
“Speed north a while, then hasten back,
Returning in thy former track,
That so the people may not learn
The course I follow: drive and turn.”
Sumantra, at the chief's behest,
Quick to the task himself addressed;
Then near to Ráma came, and showed
The chariot ready for the road.
With Sítá, then, the princely two,
Who o'er the line of Raghu threw
A glory ever bright and new,
Upon the chariot stood.
Sumantra fast and faster drove
His horses, who in fleetness strove
Still onward to the distant grove,
The hermit-haunted wood.
Canto XLVII. The Citizens' Return.
Canto XLVII. The Citizens' Return.
519
The people, when the morn shone fair,
Arose to find no Ráma there.
Then fear and numbing grief subdued
The senses of the multitude.
The woe-born tears were running fast
As all around their eyes they cast,
And sadly looked, but found no trace
Of Ráma, searching every place.
Bereft of Ráma good and wise,
With drooping cheer and weeping eyes,
Each woe-distracted sage gave vent
To sorrow in his wild lament:
“Woe worth the sleep that stole our sense
With its beguiling influence,
That now we look in vain for him
Of the broad chest and stalwart limb!
How could the strong-armed hero, thus
Deceiving all, abandon us?
His people so devoted see,
Yet to the woods, a hermit, flee?
How can he, wont our hearts to cheer,
As a fond sire his children dear,—
How can the pride of Raghu's race
Fly from us to some desert place!
Here let us all for death prepare,
Or on the last great journey fare;320
Of Ráma our dear lord bereft,
What profit in our lives is left?
Huge trunks of trees around us lie,
With roots and branches sere and dry,
Come let us set these logs on fire
And throw our bodies on the pyre.
320The great pilgrimage to the Himálayas, in order to die there.
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The Ramayana
What shall we speak? How can we say
We followed Ráma on his way,
The mighty chief whose arm is strong,
Who sweetly speaks, who thinks no wrong?
Ayodhyá's town with sorrow dumb,
Without our lord will see us come,
And hopeless misery will strike
Elder, and child, and dame alike.
Forth with that peerless chief we came,
Whose mighty heart is aye the same:
How, reft of him we love, shall we
Returning dare that town to see?”
Complaining thus with varied cry
They tossed their aged arms on high,
And their sad hearts with grief were wrung,
Like cows who sorrow for their young.
A while they followed on the road
Which traces of his chariot showed,
But when at length those traces failed,
A deep despair their hearts assailed.
[150]
The chariot marks no more discerned,
The hopeless sages backward turned:
“Ah, what is this? What can we more?
Fate stops the way, and all is o'er.”
With wearied hearts, in grief and shame
They took the road by which they came,
And reached Ayodhyá's city, where
From side to side was naught but care.
With troubled spirits quite cast down
They looked upon the royal town,
And from their eyes, oppressed with woe,
Their tears again began to flow.
Of Ráma reft, the city wore
Canto XLVIII. The Women's Lament.
521
No look of beauty as before,
Like a dull river or a lake
By Garuḍ robbed of every snake.
Dark, dismal as the moonless sky,
Or as a sea whose bed is dry,
So sad, to every pleasure dead,
They saw the town, disquieted.
On to their houses, high and vast,
Where stores of precious wealth were massed,
The melancholy Bráhmans passed,
Their hearts with anguish cleft:
Aloof from all, they came not near
To stranger or to kinsman dear,
Showing in faces blank and drear
That not one joy was left.
Canto XLVIII. The Women's Lament.
When those who forth with Ráma went
Back to the town their steps had bent,
It seemed that death had touched and chilled
Those hearts which piercing sorrow filled.
Each to his several mansion came,
And girt by children and his dame,
From his sad eyes the water shed
That o'er his cheek in torrents spread.
All joy was fled: oppressed with cares
No bustling trader showed his wares.
Each shop had lost its brilliant look,
Each householder forbore to cook.
No hand with joy its earnings told,
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The Ramayana
None cared to win a wealth of gold,
And scarce the youthful mother smiled
To see her first, her new-born child.
In every house a woman wailed,
And her returning lord assailed
With keen taunt piercing like the steel
That bids the tusked monster kneel:
“What now to them is wedded dame,
What house and home and dearest aim,
Or son, or bliss, or gathered store,
Whose eyes on Ráma look no more!
There is but one in all the earth,
One man alone of real worth,
Lakshmaṇ, who follows, true and good,
Ráma, with Sítá, through the wood.
Made holy for all time we deem
Each pool and fountain, lake and stream,
If great Kakutstha's son shall choose
Their water for his bath to use.
Each forest, dark with lovely trees,
Shall yearn Kakutstha's son to please;
Each mountain peak and woody hill,
Each mighty flood and mazy rill,
Each rocky height, each shady grove
Where the blest feet of Ráma rove,
Shall gladly welcome with the best
Of all they have their honoured guest.
The trees that clustering blossoms bear,
And bright-hued buds to gem their hair,
The heart of Ráma shall delight,
And cheer him on the breezy height.
For him the upland slopes will show
The fairest roots and fruit that grow,
And all their wealth before him fling
Canto XLVIII. The Women's Lament.
523
Ere the due hour of ripening.
For him each earth-upholding hill
Its crystal water shall distil,
And all its floods shall be displayed
In many a thousand-hued cascade.
Where Ráma stands is naught to fear,
No danger comes if he be near;
For all who live on him depend,
The world's support, and lord, and friend.
Ere in too distant wilds he stray,
Let us to Ráma speed away,
For rich reward on those will wait
Who serve a prince of soul so great.
We will attend on Sítá there;
Be Raghu's son your special care.”
The city dames, with grief distressed,
Thus once again their lords addressed:
“Ráma shall be your guard and guide,
And Sítá will for us provide.
For who would care to linger here,
Where all is sad and dark and drear?
Who, mid the mourners, hope for bliss
In a poor soulless town like this?
If Queen Kaikeyí's treacherous sin,
Our lord expelled, the kingdom win,
We heed not sons or golden store,
Our life itself we prize no more.
If she, seduced by lust of sway,
Her lord and son could cast away,
Whom would she leave unharmed, the base
Defiler of her royal race?
We swear it by our children dear,
We will not dwell as servants here;
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The Ramayana
If Queen Kaikeyí live to reign,
We will not in her realm remain.
Bowed down by her oppressive hand,
The helpless, lordless, godless land,
Cursed for Kaikeyí's guilt will fall,
And swift destruction seize it all.
[151]
For, Ráma forced from home to fly,
The king his sire will surely die,
And when the king has breathed his last
Ruin will doubtless follow fast.
Sad, robbed of merits, drug the cup
And drink the poisoned mixture up,
Or share the exiled Ráma's lot,
Or seek some land that knows her not.
No reason, but a false pretence
Drove Ráma, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ hence,
And we to Bharat have been given
Like cattle to the shambles driven.”
While in each house the women, pained
At loss of Ráma, still complained,
Sank to his rest the Lord of Day,
And night through all the sky held sway.
The fires of worship all were cold,
No text was hummed, no tale was told,
And shades of midnight gloom came down
Enveloping the mournful town.
Still, sick at heart, the women shed,
As for a son or husband fled,
For Ráma tears, disquieted:
No child was loved as he.
And all Ayodhyá, where the feast,
Music, and song, and dance had ceased,
And merriment and glee,
Canto XLIX. The Crossing Of The Rivers.
525
Where every merchant's store was closed
That erst its glittering wares exposed,
Was like a dried up sea.
Canto XLIX. The Crossing Of The Rivers.
Now Ráma, ere the night was fled,
O'er many a league of road had sped,
Till, as his course he onward held,
The morn the shades of night dispelled.
The rites of holy dawn he paid,
And all the country round surveyed.
He saw, as still he hurried through
With steeds which swift as arrows flew,
Hamlets and groves with blossoms fair,
And fields which showed the tillers' care,
While from the clustered dwellings near
The words of peasants reached his ear:
“Fie on our lord the king, whose soul
Is yielded up to love's control!
Fie on the vile Kaikeyí! Shame
On that malicious sinful dame,
Who, keenly bent on cruel deeds,
No bounds of right and virtue heeds,
But with her wicked art has sent
So good a prince to banishment,
Wise, tender-hearted, ruling well
His senses, in the woods to dwell.
Ah cruel king! his heart of steel
For his own son no love could feel,
Who with the sinless Ráma parts,
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The Ramayana
The darling of the people's hearts.”
These words he heard the peasants say,
Who dwelt in hamlets by the way,
And, lord of all the realm by right,
Through Kośala pursued his flight.
Through the auspicious flood, at last,
Of Vedaśrutí's stream he passed,
And onward to the place he sped
By Saint Agastya tenanted.
Still on for many an hour he hied,
And crossed the stream whose cooling tide
Rolls onward till she meets the sea,
The herd-frequented Gomatí.321
Borne by his rapid horses o'er,
He reached that river's further shore.
And Syandiká's, whose swan-loved stream
Resounded with the peacock's scream.
Then as he journeyed on his road
To his Videhan bride he showed
The populous land which Manu old
To King Ikshváku gave to hold.
The glorious prince, the lord of men
Looked on the charioteer, and then
Voiced like a wild swan, loud and clear,
He spake these words and bade him hear:
“When shall I, with returning feet
My father and my mother meet?
When shall I lead the hunt once more
In bloomy woods on Sarjú's shore?
Most eagerly I long to ride
Urging the chase on Sarjú's side.
For royal saints have seen no blame
321Known to Europeans as the Goomtee.
Canto L. The Halt Under The Ingudí.
527
In this, the monarch's matchless game.”
Thus speeding on,—no rest or stay,—
Ikshváku's son pursued his way.
Oft his sweet voice the silence broke,
And thus on varied themes he spoke.
Canto L. The Halt Under The Ingudí.322
So through the wide and fair extent
Of Kośala the hero went.
Then toward Ayodhyá back he gazed,
And cried, with suppliant hands upraised:
“Farewell, dear city, first in place,
Protected by Kakutstha's race!
And Gods, who in thy temples dwell,
And keep thine ancient citadel!
I from his debt my sire will free,
Thy well-loved towers again will see,
And, coming from my wild retreat,
My mother and my father meet.”
[152]
Then burning grief inflamed his eye,
As his right arm he raised on high,
And, while hot tears his cheek bedewed,
Addressed the mournful multitude:
“By love and tender pity moved,
Your love for me you well have proved;
Now turn again with joy, and win
Success in all your hands begin.”
322A tree, commonly called Ingua.
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The Ramayana
Before the high souled chief they bent,
With circling steps around him went,
And then with bitter wailing, they
Departed each his several way.
Like the great sun engulfed by night,
The hero sped beyond their sight,
While still the people mourned his fate
And wept aloud disconsolate.
The car-borne chieftain passed the bound
Of Kośala's delightful ground,
Where grain and riches bless the land,
And people give with liberal hand:
A lovely realm unvexed by fear,
Where countless shrines and stakes323appear:
Where mango-groves and gardens grow,
And streams of pleasant water flow:
Where dwells content a well-fed race,
And countless kine the meadows grace:
Filled with the voice of praise and prayer:
Each hamlet worth a monarch's care.
Before him three-pathed Gangá rolled
Her heavenly waters bright and cold;
O'er her pure breast no weeds were spread,
Her banks were hermit-visited.
The car-borne hero saw the tide
That ran with eddies multiplied,
And thus the charioteer addressed:
“Here on the bank to-day we rest.
Not distant from the river, see!
There grows a lofty Ingudí
With blossoms thick on every spray:
There rest we, charioteer, to-day.
323Sacrificial posts to which the victims were tied.
Canto L. The Halt Under The Ingudí.
529
I on the queen of floods will gaze,
Whose holy stream has highest praise,
Where deer, and bird, and glittering snake,
God, Daitya, bard their pastime take.”
Sumantra, Lakshmaṇ gave assent,
And with the steeds they thither went.
When Ráma reached the lovely tree,
With Sítá and with Lakshmaṇ, he
Alighted from the car: with speed
Sumantra loosed each weary steed.
And, hand to hand in reverence laid,
Stood near to Ráma in the shade.
Ráma's dear friend, renowned by fame,
Who of Nisháda lineage came,
Guha, the mighty chief, adored
Through all the land as sovereign lord,
Soon as he heard that prince renowned
Was resting on Nisháda ground,
Begirt by counsellor and peer
And many an honoured friend drew near.
Soon as the monarch came in view,
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ toward him flew.
Then Guha, at the sight distressed,
His arms around the hero pressed,
Laid both his hands upon his head
Bowed to those lotus feet, and said:
“O Ráma, make thy wishes known,
And be this kingdom as thine own.
Who, mighty-armed, will ever see
A guest so dear as thou to me?”
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The Ramayana
He placed before him dainty fare
Of every flavour, rich and rare,
Brought forth the gift for honoured guest,
And thus again the chief addressed:
“Welcome, dear Prince, whose arms are strong;
These lands and all to thee belong.
Thy servants we, our lord art thou;
Begin, good king, thine empire now.
See, various food before thee placed,
And cups to drink and sweets to taste
For thee soft beds are hither borne,
And for thy horses grass and corn.”
To Guha as he pressed and prayed,
Thus Raghu's son his answer made:
“'Twas aye thy care my heart to please
With honour, love, and courtesies,
And friendship brings thee now to greet
Thy guest thus humbly on thy feet.”
Again the hero spake, as round
The king his shapely arms he wound:
“Guha, I see that all is well
With thee and those who with thee dwell;
That health and bliss and wealth attend
Thy realm, thyself, and every friend.
But all these friendly gifts of thine,
Bound to refuse, I must decline.
Grass, bark, and hide my only wear,
And woodland roots and fruit my fare,
On duty all my heart is set;
I seek the woods, an anchoret.
A little grass and corn to feed
The horses—this is all I need.
Canto L. The Halt Under The Ingudí.
531
So by this favour, King, alone
Shall honour due to me be shown.
For these good steeds who brought me here
Are to my sire supremely dear;
And kind attention paid to these
Will honour me and highly please.”
Then Guha quickly bade his train
Give water to the steeds, and grain.
And Ráma, ere the night grew dark,
Paid evening rites in dress of bark,
And tasted water, on the strand,
Drawn from the stream by Lakshmaṇ's hand.
And Lakshmaṇ with observance meet
Bathed his beloved brother's feet,
[153]
Who rested with his Maithil spouse:
Then sat him down 'neath distant boughs.
And Guha with his bow sat near
To Lakshmaṇ and the charioteer,
And with the prince conversing kept
His faithful watch while Ráma slept.
As Daśaratha's glorious heir,
Of lofty soul and wisdom rare,
Reclining with his Sítá there
Beside the river lay—
He who no troubles e'er had seen,
Whose life a life of bliss had been—
That night beneath the branches green
Passed pleasantly away.
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The Ramayana
Canto LI. Lakshman's Lament.
As Lakshmaṇ still his vigil held
By unaffected love impelled,
Guha, whose heart the sight distressed,
With words like these the prince addressed:
“Beloved youth, this pleasant bed
Was brought for thee, for thee is spread;
On this, my Prince, thine eyelids close,
And heal fatigue with sweet repose.
My men are all to labour trained,
But hardship thou hast ne'er sustained.
All we this night our watch will keep
And guard Kakutstha's son asleep.
In all the world there breathes not one
More dear to me than Raghu's son.
The words I speak, heroic youth,
Are true: I swear it by my truth.
Through his dear grace supreme renown
Will, so I trust, my wishes crown.
So shall my life rich store obtain
Of merit, blest with joy and gain.
While Raghu's son and Sítá lie
Entranced in happy slumber, I
Will, with my trusty bow in hand,
Guard my dear friend with all my band.
To me, who oft these forests range,
Is naught therein or new or strange.
We could with equal might oppose
A four-fold army led by foes.”
Canto LI. Lakshman's Lament.
533
Then royal Lakshmaṇ made reply:
“With thee to stand as guardian nigh,
Whose faithful soul regards the right,
Fearless we well might rest to-night.
But how, when Ráma lays his head
With Sítá on his lowly bed,—
How can I sleep? how can I care
For life, or aught that's bright and fair?
Behold the conquering chief, whose might
Is match for Gods and fiends in fight;
With Sítá now he rests his head
Asleep on grass beneath him spread.
Won by devotion, text, and prayer,
And many a rite performed with care,
Chief of our father's sons he shines
Well marked, like him, with favouring signs.
Brief, brief the monarch's life will be
Now his dear son is forced to flee;
And quickly will the widowed state
Mourn for her lord disconsolate.
Each mourner there has wept her fill;
The cries of anguish now are still:
In the king's hall each dame, o'ercome
With weariness of woe is dumb.
This first sad night of grief, I ween,
Will do to death each sorrowing queen:
Scarce is Kauśalyá left alive;
My mother, too, can scarce survive.
If when her heart is fain to break,
She lingers for Śatrughna's sake,
Kauśalyá, mother of the chief,
Must sink beneath the chilling grief.
That town which countless thousands fill,
Whose hearts with love of Ráma thrill,—
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The Ramayana
The world's delight, so rich and fair,—
Grieved for the king, his death will share.
The hopes he fondly cherished, crossed
Ayodhyá's throne to Ráma lost,—
With mournful cries, Too late, too late!
The king my sire will meet his fate.
And when my sire has passed away,
Most happy in their lot are they,
Allowed, with every pious care,
Part in his funeral rites to bear.
And O, may we with joy at last,—
These years of forest exile past,—
Turn to Ayodhyá's town to dwell
With him who keeps his promise well!”
While thus the hero mighty-souled,
In wild lament his sorrow told,
Faint with the load that on him lay,
The hours of darkness passed away.
As thus the prince, impelled by zeal
For his loved brother, prompt to feel
Strong yearnings for the people's weal,
His words of truth outspake,
King Guha grieved to see his woe,
Heart-stricken, gave his tears to flow,
Tormented by the common blow,
Sad, as a wounded snake.
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
535
Soon as the shades of night had fled,
Uprising from his lowly bed,
Ráma the famous, broad of chest,
His brother Lakshmaṇ thus addressed:
“Now swift upsprings the Lord of Light,
And fled is venerable night.
[154]
That dark-winged bird the Koïl now
Is calling from the topmost bough,
And sounding from the thicket nigh
Is heard the peacock's early cry.
Come, cross the flood that seeks the sea,
The swiftly flowing Jáhnaví.”324
King Guha heard his speech, agreed,
And called his minister with speed:
“A boat,” he cried, “swift, strong, and fair,
With rudder, oars, and men, prepare,
And place it ready by the shore
To bear the pilgrims quickly o'er.”
Thus Guha spake: his followers all
Bestirred them at their master's call;
Then told the king that ready manned
A gay boat waited near the strand.
Then Guha, hand to hand applied,
With reverence thus to Ráma cried:
“The boat is ready by the shore:
How, tell me, can I aid thee more?
O lord of men, it waits for thee
To cross the flood that seeks the sea.
O godlike keeper of thy vow,
Embark: the boat is ready now.”
324Daughter of Jahnu, a name of the Ganges. See p. 55.
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The Ramayana
Then Ráma, lord of glory high,
Thus to King Guha made reply:
“Thanks for thy gracious care, my lord:
Now let the gear be placed on board.”
Each bow-armed chief, in mail encased,
Bound sword and quiver to his waist,
And then with Sítá near them hied
Down the broad river's shelving side.
Then with raised palms the charioteer,
In lowly reverence drawing near,
Cried thus to Ráma good and true:
“Now what remains for me to do?”
With his right hand, while answering
The hero touched his friend:
“Go back,” he said, “and on the king
With watchful care attend.
Thus far, Sumantra, thou wast guide;
Now to Ayodhyá turn,” he cried:
“Hence seek we leaving steeds and car,
On foot the wood that stretches far.”
Sumantra, when, with grieving heart,
He heard the hero bid him part,
Thus to the bravest of the brave,
Ikshváku's son, his answer gave:
“In all the world men tell of naught,
To match thy deed, by heroes wrought—
Thus with thy brother and thy wife
Thrall-like to lead a forest life.
No meet reward of fruit repays
Thy holy lore, thy saintlike days,
Thy tender soul, thy love of truth,
If woe like this afflicts thy youth.
Thou, roaming under forest boughs
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
537
With thy dear brother and thy spouse
Shalt richer meed of glory gain
Than if three worlds confessed thy reign.
Sad is our fate, O Ráma: we,
Abandoned and repelled by thee,
Must serve as thralls Kaikeyí's will,
Imperious, wicked, born to ill.”
Thus cried the faithful charioteer,
As Raghu's son, in rede his peer,
Was fast departing on his road,—
And long his tears of anguish flowed.
But Ráma, when those tears were dried
His lips with water purified,
And in soft accents, sweet and clear,
Again addressed the charioteer:
“I find no heart, my friend, like thine,
So faithful to Ikshváku's line.
Still first in view this object keep,
That ne'er for me my sire may weep.
For he, the world's far-ruling king,
Is old, and wild with sorrow's sting;
With love's great burthen worn and weak:
Deem this the cause that thus I speak
Whate'er the high-souled king decrees
His loved Kaikeyí's heart to please,
Yea, be his order what it may,
Without demur thou must obey,
For this alone great monarchs reign,
That ne'er a wish be formed in vain.
Then, O Sumantra, well provide
That by no check the king be tried:
Nor let his heart in sorrow pine:
This care, my faithful friend, be thine.
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The honoured king my father greet,
And thus for me my words repeat
To him whose senses are controlled,
Untired till now by grief, and old;
“I, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ sorrow not,
O Monarch, for our altered lot:
The same to us, if here we roam,
Or if Ayodhyá be our home,
The fourteen years will quickly fly,
The happy hour will soon be nigh
When thou, my lord, again shalt see
Lakshmaṇ, the Maithil dame, and me.”
Thus having soothed, O charioteer,
My father and my mother dear,
Let all the queens my message learn,
But to Kaikeyí chiefly turn.
With loving blessings from the three,
From Lakshmaṇ, Sítá, and from me,
My mother, Queen Kauśalyá, greet
With reverence to her sacred feet.
And add this prayer of mine: “O King;
Send quickly forth and Bharat bring,
And set him on the royal throne
Which thy decree has made his own.
When he upon the throne is placed,
When thy fond arms are round him laced,
Thine aged heart will cease to ache
With bitter pangs for Ráma's sake.”
[155]
And say to Bharat: “See thou treat
The queens with all observance meet:
What care the king receives, the same
Show thou alike to every dame.
Obedience to thy father's will
Who chooses thee the throne to fill,
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
539
Will earn for thee a store of bliss
Both in the world to come and this.’”
Thus Ráma bade Sumantra go
With thoughtful care instructed so.
Sumantra all his message heard,
And spake again, by passion stirred:
“O, should deep feeling mar in aught
The speech by fond devotion taught,
Forgive whate'er I wildly speak:
My love is strong, my tongue is weak.
How shall I, if deprived of thee,
Return that mournful town to see:
Where sick at heart the people are
Because their Ráma roams afar.
Woe will be theirs too deep to brook
When on the empty car they look,
As when from hosts, whose chiefs are slain,
One charioteer comes home again.
This very day, I ween, is food
Forsworn by all the multitude,
Thinking that thou, with hosts to aid,
Art dwelling in the wild wood's shade.
The great despair, the shriek of woe
They uttered when they saw thee go,
Will, when I come with none beside,
A hundred-fold be multiplied.
How to Kauśalyá can I say:
“O Queen, I took thy son away,
And with thy brother left him well:
Weep not for him; thy woe dispel?”
So false a tale I cannot frame,
Yet how speak truth and grieve the dame?
How shall these horses, fleet and bold,
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The Ramayana
Whom not a hand but mine can hold,
Bear others, wont to whirl the car
Wherein Ikshváku's children are!
Without thee, Prince, I cannot, no,
I cannot to Ayodhyá go.
Then deign, O Ráma, to relent,
And let me share thy banishment.
But if no prayers can move thy heart,
If thou wilt quit me and depart,
The flames shall end my car and me,
Deserted thus and reft of thee.
In the wild wood when foes are near,
When dangers check thy vows austere,
Borne in my car will I attend,
All danger and all care to end.
For thy dear sake I love the skill
That guides the steed and curbs his will:
And soon a forest life will be
As pleasant, for my love of thee.
And if these horses near thee dwell,
And serve thee in the forest well,
They, for their service, will not miss
The due reward of highest bliss.
Thine orders, as with thee I stray,
Will I with heart and head obey,
Prepared, for thee, without a sigh,
To lose Ayodhyá or the sky.
As one defiled with hideous sin,
I never more can pass within
Ayodhyá, city of our king,
Unless beside me thee I bring.
One wish is mine, I ask no more,
That, when thy banishment is o'er
I in my car may bear my lord,
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
541
Triumphant, to his home restored.
The fourteen years, if spent with thee,
Will swift as light-winged moments flee;
But the same years, without thee told,
Were magnified a hundred-fold.
Do not, kind lord, thy servant leave,
Who to his master's son would cleave,
And the same path with him pursue,
Devoted, tender, just and true.”
Again, again Sumantra made
His varied plaint, and wept and prayed.
Him Raghu's son, whose tender breast
Felt for his servants, thus addressed:
“O faithful servant, well my heart
Knows how attached and true thou art.
Hear thou the words I speak, and know
Why to the town I bid thee go.
Soon as Kaikeyí, youngest queen,
Thy coming to the town has seen,
No doubt will then her mind oppress
That Ráma roams the wilderness.
And so the dame, her heart content
With proof of Ráma's banishment,
Will doubt the virtuous king no more
As faithless to the oath he swore.
Chief of my cares is this, that she,
Youngest amid the queens, may see
Bharat her son securely reign
O'er rich Ayodhyá's wide domain.
For mine and for the monarch's sake
Do thou thy journey homeward take,
And, as I bade, repeat each word
That from my lips thou here hast heard.”
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The Ramayana
Thus spake the prince, and strove to cheer
The sad heart of the charioteer,
And then to royal Guha said
These words most wise and spirited:
“Guha, dear friend, it is not meet
That people throng my calm retreat:
For I must live a strict recluse,
And mould my life by hermits' use.
I now the ancient rule accept
By good ascetics gladly kept.
I go: bring fig-tree juice that I
In matted coils my hair may tie.”
Quick Guha hastened to produce,
For the king's son, that sacred juice.
Then Ráma of his long locks made,
And Lakshmaṇ's too, the hermit braid.
[156]
And the two royal brothers there
With coats of bark and matted hair,
Transformed in lovely likeness stood
To hermit saints who love the wood.
So Ráma, with his brother bold,
A pious anchorite enrolled,
Obeyed the vow which hermits take,
And to his friend, King Guha, spake:
“May people, treasure, army share,
And fenced forts, thy constant care:
Attend to all: supremely hard
The sovereign's task, to watch and guard.”
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
543
Ikshváku's son, the good and brave,
This last farewell to Guha gave,
And then, with Lakshmaṇ and his bride,
Determined, on his way he hied.
Soon as he viewed, upon the shore,
The bark prepared to waft them o'er
Impetuous Gangá's rolling tide,
To Lakshmaṇ thus the chieftain cried:
“Brother, embark; thy hand extend,
Thy gentle aid to Sítá lend:
With care her trembling footsteps guide,
And place the lady by thy side.”
When Lakshmaṇ heard, prepared to aid,
His brother's words he swift obeyed.
Within the bark he placed the dame,
Then to her side the hero came.
Next Lakshmaṇ's elder brother, lord
Of brightest glory, when on board,
Breathing a prayer for blessings, meet
For priest or warrior to repeat,
Then he and car-borne Lakshmaṇ bent,
Well-pleased, their heads, most reverent,
Their hands, with Sítá, having dipped,
As Scripture bids, and water sipped,
Farewell to wise Sumantra said,
And Guha, with the train he led.
So Ráma took, on board, his stand,
And urged the vessel from the land.
Then swift by vigorous arms impelled
Her onward course the vessel held,
And guided by the helmsman through
The dashing waves of Gangá flew.
Half way across the flood they came,
When Sítá, free from spot and blame,
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The Ramayana
Her reverent hands together pressed,
The Goddess of the stream addressed:
“May the great chieftain here who springs
From Daśaratha, best of kings,
Protected by thy care, fulfil
His prudent father's royal will.
When in the forest he has spent
His fourteen years of banishment,
With his dear brother and with me
His home again my lord shall see.
Returning on that blissful day,
I will to thee mine offerings pay,
Dear Queen, whose waters gently flow,
Who canst all blessed gifts bestow.
For, three-pathed Queen, though wandering here,
Thy waves descend from Brahmá's sphere,
Spouse of the God o'er floods supreme,
Though rolling here thy glorious stream.
To thee, fair Queen, my head shall bend,
To thee shall hymns of praise ascend,
When my brave lord shall turn again,
And, joyful, o'er his kingdom reign.
To win thy grace, O Queen divine,
A hundred thousand fairest kine,
And precious robes and finest meal
Among the Bráhmans will I deal.
A hundred jars of wine shall flow,
When to my home, O Queen, I go;
With these, and flesh, and corn, and rice,
Will I, delighted, sacrifice.
Each hallowed spot, each holy shrine
That stands on these fair shores of thine,
Each fane and altar on thy banks
Shall share my offerings and thanks.
Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.
545
With me and Lakshmaṇ, free from harm,
May he the blameless, strong of arm,
Reseek Ayodhyá from the wild,
O blameless Lady undefiled!”
As, praying for her husband's sake,
The faultless dame to Gangá spake,
To the right bank the vessel flew
With her whose heart was right and true.
Soon as the bark had crossed the wave,
The lion leader of the brave,
Leaving the vessel on the strand,
With wife and brother leapt to land.
Then Ráma thus the prince addressed
Who filled with joy Sumitrá's breast:
“Be thine alike to guard and aid
In peopled spot, in lonely shade.
Do thou, Sumitrá's son, precede:
Let Sítá walk where thou shalt lead.
Behind you both my place shall be,
To guard the Maithil dame and thee.
For she, to woe a stranger yet,
No toil or grief till now has met;
The fair Videhan will assay
The pains of forest life to-day.
To-day her tender feet must tread
Rough rocky wilds around her spread:
No tilth is there, no gardens grow,
No crowding people come and go.”
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The Ramayana
The hero ceased: and Lakshmaṇ led
Obedient to the words he said:
And Sítá followed him, and then
Came Raghu's pride, the lord of men.
With Sítá walking o'er the sand
They sought the forest, bow in hand,
But still their lingering glances threw
Where yet Sumantra stood in view.
Sumantra, when his watchful eye
The royal youths no more could spy,
Turned from the spot whereon he stood
Homeward with Guha from the wood.
[157]
Still on the brothers forced their way
Where sweet birds sang on every spray,
Though scarce the eye a path could find
Mid flowering trees where creepers twined.
Far on the princely brothers pressed,
And stayed their feet at length to rest
Beneath a fig tree's mighty shade
With countless pendent shoots displayed.
Reclining there a while at ease,
They saw, not far, beneath fair trees
A lake with many a lotus bright
That bore the name of Lovely Sight.
Ráma his wife's attention drew,
And Lakshmaṇ's, to the charming view:
“Look, brother, look how fair the flood
Glows with the lotus, flower and bud!”
They drank the water fresh and clear,
And with their shafts they slew a deer.
A fire of boughs they made in haste,
And in the flame the meat they placed.
So Raghu's sons with Sítá shared
Canto LIII. Ráma's Lament.
547
The hunter's meal their hands prepared,
Then counselled that the spreading tree
Their shelter and their home should be.
Canto LIII. Ráma's Lament.
When evening rites were duly paid,
Reclined beneath the leafy shade,
To Lakshmaṇ thus spake Ráma, best
Of those who glad a people's breast:
“Now the first night has closed the day
That saw us from our country stray,
And parted from the charioteer;
Yet grieve not thou, my brother dear.
Henceforth by night, when others sleep,
Must we our careful vigil keep,
Watching for Sítá's welfare thus,
For her dear life depends on us.
Bring me the leaves that lie around,
And spread them here upon the ground,
That we on lowly beds may lie,
And let in talk the night go by.”
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The Ramayana
So on the ground with leaves o'erspread,
He who should press a royal bed,
Ráma with Lakshmaṇ thus conversed,
And many a pleasant tale rehearsed:
“This night the king,” he cried, “alas!
In broken sleep will sadly pass.
Kaikeyí now content should be,
For mistress of her wish is she.
So fiercely she for empire yearns,
That when her Bharat home returns,
She in her greed, may even bring
Destruction on our lord the king.
What can he do, in feeble eld,
Reft of all aid and me expelled,
His soul enslaved by love, a thrall
Obedient to Kaikeyí's call?
As thus I muse upon his woe
And all his wisdoms overthrow,
Love is, methinks, of greater might
To stir the heart than gain and right.
For who, in wisdom's lore untaught,
Could by a beauty's prayer be bought
To quit his own obedient son,
Who loves him, as my sire has done!
Bharat, Kaikeyí's child, alone
Will, with his wife, enjoy the throne,
And blissfully his rule maintain
O'er happy Kośala's domain.
To Bharat's single lot will fall
The kingdom and the power and all,
When fails the king from length of days,
And Ráma in the forest strays.
Whoe'er, neglecting right and gain,
Lets conquering love his soul enchain,
Canto LIII. Ráma's Lament.
549
To him, like Daśaratha's lot,
Comes woe with feet that tarry not.
Methinks at last the royal dame,
Dear Lakshmaṇ, has secured her aim,
To see at once her husband dead,
Her son enthroned, and Ráma fled.
Ah me! I fear, lest borne away
By frenzy of success, she slay
Kauśalyá, through her wicked hate
Of me, bereft, disconsolate;
Or her who aye for me has striven
Sumitrá, to devotion given.
Hence, Lakshmaṇ, to Ayodhyá speed,
Returning in the hour of need.
With Sítá I my steps will bend
Where Daṇḍak's mighty woods extend.
No guardian has Kauśalyá now:
O, be her friend and guardian thou.
Strong hate may vile Kaikeyí lead
To many a base unrighteous deed,
Treading my mother 'neath her feet
When Bharat holds the royal seat.
Sure in some antenatal time
Were children, by Kauśalyá's crime,
Torn from their mothers' arms away,
And hence she mourns this evil day.
She for her child no toil would spare
Tending me long with pain and care;
Now in the hour of fruitage she
Has lost that son, ah, woe is me.
O Lakshmaṇ, may no matron e'er
A son so doomed to sorrow bear
As I, my mother's heart who rend
With anguish that can never end.
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The Ramayana
The Sáriká,325methinks, possessed
More love than glows in Ráma's breast.
Who, as the tale is told to us,
Addressed the stricken parrot thus:
[158]
“Parrot, the capturer's talons tear,
While yet alone thou flutterest there,
Before his mouth has closed on me:”
So cried the bird, herself to free.
Reft of her son, in childless woe,
My mother's tears for ever flow:
Ill-fated, doomed with grief to strive,
What aid can she from me derive?
Pressed down by care, she cannot rise
From sorrow's flood wherein she lies.
In righteous wrath my single arm
Could, with my bow, protect from harm
Ayodhyá's town and all the earth:
But what is hero prowess worth?
Lest breaking duty's law I sin,
And lose the heaven I strive to win,
The forest life today I choose,
And kingly state and power refuse.”
Thus mourning in that lonely spot
The troubled chief bewailed his lot,
And filled with tears, his eyes ran o'er;
Then silent sat, and spake no more.
To him, when ceased his loud lament,
Like fire whose brilliant might is spent,
Or the great sea when sleeps the wave,
Thus Lakshmaṇ consolation gave:
“Chief of the brave who bear the bow,
E'en now Ayodhyá, sunk in woe,
325The Mainá or Gracula religiosa, a favourite cage-bird, easily taught to talk.
Canto LIV. Bharadvája's Hermitage.
551
By thy departure reft of light
Is gloomy as the moonless night.
Unfit it seems that thou, O chief,
Shouldst so afflict thy soul with grief,
So with thou Sítá's heart consign
To deep despair as well as mine.
Not I, O Raghu's son, nor she
Could live one hour deprived of thee:
We were, without thine arm to save,
Like fish deserted by the wave.
Although my mother dear to meet,
Śatrughna, and the king, were sweet,
On them, or heaven, to feed mine eye
Were nothing, if thou wert not by.”
Sitting at ease, their glances fell
Upon the beds, constructed well,
And there the sons of virtue laid
Their limbs beneath the fig tree's shade.
Canto LIV. Bharadvája's Hermitage.
So there that night the heroes spent
Under the boughs that o'er them bent,
And when the sun his glory spread,
Upstarting, from the place they sped.
On to that spot they made their way,
Through the dense wood that round them lay,
Where Yamuná's326swift waters glide
To blend with Gangá's holy tide.
326The Jumna.
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The Ramayana
Charmed with the prospect ever new
The glorious heroes wandered through
Full many a spot of pleasant ground,
Rejoicing as they gazed around,
With eager eye and heart at ease,
On countless sorts of flowery trees.
And now the day was half-way sped
When thus to Lakshmaṇ Ráma said:
“There, there, dear brother, turn thine eyes;
See near Prayág327that smoke arise:
The banner of our Lord of Flames
The dwelling of some saint proclaims.
Near to the place our steps we bend
Where Yamuná and Gangá blend.
I hear and mark the deafening roar
When chafing floods together pour.
See, near us on the ground are left
Dry logs, by labouring woodmen cleft,
And the tall trees, that blossom near
Saint Bharadvája's home, appear.”
The bow-armed princes onward passed,
And as the sun was sinking fast
They reached the hermit's dwelling, set
Near where the rushing waters met.
The presence of the warrior scared
The deer and birds as on he fared,
And struck them with unwonted awe:
Then Bharadvája's cot they saw.
The high-souled hermit soon they found
Girt by his dear disciples round:
Calm saint, whose vows had well been wrought,
Whose fervent rites keen sight had bought.
327The Hindu name of Allahabad.
Canto LIV. Bharadvája's Hermitage.
553
Duly had flames of worship blazed
When Ráma on the hermit gazed:
His suppliant hands the hero raised,
Drew nearer to the holy man
With his companions, and began,
Declaring both his name and race
And why they sought that distant place:
“Saint, Daśaratha's children we,
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ, come to thee.
This my good wife from Janak springs,
The best of fair Videha's kings;
Through lonely wilds, a faultless dame,
To this pure grove with me she came.
My younger brother follows still
Me banished by my father's will:
Sumitrá's son, bound by a vow,—
He roams the wood beside me now.
Sent by my father forth to rove,
We seek, O Saint, some holy grove,
Where lives of hermits we may lead,
And upon fruits and berries feed.”
When Bharadvája, prudent-souled,
Had heard the prince his tale unfold,
Water he bade them bring, a bull,
And honour-gifts in dishes full,
[159]
And drink and food of varied taste,
Berries and roots, before him placed,
And then the great ascetic showed
A cottage for the guests' abode.
The saint these honours gladly paid
To Ráma who had thither strayed,
Then compassed sat by birds and deer
And many a hermit resting near.
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The Ramayana
The prince received the service kind,
And sat him down rejoiced in mind.
Then Bharadvája silence broke,
And thus the words of duty spoke:
“Kakutstha's royal son, that thou
Hadst sought this grove I knew ere now.
Mine ears have heard thy story, sent
Without a sin to banishment.
Behold, O Prince, this ample space
Near where the mingling floods embrace,
Holy, and beautiful, and clear:
Dwell with us, and be happy here.”
By Bharadvája thus addressed,
Ráma whose kind and tender breast
All living things would bless and save,
In gracious words his answer gave:
“My honoured lord, this tranquil spot,
Fair home of hermits, suits me not:
For all the neighbouring people here
Will seek us when they know me near:
With eager wish to look on me,
And the Videhan dame to see,
A crowd of rustics will intrude
Upon the holy solitude.
Provide, O gracious lord, I pray,
Some quiet home that lies away,
Where my Videhan spouse may dwell
Tasting the bliss deserved so well.”
Canto LIV. Bharadvája's Hermitage.
555
The hermit heard the prayer he made:
A while in earnest thought he stayed,
And then in words like these expressed
His answer to the chief's request:
“Ten leagues away there stands a hill
Where thou mayst live, if such thy will:
A holy mount, exceeding fair;
Great saints have made their dwelling there:
There great Langúrs328in thousands play,
And bears amid the thickets stray;
Wide-known by Chitrakúṭa's name,
It rivals Gandhamádan's329fame.
Long as the man that hill who seeks
Gazes upon its sacred peaks,
To holy things his soul he gives
And pure from thought of evil lives.
There, while a hundred autumns fled,
Has many a saint with hoary head
Spent his pure life, and won the prize,
By deep devotion, in the skies:
Best home, I ween, if such retreat,
Far from the ways of men, be sweet:
Or let thy years of exile flee
Here in this hermitage with me.”
Thus Bharadvája spake, and trained
In lore of duty, entertained
The princes and the dame, and pressed
His friendly gifts on every guest.
328The Langúr is a large monkey.
329A mountain said to lie to the east of Meru.
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The Ramayana
Thus to Prayág the hero went,
Thus saw the saint preëminent,
And varied speeches heard and said:
Then holy night o'er heaven was spread.
And Ráma took, by toil oppressed,
With Sítá and his brother, rest;
And so the night, with sweet content,
In Bharadvája's grove was spent.
But when the dawn dispelled the night,
Ráma approached the anchorite,
And thus addressed the holy sire
Whose glory shone like kindled fire:
“Well have we spent, O truthful Sage,
The night within thy hermitage:
Now let my lord his guests permit
For their new home his grove to quit.”
Then, as he saw the morning break,
In answer Bharadvája spake:
“Go forth to Chitrakúṭa's hill,
Where berries grow, and sweets distil:
Full well, I deem, that home will suit
Thee, Ráma, strong and resolute.
Go forth, and Chitrakúṭa seek,
Famed mountain of the Varied Peak.
In the wild woods that gird him round
All creatures of the chase are found:
Thou in the glades shalt see appear
Vast herds of elephants and deer.
With Sítá there shalt thou delight
To gaze upon the woody height;
There with expanding heart to look
On river, table-land, and brook,
And see the foaming torrent rave
Canto LV. The Passage Of Yamuná.
557
Impetuous from the mountain cave.
Auspicious hill! where all day long
The lapwing's cry, the Koïl's song
Make all who listen gay:
Where all is fresh and fair to see,
Where elephants and deer roam free,
There, as a hermit, stay.”
Canto LV. The Passage Of Yamuná.
The princely tamers of their foes
Thus passed the night in calm repose,
Then to the hermit having bent
With reverence, on their way they went.
High favour Bharadvája showed,
And blessed them ready for the road.
[160]
With such fond looks as fathers throw
On their own sons, before they go.
Then spake the saint with glory bright
To Ráma peerless in his might:
“First, lords of men, direct your feet
Where Yamuná and Gangá meet;
Then to the swift Kálindí330go,
Whose westward waves to Gangá flow.
When thou shalt see her lovely shore
Worn by their feet who hasten o'er,
Then, Raghu's son, a raft prepare,
And cross the Sun born river there.
Upon her farther bank a tree,
330Another name of the Jumna, daughter of the Sun.
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The Ramayana
Near to the landing wilt thou see.
The blessed source of varied gifts,
There her green boughs that Fig-tree lifts:
A tree where countless birds abide,
By Śyáma's name known far and wide.
Sítá, revere that holy shade:
There be thy prayers for blessing prayed.
Thence for a league your way pursue,
And a dark wood shall meet your view,
Where tall bamboos their foliage show,
The Gum-tree and the Jujube grow.
To Chitrakúṭa have I oft
Trodden that path so smooth and soft,
Where burning woods no traveller scare,
But all is pleasant, green, and fair.”
When thus the guests their road had learned,
Back to his cot the hermit turned,
And Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá paid
Their reverent thanks for courteous aid.
Thus Ráma spake to Lakshmaṇ, when
The saint had left the lords of men:
“Great store of bliss in sooth is ours
On whom his love the hermit showers.”
As each to other wisely talked,
The lion lords together walked
On to Kálindí's woody shore;
And gentle Sítá went before.
They reached that flood, whose waters flee
With rapid current to the sea;
Their minds a while to thought they gave
And counselled how to cross the wave.
At length, with logs together laid,
A mighty raft the brothers made.
Canto LV. The Passage Of Yamuná.
559
Then dry bamboos across were tied,
And grass was spread from side to side.
And the great hero Lakshmaṇ brought
Cane and Rose-Apple boughs and wrought,
Trimming the branches smooth and neat,
For Sítá's use a pleasant seat.
And Ráma placed thereon his dame
Touched with a momentary shame,
Resembling in her glorious mien
All-thought-surpassing Fortune's Queen.
Then Ráma hastened to dispose,
Each in its place, the skins and bows,
And by the fair Videhan laid
The coats, the ornaments, and spade.
When Sítá thus was set on board,
And all their gear was duly stored,
The heroes each with vigorous hand,
Pushed off the raft and left the land.
When half its way the raft had made,
Thus Sítá to Kálindí prayed:
“Goddess, whose flood I traverse now,
Grant that my lord may keep his vow.
For thee shall bleed a thousand kine,
A hundred jars shall pour their wine,
When Ráma sees that town again
Where old Ikshváku's children reign.”
Thus to Kálindí's stream she sued
And prayed in suppliant attitude.
Then to the river's bank the dame,
Fervent in supplication, came.
They left the raft that brought them o'er,
And the thick wood that clothed the shore,
And to the Fig-tree Śyáma made
560
The Ramayana
Their way, so cool with verdant shade.
Then Sítá viewed that best of trees,
And reverent spake in words like these:
“Hail, hail, O mighty tree! Allow
My husband to complete his vow;
Let us returning, I entreat,
Kauśalyá and Sumitrá meet.”
Then with her hands together placed
Around the tree she duly paced.
When Ráma saw his blameless spouse
A suppliant under holy boughs,
The gentle darling of his heart,
He thus to Lakshmaṇ spake apart:
“Brother, by thee our way be led;
Let Sítá close behind thee tread:
I, best of men, will grasp my bow,
And hindmost of the three will go.
What fruits soe'er her fancy take,
Or flowers half hidden in the brake,
For Janak's child forget not thou
To gather from the brake or bough.”
Thus on they fared. The tender dame
Asked Ráma, as they walked, the name
Of every shrub that blossoms bore,
Creeper, and tree unseen before:
And Lakshmaṇ fetched, at Sítá's prayer,
Boughs of each tree with clusters fair.
Then Janak's daughter joyed to see
The sand-discoloured river flee,
Where the glad cry of many a bird,
The sáras and the swan, was heard.
A league the brothers travelled through
The forest noble game they slew:
Canto LVI. Chitrakúta
561
Beneath the trees their meal they dressed
And sat them down to eat and rest.
A while in that delightful shade
Where elephants unnumbered strayed,
Where peacocks screamed and monkeys played,
[161]
They wandered with delight.
Then by the river's side they found
A pleasant spot of level ground,
Where all was smooth and fair around,
Their lodging for the night.
Canto LVI. Chitrakúta
Then Ráma, when the morning rose,
Called Lakshmaṇ gently from repose:
“Awake, the pleasant voices hear
Of forest birds that warble near.
Scourge of thy foes, no longer stay;
The hour is come to speed away.”
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The Ramayana
The slumbering prince unclosed his eyes
When thus his brother bade him rise,
Compelling, at the timely cry,
Fatigue, and sleep, and rest to fly.
The brothers rose and Sítá too;
Pure water from the stream they drew,
Paid morning rites, then followed still
The road to Chitrakúṭa's hill.
Then Ráma as he took the road
With Lakshmaṇ, while the morning, glowed,
To the Videhan lady cried,
Sítá the fair, the lotus-eyed:
“Look round thee, dear; each flowery tree
Touched with the fire of morning see:
The Kinśuk, now the Frosts are fled,—
How glorious with his wreaths of red!
The Bel-trees see, so loved of men,
Hanging their boughs in every glen.
O'erburthened with their fruit and flowers:
A plenteous store of food is ours.
See, Lakshmaṇ, in the leafy trees,
Where'er they make their home.
Down hangs, the work of labouring bees
The ponderous honeycomb.
In the fair wood before us spread
The startled wild-cock cries:
Hark, where the flowers are soft to tread,
The peacock's voice replies.
Where elephants are roaming free,
And sweet birds' songs are loud,
The glorious Chitrakúṭa see:
His peaks are in the cloud.
On fair smooth ground he stands displayed,
Begirt by many a tree:
Canto LVI. Chitrakúta
563
O brother, in that holy shade
How happy shall we be!”331
Then Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá, each
Spoke raising suppliant hands this speech
To him, in woodland dwelling met,
Válmíki, ancient anchoret:
“O Saint, this mountain takes the mind,
With creepers, trees of every kind,
With fruit and roots abounding thus,
A pleasant life it offers us:
Here for a while we fain would stay,
And pass a season blithe and gay.”
Then the great saint, in duty trained,
With honour gladly entertained:
He gave his guests a welcome fair,
And bade them sit and rest them there,
Ráma of mighty arm and chest
His faithful Lakshmaṇ then addressed:
“Brother, bring hither from the wood
Selected timber strong and good,
And build therewith a little cot;
My heart rejoices in the spot
That lies beneath the mountain's side,
Remote, with water well supplied.”
331“We have often looked on that green hill: it is the holiest spot of that sect
of the Hindu faith who devote themselves to this incarnation of Vishṇu. The
whole neighbourhood is Ráma's country. Every headland has some legend,
every cavern is connected with his name; some of the wild fruits are still
called Sítáphal, being the reputed food of the exile. Thousands and thousands
annually visit the spot, and round the hill is a raised foot-path, on which the
devotee, with naked feet, treads full of pious awe.” Calcutta Review, Vol.
XXIII.
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The Ramayana
Sumitrá's son his words obeyed,
Brought many a tree, and deftly made,
With branches in the forest cut,
As Ráma bade, a leafy hut.
Then Ráma, when the cottage stood
Fair, firmly built, and walled with wood,
To Lakshmaṇ spake, whose eager mind
To do his brother's will inclined:
“Now, Lakshmaṇ as our cot is made,
Must sacrifice be duly paid
By us, for lengthened life who hope,
With venison of the antelope.
Away, O bright-eyed Lakshmaṇ, speed:
Struck by thy bow a deer must bleed:
As Scripture bids, we must not slight
The duty that commands the rite.”
Lakshmaṇ, the chief whose arrows laid
His foemen low, his word obeyed;
And Ráma thus again addressed
The swift performer of his hest:
“Prepare the venison thou hast shot,
To sacrifice for this our cot.
Haste, brother dear, for this the hour,
And this the day of certain power.”
Then glorious Lakshmaṇ took the buck
His arrow in the wood had struck;
Bearing his mighty load he came,
And laid it in the kindled flame.
[162]
Soon as he saw the meat was done,
And that the juices ceased to run
From the broiled carcass, Lakshmaṇ then
Spoke thus to Ráma best of men:
“The carcass of the buck, entire,
Canto LVI. Chitrakúta
565
Is ready dressed upon the fire.
Now be the sacred rites begun
To please the God, thou godlike one.”
Ráma the good, in ritual trained,
Pure from the bath, with thoughts restrained,
Hasted those verses to repeat
Which make the sacrifice complete.
The hosts celestial came in view,
And Ráma to the cot withdrew,
While a sweet sense of rapture stole
Through the unequalled hero's soul.
He paid the Viśvedevas332due.
And Rudra's right, and Vishṇu's too,
Nor wonted blessings, to protect
Their new-built home, did he neglect.
With voice repressed he breathed the prayer,
Bathed duly in the river fair,
And gave good offerings that remove
The stain of sin, as texts approve.
And many an altar there he made,
And shrines, to suit the holy shade,
All decked with woodland chaplets sweet,
And fruit and roots and roasted meat,
With muttered prayer, as texts require,
Water, and grass and wood and fire.
So Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá paid
Their offerings to each God and shade,
And entered then their pleasant cot
That bore fair signs of happy lot.
They entered, the illustrious three,
332Deities of a particular class in which five or ten are enumerated. They
are worshipped particularly at the funeral obsequies in honour of deceased
progenitors.
566
The Ramayana
The well-set cottage, fair to see,
Roofed with the leaves of many a tree,
And fenced from wind and rain:
So, at their Father Brahmá's call,
The Gods of heaven, assembling all,
To their own glorious council hall
Advance in shining train.
So, resting on that lovely hill,
Near the fair lily-covered rill,
The happy prince forgot,
Surrounded by the birds and deer,
The woe, the longing, and the fear
That gloom the exile's lot.
Canto LVII. Sumantra's Return.
When Ráma reached the southern bank,
King Guha's heart with sorrow sank:
He with Sumantra talked, and spent
With his deep sorrow, homeward went.
Sumantra, as the king decreed,
Yoked to the car each noble steed,
And to Ayodhyá's city sped
With his sad heart disquieted.
On lake and brook and scented grove
His glances fell, as on he drove:
City and village came in view
As o'er the road his coursers flew.
On the third day the charioteer,
When now the hour of night was near,
Came to Ayodhyá's gate, and found
Canto LVII. Sumantra's Return.
567
The city all in sorrow drowned.
To him, in spirit quite cast down,
Forsaken seemed the silent town,
And by the rush of grief oppressed
He pondered in his mournful breast:
“Is all Ayodhyá burnt with grief,
Steed, elephant, and man, and chief?
Does her loved Ráma's exile so
Afflict her with the fires of woe?”
Thus as he mused, his steeds flew fast,
And swiftly through the gate he passed.
On drove the charioteer, and then
In hundreds, yea in thousands, men
Ran to the car from every side,
And, “Ráma, where is Ráma?” cried.
Sumantra said: “My chariot bore
The duteous prince to Gangá's shore;
I left him there at his behest,
And homeward to Ayodhyá pressed.”
Soon as the anxious people knew
That he was o'er the flood they drew
Deep sighs, and crying, Ráma! all
Wailed, and big tears began to fall.
He heard the mournful words prolonged,
As here and there the people thronged:
“Woe, woe for us, forlorn, undone,
No more to look on Raghu's son!
His like again we ne'er shall see,
Of heart so true, of hand so free,
In gifts, in gatherings for debate,
When marriage pomps we celebrate,
What should we do? What earthly thing
Can rest, or hope, or pleasure bring?”
568
The Ramayana
Thus the sad town, which Ráma kept
As a kind father, wailed and wept.
Each mansion, as the car went by,
Sent forth a loud and bitter cry,
As to the window every dame,
Mourning for banished Ráma, came.
As his sad eyes with tears o'erflowed,
He sped along the royal road
To Daśaratha's high abode.
There leaping down his car he stayed;
Within the gates his way he made;
Through seven broad courts he onward hied
Where people thronged on every side.
From each high terrace, wild with woe,
The royal ladies flocked below:
[163]
He heard them talk in gentle tone,
As each for Ráma made her moan:
“What will the charioteer reply
To Queen Kauśalyá's eager cry?
With Ráma from the gates he went;
Homeward alone, his steps are bent.
Hard is a life with woe distressed,
But difficult to win is rest,
If, when her son is banished, still
She lives beneath her load of ill.”
Such was the speech Sumantra heard
From them whom grief unfeigned had stirred.
As fires of anguish burnt him through,
Swift to the monarch's hall he drew,
Past the eighth court; there met his sight,
The sovereign in his palace bright,
Still weeping for his son, forlorn,
Pale, faint, and all with sorrow worn.
Canto LVII. Sumantra's Return.
569
As there he sat, Sumantra bent
And did obeisance reverent,
And to the king repeated o'er
The message he from Ráma bore.
The monarch heard, and well-nigh brake
His heart, but yet no word he spake:
Fainting to earth he fell, and dumb,
By grief for Ráma overcome.
Rang through the hall a startling cry,
And women's arms were tossed on high,
When, with his senses all astray,
Upon the ground the monarch lay.
Kauśalyá, with Sumitrá's aid,
Raised from the ground her lord dismayed:
“Sire, of high fate,” she cried, “O, why
Dost thou no single word reply
To Ráma's messenger who brings
News of his painful wanderings?
The great injustice done, art thou
Shame-stricken for thy conduct now?
Rise up, and do thy part: bestow
Comfort and help in this our woe.
Speak freely, King; dismiss thy fear,
For Queen Kaikeyí stands not near,
Afraid of whom thou wouldst not seek
Tidings of Ráma: freely speak.”
When the sad queen had ended so,
She sank, insatiate in her woe,
And prostrate lay upon the ground,
While her faint voice by sobs was drowned.
When all the ladies in despair
Saw Queen Kauśalyá wailing there,
And the poor king oppressed with pain,
570
The Ramayana
They flocked around and wept again.
Canto LVIII. Ráma's Message.
The king a while had senseless lain,
When care brought memory back again.
Then straight he called, the news to hear
Of Ráma, for the charioteer,
With reverent hand to hand applied
He waited by the old man's side,
Whose mind with anguish was distraught
Like a great elephant newly caught.
The king with bitter pain distressed
The faithful charioteer addressed,
Who, sad of mien, with flooded eye,
And dust upon his limbs, stood by:
“Where will be Ráma's dwelling now
At some tree's foot, beneath the bough;
Ah, what will be the exile's food,
Bred up with kind solicitude?
Can he, long lapped in pleasant rest,
Unmeet for pain, by pain oppressed,
Son of earth's king, his sad night spend
Earth-couched, as one that has no friend?
Behind him, when abroad he sped,
Cars, elephant, and foot were led:
Then how shall Ráma dwell afar
In the wild woods where no men are?
How, tell me, did the princes there,
With Sítá good and soft and fair,
Alighting from the chariot, tread
Canto LVIII. Ráma's Message.
571
The forest wilds around them spread?
A happy lot is thine, I ween,
Whose eyes my two dear sons have seen
Seeking on foot the forest shade,
Like the bright Twins to view displayed,
The heavenly Aśvins, when they seek
The woods that hang 'neath Mandar's peak.
What words, Sumantra, quickly tell,
From Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá fell?
How in the wood did Ráma eat?
What was his bed, and what his seat?
Full answer to my questions give,
For I on thy replies shall live,
As with the saints Yayáti held
Sweet converse, from the skies expelled.”
Urged by the lord of men to speak,
Whose sobbing voice came faint and weak,
Thus he, while tears his utterance broke,
In answer to the monarch spoke:
“Hear then the words that Ráma said,
Resolved in duty's path to tread.
Joining his hands, his head he bent,
And gave this message, reverent:
“Sumantra, to my father go,
Whose lofty mind all people know:
Bow down before him, as is meet,
And in my stead salute his feet.
Then to the queen my mother bend,
And give the greeting that I send:
Ne'er may her steps from duty err,
And may it still be well with her.
And add this word: “O Queen, pursue
Thy vows with faithful heart and true;
572
The Ramayana
And ever at due season turn
Where holy fires of worship burn.
And, lady, on our lord bestow
[164]
Such honour as to Gods we owe.
Be kind to every queen: let pride
And thought of self be cast aside.
In the king's fond opinion raise
Kaikeyí, by respect and praise.
Let the young Bharat ever be
Loved, honoured as the king by thee:
Thy king-ward duty ne'er forget:
High over all are monarchs set.”
And Bharat, too, for me address:
Pray that all health his life may bless.
Let every royal lady share,
As justice bids, his love and care.
Say to the strong-armed chief who brings
Joy to Iksváku's line of kings:
“As ruling prince thy care be shown
Of him, our sire, who holds the throne.
Stricken in years he feels their weight;
But leave him in his royal state.
As regent heir content thee still,
Submissive to thy father's will.’”
Ráma again his charge renewed,
As the hot flood his cheek bedewed:
“Hold as thine own my mother dear
Who drops for me the longing tear.”
Then Lakshmaṇ, with his soul on fire,
Spake breathing fast these words of ire:
“Say, for what sin, for what offence
Was royal Ráma banished thence?
He is the cause, the king: poor slave
Canto LVIII. Ráma's Message.
573
To the light charge Kaikeyí gave.
Let right or wrong the motive be,
The author of our woe is he.
Whether the exile were decreed
Through foolish faith or guilty greed,
For promises or empire, still
The king has wrought a grievous ill.
Grant that the Lord of all saw fit
To prompt the deed and sanction it,
In Ráma's life no cause I see
For which the king should bid him flee.
His blinded eyes refused to scan
The guilt and folly of the plan,
And from the weakness of the king
Here and hereafter woe shall spring.
No more my sire: the ties that used
To bind me to the king are loosed.
My brother Ráma, Raghu's son,
To me is lord, friend, sire in one.
The love of men how can he win,
Deserting, by the cruel sin,
Their joy, whose heart is swift to feel
A pleasure in the people's weal?
Shall he whose mandate could expel
The virtuous Ráma, loved so well,
To whom his subjects' fond hearts cling—
Shall he in spite of them be king?”
But Janak's child, my lord, stood by,
And oft the votaress heaved a sigh.
She seemed with dull and wandering sense,
Beneath a spirit's influence.
The noble princess, pained with woe
Which till that hour she ne'er could know,
574
The Ramayana
Tears in her heavy trouble shed,
But not a word to me she said.
She raised her face which grief had dried
And tenderly her husband eyed,
Gazed on him as he turned to go
While tear chased tear in rapid flow.”
Canto LIX. Dasaratha's Lament.
As thus Sumantra, best of peers,
Told his sad tale with many tears,
The monarch cried, “I pray thee, tell
At length again what there befell.”
Sumantra, at the king's behest,
Striving with sobs he scarce repressed,
His trembling voice at last controlled,
And thus his further tidings told:
“Their locks in votive coils they wound,
Their coats of bark upon them bound,
To Gangá's farther shore they went,
Thence to Prayág their steps were bent.
I saw that Lakshmaṇ walked ahead
To guard the path the two should tread.
So far I saw, no more could learn,
Forced by the hero to return.
Retracing slow my homeward course,
Scarce could I move each stubborn horse:
Shedding hot tears of grief he stood
Canto LIX. Dasaratha's Lament.
575
When Ráma turned him to the wood.333
As the two princes parted thence
I raised my hands in reverence,
Mounted my ready car, and bore
The grief that stung me to the core.
With Guha all that day I stayed,
Still by the earnest hope delayed
That Ráma, ere the time should end,
Some message from the wood might send.
Thy realms, great Monarch, mourn the blow,
And sympathize with Ráma's woe.
[165]
Each withering tree hangs low his head,
And shoot, and bud, and flower are dead.
Dried are the floods that wont to fill
The lake, the river, and the rill.
Drear is each grove and garden now,
Dry every blossom on the bough.
Each beast is still, no serpents crawl:
A lethargy of woe on all.
The very wood is silent: crushed
With grief for Ráma, all is hushed.
Fair blossoms from the water born,
Gay garlands that the earth adorn,
And every fruit that gleams like gold,
Have lost the scent that charmed of old.
Empty is every grove I see,
333“So in Homer the horses of Achilles lamented with many bitter tears the
death of Patroclus slain by Hector:”
“Ἵπποι δ' Αἰακίδαο, μάχης ἀπάνευθεν ἐότες,
Κλᾶιον, ἐπειδὴ πρῶτα πυθέσθην ἡνιόχοιο
Ἐν κονίνσι πεσόντος ὑφ' Ἕκτορος ἀνδροφόνοιο”
ILIAD.{FNS XVII. 426.
“Ancient poesy frequently associated nature with the joys and sorrows of
man.” GORRESIO.{FNS
576
The Ramayana
Or birds sit pensive on the tree.
Where'er I look, its beauty o'er,
The pleasance charms not as before.
I drove through fair Ayodhyá's street:
None flew with joy the car to meet.
They saw that Ráma was not there,
And turned them sighing in despair.
The people in the royal way
Wept tears of bitter grief, when they
Beheld me coming, from afar,
No Ráma with me in the car.
From palace roof and turret high
Each woman bent her eager eye;
She looked for Ráma, but in vain;
Gazed on the car and shrieked for pain.
Their long clear eyes with sorrow drowned
They, when this common grief was found,
Looked each on other, friend and foe,
In sympathy of levelling woe:
No shade of difference between
Foe, friend, or neutral, there was seen.
Without a joy, her bosom rent
With grief for Ráma's banishment,
Ayodhyá like the queen appears
Who mourns her son with many tears.”
Canto LIX. Dasaratha's Lament.
577
He ended: and the king, distressed.
With sobbing voice that lord addressed:
“Ah me, by false Kaikeyí led,
Of evil race, to evil bred,
I took no counsel of the sage,
Nor sought advice from skill and age,
I asked no lord his aid to lend,
I called no citizen or friend.
Rash was my deed, bereft of sense
Slave to a woman's influence.
Surely, my lord, a woe so great
Falls on us by the will of Fate;
It lays the house of Raghu low,
For Destiny will have it so.
I pray thee, if I e'er have done
An act to please thee, yea, but one,
Fly, fly, and Ráma homeward lead:
My life, departing, counsels speed.
Fly, ere the power to bid I lack,
Fly to the wood: bring Ráma back.
I cannot live for even one
Short hour bereaved of my son.
But ah, the prince, whose arms are strong,
Has journeyed far: the way is long:
Me, me upon the chariot place,
And let me look on Ráma's face.
Ah me, my son, mine eldest-born,
Where roams he in the wood forlorn,
The wielder of the mighty bow,
Whose shoulders like the lion's show?
O, ere the light of life be dim,
Take me to Sítá and to him.
O Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, and O thou
Dear Sítá, constant to thy vow,
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The Ramayana
Beloved ones, you cannot know
That I am dying of my woe.”
The king to bitter grief a prey,
That drove each wandering sense away,
Sunk in affliction's sea, too wide
To traverse, in his anguish cried:
“Hard, hard to pass, my Queen, this sea
Of sorrow raging over me:
No Ráma near to soothe mine eye,
Plunged in its lowest deeps I lie.
Sorrow for Ráma swells the tide,
And Sítá's absence makes it wide:
My tears its foamy flood distain,
Made billowy by my sighs of pain:
My cries its roar, the arms I throw
About me are the fish below,
Kaikeyí is the fire that feeds
Beneath: my hair the tangled weeds:
Its source the tears for Ráma shed:
The hump-back's words its monsters dread:
The boon I gave the wretch its shore,
Till Ráma's banishment be o'er.334
Ah me, that I should long to set
My eager eyes to-day
On Raghu's son, and he be yet
With Lakshmaṇ far away!”
Thus he of lofty glory wailed,
And sank upon the bed.
Beneath the woe his spirit failed,
And all his senses fled.
334The lines containing this heap of forced metaphors are marked as spurious
by Schlegel.
Canto LX. Kausalyá Consoled.
579
Canto LX. Kausalyá Consoled.
As Queen Kauśalyá, trembling much,
As blighted by a goblin's touch,
Still lying prostrate, half awoke
To consciousness, 'twas thus she spoke:
“Bear me away, Sumantra, far,
Where Ráma, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ are.
Bereft of them I have no power
To linger on a single hour.
[166]
Again, I pray, thy steps retrace,
And me in Daṇḍak forest place,
For after them I needs must go,
Or sink to Yama's realms below.”
His utterance choked by tears that rolled
Down from their fountains uncontrolled,
With suppliant hands the charioteer
Thus spake, the lady's heart to cheer:
“Dismiss thy grief, despair, and dread
That fills thy soul, of sorrow bred,
For pain and anguish thrown aside,
Will Ráma in the wood abide.
And Lakshmaṇ, with unfailing care
Will guard the feet of Ráma there,
Earning, with governed sense, the prize
That waits on duty in the skies.
And Sítá in the wild as well
As in her own dear home will dwell;
To Ráma all her heart she gives,
And free from doubt and terror lives.
No faintest sign of care or woe
The features of the lady show:
Methinks Videha's pride was made
580
The Ramayana
For exile in the forest shade.
E'en as of old she used to rove
Delighted in the city's grove,
Thus, even thus she joys to tread
The woodlands uninhabited.
Like a young child, her face as fair
As the young moon, she wanders there.
What though in lonely woods she stray
Still Ráma is her joy and stay:
All his the heart no sorrow bends,
Her very life on him depends.
For, if her lord she might not see,
Ayodhyá like the wood would be.
She bids him, as she roams, declare
The names of towns and hamlets there,
Marks various trees that meet her eye,
And many a brook that hurries by,
And Janak's daughter seems to roam
One little league away from home
When Ráma or his brother speaks
And gives the answer that she seeks.
This, Lady, I remember well,
Nor angry words have I to tell:
Reproaches at Kaikeyí shot,
Such, Queen, my mind remembers not.”
The speech when Sítá's wrath was high,
Sumantra passed in silence by,
That so his pleasant words might cheer
With sweet report Kauśalyá's ear.
“Her moonlike beauty suffers not
Though winds be rude and suns be hot:
The way, the danger, and the toil
Her gentle lustre may not soil.
Like the red lily's leafy crown
Canto LX. Kausalyá Consoled.
581
Or as the fair full moon looks down,
So the Videhan lady's face
Still shines with undiminished grace.
What if the borrowed colours throw
O'er her fine feet no rosy glow,
Still with their natural tints they spread
A lotus glory where they tread.
In sportive grace she walks the ground
And sweet her chiming anklets sound.
No jewels clasp the faultless limb:
She leaves them all for love of him.
If in the woods her gentle eye
A lion sees, or tiger nigh,
Or elephant, she fears no ill
For Ráma's arm supports her still.
No longer be their fate deplored,
Nor thine, nor that of Kośal's lord,
For conduct such as theirs shall buy
Wide glory that can never die.
For casting grief and care away,
Delighting in the forest, they
With joyful spirits, blithe and gay,
Set forward on the ancient way
Where mighty saints have led:
Their highest aim, their dearest care
To keep their father's honour fair,
Observing still the oath he sware,
They roam, on wild fruit fed.”
Thus with persuasive art he tried
To turn her from her grief aside,
By soothing fancies won.
But still she gave her sorrow vent:
“Ah Ráma,” was her shrill lament,
“My love, my son, my son!”
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Canto LXI. Kausalyá's Lament.
When, best of all who give delight,
Her Ráma wandered far from sight,
Kauśalyá weeping, sore distressed,
The king her husband thus addressed:
“Thy name, O Monarch, far and wide
Through the three worlds is glorified:
Yet Ráma's is the pitying mind,
His speed is true, his heart is kind.
How will thy sons, good lord, sustain
With Sítá, all their care and pain?
How in the wild endure distress,
Nursed in the lap of tenderness?
How will the dear Videhan bear
The heat and cold when wandering there
Bred in the bliss of princely state,
So young and fair and delicate?
The large-eyed lady, wont to eat
The best of finely seasoned meat—
How will she now her life sustain
With woodland fare of self-sown grain?
Will she, with joys encompassed long,
Who loved the music and the song,
In the wild wood endure to hear
The ravening lion's voice of fear?
Where sleeps my strong-armed hero, where,
[167]
Like Lord Mahendra's standard, fair?
Where is, by Lakshmaṇ's side, his bed,
His club-like arm beneath his head?
When shall I see his flower-like eyes,
And face that with the lotus vies,
Feel his sweet lily breath, and view
His glorious hair and lotus hue?
Canto LXI. Kausalyá's Lament.
583
The heart within my breast, I feel,
Is adamant or hardest steel,
Or, in a thousand fragments split,
The loss of him had shattered it,
When those I love, who should be blest,
Are wandering in the wood distressed,
Condemned their wretched lives to lead
In exile, by thy ruthless deed.
If, when the fourteen years are past,
Ráma reseeks his home at last,
I think not Bharat will consent
To yield the wealth and government.
At funeral feasts some mourners deal
To kith and kin the solemn meal,
And having duly fed them all
Some Bráhmans to the banquet call.
The best of Bráhmans, good and wise,
The tardy summoning despise,
And, equal to the Gods, disdain
Cups, e'en of Amrit, thus to drain.
Nay e'en when Bráhmans first have fed,
They loathe the meal for others spread,
And from the leavings turn with scorn,
As bulls avoid a fractured horn.
So Ráma, sovereign lord of men,
Will spurn the sullied kingship then:
He born the eldest and the best,
His younger's leavings will detest,
Turning from tasted food away,
As tigers scorn another's prey.
The sacred post is used not twice,
Nor elements, in sacrifice.
But once the sacred grass is spread,
But once with oil the flame is fed:
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So Ráma's pride will ne'er receive
The royal power which others leave,
Like wine when tasteless dregs are left,
Or rites of Soma juice bereft.
Be sure the pride of Raghu's race
Will never stoop to such disgrace:
The lordly lion will not bear
That man should beard him in his lair.
Were all the worlds against him ranged
His dauntless soul were still unchanged:
He, dutiful, in duty strong,
Would purge the impious world from wrong.
Could not the hero, brave and bold,
The archer, with his shafts of gold,
Burn up the very seas, as doom
Will in the end all life consume?
Of lion's might, eyed like a bull,
A prince so brave and beautiful,
Thou hast with wicked hate pursued,
Like sea-born tribes who eat their brood.
If thou, O Monarch, hadst but known
The duty all the Twice-born own,
If the good laws had touched thy mind,
Which sages in the Scriptures find,
Thou ne'er hadst driven forth to pine
This brave, this duteous son of thine.
First on her lord the wife depends,
Next on her son and last on friends:
These three supports in life has she,
And not a fourth for her may be.
Thy heart, O King, I have not won;
In wild woods roams my banished son;
Far are my friends: ah, hapless me,
Quite ruined and destroyed by thee.”
Canto LXII. Dasaratha Consoled.
585
Canto LXII. Dasaratha Consoled.
The queen's stern speech the monarch heard,
As rage and grief her bosom stirred,
And by his anguish sore oppressed
Reflected in his secret breast.
Fainting and sad, with woe distraught,
He wandered in a maze of thought;
At length the queller of the foe
Grew conscious, rallying from his woe.
When consciousness returned anew
Long burning sighs the monarch drew,
Again immersed in thought he eyed
Kauśalyá standing by his side.
Back to his pondering soul was brought
The direful deed his hand had wrought,
When, guiltless of the wrong intent,
His arrow at a sound was sent.
Distracted by his memory's sting,
And mourning for his son, the king
To two consuming griefs a prey,
A miserable victim lay.
The double woe devoured him fast,
As on the ground his eyes he cast,
Joined suppliant hands, her heart to touch,
And spake in the answer, trembling much:
“Kauśalyá, for thy grace I sue,
Joining these hands as suppliants do.
Thou e'en to foes hast ever been
A gentle, good, and loving queen.
Her lord, with noble virtues graced,
Her lord, by lack of all debased,
Is still a God in woman's eyes,
If duty's law she hold and prize.
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Thou, who the right hast aye pursued,
Life's changes and its chances viewed,
Shouldst never launch, though sorrow-stirred,
At me distressed, one bitter word.”
She listened, as with sorrow faint
He murmured forth his sad complaint:
Her brimming eyes with tears ran o'er,
As spouts the new fallen water pour;
[168]
His suppliant hands, with fear dismayed
She gently clasped in hers, and laid,
Like a fair lotus, on her head,
And faltering in her trouble said:
“Forgive me; at thy feet I lie,
With low bent head to thee I cry.
By thee besought, thy guilty dame
Pardon from thee can scarcely claim.
She merits not the name of wife
Who cherishes perpetual strife
With her own husband good and wise,
Her lord both here and in the skies.
I know the claims of duty well,
I know thy lips the truth must tell.
All the wild words I rashly spoke,
Forth from my heart, through anguish, broke;
For sorrow bends the stoutest soul,
And cancels Scripture's high control.
Yea, sorrow's might all else o'erthrows
The strongest and the worst of foes.
'Tis thus with all: we keenly feel,
Yet bear the blows our foemen deal,
But when a slender woe assails
The manliest spirit bends and quails.
The fifth long night has now begun
Canto LXIII. The Hermit's Son.
587
Since the wild woods have lodged my son:
To me whose joy is drowned in tears,
Each day a dreary year appears.
While all my thoughts on him are set
Grief at my heart swells wilder yet:
With doubled might thus Ocean raves
When rushing floods increase his waves.”
As from Kauśalyá reasoning well
The gentle words of wisdom fell,
The sun went down with dying flame,
And darkness o'er the landscape came.
His lady's soothing words in part
Relieved the monarch's aching heart,
Who, wearied out by all his woes,
Yielded to sleep and took repose.
Canto LXIII. The Hermit's Son.
But soon by rankling grief oppressed
The king awoke from troubled rest,
And his sad heart was tried again
With anxious thought where all was pain.
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ's mournful fate
On Daśaratha, good and great
As Indra, pressed with crushing weight,
As when the demon's might assails
The Sun-God, and his glory pales.
Ere yet the sixth long night was spent,
Since Ráma to the woods was sent,
The king at midnight sadly thought
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Of the old crime his hand had wrought,
And thus to Queen Kauśalyá cried
Who still for Ráma moaned and sighed:
“If thou art waking, give, I pray,
Attention to the words I say.
Whate'er the conduct men pursue,
Be good or ill the acts they do,
Be sure, dear Queen, they find the meed
Of wicked or of virtuous deed.
A heedless child we call the man
Whose feeble judgment fails to scan
The weight of what his hands may do,
Its lightness, fault, and merit too.
One lays the Mango garden low,
And bids the gay Paláśas grow:
Longing for fruit their bloom he sees,
But grieves when fruit should bend the trees.
Cut by my hand, my fruit-trees fell,
Paláśa trees I watered well.
My hopes this foolish heart deceive,
And for my banished son I grieve.
Kauśalyá, in my youthful prime
Armed with my bow I wrought the crime,
Proud of my skill, my name renowned,
An archer prince who shoots by sound.
The deed this hand unwitting wrought
This misery on my soul has brought,
As children seize the deadly cup
And blindly drink the poison up.
As the unreasoning man may be
Charmed with the gay Paláśa tree,
I unaware have reaped the fruit
Of joying at a sound to shoot.
As regent prince I shared the throne,
Canto LXIII. The Hermit's Son.
589
Thou wast a maid to me unknown,
The early Rain-time duly came,
And strengthened love's delicious flame.
The sun had drained the earth that lay
All glowing 'neath the summer day,
And to the gloomy clime had fled
Where dwell the spirits of the dead.335
The fervent heat that moment ceased,
The darkening clouds each hour increased
And frogs and deer and peacocks all
Rejoiced to see the torrents fall.
Their bright wings heavy from the shower,
The birds, new-bathed, had scarce the power
To reach the branches of the trees
Whose high tops swayed beneath the breeze.
The fallen rain, and falling still,
Hung like a sheet on every hill,
Till, with glad deer, each flooded steep
Showed glorious as the mighty deep.
The torrents down its wooded side
Poured, some unstained, while others dyed
[169]
Gold, ashy, silver, ochre, bore
The tints of every mountain ore.
In that sweet time, when all are pleased,
My arrows and my bow I seized;
Keen for the chase, in field or grove,
Down Sarjú's bank my car I drove.
I longed with all my lawless will
Some elephant by night to kill,
Some buffalo that came to drink,
Or tiger, at the river's brink.
When all around was dark and still,
335The southern region is the abode of Yama the Indian Pluto, and of departed
spirits.
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The Ramayana
I heard a pitcher slowly fill,
And thought, obscured in deepest shade,
An elephant the sound had made.
I drew a shaft that glittered bright,
Fell as a serpent's venomed bite;
I longed to lay the monster dead,
And to the mark my arrow sped.
Then in the calm of morning, clear
A hermit's wailing smote my ear:
“Ah me, ah me,” he cried, and sank,
Pierced by my arrow, on the bank.
E'en as the weapon smote his side,
I heard a human voice that cried:
“Why lights this shaft on one like me,
A poor and harmless devotee?
I came by night to fill my jar
From this lone stream where no men are.
Ah, who this deadly shaft has shot?
Whom have I wronged, and knew it not?
Why should a boy so harmless feel
The vengeance of the winged steel?
Or who should slay the guiltless son
Of hermit sire who injures none,
Who dwells retired in woods, and there
Supports his life on woodland fare?
Ah me, ah me, why am I slain,
What booty will the murderer gain?
In hermit coils I bind my hair,
Coats made of skin and bark I wear.
Ah, who the cruel deed can praise
Whose idle toil no fruit repays,
As impious as the wretch's crime
Who dares his master's bed to climb?
Nor does my parting spirit grieve
Canto LXIII. The Hermit's Son.
591
But for the life which thus I leave:
Alas, my mother and my sire,—
I mourn for them when I expire.
Ah me, that aged, helpless pair,
Long cherished by my watchful care,
How will it be with them this day
When to the Five336I pass away?
Pierced by the self-same dart we die,
Mine aged mother, sire, and I.
Whose mighty hand, whose lawless mind
Has all the three to death consigned?”
When I, by love of duty stirred,
That touching lamentation heard,
Pierced to the heart by sudden woe,
I threw to earth my shafts and bow.
My heart was full of grief and dread
As swiftly to the place I sped,
Where, by my arrow wounded sore,
A hermit lay on Sarjú's shore.
His matted hair was all unbound,
His pitcher empty on the ground,
And by the fatal arrow pained,
He lay with dust and gore distained.
I stood confounded and amazed:
His dying eyes to mine he raised,
And spoke this speech in accents stern,
As though his light my soul would burn:
“How have I wronged thee, King, that I
Struck by thy mortal arrow die?
The wood my home, this jar I brought,
And water for my parents sought.
This one keen shaft that strikes me through
336The five elements of which the body consists, and to which it returns.
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The Ramayana
Slays sire and aged mother too.
Feeble and blind, in helpless pain,
They wait for me and thirst in vain.
They with parched lips their pangs must bear,
And hope will end in blank despair.
Ah me, there seems no fruit in store
For holy zeal or Scripture lore,
Or else ere now my sire would know
That his dear son is lying low.
Yet, if my mournful fate he knew,
What could his arm so feeble do?
The tree, firm-rooted, ne'er may be
The guardian of a stricken tree.
Haste to my father, and relate
While time allows, my sudden fate,
Lest he consume thee as the fire
Burns up the forest, in his ire.
This little path, O King, pursue:
My father's cot thou soon wilt view.
There sue for pardon to the sage,
Lest he should curse thee in his rage.
First from the wound extract the dart
That kills me with its deadly smart,
E'en as the flushed impetuous tide
Eats through the river's yielding side.”
I feared to draw the arrow out,
And pondered thus in painful doubt:
“Now tortured by the shaft he lies,
But if I draw it forth he dies.”
Helpless I stood, faint, sorely grieved:
The hermit's son my thought perceived;
As one o'ercome by direst pain
He scarce had strength to speak again.
Canto LXIV. Dasaratha's Death.
593
With writhing limb and struggling breath,
Nearer and ever nearer death
“My senses undisturbed remain,
And fortitude has conquered pain:
Now from one tear thy soul be freed.
Thy hand has made a Bráhman bleed.
Let not this pang thy bosom wring:
No twice-born youth am I, O King,
[170]
For of a Vaiśya sire I came,
Who wedded with a Śúdra dame.”
These words the boy could scarcely say,
As tortured by the shaft he lay,
Twisting his helpless body round,
Then trembling senseless on the ground.
Then from his bleeding side I drew
The rankling shaft that pierced him through.
With death's last fear my face he eyed,
And, rich in store of penance, died.”
Canto LXIV. Dasaratha's Death.
The son of Raghu to his queen
Thus far described the unequalled scene,
And, as the hermit's death he rued,
The mournful story thus renewed:
“The deed my heedless hand had wrought
Perplexed me with remorseful thought,
And all alone I pondered still
How kindly deed might salve the ill.
The pitcher from the ground I took,
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The Ramayana
And filled it from that fairest brook,
Then, by the path the hermit showed,
I reached his sainted sire's abode.
I came, I saw: the aged pair,
Feeble and blind, were sitting there,
Like birds with clipped wings, side by side,
With none their helpless steps to guide.
Their idle hours the twain beguiled
With talk of their returning child,
And still the cheering hope enjoyed,
The hope, alas, by me destroyed.
Then spoke the sage, as drawing near
The sound of footsteps reached his ear:
“Dear son, the water quickly bring;
Why hast thou made this tarrying?
Thy mother thirsts, and thou hast played,
And bathing in the brook delayed.
She weeps because thou camest not;
Haste, O my son, within the cot.
If she or I have ever done
A thing to pain thee, dearest son,
Dismiss the memory from thy mind:
A hermit thou, be good and kind.
On thee our lives, our all, depend:
Thou art thy friendless parents' friend.
The eyeless couple's eye art thou:
Then why so cold and silent now?”
With sobbing voice and bosom wrung
I scarce could move my faltering tongue,
And with my spirit filled with dread
I looked upon the sage, and said,
While mind, and sense, and nerve I strung
To fortify my trembling tongue,
Canto LXIV. Dasaratha's Death.
595
And let the aged hermit know
His son's sad fate, my fear and woe:
“High-minded Saint, not I thy child,
A warrior, Daśaratha styled.
I bear a grievous sorrow's weight
Born of a deed which good men hate.
My lord, I came to Sarjú's shore,
And in my hand my bow I bore
For elephant or beast of chase
That seeks by night his drinking place.
There from the stream a sound I heard
As if a jar the water stirred.
An elephant, I thought, was nigh:
I aimed, and let an arrow fly.
Swift to the place I made my way,
And there a wounded hermit lay
Gasping for breath: the deadly dart
Stood quivering in his youthful heart.
I hastened near with pain oppressed;
He faltered out his last behest.
And quickly, as he bade me do,
From his pierced side the shaft I drew.
I drew the arrow from the rent,
And up to heaven the hermit went,
Lamenting, as from earth he passed,
His aged parents to the last.
Thus, unaware, the deed was done:
My hand, unwitting, killed thy son.
For what remains, O, let me win
Thy pardon for my heedless sin.”
As the sad tale of sin I told
The hermit's grief was uncontrolled.
With flooded eyes, and sorrow-faint,
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Thus spake the venerable saint:
I stood with hand to hand applied,
And listened as he spoke and sighed:
“If thou, O King, hadst left unsaid
By thine own tongue this tale of dread,
Thy head for hideous guilt accursed
Had in a thousand pieces burst.
A hermit's blood by warrior spilt,
In such a case, with purposed guilt,
Down from his high estate would bring
Even the thunder's mighty King.
And he a dart who conscious sends
Against the devotee who spends
His pure life by the law of Heaven—
That sinner's head will split in seven.
Thou livest, for thy heedless hand
Has wrought a deed thou hast not planned,
Else thou and all of Raghu's line
Had perished by this act of thine.
Now guide us,” thus the hermit said,
“Forth to the spot where he lies dead.
Guide us, this day, O Monarch, we
For the last time our son would see:
The hermit dress of skin he wore
Rent from his limbs distained with gore;
His senseless body lying slain,
His soul in Yama's dark domain.”
Alone the mourning pair I led,
Their souls with woe disquieted,
And let the dame and hermit lay
[171]
Their hands upon the breathless clay.
The father touched his son, and pressed
The body to his aged breast;
Canto LXIV. Dasaratha's Death.
597
Then falling by the dead boy's side,
He lifted up his voice, and cried:
“Hast thou no word, my child, to say?
No greeting for thy sire to-day?
Why art thou angry, darling? why
Wilt thou upon the cold earth lie?
If thou, my son, art wroth with me,
Here, duteous child, thy mother see.
What! no embrace for me, my son?
No word of tender love—not one?
Whose gentle voice, so soft and clear,
Soothing my spirit, shall I hear
When evening comes, with accents sweet
Scripture or ancient lore repeat?
Who, having fed the sacred fire,
And duly bathed, as texts require,
Will cheer, when evening rites are done,
The father mourning for his son?
Who will the daily meal provide
For the poor wretch who lacks a guide,
Feeding the helpless with the best
Berries and roots, like some dear guest?
How can these hands subsistence find
For thy poor mother, old and blind?
The wretched votaress how sustain,
Who mourns her child in ceaseless pain?
Stay yet a while, my darling, stay,
Nor fly to Yama's realm to-day.
To-morrow I thy sire and she
Who bare thee, child, will go with, thee.337
337So dying York cries over the body of Suffolk:
“Tarry, dear cousin Suffolk!
My soul shall thine keep company to heaven:
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The Ramayana
Then when I look on Yama, I
To great Vivasvat's son will cry:
“Hear, King of justice, and restore
Our child to feed us, I implore.
Lord of the world, of mighty fame,
Faithful and just, admit my claim,
And grant this single boon to free
My soul from fear, to one like me.”
Because, my son, untouched by stain,
By sinful hands thou fallest slain,
Win, through thy truth, the sphere where those
Who die by hostile darts repose.
Seek the blest home prepared for all
The valiant who in battle fall,
Who face the foe and scorn to yield,
In glory dying on the field.
Rise to the heaven where Dhundhumár
And Nahush, mighty heroes, are,
Where Janamejay and the blest
Dilípa, Sagar, Saivya, rest:
Home of all virtuous spirits, earned
By fervent rites and Scripture learned:
By those whose sacred fires have glowed,
Whose liberal hands have fields bestowed:
By givers of a thousand cows,
By lovers of one faithful spouse:
By those who serve their masters well,
And cast away this earthly shell.
None of my race can ever know
The bitter pain of lasting woe.
But doomed to that dire fate is he
Tarry, sweet soul, for mine, then fly abreast.”
King Henry V, Act IV, 6.
Canto LXIV. Dasaratha's Death.
599
Whose guilty hand has slaughtered thee.”
Thus with wild tears the aged saint
Made many a time his piteous plaint,
Then with his wife began to shed
The funeral water for the dead.
But in a shape celestial clad,
Won by the merits of the lad,
The spirit from the body brake
And to the mourning parents spake:
“A glorious home in realms above
Rewards my care and filial love.
You, honoured parents, soon shall be
Partakers of that home with me.”
He spake, and swiftly mounting high,
With Indra near him, to the sky
On a bright car, with flame that glowed,
Sublime the duteous hermit rode.
The father, with his consort's aid,
The funeral rites with water paid,
And thus his speech to me renewed
Who stood in suppliant attitude:
“Slay me this day, O, slay me, King,
For death no longer has a sting.
Childless am I: thy dart has done
To death my dear, my only son.
Because the boy I loved so well
Slain by thy heedless arrow fell,
My curse upon thy soul shall press
With bitter woe and heaviness.
I mourn a slaughtered child, and thou
Shalt feel the pangs that kill me now.
Bereft and suffering e'en as I,
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So shalt thou mourn thy son, and die.
Thy hand unwitting dealt the blow
That laid a holy hermit low,
And distant, therefore, is the time
When thou shalt suffer for the crime.
The hour shall come when, crushed by woes
Like these I feel, thy life shall close:
A debt to pay in after days
Like his the priestly fee who pays.”
This curse on me the hermit laid,
Nor yet his tears and groans were stayed.
Then on the pyre their bodies cast
The pair; and straight to heaven they passed.
As in sad thought I pondered long
Back to my memory came the wrong
Done in wild youth, O lady dear,
When 'twas my boast to shoot by ear.
[172]
The deed has borne the fruit, which now
Hangs ripe upon the bending bough:
Thus dainty meats the palate please,
And lure the weak to swift disease.
Now on my soul return with dread
The words that noble hermit said,
That I for a dear son should grieve,
And of the woe my life should leave.”
Thus spake the king with many a tear;
Then to his wife he cried in fear:
“I cannot see thee, love; but lay
Thy gentle hand in mine, I pray.
Ah me, if Ráma touched me thus,
If once, returning home to us,
He bade me wealth and lordship give,
Canto LXIV. Dasaratha's Death.
601
Then, so I think, my soul would live.
Unlike myself, unjust and mean
Have been my ways with him, my Queen,
But like himself is all that he,
My noble son, has done to me.
His son, though far from right he stray,
What prudent sire would cast away?
What banished son would check his ire,
Nor speak reproaches of his sire?
I see thee not: these eyes grow blind,
And memory quits my troubled mind.
Angels of Death are round me: they
Summon my soul with speed away.
What woe more grievous can there be,
That, when from light and life I flee,
I may not, ere I part, behold
My virtuous Ráma, true and bold?
Grief for my son, the brave and true,
Whose joy it was my will to do,
Dries up my breath, as summer dries
The last drop in the pool that lies.
Not men, but blessed Gods, are they
Whose eyes shall see his face that day;
See him, when fourteen years are past,
With earrings decked return at last.
My fainting mind forgets to think:
Low and more low my spirits sink.
Each from its seat, my senses steal:
I cannot hear, or taste, or feel.
This lethargy of soul o'ercomes
Each organ, and its function numbs:
So when the oil begins to fail,
The torch's rays grow faint and pale.
This flood of woe caused by this hand
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The Ramayana
Destroys me helpless and unmanned,
Resistless as the floods that bore
A passage through the river shore.
Ah Raghu's son, ah mighty-armed,
By whom my cares were soothed and charmed,
My son in whom I took delight,
Now vanished from thy father's sight!
Kauśalyá, ah, I cannot see;
Sumitrá, gentle devotee!
Alas, Kaikeyí, cruel dame,
My bitter foe, thy father's shame!”
Kauśalyá and Sumitrá kept
Their watch beside him as he wept.
And Daśaratha moaned and sighed,
And grieving for his darling died.
Canto LXV. The Women's Lament.
And now the night had past away,
And brightly dawned another day;
The minstrels, trained to play and sing,
Flocked to the chamber of the king:
Bards, who their gayest raiment wore,
And heralds famed for ancient lore:
And singers, with their songs of praise,
Made music in their several ways.
There as they poured their blessings choice
And hailed their king with hand and voice,
Their praises with a swelling roar
Echoed through court and corridor.
Canto LXV. The Women's Lament.
603
Then as the bards his glory sang,
From beaten palms loud answer rang,
As glad applauders clapped their hands,
And told his deeds in distant lands.
The swelling concert woke a throng
Of sleeping birds to life and song:
Some in the branches of the trees,
Some caged in halls and galleries.
Nor was the soft string music mute;
The gentle whisper of the lute,
And blessings sung by singers skilled
The palace of the monarch filled.
Eunuchs and dames of life unstained,
Each in the arts of waiting trained,
Drew near attentive as before,
And crowded to the chamber door:
These skilful when and how to shed
The lustral stream o'er limb and head,
Others with golden ewers stood
Of water stained with sandal wood.
And many a maid, pure, young, and fair,
Her load of early offerings bare,
Cups of the flood which all revere,
And sacred things, and toilet gear.
Each several thing was duly brought
As rule of old observance taught,
And lucky signs on each impressed
Stamped it the fairest and the best.
There anxious, in their long array,
All waited till the shine of day:
But when the king nor rose nor spoke,
Doubt and alarm within them woke.
Forthwith the dames, by duty led,
Attendants on the monarch's bed,
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The Ramayana
Within the royal chamber pressed
To wake their master from his rest.
Skilled in the lore of dreaming, they
First touched the bed on which he lay.
But none replied; no sound was heard,
[173]
Nor hand, nor head, nor body stirred.
They trembled, and their dread increased,
Fearing his breath of life had ceased,
And bending low their heads, they shook
Like the tall reeds that fringe the brook.
In doubt and terror down they knelt,
Looked on his face, his cold hand felt,
And then the gloomy truth appeared
Of all their hearts had darkly feared.
Kauśalyá and Sumitrá, worn
With weeping for their sons, forlorn,
Woke not, but lay in slumber deep
And still as death's unending sleep.
Bowed down by grief, her colour fled,
Her wonted lustre dull and dead,
Kauśalyá shone not, like a star
Obscured behind a cloudy bar.
Beside the king's her couch was spread,
And next was Queen Sumitrá's bed,
Who shone no more with beauty's glow,
Her face bedewed with tears of woe.
There lapped in sleep each wearied queen,
There as in sleep, the king was seen;
And swift the troubling thought came o'er
Their spirits that he breathed no more.
At once with wailing loud and high
The matrons shrieked a bitter cry,
As widowed elephants bewail
Their dead lord in the woody vale.
Canto LXV. The Women's Lament.
605
At the loud shriek that round them rang,
Kauśalyá and Sumitrá sprang
Awakened from their beds, with eyes
Wide open in their first surprise.
Quick to the monarch's side they came,
And saw and touched his lifeless frame;
One cry, O husband! forth they sent,
And prostrate to the ground they went.
The king of Kośal's daughter338there
Writhed, with the dust on limb and hair
Lustreless, as a star might lie
Hurled downward from the glorious sky.
When the king's voice in death was stilled,
The women who the chamber filled
Saw, like a widow elephant slain,
Kauśalyá prostrate in her pain.
Then all the monarch's ladies led
By Queen Kaikeyí at their head,
Poured forth their tears, and weeping so,
Sank on the ground, consumed by woe.
The cry of grief so long and loud
Went up from all the royal crowd,
That, doubled by the matron train,
It made the palace ring again.
Filled with dark fear and eager eyes,
Anxiety and wild surmise;
Echoing with the cries of grief
Of sorrowing friends who mourned their chief,
Dejected, pale with deep distress,
Hurled from their height of happiness:
Such was the look the palace wore
Where lay the king who breathed no more.
338Kauśalyá, daughter of the king of another Kośal.
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The Ramayana
Canto LXVI. The Embalming.
Kauśalyá's eyes with tears o'erflowed,
Weighed down by varied sorrows' load;
On her dead lord her gaze she bent,
Who lay like fire whose might is spent,
Like the great deep with waters dry,
Or like the clouded sun on high.
Then on her lap she laid his head.
And on Kaikeyí looked and said:
“Triumphant now enjoy thy reign
Without a thorn thy side to pain.
Thou hast pursued thy single aim,
And killed the king, O wicked dame.
Far from my sight my Ráma flies,
My perished lord has sought the skies.
No friend, no hope my life to cheer,
I cannot tread the dark path here.
Who would forsake her husband, who
That God to whom her love is due,
And wish to live one hour, but she
Whose heart no duty owns, like thee?
The ravenous sees no fault: his greed
Will e'en on poison blindly feed.
Kaikeyí, through a hump-back maid,
This royal house in death has laid.
King Janak, with his queen, will hear
Heart rent like me the tidings drear
Of Ráma banished by the king,
Urged by her impious counselling.
No son has he, his age is great,
And sinking with the double weight,
He for his darling child will pine,
And pierced with woe his life resign.
Canto LXVI. The Embalming.
607
Sprung from Videha's monarch, she
A sad and lovely devotee,
Roaming the wood, unmeet for woe,
Will toil and trouble undergo.
She in the gloomy night with fear
The cries of beast and bird will hear,
And trembling in her wild alarm
Will cling to Ráma's sheltering arm.
Ah, little knows my duteous son
That I am widowed and undone—
My Ráma of the lotus eye,
Gone hence, gone hence, alas, to die.
Now, as a living wife and true,
I, e'en this day, will perish too:
Around his form these arms will throw
And to the fire with him will go.”
Clasping her husband's lifeless clay
A while the weeping votaress lay,
Till chamberlains removed her thence
[174]
O'ercome by sorrow's violence.
Then in a cask of oil they laid
Him who in life the world had swayed,
And finished, as the lords desired,
All rites for parted souls required.
The lords, all-wise, refused to burn
The monarch ere his son's return;
So for a while the corpse they set
Embalmed in oil, and waited yet.
The women heard: no doubt remained,
And wildly for the king they plained.
With gushing tears that drowned each eye
Wildly they waved their arms on high,
And each her mangling nails impressed
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The Ramayana
Deep in her head and knee and breast:
“Of Ráma reft,—who ever spake
The sweetest words the heart to take,
Who firmly to the truth would cling,—
Why dost thou leave us, mighty King?
How can the consorts thou hast left
Widowed, of Raghu's son bereft,
Live with our foe Kaikeyí near,
The wicked queen we hate and fear?
She threw away the king, her spite
Drove Ráma forth and Lakshmaṇ's might,
And gentle Sítá: how will she
Spare any, whosoe'er it be?”
Oppressed with sorrow, tear-distained,
The royal women thus complained.
Like night when not a star appears,
Like a sad widow drowned in tears,
Ayodhyá's city, dark and dim,
Reft of her lord was sad for him.
When thus for woe the king to heaven had fled,
And still on earth his lovely wives remained.
With dying light the sun to rest had sped,
And night triumphant o'er the landscape reigned.
Canto LXVII. The Praise Of Kings.
Canto LXVII. The Praise Of Kings.
609
That night of sorrow passed away,
And rose again the God of Day.
Then all the twice-born peers of state
Together met for high debate.
Jáválí, lord of mighty fame.
And Gautam, and Kátyáyan came,
And Márkandeya's reverend age,
And Vámadeva, glorious sage:
Sprung from Mudgalya's seed the one,
The other ancient Kaśyap's son.
With lesser lords these Bráhmans each
Spoke in his turn his several speech,
And turning to Vaśishṭha, best
Of household priests him thus addressed:
“The night of bitter woe has past,
Which seemed a hundred years to last,
Our king, in sorrow for his son,
Reunion with the Five has won.
His soul is where the blessed are,
While Ráma roams in woods afar,
And Lakshmaṇ, bright in glorious deeds,
Goes where his well-loved brother leads.
And Bharat and Śatrughna, they
Who smite their foes in battle fray,
Far in the realm of Kekaya stay,
Where their maternal grandsire's care
Keeps Rájagriha's city fair.
Let one of old Ikshváku's race
Obtain this day the sovereign's place,
Or havoc and destruction straight
Our kingless land will devastate.
In kingless lands no thunder's voice,
No lightning wreaths the heart rejoice,
Nor does Parjanya's heavenly rain
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The Ramayana
Descend upon the burning plain.
Where none is king, the sower's hand
Casts not the seed upon the land;
The son against the father strives.
And husbands fail to rule their wives.
In kingless realms no princes call
Their friends to meet in crowded hall;
No joyful citizens resort
To garden trim or sacred court.
In kingless realms no Twice-born care
To sacrifice with text and prayer,
Nor Bráhmans, who their vows maintain,
The great solemnities ordain.
The joys of happier days have ceased:
No gathering, festival, or feast
Together calls the merry throng
Delighted with the play and song.
In kingless lands it ne'er is well
With sons of trade who buy and sell:
No men who pleasant tales repeat
Delight the crowd with stories sweet.
In kingless realms we ne'er behold
Young maidens decked with gems and gold,
Flock to the gardens blithe and gay
To spend their evening hours in play.
No lover in the flying car
Rides with his love to woods afar.
In kingless lands no wealthy swain
Who keeps the herd and reaps the grain,
Lies sleeping, blest with ample store,
Securely near his open door.
Upon the royal roads we see
No tusked elephant roaming free,
Of three-score years, whose head and neck
Canto LXVII. The Praise Of Kings.
611
Sweet tinkling bells of silver deck.
We hear no more the glad applause
When his strong bow each rival draws,
No clap of hands, no eager cries
That cheer each martial exercise.
In kingless realms no merchant bands
Who travel forth to distant lands,
With precious wares their wagons load,
[175]
And fear no danger on the road.
No sage secure in self-control,
Brooding on God with mind and soul,
In lonely wanderings finds his home
Where'er at eve his feet may roam.
In kingless realms no man is sure
He holds his life and wealth secure.
In kingless lands no warriors smite
The foeman's host in glorious fight.
In kingless lands the wise no more,
Well trained in Scripture's holy lore,
In shady groves and gardens meet
To argue in their calm retreat.
No longer, in religious fear,
Do they who pious vows revere,
Bring dainty cates and wreaths of flowers
As offerings to the heavenly powers.
No longer, bright as trees in spring,
Shine forth the children of the king
Resplendent in the people's eyes
With aloe wood and sandal dyes.
A brook where water once has been,
A grove where grass no more is green,
Kine with no herdsman's guiding hand—
So wretched is a kingless land.
The car its waving banner rears,
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The Ramayana
Banner of fire the smoke appears:
Our king, the banner of our pride,
A God with Gods is glorified.
In kingless lands no law is known,
And none may call his wealth his own,
Each preys on each from hour to hour,
As fish the weaker fish devour.
Then fearless, atheists overleap
The bounds of right the godly keep,
And when no royal powers restrain,
Preëminence and lordship gain.
As in the frame of man the eye
Keeps watch and ward, a careful spy,
The monarch in his wide domains
Protects the truth, the right maintains.
He is the right, the truth is he,
Their hopes in him the well-born see.
On him his people's lives depend,
Mother is he, and sire, and friend.
The world were veiled in blinding night,
And none could see or know aright,
Ruled there no king in any state
The good and ill to separate.
We will obey thy word and will
As if our king were living still:
As keeps his bounds the faithful sea,
So we observe thy high decree.
O best of Bráhmans, first in place,
Our kingless land lies desolate:
Some scion of Ikshváku's race
Do thou as monarch consecrate.”
Canto LXVIII. The Envoys.
613
Canto LXVIII. The Envoys.
Vaśishṭha heard their speech and prayer,
And thus addressed the concourse there,
Friends, Bráhmans, counsellors, and all
Assembled in the palace hall:
“Ye know that Bharat, free from care,
Still lives in Rájagriha339where
The father of his mother reigns:
Śatrughna by his side remains.
Let active envoys, good at need,
Thither on fleetest horses speed,
To bring the hero youths away:
Why waste the time in dull delay?”
Quick came from all the glad reply:
“Vaśishṭha, let the envoys fly!”
He heard their speech, and thus renewed
His charge before the multitude:
“Nandan, Aśok, Siddhárth, attend,
Your ears, Jayanta, Vijay, lend:
Be yours, what need requires, to do:
I speak these words to all of you.
With coursers of the fleetest breed
To Rájagriha's city speed.
Then rid your bosoms of distress,
And Bharat thus from me address:
“The household priest and peers by us
Send health to thee and greet thee thus:
Come to thy father's home with haste:
Thine absent time no longer waste.”
339Rájagriha, or Girivraja was the capital of Aśvapati, Bharat's maternal
grandfather.
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The Ramayana
But speak no word of Ráma fled,
Tell not the prince his sire is dead,
Nor to the royal youth the fate
That ruins Raghu's race relate.
Go quickly hence, and with you bear
Fine silken vestures rich and rare,
And gems and many a precious thing
As gifts to Bharat and the king.”
With ample stores of food supplied,
Each to his home the envoys hied,
Prepared, with steeds of swiftest race,
To Kekaya's land340their way to trace.
They made all due provision there,
And every need arranged with care,
Then ordered by Vaśishṭha, they
Went forth with speed upon their way.
Then northward of Pralamba, west
Of Apartála, on they pressed,
Crossing the Máliní that flowed
With gentle stream athwart the road.
They traversed Gangá's holy waves
[176]
Where she Hástinapura341laves,
Thence to Panchála342westward fast
Through Kurujángal's land343Note.
340The Kekayas or Kaikayas in the Punjab appear amongst the chief nations
in the war of the Mahábhárata; their king being a kinsman of Krishṇa.
341Hástinapura was the capital of the kingdom of Kuru, near the modern Delhi.
342The Panchálas occupied the upper part of the Doab.
343“Kurujángala and its inhabitants are frequently mentioned in the
Mahábhárata, as in the Ádi-parv. 3789, 4337, et al.” WILSON'S{FNS Vishṇu
Puráṇa, Vol. II. p. 176. DR. HALL'S{FNS
Canto LXVIII. The Envoys.
615
they passed.
On, on their course the envoys held
By urgency of task impelled.
Quick glancing at each lucid flood
And sweet lake gay with flower and bud.
Beyond, they passed unwearied o'er,
Where glad birds fill the flood and shore
Of Śaradaṇḍá racing fleet
With heavenly water clear and sweet,
Thereby a tree celestial grows
Which every boon on prayer bestows:
To its blest shade they humbly bent,
Then to Kulingá's town they went.
Then, having passed the Warrior's Wood,
In Abhikála next they stood,
O'er sacred Ikshumatí344Edition. The Ikshumatí was a river in
Kurukshetra.
came,
Their ancient kings' ancestral claim.
They saw the learned Bráhmans stand,
Each drinking from his hollowed hand,
And through Báhíka345journeying still
They reached at length Sudáman's hill:
There Vishṇu's footstep turned to see,
Vipáśá346viewed, and Śálmalí,
And many a lake and river met,
Tank, pool, and pond, and rivulet.
344“The Ὁξύματις of Arrian. See As. Res. Vol. XV. p. 420, 421, also
Indische Alterthumskunde, Vol. I. p. 602, first footnote.” WILSON'S{FNS
Vishṇu Puráṇa, Vol. I. p. 421. DR. HALL'S{FNS
345“The Báhíkas are described in the Mahábhárata, Karṇa Parvan, with some
detail, and comprehend the different nations of the Punjab from the Sutlej to
the Indus.” WILSON'S{FNS Vishṇu Puráṇa, Vol. I. p. 167.
346The Beas, Hyphasis, or Bibasis.
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The Ramayana
And lions saw, and tigers near,
And elephants and herds of deer,
And still, by prompt obedience led,
Along the ample road they sped.
Then when their course so swift and long,
Had worn their steeds though fleet and strong,
To Girivraja's splendid town
They came by night, and lighted down.
To please their master, and to guard
The royal race, the lineal right,
The envoys, spent with riding hard,
To that fair city came by night.347
347It would be lost labour to attempt to verify all the towns and streams
mentioned in Cantos LXVIII and LXXII. Professor Wilson observes (Vishṇu
Puráṇa, p. 139. Dr. Hall's Edition) “States, and tribes, and cities have disap-
peared, even from recollection; and some of the natural features of the country,
especially the rivers, have undergone a total alteration.… Notwithstanding
these impediments, however, we should be able to identify at least mountains
and rivers, to a much greater extent than is now practicable, if our maps were
not so miserably defective in their nomenclature. None of our surveyors or
geographers have been oriental scholars. It may be doubted if any of them
have been conversant with the spoken language of the country. They have,
consequently, put down names at random, according to their own inaccurate
appreciation of sounds carelessly, vulgarly, and corruptly uttered; and their
mapsof Indiaarecrowded withappellations whichbearno similitudewhatever
either to past or present denominations. We need not wonder that we cannot
discover Sanskrit names in English maps, when, in the immediate vicinity of
Calcutta, Barnagore represents Baráhanagar, Dakshineśwar is metamorphosed
into Duckinsore, Ulubaría into Willoughbury.… There is scarcely a name in
our Indian maps that does not afford proof of extreme indifference to accuracy
in nomenclature, and of an incorrectness in estimating sounds, which is, in
some degree, perhaps, a national defect.”
For further information regarding the road from Ayodhyá to Rájagriha, see
Canto LXIX. Bharat's Dream.
617
Canto LXIX. Bharat's Dream.
The night those messengers of state
Had past within the city's gate,
In dreams the slumbering Bharat saw
A sight that chilled his soul with awe.
The dream that dire events foretold
Left Bharat's heart with horror cold,
[177]
And with consuming woes distraught,
Upon his aged sire he thought.
His dear companions, swift to trace
The signs of anguish on his face,
Drew near, his sorrow to expel,
And pleasant tales began to tell.
Some woke sweet music's cheering sound,
And others danced in lively round.
With joke and jest they strove to raise
His spirits, quoting ancient plays;
But Bharat still, the lofty-souled,
Deaf to sweet tales his fellows told,
Unmoved by music, dance, and jest,
Sat silent, by his woe oppressed.
To him, begirt by comrades near,
Thus spoke the friend he held most dear:
“Why ringed around by friends, art thou
So silent and so mournful now?”
“Hear thou,” thus Bharat made reply,
“What chills my heart and dims mine eye.
I dreamt I saw the king my sire
Sink headlong in a lake of mire
Down from a mountain high in air,
His body soiled, and loose his hair.
Additional Notes.
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The Ramayana
Upon the miry lake he seemed
To lie and welter, as I dreamed;
With hollowed hands full many a draught
Of oil he took, and loudly laughed.
With head cast down I saw him make
A meal on sesamum and cake;
The oil from every member dripped,
And in its clammy flood he dipped.
The ocean's bed was bare and dry,
The moon had fallen from the sky,
And all the world lay still and dead,
With whelming darkness overspread.
The earth was rent and opened wide,
The leafy trees were scorched, and died;
I saw the seated mountains split,
And wreaths of rising smoke emit.
The stately beast the monarch rode
His long tusks rent and splintered showed;
And flames that quenched and cold had lain
Blazed forth with kindled light again.
I looked, and many a handsome dame,
Arrayed in brown and sable came
And bore about the monarch, dressed,
On iron stool, in sable vest.
And then the king, of virtuous mind,
A blood-red wreath around him twined,
Forth on an ass-drawn chariot sped,
As southward still he bent his head.
Then, crimson-clad, a dame appeared
Who at the monarch laughed and jeered;
And a she-monster, dire to view,
Her hand upon his body threw.
Such is the dream I dreamt by night,
Which chills me yet with wild affright:
Canto LXX. Bharat's Departure.
619
Either the king or Ráma, I
Or Lakshmaṇ now must surely die.
For when an ass-drawn chariot seems
To bear away a man in dreams,
Be sure above his funeral pyre
The smoke soon rears its cloudy spire.
This makes my spirit low and weak,
My tongue is slow and loth to speak:
My lips and throat are dry for dread,
And all my soul disquieted.
My lips, relaxed, can hardly speak,
And chilling dread has changed my cheek
I blame myself in aimless fears,
And still no cause of blame appears.
I dwell upon this dream of ill
Whose changing scenes I viewed,
And on the startling horror still
My troubled thoughts will brood.
Still to my soul these terrors cling,
Reluctant to depart,
And the strange vision of the king
Still weighs upon my heart.”
Canto LXX. Bharat's Departure.
While thus he spoke, the envoys borne
On horses faint and travel-worn
Had gained the city fenced around
With a deep moat's protecting bound.
An audience of the king they gained,
And honours from the prince obtained;
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The Ramayana
The monarch's feet they humbly pressed,
To Bharat next these words addressed:
“The household priest and peers by us
Send health to thee and greet thee thus:
“Come to thy father's house with haste:
Thine absent time no longer waste.”
Receive these vestures rich and rare,
These costly gems and jewels fair,
And to thy uncle here present
Each precious robe and ornament.
These for the king and him suffice—
Two hundred millions is their price—
These, worth a hundred millions, be
Reserved, O large-eyed Prince, for thee.”
Loving his friends with heart and soul,
The joyful prince received the whole,
Due honour to the envoys paid,
And thus in turn his answer made:
“Of Daśaratha tidings tell:
Is the old king my father well?
Is Ráma, and is Lakshmaṇ, he
Of the high-soul, from sickness free?
And she who walks where duty leads,
Kauśalyá, known for gracious deeds,
Mother of Ráma, loving spouse,
Bound to her lord by well kept vows?
And Lakshmaṇ's mother too, the dame
Sumitrá skilled in duty's claim,
Who brave Śatrughna also bare,
Second in age,—her health declare.
[178]
And she, in self-conceit most sage,
With selfish heart most prone to rage,
My mother, fares she well? has she
Canto LXX. Bharat's Departure.
621
Sent message or command to me?”
Thus Bharat spake, the mighty-souled,
And they in brief their tidings told:
“All they of whom thou askest dwell,
O lion lord, secure and well:
Thine all the smiles of fortune are:
Make ready; let them yoke the car.”
Thus by the royal envoys pressed,
Bharat again the band addressed:
“I go with you: no long delay,
A single hour I bid you stay.”
Thus Bharat, son of him who swayed
Ayodhyás realm, his answer made,
And then bespoke, his heart to please,
His mother's sire in words like these:
“I go to see my father, King,
Urged by the envoys' summoning;
And when thy soul desires to see
Thy grandson, will return to thee.”
The king his grandsire kissed his head,
And in reply to Bharat said:
“Go forth, dear child: how blest is she,
The mother of a son like thee!
Greet well thy sire, thy mother greet,
O thou whose arms the foe defeat;
The household priest, and all the rest
Amid the Twice-born chief and best;
And Ráma and brave Lakshmaṇ, who
Shoot the long shaft with aim so true.”
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The Ramayana
To him the king high honour showed,
And store of wealth and gifts bestowed,
The choicest elephants to ride,
And skins and blankets deftly dyed,
A thousand strings of golden beads,
And sixteen hundred mettled steeds:
And boundless wealth before him piled
Gave Kekaya to Kaikeyí's child.
And men of counsel, good and tried,
On whose firm truth he aye relied,
King Aśvapati gave with speed
Prince Bharat on his way to lead.
And noble elephants, strong and young,
From sires of Indraśira sprung,
And others tall and fair to view
Of great Airávat's lineage true:
And well yoked asses fleet of limb
The prince his uncle gave to him.
And dogs within the palace bred,
Of body vast and massive head,
With mighty fangs for battle, brave,
The tiger's match in strength, he gave.
Yet Bharat's bosom hardly glowed
To see the wealth the king bestowed;
For he would speed that hour away,
Such care upon his bosom lay:
Those eager envoys urged him thence,
And that sad vision's influence.
He left his court-yard, crowded then
With elephants and steeds and men,
And, peerless in immortal fame,
To the great royal street he came.
He saw, as farther still he went,
The inner rooms most excellent,
Canto LXXI. Bharat's Return.
623
And passed the doors, to him unclosed,
Where check nor bar his way oppossd.
There Bharat stayed to bid adieu
To grandsire and to uncle too,
Then, with Śatrughna by his side,
Mounting his car, away he hied.
The strong-wheeled cars were yoked, and they
More than a hundred, rolled away:
Servants, with horses, asses, kine,
Followed their lord in endless line.
So, guarded by his own right hand,
Forth high-souled Bharat hied,
Surrounded by a lordly band
On whom the king relied.
Beside him sat Śatrughna dear,
The scourge of trembling foes:
Thus from the light of Indra's sphere
A saint made perfect goes.
Canto LXXI. Bharat's Return.
Then Bharat's face was eastward bent
As from the royal town he went.
He reached Sudámá's farther side,
And glorious, gazed upon the tide;
Passed Hládiní, and saw her toss
Her westering billows hard to cross.
Then old Ikshváku's famous son
O'er Śatadrú348his passage won,
348“TheŚatadrú,‘thehundred-channeled’—theZaradrusofPtolemy,Hesydrus
of Pliny—is the Sutlej.” WILSON'S{FNS Vishṇu Puráṇa, Vol. II. p. 130.
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The Ramayana
Near Ailadhána on the strand,
And came to Aparparyat's land.
O'er Śilá's flood he hurried fast,
Akurvatí's fair stream he passed,
Crossed o'er Ágneya's rapid rill,
And Śalyakartan onward still.
Śilávahá's swift stream he eyed,
True to his vows and purified,
Then crossed the lofty hills, and stood
In Chaitraratha's mighty wood.
He reached the confluence where meet
Sarasvatí349and Gangá fleet,
And through Bháruṇḍa forest, spread
Northward of Viramatsya, sped.
He sought Kálinda's child, who fills
[179]
The soul with joy, begirt by hills,
Reached Yamuná, and passing o'er,
Rested his army on the shore:
He gave his horses food and rest,
Bathed reeking limb and drooping crest.
They drank their fill and bathed them there,
And water for their journey bare.
Thence through a mighty wood he sped
All wild and uninhabited,
As in fair chariot through the skies,
Most fair in shape a Storm-God flies.
At Anśudhána Gangá, hard
To cross, his onward journey barred,
So turning quickly thence he came
To Prágvaṭ's city dear to fame.
There having gained the farther side
To Kuṭikoshṭiká he hied:
349The Sarasvatí or Sursooty is a tributary of the Caggar or Guggur in Sirhind.
Canto LXXI. Bharat's Return.
625
The stream he crossed, and onward then
To Dharmavardhan brought his men.
Thence, leaving Toraṇ on the north,
To Jambuprastha journeyed forth.
Then onward to a pleasant grove
By fair Varútha's town he drove,
And when a while he there had stayed,
Went eastward from the friendly shade.
Eastward of Ujjiháná where
The Priyak trees are tall and fair,
He passed, and rested there each steed
Exhausted with the journey's speed.
There orders to his men addressed,
With quickened pace he onward pressed,
A while at Sarvatírtha spent,
Then o'er Uttániká he went.
O'er many a stream beside he sped
With coursers on the mountains bred,
And passing Hastiprishṭhak, took
The road o'er Kuṭiká's fair brook.
Then, at Lohitya's village, he
Crossed o'er the swift Kapívatí,
Then passed, where Ekaśála stands,
The Stháṇumatí's flood and sands,
And Gomatí of fair renown
By Vinata's delightful town.
When to Kalinga near he drew,
A wood of Sal trees charmed the view;
That passed, the sun began to rise,
And Bharat saw with happy eyes,
Ayodhyá's city, built and planned
By ancient Manu's royal hand.
Seven nights upon the road had passed,
And when he saw the town at last
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The Ramayana
Before him in her beauty spread,
Thus Bharat to the driver said:
“This glorious city from afar,
Wherein pure groves and gardens are,
Seems to my eager eyes to-day
A lifeless pile of yellow clay.
Through all her streets where erst a throng
Of men and women streamed along,
Uprose the multitudinous roar:
To-day I hear that sound no more.
No longer do mine eyes behold
The leading people, as of old,
On elephants, cars, horses, go
Abroad and homeward, to and fro.
The brilliant gardens, where we heard
The wild note of each rapturous bird,
Where men and women loved to meet,
In pleasant shades, for pastime sweet,—
These to my eyes this day appear
Joyless, and desolate, and drear:
Each tree that graced the garden grieves,
And every path is spread with leaves.
The merry cry of bird and beast,
That spake aloud their joy, has ceased:
Still is the long melodious note
That charmed us from each warbling throat.
Why blows the blessed air no more,
The incense-breathing air that bore
Its sweet incomparable scent
Of sandal and of aloe blent?
Why are the drum and tabour mute?
Why is the music of the lute
That woke responsive to the quill,
Loved by the happy, hushed and still?
Canto LXXI. Bharat's Return.
627
My boding spirit gathers hence
Dire sins of awful consequence,
And omens, crowding on my sight,
Weigh down my soul with wild affright.
Scarce shall I find my friends who dwell
Here in Ayodhyá safe and well:
For surely not without a cause
This crushing dread my soul o'erawes.”
Heart sick, dejected, every sense
Confused by terror's influence,
On to the town he quickly swept
Which King Ikshváku's children kept.
He passed through Vaijayanta's gate,
With weary steeds, disconsolate,
And all who near their station held,
His escort, crying Victory, swelled,
With heart distracted still he bowed
Farewell to all the following crowd,
Turned to the driver and began
To question thus the weary man:
“Why was I brought, O free from blame,
So fast, unknown for what I came?
Yet fear of ill my heart appals,
And all my wonted courage falls.
For I have heard in days gone by
The changes seen when monarchs die;
And all those signs, O charioteer,
I see to-day surround me here:
Each kinsman's house looks dark and grim,
No hand delights to keep it trim:
The beauty vanished, and the pride,
The doors, unkept, stand open wide.
No morning rites are offered there,
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No grateful incense loads the air,
And all therein, with brows o'ercast,
Sit joyless on the ground and fast.
Their lovely chaplets dry and dead,
[180]
Their courts unswept, with dust o'erspread,
The temples of the Gods to-day
No more look beautiful and gay.
Neglected stands each holy shrine,
Each image of a Lord divine.
No shop where flowery wreaths are sold
Is bright and busy as of old.
The women and the men I mark
Absorbed in fancies dull and dark,
Their gloomy eyes with tears bedewed,
A poor afflicted multitude.”
His mind oppressed with woe and dread,
Thus Bharat to his driver said,
Viewed the dire signs Ayodhyá showed,
And onward to the palace rode.
Canto LXXII. Bharat's Inquiry.
He entered in, he looked around,
Nor in the house his father found;
Then to his mother's dwelling, bent
To see her face, he quickly went.
She saw her son, so long away,
Returning after many a day,
And from her golden seat in joy
Sprung forward to her darling boy.
Canto LXXII. Bharat's Inquiry.
629
Within the bower, no longer bright,
Came Bharat lover of the right,
And bending with observance sweet
Clasped his dear mother's lovely feet.
Long kisses on his brow she pressed,
And held her hero to her breast,
Then fondly drew him to her knees,
And questioned him in words like these:
“How many nights have fled, since thou
Leftest thy grandsire's home, till now?
By flying steeds so swiftly borne,
Art thou not weak and travel-worn?
How fares the king my father, tell:
Is Yudhájit thine uncle well?
And now, my son, at length declare
The pleasure of the visit there.”
Thus to the offspring of the king
She spake with tender questioning,
And to his mother made reply
Young Bharat of the lotus eye:
“The seventh night has come and fled
Since from my grandsire's home I sped:
My mother's sire is well, and he,
Yudhájit, from all trouble free.
The gold and every precious thing
Presented by the conqueror king,
The slower guards behind convey:
I left them weary on the way.
Urged by the men my father sent,
My hasty course I hither bent:
Now, I implore, an answer deign,
And all I wish to know, explain.
Unoccupied I now behold
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The Ramayana
This couch of thine adorned with gold,
And each of King Ikshváku's race
Appears with dark and gloomy face.
The king is aye, my mother dear,
Most constant in his visits here.
To meet my sire I sought this spot:
How is it that I find him not?
I long to clasp my father's feet:
Say where he lingers, I entreat.
Perchance the monarch may be seen
Where dwells Kauśalyá, eldest queen.”
His father's fate, from him concealed,
Kaikeyí to her son revealed:
Told as glad news the story sad,
For lust of sway had made her mad:
“Thy father, O my darling, know,
Has gone the way all life must go:
Devout and famed, of lofty thought,
In whom the good their refuge sought.”
When Bharat pious, pure, and true,
Heard the sad words which pierced him through,
Grieved for the sire he loved so well
Prostrate upon the ground he fell:
Down fell the strong-armed hero, high
Tossing his arms, and a sad cry,
“Ah, woe is me, unhappy, slain!”
Burst from his lips again, again,
Afflicted for his father's fate
By grief's intolerable weight,
With every sense amazed and cowed
The splendid hero wailed aloud:
“Ah me, my royal father's bed
Canto LXXII. Bharat's Inquiry.
631
Of old a gentle radiance shed,
Like the pure sky when clouds are past,
And the moon's light is o'er it cast:
Ah, of its wisest lord bereft,
It shows to-day faint radiance left,
As when the moon has left the sky.
Or mighty Ocean's depths are dry.”
With choking sobs, with many a tear,
Pierced to the heart with grief sincere,
The best of conquerors poured his sighs,
And with his robe veiled face and eyes.
Kaikeyí saw him fallen there,
Godlike, afflicted, in despair,
Used every art to move him thence,
And tried him thus with eloquence:
“Arise, arise, my dearest; why
Wilt thou, famed Prince, so lowly lie?
Not by such grief as this are moved
Good men like thee, by all approved.
The earth thy father nobly swayed,
And rites to Heaven he duly paid.
At length his race of life was run:
Thou shouldst not mourn for him, my son.”
Long on the ground he wept, and rolled
From side to side, still unconsoled,
And then, with bitter grief oppressed,
His mother with these words addressed:
[181]
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The Ramayana
“This joyful hope my bosom fed
When from my grandsire's halls I sped—
“The king will throne his eldest son,
And sacrifice, as should be done.”
But all is changed, my hope was vain,
And this sad heart is rent in twain,
For my dear father's face I miss,
Who ever sought his loved ones' bliss.
But in my absence, mother, say,
What sickness took my sire away?
Ah, happy Ráma, happy they
Allowed his funeral rites to pay!
The glorious monarch has not learned
That I his darling have returned,
Or quickly had he hither sped,
And pressed his kisses on my head.
Where is that hand whose gentle touch,
Most soft and kind I loved so much,
The hand that loved to brush away
The dust that on his darling lay?
Quick, bear the news to Ráma's ear;
Tell the great chief that I am here:
Brother, and sire, and friend, and all
Is he, and I his trusty thrall.
For noble hearts, to virtue true,
Their sires in elder brothers view.
To clasp his feet I fain would bow:
He is my hope and refuge now.
What said my glorious sire, who knew
Virtue and vice, so brave and true?
Firm in his vows, dear lady, say,
What said he ere he passed away?
What was his rede to me? I crave
To hear the last advice he gave.”
Canto LXXII. Bharat's Inquiry.
633
Thus closely questioned by the youth,
Kaikeyí spoke the mournful truth:
“The high-souled monarch wept and sighed,
For Ráma, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ, cried,
Then, best of all who go to bliss,
Passed to the world which follows this.
“Ah, blessed are the people who
Shall Ráma and his Sítá view,
And Lakshmaṇ of the mighty arm,
Returning free from scathe and harm.”
Such were the words, the last of all,
Thy father, ere he died, let fall,
By Fate and Death's dread coils enwound,
As some great elephant is bound.”
He heard, yet deeper in despair,
Her lips this double woe declare,
And with sad brow that showed his pain
Questioned his mother thus again:
“But where is he, of virtue tried,
Who fills Kauśalyá's heart with pride,
Where is the noble Ráma? where
Is Lakshmaṇ brave, and Sítá fair?”
Thus pressed, the queen began to tell
The story as each thing befell,
And gave her son in words like these,
The mournful news she meant to please:
“The prince is gone in hermit dress
To Daṇḍak's mighty wilderness,
And Lakshmaṇ brave and Sítá share
The wanderings of the exile there.”
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The Ramayana
Then Bharat's soul with fear was stirred
Lest Ráma from the right had erred,
And jealous for ancestral fame,
He put this question to the dame:
“Has Ráma grasped with lawless hold
A Bráhman's house, or land, or gold?
Has Ráma harmed with ill intent
Some poor or wealthy innocent?
Was Ráma, faithless to his vows,
Enamoured of anothers spouse?
Why was he sent to Daṇḍak's wild,
Like one who kills an unborn child?”
He questioned thus: and she began
To tell her deeds and crafty plan.
Deceitful-hearted, fond, and blind
As is the way of womankind:
“No Bráhman's wealth has Ráma seized,
No dame his wandering fancy pleased;
His very eyes he ne'er allows
To gaze upon a neighbour's spouse.
But when I heard the monarch planned
To give the realm to Ráma's hand,
I prayed that Ráma hence might flee,
And claimed the throne, my son, for thee.
The king maintained the name he bare,
And did according to my prayer,
And Ráma, with his brother, sent,
And Sítá, forth to banishment.
When his dear son was seen no more,
The lord of earth was troubled sore:
Too feeble with his grief to strive,
He joined the elemental Five.
Up then, most dutiful! maintain
Canto LXXIII. Kaikeyí Reproached.

Book II (part2)
Book II (part3)

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